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.
- 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.
- 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 pursuing.
- 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.
- At the very beginning of Casino, Sam "Ace" Rothstein is blown up by a car bomb, with the rest of the film showing How We Got Here. When the plot finally arrives to the explosion, it turns out that Sam's Cadillac El Dorado (like all others of the line on that same year) got an additional steel plate placed on its underside to help with weight distribution (which was cheaper than doing a full redesign), which prevented the bomb from killing Ace outright (he still walked away heavily burned, though).
- 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.
- 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.
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