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Engineered Heroics

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Sadly Glory Hounds don't care about the welfare of actual hounds.note 
Syndrome: The robot will emerge dramatically, do some damage. Throngs of screaming people! And just when all hope is lost, Syndrome will save the day! I'll be a bigger hero than you ever were!
Mr. Incredible: You mean you killed off real heroes so that you could... PRETEND TO BE ONE?!

Engineered Heroics is when an individual craves the attention and glory that comes with heroism...and thus, creates a catastrophe to play The Hero in.

The character suffers from Hero Syndrome, a Real Life disorder most often found in firefighters, in cases where they are also arsonists who start fires so they can get recognition from putting them out or similar jobs like emergency workers or police officers. Usually they are also losers — they have huge egos, but they tend to be low on the hierarchy of whatever job they have (for example, a Deputy who thinks he should be Sheriff), and thus their delusions of grandeur do not match their reality. Acting the hero thus gives them the chance to be the center of attention before they go back to their menial work.

Hero Syndrome is a fairly common trope in fiction and serves as a textbook example of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good. It is a symptom of Narcissism; it is pathologically self-centered, and involves a callous disregard for the victim. Someone engaging in Engineered Heroics does not care at all about the people they are supposedly "saving" and are only interested in the glory, whereas the true Hero traditionally always cares about the people they are saving and, while they may be susceptible to thrill-seeking and the limelight, they don't let that override their sense of duty and empathy. This guy, however, has a warped sense of duty and no sense of empathy whatsoever; hence, he is almost always a villain or at best a very dark-shaded Anti-Hero.

Don't expect a real hero to react very well to people who do this.

Compare Fake Ultimate Hero, Glory Hound, Fake Danger Gambit, and Monster Protection Racket. See also Minion Manipulated into Villainy, where the villain causes someone hardships or tragedies, so they can solve them in exchange for the person's loyalty. Munchausen by Proxy is also related, as the character makes another sick and weak to get the praise and sympathy for being the caretaker. Not to be confused with Chronic Hero Syndrome, where the character solves genuine problems rather than creating them himself.

Usually involves the sins of Pride and Lust (the Lust in this case being lust for glory and recognition).

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Mechamato: Payapi secretly sets fires so that he can put them out and be recognized as a hero for it.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, Ginjo tricks Ichigo into trusting him by saving Ichigo's sister from a Hollow attack he and his partner Tsukishima arranged. For added verisimilitude Tsukishima alters Ginjo's memory so that he'll even believe his own engineered scenario.
  • This was Griffith's Evil Plan in Berserk. After instigating a demonic incursion into the physical world that devastates humanity, he establishes the utopian kingdom of Falconia for him to rule over as God-Emperor while he promises the surviving humans that he'll reclaim the world he destroyed.
  • Case Closed: One case involved a house catching on fire when a girl was inside. It turned out the culprit set the fire so he could pull a Heroic Fire Rescue Romance. He didn't anticipate getting caught or that Ran rescued the girl before he could.
  • Dragon Ball Super: Frost, Frieza's alternate self from Universe 6, initially seems like a cool and friendly hero who's beloved for ending wars and villainous plots all across the galaxy. In reality, the vast majority of conflicts and disasters that he stops were deliberately set up ahead of time by him and his agents. Once people are in danger, Frost heads over and "defeats" the villains he himself created. He does this out of a mixture of extreme narcissism, greed, and pragmatism; why conquer the galaxy when you can pretend to save it and get worshipped like a god in return?
  • A minor recurring character named Sentinel Vengeance from Franken Fran is addicted to doing "good" and constantly cons people so he can appear as a hero as well as vanquish his thirst for revenge on the first two Sentinels. When he suffers The Loins Sleep Tonight, he arranges for the deaths of all the people who supported him, so that he could feel self-righteous once more.
  • Kinnikuman: In the second chapter, Kin wants to get the attention of famous singer Takahar Nana, so he hires a monster to pretend to attack her so he can "save" her and get some Rescue Romance. The monster immediately decides that he doesn't want to take a fall for an idiot like Kinnikuman and decides to kidnap Nana for real, forcing Kin to actually work at his rescue. He succeeds, but Nana, having fainted and missed most of the action, believes that her manager Hitoshi saved her.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Kanna's Daily Life:
    • In Chapter 5, Saikawa defeats a massive beast in order to prove her karate skills to a group of adults that had insulted her. What she was unaware of was that the beast was actually Tohru in disguise.
    • In Chapter 91, Kanna comes up with a plan to keep the elves from invading by having Nina return home with a slice of Tohru's tail to make them think that she defeated her.
  • One Piece:
    • Done in conjunction with a Frame-Up in the Dressrosa arc. A flashback shows that Doflamingo came to King Riku Dold II, the former king of the country and tells him he'll sell the island to him (Doflamingo is a descendent of the former rulers that preceded King Riku you see). King Riku begs the citizens for the money fully intending to pay it back. But once he had it, Doflamingo used his string powers to take control of Riku's body as well as his army to attack the citizens. Once the people hated Riku for "tricking them", Doflamingo and his top lieutenants swooped in to "save the day".
    • Done by the heroes in the Fish-Man Island arc, not for fame but to help undo the Fantastic Racism between Fish-men and humans. The New Fish-man Pirates have captured most of the island's royal family, and call out a challenge to the Straw Hat Pirates. Luffy's all for it, but Jimbei stops him; if Luffy were to just beat up Hody Jones, it would merely be seen as "another human beating down a fish man". Instead, Jimbei plans for himself and the mermaid princess Shirahoshi to be captured, and for Luffy to pull a Big Damn Heroes when Shirahoshi calls for him. It works, and the spectacle also buys the time for the rest of the Straw Hats to reunite.
  • Overlord (2012):
    • This is how the main character Ainz Ooal Gown gains more renown in the New World. A demonic invasion led by a powerful demon named Jaldabaoth begins attacking the Re-Estize kingdom and throws it into a panic. Under the guise of the human adventurer Momon he finally drives off Jaldabaoth after a bout of intense combat. In actuality, Jaldabaoth is really Ainz's loyal subordinate Demiurge, and one of the reasons for putting on such a performance is to bolster Momon's reputation.
    • An accidental version earlier when Shalltear is mind-controlled into rebelling against Nazarick. Momon declares he'll take care of the vampire, but after ensuring there are no witnesses, takes her out as Ainz (since he needs all his spells for it). The victory is credited to Momon anyway.
    • The entire Holy Kingdom arc consists of Jaldabaoth curbstomping their forces with conscripted demihumans, requiring them to ask Ainz for help. He declares that he can't use his army to help them for diplomatic reasons... so he'll go by himself (and there's a scene where he has to talk with the Nazarick forces posing as the demons, telling them to actually fight back). It ends with the Holy Kingdom nearly destroyed, some survivors starting a cult dedicated to Ainz, several of the demihumans now serving Ainz, and the Holy Kingdom's ruler replaced by a doppelganger who plans to play up internal rivalries until the people beg Ainz to take over.
    • After Ainz kills the Giant of the East and subdues the Serpent of the West, he has their monster minions attack Carne Village, which is one of his own Protectorates. Then he sends his envoy to the village, Lupusregina Beta, to swoop in and help repel the attack, thus putting the villagers even further into his debt.
  • Clembot from Pokémon the Series: XY gets framed for a rash of incidents. When Ash and friends investigate, it's revealed that the Frame-Up was just Phase I of the true culprit, Belmondo's, scheme. Phase II is for Belmondo to use his own Clembot to "solve" those same crimes and be hailed as a hero.
  • In Rappi Rangai, to get the main character accepted in a princess's kingdom, his party of Kunoichi had him pretend to beat them to become a bodyguard for the princess.
  • In one episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Nanami continually finds herself in danger, only to be saved each time by a young boy named Mitsuru. He later reveals to Utena and Miki that he caused those dangers so he could impress Nanami and make her think of him as a big brother.
  • Sailor Moon: When Zoicite is disguised as a fake Sailor Moon and acting like a hero, he causes a few of the disasters he saves, like cutting the cables of a window washer's platform to swoop in and catch him.
  • In one episode of Sgt. Frog, Paul runs Momoka through a VR simulation of various plans to get Fuyuki to declare his love for her. One such plan involves him saving her from some thugs, thus sending adrenaline to his brain and heightening his emotions. Paul forgets to take into account that Fuyuki is a Grade-A wimp, and the simulation ends with Fuyuki running away, albeit taking Momoka with him, and calling for a police officer (which Momoka admits is probably the wiser course of action). Paul then hypothesizes that Fuyuki would leap into action if it were an alien attack, and changes the simulation accordingly. However, after initially spazzing out over the alien, Fuyuki again runs away. Throughout all the simulations, someone else always saves them before Fuyuki can, until literally everyone in town is moved out of their way.
  • Slayers: Zig-zagged in "Jeffrey's Knighthood". Lina and Naga are hired to accompany young Jeffrey as he goes on a quest to defeat some bandits in order to earn himself a knighthood. Unknown to him (but known to Lina and Naga), the bandits are actually actors hired by his mother to create a situation where he can prove himself. Unknown to all of them, real bandits moved in and drove away the fake ones before they get to the hideout. Of course, Jeffrey still fails to prove himself (not that he realizes this), because he's so utterly useless that the girls have to do all the work (except for when his mother shows up and clobbers people with a warhammer for daring to point that out in his hearing).
  • Discussed in Spy X Family. Due to complicated reasons, the spy Loid needs his six-year-old daughter Anya to earn Stella Stars (badges given out for exceptional achievements) at her school. Anya earns one Stella Star by alerting adults around her to a drowning child, saving his life. Loid later mentions that the spy agency could arrange for similar "accidents" for Anya to intervene in, but they find it too risky to implement.
  • Ushio and Tora: shortly after the introduction of Kirio Inasa, the fourth possible successor to the Beast Spear who actually boasts about wielding a weapon superior to the Spear and advocates its destruction, the main Kouhamei Temple is attacked by an avatar of Hakumen no Mono, who nearly kills all the monks with her power. Then Hizaki Mikado, the order's leader shows up and uses all her Dharmic power to land a powerful attack which seemingly immobilize the avatar as Kirio jumps in and effortlessly slays her in one swing of his scythe, showing that his weapon can be used even against Hakumen and even mass-produced... except that it really isn't, as not only Mikado's technique was already killing the avatar, but it is confirmed that the entire event was a plan of Hakumen itself to trick the monks into destroying the Spear.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: One chapter of the manga featured a boy who loved superhero comics but wasn't strong himself. His father wanted to make him more self-confident so he hired some kids to pretend to attack someone while the boy was in a superhero costume. It worked, but then the hired kids turned it around and started really hurting the boy in order to get more money out of the father.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City:
    • The Conquistador's plan is to gather numerous criminals to simultaneously commit crimes across Astro City so he can use his heroic identity to strike them down as part of his heroic debut.
    • In his previous identity as El Hombre, he teamed with one of his enemies to create a giant robot for him to destroy, boosting his sagging profile. The enemy betrayed him and the robot ran amok, and when his plan was revealed, he resigned from the Honor Guard in disgrace.
    • Invoked by some of Winged Victory's female enemies: They claimed to be students of her self-defense classes, and later committed crimes so she could stop them and enjoy the publicity.
  • Booster Gold has spent his entire career trying to redeem himself because of this trope. Traveling back through time with advanced weaponry, he set up a disaster to allow people to see his heroics. In an inversion, in his current time-traveling series, his real heroics are erased from history, and people rarely see him doing good. During 52, he hired an out-of-work actor to stage a robbery so that he could intervene and raise his profile. It backfired after the check bounced and the actor publicly confronted him.
  • Part of what fuels The Antichrist (better known as Harry Potter)'s school shooting rampage in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the reveal that all his exploits had been faked for him by order of the Headmaster (a Body Surfing Aleister Crowley in the body of Tom Marvolo Riddle), leading him to murder students and faculty alike.
  • Superman:
    • One early comic zigzagged this trope like crazy when Clark Kent, bemoaning how Lois Lane never had the time of day for him because she was too focused on Superman, had a friend suggest to him that he should talk Superman into dressing up in his clothes and doing something heroic to impress her. Due to his super-senses, he noticed Lois Lane was eavesdropping on them and wisely dropped the plan, only to be forced into pretending he'd gone with it after all when she happened to catch him changing into Superman a bit later. By the end, this game of mistaken identities had her utterly befuddled, and he was not doing much better at sorting out the situation for himself.
    • In Man of Tomorrow #7, "When No One's Looking", a new superhero, Soar, arrives in Metropolis and takes down the Royal Flush gang. Jimmy Olsen takes a job as his photographer...which turns out to be a sting. By the end, he's gathered enough evidence to prove that the gang was in Metropolis rather than Gotham thanks to Soar wanting to set himself up as a hero. He tells Soar that Superman, who the new "hero" saw as a rival, is a real hero because he doesn't need recognition to save people.
    • The Supergirl-Batgirl Plot: As posing as Supergirl, Mr. Mxyzptlk takes Superman's powers away right when he is trying to prevent a building from collapsing, so that "Supergirl" can show up and save the day.
    • The Super-Revenge of Lex Luthor: As part of a plan to drive Superman crazy, Luthor builds a robot to return stolen money to a bank, expecting Superman to misinterpret the robot's purpose, destroy it, and then being criticised by the public.
  • In The Tick, Chairface makes a deal with Barry Hubris in which his minions flee from Barry on sight to build up his rep, while Barry only makes the effort to pursue and capture criminals working for other gangs, leaving Chairface as the top criminal in the city by attrition. It fails because Barry is so utterly insane that he doesn't remember his half of the bargain, and indiscriminately brutalizes everyone. Chairface ultimately decides that he needs to bring the Tick back to get rid of Barry.
  • The Trial of Yellowjacket: In one of the lowest points of his superhero career, Hank Pym attempts this in order to redeem himself in the eyes of The Avengers after his unprovoked attack on a surrendering Elfqueen leads to a court martial. His plan is to create an indestructible robot to attack the Avengers Mansion that is only vulnerable to his stings as Yellowjacket so that he can swoop in and save the day. He doesn't even manage to pull this off, as The Wasp defeats the robot after discovering Hank's plan, and his attempt at doing this gets him kicked out of the team until he eventually redeems himself. It also leads to Janet divorcing Hank due to him hitting her when she tries to talk him out of the plan.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Some of the White Magician's victims are led to believe they're going to be in a mock fight with him that'll help him maintain his false public identity as a hero, so are mislead to think this trope is in play when he's really just going to kill them. The White Magician's shtick is to sell stolen STAR Labs tech to low-level criminals and then fight those same criminals as a hero, which leads to the perp's death in all cases where they'd have any hope of identifying him as their supplier.

    Comic Strips 
  • In The Fortunes of Flossie, Bill bribes Astromar the Seer to give the superstitious Flossie a prophecy that she'll "marry the man who saves her from danger." Then Bill gets his friends to stage a highway robbery when he takes Flossie for a ride, all so that he can fight off the fake bandits and look like a hero in front of his girlfriend. The ruse fails when Flossie recognizes the masked "bandits" as Bill's friends. As the verse that accompanies the panels recounts:
    The next day Flossie went with Bill to take a motor ride:
    And on a lonely road three masked men suddenly they espied.
    The villains shouted "Stop that car! Hands up! And make it snappy!''
    "Oh, Bill, protect me!" Flossie cried (which made our hero happy).
    "Don't be afraid, dear," whispered he: "my courage this will test!"
    Out of the car he jumped, and knocked those three thugs galley-west!
    But one mask slipped—and Flossie saw the face of Danny Lake,
    A friend of Bill's! She realized the hold-up was a fake!

    Fairy Tales 
  • Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "Nine Bags Of Gold": Since Marie needs nine bags of gold to be allowed to marry her boyfriend, her elven friends make the kingdom's prince fall ill so Marie can cure him and be paid for her "deed".

    Film — Animated 
  • The Incredibles: This is Syndrome's problem. He wants to be a great and famous hero like his childhood idol Mr. Incredible but sees no problem murdering actual heroes or attacking cities in pursuit of this, not to mention blowing up children. To do this, he creates the Omnidroid, a powerful battle robot made to be Nigh-Invulnerable, highly intelligent, and generally strong enough so that no one else could take it on, leaving him to stop it with the help of a remote control. This backfires on him when it turns out that the learning robot got smart enough to wonder why it had to take orders, recognizing the remote as its Weaksauce Weakness and getting it off of Syndrome with a sneak attack. Syndrome goes down fairly easily after that, leaving the Incredibles and Frozone to actually defeat the thing.
  • Oscar and Lenny from Shark Tale stage a public brawl that results in Lenny's apparent death, in order to give Lenny (a vegetarian shark) an opportunity to drop off the radar and start a new life, and to allow Oscar to keep up his charade/image of being a 'shark slayer' while scaring off any fear of retribution from The Mafia.
  • Tangled: In her pursuit of Rapunzel, Mother Gothel strikes up an alliance with the Stabbington Brothers. She tricks them into thinking they'll get Rapunzel, whom they plan to sell to the highest bidder, and when they advance on the girl, she knocks them both unconscious, making it look like an impromptu rescue.
  • Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo: It is revealed towards the end that Brushogun, the mighty Japanese supervillain the Titans are investigating, was actually defeated and captured years ago by Commander Uehara Daizo of the Tokyo police department. But instead of turning Brushogun in, Daizo hooked him up to a printing press and industrialized his power to create living art, forcing him to create a host of fake villains so Daizo could earn fame and fortune by "saving" Tokyo from staged crises.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman: Orm almost single-handedly disposes of the submarine that attacks his forces and the Xebellians. Except he is the one behind the attack, as he paid Black Manta to get the submarine for him.
  • In The Batman (2022), the Riddler's crime spree reveals that twenty years ago the mobster Carmine Falcone masterminded the arrest of his rival Salvatore Maroni and the largest drug bust in Gotham history. Nearly the entire upper echelon of the Gotham city government owe their success to this single event which is why Falcone controls the entire city.
  • In Batman Returns, the Penguin and Max Shreck arrange a public spectacle where one of the clowns in the Red Triangle Circus gang kidnaps the mayor's baby son during a live press conference and leaps into the sewer, only to be vocally "stopped" by the mysterious "penguin man of the sewers." Penguin then emerges and personally hands the child back to his parents unharmed. This allows Penguin to reenter society and Shreck to set up Penguin's bid for mayor.
  • In The Beastmaster, Dar has his tiger attack Kiri and then pretends to drive it off in an attempt to seduce her.
  • In Better Watch Out, the home invasion that drives the film turns out to have been a ploy by Luke to get into his cute babysitter Ashley's pants. When she finds out, he doesn't take it well.
  • In Clear and Present Danger Felix Cortez's attempt to take over the Columbian drug trade involves striking a deal with corrupt American politicians so they can regularly arrest his men to keep up appearances while leaving his actual operation untouched.
  • In Dragonheart, Bowen and Draco reach an agreement in which they travel together and Draco pretends to attack any villages the duo might come across, allowing Bowen to heroically show up and feign to kill Draco by shooting him with a giant ballista, at which point Draco fakes being mortally wounded and intentionally falls into any nearby body of water to sink and swim away while Bowen gets his reward. This goes well for a while until the duo and their new allies stumble upon a town with a lake that's too shallow for Draco to submerge in. When the starving inhabitants descend upon the seemingly dead dragon while chanting "Meat! Meat!", Draco understandably flies away, exposing the scam and causing the infuriated villagers to turn on our heroes (while still screaming "Meat! Meat!", no less). Interestingly, this deal was done out of necessity. Bowen is a real knight but had run out of dragons to kill in his quest for vengeance, turning Draco into the Last of His Kind. By working together, Bowen keeps his job and Draco continues living.
  • Happens a couple of different ways in 50 First Dates. Among the ploys Adam Sandler's character uses to get Lucy (Drew Barrymore) to notice him are a penguin he places in the road (which she nearly kills), and his friend staging an attack on him (she beats him within an inch of his life with a baseball bat she keeps in the car). Basically, he's engineering chances for her to be heroic.
  • Filibus: The Sky Pirate of the title has her Mooks kidnap Leonora Hardy, sister of the famous Inspector Hardy. Filibus's reason? So that she can show up in genderbent disguise as the Count de la Brive, save the day, and sneak with her new identity into Inspector Hardy's social circle.
  • In Hero At Large, Steve Nichols (a struggling actor) becomes a superhero for foiling a robbery while dressed as "Captain Avenger". The crowd loses respect for him once a reporter reveals that the foiled robbery was staged.
  • In Godzilla vs. Kong, this was Apex Cybernetics's plan. It's revealed they are directly responsible for instigating Godzilla's rampage due to Ghidorah's remains that are incorporated into Mechagodzilla's brain, signaling to Godzilla that Ghidorah is still alive. With humanity now turned against Godzilla, Apex intended to publicly unleash Mechagodzilla, kill Godzilla and be credited as humanity's saviors.
  • In Green for Danger, Sanson staged the gas "attack" and rescue of Linley to put herself above suspicion.
  • In The Magic Sword, the evil sorcerer Lodac kidnaps the Princess with Sir Branton vowing to save her. It turns out Branton and Lodac are in cahoots so Branton can win the Princess in marriage by "saving" her. Too bad for him that A) brave George and his band of knights insist on joining the "rescue" and B) Lodac has no intention of honoring the deal.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Loki in his debut appearance in Thor attempts to use such a situation as his final bid for power. He brokers an agreement with his people's sworn enemy, Jötunheim and their king Laufey, to assassinate his adoptive father Odin. This act is done to deceive Laufey that Loki is his ally within Asgard. After granting them passage to the castle, Loki suddenly betrays Laufey right before he assassinates Odin and kills him, portraying himself as Odin's savior and giving himself justification to go to open war with Jötunheim. However the whole plot relies on Thor being stuck on Earth, which unfortunately for Loki, is not the case and his plot is exposed in front of his mother.
    • This turns out to be Mysterio's modus operandi in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The entire thing about Elementals, his acts as a hero, his backstory, basically everything was faked using holographic technology he invented for Stark Industries, along with help from his crew in order to make him look like a superhero worthy enough to be Iron Man's successor.
  • Captain Amazing in Mystery Men arranges the release of his Arch-Enemy Casanova Frankenstein from the mental institution since he is losing his corporate sponsors thanks to the lack of crime in the city. This backfires when he underestimates his old foe and gets himself killed as a direct result.
  • Maverick (1994, Richard Donner) beats several baddies in a fistfight to scare Angel, only to later pay them money for throwing the fight.
  • Project A (part II) have the villain, Inspector Chun, bribing minions to stage a hold-up for him to arrest in order to gain himself a promotion. When he starts firing on his minions for real, one of his mooks tries spilling the beans only to be Killed to Uphold the Masquerade.
  • This is the accusation in Richard Jewell (and also in real life), that Jewell planted the bomb he discovered to look like a hero. (The accusation was untrue.)
  • The killer's plan in Scream 4 is a mix of this and Fame Through Infamy, masterminding a killing spree and framing somebody else for it in order to come out looking like a heroic Sole Survivor who defeated the killer. Specifically, Jill was trying to copy her older cousin Sidney, envious of the fame she received as the Final Girl of three separate murder sprees. Jill even killed her own mother just so she could have Sidney's Dark and Troubled Past of her mother being murdered by a Serial Killer.
  • The fantasy movie, The Thrilling Sword have the hero slaying a multi-headed dragon laying waste to the kingdom, getting in the way of Lord Xie, the Big Bad Court Mage who summoned said dragon, and was about to claim credit from the King for banishing the dragon.
  • Inverted in Unbreakable, when we discover that Elijah masterminded a number of catastrophes to search for a hero because he thinks of himself as a supervillain and needs a Worthy Opponent. Yes, he's insane.

    Visual Novel 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations has Luke Atmey, a private eye who is planning heists with the thief he is chasing and proclaiming his heroism upon "recovering" the stolen objects.
    Atmey: Unable to find a rival worthy of my genius, I was forced to create one myself! Here I am, the tragic clown!

  • Alfie (2010); it is revealed that the d'revo attack on the largely human trade caravan just as it was arriving outside of Red Fort was secretly set up by Speaker Aghavni in the hopes that one or more of the diminutive, hornless, tailless folk would acquit themselves well enough to justify inducting them into the resident Voch'khari tribe. Why?
    "Tribe elders elected me to speak with humans, but then all they do is complain! 'Humans are too weak!' 'Can't trade with the weak!' 'Can't learn to grow food from the weak!' I gave the humans the opportunity to prove their worth! And they took it! Everybody Wins!"
  • In The Comeback Path Of Princess From Mars, we have the case of Ritter Ely. He is a psychotic noble from the terran empire who is all but addicted to the praise and glory he gets from his "heroic" public image, so when he and the protagonist Olga Perez are sent to Mars by imperial decree, he first sabotages the transport, trying to kill Olga to eliminate the competition, and then partners with a terran sleeper cell sent in advance to have said cell attack random images so he can swoop in and stage a "rescue" for the cameras. Unfortunately for him, Olga survived his little stunt and limped over to the very first town these Engineered Heroics were to take place, causing Olga to accidentally steal his limelight as she defended herself. At that point, he goes from merely wanting to kill Olga only because he was ordered to do it by his even more deranged father to wanting to make her utterly suffer as much as possible before her death for the affront and blames her for actually fighting his subordinates on camera as opposed to merely making a show for his image.
  • In Darths & Droids, during the "The Enemy Let Slip" Story Arc, when Han is about to be frozen in alcohol, he confesses that he is the traitor of the Rebellion and that he kept selling it out for money.
  • The entire Dragonslayer deal in Dragon Mango.
  • In Girl Genius Father Gerät accuses Martellus of engineering the escape of something from their vaults in order to conveniently show up to help save the Corbettites' Depot Fortress and earn their good graces. While he's wrong Martellus is a little disappointed he hadn't thought of it and offers Gerät a job which the Abbot turns down.
  • Kaiten Mutenmaru: Crocell Xylel, from Sea of the Beginning, is seen in the television promising to wipe out monsters in Megapolis with costumes he creates for heroes as the CEO of Megadis. When Mutenmaru's group and Shinobu infiltrate Megadis to verify Father Brasse's suspicion, Crocell reveals that he's the one who creates monsters in Megapolis with the help of Thia to keep heroes fighting.
  • In one Loving Reaper strip Death encounters the ghost of a puppy who died whilst two teen boys were staging a puppy rescue video for social media by throwing it in a pond and going in to collect it and filming it, they threw it back and tried again when they didn't get the shot they wanted so presumably the pup either drowned or succumbed to hypothermia. Sadly the comment section on their video has no idea and thinks they are heroes. The strip is a warning telling people to look out for these fake animal rescue videos online.
  • Done in One-Punch Man. It is all but stated that the disasters the new-and-seemingly -better hero organization the Neo Heroes face were manufactured by their backers or executives only for Neo Heroes to stop them, since not only did the appearances of monsters spike up extremely when they started, but Child Emperor's research shows many monsters were enhanced to raise their disaster level and had control chips in their brain. Not to mention the fact that somehow Neo Heroes always came first to defeat their foes with minimal damage. This becomes more apparent once their attempts at defeating already known criminals, Speed-o-Sound Sonic and Garou, were complete failures. The robot army attacking the entire world also appears to be an escalation of this considering how easily Neo Heroes can scrap them along with the robots giving them enough time to attack, many Neo Heroes commenting on how well prepared they are for the supposedly sudden attack, aside from Mc Coy the other executives are very calm over the attack, and at least four million robots targetting the Hero Association headquarters for complete destruction yet don't do the same to Neo Heroes.
  • TwoKinds: In Trace's backstory, he decided to fight a dragon to impress Saria, his future wife. So he decided to enlist his dragon friend Nora. Unfortunately, they got in trouble for destroying the Grand Templar's garden, and Saria never even noticed the incident.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Inverted trope for demons. Demon society respects violence as a measure of social status; Rampages are intentional killing sprees in innocent villages meant to show how much of a badass the killer is by luring as many vengeful adventurers and bounty hunters on their ass as fuzzing possible... unless the village was intentionally founded by demons, where it is designed to give a major defense disadvantage when being raided and related to few outside adventurers. Engineered villainy is only rare because it takes centuries to ferment a town and wait for all traces of demon involvement to fade.

    Web Original 
  • An attempt at doing this in Broken Quest results in an entire village being burnt to the ground.
  • In the DC Super Hero Girls Season 1 finale, "Saving the Day", Cheetah falls while attempting to save Lucius Fox, and is saved by Wonder Woman catching her with the Lasso of Truth, resulting in her confessing in front of Principal Amanda Waller that she rigged his jet pack so that she could save him... and then confessing to all the other things she did over the course of the season.
  • The whole point of "The Flanders Company" webseries' setting: The Flanders Company is an agency which rents Superheroes their necessary Nemesis, who is bound by a contract to lose fights in order to ensure the heroes' status — and their subsequent wealth, which is more than necessary to pay the Company's outrageously high fees. They need to pay their villains with all their equipment of mayhem, after all.
  • Red vs. Blue: In Season 11, the Reds and Blues are attacked by Locus, but saved by Felix. In the 12th season, Felix reveals that not only is he Evil All Along, but he and Locus are partners and what happened was an orchestrated charade to win the Reds and Blues' trust. Felix even lampshades how implausible his help really was;
    Felix: How many times have I jumped in front of a bullet for you, Wash? Three? Those are some... pretty great reflexes, huh? Most people would have to...plan that sort of thing.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers: In "Mario And... The Well", Fishy Boopkins gets rescued by Bob from a well. Come "The Mario Concert", however, and it's revealed that Bob pushed Boopkins down the well in the first place so Bob could get popular.


Alternative Title(s): Engineered Heroism, Hero Syndrome, Heroism Addict


Batman's Greatest Villain

Dorky gives their take on who exactly is Bruce Wayne's greatest Adversary... Himself...

How well does it match the trope?

4.77 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / EngineeredHeroics

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