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- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Slave 23 provides a bit of blood so that his master can perform an alchemical experiment. This results in the creation of a homunculus. Out of gratitude, the flask-bound creature gives the slave a name (von Hohenheim), enough alchemical knowledge to make him one of the most powerful men in the country, and when the homunculus tricks the king into sacrificing every living person in the country to create a Philosopher's stone, Hohenheim gets half the souls, making him not only the sole survivor (other than the homunculus itself) but also immortal.
- Archie Comics used this trope every so often, with either Archie or Betty encountering a poor-looking man who they help out, while Reggie mocks them for it. Later, either the poor guy turns out to be a wealthy man who lends Archie a fabulous car for a week, or Reggie ends up stranded at a mall with no money to call for a tow truck after his car broke down.
- Our Miss Brooks: In the cinematic finale to the series of the same name, Miss Brooks finally gets rewarded for her series-long string of good deeds and selflessness, when Mr. Boynton proposes.
- Melvin and Howard is based on the never-verified story (possibly inspired by the urban legends detailed below) that Howard Hughes promised part of his fortune to a guy who stopped to give him a ride in the middle of the desert.
- CSA: The Confederate States of America: Canada refuses to extradite runaway slaves into the Confederate States...and becomes a cultural haven for those creative minds who, oppressed by Confederate morality laws, emigrate to Canada, making it the dominant cultural center of the world and giving it enough money to arm itself against anything the now hostile CSA might throw at it.
- In Self/Less, Mark Bitwell gets this at the very end of the movie. He donates his body for shedding so his daughter's hospital bills can be paid. Not only does he come back to life at the end, when Damien chooses to die instead, but Damien leaves Mark and his family enough money for them to live in the Caribbean.
- Edward The Black Prince, in A Knight's Tale, declares William a knight due Edward seeing the kind of spirit in him. He also mentions that the fact his apparent servants love him would have been enough on its own.
- There's an urban legend along these lines. A man goes to a funeral and sees that another funeral is going on in another room without a single mourner. Out of pity, he signs the guestbook as a well-wisher. The following week, the man is contacted by the dead man's lawyer, who tells him that his entire estate was to be divided amongst the people who attended the funeral, and he was the only one.
- This legend is altered humorously, replacing the man with a poor woman who walks into a funeral parlour because she needs to use the toilet urgently. After she finishes her business, she decides to attend a stranger's funeral, because why not, and then lawyers approach her notifying her that she has become heir of the stranger's large estate because she was the only attendee of his funeral.
- A rich man's awesome art collection is put up for auction when he dies. A poor man buys a picture of the rich man's son since no one else will. The poor man, since he "took the son" gets the whole lot—allegory for Christianity and all.
- A folk tale tells of the incarnations of Love, Wealth, and Health visiting a family, in which they can only choose one of them. After some time the family chose Love, and then Love and the other two comes along, thanks to The Power of Love.
"Where Love goes, Wealth and Health will follow."
- In the book Holes and its film adaptation, the hero, Stanley Yelnats, is the latest in the line of the Yelnats who suffer from a familial curse of bad luck that leads to being sent to a crooked prison camp for a mistaken indictment. However, when Stanley risks his life finding his friend, Zero—the descendent of the person who placed the curse—in the desert and brings him up a mountain, he inadvertently fulfills the conditions necessary to break the curse. As a result, several generations' of denied good luck come to him all at once and suddenly everything goes his way.
- Very common in 18th century novels. For instance, both those of Smollett and Fielding have their heroes undergoing one hardship after another but ending up rich and Happily Married and all of their enemies are badly off. The main difference is that since Smollett's protagonists were more in the way of anti-heroes, they tend to gloat over their defeated opponents.
- In Robin Hobb's The Soldier Son trilogy, the widow Amzil feeds and shelters a homeless wanderer, despite barely having enough food for herself and her three children. Via a long, Hobbian route she eventually gets true love, wealth and a noble title.
- In the Apprentice Adept book Split Infinity, Stile's first encounter with Neysa the unicorn culminates with Neysa running towards a cliff, with Stile hanging on for dear life on her back. He thinks she's trying to commit suicide rather than be broken, so he risks his neck to talk her down, gambling that she'd respond to his tone rather than his words. He didn't know that unicorns were sapient and she understood every word. He also didn't know that unicorns were Voluntary Shape Shifters and that she was planning to kill him by leaping off, then changing to her firefly form, leaving him to fall to his death. By speaking from the heart, he not only saved his own life, but gained his closest friend and ally on Phaze.
- And Another Thing...: Constant Mown manages to talk Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz out of destroying the planet of Nano and the last humans in the universe by playing to the letter of Vogon law (They were legally no longer "Earthlings", but "Nanites"or however they'd like to put it, so destroying them would result in an embarrassing amount of paperwork for Jeltz). Turns out he saved the entire ship as well, since if they hadn't retreated at that very moment the Not Quite Dead Thor would've destroyed the ship.
- Interestingly, a novel within a novel in Slaughterhouse-Five said the story of Jesus delivered the wrong aesop, in that it showed that the Romans made the mistake of picking on the wrong man, one who was the son of God, so the message came across as, "Make sure that whoever you pick on isn't important". Instead, it says that Jesus should have been a nobody, a bum, and when the Romans crucified him, God should have appeared and decided to adopt this worthless bum as his son.
Live Action TV
- Our Miss Brooks:
- In "The Festival", Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton loan their money and exchange outfits with the hardworking cleaning woman and custodian so they'll have something nice to wear to the festival. This results in Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton winning the prize for best costume. True to form, they split the proceeds with the cleaning woman and custodian.
- In the episode "Mr. Whipple", Miss Brooks organizes a food drive for Mr. Whipple, who she mistakenly believes is impoverished. This so affects the miserly millionaire, that he donates the money to build the new gymnasium Madison High School needs.
- On The Drew Carey Show, one episode has Drew conspiring with his villainous boss Mr. Wick to secure both of them promotions. By the end of the episode, Mr. Wick has been ousted for unrelated reasons, but Drew still gets the promotion. At this point Drew reveals the entire scheme to the higher-up out of guilt, but only succeeds in impressing the higher-up with forthright honesty because Drew made the confession when it was absolutely in his best interest to shut up.
- A minor example in the CSI episode "Turn, Turn, Turn": Nick's small act, giving a vagrant money for coffee, not only turns the guy's life completely around (he cleans up, kicks intoxicants, and goes to college), it yields a witness in the case Nick's working, a year later.
- Averted in the Blackadder take on A Christmas Carol. After being taken advantage of by everyone he knows because he's so charitable Queen Victoria is about to make him rich as a reward, but unfortunately he chose that day to do a Face–Heel Turn and he throws her out.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Arena", Captain Kirk is pitted against the Gorn captain in one on one combat by the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens called "Metrons". When Kirk wins, he refrains from killing the Gorn captain. Because of this, the Metrons release both ships when (according to an unaired line in the original script) they had planned to kill the victor (who was the greater threat).
- Discussed in Deadliest Catch, season 3. After a pretty terrible king crab season so far, the Time Bandit pulls an unlucky fisherman from another boat out of the water. Afterwards, the Time Bandit has successive strings of pots so full of crab, they make their quota in a couple of days. It was a record setter.
- Storage Wars' Barry Weiss, buys up a locker for $2.50 that no one else was interested in, as a courtesy to the seller. The locker turns out to be holding several glass fly catchers which amount to $2k.
- Zig-Zagged in a Patter Song on The Benny Hill Show. Benny sings of a friend, who tells him a story of seducing an older woman. The friend gives her Benny's name instead of his own. Then the woman dies and leaves Benny 500,000 quid.
- In the song "People are Crazy" by Billy Currington the narrator spends an evening in a bar with another man (who provides the title opinion). Later the narrator learns that the man died and left his entire estate to him.
Religion and mythology
- The story of Philemon and Baucis, here told by Bulfinch.
- From Greek Mythology, we also have Prince Admetus, who benefited from this twice. When Apollo was forced to serve a mortal for a year as a punishment, he chose Admetus, who was such a Benevolent Boss that Apollo repaid him by arranging it so that when Death came for him, he wouldn't have to die if someone else was willing to take his place. Unfortunately, Death came sooner than expected, and the only person who would take Admetus's place was his fiance, Princess Alcestis. Admetus was deeply upset, and berated himself for letting her take his place with Death. He held a funeral for her...
- ...and it was at this time that Heracles came calling, needing to rest during his travels as part of the Ten Labors. Although he was uncomfortable imposing on Admetus during a time of mourning, Admetus told him to Think Nothing of It and gave Heracles the best hospitality he could ask for and explained that the funeral was for a "foreign woman, not related to me by birth." When Heracles later found out the whole story, he was so overcome with gratitude that he went to Alcestis's tomb and fought Death for the right to bring her back to life. Naturally, he won and repaid Admetus's friendship by bringing back Alcestis alive and well.
- This trope appears in The Bible:
- King Solomon, at the start of his reign, was visited by God who offered a wish for any one thing. Solomon, intimidated by his complex job as ruler, asked for great wisdom to do it properly. God is so pleased at this modest wish that he threw in great wealth and peace in the bargain.
- Job loses everything and then gets covered in sores, as a test to see if his faith in God depends on whether or not his life is going well. When he (more or less) praises God anyway, thereby passing the test, God gives him double everything he had before.
- If we're talking about the Bible, you can go right to the top with Jesus Himself. He's made to suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death, He knows exactly what is in store for Him before it happens (in Gethsemane He prays specifically that He wanted nothing more than to have this burden removed), and yet goes through with it anyway. In exchange, He gets raised from the dead, becomes the Savior, and gets an entire religion named after Him. Not a bad jackpot at all.
- One of the central tenets of Wicca is the threefold law, which basically states that whatever you do will eventually come back to you threefold, meaning that if you do good things, you will eventually run into this trope. Of course, if you do bad things, you're looking at a bout of Laser-Guided Karma.
- In Fallout 2, one of the Chosen One's odd jobs is to collect a hefty gambling debt from a Woobie-type loser who plays the pity card to gradually shift as much of that debt to you on the unlikely promise that he'll pay you back. Returning to the casino late in the game, he can be found sharp-dressed, flushed with cash, and willing to pay back 10x the amount and throw in an appreciable supply of some valuable fusion cell as well.
- In Broken Hills, not asking a reward from Marcus and the mine foreman will net you mid tier guns worth about five times the initial cash reward, in addition to the karma bonus.
- In Fallout 3, the Brotherhood of Steel chapter in the Washington D.C wasteland deviates from the old Brotherhoods ways, choosing to help the people in the wastes instead of focusing in retrieving lost technology only. While the Brotherhood suffered a schism between its members, in the long run with the help of the Lone Wanderer, the Brotherhood has successfully gain Liberty Prime, access to tons of Enclave technology, and activate Project Purity. Making them stronger than ever before. Meanwhile the original Brotherhood is fighting a losing war with the NCR and is but a mere shadow of what they were.
- Even without the intervention of the Lone Wanderer, the DC Brotherhood's benevolence towards the populace has earned them broad popular support and a steady stream of recruits, supplies, and information in the form of local volunteers. By comparison, the Mojave branch of the Brotherhood is forced to live in hiding and lacks sufficient manpower to accomplish anything meaningful.
- However, Fallout 4 reveals that the Lyons died very shortly after Fallout 3, leading to Arthur Maxson taking over as Elder and shifting the Brotherhood's focus back to taking tech and wiping out non-humans while also making the Brotherhood even more powerful to the point that they now possess a Cool Airship. Similarly, Owyn Lyons is now demonized as a wasteful idiot whose morality is seen as weakness by current members.
- Similarly, in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you can find a rat down by the docks anytime during chapter 1(or later, if you lack the funds) who needs funds to start an operation to strike oil in Dry Dry Desert. He asks for 100 coins each time you talk to him. At this point in the game, it's difficult to have anywhere above 200 unless you've refused to buy anything, so dumping it into his funds is a huge risk. A few chapters later, he returns to the docks and gives you triple the coins you loaned him. If you lent him 300 coins, he Caps your wallet at 999 coins.
- Similarly, if you donate the correct amount of money to rebuild Luin in Tales of Symphonia, their restored weapon shop later will carry some of the most powerful weapons in the game.
- A minor example in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: If you give money to a beggar, you gain a buff called "The Gift of Charity", which boosts your barter skill for 12 in-game hours, saving you far more than that coin (or bottle of mead) that you just gave away. Then for extra Video Game Caring Potential, you gain the buff when you give your adopted kid(s) a present.
- Chrono Trigger has this in the trial scene, and also its inversion - you can get random bystanders to testify against you if you've done something bad. It doesn't matter anyway, though, since if you get declared not guilty, you still get arrested for a minor crime, and the chancellor uses creative paperwork to get you scheduled for execution anyway. Getting cleared just gets you a bag from sympathizers with one to six ethers depending on how many jurors voted guilty.
- If you help a young girl find her cat, it helps you get more jurors on your side.
- Tales of the Questor: The title character has just finished being the quarry of a fae lord's hunt, which he took on to spare a human child from that impossible task. However upon winning, the fae lord is horrified that his quarry is a Rac Cona Daimh (an anthro-Raccoon man) and furthermore, is specifically favored by the mystic White Stag; two categories the Fae are strictly told not to hunt lest they be severely punished. As a result, the Questor gets not just one boon for completing the chase, but also two more from the Fae Lord who is forced to give them to the hero as punishment. But then again, that meant Quentyn could've saved himself a night's worth of being chased by murderous fae just by flipping his hood back — though he would have had to be aware of that particular fact, then taken advantage of it by stopping and letting the hunt catch up with him.
- The Dark Warriors in 8-Bit Theater are some of the least unpleasant people in the comic. At the end of the series, they get the credit for saving the world from Chaos along with all of the fame and fortune that comes with that.
- This is the flipside to Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell. Ella's parents did so many good deeds that she could kill several people and still come out neutral. So far, she's restricted herself to minor misdeeds, so she continues to have incredible luck.
- The Order of the Stick: Belkar is clued in on an assassination attempt on Hinjo, and his Pragmatic Shoulder Devil convinces him to foil it by saying it would lead to unfettered killing in the future. note In the process of doing so he lands in the center of a huge mob of hobogoblin soldiers. Being the Blood Knight that he is, he considers this the greatest thing ever.
Belkar: I've never had karma work in my favor before!
- The child in this Not Always Right story is polite to the ice-cream store worker, despite his mother insisting that good manners are wasted on the minimum wage (to the worker's face!). The worker, in full view of the rude mother, makes the kid a giant sundae with all his favorite toppings, and refuses to charge him for it. He brings his friends the next day, and she treats them all again for half-price.
- This story is a twofer of kindnesses. A drive-thru barista's register crashes, so to thank the customers in the drive-thru for waiting patiently, they pay for the coffee order out-of-pocket. In gratitude for that, the wife bakes cookies from scratch for the entire restaurant staff.
- Spinoff site Not Always Working has a golden example as well: a financially-challenged patient always does their best to make the minimum monthly payments on an ER debt, so the billing department clerk decides to forgive the debt completely, as so few other people even acknowledge ER bills and this one has always paid on time, even with how little they can afford to pay.
- In The Raccoons, Cyril's evolution through the series from being an unrepentant Corrupt Corporate Executive to largely a nice guy seemed to have granted him a few karmic jackpots as a reward.
- He gave up an opportunity to speak to a wealthy investor so he wouldn't miss his son's banquet speech, only to suddenly meet that investor, who was going to the same event, sitting on the train to the banquet with Cedric and so charmed with the young aardvark that he was eager to meet his father for a long, friendly conversation beyond anything Cyril dreamed.
- Cyril was about to be taken by a swindle when he suddenly had a health emergency bad enough to get hospitalized and then gave up the chance to sign the deal to help a new friend get well, which means he avoided losing a fortune when the fraud was exposed.
- In the The Simpsons episode "Blood Feud", Homer becomes enraged when Bart's donation of blood to Mr. Burns fails to result in this trope and writes an angry letter. In a Spoof Aesop, Mr. Burns is initially furious and prepared to make the Simpsons suffer, but Smithers points out that Bart saved his life, and as a reward gets the family a massive Olmec monument, which is seen in their basement in later episodes.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" has a very well earned one. For helping their enemy Diamond Tiara learn the true meaning of her cutie mark and make a Heel–Face Turn, the Cutie Mark Crusaders finally earn their own marks!
- Villainous example sort of is Stormer from Jem, who has always been in a better karmic situation than any other member of the cast. Her status as the Token Good Teammate of the Misfits often allowed her to escape whatever karmic justice the other Misfits endured. She was the only one to get a genuine love interest, and towards the end of the series, the Holograms began to see her as a friend. (All while staying in good standing - more or less - with her own band and without any of the angst the Holograms had to go through.)
- Greg Universe from Steven Universe gave up a career as a rock star to be a father to his motherless son. He spent literally all the money he had on making sure that Steven was well-cared for, built a house for Steven and the Gems to use while living out of a van himself, and even paid for the damages Steven's alien guardians did to the local town, never wanting anything more than his son's happiness in return. His reward for this? He got a royalty check for a song of his that his sleazy ex-manager sold to a fast food corporation without his permission. A check for TEN MILLION DOLLARS.
- This happened to the future US President, John Adams, when he was approached to represent the British soldiers indicted in the Boston Massacre in court. Adams agreed considering no one else in the city was willing to help the accused have a fair trial for murder, but was concerned he would be sinking his reputation and political prospects for elected office considering his complaints about British colonial policy. Regardless, Adams kept to his duty for the higher ideal of justice and was able to get most of his defendants acquitted or have charges reduced. As it turns out, Adams was later elected without a problem and found he had gained credibility as a fair minded public figure on the matter of British-Colonial relations. Furthermore, when British cracked down on Boston with the Intolerable Acts, which included arbitrarily removing defendants from Boston courts, Adams' able defense of the hated British troops was cited as proof that fair trials were possible in Boston.
- Sarah Darling was giving money to a homeless man named Billy Ray Harris, and accidentally dropped her engagement ring in with it. Upon discovering the ring, Harris reportedly took it to a pawn shop, but when the broker told him just how much it was worth (about $4000), he decided to try to return it to Darling instead. He eventually succeeded, just as poor as before... until Darling and her husband, Bill Krejci, set up a Give Forward campaign aiming to raise $1000 for him. They ended up raising 180 times that much, and now Harris has his own house, car, and part-time job; he's even been reunited with his family, who, after 16 years without contact, feared he was dead.