open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, the Amestrian military assists Father with his conspiracy, motivated by the promise that he'll make them immortal once his Evil Plan is carried out. Of course, Father neglected to tell them that their immortality would involve them all being transmuted into a Philosopher's Stone, their souls still conscious and tormented for all eternity.
- In Speed Grapher, Suitengu transforms several people into Euphorics, and in some cases it's indicated or implied that, in exchange for the transformation, they would do him a favor by serving as minions whenever called upon.
- In every version of Ghost in the Shell, the Major states that access to the very expensive state of the art cybernetics is one of her job's perks she enjoys the most. In Stand Alone Complex, the barman the team occasionally bribe to leak information for them sells them out because he's desperate for money to pay off what he owes on his cybernetic body (although he's willing to leak the information they slipped to him anyway).
- Cassian of Kaori Yuki's Count Cain works for Delilah because he never physically grew past eight or so, and their Mad Science experiments are the best hope he has going for finally getting an adult body. Doctor Disraeli, his superior in the organization, does eventually transplant his brain into an adult body, but no thanks to Delilah except in that it introduced them.
- In Hellsing, the Nazi old guard supported and funded the Major hoping he would turn them into immortal vampires. They eventually grow so frustrated when he doesn't do this that one of them starts caning him in full view of the Major's loyal subordinates. It doesn't end well for them.
- This was part of Griffith's reason for accepting the call to Sacrifice in Berserk. After spending a year being put to the torture for screwing around with the King's daughter and being reduced to a mere shadow of what he used to be, Griffith wanted more than anything to take back what he lost and be free to pursue his dream once more, even if it meant sacrificing his entire army to the demons.
Comic Books & Strips
- Tyldak in ElfQuest works for Winnowill because she promised to give him wings. She did make good on her promise, on the condition that he kept working for her.
- Prince Raffendorf from Snarfquest parted company with Snarf when he opted to work for Geezel and Etheah for a year, in exchange for them transforming him from a giant humanoid rat back into a human.
- Subverted in Camelot 3000, in which Morgan la Fay tempts Tristan to betray Merlin in exchange for being transformed from a female reincarnation to male. Tristan never gets the chance because Kay betrays Merlin first; in any case, s/he had been planning to kill Morgan as soon as the transformation spell was applied.
- Spider-Man supporting character Flash Thompson lost his legs fighting in Iraq and was offered a deal to become an operative: he would get to wear a symbiote for missions, during which time his legs would be restored, but he wouldn't get to wear the suit at other times, in an effort to stop it from bonding with him. He's the most heroic Venom so far, although he has a little problem with eating his enemies when he loses his temper.
- In Hollow Fields, the teachers of the titular school are working so they can have new bodies.
- One Judge Dredd strip showed that the many of Mega City One's Olympic athletes receive cybernetic upgrades and performance enhancing drugs from sponsors in return for performing well.
- Komodo from Avengers: The Initiative figured out how to create a version of Curt Connor's Lizard serum that didn't give her a split personality. She is conscripted into the Initiative on the threat of being deprived of the serum. This is especially distressing to her because she's a paraplegic without it (being in Lizard form regenerates her legs).
- The origin story for the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Overdrive in Superior Foes of Spider-Man reveals that he received his powers and became a villain because of this. Overdrive was/is a huge superhero fanboy but after unsuccessfully trying to get powers by replicating an origin story (i.e. getting bitten by a radioactive spider), he decided to pursue his other interest of race car driving. Following an accident, he was visited in the hospital by the villain Mr. Negative who offered him superpowers in exchange for working for Negative (and owing him a debt for his powers). Overdrive agreed, having the idea of starting out as a supervillain so that later on he could invoke a Heel–Face Turn (he actually uses the term "face turn") and be welcomed with open arms by The Avengers and Spider-man.
- In Astonishing Ant-Man, Cassie Lang ends up making such a deal in issue #6 as part of a potential Face–Heel Turn. Cassie was resurrected shortly before the start of the comic but came back without her size-shifting powers, ending her superhero career. She goes to the villain the Power Broker (the second one) who offers an App for supervillain recruiting and can provide clients with superpowers. Initially, she expresses interest in becoming a supervillain in exchange for having her powers restored, but the Power Broker sees through that and reveals that her father had kept secret from her the fact that she had been kidnapped by old enemy Darren Cross, who had made a new attempt to steal her heart. Since Cross had also robbed the Power Broker, he then offers a supposedly no-strings-attached deal to give Cassie her powers back in exchange for going after Cross (which she wants to do anyway).
- Daniel, the hunchback in 1944's House of Frankenstein, worked for an evil doctor who's promised to give him a new, straight-spined body.
- In Avatar, Jake is promised the chance to restore his human body's legs if he works for the mining company to persuade the Na'vi to move. Double subverted in that he does acquire a new body, but via a completely different route.
- An old Bela Lugosi movie, The Raven (1935), had Lugosi as a mad surgeon who was approached by a dangerous drifter. The drifter said that maybe if he wasn't ugly, he wouldn't have been forced into a life of crime, "so could you please alter my face?" Lugosi's character responds by actually making the guy even uglier, just to use as leverage and to keep him as a personal servant. Make-your-own-Igor!
- In Repo! The Genetic Opera Blind Mag was given the option of working off her eye implants by acting as GeneCo's spokeswoman. Of course, when she decided to quit they killed her just like everyone else who missed a payment.
- In Iron Man 3, the Vice-President seems to be working like this on his young daughter's behalf, as she is disabled and Extremis' tests on amputee veterans show it has at least the raw potential to regenerate healthy limbs.
- In Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger, Pog the bat works for Clothahump because he's in love with a falcon and wants the turtle wizard to transform him into one.
- In Lonely Werewolf Girl, the Big Bad, Sarapen, has a servant called Madrigal who has been promised a werewolf upgrade if he serves Sarapen well enough. Sadly, since werewolves are born, not made, in that verse, all he does is outlive his usefulness.
- Taylor in Animorphs becomes a voluntary controller when the Yeerks promise her a new face. She was a popular, beautiful girl whose face was badly damaged in an accident. She also gets prosthetics to replace the arm she lost in the same accident.
- Case agrees to work for Armitage in return for having the nerve damage that prevents him from accessing cyberspace corrected. Once he gets the fixes he needs, he gets press-ganged into continuing to work for Armitage in order to get the antidote for the poison sacs bonded to his rebuilt organs.
- Molly once worked as a prostitute in order to get enough money for her finger blades, ocular implants, boosted reflexes, and her other cybernetics. However, her "razorgirl" mods started interfering with the implant that put her in a sleepwalking-like state while working and she started to remember her sessions, in particular being forced to do snuff scenes, eventually the implant failed entirely and she killed her pimp.
- In the Secret Histories novels, some of the rogue Droods return to the family in hope of getting their lost torcs replaced.
- In the Forgotten Realms novel Pool of Radiance, a half-orc assassin works for the story's big bad at least partly in exchange for her heart's desire — a proper human nose. She never gets her wish because she gets herself promptly killed attacking the protagonists after an attempt at "negotiation" goes poorly.
- Special Circumstances agents in The Culture are often augmented far and above the "standard" bodily augmentations of the rest of the citizens of the Culture, and the Culture also offers the "standard" perks for mercenaries from other civilizations:
- In Use of Weapons, the anti-hero mercenary Cheradenine Zakalwe does jobs for the Culture in exchange for payments which generally include both cash and body upgrades/rejuvenation treatments. In the novel's coda, Zakalwe's Handler recruits a soldier (ambiguously framed as his "replacement") who lost both of his legs in combat, and the implication is that his employment with the Culture will include new legs.
- Djan Seriy Anaplian in the novel Matter is an outsider turned Culture citizen and operative, and besides the standard perks, has a cocktail of augmentations including programmed combat subroutines, "laser" fingernails and an antimatter bomb implanted in her brain.
- Ciaphas Cain has a Forge World where the climate is particularly harsh due to millennia of pollution, where even augmented individuals only last a few hours (however, working in surface conditions is quite sought-after as the salary is effectively triple). The Tithe Worker's Survival Guide claims that "your supervisor will be happy to explain the procedure for repaying the cost of such enhancements".
- Similarly to The Culture, The Company also likes to have its personnel play the role of Mysterious Backer and recruit operatives through various perks. The immortal cyborg operatives of The Company are usually recruited as young children in a precarious situation (e.g. prisoner of the Inquisition) and are offered immediate rescue and immortal life in an eventual utopia, which they will bring about by their supposedly righteous labors over the centuries. The Company's Victorian offshoot/cover organization "The Gentlemen’s Speculative Society" mostly just outfits normal people with Schizo Tech, but Mrs. Corvey, who works as a Madame and Information Broker, was recruited as a blind, syphilitic prostitute and in exchange for working for the Society, was cured of the venereal disease and given Electronic Eyes.
- In the Rivers of London series, Lesley May pulls a Face–Heel Turn and goes to work for the Big Bad in exchange for having her damaged face repaired magically.
- Condo, The Igor to Mad Scientist Solon in the Doctor Who serial The Brain of Morbius, has been promised a new, complete body. Most specifically, he wants his missing arm replaced by Solon. When he finds out that Solon actually stole his arm to create Morbius' body, he goes mad with rage and attacks Solon, which ultimately helps the Doctor defeat Solon and Morbius both.
- In The Five Doctors, the Time Lord high council offers the Master a new series of regenerations if he will rescue the Doctor from the Death Zone. Subverted twice in that Borusa, head of the Council, doesn't actually want the Doctor rescued, and the Master only accepts the mission as an excuse to obtain true immortality from the heart of the Zone.
- In a comedic Italian TV Series, an ugly gardener decides to work for the villain of the week in exchange for a plastic surgery to become handsome.
- In Star Trek: Enterprise, members of the Suliban Cabal receive genetic enhancements as payment for completing missions. Normal Suliban cannot shapeshift, cling to the ceiling, see into an extended spectrum, or squish themselves under doors, while most of the members of the Cabal can.
- In Fringe, the writing machine storekeeper does this, in exchange for a cure to his legs' paralysis. The paraplegic subjects of the floating experiments likewise agree to steal rare metals to support the researcher's work, which grants them mobility.
- Halfway through Power Rangers S.P.D., we find out that Mora, a Bratty Half-Pint that can create monsters for Emperor Gruum, is actually an adult. She works for Gruum because she likes being a child and he's able to turn her physically into one again. This is revealed to us when he turns her back into an adult as punishment.
- In The Year of Rogue Dragons, most of Sammaster's dragon minions work for the promise of being made into dracoliches, which would make them super-powerful and also immune to the Rage.
- Some of the shadowtalkers in Shadowrun products have worked for corporations, on or off the books, in exchange for installations of cyberware they couldn't otherwise afford or gain access to.
- In the Ravenloft adventure From The Shadows, it's the player characters who act out this trope, as they're reduced to disembodied heads imprisoned in Azalin's laboratory and have no choice but to do his dirty work if they're to get their bodies back.
- In Eclipse Phase many people escaped the Fall by uploading themselves to other planets or habitats, but a lot of them were unable to purchase new morphs and are still bodiless "infomorphs". The Hypercorps often take advantage of these "infugees" with indentured labor contracts promising them bodies after so many years of work (usually just a cheap synthmorph or splicer).
- The Dark Eldar Haemonculi of Warhammer 40,000 have the means and expertise to modify their clients' bodies considerably, the most obvious being the Scourge (a Dark Eldar turned into a functional Winged Humanoid via hollowed bones, grafted flight muscles and enormous wings). There are also Wracks, Dark Eldar who willingly have themselves turned into gigantic Frankensteinian monstrosities in the hopes of new experiences.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, quite a few people are implied to work in order to get augmentations.
- Workers on Hugh Darrow's Panchea project are directly stated to have been augmented with money out of Darrow's pocket so they can survive in the deep sea working conditions and be more productive.
- In the first Deus Ex, the two early-generation cyborgs Hermann and Anna are implied to ignore their boss' corruption because he's the only one who can provide them with continuous upgrades to prevent their being scrapped for obsolescence.
- Inversions are common, too. In Killer Instinct, Sabrewulf enters the tournament in hopes of finding a cure for his lycanthropy so that he can become human again.
- In Mass Effect 2, it is stated that the heretic geth are working for the Reapers because they were promised a Reaper body as a collective platform.
- Many splicers in BioShock work for Andrew Ryan or Frank Fontaine in exchange for ADAM that will allow their continued genetic modification.
- The hacker protagonist of System Shock is hired to hack into a complex artificial intelligence system as a Boxed Crook; however, an additional motivation for him is receiving a military-grade neural implant.
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has Raiden working for a private contractor. They make it clear that his cyborg body is company property. However, when he goes rogue to stop a conspiracy that will turn children into super-soldiers, his support staff isn't too concerned about getting his body back. They even help him with his attempts to do so - off the record, of course.
- At the ending of Matt Cordell's storyline in Terrordrome the Game: Rise of the Boogeymen, it is revealed that he was searching for Herbert West so that he can build him a new, healthier body. West agrees to do it, and Cordell starts working for him, collecting material for his research.
- In Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void, the Tal'darim faction of the Protoss worship and serve the Big Bad because he promised to turn them into Hybrids. The Tal'darim Alarak is very pissed off when he realizes the promised Ascension is a lie since Amon plans to simply wipe out the Tal'darim once he no longer needs them and joins Artanis' forces so he can help bring down his former god.
- In Girl Genius, the captured (beheaded!) general of an invading army agrees to work for Klaus for, among other things, a new body and a brass plate that says ABOMINATION OF SCIENCE! His enthusiasm stems largely from the fact that, being legally dead, he's now free of his marriage to his hated wife and any responsibility to his hated children.
- In Keychain of Creation, an alchemical exalt had taken control of a town and this is now the common goal of its citizens, either through government service or just paying for them.
- Completely voluntary and benign version in Questionable Content, Marigold buys her AnthroPC, Momo, an expensive new chassis. And upon hearing how much it cost Momo offers to get a job to pay it back.
- In S.S.D.D Robert had an eye condition that would have rendered him blind by thirty, and fixing it would have cost his college fund. But the CORE would give him brand new eyes for free if he enlisted. They also claimed they would give him natural-looking eyes, instead of the jet-black ones they gave him that scare children, by the time his term was up, but they never followed through on that little detail.
- In the first season of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the brain-like alien Krang has made a deal with Shredder, wherein Krang provides Shredder with a lot of weapons, while Shredder must give Krang a new body to replace the one he lost. Shredder is more busy dealing with the Turtles, but eventually builds Krang the desired robotic body. (The turtles are able to defeat that as well, but Krang uses it in many later episodes of the series.)
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Wonder Man works for the villains because without the Enchantress' magic, he would have dissolved, and he's promised that his loyalty will be rewarded by making him human again.
- Inverted in The Spectacular Spider-Man, in which Molten Man was tricked into getting transformed because of a gambling debt and is deliberately given Power Incontinence absent a control that's in the hands of the Green Goblin. The latter forces him to be a criminal with the promise of allowing him to control his powers; if he refuses, he'll naturally be left in his transformed state.
- In Batman Beyond, Inque—a sort of liquid shapeshifter—is released and assisted by the man who was supposed to be guarding her. In return he wants to be turned into a being like her. Inque not being the world's most trustworthy person, she agrees...but only gives him half the treatment, turning him into a formless blob with no ability to move.
- A two-way example in Transformers Generation One: In "Ghost in the Machine", the disembodied Starstream bargains with Unicron's head in exchange for having his original body restored. Unicron demands new eyes and a new body (Cybertron) for himself. Starscream tricks Unicron into giving his early and just runs off with his shiny new body.
- In Transformers Animated, this is how the bounty hunter Lockdown likes to be paid. But he's not above picking up parts another way in the course of the job.
- This is part of the deal the Gurkhas of Nepal have with the Brits. Being a British soldier pays very well by Nepalese standards, but the medical services are a major incentive, primarily the dental care and the vaccinations we in the western world take for granted.
- Poor young men with bad teeth in the United States have been known to join the military primarily for the dental.
- Some athletes sign on with college or professional teams as much for access to superior training resources, that will let them improve their physical performance to its optimum level, as for an education or salary.
- A primary economic motivator for early-transition transsexuals is to work to pay for transition-related medical care (hormones, electrolysis, breast augmentation/reduction, GRS, etc. etc. etc.)