Morally Bankrupt Banker
aka: Sympathy Bankrupt Banker
Low interest community loans? I have no money for such foolishness!
"“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" (sympathetic). 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.
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
Films — Animated
- 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 — Live-Action
- 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. By the film's end, her new alligator friend threatens eating 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.
- 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 they take perhaps a little too much pleasure at the idea of a robber meeting with an unfortunate end...
Griphook: Now, 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) Oh, about once every ten years or so...
- 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.
- Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the most famous examples, 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 lead him to tell her he had opened a new account in his own name. Against bank confidentiality rules, no less.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shylock from The Merchant of Venice, though he is at least slightly sympathetic and cares less about money than revenge.
- In A Dolls 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".
- 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.