Loves Only Gold

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"This is gold, Mr. Bond. All my life I've been in love with its color... its brilliance, its divine heaviness."
Auric Goldfinger, Goldfinger

Fiction is full of characters who love money. But some characters take it a step further. Rather than being in love with the idea of wealth, they are in love with one particular form of wealth: usually either a precious metal, or gems of a particular type.

These characters will do anything to increase their store of their particular commodity, and are usually willing to commit criminal acts to get it. If being paid, they will demand payment in that substance. And their ultimate dream would be to control the world's supply.

If a villain (and they usually are), they are extremely likely to suffer a Karmic Death in the form of a Death by Materialism caused by the commodity they love so much.

Compare Gold Fever which is a (usually) temporary obsession with gold which can overwhelm someone.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • Like his namesake, Iron Man foe Mordecai Midas is obsesses with gold. His obsession continues even after he transformed into a Living Statue of gold.
  • Minor Batman foe Sterling Silversmith is obsessed with silver. All of his crimes are aimed at increasing his stock of it.
  • In the Marvel Universe, Goldbug is a gold-obsessed thief who steals only gold. He even contracts radiation poisoning after inadvertently stealing a supply of irradiated gold.

Films - Animation
  • In Jonny's Golden Quest, Dr. Zin gets Gold Fever, and much of the plot is driven by his efforts to turn lead into gold.
  • Tulio and Miguel in The Road to El Dorado set out for the New World in search of riches, and impersonate gods in order to persuade the Mayincatec natives to give them tons of gold and treasure in tribute. In the end, though, they sacrifice the boatload of gold to protect El Dorado from Cortez and his Conquistadors (who themselves embody this trope).
  • The greedy pirates in Treasure Planet. At least a few of them die trying to get Captain Flint's gold. Flint himself qualifies, considering that upon amassing all the gold he could, he just hoarded it on the title Treasure Planet, and appears to have effectively just sat in it until he died (rather like One-Eyed Willie in The Goonies.

Films - Live-Action
  • Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger is obsessed with gold. In many respects, Gert Frobe's portrayal of Goldfinger has become the Trope Codifier for this type of character and the movie's theme song is the Trope Namer. He has his henchman Oddjob paint the bodies of his dead female victims gold as a calling card, and he carries a gold Colt Official Police as his personal weapon. Despite the undeniable sexual element of painting dead, naked people gold, there's no indication Goldfinger has sex with them as he does in the novel. His Evil Plan, Operation Grand Slam, involves attempting to irradiate Fort Knox's gold to ruin it and increase the value of his own already inestimable supply.
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember: Johan van der Smut, better known as Goldmember, teams up with Dr. Evil to conquer the world. They plan to use the tractor beam which Goldmember had created to drag a gold asteroid onto the polar ice field and cause a flood. He loves gold so much that he lost his genitals in a smelting accident (suggesting he took the "Love" part of the trope too literally). He has subsequently replaced it with a golden metal one (which also soubles as a spare key to his tractor beam). Goldmember has a penchant for painting the penises of his male victims gold ("It's kinda my thing.") so that they mirror his own golden tallywacker.
  • Augustus Steranko in If Looks Could Kill, who steals gold to make coins bearing his likeness. When escaping at the end, he loads his getaway helicopter with so much of it the thing will barely get more than thirty feet off the ground. Repeated entreaties by his right-hand woman Ilsa Grunt to throw the gold out are met with refusal. Forced to decide between her and the gold in order to make his helicopter lighter, Steranko throws her out. He dies when Michael Corben shoots at the copter, causing the gold to fall out. Letting go of the steering stick, Steranko falls out with the gold trying to save it, and is killed when the now pilotless helicopter lands on him as a result.
    Steranko: [grabbing desperately at falling coins] No! My money! My gold!
    Michael: Time to cash it in, Steranko!
    Steranko: Not my gold! [falls out] Aahhhhh!

  • This is Santer's motivation in Apache Gold, and he will stop at nothing to possess the eponymous treasure, even if it means stirring up war between the Apaches and the palefaces.
  • In The Hobbit film trilogy:
    • Thrór during the prologue of An Unexpected Journey is shown to have become obsessed with hoarding gold, jewels and other material wealth, the brilliant Arkenstone above all else. This is said to be a result of "dragon sickness," which drives one to obsessively hoard treasure instead of spending it. His hoarding so much of it in one spot as opposed to spending it makes it an target the dragon Smaug can't pass up, leading to the destruction of Erebor and the loss of the treasured Arkenstone.
    • Smaug himself in the The Desolation of Smaug is this writ large. If you thought Thrór was bad, Smaug is worse. He is willing to destroy two cities (Erebor and its neighbor, the human city Dale) and mutilate, massacre and displace thousands upon thousands of dwarves and humans in order to possess Thrór's famous hoard... after which all he does for decades and decades is, much like Thrór himself, keep it for the sole purpose of having it for no practical purpose (he does however seem to enjoy burying himself in it to sleep). He tells Bilbo he won't part with even a single cent of it, to the point where he won't even let Bilbo take the Arkenstone to give to Thorin; his love of all the treasure in his stolen hoard is worth more to him than even the sadistic pleasure of seeing Thorin end up like his grandfather.
    Smaug: I will not part with a single coin! Not one piece of it!
    • The Master in The Battle of the Five Armies chooses to save his gold rather than any of his subjects during Smaug's attack. When Alfrid realizes that it's weighing their ship down and suggests dumping it, the Master responds by throwing him out instead in a scene similar to If Looks Could Kill above.
    The Master: The town is lost! Save the gold!
    [...]
    The Master: [as some of the gold falls out of the boat] My gold! My gold!
    Alfrid: We're carryin' too much weight! We need to dump something!
    The Master: Quite right, Alfrid. [throws him into the water]
    • Alfrid himself, despite his situational Pragmatic Villainy described above where he wanted to throw the gold out of the Master's boat to escape Smaug, soon succumbs to greed himself when he absconds with a goodly amount of gold coins he finds hidden in a smashed vase in Dale. This ends up causing his Karmic Death, as a coin falling out of his, eh, let's say "outfit" lands on the triggering mechanism for the catapult he's hiding in, sending him flying to his death. However, it's conceivable that he saw the coins as merely money he'd need to pay for things while on the lam after his big Screw This, I'm Outta Here! moment, so he may not completely apply.
    • And finally, there is Thorin Oakenshield. Much like his grandfather Thrór, the minute Smaug dies and he and his Company wind up in possession of the vast mountains of gold and jewels, he gets fierce Gold Fever, suspiciously thinking everyone, even his own kin, are out to steal it, the Arkenstone especially. Fortunately, he gradually is able to realize he is becoming just like his grandfather, and is able to shake off the "dragon sickness" and become a better person (er, dwarf).
    Thorin: [examining the treasure hoard for the first time] Gold. Gold beyond measure. Beyond sorrow and grief. Behold the great treasure hoard of Thrór.
    [...]
    Thorin: [disturbingly echoing Smaug later] The treasure in this mountain does not belong to the people of Lake-town. This gold is ours. And ours alone. On my life, I will not part with a single coin. Not one piece of it.
  • George "Mac" McHale in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is established early on as a particularly greedy individual. When the main characters are fleeing Akator at the end, Mac stuffs every last one of his pockets with coins and jewels from the aliens' treasure trove, meaning that the dimensional vortex (to which gold is magnetic) sucks him in along with the Soviets while the other good guys get away. Not really a Karmic Death, as we don't know where Mac (or the Soviets for that matter) die by being pulled through the portal, but his insistence on burdening himself with so much loot instead of thinking of his own survival definitely contributes to being, at least, stuck in another dimension.
  • A few characters in The Mummy:
    • Beni Gabor is the worst of them all. There's no shortage of greedy characters in the movie, but Beni alone is so greedy that his love of gold and treasure negates any positive traits he has. When confronted by Imhotep, he initially only works for him because he's afraid of the guy, which is understandable... but then come the promises of great riches, after which Beni becomes Imhotep's Yes-Man and Professional Butt-Kisser, serving him willingly instead of out of fear, and his cooperation leads to several people's deaths. At the end, when he has a chance to escape Hamunaptra before anyone else (even the good guys), he chooses to remain behind and stuff sacks full of treasure. As a result, he passes up the one chance he had to get away, and ends up dying after being shut inside with the scarabs.
    • Warden Gad Hassan is certainly portrayed as greedy, only commuting Rick's death sentence after learning from Evie that the American knows the way to Hamunaptra with its vast riches, and on the condition that he come along. His gold obsession is downplayed, and is really only used as a plot device to get him to release Rick. Other than this, his greed only comes up again once they're actually at Hamunaptra and he gets Gold Fever really badly, wandering away from the others and getting himself killed.
    • And finally there's Evie Carnahan's Lovable Coward brother Jonathan. He, too, is obsessed with treasure, but he is able to prioritize things far better than Beni, ignoring the mountains of treasure both coming into and fleeing from the pyramid when he, Rick and Ardeth Bey come to rescue Evie. In The Mummy Returns, though, he does almost get himself killed retrieving a giant diamond-encrusted pyramid topper.
    Rick: It's not worth your life!
    Jonathan: Yes it is! Yes it is!
  • British Army Captain William "Billy" Boone in the The Jungle Book. He leads a mutiny against his fiancée Kitty Brydon's father to kidnap her and force Mowgli to take him and his men to the lost monkey city so he can get his hands on the fabled gold there. He doesn't care about a single one of the men he loses along the way (except maybe Wilkins). Upon actually arriving at the city, he very quickly proves he loves the treasure more than Kitty. Ignoring Mowgli's warnings that the treasure "only brings death," Boone helps himself to the treasure, and is promptly attacked by Kaa, who knocks him into a moat. The backpack full of gold he's wearing drags him down to his watery doom.
    Boone: [as Kitty is escaping with Mowgli] All right, then! Go! Go with your jungle boy! I got what I came for! I don't need you!
  • In Doc Savage, Captain Seas murders Doc Savage's father in order to gain control of land in the Republic of Hidalgo, so he can mine its rich deposit of gold. However, he wants to control the gold flow to make money, as opposed to being interested in the gold for its own sake. On the other hand, Seas' ally in his endeavor is the even greedier Corrupt Bureaucrat Don Rubio Gorro. Gorro is so obsessed with gold that when dynamite thrown into a lake of molten gold during the final battle results in an explosion sending the liquid metal into the air, Gorro rushes out to try and catch the raining droplets in his bare hands, and ends up dying by being covered in the liquid gold, which hardens, turning him into a gold "statue."
  • In The Goonies, legendary pirate captain and Posthumous Character One-Eyed Willie loved gold and jewels and other treasure so much that instead of actually spending all the loot he and his crew stole, he shut himself (and his ship!) up in a cave. After apparently murdering all of his men, Willie appears to have just sat at the head of a big banquet table covered in gold until he died. At least this is how the Goonies find his skeleton.

Literature
  • Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger. Goldfinger is obsessed with gold, going so far as to have yellow-bound erotic photographs, and have his lovers painted head to toe in gold so that he can make love to gold and carries a gold Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket as his personal gun. He plots Operation: Grand Slam; a scheme to rob the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.
  • In the Artemis Fowl series, the Fowls' family motto is "Aurum potestas est": "Gold is power". In a flashback in the first book, Artemis Senior notes how gold holds its value better than other forms of investment, and tells his son to "buy gold, and keep it safe"; Artemis takes the advice to heart, as the ransom he demands from the fairies is one metric ton of gold. The trait is downplayed in later installments as Artemis and his father gradually become more heroic.
  • Dwarfs in the Discworld are often accused of loving gold. They retort this is not true. They only say that so as to get into bed with it.
  • The Hobbit:
    • Smaug, who destroys the dwarf kingdom of Erebor and the human city of Dale to obtain the famous hoard of King Thrór. He has no practical use for it, being a dragon and all, having it just to have it, and flying into a murderous rage and attacking the nearby human settlement of Lake-town (all that remains of Dale) because Bilbo stole a gold cup in order to prove his prowess as a burglar to Thorin. J. R. R. Tolkien describes Smaug as experiencing what basically amounts to "rich people's anger" at the loss of this one single solitary item from the treasure hoard.
    • Thorin Oakenshield, although to a lesser extent than Smaug. And certainly not as much as in the movie. And his obsession is mostly limited to the Arkenstone specifically, with his refusal to share the gold with the survivors of Lake-town being because they've allied with his enemy the Elvenking (so, Jerkass Has a Point). That said, the people of Lake-town are those who are descended from the original survivors of Dale, so they have legitimate claims to at least a portion of the treasure, since not all of it belonged to Thrór; a lot of it was stolen from Dale, too. Thorin's refusal to give it to them to suggests he has grown too big for his britches after retaking Erebor. He comes around, though.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (and its many, many adaptations) is a greedy, penny-pinching money lender who, being The Scrooge and all (The Scrooge, in fact), refuses to spend his vast amounts of wealth, even on himself, let alone his poor employee Bob Cratchit. Fortunately, though, he soon learns the error of his miserly ways, and that there are things more important than money, like his fellow human beings, in one of literature's great redemption stories.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive and Big Bad extraordinaire Louis Strack Jr. in the Novelization of Darkman by Randall Boyll. In a subplot ultimately removed from the film and existing only in this book, Strack is obsessed with investing in South African krugerrands. When his father Louis Strack Sr. disagrees, insisting the Stracks are in construction and real estate, not gold, Strack Jr. has him killed. Near the end of the book, Strack takes the "Love" part of the trope to a literal level when he has a pile of gold krugerrands piled onto his bed and has sex with it.

Live-Action TV
  • Marsha, Queen of Diamonds in Batman is a crafty seductive villainess who thought diamonds were a girl's best friend.
  • Professor Turner in The New Avengers episode "The Midas Touch". Gold is Turner's obsession, which is why he names his secret project Midas. A Plaguemaster, Turner creates a Poisonous Person named Midas that he intends to sell to the power that can pay him the greatest amount of gold.

Mythology
  • King Midas. In Greek mythology, Midas was a king of Phrygia, a region nowadays part of Turkey. Some of his subjects brought him a satyr they found in his vineyard. Midas recognised the satyr as Silenus, the companion of the god Dionysus, and ordered him set free. When Dionysus turned up to collect Silenus, he offered Midas whatever he wanted as a reward for treating Silenus with dignity. Midas asked for everything he touched to turn to gold. Dionysus asked Midas if he was sure before granting the wish. Midas was initially overjoyed with his gift. He began to realise that he was Blessed with Suck when all of his food turned to gold as he tried to eat it. In some versions, he accidentally turns he daughter into a gold statue when she tries to comfort him. Midas has to petition Dionysus to have his 'gift' removed.

Video Games

Western Animation
  • The episode "The Midas Mix-Up" has Josie and the Pussycats encounter a reclusive Mad Scientist who would threaten, "Unless I am paid half the gold in the world, I shall destroy all the gold in the world!" Midas has perfected a microbe mist that can dissolve gold, and plans to export the stuff disguised as spray cologne.
  • The episode "Vowel Play" from Disney Television's TaleSpin has the villain Heimlich Minudo, a Funny Animal leopard with an obsession for diamonds, to the point where he has implanted diamonds in place of his teeth. His Evil Plan involves holding Cape Suzette hostage unless he's given all of its diamonds.
  • James Bond Jr. has Goldfinger's daughter Goldie Finger, who shares her father's obsession with gold.
  • Secret Squirrel: Secret Squirrel's archenemy Yellow Pinkie specialized in stealing gold in the original 1965 cartoon, while the 90s revival segment from 2 Stupid Dogs had a similar villain also obsessed with gold named Goldflipper.
  • DuckTales:
    • Although he makes a good page image to visually illustrate the love of gold, Scrooge McDuck is actually a subversion. Yes, he really, really loves gold, jewels and vast wealth, and wants to amass as much of he can and half the time can barely stand spending any of it, and enjoys swimming in it, but he does not love only gold; he also loves his friends and family deeply. Besides, he is at heart a charitable man (er, duck), one who earned his wealth through a lifetime of mining (often with his own hands), investments and hard work, and his stinginess is more through a dislike of reckless spending writ large as opposed to actual greed for the gold itself.
    • In contrast, El Capitán from the five-part episode "Treasure of the Golden Suns" is so greedy for gold that even though he's a four-hundred year old (!) Spanish captain he has sustained himself over the years through sheer determination to survive thanks to Gold Fever. He wants to raise a sunken ship containing an unfathomably wealthy hoard of treasure, and is willing to do anything to do it.
  • In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers five-parter "To the Rescue," the Goldfinger-esque Aldrin Chlordane uses a giant lime gelatin mold as a sort of makeshift Earthquake Machine to steal all the gold (represented as gold coins) from the gold reserve and chooses to abandon all of his men and escape with the trainload of gold all by himself when the police show up. His decision to keep all the gold to himself comes back to bite him when the Rescue Rangers turn out to have stowed away and Chlordane has to alternate between trying to drive the train and fight the pesky heroes. As a result, he can't do both, and ends up being unable to stop the train from crashing. If he'd chosen to save his men, someone could've remained in the engine and stopped in time while he went out to deal with the Rescue Rangers.
  • In the Darkwing Duck two-part epiosde "Darkly Dawns the Duck," Taurus Bulba is obsessed with getting his hands on the Ram Rod, an anti-gravity beam weapon. After going through all the trouble of stealing it and learning the activation code, and ends up just using it to steal all the gold from the federal gold depository. He goes so far as to vow to "strip St. Canard clean, then hit every city in the country." Whether he meant gold specifically or just wealth in general is unclear. What is clear, though, that with all the possibilities and potential of an anti-gravity gun, he's only interested in the Ram Rod as a means to accumulate lots and lots of gold.
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