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Evil Pays Better

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Harry Tasker: Now why are you helping these raving psychotics?
Juno Skinnner: Because they're very well-funded raving psychotics.

So, crime DOES pay...

In a game with a Karma Meter (and sometimes even those without), missions that lean towards the 'Evil' side will often pay better and have better rewards than those on the side of 'Good.'

This is often offset by having Good be better in the long run.

Alternatively, while neither side's mission rewards are better, the skills available only to Evil will be far more useful in making money, or just more fun. After all, why fight off three Mooks and keep yourself alive with your amazing healing abilities when you can just mind control two of them and make them kill each other?

Often justified as The Hero is expected to say Think Nothing of It and be satisfied with a warm fuzzy feeling that accompanies good deeds while the villain is more likely to be Only in It for the Money. It also allows evil choices to be a real temptation for good players, and temptation is a delicious part of this complete evil nutritious breakfast.

Related tropes include Rewarding Vandalism, Video Game Cruelty Potential. Compare Better Living Through Evil, where evil has some more diverse benefits. Opposing tropes include Cut Lex Luthor a Check and Videogame Caring Potential. Aversions should be listed in Good Pays Better.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Happy Kanako’s Killer Life: Kanako Nishino's job hunting accidentally brings her to the offices of a group of assassins. She initially panics and wonders how to get out of there... then she hears about the great pay, steady work hours, weekends off, and even the recent addition of a benefits package. To top of all off, she's a natural at the job despite having no formal training before joining up.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • All For Luz: As much as Riley Stewardson hates the Wittebane’s for their supposed connections with what happened at The Death Camp, they pay her good money for each assassination job she does for them. Really good money. Like, seriously, 100K per job. Way more than most senior high schoolers get paid by legit means. And because it's a "church job", it's tax-exempt too.
  • Guys Being Dudes: It's briefly mentioned that Arlo, a Team Rocket member, gets paid more than Candela, and presumably the other team leaders, do.
  • In the fan film S.T.E.A.M. The Movie, Jean-Claude Van Darn joins the E.V.I.L. team because they actually give their employees a paycheck.
  • In Mastermind: Strategist for Hire, Izuku sells plans to villains due to his inability to find even a minimum wage job due to prejudice against the Quirkless.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are superheroes who live a mundane life on a fixed income with Mr. Incredible hating his dead-end job. Syndrome is a supervillain who lives on a privately owned island paradise with billions of dollars to his name and a "job" he absolutely loves. When Mr. Incredible ends up (unknowingly) in the employ of Syndrome, he's suddenly making exorbitant amounts of money.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Invoked in Casablanca, when Louis is making his case that Rick is not as cynical and apolitical as he pretends to be. Rick argues that Good Pays Better but Louis sees right through him.
    Louis: In 1935, you ran guns to Ethiopia. In 1936, you fought in Spain. On the Loyalist side.
    Rick: I got well paid for it, on both occasions.
    Louis: The winning side would have paid you much better.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Mac's justification for double-crossing Indiana and siding with the Soviets that have captured them is "Well, what can I say, Jonesey? I'm a capitalist, and they pay."
  • Played for Drama in Inside Man: Turns out that the Nazis paid better, so Mr. Arthur Case sold out his rich Jewish friends to the Holocaust-makers and spent the rest of his life acting like a magnanimous charity-worker to try to bury his misdeeds.
  • Paraphrased at the end of Johnny Dangerously as the hero hops in his nice car and rides off.
    Johnny: Remember kids: Crime doesn't pay.
    [jumps into his luxury car]
    Johnny: [shrugs] It paid a little.
  • This is part of Scaramanga's "Not So Different" Remark to Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun, to illustrate the one difference between the two men as Scaramanga sees it. He can afford to live on an island paradise because he gets paid a million dollars per assassination contract, while Bond, as Scaramanga puts it, "works for peanuts; a hearty 'well done' from the Queen and a pittance of a pension".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "The Long Game", the Editor is a human who is helping the Mighty Jagrafess to keep the rest of humanity in an Epiphanic Prison. When Rose points this out, he sulkily replies that "simply being human" doesn't pay very well.
  • An occasional plot point in Get Smart is that KAOS agents have better benefits than those offered to Max and the other CONTROL agents.
  • Supernatural:
    • Hunting pays literally nothing, so to fund their heroics Sam and Dean have to resort to things like credit card fraud and gambling. Meanwhile, the mercenary Bela 'sleeps very well' on luxurious sheets, and demons like Crowley make deals for human souls, which seem to be treated as a form of currency among them.
    • Averted for Alternate Universe versions of Sam and Dean in "Destiny's Child" (15.13), though: in that universe, apparently, hunting pays very well.
  • Gradually deconstructed in Breaking Bad in which evil does indeed pay better... for a short while, at least. But then, the characters start running into the central problem of this trope — that while it's possible to make huge amounts within an underground illegal black-economy, at a certain point you end up making so much that there's no way that you can actually spend any of it. Because if you do, the government will gradually notice that you're spending more than you're earning legally — and, more importantly, more than you should be paying to the government in the form of taxes. And even money-laundering only helps so much, since outside of massive-scale international criminal organisations only a certain amount can actually be laundered before the same issue crops up again. And on top of that, making millions illegally tends to attract the attention of the greedy who would like to get their hands on your money and, being in the criminal underworld, are not shy about employing ruthless methods of doing so. Essentially, the key problem is that eventually evil pays too well to the point where it's more of a burden than anything else. This gradually ends with the main character finding himself possessing a ridiculously large pile of money which he just has no way of actually making any practical use from because doing so will immediately bring the full weight of law enforcement down upon him.
  • The prequel series to the above, Better Call Saul, continues the deconstruction. Like Walter White, Jimmy McGill (the man who will become Saul Goodman) wants to get ahead quickly. Like Walter, he eventually resorts to criminal and unethical means to do so. Unlike Walter, he has the legal knowledge and savvy to create complex and intricate series of shell corporations, money laundering fronts and various other legal loopholes to spread his money around. Unfortunately for him, Jimmy eventually runs smack into the opposite side of the problem to Walter — when things fall apart, he quickly learns that the government have gotten very good at unravelling such complex tricks at hiding money, with the result that he loses pretty much everything except what he was essentially able to shove in his pockets when he fled.

  • Good Omens has the earthbound demon Anthony Crowley reflecting that while the wages of sin might be death, the working hours are better, you can go home earlier on a Friday and you don't have to work overtime at the weekends.
  • In Jin Ping Mei, the evil characters prospered, while the good ones suffered. Notably (more than the graphic sexual content), this was the main reason why the novel was censored/ bowdlerised, as it completely went against Confucian ethics and the expectation that evil doers will be punished eventually.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • André the Giant:
    • When teaming with Ted DiBiase during an angle where DiBiase was attempting to buy the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan, he promised Andre a huge payday if he delivered. (Which, the WWF did in real life; both Andre and DiBiase received a huge payday after the angle wrapped up ... although in kayfabe, DiBiase did indeed deliver on his promise.)
    • In the lead-up to WrestleMania III, Hogan's claim of why Andre decided to side with Bobby Heenan ... for short-term money and glory.
  • Bob Orton Jr.: During the famous "Piper's Pit" vs. "Flower Shop" angle, which solidified Roddy Piper's face turn and a heated feud between Piper and Adrian Adonis, why Orton said he was joining forces with Adonis ... he paid him much better while Piper was a short-changing, penny-pinching glory hound who ducks his opponents (because he's scared) and makes his minions do the fighting.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The first version of the Star Wars d20 roleplaying game took the concept of the Dark Side as being a shortcut to power and ran with it literally. Using force points lets you add xd6 (adds whatever number the 6-sided die shows) to your hit rolls, allowing you to succeed at normally impossible tasks. The Light Side goes up steadily adding a single d6 per tier, but the dark side quickly jumps up to 3 and then 5, but then stops while the Light Side continues on to 6.
  • The mission reward table in Shadowrun Fifth Edition has a "Run will make you a cold-hearted bastard" entry that increases the cash reward by up to twenty percent. Conversely, the "Run has good feelings as part of its reward" entry reduces the cash by up to twenty percent. The other side of the equation is that the evil run has a reduced Karma (experience) reward, while the good run has an increased Karma reward. But the important thing to remember as a Shadowrunner is that good feelings don't pay the bills... Of course, considering how bad things got in Fourth Edition, one expansion book provided extensive examples of how those good deeds actually could come in handy.

  • G.I. Joe: This is part of the reason why COBRA has such seemingly limitless recruits, even in the higher skilled specialist branches. Several bios of their Faceless Goons mention details like if they actually get a cut of any arms sales they make or that if they manage to earn degrees they are then eligible for higher ranks (alongside the appropriate pay and perks).
    • Former military, special forces operatives or law enforcement are highly desirable to COBRA, and there's no shortage of retired or disgraced personnel who see COBRA as a much better alternative to their former places of work. The COBRA operative Blackout, for example, washed out of the Joe team but was welcomed with open arms into COBRA.

    Video Games 
  • Causality-inverted in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, where earning more money makes you "evil". The game's Karma Meter is based on your treatment of neutral targets and fleeing enemies: finishing them off them earns you cash and Mercenary points, while sparing them nets you almost nothing except Knight points. Mercenary path, in turn, throws tougher and more numerous bosses at you, which, again, earns you more cash than the bosses in the Knight or the middle (Soldier) path.
  • In the first Armored Core, similar to Fable's 'attack the farm' quest (see below), there are two missions to either attack or defend some cargo, and attacking it pays more.
  • In Army of Two: The 40th Day, the evil choices give you cash and/or weapons while the good choices tend to give you nothing. Although you do unlock a very nice machine pistol if you made only good choices before the hospital level.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • In the first entry, you're tasked with freeing a Nymph from a mage called Ragefast. You can kill him for 2000xp and loot his tower full of valuable magical artefacts and take the Nymph or let her go. Or you can say the right things to him and he'll let the Nymph go without a fight, netting you 2000xp and a lock of her hair (which you can turn into a powerful magical cloak). But if you feel like being an asshole, you can also do both. First persuade Ragefast to let her go and get the hair. Then talk to him again and he will get upset and attack, so you can kill him without the slightest repercussions. Then you can loot his tower. Since he's a wizard, he inevitably has cool stuff. That's 4000xp, and the hair, AND the loot from the tower, without loss of reputation.
    • To remain on the Asshole Wagon, go back to the rival wizard who gave you the quest to help the Nymph in the first place. Turns out he really wanted her for Nymph giblets and so on for dark magic, and when you report failure, he pulls a You Have Failed Me on you. So kill him for another 2000xp, and loot his tower too. Bottom line: one Nymph goes free to do whatever it is Nymphs do all day, the world is rid of two Jerkass wizards, and you got paid thrice. That whole storyline might as well be called "Karmic Distribution For Fun And Profit".
    • Similarly, a Thief in Beregost will rob you every time you talk to him, while complaining about his stolen Boots of Stealth. You can easily find his boots and give him them to get your gold back, and 500xp. Or you can keep his boots for your own thief, which is obviously better. Or you can jump on the Asshole Wagon, give them to him for the reward and then, because he's a jerk who stole from you, kill him without repercussions and take them back, getting the xp for the easy fight too. Who says Chronic Backstabbing Disorder isn't profitable?
    • In Chapter 6 you can kill the leaders of the Iron Throne for being... the leaders of the Iron Throne. Or you can choose not to, because you're not a cold-blooded murderer. But it doesn't make any difference because they'll still be killed and YOU will still be framed for their deaths. And killing them doesn't affect your Reputation Meter, so you might as well do it to get their XP and equipment.
    • On the complete flip-side, the BG:EE adds Dorn Il Khan, a very strong Neutral Evil Half-Orc with a vendetta and a tendency to solve his problems by stabbing them to death. He's ironically the least bigoted character in any Baldur's Gate game yet - he seems to hate everybody equally. He carries on his evil into the sequel, if you can deal with murdering entire wedding parties.
    • Mostly averted, however, in Baldur's Gate and most of the other Infinity Engine games. Many quests will offer either a good option that rewards some xp and reputation, and an evil option that rewards gold or items, appearing to play this straight. However, reputation affects prices in shops, as well as preventing some shops and quest-givers talking to you at all. Mugging an old lady for a few gold pieces doesn't count for much when it means paying thousands more for that magic sword you want to buy. It's not even a case of trading short-term for long-term gain; it only takes a few reputation points to make far more difference in prices than taking the evil options will give you.
  • In The Bard's Tale, the Evil ending in which he sides with Demon Queen Caleigh is the one that gives the Bard his happy ending. The Good ending just lands him where he started in the game: A penniless conman.
  • This is technically true in BioShock. Harvesting the Little Sister nets you twice as much Adam as rescuing them. In the long haul, this beats out the 200 Adam bonus for every three, but the difference is so negligible as to be pointless, and the rewards for rescuing them are worth far more than the tiny bit of Adam you get for not doing so. In Bioshock 2, you do get much more Adam for harvesting than you do for saving Little Sisters overall, though there still are unique tonics you only get from saving them.
  • Invoked in Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness; the kingdom the game takes place in is cursed with Greed and you have the choice of either doing the main storyline quests the good way, lessening the curse's effects or helping the God of Evil responsible make the curse permanent by making things worse and getting sweet loot for it.
  • In Champions: Return To Arms, the 'evil' quests tend to have a greater experience to effort ratio, and more options for massive gold farming.
  • In Chrono Cross, at one point you are asked to save Kid after she's poisoned. You can refuse; if you do this, you piss off some people, doom the Hydra and Dwarves of Home World to extinction and Razzly to being eaten by a pentapod...but you can only get Glenn, who's one of the most powerful characters in the game, if you refuse.
  • The later Civilization games do that, probably unintentionally. Razing a captured city (and slaughtering the population, destroying World Wonders etc.) is usually the easier way, since captured cities are a major pain in the backside: they will generate unhappiness unless you have a courthouse built, which reduces your income by 3 gold per turn - it's not a lot especially in the late game, but consensus is that razing and settling a new city so you don't have the unhappiness/gold issue is generally the better option.
  • In Chapter 8 of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory, you have the option to help defend the Digimon Black Market, which openly mistreats them and doesn't see them as living things. Destroying the market rewards the player with the Master Guard item which reduces all attribute damage by 10% for the Digimon holding it, but saving the market provides easy access to multiple Mega-level Digimon later in the game and significantly reduces the overall grind.
  • Played mostly straight with Dragon Age: Origins, where the lack of a Karma Meter means that refusing a reward will normally have no impact except the negative one in your wallet. Occasionally it may net a few approval points with your familiars, but you can just buy them some cheap gifts to make them happy instead. In fact, if you don't walk around with your "good-aligned" allies, you can freely intimidate many people into giving you greater rewards, with no adverse effects whatsoever.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series, this is the case for completing many quests given by the Daedric Princes. Though technically beings Above Good and Evil who operate on their own Blue-and-Orange Morality, the Princes are mostly considered "evil" by all but the most knowledgeable in-universe, especially in contrast to the Saintly Church of the Nine Divine, making them an Evil Counterpart almost by default. Accepting and completing the Daedric quests almost always involves rather uncouth activities, up to and including murder, backstabbing, cannibalism, stealing souls, making Deals With The Devil, and even making it rain cats and dogs. (Which are on fire. We meant that literally.) The rewards for completing these quests make them extremely worthwhile, however, including Legendary Weapons, armor, and other artifacts of great power.
    • Played with in Daggerfall - the highest paying quests in the game are the shadier ones for corrupt nobles while the lowest paying come from the Knightly Orders, however the real reward for doing those quests are that once you're higher rank in the guild you get to stay at any inn and travel via ship for free, saving you a good amount of travel expenses in the long run, as well as ultimately quest for artifacts, the most powerful items in the game, which you're allowed to keep. At higher levels those artifacts can be worth a lot more than mere money. Ironically that quest is itself an example of this trope — to complete the quest and get the reward, you have to kidnap a child from a palace and bring them to their witchy great grandmother.
    • Skyrim:
      • The Dark Brotherhood and Thieves' Guild questlines are some of the most rewarding and entertaining in the game, though the rewards of the Companions' and College's questlines aren't too shabby either. Upon being "recruited" for the Dark Brotherhood, you can turn the tables using Exact Words to escape and initiate a quest to destroy them once and for all. A good cause, to be sure, but its rewards are quite small compared to the collective rewards of joining the Brotherhood and following its story arc to the end.
      • Azura's Daedric quest has you retrieve Azura's Star from an evil wizard who seeks to corrupt it for his own nefarious purposes. If you do so and purify the corruption, you receive it in its normal form as a reusable Grand Soul Gem, and your questgiver Aranea Ienith becomes recruitable as a follower. On the other hand, you can instead choose to complete the corruption and transform it into the Black Star, a reusable Black Soul Gem (i.e. can hold sapient souls). Regular Black Soul Gems are pretty rare to come by, and any Black Soul is equivalent to a Grand Soul (the highest tier of soul), even if it comes from a weak Level 1 bandit in the early areas of the game.
  • In Fable, the 'evil' missions often pay better. For example, there's a quest to either attack or defend a farm, but attacking it pays 250 more gold. Also, the weapon you can get from the Religion of Evil is the best bow in the game. The weapon from the Saintly Church? Above average at best.
    • Fable II however is an example of the "immediate gratification vs. long-term gain" subversion. sure, you can gouge prices in the stores you own and gain property faster by massacring the townspeople (which lowers the economy and makes stuff cheaper), but high shop prices mean NPCs won't buy as much, a low economy means that you get less for selling vendor trash, and killing off a house's owner gives a permanent penalty to the value (and therefore rent). Being an evil dick will get you money fast, but being a good character will mean that you'll be making money hand over fist if you just wait and invest.
    • This is actually one of the major themes of Fable III. Once you overthrow your evil brother and become the King/Queen of Albion, you learn that an Eldritch Abomination is coming to destroy the kingdom, and that the entire reason your brother was acting like such an evil tyrant was because he needed to raise a lot of money fast in order to train and equip and army powerful enough to defeat it. You are then faced with the same dilemma as him: Rule as an evil tyrant in order to make more money but have your subjects hate you like they hated him, or rule benevolently and have everyone love you but risk not making enough money to defend the kingdom when the time comes. Or you could just Take a Third Option and buy up all the real estate for sale and rent it out, raking in more than enough cash to fill the kingdom's coffers while still being a benevolent ruler. Despite the supposed time limit the game shoves in your face, you have as much time as you want until you deliberately advance the plot, so if you just wait around long enough, you can technically acquire the needed amount of money on the first day of your rule.
  • Fallen London takes place in a world of Black-and-Gray Morality where Ruthless/Heartless choices usually give you better monetary rewards than Magnanimous ones. One example of this is the early game choice of whether to side with the Last Constable or the Cheery Man: the Last Constable is an Iron Woobie who's one of the few unambiguously good characters in Fallen London, but the Cheery Man pays better than her and you can keep interacting with him and getting item rewards after the conclusion of his storyline unlike the Last Constable whose storyline ends with her fleeing the city to never be heard from again.
  • Fallout goes both ways. Evil quests pay more credits, plus the lack of moral inhibitions means you can gun down innocent merchants and take their stash if you're too poor to trade with them - but evil people generally have the best loot in the game (and unlike with merchants, there's no other way of getting said loot), and good quest solutions give more XP.
    • Really evil characters can become so hated that bounty hunters will attack them as random encounters on the map. At higher levels, these encounters are lethal. Unfortunately, you never become so famous that the next city has already heard of you.
      • In Fallout 3, being really good ALSO gets bounty hunters after you as well. Being really evil, however, can cause Raiders to become terrified of you and try to pay you off to avert your wrath.
      • Several quests actually lean on Evil path with better rewards: The Power of Atom quest for example: Disarming the bomb in Megaton nets you a (ramshackle, albeit noted in-game as "The Most Luxurious") house and 100-500 caps. Blowing it up, however, can net you upwards of 1000 caps and a lush, very comfortable apartment in Tenpenny Tower. On the other hand, the Tenpenny Tower is way worse positioned than Megaton, so it's up to player what (s)he values more.
      • Subverted in the Tenpenny Tower quest, since helping Roy Philips and his ghouls massacre the tower earns you the Ghoul mask, which protects you from feral ghouls, especially the reavers. Killing Philips for Chief Gustavo only gets you 500-700 caps, while having the ghouls peacefully move in (only to turn on the residents later) nets you both the money and the ghoul mask. Thus, the peaceful option actually grants the greatest reward. Of course the third option is this: let the ghouls in, turn on a Stealth Boy, kill Roy Philips before he gets in, loot his corpse. This nets you the xp for the quest and kill as well as getting a better ending than the so called "good" ending (leaving the residents, especially Herbert "Daring" Dashwood, alive) but you lose the Ghoul Mask (which doesn't protect you from already hostile feral ghouls).
      • Also, in the last mission in Broken Steel add-on, you have the option to nuke two targets, the Enclave-controlled Mobile Base Crawler, or The Citadel, aka the HQ for the Brotherhood of Steel, your most loyal in-game allies. If you choose the former, your reward is...Good Feels Good and a thanks speech (as well as having the Brotherhood's only technological competition in the Capital Wasteland taken out). Doing the latter nets you the most powerful handgun in the game (specifically, the rarest of rare version of Scoped .44 Magnum), Callahan's Magnum, and the satisfaction of having dealt with those Railroading idiots permanently. Of course the revolver will eventually degrade and spares are in short supply so it's a give and take.
      • New Vegas's final add on Lonesome Road repeats this: only you get the option to nuke the NCR or the Legion, the two main warring factions, nuke neither, OR nuke both. No matter what you do you'll get a spiffy melee weapon and light armor, but for each outpost nuked it will open up a secret area with both a grenade launcher, and another very good armor. So to get maximum rewards (melee weapon, both grenade launchers, and all 3 armors) you'd need to nuke both to open up both areas and fight the very-powerful bosses of each area. Taking the good route of stopping both launches will only net you stuff you'd get regardless. The ending for this part shows that the NCR, Legion, and Mojave suffers from the savage radiation that closes off the area from the rest of the world and leads to wide-spread destruction.
      • The Honest Hearts add-on actually subverts this though. At any point in the story you can opt to simply kill an important character, which immediately ends the story and gives you a quick simple fetch quest to finish off the add-on, give you your exp and final weapon rewards and resumes the main game. This means you can effectively finish a several hour add-on in 5 minutes. However you'll only get the full item rewards if you solve everyone's problems and finish the whole thing. The quick evil solution actually denies you rewards as well as pissing off Joshua Graham.
    • In Fallout 4 the Nuka-World expansion requires the player to become evil; otherwise you're "rewarded" with a barren park and nothing to show for your efforts without the use of mods.
  • Galactic Civilizations II gives you bonuses to your planets' development or finances should you make the "evil" choice during random events. If you choose the "evil" alignment once you've obtained researched Ethics, you'll have access to powerful ship weapons and planetary upgrades that increase loyalty to your empire, but at the cost of alienating "good" races (who will likely declare war on you shortly).
    • Ironically, the best bonuses for non-violent builders in the game aren't for the goody goodies, but the neutral civilizations - good races mostly get better defences, while neutrality nets you better trading ability, the best research centres, more happiness (more important than loyalty if you want tax income) and all your planets instantly terraformed. Rock on, moral grey zone. For the most part, being a goody two shoes in random events gives you penalties, while being evil gives you massive bonuses. The neutral option gives you bonuses as well, but not as much as the evil options (most of the exceptions fit this trope as well). You need to avoid being a monster that no one wants to trade with you and yet not a goody two shoes that you find money as a source of evil, that is why trade is so fitting for neutral factions.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, a lot of your income comes from shopkeepers and racket bosses you have intimidated into joining the Corleone cause, as well as Armed Blags and Bank Robberies. Trying to make money off the corpses of enemy gangsters is challenging and slow-going, with ammo costs acting as a Money Sink until you buy a safehouse with ammo for all the gun types. For a Self-Imposed Challenge you can try being Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters and forgo any of the above, but prepare to waste a lot more time.
  • Appears for the most part in Grand Theft Auto, although downplayed with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Working for the nice Triad mob boss pays better than working for the heartless corrupt police officer, though you really don't have much choice in working for the evil cop since he's blackmailing you into it, and as you can imagine, pays you nothing.
    • In GTA4 it would be more of "Evil Pays At All" with the mission where you have to choose if you kill Francis McReary or Derrick, the corrupt cop or the nice criminal brother of one of your friends. You either get 20,000 dollars and the ability to make a phone call to reduce your wanted level, or the subsequent mission is made slightly easier by not having the police on your back. The former option, hopefully obviously, is far better for the long term.
    • The opposite occurs with the assassination of Playboy X (jerk) or Dwayne (ex-criminal who wants to get on with his life. Killing Playboy results in getting his crib as additional savehouse, with cameo clothes of GTA3's protagonist in the wardrobe. You also become friends with Dwayne, and get a notable friendship bonus. Playboy gives you a few thousand bucks and never talks with you again.
  • Numerous reviewers felt that the evil specific abilities in Infamous are far more useful than the good specific ones.
    • Zig-Zagged in Grand Theft Auto V. Failure to get paid for various crimes is a regular occurence, and one of the best payin jobs is Franklin's assassinations that target Asshole Victims, and the best money from that is made by strategic stock trading. In the Multiple Endings, only killing Trevor nets Franklin and Michael more money, while if Franklin kills Michael, Michael's share is given to his family, so "Death Wish" is generally considered the preferred way to end the game.
  • In just one of many examples in Knights of the Old Republic, many Light Side acts involve you giving piles of your hard-earned money away. In fact, the Light Side / Dark Side split shows this. It's often said that the dark side offers quick, easy power, and the light side offers less power more slowly - but only the light side can give immortality, the goal of Jedi and Sith alike.
    • Zig-Zagged with the Rakghoul serum. Sure you can give it to the bad guy (and he'll pay you). Or you can give it to the doctor, who gives the cure to the people who need it, but can only pay you by discounting his medical supplies. The crime lord may be able to give you a one-time cash bonus, but discounted medpacks when your character is weak, has little money, and can't self-heal can be just as useful.
    • Inverted in one instance in the second game: There's two merchants, one good, one evil. The evil one has pretty good stuff, but won't sell anything until you kill the good one. The good one will buy anything, and sell immediately, but her selection is absolute crap. However, if you decide not to kill her, getting the bad guy angry, she'll sell some of the best items near the end of the game, including some unique ones. To top it all off, when given the choice, she flat out tells you "you have two options, one that is quick and offers known rewards, the other may not pay off now, but may in the long run. Which one will you choose... Jedi?"
    • In the first game, you encounter the spirit of Ajunta Pall, whose immortality has Gone Horribly Right: for thousands of years, all he's been able to think about are his regrets, and the empty, meaningless life he led as a servant of evil. The Dark Side does offer immortality - in such a way that the one who obtains it wants nothing more than to die. This story detail mirrors the gameplay fact that, since it's quite easy to get by on what you find (and rack up mountains of credits by selling what you don't need), the extra money offered by The Dark Side options has little practical value.
    • Finally, in the first game, the Dark Side powers may be more spectacular, and may offer more offensive options, but many of the tougher enemies will resist them (and in some cases, be outright immune to them). It's much rarer for an enemy to resist a buffed-up lightsaber wielder.
  • Mass Effect
    • The franchise involves the Paragon/Renegade meters, both of them separate meters rather than the same one. Basically, making paragon choices gives you more valuable allies than resources, while making renegade choices is the other-way around. While it would be important to balance between both in most other games, here in the Mass Effect series it pays more to be either an extreme paragon or renegade, which is needed to unlock the various charm/intimidate conversation options, as well as certain side-quests. While there's certainly nothing wrong with having YOUR Commander Shepard be fully Renegade, some renegade choices might cause you to either feel bad or kick yourself later on down the road.
    • In Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 you have the Paragon/Renegade interrupts. Usually (with some some notable exceptions) Paragon interrupts have you doing something compassionate and caring. Renegade interrupts, on the other hand, tend to involve much cooler and spectacular options, including some hysterical Shut Up, Hannibal! moments. Even if your Commander Shepard is a total saint, some of the Renegade interrupts are way too tempting to pass up. Which only drives home how hard Dr. Archer crossed the Moral Event Horizon; there's a Paragon interrupt to Pistol Whip him in the face.
    • Mass Effect 2 actually has an inversion, in Zaeed's DLC loyalty mission. Taking the "evil" choice will actually reduce your pay, as the choice involves failing to do job assigned to you by your employers. However, you will automatically gain Zaeed's loyalty by doing this, whereas you'll need to pass a Paragon check for it if you take the good route.
    • As for Mass Effect 3, it's generally averted. Paragons tend to make allies and friends with the people who they meet, while Renegades have a tendency to anger or kill them. Guess which one is more beneficial in a Gondor Calls for Aid scenario? That said, Renegade persuade options usually can gain you the same as their Paragon counterpart, and there is one notable scenario on Tuchanka where clever Renegade planning (depending on earlier game choices) nets more overall War Assets.
  • Mechwarrior 5 Mercenaries: There's a series of side missions where you can choose to either assist Interstellar Expeditions by looting various planets, or side with the independent people who are just trying to scrape an honest living and avoid having their stuff stolen by raiders. Of course, siding with the inter-planetary MegaCorp pays much better than siding with a bunch of dirt farmers, but the latter offers much better salvage rights and a higher reputation bonus for completing the missions.
  • In Mega Man Legends doing bad deeds will gradually turn your character black. Doing good deeds will turn your character light blue. This trope especially comes into play when you capture the thieves who robbed a bank. If you return the money, it's a good deed and you get a small reward of 10,000$. If you keep the money, you turn dark but get 200,000$. Considering how much money it takes to upgrade some things in game, it's very tempting to be evil.
  • Inverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: while you may choose to pave your way with piles of corpses, every single soldier you kill, as opposed to tranq or avoid entirely will attack you during your brief stint on the Other Side, where you face The Sorrow. If you've killed a lot, this sequence can take an agonizingly long time (but it can be pretty funny if you shoot everyone in the nuts. Also, defeating bosses by non-lethal means nets you their camouflage, while killing them gives you a fat lot of nothing.
    • The End is one exception, who you need to hold up to get his camo, after which you can murder the hell out of him. Tranquilizing him gets him his Mosin Nagant (if you actually went through all the trouble of knocking him out you probably will like a non-lethal sniper rifle).
  • Might and Magic VII. Although the quests are essentially the same on both the light and dark sides, being evil allows you to use Dark magic which is much better than Light magic. This is because the best Light magic spells can either be used from magic pedestals which don't care which side you took, or are just a bunch of spells you can get for the elemental magics combined into one spell. Dark magic, on the other hand, has several of the most damaging spells in the game, as well as a few unique utility spells too. Also, if you have a Sorcerer in your party, he can be promoted to a Lich which makes him immune to Body and Mind spells. The Light side has nothing equivalent to this; whilst it's not utterly worthless, it's just less powerful and more wasted spells.
  • Zig-zagged in Neverwinter Nights: near the end of Chapter 1 you come across a demon in a summoning circle. Choose to free him from the circle and you can get a magic weapon, a magic item, or a temporary but awesome buff. Choose to banish him and you can summon the good spirit he chased away, who rewards you with... a different magic weapon, a better magic item, or the same temporary but awesome buff. The spirit also gives you more XP, but which weapon is better depends entirely on your Character Class.
  • In Overlord you can spare villagers (which gives you nothing) or you can kill them (for resources). There's also a quest where you can return some food to said villagers (with the implication that they don't deserve it) or keep it (and, again, gain a massive chunk of resources).
    • Murdering peasants and generally cranking up your corruption rating means that the top-tier spells are more powerful than the ones you get as a "nice" evil overlord.
  • Overlord II gives you the option of Domination or Destruction. The former involves subjugating peasants to make your slaves, generating resources over time. The latter is basically the genocide option, getting all of the resources at once with no opportunities to get any later.
  • Played surprisingly straight for an MMORPG, Pardus' TSS (The Shadow Syndicate, AKA The Bad Guys) has jobs that pay incredibly well, and the owners of drug stations get some free resources AND better prices on the black market. The good guys, EPS (Esteemed Pilots Syndicate) gets a few bonus jobs that are otherwise perfectly normal and average, and can only buy and sell fuel on the black market.
  • Planescape: Torment has a variation on this in that asking for money as a reward always shifts your Karma Meter slightly towards evil. In a more direct version, Mebbeth asks you why you want to learn magic when you start your apprenticeship with her. The answer you give determines the reward you get much later in the game. One gives you a wisdom increase, one gives you an intelligence increase, and the third one gives you both increases and more experience, but also makes you slightly more evil.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, with most of the Stranger missions that have a choice, the evil option is cheaper, easier, or both. Also, at very low Honor, you get the a badass looking horse. It leaves if you try to get your honor back up.
    • But despite the Stranger mission's evil options being easier, staying at low honor is actually something of a challenge as the story missions give you more honor for completing it. This can be counteracted by wearing a bandana for completing story missions, but the bandana will also stop you from getting fame as well (a number of benefits from higher fame being quite useful for a low-honor character's gameplay).
  • Kind of in Red Dead Redemption 2. Looting items from corpses yields valuable junk you can sell to a Fence for a tidy sum. Stealing wagons, robbing trains and/or stores and burglary all provide quick bucks, more than the bounty hunting missions. Then again, having high Honour can get you discounts, and getting caught means being harassed constantly by bounty hunters and losing some of your ill-gotten gains by paying the bounty off or surrendering to the authorities. In the end, hunting animals is still one of the most lucrative ways of making money, and it's perfectly legal and moral.
  • There are many ways to exploit this in RimWorld, such as slavery, manufacturing and selling hard drugs, and butchering your enemies to make human leather commodities. Given the game's Procedural Generation this isn't a hard and fast rule, and depending on your difficulty you're just as likely to do it out of desperate necessity rather than greed, but it's common enough that the fandom is full to the brim with "I swear I tried to be a non-cannibal tribe this time"-type memes.
  • Early in Scarface: The World Is Yours every dollar is needed. Blasting drug dealers and taking their cash would raise the difficulty level. Better to sell them the drugs and them shoot them in the foot. With a little luck, your chauffeur will finish the job. No increased difficulty level. You got the cash and the drugs back. Time to find the next dealer. Note it only works in the first level, as once Tony is known to the underworld, the hush money required to get gangs off your back will outweigh the money gained. Also, you have to use the drug trade if you want to make big bucks fast.
  • In a 'more fun' example, in Shadow the Hedgehog, filling up the dark meter gives you 'Chaos Blast', damaging everything (and charging your dark meter some more) around you, while the Light meter gives you Chaos Control, which speeds you through the level, skipping goodies and forfeiting 100% completion depending on the mission.
  • SimCity as a whole tends to do this. If you're low on cash, you can bet that a sleazy character will offer you cash in order to build something for them. These tend to be things such as toxic waste facilities, missile silos, "secret" military bases, and casinos, none of which help your approval rating any.
    • In SimCity 4: Rush Hour, taking the "bad" missions nets you a lot of money but lowers your approval rating.
  • In every game of The Sims franchise, reaching the top of the criminal career track pays more than reaching the top of the law enforcement career track.
  • The Demon Path in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters gives much better experience and "Gig Points." Since there's a New Game Plus option, this is the best way to build your character up if you want to fight the Bonus Bosses in the main storyline.
  • In Spider-Man (PS4)
    • After defeating Taskmaster he explains to Spider-Man that he wanted to recruit him for his bosses. When Spidey refuses, Taskmaster says they pay six figures and taunts him for being poor before using a Smoke Bomb to escape.
    • The best example is Tombstone. During his boss fight, Spidey jokingly suggests opening a soup kitchen (as opposed to trying to establish himself as a drug lord). Tombstone replies that as soon as soup pays, he's in.
  • Occasionally, the symbiote suit in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows makes missions easier. For instance, in one mission, you can either disable a suit of armor with a Press X to Not Die sequence or just go symbiote and throw a car. This goes the other way too, as certain choices are more effective with the good choice as well.
  • If aggression could be considered "evil," then Spore has a couple subversions. Befriending creatures in the creature stage usually nets you more DNA points than attacking and eating them, and befriending other tribes gets you more food than attacking them. Otherwise, it's pretty much averted in terms of the long-term benefits of acting aggressively vs. friendly. Players actions in each stage of the game lead to specific bonuses or abilities in the subsequent stages. Some of the best are scattered across the spectrum and really only serve to complement the play-style used to achieve them, so it's hard to call any one option "better". Entering the final stage, Space, the player earns a title and a corresponding unique ability based on their overall behavior across the previous 4 stages. By far, the two most powerful abilities belong to the Scientist (who can instantly wipe out all civilization/colonization on a planet) and the Zealot (who can instantly convert an entire planet, even an alien homeworld, to join their empire). Both of these abilities are considered war crimes by NPC civilizations (right up there with the Planet Killer weapon, meaning anyone who notices will declare war against you), and both require behaving in a friendly manner in any two of the previous stages.
  • Inverted in Steambot Chronicles, where taking the evil path actually causes you to miss out on a lot of neat equipment.
  • Streets of Rogue lacks a morality system but in a sense that's what makes evil so much more profitable than good, there are no consequences to murdering and looting as much as you want aside from the enemies you might make along the way. It is worth noting that there are experience bonuses for completing missions without harming anyone and for not destroying property but in general those are just to help non-combat character plays catch up, you'll almost always get more experience by just killing everyone in your way and then you get to keep whatever falls out of their pockets too.
  • This trope is an integral part of the story of Strike Commander. The Wildcats are pretty much the only mercenary company in the world (that we know of) who take morality into consideration when choosing which contracts to accept and whose side to fight on. This makes it very difficult for them to find work, as is repeatedly lampshaded by everyone else - especially by their primary rival Jean-Paul Prideaux, who runs a completely unfettered mercenary company. As the story unfolds, the Wildcats find themselves having to compromise their principles to an ever greater degree just to stay afloat.
  • Sunless Sea has four profitable cargo routes, and the two that are most profitable by far are smuggling the illegal drugs Sunlight and Red Honey (the latter of which is created by torturing people). The other two, giving London port reports and shipping sphinxstone, have alternate and illicit buyers that pay more than legal channels - but taking advantage of them increases “Supremacy: The Dawn Machine,” which will eventually disable port reports if it gets too high, more or less ending the game since it’s the only one of these four routes that can be run into perpetuity.
  • In Tachyon: The Fringe, siding with GalSpan nets you higher-payout and easier missions and higher-tech equipment, as opposed to siding with the Bora, who can't really afford to pay you much and fly hastily-converted cargo haulers with dumbfire missiles forced to resort to guerilla tactics. It can be assumed, though, that the latter choice is the moral high ground. Indeed, the Bora ending reveals that it was GalSpan who set up Jake in the first place. This is a case of Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters.
  • In Tin Star (Choice of Games), you'll be lucky to keep your horse shod on a marshal's salary. You want more? Well, you can get a bit from prospecting, practicing a profession or other honest work...or you can take bribes from the town's corrupt sheriff, pocket fines that you collect from lawbreakers, extort businesses in town, and even rob stagecoaches or side with the bad guys, and end the game as the richest person in the northern hemisphere. Up to you.
  • In the early phases of Total War series, it is almost needed to play a genocidal bastard if you want florins. Although further down the line it will have the off chance of generating negative vices that reduces tax income in exchange for immediate plunder. Opting for a more benevolent route will give more population to rule over and thus more units and fresh bodies. However, in Medieval II: Total War, sacking a settlement grants more money to the player than exterminating the populace outright.
  • Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising adds a Karma Meter (Corruption) to each of the player's squads to measure how far they've fallen to Chaos. There's only one level on the good ("Pure") side, and several more on the corrupted one. The best gear almost always adds to the squad's Corruption, the evil optional objectives tend to make the missions easier, and you get more (and better) perks by going full-on evil. On the flip side, removing Corruption requires you to either field squads with incredibly poor equipment or finish counter-intuitive bonus objectives, thus making playing the game full-on good almost meaningless. And then the squad with the most Corruption betrays you, costing you all that hard-earned gear and perks. Oh, and you also get the bad ending, which they were merciful enough to make the canon one.
  • Warlords Battlecry III has a questline in which the dwarves and orcs go to war over an orcish artefact, the Horn of Kor, and doing one mission for either side will generally make you an enemy of the other side and lock you out of their side of the quest. The dwarves will only pay you crowns, a fairly common currency, for your services, while the orc branch nets you a suit of royal runemail, one of the best armors in the game that can otherwise only be obtained by a high-level hero with the rune magic skill.
  • In the Web Game The West, jobs like grave-robbing, house-robbing, coach-robbing and train-robbing pay poorly but have a huge chance of turning up some very good items that would cost you a fortune to buy - not to mention they're worth a lot too. The only offset is that you're more likely to get injured, but that isn't much of an offset since you can regain your health rapidly anyway.
    • Also, some of the The West quests split into being 'good' and being 'bad' (or lawful and unlawful). The 'bad' choice has a tendency to provide better rewards.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, Dennis offers the protagonist a voice acting gig. He intends to use the audio clips to catfish women.

    Web Comics 
  • Evil Plan. Alice pushes aside her concerns about siding with the obviously evil Dr. Kinesis because he offers her a 300k salary per year. It isn't until she finds out that she won't be paid that she tries to quit.
  • In Super Stupor, Eye-Sore used to be a superhero before he got HIV from a blood transfusion. It turns out henchmen have better health insurance.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Dr. Sciuridae knew his bosses' ideas were completely nuts, was fully aware of the dubious morality of his job, and hated the company, but...

    Web Original 
  • In Worm, Taylor makes several million dollars in the process of being a supervillain, though it is never about the money with her.
    • She acknowledges this trope when speaking with some young heroes but points out that villains don't always keep the money they make seeing as both heroes and other villains will come after the spoils and the latter won't be pulling their punches the way they would if they were fighting a hero.
  • Catalyst: Double-subverted. Professionally murdering people for Karma gives far less than making the world a better place... unless the murder is mass-genocide, in which case they can rack up tons of Karma and get 'good' Karma for altering the fate of the world. In short, Evil is Petty pays peanuts, but crossing the Moral Event Horizon satisfies the Jerkass Gods.
  • Sailor Moon Abridged has Serena asking a Monster with water powers if she wants to replace Mercury (as part of the recurring What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? regarding the character), only to essentially be met with this response.

    Western Animation