The criminal underworld is a big, big place. It is shadowy, omnipresent and indiscriminate- if you are out to break the law, you're in, whether you like it or not.
An Ancient Conspiracy
only in that crime is as old as sin, this trope brings together The Syndicate
, the Corrupt Corporate Executive
, Corrupt Bureaucrat
, The Chessmaster
, Magnificent Bastard
, Arms Dealer
, terrorists, rogue states and potentially anybody involved in organized crime of one kind or another. It won't likely be a full-fledged Government Conspiracy
, but it will have a few poliicians in it's pocket. A portion of the loot for that bank job goes to the local Syndicate
who are dealing arms to African revolutionaries with links to Islamic terrorists, who blow up a plane with a mafia snitch on board and run by an airline that was getting in the way of a Corrupt Corporate Executive
. All this was monitored and assissted by the Nebulous Evil Organization
who knew all the neccesary info. from their mole in the FBI.
The Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy
is when a number of criminals and criminal organizations- which when properly defined includes terrorists, illegal militias, revolutionaries and other politically-minded groups as well as your mafias and drug cartels- make common cause with each other despite rival or even diametrically opposed goals. It may or may not include, or be headed by, at least one Nebulous Evil Organization
that feels the need to hire out from time to time. It is often run behind the scenes by a group of Manipulative Bastards
who are trying to achieve a single grand objective, but want or need to use other criminals to achieve these ends. As the underworld is a community, expect them to know who all the hitmen are and to use many frequently.
- In 24, not every Big Bad is part of it, but it has been hinted from Day 1 that there is a bigger and more complex consiracy running the show. This is confirmed in later seasons when Jack's brother- who we had previously seen bossing around the President- confesses to being behind the hits on David Palmer and Jck's friends, plus several attempts on Jack's own life. Day 7 reveals the apparent mastermind of this conspiracy but others are still out there. Pretty much every femme fatale, crooked politiian and Corrupt Corporate Executive seems to be involved in one way or another, with terrorists and dictators used as pawns in their unidentified scheme (though it seems to be about setting up some kind of hardline government to deal harshly with threats to the US, albeit by plotting most of the attacks on the US to create the environment such a government wuld need to operate in).
- James Bond, the most recent films providing good examples as Le Chiffre from Casino Royale is bank rolling African Terrorists as an employee of Nebulous Evil Organization Quantum, who in Quantum of Solace are trying to set up a Bolivian general as a dictator to seize control of Bolivia's water, and whose members include evil phony philanthropist Dominic Greene and an advisor to the British Prime Minister. They also convince the CIA and, later, MI6 to go along with their schemes under false pretences. They seem to be motivated by power more than by cash, and probably have some kind of ideology.
- The trope was less overt in earlier films, but SPECTRE is involved in drug running, The Great Train Robbery, nuclear terrorism, and hs as members a world Chess champion, the former head of SMERSH, a mad scientist, a playboy, a Japanese chemical company, and is recognisable to the public as the International Brotherhood for the Assisstance of Stateess Persons. They also do mercenary work for an unidentified country, probably Red China.
- In Alex Rider, international assassins The Gentleman and Yassen Gregorovitch are both hired quite seperately by two villains (that's 4 Big Bad's, not two); the latter was trained by Nebulous Evil Organization SCORPIA who, in addition to their own evil schemes, offered support to most of the other Big Bads of the series. SCORPIA themselves are led by former assassins, spies, an infamous torturer, and the Big Bad of the 7th book who was the head of a Triad human trafficking ring, from all around the world, united by greed. They had at least one mole in the Australian Secret Service, and do work for unidentified rogue states.
- In Real Life, most well-known cartels, terrorist groups and crime syndicates really are inter-linked nd will frequently do business with each other, pretty much because they don't have much choice, what with being illegal and all. Intelligence organizations usually monitor such relationships and may get involved in them in pursuit of their own goals.
- Something like this seems to be going on in Flash Forward. How do scientists, an evil private military firm, and the fat henchman from Tomorrow Never Dies all fit together?
- Keyser Soze, the Diabolical Mastermind who has Turkish drug dealers, third rate American crooks, and apparently every criminal everywhere dancing to his tune. Or so he claims.
- In Marvel Comics, it was recently established that Norman Osborn used to work for various shady industrialists, who used him and others to fund and create low and mid-level supervillains for the heroes to fight so that they won't have time to turn on them for all their misdeeds. They seemingly did not plan for Osborn to become an insane superpowered supervillain in his own right, of course.
- And in DC Comics, Intergang receives weapons from Darkseid, seemingly just to annoy Superman.