How to Take Over the World

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    "What are we going to do tonight, Brain?"
    "The same thing we do every night, Pinky.  Try to take over the world!"
-The Brain, and Pinky in "Pinky and the Brain"

How would you like to take over the world?  Oh come on; all the kids are doing it.  You know you want to.  It's easy: just try one of these prearranged methods.

About these entries:
Title: a convenient thing to call it
Description: a more detailed description of the method
Price: the monetary price of pulling off this scheme
Success %: The probability (in my opinion) of succeeding once you have the necessary equipment
Damage: How badly the world will be damaged by your takeover.  What's the point of taking over the world if you also blow it up?
Failure Consequences: What happens to you if you try to pull this off but fail?
Success Consequences: What sort of life will you have once you've taken over?

Title:  Military Conquest
Description: Use your enormous private military forces to attack and defeat every national military and police force in the world.
Price:  At least trillions of dollars to get the military hardware and hire soldiers.
Success %:  50%  (depends on the size of military you build, of course)
Damage: Heavy.  Having to attack and take control of every city in every country in the world will cause untold havoc.  On the other hand, most of the people (assuming they're smart enough to get out of your way) will survive.
Failure Consequences: Defeat at the hands of your enemies, followed by a full-scale interrogation and either lifelong imprisonment or execution (depending on how vicious you were).
Success Consequences: You take control of a rather beaten and bruised (and therefore thoroughly cowed and easy to control) planet.  Enjoy!

Title: Get a Monopoly on Everything
Description: Get into business and corporation so powerful that you can effectively control the global economy.  Use this power to take effective control over all that remains.
Price: You don't spend money, you make money!
Success %: 0.01%  (Nobody's done it yet, and they sure have tried!)
Damage: Minimal.  There could be quite a bit of collateral damage if you're a really unscrupulous businessman/woman, and monopolies are never the best solution, but you will have taken over the world!
Failure Consequences: You merely become incredibly wealthy.  Darn.
Success Consequences: You become CEO of Earth, Inc.  You control the world by dictating where every dollar, peso, and yen flows.  In some ways, this is more effective and less work than political control!

Title: Be Elected Emperor-for-Life
Description: Use your political prowess and ability to get people to agree with you to convince the entire world to unite behind you as a political leader.  Use the power of your position to secure your hold over the world for as long as you live.
Price: Billions of dollars to buy the advertising time you'll need, but if you do it right that money will come from your corporate sponsors.
Success %: 0.1% (Folks have tried before.)
Damage: None.  This is one of the ultimate options: take over peacefully, without a shot being fired.
Failure Consequences: You lose the election and retire back to anonymity in the countryside.  It could be worse.
Success Consequences: Take control of a completely undamaged planet.  The trouble is, as a politician you will have to keep at least some of the people happy or risk losing your position.  If you're feeling especially evil, you could turn it into a Military Conquest at this point, using your world government forces to defeat all others.

Title: Threaten to Blow Up the World
Description: Threaten the leaders of the world nations with some enormously destructive thing.  This could be a nuclear weapon in a strategic location (or better yet, lots of them), a deadly virus, a computer malfunction, or whatever your evil scientists have come up with lately.  Give them the ultimatum: Hand over the world or see it destroyed.
The trouble is that you'll either have to get an escape plan for yourself (hellooo moonbase!) or convince these leaders that you're crazy enough to destroy the world while you're still on it.
Price: Billions, at least (Even if you don't actually build a world-blower-upper, you'll have to make the threat convincing, and that won't be cheap.)
Price: Billions, at least (Even if you don't actually build a world-blower-upper, you'll have to make the threat convincing, and that won't be cheap.)
Success %: Getting lots of money: 50%, Taking over the world: 1%
Damage: Probably none, unless you accidentally sit on the red button on your remote control or something.
Failure Consequences: Either (a) they kill you, or (b) you accidentally _do_ blow up the world.  Either way, you're in it pretty deap.
Success Consequences: If you get your money (and decide not to rule the world) you might be able to buy an island and live comfortably, but don't bet on it.  You've just made every single country in the world _really_ mad at you, and that isn't going to go away soon.  If you do try to rule the world, you'll have to make your threat a permanent thing just to maintain control.

Title: Travel back in Time
Description: Travel back in time, do _something_ to give you control of the world, and then come back to the present and rule.  The trouble, of course, is that _something_.  You could give your younger self a list of stock market prices with which to make billions, or some modern technology that nobody back then could defeat.
Price: What are time machines going for on eBay?
Success %: 20%
Damage: Zero to Total (depends on your method, of course)
Failure Consequences: Oh, the list does go on.  You might kill your father and cease to exist.  Your time machine might break the fabric of the universe (oops, did I do that?).  The world-takeover part might not work (after all, giving yourself those stock market prices might _change_ those prices, making them useless), however the only consequence of this one is that you come back to where you started.  The time cops might arrest you and do something horrible.  You could find out that by altering the timeline, you've only split off an alternate future and the new you isn't the old you.  (And yo've put an alternate "you" in charge.)
Success Consequences: That depends on your methods.  Generally, a successful time-travel takeover has the same success scenario as the underlying method you use (military, business, etc.)

Title: Mind Control
Description: Use your telepathic powers and/or a psionic multiplication device to allow you to control the minds of either the most important people in the world, or _all_ of the people (depending on how powerful your telepathy is). 
Price: One mind-control device, please.  And supersize it.
Success %: 20% (if you control some people) 99% (if you control everybody)
Damage: If you try to just take control of all the leaders of the world, then the underlings will eventually start and uprising against you, and they will probably be able to kill you somehow (destruction is just so easy).
Failure Consequences: You could be killed by an uprising of those too unimportant to control.  The other possibility is that you make a mistake.  If you are controling _everybody_, then you have to make all of the decisions.  If you screw up a decision badly enough, then you (and maybe everybody) will end up dead.
Success Consequences: You rule the world!  Of course, having turned everybody else into automatons, you'll have to do all of the thinking from here on out.  That part could get old.

Title: Release the Not-Me-Fever Disease
Description: Genetically engineer and release a disease that kills everybody except yourself (and maybe those you've selected).  Since everybody you don't like is dead, you're in charge.
An alternative method is to also engineer a temporary vaccine which people have to continually keep getting doses of from you.  This allows you to reward the loyal with continued life, and let the disloyal die off.
Price: Millions of dollars (to run a small genetic engineering ranch, and to hire doctor Mephesto).
Success %: 90%
Damage: Almost total.  (The damage is the whole method.)
Failure Consequences: Either you screw the disease up, and it doesn't kill anybody, or you make it too powerful and it kills _everybody_, including you.  In the second case, your mistake will have killed off the entire human species.  Good job, doofus.  If you're lucky, they'll just find a cure for the disease and try you as a war criminal.
Success Consequences: You kill _almost_ the entire human species.  You have to be pretty evil to want this.  Using the alternative method, you control a drastically reduced human population with an iron fist.  Rebellion is pretty much unheard of.

Title: Start your own Religion
Description: Start any self-perpetuating organization with you in charge that will, in turn, take over the world.  This could be anything from a speech club to a birdwatching society, but a religion is the tried and true way of going about it.  Some new religions have done what amounted to taking over the known world (known at time, of course).
Price: Probably very little, you might even make money off of it.
Success %: 5%
Damage: Almost none before the Jihad phase starts (to kill off infidels who won't join), similar to military conquest after that.
Failure Consequences: You end up as the leader of some piddly little cult, or just give up entirely.
Success Consequences: You are a god!  (Or at least that's what your followers think.)

Title: Robotic Mayhem
Description: Build an army of robots, loyal to you, who can then take over the world for you.  If you're devious about it, you could sell the robots and design them to pretend to be loyal to the buyer until the day you set as robot takeover day (like the movie version of I, Robot).
Price: Billions if you build them yourself, or you make money if you sell them.
Success %: 25%
Damage: Enormous damage as the human underground fights against your robot armies.  (think Terminator)
Failure Consequences: The military manages to kill off your robots and you're tried/prosecuted as a war criminal.
Success Consequences: You control the robots who control the world.  You could keep the remaining humans as pets, if you're feeling kind.

Title: Betray Earth to Evil Aliens
Description: Contact some evil aliens (probably with radio telescopes, but maybe something new) and offer to help them take over the Earth in exchange for being made a kind of planetary governor after they take over.  The trouble is that evil aliens would be pretty likely to betray by just killing you after they take over.
Price: Millions to Billions to build radio telescopes and run an operation kind of like SETI (hmm... maybe that's what they're up to)
Success %: 10% (that's after you contact them, of course)
Damage: Military Conquest damage (Heavy), plus the damage of the fact that Earth is no longer an independent planet.
Failure Consequences: You merely run a search for extraterrestrial signals.  No real damage, just an arguable waste of money.
Success Consequences: You're the de-facto ruler of Earth, but you're not really the top dog.  It's still probably an improvement for you, though.

Title: Write the Ultimate Computer Viru
Description: Write a computer virus so powerful that it takes over all the computers of the world and puts you in charge of them.  You can then deny computer functions (such as food, water, etc.) to those who don't obey you.  For this to work, you'd probably have to wait until computers are put in charge of more of the necessary functions than they are at present.
Price: Free, but you have to be a genius virus writer.
Success %: 1%, as people will probably just work around broken computers.
Damage: Anywhere from zero damage to destroying every computer worldwide.
Failure Consequences: Your virus is written but never becomes widespread: no consequences.  You write it and get caught: civil or criminal penalties.
Success Consequences: You gain a tenuous control over the people of the world.  The trouble is that people will always be trying to get around your computer systems.

Title: Hypertechnology
Description: You get control of a set of technologies that put you so far in advance of everybody else that you are effectively far stronger militarily than the whole world.  This is distinct from Military Conquest in that instead of simply running a big military organization, you're controlling all of the machines yourself.  The other distinction is that the conquest itself need not be military.  If you control sufficiently advanced technology, you could easily conquer in financial or even political ways.  (In Marooned in Realtime, it is mentioned that Wili Wachendon had this degree of technology, though he chose not to do it.)
One way to do this would be to travel back/forward in time, getting the tech at the future end and using it at the past end.
Price: That's a good question, as you, by definition, can't buy this stuff.
Success %: 90% (once you have the technology)
Damage: Little to None (With sufficiently advanced technology, it's easier, for example, to keep the missiles from being launched than to let them impact.)
Failure Consequences: You're merely a high-tech marvel and major player on the world scene.
Success Consequences: You control the entire population of the Earth, but that is less than the complexity (and value) of your private posessions.  Now why was it that you bothered?

Write your own!  If you've got a way to take over the world that I haven't included, or if you know of an aspect of one of the ways above that I ignored, tell me!  Just mail me at
Success %:?
Failure Consequences:?
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 ©2005 Steven Rehn
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