Tucker: They're probably trying to steal the artifact, then sell it to the highest bidder.Proof that Even Evil Has Standards, The Bad Guys will show some sport and allow for other baddies to meet underground and place bids on a Destructive Piece of Applied Phlebotinum or other significant Doomsday Devices. Or maybe he does it because he'd love to make some bucks. Does not always involve the classic "English auction" (that's the "going once, going twice" sort), instead using sealed bids. It's more refined that way, and if the price is millions of dollars, it's easier to handle that way. Since slave-taking is a form of villainy, a slave auction would also fall under this trope. This is more Truth in Television than many other examples, though, as most slave societies (e.g. the United States, before the Emancipation Proclamation) did commonly sell their slaves at auctions. This may be the heroes themselves being put up for auction, often for the right of the highest bidder to slice them up, or it may be someone or something important to the heroes that's on the block. In this case, the good guys may go undercover to make a bid themselves, but this gambit rarely turns out well. A form of Villains Out Shopping, although it can (and usually does) have more plot significance than most. Welcome to Evil Mart is a less competitive form of villain commerce. See also Arms Fair.
Caboose: Oh, they're like evil eBay!
Caboose: Oh, they're like evil eBay!
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In episode eight of the Hentai Cool Devices, Maya is captured by slavers and sold at an English-style auction, starting at 200 credits and being raised to about 360 before Estilgar bids five million on her.
- In One Piece the Human Auctioning House (or the Public Employment Security Office as the Marines call it) is the center of the slave trade; ironically, while it deals in human slaves, more exotic species are worth far more. In one arc the crew's friend Camie the Mermaid gets kidnapped and sold there (live mermaids being especially valuable). The Straw Hat Pirates attend the local slave auction and try to buy her freedom, even if it costs them every beri they have (which at the end of the Skypeia arc, is quite a bunch). But a World Noble crashes the auction and throws a Whammy Bid which is way more than Luffy and crew can match. Guess it's time to switch to plan B: punch the guy who bought her in the face, rescue the girl, and tear the whole place apart, even though it meant they'd bring the entire World Government upon them.
- Gosick featured one selling stolen national treasures and abducted girls.
- A major plot arc in Hunter × Hunter takes place during the Yorknew City Auction, the largest in the world, as well as its underground mafia counterpart. Naturally, the Genei Ryodan shows up, massacres everyone, and makes off with the goods.
- Justice League Adventures #6 as seen above, with time-travelling villain Chronos on the seller's podium. In this issue the whole thing is a Batman Gambit by the man himself (and the rest of the League) to capture all the attending supervillains.
- This happened to the JLA in the mainstream DCU comics as well, in an early Silver Age JLA story, "For Sale: The Justice League!" (Justice League of America #8, 1961). A common gangster manages to find a device which he can use to control the JLA members, and auctions them off to various crooks to use as aides in committing crimes. Turns into a case of Let's You and Him Fight as well, since basically all of the crooks decided to go for the same target as one of their fellow bidders. In the end none of the heroes actually succeed in stealing anything, as Snapper Carr absconds with the goods himself while everyone else is distracted by the fights.
- An issue of The Brave and the Bold starring Superman and Catwoman featured an underworld auction where one of the items being sold was the location of the cave containing the Clayface protoplasm.
- The Venom symbiote was auctioned to the highest bidder eventually in Spider-Man comics by Eddie Brock himself. (Eddie was determined to give up being Venom and was actually planning to donate the money to charity, most likely not telling them where the money came from.) All the top villains were in attendance, as were scrubs like the Looter. Mobster Don Fortunado won and gave it to his wimpy son Angelo in hopes that it'll toughen him up. Angelo got himself killed pretty quickly and the symbiote found its way to Macdonald "Mac" Gargan, formerly the Scorpion, who had it until Siege (after which it ended up on, of all people, Flash Thompson).
- The Silver Age story Crime of the Month Club had the Joker operate one of these, where he sold plans for heists to various criminals. Of course, this being Joker, the plans are pretty far-fetched (one such crime involved robbing the Gotham Gas Works, then using the gas to fill up a hot air balloon so the robbers could escape).
- Jimmy Olsen is sold to the gentleman wearing the Superman Cape in Jimmy Olsen #117◊
- Steve Englehart wrote an issue of Batman called "The Malay Penguin" in which Hugo Strange set up an auction of Batman's secret identity to his enemies, including Penguin and the Joker. It's a similar situation as "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne" listed in animation.
- Sidewinder holds an evil online auction for a select group of collectors featuring antiques stolen just a few hours before. He'd been working this angle for a few months by the time his latest attempt was foiled by the intervention of the Heroes for Hire.
- Grant Morrison's Batman has a Timey-Wimey story in which one strand involves Hat-Man (previously the second Mad Hatter, before the first one returned) auctioning off the Joker's Joke Book.
- The Mirror House in the Batman (Dick Grayson) storyline The Black Mirror, which sells both functioning villain tech and morbid "souvenirs" like the crowbar the Joker used to kill Jason Todd.
- The Network, originally debuting in The Flash, is a mobile black market for supervillains, complete with auctions for big-ticket weapons and famous stolen items.
- In The Brave and the Bold #186, Batman and Hawkman team up to find and stop an auction that the Fadeaway Man is holding to sell off loot he has stolen.
- Shakara: After the Earth is destroyed on the first few pages of the comic, the last human (who was stuck on the International Space Station) is captured and brought to an interplanetary slave auction. The slavers only included the Puny Earthling as a novelty item.
- Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: The second (excluding the issues that are part of Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel) arc of the series centers on Aphra assembling representatives of most of the galaxy's criminal organizations in order to sell the Rur crystal off to the highest bidder. Though things get complicated when her droids sabotage things in an attempt to kill her.
- All's Well That Ends Well (part one of the Spirit Quintology, a series in which Lancer accidentally acquires ghost powers and becomes the hero Will Spirit) concludes with one of these - Skulker kidnaps Danny's entire class and auctions them off to other ghosts in exchange for weapons he can use, with Ghost Writer as the actual auctioneer. Among others, Paulina is bought by Kitty (who wants someone she can do girl talk with), Danny is bought by Vlad (for obvious reasons), and Ghost Writer bids on and wins Lancer after learning of their shared love for literature. Luckily for everyone involved, Danny and Lancer are ultimately able to escape partway through and use their powers to free the hostages.
- One of the stories in the fourth Halloween Unspectacular centers around this. In a twist, the auctioneers (incompetent police officers) aren't evil, but most of the items (having once belonged to an evil wizard) they're selling are (like the toaster that houses an evil bread spirit, the camera that transports Patrick back in time, the binoculars that show the worst fears of those who look into them, the Necronomicon, and the wizard's spellbook, which Sam uses to launch Paulina into space and turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun).
Films — Animated
- In the animated short sold with some Megamind DVDs, now that Megamind is no longer evil, he starts selling his devices of doom in an auction. Proves very fun for one kid who buys his dehydration gun...
Films — Live-Action
- The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. Professor Moriarty sets up an mini-auction between Russia and France for the stolen Redcliff Document.
- Cradle 2 the Grave, magical super plutonium is being sold to a collection of the world's biggest, baddest baddies. The Chairman from Iron Chef America plays the seller.
- James Bond:
- Casino Royale (1967). La Chieffe sets up an "art auction" between the US, USSR, and Great Britain to sell a set of compromising photographs, culminating in a hilarious scene where each country believes that they are under attack.
- Diamonds Are Forever. After Blofeld launches his Frickin' Laser Beams equipped Kill Sat, he sets up "An international auction, with nuclear supremacy going to the highest bidder."
- The Spy Who Loved Me. Cairo nightclub owner Max Kalba sets up an auction between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. over plans for a system that can track submarines underwater.
- Tomorrow Never Dies opens with James Bond infiltrating a weapons bazaar where various military grade weapons are being sold to terrorists.
- Never Say Never Again. Largo's mook attempts to auction Domino as a sex slave until James Bond rescues her.
- In DOA: Dead or Alive, the Big Bad's plan is to auction off his ultimate weapon: a pair of hi-tech sunglassess that enables its wearer to use any martial art imaginable.
- In Wonder Woman (1974), Diabolical Mastermind Abner Smith steals a a complete list of U.S. field agents, their undercover identities and current assignments and plans to sell it to the highest bidder. He doesn't actually succeed in setting up the auction before the title heroine stops him.
- In The Master of Disguise, the main villain steals all the worlds most valuable objects and then sells them on Black Market eBay.
- Takes place at the end of Steel with the Big Bad attempting to auction off his (actually, stolen from the US Army) Energy Weapons. However, being smart, he only sells them the weapons, not the means to maintain them or make more in order for them to keep paying for his services (right after offing his partner and hired thugs in a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment).
- Taken: The bad guys auction their kidnapped girls as sex slaves. Bryan infiltrates the place and tries to buy his daughter, but is discovered, forcing him to get her back the old-fashioned way.
- In the final act of Mortdecai, Mortdecai and Johanna arrange for the painting with the bank account number to be sold at an auction disguised as another painting (although they are planning to let the buyer walk away with another decoy).
- Hostel II. One scene shows wealthy people typing on their cell phones/computers, bidding for the right to torture and kill the women displayed on their devices' screens. The bidding is in the tens of thousands of dollars.
- When Cinque is telling his story via flashbacks, many of the Africans that survived La Amistad's voyage from West Africa, were auctioned off in Cuba before the ship was taken over by Cinque and the other Africans still onboard.
- In Get Out, the older guests at the Armitage's party go off with Rose's father to play Bingo, a disguise for a silent auction where the guests bid on who gets Chris's body.
- The Ersatz Elevator, the sixth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, ends in an auction when the Baudelaires THINK that Duncan and Isadora are hidden in an item called "V.F.D.", but it turns out that they're hidden in a large sculpture of a Red Herring.
- Doctor Who:
- The Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Alien Bodies. Agents of the most formidable powers in the galaxy gather at an auction to bid for the deadliest weapon ever created, the body of the Doctor.
- Story "Fegovy" in Decalog 3. An energy-based creature named Fegovy is auctioning off the priceless "Face of Humanity" to several criminals and warlike species. The Doctor wins the auction by tricking the entity into selling off its entire collection in exchange for what it believes are Gallifrey's coordinates. It's actually just a childish insult the Doctor scribbled.
- Sex slave auctions are, naturally, common in the Gor series.
- The concept of 'evil', however, isn't.
- In The Final Warning, the Uber-Director attempts to auction off the flock. He's thwarted by the flock using their 'skills' to distract the viewers... oh, and a hurricane.
- The The Dresden Files book Proven Guilty has a member of the White Court abduct Harry Dresden and auction him off on eBay to all those he's severely pissed off. The bidding got up into the millions.note
- Jack Vance's The Demon Princes series plays this trope straight, subverts it AND inverts it in the second book, The Killing Machine. Interchange is a planet which specialises in kidnap victim/ransom exchanges, acting as intermediary between the villain and anyone who chooses to pay the ransom. Everyone wins, because the villain can rest assured he will get his money while the ransoming party knows the person they're coughing up for is guaranteed to be alive and well and in good health (in custody at Interchange, NOT in the villain's lair). In order to avoid the loathsome attentions of a master criminal (the Big Bad of the episode), the heroine approaches Interchange and posts a "ransom" for herself, far beyond the capacity of anyone to pay. How Kirth Gersen goes about subverting the system is the subject of the first half of the book.
- In the Diogenes Club story "The Serial Murders", a villain who's worked out a way of using a soap opera full of No Celebrities Were Harmed characters as a voodoo ritual offers the representatives of various organisations (including The Mafia, Leech Enterprises, a sinister immortal force within NATO, and an easily-manipulated government think-tank) an opportunity to "sponsor" the show.
- Shadow Police: In The Severed Streets, Costain and Ross discover that there is a quarterly auction of arcane artifacts in London - held on the solstices and the equinoxes - and attend one. While not necessarily evil, the auctions are definitely amoral and will accept all kinds of disturbing things as payment: blood, body parts, a year of suicidal depression, the ability to ever feel happiness...
- In Hex and the City, John Taylor works security for an auction of supernatural and super-science artifacts that attracts all sorts of disturbing, disreputable, or just plain insane "players" from the Nightside and elsewhere. But even the worst of them are outclassed by the reality-warping extradimensional entities that crash the gathering to seek the prize item up for bid: a probability-controlling butterfly.
Live Action TV
- The Avengers
- Episode "Have Guns - Will Haggle". Thieves steal 3,000 highly-secret, brand-new rifles and stage an auction for the guns for buyers on the black market.
- Episode "The Man from Auntie". An organization which steals items for collectors kidnaps Mrs. Peel and plans to auction her off to them.
- "The Hour That Never Was". A team of technicians at a Royal Air Force base is brainwashed and given hypnotic programming by a team of criminals using ultrasonics. The Big Bad intends to set up an auction of the brainwashed personnel to the highest bidder.
- Mission: Impossible
- Episode "Doomsday". An industrialist sets up an auction to sell weapons-grade plutonium and other items needed to produce an H-bomb to the highest bidder.
- Episode "Speed". The West Coast's largest drug dealer steals 3 tons of amphetamines and sets up an auction in the criminal underworld to sell it to the highest bidder. The IMF must stop the plan so the drugs don't reach the American public.
- In another, the baddie auctions off the "antidote" to a computer virus that can cripple military systems. The virus itself was free, since none of the attendees could use it without exposing their own systems.
- Angel "Parting Gifts" Cordelia is kidnapped and her "Seer's Eyes" are put up for bid.
- And when it appears that they are about to be sold for much too low a price (from Cordelia's viewpoint) she takes over from the auctioneer to drive the price higher, and to buy time for the Big Damn Heroes to show up and rescue her.
- Farscape, Crichton sets up one of these for the wormhole knowledge inside his brain. He doesn't intend to actually let the auction conclude, but merely uses the competition between the Big Bads this stirs up as a cover for his real plans. Needless to say, it's awesome.
Crichton: What am I offered for all the powers of the universe?
- During the episode "Q-less" on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark auctioned off a bunch of stuff brought through the newly discovered wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant. One of the items up for auction turned out to be a dangerous crystal which had been causing power outages and other problems all episode, and—of course—nearly destroyed the station.
- On Charmed, several episodes have shown that the demons have auctions for the souls bought through a Deal with the Devil, and their own bazaar where they go for trading, and an enterprising demon can even make money by making a Reality Television audience for demon participants and a demon audience.
- In the third season of 24, an undercover Jack Bauer is trying to get a deadly virus when it turns into a sealed bid auction, with the other bidder being Nina Myers.
- Avon is paraded at a slave auction in one episode of Blake's 7.
- In Warehouse 13, this is the premise of the first Season Finale.
- In the Supernatural episode "What's Up, Tiger Mommy?", Plutus, God of Greed, steals and auctions off the Word of God as well as Living MacGuffin Kevin. Kevin's mother bids her soul to save him. Crowley possesses her in order to steal the Word anyway.
- In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Kendrix's Quasar Saber was put up for auction at a Bad-Guy Bar after her death (she got better at the end of the series); to recover it, Karone disguised herself as Astronema (her Super-Powered Evil Side that was banished forever in the previous series) winning it by doing a very convincing job of acting, placing a Whammy Bid which she ups to "and you all get to live". Unfortunately, her cover is blown by Trakeena, but she managed to escape with it after causing a Bar Brawl, much like her brother did in the previous season. (Probably genetics.)
- Cutthroat Kitchen has these in spades, as the items auctioned off are solely ways to handicap the other chefs. Swap out their fresh ingredients for some pre-packaged ones, take away their knives and replace them with plastic knives, bind two chefs together with a double apron...
- Daredevil (2015): After Karen Page exposes a numbers racket at Union Allied, Wilson Fisk has his cronies reacquire the company's assets when they're auctioned off. In "In the Blood," Karen crashes one auction to sketch outlines of the bidders. Ben Urich drops in as well, and tells Karen to bid on some of the smaller lots to avoid giving herself away.
- In both the original and the remake of Roots, Mandinka warrior in training, Kunta Kinte is taken from his homeland in Western Africa and auctioned off to a Virgina plantation owner.
- Champions supplement C.L.O.W.N. (Criminal Legion Of Wacky Non-conformists). The title villain group captured the supervillain Foxbat and auctioned him off to the highest bidder. The Birmingham, Alabama police department passed the hat and came up with $8.67.
- Espionage (and its remake Danger International), adventure Merchants of Terror. The villains steal a nuclear artillery shell and try to auction it off to a group of international terrorist organizations.
- Promethean: The Created: In the sample adventure included in Strange Alchemies, the Unknown Soldier auctions off the services of the Promethean named Lighthouse (who can see other Promethean's milestones). He accepts bids of favors and service, not money. Members of the Botherúd use the auction as a chance to wipe out a large group of Prometheans at once using a suitcase nuke.
- In Rocket Age there is a black market for Ancient Martian artefacts and in one adventure the heroes can find themselves right in the middle of criminal auction for a teleportation device, up against Nazis, gangsters, con-men and deposed royalty.
- In Devil Survivor, this is how you "acquire" new demons. If the bids are too close, it passes from English-type auction to a sealed-type. In the sequel, on the other hand, regular auctions always use sealed bids, while the rare Special Auctions remain English-type.
- In Neverwinter Nights Hordes of the Underdark expansion, you can buy a female human slave from the Illithid. You can either send her to fight or free her.
- An Auction of Evil is actually a major plot point in Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee; the last eggs of Munch's species are being auctioned off in a can as "gabbiar" to some rich glukkons, a race whose hat is Corrupt Corporate Executive. Abe intends to use his ability to possess others to manipulate a foolish glukkon into handily winning the auction, then stealing the eggs.
- In the second Ace Attorney Investigations, the fourth case centers around an illegal auction at the prosecutors' office for evidence from past cases. The victim was a Mole posing as a buyer and trying to bring down the auctioneer. The true murder weapon even turns out to be an auction gavel.
- One of these is going on in the background of your first official mission in the new Hitman. A freelance spy ring is auctioning off a list containing the identities of every MI6 agent in the Middle East to a cabal of shady characters, including the son of an East Asian dictator and an Arab sheikh with ties to terrorist cells. 47's mission is to shut down the auction by killing both of the spy ring's leaders.
- Most of the second act of Watch_Dogs revolves around Aiden infiltrating an auction dedicated to selling runaway, kidnapped, and other type of missing girls as sex slaves. Although shutting down the auction (and the human trafficking ring behind it) is only an ancillary goal for Aiden during his mission, once he's presented with the opportunity he swiftly, and brutally, follows through.
- Marshall, Carter and Dark from the SCP Foundation universe is a rival Artifact Collection Agency which regularly auctions anomalous artifacts off to the super rich. An interesting example in that they're not evil as such, but rather that they have a cavalier attitude to the consequences of their inventory falling into the wrong hands, and large sections of their catalogs are typically devoted to items with obvious Power Perversion Potential. On at least a couple occasions, however, they've turned something even they thought was too dangerous or depraved to sell over to the Foundation, and have also (grudgingly) acted as broker to the Foundation when securing items from private collections.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- In "Harlequinade", a group of gangsters auction off a bomb only for it to be stolen by the Joker.
- In "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne", Hugo Strange tries to auction off Batman's Secret Identity to The Joker, The Penguin, and Two-Face. In a twist, Joker ends up suggesting that they pool their money and collectively "purchase" the secret. Too bad for Strange, Batman switched the tapes...
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold "Legends Of The Dark Mite": Catman attempts to sell a rare wild tiger.
- Captain Planet: Dr. Blight goes back in time to WWII in order to auction the atom bomb to the Axis Powers.
- Darkwing Duck episode 'In Like Blunt' had the villain turn his lair into an island resort and auction off a list of various S.H.U.S.H. agents' names. All as bait to trap a rival. Of course, he still held the auction.
- A Family Guy cutaway has Stewie attending a perfectly normal auction, that just happens to offer a machine capable of enslaving humanity.
- Freakazoid! had a variation of this with a raffle, hosted by The Lobe, the winner being allowed to set off the giant wooden horn which would play a note at Freakazoid's resonant frequency, shattering him. Naturally all of Freak's villains were there to get in on this. The winner ends up being Armando Gutierez, but he drags out the countdown too long and Freakazoid ends up being saved by Norm Abram.
- In the Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon, one episode had Dr. Wily shrink entire American cities - specifically, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago - and then encase them in glass before auctioning them off to the highest bidder. One scene of the Robot Masters driving around in their van also had Guts Man mention that Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Los Angeles were next on the list.
- Space Ghost episode "Space Sargasso". Lurker plans to auction off the captured title character to his enemies, but is interrupted before he can carry it out.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man "Accomplices" The Specs for The Rhino's suit are on the block.
- Super Friends during the "Super Powers" era, had an episode where the Justice League infiltrated an intergalactic auction to prevent anyone from getting their hands on a piece of Gold Kryptonite, in order to protect Superman. The Kryptonite ended up in Darkseid's hands.
- Parodied in The Tick animated series, in which Brainchild auctions off the Tick after turning into a two-headed hermaphroditic bluebird that only speaks high-school French and lays chocolate eggs. The auction is infiltrated by Der Fledermaus and Sewer Urchin, incredibly poorly disguised as supervillains "The Rake" and "Buckethead".