Created By: bificommander on October 2, 2010 Last Edited By: Ominae on December 1, 2013

Corporate Carrier Group

An organization that has far more resources than they could logically have or be able to hide.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Tags: Needs a Better Description (Priority One), Needs a Better Title, Needs More Examples, Up for Grabs

A fairly common solution to the problem when a Rambo-style or super-power protagonist is pitted against an enemy that is supposed to be possible to exist in a world like our own. This can be an evil corporation, or a crime organization, or perhaps a shadowy conspiracy. When such a foe fights a normal cop or a lawyer, they can send some shady types to threaten or attack the protagonist, and it will be a credible threat. But if the protagonist is a certified Badass, he would flatten or mow down the thugs, and the story would end quickly. So perhaps they'll have a lot of thugs. With guns. Machine guns. And rocket launchers. And tanks, and attack helicopters, and....

The Corporate Carrier Group occurs when this beefing up of a supposedly realistic enemy is taken to its (il)logical extreme. It threatens to break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, when a private corporate security team would give an army battalion a run for its money, or when a highly secretive organization has such a large and well equipped branch of enforcers, it leaves you wondering how they manage to remain secret. In short, whenever a semi-realistic group has far more resources than they could logically have or hide, it's a Corporate Carrier Group.

It is a common occurrence in Super-hero stories, whenever the writers want to take a break from the usual super-villain enemies (or when the super-villains run any kind of organization than includes non-superpowered people, expect it to fall into this trope). It is also very common in video games. In such cases, it is arguably an Acceptable break from reality.

It should be noted that what is a realistic for such an enemy to have depends on the country the story takes place in, among other things. In a narco-state, the drug organizations really can have enough firepower to match a small army. Or perhaps the actual army has been bribed sufficiently that they simply use that.

Usually, this trope applies to villains. But while protagonists rarely have large armies, they can have a few very nice toys or hidden bases that they really shouldn't have.

Examples

Video Games
  • Resident Evil. The Umbrella Corporation's private Red Shirt Army, the UBCS. Not to mention the multiple private military/research bases they own. And they're supposed to be a pharmaceutical R&D company in the public eye!
  • FEAR - Armacham.
  • Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. has a private military company (or rather, large corporation) that mid-game goes rogue and attacks the United States with huge numbers of fighter jets and various other pieces of high-tech military hardware.

Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • December 18, 2009
    Silent Hunter
    Definitely merits its own trope.
  • December 18, 2009
    CrypticMirror
    Isn't this NGO Superpower?
  • December 18, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    NGO Superpower indeed covers the NOD/GLA example. Hadn't seen that one yet. But this trope is, I think, a bit more general. It covers all 'secret' armies that are too big to have or keep secret. They don't always have to match a full country. But I agree that there are similarities.
  • December 18, 2009
    Zaka51
    The Umbrella Corporations private Red Shirt Army, the UBCS. Not to mention the multiple private military/research bases they own.
  • December 18, 2009
    Grahamr
    bump.
  • December 18, 2009
    DEFCON 1
    Can do without the Wall Of Text and the complaining.

    Anyway, usually explainable, especially if the corporation is a Mega Corp.

    • Shadowrun's Triple-AAA corps always have some sort of working army.
    • FEAR - Armacham.
  • September 16, 2010
    MarqFJA
    Bump. And DEFON 1, it's either "Tripe-A" or "AAA"; "Triple-AAA" means "AAAAAAAAA".

    We should also define the general distinctions/overlaps between Corporate Carrier Group, Mega Corp, and NGO Superpower.
  • October 2, 2010
    MarqFJA
    Seeing as the original poster isn't participating, I'll be handling watching over this YKTTW for now. I'm only one man, though; I can't do everything by myself.
  • October 2, 2010
    Deboss
    What is the difference between this and NGO Superpower?
  • October 2, 2010
    MarqFJA
    As I understand it, NGO Superpower generally does not bother hiding that it has enough resources to be comparable to an actual country, while not being one in and of itself. The typical Mega Corp in a setting that is largely dominated by Mega Corps (e.g. Shadowrun) usually qualifies as an NGO Superpower.

    However, Corporate Carrier Group is about a non-governmental (para)military force that somehow manages to maintain virtually complete secrecy from every world superpower's intelligence agencies and military surveillance, despite that it's clearly too big to not be noticeable. Consider the Umbrella Corporation - just how on Earth did they manage to have their "corporate security" forces armed with all the latest in heavy military weapons and equipment, up to and including Harrier jets, when their public profile is strictly "pharmaceuticals/biomedical research"?! This isn't the Shadowrun world, you know.
  • October 7, 2010
    arromdee
    I don't get the impression from the description above that this is requires secrecy. Especially in superhero worlds--often, big corporations or organizations have guards in power suits as a normal part of business. The fact that they have them is not concealed in any way, although if the organization is evil, that's usually concealed. Some such organizations aren't even evil, although if so they're then ineffectual instead.
  • October 8, 2010
    MarqFJA
    • I think the Needs A Better Description tag speaks for itself. The "secret army is too big to be secret" is tropable IMO, in anycase.

    • See the second paragraph, which is the actual definition. Particularly: "''It threatens to break the Willing suspencion of disbelief, when a private corporate security team would give an army battalion a run for its money, or when a highly secretive orginization has such a large and well equiped branch of enforcers, it leaves you wondering how they manage to remain secret. In short, whenever a semi-realistic group has far more resources than they could logically have or hide, it's a Corporate Carrier Group."
  • September 4, 2011
    Joesolo
    I think thats already a good trope name. Third paragraph should be trimmed down or cut, second to last needs work, and the last one should be cut, as it's just examples.
  • October 25, 2011
    CrowTR0bot
    I also get the impression that the organization, while it probably would have its own private army, has manpower and resources far beyond the capacity of its real life equivalent. It would be the equivalent of Al Qaeda having an air force of F-22s and an army of night-vision equipped commandoes with optic camouflage gear.

    That said, I nominate SPECTRE from the early James Bond movies as an example. They have the ability to hijack airplanes and spaceships and the resources to construct an Elaborate Underground Base inside of a volcano.
  • October 26, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Alexander Corvinus has one in Underworld: Evolution. Arguably justified in that he's been alive for centuries and was an aristocratic warrior back in the day.
  • October 26, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    The Black Ghost Organization of Cyborg 009. Can mobilize enough firepower to storm Omaha Beach on a few mintues notice.
  • January 6, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "An organization that has far more resources than they could logically have or be able to hide."

    Isn't this Organization With Unlimited Funding?
  • January 6, 2012
    Koncur
    • ULTOR Corporation in Saints Row 2 have their own private army, and enforce their territory as if they are the police.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    What's the story on this?
  • August 15, 2012
    MarqFJA
    ^^^ Does that trope cover having stuff that, while technically possible to buy/build, are too conspicuous for the type of the organization in question (e.g. secretive criminal/terrorist) to hide from the eyes of world powers, and thus causes Fridge Logic about how the organization was allowed to legally buy/build that stuff? (See my previous comment about Resident Evil's Umbrella Corp. for a glaring example.)
  • November 2, 2013
    Ominae
    Is this thing still on? I'd like to give out some examples.
  • November 3, 2013
    Arivne
    Corrected some spelling errors and Blue Linked some trope names in the description.

    In the Examples section and the description: Namespaced and italicized work titles.

    FEAR - Armacham is a Zero Context Example.
  • November 3, 2013
    kjnoren
    Terrible trope name, totally non-indicative of the "secret" or "not common knowledge" part.
  • November 4, 2013
    Ominae
    I'm wondering about a suitable name since there are some works where good guys hide their covert stuff from the public.
  • November 4, 2013
    kjnoren
  • November 4, 2013
    DAN004
    I swear we have this already...
  • November 4, 2013
    StarSword
  • December 1, 2013
    Ominae
    We can have those three for comparison and overlapping this trope.
  • December 1, 2013
    DAN004
    We also have Murder Inc.
  • December 1, 2013
    Ominae
    Can work with overlapping.

    Also tried to work on it a bit by removing the last paragraph as suggested. Maybe I'll change the name and have a laconic one for it too. The OP does need some correcting IMHO.
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