"When you need to borrow money the Mob seems like a better deal, I think. 'You don't pay me back I break both yer legs.' Is that all? You won't take my house or wreck my credit rating? Fine, where do I sign?"A subtrope of Acceptable Targets. The Morally Bankrupt Banker is unsympathetic, both as a character and to other characters. However, on the one hand henote does have a tough job; when someone needs that third loan extension and he says "No", it's not out of malice but to protect the savings of other bank patrons to avoid spending good money after bad. When deciding to issue a loan, he has to carefully consider whether the debtor has a decent chance of paying it back, because a bad loan hurts the debtor, the bank and its customers. On the other hand, it's more likely he has a small shrine to Ebenezer Scrooge and says "No" because the debtor is at fault for being poor in the first place and he wouldn't know how to use the money anyway. When it comes time to make loans, he'll give them out gleefully with Read the Fine Print details making it a Leonine Contract that turn up the interest rates like a thermostat until it's time for the repo man to impound some unfortunate ambitious dreamer's property. And this is just a branch manager — the bank's CEO is probably a Corrupt Corporate Executive who would rather embezzle and gamble with the customers' money than make prudent investments. More generally, the Morally Bankrupt Banker is likely an Obstructive Bureaucrat, Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil, and a Rules Lawyer. A quick way to tell whether a banker is meant to be sympathetic is which of the following is his attitude toward money: "That's the bank's money" (unsympathetic), "That's my money" (really unsympathetic) or "That's our customers' money" (run). Another is his reaction when he hears a plea for help. A snide remark about "all the sob stories" he hears is pretty much this trope's Kick the Dog. On the other hand, if he goes out of his way to offer the customer an extension, move around deadlines, extend refinancing offers, or otherwise give the customer at least a chance at paying back a debt or getting a much-needed loan, then he's likely averting this trope and being sympathetic. Oh, and if he's also in the real estate biz, there's probably already a model in his office of whatever condo/nightclub/resort he plans to build on your property once he inevitably forecloses on it. This may possibly be a Cyclical Trope; examples became popular during and after The Great Depression in the 1930s, and more recently in the global recession of 2008. See also the Loan Shark and the Evil Debt Collector.
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- In the Chick Tract "The Contract", Elmer Boggs is one, coldly telling John Freeman (no, not that one) that the bank will repossess his farm. He orders Freeman to get out of the bank and never show his face there again, but after Freeman makes a Deal with the Devil and tells Boggs' boss that he can't deposit his money so that he can get revenge, Boggs gets fired.
Films — Animated
- Disney's The Princess and the Frog has Tiana apply for a loan to start her dream restaurant from two bankers who offhandedly deny her due to her social position (and race, it's strongly implied). By the film's end, her new alligator friend threatens to eat them so they'll give her the loan.
- Mr. Perkins in Despicable Me. Of course, the fact that he turns out to be the father of the primary villain, and therefore arguably the Big Bad, cannot be underestimated. Tellingly, the Bank of Evil where he works was formerly Lehman Brothers and he resembles the Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert.
Films — Live-Action
- In American Psycho, pretty much all of the main characters working as investment bankers fit the trope, although the banal greed and callousness of the secondary characters pales in comparison to the violent crimes of the protagonist, Patrick Bateman.
- The Dark Knight: The Mob Bank at the beginning.
- The plot of Drag Me to Hell is kickstarted when Christine makes a tough call and chooses not to extend an evil gypsy's loan a third time. The Fantastic Aesop? Let the gypsy win. Or don't let her take bank loans.
- In It's a Wonderful Life, this trope is played straight (Mr. Potter, a Corrupt Corporate Executive running a big bank note ) and averted (George Bailey, who runs a small, honest savings & loan business trying to help people achieve The American Dream).
- Downplayed in The Hobbit: Glóin isn't so much morally bankrupt as not willing to part with his money unless there's a very good reason. He initially did not want to contribute his share to paying Bard for supplies and safe passage, but then he saw the Lonely Mountain...
Glóin: I have been bled DRY!
- The Big Short revolves around the corrupt financial system that cratered the economy in 2008. The protagonists meet banker after banker who openly brag about their shady dealings to strangers, some of whom don't even seem to realize that what they're doing is wrong.
- In Mary Poppins, the owners of the bank Mr. Banks work at, who are willing to basically force a child to part with a shilling to "invest it" against his will. However, by the end they seriously lighten up.
- Aunt May and Peter Parker had to deal with one in Spider-Man 2, who on top of denying their loan, denies them a coupon for a free toaster. He was shown to be greedy enough to try to steal a coin from the bank when Doc Ock was robbing it. Considering that Sam Raimi directed both Drag Me to Hell and this movie, one has to wonder whether he really doesn't like bankers.
- The Banking Clan in Star Wars is Planet of Hats of these.
- In Warrior, Brandon runs into such a banker, whose bad advice led to Brandon's debt growing and a possible foreclosure. To really rub it in, he got his daughter's illness mixed up because of "all the sob stories".
- The banker in Wild Boys is a pompous jerkass despised by everyone, including his wife.
- In X-Men: First Class, Erik interrogates a Swiss banker whose bank is responsible for storing Nazi Gold, and who knows the location of a high-ranking former Nazi. Oh, and in case you missed it - Erik is Erik Lensherr AKA Magneto. His interrogation begins with ripping out the gold fillings in the man's teeth.
- Perhaps a Mythology Gag there; part of Magneto's comic backstory was that as a child he was an Auschwitz Sonderkommando - one of the prisoners who was forced on pain of death to strip bodies of anything valuable before placing them in the ovens for cremation. One such thing the Nazis demanded was to yank out gold fillings. It would explain the satisfied look on Erik's face as he does it to the banker.
- The Brainiacs Dot Com: The main villain is a banker that wanted to liquidate a toy company. He then allowed its owner to borrow money and, to encourage him further, he had someone pretending to be interested on buying toys from his victim to encourage further loans. Then again, his victim made it easier by holding the Idiot Ball.
- Hilariously inverted in The Wrong Guy. The banker is an honest, humble and hard-working man who has to contend with greedy farmers trying to turn land into farms.
- In The International the IBBC is this funding wars in the third world as a means of profiting of the debt. Taken to extremes in that they had assassins on the payroll. Sadly based on the real BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International) that was shut down in 1991 by an international law enforcement effort.
- German drama Schwerkraft takes this trope Up to Eleven and then deconstructs it, mostly it in form of a Deconstructive Parody. The lead character Frederik Feinermann whitnesses a customer shooting himself in front of him, causing him crossing his Moral Event Horizon and this way he becomes a full-fledged Straw Nihilist Morally Bankrupt Banker, who breaks into rich customers' houses.
- Henry Gatewood in Stagecoach.
- One of the villains in The Godfather Part III is a Swiss banker who bilks Michael Corleone, his rivals and the Vatican Bank out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Naturally, his prognosis isn't good.
- Miss Bitterman, of Bitterman Bank and Development, from It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. She plans to tear down the Muppet Theater and build a nightclub on the property, pays them a personal visit just to taunt them about it, and actively tries to prevent Fozzie from delivering the money they owe her when the show sells out. This being Its A Wonderful Parody, she was of course inspired by Mr. Potter himself.
- Alas, Babylon has Edgar Quisenberry, who judges everyone by their wealth and has a personal grudge against the main character because of a social slight by his father. He's old, stodgy and conservative. When the shit hits the fan, he completely misjudges the situation and makes things worse. The he goes home and faces the future in a calm, rational fashion.
- In Harry Potter, the bankers at Gringotts are literally goblins who set deadly traps to guard the money under their care. They'll offer their banking services to anyone who can pay up, even the Death Eaters. The one thing they hate more than someone who skips out on a payment (such as Ludo Bagman, who fled the country to escape the goblins after losing a major bet on the Quidditch World Cup) is a bank robber. Hence the diabolical traps in the bank vault corridors, though to be fair, if they weren't so diabolical, wicked wizards would most likely have too easy of a time using their magic to rob them. On the other hand, the goblins take perhaps a little too much pleasure at the idea of a robber meeting with an unfortunate end...
Griphook: If anyone but a Gringotts goblin [touched this door], they'd be sucked inside and trapped.Harry: Er...how often do you check to see if anyone's inside?Griphook: (grinning evilly) About once every ten years.
- In Making Money, the Lavish family which dominates the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork fits, with the exception of Topsy, who was born into the Turvy family and is only a Lavish by marriage.
- Robert Putney Drake from the Illuminatus!-trilogy leads a double life as a respectable banker and the supreme ruler of the International Crime Syndicate. He claims to own the United States in far more real sense than any President has. He's actually presented as slightly sympathetic figure despite of all the atrocities he's committed, and he ends up helping the good guys after some persuasion.
- Danglars from The Count of Monte Cristo. Not only does he make stupid investments with his client's money, but when it catches up to him he runs for it with what's left of it. And of course, he wrote the letter that got Dantes imprisoned in the first place. Monte Cristo has him captured by his bandit allies and forced to buy his food with the money he stole. After spending five million francs on grand feasts, he starts eating everything in the cell including his bedding and slowly starves. Monte Cristo lets him out with the last half-million francs, as he'd gained them honestly.
- Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the most famous examples, and very much Truth in Television for Victorian England, though Character Development pulls him out of it by the end of the book.
- Mr. Pease in Dolores Claiborne. When Dolores' husband Joe steals the money she was saving for their daughter's education, she pleads with Pease to tell her if Joe's withdrawn it all or took it to another account. He didn't have to tell her, and she thought he wouldn't, but guilt over not having called to let her know led him to tell her he had opened a new account in his own name. Against bank confidentiality rules, no less.
- Inverted in The Dagger and the Coin with Cithrin bel Sarcour. She certainly makes some morally questionable decisions, but she is the heroine of the series and the leader of the resistance to Geder Palliako's wars of conquest. She and one of her fellow bankers use the resources of the bank to help Timzinae refugees escape from occupied Suddapal.
- Played with in A Song of Ice and Fire with the Iron Bank of Braavos — they're not given to predatory lending but they will hurt any debtor that tries to default on them, whether by their usual method of backing other claimants to the debtors' throne who promise to take over their predecessors' debt, or calling in ''every'' Westerosi loan because the Queen Regent defaulted on the crown debt.
- Nick Velvet: Nick is employed by one in "The Theft of the Banker's Ashtray". Nick exposes him for defrauding his clients after he attempts to stiff Nick on his fee.
- An arguably sympathetic example of this Trope is the protagonist of the Spanish short story "Para Justicias, El Tiempo" ("For Justices, Time" or "Time Will Give Judgement"): the protagonist, when he was very little, sacrificed all of his money to pay for a circus ticket and was swindled out of his seat by a man (the man convinced the boy that his mother was dying and he had to go see her now, and he arrived to his house to find out otherwise, and when he came back to complain the fact he was Just a Kid means that the circus security bought the man's word over his). The Title Drop occurs because when the boy grew up he became a banker, with an order to foreclose on a farm... which happened to be owned by the man. When the man comes to beg for a little more time to pay, the banker points out his misdeed on the circus (and that he was the kid in question) and denies him the extension because of this.
- In The Premature Burial by Edgar Allan Poe, a young French woman named Victorine La Fourcade is seeing a poor journalist by the name of Julien Bossuet, but her rich family was not having it. She eventually caved to pressure from them and broke up with Julien, and went on to marry a respected and wealthy banker. But the banker mistreated and abused her until she fell ill and (apparently) died. Julien went to her grave to take a lock of her hair to remember her by, and found that she had been Buried Alive! Fortunately for Victorine, Julien had some medical training, and he took her home and nursed her back to health. They eloped to America together, and returned to France some 20 years later. The banker recognized Victorine, and attempted to legally claim her back, but she refused to go with him, and the case went to court. The court ruled that because of the time that had passed, and the unusual circumstances, her marriage to the banker was dissolved, and she lived Happily Ever After with Julien.
Live Action TV
- Mr. Drysdale, the manager of the bank in which The Beverly Hillbillies have their money stored. All he cares about is keeping their money in his bank. Undergoes a character arc over the course of the series; he goes from shallow (before meeting the Clampetts, he says he'll get along fine with them because "they're my kind of people — they're loaded") to being charmed by the Clampetts' folksy ways in contrast to his snobbish wife, to devolving back into this trope by the end. In way it makes sense; by that point, he's reinvested all their money, which makes up the vast majority of his bank's holdings; them trying to pull out would create a one-man run on his bank and ruin him for life.
- Likewise his rival John Cushing. All he cared about was getting the Clampetts to move their money from Drysdale's bank to his.
- Amanda's, a failed American attempt to remake Fawlty Towers with Bea Arthur in the Basil Fawlty role, included a grasping banker called Clifford Mundy, who was constantly scheming to gain possession of the hotel. He possibly contributed to the failure of the show by making the Amanda character too sympathetic, thereby missing what made Fawlty Towers funny in the first place.
- Mr. Mooney, Lucy's boss on The Lucy Show, was sometimes portrayed this way, though the fact that he continued to employ Lucy, despite her incompetence, suggests that he did have at least some compassion.
- The "Bansky" character (no not that Banksy) from 10 O'Clock Live is a parody of the way the public perceived bankers after the economy collapsed and the British government had to bailout banks after they themselves went bankrupt.
- One unnamed bank president on Sledge Hammer! was nasty enough to foreclose on a nun's convent, and was pretty rude to customers. (And he wasn't even the antagonist of the episode, meaning Hammer had to defend this guy.)
- Inspector Morse. In "Masonic Mysteries", someone is out to frame Morse, and adds a large amount of money to his bank account to make it look like he's corrupt. Morse indignantly asks the bank manager why he didn't find anything strange about this sudden windfall. The manager snobbishly replies, "Well you are a police officer. I was meaning to ask how you wanted to invest it."
- J.P. Gross, Scooter's uncle who owns the theater on The Muppet Show. Usually an offscreen antagonist who Kermit hates dealing with but slavishly tries to please, his few onscreen appearances confirm it. In one episode he wanted to tear the theater down to build a junkyard, claiming "there's more money in real junk than this junk you got here." He changes his mind about tearing the place down later, claiming it will likely fall down by itself soon enough. Oftentimes, the plot of the show has revolved around the deamnds he has made of Kermit (like having women's wrestling on the show, or having Elton John perform "Benny and the Jets") or a Zany Scheme to make money (like having a robot replace Kermit or selling the oil rights to the theater to the Middle East.)
- In the Leverage season two premiere "Leverage S 02 E 01 The Beantown Bailout Job", the team discovers that a bank with decades-long ties to the Boston mob is taking advantage of government bailout programs to let the mob take out millions of dollars in bad loans with no consequences. Nate is dumbfounded when he realizes the entire scheme is probably legal, and the mastermind turns out to be not the mob boss but the manager of the bank, who boasts proudly that he's stolen more money in one act than the entire mob did in its entire history.
Leary: What do you think these guys clear in a year? Stealing cigarettes, selling drugs, a couple hundred thousand, all in? And for that, the government hunts them down like dogs. People like me, we took billions from the banks. Billions. And what did the government do when they finally caught us? They wrote us a giant check and begged us to make it all better.
- Bates Motel (1987) has Tom Fuller, who zig-zags this trope. At first he does try to give Alex West, the new owner of the titular motel, legitimate business advice, namely to either sell the land to a real estate developer, or tear down the motel and rebuild it into a health spa. Once it becomes clear firstly that Alex only inherited the motel on the condition that he keep it as a running motel, and secondly that Alex is more than a little naive, Fuller gives him a huge loan with an unreasonable repayment schedule so that he can foreclose on Alex and sell the land himself... and then tries to scare Alex away by dressing up like the mother of the now-deceased Norman Bates.
- In A Doll's House, Krogstad the money lender comes across as this during his initial appearances, but is eventually revealed to be a much more nuanced character under a great deal of stress under his jerkish exterior. He also, in the end, proves himself to be a stronger man than Thorvald in that he's willing to understand and trust the love of his life Linde rather than just viewing her as his "doll".
- Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. Although his character has a very wide variety of interpretations ranging from heartless villain to tragic anti-hero, not even the most sympathetic interpretations about him could deny that he made most of his money by usury and other very shady an exploitative businesses, and that he intends to murder one of his rivals who (while behaving like kind of a dick) didn't pose a mortal danger to him.
- Played for laughs in Looking for Group. Cale, desperate for some black-and-white heroism, finds a slaver ship under attack by a kraken. Then he learns that the slaves are bankers being punished for bringing down their entire kingdom.
Cale: Those people...they're horrible! One of them tried to sell me a castle. An entire castle. How could I afford a castle? How long is their sentence?Captain: Twelve years.
Cale: You can keep them.
- An episode of The Spooktacular New Adventures Of Casper had both an aversion and a straight example. Dr. Harvey takes out a loan with the local bank to pay for Kat's music lessons; the banker here is warm and friendly, and readily gives the loan despite Dr. Harvey's checkered credit history because there's nothing sweeter than a child singing. However, as soon as Dr. Harvey leaves, the local bank is taken over by Pennypincher Banking, whose corrupt CEO immediately forecloses on Whipstaff Manor. He had his commeupance when the bank's clients decided to withdraw their money from the bank.
- Hurricanes Big Bad owns, among other things, a finance company. Not much is known about how he manages that venture since it was just briefly mentioned and the episode's plot was about a project developed by the laboratories the finance company foreclosed in that episode.