[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/blackwater_helicopter_071119_main.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350: The most [[CorruptCorporateExecutive infamous]] modern example]]

->''"As long as there is man, there will be violence."\\
"As long as there is violence, there will be war."\\
"And as long as there is war... we will always have a job."''
-->-- '''Anonymous'''

Private Military Contractors (PMC) are mercenaries, soldiers and other combatants employed by a private company or other organization and fighting on behalf of clients. While such soldiers of fortune are regarded with wariness in most settings, they're generally considered distinct from criminal enforcers, mafia hit men, and the like.

In the real world, they are usually ex-soldiers with decent to slightly-above-average equipment from the United States -- the largest company, and largest number of companies, are American. Other common national backgrounds are former Soviet Republics or South Africa. Of course, there are plenty of less professional and less affluent outfits out there, some of which will hire just about anyone who'll take them up on their offer. [[WarForFunAndProfit It's a great summer job!]] In fiction, though, they tend to get all the latest and most expensive vehicles and support equipment as well, and are often recruited and trained by the company itself. Fictional mercenary groups often hire unique individuals or groups of various special types of fighters: {{ninja}}, {{ronin}} {{samurai}}, dishonored [[KnightInShiningArmor knights]], [[FunctionalMagic mages]], [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shapeshifters]], and [[TheRemnant left-over warriors of defeated organizations, nations, or races]] that need to make ends meet. Some [=PMCs=] are just a RagtagBunchOfMisfits.

These characters can be both heroic and villainous; in a conflict, they usually are allied with the richest party's faction, but sometimes have a [[HonorBeforeReason strict honor code]] that prevents them from switching sides mid-battle. If they get ''too'' enthusiastic about their job, they may become {{Blood Knight}}s and try to start a WarForFunAndProfit. On the other hand, they do have to deal with the risk of [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness their employers double-crossing them when the job's done]]. And if their clients run out of money before the fighting's done, things will get ugly in short order in one or more of many ways.

In recent years, there's come to be a distinction between a "''mercenary company''" and "''corporate mercenaries''", especially in Western (American) television and movies. The traditional mercenary who hires ''himself'' out (or himself and [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits a dozen of his best buddies]]) is seen as somewhat honest, with at least a personal code of honor of some kind (even if it's just "do the job, get paid"); determined to accomplish the mission for which he has been paid and takes his reputation very seriously; and is scrappy yet skilled. This character is usually played moderately sympathetic, or at least as an {{antihero}}. They will typically have some attention given to their, quite possibly colorful, personalities.

In stark contrast, the "''corporate mercenary''" is usually just a {{Mook}} or RedShirt of some kind, and the "character" takes the form of the PMC corporation itself. Corporate mercs are usually depicted as being up to no good, or are the hand-puppets of some shadowy organization which is itself up to no good. They are portrayed -- when anything more than FacelessGoons -- as amoral, ethically-challenged, and professional but [[MyMasterRightOrWrong hardly ever inclined to argue with Corporate Headquarters]]. If former military, many will have been dishonorably discharged. Unless the writer's bent on defying WhatMeasureIsAMook, they will almost never be the "good guys" in recent years. Their parent company usually has a name based loosely or thematically on "Blackwater" in a NoCelebritiesWereHarmed {{Expy}} of that real-life PMC -- examples include "Blackriver", "Red River", "Blackthorne", and "Starkwood".

Note that although this trope description uses the terms "PMC" and "mercenaries" interchangeably, in RealLife the distinction between them is extremely SeriousBusiness. This is because the international treaties that establish TheLawsAndCustomsOfWar explicitly ''forbid'' the usage of mercenaries in warfare. While traditional mercenaries might be tolerated in ''practice,'' legally they are neither lawful combatants, nor non-combatants, and thus aren't eligible for protection and respectful treatment under, for example, the Geneva conventions. When captured, they are treated as a criminal gang at best, and at worst as complete outlaws.

Private military contractors are the way that [[LoopholeAbuse some people]] [[RulesLawyer try to weasel out]] of this ban on mercenaries. Even though the largest of these companies employ materiel that is ordinarily associated purely with the military - armor, helicopters, light warships — ''on paper,'' they are just your garden variety mall guards writ large, and they are not authorized to wage war on their own. Officially, these units may be employed only in some duties not involving actively engaging the enemy (though they can do this if forced), such as escorting convoys and guarding some civilian structures. In practice this mandate could be, and often is interpreted ''very'' broadly -- "While you're on patrol, don't go and get into a fight with the insurgents at yonder hill three klicks to the southwest, but if [[TheDogShotFirst they fire first,]] or if you see anything indicating a possible threat, then by all means, do whatever you must." Note that not all [=PMCs=] necessarily are thinly disguised mercenaries; a private military contractor is any non-government organization contracted by the military, which may include as mundane things as a contract to make and serve food for an army in peacetime.

A PMC can provide a villainous [[TheEvilArmy Evil Army]] if one doesn't actually want to insult any real country's Armed Forces. If they're too ''much'' of an army, then they are an NGOSuperpower.

Mercenaries are the basic, land-based version of this trope; at sea and in space, they're [[{{Pirates}} privateers]] operating under letters of marque.

A sub-trope of HiredGuns, and can overlap somewhat with the ProfessionalKiller. If employed by a MegaCorp, then CorporateWarfare can be expected. Commonly a favorite industry of a ProudWarriorRace.

Compare with MurderInc, a completely criminal enterprise devoted to assassinating selected targets, compared to the quasi-legal PMC.

----
!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The Knight Sabers of ''BubblegumCrisis'' and ''BubblegumCrisis2040'' build their own [[WhereDoesHeGetAllThoseWonderfulToys Wonderful Toys]], but pay for the materials by contracting their services.
* SMS in ''MacrossFrontier''. They're portrayed in a positive light, and early on are actually more prepared to fight the Vajra than the regular military.
* The Extra Order mercs from the first arc of ''Manga/BlackLagoon'', who are described as war-junkies and take things to PsychoForHire levels at the Yellow Flag before Revy and the Lagoon Company take them down. They were probably a ShoutOut to the real-world Executive Outcomes, below.
** The Lagoon Company itself might also qualify as mercenaries of the modern-day pirate persuasion.
** Lagoon Company functions more as a black market goods and personnel courier. Balalaika's personal branch of the Russian mob is more of a straight example, however.
* After most of the members of the eponymous ''{{Hellsing}}'' organization are killed, its leader Integra hires the mercenary group called the "Wild Geese", ([[ShoutOut see under "Film", below]]) led by Pip Bernadette, as a replacement RedshirtArmy.
* The Franchise/{{Gundam}} metaseries provides several examples:
** The PMC Trust in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]'', a massive coalition of dozens of PMC groups, and powerful enough to have their own dedicated nation. The first season of 00 features two episodes to the Gundams tearing the place apart.
** Serpent Tail in ''[[Manga/MobileSuitGundamSeedAstray Gundam SEED Astray]]''. In ''Gundam SEED Destiny Astray'', special forces unit of the Eurasian Federation have also deserted to form Mercenary Unit X.
** Terminal of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeedDestiny Gundam SEED Destiny]]'', which grew out of the original Three Ships Alliance and hired enough new soldiers to become an NGOSuperpower on an even greater scale than before. They are an underground armed organization that answers solely to Lacus Clyne, and are not affiliated with either the Earth or ZAFT forces. [[spoiler:During the final battle, they get several warships from both sides to defect to them.]]
** The League Militaire [[Anime/MobileSuitVictoryGundam (late UC era)]]. They're quite specifically ''not'' the Federation military, they just rose up due to the Federation being too apathetic to oppose Zanscare. [[spoiler:It's later revealed that one of their primary sponsors is Anaheim Electronics, a major player in the area of Mobile Suit and weapons design, which explains where they get all their advanced equipment.]]
* In the series ''{{Area 88}}'', the fighter pilots at the eponymous airbase mix elements of this trope and the [[LegionOfLostSouls Foreign Legion]]. At one point, they fight the Wolf Pack, who play it straight.
* In ''MahouSenseiNegima'', Mana Tatsumiya explained that she was once a part of one of these named Kanbanurae. She traveled to so many battlefields across the far corners of the globe that main lead Negi questioned whether she could [[YoungerThanTheyLook actually be 15 years of age]]. Keep in mind, at the time she was ''7-10''. Also, Nagi Springfield's group the Ala Rubra used this as a front for their work in the {{Muggle|s}} world.
* The organization Mithril in ''Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic'' is one of these, and a large proportion of the show's characters, including one of the two main characters, are members.
* If you play through the original sound novels for ''UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'', both the TIPS and Ange mention that along with the rest of [[HotBlooded Amakusa's]] [[PersonaNonGrata long resume]], he also trained Blackwater troops.
* After the formation of the United Federation of Nations in ''CodeGeass'', the [[LaResistance Black Knights]] become this to them, with Zero as its CEO.
* ''{{Berserk}}'' has mercenaries as its primary characters, with its lead character Guts having been trained as one from childhood. The Golden Age arc of the manga, which the anime covers, follows a mercenary company called the Band of the Hawk that Guts was a part of, and in particular the events that would lead to its idealistic leader, Griffith, undergoing a nasty FaceHeelTurn and becoming Guts's number one enemy.
* The Ninja villages of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' are a fantasy version of this. The villages are answerable to their nation's daimyo due to their role in national security, but they can contract missions with employers of other nationalities as well. Though what their lower-level [[ChildSoldiers personnel]] does can be tasks as mundane as finding cats or doing yard work, the higher-ranked missions often include bodyguards for important political figures, working in place of regular military, or assassination ([[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything not that we see them doing the last two parts very much]]).
** The Grass Country Arc was about gathering info from TheMole as a prelude to assassinating Orochimaru, and in the course of which a plot to assassinate Sasuke was uncovered. The following arc revolved around a mission to assassinate Akatsuki duo Hidan and Kakuzu before they captured Naruto. We ''do'' see stuff like that, though admittedly these are all security matters and not hired mercenary missions.
** Prior to the founding of the villages, shinobi clans more closely filled this role.
** This is also what Akatsuki did to raise funds when they weren't pursuing their own agenda. Not that we ever got to see it.
* Essentially what Hunters in ''HunterXHunter'' are. The difference is, the Hunters Guild is a looser association. Hunters take their own jobs, but the Guild provides contacts and perks.
* Arqon Global Security of ''Anime/VipersCreed'' is a PMC tasked with the elimination of "Mech Bugs", stray war machines from a war that ended eight years prior to the story, and still attack cities at random. It is a notable example since the main characters are a pilot and his operator working for Arqon, plus their companions and the overall staff make up most of the cast. Basically the anime is ''about'' the PMC.
* Trident from ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''.
* Several [=PMCs=] show up in ''{{Manga/Jormungand}}''. Koko's bodyguards are on the books as employees of a PMC owned by H&C Logistics Incorporated. The Chinese PMC Daxinghai are the primary antagonists of the first season, and HCLI gets into a fight with British PMC Excalibur in ''Perfect Order''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Colonel Neopard, humanoid leopard space mercenary in ''PaperinikNewAdventures''.
* In one ''ThePunisher'' comic where American special forces are trying to capture Castle, one of the soldiers who was injured is told that Blackwater (real life PMC) won't hire him now.
** In a recent issue, Castle had a run-in with a bunch of Private Military Contractors, hired by Norman Osborn. Their group's name? Blackwater. It doesn't end very well for them.
* ''Mark Hazzard: Merc'' was one of MarvelComics TheNewUniverse titles.
* Jon Sable belonged to a mercenary company before returning to the U.S. in ''JonSableFreelance''.
* Comicbook/MoonKnight is former merc Marc Spector; he was working in Africa when he had his life-changing encounter with an Egyptian god.
* ''ComicBook/{{DMZ}}'' has a company that is mix of Haliburton and Blackwater called Trustwell. Their private army is ruthless, amoral and brutal.
* Comicbook/RedSonja frequently works as a mercenary.
* {{Deadpool}}, the Merc with the Mouth. It's right there in the name. He's been a temporary member of the Six Pack, who also do this kind of job.
* Slade Wilson, AKA "[[ComicBook/{{Deathstroke}} Deathstroke the Terminator]]", who is the original character Deadpool is expy'd from.
* SilverSable from MarvelComics is the ruler of her own micronation who employs her mercenary group ''Wild Pack'' as a way to support her nation. She also takes many jobs on her own and has employed superheroes such as SpiderMan from time to time.
* The ex-IRA mercs in ''SinCity'' are just soldiers of fortune that have the weaponry of a small army.
** It's hinted that the Colonel might use his Guild as one of these considering he recruits snipers and even black helicopters.
* ''GiveMeLiberty'' has PAX Peace Force.
* The company "Red River" in ''Comicbook/TheBoys'' is closely aligned with Vaught-American, a corrupt company behind the existence of [[BewareTheSuperman superpowered individuals]] in VA's quest for control over the US government. They prove to be ''very'' competent and ruthless, most notably [[spoiler:when they wipe out the CaptainErsatz of the ComicBook/{{X-Men}} with frightening ease]].
* In 2012's Vertigo graphic novel, ''Shooters'', the private military contractor is much closer to real life; the PMC is shown guarding supply trains, and bodyguarding diplomats, [[spoiler:including the guy responsible for the protagonist's friendly fire incident]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* A very significant part of [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/81159/1/racer-and-the-geek/predawn the story of]] ''FanFic/RacerAndTheGeek'' revolves around the [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/81159/1/racer-and-the-geek/predawn lives of mercenaries]] by focusing on one individual. The story takes a very nuanced approach to the trope.
* In ''FanFic/AnEntryWithABang!'', several down-on-their-luck merc groups like the Buron Cavalry were dragooned into joining Vorax's expedition to Clancy-Earth and are {{Heel Face Turn}}ed. At one point, Buron Cav head Major Staedele gets into a disagreement with Blackwater's CEO after noting how C-Earther [=PMCs=] are not up to snuff for the full-scale independent open warfare demanded of ''{{Battletech}}'' merc groups.
* ''Naruto: Soldiers of Fortune'' is a Naruto fan fic where ninjas working for villages are replaced with mercenaries that work for private military contractors. Still no guns though.
* ''Fanfic/{{Forward}}'' features a mercenary firm called "Skyhawk Intervention" which directs a number of other mercenary companies across the 'Verse. One of the stories features a mercenary group called [[ShoutOut Talon]] [[VideoGame/{{Fallout3}} Company]] who are the main villains for that "episode".
* Willard International Consulting in ''FanFic/TheReturn'', are PMC in theory, although in practice they come across more as an NGOSuperpower.
* The main characters of ''[[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/88520/1/welcome-to-the-brothel/das-laufhaus Welcome To The Brothel]]'' are almost all mercenaries fighting a bloody civil war.
* ''TheLifeOfTheLegendaries'' depicts Silph Co. as owning Kanto's navy, army and air force.
* In the ''Series/ForeverKnight'' Wars, a series of fanfic round-robins in which factions focused around the different characters have a free-for-all, the Mercs are a notable presence. They will take jobs from anyone in any faction; payment is negotiable and extremely variable, but they are fond of chocolate.
* In the ''Anime/GirlsUndPanzer'' fanfic, "[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10099886/3/Of-Blood-and-Steel Of Blood And Steel]]", OriginalCharacter Henrietta is the daughter of a CEO of one such group, and as such, [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer gets ostracized by he schoolmates]] who have family in the army, especially in her JROTC program. [[AngstWhatAngst She says she's used to it, though]].
* Brokosh in ''Fanfic/RedFireRedPlanet'' is a Lethean mercenary who used to work for a group called Hanson's Harriers, although he's currently in the Klingon Defense Force.
* Ghost Force 969 in ''Fanfic/MercenariesOfFortune'' is a PMC that, because they are the only military force in the world that can deal with the threat of [[Main/TheHeartless the Shadows]], they are effectively a NGOSuperpower.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow'' (2004). The Flying Legion, clearly inspired by the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_tigers Flying Tigers]].
* ''TheDogsOfWar'' (1981), though the film removes much of the political points made by Forsyth about the links between big business and war.
* ''Film/TheWildGeese'' (1978) depicts the recruitment of a mercenary force to free an imprisoned African leader, only for the force to be abandoned when their sponsors strike a deal with the current rulers of the country.
* ''WarInc.''
* ''BloodDiamond'' has plenty of mercenaries, with LeonardoDiCaprio playing a former [[strike:Zimbabwean]] Rhodesian merc-turned-diamond smuggler.
* ''Film/LordOfWar'', so many, from South America and Little Odessa to Africa and Asia.
* ''Film/{{Outpost}}'' has the eponymous installation investigated by a group of mercenaries firmly on the anti-hero sign of things. Their resumes are a Royal Marine (the commander), a US Marine (his second), a former IRA guerilla who joined the Paras, a UN Peacekeeper, a Foreign Legionnaire, a Russian Alpha Group soldier, and a yugoslavian man whose unit is never named.
* The {{mooks}} in ''{{Shooter}}''.
* The MNU troops in ''Film/{{District 9}}'' fall hard into the evil end of the spectrum.
* Spoofed in ''Film/{{Water 1985}}'', a comedy about an island in the West Indies that strikes a deposit of pure mineral water. Annoyed at the competition, the French hire a group of mercenaries to blow it up.
-->'''French agent:''' "This is a dangerous mission, and some of you will die. But remember, in a world gone mad, you will die for a principle that you all hold close to your heart. Money!"\\\
'''Mercenaries:''' "Viva franc! Viva deutschmark! Viva dollar! Viva [[SwissBankAccount numbered bank account in Switzerland]]!"
** After nearly throttling the island's governor to death, the mercenary commander then leaves him [[MyCard his card]].
-->"If you are in need of an army, just call."
* All the human soldiers and pilots in ''Film/{{Avatar}}'', even though they seem to represent the U.S. military, are actually ''ex''-soldiers and [[SemperFi Marines]] now working for the [[MegaCorp RDA corporation]] mining Pandora. It is notable that almost all of them are mentioned to have dishonorable discharges from the military and took the job due to their lower standards in terms of what is acceptable.
* ''TheHurtLocker''. The protagonists run across a unit of British [=PMCs=] who've captured two Iraq insurgents for the bounty.
* In ''Film/TheATeam'', the bad guys (at first) are from the Blackforest PMC, a thinly disguised {{expy}} of the RealLife Blackwater.
* In both ''Film/MercForce'' and the remake, ''Mercs'', the eponymous characters are a band of mercenaries roaming space looking for jobs.
* Jake Wyer and Sam French are both these in ''Fifty/Fifty''. Of course, they both come to believe in the cause they are fighting for.
* Rico and Dolworth in ''Film/TheProfessionals''.
* The BigBad in ''NationalTreasure: The Book of Secrets'' is the head of a PMC, justifying why his {{Mook}}s are always armed and following all his orders.
* ''Film/TheExpendables'' are about a group of mercenaries who take any job they can get. It's a handy excuse for putting together some of the most legendary action heroes together and make every one a badass. There is even some nods towards the way they operate, as they find out their most recent "employer" is actually CIA looking to pass off some DirtyBusiness onto their shoulders.
* In ''Film/SleepyHollow'', the Headless Horseman is the vengeful ghost of one of the Hessian mercenaries hired by Great Britain during the American Revolution.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* The Black Company in Glen Cook's ''TheBlackCompany'' series.
* ''Literature/HammersSlammers'', from the eponymous Creator/DavidDrake novels. While Drake mostly uses them to tell stories based on historical events, their mercenary nature plays an important role in their characterization. In the series background, war has become so very expensive that mercenaries are common, and usually the most competent soldiers. The Slammers interact with other mercenary companies and are sometimes shortchanged by their employers. At other times, they play both sides off against each other.
* Carrera's Wedge from the Literature/TakeshiKovacs book ''Literature/BrokenAngels''.
* The Dendarii Mercenaries from LoisMcMasterBujold's ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'' appear to be entirely this; in actuality [[spoiler:they're Barrayaran-employed irregulars (and still not averse to taking lucrative contracts that don't conflict with that)]]. While several galactic powers, and a few individuals, have figured out the truth, it's still not common knowledge. Even among the Dendarii themselves.
** This cover works because there are plenty of bona-fide mercenary companies around. The books include Randall's Rangers (before Cavilo took charge) and the Oseran Mercenaries (before [[GuileHero Miles]] [[XanatosSpeedChess dazzled them]] into working for him). Other companies are referenced as existing at a variety of scales.
* In the ''CoDominium'' series, the ''Falkenberg's Legions'' books have a ton of mercenaries, ranging from independent military companies (such as the eponymous Mercenary Legion) to planetary armies sold out to pay for their expenses.
* GordonRDickson's ''Literature/ChildeCycle'' has several worlds hire mercenaries out as part of the interstellar market. There are two notables:
** The Dorsai, basically a PlanetOfHats of the greatest mercenaries and military minds in the colonized universe.
** The Friendlies. Although from a religious PlanetOfHats, the Friendlies live on poor resource worlds. To survive they are hired out as mercenaries. Unlike the Dorsai though, the Friendlies suck at warfare, but their cheap price and numbers make up for it.
* ''WorldWarZ'' has a self-proclaimed mercenary [he doesn't like the politically correct terms of PMC or Private Contractor] re-counting his experience of the war, which was guarding a mansion full of celebrities hiding out. He eventually leaves because zombies don't attack - instead, desperate civilians do, wrecking the house's defenses. He escapes.
* Present but not particularly common in the ''StarWarsExpandedUniverse''. Most mercenaries are pirates turned privateer for a little legitimacy and extra cash, and they're usually pretty poorly equipped--mercenary fighter squadrons in particular are known for using "Uglies", mashup starfighters cobbled together from different fighters.
** Aurodium Sword is basically a PMC (of the real-life "non-mercenary" sort) that provides personal security for [=VIPs=].
** The [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Mandalorians]].
** The Mistryl Shadow Guard is this, mixed with ''AmazonBrigade''.
** There's a mercenary talent tree for the Saga Edition of the StarWars RPG.
** The Red Moons (featured in the short story ''Blaze of Glory'') are a group of mercs who became disgruntled with the New Republic. Feeling that the Republic wasn't doing enough, the Red Moons decided to do something it.
* Robert Asprin's ''PhulesCompany'' are part of the Space Legion: technically a branch of the military, but they're often hired by private groups when they're between assignments, which is most of the time. Interestingly, Regular Army units can also occasionally be hired.
* Lord Commander Staffa Kar Therma's Companions in W. Michael Gear's ''Forbidden Borders'' series.
* ''TheDogsOfWar'' by Frederick Forsyth, later a film starring ChristopherWalken.
* The trope is played in various ways in Mercedes Lackey's ''[[HeraldsOfValdemar Valdemar]]'' books. In that world, there is a well-organized Mercenaries' Guild that regulates the profession. Bonded, licensed companies are consummate professionals who are irritated with the stereotype -- non-Guild mercs are far more likely to fit the negative aspects of this trope.
** In ''[[HeraldsOfValdemar By The Sword]]'', Kerowyn becomes the the leader of the Skybolts, a bonded mercenary company. [[spoiler: After Kero gets dragooned by a [[CoolHorse talking white horse]], said Skybolts negotiate a permanent contract with Valdemar rather than lose her]]. Before that, Kerowyn's grandmother and her partner were members of the Sunhawk company in ''Oathbreakers''.
** On the other hand, the "Tedrel Companies" were a band of unlicensed, un-bonded fighters, largely criminals, recruited by Karse. They succeeded in killing the Valdemaran king, but they also pillaged and looted their way back home, costing Karse more than they expected.
* Joel Rosenberg's ''Metzada'' series has a planet of SpaceJews whose only valuable export is mercenary services; which sucks, because their ancestors were exiled to an un{{terraform}}ed planet, and they must constantly import food and air, which is rather pricey. So they'll take any work they can get, even if they utterly hate their clients.
* The tie-in novels based on the original ''MutantChronicles'' games had "free-lancers" who performed everything from bounty hunting to corporate espionage. The armies of the {{Mega Corp}}s are technically [=PMCs=], but since corporations are the closest thing to governments left in that universe, they function more like national armies... with ExecutiveMeddling in the form of company agents who go along on missions to enforce corporate protocol and the bottom line.
* ElizabethMoon's ''Literature/TheDeedOfPaksenarrion'' novel series has the title character run away from home to join a mercenary band.
* The ''VattasWar'' series also by the ElizabethMoon deals with these heavily, particularly the Mackensee Military Assistance Corporation whom Kylara Vatta, TheCaptain, both hires and is hired by. The [=MMAC=] is depicted as being ''very'' strict in who they will do business with, with their contracts spelling out certain actions their employers might take where they will consider their contract terminated on the spot and withdraw immediately, in order to avoid any association with this trope's negative trappings.
* In Simon R. Green's ''Literature/{{Deathstalker}}'' books, the Families employ [[{{Mooks}} hordes]] of these. A few of the main characters are ex-mercenaries, as well (and one of them is only helping overthrow the evil empire for the loot that will be in it for her if they succeed).
* ''Soldiers Of Barrabas'', or [[FunWithAcronyms SOBS]] (a 1980's Gold Eagle action series by Jack Hild) is ostensibly lead by a mercenary who's 'soft' on his native country, and so willingly seeks contracts that advance its interests. In truth they work directly for the US government as a [[HeroesRUs deniable dirty tricks team]].
* The "Free Companies" mentioned in ''Literature/ConsiderPhlebas'' by Ian M. Banks. The SpacePirates the protagonist hooks up with like to call themselves one, but don't quite make the grade.
* ''Market Forces'' by Creator/RichardKMorgan is set in a world where {{Mega Corp}}s are in virtual control of everything, and the world's military and intelligence forces, from the SAS to the CIA, have been privatized. Another example of this trope is the Wedge in ''Broken Angels'', who are an elite company of interstellar mercenaries.
* Creator/TomKratman:
** In ''Literature/CarrerasLegions'', the hero loses his family in a 9/11 analogue and forms a PMC to avenge them. Said PMC grows to be an NGO superpower, and then to the de facto & de jure military of the nation it's based in, Balboa.
** ''Literature/{{Countdown}}'' has M Day, Inc, founded by a former US Army officer who was forced out of the service around the end of the US involvement in Afghanistan. An excursis, with a publishing date following the period of the novel series, also talks of the rise of other [=PMCs=] in the face of the governments commanding national militaries becoming unwilling or unable to act against the rising tide of barbarism destroying civilization.
* Turner belongs to one in the second book of Creator/WilliamGibson's SprawlTrilogy.
* In the Creator/DaleBrown novel ''Rogue Forces'', Patrick [=McLanahan=] is now official head of the Scion PMC, with ex-POTUS Kevin Martindale as the "silent owner".
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'':
** In the novel ''Changes'', the vampiric Red Court makes heavy use of an unidentified South American PMC to guard the Mayan temple where they're having their happy blood sacrifice holiday.
** There's also Kincaid, who is a lone gunman for hire who spends most of his time protecting the Archive but is willing to do side jobs if the pay is right. The Red Court and White Court make use of a number of mortal mercenaries, as does John Marcone's outfit when they need extra firepower. In fact, [[spoiler: Odin's troops, particularly his Valkyries,]] are for sale as hired muscle to people in the know.
* Terran soldiers in Creator/AndreNorton's ''Star Guard'' are described as mercenaries, but in fact they're conscripted by Earth's puppet government on the orders of the extraterrestrial super-government Central Control and hired out to various planetary wars.
* John Dalmas' ''The Regiment'' was made up of the T'swa, troops who didn't really care whether they won or lost -- what was important was "playing" war skillfully. Since they considered reincarnation a proven fact and thus also didn't care if they died, T'swa were very effective soldiers. They were '''not''' motivated by money: advanced psychological placement assigned those children best suited for military training, just as it did for all other facets of T'swa society.
* ''Literature/TheReynardCycle'': Mercenaries abound, both in the form of professional companies who operate independently as well as government sponsored troops who get loaned out to countries in need of extra fighting men. In ''The Baron of Maleperduys'', Reynard has Bruin recruit an entire army's worth of hired swords in order to combat the Calvarians.
* In P.C. Hodgell's ''Literature/ChroniclesOfTheKencyrath'', the Kencyr people live in a resource-poor area but are exceedingly good at fighting; they make ends meet by hiring their troops out as mercenaries. Judging by examples in the series, about a quarter of the Kencyr peoples are mercenaries out on contract at any one time. Their rigid honor code makes them sometimes difficult employees, but their skill keeps them hired.
* Literature/ConanTheBarbarian often joins or leads mercenary units.
* ''Literature/TheWhiteCompany'' by Arthur Conan Doyle involves an English "free company", as they used to be called, being raised in England and Calais to travel to Spain and help Pedro the Cruel re-gain his throne.
* Numerous mercenary companies exist in George R.R. Martin's ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', from the savage Brave Companions, AKA the Bloody Mummers, to the elite Golden Company. They are regarded as skilled fighters whose experience is offset by their notorious tendency to switch sides or run away when events turn against them (though the Golden Company is famous for its loyalty to its employers). Individual sellswords exist as well, and in times of strife can do quite well, such as Tyrion Lannister's hireling Bronn, who goes from being so low birth he has no surname to [[spoiler:getting a knighthood, a lady wife and stepson, and a minor fiefdom in the Crownlands]].
* Elayne in the ''WheelOfTime'' has to turn to mercenaries to help secure her claim to the Lion Throne. They are not played with the remotest hint of sympathy.
** On the other hand, the (second founding) Band of the Red Hand, while loosely associated with the Dragon Reborn, has spent the majority of its existence effectively taking mercenary work so they could keep paying the soldiers' wages while their leader was absent. They're played sympathetically, contain a reasonable fraction of the MauveShirt characters of the series, and besides a bit of lovable roguery, are among the most professional military organizations in the world - and damn proud of it!
* Creator/MaryGentle's ''Literature/AshASecretHistory'' follows Ash, the female commander of a mercenary company in a rather different fifteenth-century Europe.
* "Bellarion the Fortunate" by Creator/RafaelSabatini (1926) is set in 15th century Italy, when pretty much all war was conducted through hired mercenaries.
* Xenophon's ''Literature/{{Anabasis}}'' is about his own experiences as a mercenary in Persia and his company's long and dangerous journey home after their employer died. Despite being [[OlderThanFeudalism written in the 4th century BC]], this work served as the inspiration for ''Film/TheWarriors''.
* Bob Lee Swagger took on rogue members of Graywolf Security in ''I, Sniper''. When he later faces down the BigBad, his Graywolf bodyguards don't engage him, as company rules prohibit them from attacking law enforcement personnel (which they suspect Bob to be).
* Joe Pike from RobertCrais's books used to be a relatively ethical mercenary. Some less than ethical ones appear too.
* Korr Military Solutions, Inc. is one of the [=PMCs=] leading the charge against the ''Literature/{{Daemon}}'' and they are definitely unsympathetic.
* The ''Literature/DirigentMercenaryCorps'' series follows an officer in one of these. The planet Dirigent's [[PlanetOfHats hat]] is providing mercenaries and exporting weapons to settled space at large. The DMC is noted to have strict self-imposed limits on what types of contracts they will accept (a violation of these limits in the backstory is viewed as MyGreatestFailure by the organization) and prides itself on its soldiers' professionalism.
* ChrisBunch's ''Literature/StarRiskLtd'' series is about a RagtagBunchOfMisfits that operate a PMC that does mainly bodyguard and anti-piracy work. The company hires outside help (like AcePilot Redon Spada) when they need extra manpower. They also repeatedly butt heads with the much larger (and decidedly malevolent) PMC Cerberus Systems.
* Michael Z Williamson's ''Better To Beg Forgiveness'' follows a team of {{Combat Pragmatist}}s from a PMC called Ripple Creek who're contracted to protect a PresidentPersonable, and their attempts to keep him safe after a coup is launched.
* ''Literature/TheOregonFiles'' is centered on a group of mercenaries called The Corporation, led by an ex-CIA HandicappedBadass operating out of a CoolBoat [[WhatAPieceOfJunk with a dilapidated appearance]] named the ''Oregon''.
* Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli warns against using hired troops in ''Literature/ThePrince'':
-->"Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy."
-->--''CHAPTER XII How Many Kinds Of Soldiery There Are, And Concerning Mercenaries''
* In Harry Turtledove's ''[[{{Videssos}} Videssos Cycle]]'' the Empire of Videssos hires mercenaries from neighboring countries to fight the Yezda. Each country specializes in supplying different types of troops.
* In ''Literature/TheQuestOfTheUnaligned'', the hero starts the book as a ninth-level security chief in the First Tonzimmelian Security Force, which appears to be a cross between this and a police force.
* In ''Literature/HonorHarrington'', it's mentioned that the Andermanni Empire was founded by a particularly capable mercenary captain named Gustav Andermann. He first captured the planet of New Postdam (though considering that the planetary microorganisms ate chlorophyll, the inhabitants were happy to be captured by anyone who could clean up their planet and give them enough to eat), then went on to build an empire from there (at least partially financed by organizing and hiring out mercenary companies).
* In Literature/AnInstinctForWar, Machiavelli's jail guard used to be a mercenary, and Wallenstein's armies are basically mercenary forces. One of the issues discussed in the book is the question of armies organized for profit, or armies organized to fight for a state.
* ''[[Literature/AMagesPower A Mage's Power]]: The Dragon's Lair mercenary company that Eric joins is composed of sword swinging warriors, spell slinging mages, more covert warriors (spies and assassins and such) as well as {{Combat Medic}}s. Most of the time, they're hired to help keep the monster population under control. Since Eric is a novice in this book, he is only hired to do grunt work. Tiza would prefer playing this trope straight.
* Unsurprisingly, the ''[[BattleTechExpandedUniverse [=BattleTech=]]]'' [[BattleTechExpandedUniverse expanded universe]] dedicates everything from minor side plots to entire trilogies to its own various mercenary outfits. The Gray Death Legion, the Kell Hounds, Wolf's Dragoons and Camacho's Caballeros are all rather prominent examples, while somewhat less well regarded in the fandom the Black Thorns got two entire novels dedicated to them in their time, and numerous smaller units put in occasional appearances at the very least as well.
[[/folder]]


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The villains of the pilot episode of ''KnightRider 2008'' were from the really shamelessly transparent "[[BrandX Blackriver]]" corporation, an organization of evil US military contractors.
** It is not exactly clear how stealing the control codes for a US military satellite and selling them on the black market to enemies of the US, when the FBI knows from the start that you're the ones behind it, plays into this business model. You would think that sort of thing would be bad for business.
* ''Series/TheUnit'' featured a company called "Blackthorne", which tried to recruit one of the members.
* The seventh season of ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]'' (as well as the TV-movie prequel ''24: Redemption'') has the Starkwood corporation, who, among other things, give weapons to genocidal African rebels in exchange for permission to use innocent villagers for weapons testing and plan attacks on American soil to get Senate investigations off their backs.
* During the first season of ''Series/{{Jericho}}'', the PMC Ravenwood tries to loot the town of Jericho (and successfully raids the nearby towns of Rogue River and New Bern). In season 2, it is learned that they are a subsidiary of the BigBad, Jennings & Rall.
** In ''FlashForward2009'', one set of antagonists are a PMC called Jericho.
* In ''{{Occupation}}'', a drama set during the Iraq War, an ex-British army soldier teams up with an American to form a PMC, which recruits another character.
* Bodie, Lewis Collins' character in ''Series/TheProfessionals'', is a former mercenary. This provides the basis for the plot in a couple of episodes.
* An episode of ''Series/ThePhilanthropist'' had a corrupt group of mercenaries deliberately sabotaging peace efforts in Kosovo in order to sell arms. Subverted in that the entire PMC was not corrupt and fired the corrupt ones when presented with evidence. Of course, the company could've just been covering its own ass by shifting blame to subordinates.
* ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' had a plot with an immortal using his private army to invade the house of a friend of Tessa's after the guy's son raped the immortal's (adopted) daughter.
* The main antagonist in the fourth season of ''{{Series/Damages}}'' is the owner of a mercenary firm called High Star, yet another Blackwater BrandX.
* One Villain of the Week on ''Series/BurnNotice'' was Ryder Stahl, the owner of a company called Security Associates. Mike's cover ID was of a Kenyan diamond dealer who needed a village ... removed.
* On the ''[[{{Series/PersonofInterest}} Person of Interest]]'' episode [[{{Recap/PersonOfInterestS04E02}} "Nautilus"]], the number of the week is hunted by a "Private Military Contractor" group known as "Silverpool". Reese even mentions Blackwater when describing them.
** On the very next episode ([[{{Recap/PersonOfInterestS04E03}} "Wingman"]]), Blackwater is name-dropped again as the former employers of [[{{Badass}} "Egret"]].
* On ''Series/{{Leverage}}'''s "The Homecoming Job" the Villain of the Week was a PMC Blackwater {{Expy}} that had shot up a group of US Army reservists. Their client was one of the wounded soldiers who was unable to pay for his medical expenses. While it was initially assumed that the reason for the shooting was simply that the mercenaries panicked, it was later found that [[spoiler: the company was actually stealing money from Iraq and using it to bribe a Congressman in order to continue to be given no bid contracts.]]
* One episode of ''Series/BabylonFive'' features a group of [[SpacePirates Raiders]] acting as one for a rogue Centauri nobleman. In the end they betray him, as they know they can't fight the military of the Centauri Republic (a VestigialEmpire but still a superpower), but get offed by [[spoiler: [[BigBad the Shadows]] ]] before they can do more than tell their employer about it.
** The ExpandedUniverse mentions that Raider groups will sometimes hire themselves out to various governments, effectively acting like this.
*** Also the Belt Alliance. They started as a union for workers in the asteroid belt that armed themselves to fight against Raiders and PMC groups working for companies trying to take their mines. After FirstContact the Belt Alliance evolved in a sort of shipping company / shipping union hybrid (with the single largest privately owned merchant fleet in the galaxy, as most of Earth's merchants work for them), while their armed forces continued fighting Raiders, both to defend Belt Alliance shipping and as PMC for other companies. It's mentioned that, in spite of their antiquated equipment (limited to light weapons by Earth Alliance law), they are ''very'' effective against Raiders due having focused all their weapons on killing fighters, [[TheDreaded with the very presence of Belt Alliance escorts keeping away the smarter ones]].
* On ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Martin Keamy and his men.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Music/WarrenZevon. Roland is a Norwegian mercenary hired to fight in the Congo Crisis of the 1960s. He is betrayed by a fellow mercenary and goes seeking revenge, [[{{Determinator}} despite being dead]]. It's them implied he goes on to become a spirit of conflict, following the major ideological wars across the world and in some cases inciting them ("Patty Hearst/heard the burst/of Roland's Thompson gun/and bought it").
* ''Contractor'' by Music/LambOfGod
* "Ride Across The River" by Music/DireStraits.
* "Mercenaries (Ready For War)" by John Cale.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* This is a classic PlotDevice in tabletop games in general. Whether they're sword-swinging fantasy adventurers, Wild West bounty hunters or futuristic mercenaries, a time-honored means of getting PlayerCharacters involved in a plot is to have someone hire them to accomplish some task or another.
* ''{{Battletech}}'' is full of mercenary armies. Many of the high-grade mercenary armies are a match for or even superior to the best armies of the various governments, and some can even get titles and holdings in the neo-feudal system of the 31st century. The setting also has both honorable mercs (the Gray Death Legion, Wolf's Dragoons, The Kell Hounds) and dishonorable ones (the Crater Cobras, Little Richard's Panzer Brigade, the Waco Rangers). Many Pirate groups are failed mercenary units. A few notable examples:
** The Gray Death Legion was one of the few Inner Sphere units to come out with wins in their initial clashes with the Clans, and for their service to House Steiner were given the planet of Glengarry; Grayson Carlyle himself was given the title of Baron.
** Wolf's Dragoons were originally a "scouting party" sent by Clan Wolf to infiltrate the Inner Sphere before the invasion (and sabotage the invasion that Clan Wolf was opposed to). They quickly distinguished themselves with their prowess and [[LostTechnology LosTech]] and were ceded the world of Outreach, which they made into the Mercenary capital of the Sphere. When the Clans invaded they revealed their origins to the Successor States and sided with them instead of the Clans. Unfortunately the Word of Blake nuked Outreach during their jihad and destroyed most of the Dragoons, though Clan Wolf evacuated two dozen Dragoons and several civilians.
* ''FadingSuns'' has the Muster guild, which offers many kinds of muscle for hire, but began as, and is still mostly made of, mercenaries.
* Pretty much the driving force behind ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}''. Only instead of actual [=PMCs=] it's a RagtagBunchOfMisfits thrown together by circumstance to "run the shadows". Of course there's nothing stopping the DM from ''making'' a PMC for the players to join. True [=PMCs=] do exist in the game's backstory--the most prominent are MET2000, Tsunami, 10,000 Daggers and Combat Inc.
** In ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', there are [=PMCs=] everywhere. The most common regular police are Lone Star and Knight Errant, which are private contractor companies who employ high firepower in their protection of the urban sprawls.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' features an entire fan-made codex of Kroot Mercenaries that can be fielded as a separate army all their own, or as a component force of other armies. Though most often they are used by the Tau to compensate for their CripplingOverspecialization.
** [[SpacePirates Ork Freebooterz and Eldar Corsairs]] have also been known to offer their services as mercenaries to the nobility who want some dirty work done by a deniable asset. [[TooDumbToLive Particularly stupid]] clients may also employ the [[AlwaysChaoticEvil Dark Eldar]] for similar purposes, and [[FateWorseThanDeath then regret it later]].
* ''WarhammerFantasy'' has a similar army in the Dogs of War. In the storyline, these mostly hail from Tilea, an analogue of Renaissance Italy and the Condottieri. Other examples include:
** The Empire's Free Companies, supposedly mercenary divisions but basically equivalent to militia. Odd since the regular Empire infantry dress like real-life Landsknecht mercenaries, and are closer in organization as well.
** The Regiments of Renown, particularly notable mercenary regiments you can enhance your otherwise by-the-book army with. They often have one or two additional special rules which make them stand out of the crowd.
** Ogres have a special unit composed of ex-mercenaries who have returned and bought back the traditions of wherever they worked. The "Maneaters" have access to a variety of nifty options. In past editions, you could even bring along Ogre Kingdoms units using the Dogs of War rules.
* Since many ''{{Traveller}}'' characters have a military background, they often find themselves doing mercenary work.
* DungeonsAndDragons has any number of ways to involve mercs.
** Hobgoblins, are generally more of a militaristic society than one composed of [=PMCs=], but that just makes them more valuable when they do hire their units out ot others.
** The ''{{Eberron}}'' setting has several groups, such as the troops of House Deneith and House Tharashk's ogre/troll contacts in Droaam. For non-House versions, the Red Gauntlet regiment and the Manifest Legion (mercenary ''summoners'') are also up for contracts.
*** Speaking of Droaam, the setting's Gnolls have decided that they're going to position themselves on every side of every conflict under the reasoning that that way, they'll grow in power and influence no matter who wins. They refuse to fight each other though.
** ''ForgottenRealms'' got a special {{sourcebook}} "[[http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=13961 Gold and Glory]]" for most known of these, along with inherent adventure hooks. With understanding that small adventuring bands impossible to list due to great numbers and overall turnover rate also do a lot of the small-scale work in this field, and sometimes happen to hire, be hired by or grow into larger mercenary groups.
* The ''NewWorldOfDarkness'' has Blackfire, a PMC that's well-connected and clued in to the nature of the supernatural. Whether they're upstanding or bastards depends entirely on the Storyteller, though the sample adventure that comes with them implies that they're not entirely on the up-and-up -- mainly because one of the three heads of the company got possessed by a fragment of an [[EldritchAbomination ancient spirit]] that desperately wants out of its current prison.
* The Russian Tabletop RGG ''AgeOfAquarius'' has a heroic PMC called ЗАЩИТНИК ("DEFENDER"). Like the [=SeeD=] from FinalFantasyVIII ([[{{Expy}} by which they are inspired]]), mercenary activities are only a front for their more noble goal.
* ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' features Direct Action, a hypercorp formed from the remnants of old earth's militaries, they act as the [[OneNationUnderCopyright Planetary Consortium's]] primary enforcers. Since there are few traditional nation-states remaining there are hundreds of smaller [=PMCs=] including the Ultimates, a group of SocialDarwinist {{Nietzsche Wannabe}}s who hire themselves out as mercs while waiting for an opportunity to seize control of the system.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''{{MAG}}'' focuses on an all-out war between three mega-[=PMCs=] (each of which have replaced government armies - they've been downgraded to little more than a glorified National Guard).
** In a decidedly odd subversion of the "not allowed to make war" deal, the [=PMCs=] are specifically fighting each other to prove that their group is more capable of defending the objective...from other [=PMCs=] (technically, the concern is terrorists, but the [=PMCs=] are the most frequent attackers). In other words, the [=PMCs=] are fighting and causing damage to the very things they're being hired to protect, so that they can be hired to protect it.
* Three of the five featured [=PMCs=] in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4''; the first two encountered have their members portrayed as mercenaries in that they're performing offensive operations, while those of the third are identically dressed and equipped like the first (since the second was in South America) but are performing security... and [[spoiler:executing curfew violators in an effort to root out "resistance members".]] All three are operating for the governments of the countries where they're found, although in the South American location the rebels have hired a local PMC of their own, and the militia have local [=PMCs=] assisting in the Middle East. Of note is Werewolf, which seems to field only unmanned units for recon and security.
** The [=PMCs=] are also used as a callback to the original ''VideoGame/MetalGear,'' where Big Boss built Outer Heaven as a refuge where disillusioned and disavowed soldiers could go, effectively becoming mercenaries, or a sort-of proto-PMC. His goal of creating a world where soldiers are always needed is essentially fulfilled by the War Economy ([[spoiler:which is probably one of the reasons why he renounces his original beliefs at the end, it's clearly not a good thing]]), and the parent company that owns the five major [=PMCs=] is ''actually named'' "Outer Heaven".
** The origins of Outer Heaven are explored in ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker Peace Walker]]'', starting out as the Militaires Sans Frontieres. Unlike most examples, however, the Militaires Sans Frontieres were portrayed in a positive light. Another Private Military Contractor in the game is the Peace Sentinels, but they are portrayed as genuine bad guys. It's strongly implied that the Peace Sentinels are rogue CIA operators.
** A similar theme seems to exist in ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance''. Raiden is a member of Maverick Security Consulting, Inc., which similar to the Militaires Sans Frontieres, are overall portrayed in a more positive light[[note]]it's also mentioned that, thanks in part to the legacy of the War Economy, Maverick prefers to call themselves "private security providers"[[/note]]. Likewise, Desperado Enforcement LLC, similar to the Peace Sentinels, are portrayed as genuine bad guys. [[spoiler:Raiden later [[HeroicBSOD learns]] that many of the Desperado mooks are {{Punch Clock Villain}}s; it's only their heads, the Winds of Destruction, who are outright villainous.]]
* An ExpansionPack for ''[[Videogame/ArmA ArmA II]]'' has [=PMCs=] as the main focus.
* The PlayerCharacter in ''{{Mercenaries}}: Playground of Destruction'' and ''Mercenaries 2: World in Flames''.
** In the first game, the player is a member of the PMC Executive Operations ([=ExOps=], see Real Life Examples for why this name was chosen). In the sequel, the player presumably still works for [=ExOps=], though after the tutorial level and the [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder refusal of the Corrupt Corporate Executive to sign the damn check]], he goes into business for himself to bring him down, while Fiona and the rest of the support staff tag along for opportunities for fun, profit, and lulz.
** Also, there's the massive oil super-conglomerate known as Universal Petroleum, which contracts out a "low-rent" PMC known as Tactical Solutions to do security work. Of course, in this case, "security work" includes deploying a battalion of tanks, a virtual air wing of helicopters, and over a thousand foot infantry, complete with military-grade air support. The scary part is that some real-life [=PMCs=] (i.e. Blackwater and Executive Outcomes) ''could'' match what UP's mercenaries do in-game.
* A small army of primate [=PMCs=] are hired by Constable Neyla in the first Prague episode of ''VideoGame/Sly3HonorAmongThieves''.
** One of the villains in ''VideoGame/SlyCooperThievesInTime'', El Jefe, is the leader of Private Army that specializes in taking over countries for the highest bidder.
* ''VideoGame/ArmyOfTwo''--the player characters work for a PMC.
** The final mission of the game is an assault on the [[spoiler:very same (corrupt) PMC headquarters that the player characters have been working for most of the game, and at the end they decide to found their own PMC ''that won't plot attacks on American forces in order to build a case for privatizing the U.S. military'']].
** In the sequel, ''The 40th Day'', most of the 40th Day initiative are stated to be various mercenaries working for [=PMCs=], with enough collective strength to take over ''and'' occupy the city of Shanghai.
* In ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert3: Uprising'' it turns out the war-weary Allies are now relying heavily on the PMC[=/=]weapons developer Futuretech, who were able to hire large numbers of veteran disenfranchised soldiers following the end of the war, to provide a great deal of their security.
* In ''Creator/TomClancy's VideoGame/{{HAWX}}'' you play as a former Air Force pilot working for a PMC fighting an alliance of anti-American South American states known as Las Trinidad who defects back to the Air Force once the PMC betrays the U.S. because Las Trinidad made them a better offer. To be fair, the immediate flip-flopping of the PMC for the better offer ''is'' mentioned as being against the Reykjavik Accords that legitimized [=PMCs=] in the first place, and at the end of the game, [[spoiler:in addition to repealing the Accords, the US carries out a private and probably illegal operation to assassinate the CEO of the PMC after an international manhunt fails to find him.]]
* In the ''High Treason'' expansion pack for ''VideoGame/ActOfWar: Direct Action'', powerful mercenaries can be purchased for a limited time with "insurance" money, if the mercenaries survive half of the money is given back to you, if not you don't see a return on your deposit. The mercenaries are tiered as "Official" (Heavy Infantry and Medics), "Unofficial" (AA-Guns and Tanks) and "Illegal" (Fighter Jets and Low Yield Nukes). They also play a minor role in the storyline. When Richter is forced to go rogue and flees the USA, he ends up having to rely on mercenaries for a few missions. The missions contain some debating regarding the morality of using mercenaries during which it is mentioned that a good chunk of the mercenaries were trained by the US even though Richter remains ethically opposed to their use.
* Among other things, the Umbrella Corporation's "Security" in ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' seems to have the military strength of a small country. Specifically, the UBCS (Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service) is explicitly staffed with mercenaries.
* Mantel in ''VideoGame/{{Haze}}'' is described as a Private Military Company, though in the game itself it's acting on its own and hasn't been hired. It's a particularly ludicrous example of this trope, since it's stated to have all but ''replaced'' all national armed forces. And Mantel is not just a PMC, but a super-corporation that has, apparently, taken over most of North America.
* ''JaggedAlliance'' has you hiring mercenaries from the Association of International Mercenaries (A.I.M.) to complete your missions. A.I.M. seems to work as more of a mercenary union/guild rather than a PMC, as members are hired on an individual basis and bring just themselves plus their starting equipment if you chose to pay for it, leaving you to provide any other equipment, further training and transportation within the area of operations.
** ''Jagged Alliance 2'' would introduce the More Economic Recruiting Center (M.E.R.C.) as an alternate provider with its own membership. The locals who can be recruited for dirt-cheap salaries (with stats to match) and the rebels (who are seconded to your force without pay) are ''not'' mercenaries, however.
** That said A.I.M has very strict standards, they won't even think about hiring or lending mercs to people with criminal backgrounds or ChildSoldiers. The events of the first two games in the series seemed to have lent them a strong degree of international legitimacy as well, so they don't seem to be willing to hire their mercenaries out to morally unscrupulous individuals. When [[spoiler: the legendary ex-A.I.M. merc Mike]] shows up partway through ''Jagged Alliance 2'', the other A.I.M. mercs respond to him by calling him a "traitor" for working with someone as out-and-out evil as Deidrianna.
** In-game, many of the antagonists you end up fighting are also mercenaries. Lucas' red-shirt wearing goons in the first game are all mercenaries he's hired to wrest control of the fallow trees, and Deidrianna's troops in the third are an even mixture of fanatically loyal soldiers, conscripts, and mercenaries. As the game progresses, Deidrianna begins to rely more and more on professional mercenaries to make up for the fact that many of her people are rebelling and her poorly-trained and poorly-armed conscripts have been regularly slaughtered by your own mercs.
* ''VideoGame/PerfectDark'' has an excessively large security division of the dataDyne hyper-corporation, which is contracted to an alien race (albeit somewhat unwillingly), as well as the protagonists workplace, Carrington Institute. The sequel and extended universe adds the contractable security sectors of another two hypercorps; Zentek and Core-Mantis Omniglobal.
* C.E.L.L. from ''VideoGame/{{Crysis}} 2'' are portrayed as both incompetent and unprofessional compared to [[SemperFi the Marine forces]]. They fail to effectively fight the AlienInvasion (granted, they were originally hired to quell riots while the marines fought the aliens), attempt to kill the protagonist simply because of a grudge their [[GeneralRipper commander]] has on [[MistakenIdentity the guy he thinks he is]], and blatantly refuse to follow orders to stand down from their [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure corporate CEO]], just to get their vengeance on the protagonist. In the third game, they control the world's energy supply with technology looted from the aliens.
* In ''VideoGame/FarCry2'', the main enemies of the game are members of two [=PMCs=], augmenting the local forces of each faction. The APR hired American PMC [=MacGrudder=]-Powell, while the UFLL hired Bastion UK.
** [[AmoralAfrikaner Hoyt]] [[BigBad Volker's]] [[http://farcry.wikia.com/wiki/Privateers Privateers]] in ''VideoGame/FarCry3''. As his personal merc army, they maintain a "military occupation" style stranglehold on Rook Island's southern island for him, while safeguarding his human trafficking/drug manufacturing organization. They certainly [[http://farcry.wikia.com/wiki/Privateers#Gallery look the part]], and their equipment and tactics are a cut above that of both your native allies and the pirates you've been fighting for most of the game.
* Browser-based nation sim ''VideoGame/CyberNations'' uses this as the source of soldiers; they don't come from your population, which tends to be convenient at times.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', most of the playable characters, including the hero Squall Leonhart, are part of the PMC organization called [=SeeD=]. [[spoiler:It was originally founded for more noble purposes, but turned to hiring out its soldiers in order to bring in enough capital to keep operating, and soon lost track of its intended purpose.]]
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', Cloud is ostensibly a mercenary for the first hour or so. [[spoiler:We find out later in the story that this is meant to be taken almost literally.]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon F.E.A.R.]]'', the Armacham Technology Corporation intends to market its [[SuperSoldier Replica soldiers]] as a PMC. Armacham also keeps a small army of heavily-armed mercenaries as part of both their Security division and their Black Operations division; the former protects Armacham assets while the latter eliminates threats and cleans up evidence of their [[CorruptCorporateExecutive extensive misdeeds.]]
** Senator David Hoyle gets his own in ''F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate'' to help him do a little ATC shoplifting. They call themselves the Nightcrawlers. Apparently, they're a free-standing army.
* In ''AlienVsPredator 2'', the General Rykov's Iron Bears are mercenaries being employed by the science team on [=LV1201=], involved in morally dubious operations. After the arrival of the Colonial Marines, they attempt to strand them deep within the Alien hive while Rykov and the Predator stalk each other.
* The ''VideoGame/ArmoredCore'' series seems to have moved away from an official PMC as of Armored Core 4, making the player more of a private mercenary for hire. There's still an organization of some sort backing the player, but it's only alluded to, never really discussed in detail.
** Collared is pretty much just the Lynx's hangout, as its members are already sold to specific corporations or are freelancers. The organization is pretty much tradition by this point.
* ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankGoingCommando'' featured the "Thugs-4-Less" organization. One of their slogans pretty much says it all: "You bring the cash, we'll bring the thrash."
* ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' has beleaguered Ustio hire mercenaries to bolster their forces. You, Cipher, are one of them. Admittedly, though, no organizations are outright named. In ''VideoGame/AceCombatJointAssault'', player character Antares is a newcomer to Martinez Security, another one of these.
** The Scarface squadron from the [[VideoGame/AirCombat first]] [[VideoGame/AceCombat2 two]] games seems to be one of these, as well.
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatInfinity'''s campaign starts the player out as a new arrival to a company called "Arrows Air Defense and Security", flying as the new number four for their Bone Arrow squadron.
* In ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' the world is secretly controlled by two holding companies. Each company has a branch dedicated to this trope, and both of them employ [[ArmyOfThievesAndWhores the nine playable classes]] to try to destroy the other company.
* In ''[[AirRivals Air Rivals/Ace Online]]'', players start as mercenaries under [=FreeSKA=] and only decide which of the two sides to join at level 11.
* The GUARDIANS Security Corporation from ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarUniverse'' is a combination of this and LawEnforcementInc., but with ALighterShadeOfGrey.
* The Mercenaries Guild, from ''[[VideoGame/WingCommander Privateer]]''.
* General Shepherd's Shadow Company from ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare 2'' have most of the trappings of [=PMCs=], though the SOCOM emblems they wear make their true nature somewhat difficult to discern. ''Modern Warfare 3'' likewise has the Russian Loyalist faction assisting you for half of the game treated as one of these; in multiplayer, they're just called "PMC", where they're matched up against African Militiamen.
** On the other hand, Menendez's troops in ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2'' are explicitly PMC's. Unlike Shadow Company and many other examples, they are not Americans, but former Cuban special forces operators who went mercenary. Which makes sense in context, really, given both Menendez's hatred of America and his own Latin American heritage. However, although they are clearly Cuban mercs being led by Menendez in the campaign, in the multiplayer they are led by a presumably American CO with a gruff voice, and the soldier chatter is all done with a distinctly Australian accent. That in and of itself may have something to do with [=DeFalco=], Menendez's [[TheDragon Dragon]] who has a British accent.
** ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyAdvancedWarfare''[='=]s backstory states that after a massive terrorist uprising, the world's use of PMC forces rose sharply as the government-fielded militaries had proven ineffective.
* The ''Franchise/MassEffect'' universe is filled with various mercenary groups, such as the Blue Suns, Eclipse, and Blood Pack. These groups make up a significant portion of the second game's enemies, as it takes place in a region of space outside of Citadel jurisdiction.
** Furthermore, each of these companies has their own distinct styles. Eclipse, for example, makes heavy use of asari Vanguards, salarian Engineers, and mechs. The Blue Suns use elite squads of heavily-armed human, turian, and batarian soldiers. Blood Pack use regenerating vorcha and krogan troops, and a hefty amount of [[KillItWithFire flamethrowers]].
** It is worth noting that in addition to standard [=PMC=] jobs, the majority of the mercenary organizations in the setting also run large-scale criminal enterprises as well. As a result, a lot of the mercenary groups are also effectively heavily-armed, militarized versions of TheMafia. In one neighborhood this is made explicit when a recording notes the Blue Suns regularly collected protection money.
** Finally, ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' DLC Citadel also had the CAT 6: a group of mercenaries named after Category 6: [[TheAlliance Alliance's]] term for discharges due to steroid abuse and similar transgressions. The ones you fight are surprisingly powerful too, outclassing their comparable Cerberus equivalents, even though they lack the unique reverse-engineered Reaper technology [[CyberneticsWillEatYourSoul implants]] and other bonuses. This discrepancy is [[GameplayandStorySegregation never elaborated upon]].
** Zaeed Massani in ''2'' is a mercenary, [[spoiler: the co-founder of the Blue Suns]], and one of the toughest characters in your party.
** Wrex in the first game was a mercenary and bounty hunter for [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld centuries]] before he teamed up with Shepard.
* ''VideoGame/SplinterCell'' had a few: Armed Guardian Services (ARGUS), Shetland's Displace International, and ''Conviction'' added the Black Arrow company. There's also a more heroic example in Paladin Nine Security, the PMC run by Sam's friend Victor Coste, who assists Sam throughout Conviction
* ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' has a number of mercenaries within the games.
** Notable are the Greil Mercenaries in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius'', of which main character Ike is a member. They fall under the "mercenary company" heading, working for the side they think is right even when working for the other side would mean greater profits.
* Magoichi Saika's group (their Japanese name ''Saika-shu'' literally means "Saika group") in the ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors'' games. Most prominently shown in the second game, where in Magoichi's story [[spoiler:the "Saika Mercenaries" first fight alongside OdaNobunaga at Anegawa the behest of Magoichi's friend, then against Nobunaga at the next battle. Once he's on the other end of their guns, Nobunaga does ''not'' take this well]].
* ''VideoGame/WarCraftIII'': Mercs can be hired from camps, and mercenary heroes, in the expansion, from tavenrs. Mercs can be quite useful in story missions as when you aren't given the means to make more of your troops but are still picking up money they can fill in gaps in your forces.
* ''VideoGame/BladestormTheHundredYearsWar'' has the player as an up-and-coming mercenary working for the English and the French in the eponymous war. Although there's no official group or organization monitoring the mercenaries, there are a lot of them working in sort of a loose-knit coalition, such that even facing off against a mercenary on the battlefield doesn't mean you can't be friends. Kicking the snot out of the English or French King, on the other hand...
* In ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} III'', the Carthaginians and Dutch have Numidian and Swiss mercenaries as their respective special units.
* The ''VideoGame/TotalWar'' series often has mercenaries available for purchase. Particularly, in Medieval I and II and Rome. Justified given the time period and subject.
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'', Ezio can hire squads of ''condottieri'' troops to assist him in battle. They can't parkour around on rooftops, but they are very tough and carry heavy weapons, making them superior to most of the city guard. In addition, they allow Ezio to make flanking moves and attack enemy troops from behind, which are one-hit-kills.
** The majority of the enemies in both ''Assassin's Creed II'' and ''[[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood Brotherhood]]'' are also ''condotierri'' working for the Borgia family. There's also a distinct visual difference between the Borgia mercenaries and the ''condotierri'' working for Mario Auditore and Bartolomeo (and, by extension, the Assassins).
** In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'', the player can run into Hessians, who are considered [[EliteMooks elite mooks]]. The player themselves is stated to be a privateer working for the Colonials during the naval missions.
* In ''Videogame/StrikeCommander'', [=PMCs=] have become quite powerful, and operate their own armoured and airborne vehicles. They work for different nations to augment armies and carry out percision strikes. The player belongs to one such unit that specializes in F-16 fighter jets. The game takes you all around the world as your squad assists in other countries' wars. Stocking inventory for your squad means buying Sidewinder missiles and laser-guided bombs, among other things.
* In ''RedFaction'', once the player character and his comrades have killed most of the Ultor security guards, Ultor brings in "mercenaries" for backup. It's mostly an excuse for the Mooks to get tougher, and to start dropping cooler guns when you kill them.
* The PlayerCharacters in ''MechWarrior 2 [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Mercenaries]]'', ''MechWarrior 4 [[NamesTheSame Mercernaries]]'' and ''MechCommander 2'' command companies of mercenaries. The original ''MechWarrior'' had this too.
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'', new Mayor Quincy Sharp has bought out part of Gotham and walled it off to serve as a replacement prison/nuthouse for Blackgate and Arkham Asylum after the events of the previous game. It is policed by a PMC called "[[XtremeKoolLetterz Tyger]]", which is a perfect example of the villainous corporate mercenaries subtype. They are ordered to kill anyone who tries to escape, commit PoliceBrutality (though it's hard to feel sorry for, say, [[TortureTechnician Black Mask]]) and at the same time let the inmates free to do whatever they want to each others (at one point deciding not to investigate a murder where the victim had his face cut off while he was still alive), are willing to kidnap innocents in plain sight and in front of journalists and throw them in Arkham City without any sort of trial, and in the end [[spoiler:they partake in the [[FinalSolution culling]] of Arkham City, and seem to be really into it]]. However, it's revealed that [[spoiler:the reason why they committed these actions was because they were brainwashed, making it a subversion]].
* In the campaign on ''VideoGame/{{StarCraft II}}: Wings of Liberty'' you can hire mercenaries in the ''Hyperion'' from Graven Hill, who hangs out in the tavern drinking mai tais. Mercenary units are much tougher than their regular counterparts, can be purchased from the Merc Compound, and are created instantly, but have a limited pool per mission. Examples include everything from Hammer Securities, who are corporate professionals that provide their specially modified Marauder armor and troops to use them, to the Hel's Angels, pirate fighter pilots who do some mercenary work on the side, to the ''Jackson's Revenge'', an old battlecruiser that some say is cursed.
** Raynor's Raiders, the player's forces, also do some mercenary work to fund their revolution against Mengsk. Mostly retrieving Xel'naga artifacts for the Moebius Foundation.
** There is also a mission where you have to collect enough minerals to hire a merc before the enemy does.
* The Veteran Combat Initiative in ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol''. They can end up as your allies or your enemies -- or one and later the other -- depending on your choices. They're mostly evil though, being comprised of dishonorably discharged veterans.
* South African Vermaak 88 from ''VideoGame/InFamous 2'', by the time the game starts, news reports mention they're the largest and most lucrative private army in the world. [[spoiler: Bertrand uses Kuo's conduit gene to turn them into the "Ice men" and intends to use the now insane and superpowered mercenaries to inspire genocide towards conduits by selling them to world leaders as weapons of war.]]
* [=PMCs=] are ubiquitous in the year 2027 portrayed in ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' and also play a significant role in the plot. The one that plays the largest role in the game is Belltower Associates, a British PMC that has taken over as the police of Hengsha, a Chinese two-tiered city, and serves as security for Tai Yong Medical, who pretty much own the city as well. [[spoiler:Both the leadership of Belltower and TYM are members of the Illuminati, too, and the Spec Ops troops are part of a covert Belltower unit.]] Amusingly, Belltower is also contracted out to the Australian government to fight in their civil war against separatists who are backed by China, which causes a lit of tension between Belltower's executives and the Chinese government.
** Incidentally, while Belltower comes across as an {{Expy}} of Blackwater, [[AllThereInTheManual background material]] indicates that the company was founded as a result of Blackwater's breakup.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'' takes a rather unsubtle swipe at this trope with the Black''woods'' Company, mercenaries who are undercutting the legitimate Fighters Guild by taking their jobs for cheaper and then cheating on them for profit. They're also not above [[spoiler:using hallucinogens to make the Guild massacre an innocent village.]] The Fighters Guild (and their equivalent in Skyrim, the Companions) are also examples, although played heroically. None of the three field armies: they're all admin organisations for individual mercenaries and small-scale security operations.
** Though the Fighters' Guild has the ''numbers'' to field armies, just not the ability to concentrate them enough to actually form them into an army (whereas the Companions and the Blackwoods Company are regional companies, with at most a few offices and a relatively small operating area -- no more than a country or so -- the Fighters Guild have offices extending across ''most of the continent'').
* Peacekeepers International in ''VideoGame/CallOfJuarezTheCartel'', an Expy of Blackwater. Their CEO, Michael Duke is a CorruptCorporateExecutive who started selling high-end firearms to the Mendoza cartel after PI went bankrupt following an incident where they bombed a children's hospital in Iraq.
* The Warsworn in ''KingdomsOfAmalurReckoning'' are a faction of honorable mercenaries that make up a good chunk of the forces fighting against the Tuatha. The Warsworn were originally formed to hunt down the [[EldritchAbomination Niskaru]], but they were forced to become hired swords to make ends meet.
* While all the [[MegaCorp major corporations]] in the ''[[VideoGame/{{X}} X-Universe]]'' series [[NGOSuperpower operate their own warfleets]], most said fleets are purely for protecting their own supply chains. The only true PMC in the bunch is the Split Strong Arms.
* The eponymous ''VideoGame/StarFox'' team are mercenaries fighting for the Cornerian military. After the credits of ''StarFox64'', the team is paid a check for how many enemies they've fragged multiplied by 64.
** The games also feature rival mercenary team ''Star Wolf''.
* In ''VideoGame/DustFiveOneFour'', an upcoming FPS tie-in to ''EVEOnline'', the player characters will be immortal clone soldiers turned mercenary. EVE players will be able to hire them to defend or seize planetary assets.
* The Shop in the ''SoldierOfFortune'' series.
* The Murkywater mercenaries, inspired by the real life counterpart Blackwater, show up as enemies in one level in ''VideoGame/PAYDAYTheHeist''. They're no more resilient than a SWAT unit, but they have better reaction time and accuracy.
* Your player character can become one early in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII''; the other choice is to join a smuggling gang. In both cases, the shady organization is keeping the [[PlayerCharacter Hawke]] siblings as indentured servants for a year in payment for [[TheIllegal sneaking you into Kirkwall after you've fled your homeland]].
* The Kinect game ''Blackwater'', based on the RealLife PMC group. One review condemned using them despite heavy praise for the earlier ''{{Mercenaries}}.''
* Merryweather, in ''GrandTheftAutoV''. They are essentially a Blackwater {{expy}}, and Trevor mentions they've been cleared some time before the event of the game to operate on American soil [[spoiler:and as it turns out, for the purpose of providing guard duty for a nuke.]] In a subversion, they're not immediately hostile to the protagonists, nor do they are specifically hired against them until the final mission with option C "Deathwish". Trevor simply demolish their operations on three separates and increasingly spectacular occasions, and afterward they switch to ItsPersonal, going after the protagonists in the final heist, even if apparently nobody is paying them for that.
* Several 'corporates' exist in ''VideoGame/VectorThrust''- examples include APEX Solutions, a relatively small company focused mainly on logistics and aerial power, and Samson Strategic Services, one of the largest [=PMCs=] in the world offering a massive range of logistical, tactical and force application power to anybody capable of affording its services. Worth noting is that while some PMCs are depicted as the stereotypical {{Blood Knight}}s itching to make a profit by any means possible, there are just as many companies concerned with their ethical and social imagery in the public eye and maintain a strict sense of justice and discipline in their employees.
* The New Conglomerate in ''Videogame/PlanetSide 2'' is a collection of {{Mega Corp}}s, libertarians, mercenaries, and pirates. The [[TheEmpire Terran Republic]] at one point had mercenaries, until they were all executed for treason.
* The "IMC" faction in ''VideoGame/{{Titanfall}}'' are the field operatives of Hammond Robotics, a MegaCorp out to squash the resistance on the "Frontier worlds" that they have a vested interest in. Their enemies are the [[LaResistance Militias of the Frontier]].
* The Crimson Lance in ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}'' was this to the Atlas Corporation, actively seeking the Eridian technology in Pandora. In ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'', Hyperion is powerful enough to not only have a huge robot army, but a private army consisting of soldiers that can deploy turrets, snipers with ridiculous accuracy and Infiltrators that can cloak and attack you with their shotguns. And in ''VideoGame/BorderlandsThePreSequel'', Dahl is revealed to have a SpaceMarine private army, and a Legion is big enough to take control of an entire space station, complete with ten-foot-tall mechs, turrets and jet fighters.
** All the 8 corporations are implied to have their own private army. Aside from Hyperion, Atlas and Dahl, we only get to see Torgue's biker army in a DLC.
** The Vault Hunters themselves could be considered a heroic example-they don't work for any of the corporations but for themselves and their friends, and will do anything for money, from delivering messages to ''crashing a wake.'' Wilhelm in particularly was explicitly stated to be a mercenary (and an incredibly famous one at that).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* [[http://www.centralcitytower.com/2011/05/faction-introduction-lancers.html The Lancers]] of ''{{Project 0}}'' fall on the corporate mercenary side
* Tagon's Toughs from ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' are one group in a universe full of them. "Pranger's Bangers" are another (much better) group encountered, as well as any number of single, independent antagonists that function more like {{bounty hunter}}s. Later arcs introduced Sanctum Adroit, who are much more Lawful-aligned than the Toughs; they tend to respect the letter of the law, while the Toughs will gladly take almost anything if the money is good.
* The Majan Hunters of ''CryHavoc'' are just one of many mercenary companies, known in universe as 'dogs of war'. These companies are seemingly used to support small national armies.
* The 1st Investment Recovery Battalion from ''MyLifeAtWar'' are one of a few mercenary companies. They seem to be rather professional mostly used for heavy-duty corporate security.
* The CORE in ''Webcomic/{{SSDD}}'' was a company of [[http://www.poisonedminds.com/d/20120210.html mallcops]] before society collapsed. Now they're a vast army for hire that can conscript troops from client nations and has replaced many states armed forces and is one of the few things keeping the Collective of Anarchist States from conquering the rest of the world.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''{{Netland}}''`s TOAST Industries contracts out its own internal force group, as well as selling hardware to other [=PMCs=] (and the [[PlayerCharacter PCs]]).
* In ''DarwinsSoldiers'', [[ElaborateUndergroundBase Pelvanida]] guards are explicitly stated to from an unnamed private security company. And they carry some ''serious'' firepower.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* [[YouSuck Ron Stoppable]] hired these guys in the one episode of ''KimPossible'' where he was filthy rich, for no other reason than so spend money as part of the {{Aesop}}. Seriously, they fought the {{Red Shirt}}s, the guys that Kim takes by herself, and ''lost''...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* TheOtherWiki has a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_military_company#List_of_PMCs list]] of real-life Private Military Companies. However:
** A well-known example is the private firm [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Outcomes Executive Outcomes]], which contracted its former South African soldiers to win wars, not fight them. The firm, based in Africa, was responsible for several contracted wars, in which other firms that were owned by EO's parent company gained access to oil fields, diamond mines, and the like. Executive Outcomes folded in 1999, but the majority of its operators and equipment were shuffled around into other private military firms owned by the parent corporation. To add to the irony, while most of EO's members (at least initially) were ex-military of the Apartheid Era South Africa, one of their first clients was the anti-apartheid MPLA government of Angola against which they had fought during the Apartheid. EO was even pitted against their former allies, the UNITA rebels. Money is God indeed.
** UK firm [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandline_International Sandline International]] was another case of a real-life Private Military Company, and had close links with Executive Outcomes. After it shut down, most of the staff went on to form [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegis_Defence_Services Aegis Defence Services]]. Check Sandline's (still exisiting) [[http://www.sandline.com/site/index.html website]] and check their company profile which reveals some interesting tidbits such as that Sandline will work for. Their involvement in the situation in Sierra Leone, including the coup against Kabbah, was a source of embarrassment to former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in 1998.
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwater_Worldwide Academi]], formerly Xe Services LLC, Blackwater Worldwide, and Blackwater USA. Should be noted that it's their actions, command structure, and actions of their chairman and CEO, Erik Prince (a former Navy SEAL), that separates themselves from more mundane contractors. That, and the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackwater_Worldwide_businesses mind-boggling extent]] of both the access to equipment and the variety of businesses that they have. Ironically, though they were perhaps most notorious for their security work (and allegedly fighting alongside coalition military forces in Iraq in the 2004 Battle of Najaf), their chairman/CEO would eventually announce a scaling back of that work (due to the criticisms) in favor of the other services. Blackwater's also interesting in that they're one of the few mercenary companies to have been deployed in America. After Hurricane Katrina, they actually arrived ahead of the National Guard.
** A lot of modern military contractors, at least those operating in Western countries, are somewhat of a subversion of the trope in the sense that they are not really capable of doing what a real military does: they are more of glorified, heavy-duty security guards without the means to engage in "real" combat where heavy military equipment is involved.
* The Medieval Italian ''compagnia di ventura'' or companies of adventure, which were basically private mercenary armies ready for any city state to hire. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Italian city-states of Venice, Florence, and Genoa were very rich from their trade with the Levant, yet possessed woefully small national armies. In the event that foreign powers and envious neighbours attacked, the ruling nobles hired domestic and foreign mercenaries to fight for them. The military-service terms and conditions were stipulated in a ''condotta'' (contract) between the city-state and the soldiers (officer and enlisted man), thus, the contracted leader, the mercenary captain commanding, was titled the Condottiere. The mercenaries then formed private companies and armies which sold their services to the states. The condottiere armies got much criticism from NiccoloMachiavelli, but in the RealLife they proved to be more competent than usually imagined. (Of course, Machiavelli's real concern wasn't so much with their effectiveness as fighters as their lack of loyalty to the state, thus creating instability; Machiavelli was also a big believer in the ability of a citizen-army to instill virtue in the population, so that had an effect as well.)
* Mercenary armies were used during the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Crisis Congo Crisis]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biafra_War Biafra War]], with several mercenaries rising to fame such as Bob Denard, 'Mad Mike' Hoare and Rolf Steiner.
* After UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, lots of discharged and out-of-work German soldiers formed [=PMCs=] called ''Freikorps''. They were frequently employed as HiredGuns to put down leftist uprisings in postwar Germany and would later go on to form the core of the Nazi ''Sturmabteilung'' (storm troopers), with many high-ranking officers of the Third Reich getting their start as ''Freikorps'' commanders.
** It is important to note that the Nazi party were not the only ones to hire the ''Freikorps,'' and one of the more notable examples of an opposing political movement which took on ''Freikorps'' personnel was the ''Stahlhelm'' ("Steel Helmets").
*** The Freikorps don't fit this trope particularly well. They were more like an extremely, EXTREMELY dark take on EagleSquadron, and most of the units involved were held together by ideology rather than money.
**** For many of the rank and file members, it was simply that they had no roots in civilian life. They would have been soldiers for most, or all, of their adult lives.
**** The Freikorps were powerful enough to stage a ''military uprising'' and overthrow the government, who only came back into power via a general strike by the workers.
* This is exactly what the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Tigers Flying Tigers]] were, the only true mercenaries of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII.
** The only true old-school mercenary band perhaps. There were almost certainly individual soldiers fighting in foreign armies under the [[WarForFunAndProfit traditional terms]]. Furthermore it was still known in faraway places to hire locals as ad-hoc security, notably the Mongol cavalry that guarded US weather stations in the area.
** Though in various important ways, this mercenary company was [[BackedByThePentagon Backed By The Government]], including most of its members being serving US servicemembers who were permitted to separate from the US military without suffering any of the usual penalties of leaving the military before your term is up. The means by which they were able to procure a sizable number of for-the-time modern warplanes is noteworthy.
** French Foreign Legionnaires and Gurkhas and so on served in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII but they were under permanent contract and an organic component of a regular military force.
** In the UsefulNotes/SpanishCivilWar (which was very much a preview to UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo) both the Loyalists and Nationalists employed mercenaries (particularly the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condor_Legion Condor Legion]], which bore the same relationship to the Nazi military machine that the Flying Tigers bore to the US military). Fighter and bomber pilots especially were highly sought-after.
** Creator/GeorgeMacDonaldFraser, in ''Quartered Safe Out Here'', tells of a British officer who recruited local tribesmen to harass the Japanese. Similar types were generally known in the partisan war and espionage game as they always have been.
* In ancient times, mercenaries were actually more common than nationally affiliated professional soldiers. Even most standing armies of the day (few in number, but with some noteable exceptions like the Roman Legions) were sell-swords to an extent, working more for their salary than for national pride. The mercenaries' level of reliability varies greatly depending on a wide range of factors (mostly pay, morale, origin, and the presence of other armed forces), but they were some of the best soldiers around when they did choose to stand and fight--a fellow that made war his career choice is going to be a lot more experienced than some farm boy conscript that knows more about feeding armies than fighting for one.
* Modern standing armies were originally collections of mercenary units under permanent contract to a given ruler (not always mercenaries strictly speaking; most were [[MyMasterRightOrWrong lawful subjects]] of said ruler but they served under the same terms). They were usually raised privately by a local noble often from his neighbors (a ProudWarriorRace like Highland Scots had advantages in this regard; a clan just became a regiment and a chief became a colonel). The British army still retains memories of this in its folklore.
** In fact much of the modern traditional ranking system was originally commercial in concept.[[ColonelBadass Colonel]] for instance originally meant "CEO of a ''regimentum''(regiment), that is a mercenary band with a standing royal contract.
* For several hundred years, Swiss mercenaries were considered to be the finest soldiers in Europe. They even wore garish outfits so that everyone on the battlefield would know who they were. This is why the Vatican has the Swiss Guard, and why they wear such funny uniforms. Swiss mercenary companies would not fight an enemy force that included ''another'' Swiss mercenary company, so national loyalty was apparently more important than money in this case.
** After the NapoleonicWars, Switzerland decided enough was enough. Swiss nationals are currently legally banned from serving in the military of a foreign power. This is enforced. The Swiss Guards of the Vatican are specifically exempted from the ban, which is actually written into Switzerland's constitution.
* Another famous Renaissance-era group of mercenaries were the German Landsknechts, who were modeled after and considered the primary rivals of Swiss mercenaries. The Landsknechts used a combination of blades, early firearms and artillery. They were also famous for the ''zweihander'', [[{{BFS}} a sword that could be as long as six feet]] designed for lopping the tips off of long pikes. They did not share the Swiss's scruples about fighting their countrymen.
* Another common source of mercenaries during 17th and 18th centuries was Ireland. Most European Catholic nations during this period had a few units of Irishmen in their armies. This was actually encouraged by the British as every young Irish male with military skills remaining in Ireland was a potential rebel! Descendants of these Irish mercenaries would become heads of states in France (Patrice de MacMahon) and Chile (Bernardo O'Higgins) even before there was an independent Ireland.
* One common variation known was for a ruler of a small country to simply "rent out" his army to belligerents (much as they have been known in modern times to rent their armies to producers of an EpicMovie when a lot of well-disciplined men were needed for special effects). These were not strictly mercenaries; the soldiers in them tended to be enlisted in the forces of their lawful prince. However someone enlisting would likely know what he was in for. [[AllTheLittleGermanies German states]] were famous for this; their soldiers were such a good buy and their rulers so willing to deal, and they were often times not busy with a war on their own account as major powers were, and so could spare troops.
** Most of the "Hessian mercenaries" in UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution were actually this kind of hired gun. The term "Hessian mercenary" is a doubly NonIndicativeName, as although a large number of them were from Hesse, there were also plenty of Germans from elsewhere.
*** Also, a substantial number of these troops weren't even Minor-German-State Rent-A-Regiments: they were the lawful subjects and soldiers of Georg, Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, Elector of Hannover. As it happened, [[TheHouseOfHanover Georg's family had inherited a few islands off the coast of France four generations earlier]]...
* For much of European history, especially in times when PatrioticFervor was a smaller consideration[[note]] i.e. anytime before Napoleon. During the 19th Century, belief in the eternal moral-spiritual entities called 'Nations' (i.e. 'Nation-alism') gradually took hold en masse at the expense of Christianity[[/note]] it was not considered dishonorable to fight in a foreign army as long as one does not fight against one's own government. When a petty-noble was left unemployed by that unfortunate mishap other people called "peace" he would often look for work for a foreign ruler. If he was promoted enough he might even [[GoingNative change countries]] and be remembered in history more by the country he fought for then by the country he was born in. [[DrillSergeantNasty Von Steuben]] was an example of one of these that took American service during UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution but there were other such of varying usefulness. Another famous example would be [[TheCaptain John Paul Jones]]. Being a Scotsman (and ''very much'' anti-English at that), he is most famous for his service to Russian Empire and United States.
** Another good example is [[FourStarBadass Prince Eugene of Savoy]] who was born in the tiny Italian state of [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Savoy]] but spent his life in the service of the Habsburg monarchy.
*** Taking the examples to their logical conclusion: In the years leading up to the FrenchRevolution, one of the French king's Household Cavalry regiments was known as "Le Royal Suedois" (The Royal Swedish) because all its officers and the bulk of its enlisted men were expatriate Swedes, while the infamous "Royal Allemand" used in the attempt to repress the riots of Paris had its officers and enlisted coming from Germany.
* In 19th and early 20th Century America, this was nigh synonymous with the [[PinkertonDetective Pinkertons]], who weren't above getting their hands dirty so long as they were paid well. Even the US Government turned to their services, at least until the Anti-Pinkerton act in 1893.
** Just to point of the extent of the Pinkertons' power, at the time of the infamous Homestead Strike, they OUTGUNNED the US Army! Given that this was the same US Army who had fought the Civil War not too long before, that's saying something.
** Many corporations formed their own police forces, or cooperated to form police forces for particular industrial sectors. The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_and_Iron_Police Coal and Iron Police]] of Pennsylvania were a particuarly notorious example: although commissioned by the state legislature, they sold the right to appoint officers individual mine and foundry operators (who would then hire whomever they wanted, usually thugs who would work cheaply). They were primarily used as particularly brutal strike breakers but had full arrest powers on company property. They also served as political muscle for the large industrial interests, which was a factor (along with a number of assaults, rapes, and murders) that led to their disbanding by order of the governor in 1931. The Coal and Iron Police existed alongside the Pennsylvania State Police (which initially only had jurisdiction over rural areas) for 25 years but had more effective power prior to that date.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhuOKiVADXA Chinese PMCs]] are rather new: [[http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/102780/7585653.html private security companies were illegal in China until the government relaxed the law in 2010]]. Since then, they have been very active in recent years; this is a result of them heavily investing in African infrastructure (e.g. hospitals, airports, schools, mines) in some of the most volatile places like Sudan. After many incidents of Chinese workers being kidnapped and/or killed, it is estimated there are now over 20,000 (two divisions) Chinese high risk security contractors in various African nations.
* The [[RedOctober Russian Civil War]] had various foreign mercenary units, sometimes formed from stranded POW or civilian workers and sometimes former Imperial regular units from seceded territories, who fought for the White and Red sides. The Reds had the Latvian Riflemen and the Chinese International Units. The Whites had the Czech Legion. Since the whole place and time was extremely lawless and unpleasant, most of them were just Bloody Mummers with guns.
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