troperville

tools

toys

Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Better Living Through Evil

He'll welcome you into his lair,
Like a nobleman welcomes his guest,
With free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest!
Beware of his generous pensions,
Plus three weeks paid vacation each year,
And on Fridays the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!
He loves German beer!

Tired of your boring job? People not giving you the respect you deserve? Looking for some Bread and Circuses? Need some dental work but no coverage? Then consider a career in evil.

This is where the Big Bad, usually, helps someone either by moving them up the corporate ladder or by helping them improve their standard of living. The person so helped in return will either repay them in the form of a favor at a later date or just join the Big Bad and his/her crew.

Can be a Deal with the Devil. Contrast Evil Feels Good.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comicbooks 
  • The original Wanted comic, which the below film is based on. Rather than being recruited by assassins to become a badass hero, Wesley's trained to become a supervillain. The Fraternity of the graphic novel make no pretense of heroism or righteousness — they Kick the Dog on a regular basis because it's fun, and encourage Wesley to do the same. In fact, at the end, in a fabulous deconstruction of the Comes Great Responsibility Aesop, Wesley pretends to have a moral epiphany, tells his sidekick/fuck buddy that he was just kidding, then mocks the reader for having a moral compass. And then he rapes you.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Lion King, the Hyenas follow Scar because he promises to let them back into the Pride Lands where they will be able to eat as much game as they want when he is made King. Unfortunately for them, years of their excessive hunting, a drought, and Scar's inept rule have driven out most of the prey animals. The first time the Quirky Miniboss Squad of Hyenas is seen after the Time Skip, they are once again begging Scar for food.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Apartment, C.C. Baxter (played by Jack Lemmon) is promoted by Mr. Sheldrake (played by Fred MacMurray) in exchange for letting Mr. Sheldrake use his apartment for his affair with Fran Kubelik (played by Shirley MacLaine).
  • The Devils Advocate: what makes this trope and not simply a Deal with the Devil as the title implies, is that Kevin is helped unknowingly (except maybe some gut feelings along the way) and without knowing Milton's true nature and his relation with himself. Milton says in the end speech that it is because of Kevin's accepting his dad's nature was the reason he got that far, and basically because it ran in the family.
  • In Fight Club, Tyler Durden helps the protagonist live a better life by abandoning materialism and consumerism. Too bad Tyler is his alter ego who uses Fight Club as a training program for a nihilistic assault on modern society. That, and Tyler wants the protagonist's personality to die completely so he can have his body on a permanent basis.
  • Frank White of King Of New York recruits some new goons after they try to mug him on the subway. After scaring them with his pistol, he tosses them a wad of cash and says if they want jobs, they should look him up.
  • In Wanted, Wesley is unwittingly doing this by joining the Brotherhood; he escapes his mundane daily job, which he hates with a passion, and a girlfriend who is cheating on him, and becomes an Assassin. The Reveal is that the Big Bad was the Brotherhood leader, who was supposed to liquidate the entire order as it is implied that it had served its purpose. Instead, he uses his position to increase his power and influence.

    Literature 
  • The original Taken from the Black Company became taken as a bid for power. It works because they are given quite a bit of land to control and each one has a pretty sizable army under their command.
  • The subject of a few books by Neil Zawacki: How to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!! and The Villain's Guide to Better Living.
  • How to Succeed in Evil is a story about a consultant who makes a nice living assisting super villains.
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, Lloyd is a petty crook who is locked in jail when the Superflu hits. He's one of the few immune to the virus, but when the guards die off and no one opens his cell, he resorts to cannibalism to keep from starving to death. Flagg comes along and lets him out, and from then on Lloyd is his loyal right-hand man. He even continues to serve Flagg when he stops believing in the cause, because whatever happens he owes Flagg his life.
  • Numerous villains in the The Dresden Files attempt this on Harry but it never takes. Reason being that while Harry is aware that he's getting a raw deal for his good acts he isn't in it for the rewards, he's in it because he can sleep soundly at night.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer one of the Mayor's first acts with Faith was to get her an apartment, a knife and had her kill someone and a Playstation, which for Faith is more jaywalking, arson, then murder, she's more impressed with the knife and the games than the apartment. Then he took her miniature golfing after she was upset she had failed to turn Angel, which further seals the deal.
  • On Angel this is how Wolfram and Hart operates, both by directly employing people and aiding their clients. They hire Faith as an assassin, and she intends to move up to something better.
  • The second season of The Wire gives us Nick Sobotka, a stevedore in Baltimore's slowly dying dockworker union. As an honest man, he simply can't get enough work, as it's noted numerous times that there isn't enough traffic going through the port for people as far down the seniority scale as Nick, so he can only get a few hours a week, has to live with his parents instead of with his longtime girlfriend and son, try to avoid getting his car repossessed by parking it far away from home every night and hoping the repo man won't look that far, etc. Once he does a couple of jobs with the international crime syndicate that smuggles drugs, women and other goods into the dock, he makes tens of thousands of dollars, The Dragon of said syndicate takes a fatherly interest in him, and Nick can start looking at the real possibility of getting a place wth and providing for his girlfriend and son.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Resident Evil 5, Excella Gionne's backstory is this. She was born into a branch off of the main family and went into Tricell Pharmaceuticals. She worked her way up and eventually was brushed aside because she wasn't a member of the founding family. Wesker comes in and gives her information about making bio-organic weapons and she is able to corner that market when Umbrella folds. She is then promoted to the head of Tricell Pharmaceuticals as a result. But not for long.
  • Cerberus takes this approach with Shepard in Mass Effect 2 in a glorious aversion of With This Herring. They are still up to all the horrific experiments and other tricks they were in the first game, but manage to throw the entire fandom into a Flame War by not only resurrecting Shepard, but providing him/her with every resource imaginable. Brand spanking new Cool Starship, the most advanced in the galaxy with as much Reapertech as they could steal - and leather seats. A handpicked crew, including a certain awesome Ace Pilot. Leads on recruiting the most astounding badasses in the galaxy. And periodic injections of money, supplies and intelligence. If you don't think of the DLC packs as a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, they even arm you with some of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy right out of the gate!
  • Fallout 3: So, you're a bright-eyed and able-bodied vault dweller, out into the Capital Wasteland in search of your father or riches? First place you come to's quaint little Megaton. You could always help the local sheriff disarm the town's namesake nuke and get yourself a squalid little shack and a couple caps. Or, alternatively, you can arm the thing and score up to 1500 caps, get a nice suite with a stunning view by working for the badguys. By the first hour out of the vault in Fallout 3, you've all ready bettered your living arrangements more through evil than good. Enjoy the chance to drink the wasteland dry if you don't feel too terribly like saving it.
    • Over on the west cost however its somewhat averted. While working for the Legion you will become a second god and have your face on one of their coins they don't give a rats ass about "better living".
  • Riku gets kind of mocked by Ansem for this in his storyline of ''Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. "You cast away your home, your friends, everything...but at least they gave you a nice room." Riku doesn't find this funny.
  • No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy In H.A.R.M.'s Way has protagonist Kate Archer infiltrate the India branch of H.A.R.M. The manager who gives her a job says that though he is offering an entry level position, she will find the pay and benefits very competitive by the evil-industry standards.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, when playing as the Sith Warrior you are the Big Bad (or his Dragon at least) and have the chance to pull one of these when trying to draw a specific Jedi out and turn her to the Sith. One option to make said Jedi squirm is to give her parents a better standard of living with the 'evil' empire than they could have dreamed of in the 'good' republic.

    Webcomics 
  • Naturally, this is lampshaded in The Order of the Stick after Tsukiko defects to the Big Bad's side, providing us with the above image.
  • Defied by Mr. Stratus in Our Little Adventure when the Emperor gives him a job offer as his head tactician. The result of this was, of course, a face full of lightning and an ensuing battle.
  • This in Sluggy Freelance.
    Torg: Wow! When you become a vampire, men become broad shouldered and muscle-bound and women become tall and thin! You ever think of selling this on QVC?
    Lysinda: Foolish mortal ... do you really think humanity would give up its immortal soul forever just to look good?
    (Beat Panel)
    Lysinda: Sylvia?
    Sylvia: "Infomercials next quarter." Check.
  • Sebastian of True Villains joins Xaneth's Five-Bad Band, and in exchange, Xaneth doesn't kill him.

    Web Original 
  • The plot of Dr. Horrible is this essentially as the title character attempts to join the Evil organization to gain respect and prestige. There was also something about social reform that he never seemed entirely clear on.
  • The title character of Interviewing Leather by Eric Burns (now Burns-White).
  • In the latest Cheat Commandos short from Homestar Runner, Reynold defects to the villains side because they actually let him DO things.
  • Ted in The Joker Blogs says he's cooperating with the Joker because he wants to die, but you can tell the respect is a factor.

    Western Animation 
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Shredder does this with two of his dragons, Karai and Hun. With Karai, the trope comes into play due to the fact that the Shredder is the Daddy Warbucks to her Annie; Hun, while already a criminal, was allowed to move up from "gang leader" to "syndicate higher-up" thanks to his association with his "Master".
  • In Kim Possible, the business of villainy (conventions, magazines, Jack Hench's henchman hiring agency) is Not So Different from any other sort of big business.
  • The Venture Bros.: In order to come up with a competent and cheap workforce for Dr. Venture, Dr. Killinger hires a team of Venchmen, all of whom are on a work/study program paid for by the state. Evidently, the life of a henchman has some degree of allure.
    • Killinger is also trying to do this to Dr. Venture himself. He provides the Venchmen, new threads, helps get his finances in order, and improves the lives of his family. It isn't until the end that he reveals this was all to get Venture to join the Guild Of Calamitous Intent as a fledgling supervillain, with his brother Jonas as his archenemy. Venture has a Heel Realization and refuses, and Killinger departs.
  • Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz of Phineas and Ferb does not only have his own evil incorporation, and plans of an evil institute, but he's also a member of LOVEMUFFIN, an evil organization with evil doctors and scientists that not only have invention contests and buffets but also hosts pageant-like contests of evil. There also seems to be a variety of evil magazines, one of them being the Evil Beat magazine which is purely about evil of dance. It also appears that some branches of evil corporations on the show have different kinds of benefits, such as maternity leave.
  • This is how the Affably Evil Hank Scorpio recruits Homer Simpson as the manager to run the nuclear power plant that powers up his giant doom laser. He is generous with employee benefits, firmly believes in a casual workplace, quick to give compliments and an all around amazing boss.
    Scorpio: "By the way, Homer; what's your least favorite country - Italy, or France?"
    Homer (after some thought): "France."
    Scorpio (adjusting the targeting coordinates of some kind of Kill Sat): "Haha, nobody ever says Italy."
  • South Park:
    • In "Sexual Harassment Panda", town lawyer Gerald Broflovski represents everyone in South Park in a number of frivolous sexual harassment lawsuits that leave South Park Elementary and much of the rest of the town destitute and the Brovlovskis in a palatial new home. When his son Kyle questions the ethicality of this, Gerald can only reply, "Just look at this house, Kyle!"
    • In "Crack Baby Athletic Association", Kyle joins with Cartman to create an athletic league exploiting crack babies (in a clear parody of the NCAA). Kyle tries to justify this in various ways, but is both attracted to and troubled by the luxuries he now enjoys at the expense of the crack babies.
    Kyle: Well sorry, Skippy, but the world isn't always black and white! Just because some people are born poorer than others doesn't mean I can't enjoy a few McDonald's french fries in a hot tub of gravy from Kentucky Fried Chicken!
  • In Dan Vs. "The Boss", Dan's new boss who is really a demon from Hell demands that Dan help her kill Chris for discovering her secret. When Dan protests, she offers him an expense account and a company car. Prior to this, Dan admitted to Chris that he's really looking forward to joining the forces of Hell, believing that he'd finally found his calling. In the end, Dan chooses his friend over Hell's promised luxuries.


Automaton HorsesImageSource/Web ComicsBig 'NEVER!"
Being Tortured Makes You EvilEvil TropesBetter The Devil You Know

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
39003
3