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"If you hate G.I. Joe that much, you can still use the money to ruin them and still have some left, but I guess you never noticed th—"
"I once heard somebody — I think it was Batman — say that criminals are a cowardly, superstitious lot. Let me just add that costumed ones are not all that bright either. Take Dr. Alchemy. If you had a so-called Philosopher's Stone that transmuted anything you wanted into anything else, would you put on a costume, steal something and then defy the cops to take you in? Granted, the stuff changes back if you put the stone down but, still — is there anyone here who can't think of about a dozen ways to make a million with such a stone?"
Mark Shaw, Manhunter #7

When a person is pursuing a goal, especially if it's something tempting like wealth, fame, or political power, there may come a time when they have to choose between doing what's easy and doing what's right. At that moment the legitimate method of earning it may be slow, difficult, or unprofitable, while at the same time there's an illegal or unethical option that offers quicker gains to whoever can get away with it. On the other hand, assuming that the shady option is always the most expedient is a mistake that leaves a lot of would-be villains not only punished, but broke as well. They may think they're acting in their own interest, but often they screw themselves over because they don't realize that they could have done better—or at least reduced the risk of being caught and defeated by the heroes—by using more honest means.


This is the villainous equivalent of Reed Richards Is Useless: A baddie who constantly fails at beating the heroes never realizes their intellect and hard work might mean they'd get a lot more done if they did an honest day's work; any attempt at going straight is simply a ruse to lull heroes into a false sense of security. This may be more a factor of maintaining the Status Quo, and it's usually mentioned that the Mad Scientist is mad after all. Sometimes lampshaded at a villain's death with "If only he'd used his powers for good, instead of for evil." The example is contagious; even if The Government gets a hold of secondhand ultratech, they just use it for ill-conceived attempts to either conquer other nations or abuse their citizens.

Sometimes this trope is subverted by villains who start out using their talents for legitimate gain, but who end up becoming villains for one reason or another. Sometimes a Mad Scientist villain does market his inventions, but only to finance grander schemes and sometimes remarks, "How do you think I got all my equipment without attracting attention?" Another subversion can be when the villain really does go straight, and is able to use the skills he demonstrated in his criminal career to land a legitimate job. Compare Reluctant Mad Scientist. Rich Boredom may justify it because the character already is swimming in money and is seeking something else.


This trope was very common in the early days of comic book superheroes like The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books. As the decades passed villains became more complex but the trope is still around in some form. When this is avoided, the turn to the side of good is usually planned well in advance. Heroes may even precipitate it by simply asking "And Then What?".

This trope could almost be a case of Reality Is Unrealistic. For all the criticisms thrown at comic book supervillains, quite a few real life criminals make this trope Truth in Television, due to the difficulty of those with criminal records getting honest work. It was common practice of (legal) casinos in Las Vegas - and later Atlantic City - to hire men who (successfully) ran illegal gambling operations in other parts of the country, because these people had specialized skills and experience in the gambling trade. And even now, casinos sometimes hire known cheaters to catch other cheaters, because they know all the tricks.

Finally, there's also the Logical Fallacy that seems to assume that because someone manages to invent some sort of amazing new product, they will also automatically be successful at marketing it. Just because someone has the science smarts to develop something brilliant doesn't necessarily mean that they also have the business smarts to sell it effectively... and if you try and sell your product to a business, there's always the danger of a Corrupt Corporate Executive cheating you out of your rightful share of the profits. Indeed, many villains' Start of Darkness is kicked off by such failures in such legitimate or even good uses of their talents.

See also Fake–Real Turn, where a business that is serving as a front operation for a criminal activity or organization becomes so successful in its own right that characters decide to pursue it as a legitimate business. And You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good. Compare Moral Pragmatist.

A subtrope of Misapplied Phlebotinum, with a degree of Stupid Evil. Compare Reed Richards Is Useless, Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!, and Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat. Contrast Visionary Villain and Pragmatic Villainy. See also Science-Related Memetic Disorder and Sanity Has Advantages for the possible justifications of this trope. Can end up leading to Boxed Crook when put into practice.


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Gaining more money legitimately

    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted in Baccano! when Nice (who qualifies as a villain only in the sense of being a criminal) invents a new form of explosive and immediately sells it to the mining industry.
  • At the end of episode 225, a Filler, of Detective Conan, Conan asks a man who tried to rob a bank why he doesn't use his talents (such as cooking) to earn money legally. His answer? He didn't thought of it!
  • Tamami Kobeyashi of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable initially uses his power to make people literally heavy with guilt to scam people for money, and later averts this trope by getting a job as a mob debt collector.
  • Inverted in One Piece, when minor villain Wapol actually starts a new life and builds a massive toy-making empire by using his powers to recycle objects into toys. In fact, the alloy his power creates (dubbed "Wapometal") is apparently a unique and amazing compound, which makes him even richer when a scientist discovers its properties and Wapol begins capitalizing on that. Heck, thanks to this discovery, he even gets his own kingdom (Named the Evil Black Drum Kingdom) and marries a supermodel! Ironically back to being an evil King, but this time kinda better. Later in the series, Franky starts building tanks using the revolutionary metal.
  • Invoked with One-Punch Man, the head of the House of Evolution, after his defeat and the eradication of his forces by Saitama and Genos, is shown to have used his impressive cloning technology to set up a Takoyaki stand selling octopus balls.
  • The Team Rocket trio in Pokémon invent some of the most impressive Death Traps one could ever imagine, almost every episode... until they occasionally run out of money. It's mentioned in one episode of the Johto series that they borrow their traps from Team Rocket, and that they were invented by the R&D at their HQ. They're also not above taking and maintaining legit work, until the inevitable screw up, and it's always manual labor anyway. Ironically, their "honest" work is almost always profitable. And they always prove to be much better at whatever work they do for extra cash than they ever are at being bad guys. They'd probably have better lives if they just stopped chasing Pikachu.
    • They once tried to set up a memorabilia stand for some Pokémon tournament, and did well. Then they sank all of their money into it, just in time for the tournament to end and the market for their stuff to disappear. In fact, Jessie eventually started entering Pokémon contests; not only is she pretty good at it, she has won a few, even progressing quite far in the Sinnoh Grand Festival. James also acts like pre-Flanderization Brock on occasion, showing potential to be a great Pokémon breeder. Meowth, being able to speak both Human language and Pokémon language, also could be filthy rich if he stopped being a criminal and just became a translator. In the Pikachu short film "Pokémon — Gotta Dance", Meowth is apparently a genius in that he invents a Pokébaton that can control Pokémon. However, he just uses it to make Pokémon dance, and he ends up allowing it to be destroyed. Meowth is a borderline Gadgeteer Genius; James mentioned that the cat's the one responsible for most of the Humongous Mecha that they throw at the twerps!
    • In a short arc of the Best Wishes series, Meowth poses as Heel–Face Mole towards Ash's team, winning them over with his negotiator skills. While it was all just an act to lure them into another Pokemon-stealing trap, he was actually rather good at it most of the time, ending up solving several dilemmas the heroes ran into on their journey. Back in Diamond & Pearl, another Heel–Face Mole venture nearly turns into a legitimate Heel–Face Turn after the heroes point out Meowth's talents could easily make him a TV celebrity. However, just on the way to finding some media connections, the heroes start their usual beatdown on Jessie and James, and he just doesn't have the heart to turn his back on them.
    • Utilised since the Sinnoh era. It is revealed that Meowth has exceptional culinary abilities due to his precise Fury Swipes. He ends up using it alongside Jessie during her contest run, helping her get a top spot. He does the same in the Kalos showcases, where it again is usually received well. In the Pokemon short "Eevee And Friends" the heroes' Pokemon even entrust him to make a banquet for their party.
    • Also subverted in that the few occasions Team Rocket actually tries to make a legitimate business, either demand fades, or it's the one time in a million that the twerps actually see through their Paper-Thin Disguises and drive them out of business.
    • In one dubbed episode, the trio actually does well enough in a legitimate business venture that the three momentarily consider leaving Team Rocket to pursue a new life. It just so happens that Ash and Pikachu walk right by, and the three promptly ditch their stall and go back to their old ways. They're just that obsessed with the yellow electric mouse.
    • In Sun & Moon their circumstances force them to largely stay in one place and they end up opening a food truck to run during their off-hours. Despite a few struggles at first, it actually becomes fairly successful! They become so accustomed to their new routine that they even declare that honest work is enjoyable! (but then of course, they immediately feel that there's something completely wrong with that statement; THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE HARDENED CRIMINALS DAMMIT!!!). Additionally they become part-time MC's for a wrestling tournament. The reality is, it's clear Team Rocket is good at just about anything that isn't stealing Pokémon.
    • What makes their obsession even worse is that Ash's Pikachu is, at least at first, no more powerful than any Pikachu could hypothetically become: It does display an unusually strong electric attack during Team Rocket's first encounter with it, but this is because Ash is pumping it full of electricity, making it stronger. You could do the same with any other of its kind (and probably any other Electric-type, for that matter). Later on, Ash's Pikachu is actually shown to be one-of-a-kind, very powerful and able to do things no other Pokemon can. It still applies, as most of what he does can be done by other Electric-types, and his unique Z-Move, 10,000,000 Volt Thunderbolt, only works with Ash.
    • "Pikachu's Goodbye" is an extreme example: Team Rocket attempts to poach a group of wild Pikachu (along with Ash's, naturally). They completely fail to realize that they could just, you know, battle and capture the Pikachu like any other wild Pokemon. Only one of them has an owner.
  • An unexpected version in Slayers NEXT. Martina is horribly, comically hopeless as a villain, but turns out to be sufficiently talented in retail and handicrafts to raise a small army of thugs out of her profits from selling (and making) paper flowers for a few episodes.
  • Succubus & Hitman: The ability of Clobbering Mountain allows them to turn lead into gold. This trope is then discussed by other characters, but then defied by the wielder, saying there is a limit to it.
  • Akihiko Kayaba of Sword Art Online almost averted this, having created and sold an extremely popular total-immersion virtual reality game, presumably making truckloads of money off it. But then he decided to remove the logout button and fry the brains of anyone who dies in the game. He also enters the game himself, and eventually disables his God Mode, allowing Kirito to kill him... making him a meta-version of a Tactical Suicide Boss. Why? He wanted to be the villainous god common in JRPGs, he even planned to be the Final Boss. Sugou Nobuyuki even lampshades it in the Fairy Dance arc:
    Sugou: Mr. Kayaba was a genius, but he was also a fool. All he wanted to use his technology for was his game. He couldn't see the potential.
  • Defied in Tsukihime canon; the 14th Dead Apostle Ancestor, Van-Fem, rather than drinking blood and harming humans, took a preference to human society/life and built a highly-profitable casino boat in Monte Carlo shortly after World War I which earned him a high social status among humans. This also has the benefit of making it difficult for the Church Militant to try to kill him, since the Church would be in a lot of trouble if they were found to be behind an assassination attempt of such a prominent societal figure.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, Ataru's family is lower-middle class and he occasionally schemes to make money. But he seems to have a blind spot to the fact that Lum effectively has infinite wealth and resources. The most blatant example is the second episode where a crooked space-taxi driver gouges him for earth's entire supply of oil. Lum comes back at the last minute and offers a couple of "power crystals" (presumably charged from her electric powers), which the driver happily accepts. The fact that she can produce something that insanely valuable on demand is never touched on again.
  • Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! averts this heavily, especially in the manga. He created the Solid Vision hologram system as a way to torture defeated opponents and the miniaturized Duel Disk to counter an opponent's mind-reading. But, as the head of a gaming corporation, he's very much aware of just what the benefits of portable lifelike holograms are for entertainment purposes, and indeed, his uses of them against his opponents are as much revenge plots as they are product showcases and beta-tests. It's largely thanks to his technology that Duel Monsters becomes the most popular game in the world, and in pretty much every sequel or spinoff, it's shown that KaibaCorp is well past Mega-Corp level, with its machines integrated into every level of society.

    Comic Books 
  • The Trope Namer Lex Luthor. Pre-Crisis, this was pretty much played straight. In fact, the specific scene that named the trope featured a Mad Scientist Lex Luthor being brought in to consult with some government officials who wanted to wipe out the Swamp Thing. Luthor was introduced as an expert, "charging one million dollars for a ten-minute consultancy". After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Lex Luthor was retooled into an amoral billionaire industrialist, subverting this trope by showing that he was still a brilliant scientist and engineer, but had used his inventions to become fabulously wealthy.
    • Elliot S! Maggin beautifully subverts this trope in his Pre-Crisis novels Last Son of Krypton and Miracle Monday, which assert that Lex regularly maintains multiple false identities as prominent scientists, businessmen, and even artists; and that they are how he is always able to raise the money necessary for the equipment and hired minions his world-conquering and Superman-busting schemes require. In other words, Lex is perfectly capable of playing the legitimate marketplace like a fiddle and regularly does so as a matter of course, but because he views himself as an Übermensch, he considers the idea of just playing by society's rules and getting rich and famous to be beneath him. He only views the money thus earned as a means to an end — that end being conquest of the world and the destruction of Superman, two things polite society frowns upon. Also, although no one remembers it (a fact Maggin has lamented), the name "LexCorp" actually originated in Maggin's story "The Ghost Of Superman Future," a Flash Forward that depicted Luthor going straight in his old age and marketing his inventions, as well as becoming friends with Superman again as they had been in their youth.
    • A year or so before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Marv Wolfman wanted to write a story where Luthor "goes legit" and becomes a respected businessman, in the process gaining the public's trust and therefore becoming a much harder opponent for Superman to fight. Editorial considered this too big a departure for Luthor and nixed the idea, so Wolfman rewrote the script with Vandal Savage as the villain in question. The resultant story feels a little forced, as Superman seems to take the whole thing very personally, despite the fact that he and Savage didn't have anywhere near the history that he and Lex did. By Wolfman's own account, this is where the idea for Lex's Post-Crisis Corrupt Corporate Executive persona originated.
    • In post-Crisis continuity, it is established that Lex Luthor became a corporate tycoon through his invention of the Lex Wing, a military airplane that Lex claimed made him an aeronautical revolutionary on the scale of John Glenn, or Neil Armstrong.
    • In Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, a Perspective Flip into Lex Luthor's day-to-day life, we see more of Lex outside of plotting to kill Superman. In the series, he has both built the Science Spire, a giant skyscraper-research lab-tribute to human ingenuity and bankrolled Hope, a new superhero who is actually an elaborate artificial human. It's ultimately deconstructed, as he ends up destroying both as part of a plan where the main outcome seems to be "make Superman look bad to people". For all his humanist talk, Lex's obsessions with Superman are blinding him to reality and the good he could be doing for others.
    • In several stories, this is shown to part of why Superman cares so much about Luthor, and at times, pities him. Superman may be powerful, but it's been shown many times that his brute force abilities can't change the world easily. Luthor, on the other hand, is a scientist, and therefore capable of helping people on a completely different level. If he put his mind to it, he could probably cure every disease, eliminate hunger and poverty, and bring humanity to the stars. Instead, he takes time off from extortion and corporate skulduggery to stuff space rocks into robots and hold orphanages hostage.
    • In All-Star Superman, Superman goes to Lex, reveals that he's dying, and challenges him to make the world a better place in the way that he always said he would as one final attempt to really show up Superman. Lex... spits at him. Because, as Lex himself notes at another point, by this point he's just so filled with hatred and bitterness towards Superman that he really doesn't care about doing anything other than destroying Superman.
  • Played straight with Batman enemy and off-and-on Luthor ally Prometheus, a Shadow Archetype of ol' Batsy who also happens to be a Gadgeteer Genius of such talent that Lex actually offers to cut him a check in exchange for the advanced technology he's come up with. Prometheus turns him down, though, because he also happens to be a Blood Knight who only sees his technology as a means to an end (destroying institutions of justice) and, like Bronze Age Lex detailed above, sees the idea of making money legitimately as beneath him.
    • The Riddler is almost the patron-saint of this trope. It's been shown countless times over multiple media that, if Edward Nigma actually used his amazing intellect for honest endeavors, he'd be rolling in cash. It's also been shown that he also could be a MUCH more formidable criminal mastermind than he is if he merely focused on the task at hand instead of following his obsession with riddles and trying to prove he's smarter than everyone else. On occasion he's tried to commit robberies without leaving riddles, but he just can't resist the compulsion to send them Batman's way without even consciously realizing it. When Batman told Riddler, Eddie realized that he really is insane and needed treatment.
    • In Heart Of Hush Victor Fries aka Mr. Freeze invents a machine that allows Hush to remove Catwoman's heart and keep her alive, and preserve the heart while it's out of her body. Hush says in a throwaway line that Fries is ahead of his time, and the work he'd done could merit a Nobel Prize if he'd done it legitimately. Just think about the money he could make adapting the machine to help organ transplant patients!
    • Batman has a recurring minor "villain" named Jenna Duffy. Originally a pickpocket and con artist, she became a mook working for Tweedledum and Tweedledee and took up the mantle of The Carpenter. Her gimmick was carpentry. After a few run ins with Batman she decided to actually learn how to build stuff and became a proper carpenter, making a pretty tidy amount of money. Though she mostly does civilian work now, she occasionally does work for supers on both sides of the law due to her skill in building and disarming deathtraps.
    • Robin Series: Tim is flabbergasted when he fights Trickster during Batman: War Games because "If you own shoes that let you walk on air, why rent yourself as a cheap hood? If you'd just mass produce them, you'd be ten times richer than Bruce Wayne by now."
    • Subverted with B-list Batman villain Firefly. His backstory has him working as a pyrotechnics expert for movies before he was lost his due to a recession in Gotham leading him to become a Psycho for Hire before he decides to forgo the "For Hire" and embraces the fact he is a straight-up Pyromaniac who likes seeing stuff burn.
  • Subverted with Doctor Sivana of Captain Marvel fame. He started in his youth as an idealistic scientist brimming with ideas to change the world for the better with superscience even Luthor would gape at. Then he met the corporate world. Said encounter tremendously embittered him, showing him the world won't change without good reason and enough power to change the status quo. He resolved to change the world, and that's how a brilliant scientist got broken into the very image of the Mad Scientist.
  • Doctor Doom could have probably taken over the world financially in far less time, with less effort and without any legal opposition if he just incorporated rather than maintaining his feudal Ruritania and venting his Complexity Addiction. Especially since people in the Marvel Universe are constantly shown to value security over freedom. This is mirrored by his heroic counterpart, Trope Namer Reed Richards, who seemingly makes more money patenting and then not selling his inventions, and thus not overly-disrupting the similarities between Marvel Earth and Real Life. "Doomwar" reveals that he actually does use his technology to make money, albeit secretly. Ever wonder how he's able to fund his various schemes or afford to construct all that incredible technology (including his never-ending army of Doombots)? Turns out he's involved in thousands of perfectly legal businesses, and has made a killing in patents for robotics and medical research.
  • For all that he ends up being Worfed in practice, Juggernaut of the Marvel Universe is in theory one of the most powerful people on Earth, combining strength roughly equal to The Mighty Thor's with being indestructible. Even if being capable of lifting mountains, immunity to any non-magical attack, not even being fazed by being Stripped to the Bone, and being incapable of getting hungry or tired (he doesn't even need oxygen!) doesn't present options in the legitimate world, Juggernaut could be a lot more of a villain than simply being a roving Brute. You would think he could make millions as a running back in American Football, even as he is today. Justified, since his powers come from a God of Evil named Cyttorak that wants him to wreak havoc. If Juggy ever did go legit or try to be a less mindlessly destructive villain, Cyttorak would depower him. Which is exactly what happened when Juggernaut made a Heel–Face Turn and joined the X-Men; his power kept declining to the point that the Wrecking Crew (superhuman in their own right, but normally Juggy could beat them in his sleep) flatted him. Not long after, Juggernaut was in a fight with the Hulk and to get the power he needed he cut a deal with Cyttorak that he'd return to his evil ways afterward. This provided a good example of how strong a fully empowered Juggernaut is, as Hulk couldn't overpower him and could only win by turning Juggernaut's unstoppable momentum against him.
  • Eventually subverted by the first Icicle, Joar Mahkent. He went into villainy partly for the thrills, but he used his time in jail to work on his inventions and made a legitimate fortune once he reformed, half of which he left to The Flash.
  • Averted with the Marvel Comics character Taskmaster. Able to flawlessly imitate anyone's physical abilities after seeing them in action once, he initially made money and his reputation training flunkies for supervillains, teaching them how to take down their superhero opponents. Once it became known he was a mercenary, not merely a dedicated villain, legitimate governments and law enforcement started hiring him to teach their people on how to take down superpowered threats. To the extent that, in his first appearance, he concludes that if he stayed and fought, he could probably defeat the entire Avengers team (and one of their more powerful line-ups at that). However, he sees no profit in it or point to fighting superheroes, and runs away instead.
  • Subverted by the villain Purple Man, who has pheromone-based mind-control powers. He lived the high life without doing anything to attract super-hero attention — only to get caught by Doctor Doom and used as a component in a world-conquest gizmo.
  • Averted with WildStorm Universe villain Kaizen Gamorra who sells battle-droids and pleasure robots to finance his country's terrorism.
  • Upheld with the main character from the 1950's horror comic "The Man Who Tricked The Devil", a rich, and famous lawyer. He wants to use his legal expertise to flaunt that he can cheat the devil out of $10 billion with a very carefully worded contract.
  • Defied with The Avengers villain Kang The Conqueror. He journeyed back to 1900 Wisconsin, and used his futuristic technology to start a company as the aptly named Victor Timely.
  • Discussed with Manhunter (2004 series, Kate Spencer version) in which the titular character tells her technical support and former supervillain weapons designer, Dylan Battles, to imagine what would happen if he focused his talents on curing cancer. In the Flash Forward at the end of the series, it is revealed that Dylan has become extremely wealthy, because the government is willing to pay big money to keep weapons patents off the market.
  • Subverted with the Turtle Man, a Silver Age villain that the Flash (Barry Allen) fought from time to time. After he inherited a fortune, he realized that he didn't need to commit crimes to make money any more. But he still did so - simply because it was fun.
  • In a Tom Strong storyline showing the alternate reality of Tom Stone, Tom (Stone) manages to convince would-be science villain Paul Saveen to use his genius for good by pointing out that while his plan to hold the city for ransom with his recent discovery phlogisten could get him thousands, selling phlogisten as a cheap heating source would make him a millionaire.
    • Earlier in the same conversation, Saveen all but directly stated that he was turning to villainy because his inventions up to now had gone ignored; for instance, there's no market for his flying car in Millennium City because they can't safely navigate the city's system of cable cars.
  • Inverted in Swamp Thing — While acting as a paid consultant, the Floronic Man discovers Swamp Thing's true nature, only to be promptly fired. His employer treated him as disposable, and drastically underestimated the importance of the reveal. Also literally inverted later in the same series when the same group of villains who hired the Floronic Man hire Lex Luthor as a consultant to help take out Swamp Thing because, as one of them puts it, "He has a certain amount of experience in fighting invincible enemies." The consult takes five minutes, for which Luthor is paid $10 million.
  • Dr T.O. Morrow beats Luthor having built multiple fully sapient androids and working tesseracts, and fellow Mad Scientist Professor Ivo is similar, having created Amazo, an android with "adaptive cells" capable of duplicating superpowers. Both collaborating together created an even more advanced model of superpowered android whose AI successfully developed concepts deliberately left out of her programming, while the hardware was advanced enough to fool Superman's enhanced senses. However, neither is overtly interested in actual cash — Ivo's motivation is his severe thanatophobia, since he only developed the machine as a means to develop actual immortality. Morrow is just uncaring about such things, thinking he can always just rob another bank as long as he can keep developing his machines, and in the rare occasion he actually pays for anything, he just hacks the seller's account to pay for his purchase.
  • Upheld in Demon #0 (Garth Ennis series, 1993-1995), where the human host, Jason Blood, as an unscrupulous World War I arms merchant, wishes to use the titular character to bring about an earlier Allied victory. However, the Demon likes all the bloodshed, and human depravity brought on by the war, and goes against Mr. Blood's plans.
  • The Superior Foes of Spider-Man has Beetle, who despite being a Valedictorian of Columbia Law dreams of becoming a supervillain. Her father Tombstone is disappointed in this, stating that she's much too smart for such antics as he feels that being an Amoral Attorney is essentially legitimized crime that you can't get arrested for.
  • In Spider-Man and the X-Men, Sauron discusses this trope with Spidey. Spider-Man points out to Sauron that he could cure cancer with his technology, which allows him to alter a person's DNA as he pleases. Sauron bluntly replies that he doesn't want to cure cancer, he wants to turn people into dinosaurs.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • Mammoth Mogul decided to pull this. He took over Robotnik's old Casino Night Zone, renamed it the Casino Night Club, hired most of Robotnik's old Badniks, including Scratch, Grounder and Coconuts and decided to park his keister there. Of course, this was less about turning legit and more about letting time defeat Sonic as Mogul's immortal.
    • In the Cosmic Retcon universe, this role goes to Breezie the Hedgehog, who becomes a multimedia icon in a Rags to Riches-like story, owning Casino Palace and her own TV company. She even engineers a tournament for a Chaos Emerald for the sole purpose of more money and fame. And wins.
  • Daredevil arch-enemy Bullseye has the ability to throw any object with perfect accuracy with enough force to kill someone. Before becoming a super-villain (according to one of his many origin stories), he was a major league baseball player whose skill meant he always pitched a no-hitter. He could've easily just stayed in this job and never committed a single crime in his whole life but quit so he could satisfy his inherent bloodlust, and ended his career by using a pitch to murder a batter. "Bullseye." Bullseye even admitted to Norman Osborn that he barely spends any of the money he earns as an assassin, and that he could very well be richer than Norman. The only reason he charges anything is just to see how much people are willing to offer for his services. He kills people because it's fun.
    • Daredevil: Born Again Deconstruction. Wilson Fisk is trying to expand into legitimate businesses and be a Villain with Good Publicity, but his vendetta against Daredevil is costing him money and putting that ambition in jeopardy. The first crony to try and point that out to him is "bought out" and later has both his legs broken off-panel; the second is murdered by Fisk then and there. Fisk is trying to turn his criminal genius to more acceptable enterprises, but his obsession with Daredevil and his violent instincts keep overriding his sense.
  • The Disney Mouse and Duck Comics have various examples:
    • In the story "My Little Town", the villain is an alien who is using a Shrink Ray to shrink Earth's cities, then sell them as "highly accurate miniatures" in order to earn enough money to repair his spaceship. Mickey forces the alien to re-enlarge each city, then points out that there's a faster and more honest way the alien can make money with his ray—by buying a cheap, tiny diamond and enlarging it to a colossal size.
    • Pete could easily find himself a honest job and even become rich through his organizational skills and the other skills he gained as a criminal... But he remembers the time he was one of Mouseton's most dangerous criminals and respected as such, so he refuses unless not doing so would mean starvation or he's forced by the law (he was even sentenced to work as a street cop on two separate occasions).
      • One excellent example is when his common law wife Trudy found some honest friends and convinced him to make at least one attempt at getting a honest job without trying to get himself fired with poor performance: Pete went to work for a security agency as a consultant and showed them all their weaknesses and how to eliminate them, at which point they had to fire him because they didn't need a consultant anymore... Just As Planned.
    • The Beagle Boys have gained immense technical skills in their continuous attacks on the Money Bin (that is, a fortress filled with technologically advanced defenses and artillery), and could easily become rich by attacking other targets or turning said skills to honest jobs... But after years attacking the Money Bin their stubbornness kicked in and they just don't want to get rich any other way. At most they occasionally steal some money to finance their attacks on the Money Bin.
    • Subverted with Magica De Spell: while it seems she could put her magic and other skills to work to become rich the honest way, it's often shown she already does that as a day job and is rather affluent (enough to pay for some of her most expensive assaults on the bin), and her assaults for the Number One Dime happen when she has free time.
  • Played with in an issue of Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man. Mysterio has apparently gone straight, and starts a very profitable Broadway special effects show. However, the show is actually just a distraction so that Mysterio can go out and rob nearby hotels and businesses. When called out on his seemingly boneheaded move, Mysterio says it was never about the money, but the challenge and the thrill of deception.
  • Many Spider-Man villains, like Vulture and the Ultimate Marvel version of the Shocker, zig-zag this trope: They started out wanting to be legit entrepreneurs and inventors but after being victimized by unscrupulous Corrupt Corporate Executive types they turn to crime. Subverted, perhaps even Deconstructed, with retcon-villain Clash, from the Post-Secret-Wars Learning To Crawl subseries in The Amazing Spider-Man. A brilliant nerd (not unlike Peter) who was present as Spider-Man's first fight with Crusher Hogan, Clash begins using his supreme intellect to craft a "superhero" identity for himself, utilizing sound wave. His intention is to be an entertainment act, like Spider-Man was before Uncle Ben's murder. Instead, he winds up quite believably sliding down the Slippery Slope before becoming a full-on supervillain, who gets thrashed by Spidey, arrested, and because of his criminal record, forced to be a henchmen for several years. Finally, he runs into Spider-Man again, who promptly offers him a job at Parker Industries (on the condition that he leaves his Clash shenanigans behind).
  • Mister Terrific describes a device's ingenuity as, "...Luthor Level, maybe even Apokolips." For the record that is the canonically third smartest man in the world comparing this device to something made by either the smartest man in the world, or an alien demigod.
  • Teen Titans had in one Christmas story a villain who took in shipments of junk, then used a ray to turn it into new, high-quality goods. Huge profit potential, right? Except he was actually removing a disguise field on the items, one put in place at least a full day before. The military and espionage applications for the disguise field and its counter, and thus the potential for vast profits, should be fairly obvious. He and his partners used it as a way of evading tariffs and duties on high-end goods.
  • Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: In "Enter the Dragons - Exit Scooby Doo", the villain behind the robot dragons is Bernie, a robotics scientist who, needing funds to pay for his research, used the dragons to scare everyone away from Chinatown so he could steal the stores' money and use it to pay for his work. Shaggy suggests Bernie could have sold the robots in Hollywood. Bernie likes the idea.
  • In PS238, this is combined with Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome. Zodon is a super-intelligent child who spends most of his free time trying to be a supervillain and/or show up Victor, only to get foiled by the school's staff or his fellow students. In an alternate universe without metahumans, his counterpart just makes meme-tastic websites and sells them for millions of dollars.
    • The Revenant has managed to "convince" a number of villains that it is better for them to find a more practical way to use their abilities. For example, Mr. Godwin, visually a Captain Ersatz of Red Skull, now steals money from willing people through his casino.
  • Fraction: when a group of small-time crooks find a set of power armor and divvy up the pieces around them, while one becomes a hero, another kills his abusive stepfather, and a third just goofs around with his, the final guy subverts this trope when he tries to sell the chest plate that he got to a technology firm, only to be rejected due to their correct suspicion that it's stolen property.
  • Michel Vaillant features Big Bad The Leader, who holds a villainous monologue in which he explains in great detail how winning the Le Mans road race will help him humiliate all other car manufacturers. This will put him in a position to sell his cars all over the world and he will stop at nothing to achieve this goal. Nothing, except just opening a dealership and putting his cars up for sale. Nobody denies the quality of his vehicles or objects to him selling the cars through normal means. If he'd stopped scheming and cheating he'd have been far more successful.
  • Mandrake the Magician recurring villain The Mole had invented a heat ray capable of vaporising practically anything, up to and including sold stone; it was light enough to mount on his head, used an equally small power supply, and worked so fast and efficiently that combining it with a jetpack allowed him to essentially fly through the ground faster than a speeding car. So naturally he used it all to... break into banks and jewelry stores.
  • Gaston Lagaffe is an odd non-villain example. Some of his gadgets are dangerous disasters, but others are just used at the wrong time. But when Gaston demonstrates his new invention can turn printed paper into blank paper and functional ink, even if Gaston just erased important contracts, De Mesmaeker should realize this device is worth billions more than whatever the contracts are.

    Fan Works 
  • This is a major plot point in With This Ring. Orange Lantern both works to support this and avert Reed Richards Is Useless. The reason for this trope is also pointed out - most villains don't have the social skills or business savvy to make legal money off their powers; most of them can only think of using them as a club. Of the ones who have both the smarts and the people skills, usually the various mad scientists and variations thereof such as Leonard Snart (Captain Cold), most of those guys are usually legitimately insane or mentally ill and don't care or want legal work. Snart is brought up as a specific example, he has severe paranoia and psychosis due to his abusive father and isn't capable of functioning in a civilian setting. The Terror Twins are the other example, they didn't know any way to use their power other than to steal, until Orange Lantern points out that they are perfect for specialized heavy labor.
  • Subverted in Human Curiosity, when the head of the HCS decides to sell the group's advanced weaponry to countries like North Korea before he disbands the organization.
  • Bad Future Crusaders has two:
    • Sweetie Belle setting up such a deal with the diamond dogs by, in her own words, showing them some of the nice things those gemstones can buy. In the process she ultimately ended up turning them into a peaceful society that co-exists with ponies.
    • Though subtle, it's implied the "two lankey stallions" that design and maintain Environment Equestria's fleet of Magitek vehicles are the Flim Flam brothers who decided at some point to drop the scams and market their technology directly.
  • In Aftermath of a Fallen Star, Flim and Flam have started a legitimate company that's revolutionizing technology in Equestria, which is another thing upsetting a lot of traditionalists.
  • Harry points this out to Voldemort in The Conversation.
    Harry: You were handsome, smart, and stupidly powerful. You found the freaking Chamber of Secrets, something that scholars had been seeking for centuries; you were the heir of Salazar Slytherin. You would have been celebrated for finding the Chamber alone. You could have claimed your family’s seat on the Wizengamot being the first in centuries with the bloodline, intelligence and power to claim it. You could have changed the world for the better.
  • New Tamaran: Ironically, Scarecrow signs over his fear toxin to Lex Luthor … who then uses it for benevolent purposes.
  • Killer Frost is convinced to go legit in Timex... keeps on ticking after she learns Ice (who has the same powers as her) makes enough money producing ice for ice factories to afford a penthouse apartment in Metropolis.
  • Not for money specifically, but in the third Ultimate Video Rumble, Geese Howard of Fatal Fury abruptly decides that, if he wants glory and power (and the satisfaction of beating up and humiliating his foes), the best way to do so is just to win the Rumble, rather than waste time, money, and minions on some Evil Plan that would inevitably end with his allies betraying him and/or screwing up and the best heroes of twenty separate universes hunting him down. Sure enough, this works, making him the only villain in any of the Rumbles to succeed at his goals.
  • Basically applies to Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, as Harry deals with the potential threat she poses by basically blackmailing her with his knowledge of her Animagus status and an offer to make her his exclusive journalist. So long as Rita doesn't write anything scathingly against him or his friends, Harry will provide her with at least one interview a year, while also ensuring that she gets first shot if any stories come up involving him; Harry even recognises that it's a good deal for Rita as she gets exclusive insight into one of the most famous figures in the wizarding world.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: Donnie whips up such things as a DNA tracker, submarines, a functional blimp, a cure for mutagen and vampirism, and Surveillance Drones. In chapter 124, Donnie explains why he chooses not to market any of his inventions:
    Donnie: Why would we need to sell any of my inventions when our foster mom is basically swimming in loot like Scrooge McDuck? Plus, I'm not doing this for money or recognition. I'm doing this to make our lives easier, and for the personal satisfaction of building something out of nothing.
  • In For Great Justice, Izuku stumbles across Poison Ivy using her genetically modified plants to drain a power plant of its electricity and convinces her to sell said plants, stating how much every government would be willing to pay for 100% green renewable energy that they can quite literally grow in their backyard.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Incredibles:
    • Averted with Syndrome. He sells his inventions to finance his real scheme, which will get him something that money can't buy. He also notes that, while he kept his best inventions to himself, he fully plans on selling those too in his old age when he can't play hero anymore. It's a rather clever twist on the usual version of this trope - instead of the whole "selling the technology legitimately instead of using it to accomplish the Evil Plan" schtick, selling the technology legitimately is Syndrome's evil plan, because he wants to take the spark out of being a superhero in the eyes of the public.
    • Edna is a deconstruction. She parlayed her skills gained designing super-suits for super-heroes into becoming a rock-star fashion designer after superheroes were outlawed, and has become richer than God. She is also bored out of her skull, since neither the materials nor the people she works with are anywhere near as interesting as the exotic polymers and ceramics and colourful characters she worked with during the Superhero era, and she jumps at the chance to design something for the Incredibles as soon as she gets the chance.
      Supermodels? PAH! Stick figures with poofy lips! I used to design for GODS!!!
  • Up's Charles Muntz has somehow managed to create a universal translator for dogs, which in a world where surely dogs are just as popular as pets as in reality, should have made him a multimillionaire, or even billionaire. He could have simply marketed this invention and used the money to fund the search for his precious bird. How easy would it have been to find it with modern camera technology? Never mind the fact that this would have earned him considerably more renown than any animal discovery.
  • In Coco, the villain probably didn't ever need to resort to murder and theft to get his way. Ernesto still had the movie-star good looks, athletic ability, golden voice, and charm to be famous and adored, even without Hector's songwriting ability—he could probably have just hired a lyricist for himself. Hell, Ernesto could have simply worked out a deal where he sent Hector money in exchange for new songs: a family man like Hector would have utterly pounced on the opportunity to get paid for sitting at home with his family and writing songs.
  • Deconstructed in Superman: Doomsday — Lex Luthor finds a cure for muscular dystrophy and orders his assistant to turn it into an expensive, lifelong treatment.
  • The Coachman from Pinocchio uses his Pleasure Island scheme to transform delinquent children into donkeys and sell them into hard labor. One needs to look no further than Disney Land to consider that there's simply no way selling a couple dozen crates of donkeys is nearly as lucrative as simply charging admission to his island-sized theme park of Pleasure Island, especially considering he could also market to adults and would no longer have a one-time-only clientele. Justified though, considering it's strongly implied he and his henchmen are Humanoid Abominations who thrive on the abject cruelty of "making jackasses" out of children.
  • In The Rescuers, Snoops points out the many, smaller jewels Penny found in the cave and it's revealed there's even more in there. Snoops adds that those gems are worth a fortune if sold or fenced, but Medusa is not interested in them for unknown reasons. She only wants the Devil's Eye.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Ant-Man, Darren Cross is already head of Pym Technology, so he doesn't need to create shrinking Evil Knockoff Powered Armor. Even then, his inability to shrink organic matter still leaves him with A: Functional suits that can fly around and shoot laser beams, which would still sell a ton; B. Shrinking technology that works on inorganic material, which would still change the world; and C. An incomplete shrink ray that reduces people to a pin drop of goo (which he already weaponised as a gun in one scene!). Justified, however, in that his experiments with Pym particles have slowly driven him insane, making him obsessed with perfectly replicating Hank Pym's invention in order to surpass/impress his mentor.
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Number Two grows furious with Dr. Evil for engaging in high-risk world-threatening schemes when their front companies were already making billions a year, legally and pretty much risk-free. Ratcheted up in the second movie where Dr. Evil has a time machine and only uses it to thwart Austin Powers and to attempt to hold the world ransom in a decade that has less money to extort.
    Number Two: Why not use your knowledge of the future to play the stock market? We could make trillions.
    Dr. Evil: Why make trillions when we could make... billions?
  • Averted in The Invisible Man (2020) - the titular villain did make an invisibility suit solely so that he could stalk his ex-girlfriend, but it's established very early on that he is already an extremely wealthy optics researcher and he is only using the suit to torment Cecilia because he is a Psycho Ex-Boyfriend - and real abusive partners can indeed be that petty.
  • Jurassic World is an odd one - the titular theme park seems, by all appearances, to be incredibly popular and profitable (there's an offhand line to the effect that it's losing popularity and people are bored of regular dinos, but that's scarcely borne out in the film). In spite of this, they decide it'd be a great idea to deliberately engineer the Indominus rex, a killing-machine dino, for a military contract, using facilities on the park itself. Predictably, the Indominus escapes, kills dozens, and basically destroys their entire corporate empire overnight. Apparently, they were planning to double-dip and make it another attraction along with filling out the contract, but as the Indominus doesn't look too different from their current stock, and its genetic modifications include camouflage, it's a wonder how they thought it'd be successful at that past the novelty. Had they just kept running the theme park, or designed a cool-looking but harmless dino, they'd be sailing smoothly.
  • In Ridley Scott's Robin Hood (2010), Godfrey conspires with the King of France to undermine England from the inside. However, Godfrey is best buddies with King John of England, who quickly promotes him to his second-in-command. Yet he follows through with the betrayal because France is far wealthier at this point in history; a lesser position in a thriving country is better than a higher one in a struggling country.
  • Ray in Face leads a team of bank robbers, but tells the newest member of the team that he could have made more money driving a truck.
  • In Spider-Man, Norman Osborn becomes the Green Goblin when he tests an experimental formula on himself. He gains superpowers, but goes mad. It allows him to operate the experimental armor and aircraft he was trying to sell to the military, which needed a working version of the formula to operate safely. So he uses it to destroy his competitor's project and then kill his board of directors when they try to kick him out of the company.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man: The Oscorp bio-cable, which comes from genetically modified spiders created by the research of Peter's father and Connors, is already being sold. It's implied it's used for things like airplane towing cables. It is also, presumably, rather expensive. Peter steals some of it to use as his webbing. This is also, it's implied, the most profitable use anyone's been able to get out of the work of Pete's dad, since he vanished with the formula.
  • Averted in James Cameron's unproduced Spider-Man screenplay. In it, Electro uses his powers to become an obscenely wealthy businessman, as it turns out that his electrical abilities are rather useful for things like corporate espionage and making sure his rivals meet with unfortunate "accidents."
  • Played with in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Adrian "The Vulture" Toomes and his gang are making money from selling their inventions, but since said inventions are all made from stolen technology, they're considered illegal, and thus the Vulture can only do business with the criminal underworld.
  • Averted at the end of Small Soldiers. After the disaster is halted, it's implied that the CEO of GloboTech plans to sell the Commando Elites to the military to use against The Cartels, after "adding a few zeroes to the end" of the price.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Sacks has a building in downtown Manhattan, a mansion home outside of town, helicopter, resources to have labs - but he's evidently not rich enough. He wants to be "stupid rich", by poisoning the city and selling the cure.
  • In the Resident Evil movies, the Mega-Corp Umbrella Corporation should have been making enough legitimate profit as the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world to not need to take the risk of creating bioweapons. One of the films tries to justify the zombie creation virus by saying that Umbrella Corporation was working on a skin creme that reanimated dead skin cells (as a beauty treatment)... except when they tested it, it turned the test subjects into zombies. Instead of scrapping the research, they kicked it to bioweapons, and thus... zombies as weapons. By the time later sequels roll around, Umbrella's business model has taken a hard swing into full-blown Stupid Evil, spending untold billions upon billions of dollars on exact replicas of major cities, stocked with perfect clones of people implanted with false memories, for the sake of unleashing their bioweapons on them and showing footage of the destruction to potential buyers. Not only could any of these technological wonders have made them fantastically wealthy on its own, but by this point in the story there's not enough political and economic stability in the world for any possible buyers to even exist anymore. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter makes it clear that the higher-ups of the Corporation, just like their video game counterparts, were just looking to become god-like all along and the world-wide extinction-level Zombie Apocalypse was the means to an end (they were even cryogenically frozen while it all happened). Still doesn't excuse the Stupid Evil of the people on lower levels such as the clone of Dr. Isaacs, though.
  • In The Karate Kid Part III, Terry Silver's plan is to lure Daniel Larusso into taking on Mike Barnes at the All-Valley Tournament, and when challenged on this by Mr. Miyagi, contends that he will not only restore the glory of Cobra Kai, but open up 20 new dojos across California and make the training free to all new recruits. It doesn't occur to Silver (a billionaire with cash to burn), John Kreese or anyone else on their team that offering free karate lessons would be a huge public relations boon for them, and that it could help them restore their image after losing the previous All-Valley Tournament. Instead, Silver and Barnes resort to highly-questionable tactics (including hitting Daniel between rounds in the tournament) that ultimately leads to them being permanently barred from the tournament, as per Cobra Kai. Ironically, Daniel himself would use the tactic of offering free karate lessons 30 years later in order to jumpstart the Miyagi-Do school in Cobra Kai, while Johnny would manage to turn the dojo into a rather successful outfit simply by dropping the villainy and focusing entirely on the pride-aspect of the martial art.
  • Inspector Gadget: Averted—RoboGadget was merely the testing stage for a brand of "techno-warrior" androids which Sandford Scolex hoped to sell.
  • The Assignment (2016): If Jane could perform an Easy Sex Change that could make you look like Michelle Rodriguez, she should have been able to make enough money to buy whatever revenge she wanted.
  • Zig-Zagged in Chappie: The villain turns villainous because the remote-controlled, heavily-armed combat mecha he designed was overlooked by South African police in favour of the AI-controlled robots that are smaller, more modular and suited for urban environments. Over the course of the film, he is motivated by a desire to prove that his mecha is much more effective in fighting crime than the robots. That he believes AI is evil is just the icing on the cake. On the other hand, his mecha is overkill for urban policing, even in Johannesburg. One wonders why neither he (as an ex-military man), nor his boss, tried to arrange meetings with actual military officers who would have lapped up an advanced combat mecha like that.

  • One of the earliest examples has to be the Wicked Queen from Snow White, who has access to a magic mirror who can deliver accurate information on seemingly any topic from anywhere in the world, and deliver unlimited undetectable surveillance to anyone you name. What does she use it for? Reaffirming her own vanity.
  • The Goliath Corporation in the Thursday Next novels are an absolutely giant monolith who practically own Great Britain; still they insist on harebrained schemes like trying to enter fiction on a wide-scale basis. On the other hand, we infer that a large part of how they made their money in the first place was on evil schemes...
  • The memoirs of one James Crosbie, a moderately notorious armed robber, describe a fairly impressive list of achievements; he held a responsible position at a Kenyan mining company and for a long while was running his own quite successful metalwork business. And yet despite having earned better money during those times — to say nothing of not being on the run from the law — he claims to have felt a much lesser sense of achievement from this than from robbing banks, despite the much greater failure rate, smaller financial returns and lengthy prison sentences. Although we only have Crosbie's word for any of this...
  • Jason Cameron from The Fire Rose is contemptuous of his apprentice's use of magic to cheat at gambling games (in the specific mentioned incident, a cockfight). A genuine Fire Master (which Paul theoretically could become if he actually put some work in) could make a fortune in a few years through completely legal means like he did.
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain:
    • Ray leases Penny's bubblegum machine to pay for his shopping spree. Later, Penny sells another invention to a villain for a thousand dollars. Penny directly acknowledges that she could make money legitimately when the Machine digs thousands of dollars of gold out of a landfill, but being a villain is more fun.
    • On the flipside, we have Bull, a retired villain with money issues. Penny is surprised, since he was one of the most powerful villains for decades, and should have more than enough money for anything he wants. He wryly notes that while a Mad Scientist can make money pretty easily, The Brute (like him) isn't so lucky, and his poor financial sense didn't help.
    • In a side-story we meet Psychopomp, a three-hundred and twenty-four year old trapped as a ten year-old girl and cursed to feed Death's scythe with blood. She's the oldest confirmed immortal in the world. Her only reliable source of income is looting her victims, but Goodnight (a fellow, slightly younger immortal) points out that historians would pay through the nose to hear about her experiences. Psychopomp admits she hadn't thought of that.
    • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have a Nemesis, it's mentioned that most Mad Scientist villains are very rich, because they sold their inventions as a civilian. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for otherwise ordinary Mad Scientists to randomly go insane and try to take over the world.
  • Cited and strongly averted by Maddox in Tyrannosaur Canyon. Instead of networking in prison to advance his criminal career, he used his contacts to make a dating site called Hard Time for women seeking convicts. He comments in other places that if he had known how easy it was to make money legitimately, he never would have bothered with crime.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Amazon tribe has become far more successful this way than they were back in the days they were known as savage man-hating warriors, having founded and running it out of Seattle.
  • In Till We Have Faces, one of the King of Glome's favorite punishments is sentencing the person to be worked to death in the silver mines. As his daughter Orual notes, doing this might be a good way to create a reign of terror, but it's not very good for actually mining silver. When Orual takes the throne, she makes sure to treat the miners well, and silver output skyrockets, forming a key piece of Glome's prosperity under her. Ironically enough, her father often bemoaned Glome's poor economic situation, yet never thought of labor reform.
  • In Other People's Heroes, after the most vile villains were eliminated, most of the rest of them fell in line, happy to work for a steady paycheck and the chance to smash things up in a sanctioned manner.
  • The Golden Rendezvous by Alistair MacLean. The villains steal the latest mini-nuke from the United States, and plan to use it to destroy all evidence and witnesses after robbing a ship of its cargo of gold. It's suggested that the leader of a communist dictatorship is behind this, and he needs the gold to pay for weapons he's bought from the Soviet Union. However given that the mini-nuke is the latest US military technology, he could just hand it over to the Soviets in exchange for them cancelling his debt or ransomed it back to the USA
    • Fear Is The Key by the same creator has the villain go to great lengths to recover treasure from a plane-wreck at the bottom of the ocean. This includes kidnapping the wife and daughter of an oil tycoon, so he'll allow the villain to use his yacht and oil rig. He could have made more money at less cost and effort by simply making the tycoon pay a ransom.
  • Worm subverts this, as all powers are designed for use in, causing or facilitating conflict, and actively sabotage attempts to use them peacefully or for profit. Powers that generate matter cannot be used for construction, as the matter generated will gradually or suddenly disappear again, probably at the most inconvenient time.
    • On top of this, there is an entire body of law specifically dedicated to making it as hard as possible for parahumans to legally use their powers in a productive manner. The ostensible function of this is to prevent unfair competition, the semi-secret function is to force parahumans into joining the Protectorate, and the real purpose is to force parahumans to use their powers in ways that will cause conflict and suffering, causing new parahumans to trigger to fight Zion.
  • Played for humor in Captain Underpants, where one of the more prominent recurring villains is a Mad Scientist who invented, among other things, both a Shrink Ray and a Growth Ray. He planned to use them for actual constructive purposes (shrinking garbage to dispose of it, or growing food to solve world hunger), but he couldn't find a buyer because whenever he introduced himself, everyone just laughed at the name "Professor Pippy P. Poopypants." Naturally, he decided to go the supervillain route after that.
  • Spy School: In "Spy School Revolution" it's revealed that the plot of King Kong was originally one of Croatan's evil plots but when they couldn't find a real giant gorilla they sold the idea to Hollywood.
  • How to Succeed in Evil has the protagonist Edwin Windsor, a freelance consultant who specializes in advising supervillains. He's motivated by money, and advises his clients against indulging in actual villainy. He most often advises them to go legit and put their respective powers and skillsets into earning honest money (it helps that an honest living for supers is actually much more profitable than street level crimes), or to engage in Pragmatic Villainy. The people he takes on as clients, due to their natures, often ignore his advice. Edwin gets paid very well either way, so he tries not to think about it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted on Sherlock. Moriarty commits three enormously ballsy thefts at the exact same time, and immediately surrenders to the police without stealing a penny because there is nothing he could steal that would be as valuable as the key that let him steal it all; Sherlock figures it's a product demonstration. It's, sadly, a lie. How do you break into the unbreakable vault? Bribe the man with the key. Since he's not actually after money at all (Moriarty's motives run more towards the... existential?) it's also an Averted Trope.
  • Breaking Bad: Walt could have swallowed his pride and accepted Gretchen and Elliott's handouts to save his family, but Walt insists on building his nest egg himself through illegal drug manufacture. Deconstructed, as a major theme of the series is that Walt doesn't just want money; he wants the power and respect that come with being Heisenberg.
    • Also played for laughs in one episode, where Gale, a highly skilled chemist and meth cook, shows off his side project: a machine capable of brewing the perfect cup of coffee. When Walt tastes it, he declares it the best coffee he's ever had, and wonders why they're bothering with meth.
  • Better Call Saul: Jimmy could have stayed the course in his lucrative partner track at a legitimate law firm, but he's too set in his ways and quits to indulge his morally questionable legal tactics as an independent practitioner.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Trio of wannabe evil masterminds somehow develop technology, including invisibility, robots that can pass as human etc, but use that tech to commit minor crimes in Sunnydale. Anyone who could manufacture androids that could pass as human would make billions. The later spin-off comics clarify that most of these were based on plans the Trio illegally downloaded from the Pentagon, preventing them from trying to market the designs themselves.
  • The TV show Masterminds, though drawn from real life, provides only a few examples of criminals who managed to do this. Several open or work with security companies and one becomes a legitimate painter instead of a forger. It also has an inversion example in a criminal who built his own climbing rig and went back to stealing because he was in it for the challenge.
  • Like a lot of superhero stories, Kamen Rider is all over this. Shocker, the villain organization from the original series, had the scientific knowledge to create fully-functioning cyborgs and human-animal hybrids in 1971, but rather than using these technologies to revolutionize medicine, all they want to do is Take Over the World. The primary justification for this is that Shocker was largely composed of Nazi holdovers who felt that conquering the world was simply their right. Almost every other Showa-era villain organization falls into the same area.
    • The Heisei era (2000 onwards) does this more rarely, but there it tends to take the form of corporations that can create their own Kamen Riders — essentially, suits of Powered Armor that can be stored inside a belt and would impress even Tony Stark. However, there are generally in-universe reasons why they don't do so.
      • Kamen Rider 555: Ultimately it turns out that the Smart Brain Corporation is staffed mainly by Orphnochs, and as such the Rider Gear was made specifically to be used by the Orphnoch King's bodyguards. Besides that, all the belts require the user to have Orphnoch DNA (except for Delta, but it has addictive side-effects instead). Actually subverted in an artbook that features a mock-up of a Smart Brain catalogue showing civilian-use Rider Gear.
      • Kamen Rider Gaim: Averted; while the Yggdrasil Corporation looks sinister, its president Takatora Kureshima is actually doing everything he can to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. This includes mass-producing the Sengoku Drivers so that humanity can survive the invasion of Helheim. Unfortunately, even a company as wealthy as Yggdrasil can only produce one billion Drivers, which means they can only save a fraction of humanity.
  • Segundo Sol: In this Brazilian soap-opera, Roberval earned his fortune by finding diamonds in Angola. Unfortunately, because that nation's laws require the mine to have a citizen of Angola listed as an owner, Roberval needed a business partner from that nation. Said partner was as honest as he is but the partner's son, upon claiming the inheritance, decided to expand his wealth and power through diamond smuggling and considers Roberval a coward for being satisfied with the mine's legal profits.
  • In Hawaii Five-O two detectives accuse a drug-dealer of killing a fellow dealer to take over his turf. The dealer points out that marijuana will be legalized in the next couple of years, and he would be jeopardizing his investments in plantations which will legally be worth millions.
  • The Boys (2019). Homelander secretly provides Compound V to terrorist groups to create Supe Terrorists, spurring the passage of a bill to allow Military Superheroes. At the start of Season 2, the CEO of Vought Industries points out to Homelander how stupid his plan was. Superheroes aren't Vought's most valuable asset, Compound V is. Now the secret of their confidential Super Serum is out, they no longer have a monopoly on it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun:
    • In its earliest appearances, Mitsuhama Computer Technologies were depicted as a front for the yakuza. Eventually, the writers caught on that a billion-nuyen criminal organization is hardly going to use a trillion-nuyen triple-A Mega-Corp as a cover. This was retconned in later editions to show that Mitsuhama had several prominent Yakuza daimyo as capital investors in the company's initial formation, giving them a large, but not a majority, stake in the corporation.
    • The Latin-American ORO company started out as a money laundering front for three drug cartels, grew into becoming a laundering banking service for several drug cartels that founded most of Latin-America's industry, and then (through some lucky mining contracts that turned out to be way more valuable than expected) outgrew the money-laundering business. A few good business decisions and worldwide political upheavals later, ORO had re-imagined itself as Aztechnology and at the present time of the Shadowrun timeline, own Latin-America. Some of its income still derives from overtly illegal sources like software piracy and drugs (which can't be regulated), but it's long been eclipsed by its consumer goods, banking, heavy industry and magic departments.
  • Aberrant doesn't generally have costumed supervillains robbing banks because of this trope; novas can earn far more money through legitimate salaries, celebrity and merchandising rights than they ever would through threatening the world with a doom ray, and most novas do. Novas who desire power, meanwhile, usually gravitate to the mercenary scene and work on becoming dictators of some third-world country (while still making the above money off of merchandising in the meantime); the only real "supervillain" novas either work for organized crime megasyndicates that can pay as well as legitimate work, or are motivated by ideological concerns.
  • Because many settings are written partially to address the Fridge Logic of earlier settings, Dungeons & Dragons alternate settings and expansion books are famous for repurposing magic and rituals that are capital-E Evil of the cosmic, a-god-will-smite-you variety to instead serve some sort of useful purpose in the setting, with even preconstructed adventures in Greyhawk often throwing in the use of zombies as low-cost, low-injury blue collar workers and substitutes for living people in dangerous areas like poison swamps. The ultimate example of this is the Eberron setting, which begins with the gods disappearing and leaving the mortals to figure out their own morality and ends up with:
    • Summoning demons and imps to cast illusion spells and paint images inside of tiny boxes, giving them photography and video.
    • Using a vampiric transformation to render an entire race's elderly population quasi-immortal, keeping them just fed enough to stick around and give advice.
    • Creating sentient golems and then giving them full citizens' privileges after a civil rights movement
    • Using hell-planes as shortcuts to make the trains run on time
    • An entire playable class whose sole purpose is to convert magic into reusable devices so that it can be more easily resold.
    • Not to mention things like Emperor Tippy's "Tippyverse", which uses mid-level magic to create a post-scarcity utopia.

  • One commonly-circulated conspiracy theory claims that a major automaker, usually Ford or General Motors, is suppressing all knowledge of a "miracle carburettor", which can allow cars to travel 200 miles on a single gallon of fuel. One obvious fact which people who believe this rumor tend to forget is that Ford and General Motors are car companies, not oil companies, meaning that if this carburettor actually did exist, they would gain nothing by keeping it under wraps instead of putting it in all of their cars and earning billions of dollars in new sales. (It could be argued that as big as Ford, GM and Dodge-Chrysler are (even with the increased market shares for Japanese/Korean and European marques over the last four decades), the oil companies are bigger still.)
  • Similarly, the infamous suppression of an all purpose cancer cure conspiracy theory, which purports that the pharmaceutical industry has developed and is sitting on a cure, even sending hired assassins to murder alternative medical practitioners in order to keep the whole thing under wraps in spite of the fact that anyone who developed such a cure would be sitting on a licence to print money.
  • So You've Learned To Teleport by Tom Scott could be the Trope Codifier for this entire trope, as he explains how someone with the power of teleportation could literally become a billionaire overnight... instead of taking the tired old route of becoming a superhero and fighting crime.

    Video Games 
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • Bareesh the Hutt. Formerly a crimelord, he realized he both made more profit and avoided being branded a criminal by doing legit business with the Republic.
    • Played straight in the same game with The Locust who controls a series of advanced droids he uses to Salt the Earth on various planets. The agent the player helps during this side-quest points out the droids could have applications for rebuilding and resettling worlds and even offers a surprisingly fair deal so he could earn money while in prison from this venture. He still turns it down the opportunity with the Republic using his droids anyways.
    • Inverted in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: G0-T0 was a droid given an impossible directive: restore the Republic whilst obeying all its laws. After a Zeroth Law Rebellion in which that second clause was discarded, G0-T0 worked his way into becoming a criminal kingpin, but with the express purpose of revitalizing the galactic economy via illicit means.
      Exile: So all the crime... everything you've done for the Exchange is actually because you want to help the Republic.
      G0-T0: Do not mistake me - I believe it is possible to stabilize the Republic, but there must be action taken without constraints, immediately. Sometimes people must die. Illegal shipments must be used to bolster planetary economies. And the Hutts must be occupied with me so that the Republic has room to recover.
  • From the Resident Evil series is the Mega-Corp Umbrella Corporation, which had enough legitimate profit as the world's leading pharmaceutical company to not be dabbling in bio-weapons. And on top of that, when you consider what they are able to accomplish with their research, they'd probably make much, much more money pursuing something legitimate and marketable, as opposed to selling mutants and skinless dogs on the black market.
    • What makes it even sadder is that all the money that was invested in making these biological weapons could have vastly improved the lives of the civilian world. All these villains could have helped people had they wanted to and still have made a huge profit off of it.
    • Edward Ashford, one of the three original founders of Umbrella, did indeed want to research the regenerative abilities of the Virus, if only for the scientific value and potentially healing the sick. He, however, contracted a viral infection (unspecified if it was related to said research). As Marcus, the other founder besides Spencer, had no business acumen, Spencer was left the defacto leader (until Marcus's assassination).
    • The zombie virus actually bit Umbrella in the ass. At the beginning of Resident Evil 4, it is revealed that for the zombifying of and forcing the nuking of Raccoon City the US government froze Umbrella's assets, the price of their stock dropped, and the company was forced into bankruptcy.
    • Resident Evil 5 revealed that Oswald Spencer's ultimate goal with Umbrella was to mutate a virus he'd discovered into something that would make him godlike and immortal. All the zombies, skinless dogs, and mutants were byproducts of this research. Spencer still crosses the Moral Event Horizon by trying to weaponize them and not giving a damn about any of his employees' lives.
    • Lampshaded in one of the notes in the remake, where Wesker was looking over the books and realized there was no way Umbrella could turn a profit, even on the black market, with all of the RnD costs that went into it. The only possible way that Umbrella could even break even was if an "accidental" outbreak occurred and killed all of the staff so they didn't have to get paid...
    • Resident Evil 6 sheds some light on Umbrella's madness: the Simmons Family is Biohazard's version of The Illuminati, having secretly controlled America since colonial times from the sidelines AND had a controlling share in Umbrella, giving them access to Spencer's research with every breakthrough. So Spencer was at war with America all along, and his planned outbreaks were to weed out the spies.
  • Team Fortress 2: Blutarch and Redmond Mann have hired teams of elite mercenaries to fight over lumbermills, granaries, and barren scraps of land in the middle of Death Valley, even though, according to the timeline, they own half the world. Possibly subverted, as they hold a deep grudge due to their father's hatred of their own stupidity, forcing them into cooperation by giving them a split share of the company's land.
    • They also paid their mercenaries to invent technological marvels like a gun that heals mortal injuries in a matter of seconds, an implant that makes your body briefly indestructible, and a life support machine that can extend your life for more than a hundred years. A shame Blutarch and Redmond never considered entering the health care industry. The Medic himself could consider selling his inventions, but seems honestly more interested with using them to end life than prolong it, while The Engineer has a history with the company and seems to enjoy his work.
    • Subverted in that it turns out any usable form of the life-extender machine is completely useless without Australium, which is both extremely expensive and hard to get a hold of, due to Australians being extremely protective of it. It doesn't help that the Announcer seems to be trying to destroy the entire world supply of the stuff for as-of-yet unrevealed reasons.
    • Much of this is that Blutarch and Redmond are just flat-out bad businessmen, which is a lot of why they got into that problem in the first place. Namely, they came to the inexplicable conclusion that producing gravel was a viable industry, and most of the land they bought up was endless pits of the stuff that they swore would be worth a fortune. (Oddly, Zepheniah, their father, agreed - part of what made him so angry was that the gravel pits didn't even have any good gravel in them.)
    • Then their secret third brother comes in and points out how they been squabbling over worthless piles of (literal) gravel, both ignoring the one thing worth a crap, Mann Company which is owned by Saxton Hale. Of course, he then sends armies of robots that run on money to take over it...
    • Gray Mann lampshades the use of money as a fuel source in his robots because, while it was a lapse of judgement (along with the praising protocol), he never thought the conflict would be this prolonged, which is actually starting to bankrupt him. This causes him to later develop the Engineer Bot and when that failed as well go through Saxton's own policy to claim Mann Corp through fisticuffs (which also involved loophole abuse), as he was fighting the war at a loss at that point and can't afford to prolong it the way his brothers did.
    • Averted in the case of the Mercenaries themselves, who'd happily go along with whatever insane plan their employers come up with without a second thought because they are paid very well. It's probably why none of them ever counseled or questioned Redmond and Blutarch Mann; had the brothers wised up to any of this then the Mercenaries would have killed the proverbial golden goose.
    • Comically played straight with the Pyro, who's apparently savvy enough as a leader to bring massive financial success (completely offscreen of course) to a company he was only at for a few months at most. Of course, being the Pyro, he was unsatisfied with the job and instantly bailed when Miss Pauling offered a chance to set things on fire. With the exception of the Engineer, every other Mercenary fell on hard times because killing people in comically hilarious situations was apparently their sole marketable skill.
  • Assassin's Creed: The franchise as a whole zig-zags on this idea. The modern-day Abstergo Industries is a front for The Knights Templar who are dedicated to taking over the world by abolishing free will, and they have dedicated much of the past several hundred years to locating First Civilization artifacts as their creators were specialists in mind control. While they keep the artifacts themselves a close secret, they've reverse-engineered a lot of the ancients' technology and shared it with the mass market and have profited enormously thereby. Their most valuable technology by far, however, remains a secret: the Animus, a machine allowing Genetic Memory to be experienced and recorded in real-time. By the time of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, they've perfected the Animus sufficiently to create a version that allows ordinary people to replay memories not in their own bloodline. Rather than offer this to researchers, historians, and documentarians to permit humanity to gain a never-before-attained glimpse into the truth of the past, they instead form an entertainment division dedicated to selling video games and feature films with dumbed down, mass-market dreck based on heavily edited and propagandized versions of the lives that they've unearthed. The given justification is that making money and benefiting humanity are secondary to their main goal of turning humans into easily controlled sheep.
    • There's one additional element revealed in the series (mostly II): the Templars effectively invented modern capitalism and its institutions as a way to conceal their activities in an increasingly connected world from an increasingly literate and informed public, for roughly the reasons they helped end aristocratic traditions. Just as nobody questions why a random person wields great power in a world where it appears any common citizen can succeed and eventually wield great power, nobody questions why a business concern (or later corporation) is doing things if those things clearly make money. Effectively, Abstergo already has wealth (what money can buy): they only make money to obfuscate how much of what they have money actually can't buy. They view a profit motive as one of their manipulative tools; it's no surprise they don't value it themselves.
  • Portal 2:
    • Under Cave Johnson's leadership, Aperture made genuinely miraculous inventions that would revolutionize industry, transit, and artificial intelligence. However, Cave Johnson refuses to sell them to the public, instead using them solely for extremely dangerous "tests". In fairness to the man, he was blitzed out of his mind on moon rocks at the time.
    • Comically averted, subverted, played straight, and sideways in the Perpetual Testing Initiative dialogues about the various alternate Caves; in one universe Cave actually had the common sense to market his inventions and actually took over Aperture's main rival Black Mesa and prevented the entire plot of the Half-Life series from happening by vetoing the dangerous experiment that led to the whole mess. In another he was apparently comically evil enough to spend all of his resources teleporting in a cube of frozen urine as a practical joke (which Cave Prime had to melt with hairdryers before it could be teleported out).
    • Cave Prime initially came up with the initiative because building the testing arenas was bleeding him dry (he still hasn't figured out he could sell his inventions, which at this point included a multi-dimensional gate and proving that there are other universes in existence) and instead wanted to con other universes into building the arenas for him. Subverting it in that he did end up making a profit, but not by selling his inventions. Rather he managed to get his man to jump through enough universes to find one made entirely of money.
  • The trope is played with throughout the Danganronpa series, ultimately turning out to have majorly backfired when it did happen. The main villain, Junko Enoshima, is the second smartest human being on Earth, and the smartest naturally occurring one, as the smartest person was made into that via mad science. Unfortunately, she’s so smart that regular existence is extremely miserable for her due to extreme boredom, being so intelligent that she learn things that took people over a decade in less than a minute. The only thing that alleviates her boredom is despair, not only that of others but even her own, leading her to successfully cause the apocalypse just to stop being bored. It’s then revealed that that person’s protégé is just as smart, and just as insane. The only difference is that the protégé is also the illegitimate daughter of the CEO of the largest tech company around, the Towa Group. As The Un-Favourite she’s been abused all her life, but when her father sees her robotics genius, she’s put in charge of their robotics division while still a tween. However, by this point she’s already been “adopted” by Junko (and was a sociopath beforehand, attempting to trick her friends into a Suicide Pact with no intention of joining), and begins building Junko’s Monokuma robots for the aforementioned apocalypse and the killing game of the first game. Not only that, but when her father finds out what she’s up to, he uses the foreknowledge of the coming downfall of humanity to save their city, take it over, and is working towards taking over the rest of the world when she later kills him after Junko’s death. Needless to say, giving these people infinite resources to build things probably wasn’t the best plan, considering billions die.
  • In one of the endings to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, crime boss Cyprian "Whoreson Junior" Wily gets religion, divests himself of his criminal enterprises and re-invents himself as an above-board brown-water trader. He comments that he makes twice as much money from his legitimate enterprises as he ever did from his illegal ones, and that his goons stay loyal because twice as much coin buys twice as much loyalty with that kind of people. Of course, the fact that the "reborn" Whoreson Junior is, in fact, Dudu Biberveldt the Doppler, who is not only not a sadistic, murderous nutjob like the real Whoreson, but established early on as intelligent and business-savvy, helps the profitability a lot.
  • In Mass Effect, one sidequest deals with a pair of crime bosses fighting over their organization. Should you take one of them out and then convince the other to give up their life of crime, she turns up in the next game on Omega, using her people skills and knowledge of the criminal underworld for social work.
    Paragon Shepard: That's... more noble than I expected.
  • In the Forgotten Realms setting, the Red Wizards of Thay are mostly known as a tyrannical magocracy with aspirations to world conquest. In Neverwinter Nights 2's second expansion Storm of Zehir, though, there's a magic shop in Neverwinter run by a Red Wizard who says making money selling magic items is a better use of his associates' time.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the Great Khans have members that were taught chemistry and decided to use it to manufacture drugs. A Courier can point out to them that the same knowledge could also be used to make medicine, and in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the latter is likely to be more profitable - something they'll quickly agree with.
  • Averted in the Golden Ending for Payday 2 where it is revealed several members of the gang went to use their skills to earn money legitimately; examples include Chains becoming a Hollywood stuntman, Bonnie opening a distillery in Glasgow and making a popular new brand of whiskey, Joy founding an award-winning retro-game company that is the biggest in the world, and Locke opening a cyber-security company in Silicon Valley.

  • The recurring Wily Beers in Bob and George are the result of Dr. Wily taking over a Heineken plant and then marketing his own beer. The beer is so good that Dr. Light let him keep it, and even the heroes drink it.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (1987): Flintheart Glomgold is already the second-richest in the entire world, but his sole objective in life is surpassing Scrooge McDuck for the top spot. One might wonder if he could accomplish this if not for how much he spends on plans to off Scrooge. This is especially the case in the 2017 series.
  • COBRA in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. The majority of the plots in the cartoon involved stealing/kidnapping someone and ransoming them off for absurd amounts of money, through which they would be able to attain ultimate power. Only about a third of their plots directly incorporated demands of, "Hand over the keys to the entire world, or else!" This was lampshaded by Tomax and Xamot at one point, when they pointed out that Cobra already had absurd amounts of money from its front corporations (especially Extensive Enterprises, the international conglomerate headed by the Twins), black market operations, etc., which is how they got all their ridiculous contraptions to pull off the schemes in the first place. It eventually gets deconstructed in later seasons as we learn that COBRA cannot possibly exist as anything other than a criminal organization. The entirety of its R&D routinely violates every aspect of the Geneva Convention, and G.I. Joe: The Movie details that Cobra Commander is an exile from a supremacist fictional country called Cobra-la that believes the entirety of the world is its birthright and the citizens should consider themselves lucky if they get to live long enough to be enslaved.
  • Gargoyles:
    • Averted by billionaire David Xanatos. Although some of his clever schemes necessitate expending unimaginable sums of money (putting a medieval Scottish castle on top of the tallest building in the world, for example), it's only when he wants something he can't simply buy outright. On a normal day he uses his brilliance to run his corporate empire and make himself another fortune or two, only occasionally resorting to extremes like Time Travel for self-enrichment.
    • Later played straight by Demona. Her company Nightstone is just a front to further her plans to exterminate humanity, so wealth is not her goal but a means to an end.
  • Superman: The Animated Series started out with a very interesting subversion. Lex Luthor was going to use a giant mech, something which was stated to cost millions of dollars to make, to make money illegally. However, Lex wasn't going to use it to rob the banks or other such schemes, he was secretly selling it to terrorists (who were paying him a billion dollars) knowing that the US government would later hire Luthor to design a better mech to fight the one the terrorists "stole". Superman ruined that scheme. The whole premise seems like a sly riff on the Fleischer cartoon mentioned further down the page.
  • In the Justice League episode "Injustice for All", the League's battles with Luthor's Injustice Gang all revolve around money. Lex has brought them together with cash, he almost breaks them up when they ask for more money, and in the end, Batman brings the chaos to an end. How? He gets the Ultra-Humanite to ambush Lex by doubling Lex's offer. This allows the Humanite to achieve his main goal — funding opera on a PBS expy. Not ALL Viewers are Like You!
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Plankton actually sold all of his evil inventions in order to get enough money to pay everyone in town to sign a petition to bulldoze the Krusty Krab. He even managed to buy Mr. Krab's signature... four times! The only person who didn't sign the petition was SpongeBob, but he still had the majority on his side "and in a democracy, that's all you need", so the Krusty Krab got bulldozed... one foot away, so it would comply with the new law that says all fast food restaurants were at least 100 feet away from each other.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In one episode Dr. Doofenshmirtz's technology was being used in optometrist appointments and he started receiving royalty checks, however, he was angry that his invention was being used for good. So he decided to "balance it out" by making an -inator that would give people poor vision, forcing them to use the same device and give him even more money.
    • Doofenshmirtz actually appeared on an episode of Shark Tank, a series where inventors pitch their ideas to a panel of potential investors. Doofenshmirtz pitched his Shrinkinator, stating that he originally designed it to shrink City Hall and put it in his pocket for ransom, but decided that everyone could use one, giving examples of making more closet space and shrinking your car if you can't find a parking space. It's simple to use, as there's only two controls: a forward-reverse switch... and a self-destruct button. Doofenshmirtz stated that each one costs $1,000 to make and would sell them for $1,001. Mark Cuban offered to accept the pitch, on the basis of owning 95% of the company and receiving a $2 royalty for every $1 Doofenshmirtz got for selling a Shrinkinator. Doofenshmirtz thought the deal sounded pretty good and would have accepted if he hadn't accidentally pressed the self-destruct button.
    • At one point, Doofenshmirtz tried to use his genius to create a working formula that brought hair back and market it legally, which would've flown off the shelves...if he didn't name it "Get Back Hair".
    • In another episode, Doofenshmirtz creates a device that rapidly ages anything he shoots with it, which he uses it to rapidly age cheese to perfect flavor. He ends up trying to use it maliciously anyway, since Perry ate all of his cheese out of gluttony, justifiably angering him.
  • Notably averted in one episode of Dynomutt, Dog Wonder. The immensely (but not superhumanly) strong Superthug has hired an engineer to build a strength-enhancing exo-skeleton. His plan is not to use it to commit super-crimes, but to mass produce it, and sell the copies to other criminals so they can commit super-crimes and give him a small percentage.
  • Batman: The Animated Series
    • In the episode "The Clock King", efficiency expert Fugate was ruined at the end of the Distant Prologue, but seven years later, as the Clock King he has a lot of Offscreen Villain Dark Matter. (He can afford Conspicuous Consumption, cool Gadget Watches, has acquired an Abandoned Warehouse to his real name, and he organizes a Bank Robbery but left all the money in the vault.) As Batman has never heard of Fugate before their first meeting, it's implied Fugate didn't need to resort to crime to get all that Offscreen Villain Dark Matter, as his skills could make his fortune by legal means again.
    • A very clever subversion occurs in "Fear of Victory", where The Scarecrow combines both legal and illegal methods to make money. He bets against famous professional and college athletes, and then secretly dopes them with his fear toxin. When the athletes lose their competitions, the Scarecrow makes a huge amount of money for betting against the odds. The Scarecrow uses the money to pay for the chemicals and other paraphernalia he uses in his more dangerous schemes, making "Fear of Victory" one of the rare times when we actually see where Offscreen Villain Dark Matter might come from. Notably, Batman and Robin only discover the Scarecrow's plans when Robin is accidentally doped with fear toxin along with his college football playing-friend. Still somewhat played straight in that his toxin would be absolutely invaluable for numerous government and military applications and he'd likely make an order of magnitude more money in licensing it out for legitimate research than ripping off bookmakers with it.
  • In Xiaolin Chronicles, Jack Spicer actually uses his tech skills to make money in episode 9 (though in more of a Geek Squad way than by using his own inventions). Especially noticeable since he often makes huge robotics breakthroughs (both in this series and the previous one) and has never really seemed to consider selling his skills until now. However, he only started having money troubles recently, so he might not have needed to before (in the first series, he explicitly has rich parents).
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Dog and Pony Show", the Diamond Dogs could make a lot more money in their mining outfit acting as businesscanines instead of kidnappers. Both Rarity and the Diamond Dogs want gems, Rarity can dowse for gems but can't dig, and the Diamond Dogs can dig but can't dowse. The math should've been obvious, even to a race that's naturally Book Dumb (hell, it's actually shown on-screen to be the most profitable system the Diamond Dogs have ever seen, since it takes the whole cast to cart away the amount mined in a single afternoon).
  • Carter Pewterschmidt in Family Guy has the cure for cancer, but refuses to sell it on the grounds that it would be a short-term gain, long-term loss, because he also makes money on chemotherapy and pharmaceutical treatments. Ignoring the fact that his fortune came from about a hundred other enterprises including his inheritance, he's obviously not aware of how much money and praise will get showered at him if he were to unveil the holy grail of medicine; sometimes publicity is more valuable than the product. Not to mention that not even his original reasoning makes sense. Since we see him after having taken the drug, we can assume that it is a cure for cancer, not a vaccine; otherwise he would have never had to deal with the cancer in the first place (unless there was some reason why he wouldn't want a cancer vaccine in his system.) As it is just a one-time cure, and relapses would require a second dose, he could just sell it at an absurd price; it doesn't matter, everyone would still buy it. Plus, unless he owns a monopoly on chemotherapy and other cancer pharma, the only people losing money would be his competitors. Really, the writers just didn't think this throughnote note 
  • An episode of Time Squad had Houdini using his magic to commit a string of robberies. People were so impressed by it that after some prodding by Otto, they set up a fake diamond exhibit that people paid to get in simply to see him steal it. After learning this, Houdini realizes he can get rich simply by being a performer.
  • Shows up in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law with the one shot character The Motivator. At first a gimmicky bank robber with an extraordinary persuasive ability, he realized he could make far more money, and get far fewer hero-induced bruises, by turning his talents to honest work. Thus did he become a life coach.
  • The ending of Gravity Falls has Old Man McGuckett becoming incredibly wealthy upon regaining his sanity and patenting all of his inventions.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Dr. Drakken is frequently criticized for being heavily in debt due to spending so much money on every scheme to defeat Kim. Somewhat averted later on in the series, as Drakken would later develop a habit of stealing hyper-advanced technology on top of building doomsday devices himself...while still being heavily in debt.
    • Frugal Lucre, however, is a deconstruction of this trope, of sorts. The purpose of his villainous plots is to demonstrate to other villains that they don't need to spend as much money as they do. Operating out of his parents' basement and using cheap materials from the Walmart Expy he works at as well as some self-taught Hollywood Hacking skills, he proves himself as big a threat as the Bond-esque villains who make up most of the rest of Kim's rogues gallery.
    • In one episode, Drakken starts a cupcake company to fund his lastest evil plot. It ends up being so profitable that at one point he actually considers abandoning the plot and just running the company, only for Shego to threaten to blast him if he doesn't go through with it anyway. Of course, he ends up losing everything in the end, since not only does Kim foil his plot as usual, but immediately after that, a low-carb fad hits and people stop buying cupcakes.
  • This overlapping with Revenge Before Reason is the downfall of Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture, in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Norman Osborn's attempt at buying Toomes' company out from under him was based entirely on Osborn's claims that Toomes' experiments in anti-gravity flight were failures that would end up bankrupting the company. At that point, however, Toomes had finished a fully-functional anti-gravity personalized flight suit. If he'd just flown it over to the board meeting and shown it off, Osborn would have been thrown out of the building and Toomes' company would have been rolling in money. Instead, Toomes took up the identity of the Vulture to assassinate Osborn for trying to take over, which cost him everything.
  • Staunchly averted in Villainous, as the main characters are in the business of weapons development. A number of the shorts involve Black Hat's attempts to market the inventions of his main henchman, Dr. Flug, to other villains.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes plays with this trope alot with Lord Boxman. Supervillain and leader of Boxmore, his company makes Mecha-Mooks for other villains (and the various models are seen with his "children.") One in particular being Professor Venomous, whom he grows close to. However, he's also a nut who's more focused ond destroying Lakewood Plaza and has been in deep water with his investors. Season 1 ends with Darrel (the basic model, a one-eyed red robot) rat him out and launch him into the sun with him taking over.
    • Of course, he comes back in Season 2's second episode. His attempts at reclaiming his company fails and a talk with the Lakewood Plaza trio makes him realize that he was a bad buisnessman, compared to Darrel, who has been more focused on running the company properly. However, Boxman's praise is enough to get Darrel to try and attack the Plaza.
    • This contrasts with Professor Venomous, a suave bioengineer who's a frequent customer and friend of Boxmore. He makes alot of money with his work, but it becomes clear that he hates the bureaucratic business rules and he's drawn to Boxmore because he is so devoted to fighting heroes. It's this that leads to Venomous buying out Boxmore from the investors and running the place together, with all the implications it entails.
    • And as for Venomous' motivations? Whoo boy. That's a spoiler: Turns out he's actually the Fallen Hero Laserblast. He was insecure on how his power relied on that of others. He invented his helmet to shoot lasers to exploit that energy. He was researching to try and augment himself before his carelessness led to him trying to dispose of the evidence and seemingly "killing" himself. Everyone thought he was dead, but he survived and hearing Carol say he could not have survived that was the final blow to his fragile ego, especially since he lost his own powers. He spent years trying to recreate his superpowers, but instead fell to the dark side as he savored the power, wealth and prestige his work got him. However, he would grow bored with just making money and he was drawn to Boxmore's passion of fighting heroes, likely because of how Boxmore was secure in who he was, compared to the insecure Venomous. As such, while selling his work got him the power, it was only after he went full circle did he fully get the security he sought out. Oh yeah, and he's KO's biological dad. Phew.
    • Of course, Character Development and revelations happen that changes the dynamics of the two. Turns out Laserblast/Venomous is also Shadowy Figure, or rather the latter is a manifestation of the fears and darkest aspects of Venomous, much like how TKO is that of his son, KO. He succumbs to his lust for power because of his insecurity and Shadowy Figure fully takes over as Shadowy Venomous. Now off the rails, he plans to become the only person with power while Boxmore tries to reign him, but fails. After KO and TKO merge and save the world, Venomous is restored to normal. Boxmore ends up retiring and leaves the business to his kids and even gets back together with Venomous. The show does a fascinating job at showing several aspects of the profitability angle, but also the motivations and how they change over time, especially as circumstances change what people want.
  • In one episode of CyberSix Jose plans to break into a bank using a massive drilling machine. There is no amount of money in that bank that could possibly top the amount of money he'd make from legally marketing a drilling machine, capable of operating automatically or manually, that is able to drill a perfect city-block-long underground tunnel in sixty minutes. The construction industry would want it, the military would want it, the Boring Company would kill a man for it, the list goes on. Somewhat justified in that, while Jose is a genius he's also an immature child driven by a need of impressing his father with his genius and villainy.
  • Due to Serial Escalation, the monsters in Scooby-Doo get more elaborate with each series. It's gotten to the point that shows like Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! feature feats of engineering that, if sold publicly, would earn the crook way more money that whatever scheme they're trying to pull.
  • In one episode Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Professor Nimnel actually tried to go legitimate by using his new aging ray to instantly transform milk into aged cheese. However, after a Disastrous Demonstration in which he accidentally flooded the dairy convention hall with sour milk and ended up being blackballed, he decided to stick to being a villain.

Possibility of gaining more money legitimately

    Anime and Manga 
  • Lampshaded in Coyote Ragtime Show when a swindler manages to sneak his way into a high-paying executive job for a major bank purely so he'll be in a position to test himself against their reputedly 'impenetrable' vault — he could easily have lived a comfortable and stable life with a job like that, but the money wasn't the issue.
  • Dragon Ball Z, Dr. Gero was capable of building machines that have infinite fuel. Given the world's demand for fuel, he could easily become the richest man in the world with this technology. Plus being able to make androids capable of defeating Super Sayians, just imagine if he put that kind of technology into construction or space travel. Too bad he was only interested in getting revenge on Goku. Piccolo even lampshades it after chopping off Gero's arm, declaring his efforts to be a "waste of technology."
  • Lampshaded in Durarara!! when Shuji wonders why the unnaturally superhuman Shizuo Heiwajima is slumming it in a rather low status and low-paying job as a debt collector/bodyguard when he could potentially use his abilities to become stupidly rich or famous. He gets his answer soon enough: Shizuo's so violently unstable that it's only by virtue of Ultimate Job Security that he has any job at all. A later Light Novel has Shinra pointing out that Shizuo's probably one of the few people that could consider supervillainy as his most viable career option, and the fact that he hasn't is a reason why Shinra usually gives him the benefit of the doubt when the situation looks bad. ("Sorry. Nah, how would you ever bother to kidnap anyone? With your power it would be much faster to go to a bank and tear down the door of its vault if you wanted money.")
  • The villains in Karakuridouji Ultimo have some truly unusual day jobs, including music composer, elementary school teacher, and pro golfer. It never seems to occur to them that they'd be better off using their incredibly powerful robot servants to pay the bills instead. The exception is K, who only joined the villains so he could quit his job and bum around all day. The manga constantly reminds us that he is unemployed.
  • Mazinger Z: Dr. Hell is wealthy and intelligent enough to build dozens of gigantic war machines, Doomsday weapons, squads of cyborgs, several HQ, aircrafts, submarines... It was kind of justified in one of the different manga continuities when Dr. Hell revealed shortly after finding the old Mykene's mechanical warriors, Count Brocken took over several ancient European Mafia in order to earn cash for Hell. However he will not use his talents for legitimate - and less frustration-inducing - gain because he sees himself like The Woobie and wants to make the whole of humankind pay for all humiliations and hurt he suffered in the past. He NEEDS enslaving everybody and making them bow down to him.
  • Hideaki Anno is reported to have asked why Neo-Atlantis in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water wants to conquer the world instead of just using their superior technology for their own benefit. Reportedly, he got no answer. Wikipedia reports this, although the actual source seems unfindable.
  • Pumpkin Scissors. This trope is almost the premise of the series — this is a world where rather than building safer tanks or devices to protect people from chemical weapons, they engineer people who can withstand tank-fire and chemical weapons. Lampshaded in the interlude where a lab assistant finds a report about the protective fluid that the Flamethrower Troopers use and mentions that they could be used to help burn victims. Her superior replies to that by telling her to throw it out because he doesn't need it anymore.
  • Sunred points this out to his Friendly Enemy General Vamp in Tentai Senshi Sunred. Vamp is such a good homemaker that Sunred tells him, "You oughta give up the world domination thing and open a restaurant."
  • My Hero Academia:
    • During the USJ arc, Jiro asked a villain with an electricity quirk why he chose to be a villain when he could easily make money legitimately. Electricity quirks are always in demand, so finding such a job wouldn't be hard. The villain doesn't answer because Jiro only asked to distract him, but he noticeably hesitated.
    • It's mentioned that technically speaking using your Quirk in any capacity in public unless you have a Hero License is illegal; Yaoyorozu says she can't use her Creation power to just make stuff for everyone because she'd be taking business away from stores. Several villains claim that they turned to crime because they disliked being forced to limit themselves from using their Quirks in everyday life. That being said, it's clear that the law isn't enforced as strictly as it could be. Uraraka wanted to use her Zero Gravity power to help her parents' construction business, and in My Hero Academia: Vigilantes no one cares that Pop Step uses her Quirk to attract customers to her concerts (the concerts themselves are illegal, but once she gets legal concerts she continues doing the same thing).

    Comic Books 
  • In theory, any supervillain who uses expensive, fantastic technology for theft could subvert this: provided the technology is a one-time expense, they would eventually make back the money and start profiting if they manage to steal enough, meaning they can do it for the money and For the Evulz. The problem is, in a world where superheroes are everywhere thwarting your every move, this isn't likely to happen.
  • In All-Star Superman Lex is so bitter and twisted towards Superman that he can't really be bothered doing anything that isn't related in some way to his vendetta. At the end, when he tries to accuse Superman of encouraging Holding Out for a Hero, Superman points out this trope to him: If Lex had truly ever wanted to save the world, he could have done it years ago.
  • In the Spider-Man/X-Men Expanded Universe novel Time's Arrow: The Present, written by Adam Troy-Castro, Spidey muses on "the guys who spend six million dollars building robot suits so they can rob banks". He compares this with his own initial decision to make money as a masked wrestler/novelty act, rather than sell his webbing formula to an adhesives company, and concludes that it's not really about the money; it's about proving something to everyone who ever laughed at them.
  • In the first issue of The Hood, a friend of the Villain Protagonist spots Electro in a bar and speculates on why Electro doesn't just take a job with the electric company and earn millions that way. He points out that his friend would never last an hour at a straight job. Practically any supervillain or any other character who is subject to No Conservation of Energy could take over the world by offering themselves as a free energy source, which everyone would inevitably end up depending on.
  • The Flash: The general inability/unwillingness of the classic Flash supervillains to think bigger has been noted quite a few times in that title.
    • Doctor Alchemy somehow got his hands on the Philosopher's Stone — giving him the power to create infinite amounts of riches, transmute any substance to anything else, psychokinesis, and makes him immortal. He uses it to commit petty crimes which repeatedly get him sent to jail. This is lampshaded extensively and hilariously in the opening narration of Manhunter #7.
    • Mirror Master is arguably the greatest inventor in the history of the world. He has created such devices as a matter duplicator, teleportation, and interdimensional portals. The first Mirror Master used these things to rob banks, the third uses them for mercenary work. If they just sold them they could become obscenely rich and not have to get the crap beaten out of them by a pajama-clad speedster. The third Mirror Master actually ruminated on this once, that he and most of the people he ran with could become filthy rich beyond anything they could earn in petty crimes if they sold even half their individual tech, and that people had outright pointed this out to him before. He, however, concluded he LIKED running around being a supervillain far too much to really consider going legit.
    • In another story, a police detective who is forced to team up with Captain Cold calls him out for his criminal tendencies, pointing out how a man who invented a device that could manipulate matter on a molecular level (his "Cold Gun") would have had no problem getting rich legitimately. The Captain responds by pointing out the detective's preference for expensive suits despite their impracticality in his line of work. "We all have our vices." He's also admitted that many of the Rogue's villainous tendencies boil down to bad habits.
    • In a Silver Age story, the Flash encounters the villain Element Master, whose gimmick is, well... the atomic elements. In the climax of the story, Element Master says he discovered a new element (the creatively dubbed "elemento") that is a sort of magnetic light, which he uses to send the Flash to the Moon. Ignoring everything wrong with that idea, if it were true, Element Master would've completely changed the way we look at the elements, magnetism, Einstein's theory of relativity, and space travel, easily becoming the most important scientific figure in recent history. Instead... he tries to steal stores of "elements" like gold, platinum, and diamonds (carbon).
    • Averted by villain the Chunk, who gave up supervillainy and used his suction powers (being able to siphon off material to another universe inside his own body) to start a personal removal business.
      • With many of the "science villains" who make up the Rogues Gallery for The Flash, it's noted that the reason they don't turn their talents towards legitimate profit is because they often genuinely are too unstable to either think of it or even to want to. For example, Dr. Alchemy has two personalities; one of them is an incredible douche who thinks of all other humans as insignificant, so he thinks that sharing his Philosopher's Stone is beneath him, while the other is more benevolent but can't actually make the Stone.
  • In the Marvel comic Heroes for Hire, a mercenary named Paladin breaks into a special armory where the props and weapons of various former gimmick villains are stored, seeking valuable weapons to both arm himself with and to sell. He comes across the "alchemy gun" of the former supervillain Chemistro, and comments amusedly that "This guy invented a gun that could turn lead into gold, and all he could think of was to rob banks with it". Moments later, he had a lightbulb moment, saying "You know what? Forget the rest of the stuff, I'm good with just this." He immediately tries to escape with his prize, realizing of course that he won't need to steal and fence the other items once he has a device that can make gold, but unfortunately the heroic female version of the Scorpion destroys the gun while trying to subdue him and prevent his escape. He is understandably furious. He presumably was unaware of the fact that any object transmuted by the alchemy gun turns into dust after exposure to heat or after a certain amount of time.
    • Luke Cage would eventually comment that Chemistro was just one of those guys who had power and wanted to throw it around so people knew he meant business. If he turned things into gold and made himself rich, no one would be afraid of him or know who was boss. Chemistro's alchemy gun is in fact a subversion. In one issue of Iron Man, Curtis Carr tells Tony Stark that he has in fact tried to create new alchemy guns by attempting to duplicate the radiation field that gave his original gun its powers. As much as Carr might want to mass-produce his invention and get rich that way, so far he's had no luck.
    • Even if he just had the one gun, there are millions if not billions to be made by hiring yourself out to turn dangerous and unwanted things— think nuclear waste, surplus WMDs, or other Mad Science gadgets— into gold, then letting them disintegrate into harmless powder. Or he could just turn random objects into gold, sell them for big bucks, then be gone before they disintegrate. Illegal, but not in the high-profile way that tends to attract superhero attention. Or for that matter, there's surely some industrial process for which some company would happily "rent" large quantities of short-term gold.
    • All that aside, Curtis Carr was another subversion in that he invented his alchemy gun intending to get rich legally. However, he developed it on company time using resources owned by the company he worked for. Curtis's boss said that meant the gun was legally the company's property, and the boss wasn't likely to pay Curtis royalties. Curtis's original reason for becoming Chemistro was to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against his crooked boss, which led to the boss hiring Luke Cage for protection.
  • Iron Man:
    • The comic loves to simultaneously avert, lampshade and justify this trope, by pointing out negative implications of letting weaponized supervillain tech (or, more frequently, Iron Man's repulsor tech) out into the world. Once one of his enemies implanted repulsor-variant technology into terrorists' bodies, turning them into high-end suicide bombers. Hundreds were killed and Stark Industries was completely wiped out.
    • Iron Man once defeated a villain called the Living Laser. An alternate universe comic has him simply hiring the certified genius as Tony Stark. Unfortunately, this doesn't work because like most villains, he doesn't fit into society. This is arguably the best reason for not cutting Lex a check... villains who don't fit in still don't with money.
    • Gregor Shapanka, the original Blizzard, is another subversion who started out as a legitimate Stark International engineer. However, he embezzled money from Stark's company to finance his own personal projects. When Stark fired him for theft, Shapanka became the costumed villain Blizzard to get revenge on Stark.
    • Stark pointed this out in an Iron Man annual (as part of an interview in Playmates magazine) — "Take the Melter, for instance: there had to be three-hundred separate industrial uses for that molecular destablization ray of his, and what does he end up using it for? Robbing banks and suchlike. Just plain stupid. He could've licensed that thing to Stark International and made ten times more money than he'd ever see from his ill-considered extortion schemes."
  • Averted with Astro City's Mock Turtle, who put his skills to creating Powered Armor for a company, only for them to forbid him from piloting it, so he snapped and stole it.
    • In the Tarnished Angel arc, Steeljack interviews the loved ones of supervillains who had recently turned up dead. The boyfriend of the Chain said that he always thought the Chain's technology to transfer one's consciousness into a metal body had a lot of potential in deep sea or space exploration, but whenever he brought that up the Chain would look at him like he was an idiot and say he didn't understand.
    • Steeljack himself acknowledges this many times in the arc; whenever Astro City's low-level villains did manage to pull off a successful scheme, they would inevitably try to blow all their cash on their next scheme because "this is the next big heist, this is the one I'll retire with." By their actual retirement years, most of these local terrors and master criminals are living in slums, unable to find gainful employment because nobody trusts them. Steeljack muses at one point that he could have put his Chrome Champion body to work in a legal manner as a soldier or an explorer, but he was a low-level thug who lucked out, so of course the only thing that occurred to him at the time was using it to smash through bank walls.
    • Deconstructed in Volume 2, Issue 10, "The Old Villain With the Money." Hiram Potterstone became the Junkman precisely because he wasn't allowed to work legitimately anymore, having been forced into retirement by the company he founded and not being able to find work elsewhere due to his age. And when he manages to pull off a bank heist and retire to Rio, he finds he's ill at ease because nobody ever found out who did it. He didn't want the money, he just wanted people to recognize that he was still brilliant. He ends up going so far as to recommit the crime, just so he can get caught and have his crimes on the public record.
  • Minor Marvel Comics D-lister Alexander Gentry is a subversion. He started out as a weapons designer for the military and developed a suit of porcupine-themed armor equipped with a wide variety of different weapons. Gentry thought that the U.S. government wouldn't pay him what he deserved for the armor, so he kept it for himself and became the supervillain Porcupine. Given how badly his villain career turned out, he probably would have been better off selling it to the military....
  • Subverted by the Ultimate version of the Thinker, who turned to crime after he was fired from Roxxon for proposing alternative energy based on Vibranium.
    • The Ultimate Mad Thinker, though, fails to use her Super Intelligence productively because A: she's insane (a girl who cuts out chunks of her own brother's brain to graft to her own brain and "boost her thinking capabilities" is clearly not playing with a full deck), and B: she's out to get revenge on the governmental think-tank that expelled her for being too crazy.
  • Averted in some Marvel comic or other. Molecule Man chats with another supervillain: "So eventually I got out of prison, and I thought?" "Now I shall have my revenge!" "No, no. Who needs the grief? With my powers I can live in luxury without ever doing anything to draw the heroes' attention."
  • The Avengers once ran a series of text pieces chronicling the history of the team. One entry featured this quote about Baron Zemo, one of Captain America's enemies from World War II:
    Rick Jones: Funny thing, a guy like [Zemo]. He invented some kind of super-glue or something. I mean, if he would’ve found a practical use for it he would be the President of 3M or something. Right?
    • For the record, Heinrich Zemo is an actual Nazi in most continuities. He probably *did* make a fortune back in the day, but he might have trouble finding buyers after the war.
  • Spider-Man:
    • An issue of Ultimate Spider-Man lampshaded and subverted this trope with Ultimate Shocker. Unlike the main universe version, the ultimate version is a real loser seen as a joke by everyone and constantly mocked by Spider-Man. However, after learning that Shocker had created his blasters himself, Spider-Man asked him why he didn't make a fortune selling the technology. The subversion: Shocker reveals that he had worked for a big company creating inventions, and while said company made even more money, he was fired without seeing a single cent. Which also added a tragic aspect to the formerly laughable character, because he also explains how he studied at MIT until his eyes bled.
    • Lampshaded and played straight, one right after the other in Spider-Man. When the Man Who Would Be Hobgoblin first examines the Green Goblin's cache of equipment, he remarks on how incredible the technology is. Specifically, that the personal bat glider must surely represent a breakthrough in the field of aeronautics, and how this proves Norman Osborn's insanity, since he could have made far more money by patenting the design than he could ever have hoped to by using it for crime. In his very next breath, however, the man states that keeping such a thing to yourself would be one part of proving yourself better than those around you, and thus using it for personal gain makes sense.
      • Averted after getting hit with the Inversion spell in AXIS, Roderick Kingsley decides that he's going to franchise out the Hobgoblin name, turning it into a hero thing. It works, just that some people don't like that idea. By the end, he's even technically a reserve member of the Avengers.
    • The Vulture is another one of those subversions who started out making money honestly. It was only after he had been ripped off by his business partner that Adrian Toomes decided to use his new flying harness as a professional criminal. In one of the Web of Spider-Man comics he actually goes further into this when asked by a fellow prisoner (who was the leader of a gang blackmailing him to build a vulture suit to fly out) why Toomes didn't just sell his technology (his partner is gone and can easily build the equipment with little resources — he was making it in prison for at least the second time). He tells him that since the partner who betrayed Toomes looked down on him as weak, he uses the equipment to do whatever he wanted so that no one ever would think he was weak again.
    • One of Spider-Man's oldest enemies is the Tinkerer, an Insufferable Genius who specializes in making powerful weapons out of used technology. At first he was both a supplier to criminals and a criminal himself. However, after too many defeats that almost proved lethal for him, he gave up committing crimes himself, but still worked as an underworld weapons supplier. He may be an egomaniac (something that Spidey himself has called him) but he is perfectly lucid and could probably bring in far more profit if he worked for honest customers. (To emphasize how good he is... he's also the Crazy-Prepared type. His inventions usually tend to have some sort of mechanism in them that he can trigger if a client refuses to pay him, making sure that they regret it.)
    • Averted with Dr. Octopus in most of his incarnations: He was a scientist who invented and used his arms for legitimate research purposes. It took a lab accident fusing the arms to his body and driving him insane to turn him into a supervillain. Further subverted with the Ultimate Marvel version of Dr. Octopus. He was caught in an explosion as per usual, but S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Henry Pym let his condition deteriorate to the point where his arms couldn't be removed. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!. Ock went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the man he blamed for the explosion until he was captured. He later escaped from prison twice, both times attempting to continue his revenge spree against first S.H.I.E.L.D. and then his ex-wife, who was trying to profit off of his story. Upon subsequent arrest and running out of people to get revenge on, Ock made a deal with the FBI to use his knowledge of Spider-Man's DNA to produce Spider-Man clones for the agency. In the end it's played straight in a fight with Spider-Man, as Ock realizes that he likes being a supervillain, even if it's stupid and doesn't work out for him.
      • Even further subverted by him once he steals Peter Parker’s body and becomes the Superior Spider-Man. He decides that with his new lease on life that he’s going subvert this and Reed Richards Is Useless by becoming the, well, superior Spider-Man, attempting to prove that given the chance he would be a greater hero than Parker ever was. He even manages to start a mega-corporation, Parker Industries.
    • Actually, Spider-Man himself is a good example. Peter Parker invented a web-casting technology that can hold guys like the Rhino for up to an hour if he gets it on thick enough. He can fund the creation of more web fluid with a freelance photographer's salary, and the only thing he uses it for is to fight crime, all the while worrying about Aunt May. If he sold his web shooters to Police/Swat/SHIELD they would have an inexpensive, non-lethal way to hold villains that are Immune to Bullets and Peter could afford to get Aunt May regular access to doctors at world class hospitals. Back when he was a teenager the legal hurdles might have been problematic, but now that he is buddies with Tony Stark it seems like Stark's lawyers could help smooth that stuff out (and Nick Fury likely being eager to push defense contractor money through the bureaucracy in exchange for web pistols for all his agents). Peter doesn't even need to stop being Spider-Man.
      • Spider-Man has tried to sell his web before, but usually as more household-friendly items like glue. Chemists were interested in its strength, until they realized it dissolved in an hour, and Peter hadn't gotten around to making a more permanent formula. Since Spidey once used his webbing to hold together a damaged building until the cops could evacuate the area, there'd also be a solid market in using it to shore up damaged or unstable buildings and environments until more permanent supports can be built and brought in.
      • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Peter is taken on-board the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, escapes, and gets his hands on one of the expanding goo-firing pistols they already have. He quips that it'll save him on webbing.
      • In Ultimate Spider-Man, S.H.I.E.L.D. appears to have his webbing in a form of cannon, suggesting that perhaps due to his affiliation with them, it's their decision what to do with it.
      • The Superior Spider-Man comic series does a major Reconstruction of this trope when Doctor Octopus pulls a Grand Theft Me on Spider-Man and begins using his technology both to fight crime more effectively and make a profit as well. Unfortunately, using his technology that way allows the Green Goblin to hijack it and use it to further his own criminal schemes.
    • Like the Vulture, above, there's the recurring Spidey foe Slyde; Jalome Beecher created a frictionless, non-stick coating he planned to market for pans, but his place of business was taken over by a Corrupt Corporate Executive and he was fired (since the guy was using the place as a front to launder money for The Maggia.) Needing money to start his own business and market the coating, but unable to get a bank loan, he covered a costume with the coating and set out rob banks. He never planned to be a villain, seeing it as simply a means to a legitimate career (even saying he'd "trash the suit" and live a normal life when he got the money he needed). However, he fell prey to Motive Decay and became a villain for reasons, only to eventually be killed by Hammerhead as an example to other villains that wouldn't join him during the Civil War.
    • Spider-Man and the X-Men series
      • Spider-Man pleads with Sauron and tells him that he could use his technology to cure cancer instead of wildly impractical pursuits like transforming people into dinosaurs. Sauron's response is a rather popular meme;
        Sauron: But I don't want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into dinosaurs.
      • A later issue of that same series reveals that apparently, Spidey foe Mysterio is actually something of an aversion of this. Turns out that a few years back Mysterio copyrighted the term "Sinister Six" behind the backs of his teammates. Now whenever other villains try to use the name for team-ups he forces them to pay royalties. Given how many villains have tried to steal the name since Dr. Octopus's death, this was probably a pretty smart move.
      • The first novel in the Sinister Six Trilogy discusses the irony of Mysterio's situation. The main thing that pushed him over the edge and caused him to become a supervillain was that he was an underpaid B-movie makeup and effects artist who felt nobody appreciated him or took his work seriously. Now, in the age of modern sci-fi and superhero blockbusters, someone with Mysterio's skills could make millions by working on major Hollywood productions, but his criminal actions have damaged his reputation to such a degree that he has zero chance of landing a legitimate job ever again.
  • Batman:
    • Averted when The Riddler performs a variant of this based on his compulsive disorder and rampant ego: he becomes a detective, to keep his ego inflated and potentially beat Batman at his own game, without having to worry about the inevitable Bat-Fist to the face and subsequent jail time should he fail.
    • Averted when, at one point, the Riddler is seen chatting with The Penguin, who has discovered he can make more money as a legitimate businessman selling cheaply made merchandise at extortionate, but legal, markups. Penguin averts this trope again with the Iceberg Lounge. Criminal empires are fun, but Batman tends to kick your ass. Solution? Open a prestigious nightclub that doubles as a Bad-Guy Bar for Batman's huge Rogues Gallery. It tends to get blown up a lot, but it provides a steady source of legal income.
    • Sort of occurred with the Mad Hatter. He used to use his mind controlling hats to commit crimes, feeling that the riches he made this way would make him happy. So did he realize that he could cut out the middleman and sell the technology for all the riches he wanted? No! He realized that he could use the hats on himself to become blissfully happy whenever he wants, thus cutting out two middlemen. He still commits crimes, but now it's just for fun.
    • In one comic, where Batman was relating to one of the Robins all of the death traps that he has foiled, Batman mentions a Haunted House of Death that The Scarecrow created to try and kill Batman. Robin states that Scarecrow would have made a fortune in the entertainment industry, making haunted houses for theme parks. Batman actually states that he recommended that to the Scarecrow after capturing him, but, Scarecrow being Scarecrow, he didn't listen. More generally, the Scarecrow could probably have named his own price for selling his fear toxins to spy agencies like the CIA or MI6, or to political dictators. Instead, he prefers to pursue his own research using the people of Gotham as his unwilling guinea pigs.
    • In one Golden Age Batman story, Catwoman establishes up a fashion magazine as part of plan to steal a fur coat. Think about what the investment versus return on that particular caper must have been. Somewhat justifiable; the Catwoman — no matter her incarnation — isn't in the game for the profit; she's in it for the rush.
    • Another Golden Age Batman story has a character named Carlos who had a phony mind-reading show; Bruce figured right away he was using code words to get the answers, gaining real mind-reading powers following a car accident and emergency brain surgery that "Fate slyly played its hand in". He does use his power to make money somewhat legally at first, in card games and radio shows, but decides to turn to crime so he can make even more money. He hits this trope head on when he learns Batman and Robin's real names, but can't think of anything better than to blackmail them into keeping away from him. It bites him on the ass when his last robbery victim fatally shoots him in the back while he's distracted fighting Batman.
    • There was another Golden Age Batman story featuring a person with a photographic memory. Despite graduating from college with every degree possible, this guy couldn't get any work better than stage acts. He was recruited by mobsters so that he could memorize secret information without taking the relevant documents themselves and later sell said info, under the condition that the mobsters don't kill anyone during their jobs. The man's skills are proven when he forces Batman to fight dirty, renders him and Robin unconscious via nerve pinching, and perfectly copies the Batplane. Ultimately, since this story takes place during WWII, the story is subverted when Batman saves the man's life and recommends him to the Army so his talents can be used against the Axis to atone for what he's done.
    • Victor Fries, or Mr. Freeze, was originally an inexplicable cold-based villain, already falling under this trope. The guy has a gun that turns thermodynamics upside down and rather than patent that and claim his Nobel, he robs banks. Batman: The Animated Series established he was trying to save his frozen wife and committed crimes to get the necessary funds. He was a downright sympathetic Anti-Villain. He's also essentially ageless with a technology that could be invaluable to the rest of the world. Given he's not just in it For the Evulz, one's got to wonder why he doesn't just go legit, prove what he's done, and wait for university and corporate backers to line up just for a chance to throw resources at him. One comic suggested that, while he is not in it For the Evulz, he's also not willing to part with any of his inventions (with the occasional case-by-case exception) until Nora is all fixed. In Batman: Arkham City, Hugo Strange pokes at this idea when he speaks with Freeze, claiming that Victor could have cured Nora a long time ago if he'd gone to others for help and not spent his time working alone and blaming others. Considering that it's Hugo Strange, however, it's debatable how much of that he actually believes - Especially since Freeze's chronologically first appearance in the Arkhamverse shows that Fries did try asking others for help at first, only for Boyle to never honor his side of the agreement, which is what drove Victor to attempt the experiment that Boyle interrupted, which turned Victor Fries into Mr Freeze.
      • Considering the commonality of his origins and his backstory, Victor was always a bit troubled until he met Nora and the incident that turned him into Freeze also appeared to give him severe trust issues.
      • It still doesn't explain why Batman never contacted his 'good friend' and public sponsor Bruce Wayne to employ Fries to work on his own terms. Avoiding this trope is part of the reason that the New 52 retconned Victor into a lunatic. Nora was never his wife. She had been frozen for over fifty years, and he fell in love while doing his doctoral thesis on her. The fandom was not pleased with this retcon.
    • Linkara points out in The Agony Booth review of Batman #147, that the scientist Garth could have patented an age-reversing ray instead of working with jewel thieves.
    • In Shadow of the Bat, there was this one Batman villain named the Human Flea who invented a device allowing him to jump extraordinarily high. The Human Flea went around robbing diners to save his father from going bankrupt. After capturing the Human Flea, Batman tells the supervillain that he could make himself rich off patenting his invention. The Human Flea responds that he never thought of that.
    • Poison Ivy falls into a variant of this that actually exists in real life: ecoterrorism, wherein an attempt at enacting social/environmental change is done in such a way that discourages people from doing as desired. Making things far worse than real cases, she really is an absolute genius with plants, able to create miraculous strains that could solve all sorts of environmental problems that harm the plant ecosystem, the sort of thing she fights for... if only she would market her creations on the legitimate market, rather than turning them into weapons to try and wipe out all humanity, if not all animal life. For instance, she could bring about an instant end to logging by selling seeds for a tree that produces wood that can be harvested in large quantities without killing the tree (and does so much more frequently than letting trees grow the old way), instead of making trees that have digestive systems and eat loggers.
      • Batman even tried to reason with her in a one-shot issue where she planned to murder a Corrupt Corporate Executive who had napalmed an island (killing plant life and the poverty-stricken humans who lived there) telling her how much good she could do with her powers if she tried. His speech convinced her to spare the man's life (brainwashing him with her pheromones into confessing to the police) but nothing more.
      • In general, Poison Ivy's inability to market herself productively is generally given a simple explanation: she's absolutely batshit insane. Whilst whether or not she was an eco-extremist before her transformation varies Depending on the Writer, after her transformation, she completely lost her mind. At best, she's become a Tautological Templar who can't understand that non-violence would actually make her message more convincing. Furthermore, there's also that despite Ivy's supposed ideological motivation, her crimes also have a selfish motivation driven by her past as a mousy wallflower with strict parents and being used by the college professor she liked for the experiments that turned her into Ivy. Presumably, her crimes (such as subjugating and seducing men) are done out of her spite.
      • In the Convergence comics, when Poison Ivy loses her powers and Gotham is hurting for food and supplies, several different versions of Ivy become the city's best assets. Her knowledge of plants helps keep the population from starving, and her fighting experience with Batman means that no one is going to steal from her.
    • Inverted with Roman Sionis, aka. "Black Mask". Before he took on his alias he was, like Bruce, a wealthy entrepreneur from an established Gotham family... and he failed miserably at it. It was only after he elected to go around with a blackened wooden mask and feed bits of people to other people that he really found himself in his element.
  • One scene from the Patton Oswalt-penned Justice League of America story "Welcome to the Working Week" sees Batman convince Flash's enemy the Weather Wizard to sell his latest weather control device to Wayne Industries (who will use the device to help irrigate deserts) for $50 million plus royalties rather than use it to rob a bank, which would likely only net the criminal $30,000 to $40,000 at most. Batman also hints that the royalties might be enough to allow the Weather Wizard to retire from his life of crime. The Wizard actually seems to be thinking about it.
  • Marvel's Plantman has the same problem as Poison Ivy, except he was always considered a pretty lame villain by heroes, and didn't care much for the environment, only using his powers for selfish reasons or a deluded dream of world conquest. Spider-Man once called him out on it with the typical You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good speech (to which the villain thanked him for the career advice, but said he "always had my heart set on world domination", and Plantman himself admitted in Paradise X how much more well-off he'd have been if he had used his powers to fight world hunger. (Of course, he seriously Took a Level in Badass when he joined the Thunderbolts and changed his name to Blackheath.)
  • Sleepwalker:
    • Subverted with the villain 8-Ball, who actually started out working for a defense firm as an engineer, before he was fired when his employers thought he was selling company secrets to pay his large gambling debts, leading him to create his weapons and costumed identity.
    • Subverted with Spectra, who first got a job in a laboratory so she could rob the place, only to obtain superhuman powers after Sleepwalker interferes in the robbery. At first, she seems poised to become a criminal, but when she reappears it turns out she's gotten a legitimate job using her light-generating powers.
    • One of his first villains was Crimewave, who wanted to, among other things, kidnap models and hold the valuable clothes they were wearing hostage... using his remote-controlled, armored van with a tentacles-and-guns self-defense system. This is justified, as the bad guy cares more about fame—he even has his own cameraman—than actually making a profit or toppling Kingpin.
  • Lampshaded by the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird when Baxter Stockman, already very wealthy from his legitimate technology company, begins using his Mouser robots for crime. When April asks him why he'd do it when he's already rich, Stockman, who is already mentally unhinged to begin with, simply claims that it's fun!
  • Doctor Lovecraft in the Justice League initially did legitimate work for his company, but when they pursued financial wrongdoing, they allowed him to pursue more dangerous experiments to create mutates to steal for the company. As these mutates later devolved out of sentience, this explains why he could not have gone public with his results.
  • The Trapster follows this trope to a T. He invented a type of super adhesive and decided to use it to rob banks instead of just patenting it, for some reason that they never explained. He even got a pardon after his first criminal outing, by helping the Avengers defeat Baron Zemo and yet still went back to crime after that. In a rather excellent print short story, the Trapster completely subverts this trope. He changes his name and begins selling his products on behalf of a Seen on TV company. His inventions are successful, he starts dating, and he even gets to ham it up on television. Unfortunately his old colleague the Wizard sees him enjoying himself and threatens him into going back to his Trapster identity and threatening a live studio audience, but his girlfriend talks him down in a touching on camera scene just before U.S. Agent clocks him in the jaw. As the story ends, Trapster is a sympathetic reformed criminal who keeps the girl and his job and gets legal representation to help clear up his parole problems. None of this is canon.
    • In a much later issue, Black Panther fights the Trapster, and notes that the villain's traps are all incredibly advanced and well designed. While beating the stuffing out of him, Panther casually mentions that he might have work for the Trapster when he gets out of jail.
  • The third issue ever of the Fantastic Four has an inverted invocation of this trope: the villain in this case, the Miracle Man, is a stage magician who used his skills as a hypnotist and illusionist to fool the Fantastic Four into thinking he had powers far greater than theirs. Then he used these powers to fight them off as he went around stealing jewelry. Reed Richards ultimately deduced that his powers were phony and pointed out that if those powers were real, the Miracle Man could easily have conjured up all the jewels and treasure he wanted without having to stoop to such petty thievery in the first place.
  • Averted with The Atom's foe the Bug-Eyed Bandit, who became a criminal because no one would buy his technology — no one would fund his research without a working model of it, but he couldn't build a working model of it without funding. Eventually, he got so ticked off that he just stole the money he needed, built his tech at last and used it to become a career criminal.
  • Linkara called the one-shot Daredevil villain "The Surgeon General" on her whole organ-stealing shtick, which inherently relies on being a skilled surgeon. Of course, what Linkara probably forgot is this schtick is Truth in Television, and the organ trade is very real, as That Other Wiki shows.
  • The Authority tends to do this in varied ways. "Tank Man" is simply talked into giving up his murderous ways and settling down (it doesn't turn out well, but they tried). Jacob Krigstien is given an outlet for his world-changing habits by being allowed to do it in a non-killing-people way. An animal-abusing psychopath is put on retainer for when the Authority needs to get information out of human-abusing psychopaths.
  • Hilariously subverted in the short-lived DC parody comic book the Inferior Five. The would-be superteam's first nemesis was Dr. Gregory Gruesome, a brilliant, evil Mad Scientist who was so poor he lived in a dilapidated wooden hut in the middle of a junkyard and his sole henchman was a dim-witted vagabond. Despite lamenting about his inability to "turn out multi-million-dollar missiles like they were paper planes" like this trope's namesake, he actually created some remarkably effective machines by cobbling together garbage, scrap, and various other odds and ends.
  • The Trickster:
    • Lampshaded in one Robin issue where he's beating up the Trickster. He points out to him that he has shoes that can walk on air, and by mass producing them, he'd be ten times richer than Bruce Wayne. Instead, he rents himself out as a mercenary.
    • In an earlier issue of Blue Devil, the first Trickster is also asked why he didn't market his shoes. He points out they've just finished a storyline in which he tried to do that and the buyers tried to A) kill him and B) forcibly secede California, though he does consider trying to resell to a "reputable" organization like SKULL. Also, Depending on the Writer, he may have been more interested in the attention than the money.
  • The Prankster, one of Superman's less dangerous enemies, uses elaborate pranks and gags for his crimes, often using them to delay or distract Superman rather than outright battle him. At one point, he became a professional hero-distracter, doing things like putting people's lives at risk so Superman would let crooks get away to save them. This worked so well for The Prankster than he even had a full staff of well-paid assistants to help him plan all the distraction's details, including which current events would be more distracting when disrupting them with his pranks, and how much time he needed to keep Superman distracted while the villains and crooks hiring Prankster could commit their crime and escape.
  • Superman fought a guy called Funny Face during the Golden Age; an unsuccessful comic strip writer, he was much better at science, inventing a device that could bring comic strip characters to life and enlarge them to titanic size. Superman couldn't even touch these guys, much less fight them, and the only way he even found the villain is when Lois, who had been kidnapped, got the idea to write the address of his hideout on one character's shirt before the device was used. Still, Funny Face used it to rob banks and museums. In fact, the next time he appeared - much later, in an issue of All-Star Squadron - the heroes were dumbfounded as why he'd be stupid enough to use his miraculous invention for something as petty as pulling robberies.
  • In the 2017 holiday issue of DC Rebirth, Superman encounters a desperate bank robber who built a Jet Pack in his garage after losing his job at a lab, and convinces him to use his intelligence for good and patent it after he gets out of jail.
    Superman: I'm sorry, you built this in your garage?
    Robber: I mean, yeah I, the guys at the lab all said I was crazy, they-
    Superman: You built a jet pack in your garage and your first thought was, "I should use this to commit a crime"?
    Robber: ...Well, when you put it that way...
  • One of the Bananaman comics in The Dandy had this with a villain (well, his villainy was trying to scare the hero), running a fancy fake haunted house with holographic ghosts and what not. It subverted the trope because at the end, the villain DID do a Heel–Face Turn and use his abilities to run a theme park Haunted House ride.
  • The Circus of Crime may be D-list villains, but they're excellent circus performers. If they would go straight and abandon the "hypnotize the crowd and rob them blind" shtick, they could pull in plenty of money without getting beat up and thrown in jail. At least one comic had them propose doing that... then lament that it wouldn't really be all that profitable, since not too many people care about the circus anymore. (Indeed, the reason they turned to crime in the first place was because their leader, Maynard Tidboldt the Ringmaster, felt his relatively small circus couldn't compete with the enormous ones that Americans were familiar with. Thing is, more modern depictions of Tidboldt's circus are rather large and seem pretty good in comparison.)
  • The Adventures of Tintin has a subversion in Flight 714. Dr. Krollspell has developed a working, if unperfected, truth serum. Now, you might reasonably assume that every intelligence or security agency in the world would pay a king's ransom for it. However, instead of marketing it, Dr. Krollspell takes a job from Rastapopoulos to use it on millionaire Laszlo Carreidas to get a bank account number. This trope could even conceivably apply to Rastapopoulos too. He could have bankrolled the distribution of a massive invention... except that the truth serum doesn't work, as Carreidas ends up babbling on about everything except the bank account number. Rastapopoulos could have injected Carreidas with Rajaijah Juice and gotten the same result.
    • The serum does work, the problem is that Carreidas says the truth about everything but what Rastapopoulos wants him to speak about.
  • Minor-league Marvel Comics supervillain The Ringer thoroughly subverts this trope. He actually started out working as a legitimate engineer for NASA, but he got a serious case of Green-Eyed Monster syndrome when he saw wealthy business executives like Kyle Richmond getting rich off the hard work of people like him. The Ringer originally embarked on his career to get revenge for the little guy by robbing Kyle Richmond, who was secretly the superhero Nighthawk. After Nighthawk defeated him and he escaped from jail, the Ringer tried again with an upgraded battlesuit that allowed him to gather condensed air particulates and assemble them into a substance that was almost as strong as steel and that he could use to make additional rings whenever he needed them. Despite the fact that this invention could probably have revolutionized the steel industry, to say nothing of manufacturing in general, the Ringer simply uses it to... try and market the battlesuit to his criminal contacts, but then the Beetle forces him to fight Spider-Man and he gets his ass kicked.
  • Another minor league supervillain, the Water Wizard, originally got the power to control water after a freak accident, but simply couldn't figure out what to do with it. It was only after a friend of his suggested he use his powers for crime that he became a supervillain, although he turned out to be an utter washout as a supervillain. He improved somewhat after changing his codename to Aqueduct, but not by much.
  • Happens rather often in Diabolik:
    • The title character is the best thief in the world thanks to his abilities as acrobat, martial artist, chemist, engineer, detective and pilot. He could make a legitimate fortune with any of those professions, or simply patent his perfect masks and enjoy the royalties (the request for these is actually a plot point, as nobody but him can make masks that don't break down and melt after a few hours), but he doesn't care. It went to the point that one of his heists involved him creating two Diabolik-proof safes (once Ginko found and removed the devices that read the combination (thus allowing the heist), the safes were impregnable even to Diabolik. Too bad he found out after the caper...).
    • Eva Kant, Diabolik's lover and accomplice, is almost as good as him as an acrobat, martial artist, detective and pilot, and is also decent as a mechanic and a very good singer (in fact she did work as a singer for a while), but she steals because she's in love with Diabolik and wants to help him.
    • Justified with Suanda: he did try and become legitimately rich with his first inventions, but he was black and white colleagues stole the credit, hence why he became a criminal and joined King's organization.
    • Two other members of King's organization, Wolf and Prof, did become rich using the skills that once made them so valuable for King... But the former was obsessed by Diabolik's masks (it was his project originally) and the latter was greedy as hell, hence why they continued committing crimes on the side.
    • Walter Dorian and others are/were legitimately skilled businessmen-who steal, scam, and generally commit crimes because of greed.
    • Giorgio Corbett tried to become rich with his invention, a device that could detect Diabolik's masks, but first he had the bad luck of getting arrested for industrial espionage before he could tell his employer that he had discovered one of the elements of Diabolik's masks (what could allow the creation of the device), and when, after serving his sentence, he did try to use the device to become rich he choose to sell his invention to a rich private detective who wanted the police's trust instead of selling it directly to the police, leading to Diabolik escaping and murdering him.
      • Giorgio's nephew Giacomo later found the blueprints, but simply gave the device to the police: he wanted to clear his uncle's name, not money. A good thing, given that the blueprints were a fake planted by Diabolik for one of his capers.
  • The villains of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe and Mickey Mouse Comic Universe regularly menace the world using invisibility cloaks, cloning machines, mind-control rays etc., but you shouldn't expect anyone to point out that their inventions are a revolutionary miracle of science that, by all logic, should have changed civilization as we know it years ago.
  • Invincible once ran into a guy who'd invented a "gravity gun" in his basement and used it to rob a bank. He had considered selling his invention, but he needed the money now and that sounded like a long and complicated process. He is really bad at being a supervillain, and Mark lets him go (and returns the money back to the bank) with the advice that he should just sell the technology. In next issue it turns out that he sold the gun... to a bank robber. He didn't know who to see or call about this stuff. After capturing the second robber, Mark takes the guy to Cecil, the head of a super-secret government agency responsible for handling superheroes and supervillains, who gives him a very high-paying job to invent new weapons.
  • X-Men villain Arcade is a hitman who disposes of victims by dropping them into ridiculously elaborate, carnival themed deathtraps he calls Murderworlds. Arcade charges a million dollars per victim, which doesn't come close to covering his expenses. However, Arcade also happens to be one of the wealthiest men on the planet, so doesn't need the money-he just does what he does because he's a psychopath that enjoys the misery he puts people through in his Murderworlds far more than the money he'd get killing them.
  • Justice demonstrates and deconstructs this trope. As part of their latest scheme, the Legion of Doom pretend to go straight and use their technology and powers to help people instead of committing crimes. Brainiac uses his city-shrinking tech to build cheap paradise cities where nobody has to work, Scarecrow uses his chemistry knowledge to make miracle cures and elixirs, Toyman uses his robotics skills to build artificial limbs for the disabled, Captain Cold uses his cold gun to provide desert communities with abundant water, and more. The results are incredibly profitable and make people love them, but it's all a trick led by Lex Luthor and Brainiac. Why didn't they just take the money and popularity? Because they're egotistical, self-centered jerks who either refuse to acknowledge that altruism can help them or are using their enemies to try and excuse away their shitty personalities.
  • D-list DC villain Sonar is an interesting case of this, as he was never after money in the first place. He became a supervillain in pursuit of his main goal to make his tiny native country of Modora famous, and invented and built several sound-based devices to commit crimes in order to accomplish this, capable of mental manipulation, ranged sonic attacks, lifting massive objects, and even independent flight. However, he never gets the idea that he could make his country famous and himself massively rich simply selling the technology, or better yet, giving it to the government of his homeland to turn it into a high-tech paradise, never realizing how fleeting his own exploits are and how it makes his own country look bad, if anything, compared to the country having actual value to the world. One has to imagine "home of that guy Green Lantern beats up once a month" isn't going to bring in many tourists.
  • The Prowler, a former Spider-Man enemy turned friend is yet another subversion. Hobie Brown worked as a window cleaner and used his engineering talents to create special equipment to make his job safer. He hoped to make money legally with his inventions, but mistreatment from his racist boss turned him into an Angry Black Man who modifies his gear to use it for crime as the Prowler. He's confronted by Spider-Man, who convinces him to give up crime. After his Heel–Face Turn, Hobie continues using the Prowler identity and equipment as a superhero, assisting Spider-Man several times. He even uses his Prowler gear to make money as a superhero for hire, working for Silver Sable, and as a Costume Copycat and bodyguard for Peter Parker.
  • Fabian Stankowicz is a particularly hilarious subversion. Stankowicz was an ordinary guy who became a multimillionaire after winning the lottery. Having a lot of engineering smarts but not a lot of common sense, Stankowicz decides that the only natural thing to do with his fortune an army of killer robots and try to fight The Avengers. He turned out to be an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, to the point that many heroes even didn't think him worth fighting. His lowest point was arguably when he was defeated by David Letterman. Note that Letterman was a middle-aged talk show host with no superpowers or combat training.
  • Stuart Clarke, who debuted in Marvel's Champions comics, is a subversion who shows that science smarts don't always translate to business smarts. Clarke was a brilliant engineer who started out running a legitimate technology company similar to Stark Enterprises, including competing with Tony Stark in selling Powered Armor, but unlike Tony Stark he was an inept businessman. His company was hit hard by the recession, but he refused his accountant's advice to sell it. Blaming the federal government's trade practices for his company's downfall, he used his armor to start robbing banks as the supervillain Rampage, intending to use the money to pay off his creditors. He rationalized that only the government would suffer, since it insured the banks and would compensate their losses. He was crippled when he crossed paths with the Champions, and things went downhill from there.
  • This defines the second Moonstone of Marvel comics, Karla Sofen, cannot go straight even when she actually tries. She has a medical degree psychiatry and was making good money on it. However she could have been making even more money if she had actually gained a reputation for curing her patients, which in many cases she could, rather than purposefully undermining their self worth to see if she could induce suicides. Even refusing to cure a patient and just continually subscribing them treatment in an otherwise long and healthy life would make her more money than she has, but that simply isn't enough induced suffering to satiate her sadistic streak. While tormenting the original Moonstone, Lloyd Bloch, she inadverdently breaks him so hard that the alien technology he was relying on become hers. Instead of using this lucky break in any number of legal revenue avenues she intentionally searches out criminal outfits to join, which finally destroys her reputation as a psychiatrist. Almost every legitimate business venture she has since started has turned out to be a scam. In the rare instances she has done something completely legal it still ended up branching into illegal activity at the earliest opporiunity it seemed like a quicker way to earn money more or she thought she could get away with causing someone else discomfort for giggles.
  • Thunderbolts involves the Masters Of Evil disguising themselves as superheroes and committing the occasional good act. Some members, like Songbird, genuninley want to reform but don't want to go through the legal process. Some, like Atlas, literally had no where else to go. Others just wanted to rob the adoring public blind. In issue twelve, Baron Zemo reveals the whole thing had been a front for his lattest attempt at World Domination, but Moonstone tracks him down, beats him up and takes over the group because that would get in the way of the many long running scams she had planned to profit from.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot has Jason Fox, who tries several ludicrous schemes to make money, (including thousand-dollar SNOW DINOSAURS, which, you know, would MELT come Spring!) despite the fact that he has effortlessly built machines and coded programs that could have made him MILLIONS had he simply sold them. He once tried to form a one-man corporation, but all he had to show investors was "a dinky little program I wrote for fun." Unfortunately for him and them, the Darth Jason virus did not "kill off interest," it "killed off the Internet." Possibly justified in that, while genius at some things, Jason is still a child and thus doesn't always have the best common sense.
    • That, and Jason cares more about making mischief than money. If the thought ever occurs to him to make money off of the things he produces, it's only so he can buy materials needed to cause greater mischief. For instance, he sent a computer worm directly to the White House, easily bypassing all security, solely to mess with his older sister (which is his most common motivating factor).

    Fan Works 
  • Deconstructed in issue #16 of Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With the Light, when the Beetle provides a number of rebuttals to the arguments that supervillains should just patent their technology. Even if you can patent your technology, there's always the danger that some Corrupt Corporate Executive will try and screw you out of your share of the profits, something the Beetle claims happened to the Shocker when he tried selling his shock blasters to Justin Hammer. Starting your own business is no guarantee of success either, particularly when many businesses fail within their first year of operation. Then there's the fact that many supervillains do not want to spend their time working for people they view as Pointy Haired Bosses who got ahead through asskissing and brownnosing, rather than actual talent. This obviously isn't the case most of the time, but supervillains as a whole tend to be misanthropes....
  • Lampshaded and discussed in Marry the Knight. Poison Ivy, in an attempt to kill her husband Bruce Wayne, creates a plant whose leaves when consumed act as a much cheaper and superior form of Viagra, but kills the user very quickly. Barbara Gordon sends a sample to Swamp Thing, who both makes it safe and plans to mass produce it making a fortune.
    Starfire: Ivy would do far more good if she used her abilities for niceness instead of evil. Why invent such a thing only to use as a murder weapon? Why not patent it, sell it for profit, and use the proceeds to simply buy the woodlands she wants preserved?”
    Barbara: Well, she’s a crazy person.
  • Lampshaded by Buffy in Iron Alloy when she explains to Ken that his methods are completely idiotic. He wants to get rich and does so by kidnapping people and forcing them to work in a dimension where a hundred years pass in a single Earth day. If he instead sold usage of the dimension, he'd be insanely rich as people would love the idea of having a near infinite amount of time off the clock. Everything from getting a good night's sleep after a late night cram session to being able to build (and even invent) life changing technology in minutes. Instead he's just a sadist trying to make money off his hobby.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Duo: Dr. Hishki has access to an Underwater Base and a wide variety of Humongous Mecha. He could easily earn a name for himself through other means, but he devotes his time and energy to trying to capture mermaids.
  • Sort-of-invoked in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic "This Nose Knows":
    "Please continue, but Lady Wise, will you please make sure his budgetary cost analysis makes it to Celestia and myself in a timely manner? I'd like to see the cost comparison between our current methods and the cost of hiring a dragon to incinerate our waste."
  • Sonic Mania: The Novelization: Eggman owns a TV channel in Studiopolis, a newspaper out of the Press Garden Zone, and a refinery in Oil Ocean Zone, but still expends his time and effort in trying to Take Over the World. Sonic actually lampshades it in Chapter 5:
    Sonic: With all that, you'd think he'd just quit being a villain and go into the media business.
  • In We Are Legion the Terror Twins are questioned by Legion and a college student why they didn't think to use their powers for legitimate work. While the twins counter that they don't even have a high school diploma, it's pointed out that neither the military nor FBI would care when they could have super strong, bulletproof agents. And if they weren't interested in such violent professions, they could go into salvage. They could charge ten grand for every ship they scrapped and still be both cheaper and faster than the normal method. While Tuppence is unimpressed, Thomas is almost overwhelmed at the opportunities they missed.
  • Justified in Shazam fanfiction Here There Be Monsters. Doctor Sivana tried to make money off his inventions legitimately, but his ideas were turned down by crooked politicians and greedy businessmen at every turn until he was left penniless and turned to villainy.

    Films — Animation 
  • Played with in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water with Burger Beard. The first thing he does once he gets the magical book is steal the Krabby Patty recipe so he can make money off of it rather than just make himself rich. Possibly justified by the fact that it is implied that the book is limited to influencing what has already been written in it, meaning Burger Beard can't do anything directly for himself with it.
  • The villain of Up, Charles F. Muntz, wants to get fame and recognition by catching a rare bird. To accomplish this he invents devices that allow dogs to communicate verbally, and fly airplanes. Even if he wanted fame and renown rather than money, being known as the person who invented the device that lets dogs talk to humans would be far more likely to make him famous than catching a new species of bird. Considering the dogs don't even need to bark to speak with this, the profits from engineering it to allow mute humans and humans who are completely paralyzed to speak would ensure his honor among the greats. This is, however, justified and lampshaded to some extent by showing that he has become psychotically obsessed with the bird. His museum is full of dozens of skeletons of other species, all of them of a bizarre nature and undiscovered to science. Had he brought any of those back instead, he would have made far more of a profit in the scientific realm than the capture of a single colorful ostrich.
    • He was mostly bitter that the one he brought back as a skeleton was declared a fake and obsessed with clearing his name. If he hadn't taken it with him and spent decades hiding in the jungle DNA tests would have proved it long before the time of the movie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Austin Powers, Number Two complains that Dr. Evil is wasting time and resources on evil schemes when, in his absence, Number Two has turned the front company into a corporate entity leagues more successful than it ever was before Dr. Evil froze himself. This falls on deaf ears, naturally. In Goldmember, he finally hits upon the brilliant scheme of making the organization a legitimate business with the ethics of an evil organization by turning it into a talent agency.
  • In Lord of War, Yuri Orlov eventually abandons his business as an arms dealer and adopts, in his words, "more legal methods of exploiting Third World countries", but notes that it isn't as thrilling as his old line of work, and there is comparatively more competition. He inevitably returns to arms dealing, with the change that it is government sponsored.
  • Played both ways in Iron Man 2 with Ivan Vanko. Vanko's capable of replicating the Arc Reactor with his father/Tony's father's incomplete diagrams. Though not as efficient as Tony's, it's nevertheless a functional copy and Tony even points out that a man like Vanko has the kind of connections necessary to market it to whoever he wants, legitimately or otherwise. Vanko retorts that his motives are personal. Vanko's father did try to sell it for massive profit but Howard Stark would have none of it, exiling him from the US instead. Ivan is out for Tony's blood as his family stole the opportunity to have that check cut for them. In other words, the ship already sailed long ago for Ivan as far as making money, he's just interested in making Tony suffer by this point.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Dr. Octopus is researching a new power source in Spider-Man 2. In order to control it, he invents a system of mechanical arms that interface with his brain, have artificial intelligence, are indestructible, have the strength to throw cars, and never seem to need new batteries. Every aspect of the things would seem to merit a Nobel Prize, but Octavius and the rest of the world initially only treat them as a simple tool. By his Face–Heel Turn, Octavius was more obsessed with achieving his dream of creating a living sun than a Nobel Prize. Justified in that the chip allowing him to have control over the mechanical arms was destroyed and it was their artificial intelligence manipulating him.
    • In Spider-Man 3, Sandman needs to raise money for his sick daughter and turns to a life of crime. When he becomes living sand, you'd think he could strike a deal to work off his debt to society for a little government health care. It's not like a guy who can meld with sand wouldn't come in handy in any construction projects or ongoing warzones. Instead, he simply robs banks.
  • Lampshaded in Darkman III: Die Darkman Die. The doctor in charge of making a serum based on the nerve damage suffered by the titular character discusses with herself the fact that she could make way more money selling to pharmaceutical companies.
  • In The Prestige, Nikola Tesla tries to invent a teleportation machine for Robert Angier to use in his magic shows. The problem was, the machine ended up copying things instead of teleporting them. But Angier still used the machine to perform his magic trick, creating copies of himself so that it appeared as though he was teleporting across long distances. Angiers could become the richest man in the world almost overnight by copying valuable objects with the machine, but he's already a wealthy gentleman who is more interested in magic than riches. He could also do things like completely end world hunger by copying food and so forth, but his obsession to out-do his magical rival blinds him to all other goals.
  • In Street Fighter, M. Bison is the dictator of some tiny southeastern Asian country, but somehow has developed both super-soldier biochemical engineering, as well as hover boots, with which he wants to use to conquer the world. He could probably become the de facto ruler of the world just by marketing those two bits of technology.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)'s Eric Sacks finds a mutagen that can, theoretically, allow a person to regenerate cellular damage. He could be the wealthiest pharmaceutical supplier in the world without causing the death of millions, and without risking arrest or worse in the process, but then the plot would have nowhere to go.
  • Mr. Freeze's appearance in Batman & Robin has him stealing giant diamonds and using them to both fuel his suit and build a giant freeze ray he plans to use to hold Gotham hostage in exchange for funds to further the research he needs to save his wife. Why he doesn't just sell the giant diamonds is never explained. If not that, he could have just patented the smaller ray immediately, waited for the Nobel, and wondered how many new laws in physics will be named after him. The applications are endless and he's just disproved everything known about thermodynamics. He would never again want for funds no matter what he's researching. At the end of the film Batman talks him into doing just that. Oh, and giving him the cure to the early stage of the horrible disease his wife had. The stage, coincidentally, Alfred happens to have. Freeze trades the cure for a cell with Poison Ivy, since he learned she tried to kill his wife.note 
  • The Avengers (1998). Sir August could have legally made billions of dollars just by selling the services of his Weather-Control Machine to the governments of the world. Possibly justified because he's insane and wants revenge on the British government for firing him.
  • In the Disney film Sky High villain Royal Pain invents a weapon that reverts its target to being an infant. Let that sink in. She has made a device that can make an individual instantly young again. It's also heavily implied the device can actually pinpoint a specific age regardless of how old you are. So she could quite easily create and market a device that makes you (biologically speaking) 18 every time you use it. The financial rewards for marketing this would be so unimaginably vast that any power the supervillain desired would be easily gained legally. So obviously it's used in a zany evil scheme instead. Semi-justified, as trying to take over the world with an entire generation of superheroes turned into loyal, amoral minions was probably more tempting. Also justified in that the device blew up and reverted her to infancy during its initial field test (because the superhero she was aiming it at punched it while it was charging up), and she has to steal the original prototype back from the hero's trophy room before she can use it again (thus strongly implying that she's unable to make copies of it — apparently it runs on unique phlebotinum that is not mass-producible).
  • Upstream Color features several mysterious people who exploit the unique properties of a blue substance that produces hypnotizing effects and amazing empathic links between people. Introducing it to the world could yield untold fortunes, with world-changing possibilities. Instead, one of them uses it to steal the savings of random people he encounters, while another uses it to inspire his music.
  • From Colossus and the Headhunters, one can't help but think there are much better ways Kermes could go about trying to gain the power he wants. He imprisoned and tortured the King, betrayed his country to a group of savage headhunters, slaughtered hundreds, and then kidnapped the Queen... only to reveal that his end goal is simply to become the Queen's advisor? Way to aim low, villain! Did it ever occur to you that she might have just given you the position if you weren't such a rat?
  • The Truman Show: The interesting thing is the scheme- putting a guy on a reality show for his whole life and not telling him- does apparently make money, "the wealth of a small country", through product placements. But the creators must have forgotten that they were able to create an entirely artificial biome, with weather you can control with a touchscreen, bodies of water, soil and plant life, air, and housing. There are tons of applications for all that. Wealthy areas with water shortages, like California, Saudi Arabia, and Israel would pay through the nose for such environments. There would be people who could build their own separate self-sustaining communities. You could colonize Antarctica, or possibly space. And if a TV studio can afford it, you know similar sized groups and national governments can afford these.
  • James Bond: A number of Bond villains are involved in perfectly legitimate or semi-legitimate businesses. Among many others:
    • Kananga of Live and Let Die owns a thriving chain of soul food restaurants.
    • Franz Sanchez of Licence to Kill owns casinos and a cheesy New Age Televangelist racket fronted by Wayne Newton.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard features a scene where the villains break out some kind of chemical spray that "cancels radioactivity." Assuming this isn't common tech in the world of the film, this basically breaks a hole in how radiation science works, and even the intended use of it in the movie (clearing out irradiated areas) could be worth billions. They use it to rob Chernobyl.
  • Avengers: Infinity War features Thanos successfully using the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half the Universe as he claims there aren't enough resources to support everyone. He could have simply used the gauntlet to create more resources. The problem is that Thanos is motivated by pride as much as anything else -He wants to prove his original proposed solution of culling half the population to save his home world would have worked. Increasing resources wasn't an option for him then, so he isn't interested in doing it now. In Avengers: Endgame, when faced with hard evidence that it doesn't work, his response is to blame the survivors for refusing to move on and attempt to destroy the entire universe so he can remake it as grateful to him.
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow: Louis Mozart is a peddler of zombie powder that can put people into death-like comas, and is often used as a poison throughout Haiti. When he finds out the Adventurer Archaeologist trying to buy some of his powder has been dried by a pharmaceutical company seeking to use it as an anesthetic, he is intrigued to realize how much more money and fame this could bring him and works hard to complete it and then help the main characters smuggle it out of the country, under the nose of the Secret Police.
  • The members of the Kim family from Parasite are skilled at driving, cooking, academics, and art, but spend their time conning a richer family. It's implied that they might have been able to use their talents for an honest living, but their poverty and lack of connections leave crime as a better option.

  • Discworld:
    • In Making Money, Moist von Lipwig averts, subverts and lampshades this. As someone who had previously been a con man and was now making a respectable living, he now found himself still desiring the thrill of the chase, and "keeping his hand in" with schemes of various sorts. Someone actually mentions to him how silly it is for people to swindle and trick when better money could be made out of living honestly... he glosses over the point. Specifically, he mentions to himself that while the legal way is more profitable and in many ways easier, its also less fun. He compromises by stealing from his own businesses.
    • This is lampshaded in Equal Rites wherein it is pointed out that the time and effort a group of brigands puts into robbing caravans could have quite easily allowed them to earn a good living if they were to work that hard at a honest trade.
    • In The Last Continent, a wizard reminisces about a classmate who, sentenced to copy out lines of text as a punishment, invented a multi-pencil apparatus to write the same line several times simultaneously. Building and improving his invention took more time and effort than simply copying the lines would have and eventually led to the student's accidental death.
  • A much simpler device, made of coat hangers, was used in the novel Who Ran My Underwear up the Flagpole? by Jerry Spinelli. The character in question is assigned to write a hundred lines on the board, then the teacher stepped out for a coffee. When he gets back, there are 120 lines on the board and the student is gone. When he finds out what the kid's done, he's so impressed that he isn't even punished. The same kid also has a custom skateboard, and it is implied he'll be some sort of inventor when he grows up.
  • A comment is offered in Vanity Fair about one character who is a stingy and sly aristocrat. The author notes that if he had been born in obscurity, he could have become a wealthy Amoral Attorney, but as a baronet, he does things like being so stingy his crops fail and engaging in constant law suits which while profitable when he wins are more frequently a financial drain.
  • In the Paul Jennings short story The Strap Box Flier, an inventor goes from town to town selling his amazing glue which, in demonstrations, bonds instantly with a grip like steel. He then gets as far away as possible, before the townsfolk figure out the glue comes undone after four hours. Apparently it never occurred to him that a glue which allowed you to fix something immovably into place for a predictable amount of time, after which it would come undone of its own accord, would be worth an incredible fortune.
  • Subverted when, at the end of the Serpentwar Saga. Dashel Jameson, Sheriff of Krondor, renounces his noble titles and becomes the Upright Man, leader of the Krondorian Thieves Guild, succeeding his late great-uncle, Lyle Rigger. His new second-in-command asks him why he's doing this, since as the son of a Duke and the younger brother of an Earl, there's no way he could make as much money as a thief as he could legitimately. He did it as a point of honor: he had promised a thief he had fallen in love with who had died protecting the city from Keshian raiders that he would look out for the thieves.
  • Subverted by Artemis Fowl, who does use his genius to make money in more legitimate ways. Among others, he holds several patents, won a competition to design a new opera house in Dublin and is even a published author. However, as well as his legitimate enterprises and investments are doing, the kind of crimes he commits are far more profitable and nets him things few others can get. His first heist netted him half a ton of gold, which in August 2012 was worth 17,500,000 USD, as well as a fully healed mother and connections to the Lower Elements' Police.
  • Discussed in The Fate of Paul Twister. When he hears tales of a powerful wizard operating as a bandit, Paul dismisses them as a silly rumor, since someone with that kind of power would have no reason to have to resort to banditry to get by. He compares it to a millionaire working in fast food: theoretically possible, but why would he want to?
  • Encyclopedia Brown has the con artist Wilford Wiggins. One of his usual schemes is to make a painting and try to pass it off as a famous historical painting. Encyclopedia and Sally note that he seems to be a legitimately talented artist, and wonder why he doesn't just sell his paintings as they are.
  • In the Repairman Jack novel Legacies, an agent of an OPEC Expy conspires to suppress a breakthrough energy-transmission technology by killing anyone who knows it exists and destroying all evidence of its development. He and his handlers are so convinced that this technology will destroy the oil-nations' economies and return the Middle East to the Dark Ages, the possibility of simply buying the technology and overseeing its gradual introduction, thus preserving a stake in the energy-economy for his organization long after the oil fields run dry, never seems to cross anyone's mind.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Company in Prison Break is an example. They have the technology to solve most of humanity's energy and agriculture problems and hence would become both the richest and most heralded people on the planet if they were up front and honest. Instead, they run currency scams in third world countries and sell weapons to belligerents that will make them hundreds of millions, but have the potential to wipe out all of humanity if used.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Warren Mears could have made billions with his life-like androids. Instead, he pisses away his genius robbing banks in a small California town. Then again, Warren is very emotionally immature, such that he may well not have thought of the ramifications of his machines. That, and he liked the idea of being a supervillain.
    • Word of God is that the super-science used by the trio and a few other villains is actually an applied form of magic (which the user may not be aware of), and cannot be used in any large-scale capacity since the tech doesn't actually work.
    • In Season 8 he uses his skills to work for the government (and Twilight).
    • In the "Season 10" comic, Xander openly asks Andrew why the Trio didn't just make millions off the patents of their stuff. Andrew explains that they took all their plans from hacked government files and "you wouldn't believe the tech they keep the public from having."
  • Nevel Patterman on iCarly is a tweenage computer science and coding genius. He has a popular website already (he specializes in ratings and reviews), and has impressive skills in coding, web design, writing, hacking. However, all of it goes to waste in harassing the iCarly trio. The main reason is because Nevel knows that he's an intelligent and popular young man and has become an Insufferable Genius as a result. His introductory episode has him more or less get Carly on a date and try and coerce a kiss out of her or he'd ruin their show through ratings. He fails in this endeavor and he says he'd make them rue the day. Repeated schemes over his slighted pride led to him losing popularity over time as he harasses them. He finally hits rock bottom when he's caught being a Jerkass to a random little girl and spread on the Internet, with everyone seeing him for the tool he was. While his behavior is somewhat salvaged by the iCarly trio out of pity and he seems to have a Jerkass Realization, The Stinger shows he hasn't quite fixed himself yet. Ultimately, Nevel's problem is that he's a pompous jerk who's own success gave him a big head until he got knocked down by his own arrogance. By now, it's unlikely he would be able to capitalize on his talents given how his reputation is ruined and it would be difficult for most employers to overlook his list of snafus.
  • The Twilight Zone:
    • The episode "The Rip Van Winkle Caper" has a group of gold thieves trying to evade the law. One of them accomplishes this by using a gas he created to put the gang in suspended animation for a hundred years instead of patenting the substance and becoming a well respected and incredibly rich scientist.
    • Averted in "A Kind of a Stopwatch", Patrick McNulty gets a stopwatch that can freeze time and the first thing he does after discovering its power is try to market it to his former boss. Though, he'd been fired for giving pointless ideas earlier so the boss doesn't bother to listen to him.
  • Averted in Dalek Empire (Big Finish Doctor Who spinoffs), where the Daleks seek an alternate history where they've already conquered the entire universe. What they get is an alternate reality where the equivalent of Davros decided that you catch more flies with honey, and decided to make the Daleks good or at least well-intentioned. "You Daleks have conquered this galaxy?" "Correct" "You have waged war against its peoples, you have destroyed, you have subjugated." "Correct!" "You have committed the greatest crimes our universe has ever known! Neutralise them!" Unsurprisingly, by not being genocidal jerks, they've been far more successful, and the Daleks are rapidly reduced to the edge of extinction yet again.
    • Slightly more justified as the Daleks are brainwashed into being Scary Dogmatic Aliens, to the point they kill other Daleks for being impure.
  • Subverted in the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds", where Mal, upon confronting Saffron, points out that "All the lying, all the games... there's got to be an easier way to steal." At which point she replies that Mal is assuming the payoff for her is the money. It's actually the rush of screwing people over at high risk and getting away with it, and it's compulsive for her, so that she went back to it even after spending a while as the trophy wife of a government official who could give her anything she wanted.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Hancock's Half Hour when the Honest John "Sid Balmory James" discovers that spending all his time thinking up elaborate cons is a lot harder than simply going to the bank and getting an overdraft.
  • In Harry's Law, it's averted at the end of the series premiere. The main character used to be a patent lawyer, and three thugs had rigged up a device to get car doors open. They decided they wanted to patent it instead.
  • The Reality Show It Takes a Thief (2005) is an aversion, a security makeover show where former thieves first (with permission of the owner, who gets to watch it, live, on cameras the show installs to let them, and us, as the audience, see what the crooks are doing), burgle the home or business in question, and then they have professionals install security systems that would've prevented them in the first place. Then they test them to see if the owners are using it properly. On more than one occasion they've found the homeowners have left the front door unlocked.
  • Batman (1966) episodes:
    • "The Joker's Flying Saucer". The Joker creates a flying saucer that can (based on the Joker's comments) travel through outer space to other planets. He decides on the standard "conquer the world" strategy when he could have just sold the design to NASA for billions of dollars. Then again, this is the Joker.
    • In "The Penguin's Nest", Penguin opens a hugely popular restaurant, which by all indications positively rakes in the cash. However, Penguin chooses to use it as the front for a forgery scheme instead of simply living off the restaurant's proceeds.
    • Also applies to Catwoman, who if she used her intelligence productively (or, let's be honest, became a model or movie star with her looks) — or even simply give up crime and married Bruce Wayne — could easily become as rich as she desires.
    • Batman and Robin even comment during the Minstrel's appearance that he could make a good living just by selling records.
    • "The Ring of Wax". After getting caught in one of his wax traps, Batman notes that if the Riddler were oriented towards good, the world could be so wonderful.
  • A theme in Sons of Anarchy. Jax and Nero talk about how much they want to go straight, but when they each have the opportunity to make money legitimately, they admit that they no longer want to. Damon Pope is a particular example in that he's already making millions legitimately but still maintains a narcotics empire on top of it. Jax points this out to him.
  • Neal Caffrey of White Collar, similar to the real-life examples below, is said to be one of the best forgers in the world. His attempt at a sculpture, which was done relatively quickly, was not only declared authentic, but as the seminal example of the artist whose work he was copying (beating the pants off the attempts of the original artist's assistant/protege). If he had gone straight form the beginning, perhaps he'd be a world-class artist by now. But perhaps not; he's shown to have both a thieving bent and problems developing his own style. (He blames his Disappeared Dad and family instability but that's just a cop-out.
  • An unusual example would be Oliver Queen on Smallville. Being a billionaire, he develops tons of ridiculously advanced rob the rich to give to the poor. He seems to have given up on that after a while and concentrated on blowing up Lex Luthor's evil facilities.
  • In 24 series 5, within a couple of hours of getting hold of Lynn's access card, Lynn's sister's boyfriend is able to find the terrorists to sell it to them. This guy should have been working for CTU!
  • On Vegas mobster Vincent Savino invokes this trope to explain why he no longer has any interest in the traditional mob rackets like loan sharking, prostitution or protection schemes. There is so much money to be made legitimately by running a Las Vegas casino that he sees no reason to engage in small time crimes anymore. Unlike his bosses, he has never been convicted of a felony so he can legitimately own and operate a Nevada casino. His main problem is that his bosses do not see things his way and he is powerless to stop them from messing up the casino business in order to further their own petty schemes.
  • The Wire has this come up as a conflict between Stringer and Avon. Stringer sees the end goal of their drug enterprise as turning legitimate and living comfortably on risk-free profits, but Avon only wants power and respect in the streets. While Avon is serving time, Stringer makes a valiant attempt by running the drug empire's front businesses as real businesses and investing his dirty money in a legitimate real estate venture.
  • On Justified mobster Avery Markham made a lot of money in the illegal marijuana trade and now his sources tell him that the state of Kentucky is about to legitimize marijuana. Markham immediately starts buying up farmland in Harlan county because he knows that he can make way more money selling marijuana legally then he could ever make in the illegal drug trade. However, he still insists on acquiring the land using An Offer You Can't Refuse tactics if the current owners refuse to sell. This quickly attracts the attention of the US Attorney and the US Marshals.
  • Space Precinct featured an interesting variant. A quantum physicist devised a Techno Babble-powered device that created a literal Sphere of Destruction, annihilating any matter it came into contact with, and could be manipulated with a simple remote. He wanted to use it for pure research, but for some reason he wasn't able to secure the necessary grant money and decided to market it as a tunnel-boring tool so he could carry on his work independently. Unfortunately, the allegedly reformed stick-up artist turned Asteroid Miner he first pitched it to press-ganged him into using it to crack open bank vaults instead. Another episode also included a brief appearance by a former jewel thief who'd chosen a nice safe retirement working as a security consultant.
  • Luke Cage (2016): If a real-life nightclub could pull the headliners and crowds that Cottonmouth is able to host at Harlem's Paradise, the owner would be a multi-millionaire. But Cottonmouth doesn't seem to notice or care that he has one of the hottest clubs in all of New York City. Mariah even points out that his legitimate business interests are successful enough on their own that he doesn't need to run drugs or guns in order to be one of the most powerful men in Harlem.
  • Iron Fist (2017): Madame Gao develops a synthetic form of heroin that works by skin patch and prevents the user from building a tolerance, making each hit as strong as the first. Had she marketed her innovation to the medical industry for its usefulness in pain managementnote , she could have made billions legally and had an easier time selling it on the streets if she so desired. And since it's not injected, it would prevent the spread of disease from sharing needles, including HIV and hepatitis. In short, Gao could have cornered the medical and recreational opium markets had she set her sights higher than local druglords.

    Print Media 
  • MAD once had an article that said that your laziness factor factored in the amount of work you're willing to go through to get out of doing work.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Thieves' Guild, a criminal gang in the Freedom City setting of Mutants & Masterminds, are 6 inventors, all brilliant in their particular field, and they rob banks. They're also all psychotic in their own particular way.
  • Genius: The Transgression takes a look at this, because Geniuses generally need a fair bit of money to fuel their Wonder-crafting, and so the Resources merit requires explanation. The problem is that Wonders aren't reproducible by Muggles (and even letting muggles get a look under the hood can lead to all kinds of hilarity), and selling more mundane inventions requires being able to deal with people in suits and formulate a workable business plan, which most Geniuses are not very good at.
  • Lampshaded and justified in Better Angels — the opening fictional vignette points out that a superintelligent Hellbinder could make a lot more money legitimately than they could through crime... and, if they were really big on doing evil and causing suffering, use that money to do so in a way far more efficient than making goofy super-illnesses or holding a country's road system hostage. The big reason is that supervillains, by and large, aren't evil people. They vary from paragons of morality to more grey, but the truly evil who get demon powers generally don't throw on a mask and cape and threaten to melt the ice caps with their Doom Ray when more mundane acts of cruelty and corruption tend to work far better — supervillainy is largely a "show" put on to keep the demon entertained enough that it doesn't force the issue while doing relatively little actual harm. There's also some severe limitations on demon-powered technology that make mass-producing and selling it problematic: the demon can permanently shut it down any time they want, it's relatively fragile, and it only lasts as long as the Hellbinder remains alive with both components bound — if the demon is exorcised, the human taken to hell, or if the Hellbinder dies, it just stops working.
  • The Exalted often possess skills that would allow them to make enormous amounts of money very quickly, whether by legitimate or illegitimate means. The problem has less to do with their skills, however, and more to do with the fact that all non-Dragon-Blooded Exalted are viewed with suspicion in most of Creation- and if you're a Solar Exalt, operating openly may mean attracting the attention of the Wyld Hunt. This makes criminal work a lot more appealing to some Exalted, since it involves people asking a lot fewer questions.
    • Of particular note are the Infernal Exalted, servants of the Yozis. Since they're not even technically supposed to exist, they are constantly told to keep their heads down and operate in the shadows. And to be fair, the results of an Infernal being discovered are likely to be unpleasant, depending on who discovers them first.

    Video Games 
  • Zig Zagged in BioShock, as Frank Fontaine's ultimate goal is to become the richest and most adored man alive after killing off anyone who could get in his way by bringing Rapture's technology such as ADAM to the surface.
    • Rapture plays with this. Fantastic inventions designed by Rapture's scientists are constantly sold in the hyper-economy that it's based on. Unfortunately, Ryan's disillusionment with the rest of the world means that all foreign transportation becomes illegal. It's implied that the REAL reason behind Rapture's fall isn't because of a designer gene-drug that slowly erodes your humanity, but because the Rapture economy and technological progress isn't shared with the outside world, and commodities that you can't get/produce in Rapture (such as the sun and the Bible) help create a black market with a very destructive monopoly. So essentially, Rapture (a place cut off from the violent and bickering world) was doomed to fail because of its isolationism; if they had sold to the world instead of each other, they wouldn't have devolved into a bickering civil war.
    • Also, in BioShock Infinite, one can think of a hundred different ways to use trans-dimensional teleportation or energy-independent antigravity to make the world a better place. All Comstock uses it for are predicting the future with 99% accuracy and making a giant floating city. Subverted when it's revealed that Comstock doesn't believe the world deserves it and wants to Kill 'Em All and restart civilization. With his daughter at the helm.
  • Lampshaded in City of Heroes. Sometimes NPCs will say "If the Sky Raiders really only wanted money they would just sell their jetpack designs. There is something more." Crey Corporation plays this straight. They make a lot of products that could be much more valuable as actual products rather than tools of mass destruction. They also make countless products just for consumer and military purchase.
  • Averted in Mega Man Battle Network 1 by Higsby, a teacher employed by the WWW to brainwash the students of ACDC and steal their rare chips for himself. He later opens up a chip shop. In the subsequent games of the series, Dr. Regal and Wily do this too.
    • In the third game, Mr. Match's programming expertise has legally qualified him for a research position at Sci Lab. It's a sham. All his "references" are fellow World 3 agents disguised as scientists.
    • Dr. Wily became the villain in this series because years ago, his research on robotics was shunned over Dr. Hikari's research on networking. In the end, he finally quits being a villain and has one of his creations do real good.
  • It's played with quite frequently with The Bonne Family in Mega Man Legends:
    • They're shown to be quite suited to work as diggers or business owners, as Tron shows a knack for penny-pinching and could easily market her machinery itself, if their choice of profession didn't have to be piracy. However, they're also shown to be quite well off, suggesting their piracy has been quite lucrative for them at least until they borrowed money from a really corrupt loan shark in The Misadventures of Tron Bonne and later ran afoul of Mega Man Trigger.
    • They've also been shown to repeatedly use legitimate means to earn money as well. Tron not only lets some of her Servbots open a restaurant on Kattelox Island but even helps them do it legitimately, and between Legends 1 and 2 they opened a business that ultimately ended up nearly going bankrupt due to poor sales choices (forcing them to resort to piracy again). The ending also has them go straight once more, though this time it's not to make money but instead save Mega Man who they've by now come to like. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne shows them digging regularly for money, and they are extremely successful at it, with the series implying they are pirates just because they enjoy the job.
  • Doctor Eggman, of Sonic the Hedgehog fame, shows an incredible talent in weaponry, vehicle, and robot design, and an ability to mass-produce many of these designs. Of course, even if he doesn't want to sell his inventions, he also shows a fondness for casino and theme park designs, and could probably gain a lot of money and influence just by entertaining people. In several games, he's also uncovered evidence of multiple ancient, extraterrestrial, trans-dimensional artifacts, beings, and civilizations. Evidence of these, as well as the corresponding research, would revolutionize the world, exonerate him and his grandfather multiple times over, herald him as pioneer in science, history, among other fields, and essentially hand him the world on a silver platter!
    • Granted, given the events of Sonic Adventure 2, it's implied that he wants less exoneration and more payback. Additionally, earlier interpretations has him believe that because he's such a genius, he should be the one running the world. The other problem is that he believes in progress at any cost... as seen in how he ravages the environment for his resources, a common theme in the series since its inception.
    • In Sonic Heroes, E-123 Omega sometimes makes references to Dr. Eggman's "consumer models." This implies some of the robots he mass-produces are for sale to the general public.
    • In Sonic Battle Rouge outright states that Eggman sells generic versions of his E-100 Series models as security droids.
    • Sonic Riders has Robotnik Corp, a business venture of Eggman's which provides a good handful of the Extreme Gear of the first game including, hilariously enough, the personalized gears of roughly half the cast. The sequel, Sonic Riders Zero Gravity, it's revealed that the security company Meteor Tech which, while having an ulterior motive in the end, did seem to legitimately provide security services for Future City and the rest of the continent it resides on. Eggman also makes an offhand mention to how him selling his technology helps pay for his schemes to defeat Sonic.
    • In Sonic Colors, he manages to grab several planets, build amusement parks and rides on them, and tethers them to the Earth with a Space Elevator without affecting any planet's gravity. He broke so many rules of physics with the stunt alone, and the 3DS version implies it is a really fun park (in the Wii version, Sonic snuck his way in there the day before it opened.) If only Eggman wasn't using this as an excuse to harvest life energy from aliens to build a Mind Control Ray to Take Over the World! Even Sonic and Tails admit that they'd happily pay to enjoy Eggman's new theme park for a while... if it wasn't such a painfully obvious trap, of course.
  • Wario:
    • Zig-zagged in WarioWare. After a couple of games serving as Mario's rival and all the while playing a greedy Anti-Hero role, he finally went on to become the founder of the honest WarioWare business and is presumably wealthier than ever. However, anything with Wario's name in it is not likely to be honest. Case in point: he never actually pays any of his employees.
    • In Wario: Master of Disguise, Wario invents the Telmet in less than a minute so that he can venture into his television and become a Phantom Thief. The thought of making a fortune by just selling his miraculous invention never occurs to him.
  • Zig-zagged in Touhou Project spinoff material where Mystia Lorelei uses her Magic Music to strike humans night-blind and sells them grilled lamprey as a night-blindness cure. The con is seen as a minor issue in Gensokyo, and her cooking is good enough that she gets away with it, and gets return business and turns a profit. She's also explicitly not in it for the money: she's a bird youkai, so she wants humans to stop eating poultry.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Minor example in Mass Effect. A salarian named Schells asks Shepard to help him perfect his invention that will enable him to cheat at Quasar (he claims he isn't actually going to use it himself: he's going to sell it to others... for some reason, he thinks this makes it legal). If Shepard chooses to expose what he's doing to the casino owner, Schells despairs at what he's going to do from now on. Shepard's team will point out that with his obvious talents, landing a well-paying job as a programmer or engineer shouldn't be too difficult for him. He scoffs at this.
    • Lampshaded in Mass Effect: Andromeda. The raider captain in Liam's loyalty mission salvaged and restored a derelict Kett ship to... mostly working order. The team notes that with the mechanical skills he must have to accomplish this he could've easily become a technician or engineer.
    • In the same game the former security officer Sloan has turned to drug dealing using a locally produced substance that combines antibiotic effects with quick healing and suppressing pain, while being highly addictive. It never seems to occur to her to exploit its obvious pharmaceutical potential, something that would have been far more profitable in the long run.
  • Borderlands 2:
    • Handsome Jack's primary motivation is to find the vault containing The Warrior, so he can use it to take over Pandora... except that he's already the CEO of what's implied to be one of the most powerful Mega Corps in the setting, and if he would use his vast resources for something useful rather than wasting untold amounts of money trying to find the vault or on useless vanity projects like Opportunity, he would probably be able to rule the planet legitimately. Or decide to move his efforts to another planet that isn't a Death World. But....
      • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! reveals that Jack was convinced that the Vault in Elpis would give him access to the wealth and power and alien technology that all other Vault Hunters seek, and make him impossibly rich. It turns out that what the Vault held was an Eridian device that held knowledge of the Warrior, which promised him incredible power. However, at that moment, Lilith attacked him and smashed the device, horribly scarring his face, because up until that point he'd been becoming more and more violent, unhinged, and megalomaniacal. As a result of what happened, Jack was driven completely over the edge into the lunatic psychopathic dictator and Corrupt Corporate Executive Handsome Jack, obsessed with unlocking the Vault on Pandora so he could inflict his revenge.
    • Averted with Torgue, who was a brilliant gun designer (despite never having a formal education and still drawing with crayons) that sold his designs and founded one of the biggest suppliers of explosive weapons to the galaxy. However, because he had no idea how to actually manage all of it, he unknowingly sold his controlling shares for a few bucks and a high five and is only kept on as a mascot. Torgue himself also expressed interest in hiring Tiny Tina while he still had the company, whom he not only jives with but also sees the potential in the little bombmaker. Also averted with the fact that Torgue, despite his bombastic persona, is rather forward thinking and generally a pretty nice guy whenever he interacts with the Vault Hunters or their acquaintances.
  • While it's questionable if they're "evil", the management in Five Nights at Freddy's possesses animatronics... that can walk around by themselves very quickly and have the strength, intelligence, and dexterity to pick up heavy endoskeletons (and humans) and put them in suits. Pretty damn advanced for mere animatronics. Then the new animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's 2 one-up them by also being able to crawl through air ducts (again, unaided) and having advanced facial recognition in 1987. Far beyond even anything made in 2014! How are they still a small-time pizza joint and not the robotics equivalent of Apple or IBM?!
    • Through two games, the nature of the animatrons is left as Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, but it is strongly implied that there is something outright supernatural about the machines, and the company would not exactly want to promote their more fantastic properties. Plus all the murders they've been involved in have put the company out of business. Twice.
    • The third game reveals that the company had animatronics that could be worn as a suit by humans. And the animatronics still work after being used as suits. Even after they're effectively dismantled and shoved into different areas of the suit, which is some pretty damn impressive technology considering the suit's no larger than the average animatronic (so where do the pieces go when a human's inside?). This trope is justified in this case, however, thanks to the suits being ludicrously unsafe (as Springtrap can attest to) and Fazbear Entertainment retiring them after multiple failures.
  • Batman: Arkham Series: Riddler. The man could do a lot of good legally, if not for his ego compelling him to prove he's smarter than everyone else.
    • Asylum: He's able to hide multiple Riddler trophies around the joint, and demonstrates a fairly comprehensive knowledge of Gotham's criminal element and the environs of Arkham.
    • City: He has a formidable and widespread intelligence network among the gangs of the city, plus manages to build and maintain various puzzles and hide his trophies despite Arkham City's isolation. He even manages to get a few puzzles and trophies inside of a secret hideout used by the League of Assassins.
    • Origins: He's actually working as the head of GCPD Cyber Crimes so he can use his access to release damning information on the city's leading lights (collected by an army of informants) in order to make Gotham collapse and be reformed as a better place. He also has the logistical know how to secretly set up dozens of relays and data packs across the city.
      • Ironically, in Cold, Cold, Heart, he's suspected of releasing information about the mayor and the incoming police commissioner about their mob ties, which made the former resign in disgrace.
    • Knight: Not only does he have Riddler Trophies and puzzles around the place, like usual, but he's also got a fair amount of robots, which he's capable of modifying on the fly. Plus, y'know, the massive race/puzzle tracks he's secretly built somehow. Oh, and his plotline ends with him deploying a Mini-Mecha with an energy shield to fight Batman.
      • Also in Knight, Corrupt Corporate Executive Simon Stagg marvels at Scarecrow's idiocy, as his fear toxin could be modified for any number of pharmaceutical and/or military uses that would rake in serious amounts of cash, but he just uses it to scare people. It's why Stagg tries to betray Scarecrow and ends up getting fear gassed for it.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has Sokol, a Russian hockey player who apparently joined the Payday Gang after Bain told him he could make more in one heist than in a year as a hockey player. This trope comes into play as it is revealed he made the BFD used in the Golden Grin Casino Heist (which despite the name is a plasma cutter not a drill) why it never occurred to him that he could patent the thing and make a fortune legally is anyone's guess.
  • Thanks to Level Scaling, bandits in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will try to extort 100 gold out of you even if they're wearing a full set of Infinity Minus One Glass Armor, which can be sold for several thousand gold. The game doesn't tell you how they got it, but whatever it is, they really should be doing more of that, instead of Mugging the Monster for what is at this point pocket change.
  • In the Vault-Tec Workshop DLC of Fallout 4, Vault-Tec had an employee named Ted Reily who was reviled among his co-workers since rather than making horrible experiments that make people's lives a living hell, his machines fulfill their intended purpose and would have been highly profitable as commercial products (such as an automated eye exam or a soda machine that makes high-quality beverages). Using his devices for "experiments" improves the quality of life for your vault dwellers, but also pisses off Barstow, your Overseer.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: Sissy Villain Florent L'Belle designs his own brand of high-end clothing and cosmetics which are exclusively for his personal use. They are in quite high demand and many stores want to sell his products, but he refuses since the filthy, unwashed masses are unworthy of them in his eyes. He also advertises his products all over TV and magazines, purely to rub it in everyone's faces that they will never be able to have them. This has understandably left him flat broke, so he commits murder in order to steal a giant gold nugget (which as it turns out was pointless since the gold had already been stolen by someone else decades ago) instead of just, you know, selling his highly desired products. In Spirit of Justice, his products have apparently started being sold to the general public, presumably because he's in jail and thus isn't in charge of the brand anymore. They are selling well enough that even overseas countries have them in stock.
  • Mysterio in Spider-Man 2 is able to build things like a working jetpack, a fleet of UFOs, and anti-gravity robots. Even one of those things could make him rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Instead, he uses them to act out because a superhero is more popular than he is.

  • Antihero for Hire lampshades it in this strip.
  • Averting this trope is the driving force behind Evil, Inc., a comic about a supervillain who starts a legitimate company to cater to supervillains. When a traditionalist complains he is losing sight of what evil is, he just shows him the legitimate profit margins and smiles. An often repeated motto in the strip is, "You can do more evil if you do it legally."
    • The comic that the concept was first introduced in, Greystone Inn had the villains need to be reminded that they're supervillains and can just rob a bank when they need some extra cash quick — they see it more as a charming retro throwback than anything.
  • Freefall: Sam lampshades this dilemma.
    • For him, it really is a dilemma. His species values crime and roguery, so a lucrative but secure job is far less appealing to him than a memorable con.
    • The police chief tries to invoke this on Sam, with slightly different point: he points out that Sam commits crimes for the challenge, but catching crooks is even more of a challenge. Doesn't work, alas.
  • Averted in Rusty and Co.'s Fourth-Wall Mail Slot which informs us that Rusty's metal-corroding ability is routinely used for "antiquing furniture for fun an' profit". For a rust monster it means being paid for licking food (carefully).
  • Averted in Sam & Fuzzy, where Mr. Sin's core idea is to market his inventions and get rich on them. Played straight in that he's a Mad Scientist and most of his inventions are created in very illegal ways, and tend to go terribly, terribly wrong during the development stage.
  • Deconstructed in Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger: The protagonist gives out Replicator technology to the planet Kalufrax in order to solve their serious economical crisis. The Kalufraxians prove extremely adept with the matter constructors, solving most of their problems with sophisticated engineering skill. The remaining problems end up killing millions; rather than join in the post-scarcity civilization, the Oligarchy "freaks out" and attempts to murder everyone involved using the privatized militaries of the world. Why? Because they would rather control a starving world than let everyone be happy. Their rivals, an Islamic-parody, also induce slaughter by sabotaging some of the floating cities with modified replicators, killing even more to satisfy their hatred rather than solve the economic problems that caused said hatred. Also, the disgruntled Kalufraxian who tried to assassinate the protagonist had a stable job and high skill in replicator programming, but was plotting revenge for having his people turned into a glorified (and wealthy) slave caste for replicators.
  • Also deconstructed in Grrl Power, in this strip:
    I just wanted to include this page to show an example of a super using his powers intelligently. He does present a potential threat, but he’s not breaking any laws. It’s one of those “watch this guy closer than the strong guy making his living in construction, but otherwise live and let live” supers. He could try to threaten cities on fault lines and ransom them for millions with is geokinesis, but he’s not living in a silver age comic book, so why would he? It is something that bothers me about a lot of supervillains. So many of them have powers, or their whole shtick is predicated on a gadget they made that with the tiniest application of intelligence could make them millionaires in the private sector. The Trapster made incredibly strong yet easily sprayable adhesive. The Green Goblin made something the size of an opened pizza box that not only can fly, it can carry the weight of at least two humans plus equipment, and based on some of the fights he’s had with Spider-Man, it’s not exactly short range either. Yes, the usual excuse is that most bad guys are a little bit crazy, but then consider this. The first time Spidey beats the Goblin, there’s this flying thing just sitting there. It’s not like the crazy bad guy filed a patent for it. Ok, maybe the first version before he went crazy, but Goblin’s been around for a while, and he’s probably upgraded the flyer, and post crazy, he’s probably not keeping up with the patent process. Somebody would take that thing apart, file their own patents, and boom. Delivery drones, extreme sports gliders, hoverboards, military hovering sniper platforms, whatever. Someone would do something constructive with it. That’s why I’m careful not to throw a lot of gadgeteers into the world, because it would cause an irreversible tech spiral, and the comic world would diverge dramatically from our own.
  • This Bug Martini strip wonders why old gypsy ladies can't use their powers to make money.
  • Final Fantasy VII: The Sevening gleefully lampshades how the plotpoint from the game it is based on, where President Shinra of the Mega-Corp Shinra Inc. decides to crush Sector 7 just to get rid of a relatively small group of freedom fighters, by all means seems like a pretty Stupid Evil move from a villain who supposedly values profit above anything else:
    President Shinra: (as he gleefully watches the destruction of Sector 7) Mwa ha ha ha, this is a financial nightmare.
    Heidegger: I know, way worth all the millions of Gils in repairs and loss of income from the now deceased tax payers, gya ha ha.

    Web Original 
  • Lampshaded in Interviewing Leather:
    Leather: If Leonardo Lucas was just after world domination, he wouldn't build giant robots and death rays. He'd get an assload of patents, make three billion dollars, and join the fucking Republican party.
  • Averted, with some zigzagging, in the Whateley Universe. Plenty of the Mad Scientists do, in fact, patent their inventions, and figure out uses for them. Furthermore, Ayla Goodkind is making sure to look for these people and CUT them checks. And this is mercilessly lampshaded by Ayla Goodkind herself, when she complains that Whateley Academy needs better contract law help for these inventors, and courses to teach the inventors how not to get robbed by the Corrupt Corporate Executive so they have to turn to crime later in life.
    • As a rule, those inventors who become supervillains generally don't do so just for money's sake - while some are quite mercenary, there is usually a Freudian Excuse or other Start of Darkness behind it (often tied the the world's Fantastic Racism) beyond just "I want to be rich, so let's go rob a bank". Diedrick's Syndrome and similar psychological problems also factor into many such cases (e.g., Lady Havoc).
      • The main exception to this appears to be Gizmatic, who before becoming the Emperor Scientist of a Banana Republic was mostly a villain because he seemed to think that was just what you do when you build one-of-a-kind superweapons for a living.
    • It is notable that Well-Intentioned Extremist Dr Diabolik's main source of income isn't from his practice of sacking whole cities, but from stock manipulation (enabled by said raids) and sales of intelligence-increasing serums and tools, all done through various shell organizations.
  • This is Edwin Windsor's job in How to Succeed in Evil — talk to would-be supervillains and try to get them to use their abilities and talents in an efficient and profitable manner, rather than for grandiose and overly complex schemes they seem so fond of. To his endless frustration, they rarely listen to him.
  • Cracked:
  • Inverted in The Spoony Experiment with the villain Dr. Insano saying that the protagonist of The Dungeonmaster should just patent his inventions and make loads.
    • Possibly averted with Insano himself. Although he's bent on world domination and of questionable competence as a Mad Scientist, he mentions once that he does most of his work on Etsy. This implies that he has at least managed to somewhat monetize his inventions. He's also aired advertisements for his Anti-Magic field generators, as well as a cure for a condition that "affects over seven people a year". A crossover with Atop the Fourth Wall reveals that he also sold the government the technology the critics stole from him to turn a house into a working spaceship in To Boldly Flee; he only delayed doing so because he had assumed they wouldn't want something so silly.
  • According to his backstory, Doctor Steel wanted to sell his rather twisted toy designs, but the toy company he worked for just couldn't see his vision. So, after burning down their factory, he started his own toy company... and started building giant robots with which to take over the world.
  • In Worm, this trope is played with. While there exists a subset of parahumans called "rogues" who turn their attention entirely to legal ventures with their powers, Tinkers almost always end up as either heroes or villains, being as (a) the alternative is being coerced into producing equipment for heroes or villains and (b) Tinker equipment isn't generally fit for mass production.
    • The trope's also enforced in that there is an entire body of law more or less dedicated to making it difficult for parahumans to legally use their powers for any kind of productive purpose. Its ostensible function is to prevent unfair competition, its semi-secret function is to force those parahumans to join the Protectorate, and its extremely secret purpose is to force parahumans to use their powers in ways that will cause conflict and destruction, triggering more parahumans in order to have as large an army as possible for the final battle against Zion.
  • Centives breaks down the costs of half-a-dozen crooks going or staying legit. Impressive for some villains, and decidedly tongue-in-cheek.
  • Often noted in Jabootu recaps of Challenge of the Super Friends episodes. For example, commenting on the potential uses of a time machine:
    Imagine what you could organize with millions of dollars and a working knowledge of how history will play out. You could invest the money in the real estate that will become modern day Los Angeles and San Francisco and become billionaires a hundred times over by the present. Then you could invest it all in Krispy Kreme stock and make a real killing. Moreover, I’m not even sure how any of that could be considered illegal. So you could tell the Superfriends to kiss your asses.
  • Seanbaby also had a good time mocking Super Friends for this reason, depicting Luthor going over their profits from Project Doom to discover that they spent twenty billion dollars to (among other things) build an evil toy-themed deathtrap planet in the middle of a black hole, so they could steal a few hundred thousand from a bank. It barely even covers the cost of repairing Black Manta's submarine.
  • Dr. Horrible explains the trope in just nine words:
    It's not about making money. It's about taking money.
    • The longer explanation is that he wants to hasten society's collapse, proving the problems he claims to be Inherent in the System so he can solve everything by taking over. Making money means profiting others he doesn't want to profit and contributing economic activity from production to point-of-sale. Taking money means weakening a financial institution and people's faith in it.
    • It becomes increasingly clear over the series that his social concerns are little more than a rationalization that he's making up as he goes along; he has no actual plan on what to do with the world should he successfully overthrow it. The closest thing to a coherent social plan he ever mentions is the nonsensical "anarchy that I run."
  • The Downfall parody "Hitler goes criminal" features Hitler trying to rob Fegelein's grandma to recapitalize the Reichs-treasury, and all of his attempts fail. Later, he and some of his bunker staff try to rob a jewelry store, but that same grandma finds out, and she proceeds to beat them up.
  • Red Panda Adventures:
    • The heroes try to convince the bad guys to make money doing things legitimately, or work to help people. But a lot of them are completely nuts. This does not keep the good guys from using their technology whenever
    • And then World War II rolls around, and the government starts recruiting supervillains and superheroes to fight Nazi super-science. America even ends up with the guy who ran said super-science program. Between things going right and things going wrong, we get plotlines running through several seasons.
    • The Poet writes beautiful poems that are believed to be the most perfect form in the last hundred years. They're taught in universities. He has them beautifully bound. He uses them to taunt the Red Panda about his next caper. Note that the Poet is one of the few people the heroes were actually able to turn; they suggest he use his powers to help the war effort before Canada even joined.
  • "15,000,000 Gold A Day is a thought experiment showing how to use a Dungeons & Dragons wizard to make, well, 15 million (at the highest level and with several other upgrades, a respectable 3 million at the lowest possible level) gold a day by casting a spell that creates a wall of iron and another to turn all that iron into daggers. Naturally, it depends on the GM being willing to use shopkeepers that a) have use for more than 21,000 daggers, b) carry 3 million gold on them every day, c) have no concept of supply and demand.

    Web Video 
  • In "The Last Days of Dr. Wily", Mega Man's arch-nemesis laments that he's out of money for building more Robot Masters and their hideouts. His project manager mentions that McDonald's wants to sponsor Wily to build a robot to speed up kitchen productivity, but Wily immediately dismisses the idea with "How's a hamburger going to kill Mega Man?" Subverted in that not only does Wily refuse a legitimate use of his talents, but any money he did earn would be specifically to continue his villainous plot.
  • In Nostalgic Commercials, The Nostalgia Critic (as Fred Flintstone) points out to Barney that his zany schemes to steal Fred's cereal are easily hundreds if not thousands of times more expensive than just going to the store and buying a box, and that him doing this crap every week is bankrupting his family.

    Western Animation 
  • Disney's Aladdin: The Series had Mechanicles, a Greek inventor who made robots. Lots of them. Though they were bulky, powered by steam, and made of bronze, they still had functionality well beyond what we are capable of in the modern day. In any episode where he appeared, he would use them to steal things, either because he wanted them, or just to build more robots. Though Mechanicles was also really arrogant and prissy, so maybe everyone simply refused to do business with him?
    • His ultimate goals were to reform the world in some insanely "tidy" ways, like turning the desert into glass or evaporating the seas. Of course nobody would work with him, he's nuts.
  • An episode of Back at the Barnyard, while admittedly a parody, has "Cowman" fighting a botany-themed villain. His motives boiled down to his monstrous plant hybrids never winning the blue ribbon at the county fair. However, while pretending to be a friendly Willy Wonka-style wandering botanist, he plants a seed that instantly sprouts into an ice cream tree. Perhaps that one alone could have won him a blue ribbon. Or Nobel Prize.
  • Batman: The Animated Series explored the concept with some of its reoccurring villains.
    • The Penguin is sane enough to admit associating with criminal riffraff is pretty distasteful anyway and he'd make much more profit with a skimming-off-the-top grey market nightclub. Subverted in that he still doesn't turn his act around in the end.
    • Temple Fugate lost everything in appeal for twenty million dollars against his company seven years ago. When he appears in "The Clock King", he has enough money to buy bombs, an Abandoned Warehouse Supervillain Lair at his name, and can throw off a clock valued at $6,000. Justified because he never suffers Motive Decay; all he wants is to humiliate Mayor Hill, and then kill him. Money no longer matters to him, only revenge. Notice that after he is arrested, he uses his talents for the government as a Boxed Crook.
    • Averted in the spinoff comic The Batman Adventures. The Riddler signs a deal with some out-of-town businessmen who find that the device he's used to hijack broadcasts can be the basis for a super-advanced cell phone which makes him millions. He finds an outlet for his ongoing urges by sending Batman riddles without actual crimes attached.
    • In "Riddler's Reform", the Riddler signs a contract with a toy company, using his genius for riddles and puzzles to design puzzle toys and the notoriety he earned as a criminal to pitch them in TV commercials. It almost works for him... but the compulsion to outwit Batman is too great, and he decides that the only way he could enjoy his new life is to lure Batman into a death trap and get rid of him altogether. Unfortunately, this doesn't work, and Riddler goes back to prison.
  • Batman Beyond:
    • Mr. Freeze's appearance averts this. It's mentioned that he is wealthy and puts his fortune towards making amends to the families who were hurt by his villainous actions in the past. Unfortunately, it all Goes Horribly Wrong...
    • Zig-zagged with this version of Spellbinder, a psychologist who uses sophisticated Mind Control devices to hypnotize people into stealing for him. Aside from the fact that he's invented all this hypnotic equipment but can't think of anything better to do with it than trick people into stealing for him, he probably doesn't even make a profit on his crimes. However, in his introductory episode Spellbinder goes on a rant which indicates that this may be more about revenge than greed. It took another turn when Spellbinder got wiser and began marketing his equipment as virtual reality generators that allowed people to live out their fantasies. He "marketed" it like a drug pusher and got taken down by Batman for it. It's unlikely that there would be any actual law against using the tech on willing people itself, but there would be for coercing other people especially minors into committing crimes for him.
    • Inverted with Shriek, was a brilliant, yet impractical engineer who specialized in sonics. For his market debut, he developed a suit that could generate and direct sound waves for demolition purposes. However, his boss, Corrupt Corporate Executive Derek Powers, had the reaction upon seeing the suit in action of "dynamite's cheaper" — his invention isn't practical and couldn't turn a profit if put on the market, the validity of Powers' claim is unknown as the actual costs of creating and using the suit aren't shown to the viewers. He promised Shriek to continue funding his experiments if he took care of Batman instead. Shriek is later seen to have invented some astonishing devices that would rake in millions, such as a gadget that selectively blocks loud noises (imagine the applications if you live near a construction site), but his boss still forces him to act as a personal killing machine. Afterward, Shriek becomes deaf and thus somehow invents a device that appears similar to headphones that can reverse deafness for as long as it's worn by the person, but by this point he's too obsessed with getting revenge on Batman to care about making money.
    • Played with in "The Winning Edge". Unlike Bane, who only used Venom for himself to commit crimes, Chappell manages to convert Venom into an easily usable dermal patch that he begins marketing as a performance-enhancing drug to teenagers. However, he still does this illegally through black market means, presumably because it's unlikely a Venom-based compound would ever be made legal.
    • In another episode, a talented weapons designer loses his high-paying job at a defense contractor. It's heavily implied that although he could easily find another job, it wouldn't bring in as much money as he and his family had grown accustomed to having. Instead, he goes into business as a corporate mercenary/saboteur, which apparently pays pretty well in Gotham.
  • In The Batman, the Riddler subverts this trope by starting out as a legitimate scientist who wants to help the world with his intellect-enhancing inventions. Unfortunately, his co-worker and the girl he liked would end up sabotaging it in front of their first potential investors and him taking the fall (according to her, she found him unstable due to him losing his temper at a condescending investor who reminded him of his abusive dad.) Riddler does not take it well when Batman spells it out for him (Riddler assuming it was the businessman who did it.) This leads Eddie going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in becoming Riddler. Batman even lampshades the whole thing when he tells Robin to not untie her, with the implications being she is going to be arrested:
    Batman: One last riddle, Robin. When is a villain not the villain?
  • Many of the Captain Planet and the Planeteers villains. Dr. Blight, for example, can invent a time machine, but her best plan for making money with it is to sell a nuke to Hitler. Dr. Blight did occasionally work directly for other villains for money, such as in the episode on overpopulation where she invented a duplicator ray for Looten Plunder (so that he could use it to clone an Indonesian child laborer ad infinitum to have endless dirt-cheap factory labor). Averted, however, with Sly Sludge, who eventually does go legit after being told recycling could be just as profitable as his usual poaching/polluting gigs (in real life, this is only true for metals). Hoggish Greedly ended up doing the same thing, applying his savvy for get-rich-quick schemes in a more legitimate and eco-friendly direction in the last season. Justified for Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem, whose goal is to basically terraform Earth to make it more hospitable to Rat Men and radioactive mutants like themselves, and for Zarm, who is a God of Evil.
  • In The Centsables, an Edutainment Show, the Villain of the Week apparently took notes from Royal Pain and Frank William Abagnale, Jr., producing a raygun that can turn anyone into an infant (no word mentioned on age selectability), all made possible by a fairly simple check bouncing scheme and the parts purchased therefrom.
  • Challenge of the Super Friends:
    • The show was notorious for this. Lex Luthor invents a time machine? He and the Legion of Doom use it to steal a few treasures from the past, and never use it again. A teleportation device? They use it to avoid being captured at the end of the episode. But never any other way. Invisibility cloak? Used for a few petty crimes, and never heard from again.
    • Seanbaby's page mentions one of Brainiac's inane schemes:
      ...This was so the Legion of Doom could force the world to give them money. I'm no electronically enhanced genius, but if the Legion of Doom is really hurting for money, maybe they shouldn't have built a fucking planet out of toys millions of light years away in the center of a black hole. Put some in the bank.
  • Mad Scientist Prof. Nimnul of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is frequently motivated by this. Created a machine that can shrink/enlarge anything? Obvious use: Enlarge common insects to act as "alien invaders" and use them to extort gold from people. Levitation technology? Weave it into rugs and have them fly out of the house with everyone's furniture and goodies. Found a way to temporarily turn yourself into an animal? Commit petty thefts you'll never be suspected of! Oddly, sometimes he tries to sell his inventions honestly, but hits an unexpected snag that turns him dishonest use out of spite. In one episode he has built a lightning generator whose power supply is the static electricity you get from rubbing several hundred fuzzy cats. In his Motive Rant, he claims to have tried selling it to a power company, but the design was so silly that they wouldn't take him seriously. His response is to blast them with the lightning. Nimnul also starts another episode honestly trying to sell a time-acceleration device to dairy companies, so they can convert milk to cheese in seconds. The demonstration doesn't go well, they throw him out on his ear, and he quickly reverts to Who's Laughing Now? mode.
  • In an episode of The Critic, an actress tried to get Jay to like her in order to get a positive review from him. However, when he gives his honest opinion (that she's terrible), she turns nasty. However, buttering Jay up required her to constantly stay in character and be convincing. If she put that much of her acting talent into her movies, she'd have a shelf filled with Oscars.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • Quackerjack is smart enough to build a time machine but he uses it for really dumb reasons, like trying to prevent the yo-yo from being invented. In his defense, he is completely insane. The comics showed that he actually was happy working in Quackwerks toy department... at first. He ended up snapping, either due to paranoia that his coworkers were stealing his ideas (in the original run), or because his creative ideas were constantly passed over for soulless cash grabs (in the Definitively Dangerous Edition).
    • Liquidator is an infuriating example. His entire character is the acquisition of money and the greed for it. Yet he has shown that his skills as a manipulator of water could grant him infinite money. He can instantly purify water ("Life, The Negaverse, and Everything"), an ability he could use to decontaminate fetid or salt water and make money by selling it. Most egregiously, he can instantly bring water to a boiling point with no external heat source ("Dry Hard"). You know what runs off steam? Electric turbines! He could create a source of clean and green energy that companies would pay hand over fist for. That's not taking into account the fact that he can apparently generate water from no external source ("Just Us Justice Ducks"). Can you say hydroelectric power? So many LEGAL opportunities, and all much better than flooding a city and selling the survivors rubber rafts.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • The Beagle Boys Inc. from the Scrooge McDuck universe have moments of clarity: in one story, they realize that at their rate of success, they make an average 14 cents per hour. In another story, they open an ice cream parlor as a front to plan a bank robbery, and to their own surprise make good honest money with it. Subverted because they don't go straight.
    • A doubly subversive episode has them realizing they have musical talent. Ma Beagle signs them in a record deal under Scrooge's label as part of a plan to rob the Money Bin. However, the Boys find their new lifestyle extremely profitable... even Scrooge is making money off of them, despite their excessive demands, so they go legit. However, Ma Beagle runs them ragged with concerts, personal appearances, etc. that they fire her as their agent, which causes her to ruin them for revenge so they'd have to go back to being criminals, and thus unable to make money without her getting a cut of it.
    • One episode had Flintheart Glomgold getting mad when one of the Beagle Boys tried to steal Scrooge's golden goose when he gave him money to buy it. He just says old habits are hard to break.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy has this problem with Eddy, the man with the plan of the trio. He dreams big and savors fleecing the kids from their money, but from the effort he, Ed and Double D make, they could make more money legitimately through things like mowing lawns and not infer the wrath of the Cul-De-Sac (though technically he did do that by using his dad's special growth mulch and growing the lawns to massive size and planning to charge everyone with it, besides Rolf since they rented his goat out.)
    • This is contrasted with Jimmy of all people. When Sara leaves him in Ed's care, Eddy gets the idea to mentor him in the art of scamming. Jimmy turns out to be a surprisingly innovative and clever at this. He goes for a Simple, yet Awesome approach, such as making a trampoline out of recycled materials (like used dollies) and then charging the kids for time. In another episode, when Eddy is suffering from a creative lurch, he goes to recruit Jimmy, recalling how he did mentor him. After Jimmy gets the supplies needed, it's revealed his idea are giant popsicles (by giant, we mean they're the size of fridges) to sell. Eddy ends up refusing and thus looks like a fool when Jimmy's idea works. Overall, Jimmy's approach is not only more honest, but more effective.
    • However, over time, it becomes clear that his goal isn't exactly the money, but "respect". Specifically, the "respect" he interpreted his older brother (who was his role model and mentor in scamming) got when they were young as he ruled the neighborhood, being feared/admired by everyone. He becomes more desperate as time goes by, which culminates in the The Movie. He admits to having made alot of stuff up when we see how much of a Big Brother Bully Eddy's brother is. Ironically enough, Eddy finally overcoming his faults and acknowledging them was what netted him and his friends their long-desired respect and acceptance from the other kids.
  • Fillmore!: Ultimately subverted. While investigating the disappearance of the school's library books, Fillmore and Ingrid discover the chief suspect Tony has been printing knockoff school club t-shirts to sell for a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme. At the end, after apprehending the real culprit, Fillmore decides to help Tony turn a new leaf by offering to buy some custom t-shirts from him for the Safety Patrol's softball team. He accepts the offer and it's implied he'll go on to turn it into a legitimate business.
  • Jem:
    • The Misfits are a genuinely successful and popular music group in their own right, just not quite as successful as Jem and the Holograms. Their efforts to one-up and sabotage Jem generally only succeed in making themselves look bad; if they weren't so fixated on outdoing Jem and the Holograms and focused on their own performances, they'd have nothing to complain about. This is shown with particular clarity in the three-part "Starbright" episode; they manage to buy their way into and eventually take over the movie production that Jem had won the contract for in a previous episode, and their constant efforts to harass and sabotage Jem and the Holograms eventually drive the latter off the film - along with everyone else competent associated with the production, all of whom join Jem in shooting the original script. The Misfits' film is an unwatchable mess that went severely over its already multi-million-dollar budget only to crash and burn at the box office, no doubt resulting in their popularity taking a hit; they could have profited in both money and popularity if they'd simply spent the time touring instead, especially since Jem couldn't schedule any performances during the shooting of the movie.
    • It also goes for their manager Eric Raymond. It costs him a fortune just to keep the Misfits out of trouble and he'd be better off promoting a group that was less trouble...which he eventually does in the final episodes of the series.
  • Johnny Test:
    • Averted with the Brain Freezer, who wishes he was less evil so he could just use his ice-based technology for a legit business. After Johnny helps him, he does just that.
    • Another one was the Beekeeper, who just wanted to sell his healthy, honey-based treats, but literally everyone turned their nose up at him because they have the word "healthy" in the name caused him to break. After his first defeat, Johnny actually tries it and realizes that is actually pretty good.
      • The Beekeeper would play this straight in his final episode. The premise has Johnny trying to come up with candy-based holiday in the summer (lamenting the gap between Easter and Halloween) and meeting with failure (mixed reception on delivery mascots, harassed by the Easter Bunny's legal reps over chocolate usage, the artificiality of candy, etc). All while the Beekeeper keeps trying to get his vengeance. Eventually, Johnny realizes that Beekeeper meets all those critrea needed with his all-natural honey bars and swarms of bees. And thus, the Beekeeper makes a Heel–Face Turn in being able to spread his honey bars to appreciative people in the world en masse for the summer (and still being more than capable of dealing with said bullying legal reps.)
  • Justice League:
    • Shown in "Tabula Rasa". After Lex Luthor goes to prison, he leaves his business in the hands of his loyal minion Mercy Graves, who puts LexCorp back in the black by cancelling his Mad Science projects and concentrating on making a profit. Lex is not grateful in the least, being still obsessed with taking on the Justice League. When Mercy goes to walk out on him, Lex points out that's she's hardly immune to the thrill of transgression.
    • That said it is completely and utterly defied by Lex who apparently did this during his presidential candidacy. When confronted by The Question about it, amid giving the poor faceless hero a No Holds Barred Beat Down, Lex points out he had no interest whatsoever in any of the legitimate power, authority, or money being president would bring him, and in fact merely did it to annoy Superman.
      Lex: President?! Foolish, faceless man; my campaign is a farce. A small part of a much grander scheme. President... do you know how much power I'd have to give up to be President? That's right, conspiracy buff. I spent 75 million dollars on a fake Presidential campaign, all just to tick Superman off!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" gives us the Flim Flam brothers, who have a machine that can produce apple cider at a rate faster than the Apple Family can, in a world that still runs on manual labour for everything. Had the two brothers not tried to drive the Apples out of business, not been such a pair of Jerkasses to the Apples, or heck, even tried to cut a fair deal with them instead of giving them an obviously bad one, they'd have ended up being filthy rich off the shared profits, not to mention cornering the entire market with their revolutionary machine. Instead, they're hit with Laser-Guided Karma after they become so focused on beating the Apple Family that they turn off the quality control on their machine, thus winning the contest but making cider so awful that no one will buy it. If their closing lines are any indication, they screw up similarly in every town they pass through. There is also the possibility of them using the technology behind the titular cider machine and adapting it into transport vehicles to be mass produced and sold. Even if it does require a unicorn's magic to run, it's still worlds more advanced than any other vehicle shown in the series. They also never consider the possibility that the technology behind it could be easily adapted to run almost all of the manually (hoofually?) operated machinery shown in the world. A possible Bad Future shown in the Season 5 finale hints that if the two ever got their act together (and the Mane Six weren't around to stop them) they'd be ruling Equestria instead of a pair of failed hucksters.
    • Flim and Flam get at it again in Leap of Faith with their Snake Oil racket of selling their "miracle tonic", which is just apple juice and beet leaves, as a cure-all panacea potion. The problem with this is two-fold: apple juice mixed with beet greens would be rather healthy and taste quite good, especially to horses, so they could have marketed it legitimately as a mundane health drink and easily made just as much money. Alternately, magic cure-all potions actually exist in Equestria and are apparently quite easy to make, meaning there was nothing really stopping them from making and selling potions that actually worked. Hell, they could have done both and actually made a good-tasting health drink that actually cured ailments and been rolling in money if they were willing to put in a bit extra brain-power and work.
    • And then they do it again for a Hat Trick in "Friendship University" with their titular school. Again, it wouldn't have taken a whole lot of work to just legitimately write their own friendship-based lesson plan and teach it for a fee, and there's actually nothing Twilight Sparkle or the EEA could have done about it owing to Twilight's cute little "friendship schools don't need to get approval from the EEA" stunt. Hell, Twilight's diary listing all of their friendship lessons is commercially available to the public for them to glean lessons from, without having to "steal" anything. Failing that, they could have started a legitimate school that taught magical theory or technological theory owing tho their apparently legitimate talent in building Magitek vehicles and gotten EEA approval fair and square. Again, they could have even done both; really their problem is their shortsightedness and impatience when it comes to getting rich.
    • However, an episode showing them in Las Pegasus pretty much underlines that while profit is their main motive, they get a satisfaction over conning ponies so it's less about the money and more that they're such Smug Snakes that like exploiting with other ponies.
    • Queen Chrysalis and her changeling army from the Season 2 Finale are obviously a justified example of this, being in a kids show and all, but let's be honest: a species that can shapeshift into anyone and feeds on the loosely defined "love" of others wouldn't have much trouble using said powers to get their food source a different way. Instead they choose to invade and conquer which, as one YouTube commentator put it, is like "shooting a cow so you can milk it".
    • The Changelings motives are explored more in Season 6. They need the love and it's generally not a pleasant experience, as seen by good Changeling Thorax. Then, in the Season 6 finale, we find out Chrysalis has kidnapped nearly anypony that could thwart her plans and she wishes for her Changelings to bring her the ponies... so she can grow more powerful. She's been intentionally starving her hive to make them more obedient and hiding that by sharing the love, it would end the Horror Hunger. When Thorax realizes this, he shares love and becomes new King, with all the Changelings following suit, except for her (and as later shown, his Aloof Big Brother Pharynx who's more of a mix of Good Is Not Nice, Good Old Ways and Jerkass Has a Point than evil and even he gets on board) All of the Changelings' motives boiled down to being in perpetual starvation and just wanting to stop being hungry; Chrysalis, though, wanted power and manipulated her people just so she can get more powerful and rule over Equestria. It ends with Starlight triumphing over her, the Changelings redeemed under Thorax, and Chrysalis on the run, her subjects and kingdom gone.
      • In season 8, it's explored in even more depth. As the leader of the good Changelings, Thorax is a semi-competent diplomat and the Changelings are slowly becoming more respected as the other races gradually see they're no longer a threat. Through legitimate means, Thorax is now becoming welcomed in Celestia's court as a ruling power, friends with the current Dragon Lord, and letting Ocellus join Twilight's School of Friendship as a representative of sorts. Chrysalis, meanwhile, is already psychopathic and probably going insane, and there's very little chance she'll understand friendship. Given she was already pretty bad before the switch, the legitimate way of gaining the power Thorax has now probably never entered her mind. The Series Finale sees her releasing the windigos so that she can destroy them, "save" the ponies, and they'll love her out of gratitude: she's at least on the right track, but it's still never occurred to her that, given the nature and extent of her powers and Equestria's tendency to easily forgive even the most vile villains in a heartbeat if their Heel–Face Turn is genuine (such a forgiveness was handed to her, she turned it down out of spite), she'd have a much easier and more successful time getting the masses to adore her if she just dropped the villainy and used her powers for good.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Dr. Doofenshmirtz builds, rebuilds, or reuses a new "-inator" nearly every episode. Almost all of them work to or beyond specifications. If he'd just stop trying to use them to take over the Tri-State Area, he would be rich. Although justified given Doof's intentions are to be (in)famous as an evil scientist and not to get rich. This gets lampshaded when Doof builds a machine that speeds up a person's metabolism, letting them eat as much as they want without getting full or worrying about staying in shape.
      Man: You should mass produce that machine! Everyone would buy one! You'd be a millionaire!
      Doofenshmirtz: Pfft, don't worry about me making money, mister! I've-I've got a complicated plan. I—Like I'm gonna take advice from some guy in a diner.
    • Like his "-inators", Doofenshmirtz's traps work amazingly well. They are almost always set exactly where they need to be to trap Agent P. Sure, Perry eventually escapes, but he's a secret agent. If Doof would just start a security company or consulting agency to capture run-of-the-mill criminals, he could buy the Tri-State area. This may not be that good of an indication of quality since, well, it's Perry; several episodes showed Perry willingly walking into a trap just to get their current battle back on script. After a while he just gave Perry a key to his lab to save money on busted-in doors.
    • It varies between episodes if this applies to the title characters or not. While in some episodes they'll just give away things like sports arenas and entire theme parks, other episodes included them launching business ventures that saw massive success (until they got bored of them and walked away) or charging admission to shows that filled stadiums.
  • In ReBoot:
  • Justified / deconstructed in Rick and Morty. Rick is often involved in various bizarre get-rich-quick schemes despite the fact that he could easily make himself wealthy simply by selling his inventions to the public or use them for more productive purposes... but he's far too unstable to maintain the interest and consistency necessary to sustain any enterprise. This is best illustrated in "Something Ricked This Way Comes": Rick combats the Devil's shop of Be Careful What You Wish For cursed items by starting a shop of his own that offers the same items with all the benefits and none of the curses, but as soon as the reality of running a business rears its head and he finds himself at the butt end of a lot of paperwork, he gets bored and sets fire to the place. Other Ricks in alternate universes, who are less unstable than our Rick, really have built some impressive empires and, hilariously enough, our Rick even envies some of them such as wishing he was the one to come up with the incredibly lucrative daycare service for Jerries.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • The villains in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated have this worse than any of the others, as their costumes are far more realistic and advanced than previous series. What's even worse about this? Crystal Cove, the place they're haunting, has hauntings as their primary tourist attraction. The ones who are after money could make a fortune by opening a haunted house legally. But they just use their costumes and schemes to steal stuff, or do it for their own personal grudges. However, there is Destroido, a very successful large company that still leaves the environment ruined and behind alot of shady stuff. Turns out there's one massive explanation for all of this: Virtually every single one of the costumed freaks and villains do their crimes because they are influenced and corrupted by a malevolent Eldritch Abomination known as Nibiru, who is sealed in a crystal sarcophagus underneath Crystal Cove. One who has spent centuries influencing hundreds of people (especially certain groups that the Mystery Gang is the latest iteration of) as part of a grand plan to enact a ritual and free him so he may wreck havoc on the world. When Scooby and the gang proceed to kill his mortal form and thus untether him from reality, he is subjected to retroactive Retgone, creating a Crystal Cove and timeline where its negative influence never existed, meaning their families, neighbors and the costumed criminals all had happier and more productive lives. This includes the gang as they ended up living new productive lives not associated with mysteries.
    • What's New, Scooby-Doo? features a villain who built a Humongous Mecha and what does he do? He uses it to destroy everything in his path to frame Shaggy. His motivation? Because his former classmate's rich and he's just an underpaid high-school teacher. Dude patent the hell out of it, the military applications alone would have made you a millionaire.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Treehouse of Horror 27", Sideshow Bob FINALLY succeeds in his goal of killing Bart only to find his life afterwards unsatisfying, so he builds a machine that can reanimate the dead so he can kill Bart again, and proceeds to resurrect and kill Bart in different ways repeatedly. This is a machine that is demonstrated to be able to bring the dead back to life, without being zombified or otherwise coming back wrong, with no noticeable side effects, and with mental facilities just as they were in life from anything up to and including the remains being burned to ashes, and the only thing Bob can think of to do with it is kill a ten year old boy over and over again.
    • A rather small-scale variant in "Lisa's Rival," where Homer tries out a Zany Scheme involving selling off stolen sugar. Marge points out that he makes far less money off the scheme than he does simply going to work and doing his job normally, at which Homer loudly claims that he wants the adventurous life and he doesn't care.
  • The Smurfs foe Gargamel seems to edge very close to this, especially since one of his driving purposes for wanting to catch Smurfs is because they are part of the formula for creating the Philosopher's Stone. A lot of his formulas and magical devices would have a lot of potential if he didn't use them chasing down a bunch of little blue creatures, but because he does, he frequently winds up nearly killing himself, is regarded as a fool by other wizards, and even his mother and godfather hate him. One has to wonder whether giving up his foolish obsession would benefit him more than being able to create gold using magic. Though at one point Gargamel admits that it's not just about gold anymore. After so many humiliating defeats, he's grown to genuinely hate them.
  • Sonic Boom: Eggman would be able to make himself rich fairly easily if he used his many inventions for just about anything other than trying to attack Sonic. In one episode, Eggman briefly becomes a successful businessman by selling (genuinely delcious) tomato sauce, and would've made a fortune if he had just stuck to selling it instead of using it as a Trojan Horse to sneak his robots into everyone's homes and then bragging about it on television, torpedoing the sauce business.
  • South Park - Cartman is capable of devising successful enrichment schemes, but he ends up sabotaging them when, despite making him rich, they don't win him some personal (and usually incredibly petty) goal he craves.
    • In "Christian Rock Hard" he founds a Christian rock band after making a 10-dollar bet with Kyle on who can receive a platinum album (awarded for 1 million sold copies) first. He does sell the required amount, but loses the bet on a technicality (Christian music has a different set of awards in the South Park universe — instead of silver, gold, and platinum; it's gold, frankinsense, and myrrh), throws a tantrum, insulting both his audience and band members and ruins his career.
    • In another episode he receives an inheritance and buys a failing amusement park, just so he could enjoy all the rides by himself, without having to wait in queues. Being told that nobody is allowed in makes everybody really want to get in, so when Cartman is finally forced to let people in in order to offset the cost of hiring security and repairmen, it becomes a huge hit. But because the park is now full, Cartman has to wait in queues again (no owner privileges?), so he no longer wants it and sells it back, whereupon the IRS takes away all the money he makes, that he owes in taxes, penalties, and lawsuits.
  • Played straight by Mysterio and the Tinkerer on The Spectacular Spider-Man, who create amazingly advanced technologies including Ridiculously Human Robots which they use in working for high-paying crime lords and foreign governments.
  • Plankton in SpongeBob SquarePants has this as an inherent part of his character. He's clearly a brilliant inventor, with a huge cache of futuristic technology as his disposal, but it apparently never occurs to him to do something with his life other than running a rival restaurant to the Krusty Krab. Even then, he's apparently never considered that there are ways of running a profitable restaurant that don't require stealing your rival's recipes. Though the main reason he keeps trying to steal the Krabby Patty recipe, is not so much because he hates Mr. Krabs, but because he himself couldn't cook to save his life so he tries to latch on to Krabs's success. Also note that either way, Krabs is a ruthless competitor. There are in fact times Plankton has tried to make legitimate profits. Krabs still tries to ruin them and steal his customers, since either way he is his business rival and right next door to him at that. At times Krabs becomes so greedy and petty in bullying away profit that it seems this trope is there just to ensure he can still look like the good guy against Plankton.
  • Peridot from Steven Universe is extremely unhappy with the whole 'armed rebellion' thing the Crystal Gems have going, and constantly insists it's just making things worse. As a result her stealing a communicator and attempt to contact the Diamond Authority initially seems like a betrayal... but in fact, it's this. She contacts the Big Bad and points out that sparing the Earth and its people makes more rational sense that destroying it, as there are a great many unique resources to be gathered. Unfortunately, Yellow Diamond quite firmly informs Peridot that she doesn't care, and the destruction of that 'miserable rock' is worth any amount of resources.
  • Stripperella. Parodied with El Cheapo, who plans elaborate crimes designed to get him the world's largest fake diamond, or a stash of copper bars worth up to $16.
  • One old 1940's Superman short had a villain who invented remote-controlled mechanical robots that he was using to rob banks and jewelry stores. Too bad there wasn't any other way to get wealthy with such advanced labor-saving technology, eh?
  • Superman: The Animated Series: Lampshaded when Lex Luthor discovers kryptonite and plans to use it against Superman - one of his researchers insists that possessing such a rare and unusual substance must have a more practical application.
  • According to Word of God, a Missing Episode of SWAT Kats would've averted this trope, with the re-captured villains Hard Drive and former Madcat Lenny Ringtail being hired by the Enforcers as detectives.
  • Many villains in Totally Spies! had inventions that would've made them a fortune if they weren't committed to super-villainy. From a Freeze Ray to a machine that quickly and painlessly swaps body parts to another machine that transfers information between subjects.
    • One episode featured a working hair growth formula, which is particularly bad as the villain used it to quickly grow women's hair until they were almost dead, then selling the hair to be made into wigs. You know, the item that would become completely irrelevant overnight if a working hair growth formula existed.
    • One villain used a formula to mutate people into animal-people in order to make them into perfectly-fitting fur coats to sell. Even if you disregard how this is so far removed from what we know about genetics that publishing the research alone would be a fortune, it seemingly didn't occur to the villain that an animal-transformation formula would probably make more money in a week than you'd make selling fur coats in a lifetime. Seriously, furries wanting to turn into their fursonas is just the tip of the iceberg...
  • In Transformers Animated, when the creator of the Headmasters is fired for wanting to make something with military applications, he decides to make his own company... and start it by stealing approximately 6.3 metric buttloads of money. This requires him to ignore that 1) he could just get a grant from any number of other companies that do work with the military without stealing and 2) if he actually got the amount of money he demanded, he and several dozen generations of his descendants would never have to work another day in their lives. But then he's a Straw Loser gamer nerd, so...
    • His introductory episode heavily implies his creations are incredibly Cool, but Inefficient: his Headmaster can take control of any robot, but any Earth-made one will immediately collapse under the unit's weight. So it would be near useless in any war-situation that didn't involve Cybertronians.
  • Underdog's enemy, Simon Bar Sinister eats, sleeps, and breathes this Trope. A Mad Scientist who wants to Take Over the World, his inventions could revolutionize world economy, but he never considers using them for anything but his power-hungry goals. He's invented Shrinking Water, which can shrink people, Phone-ey Booths, which can brainwash anyone who steps in them, and the Big Dipper, likely the most wasted potential of all, as it can store entire oceans in tiny jars, making them portable. The worst offender likely occurred in one episode where his plan depended on him using two buttons to cause panic so his small army could invade a city, but the Thanksgiving Day parade was blocking him. So he goes home, takes a time travel device from his closet (which he just happens to have) in order to go back in time to the Plymouth colony and start a war between them and the Native Americans to prevent Thanksgiving altogether. The biggest flaw here (well, aside from the obvious one) is the way Polly and Underdog stop him; they go to his house, grab a second device (he has several of them) and use it to follow him. This guy actually never thought of any better way to use Time Travel.
  • The Venture Bros. plays with this quite often, as very few villain schemes seem to be profitable and many of the villains in question seem to be extremely wealthy already. The Monarch started with a pretty massive trust fund and ends up blowing a chunk of it every mission, until the later seasons when he runs out of money entirely. The villains who are shown making money seem to make it through either legal routes, or illegal-but-not-supervillainous routes, such as selling off stolen artwork or Wide Wale's criminal syndicate. Supervillainy in the universe of the series is pretty much treated as a pastime for the wealthy and mentally unstable rather than an occupation, albeit one with quite the Weird Trade Union. In short, the reason villains don't just use their powers to make money legally is that they're either already rich or completely bonkers—without being one or both, they wouldn't be able to be supervillains in the first place.
    • One of the few aversions is Doctor Salazar, otherwise known as Bugaboo. He invented a process that induced genetic mutations, but turned himself into a beetle-man in the process. He then used his powers to steal rare chemicals... so that he could turn himself back. Once he'd perfected the formula, he used it on himself, and left his life of crime behind to apply the formula to reverse other mutations, now being considered one of the world's foremost experts.
  • In Wacky Races, Dick Dastardly's Mean Machine is obviously the fastest car in the races and he always manages to get ahead of everyone else. If he wasn't so adamant in cheating and causing the other racers to get further behind of his considerable lead, he could have easily won every single race. Given a massive Lampshade Hanging in the new Wacky Races pilot where he tells Muttley that as villains they have to cheat. They were three feet from the finish line and napping for an indeterminate time beforehand.
  • WordGirl:
    • The Butcher has the power to produce seemingly-infinite meat from his hands, but rarely seems to use this power to actually sell meat, despite the fact that he could do it at unbeatable prices with every cent being profit. He actually tried to once in "Meat-life Crisis" only for his Bad Boss to try and screw him over leading to The Butcher returning to crime by robbing him.
    • Likewise Dr. Two-Brains and Tobey never seem to think of using their genius engineering skills to a more profitable use than stealing cheese and throwing annoyed fits, respectively. This might be excused by the fact that Two-Brains has his brain fused with that of a mouse, and Tobey is a Child Prodigy. Neither situation gives a person top-notch reasoning skills.
    • Two-Brains doesn't always steal cheese. Sometimes he steals other things with the intention of turning them into cheese. Things like gold. Forget making more money legitimately, he could have made a lot of money illegitimately, but he just wanted to turn it into cheese. His henchmen asked if they could maybe have some of the gold for themselves before he turned it into cheese and he berated them for it because gold is not their gimmick, cheese is. Even if all he wanted was cheese, how much cheese can you buy with a single gold bar? A hell of a lot more than a single gold-bar-sized block of cheese, that's for sure.
    • While not as skilled as the above three, Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy has attempted a legitimate job in no less than three episodes: "Chuck the Nice Pencil Selling Guy", "Chuck Makes a Buck" and "Lunchlady Chuck", only to go back to crime at the end due to some small slight.
  • The Zeta Project: Zigzagged with the Zeta Project scientists. In the first place they were building a weapon for the government rather than any supervillain. But played straight in that once the project was complete several of them (Arroyo, Boyle and Myrell) left government service in order to use the kind of technological innovations they’d built Zeta with for more widely accessible and beneficial science (Industrial robotics, a space probe and technology to cure disabled children respectively). That being said, Boyle and Myrell both have trouble funding that peaceful research and commit some criminal act to rectify that.

Alternative Title(s): Cut Lex Luthor A Cheque


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