Offscreen Villain Dark Matter
: So why the Southern Mountains, sir? Xykon
: I keep a back-up fortress here, just in case.
The evil counterpart to Infinite Supplies
We know how it goes. The good guy defeats the villain. Whatever the villain stole is returned, and his Doomsday Device
is blown up. Every single time.
Yet, time after time again, the villain is right back at it again next week
, his Evil Minions
at the ready. (Apparently their paychecks
have not bounced.)
How on earth does he fund this? Why does anyone take him seriously anymore? The only possible explanation is that there have to be scores of successful operations the villain is undertaking that we're not seeing... much like how scientists speculate that there's "dark matter" in the universe - substances that can't be directly observed, but must exist if our observations are correct
It should be noted that this trope can also be used by the hero
, if the writer needs to explain how they're Crimefighting with Cash
. Since the heroes can't necessarily spare the time to go out and make money themselves, having a convenient source of funds being run by someone else frees them up to do things the audience enjoys.
See also No Delays for the Wicked
and Missing Steps Plan
. Contrast with No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup
. Not to be confused with a certain villain named Dark Matter
. Forgot to Feed the Monster
is a subversion
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Anime & Manga
- In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, the villain group, Galactor, has massive war machines in almost every episode and an estimated one million members around the world. It is suggested that the true leader of Galactor, the alien Sousai X, somehow has the massive personal resources to keep the operation going.
- Dr. Hell from Mazinger Z has the resources to build over one hundred Mechanical Beasts, two Super Villain Lairs, several -aerial or submarine- fortresses and war machines, and he has an infinite supply of Mooks. It was explained on a chapter of one of the manga versions Count Brocken -one of his Co-Dragons- had taken over several European crime organizations long before the beginning of the manga and was using their resources to fund Hell's operation. And regarding how Hell has an endless army of Mooks... It was justified, but the answer is pure horror: All his subordinates are corpses he has turned into Cyborgs personally. Often they were people he or his subordinates had slain. Hence, he has an infinite supply of soldiers.
- The Jovians of Martian Successor Nadesico have a basically infinite supply of robot drones, no matter how many thousands of the things the heroes blow up over the course of the series. However, no one finds this odd as they're an Alien Invasion force... actually, they're just disenfranchised human colonists that stumbled across Applied Phlebotinum similar to Knights of the Old Republic. When this starts breaking down, they start entertaining the notion of peace talks.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
- Jail Scaglietti never seems to run out of Gadget Drones and laboratories despite losing a number of them to Combat Mages under the Space-Time Administration Bureau's employ. His being supported, funded, and supplied by the heads of the Bureau themselves may have something to do with this.
- And having a steady supply of mass-produced women to sell to arms dealers or lonely men as Dutch wives makes for good money. Especially when they can activate and kill its buyer if he needs them to.
- Averted (if only just barely) in Yatterman: in each episode, the Doronbo Gang is busy raising money through improbable scam schemes in order to build a new mecha.
- In Samurai Pizza Cats, the Big Cheese has a surprising amount to spend on giant killer robots. However, this gets subverted when he runs out of funding in one episode and has his Ninja Crows working at minimum wage to scrounge up funds, and in the finale, we find out he's been embezzling from the royal court, to the point where there wasn't enough left to buy an ice cream cone. The princess was mighty peeved when her check bounced.
- Pokémon's Team Rocket
- It straddles a bizarre mix of this and Perpetual Poverty. Despite the fact that they're often depicted as being cut off from the rest of their organization, generally ignored and frequently starving, not even being able to afford a motor for their pedal-powered submarine, they always have money to build an insanely huge robotic contraption or some other such nonsense to capture Pikachu and/or the Monster of the Week with (which subsequently gets destroyed by whichever of the aforementioned two was not captured.) You'd think they'd either start selling their mechanical prowess for profit or stop buying machines and start buying food, but...
- They once realized they could make a lot of money just selling souvenirs for the some tournament or another, and set themselves to go into legit business doing so. They succeeded just after the tournament was over and the demand was gone, leaving them out of money, again.
- Orochimaru has managed to single-handedly construct a series of immense underground bunkers populated by fanatic followers hidden throughout the Elemental Nations. On top of this, he has managed to conduct extensive large-scale experiments on human subjects. He throws away powerful minions like confetti. And despite setbacks, he never seems to face any serious damage.
- Madara seems to have access to all of the abandoned assets of the Uchiha clan, to the point that he can afford an entire building just to store eyes.
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water averts this with Gargoyle's mooks reporting how his dark matter (I.E. commerce in wool and banking) is proceeding, and how it is paying for things like his submarine and the Tower of Babel.
- Most Batman villains, except for the ones who are directly involved in organized crime and fencing (like the Penguin).
- In the latter part of Batman: The Animated Series, The Joker was seriously low on funds for multiple episodes thanks to Batman foiling his schemes, leaving him vulnerable to a hated enemy's masterful scheme to humiliate him with a massive inheritance with a ''big'' catch in "Joker's Millions".
- This trope was lampshaded in one episode of the 1990s animated series, with the Scarecrow infecting star athletes with his fear poison and then betting against them for huge sums of money. When Batman confronts him, the Scarecrow explains that chemicals and other research materials are very expensive...
- In some versions, The Riddler's goons seem to like their boss. In the comic book tie-in to the Animated Series, some of them were worried about him suffering a nervous breakdown if Batman solved one more of Ed's riddles (of course, it might just be that Mr. Nygma is comparatively pleasant as Gotham villains go). Similarly, one comic in which the Joker planted time-bombs in Gotham had one of his goons joking about working for Two-Face, and describing Batman's oncoming fist as "quitting time".
- There have also been a couple of times we see henchmen who have worked for multiple villains in the past (one issue of Birds of Prey even has them trying to unionize), and this always leads to a certain amount of lampshading as they discuss their former bosses. Apparently the Penguin actually offers health coverage and a 401K, and Riddler is a nice enough boss who pays well and gives lots of time off. Joker's secret is just how mercurial he is; he'll throw wads of cash at you one minute (he doesn't really value money), then kill you for lulz the next. It's a gamble, but can be a profitable one. One wonders if they look forward to getting pummeled by Batman, considering it's the easy way out.
- Batman himself is a heroic version of this trope. Wayne Enterprises is what enables Bruce to be a Rich Idiot with No Day Job, and in some continuities characters like Lucius Fox typically run the day to day operations of the company while Bruce is off fighting crime. In some continuities the company also provides Batman with tech support.
- The Tinkerer, a minor character responsible for building, upgrading, and repairing most of the B-list villains in the Marvel Universe, was secretly financed and supplied by Doctor Doom. Before that, Justin Hammer funded a number of villains as seen in the classic "Demon In A Bottle" arc of Iron Man. Norman Osborn is also revealed to have been hired by various crooked business interests to create supervillains to distract the heroes from their own nefarious misdeeds, before he became the Goblin.
- In Marvel Comics, there are several high-tech organizations whose budget is unexplained. A rare exception is the evil HYDRA, which was funded with hidden Nazi assets, and (in one case) structured itself as a corporation! (Not openly, of course.) HYDRA also controls a small nation. Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), another terrorist group that broke off from HYDRA and became independent, also generates revenue by developing and selling deadly high-tech devices. This could arguably explain where many Marvel villains get all their fancy toys.
- Scrooge McDuck's longtime foes The Beagle Boys, though not always. Lately we often see them more realistically broke, but they've also been seen going after Scrooge McDuck at sea or elsewhere with special equipment that should probably cost more than the amount of money they were after, when it wasn't Scrooge's entire property. An explanation might have something to do with how they're (rarely) shown as a world-wide criminal organisation family of which the Duckburg gang is just a small part, but it still wouldn't make much sense. A possible explanation comes from Italian stories showing they are actually formidable thieves and only Scrooge or bad luck can stop them, implying they fund their special equipment to go after Scrooge with the loot of other heists.
- Doctor Doom averts this; since he runs a European nation, he must have billions of dollars in tax dollars alone to fund his various schemes.note
- Lampshaded in one arc of Fantastic Four. Sick of Doctor Doom pulling this trick over and over, Reed Richards travels to Latveria to destroy the villain's stockpiles and powerbase. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Kingpin averts this too, as he owns a vast empire of legitimate businesses that he built from the ground up, starting with one small spice importing firm. This is one reason it was so hard to pin anything on him for a long time, the money trail being so large and complex.
- Superheroes like Iron Man and the Fantastic Four are heroic versions of this trope. They are independently wealthy from their own inventions, which also provides them with the resources to develop new superhero gadgets.
- In the graphic novel, "Revenge of the Living Monolith", the title supervillian is the leader of a centuries-old religious cult that still worships the Pharaohs, and also possesses vast underground bases described as rivaling anything Washington or Moscow could built, fleets of high-tech vehicles that could turn half the world's dictators green with envy and the other half with fear, atomic generators enough to power a city, and consisting of thousands of agents from around the world. The comic never explains how a simple cult acquired such resources.
- Averted with the Nightmare Factory in the Italian remake of Battle Fantasia Project: they do have legitimate businesses to finance their operations, and are Genre Savvy enough to pay for them. This actually bit them in the ass: the spell enforcing The Masquerade prevented them from paying certain taxes or even know they were supposed to, and when the spell is inactivated the Guardia di Finanza starts confiscating their financial assets (this doesn't damage them that much, as by this time the money-making schemes are not that necessary anymore) and leaks the location of their bases to their foreign counterparts (and this, with Sailor Venus having connections in the police, does cause them a lot of trouble).
- Adverted as well in Warband Of The Forsaken Sons. The Chaos Marines of said warband have forges aboard their ship, plunder the worlds they conquer for supplies, and even make a deal with a daemon-possessed forge-world to get more stuff. Their boss, Arken, takes the supplying of his forces very seriously.
- The Virtucon Corporation in Austin Powers is a wonderful example, and satirizes the trope when Number Two points out to Doctor Evil that the company makes more money from its legitimate activities than Dr. Evil originally wanted from his latest evil scheme. In the third film, Number Two explains how he has turned Virtucon into a Hollywood talent agency but tries to maintain the "evilness" of the corporation by charging a smaller percentage in order to get A-list actors to go with them.
- In the Saw series, Jigsaw always has another abandoned building filled with elaborate traps and a workshop for every movie, sometimes several. His backstory is that he's an engineer, which explains how he can design everything, and one movie showed that Jigsaw was part of a lucrative real estate deal, which explains how he got all the buildings, plus he has a few apprentices to help him build the traps. But that does not explain how he can get all the materials for the traps, some of which are really elaborate, and find the time to build them all.
- In Mad Max 2 fuel is the most precious thing in the world After the End, and the antagonists, a gang of raiders, besiege a refinery precisely for their fuel supplies. And yet the raiders never seem to have any problem with the fuel themselves, not only chasing after good guys, but also fooling around, staging motorshows and just riding circles, when you'd think such behavior would've been, uhm, frowned upon.
- Wuthering Heights doesn't explain how the previously penniless Heathcliff gets rich in the three years between running away from Thrushcross Grange and returning to wreak vengeance.
- Explained and then defied in the Wraith Squadron novels of the X-Wing Series. Early in Wraith Squadron, the eponymous pilot-infiltrators run across several worlds where their enemy, Warlord Zsinj, has arranged (usually through a combination of Gunboat Diplomacy and money) to have properties and corporations transferred to the ownership of a whole constellation of false identities, all of which lead back to him personally. The Wraiths surmise that he uses them to fund and supply his armies, and promptly blow up as many as they can find.
- Later on, during a brief truce to destabilize the warlord, the New Republic and the Empire share information on this "shadow empire", leading to 97% of the network being taken down by a combination of spies, commandos, and good old-fashioned auditing. Zsinj is, shall we say, not happy.
Live Action TV
- In Auction Kings, One of the recurring bidders mentions that she won the lottery. She uses this money to buy antiques. Certainly the other bidders must think of her as this trope.
- Subverted in BIONICLE — Big Bad Makuta, for a villain who kept hiding all alone in his lair sure seemed to have no problem deploying various underlings to harass the islanders, and which also coincided with LEGO's biannual toy release dates. It was later revealed that he has been the head of an universe-spanning evil organization the whole time that possessed vast resources, what more, all the nasties he had let go on the island so far weren't even the true big shots — he didn't really want to defeat the heroes, just stall them until his plan was ready to be set into motion. If not for this plan, the heroes wouldn't have lasted a day on the island.
- The Chaos Marines of Warhammer 40,000 never seem to run out of supplies despite having been fighting the Imperium (and each other) for the best part of 10,000 years. This has been justified recently with "daemon forge worlds" and a much greater emphasis on Renegade Marines (recently turned to Chaos) than the Traitor Legions (ten thousand years of war against the God-Emperor).
- Traitor Marines also often raid Imperial supplies and use Loyalist geneseed from dead Marines to make more Chaos Marines. They also don't use the technology that would require extremely high amounts of maintenance like anti-gravity vehicles and assault cannons. Being able to bind Daemons into their machines helps to keep them working, too.
- It's worth noting that the majority of Chaos Marines operate from the Eye of Terror, where the laws of physics are a funny joke you tell your friends. In other words, they have literal Offscreen Villain Dark Matter at their disposal. The Alpha Legion, the only Traitor Legion that doesn't, are low-key guerrilla warfare specialists and seldom attack the Imperium openly in large-scale campaigns. The Night Lords also often avert this as well, which is turn leaves them perpetually understaffed and under-supplied with deteriorating gear.
- In the Warp they can probably conjure up anything they desire, so long as it has a daemonic motif to it, and is probably cursed in some way.
- Warhammer 40k Novels involving the Chaos Space Marines frequently have some mention of their scavenging and raiding tactics. They steal ammunition, armor, gene-seed, ships, and vehicles from the Imperium and especially Loyalists Space Marines, meaning every successful fight makes them stronger.
- Fabius Bile is an important character that each Traitor Legion deals with because he can, depending on the author, create new organs or cloned soldiers.
- Eldar are a perplexing example. They are apparently on the brink of extinction with only a dozen or so active Craftworlds and miniscule armed forces for a war that spans the galaxy, but neither the gameplay nor the story reflect this, repeatedly throwing away hundreds, thousands of soldiers on futile endeavors and generally having little better regard for their soldiers than the Imperium.
- Should note Eldar have small numbers compare to the other races, Craftworlds are planet size that houses billions. Which is small when you compare it to the trillions of humans.
- The Necrons mostly rely on the same numbers and resources they had back when they waged war against the Old Ones. Fortunately for them, they're built to last and are able to teleport themselves away for repairs if they are defeated.
- Da Orks' technology is crude enough that they don't really need much to make more of it. Numbers are not an issue either: Orks are basically giant mushrooms who release spores upon death that eventually grow into new Orks. The only reason Orks haven't overrun the galaxy through sheer numbers is infighting.
- Tyranids don't need anything but biomass to remain a viable threat. They are so efficient at consuming and processing it that every victory makes them stronger.
- The Whateley Universe is eventually revealed to feature a regular supervillain support infrastructure, courtesy at least in part of plain old professionally organized crime in the form of the Syndicate. Pay your bills on time (and nobody'll be too concerned about where your money comes from), and you too can simply buy or at least rent your supervillain lair or mad scientist laboratory to order, and minions for hire are likewise readily available as long as you don't pick up too much of a reputation as a Bad Boss.
- Mega Man played with this trope a bit. A number of episodes involved Dr. Wily stealing some technology or supplies for his plans or trying to acquire funds one way or another, but every so often, he'd bust out a machine that wouldn't be out of place in the games as a fortress boss.
- Inverted in Despicable Me. When the main villain Gru wants to build a rocket to fly to the Moon, he doesn't have the funds and must get a loan from the Bank of Evil. The Bank denies him the loan until he steals a certain item, putting the events of the movie into motion.
- Kim Possible has a running gag where she blows up Dr. Drakken's lair. It'll be up again by their next meeting. Many a Lampshade Hanging has been made about this. However, several episodes deal with Drakken's cash-flow troubles, notably "Ron Millionaire", wherein Drakken goes broke just as Ron receives a massive royalty check. Of course, many of Drakken's cash-flow/supply problems have a simple solution, considering that his Hypercompetent Sidekick is the world's most notorious thief. Drakken also ends up in the "Time Share Lair" from time to time when his current lair has been destroyed. Dementor apparently owns a share there, too, as Drakken keeps getting Dementor's mail when he's there...
- Cobra never won a major tactical or strategic victory against the Joes in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, yet they never seemed to lose the ability to field their army for next week's evil plan. Two episodes did center around Cobra having fiduciary problems; one where the Joes capture Cobra's assets for the fiscal year, and the infamous episode "Cobrathon" where extra funds have to be raised via a telethon for a special weapon. Several episodes hint that much of funding for the animated version of Cobra comes from Extensive Enterprises, a seemingly-legitimate Mega Corp. that the Joes know is just a front, but apparently can't prove it well enough to shut it down. Having the clandestine backing of an elder race of Snake People probably helps, at least according to the questionably can[n]oned 1980s movie.
- As in the video game, Ganon in The Legend of Zelda never ran out of Mooks. While it never openly explained this, the cartoon did show him having a kind of Soul Jar from which he would sometimes bring back his recently slaughtered minions, and the Triforce of Power from which he drew his much of his magical power was apparently an inexhaustible supply, so it's not too difficult to work out how he could still be in business immediately after his mook armies suffered yet another crushing defeat.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 eventually subverted this with an episode where the villains successfully stole the Applied Phlebotinum required to power the Technodrome after creating a series of diversions to distract the turtles, essentially letting the bad guys win one.
- The Limburger Building, HQ of the main villain of Biker Mice from Mars gets blown up in spectacular fashion in just about every episode, only to be rebuilt in time for the next episode. The only exception was the villains' Broke Episode where they were cut off from funding and had to move into a trailer. One episode also revealed that Limburger is a counterfeiter, handily covering any transactions with humans.
- Carmen Sandiego, particularly in the animated series. She has yet to hang on to her pilfered goods long enough to use them (and it's not like she could sell any of them anyway, given how famous they are), so where does she get the money for all the gear required to loot them in the first place? Carmen Sandiego, like most phantom thieves, is probably independently wealthy. Phantom thievery tends to be an occupation taken up by the rich out of boredom or the need for a challenge. See also Arsčne Lupin.
: My organization operates with a budget that surpasses that of most cities.
- Or, maybe, she changes her outfit, wears a mask, and routinely successfully steals ordinary valuable items, for which she takes no credit.
- No matter how many times Dr. Claw of Inspector Gadget loses and conducts Villain Exit Stage Left, he will always have enough funds and resources to conduct his next scheme. Partially justified however as he's implied to be the head of a worldwide criminal empire, and Gadget can only be in so many places at once.
- In Transformers Animated both Swindle and Lockdown work almost exclusively for the Decepticons because Megatron pays better. This is despite Megatron being cut off from his army for years (although he's yet to actually pay that much, so it's possible that he's short on money and they just don't know). Lockdown is mostly in it for the upgrades.
- Subverted and lampshaded in the hilarious Robot Chicken Star Wars spoof where Vader calls up Palpatine regarding the Death Star's destruction.
Palpatine: That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! Do you have any idea what this is gonna do to my credit? [...] Oh, oh, "just rebuild it"? Oh, real f***ing original! And who's going to give me a loan, jackhole? You? You have an ATM on that torso light-brite?
- Batman: The Animated Series: Temple Fugate lost everything in his Start of Darkness (an appeal for twenty million dollars against his company seven years ago), but when he appears in the episode "The Clock King", he has enough money to buy bombs, and an Abandoned Warehouse to act as a Supervillain Lair in his own name and use an incredibly expensive pocket watch as a component in a Time Bomb. Later in "Time Out of Joint" he steals a clock valued at 600,000 dollars, and then tosses it away, the theft just being a trial run for his newest criminal plot. Justified because he never suffers Motive Decay: All he wants is to humiliate Mayor Hill, and then kill him. It's even implied he doesn't resort to crime to finance his vendetta: He has enough marketable skills to Cut Lex Luthor a Check. Notice that after he is arrested, he uses his talents for the government as a Boxed Crook in the Justice League episode ''Task Force X".
- Averted in Gargoyles. it's mentioned that among the many divisions of Xanatos Industries are ones focused on robotics and genetic engineering, explaining exactly where his hired goon's suits of Powered Armor and cyborg limbs are coming from.
- This is actually lampshaded in ReBoot when Megabyte shows up with a fresh army out of nowhere.
Phong: Where does he get those A.B.C.s from?