Follow TV Tropes


Crimefighting with Cash

Go To
"The outfit says, "I am vengeance! I am the night!"...the smile says, "I'm rich, bitch!""

Barry Allen: What are your superpowers, again?
Bruce Wayne: I'm rich.

Sometimes a character doesn't have to be bitten by a radioactive spider or sent to Earth from an alien planet to be a superhero. Instead, the hero needs only one thing: a lot of money (from just a low-end millionaire to high-end Fiction 500 billionaire levels).

Superheroes who don't live an "everyman" life often happen to be millionaire playboys by inheritance to explain where they get their neverending supply of gadgets, hideouts, vehicles, and Sidekicks. Instead of donating money to charity, they've decided to give back to society by dressing themselves in spandex and buying lasers and boomerangs with which to kick the ass of ne'er do wells. If they're a super-genius as well, this will be the result of patenting their brilliant inventions. But not anything that will effect lasting social change in the world, like a cure for cancer or an endless supply of food, because then writers couldn't do very special issues to address political/social problems of the week.


Super teams will often have at least one member who is a Crimefighter With Cash to explain how the team gets their Cool Ship and other assorted goodies; see The Team Benefactor. Often overlaps with Non-Powered Costumed Hero.

Frequently, but not always, overlaps with Badass Normal or Clothes Make the Superman. See also Rich Idiot With No Day Job. Might include simply bribing the bad guys to stop, see Cut Lex Luthor a Check. Contrast Money Is Not Power, where a person's wealth won't help them at all.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • While they don't fight crime per se (please, don't give Haruhi ideas), the Espers in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya have such limited situational powers that their real impact is how they're organized and can apparently pay for any event they want to happen. Tsuruya's family seems to be one of their backers.
  • Sylia Stingray, founder and leader of Bubblegum Crisis' Knight Sabers. They never have to worry about money.
  • In an anime example, one of the filler episodes of Naruto featured Naruto having to bodyguard/babysit a rich and spoiled little boy with a fascination with the ninja lifestyle. But rather than be interested in the traditional means of becoming one (training, skill, etc.), he uses money to humorously duplicate other jutsus by way of a large group of greedy henchmen. He would even use made-up hand seals before throwing the cash to achieve the desired effect. For example, after seeing Naruto's shadow clone jutsu, the kid throws a handful of bills into the air for his cash clone jutsu, resulting in several men leaping into action, grabbing the money while dressed in the same clothes and wearing a mask of the kid's face. The Aesop of the episode comes when the kid eventually runs out of cash on hand while being kidnapped, causing his mercenary henchmen to betray him.
    • This came with a Bilingual Bonus; Shadow Clone Technique in Japanese is Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, while the rich kid's Money Clone Technique is Kane Bunshin no Jutsu. He also gives Money as his element when using other techniques.
  • Inverted and played straight at the same time by Kisugi sisters from Cat's Eye. They are a trio of cat burglars and inheritors of a massive fortune that they spent on committing art thefts and heists, while they also use it to defeat dangerous criminals and help police catch Villain of the Week.
  • Parodied in Hayate the Combat Butler: Nagi's alter ego Mask the Money fights crime by bribing the Very Nice People.
  • This is the main plot point of Eden of the East; each one of the Seleção gets a fancy cellphone with 10 billion yen and a "concierge" who can use this money to do whatever they (the Seleção) want, including assassinating people, bribing the prime minister, subtly disposing of corpses or buying a hotel. They are supposed to use this to "save the country".
  • Used in an astoundingly direct manner by Near in Death Note. Kira and Misa have him trapped in a building. The only way to escape is out the front door where he will be seen by Misa. In order to avoid being seen he unleashes what appears to be a ton of cash from the top of the building. As the pedestrians go nuts trying to grab the money Near escapes unseen.
  • Parodied in one Excel Saga episode, where a rich girl who is being targeted for assassination, solves all of her problems with cash. In the end she even attempts to bribe some monster animal, who unfortunately ignores the money and eats her instead.
  • Much of Daitarn 3's operating cost and Banjo's actions in general are self-financed. In the Super Robot Wars, he's often the benefactor for the entire team. In games without Daitarn, Roger Smith takes up this role.
  • At one point Black Jack buys a hospital with the spare cash he's got lying around, just so he can get to a dying patient to whom he owes a great debt of gratitude. (He later sells it back, though.)
  • RIN-NE. An interesting case with Rinne Rokudo. He is at least a quarter shinigami, meaning that he has to pay for tools that normal shinigami naturally possess to do his job of guiding spirits to the afterlife. Unfortunately, unlike most examples on this page...he's dirt poor.
  • In [C] - Control, everybody's magical powers, demon partners, and energy swords are literally fueled by money. The richer you are, the more powerful you are. The Big Bad was so wealthy his energy blade was scaled for giant robots, not people. He could still wield it with perfect control and reflexes, and it was implied he was holding back to help keep control of the blade.
  • The whole shtick behind The Millionaire Detective - Balance: UNLIMITED. Daisuke Kambe uses the titular unlimited balance to do things like buy a building so it’s okay for him to launch gas rockets into it. Each episode ends with a tally of how much he’s blown over the course of the case.

    Comic Books — DC 
  • Batman is the Ur-Example.
    • In a humorous variation, Batman has also used his fortune to simply bribe the villains to stop whatever it is they're doing. Arguably the best moment came in an episode of Justice League, when the Ultra-Humanite agreed to betray the rest of the villains after Batman offered to pay double what Lex Luthor was paying him, which he uses to make a huge donation to American public broadcasting. Unlike the rest of the villains, who were all shown to be in a bad mood in jail at the end of the episode (especially Luthor, who is really pissed in the cell next to him), the Ultra-Humanite was happy and content as classical music was piped into his cell.
      • In an issue of Justice League he managed to get mercenary villain-team-member Mirror Master over to his side simply by offering him a raise over what Lex Luthor was paying (along with a sizeable donation to the orphanage where Mirror Master grew up).
      • Bruce is also a subversion as it is shown numerous times that he also uses his cash to give to charity a lot, and when he's not crimefighting, training, or bonding with other crimefighters, he's doing charity work through his Wayne Foundation, which has Lucius Fox handling the details about a charity that addresses social problems encouraging crime as well as helping the victims. It is amazing to note that he built up a reputation for being somewhat of a reclusive lazy playboy despite the fact that he is arguably the worst workaholic on the planet. Then again, this is wholly intentional on Bruce's part.
      • This trope has also been deconstructed with Batman in stories where he has lost his wealth or access to it. The loss does impact him and limit his effectiveness though he is resourceful enough to make do with just his wits and skills. Though without his wealth, he would never have been able to acquire said knowledge and skills in the first place.
      • The 2017 film Justice League, has him quite bluntly noting this to a curious Barry Allen:
        Barry: ...what are your superpowers, again?
        Bruce: I'm rich.
      • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, Bruce brings $25,000 in cash with him to a remote village in Iceland just for information about Aquaman's whereabouts in order to recruit him into the Justice League.
    • Bruce isn't alone with this. His kids have taken after him. At one point in Nightwing, Dick convinced Deathstroke to drop an assassination contract by paying his fee plus a dollar. Deathstroke dropped it just because of Nightwing's balls.
      • Dick Grayson has enough money to finance his crimefighting career, buy out the circus he used to perform in, save it from financial ruin, and tweak the formula enough to turn it into a success. He also takes on various real-world jobs from time-to time (Such as being a cop), not because he has to, but because he has enough money that it doesn't matter what he does during the day and so he does whatever the hell he feels like.
      • Of course, this comes to a head during the New 52, where thanks to the devastation of Death of the Family and The Joker, Nightwing spends a good part of his stay in Chicago (relatively) dirt poor—and thanks to the demolition of the Bat Family's trust of each other and personal pride, he pointedly refused to ask Bruce for financial help.
    • In Robin: Son of Batman, Damian pays Deathstroke off so that he'll leave his new teammate, Maya, alone.
    • If Robin is to be believed, just the "Batarang budget" is large enough that he can hide the costs of secretly shipping a Batmobile across the country within it. And probably pay for the car itself as well.
  • Green Arrow often fits into this too. His fortune is mostly limited to developing new Trick Arrows. And even then, he's regularly just using the normal pointy kind.
    • His origin story revolves around being rich enough to have fallen off a yacht (though apparently, not rich enough to have anyone come looking for him for months).
      • Another advantage to wealth: In one story from the forties, a bankrupt Green Arrow had to find a job and restrict his crime-fighting to lunch breaks.
    • To make the character fit the mold of a social crusader he wanted in the 1970s, Denny O'Neil wrote a story where the person charged with running Oliver Queen's corporation embezzled the money from it, leaving Arrow penniless. He spent most of the rest of his tenure middle class or worse until he was killed in the mid 90s. There's no evidence he left anything to his son Connor, though he had enough to have The Shade cover his tracks after his death.
    • After being resurrected, Green Arrow was left a house and a tidy sum of money at the end of the "Quiver" storyline by Kevin Smith.
    • Prior to Flashpoint, it appears that Arrow's civilian identity (Oliver Queen) is a well-respected philanthropist. He had enough money to run for mayor of his city, and financial resources to rebuild his home/headquarters after it was blown up around the time of Infinite Crisis. Before Cry for Justice at least Oliver Queen was established to have taken the "millions" of dollars he got from Stanley Dover's will and through investment, especially his market manipulations, to have become significantly wealthier, hundreds of millions to low billions range is probably what we should assume Ollie has access to.
    • The New 52 version of Green Arrow was running an Apple-like subsidiary of Queen Industries (Q-Core) and had a number of trick arrows and a high-tech base. Green Arrow (Rebirth) runs a version of the embezzlement storyline to get him hiding in the woods without a penny to his name and a murder charge hanging over him.
  • Most Excellent Superbat, leader of the Super Young Team (who first appeared in Grant Morrison's Final Crisis), takes this trope quite literally, as seen in the picture above. To quote Superbat himself, "Let me show you what money unleashed can do!". In the conclusion of his team's mini (Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance), he repaired the damage Final Crisis did to Japan by BUYING the country! And of course the Super Young Team as a whole gets by mainly on his extremely ridiculous wealth.
  • The second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, was occasionally rich enough to fall into this trope.
  • Princess Projectra was this in the "threeboot" of the Legion of Super-Heroes until her planet blew up and she got her parents' illusion powers.
  • Steve Dayton, aka Mento, of the Doom Patrol. He bought his superpowers.
  • Nite Owl II from Watchmen is a deconstruction of this trope, at one point openly admitting how spending millions on dollars on crimebusting equipment to fight purse-snatchers and prostitutes isn't exactly the most economically sound thing to do. Which is why Ozymandias decides to take it to the next level by actually deciding to save the world with all the money he has. Sort of.
  • The short-lived New 52 series The Green Team was all about this trope. It starred teenage trillionaires who purchase gadgets and superpowers, although most of the crimefighting was reluctant on their part.
  • Deconstructed in Marshal Law: the Private Eye (a Batman expy) battles crime with his genetic enhancements and family fortune funded equipment. But the real reason he's fighting crime is to lash out at his parents using him as a guinea pig and make sure that no one can take away his wealth after he had his parents murdered. And his crime-fighting methods are so brutal, that violent crime has actually gone up significantly

    Comic Books — Marvel 
  • Iron Man is the poster child for this in the Marvel Universe. He also provides The Avengers and many other superheroes with financial assistance or expensive resources whenever they need it. Which is often (it sometimes seemed that the Avengers couldn't go more than a couple issues without someone throwing out the line "Tony Stark will pay for that!" to an irate citizen whose property had been damaged). To the point where it was kind of a big deal when Stark's finances were once impacted enough that he couldn't afford to simply finance the New Avengers. He couldn't, for example, pay the salaries he had previously paid to team members. He also has lost and regained his fortune several times.
  • Kate Bishop, back when the Young Avengers were just starting out. At the end of the first arc, she sets the team up in a run-down building owned by her family's business and uses a few connections in the fashion industry to replace their ruined costumes (or, in her case, just make one). She's moved away from this since then, however, and as of 2017 her father is being built up as one of her enemies.
  • To a lesser extent, the Fantastic Four are a rare superpowered example, living in a penthouse apartment and funded by the proceeds from Reed Richards's patents. It's debatable whether they count or not as they primarily use their super powers to fight crime, and their money to support charities and advance science. They do use some expensive gear like the Fantasticar, and dimensional teleporters. Oh and they have a robot. On at least one occasion (following an abortive counter-invasion of Latveria) the Fantastic Four lost everything. It barely took Reed any time at all to file enough patents to make their entire fortune back.
  • Professor Xavier, founder and mentor of the X-Men, can't always directly fight crime (paraplegia is a bitch that way), but he still uses his mountains of cash to help his students do so. Well, that and his absolutely immense amount of Psychic Powers, anyway.
    • One such student, Angel/Archangel, has enough money that he wouldn't need the Professor's, though he's seldom seen to use his resources to create gadgets, etc. However, when he was a solo hero, he did have that stun pellet gun. He once solved the problem of Vanisher developing and selling a dangerous drug by simply buying out his company. During his time away from the X-Men, he's also funded the other teams he's been a part of, most notably the New Defenders, Uncanny X-Force and the original Champions.
    • As Xavier's "strongest telepath in the world" title often tends to fall into the murky realms of Informed Ability, one could argue that his deep pockets are in fact his primary superpower, with his actual telepathy being a "secondary mutation" as they are called in the X-books. Indeed, Xavier's ridiculous and improbable (it's never quite explained where all his money comes from, except with the occasional Hand Wave that the Xavier family is Old Money) wealth is even lampshaded in-universe, with the loner character Dr. Nemesis initially turning down an offer to join the X-Men because "I won't be bought out by you dilettantes with your bottomless bank accounts."
  • Sunspot of the New Mutants recently did this after Secret Wars (2015). He is fantastically rich, owning a Brazilian TV network and a large chunk of the land. So he easily had enough money to buy out the science crime organization AIM (these are the guys whose past projects include making the Cosmic Cube, Super-Adaptoid and M.O.D.O.K.) after he realized that they'd be more than happy to turn their science to benevolent aims so long as they have the money and not get assaulted by mutants, super-soldiers and/or sociopathic vigilantes. He ran as one of his own enterprises as well as a personal HQ and scientific think-tank (he has no brains for mad science so he used theirs) for the New Avengers (2015) and the U.S.Avengers.
  • X-Factor saw a similar episode to the one above about The Juggernaut. A mercenary who was already shown to be as tough as the team walked into a hospital to take out a target. Havoc walks up looking to join the fight only to pull out his checkbook (government account) and end the confrontation rather than level the hospital.
  • The Punisher fits into this in a way. While he doesn't really have any huge reserves of cash, he doesn't mind appropriating any loose change from the criminals he kills and using it to finance his continuing war on them. Since some of the criminals in question are wealthy mob bosses and the like, this sometimes comes to a significant haul. In addition to their money, he also appropriates their weapons, vehicles, and any other portable goods that might be of any value to him, which cuts down significantly on his overhead costs.
  • Danny Rand, Marvel's Iron Fist, is a glorious aversion. He's a billionaire superhero whose crimefighting has almost nothing to do with his being a billionaire: he's the heir to the Iron Fist, a set of martial arts based abilities. Not only do these require no financial resources whatsoever, he's best known as being, along with Luke Cage, one of the core Heroes for Hire. Similar to Batman, Danny gives huge amounts of money to charity. A recent development in his book is that he's converted Rand International solely into a charitable organization, which he intends to run until he's "Able to die poor."
  • The civilian identity (well, one of them, at any rate) of the B-list Marvel hero Moon Knight is that of a wealthy businessman who owns and operates his own corporation, the money from which he uses to pay for all the fancy weapons and other devices he uses in his war on crime. Unfortunately, he is what you call "cash poor"; he has wealth but getting a significant portion in cash on short notice is harder than he anticipated when he was facing a ransom demand.
  • The only reason that the Great Lakes Avengers were able to survive (up until their official status) as a superteam was via Big Bertha's superpower: her ability to control her body shape. Crimefighting, she grows huge and strong enough to bounce bullets and semis. Day job? Supermodel.
  • Kyle Richmond, also known as the superhero Nighthawk, uses his vast fortune to sponsor The Defenders, a second-tier team of heroes. As just one example, when Luke Cage complains that his helping the Defenders is taking away time from his paying work, Richmond offers to put him on retainer and pay him a salary to stay with the team, an offer which Cage cheerfully accepts.
  • Night Thrasher from the New Warriors, who is in many ways a teenage Alternate Company Equivalent of Batman.
  • Black Panther may have inherited his powers, but his incredible wealth and political power are some of his greatest advantages in crime fighting.
  • Inverted with the X-Men character Arcade, an obscenely wealthy Nightmare Fetishist who uses his vast resources to become a super-villain For the Evulz. Ostensibly, he's a Professional Killer, but his Murderworlds cost so much to build and maintain that — even at a standard fee of $1 million a hit — he never turns a profit. He took it Up to Eleven in the Avengers Arena series, in which he bankrolled the creation of a Murderworld the size of a small country in Antarctica, in which ultra-high-tech devices granted him Reality Warper powers on the premises.
  • Another inversion is the Spider-Man villain Angelo Fortunato, a wannabe Daddy's Little Villain whose mobster father bought him the Venom symbiote outright during a period when it was separated from its usual host, Eddie Brock. Don Fortunato intended for his son to make a name for himself, but unlike Arcade above, Angelo couldn't even rise to supervillainy and was ultimately abandoned in midair when the symbiote judged him as too weak to be its host, leading him to fall to his death.
  • In one issue of Excalibur, Captain Britain proved that the only thing that could stop the Juggernaut...was a check bigger than the one he was expecting from his "client".

    Comic Books — Other 
  • City of Heroes
    • Manticore. The "charities" part was lampshaded in one of the comics, where he notes that he feels guilty every time one of his Trick Arrows misses and a couple thousand bucks that "could have fed and clothed a whole village in Ethiopia" goes down the drain. Though to be fair, in that same comic arc, he mentions that he donates a very large portion (assumed to be about fifty percent or so based on the evidence) to charity...he just feels guilty that he's not donating more.
    • This goes into overdrive with Wyvern and Longbow, large armies funded by Manticore and other major heroes and hero groups. There are a few magical or mutated superpowers spread throughout them, but the majority are just normal people.
    • Black Scorpion and most Arachnos Crab Spiders are the villainous version of this; they have no normal powers, but what money and equipment they get access to. They're less about crimefighting, though.
  • While the Metabarons from The Metabarons seldom fight something as petty as crime (though Aghora and No-Name got some of their training by executing in melee, thousands of the scummiest criminals in prison per day) and most of them have godlike powers, they make heavy use of the money received from royalties for selling their homeworld and the mercenary work they do - including having enhancing bionics, a huge arsenal, a giant space fortress and dimension-travelling starfighter they designed themselves.
  • The Revenant is the Batman analog in the comic PS238. At one point he muses "I sometimes think access to cash is the greatest superpower of all".
  • Richie Rich (although usually, in his titles, trouble comes to him, rather than him looking for trouble).

  • In the Power Rangers fic Crimson Rising, Aaron Collins and Anton Mercer- the fathers of Red Time Force Ranger Wes Collins and White Dino Thunder Ranger Trent Fernandez respectively- provide important aid in setting up an emergency base for the Rangers after they find themselves hunted by Sector Nine, a government organisation created to monitor the Rangers that now seeks to control them under the authority of the ruthless General Gorbin. The two men also provide suitable financial resources for those Rangers facing work difficulties after their identities went public once the crisis is over, such as buying a recording studio so that Tanya and Kira can continue their music careers, funding Adam’s legal campaign to regain control of his dojo, or altering the birth certificate of Kat’s son to list Billy as his father rather than Kat's abusive ex-husband Malcolm Renaldi.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Big Hero 6, Fred is the only member besides the robot Baymax who isn't a science/engineering major, so he doesn't has the skills to weaponize his tech. However, he comes from an extremely rich family, so besides from being the one who controls the firebreathing Kaiju suit, he supplies the money, materials, and a lab/workshop that's needed for the team.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Kick-Ass, Red Mist is essentially this - his Cool Car and so forth are paid for by his father. Hit Girl and Big Daddy aren't independently rich, but they supplement their income with stolen mob money, which is extensive enough to have a Wall of Weapons in their safehouse (including a bazooka) and offshore accounts with millions of dollars in reserve.
  • In Mystery Men (1999), a deliberate parody of superhero tropes, Lance Hunt pretends to be the millionaire benefactor of Captain Amazing when he is actually himself Captain Amazing. This character also fits the Corrupt Corporate Executive trope, as it's implied that he made a lot of his money with advertising. Basically, imagine a NASCAR racer fighting crime.

  • Older Than They Think example: in Dracula, while tracking down the Count, the private fortunes of the Harkers, Dr. Seward, Quincey Morris, and especially Arthur Holmwood (being, respectively, a partner of a law firm and sole inheritor of the estate of the other partner, a physician and sole owner of a mansion which he converted to an insane asylum, an American entrepreneur who regularly travels the world, and a British lord) are used to rapidly equip the entire party with whatever tools they need nearly instantaneously, as well as fund several necessary bribes both in England and abroad. At one point in the novel, Mina lampshades the incredible utility of cold, hard cash.
  • The spoof guidebook How to Be a Superhero features an example of a character who literally crimefights with cash; he offers the Big Bad's mooks higher wages, paid vacations, and a health plan, then orders them to beat up their former boss.
  • Charles Adair from Super Powereds. While he doesn't actually go into the field, he manages to bring down most of the Sons of Progress by bankrolling them and then tracking the money and offering anonymous tips to the Heroes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The premise of APB is billionaire Gideon Reeves paying the mayor of Chicago $90 million to take over a police district, and then equipping it with high-tech gear of his own design, most of which the Chicago PD would never have been able to afford if they'd had to get a budget request for said things past the mayor's office instead of having the head of a major high technology firm giving them the stuff for free.
  • Arrow: Has the protagonist Oliver Queen using his family's fortune to engineer high-tech gear in his crusade to fight crime. He can also take a less direct approach, such as using his wealth to buy a priceless jewel to serve as bait for a jewel thief.
    Oliver: "You know us billionaire vigilantes... we do love our toys."
  • Castle: One of the perks of being a best-selling novelist like Richard Castle is that he can sometimes use his money and/or fame to get to witnesses and evidence faster than a court order.
  • In Chicago P.D., Voight often manages to come up with large sums of money just when they're needed, leading many to believe he's a crooked cop.
  • Jayne Cobb from Firefly joined up with Mal while having him at gunpoint after Mal offered him a bigger share of the profits and his own room compared to what Jayne would receive with his current crew.
  • M.A.N.T.I.S. was a short lived prime time crime fighter show on FOX centering around a wealthy robotics engineer who was left paraplegic after stopping a stray bullet when an armed robbery ended in a shootout with the police. He designed and prototyped a powered exoskeleton to restore his mobility, apparently in his free time, then realised the inherent potential for awesome that this represented and turned it into a suit of full-on Powered Armor.
  • Matt Houston starred a wealthy mustachioed Texas oil tycoon, named Matlock "Matt" Houston. With plenty of cars, a helicopter, and lots of millionaire toys to choose from, Matt Houston finds plenty of time for his PI hobby in Los Angeles.
  • Hart to Hart was another show that featured an incredibly rich couple who were so bored with their lives that they decided to become private investigators.
  • In the Christmas Episode of Misfits, the gang come across a lot of money, and the episode ends with them using that money to buy completely new powers. It makes sense in context.
  • Harold Finch of Person of Interest is a genius-level programmer and hacker, who made an obscene amount of money in his youth by inventing things like social networking; he now uses his crime-predicting Machine to help the helpless and stop New York's criminal element. Notably, his attempts to fight crime purely with monetary resources didn't work, which is why he recruited Reese as a partner. Once the imminent threat is dealt with, he will often use his money to tie up loose ends by getting the victim a new job with one of his companies, or setting up the victim with a new life.
    • In one instance he pours millions of dollars into a failing company to prevent a drop in the company's stock price and thus thwarts the villain's attempt to make a fortune through insider trading. It does not hurt that once the scheme is exposed, the stock goes back to normal levels and Finch makes a nice profit.
    • Another time he pays thousands of dollars for a stolen laptop because it is faster and easier than forcing a man to tell them where it is. It also means that the seller will leave town immediately and thus Finch and Reese do not have to protect him from the vicious gangsters who also after the laptop.
    • As an example of how wealthy Finch is, he has at least three cover identities setup for Reese. Two of them are single-digit millionaires, the third is a triple-digit millionaire.
    • However once Finch's Secret Identity is uncovered by an all-seeing Artificial Intelligence, Team Machine is cut off from Finch's bank accounts and so has to gain working funds by more illegitimate means, like robbing criminals.
    • Subverted in a prequel episode which shows Reese's predecessor as The Man in the Suit. Mr Dillinger is a highly-talented private security operative but because he's Only in It for the Money, no matter how much Finch is paying him, he's not being paid enough to get killed. After stumbling on a Government Conspiracy he decides to betray Finch, take the money and run, only to get assassinated by a future member of Team Machine.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive was formed by billionaire Andrew Hartford, who originally planned to take the role of the Red Ranger. While unsaid, he obviously spent his own money building the tech needed.
  • Declan Rand does this in Psych. He uses his cash and time to pretend to be a criminal profiler in two episodes to help the cops and stave off boredom.
  • In Smallville, Clark, despite all his powers always depends on a rich benefactor who pays the bills or use his contacts. First is Lex Luthor, second his father Lionel and finally Oliver Queen.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The average high-level Dungeons & Dragons character has elements of this.
    • Of course, pretty much any high level D&D character will be absolutely loaded down with magic items. It's all they ever really buy. In universe the party rogue might be a greedy hedonist, but you can bet his player isn't saving up for a mansion and a retinue of servants when there are more pluses to add to his gear. This is lampshaded (like most gaming tropes) in The Order of the Stick, when Roy explains that they can't stay in a fancy inn, because it would look suspicious; everyone knows that adventurers never splurge on luxuries, even when carrying around huge sacks of gold. You save it all for magic items.
    • The best example may be the 3.5E Artificer. With all but one core item crafting feat, the "craft reserve" (a supply of special experience points that can only be used for item crafting), and the ability to "cull essence" (drain experience out of unneeded magic items into the craft reserve), they have unprecedented and unmatched ability to multiply wealth. Combined with class abilities related to using magic items more effectively or efficiently, the class's unofficial motto among optimizers is, "Anything you can do, I can do better."
    • The 2nd Edition Al-Qadim supplement The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook introduces the Clockwork Mage. A very versatile class for an imaginative player, although one that needs lots of cash to build All Those Wonderful Toys.
    • In 1st Edition, characters receive experience points based on the gold pieces they acquire during their adventures. Technically if your first level character stumbles upon a massive dragon's hoard of gold, he'll instantly become a powerful, high-level adventurer as well as richer than Croesus.
  • In White Wolf Game Studios' Mage: The Ascension tabletop RPG, one group of mages (called "The Syndicate") use the symbolic value of money to guide (and hide) magical power. Given the kinds of results that every entry on this page can generate, it's very difficult to argue with that philosophy... except for the fact that this group is a member of the supposed "bad guys", the Technocracy.
  • Mutants & Masterminds. Load up on Equipment feats and Benefit (Wealth) and you can buy anything you don't come into the game possessing. The best part? Even Equipment 10, Benefit (Wealth) 5 (which puts your personal funds about on par with Bill Gates and gives you a ton of equipment) takes only 10% of your starting character points. Which fits the genre perfectly well, mind you. Unimaginable riches are something many superheroes have just "because", to make them more awesome, even if it has nothing to do with any other superpowers they may or may not have.
  • During a Pathfinder panel at Paizo Con 2015 discussing the new Vigilante class, an iconic called the "Gold Baron" was (jokingly) considered. The Gold Baron is a wealthy business owner with, of course, a secret identity. "By day, he employs them. By night, he robs them." The Gold Baron leaves half a copper piece on the bodies of his victims, and has various abilities that fit his style—for instance, clerics in Pathfinder have a "heal living/harm undead" positive energy burst, so the Gold Baron has a similar burst that heals the rich and harms the poor.
  • While not actually a super hero game, Spirit of the Century allows characters with high Resources to buy awesome gadgets (though not so easily as a high Engineering character can make them) and anything else they desire (the upper end of the scale includes zeppelins and private islands, and character can reach it reliably on a given roll with a careful selection of stunts, or expenditure of fate points). Several Resources-based stunts expand on this.
    • Any Fate Core supers game that doesn't change the default skill list is going to have this, because Resources is a skill. Ones that import Absolute stunts from the Atomic Robo Role-Playing Game can allow a character, with one Stunt, to make it so that any Overcome attempt made with Resources succeeds automatically. No matter how much money they're asking, you have more.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse has resident Batman Expy the Wraith aka Maia Montgomery who uses the money she gets as CEO of Montgomery Industries to fund her crime fighting activities. Notably, there is a limit to this as in the Miststorm Timeline she has to liquefy all her assets (and reveal her identity) in order to buy out the Freedom Five and pay for the costs of Absolute Zero's suit.
  • In Unknown Armies, where literally all mages are pathologically obsessed, naturally there are Plutomancers whose obsession is cold, hard cash. For them, the acquisition of cash is one and the same with the acquisition of sorcerous power. Ironically, though, they CAN'T go about this trope the normal way— spending any significant sum of money breaks their taboo and strips them of power.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Rogue Trader takes this Up to Eleven. Your characters are typically the titular Rogue Traders and are merchant princes or planetary nobility capable of owning whole solar systems. Barring a horrific financial crash or being a fallen house, when your character character goes to the market they roll to see what is available for them to buy, not what they can afford. This is because it's assumed that naturally almost everything except for huge fleets of space battleships is easily affordable to your character. You can easily afford multiple palaces, whether that planet has any available at the moment is another story. Since the vast majority of your enemies are lawless pirates, alien scum and evil cultists - you even fit the billing of crimefighting albeit mostly for your own sake.
    • Inquisitors often have massive galactic bank accounts to call up on whenever they need to purchase something, and often have entire legions of stormtroopers, who are paid mercenaries specifically trained by an Inquisitor, to serve as their bodyguards. With their own authority, they can also claim ownership of anything they deem valuable enough for a mission (which, depending on the mission and the Inquisitor, can be anything). They are the not-so-secret police of the Imperium and are tasked with keeping the peace. It seems that an Inquisitor's funds comes directly from their own pocket, as they either own vast swathes of land on a planet (if not the planet outright) or have inherited it from their predecessor.

    Video Games 
  • Mention must be made of Colin in Advance Wars, whose main powers are 1) getting all his troops at a 20% discount, albeit with 10% reduced offensive - but not defensive - power 2) increasing his money by 50% with basic power and 3) displaying so much money his men suddenly gain the ability to rip Neotanks in half bare-handed. His sister Sasha can use the family economic influence to crash her foes' CO Power bars. Between the two, they're total Game Breakers.
    • There's also Kanbei, who buys his troops at an increased 20% price for a 20% boost to his units' offence and defence in Advance Wars 1 and Dual Strike, or a 30% boost in Advance Wars 2. Like Colin, he's considered one of the best COs in the game and is even considered broken in the second.
    • Lastly, there's Hachi, who has a 10% discount on units he buys with zero penalties. His CO Power, Barter, changes the discount to 50%, and his Super CO Power, Merchant Union, creates ground units on cities controlled by Hachi in addition to providing the 50% discount.
  • Ezio Auditore of Assassin's Creed II. Granted, he's on a pretty standard Roaring Rampage of Revenge. But using his sister as his accountant, he can renovate the family villa back in Monteriggioni. This results in it generating loads and loads of cash, with which one can buy weapons and armor, paintings to decorate said villa (making it more valuable and able to generate even more money), hire allies for various missions, or literally throw at people. He appears to have no day job, outside of Murder, Inc.. In Brotherhood, Monteriggioni is destroyed, so Ezio moves to Rome and does the exact same thing on a larger scale. And after that in Revelations, he continues this trend owning Constantinople, Istanbul, or whatever name you might give the city, based on your affiliation.
  • Grand Theft Auto V's in-universe television has a cartoon called Impotent Rage, which parodies both this trope and the "limousine liberal" stereotype. The protagonist, billionaire industrialist and liberal donor Braxton Hunter (a parody of Ted Turner), moonlights as the titular Impotent Rage, whose real superpower seems to be actively harming the people and causes he tries to support through his incompetence.
  • The Magic Armor from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, especially when combined with the infinite rupees reward from Jovani and the wallet upgrades, turns Link into one of these. Granting invincibility at the cost of 2 rupees per second and 12 rupees every time you're hit, you're basically able to unleash the Terminator on any threat without getting a scratch on you. Wind Waker HD offers a similar setup, albeit without as easy a source of unlimited cash to keep it running.
  • Mass Effect 3: The Retaliation expansion to the multiplayer added volus characters. While they are the least effective race in combat, they can afford to buy the very best tech and biotic equipment that the galaxy can offer, allowing them to fight side by side with krogan battlemasters and asari justicars.
  • Mega Man Star Force 2: while you might have super-powers by default of The Power of Friendship, if you want to go from "badass" to "really badass", you need to fork over some Zennys. Board-sweeping landmines, HP increases, and even Giga Cards are available to those who equip the Zenny Finder weapon, track down a repeatable Bonus Boss like Kung Foo Kyd or Cancer Bubble who's weak to their chosen element, and then kick them around many, many times.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 lets you operate a keep which needs to be financed. You can either wait for its revenues to build up or spend your own money. Additionally, you can recruit one of your lieutenants by offering him double what he's being paid to attack you.
  • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 places you in charge of organizing a shopping district called Join Avenue. Some of the shops you can sponsor there sell rare and useful items, others sell high-price Vendor Trash for a significant markdown, and still others provide services that improve your Pokemon's stats and/or levels. Read that last one again: Some of the Join Avenue shops straight-up sell EV and level training for your Pokemon!

    Web Animation 
  • A variation: In an episode of Cálico Electrónico, Cálico is temporarily replaced as the superhero of Electronic City by Meteoro Sexual. One of the new hero's tricks? Pay criminals to let him catch them.

    Web Comics 

  • Flork Of Cows parodies this trope with Captain Rich, an Upper-Class Twit who seems to be trying to help people, but doesn't really understand how non-billionaires live, nor does he seem to care about much other than amassing more wealth.
    Captain Rich: The only thing I hate more than crime is the poor.
  • All superheroes so far in The List. Powers bought include augmented senses, augmented muscles, exoskeleton armor, nanotechnology weaponry and armor, telepathy, telekinesis, and a sound barrier breaking guitar, just to name a few.
  • Super Fogeys has a short-lived character actually called Money Man whose "power" is to bankroll the others.
  • Lampshaded in Spinnerette with various jokes about "Mid-West superheroes don't have the budget of their West Coast counterparts" and the "League of Canadian Super Heroes" who seem to be a sort of penny-ante version of The Fantastic Four.
  • Schlock Mercenary has a storyline with someone attempting a False Flag Operation, and the Toughs end up needing to buy a lot of self-driving scootersnote  to help provide 'close air support' to try to stop it:
    Sorlie: What's our budget look like?
    Chester: Your budget for this project is, and I'm quoting General Bala-Amin, "all the money".
  • subverted in League of Super Redundant Heroes, Asstronomus commits the Power Group to product placement by gambling with their budget.

    Web Original 
  • Phase, of the Whateley Universe, is only fourteen, still a freshman at Whateley Academy, and already doing this. He's paying Whateley inventors to build weapons for him, including a utility belt that has nearly zero external volume but is chock full of Hammerspace, a specialized throwing dart made out of depleted uranium, and the latest thing is a collapsing tactical baton. Made out of adamantium. With osmium for weight in the tip. It cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Also more literally, as he is planning such things as courses in marketing and patent law to allow inventors (as opposed to corporations) to profit from their work. Apparently, many villainous gageteers are just in it for the money, so he reasons that if he can make their work both profitable and beneficial, most would rather put in an honest day's work rather than put on a mask and rob banks; if it makes a difference in their customers' lives as well (i.e., averting the problem of brilliant inventions having no impact on society), all the better. And then there's the job creation work he's planning, including work based on Mundane Utility. Basically, he's realized that persecuted minorities are more likely to commit crimes when they're persecuted (and thus poor). Finally, he's not above using financial influence to attack the economic base of his opponents:
    Remember when we were teasing Ayla and we said someday someone would piss her off and she’d make a few phone calls, and suddenly the entire planet’s economy would strike back? Not so funny right now.
    • And Splendor of the Cadet Crusaders, a Rich Bitch who used daddy's money to buy herself power gems so she could be a superheroine. Yes, she hates She-Beast just that much.
  • The Rocket was bequeathed 11 million dollars earmarked for 'Fighting Evil' in Legion of Nothing. He makes good use of it.
  • This Fauxtivational Poster.
  • Used in an unconventional way by the Villain Protagonists of Worm. They manage to defeat Coil by hiring his mercenaries out from under him.
  • This Trope gets Conversed in the Morning Patrol episode of Civil Protection.
    Dave: Alright, if you were a Superhero, what Superpower would you want?
    Mike: Oh, I dunno.
    Dave: Oh, come on, pick something!
    Mike: Okay, how about being rich?
    Dave: That's not a Superpower!
    Mike: It may as well be! Do you realise we'll be working this job another thirty years before we can retire? And that's maybe! Most Cops didn't have to deal with that before the invasion; they were out in twenty!
    Dave: It's not a Superpower!
    Mike: What about Batman? That's his Superpower. He's rich! You can afford to spend all night running around in a cave and throwing Ninja Stars at people when you're rich!
    Dave: They're-
    Dave: They're not-
    Mike: Superman has to get up and go to work. Spiderman has to get up and go to work. Not Batman! He can sleep in, and he has a Butler!
    Mike: WHATEVER!
  • How to Hero features the Billionaires with Issues™ type of superhero.

    Western Animation 
  • Xander Crews (a.k.a. Awesome X) of Frisky Dingo is a decided sendup of this type of hero. When someone points argues that he's not a superhero because he doesn't have any powers, Crews claims that being able to manage his team of super-mercenaries (the Xtacles) counts as a power.
  • Non-superhero example: Daphne of Scooby-Doo, who funded most of their activities with her family's money.
  • Darkwing Duck tries this when he discovers a money tree. It doesn't turn out well. Odd in that he isn't portrayed as horribly rich, yet fights crime similarly to Batman. The BOOM! Comics continuation revealed he was on a pay stipend with SHUSH, which probably gave a hefty sum to the point where he didn't need to work. When he dropped the hero gig, he was forced to take a job and it's presumed he's back on the payroll after he returned to duty.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • Princess Morbucks initially plays this straight when she tries to help the girls foil a bank robbery which doesn't go well. Inverted in all her subsequent appearances, as she can be a challenge for the girls due to being super rich, meaning that she's been committing crime with cash.
    • Some fans also believe that the Professor is sufficiently wealthy from patenting his own inventions, to the point that he doesn't appear to have a day job and instead just works in his basement lab all the time, as and whenever he likes. Except when they had to move to Citiesville because of his new job. Prof. Utonium did try to fight crime with cash one time but it ended up not working out since he discovered that fighting crime can also be a painful way to go (just because you have a lot of gadgets doesn't mean you can't get beaten up by someone who's just stronger than you are).
  • In the animated version of WildC.A.T.s, when the team itself was temporarily unavailable and with no evidence strong enough to bring the government in to stop the Daemonites, their corporate sponsor, Jacob Marlowe crippled the villain's plan by figuring out what highway the enemies were going to have to travel down, buying it, and turning it into a toll road (somehow managing to do this in one night). When the Daemonite transport runs the tollbooth without paying, this provides him with the evidence he needs to bring the government down on them. In the series finale, he discovers that the Daemonites had acquired a nuclear missile and were transporting it cross country to kill the heroes. He starts by having shrapnel and debris scattered across the road and then had his company buy all the truck tires in the area. The truck blows its tires and then has to wait for replacements. Then he proceeds to buy the inventory of all the gas stations in the area, leaving the truck desperate for fuel. When the Daemonites finally overcome these obstacles and launch the missile, Marlowe then buys out a competitor's entire company (using some highly illegal market manipulations) for the sole purpose of being able to order the pilot of said competitor's private jet to intercept the missile.

     Real Life 
  • In particularly lawless areas, some companies (including the U.S. government) will hire mercenaries to keep crime under control.
  • Seattle's Phoenix Jones, a self-proclaimed superhero, is currently receiving a lot of heat over his attempts to raise $10,000 for a new "superhero suit."


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: