Capitalism Is Bad

"I think I see the Invisible Hand. It's giving us the finger."
— Dialogue from a political cartoon by an unknown artist

Many people believe that greed is the root of all evil. Some individuals would take it a step further and go so far as to proclaim "Fuck the Rich!" and demand the destruction of the system that they see as being a Plutocracy that is of the Corporations, by the Corporations, for the Corporations to screw the people over.

This trope can come in a variety of forms
  • Class struggle: Arguably the most well known form of this in which Capitalism is portrayed as benefitting a small elite at the expense of the poor and middle class.
  • Black Market opportunism: Possibly the least controversial version of this trope, Corrupt Corporate Executives are portrayed as abusing loopholes or outright flaunting the law to aggrandize themselves by immoral means such as drug dealing, contract killing, smuggling, illegal arms dealing, slavery (in settings when/where it is outlawed. See the fifth point for details), and illegal business transactions (e.g. cartels, scamming).
  • Environmental Destruction: Sometimes a Green Aesop is incorporated in an effort to broaden its message in portraying businessmen as blatantly irresponsible in harming the planet in order to make a profit. Sometimes may overlap with Science Is Bad in certain situations.
  • Religious criticism: Works that have this sort of angle will seek to present capitalism as incompatible with certain religions and in some cases argue it as being a sin against its god(s) and/or basic principles. At the very least, it will present it as amorally "incentivizing sin" by supplying material that is prohibited by that religion's guidelines (e.g. alcoholic beverages, pornography, certain prohibited foods (i.e. pork), etc.). Can be a right wing attack on capitalism that thinks its market liberalism is too decadent or a left wing liberation theology example.
  • Racial and ethnic oppression: Somewhat of an out growth of the first variety, but with an especial focus on the effects of capitalism on certain races and ethnic groups in the forms of slavery, segregation, imperialism, and/or colonialism.

Other tropes that are featured in works using this theme frequently include:
  • Anvilicious: Not all works may have this effect on viewers, but some creators using this trope tend to believe in the righteousness of their cause with every fiber their being. Though some well written works that employ a nuanced view of society can avert this.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Not all works necessarily have this problem, but certain juvenile works of "satire" will likely have this in terms of their solutions, ("Why can't the mean evil people print more money for everyone to have? That'll definitely work."), and thus end up inadvertently proving that capitalists have some valid points. This trope is especially bad with invocations of post scarcity economics which Marx would not advocate right now with out current state of technology. Of course it may be the capitalists themselves who act like this.
  • Bread and Circuses: Products and services that are provided by companies are portrayed as a method to keep buyers in a sort of consumerist slavery.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The main antagonists of the setting. A position that plutocrats will almost always hold and in many cases There Are No Good Executives. Though more nuanced works, particularly those that want to make the point that capitalism in and of itself is not evil, may also feature an Honest Corporate Executive as a counter balance.
  • Cyber Punk: Futuristic works using this trope frequently portray technology as being beneficial to an elite few, whereas Post-Cyberpunk likes the technology aspect but keeps the capitalist critique or ignores it entirely.
  • Deal with the Devil: Deals offered by businesspeople are presented as being predatory in that they have a steep price that will leave the deal acceptor in perpetual servitude.
  • Dystopia: Works using this trope tend to portray the governments in such societies as being plutocracies whether de jure or de facto. See Cyber Punk above for the most common anti capitalist dystopia.
  • The Gilded Age: Sometimes used as a setting in order to show that this trope has some degree of basis in history and that those mistakes should not be repeated.
  • Greed: When self-interest becomes excessive and exceeds the limits of moral boundaries. Though the line between reasonable self-interest and greed will be deliberately blurred by those that are especially hostile to capitalism.
  • The Horseshoe Effect: Some writers advocating mixed economies using this trope sometimes to portray unrestricted and unregulated Capitalistic Plutocracies as being functionally no different to Communist dictatorships. Obviously not gonna show up in works explicitly advocating Communism.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The ideal hero in some works employing this trope.
  • Kill the Poor: Works based on this trope will typically portray businessmen as treating employees as simply, to paraphrase Willy Loman, like oranges and that they can throw the peel away.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: Some works may present liberty in terms of personal freedom even if it means it giving up economic comfort. note 
  • Loves Only Gold: A more specific form Greed where a character is interested in only specific form of wealth. In extreme cases, the character will attempt to achieve total control of the world's supply.
  • Mega Corp.: Works using this trope tend to portray corporations as being modern-day monopolies and in Cyber Punk, may control the nation like a government.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: See deal with the devil above.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: When super wealthy companies and/or cabals of elite businessmen decide that they are no longer satisfied simply influencing established institutions to get what they want and decide to take over the government too. Common in Cyberpunk.
  • Predatory Business
  • Privately Owned Society
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Capitalists are shown as immoral and corrupt, taking advantage of a broken system with bribes.
  • The Social Darwinist: Highly affluent business people are frequently portrayed as having a philosophy based on this.
  • There Are No Good Executives: Though some of these works call for restrained capitalism instead. Played straight for pro Communist works.
  • Toxic, Inc.: Capitalism being bad for the environment is common in green oriented stories.
  • The Unfettered: In that business people are portrayed as having no sort of moral restraint. In addition, laissez-faire capitalism is dubbed "unfettered" by some critics.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Expect to see big corporations lobbying for war or having private armies.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: Works using this trope portray a select elite few of this ethnic background as the only beneficiaries. Used to drive a point if anti racism is also a major theme, in that racism keeps the proles hateful and divided.
  • Working-Class Hero: The most likely people to be in opposition to plutocratic villains. Those advocating restrained capitalism instead will likely use liberal politicians or Middle Class progressives.

Unless they are socialist Utopian stories, works employing this trope will generally be on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism and the villains will typically be categorized as Lawful Evil in Character Alignment. Anarchist works will have heroes in the Chaotic Good sphere as heroic revolutionaries while stories involving an existing socialist nation will firmly paint them as Lawful Good comrades. Though some Lighter and Softer versions of this trope may focus on certain aspects of capitalism, such as consumerism and the policy regarding regulation, rather than condemning it as a whole.

More nuanced works with this trope may also employ Humans Are Flawed or Humans Are Bastards being that, after all, businesspeople are humans too, unless they're aliens or a point is made on how the human majority is working class and moral in the face of the rich decadent few.

Before snarking about some writers and actors employing anti-capitalist messages while profiting from them as being hypocrites, keep in mind that narrative fiction creators are more likely to identify as artists than as businesspeople. Though some cases of this may overlap with The Man Is Sticking It to the Man, particularly works that had substantial funding from Big Business. In the less popular Marxist sense however, class is merely your relation to capital, so making money isn't a problem as long as you yourself are a worker and not profiting off of employees.

Compare and Contrast with Aristocrats Are Evil and Democracy Is Bad (the latter of which some believe can strengthen people's property rights, and thus enforce Capitalism, in certain situations. Others stress that capitalism is inherently undemocratic when the rich hold influence). Also keep in mind that not every work of fiction that features a Corrupt Corporate Executive is necessarily playing this trope. For example Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII and David Xanatos from Gargoyles are both unscrupulous businessmen, but the nature of capitalism is never explored in any detail and therefore those works would not count for this trope. Not to be confused with Adam Smith Hates Your Guts which is a video game mechanic.

See also Chummy Commies. For the opposite of this trope, see Dirty Commies.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Rurouni Kenshin: An early incident delves into this with the conflict against Kanryu Takeda. Kanryu is an "entrepreneur" who has learned about western capitalism and seeks to spread it about in the setting of Meiji era Japan. The business he runs specializes in opium, which has had a detrimental effect on the local area, but nonetheless Kanryu has profited and thus continues to provide it to meet the demand to make himself wealthier. In addition, he treats his employees Megumi Takani (his chief Opium maker) and the Oniwaban group with no shred of dignity and even attempts to kill all of the latter with a Gatling gun just so he could kill Himura Kenshin (who at this point was seeking, along with his friends, to rescue the kidnapped Megumi when she sought to escape to turn her life around) in the process.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Capitalism is indirectly examined in the form of the unfettered self-interests of morally corrupt businessmen, known as the Black Book Club, to use demons to benefit themselves at the demons' expense.
  • In AKIRA, the Colonel doesn't think too highly of Capitalists and their dystopian Neo Tokyo.
  • The Asterisk War: The primary villains are the Integrated Enterprises Foundation, a Mega Corp. that controls the world economy, bringing entire countries to the brink of poverty (Lieseltania included), encouraging the unethical treatment of Genestella for its own purposes using the Asterisk Festas to extend their political influence and brainwashing its own members to prevent any defiance. For what has been seen so far, its only goal seems to be "profit at any cost."

    Comic Books 
  • The Boondocks: Capitalism is portrayed as detrimental force on the lives of everyone, with the exception of a white elite, especially on the black community in keeping it in perpetual poverty unless one decides to go "acting white" (though "acting black" isn't seen as being wise either). To add to this, Huey Freeman frequently quotes Karl Marx to back up his opinion.
    • In the last season of the cartoon based on the comics, Granndad was driven into prostitution, corpse smuggling, and actual slavery by his own blind, irresponsible consumerism, and the manipulative usury of his plutocrat landlords, the Wunclers. Pissing on the poor seems to be an actual pastime of Ed Wuncler's; he once trapped a little girl into wage slavery in a lemonade stand, by promising her a pony. All of this bleak horror is Played for Laughs.
    • The necessary condition towards upwards mobility isn't "acting white" ("acting black" is perpetually shown to be synonymous with "acting like a damned fool") so much as "affecting a very narrow set of status-quo-abiding behaviors and beliefs". Successful lawyer Tom Dubois needs to act a very specific kind of white; he can't act like any of the Wunclers (especially not the one who "acts black"), or like a redneck, or anything like that. The criticism against him doesn't seem to be that he's a Category Traitor, but that's he's fettered, impotent, and perpetually insecure.
  • Iron Man: The comics play with this on some occasions. Stan Lee and Larry Lieber noticed that all the businessmen in the Marvel Universe, and for that matter comics in general, were those of the Corrupt Corporate Executive type, and thus decided to create a superhero who averted this trope in the form of Tony Stark (AKA Iron-Man) to demonstrate that capitalism was not inherently evil. Some of the villains that he faces, most notably Obadiah Stane, lack any of Stark's integrity and take advantage of armed conflicts to make a profit. Thus the beneficial and detrimental effects of capitalism can be played up in certain storylines.
  • In Sin City, Basin City is terribly corrupt and in the hands of a minority of political and economical elites, especially the Rourke family, who use their power to get away with regular dog-kicking so base, so vile, so monstrous, they don't even know what a Moral Event Horizon is. They get away with most of it, too, until eventually the working-class, downtrodden, impoverished underdog Anti Heroes defeat or murder them.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the Big Bad, Rourke, is a sadistic mercenary who actually describes himself as an "adventure capitalist". Granted, all he is motivated by is money, which is why he leads to the expedition. Then, just to get even more money, he steals the only thing that allows the Atlantians to survive (a giant blue crystal) and tries to bring it to the surface to sell it. Some people see the film as being anti-capitalist because of him.
  • The LEGO Movie: This trope is played with. President/Lord Business, whose name by itself invokes this trope, has several posters/screens emphasizing obeying President Business (particularly buying products made by his company), as well as the surprising suppression of creativity, or then at least his standards of perfection. The city of which Emmet is a resident of are portrayed as sheeple who blindly accept such a plutocratic society, which would be consistent with Socialist and other Anti-capitalist propaganda. However, it is actually invoked in-universe by Finn, of which Mr. Business is an Expy of his father (AKA The Man Upstairs) and is a criticism of the latter stifling the former's creativity due to conflicting with Finn's father's perfectionist ideals.
  • WALL•E: Rampant consumerism encouraged by a Walmart Expy turned One Nation Under Copyright brought about such ecological destruction that Earth had to be evacuated due to literal skyscrapers of garbage. The humans living in orbit on the Axiom are little better, essentially living as overgrown children who basically exist to eat, lounge around in boredom and buy things whenever prompted by adverts. When the Axiom goes back to Earth at the end, the humans adopt a Solar Punk-style society which is healthier for them and for the planet. Director Andrew Stanton has gone on record for saying he didn't intend for this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Discussed at length in the 2014 documentary America. In addition, it is also brought up that merchants and other businesspeople being considered Acceptable Targets to vilify is Older Than Feudalism, well before The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith was published in 1776. In the documentary is mentioned Tunisian Historian Ibn Khaldun's observation and condemnation of contemporaries of his time who believed that someone who stole something was more "honorable" than someone who traded for an object as they at least had to "earn" their "right" to keep it to by proving themselves in combat.
  • Brazil by Terry Gilliam is a downplayed example. It is more a satire of consumerism than capitalist economics as a whole, though according to Gilliam in an interview it hasn't stopped some conservatives in the United States (who are more likely to be pro-capitalist) from genuinely enjoying it and misinterpreting its intended messages.
  • Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore sets out to argue against capitalism as its writers understand it, going as far as to equate it with sin. Please leave it at that.
  • Citizen Kane by Orson Welles is often seen as an attack on The American Dream, featuring a highly unsympathetic, though not one-dimensional or caricatured, portrayal of the American tycoon. It apparently struck a nerve with William Randolph Hearst, one of its inspirations, who managed to upset its distribution and make it a box-office flop.
  • A Corner in Wheat, a short film from 1909, is about an unscrupulous capitalist who corners the wheat market. The capitalist makes a ton of money and eats lavish dinners, while the farmers who can't sell their wheat struggle and the poor people of the cities can't get bread.
  • In Cube, one character, who worked as a contractor designing the exterior shell of the titular Cube, suggests that the mysterious, elaborate structure that tortures and murders random civilians is a massive pork barrel project created to act as a huge wealth creator and shift public money towards corporations.
  • The Dark Knight Rises seems to go back and forth with this trope. On one hand, we have some good anti-capitalist zingers from Catwoman, who disapproves of Bruce Wayne's selfish lifestyle. On the other, we have a Does This Remind You of Anything? sequence where angry anarchists attack the stock exchange and super-villain Bane's dialogue calls back to the recent "Occupy Wall Street" movement. When the film was released, many decried it as capitalist apologism in defense of the elite. Though it should be noted that Christopher Nolan has officially stated that no political message was intended.
    • In addition to the aforementioned statement from Nolan, the above description utterly leaves out the fact that Thomas Wayne's philanthropy by Ra's al Ghul's own admission had been of benefit to Gotham's less fortunate and that many of the city's problems, including the unemployment and economic crises, had been engineered in the first place by the League of Shadows, of which its motives is more akin to those of a less overtly religious version of religious extremist groups (e.g. Al-Qaeda) (but equally Knight Templarish) than any sort of Marxist/Communist groups, itself as part of an effort to bring about Gotham's destruction to destroy what the League saw as a corrupt society, regardless of socioeconomic class.
    • The Dark Knight Rises has been mocked as an example of both anti-capitalism and anti-anti-capitalism, with Jonathan Chait writing in New York magazine that "What passes for a right-wing movie these days is The Dark Knight Rises, which submits the rather modest premise that, irritating though the rich may be, actually killing them and taking all their stuff might be excessive."
    • Anticapitalist interpretations of the film don't usually sympathize with Bane outright, but instead see the film as aristocratically reactionary because it portrays the masses of normal people in Gotham as needing the billionaire playboy/psychopath Batman to save them from themselves. Portraying normal people as easy for extremists to mislead and incapable of asserting their own agency is Not Nice.
  • Flakes features a homegrown cereal bar with it quirky sensibilities versus the sterile corporate copycat installation across the street. As far as the Flakes employees are concerned, the trope is true. The actuality is that both sides come to realize the other has a point.
  • Guess what country likes to use this trope in their propaganda? North Korea! Most of The Flower Girl is a portrait of the Paes, the landowners, as being thoroughly evil capitalist oppressors who victimize the peasants in the village. Kotpun the titular flower girl leads a pretty depressing life, mainly due to the Paes, who are responsible for blinding her little sister and literally working her mother to death. This becomes overt at the end, when Kotpun's brother Chol-ryong urges the villagers to rise up and fight the capitalists.
  • The 2012 documentary Four Horsemen by Ross Ashcroft toys with this trope in several ways in that it criticizes various changes to regulation policy at the behest of Banks via lobbyists that resulted in the Financial crisis of 2007–08. Neoclassical economics is ultimately indicted as the source of the Great Recession. The Narrator does lampshade that some critics may accuse of it being Marxist or socialist by directly making clear that it does not support those economic policies and instead advocates for a "Reform Capitalism" based on a return to classical economics and replacing fiat currency that has been in place in the United States and many other countries with a return to the gold standard.
  • Fun with Dick and Jane: The 2005 remake is made of this trope, being inspired by the Enron scandal.
  • The Godfather, especially the second part, was regarded by Francis Ford Coppola as being less about the mob and more about the mob as a metaphor for capitalism. This is most prominent where Michael Corleone boasts of his shares in IBM and Hyman Roth states that the mob is "bigger than U.S. Steel."
  • In Time: Connects capitalism with social darwinism in an anvilicious way. Wages are decreased and prices are increased by fiat, meaning the purpose of the system is to Work The Poor To Death at a controllable rate. Note that the film seems to massively fail at economics.
  • Jurassic World: The director of the film, Colin Trevorrow, has stated this as being one underlying theme in the film. To quote Wikipedia "Director Colin Trevorrow stated that the Indominus rex, the synthetic hybrid dinosaur at the center of the film's story, is symbolic of consumer and corporate excess. The dinosaur was 'meant to embody [humanity's] worst tendencies. We're surrounded by wonder and yet we want more, and we want it bigger, faster, louder, better. And in the world of the movie, the animal is designed based on a series of corporate focus groups.'[17] He also stated, 'There's something in the film about our greed and our desire for profit. The Indominus rex, to me, is very much that desire, that need to be satisfied.'"
  • Mother India is a critique of usury: a family of peasants goes into debt to pay for a wedding, and the moneylender later alters the terms of the deal so that they only ever make enough money to pay the interest. Then things get worse.
  • Our Daily Bread is about a group of Americans in the depths of The Great Depression who form a socialist-style collective farm. The film isn't excessively strident, but the anti-capitalist message is obvious. In a meeting of the farm workers, one suggests a democratic form of government for the farm, but that's dismissed as what got America into The Great Depression in the first place. At the foreclosure auction, a capitalist fat cat right out of Soviet propaganda—overweight, dressed in a suit, chomping on a cigar—tries to buy the farm, but after the workers silently threaten him with a hangman's rope, he clams up, and the workers buy the farm themselves for less than two dollars.
  • The Purge and its sequel The Purge: Anarchy show this in an oblique way, with the rich being the only ones that can afford proper security during the titular event (although one needs to be beware of being too rich), and the rich paying for hitmen to do the purging for them (and even auctioning people to kill) in the sequel. It's established early on in the first film that the establishment of the Purge brought about full employment in the US because the unemployed homeless were the most vulnerable target of it.
  • RoboCop (1987) and its remake share this theme, featuring typical Cyber Punk Mega Corp. organizations that are very unscrupulous about how they employ their power.
  • Salt of the Earth: A portrait of brave, determined miners and their wives joining together to fight against greedy capitalist bosses and their law enforcement lackeys. This was the only American film shown in Commnuist China between 1950 and 1979.
  • Much of the propaganda of the Soviet Union employed this trope. The Sergei Eisenstein film Strike is about how the evil capitalists who own a factory oppress and victimize their workers. When a worker kills himself after being falsely accused of theft, the workers go on strike. The evil capitalists call in the police and the army, and the film ends with the workers being massacred.
  • They Live: This film was made by John Carpenter to criticize the effects of the Reagan Administration on American society in regard to the increase of materialism.
  • Parodied by The Future, a rather hypocritical group of communists from Hail, Caesar!. As communists, they see capitalism as an oppressive system that takes their good work as writers and gives them nothing for it. This doesn't stop them from not wanting to redistribute their ransom money evenly, or letting their Soviet bosses get all the money for their labor, or from listening to a professor who says the best way to fight capitalism is to try and obtain the most wealth as possible, a capitalist mindset. The whole philosophy is presented as humorously contradictory, except when Eddie Mannix hears a big actor using it to bad mouth the studio after all it sacrificed to rescue him and secure his career. Mannix slaps the actor silly and makes him realize that all the hard work people put in to make movie is not just to drive some system, it's worth something.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: Deconstructed, and if not this trope itself then certainly the mindset of people who believe that Capitalism is evil. While only glimpses of pre-Ingsoc ruled Britain are revealed via flashbacks, it is recounted in some detail in the book known as The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. In it, Emmanuel Goldstein, the author who may or may not still be alive, or may not have even existed in the first place, examines capitalism and other features of human civilization, leading to the ultimate conclusion that Ingsoc was Not So Different and had become like the very people they wished to destroy.
  • Nikolai Nosov's series of children's books Adventures of Dunno and his friends has little liliputians - Mites - living in a Ghibli Hills -esque Mouse World. That's Earth Mites from the first two books. In the third book, they travel to the Moon and find out that the local Mites are capitalists who live in a Wretched Hive; the book is basically the Soviet children's tour of why exactly capitalism is bad.
  • American Psycho is about very young investment bankers that live a carefree, extremely boring life while putting on a façade of work. Their entire existences revolve around status symbols like designer clothes, expensive watches, and getting reservations in highly fashionable restaurants. They are so conformist and same-looking that they keep confusing each other for others. The protagonist uses his money, his resources, his connections, and his anonymity to brutally abuse and murder people, especially of the Disposable Sex Worker and Disposable Vagrant types (probably).
  • Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is about a family that emigrates to California, having been told there's lots of lucrative job opportunities. Once there, they find out that there's a surplus of workers, and their salaries are systematically undercut until they earn barely enough to live to return to work the next day, living "like animals"; they become de facto slaves. Things get even worse once they start earning even less than that. And while their children are starving, food being destroyed before their eyes to drive prices up. The workers are understandably upset at this state of affairs, hence the title.
  • The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance by Russell Roberts is written to be a subversion. Laura Silver, a teacher at the fictional Washington D.C. based Edwards School, is a genuine believer in this trope while in contrast Sam Gordon, a teacher (specifically of economics) and the eventual love interest of the former, argues in favor of free enterprise and also points out some fallacies (such as the zero sum game fallacy) as well as how capitalism can be beneficial (progress in the fields of science such as technology, medicine, etc.) because of economic incentives.
  • Jennifer Government: In many ways the Anti-1984 (read about that one above), in which a dystopia exists by way of powerful corporations seeking to aggrandize themselves and have turned the United States government into a puppet to serve their own purposes. Its condemnation of libertarianism is so over the top (especially going out of its way to present John Nike as the worst kind of person in existence to make readers come to a conclusion) that it seems like self-parody.
  • Possibly the ur-example is Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle. Sinclair had intended it to be an indictment of the capitalist system, but it was taken by the broad public as a public health and safety expose.
  • Robert Tressell's The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists published in 1914, but written before his death in 1911, looks at the workings of unrestrained free-market capitalism through the lives and trials of a group of building laborers, the sort who are hired and fired at will and as needed. The boss routinely cheats customers, baiting with expensive materials and then switching to inferior grade once the contract is signed; employees are treated like dirt; in the absence of a welfare state it is easy to slip into absolute poverty; and a new hire teaches the rest the shortfalls of capitalism and the superiority of socialism as a working system.
  • Anything written by Ayn Rand will be a deliberate inversion of this trope to attack anti-capitalist ideologies as being absolute conformism and suppressing individual rights. The only time she invokes this trope is when criticizing crony capitalism and corporate welfare which she considered not to be legitimate forms of capitalism.
    • Atlas Shrugged seems like an unintentional example in a very different way than the others on this list: billionaires that also happen to be geniuses go on strike, taking all their technology and trade secrets with them, resulting in mass death, chaos and starvation throughout the USA.
  • Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash is ambivalent; the entire world is a Mega Corp.-owned Wretched Hive, the US is fractured into various independent, privately-owned states, down to the neighborhoods. Even the federal government has become a private company... yet they still "do the work that no-one else believes is worth doing". Violence is common and life is extremely dangerous. It's also very colorful and exciting, especially as seen through the eyes of the badass protagonists. To give you an example, pizza delivery men work for the Italian Mafia, have gone to specialized universities to acquire their qualifications, and will deliver the pizzas in time, no matter what insane stunt driving they have to do, on pain of death. Teenage couriers carry messages, armed to the teeth, on motorized roller-blades, via highway, at speeds exceeding 60 mph. Walled neighborhoods have domestic robot guard dogs that run faster than cars and pack mini-guns. And so on.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chappelle's Show: The "WacArnold's" skit satirizes some of McDonald's commercials by showing a young African-American man named Calvin who gets a job at the McDonald's erstaz while the narrator explains the benefits of working at the company in a set of commercials. Though with each commercial, it portrays it in a less appealing manner: one woman who had congratulated Calvin had died from eating cheap, high cholesterol foods from WacArnold's; his Black majority neighborhood's economic well-being is no better than it was prior to the WacArnold restaurant opening; and Calvin can't adequately care for his family on his minimum wage job.
  • Doctor Who: "Oxygen" is set aboard the mining space station Chasm Forge, controlled by an unnamed corporation that maintains control of the oxygen supply by only allowing it within employees' personal space suits and vents any unauthorized oxygen into space in order to "keep prices competitive", and which is prepared to execute its own workers because their mining operation has stopped being profitable. The Doctor makes numerous derogatory comments about capitalism and the idea of controlling the oxygen supply for profit throughout the episode, and at the end alludes to the fact that what occurred aboard Chasm Forge will one day spark a revolution that will cause intergalactic capitalism to collapse... until humanity finds another great mistake, but that's another story.
  • The Men Who Built America: This History Channel miniseries focuses on the history of the United States from the late nineteenth century to the first decades of the twentieth century known as the Gilded Age. While it recounts the innovations that came about from the enterprises of Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan, it also shows the social unrest of the workers of those companies who endured economic hardships. The captains of industry were apathetic towards the plights of their workers and viciously sought to assimilate as many smaller companies as possible to snuff out competing businesses. They also certain had no problem, to paraphrase J.P. Morgan, "buying a president" referring the Presidential election of 1896.
    • However the last episode of the miniseries subverts this by portraying the beneficial effects of capitalism when it focuses on Henry Ford successfully challenging the legality of the Trusts' claims that his attempt to start his own automobile company infringed on their rights in court and his creation of the Model T, an automobile that middle class consumers could afford.
  • In Star Trek the Federation is post-scarcity communist (Depending on the Writer), while capitalism is generally represented by the Ferengi.
  • Supernatural: The Leviathan arc that makes up the entirety of the seventh season (which ran from 2011-2012) is devoted to criticizing certain aspects of American capitalism, particularly the degree of power that Corporations have to influence people (and frequently for the worse). It portrays corporations, when under the control of especially avaricious and domineering Ubermensches such as the Leviathans, as being like parasites who enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of the population and keep them ignorant while doing so. King Leviathan Dick Roman, the leader of the Leviathans, is also a very unflattering portrayal of Corporate CEOs in that he is an unabashedly hubristic Social Darwinist.
  • Your World With Neil Cavuto: Satirized by Stuart Varney, who brings up the irony of anti-capitalist protesters in Seattle, Washington on May Day condemning capitalism while using smart phones and other technological innovations that are the products of companies.

  • Punk Rock, Hip-Hop, Synthwave and Vaporwave have a lot of this. The latter two are the choice of music for Cyber Punk soundtracks.
    • Punk Rock is popular with anarchist and greens.
    • Hip-Hop is frequently used to express problems in capitalist society, especially from the point of view of Black Americans.
    • As per this doccumentary, Synthwave rose out of the contradiction with flashing new technology in the 80s and the rampant nearly dystopian cronyism of neo-liberal 1980s America and Britain.
    • Vaporwave uses popular logos and clip art to make absurd backgrounds, mocking or brand filled consumerist lives.
  • Frank Zappa didn't directly oppose capitalism as such, being a record producer and talent scout himself, but did criticize the brainless, shallow and unethical materialism, consumerism and marketing that goes along with it. He wrote several songs about it: "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" (Absolutely Free), "Absolutely Free", "Flower Punk" (We're Only in It for the Money), "Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead" (Bongo Fury), and "Be In My Video" (specifically bout MTV) ("Them or Us").
  • Rage Against the Machine: Also a staple of many of their protest songs.
  • Money for Nothing by Dire Straits from Brothers in Arms is a scathing attack on MTV and the music videos that bring in big bucks for artists without having to do much. It also attacked the consumerism that typified the 1980s.
  • This is a staple of The Pop Group's songs and Mark Stewart in general. As "We Are All Prostitutes" puts it:
    Capitalism is the most barbaric of all religions
    Department stores are our new cathedrals
    Our cars are martyrs to the cause
  • This is one of the main themes throughout Foster The People's Supermodel, especially on the bonus track "Tabloid Super Junkie," which opens by stating it outright and critiques the ways in which capitalism prioritizes personal gain and consumerism over artistic value and effort.

    Myths And Legends 
  • The original tales of Robin Hood are aversions in that it is Feudalism Is Bad, though some more modern writers deliberately seek to invoke this trope in order to portray modern day robber barons as being exploitive of lower class people and thus Not So Different from aristocrats.
    • Although considering that Robin Hood steals from the corrupt government officials (King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham) he's more of a Libertarian than anything, helping workers and business owners fight against the obstructive government.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Little Shop of Horrors: The creators of this off-Broadway musical have said that it is about how "power, greed, and the pressure of capitalism to corrupt" society as represented by the Audrey II plants claiming to offer fame and fortune in exchange for being fed human blood. The 1986 film based on the musical makes it Lighter and Softer by downplaying this message and omitting the ending of the musical in which The Audrey II plants grow out of control and consume everyone in the city of Skid Row, New York and with the rest of the world eventually following in this fate.

    Video Games 
  • Arguably the central theme of BioShock. The setting is a laissez-faire capitalist utopia in a city in the bottom of the ocean, built by industrialist Andrew Ryan (explicably an Expy of Ayn Rand). Without proper regulation, Rapture quickly turned into a Wretched Hive full of Corrupt Corporate Executives and Social Darwinists, the poor were dehumanised and seen as "parasites" and everything became commodified and fitted with a price tag, even breathable airnote . When someone with even more ruthlessness and business acumen began to outcompete Ryan in the market, Ryan turned to state power to come down on his business rival, dashing all of his guiding beliefs and sparking a Civil War with Rapture's other business owners. Ryan won the resulting war, turning Rapture into a tyrannical One Nation Under Copyright. Though it should be noted that Ken Levine has said that the theme of the game was more that Humans Are Flawed and extremism of any kind is not beneficial.
  • Dm C Devil May Cry: This game helmed by Ninja Theory literally demonizes capitalism as a plot from Hell. Mundus (AKA banker Kyle Rider) along with his demon underlings control the Human world through debt and keeps humanity complacent through Virility soft drinks and the Raptor News Network in order to use them as livestock.
  • Everyday The Same Dream: The game has this theme to some degree in that it portrays residing and working in a corporate society is a dreary, repetitive, and mind-numbing way to live. Though it is also an indictment of the monotony and pressure of society as a whole.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: Until the day of his death, poltergeist Polterguy is just a normal 90s teenager. He dies because the Sardini Company sells crappy skateboards just for profit without regards for safety and life.
  • The capitalist Magog Cartel in the Oddworld franchise is notorious for creating industries that are spectacularly unsafe and ruinous to Oddworld's natural ecosystem, and for treating the employees little better than slaves (to the point that, when a Cartel abattoir begins making a loss in the first game, the Bad Boss decides to butcher the employees and sell their meat as a new product line). Sekto, the Big Bad of spin-off game Stranger's Wrath isn't part of the Cartel, but he is a Corrupt Corporate Executive; he plans to dam the River Mongo and use its water to manufacture Sekto Springs soft drink, which deprives the Grubb tribe that live near the river of their livelihood.
  • Ratchet & Clank: More so the earlier games included some mild satire whereas more recent games starting with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction onwards avert this. While the companies that make the weapons that the protagonist and many other people (including villains) use aren't actively malevolent, but they are certainly apathetic in regards to the destruction their customs cause after they've paid for them. In fact this series is actually the Trope Namer for Mega Corp..
  • In Stardew Valley, the closest thing the game has to a driving antagonist is a Walmart Expy that is greedily staking claim to the titular region's resources, dumping polluting refuse into it, working the locals into exhaustion and depression, driving the local mom-and-pop store out of business by using underhanded tactics, and just generally strangling the community spirit. You can side with them, and you can make a lot of money in doing so, but it's thematically discouraged and plus you miss out on a lot of other rewards in doing so.
  • Zombidle invokes this trope by having one of the buildings that Bob the Necromancer can build in Hell called the "Corporate Bank of Capitalism". It provides a Money Multiplier.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: This show used the third type of this trope to portray the endeavors caused by Unfettered Capitalism to detrimentally effect the environment.
  • The Simpsons and Futurama: Both Mr. Burns and Mom are caricatures of evil business people without any morals and are effectively both the main antagonists in these series, both created by Matt Groening.
  • South Park, a series with an admittedly Libertarian leaning, tends to invert this trope whenever it should crop up:
    • The series averts this (or, at the very least, downplays it) in Gnomes. The episode presents Harbucks Coffee as a company, like any other, that started out small, but because of positive quality, was able to grow into a powerhouse corporation. The executive running the place isn't even evil; he's just forced to resort to petty tactics to compete with small-business owner Mr. Tweak, who manipulates the minds of the general public (many of whom already don't trust corporations) into taking his side.
    Kyle: Big corporations are good! ...Without big corporations, we wouldn't have things like cars, and computers, and canned soup.
    • A Very Crappy Christmas argues that, (even if the town mayor is the one pushing it) the blatant and overdrawn commercialism of the Christmas season is what makes it so special. Without it, the holiday season either passes by without notice, or becomes all about peace, love, and togetherness. Which is boring.
    Mackey: Christmas is about presents. If we all buy presents, everyone benefits, m'kay?
    Choksondik: We got so caught up in the little things of Christmas, like love and family that we almost forgot it's buying things that makes our economy thrive.
    • This trope is also played with, but ultimately subverted, in Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes. While the newly-opened superstore Wall-Mart is portrayed as a sapient Eldritch Location that exists only to corrupt and devastate towns across the country economically and socially (to the point of turning South Park into a ghost town, and driving its regretful creators to suicide), the physical personification of the store itself admits greed and desire is what keeps it alive and prosperous; in other words, capitalism isn't inherently the villain, but a lack of personal responsibility and blind consumerism is. This apparently goes over the heads of the adults, who come to this this conclusion, but in trying to support a small, mom-and-pop store, end up turning it ''into'' a successful corporation, which they decide to burn to the ground.