Signed Up for the Dental
Facing death every day is a tough job for any man. But his hours are flexible, and he's got a great dental plan.Characters in fiction sometimes have a specific job not because they like the job or something, but the job just has some very specific benefit that they want. Health plans, especially dental, are popular. For our non-US readers: the United States does not have a government-sponsored health insurance system except for veterans, elderly (Medicare), and extremely poor (Medicaid)note - for most Americans, most or all of their coverage from private companies or organizations. For healthy working-age adults, health insurance is a common benefit at a workplace (due to wage restrictions during World War II encouraging benefits in place of offering higher wages) and can vary greatly in quality between jobs. Dental insurance plans are usually separate items from regular health insurance, which is why "dental" is commonly said instead of "health". This trope can also encompass other things too, but normally, it's just small things that they want. Makes it even more hilarious if the character who wants that specific benefit has no way to use it. (Such as a health plan for an immortal being.) See also Healthcare Motivation and I Control My Minions Through....
— Spy Hard theme song
open/close all folders
- In High School DXD, the Valkyrie Rossweisse becomes a Devil because the Underworld has much a better health insurance program and pension plan compared to Valhalla.
- Cable & Deadpool has Bob AGENT OF HYDRA, who says that he joins HYDRA because of the dental. It ends up sucking for him, because everyone knows that only AIM has Dental. This is apparently a fairly common occurence in the various Marvel criminal organizations that employ the anonymous, masked minions. Few of the rank and file genuinely belive in HYDRA or AIM's end goals.
- In Empowered, this is why people become Evil Minions.
- Mentioned in Birds of Prey, when a group of Mooks attempt to unionise the henchmen of Gotham City.
Films — Animated
- Spoofed near the end of Titan A.E. Preed throws in his lot with the Drej and betrays Korso because of the "health plan" the Drej offered: they let him live if he kills Korso, Cale, and Akima before they arrive at the Titan.
- Inverted in Shrek 2; Shrek gets into the Fairy Godmother's factory by pretending to be a regulator and manages to get the elf behind the desk to let him in by playing on his grievances, including "We don't even have dental."
Films — Live-Action
- Variation in Garden State. Sam says that she stays at her job despite the humiliation of having to wear a helmet all the time (she has epilepsy) because they have amazing health insurance (again, it helps with her epilepsy).
- Men In Black 2: Zed explains to Frank that he'll get better dental as Zed's assistant than as a field agent. Since Frank is canid (at least in appearance while on Earth), this works for him.
- Near the end of Payback, low end criminal and Dirty Coward Arthur Stegman dreams of how he'll be set after he sells Villain Protagonist Porter to The Syndicate that Porter has been causing trouble for. Among all the other things Stegman dreams of getting are medical and dental benefits. Unfortunately for Stegman, fantasizing about this distracts him, and Porter effortlessly takes his gun away and then repeatedly smashes Stegamn's head against the nearest surface. And then uses Stegman as a Bulletproof Human Shield when yet another groups of gangsters looking to kill Porter show up. Yeah, it's that kind of movie.
- In the shower scene of Starship Troopers various characters explain why they joined the space marines; including one woman who joined up to be able to get a license to have a child. At least one of the characters joins for the more mundane reason of the government paying for him to go to Harvard afterwards. All this of course in addition to the core benefit of joining: Service Guarantees Citizenship!
- According to the theme from Spy Hard, a great dental plan is one of the benefits of being a secret agent.
- The original version of The In-Laws has this scene:
Cab Driver: I can't believe you work for the CIA.Vince Ricardo: Why not?Cab Driver: I don't know. I mean, you know, I thought, like, James Bond.Vince: No, no. They all look like me. I'm the classic agency type; muscular, low to the ground, compact. Are you interested in joining? I'll tell you, the benefits are fantastic. The trick is not to get killed, that's really the key to the benefit program.
- Averted in Grosse Pointe Blank: Martin tells Debbie that he's a professional killer, and she asks if he gets dental with that, but he tells her no.
- In The Hollows series, insurance investigator David Hue attempts to recruit Rachel as his 'on paper only' partner by explaining the swell deal she can get on insurance through his union. Rachel turns him down, but was tempted.
- Able Team. 'Gadgets' Schwartz says that he joined the army during The Vietnam War to learn electronics. "Sure, and kill communists too, they're bad for radio reception."
- In the novel Starship Troopers, the only way to become a citizen is through Federal Service.
- In The Eternity Code, Artemis lets off a sonic grenade, which in addition to temporarily deafening everyone nearby, shatters the teeth of all the Mooks who didn't know to relax their jaws. Their boss later realizes that he really shouldn't have given them all such a good dental plan.
- In the short story A Woman's Work by Tanya Huff, the evil queen is genre-savvy and provides numerous health benefits for her obedient subjects to invoke this trope.
- How to Be a Superhero, in its parody of Crimefighting with Cash, has a superhero successfully Heel-Face Turn an entire gang of Mooks by offering them a better benefit package than the villain.
Live Action TV
- In Get Smart Agents from CONTROL and KAOS would occasionally put their gunfights on hold in order to compare benefits packages. Sadly, the KAOS agents often seemed to have the better deal.
- During an early episode of Battlestar Galactica, Cally mentions that the reason she joined the Colonial Fleet was to pay for dental school.
- In one episode of Scrubs, the Janitor and his minions quit working at Sacred Heart and get a job at 'Coffee Bucks' nearby because it has a dental plan. They return to the hospital after Dr. Kelso agrees to give them a dental plan there.
- In Firefly, a flashback scene shows Jayne deciding to switch sides and join Mal's crew after being offered his own (i.e. not time-shared) bunk.
- In the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack", Mac and Charlie seek employment at a corporate office. They're content to share a single paycheck (minimum wage) because they're only there for health insurance.
- This conversation in Fringe
Peter: Ever considered a life of crime?Olivia: No dental.
- Doctor Who: In the episode "A Good Man Goes to War", Lorna Bucket reveals she only joined the Clerics, who want to kill The Doctor, so she could meet him again, after being drawn into an adventure with him as a child.
- In The New Adventures Of Beans Baxter one of the henchmen says he joined the evil organization for their dental plan.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Time Chasers, Crow attempts to improve Mike's life by going back in time and preventing him from taking the temp job that eventually lands him on the Satellite. As he tries to persuade the younger Mike, Crow is briefly tempted to try temping himself when Mike explains the benefits of temping, including Blue Cross.
- Subverted in the season one finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where most of the HYDRA support staff joined because of the "incentive plan" - the incentive being, HYDRA kidnaps a loved one in order to force someone to work for them.
- Joked about in the first episode of M*A*S*H:
Margaret: Where's Major Burns? He's been missing for hours!
- Destroy The Godmodder: One of the benefits for the pro-godmodder side. It has influenced several entities, including the Grim Reaper.
- In WarCraft III, the Acolyte "builder" unit of the undead has, like all the other units in the game, many funny quotes if you click on him repeatedly without actually giving him an instruction. One of his quotes is "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny ... and you get dental."
- Subverted by Tichondrius, who complains that the Legion's dental plan isn't good enough and his fangs are killing him.
- In the second Descent game, the Material Defender is bound and determined to complete the mission(s) and not die because not only does he want his money - he will get that dental plan...
- Not necessarily canon, unless you count the speculation, but still worth mentioning. Despite being the most evil and power-hungry human in the world, Bison does sport clean white teeth. Shadaloo dental care: best in the world.
- In one of the Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories bonus missions, Prism Indigo mentions that he's part of the Prism Rangers only because of the salary and insurance benefits.
- In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Constrictor switches to the heroes' side after he won a lawsuit against Hercules. When he teams up with you in Spec Ops 10, though, we have this:
Constrictor: Sorry, sweetheart, I got out of the mercenary biz. I'm full-time now.Madame Masque: With S.H.I.E.L.D.? How disappointing. What did they offer you?Constrictor: Decent vacation time. Good dental plan. Redemption. Couldn't say no.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, this is the reason why Ser Jory sought to become a Grey Warden, seeking personal glory, only to quickly attempt to back out when its made clear that every Warden must be willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Drawing his sword on Duncan doesn't exactly go well for him.
- Alluded to in a waiting-for-the-elevator-to-arrive moment in TimeSplitters, as Sergeant Cortez tries to make small talk with Agent Chen, his current ally.
Cortez: So… Been in the agency long?Chen: Uh… Yeah… Three years in May.(beat)Cortez: You get dental?Chen: Yeah… Yeah…Cortez: That's good…
- Thanatos, god of Death from Kid Icarus: Uprising mentions unbeatable health insurance that comes with working in Underworld's forces.
- Irregular Webcomic! has a couple of these, with one of them being a spoof for reasons why Anakin should join the dark side. The joke being that, in canon, Anakin really did join the Dark Side for the promise of a better family health coverage plan.
- Appears in this strip of Looking for Group.
- A Modest Destiny has Hechter, who is proud of Team Evil's dental plan, but since he's a suit of armor without teeth, other people wonder why.
- In The Order of the Stick, Belkar asks the Barbarian Guild about the dental. It's not that good (mostly involves chewing on granite and/or filing your teeth to a point), but he joins anyway.
- In the (disappeared from the net) comic Hellbound, one of the characters has a conversation with a Mook in which he says "full dental?" "and a funeral on our inevitable deaths" "maybe I should look into faceless minioning."
- Bruno the Bandit: Numth'kul tells how it is.
- Girl Genius had an AU Sidestory involving a Weasel Queen and her horde of Monster Rabbits. Agatha assumed smell and fear were behind the rabbits working for the queen - turned out it was really good health insurance. (Which makes one of the protagonists consider changing sides.)
- In The Adventures of Wiglaf and Mordred the last push Gawain needs to join up with Arthur Garrott is the dental plan. (Despite the fact he's a regenerating Zombie.)
- Super Stupor provides a good example here.
- The comic creating the page picture is the now defunct Warhammer Fantasy / 40k webcomic Lost In Space. The strip in question can be seen here.◊
- Non-comedic example from Blade of Toshubi. One character joins the army because the "benefits" get his daughter medicine.
- Freefall: The mayor's assistant explains to his boss that there are robots on the police force because that department has full medical and a 32,000 km warranty for robots.
- The Last Days Of Fox Hound evokes a variant in the finale. Despite pretty much hating everything about The Patriots, he admits their health plan rocks.
- In The Mansion of E, The Operator claims this is the case in regards to his elevator job, but he's almost certainly lying.
- In Blue Milk Special General Nadine joins the Rebellion in part due to their better dental plan here.
- Rainbow Dash in Rainbow Dash Presents: Captain Hook the Biker Gorilla.
- In Linkara's review of The Culling he wonders why anyone would want to work for the Big Bad Harvest and what the villain could offer. A benefits package? Flex time? Paid vacations? A starting salary in the six digit range? When Harvest says the team should embrace his offer, Linkara notes there are free donuts in the employee lounge every Monday.
- The Monarch, nemesis of The Venture Bros., joined The Guild of Calamitous Intent for the health benefits.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Tohru's reason for his Heel-Face Turn: "Tuesday is donut day at Section 13." (That, and the whole You Have Outlived Your Usefulness thing from Shendue, but this way is funnier.) It's also a Call Back, as, a couple episodes prior, Jackie offered this as a reason to defect while fighting him.
- The Simpsons:
- In the episode "Last Exit to Springfield", Homer Simpson is elected Union leader and calls a strike when Burns tries to cut the Dental Plan. Homer disagrees with the cut because Lisa needs braces. ("-dental plan!" "... Lisa needs braces...")
- The James Bond-style song about Benevolent Boss and supervillain Mr. Scorpio describes how he will lure you into his power with "free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest".
- In "Homer's Triple Bypass", Homer couldn't use the company's health insurance because the employees traded it for a pinball machine.
- When the Capitol City Nuclear Power Plant tried to persuade Homer, Lenny and Carl into working with them, Burns lured them back with special donuts. When they seemed to be worried about how harmful those donuts would be for their health, Burns offered them a choice: health insurance or more donuts. It's suggested they took the second option.
- Kim Possible: According to the producers this was the reason Shego kept coming back to be Drakken's sidekick. Fans who suspected other reasons were eventually proven right.
- In Gargoyles, Matt Bluestone finally tracks down one of the Illuminati and upon confronting him, notes that he looks unusually young for a man in his 90s, and comments on the generosity of the Illuminati to provide special life extending drugs for their senior members. For his part, the Illuminati member wryly notes "You should see the dental plan…" Which must be pretty darn great, as he has perfectly even, white teeth that we are supposed to assume are not dentures.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "Store Wars", Coco keeps getting jobs at the local mall, and Frankie seems rather tempted when she finds out that the jobs come with dental and chiropractic insurance.
- Mission Hill- This becomes the kick in the ass Andy needs to seek gainful employment, when he has to use his friend Jim's dental plan after a tooth falls out. He ends up getting work at the art department of Jim's advertising agency. This trope gets a callback in the unproduced episode Supertool when Andy complains over his menial duties, and says he hoped to be able to stretch his creative wings when he took the job. Jim reminds him he only signed up for the dental.
- In a variant, Shipwreck on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero once exclaimed in surprise that Cobra mooks have a dental plan, when he and some other Joes were ransacking some files in a Cobra facility.
- Phineas and Ferb: When Heinz Doofenshmirtz was declared a minor threat in relation to The Regurgitator, he decided to meet the new villain, who assumed Doof was applying to work for him and showed him application forms. Doof decided to work for him when he learned The Regurgitator offered maternity leave.
- Futurama: Fry and Bender joined Earth Army to get a 5 percent military discount to buy gum (which cost 40 cents), intending to quit after they had used the discount. Then war was declared.
- All too Truth in Television in nations like the USA that don't provide government health insurance. Some mentioned examples from the United States may quickly become obsolete due to recent legislation.
- A TV report once mentioned that only three major industrialized countries do not have some form of public health insurance: The US, Mexico and Turkey.
- In the USA, in addition to taking a job for the health insurance, people have gotten married for it. Joining the military to get health care for yourself and/or your family is also done.
- In the American military, junior enlisted members who are single live in the barracks, and are expected to eat most of their meals in the chow halls. Married junior enlisted members are given additional pay allowances to get an apartment and buy food to put on the tablenote Inversely, a civilian might marry a military member for benefits to include a steady source of income, medical coverage, additional money for college, and of course, getting the heck out of their dump of a home town.
- Additional benefits include a college education. Aside from money provided specifically to pay for college classes, military members can get college credit for their job training as well. In addition, most military officers in the US enter via various programs that pay for their college costs in return for a service commitment (typically either one of the Military Academies or a regular college while enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps.
- It isn't just limited to the US or the Third World either. While the other major industrialized countries usually DO have government health care, little things like scarcity and system blockages tend to mean that many get jobs that can at least more readily access said government health care.
- The Canadian military also has a good benefits package for things not covered under public health care, such as a complete set of replacement teeth, and on one occasion, a sex reassignment surgery.
- Hilariously, it can be a fight to get out of some health benefits packages for Canadian military members. Paying for provincial health care is mandatory in some provinces, and convincing them you no longer need it because you're on the military's health plan can be difficult.
- Many people joining foreign armed forces do this in order to get their host countries' citizenship.
- Many marry someone from another country in order to get citizenship and be able to live there. This is very common in the US. Whilst technically illegal, it is usually unpunished provided the couple live together throughout the time required for citizenship.
- In many totalitarian countries (Nazi Germany and Saddam's Iraq spring to mind) a lot of the people joined the ruling party less out of ideological fervor and more out of the fringe benefits they provided - the Wall Street Journal once interviewed a policeman who joined the Ba'ath Party to get its relatively decent health-care program.