"War! What is it good for? It's good for you! It's good for me! War! What is it good for? It strengthens the economy!"
War Is Hell
for many, and some would rather it didn't happen. They say it's unnecessary, or they wish it wasn't necessary. In fiction, however, some Villains
not only like war
, they frequently like to start wars for their own ends. Their motives may vary. They may set out to profit from the situation, or be trying to Take Over the World
. They may be terrorists, or just Card Carrying Villains
The method is often some form of False Flag Operation
; the villains pretend to be members of one country, and attack another. Nuclear weapons are commonly used in the set-up. At times, both sides in a conflict use a flimsy Pretext for War
just so they can get to the "good" parts. Heroes typically struggle to Prevent The War
, or end it as bloodlessly and quickly as possible.
It's sometimes implied in narrative examples of this trope that corporations
would somehow profit from this war, often mentioning arms manufacturers, but this ignores the large amount of other companies that would only lose money in the economic recessions that inevitably accompany wars, especially their aftermaths. Then again, the corporations that incite these wars are probably not interested in what happens to other companies anyway (or in really cartelized corporate oligarchies, might actually subvert these "enemies"). It also starts the argument that only in times of (relative) peace do people buy
weapons - once the war starts, weapons and relevant industries tend to be confiscated. Countered by the argument that peace tends to make arms markets flat - a long-standing threat of war
(real or artificial
) can be damned
profitable for arms manufacturers... Let's just be real careful
what gets put in the Real Life
Compare Corporate Warfare
, where corporations cut out the middleman and do the fighting themselves. See also Avoiding The Great War
, when this coincides with WWI.
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Anime and Manga
- Lighthearted literal example from Dog Days, war in Flognarde is a large scale gladiatorial sporting game that is mostly harmless and totally nonlethal. Countries involved place equal stakes and the winner took the major portion. Individual participant also rewarded based on their accomplishment.
- The Major from Hellsing doesn't care who wins, loses, or even why people are fighting. He just absolutely loves conflict for its own sake, as he explains during an inspirational speech to his men before launching his assault on London.
- Chllingly enough, Captain Bernadotte has exactly this motivation too, up to the point when London is sacked and Zorin blinds Seras.
- In Cyborg 009, Black Ghost sent a group of mass produced cyborg men to help try to spark a war in 008's home country in Africa and proceeded to sell his advanced weaponry to both sides.
- In the original manga version it was in 'Nam during The Vietnam War. This happens a few more times, as well. The Black Ghost Organization is pretty much the king of this trope, being run by a consortium of arms manufacturers.
- In Lupin III Missed By A Dollar, the villainess, Cynthia, arranges for a third-world military junta to stage attacks on oil-rich areas throughout the world, at the same time buying as much oil as she can. The desired result is perpetual warfare, giving her an eternal market.
- Madlax did this as some kind of bizarre magic ritual for a Nietzsche Wannabe.
- In fact, a lot of people were expecting this to be the reason of Enfant backing the civil war in Gatz-Sonika, only to be surprised to learn that there was no immediately obvious profit - Enfant was arming both sides for free.
- Gundam series:
- The Romefeller Foundation from Gundam Wing is the classic greedy military-industrial complex that manipulates warfare in order to line its own pockets, going so far as to create entirely unpiloted war machines, turning war into a game for anyone rich enough to afford their own army. Later, it gets subverted when Relena is forced to become their figurehead leader and pulls an epic Reassignment Backfire by convincing most of the Foundation to move in more peaceful directions.
- In the radio drama-slash-manga Blind Target, the Big Bad is an arms manufacturer who's trying to start another war so he can make more money (and wants to steal the Gundams so he'll have the best products to sell). When the Gundam Pilots engineer a public confession, the rebels he had been manipulating instantly revolt and administer some karmic justice.
- Gundam X has the Frost Brothers, who want a gigantic war because they're Artificial Newtypes (Category Fs) whose creators rejected them for being unable to use the Flash System and now want to kill off anybody who is a real Newtype or believes in them.
- ∀ Gundam's Big Bad Gym Ghingnham is a violent Social Darwinist who wants eternal war to cull humanity and leave only those strong enough to survive, whom he considers "true" humans. In games featuring both Turn A and X, the Frost Brothers often willingly and gladly work for Gym despite being backstabbers extraordinaire in their home series.
- Logos from Gundam SEED Destiny is in the same vein as Romefeller, and have done this all throughout history if Chairman Durandal can be taken at face value. What is true is that they turned a simple environmentalist group into frothing anti-Designer Babies racists who pull the strings of The Federation.
- This is the motivation of Gundam 00's Ali al-Saachez, but more for the fun part (the money does help though; keeping up to date on military equipment is expensive after all).
- Desil Galette from Gundam AGE somehow manages to outdo the above examples. An Ace Pilot for the UE, this monstrous brat views war as a game and the soldiers as toys at his disposal.
- Decil and Ali are both modeled on Yazan Gable of Zeta Gundam, who joined the Titans solely for the chance to kill AEUG supporters. Jamitov Hymem, who's using the war to move himself into a position of power over the Earth Federation, and Paptimus Scirocco, who manipulates the conflict so that he can seize control of the Titans from Jamitov, are no better (Yazan ultimately signs on with Scirocco).
- Anaheim Electronics had done this for quite a bit, from selling weapons to all sides, building a Mobile Suit with nuclear strike capability just because they can, to concealing documents that could have prevented the One Year War so they could make more weapons. And that's just the First Universal Century; in the F91 era, after losing favor to the Federation's in-house think tank SNRI, Anaheim responds by outright stealing SNRI's technote and helping Zeon remnants try to invade Earthnote .
- The Atreide Company from Noir is in this line of work - with the front of being an International Security Service, they sell complete coup d'etat packages to interested factions in unstable regions, toppling governments in return for resource rights. From training the soldiers and providing the weapons, right down to planning the actual takeover, all you need to do is provide a charismatic face for the Revolution!
- In One Piece, Sir Crocodile inspires a rebellion in the kingdom of Alabasta by framing the King for stealing the rain, as well as some other villainous deeds. He does all this to force the king into telling him the location of an ancient superweapon.
- Orochimaru, the Big Bad of Naruto, loves doing this. He seems to consider it an art-form (but only if he is responsible — he thinks any other war is pointless).
- This was also Akatsuki's stated aim initially: They would start a bunch of wars, and Akatsuki would offer their services cheaper than that of the ninja villages to one side, quickly quelling them and monopolizing the shinobi market across the globe, and the ninja villages will gradually diminish, giving them military control over the world. The real aims of Akatsuki actually turn out to be even more insidious...
- Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid. Amalgam starts wars in order to test, demonstrate, and create a market for its Black Technology.
- The villain from one of the Dirty Pair OVA episodes is a military contractor who has helped to incite (and finance) a rebellion against his own country in order to sell weapons to the guerrillas. He keeps upping the stakes by gradually selling each side better weapons.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, the war that split the Magic World twenty years ago was due to Fate Averruncus's group Kosmo Entelecheia, who wanted everyone else off their backs while they kidnapped a princess and used her to power their massive ritual (it's easier if the princess's home country thinks the enemy did it).
- This is the main plot of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, with the reason being that the war has benefited both humans and demons and if the war ends, there will be civil war which would be a lot worse. Thus, even though the heroes include all of the most powerful fighters on the human side and the leader of the demons, they have to slowly and carefully end the war so that the war-based economies that have gone on for centuries won't collapse. It's later revealed that the Central Church and Blue Demon Tribe, the driving force behind the human war effort and the most militant of the demons, have been conspiring together all along to maintain an eternal war.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father incited wars with Amestris's neighbors just so there would be a lot of human souls released at certain points along the massive nation-spanning transmutation circle he needed to open the Gate.
- In his first appearance, before he was a Mad Scientist, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, or President Evil, Lex Luthor was a weapons dealer trying to start a war between two Ruritanias.
- Even before that, the first two issues of Action Comics in which Superman appeared involved him stopping a war in South America that was started by munitions companies to boost sales.
- One of the ways that Max from The Losers gets his funding for his grand plan is P.A.M. (Policy Analysis Market), a special program that reads changes in the stock markets as a way of predicting terrorist attacks and also allows investors to earn huge profits by betting on the probability of said attacks. Max also runs a special outfit called P.2.O.G. (Proactive Preemptive Operations Group) whose objective is to provoke terrorism. You do the math.
- In fact, the fear of something like the above happening in real life is why P.A.M. was cancelled in real life.
- In The Broken Ear, an oil company helps start a war between San Theodoros and Nuevo-Rico for sole control of the Gran Chapo region which straddles the border between the two countries. An arms merchant in cahoots with the oil company representative makes his profit by selling cannons to both sides. The war lasts a few weeks until it is discovered that the report of oil deposits in the area was an exaggeration.
- G.I. Joe features Destro, a weapons manufacturer who incites war and sells to both sides if it's profitable.
- In Marvel Comics Six Guns mini-series, evil corporation Roxxon starts rumours about a vibranium mine in a Banana Republic, knowing that both halves of the country will go to war. Roxxon is providing the Private Military Contractors for both sides of the conflicts.
- In the Axis Powers Hetalia / Doctor Who crossover The Men From Earth: , the alien Proeliites engineer a world-wide crisis to profit from the war machine, prompting the Doctor to engineer personified nations to combat the crisis.
- Kyubey flat out tells Merlin and Nimue in A History Of Magic that the Incubators instigate wars because strife increases the amount of girls willing to become Puella Magi, thus giving the Incubators more energy to meet their quota. Among other things, they're behind the fall of the Roman Empire and the dissolution of the Round Table. Kyubey also aided in the Manhattan Project because he realized if it wasn't hurried up and used, all countries would stockpile nuclear weapons and risk destroying all of humanity.
- From the Jack Ryan series:
- The Sum of All Fears had terrorists detonate a nuke in the US, in the hopes of provoking a retaliatory strike against Russia, and ultimately an all-out nuclear exchange with the idea of wiping out the "Greater" and "Lesser Satan".
- In Dead or Alive, the Emir was hoping to frame the Pakistani government for his acts of terrorism, inspiring the US to occupy Pakistan and get embroiled in another highly unpopular decade-long nation-building exercise like post-9/11 Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Vizzini in The Princess Bride was hired to kidnap Buttercup and place the blame on Guilder, the sworn enemy of Florin. This would have triggered a war, if the Dread Pirate Roberts had not intervened. But then, her royal fiancé had much the same plan.
- Well, yeah. Who do you think hired Vizzini? Strangulation on the wedding night was the back-up plan.
- In The Negotiator, the 1989 novel by Frederick Forsyth, unrelated to the film, the villains attempt to restart the Cold War because their weapons contracts are being canceled because the USA doesn't need them anymore.
- Also The Fourth Protocol, though in that case the Dirty Communists plan was to allow the head of the British Labour Party to avert the crisis at the last minute; the resulting popularity would enable him to win the election, whereupon he would be toppled by a hard-left faction inside his own party.
- And let's not forget The Dogs of War, which was quite anvilicious about the role big business had in inciting warfare. The plot itself has a Corrupt Corporate Executive funding the overthrow of a small African state in order to get sole control of a mountain of platinum.
- In 1984, The Book explains how Oceania keeps industries working and public sentiment worked up by a state of constant warfare.
- And don't forget Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish from A Song of Ice and Fire, whose Batman Gambit pretty much started the War of the Five Kings for his own nefarious (and mysterious!) purposes, which include (presumably as a prelude to other things) placing himself in an easily-defensible position at the titular head of one of the few significant military forces thus far untouched by the war, with the attractive, newly-legal (by the standards of the setting) daughter of the only woman he ever loved (and his niece by marriage) close at hand.
- The idea behind Richard Morgan's 2004 sci-fi novel Market Forces. It's referred to as Conflict Investment, where multinational corporations invest in either the government or a rebel faction in exchange for a percentage of the country's resources.
- In book 48 of Animorphs, Visser Three tried to start a war between America and China to weaken the Earth so that the Yeerks could win in all-out war.
- The Warlord Chronicles gives us a view of how this might have worked in Dark Ages England, with numerous examples. First, war is both a source of fun and profit for many of the lords and kings, who view it as the most direct means of expanding their territory. Second, you have various different societies, warbands, and mercenaries who raid from other sides (or even kingdoms ostensibly allied to them) for extra food, plunder, or renown. Lastly, one instance in particular nearly exemplifies the trope: Prince Cadwy of Isca hires Owain to take his warband and slaughter tin miners from Kernow. In an attempt to deflect suspicion, Owain disguises his men as the mercenary Irish group the Blackshields while he does so. Since the raid threatens to shatter the fragile alliance holding the Briton Kingdoms together against the Saxons, it seriously pisses off Arthur, who quickly tries to get to the bottom of it.
- The Castigator from the Warhammer 40,000 novel Dark Adeptus claims that war is its sole purpose and one it enjoys, thus leading it to ally with Chaos.
- The Saint's foe Doctor Rayt Marius attempted to start warfare for profit. Later, the Saint used Marius' records to blackmail his accomplices to start a fund for the families of the wounded and casualties of war.
- The first work of fiction by Andy McNab (or at least the first one he sold as fiction) had a slightly more plausible variant: Various defence contractors were conspiring to prolong The Troubles so that they'd have a convenient proving ground for their new products, with a faction of the British government getting some sort of kickback.
- Comrade Death, a short story by Gerald Kersh, features an Arms Dealer who successfully merges the world's arms suppliers into a single corporation, one specializing in chemical weapons. He doesn't start any wars himself, they come along without his help, but fear of his gasses and the need for his gas masks to counter them help spread paranoia and militarization and lead to more sales.
- This is basically the story of the Dune series. From the beginning (best known from the movie,) Atreides and Harkonnen fight to the death in a long bloody war to harvest spice for the Empire, because the house that harvests the most takes control of the planet. The Imperial House Corrino had been playing them off against each other, knowing they'd get their share of the spice either way but placing their bets on Harkonnen. The Corrinos lost that bet when Atreides defeated and absorbed Harkonnen, and had to enter the spice war themselves.
- Not quite. The Atreides and Harkonnen hated each other over past family history. The Corrinos were only involved because the Emperor felt the Atreides Duke Leto was too popular and had managed to train a small force up to the level where they'd be able to take the Imperial Sardaukar infantry, which is why they assisted the Harkonnen in trapping them on a planet they had little entrenched support on by "awarding" them Arrakis. Leto could not refuse because Spice is too valuable to pass up the offer, even if it smelled like a trap.
- Though in the background, war is largely a staple of inter-House politics; there's even an official "War of Assassins" situation two houses can declare to allow them to strike at each other in an official and legal fashion without requiring full-blown mobilization and invasion. Needless to say, the Atreides and Harkonnen have been in this state for a long time.
- In Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly, a cabal of businessmen tries to start a new Cold War by using nukes with falsified signatures that'll convince the targets that someone else attacked them, increasing the value of their defence contracts. However, one of the businessmen secretly changes some things around so that instead of a Cold War, there's a series of red-hot ones (for example, one of his nukes is set to destroy Mecca and has the signatures of an American weapon). Why? Well... he's kinda big on anarchy.
- The avian-serpiente war in the Kiesha'ra series doesn't initially look like one of these, but we learn in the first book that falcons have separated from the other avians to form their own society, and that the avians have only survived as long as they have by buying falcons' superior weaponry, at grievous prices. We're not initially told how the war started in the first place, and later books start putting the pieces together . . .
- In Loic Henry's Loar, two neutral factions are selling their services to the different warring powers. One merely wished for war to continue lest they likely starve to death, the other actively makes it continue because in times of peace they'd be hunted down and exterminated.
- The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley has the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a tiny, impoverished, European country that declares war on the United States of America, planning to lose quickly, and then profit from the Americans coming in to rebuild their economy, just as they'd done for Germany and Japan after WW-II. Then they win, and are at a loss for what to do next.
- In one of the Draco Tavern stories by Larry Niven, Rick Schumann and a female soldier encounter an alien Drowning My Sorrows before returning to his homeworld as a bankrupt failure. Apparently a spacecraft from his species came to Earth in the middle of World War II. Amazed at what they were seeing, they filmed as much of the action as they could from orbit and returned to their world to sell it for a modest profit. They then raised capital to finance a First Contact mission and returned to Earth, planting secret cameras on the ground to get even better footage when World War III broke out. It never did — worse, the psychological and material changes caused by First Contact meant that humans no longer had any major conflicts other than an occasional riot or act of terrorism. Afterwards the soldier asks whether they should tell people about this. Schumann advises her to keep quiet, otherwise some unscrupulous dictatorship might get the idea of starting a war in exchange for a percentage of the profits.
- In The Quantum Thief-trilogy war is literally a game to the Gun Club Zoku, because Zokus see all life as a series of games and pick their specialisation based on their personal interests. Uncommonly for this trope they are for the most part decent (post) human beings; they just love to see stuff blowing up in new and exotic ways. If they lack an actual enemy, they arrange harmless miniature play-wars among themselves. With lovingly handcrafted nuclear weapons.
Live Action TV
- In season 2 of 24, a consortium of oil company executives attempt to provoke a war between the US and several Mideast countries in order to enrich their investments in Caspian Sea oil deposits, by planting evidence that incriminates those countries' leaders in an attempted nuclear strike on Los Angeles.
- Season 6 repeated the trope, with "renegade" Russian general Dmitri Gredenko supplying Arab terrorists with nukes to use against the US, in the hopes that it would precipitate a nuclear war that would destroy Russia's rivals and leave them as top dog.
- The Slitheen in the Doctor Who episode "World War III" disguise themselves as the British government and try to incite the titular event, so that the Earth is reduced to a radioactive pile of rock... which they can then sell as spacecraft fuel.
- Highlander: The Raven featured a villain who made a living of starting wars. He planned something so horrible than even his watcher broke the non-interference rule to prevent it.
- An early episode of Xena: Warrior Princess features an arms dealer who kidnaps a princess in order to provoke war between her family and the family of her fiancé, playing off a long-existing feud between them.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Journey to Babel", the Orions tried to sabotage a diplomatic conference and attacked the Enterprise in the hopes of starting a war, preventing the Federation from interfering with their operations and allowing them to profit by selling dilithium to both sides.
- The Ferengi are fans of this. They're also fans of peace too; one just has to be a diversified and savvy businessman to take advantage of both. Yes, the Ferengi are chodes.
- Quark doesn't sell weapons, but his cousin Gaila does. Which is why Quark only owns a single bar, and Gaila has his own moon... Then again, when a job-related business deal goes wrong for Quark, he's only got to deal with Odo or some angry bruisers, whereas when a job-related business deal goes wrong for Gaila, he's got to deal with government hit-squads who want to nail his head to a pike, possibly literally. Note the Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #62: "The riskier the road, the greater the profit".
- At one part, Gaila tries to get Quark involved in weapons trading, but it turns out that Quark actually has a conscience and can't handle the idea of 28 million people dying as a result of his actions.
- Enterprise: The Romulans used a holoship which could perfectly imitate the appearance and weapons signature of any ship, in various False Flag Operations on the members of the very first Babel peace conference. An alliance of these powers would represent a greater threat to them, while war would eliminate them as threats for years to come. The Romulans' actions instead helped found this alliance, and the rest is history.
- The Weatherman in NCIS intended to use knowledge of the US plan for handling war in Israel to make a killing on the stock market.
- The pilot of The Lone Gunmen theorized that the end of the Cold War over might compel parties unhappy with this to fake a terrorist attack - triggering a "new Cold War" to keep arms sales up . Fast-forward six months to 9/11...
- The most recent addition to the Burn Notice Myth Arc (in Season 4) consists of trying to find out the organization that's apparently been starting wars in third-world countries for the sake of arms sales and other business opportunities.
- Merlin had a one-off villain that wanted to incite war between the Five Kingdoms for profiteering reasons. During a peace conference, King Alined instigates a Batman Gambit, using his jester's magical powers to make Prince Arthur and a visiting princess fall in love, thus enraging her Overprotective Dad and starting a war.
- Sky Pirate Johnathan Genghis Khan of Crimson Skies actually started a war between Utah and the People's Collective simply so he could steal a military zeppelin and a cargo hold full of ill gotten gains.
- The Orks and Dark Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 qualify for this trope, while all of the other factions treat this as Serious Business.
- The Orks are more fun oriented with profit being secondary. The only real reason behind the profit part is to sustain their war machine so they can keep fighting.
- There is a story about an Ork raiding force that attacked one of Khorne's planets. Everyday the Orks are forced to fight a losing battle until every last one of them is killed. At the beginning of the next day, all of the Orks are resurrected to start the process again. The is considered by the Orks on the planet to be their equivalent of heaven.
- Essentially for Orks, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, as long as you participate.
- Dark Eldar are sadists that use raids to steal wealth and slaves. However, the Dark Eldar are also incredibly arrogant, so they rarely consider anyone else to actually be a threat. As a result, they usually like to indulge their sadistic tendencies during raids for their own amusement.
- The Dark Eldar also do this partly because they need a steady supply of souls to feed themselves less they die and Slaanesh would devour their souls. But it's mostly sadistic hedonism though.
- Chaos does not qualify, even if it seems like it should. Chaos is essentially the twisted mirror image of the Imperium and shares the same Serious Business, fanatical approach to war.
- Mother Courage and Her Children: an argument made by most of the characters. Many of them give it as the reason for Sweden going to war, and for them personally going to war (though not actually fighting). Though sometimes they just seem to be repeating it to convince themselves...
- The two main Mad Scientists of BioShock, Tenenbaum and Suchong, survived World War II by collaborating with the Axis Powers: Tenenbaum rubbed elbows with Nazi scientists who admired her cunning, and thus escaped the gas chambers. Suchong... well:
"War a terrible thing. Japanese kill every man in my city, except for Suchong. Suchong have opium. Very good opium. This war, terrible thing, too, but not for Suchong..."
- 2027 Evgeny participates in this in the Omar ending if you helped expand his territory.
- In the game Dune the Battle for Arakis we are also introduced to the house Ordos who also fight for Arakis.
- This is the very premise for the game The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, where you work for a company called Rostock against their rival Lautern.
- In Advance Wars, Big Bad Sturm goes for the gold with this trope, creating clones of Orange Star officers to start a four-way war, with the intent to swoop in afterwards with his own army and take over after everyone's resources were drained.
- Ditto Batallion Wars Wii, where the Anglo Isles ("England") attacks the Solar Empire ("Japan") because the Solar Empire was rumored to be making a superweapon... and this is less than 30 years after the same thing happened between the Western Frontier and the Tundran Territories (take a guess). In BOTH cases, the whole thing was orchestrated by the leader of Xylvania (the closest Nintendo Wars has ever gotten to Those Wacky Nazis).
- Days of Ruin has this with Caulder/Stolos and his company Intelligent Defense Systems, which supplies small arms and innovative weapons to both Rubinelle and Lazuria during their conflict. On the personal side, Caulder just likes studying the effects of war and death on humans.
- The Beast, meanwhile, is the leader of a group of raiders who prey on the few surviving pockets of civilization... but even if they're set for a while, he'll still attack the villages because he just likes blood.
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness in Metal Gear Ac!d was a company, BEAGLE, that existed to orchestrate minor but bloody civil wars, sell huge amounts of weapons to both sides, and profit.
- In Metal Gear, Big Boss wanted to plunge the world into "eternal warfare" in order to give soldiers a place in the world. He started off as a fairly standard Bond-esque baddie, but as MGS3 rolled in it became apparent that his wild war fantasies were fed by the philosophy of The Boss that the world needed an "absolute timeless enemy". A couple of well-placed prophecies and his increasingly deteriorating sanity helped, too. The concept of a "world of eternal warfare" — named "Outer Heaven" — is a recurring theme throughout the series (MGS4 had Liquid Ocelot intentionally name the game's final location, a warship, based on this).
- MGS4, however, takes the trope to the other end of the spectrum. It ultimately became clear that Big Boss initially didn't want an eternal World War III, and simply founded Outer Heaven to give people, especially soldiers, a place where they would be free from the La-li-lu-le-lo. It wasn't until Zanzibarland that he gave up all hope of soldiers being reintegrated into society. Years later, his ideals were further perverted by his successors, The Patriots, with so many resources are being invested in soldiers and weapons that war ends up replacing oil as a commodity - a self-destructive commodity. Investing in war doesn't create new resources, so the world is falling ever deeper into a depression where "oil and gasoline are as precious as diamonds", but attempting to stop war would render those investments worthless, triggering a total global economic collapse. It's pretty much the Aesop Hideo Kojima is trying to convey: war isn't about right and wrong, it just is.
- To make things worse, it turns out that the MGS4-era Patriots are nothing more but an AI repeatedly performing long-obsolete orders from Big Boss's ally, Major Zero, developed long after he lost all faith in humanity after Big Boss left him in disgust when he learned Zero used him to make clones.
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance shows that even after the Patriots were finally defeated, the world is still stuck in this rut. The Big Bad gloats that the Patriots are no longer necessary to maintain the "war economy", people can do it just fine on their own. However, unlike in MGS4 where the world at large seemed OK with the war economy, almost no-one (including the aforementioned Big Bad) supports it here. Apart from Sundowner.
- In Super Robot Wars Original Generations, the Shadow Mirrors were dedicated to creating endless conflict. Why? Their own dimension's Federation had become corrupt after the Inspectors had been driven off. They believed that with endless conflict that there would not be any corrupt politicians, and that technology would increase rapidly. The leader points out that since the Divine Crusaders war the strength of Earth has increased rapidly.
- Likewise, from the same game, Mitsuko Isurugi, head of Isurugi Industries, who wanted the conflicts to go on as long as possible so that her company could continue making money by selling their weapons to every side.
- Except Einst, maybe because they hasn't any kind of economical activities^^.
- The Ruina live on this Mostly to gain negative energy for Perfectio and use worlds as fields to cultivate negative energies
- The whole plan of the Big Bad of the first Baldur's Gate revolved around causing a huge war between two rival merchant governments as a way of proving himself worthy of inheriting his dead father's former position as the God of Murder.
- In Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, the Big Bad dictator who emerges after a civil war in his country invades a peaceful neighboring country, for allegedly working to prolong the civil war ( in fact the neighbor had been supplying humanitarian aid). It's eventually revealed that the whole point was to demonstrate the villain's military might, thereby allowing for lucrative arms trading, particularly advertising his greatest fighter aircraft.
- Ace Combat X2, also known as Joint Assault, manages to one-up this spectacularly. Although at first you are fighting a terrorist group "Vallahia" from remnants of a nameless Central European country, the attacks are backed by the CEO of an insurance company. The reasoning goes that with terrorism on the rise, terrorism insurance is selling for a massive profit, and the company benefits off of it. However, the shrewdest part is that said company will then sell the insurance business to other companies for an even greater price, and then stage a last attack so overwhelming no company can ever hope to follow through on the insurance. Then the price falls, and it's ripe for the company to take again. Rinse and repeat.
- The Rikti War in City of Heroes was orchestrated by Nemesis.
- But then again, everything is orchestrated by Nemesis.
- Freelancer starts with the colonies in the brink of war. It later turns out the Nomads are secretly parasiting the top politicians in Sirius and using their power to declare all-out war, in order to soften the human defenses and let the Nomads mop the sector with their blood, and the Order is actually here to defend the Sirius sector against the Nomads.
- This is essentially the motivation of the Prince of Highland, Luca Blight in Suikoden II. He starts a massive war between the newly allied nations of Highland and Jowston by orchestrating a False Flag Operation, in which he betrays and butchers a band of his own nation's child unit the night they are to return to their homes and blames it on Jowston. He uses this as his justification to invade Jowston and level it to the ground, hoping to torture and murder every last one of its citizens (usually by his own hand). Unlike most examples here, his motives aren't profit or terrorism... he just enjoys killing.
- In RuneScape, most of the quest 'Royal Trouble' revolves around this. A group of kids unable to pass tests that would make them full adults of their tribe go to two warring islands and decide to start a war, stop it, and then be seen as heroes.
- In Utawarerumono, court adviser and Humongous Mecha pilot Hien encourages Kuuya to unite the world under the Kunnekamun for the sake of peace. Fellow adviser and pilot Hauenkua also wants to invade the other countries as Hien does, but only so he could kill people.
- Modern Warfare 2. General Shepherd, pissed off that he lost 30,000 men in the nuclear explosion of COD4, played Makarov like a fiddle to trigger a Russian invasion of America so that he can turn the USA into the most powerful country in the world through military might and pose himself as a legendary war hero.
- It's worth noting that while Shepherd is unquestionably the Big Bad and his war-mongering is specific to accomplishing something, he's not selfish, he's just downright unhinged. There's some noble intent in his goal of waking America up from taking everything for granted and inspiring more people than ever to willingly enlist and earn their luxuries, all without dealing with the downsides of compulsory service like unwilling and apathetic soldiers. He believes his Ends Justify The Means, and doesn't see what's wrong with anything he's done, unlike the player-characters and most actual players.
- Vladimir Makarov also wants to start war for fun and profit, though the "fun" in this case is "dead Americans/British/miscellaneous Europeans" and the "profit" is Ultranationalist Russia ruling all of Europe like it "should have" after World War II.
- While he didn't actually start the Crystal War the goblin Boodlix certainly makes a profit from selling goods to both sides of it. Although Boodlix is a freelance that fights with the Beastmen Confederate, the Scholar Maruna-Kurina believes that Boodlix might be persuaded to fight for the Allies if it would help make the war (and thus his profits) last a little longer.
- The fundamental plot behind Alpha Protocol is an attempt by an American-based weapons corporation to boost their profits by causing a new Cold War between China and the US. Unfortunately, their calculations are off by a bit - the cold war they're attempting to start will actually become a hot war if they aren't stopped, so its up to Mike Thorton to put an end to the plot before the nukes start flying.
- The player can also uncover some additional examples of this as the game progresses. For example, Mike can dig up evidence that a semi-anonymous US Senator wants to arrange for a war in Central Asia or the Middle East (he doesn't terribly care where) so he can sell off a few thousand artillery pieces manufactured by a company that he owns but are being left unused. There's also evidence of war profiteering, where the aforementioned arms company wants to sell weapons to both China and Taiwan, but give them weapons with different ammunition specifications, so they have to keep buying separate weapons' packages.
- The Excuse Plot of the Saturn shooter AMOK. Two warring countries have finally made peace after 47 years of war, but the weapon manufacturer of both sides is pissed and so hires a mercenary to reignite the hostilities.
- In Mount & Blade, if you are a lord and talk to another noble of your faction who likes you and possesses evil characteristics, he may propose starting a war with a neighbouring kingdom by raiding some caravans for this trope if you ask him for a task. Justified in that Calradian warfare offers many chances and few risks for nobles. The worst that's going to happen to them is being taken prisoner for a while until they can escape or are ransomed. On the other hand, they can improve their standing with the king and other nobles by being successful in battle, possibly obtaining new fiefs or even being promoted to Marshall, and raiding enemy villages and caravans happens to be very lucrative.
- In Iron Storm, the Forever War has turned into this, with the arms industries and armies being an important part of the stock exchange and manipulating the USWE and The Empire to prolong the war in the name of profit.
- Heavily hinted to be the motivation of The Administrator from Team Fortress 2. As the acting CEO of two feuding MegaCorps, each of which controls one half of the world, and as CEO of her own Weapon Supply Company, The Administrator has everything to gain from keeping the conflict going.
- The plot of Might and Magic VII features another conflict between the mostly human kingdom of Erathia and the mostly elven kingdom of Tularea/AvLee over the Contested Lands. The evil path has an agent of the necromancers' kingdom of Deyja help escalate the conflict into a full-scale war, weakening Deyja's rivals, producing a rich bounty of 'resources' to exploit and ensuring that reconciliation between Erathia and Tularea is unlikely for the forseeable future.
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert, with Hitler erased from time (and thus no World War II), a rather bored Josef Stalin woke up one day and realized that starting a war to rule all Europe is something he'd like to do.
- While this more or less applies to any time in Sid Meier’s Pirates! the period 1640-1659 is called just that — "War for Profit".
- The Order of the Stick has the IFCC, sort of middle-management fiends whose goal (as far we know) is to continue to stir up conflict between the opposing factions.
We want for them the same thing that has held the fiendish races back all these years.
We want conflict.
Destructive, unnecessary conflict.
The worst thing that could happen would be a victory by one team.
- In Shortpacked!, the pretext used by Sydney Yus to have her nemesis Robin's "world peace" billnote repealed is that it's bad for the weapons industry.
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic when Lewie the Lich gives rings to rulers so that kingdoms will go to war with each other so that he can raise the deads into zombies.
- This is basically the philosophy behind Raubwirtschaft, or "rapine economy" where the upkeep of the society is funded by waging war and plundering the neighbours.
- From the time some cave man clubbed another on the head to take his stuff. If you'd like specifics, feel free to continue reading.
- Ancient Rome gathered the majority of its riches by beating up neighboring countries and instituting colonial taxation.
- The Aztec's took this one step further by encouraging their colonies to revolt so that they would have a reason to come in and make war on them again because the gods favored sacrifices captured in battle. The result was that many of these colonies allied themselves with the Conquistadores.
- Truth in Television: the Opium Wars.
- Like most examples on this list, there were geopolitical reasons behind the Opium Wars, as well as ideological ones (free trade). The profitability of the opium trade, however, was certainly a factor.
- Although Great Britain was officially a neutral party during the American Civil War, it maintained far stronger foreign and trade relations with the North while simultaneously being the main supplier of armaments and other essentials for the South. Although the latter was mainly conducted by private citizens using English vessels, there were no serious attempts to curb this practice until later on.
- Basil Zaharoff from cracked.com. 
- Consider all the people who made their fortunes from selling rifles and other weaponry during the Cold War.
- Many groups in the United States were accused of this during World War One, including the President by his own cabinet members.
- Italy entered both World Wars for profit: the first aiming to take some territories held by their ally Austria-Hungary and take chops of the colonial empire of the other ally Germany (yes, Italy was initially allied with Austria-Hungary and Germany, who didn't take well Italy staying out of the war for months and then entering the war on the other side), and the second aiming to conquer Nice, the Savoy and some of the British and French colonies in Africa. The first attempt worked in part (between Woodroow Wilson's opposition and the idiocy of Italian diplomats, Italy didn't get any German colony), the second... Not so much.
- The Second Congo War and its still ongoing offshoots. The aftermath of the Rwandan genocide mixed with the realization that the DRC had a crapload of resources to be exploited resulted in most of its neighbors and some countries further afield taking sides in order to loot the country's mineral riches. And killing several million people.
- Sir John Hawkwood. Successfully played one Italian city off against another for a long and profitable career as a Mercenary. When some Monks said "May God grant you Peace" he replied by saying "May God take your Alms away" (since he lived by war and peace would destroy him).
- Some people believe the current War On Terror is an example. And that is all we are going to say on the subject.
- Others make the claim that the US is profiting from the War on Drugs as well, partially by auctioning off the possessions of arrested drug dealers, partially by supplying the privatized prison industry with very cheap (some would go so far as to qualify it as "slave") labor. News items supporting this tend to drop from the news cycle quickly, but often return in fiction.
- The European Colonial empires were built on this. Sure, there was all the talk about "Bringing the light of enlightenment to these unfortunates", but the real driving motivation was greed. Some acknowledged this, many did not.
- "We came here to serve God and the King. And to get rich." - Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Spanish Conquistador.
- Then there's settlement, another major motivation. Emigrate to the colonies! Oversee the harvesting of agricultural produce and raw materials to shipped off to wherever - probably one's own country - and buy stuff from back home and elsewhere in the Empire, like a true patriot! This wasn't very profitable in pre-industrial economies like Colonial North America, but it caught on big-time in the 19th century.
- Most countries were pretty up-front about the reasons behind imperialism; the "bringing civilization to the savages" line was a retroactive justification applied after the colonial empires had already been carved out. Sort of like how Biblical justifications for slavery and theories of racial inferiority only developed once the african-atlantic slave trade had already got going in earnest. The Scramble for Africa was partly triggered by the Long Depression of 1873-1896, as the Europeans sought to find new markets for their goods. For the most part, it didn't work, since most African societies (already pretty self-sufficient) had no use for all the cool stuff post-Second Industrial Revolution European economies churned out.
- As mentioned earlier, countless examples of yellow journalism purposely inciting wars purely from their sensationalistic rhetoric exist throughout history. The least controversial is probably the Trope Namer for yellowsheets: The Spanish-American War, created nearly out of whole cloth by Pulitzer and Hearst.
- While this does count as an example, it should be noted that they did not create a war nearly out of wholecloth. America had a long and vital strategic interest in Cuba, and for them it needed to be neutral. Simply put, the war and the forces that brought it about go far further than some journalists wanting to get a good story. They were not a cause, but an effect.
- A fascinating subversion: Fritz Thyssen, a German industrialist of the 1920s and 30s, supported Those Wacky Nazis at first. After all, he was a devoutly Catholic and very conservative German nationalist, and the Nazis promised to "reawaken" and more importantly unite Germany (good), get rid of those Dirty Communists and their Social Democratic fellow-travellers (good), and abolish those pesky unions (very good). Plus, Adolf Hitler was from solidly-Catholic Austria and had previously aspired to become a Benedictine monk! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?? And then the Nazis took over, and the needs of industry were subordinated to the desires of the state and Nazi Party; those desires were for war. One problem: Thyssen was perfectly happy making goods for peace. As far as he was concerned, peacetime gewgaws were selling wonderfully, and being forced to make guns and tanks for the Nazis was a tremendous, profit-sucking pain in the ass. Thyssen quit the Nazi Council of State and cut all his connections to the Nazi Party in 1938; when the war started a year later, he sent a letter to Hitler expressing his disapproval of the war and moved himself and his family to Switzerland. After this he went to France to catch a boat to Argentina, but he took a detour to Belgium to visit his sick mother just as the Wehrmacht happened to be rolling in. The Nazis expressed their displeasure with Thyssen by sending him (with his wife) to Dachau concentration camp (admittedly in better conditions than the rest of the inmates), where he remained for most of the rest of the war (he would be transferred to Tyrol in the last months of the war with a number of more prominent prisoners).
- Of course, Thyssen wasn't exactly a saint (he fired all his Jewish employees when the Nazis asked him to, and he let the Nazis take over his factories after he moved out in the hopes that he could have them back someday), but the point still stands.
- It should be noted that Nazi Germany would often replace machine tools lost to strategic bombing raids by taking them from industries that were not weapons related. The result was that by December 1944 German weapons and ammunition production reached its highest levels for the entire war... while all the other German industrial sectors had pretty much collapsed.
- The Crusades are often represented as such. Though anyone who does a little research could tell that they were neither fun nor profitable for the crusaders. Quite the contrary.
- Losing a war is hardly ever fun or profitable, and that particular situation and the crusaders' mindset didn't lend themselves to any plans.
- The Crusades, not counting the few ill conceived ones that had no actual chance of success, were overall quite successful. The whole "Crusades were a failure" mindset comes from focusing exclusively on Jerusalem and the fact the Christians lost it by the end of the Crusades period.
- While the belief is common, it is inaccurate. The profitability from the Crusades was an unexpected effect. Prior to the Crusades, there was not much long distance travel being done. The Crusaders, out of necessity, ended up establishing a lot of long range routes for basically the first time since the fall of Rome. After establishing these routes, traders started to use them.
- Not to mention the knowledge gained from the Crusades and trade routes ended up more or less ending the Dark Ages.
- The actual reasons for the Crusades were religio-political: the Byzantine Empire had convinced The Pope that the Turks were a serious threat to Christendom—even Western Christendom—and that Western European help was required if Constantinople was to hold them off. The Pope latched onto the Seljuk Turks' bad treatment of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem as an excuse to rile up the assorted kings, lords, and knights of Western Christendom (to paraphrase Larry Gonick, "Take the Cross to Jerusalem" is a better slogan than "Save the Greek Empire From The Turks Or Else We'll Be Next In About 200 Years").
- Alternate Character Interpretation: There were both kinds of people - those with genuine religious motivations and those who wanted "fun and profit", but the latter succeeded most of the time. And possible some people too who tried to compromise. Or were conflicted. Not everyone in history thought like a cynical contemporary.
- It wasn't that it was automatically assumed that there was to be profit to be found in the Holy Land, but that Europe at that time suffered from a severe overflow of lower nobility, second sons with no means to live according to the status socially expected from them. The heads of the Church and states foresaw a future of massive social collapse and civil strife, and a potential unifying cause far away was seen as a perfect way to stabilise things at home.
- The part about landless younger sons at least is an outdated notion that has been proven to be untrue; such people would not have had the resources or equipment to travel to the Holy Land. Although the various Popes did try to convince the Crusaders to settle in the lands around Jerusalem this was more of an attempt to ensure a permanent garrison was stationed there to protect it from the surrounding Saracen states.
- A series of coups in Latin America in The Sixties and The Seventies were literally for fun and profit. Or at least for profit. And, well, for the sake of the Cold War, itself a War for Fun and Profit.
- Smedley Butler was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, who, between 1898 and 1931, participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean. After his retirement, he became an anti-war activist, and wrote that he was "a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers". He also wrote a book called War is a Racket. Considering that, it's rather surprising that quasi-fascist businessmen thought that having him lead a coup against Franklin D. Roosevelt was a good idea (if a half-baked one).
- In Herodotus' Histories Herodotus claims Mardonius, cousin to Xerxes, persuaded him to invade Greece. As he put it "Mardonius' motive for urging the campaign was love of mischief and adventure and the hope of becoming governor of Greece himself; and after much persistence he persuaded Xerxes to make the attempt." Basically the Ur-Example of an Evil Chancellor.
- King Nikita (also called Nicholas) of Montenegro started the first Balkan war (shortly before World War One) after he had started massively shortselling at the stock markets (via strawmen - not of the political kind). It worked: The stocks fell indeed.