Organization with Unlimited Funding
In Real Life, the world's largest corporations and government agencies often have a total annual cash flow that exceeds the Gross National Product of smaller nations, own fleets of multimillion dollar vehicles or multiple office buildings. But modern Real Life organizations like Wal-mart or the U.S. Defense Department would be on the bottom end of this scale at best. Merely being an unusually successful Mega Corp. is not enough to qualify for this list, nor is an Elaborate Underground Base (or more than one), as these assets may have been around for a while, acquired at a discount, or required to accomplish the organizations whole purpose for existance. These organizations routinely accomplish feats whose mere existence in the setting could result in Fridge Logic or even straining Willing Suspension of Disbelief:
- Construction projects that normally require hundreds or thousands of workers laboring for months or years are often accomplished before the next episode.
- If the organization is responsible for a major national project, they will often build a spare just in case or for their own use.
- The organization funds projects which apparently break the laws of physics using only wealth and the Rule of Cool or the Rule of Funny.
- If some other convenient fictional trope makes something possible, it doesn't count. You don't buy sound in space when Space Is Noisy. It's not impressive to have Infinite Supplies when everyone else does. Building a Humongous Mecha is not noteworthy when any random scientist can make five in a weekend.
- An example might be, in a setting Twenty Minutes into the Future, while every other spacefaring organization is still working on commercial manned flight to the ISS or missions to the Moon or Mars, this organization is already secretly operating multiple interstellar vessels that could carry the space shuttle in their secondary cargo holds.
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Anime & Manga
- The Liar Game Tournament Office appears at one point to blow ten quintillion yen on the first round of their tournament. That's 107.54 trillion U.S. dollars.
- In fact, at the start of the story, the invitation read "...You are one of the 1 in 100000 people who have been entered..." which means, if it takes place all over the world, there's about 70 thousand people taking part, and since each of those people gets 100 million yen, the total amount for the first round is only 7 trillion yen, or 80 billion dollars (which to be fair, is still a lot.
- As far as the Liar Game first round goes, they intended to recoup most of the money from the losers (whose debt is relatively low), and quite a lot of the rest of the money would remain in-game as players continued. They get 50% of the winning of dropouts; in effect, worst-case scenario for them, they can only lose 50% of what they put in. Which is "only" 40 billion dollars!
- As the characters point out, it's actually a scam. They give each player 100 million yen, and require that each player pay back that amount at the end. Assuming no player goes bankrupt (which is a ridiculous assumption, but the company supposedly has hand-wavy powers to extract the money somehow), they'll never lose any money — the loser just pays the winner 100 million, and the company neither gains nor loses anything. But then the company also charges 50% of your net winnings if you drop out, which is pure profit for them.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion deconstructs this trope, like many others. NERV (a UN Special Agency)— is able to replace entire cities within days, not to mention the upkeep and maintenance of three giant biomechanical weapons. (Each with a budget equivalent to a small country.) NERV has funding in excess of what a UN agency can normally legally have, and required a special amendment to the funding regulations just to be chartered. Their monetary requirements are absolutely enormous, and they are given all the funding they need, but even so they still run into financing issues because they take up so much of the budget that other programs end up gutted in order to meet their needs. As one member of the SEELE council said, "Man cannot live on Eva alone," and fully funding all their operations can cripple other critical programs.
- Rebuild of Evangelion is a straighter use, with the budget mentioned less and crazier things done.
- Momoka Nishizawa from Keroro Gunsou. Even granted that her family has more than half the money on Earth she spends insane amounts of money, mostly on trying to get closer to her love interest, Fuyuki. This goes to the point that there's actually an episode deticated to her trying to formulate an extremely low budget plan as a change of strategy (really, she'd get a lot further just buying a marriage certificate).
- In the opening act of Dance in the Vampire Bund, the secret vampire nation gets Japan to authorize creating a semi-independent vampire state on a man-made island just off the coast of Tokyo. Mina Tepes gets the ruling party in the Diet to go along with this plan by forking over enough cash to retire Japan's national debt - stated to be roughly ten trillion dollars. And the vampire nation is still obscenely rich after doing so.
- One has to wonder how the Mad Scientist from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS gets the required funds and materials to develop and build a huge army of highly advanced robots, revive and upgrade a dead research program for creating combat cyborgs, which had been explicitly stated to be scrapped due to high costs and low gain, and build a standard secret lair. To further strain the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, it was all done without anyone's notice, and his "Toys" were routinely destroyed en masse, necessitating extensive additional build orders. It's eventually revealed that the people funding Jail Scaglietti and all of his illegal research and tech were the heads of the Administration Bureau themselves, having created him as their pet Mad Scientist to keep the Bureau ahead of the Arms Race.
- In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Nick Fury's reply to concerns about funding a weapon to fight off Galactus is: "I could have every human being on earth dressed in solid gold underwear. Tomorrow." S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't appear to be hurting for capital, to put it mildly.
- In All-Star Superman, Project Cadmus director Dr. Leo Quintum explicitly states he has unlimited resources. Not surprising since as a good aligned Mad Scientist his inventions must make millions (if not billions) in this non-Reed Richards Is Useless world.
- In On Her Majesty's Secret Service it's mentioned that Bond girl Tracy's father has ties to the most powerful crime organization on Earth. Bond replies that SPECTRE is larger.
- The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy features a few, perhaps most notably Magrathea, the planet whose sole industry is building custom-made planets. Yes, artificial planets. It became so wealthy that the rest of the galaxy's economy collapsed, leading the Magratheans to put themselves into suspended animation until people could afford their services again.
- Being post-scarcity means every member of The Culture has unlimited funds to do whatever they want.
- The hundreds (thousands?) of The Dark Hunters get paid every month with a wheelbarrow-sized pile of gold and precious gems by Artemis, who doesn't seem to grasp the idea of direct deposit. Consider that this has been going on for over a thousand years, and you get quite a pump into the local economy (and the world economy at large).
- The Terran Trade Authority, from the book series of that name, which manages the economies of multiple extrasolar systems and has managed the logistics for interstellar wars fought by its sister organization, the Terran Defense Authority. One branch of the TTA, the Central Administration, owns its own city, mainly to store records, which is surrounded by forests to supply the paper necessary to allow paper records to be maintained alongside its electronic files.
- In The Wheel of Time, the Aes Sedai organisation of the White Tower has practically unlimited funds, able to offer each of its members (of which there are about a thousand) an annual stipend that easily puts them on a par with any medium-ranking noble or the most successful merchant, and they can ask for more with very little red tape. The Tower can get away with this because it is both the world's oldest surviving political institution, and earns rent on huge tracts of land, and also happens to be the world's oldest bank.
- The Raith family from The Dresden Files has emergency credit cards they give out to family members, good for 24 hours upon first use. When asked what the spending limit is on them, the response is "24 hours".
- Stargate SG-1: Justified, since it is funded through the U.S. Department of Defense budget. It also operates Stargate Command, rents Russia's stargate whenever theirs goes missing, and built a at least 5 starships that allegedly each cost more than the entire GNP of the state of New York, and presumably operate other secret projects as well. But then, keeping two galaxies safe ain't cheap. Later an oversight agency becomes a recurring pain in the protagonists backside as other nations are brought onboard and corporations become involved in adapting found technology to Earth use.
- Torchwood One, of Doctor Who: They built One Canada Square/Canary Wharf/Torchwood Tower (construction costs: approximately £500 million) purely to investigate a weird rift at the top. Even allowing for the rental income, which in that district would have been considerable even by London standards, that's one hell of an up-front expenditure for a supposedly "black" government department.
- The Federation in Star Trek was able to recover from having its fleet annihilated in less than a year. Not just recover: 39 ships were lost at Wolf 359, which was considered to be a huge blow to the fleet. As of the Dominion War several years later, Starfleet consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of combat-capable starships. It's explicitly meant to be a post-scarcity future, but still.
- A late first season episode of Quantum Leap had Al appearing before a congressional committee to justify keeping the Project going at taxpayers' expense. Meanwhile In The Past Sam was helping a young woman pass the law school exam. When he was successful the head of the committee suddenly became the woman he had been helping, who approved the funding. Ever since then, there were no questions as to the budget of the Project.
- The Company from Heroes fits this to varying degrees throughout the show's run, most closely when it was run by Bob Bishop (who had the power to turn anything into gold) during Volume Two, who identifies himself as the Company's "financial source."
- In NUMB3RS, DARPA is mentioned several times as this, specifically using the words "unlimited funding". They end up throwing it at 5-year projects. One character, who tries to scam them with a fake AI, claims no one would suspect a thing, as 95% of DARPA-funded projects are failures.
- And then it turns out that the US government also has a detachment of literal MI Bs to go after people who are scamming them for research funds...
- JAG: Funding, provided by U.S. taxpayers through the defense budget, is never really an issue, and often in court-martials held in Virginia, foreign nationals as witnesses are flown in from across the world. Subverted though in "Father's Day" when Harm, Mac and Bud had to conduct an investigation on a tight budget; due to Harm's tortious interference with the secret business of the Bradenhurst Corporation in a previous episode.
- There is a notable aversion in The Fall. DSU Stella Gibson, a Metropolitan Police detective, is brought into Belfast to assist the PSNI in a 28-day review of a cold case in which the ex-daughter-in-law of an MLA of the Northern Ireland Assembly was murdered, and she eventually links the murder to two other murders. At the end of the first series, the Belfast Strangler has slipped off the radar. By the beginning of the second season, which is only ten days after the first series' finale, the PSNI's funding and resources have been stretched thin and DSU Gibson has to submit a request for a £1.8 million grant to continue the investigation.
Forbes magazine lists 25 of the largest fictional corporations here.
- Many, if not all, of the major factions in Warhammer 40,000. As the TV Tropes entry states: "Entire planets with populations of billions are lost due to rounding errors in tax returns."
- You, when playing Rogue Trader. Okay, Rogue Traders don't literally have unlimited funding, but their financial capabilities are still enormous. (They have to be, to afford their obligatory Mile-Long Ship.) Any given member of a Trader's senior crew has roughly a 50-50 chance of buying an incredibly rare piece of war equipment, or alternatively enough of the common stuff to fit out a regiment — each session, starting from the first — without so much as denting their cash flow. If you want to risk your investment souring, by all means, spend more!
- According to Shadowrun lore, by the year 2070 we can expect mega-corporations that literally have more money and military power than most actual countries. The headquarters of said mega-corps tend to span tens of city blocks and legitimately claim that the ground said buildings are upon as soverign territory, and immune to the parent country's governing laws.
- Not that unbelievable, at least the money part. Wal-Mart's annual revenues are more than the GNP of all but about 25-30 countries.
- Averted for the Task Force: Valkyrie, the Men-in-Blackish Conspiracy of HunterTheVigil. They are a national, FBI sized agency, with bleeding edge technology, flat-out said to have the impressively low annual budget of US$ 875.000. How can they fund all those marvelous gadgets? Being secretly funded by ancient vampires, that's how.
- In FEAR, not only did Armacham Technology Corporation build several major underground facilities, including one underneath an elementary school, a massive underground vault specifically to test and contain a world-endingly-powerful psychic, a full-size hospital (as in, they built the actual hospital building underground, inside a cavern complex), multiple underground storage facilities for the immense clone army, they also built an equally huge underground tram system connecting these facilities together. They also operate the massive clone army mentioned above, which comes complete with their own customized battle armor, ninjas, super-heavy combat soldiers, Hind attack helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and powered armor units, and a second army of private mercenaries with their own armor and air support. They're also able to field orbital assets, including orbit-dropped walking tanks. The third game even shows them having enough military power to openly operate on the streets of a Third-World South American city and enough troops to maintain a nine-month-long containment operation in Fairport, all the while fighting Alma's monstrous creations. The resources they have access to are tremendous.
- Interestingly, this trope seemed to be played increasingly straight as the series went on. In the first game, it was more Downplayed. ATC had a corporate security force, but there were simply well equipped security employees, rather than the private army they are shown as in later titles. The army of clones were a product that they were getting ready to sell in their capacity as an arms manufacturer. Even the Elaborate Underground Base seen near the end of the game was not something that they actually built, rather it was something that they bought from the government, being a Cold War base that got decommissioned after the fall of the USSR.
- Team Fortress 2: Reliable Excavation Demolition (RED) and Builders League United (BLU) each control half the Earth, utilize armies of paper-pushers to solve problems, and have enough money to finance Death Rays, bombs, and rockets and outfit their mercenaries with guns that would be impossible today - in particular, they can resurrect the dead and build ammunition and health dispensers that defy the laws of thermodynamics, cloaking devices, and teleporters, on a whim. In the sixties.
- The Umbrella Corporation, from the Resident Evil series is so absurdly rich and powerful that they own several islands, as well as research bases in Antarctica, on a cruise ship, and basically the entirety of Raccoon City. All in secret, mind you.
- And subverted, what kills them is their stocks dropping after Raccoon City was nuked.
- Pretty much any of the major megacorps in the Armored Core universe. Seems like every game at least two of them are pulling out as many harebrained superweapons and hail mary military actions as Those Wacky Nazis or worse. They probably have different megacorps in each numerical sequel simply due to them going bankrupt! And of course EVERYONE has a supersoldier program running. And the sheer sizes of some of their facilities and spaceships are obscene.
- The Patriots, who've managed to build what can only be described as a world-domination AI supercomputer which has its hooks in nearly every military on the planet by Metal Gear Solid 4. And just in case it's destroyed, there are 4 identical backup AIs ready to take over. They also funded the Les Enfants Terrible project, which covertly perfected human cloning in the 1970s.
- The Patriots acquired these funds from the similarly-funded Philosophers, who covertly bankrolled the allies in World War II and had a massive surplus once it was finished. The implication being that they have lots of income streams coming from many different countries and companies, kept hidden even from those sources of funding, and laundered through many different bank accounts in many different places.
- Technically the Patriots' funding does have a given upper limit, but double the total budget of the US military is enough to stretch a very long way for a comparatively small organisation.
- Hideously averted in X-COM, the man in Washington will happily cut your funding even when the flying saucers are tearing up the White House.
- Mass Effect 2 has Cerberus, a secretive organization with its own paramilitary forces and unclear goals about "protecting the interests of humans in the Galaxy", which is regarded as a terrorist group in Citadel Space. They secretly fund research projects and perform information gathering all over the galaxy. Many of the major human corporations are actually owned by fake identities of its leader and their profits allow Cerberus to get virtually anything they need. In Mass Effect 2, they build a highly upgraded version of one of the galaxy's most advanced spaceships since they own the companies that designed the prototype for the human and Turian governments, and even run a project to bring a dead person back to life after having fallen out of an exploding spaceship.
Scientist: It can't be done. And this is not a matter of resources.The Illusive Man: It is always a matter of resources!
- One of the scientists on the Lazarus project (the aforesaid bring-the-dead-back-to-life operation) mentions irritably that the project is billions of credits over its budget. That's not the cost — just the overrun! It's not even done yet.
- By Mass Effect 3, Cerberus has enough resources to wage open war with the Alliance and the Citadel with some degree of success, including an outright invasion of the Citadel itself. Their sudden massive increase in manpower is explained by their semi-forcibly recruiting troops using implanted Reaper tech.
- The Shadow Broker's resources are somewhat less liquid (most of its power comes from its galaxy-wide network of informants), but its base of operations is a custom-built starship, large enough to operate independently for years at a time, that is cloaked by perpetually flying inside a thunderstorm. During the construction of the Crucible, Broker agents casually drop by with million-metric-ton shipments of vital raw materials.
- BlackWatch seems to have this in both Prototype games. In the first game it even keeps track of how much money it has cost them from the destruction you have caused. No matter the Billions you cost them, they never seem to ever run low on resources. Fridge Horror sets in when you realize that you might be responsible for that - considering that they're affiliated with the US Government (although who reports to who is unclear at times), the massive amounts of damage the player characters cause may be used as justification for a larger budget.
- The Illuminati and Majestic Twelve in the Deus Ex setting, and for good reason: they've been behind most governments and international institutions in history, and arose from the Templars, who were the original founders of the global banking system. They have cash to burn, and they spend it on some incredibly expensive and expansive holdings.
- The Union Aerospace Corporation of Doom 3 built a research outpost on Mars the size of a small city. Unlimited funding is even mentioned in the game opening.
- Half-Life / Portal series:
- Simultaneously averted and played straight with Aperture Science. They compete with (and lose out to) Black Mesa for government funding and apparently operate on an ever-shrinking budget, but the facilities we see ingame are so large they stretch the point of physical plausibility (several literal kilometres into the crust), and the company would apparently rather build whole new wings than ever actually redecorate an office in fifty years of operation.
- Black Mesa has a much higher official budget, and then spends it on multiple redundant facilities, "abandoned sectors", independent space launch capability (at multiple sites, no less), separate backup copies of their secret technology, their own private nuclear arsenal, a box-smashing room, and so on. Much like Aperture, Black Mesa uses secret advanced technology just to develop other advanced technology.
- The Brotherhood of Nod in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn (by the later games both sides effectively are nations, each controlling a significant fraction of Earth and humanity). With a dominance of Tiberium harvesting and a massive black market presence, the Brotherhood never suffers for lack of money (though they sometimes find themselves unable to buy things for other reasons). GDI, on the other hand, explicitly has a limited, if massive, budget, and actually gets it pulled at one point in the GDI campaign, forcing GDI forces to bunker down and rely on Tiberium harvesting just to hold out. Then General Sheppard returns with an enlarged budget and several new toys funded by it...
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, TAROT, a Nebulous Evil Organization out to control the world's economy, has monetary resources on the same level as a mid-sized nation, and easily outpaces most of the world's smaller nations.
- The apparently unlimited resources of the SCP Foundation have been commented on even by its own writing community. Somewhat justified in that they control paranormal artifacts that actually can produce infinite resources, although often with unpleasant side-effects. The do occasionally complain about needless or excessive expenditures, be it D-Class fodder or actual resources. Note that the primary objection to the wasting of D-Class is that there are a finite number of unlikely-to-be-missed life sentence and death row inmates available, not the foundation's difficulties with obtaining the ones that exist.