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 Note that being low income is not enough to qualify - currently a participant must also fall under one of several covered groups such as having a disability. The program is set to be expanded in 2014, but there is majorcontention in the US over it. Further, the Supreme Court has ruled that participating in the expanded version must be voluntary (Medicaid is a joint federal-state program) and several states have opted not to expand their programs, so this program is not universal even among poor Americans. - 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....
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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.
Mentioned in Birds of Prey, when a group of Mooks attempt to unionise the henchmen of Gotham City.
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 Means Citizenship!
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.
According to the theme from Spy Hard, a great dental plan is one of the benefits of being a secret agent.
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.
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.
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 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.
In "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Party in the CIA" parody, he mentions that the CIA has a better dental plan than the FBI. You know, besides the whole dressing up like MIBs, interrogating terrorists, and executing heads of state part.
Destroy The Godmodder: One of the benefits for the pro-godmodder side. It has influenced several entities, including the Grim Reaper.
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, Bisondoes 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 wellfor him.
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."
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 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.
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.
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.
Somewhat 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."
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.
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 In exchange, they are given a deadline to be packed up and out of the barracks, and no longer get their food free at the chow hall. 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.
In the Soviet Union, entering a university without joining the Komsomol was next to impossible. High-ranking jobs (and their benefits) also required party membership.