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Expose the Villain, Get His Job

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It's a tricky business discovering one of your underlings is a traitor, especially a high-ranking one. Apart from the feelings of betrayal, you've now lost a (probably quite efficient) member of your workforce and the rest of your underlings are reeling from the revelation, given how much esteem and trust they needed to have for the holder of that position. Not to mention that group of heroes you had to take him down is going to want payment and you need to reward that one Mauve Shirt who helped smoke him out as well...

This is when, after taking down a villain, their job is reallocated to someone else as a reward for defeating them. If the villain was The Mole (in which case they might just have left the organisation in question) then the Big Good or another benevolent figure will promote or hire either The Hero or one of his allies. A popular variation is for a low-ranking member of the authority figure's organisation (typically someone who reported directly to the villain and got suspicious) who decided to help the heroes to be promoted to the villain's former position. If the villain was a corrupt ruler then his former subjects might make the hero their new leader.

If the heroes are part of a rebellion then they might invoke this trope after taking over (particularly with members of the old regime who either defected or are simply Lawful Neutral enough to be trusted). If The Drifter is made sheriff or similar he may use this trope on whoever showed enough backbone before moving on.

If the hero who slays the villain is forced to replace them in their duty by the very nature of the universe (whether the villain was doing said duty properly or not) it's You Kill It, You Bought It. If a member of the villain's group begins to work for the heroes after they defeat the villain then it's I Fight for the Strongest Side!. If it was the act of slaying the villain that earned you his position then it's Klingon Promotion. If someone on the heroes' side replaces the villain more literally then it's a Face–Heel Turn.


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    Comic Books 
  • This is how Doctor Strange became the Ancient One's apprentice: by warning him that his current apprentice, Baron Mordo, was planning to kill him. (This is a slight variation in that The Ancient One knew Mordo was going to betray him; he only acted like he was unaware as part of a Secret Test of Character for Strange.)
  • In some versions of his origin, Hal Jordan started on the path to becoming the most respected among his fellow Green Lantern Corps members by exposing the villainous abuses of power perpetrated by the previous #1 GL, Sinestro.
  • This is essentially how Steve Rogers replaced Norman Osborn as "America's Top Cop" at the end of Dark Reign, though it was less Steve's doing and more Norman himself who exposed said villainy thanks to the latter's Villainous Breakdown.
  • Daredevil pulled something much like this on the Kingpin of Crime, exposing Fisk's latest attempt at reclaiming his role as the top mobster in New York in order to become a kind of "anti-crime" Kingpin. Much later, though, when Daredevil became a full-fledged villain after crossing some ethical lines and falling victim to Demonic Possession, Fisk managed to get his old role back and usurped Murdock's rule over the Hand, in a rare example of a villain doing this to another villain.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In the straight-to-video sequel Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, the Sultan offers Aladdin the job of Grand Vizier, which Jafar held. In a variation, he defeated Jafar in the previous film and the Sultan makes the offer at the beginning, with Aladdin deciding to turn him down at the end (and settle for "merely" being a prince) because he feels that he's an adventurer at heart who couldn't bear staying in the palace all day signing papers.
  • Disney's Mulan. In the end, Mulan is offered the job of the Emperor's incompetent aide. The aide wasn't the villain, but he was a Jerkass Hate Sink the whole movie.
  • At the end of Monsters, Inc., Sulley actually ends up becoming the new CEO of the titular power plant after exposing Waternoose's evil plans to kidnap and torture children for maximum scream harvest. Sulley then proceeds to convert said power plant from one relying on children's screams to one relying on children's laughter (which is considerably more powerful—Mike, for example, was able to fill his laugh-quota on his first kid for the day).
  • Recess: School's Out: Back in the '60s, Principal Prickly was good friends with the principal of Third Street School at the time, Phillium Benedict. When Benedict told Prickly about his plan to get rid of recess to bump up test scores, Prickly called in the Superintendent to sort out the problem. The superintendent fired Benedict and gave Prickly the job; this totally wasn't what Prickly had wanted to happen, but Benedict accused Prickly of betraying him in order to steal his job and never forgave him for it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Peter Parker does this to Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3 when he exposes Brock's fraud with that "Spider-Man with his hand in a cookie jar" photo. Though in this case, it was already a competition between the two that Brock won by cheating. Since he was disqualified, Peter got the job by default, the same way he would have if anyone else had done the exposing.
  • At the end of Unstoppable, Connie Hooper, the yardmaster and most important character after the two leads, gets Corrupt Corporate Executive Oscar Galvin's old job (Vice-president).
  • In Working Girl Tess exposes Katherine for the backstabbing incompetent that she is, and gets her job (and her boyfriend) as a result.
  • This fueled the entire plot of the first TRON. Dillinger stole a half-dozen completed video games from Flynn and parlayed those into a job as Encom's vice president. One wild trip into cyberspace later, Flynn's got his proof, Dillinger's ruined, and there's a vacancy in the boardroom...
  • In Mr. Destiny, James Belushi's character Larry is placed in an Alternate Universe by a Guardian Angel (played by Michael Caine), which shows what his life would've been like if he'd succeeded in a high school baseball game. He ends up the president of the company where he works (in his own reality) in middle management. After this new reality turns into a disaster for him, he ends up back in his reality with no time having passed. However, he also has knowledge that the company's VP is planning to secretly buy up all the shares for cheap using a faked merger as a front. Larry bursts into the boardroom just in time to expose the Corrupt Corporate Executive and then runs home to see his real wife. At his surprise birthday party, the company's president visits him and lets him know that the culprits confessed to everything and were fired. As a bonus, Larry is offered the position of VP and a company car (a Mercedes).

  • Older Than Feudalism: In the biblical story of Esther, after Haman has been put to death for trying to kill Esther's cousin, Mordecai, their entire family, and their entire race Mordecai is given Haman's old job as royal advisor to the king.
  • At the end of the X-Wing Series novel Mercy Kill, Face Loran replaces the corrupt head of Galactic Alliance intelligence, who he implicated in the conspiracy he had been investigating throughout the book. Admittedly a case where the means of taking down the villain (and recognizing his threat in the first place) amply proved his ability in his new job.
  • Stretching the definition of "villain" a little, but this certainly applies in the second trilogy of The Saga of Darren Shan series, when Darren exposes the treasonous plans of Vampire Prince-to-be Kurda Smahlt, and is made a Vampire Prince in Kurda's place. It is also interesting that Darren had been sentenced to death, and Kurda takes his place in that fate as well.
  • The First Casualty by Ben Elton. A detective sentenced to prison for refusing to enlist during World War I is let out of prison to investigate the murder of an anti-war activist. Turns out the secret service officer assigned as his minder was responsible for the murder, so the detective ends up getting his job, having decided that his efforts to be a conscientious objector were futile.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In CSI Conrad Ecklie (who'd more or less stopped being a Jerkass by that point) is promoted to Undersheriff after the previous holder of the position turned out to be The Mole and killed Warrick Brown.
  • The Pretender episode "Curious Jarod" begins with Jarod exposing a scam being run by a casino's head of security, and being hired as the new head of security.
  • At the end of season 2 of Burn Notice Michael is offered Carla's old position, on the grounds that he exposed her as a rogue agent, and had her killed. Inevitably, he turns it down. Not a Klingon Promotion, because it's heavily implied that she would've been killed anyway if she had been found out.
  • In the fourth season finale of Angel, Angel Investigations get to start running the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram and Hart. It's an inversion since they accept an offer to take over their Big Bad's operations so that they can later expose the members of the Circle of the Black Thorn, the cabal affiliated with W and H. The general public always regarded the firm as somewhere between a Villain with Good Publicity and a bunch of Amoral Attorney types.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Birthright has a classical character made this way, Rahil "the Falcon". A minor noble learning magic wandered into the oldest human city on the continent soon after the local Court Mage's death and noticed that both of the old guy's apprentices were too busy trying to control the court with spells. So he exposed their little games to the prince-paladin, and guess who was the next Court Mage there?

  • In How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Finch is made Vice President of Advertising after exposing his predecessor as an alumnus of the boss's former rival school.
  • The Broken Jug (Der zerbrochne Krug) by Heinrich von Kleist has judge Adam trying to cover up his own crimes. His secretary Licht helps discover the truth in order to get the position of judge himself.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where Naked Snake defeats the apparent traitor The Boss and inherits her title, becoming Big Boss, but she wasn't a traitor; she'd pretended to be (and let Snake kill her) in order to act as a scapegoat. We all know where this leads Big Boss to in Metal Gear.
  • Late in Dragon Age: Origins' plot, you fight and kill the traitorous Arl Howe. At the start of the Expansion Pack Awakening, the new ruler of Ferelden gives you rulership of the lands formerly held by said traitor. Howe himself tried to pull the same trick, although that involved accusing Teyrn Cousland of treason, which would allow Howe to come in and take his lands. If you play as a Cousland, then you, effectively, get your own lands back.
  • In Dragon Age II, if you do Aveline's side quests you eventually reveal the Guard Captain as being on the payroll of the Coterie in order to settle his debts. Aveline is given his job as a reward for her diligence in looking after the City Guards and as a means to restore trust in their devotion to upholding the Law.
  • The Hero in Fable is offered the post of Mayor of Bowerstone if they depose the current Mayor, Lady Grey, by finding evidence that she murdered her sister. His appointment is fairly informal:
    City Guard: We'll have to find a new Mayor, too... I don't suppose you'd be interested in the job?
  • In Baldur's Gate 2 you can end up running a cell of the Shadow Thieves in this manner if you're a thief. Though the Shadow Thieves themselves are pretty villainous, the issue with the guy you expose and bring down is that he was working with a rival Thieves' Guild.
  • Invoked in Final Fantasy Tactics. Delita rushes into a meeting by Duke Goltanna and exposes a traitor in the Duke's inner circle. As reward, the Duke appoints Delita as leader of the Blackram Knights and later leader of the entire Order of the Southern Sky. Of course, everything is going All According to Plan.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the main villain in the Thieves Guild questline eventually turns out to be Mercer Frey, the Guildmaster. After you expose and kill him, you will eventually end up rewarded with the title of Guildmaster yourself.
  • In Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle, Tanama, despite being a child, gets appointed the new shaman of Turtle Island for helping oust the corrupt incumbent.
  • A Good Ending in Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom - Colonel Blair, having exposed Admiral Tolwyn's treachery, if he consistently sided with the more ruthless Hawk over the more compassionate Panther during the game, is given Tolwyn's job of suppressing insurrections along the frontier.
  • While Commander Shepard from Mass Effect was being scouted as a Spectre before the game started, they are officially offered a post as a Spectre after finding evidence that exposes another Spectre, Saren Arterius, as a liar and a traitor. This is because the way to deal with a rogue Spectre is to send another after them, so Shepard is given the position simply due to both being qualified and having already started their investigation into Saren anyway.

    Web Comics 
  • Early on in Girl Genius, In a fit of rage Dr Merlot exposes Dr Beetle's plans to Baron Wulfenbach. It backfires a few pages later when the Baron "rewards" him with Dr Beetle's whole estate and duties. And makes it clear that any mistake on Merlot's part will get him sent to Castle Heterodyne. Merlot is later found in the castle; his flashback explains he made a colossal, murderous mistake.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Rupert, he ends up helping an elf who's behind on his...dust sprinkling. It turns out that his Bad Boss had gone crazy and started keeping the gold the elves mined to make said dust, leading to said boss being fired and said elf being promoted.
  • A variation: In The Simpsons episode "Homer's Odyssey", Homer begins protesting against the Nuclear Power Plant's safety policy, and successfully works up a giant protest group. Mr. Burns calls him over to his office, and because most of Springfield thinks the Power Plant is irresponsible with safety, makes him a safety inspector.
  • Another variation: In the Tales of the Jedi episode "Choices", Mace Windu files a report about Count Dooku's investigation on Raxus, gaining the Jedi Council seat formerly held by Katri, who was murdered on the future capital of the Separatist Alliance. Of course, Dooku hadn't turned to the Dark Side...yet, but it does show his faith in the Jedi has taken a major hit, since he wanted the seat to help reform the Order.


Video Example(s):


Prickly Becomes Principal

After hearing of Philliums' plans to completely get rid of Recess from Third Street School in order to bring up Test Scores, Vice-Principal Prickly goes to the Superintendent to correct the issue; only to unexpectedly get Philliums' job.

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