Created By: nman on March 23, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on December 13, 2016

Saved by Cheapness

Someone is saved because of cost-cutting measures.

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Trope
Some people refuse to pay more than the bare minimum for anything, and try their best to cut costs, sometimes going as far as buying a Shoddy Knockoff Product. Occasionally, though, that cheapness is capable of saving lives; sometimes the more-expensive options have side-effects or weaknesses not present in the inferior version the cheapskate settled for, has different properties, or can be used in a Rock Beats Laser situation, which winds up saving the day. When applied to villains, the cheap substitute is usually no good, and proves no hindrance to the heroes.

As this is often incorporated into a Plot Twist, beware of spoilers.


Examples

Comics
  • In Tintin in America, Tintin is dropped into a grinding machine at a meat canning plant, but is saved when the workers go on strike.

Live Action Film
  • Austin Powers: Dr Evil's Shark Pool is bereft of sharks with Frickin' Laser Beams on their heads due to budgetary and environmental issues. They use mutant sea bass instead.
  • In the climax of THX 1138, the central police computer calculates that they've exhausted their budget for apprehending the fugitive THX. The message gets sent out, and the police robots simply stop chasing THX.
  • Rare example of a villain being saved in Iron Man 2 when the much built up bunker-buster, the ex-wife fails due to cheap construction. Also occurs with the Hammer Drones.

Live Action TV
  • Married... with Children: In a Dream Sequence, Al Bundy becomes a private detective investigating a wealthy man's murder. He figured out who the killer was by the cheap, flimsy shoes "worn only by...the wives of shoe salesman" that the man's niece had on. It was raining out, but her shoes were dry and whole, proving she had not gone outside as she claimed.
  • In Psych, when someone tries to kill Shawn with his own bedside morphine drip, he lives because the drip only had glucose in it, as his father refused to foot the bill for painkillers.

Western Animation
  • Tearjerker's entire plan to kill Stan and "Sexpun" in American Dad!. What isn't owed to Bond Villain Stupidity is to his cheap contractor that made the most shoddy of work on his evil lair, and his getaway vehicle.
    Tearjerker: MIKE!!! YOU'RE THE WORST CONTRACTOR EVVEEEEERRRRRRR!!!!
  • In a segment of Simpsons Bible Stories where Bart is Moses, he and Lisa are tossed into a pyramid to be killed by Spikes of Doom, but the spikes don't work right.
    Lisa: Eh, slave labor. You get what you pay for.

Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • March 24, 2012
    Psi001
    Tearjerker's entire plan to kill Stan and "Sexpun" in American Dad. What isn't owed to Bond Villain Stupidity is to his cheap contractor that made the most shoddy of work on his evil lair, and his getaway vehicle.
    Tearjerker: MIKE!!! YOU'RE THE WORST CONTRACTOR EVVEEEEERRRRRRR!!!!
  • March 24, 2012
    MorganWick
    I'm a teensy bit worried about this being used snidely for cost-cutting measures in the making of the work.
  • March 24, 2012
    MetaFour
    • In the climax of THX 1138, the central police computer calculates that they've exhausted their budget for apprehending the fugitive THX. The message gets sent out, and the police robots simply stop chasing THX.
  • March 25, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Actually, the word "saved" would mean improving a work by cutting costs (Star Trek II versus Star Trek The Motion Picture).

    But I agree this needs a more specific name.

    Also, since this is essentially a spoiler trope, this doesn't need spoiler markup. It needs a general spoiler warning.
  • March 25, 2012
    foxley
    In Tintin in America, Tintin is dropped into a grinding machine at a meat canning plant, but is saved when the workers go on strike.
  • March 28, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    In a Dream Sequence Al Bundy becomes a private detective investigating a wealthy man's murder. He figured out who the killer was by the cheap, flimsy shoes "worn only by...the wives of shoe salesman" that the man's niece had on. It was raining out, but her shoes were dry and whole, proving she had not gone outside as she claimed.
  • March 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In a segment of "Simpsons Bible Stories" where Bart is Moses, he and Lisa are tossed into a pyramid to be killed by Spikes Of Doom, but the spikes don't work right.
    Lisa: Eh, slave labor. You get what you pay for.
  • March 29, 2012
    Cakatarn
    Makes me think of a deleted scene in the Looney Toons movie where the chairman asks if someone could fall in the lava because it was expensive.
  • October 24, 2012
    Nazetrime
    Wasn't Milhouse Moses in that Simpsons story ?
  • October 24, 2012
    Chabal2
    Dr Evil's Shark Pool is bereft of sharks with Frickin Laser Beams on their heads due to budgetary and environmental issues. They use mutant sea bass instead.

  • December 31, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^ You're right, I don't know why I wrote Bart in there.

    Averted/Zig Zagged in The Hudsucker Proxy. as Neville is saving Mussberger from falling out of a window by holding on to his pants, Mussberger has a Flashback of getting the pants made - he got them single-stitched instead of double-stiched because it was cheaper, but single-stitching is more prone to coming loose when being held by the pants out a window; the pants start to give way. But we see in another flashback that partway through the stitching process, the tailor decides to give him double-stitching at no extra charge, so the pants hold up just long enough.
  • December 31, 2012
    KZN02
  • January 1, 2013
    CrankyStorming
    In The IT Crowd, it looks like Jen is about to be fired for failing a stress test, but then she passes. Why? The stress test machine was Made In Britain.
  • January 1, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Maybe 'Casino' counts? It's not explicitly said it was done as a cost-cutting effort, but the underside of the Cadillac of De Niro's character had an additional iron plate placed under the driver's seat because of a weight issue (instead of, you know, just modify the car design so the issue is removed, which I guess would have been more expensive) and it saves him from being blown up by a car bomb.
  • January 1, 2013
    Ezmar
    Quick Idea: "Cheapskating By"?
  • January 20, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    I think 'Saved By Cheapness' sounds better.
  • January 20, 2013
    mythbuster
    Does it count if the cheapness ends up resulting in a convenient failure, like the hero's roof caving in while a bad guy is attacking and crushing the bad guy?
  • January 21, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Guess it does-the general trope is that either the villain cut down on budget and the budget-saving measure saves the hero-or someone else cut on budget, the villain didn't knew, and it still saves the hero.
  • December 12, 2016
    Nazetrime
    I have a possible example of this.
    • In Stand Still Stay Silent, the expedition is underfunded, which led to a lot of Cutting Corners measures on the part of Mission Control. This caused among other things a quite predictable Not This One That One moment when it came to revealing the team's small and used vehicle, that was at the end of a line of bigger and sturdier-looking ones. Later, when they are crossing the bridge between Sweden and what used to be Denmark, the bridge starts breaking and they have just enough time to make it to a more stable portion before it completely falls apart. Readers quite quickly realized that one of the bigger vehicles would have ended up in the sea if it had gone over the more fragile part of the bridge.

    The villainous version of this also seems like a close relative to You Get What You Pay For.
  • December 11, 2016
    M4dH4tter
    @Morgan Wick

    Don't. That is a stupid thing to worry about. What kind of people do you think use this site?
  • December 12, 2016
    Arivne
    ^ Morgan Wick's comment was made in 2012.
  • December 13, 2016
    Arivne
  • December 13, 2016
    Chabal2
    Achille Talon: Government troops open fire on Tapasambalian rebels with machine guns... to no effect, because the main ingredient of the cartridges is cactus fiber. Second-rate cactus fiber.
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