Carbon–carbon (C–C) bonds make up the skeletons of most organic molecules. The selective manipulation of C–C bonds offers a direct approach to editing molecular scaffolds but remains challenging. The kinetic inertness of C–C bonds can be overcome with transition-metal catalysis, which, nevertheless, relies on a substrate being highly strained or bearing a permanent directing group (DG). The driving force for C–C activation in these cases is strain relief and the formation of a stable metallocycle, respectively. Over the past two decades, a strategy has emerged that uses temporary or removable DGs to effect C–C activation of more common and less strained compounds.