Not in This for Your Revolution
A character is on a quest that could potentially decide the fate of the universe... but they don't care about that at all or any of this good/evil stuff, they're only on this quest for a personal reason: revenge
, money, repaying a life debt to someone, and so on. Common motive for an Anti-Hero
, Punch Clock Hero
, or a Nominal Hero
Not the same as It's Personal
, where a character who is already in it out of duty or righteousness or whatever is given an additional personal motivation.
There will often be a moment where the character has an opportunity to leave with what they came for
while the rest of their group continues the quest alone. This typically leads to them returning later to reveal that they have grown a heart, often in the form of a conveniently timed last minute rescue
See Only in It for the Money
when wealth is the main motivation.
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Anime and Manga
- Afro Samurai does not care about the supposed "Godhood" you get from wearing the Number One Headband — He just wants to avenge his father. In Resurrection, it appears that he hasn't even been wearing it, which allows the villain to just walk up and take it.
- Haruko from FLCL sets the whole plot in motion because she's (possibly) in love with/wants to eat Atomsk. The fact that freeing him from Medical Mechanica stops them from destroying the world is an unintended side effect.
- Bastard: Dark Schneider is fighting to keep his ex girlfriend and ex army from showing him up.
- At first.note Later his motivations become much more complex, but showing everyone who's the top banana remains one of the main among them.
- The Straw Hat Pirates in One Piece could be said to be not in it for their own revolution, when they declare war on the World Government not because they've taken the time to have an issue with the way the highly corrupt government conducts itself, but only because they want Robin back. They have this sort of attitude towards everything too, exemplified on Thriller Bark after they save a bunch of people and Zoro essentially tells them "We were doing this for ourselves, saving you just sort of happened."
- On Fishman Island, Hyouzou openly states he is assisting Hody Jones for the money and doesn't care at all about the uprising Hody is instigating.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima! Cosmo Entelecheia are ruthless, but have a valid reason for it. Tsukuyomi helps them only for the opportunity to kill.
- In Desert Punk, the Oasis Government does the bare minimum to keep life in the Great Kanto Desert inhabitable and otherwise only cares about sustaining itself. A secret group exist inside it called the Underground Mercenaries which wish to help the weak and improve quality of living throughout the desert, even if it risks instability. Kanta in fact approves of the current government because he admires that they force people to gain the strength to make it on their own. He still works for the underground mercenaries because they're paying him and knows they're making An Offer You Can't Refuse even if they won't admit it. In the anime the government captures him and he and immediately switches to their side to stay alive.
- In the various X-Men series, Wolverine is rarely depicted as actually having an invested stake in human/mutant relations. In the beginning, he simply thought that the X-Men sounded like more fun than working for the Canadian government. Then the writers decided that he had amnesia, and uncovering the truth about his past became his primary motivation.
- In Deadpool #1 (1997) Deadpool has "liberated" a gun from a repressive Bolivian government for the revolutionary force. The revolutionaries try to pay him in a not-yet-viable currency. Deadpool is clearly not in it for the revolution, because as soon as he figures out he is not getting paid in real money, he offers to show the revolutionaries how to use the big gun and quickly wipes out the entire revolutionary force before teleporting out.
- Bone: Phoney Bone is more concerned with getting himself and his cousins home—and making some quick cash on the way—than anything else. Well, really he's just interested in getting rich like he used to be. The unholy obsession with getting himself and his cousins home that appears to eclipse his money obsession is mostly because they've found themselves in an agrarian community whose economy is based on barter, so it's impossible to get rich the way he understands the concept unless he can get the Bone trio back to Boneville.
- In Winter War, Grimmjow joins up with the heroes for two reasons: to recover his strength, and to have a chance to fight Aizen. At first, that is. He develops an actual sense of loyalty to his companions- and a bit of compassion and conscience- as the fic goes on.
Your name is VRISKA SERKET. You always found the idea of CONSCRIPTION to be BORING, so instead you DESERTED to become a PIRATE like your ANCESTOR. You are currently living in the CAVERNS with the SUFFERISTS. You think they are WEIRD and take every opportunity to MOCK KARKAT VANTAS about his position as the SUPPOSED SECOND COMING of the SUFFERER. You organize RAIDING PARTIES for them, STEALING FROM and GENERALLY HARASSING the EMPIRE. As soon as you can find a SAFE HIDEOUT of your own, you are OUT OF HERE.
- Eugenesis: The Decepticon scientist Sygnet doesn't care about that whole civil war thing, or that his inventions are used by some of the most psychotic warlords the universe has ever seen. He just wants some recognition, dammit.
- Between Minds: When Chell helps out Judith Mossman find Dr. Freeman, she doesn't do it for humanity but so she can get a lift out of the Arctic.
- What About Witch Queen?: Admiral Klaus Hauser and the rest of navy stationed on Westerguard join Weste secession only because they believe they've been Reassigned to Antarctica and want to stick it to the king of the Isles.
- As Han Solo demonstrates in the title and quote, he's in the events of Star Wars: A New Hope for the money. At first, anyway.
- Even then he's mostly doing it for his friends. Especially Leia.
- Lone Star in Spaceballs, being a combination of Han Solo and Luke in Star Wars.
We're not just doing this for money. We're doing it for a shitload
- In the first Conan the Barbarian (1982) movie, Conan is out for revenge since the Big Bad destroyed his village and killed his family (and took his father's sword!); in the second, he's a mercenary hired by the Big Bad. But apparently he ends up becoming king. At the end of Conan the Destroyer, the princess he rescued asks him to rule at her side as her husband. He declines, saying "Someday I will have my own kingdom, my own queen." The shot of him sitting on a throne implies that he did eventually go and conquer a kingdom of his own. But that is another tale...
- The Patriot: The name of the film obviously doesn't apply to the main character, who refuses to help either side until his son gets captured by the cartoonishly evil Colonel Tavington.
- The Running Man. Arnold Schwarzenegger's character turns down a chance to join the revolutionaries after they help him escape from prison; he just wants to get his ass out of the country. Events conspire against him however when he's roped into the Deadly Game show and his continued survival makes him a symbol of resistance.
- A Fistful of Dynamite. Juan. He was only interested in robbing a bank, but managed to get suckered into helping significantly in the Mexican Revolution. He drags his feet and gives a big speech about how revolutions are cyclical and only hurt the common people, but he eventually turns his ideals around.
- Stephen the Irishman in Braveheart. He joins William Wallace only for the opportunity to kill Englishmen. And William himself, to some extent; he initially shoots down any attempt at roping him into rebellion, having seen enough war and bloodshed to last him a lifetime in the Holy Land. Until the English murder his wife...
- Rick Blaine in Casablanca ... so he says.
- Jake Wyer and Sam French in Fifty/Fifty. They change their minds.
- Jack in Romancing the Stone: He joined up with Joan to try to get El Corazon from her, but love and helping her save her sister turned out to be more important than the money...well, mostly.
- Snake Plissken is only in it because he'll die if he doesn't succeed due to explosives or a virus injected in his body that are on a countdown to kill him.
- In Brick Brendan invokes this, deadpan and almost bored sounding, to the school's vice principal despite how much power the other man has over him. Their dialogue also hangs a lampshade on the unlikelihood of anyone invoking this in real life, but Brendan's just that kind of crazy and-or awesome.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dr. Elsa Schneider tries to convince Indy how she really doesn't believe in Nazi ideals, but he doesn't buy it.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past:
- Initially, Xavier does not help because of the future mumbo-jumbo, which he did not believe, but because of Raven.
- Maximoff does not care at all about the whole problem, but he helped them free Magneto from the Pentagon just to prove that he would dare.
- Roland of Gilead from Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is trying to find the titular tower simply for the spiritual fulfillment of seeing it and climbing to the top to see what's there. The fact that the Crimson King is trying to destroy the tower (which would consequently destroy all of existence) is only a concern for Roland because he can't reach the tower if the Crimson King knocks it down first.
- This gets retconned in the prequel series. Roland seeks the Tower because he thinks it is a source of incredible power that can defeat John Farson and restore his shattered world.
- This is a recurring theme in Rafael Sabatini's novels: a non-idealistic character is pointedly not supporting a less competent idealistic character on his/her quest. Then the forces the idealist opposes hurts the non-idealist or those he cares for. This is a Bad Move.
- Captain Blood: His Odyssey: Dr Peter Blood was not supporting plotting against the King of England until the Crown assumed he was and enslaved him for it.
- Scaramouche: The title character joins the government of The French Revolution to seek revenge on a single aristocrat, but doesn't really believe in the Revolution's ideals.
- In multiple books Rincewind makes it damn clear to everyone he meets that he just wants to go home, hang up his things and never leave again. Everything he does to help them is purely by accident. (At least, on his part.)
- Initially, Vimes in Night Watch. He never wanted a revolution, he only wanted to protect a few people on the street.
- In Wyrd Sisters, Granny really doesn't care that the new king killed the old king, and is a terrible leader: these things tend to sort themselves out, and its not a witch's job to meddle. Then it turns out that the king is turning the people against witches, and it becomes personal.
- Older Than Steam: In Journey to the West, published in the 1590s, Xuanzang's "disciples" (traveling companions) are all bound to him in order to atone for their various crimes.
- In the Dresden Files novel Changes, Harry ends up essentially saving the world by decisively winning the entire Vampire War, now and forever, in one fell blow. But screw that. He did it because they took his daughter.
- Also from The Dresden Files, Jared Kincaid is a mercenary who never seems bothered about helping Harry with any of his various good causes unless money is involved, but he genuinely cares about the Archive beyond being her bodyguard. He still gets paid, though. Hey, he's a mercenary!
- In Allegiance, set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Han has already gone on several "charity runs" for the Rebel Alliance and is bitter about this. Luke, the Princess, General Rieekan, the whole Alliance assumes he's on "their side", and he doesn't remember when he turned. Helping Luke at the battle of Yavin was one thing, and he didn't mind if they were grateful to him for that. Chewie would join in a heartbeat. Han very reluctantly stays on through the book — he threatens to leave and never does.
Part of Han's dislike of the Rebellion, and his outright hostility to Leia at the start probably had something to do with his First-Love-turned-La-Resistance-Girlfriend, Bria. She utterly ruined his smuggler cred, got his pre-Luke sidekick killed, and was what Lando "Has probably already forgotten about" in Empire. The Arron Allision Solo trilogy goes into this much deeper.
But Han wasn't going to let anyone's passion drive him on this one. Not Chewie's, and certainly not Luke's. He had his own life to lead.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Talon Karrde and Mara Jade make similar statements about why they're working with the New Republic. After one of Karrde's protests, Leia can't help but lampshade the similarity of his comment to the page quote.
Leia: The money's not really important to you, is it?
Karrde: Don't believe that, either. I have certain obligations to meet. If Fey'lya hadn't been willing to cooperate, your New Republic would have had to do so.
Leia: *A little smugly* I see.
Karrde: *Unconvincingly* I mean that. I'm here because it suits my purposes. Not for the sake of your war.
- In The State Counsellor, a rich industrialist sponsors the revolutionaries but when they try to thank him, he bluntly replies that he is financing their operations for the government and the people to realize that The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized and that their best course of action is capitalistic reforms that he supports.
- In the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight, Drummer Boy joins the group of aces fighting the anti-joker genocide explicitly to impress Action Girl Curveball. He fails to get the girl but succeeds in making the nearly invincible Righteous Djinn's head explode.
- Grantaire in Les MisÚrables only hangs out with the revolutionary students and ultimately dies with them because of his devotion to Enjolras, their leader.
- Katniss in The Hunger Games takes a LONG time to come around to the "Revolution" she brought about. Most of Mockingjay is her arguing with people about whether or not she should stand as a symbol and leader for them to rally around.
- In Blood's Pride, the mercenary known as the Mongrel makes it fairly obvious that she doesn't actually care about the rebellion she's assisting. However, the obvious alternative motives (first money, then revenge) get crossed off as well, leaving everyone else to realise that they don't know exactly what she is in it for.
- In the last two books of the Venus Prime series, Forster's team, which consists mainly of scientists, gets caught up in an alien religious war. Needless to say, most of them are less than thrilled with the notion.
- Aly says this when Kyprioth abducts her to protect the subjects of The Prophecy (his prophecy) in Daughter of the Lioness. She just wants to prove to her da that she can take care of herself as a spy. By the end of the first book, though, she decides she has to see things through and becomes spymaster for the raka rebellion.
Live Action TV
- Kerr Avon of Blake's 7. Whoof, where to begin? Even when Blake is lost and he becomes the leader he never loses this attitude.
- Though Avon was the most vocal, the rest of the Liberator's crew (except Blake and Cally) also fit the bill, as they are wanted criminals with nowhere else to go. Gan and Jenna are won over fairly quickly, but the lack of choice is still there. Vila claims to be too much of a coward to leave the ship.
- In Series 4 Soolin, a skilled mercenary, joins them on a basis of mutual convenience (not that there was much revolutioning going on by then).
- In the first half of season one of Revolution the protagonists are on a mission to rescue Danny from the Monroe Militia and really do not care about the rebellion or attempts to overthrow President Monroe. They only join forces with the rebels because the two groups can help each other. Charlie is much more idealistic and would probably join the rebels on her own if she did not need to rescue Danny but Miles is quite jaded and quickly sees that the rebels are dedicated but inexperienced and incompetent. This becomes more pronounced when we find out about Miles's backstory: after the Blackout he did a lot of bad things in order to make the Monroe Republic a good place but he screwed up and blames himself for all the bad things that followed. Ironically, in the second half of the season Miles becomes the reluctant leader of the rebellion since he is the only one capable of taking on Monroe.
- Royal Pains starts off with Hank Lawson just wanting to take a weekend off in the Hamptons. Having barely survived a terrible malpractice suit, he's in no rush to resume being a doctor, especially not one that requires him to work alongside his squirrelly, overeager brother or the pushy British chick who suddenly shows up at his guest house and insists upon joining him. But one thing leads to another, and by the end of the pilot, he decides to set up a concierge practice.
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this applies to the villains involved in Project Centipede, as despite HYDRA being the ones pulling the strings, few of the named characters seem to be true believers in their cause. Garrett is a case of I Fight for the Strongest Side, Ward has a My Master, Right or Wrong mentality, Quinn is probably Only in It for the Money, Raina is For Science! (and has at least some connection to Skye's parents), and Deathlock and at least some Cybertek employees are suffering from I Have Your Wife.
- In Friedrich Schiller's William Tell, Tell refuses to join Swiss insurgents against Austrian oppression and becomes active only as tyrannical reeve Gessler makes it personal by forcing him to shoot an apple off his son's head with a crossbow because he didn't see the order that everyone had to tip their hats for Austrian officials. He shoots Gessler after shooting the apple off his son's head, sparking a full-scale revolt, which succeeds.
- In Hordes of the Underdark, the second expansion for Neverwinter Nights, the player can frequently claim that the reason they fighting the Drow is that they just want their stuff back.
- Fire Emblem is full of this trope. In each game, you can recruit a number of people, each with their own motives for joining you. These motives range widely, from loyalty to someone else, to earning money, to getting revenge on someone, and all sorts of other reasons.
- Volke from Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn is an extreme example: he's only there for the money, and in both games you have to pay him before he joins your party (and in Path of Radiance, you have to pay him extra every time he opens a door). Before he joins, he'll gladly sit around on the battlefield watching your party members die since you haven't paid his fee. At least he gives you a discount in Radiant Dawn because he doesn't like the boss of that chapter.
Subverted when it turns out that, no, he's still not in it for their revolution, but that he wouldn't have showed up in the first place if not for his contract with Greil. Greil spent some time searching for the world's greatest assassin in case he ever touched the Fire Emblem again and went on a similar berserker rage to the one that took his wife's life. Upon learning this, Ike promptly signs Volke on for an identical contract for himself.
- Guy in Blazing Sword owes Matthew his life (Matthew fed him when he was starving, and Guy's tribe believes in I Owe You My Life). When you recruit him, he vociferously complains about how he has to leave his paying job to work for you.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Mask of The Betrayer the central movitive is saving yourself from a curse that is slowly killing you.
Similarly, the Betrayer's Crusade — though advertised as a heroic revolution to change the order of the planes and correct a great injustice — had, at its core, Akachi's desire to see his love freed from it — after he, as Myrkul's, disciple, had been fine with countless other people going to the Wall of the Faithless.
- Tommy Vercetti from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He lost all the money Sonny Forelli entrusted him in a trap set up by Colombians, barely manages to escape alive, and now he must spend the rest of the game earning back a million dollars. Whenever someone asks for his loyalty in their faction, he replies with "Thanks, but I'm here for the money".
- Manny Calavera from Grim Fandango is initially hesitant about helping the LSA, pretty much saying the page title out loud in a cinematic. Not surprising, considering that he is an expy of Rick Blaine from Casablanca.
- Edison Trent from Freelancer turns down every single faction invitation, saying "causes come and go". In the late game, however, he joins the Order, saying nothing would please him more than fighting against the ones who were responsible for having 2 countries after his head.
- In The Witcher at one point, when Geralt is asked his motivations for his quest, one option is "they robbed me and killed a friend" and that he has no other motive.
- Jak joins up with the Underground in Jak II: Renegade solely because he's looking to hurt the Baron in any way he can. Invoked by Torn when Jak accepts a mission, not because it'll help save the lives of other Underground fighters, but because it means he gets to trash some KG Hellcats.
Torn: Never part of a bigger cause, eh Jak? Fine, I'll take your help any way I can get it.
- Drowtales: the real reason the group of Drow the story is currently following are on the surface is that Ariel wanted to find her best friend, who ran away to the surface. Everyone else is either a hanger-on, has an agenda, or is one of Ariel's servants.
- In Looking for Group, it's pretty obvious that Richard only goes along with them because he can find more people to kill and more places to wreak havoc that way. Or so we thought. This strip suggests that Richard may in fact be part of the conspiracy to turn Cale into the king of Kethenecia.
- Girl Genius had one: false Heterodyne heir, true heir... Oublenmach isn't in this for politics, he just wants the Heterodyne treasure.
- Part of the humor in DM of the Rings is that all the players except the one playing as Gimli (being The Roleplayer) treat all the GM's plot arcs this way.
- In the Ciem Webcomic Series, Miriam initially wants nothing to do with the war between the Hebbleskin Gang vs. everyone else. She merely wants to be left alone. She does come around; but her initial reason for looking for her sister is not to help her sister save the world. It's merely to clear her name.
- Schlock Mercenary: Here Colonel Pranger explains to his client what the primary interest is for his mercenary company, and revolutionary zeal isn't it.
Phica: With you on our side, our just cause cannot fail, Colonel.
Pranger: The only "just" I do is "just pay us on time". I'm not interested in your preaching, Phica.
- Some Regulars from Tower of God aren't ascending the Tower to reach the top to fulfill their strongest desire. Rak Wraithraiser just does it to fight people, and Anak Zahard climbs because the only way she can exact her revenge on the Zahard family is to enter the Inner Tower, which is where everybody climbs.
- Also within the Tower there also exists a criminal organization called FUG, who are trying to take down the tower from the inside. In season 2 it is revealed Baam/Viole is a FUG member. His motivation is not to destroy the tower, but because they threatened to murder his friends.
- On Beast Wars, former Predacon Dinobot originally joined the Maximals not because he believed in their ideals, but only out of a desire to defeat Megatron. Similarly, Blackarachnia allies with the Maximals in the last season only to protect her existence as a Maximal protoform and as a promise to Silverbolt, refusing to consider herself a Maximal until "Crossing the Rubicon", when her Predacon shell program was finally removed.
- Toph Bei Fong from Avatar: The Last Airbender doesn't join the group out of any hatred of the Fire Nation, nor a sense of obligation to teach Aang earth-bending, but merely because she's tired of her family restricting her, and wants a taste of freedom.
- Similarly, Mai agrees to help Princess Azula more because she's bored and wants something to do than anything else. When she betrays Azula, its not because she's turned against her country, but because she loves Zuko. Ty Lee, in turn, acts out of friendship for Mai.
- Many of the colonial levies in World War II including Nepali With Nasty Knives. They still chopped up a lot of Those Wacky Nazis with their nasty knives.
- The Jinnah's Muslim Assembly, a group within the Indian independence movement, suggested agreeing to support the British through World War II in exchange for a guarantee of independence as a reward. When the Imperial Japanese Army took Burma from Sino-Indian forces in Spring 1942, the Indian Assembly decided to side with Imperial Japan instead and demand immediate Indian independence. The Indian Muslim Assembly refused to go along with them and instead pledged their support for the Allied war effort on the understanding that the British would then owe India, and India's Muslims in particular, a huge favour and Indian independence would follow soon thereafter. Another understanding was that the new Indian state would have significant Muslim representation or that Indian Muslim M Ps would at least have the power to veto bills which might attack Islam. This second understanding is immensely important in the British decision to adopt a 'two-state' solution to Indian independence - the Muslim Assembly threatened to form their own Indian state if the rest of the Indian Assembly did not make certain guarantees about Muslim Representation and Islam, and the Indian Assembly basically didn't take them seriously because forming a new and rather poor country from scratch would be extremely troublesome and expensive. The rest, as they say, is history.
- Ditto for the Irish in World War I. The Home Rule bill (that would've created a devolved Irish Parliament within a federal United Kingdom) was deferred for the duration of the war, and most of the 200,000 Irish men who joined the army did so on the understanding that they would be coming home to a regional government with considerable autonomy. In practice, it looked like Westminster was hoping that The War would cause everyone to just forget about Irish devolution and delayed the bill indefinitely. Half-way through the war, in 1916, a bunch of nationalist nut-jobs started a terrorist campaign in the name of full independence. Their campaign slowly but surely morphed into what was somewhere between the third and the fifth British Civil War in four hundred years, depending on how you count them.
- An Afghan may or may not like the Taliban and their idea of theocracy, but since the Taliban is fighting the foreign occupiers and their corrupt local allies, they help the Taliban anyway.
- During the Cold War, the Americans did not like the Taliban and couldn't care less about their religious revolution against the godless Soviets, only that they kill the Communists.
- The Syrian War sees a lot of these types from both sides of the conflict. The foreign religious fighters don't care about the common Syrians' struggle to improve their country, only that the Assad 'infidel regime' to crash and burn. The USA initially backed the Syrian revolutionaries because they are useful in destroying Russian influence, but seeing that the only ones with real power are said religious extremists, they quietly leave the scene (i.e. NITFYR^2).
- During World War I Italy and Rumania joined the Entente Cordiale (in 1915 and 1916, respectively) and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers (in 1915) because both alliances' leaders promised them generous loans and material+technical aid to fight the war and large war-reparations and some territories from the defeated countries. Italy only entered because France promised her Austria-Hungary's Mediterranean coastline and parts of The Alps. Rumania joined because Russia and France promised her the ethnically mixed Austro-Hungarian province of Transylvania and Bulgarian territories with Rumanian minorities south of the Danube. Bulgaria joined because she had a military alliance with The Ottoman Empire and Germany and The Ottomans promised her all Rumanian territory south of the Danube and a generous chunk of eastern and southern Serbia.