Created By: ginsengaddict on February 21, 2014 Last Edited By: ginsengaddict on March 20, 2017
Troped

Fatal Reward

Getting killed for being helpful

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Trope
Bad guys cannot be trusted. As such, whenever one promises a valuable but suspiciously unspecified "reward" for completing a task or providing information or something that benefits the baddie in some way, beware: said "reward" will probably be a quick death (if you're lucky). Generally a sign of gross incompetence on the part of the villain, since competent minions are pretty valuable.

Common in fantasy genre.

Compare You Have Failed Me and You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, in which the subject is killed in similar circumstances; though usually as a result of failure or part of a grand design, as opposed to being given a task or opportunity, fulfilling it competently, then being killed anyway. Also compare Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves, a subtrope which is this in specific cases where the victim has actively and knowingly betrayed their party to their killer in some way. Enforced in a more literal sense in cases where the victim actually wants to die, particularly in cases they can't do it themselves.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Slayers, the Tragic Villain Erisiel Vrumugun does everything to bring her beloved master Copy Rezo back to power. But when her task if finally complete, her master promptly kills her off to concentrate on defeating the heroes.

Film
  • Aladdin. Jafar's plan for Aladdin after he gets him the lamp: stab him, leave him for dead and take the lamp back to Agrabah. Luckily it fails.
  • The Hobbit. Semi-heroic-ish example in Thranduil, who promises to "free" the captive orc in exchange for information. After getting said information, the orc is swiftly decapitated and Thranduil justifies this by claiming he "freed his wretched head" from his body.
  • Hudson Hawk. Hawk's parole officer probably shouldn't have demanded "his cut" from a Literal-Minded Knife Nut.
  • Sneakers. After the protagonists steal the black box from Janek, Martin and Crease go to the men who hired them to receive their payment. Crease learns that Janek has been murdered and that they're being set up for execution. He calls Martin over to him and they escape before the men can kill them.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who: In Dragonfire, Kane rewards the sculptor who just finished carving a life-sized statue of Xana by letting him look at the statue as Kane kills him.
  • Jessica Jones. The fate of Detective Clemens is this after revealing the probable locations of Jessica and Kilgrave to Officer Simpson.
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Jafar does something similar here with the Grendel, promising to "reunite" him with his dead wife in exchange for information. Of course, after getting said information, Jafar promptly kills him.
  • Person of Interest. The "bank manager" working for Decima who stole and delivered the Samaritan drives to Greer was thanked with a bullet through the chest.

Literature
  • One of the Arabian Nights has a djinn trapped in a bottle. At first he'll willingly becomes his liberator's slave, after a few hundred years go by he'll grant them three wishes, and after a few hundred years more he'll kill the person that frees him. When a fisherman comes along and does just that, the djinn explins his reasoning and gets ready to kill him. The fisherman expresses his incredulity that so huge and powerful a djinn could fit in a tiny bottle. The djinn demonstrates, and the fisherman puts the seal back on.

Video Game
  • Ex Mortis: The second game ends with the player character being rewarded for bringing an Eldritch Abomination back to power with a quick death.
  • At one point in Papers, Please, Vonel will ask if you've ever heard of the Order of the EZIC Star. You can hand him a coded document you received from an EZIC operative and get arrested for associating with suspicious persons. In the Steam version you'll also unlock the achievement "Too Honest".

Western Animation
  • The wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan from Dreamworks' The Road to El Dorado seeks to destroy the posers Miguel and Tulio by using a huge stone jaguar. Tzekel-Kan's faithful flunky is mixing the magic potion, but something seems to be missing from the recipe. Tzekel-Kan deduces that his minion must perish in order to give the stone icon life, and promptly pushes his stooge into the roiling ooze.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Apokolips... Now!", after the mobster Bruno Mannheim (who was hired by the alien warlord Darkseid under promises of wealth and power) completes his last mission (to blow up a nuclear reactor on an island), he is left behind to die.
    Mannheim: "You said you'd make me a king!"
    Darkseid: "And so you are. King of FOOLS!" (teleports away)
  • The roachlike cook of salvage station Tau 14 from Don Bluth's Titan A.E. eagerly points out which passageway the fleeing Cale Tucker and Captain Korso have taken. The Drej reward him for such honesty by shooting an energy blast down his throat. His last word is an apt "bullseye."
Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • February 21, 2014
    Premonition45
  • February 21, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ This doesn't have to be about traitors...
  • February 21, 2014
    Jallen
  • February 21, 2014
    ginsengaddict
    Subtrope at least.
  • February 21, 2014
    ginsengaddict
    But I think they're distinct, albeit both are used to show the bad guy is bad —- but one has the baddie killing someone he was going to kill anyway, which the other leaves the question open (supposedly) about whether or not a killing will occur. With this trope, the victim thinks they might live.
  • February 21, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Okay, I think I grasp the concept:

    Western Animation
    • The wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan from Dreamworks' The Road To El Dorado seeks to destroy the posers Miguel and Tulio by using a huge stone jaguar. Tzekel-Kan's faithful flunky is mixing the magic potion, but something seems to be missing from the recipe. Tzekel-Kan deduces that his minion must perish in order to give the stone icon life, and promptly pushes his stooge into the roiling ooze.
  • February 21, 2014
    Arivne
    I think this is a Sister Trope of Rewarded As A Traitor Deserves and You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. They're related, and share some (but not all) examples.

    • Formatted Examples section.
    • Italicized work names.
  • February 21, 2014
    DAN004
    We also have "Pass the Test and Die" YKTTW.
  • February 21, 2014
    zarpaulus
    I think Rewarded As A Traitor Deserves would be a subtrope. I'm thinking like in Dune the Harkonnens promised Yueh they'd reunite him with his wife whom they'd taken hostage if he betrayed the Atreides, and they'd secretly killed her.
  • February 21, 2014
    Bibliophile
    Subverted/taken literally (?) if the victim actually wants to die, particularly in cases of I Cannot Self Terminate. (I know there are examples, I just can't think of any at the moment)
  • February 21, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • The roachlike cook of salvage station Tau 14 from Don Bluth's Titan AE eagerly points out which passageway the fleeing Cale Tucker and Captain Korso have taken. The Drej reward him for such honesty by shooting an energy blast down his throat. His last word is an apt "bullseye."
  • February 22, 2014
    DAN004
    Title should not sound like a phrase.

    What about Rewarded With Death?
  • February 22, 2014
    spacemarine50
    Does marytrdom apply here?
  • February 22, 2014
    Chabal2
    The second Ex Mortis game ends with the player character being rewarded for bringing an Eldritch Abomination back to power with a quick death.
  • February 22, 2014
    Koveras
    • In Slayers, the Tragic Villain Erisiel Vrumugun does everything to bring her beloved master Copy Rezo back to power. But when her task if finally complete, her master promptly kills her off to concentrate on defeating the heroes.
  • February 22, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
  • February 22, 2014
    Andygal
    this is also a frequent result of forgetting that Evil Is Not A Toy.
  • February 22, 2014
    Koveras
    ^^ Uhm, Erisiel never betrayed anyone. She was loyal to Rezo and his clone from the start until her death.
  • February 28, 2014
    ginsengaddict
    @DAN 004 - we already have Your Reward Is Clothes; what's wrong with using the current title?
  • February 28, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ No New Stock Phrases. Your title sounds like one. Your Reward Is Clothes, while not a stock phrase in itself, has a phrase title and is classified as "old". Basically we're preventing such things to happen again.
  • March 2, 2014
    ginsengaddict
    New title. Opinions?
  • March 2, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Like.
  • March 4, 2014
    ginsengaddict
    Sweet. Ok, more examples/description suggestions?
  • March 11, 2014
    ginsengaddict
    bump
  • March 11, 2014
    daefaroth
    Hudson Hawk. Hawk's parole officer probably shouldn't have demanded "his cut" from a Literal Minded Knife Nut.
  • September 6, 2016
    KTera
    • At one point in Papers Please, Vonel will ask if you've ever heard of the Order of the EZIC Star. You can hand him a coded document you received from an EZIC operative and get arrested for associating with suspicious persons. In the Steam version you'll also unlock the achievement "Too Honest".
  • September 6, 2016
    Chabal2
    One of the Arabian Nights has a djinn trapped in a bottle. At first he'll willingly becomes his liberator's slave, after a few hundred years go by he'll grant them three wishes, and after a few hundred years more he'll kill the person that frees him. When a fisherman comes along and does just that, the djinn explins his reasoning and gets ready to kill him. The fisherman expresses his incredulity that so huge and powerful a djinn could fit in a tiny bottle. The djinn demonstrates, and the fisherman puts the seal back on.
  • September 7, 2016
    DAN004
    Compare Pass The Test And Die. Or Doom As Test Reward. (Forgot the launched title)
  • September 7, 2016
    eroock
    The comparison against You Have Outlived Your Usefulness in OP looks more like it compares against You Have Failed Me ("failure or part of a grand design"). I don't really see much of a difference here.
  • September 7, 2016
    Antigone3
    Doctor Who: In Dragonfire, Kane rewards the sculptor who just finished carving a life-sized statue of Xana by letting him look at the statue as Kane kills him.
  • September 8, 2016
    Arivne
    Film
    • Sneakers. After the protagonists steal the black box from Janek, Martin and Crease go to the men who hired them to receive their payment. Crease learns that Janek has been murdered and that they're being set up for execution. He calls Martin over to him and they escape before the men can kill them.
  • September 8, 2016
    DAN004
    I found Doom As Test Prize. Must be related.
  • September 8, 2016
    Dravencour
    This is essentially You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. Motion To Discard.
  • September 8, 2016
    AHI-3000
    • In the Superman The Animated Series episode "Apokolips... Now!", after the mobster Bruno Mannheim (who was hired by the alien warlord Darkseid under promises of wealth and power) completes his last mission (to blow up a nuclear reactor on an island), he is left behind to die.
      Mannheim: "You said you'd make me a king!"
      Darkseid: "And so you are. King of FOOLS!" (teleports away)
  • September 8, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    ^^ Motion denied based on previous discussion about that exact trope.
  • September 8, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    It got launched as Doom As Test Prize, I think, Dan 004. I think that should be looked at before this is launched.
  • September 20, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    ^ So not this trope. If it is, the title sucks.
  • September 20, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ that trope and this one are different, I agree
  • March 19, 2017
    ginsengaddict
    This has enough hats. Going to launch soon. Just have one more bit of business before that.

    Which title do we go with? Fatal Reward or Rewarded With Death?
  • March 20, 2017
    Arivne
    Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context.
  • March 20, 2017
    ginsengaddict
    Plenty of context with the Hudson Hawk example - see: "Exact Words"
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=2luorzbvcfwjw31pvmp9sico