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Monster Protection Racket

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"The robot will emerge dramatically, do some damage, throngs of screaming people, and just when all hope is lost, Syndrome will save the day!"
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is not my doing! These robots are Dr. Light's creations. This proves he's had evil designs on the world all this time! I, Dr. Wily, have created my own robots to stop Dr. Light. But only your donations can help me complete them."
Humanitarian Dr. Wily, Mega Man 9

A type of con where the giant monster attacking local villages ultimately turns out to be the property (or at least in the employ) of the very same hunters who conveniently showed up to exterminate it (for a nominal reward).

Before the culprit's racket is revealed, it seems like there's going to be an Always Someone Better plot. If the scammer is the protagonist, he will soon have to face the real thing and become a true hero. Either way, it's a common karmic punishment for this character to encounter the real thing, sometimes thinking it's his own hoax used against him. The real thing is usually none too impressed with the imposter, and doesn't hesitate to show him what it's really capable of.

In Super Hero stories, leaving aside conventional crimes, nothing will disgust the members of a superhero team/community more than catching one of their own pulling this scam. Someone would likely say "You mean you endangered innocent people for a self-aggrandizing publicity stunt?!" just before they dropkick the offender out of their organization.

Subtrope of Engineered Heroics. The monster is often a Punch-Clock Villain putting on a Monster Façade — in this case the monster and the "hero" Fake a Fight. For legitimate heroes doing a legitimate paid job, see Punch-Clock Hero. Compare Milking the Monster, where the monster is truly monstrous, but somebody somehow makes a profit from its presence anyway.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Claymore, villages that don't pay out after Claymores kill their yoma infestations are coincidentally overrun by yoma shortly thereafter. Yes, the Organization did create the yoma in the first place, and the payouts are just a side benefit to their real goal of creating and testing living weapons. The Claymores are ignorant of this, but some start wising up later on in the manga.
  • An example without monsters: in an episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, the martial arts club has three of their members pretend to be thugs and the other defeat them to impress girls. It works rather well... until the girls all meet and compare notes.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The debut of Tien and Chiaotzu in the Dragon Ball anime has them freeing some villages from a boar monster that they own, until Goku finds out and stops them.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, this is more or less Frost's racket on an interplanetary scale. He gets hailed as a hero and liberator for "solving" conflicts that he himself engineered.
  • Go, Go, Loser Ranger! is centered on this trope. Long before the start of the story, a sentai team succesfully wiped out all of the high-ranking members of a villainous organization, leaving a few shapeshifting Mooks. In exchange for allowing the mooks to live, the sentai team forces them to keep up the facade by transforming into a new "villain" to fight each week.
  • Early on in Inuyasha, Miroku and Hachiemon the tanuki do this, with Hachiemon using his Shapeshifting abilities to become the "monster". Though Miroku is also not above robbing a client blind while fighting a real monster.
  • Overlord (2012):
    • A subversion when Ainz sends an undead troll (that he'd killed himself) against a village that had already pledged itself to him, as a test of their abilities more than any monetary gain.
    • Demiurge organizes a massive False Flag Operation where he poses as a demon lord named Jaldabaoth (basically Demiurge with a mask)and attacks the capital city, allowing Ainz (in his warrior guise Momon) to save the day. This has the unintended consequence of strengthening the Royal Faction, as seeing the king personally ride out to save his people greatly boosted his popularity.
    • Later on, Demiurge engineers a massive attack on another country so Ainz can defeat his "true" form (actually one of Demiurge's summoned demons, who looks much more impressive than his master) as the Sorcerer King... and so Ainz can plug his runic weapons in the cringiest sales pitch ever. This has relatively less success: when Ainz appears to fall in battle against Jaldabaoth, everyone's reaction is basically He's Just Hiding rather than horror at having lost their only hope.
  • In Saiyuki Reload, the Sanzo-ikkou is invited to stay in the village during a youkai attack, and the youkai seems to avoid the village. It turns out that the village chief had made a deal with the youkai to stay away from the village by sacrificing outsiders to them.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Maverick hires criminals for the heroes to catch.
  • In "Monsters" of Wanted! (1998), the villains uses a magical horn to summon a giant dragon to raze the cities so that they can pillage them. Ryuuma manages to slay the dragon with one slash.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • 52: The fame-obsessed Booster Gold pulls a version of this, hiring an actor to play a supervillain so he can save the day (and upstage a popular new hero who's getting all "his" good press, Supernova). He gets busted for it, naturally. This is actually a subversion as it was part of a Batman Gambit to get the villain to underestimate him. And Supernova is actually Booster Gold himself. He gained a rep for this from his time with the JLI and Conglomorate (see below)
  • Astro City: Appears twice in the story arc "The Tarnished Angel":
    • In the past, El Hombre stages a battle with a giant robot that he could defeat and restore his heroic reputation. Unfortunately, his plan failed, and he becomes a shameful fugitive when the ruse was discovered.
    • The mastermind behind the Kiefer Square murders intends to send dozens of supervillains loose on the city in a crime spree, then capture them all to win instant celebrity as a dashing new superhero.
  • The Avengers: Hank Pym did this with a robot (first) in The Trial of Yellowjacket storyline when he was on his downhill slide; naturally, the situation got out of hand when he was knocked hors de combat. No-one remembers this because he also hit his wife.
  • Batman: A Golden Age story had an ex-gangster using his underworld contacts to track down wanted criminals so he could capture them and turn them in for the reward. When he ran out of wanted criminals, he started busting crooks out of prison so he could capture them and turn them in.
  • Bone: Phoney Bone starts stirring up rumors about dragons in the region, and gets an entire town to give him their gold and treasure as "bait" so that he can "trap" a dragon. His actual plan is to get as much gold as he can, then skip town when people get too suspicious. It blows up in his face when the Great Red Dragon intentionally jumps into the trap and refuses to escape.
  • Fantastic Four: In Dan Slott's run, the newly-reunited FF return to New York to find a slickly media-managed team called the Fantastix battling the Wrecking Crew. After observing the fight for a moment, Valeria wrecks their good press by announcing that whatever the Fantastix are paying the Crew, the FF will double it if they stop. The Fantastix are genuinely shocked that this works; their manager hadn't told them it was a set-up. (Note that the Wrecking Crew doesn't get a happy ending; Reed Richards points out Val is too young to make a binding verbal contract and refuses to pay them.)
  • The Flash: Eobard Thawne's most recent backstory includes this. A lonely scientist living in the 25th Century, Thawne idolizes the Flash, and eventually gives himself super-speed so as to imitate his hero and become noticed. But since the 25th Century is so safe, Thawne can't find any opportunities to do heroic deeds, so he resorts to causing accidents so that he can come to the rescue and look like a hero.
  • Justice League of America: Max Lord, when he was running Justice League International, and his ex-wife Clare Montgomary of the Conglomorate. Both have a habit of faking or hiring villains to make "their guys" look good (and in Claire's case because her corporate sponsors don't want the team fighting real villains without their control). In a variation, the teams themselves don't (usually) realize this, and think they're genuinely fighting the villains.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: This is a somewhat recurring tactic of Paperinik's villains, with them inventing a fake superhero that, by foiling them, would be able to replace Paperinik before they can perform their main heist. The two most notable instances were the one time the Beagle Boys pulled it off (it ended with their hero successfully replacing Paperinik for a job at escorting Scrooge's money... And Paperinik waiting for him to drop his weapons before locking them in the armoured truck) and Pap-Man, who arrested hundreds of criminals before, upon succeeding, breaking them out and sacked the whole city (Paperinik knocked him out as soon as he dropped his weapons to take on a disguise, and arrested everyone. He also gave some of the loot to charity).
    • Angus Fangus often accuses Paperinik of this, but in at least one case he didn't actually believe it. Giving Angus false evidence of Paperinik committing terrorist acts to justify his superhero role is how the time-travelling criminals of the Organization temporarily defeated him.
  • In the first volume of DC Comics's Scooby-Doo, this happens in two stories:
    • The gang exposes the first racket when Scooby-Doo smells snacks in the fake monster's pouch.
    • The gang scares the person behind the second racket by disguising themselves as ghosts and allowing the racket's victim to beat them off.
  • Sentinel: The short-lived miniseries had its protagonist, who had become The Kid with the Remote Control to one of the titular Humongous Mecha, successfully pulling this on his high school (after teasing a more traditional Roaring Rampage of Revenge). Despite his newfound popularity and a distinct lack of casualties, he still has a My God, What Have I Done? moment afterwards.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Garfield Garfield is known to cut such a deal with the mice where he will pretend to chase them when Jon's around but make no effort to actually catch him. This way Jon thinks Garfield is trying and gets off the flabby cat's back, while the mice have a safe place to live.
  • In SnarfQuest, Willie the dragon (who thinks he's a duck) is suckered into playing the role of the monster in one of these.

    Fan Works 
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Acts V and VI: Discussed; the HDA believe that Tsukune and co. deliberately awakened Alucard and set him loose just so they could kill him and make themselves look like heroes. They didn't; Hokuto set him loose to destroy the world, and Tsukune's group legitimately saved everyone.
  • Witness (Good Neighbors): The crux of the plot. Minami hires gangs to rough up innocent people and then forces them to buy his security on pain of total destruction.
  • Hunters of Justice: Lex Luthor is selling Grimm to villains and terrorists across the world, then selling experimental anti-Grimm weapons to the people fighting against them. Undermining the Justice League is a bonus.
  • Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises has Big Bad Forrester use the Phoenix Miraculous to summon monsters and scare the public into buying his security systems.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Gendo allows the Emerald Tablet program to run inside an Evangelion unit with most of significant safety-protocols deliberately turned off, so it can play around with the Eva's generic material and create new, artificial Angels with it, which will then resume the attack patterns of the original Angels, so he can convince the UN that there is still a need to keep NERV around and allow them to have a monopoly on storing and using Evangelions. The goal is not to profiteer from it though, but rather to keep SEELE at a a distance from NERV's throat so he can buy himself more time to set up his version of the Human Instrumentality Project. But as the Emerald Tablet gains increasing self-awareness and starts creating disturbing powerful and destructive Angels, both him and Ritsuko eventually realizes that the Tablet is spinning out of their control and is becoming dangerously close to pose a much greater threat than SEELE ever did.
  • Two Letters: After Marinette Dupain-Cheng stops being Ladybug and a Guardian of the Miraculous under mysterious circumstances, the incredibly greedy Ladybug that appears soon afterwards exploits the fame she garners from defeating akuma to get merchandising deals, huge statues, and bribes. If somebody declines to pay her thinking that she'll be obligated to save them anyways, she uses the Cult of Personality that formed around her to destroy whoever defied her. One of the significant attacks mentioned early in the story happened during the funeral of Gabriel Agreste, so the mystery of who is the new Hawk Moth also dangles overhead for a while… and the final chapter reveals that this racket was orchestrated by Marinette herself, who handed the Ladybug Miraculous to Lila, who immediately started to exploit it to get rich. As for Marinette, she did all of this to get revenge on everybody who made her life hell.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Incredibles: Syndrome sics the Omnidroid, a giant robot he built as the ultimate opponent for other heroes, on a city so he can pretend to stop it (for publicity rather than pay), but his own creation outsmarts him.
  • Shark Tale: In order to disappear from the radar and to help Oscar keep his questionable reputation and scare The Mafia off, Lenny the shark cooks up a plan which consists in him attacking the reef until Oscar shows up to bravely fight him and finish the "battle" with him throwing Lenny down a great cliff, seemingly killing him. (The plot is a variation of Jack the Giant Killer.)
  • In The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf it's revealed the Witcher School of the Wolf has been secretly creating and releasing monsters to ravage the countryside to keep their monster-hunting considered vital out of fear people will turn against them otherwise. At the end the School of the Wolf is largely destroyed by the vengeful sorceress daughter of a woman a Witcher framed for being a witch and murdered for the reward, and a group of the creatures they created.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Beast of Gévaudan in Brotherhood of the Wolf. The members of the brotherhood (who control the Beast) are all local aristocrats. The gypsies that were hired to "hunt down" the Beast work for them and like attending gruesome pit fights involving the Beast.
  • This is the profession that The Brothers Grimm are in before they encounter real supernatural entities.
  • Sir Bowen, the main human character in Dragonheart pulls this on a few towns with the help of Draco, the dragon he befriended. Draco flies over, sets fire to a few thatched-roof cottages, and scares some livestock. Bowen shows up with a gigantic ballista and downs Draco in a bolt, where he splashes down in a lake (in fact having caught the bolt safely under one arm, and escaping under the cover of water). Bowen actually was the real thing before the racket: The only reason he and Draco started the scam was because Draco is the last living dragon in the world (until the sequels), and by working together in this way Bowen gets to keep his job and Draco gets to live. He also used the first con as a bit of revenge against an Ungrateful Bastard nobleman who stiffed him on his promised pay after he slew the only other remaining dragon. The scam eventually backfires (hilariously) when Draco lands in a lake that's too shallow for him to submerge in. The starving villagers rush Draco while chanting "meat!", but after Draco flies away (betraying the ruse) the villagers turn on our heroes and start chanting "meat".
  • In Peter Jackson's The Frighteners, Michael J. Fox's character makes a living by having his ghost friends "haunt" houses before arriving to "exorcise" them.
  • The Ghostbusters had to face accusations of this in the movies, especially by Walter Peck in the original film.
  • This pops up a couple times in Godzilla. In Godzilla Final Wars, the Xilien aliens engineer a series of kaiju attacks, only to foil them later and present themselves as heroes. It's all a front for a stealth invasion, one that goes wrong during the second act of the film.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe uses this one a couple of times:
    • In the film Thor, this is an aspect of Loki's scheme. He sets up a Frost Giant assassination attempt against Odin, foiling it himself in order to have an excuse to destroy Jotunheim and win his father's approval.
    • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, the world-destroying, monstrous Elementals turn out to be extremely sophisticated holograms with drone fleets inside. New "hero" Mysterio is behind their controls, and intends to "defeat" them in order to set himself up as an Avenger, with all the fame and opportunity that implies. While Spider-Man foils his plot, he turns it around posthumously by pinning the racket on Spidey.
  • An unintentional example in SHAZAM! (2019): Billy is screwing around with his powers to entertain pedestrians for cash like a street busker, and gets into an argument with Freddy over it. An errant lightning bolt strikes a bridge, sending a bus careening over the side. Billy snaps into action to save the bus, and is hailed as a hero with no one except Freddy (who gives him a massive What the Hell, Hero? over it) the wiser.
  • The Star Wars prequels, and therefore the backdrop to all Prequel-era Expanded Universe works as well. Then-Chancellor Palpatine secretly funds and directs the Confederacy of Independent Systems and has them wage war against the Galactic Republic only to justify turning the Republic into the Galactic Empire and so he can frame the Jedi. A rare case where the plan goes off without a hitch, with the Confederacy being disposed of only after Palpatine becomes Emperor.

  • Double subverted in The Cyberiad. The probability dragon was real, and Trurl did kill it, as per contract. However, after the locals shooed him away without pay, he re-animated the dragon's hide with mechanisms and extorted said pay (plus a little compensation; the hide was freaking heavy) as a ransom.
  • Discworld:
    • This is a regular con that The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents pull: rats show up and mess with things in incredibly visible ways. Town hires a piper, who is usually some kid and his pet cat (legitimate pipers are hideously expensive and prissy). Kid leads out all the rats in showy fashion. Kid gets paid. Kid leaves town and meets up with rats to count up and split the profits. (The meeting up with the real thing is also played straight, in fact, it is the main plot of the book.)
    • It was revealed that the real pipers pull a version of this: they started the stories about horrible retributions for not paying them. It also points out the plot hole in the original: rats can swim, and will work their way back to provide future employment.
    • Earlier in the series, the human villain of Guards! Guards! had tried to use a one-shot version of this scheme to get a (figurehead) king installed as the ruler of Ankh-Morpork. It backfired, because the dragon he summoned as part of the plan turned out to have ambitions of its own....
    • At another point in the Discworld series, there's an anecdote about people attempting the "pest" version of this when Ankh-Morpork was in the throes of a rat infestation and people were being paid per rat. People were lining up to turn in dead rats, but the infestation didn't seem to be going down at all. Lord Vetinari was asked what should be done, and replied simply "Tax the rat farms."
  • In Dragonvarld, Draconas gets close to King Edward by presenting himself as an expert dragon-hunter after arranging for his ally, the dragon Braun, to stage attacks (actually non-fatal, though rumour naturally talks them up).
  • Subverted in The Dresden Files: Mob boss Johnny Marcone does run a monster protection racket, except the monsters are very real and not in his employ, he does provide genuine protection, and the people who pay him for protection generally recognize that he is one of the few people with both the muscle and the know-how to do anything and are happy to pay for the privilege of him intervening on their behalf. Chicago PD's Special Investigations unit, which is the alternative, is an underfunded and understaffed place where careers go to die, and they are more than happy to let Marcone's boys give back a little to the community.
  • The short story "The George Business" by Roger Zelazny (possibly an influence on Dragonheart per The Other Wiki) ends with the dragon and George deciding to go into this business together.
  • In the second Monster Hunter International novel, the villain was a former member of MHI who was revealed to be turning people into zombies in order to collect the bounties for killing them whenever business got slow by his team leader. However, he managed to keep his team leader quiet about it by threatening to incriminate him into it as well, and it turns out the zombies were just an excuse for him to practice his dark arts. Not long afterwards, he used those powers to switch bodies with someone else and force that man to commit suicide in order to commit Faking the Dead to make sure the leader's conscience wouldn't fail him at the worst moment.
  • The well-known Japanese story Naita Akaoni—which roughly translates to "Crying Red Oni" or "Tears of the Red Oni" and is referenced in, among other things, Tokyo Godfathers and Sgt. Frog—features a Blue Oni that comes up with this scheme and acts as the monster in it, so his friend the Red Oni can befriend humans. In the Bittersweet Ending, Blue Oni has to leave forever to keep up the ruse.
  • One theory behind The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Continues to show up in most parodies and deconstructions.
  • In the first of The Saga of the Noble Dead series, the protagonists fake vampire attacks for a living and pretend to slay them. Then they encounter real vampires.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Kenobi, the Sand People are a legitimate threat to the settlers, and the Settlers' Call posse is an honest, if brutal, response. Until the Tuskens stop attacking so much, and Orrin — embezzling from the Call Fund to cover his debts — disguises himself and his kids as Sand People to (non-fatally) attack non-subscribers to keep his cash flow going.
  • In Updraft, Kirit is told that she the ability to repel skymouths (invisible flying tentacled maws). This power is real, but the people recruiting her don't want her to repel skymouths so much as help herd them; the Singers breed skymouths and control their supposedly random migrations, while taking credit for protecting the city.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Slim Goodbody: A variation: one of the many Get-Rich-Quick Scheme attempts that Mary Pickfood and Finicky tried was burning some fake-food leftovers of a previous scheme to create a city-sized cloud of green smoke, then selling the gauze wrappers of that fake food as smoke-blocking masks. They make a literal pile of money doing this.
  • Non-monster example: Big Wolf on Campus featured a Fake Ultimate Hero, Stormfront, who pulled this sort of scam by secretly engineering disasters, then showing up to stop them. For instance, pushing a baby carriage into traffic with a gust of wind, then rushing in and saving the baby.
  • The Boys: It's bad enough that in this world superheroes are debased and corrupt corporate sellouts, but then it turns out that their leader had been secretly creating supervillains all around the globe to coerce the governments into running to his team for protection.
  • Good Omens (2019): In a deleted scene, Crowley starts one of these as part of his scheme to shut down London's cell phone network. He gains access to BT Communication Tower's computer terminals by persuading a swarm of rats to infest the upper floors, then shows up as an exterminator. Rather than killing the rats, he thanks them for a job well done and sends them all home.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Hyacinth tries this on a golf course, with brother in law Onslow as the monster, ice cream executives as the audience, and her husband, Richard, as the ace. It doesn't work, because sex happens in the wrong place between Onslow and Daisy, and when the real threat shows up, Hyacinth herself performs much better as the ace. Hyacinth gets the job offer that she wanted Richard to have.
  • Parodied on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, where a dog is shown to have a hero complex and creates situations to save people from. After being reprimanded by Conan, the dog looks shameful, but oh so cute...
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Crime and Punishment", the neighbourhood watch in a remote village faces having its funding cut as crime has dropped 70%. The organizer of the watch bullies one of her subordinates into staging a series of burglaries so the watch can justify its continued existence.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Lucius Lavin does it in his second appearance, hiring former Genii soldiers to "attack" the town he is protecting. It goes From Bad to Worse when he starts to haggle after they have fulfilled their part of the contract...
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Most Toys": Fajo uses this in a plot to fake Data's death in order to capture him.
  • Super Adventure Team: After the heroes get fired, they try to get their jobs back by building a giant robot and defeating it. Unfortunately, Benton forgot to put in the Morality Chip, so they have to genuinely stop it before it destroys Manhattan.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A Dragon Magazine "Dragon Project" article (unusual dragons for games other than D&D; in this case GURPS) describes Dexter and Cornelius, a conman who works with a naive dragon. Cornelius "threatens" a village, and Dexter arrives to "save" it.
  • Sin-eaters are known to do this in White Wolf's Geist: The Sin-Eaters, where they use their status as a Necromancer to cause ghosts to haunt people, and then charge them money to get rid of the hauntings — or simply take possession of the "haunted" item itself. This sort of behavior is especially associated with the Bonepicker archetype, arguably qualifying as a sub-archetype in its own right.
  • An issue of Pyramid magazine detailed the (selfish and unethical) GURPS Monster Hunters group Venatio, who really did hunt monsters — for a price. One of the ways they created demand for their "services" and "insurance" was basically tagging a monster and releasing it in a crowded area. They also ran a protection racket on the monsters, taking bribes from them in exchange for ignoring them.
  • The Ravenloft supplement Van Richten's Arsenal mentions the existence of charlatan "monster hunters" who prey on villagers' fears, faking signs of a werebeast or similar menace in the area, then showing up to "heroically" defend them. Often, their "proof" of victory consists of displaying the head of a dead (mundane) wolf or other predator they've killed as a scapegoat.

    Video Games 
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: When they started losing patrons to industrial pursuits, the Alchemy Guild warned that disaster would follow if people lost their spirituality. It didn't work, so they summoned an army of demons they could "save" the world from and make their point. They failed to acknowledge Evil Is Not a Toy, and the whole of England paid the price.
  • In City of Heroes, it's speculated that this may be why the architect of the Rikti War provoked the Rikti, but he underestimated them. Although with him, you never know.
  • The main character gets accused of this in Dragon Quest V — he goes out to slay a beast terrorizing a farming village, only to find it's his old animal companion driven feral after he was taken into slavery for ten years. The villagers assume this is being pulled on them because they don't know the backstory, and they strongly hint that you should move on. One townsperson (a sweet, grandmotherly old woman) does realize he didn't actually do it, but still suggests he should move on as convincing the others that he's innocent will be impossible.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it's rumoured the original Dawnguard may have pulled this and faked Vampire attacks on cities, then charged them for better protection; or pulled this con after becoming Vampires themselves. History is somewhat unclear on the details, but what is certain, there is a lot of treasure under Fort Dawnguard. The source of the rumors is the local priest of Arkay who seems a bit touched in the head, claiming that he can hear the voice of Arkay... who somehow always knows whenever someone needs to be rescued from Vampires.
  • The protagonists in Fear Is Vigilance decide to help their campaign to distribute free personal alarms by scaring the students into asking for them — by beating them up every night.
  • Final Fantasy X:
    • Seymour lets fiends into Luca Stadium and defeats them in order to impress Yuna.
    • In a roundabout way, this is how Sin works—while the Church of Yevon isn't deliberately rigging the cycle of its destruction and reincarnation, they have no problem with using it to maintain their power.
  • inFAMOUS: Second Son: The Department of Unified Protection is an armed Conduit militia charged with locking all the other Condiuts in prison with them. When their funding starts going down the drain, they intentionally loosen the restraints on three of the less-than-psychotic conduits during a prison transfer, letting them break out and escape to Seattle, and the resulting panic allows them to form a police state and gather resources by issuing a quarantine and declaring martial law on an entire city.
  • Jak II: Renegade features a variation. The Metal Heads are legitimately a hostile invading force interested in destroying Haven City... but given the choice, they'd rather just lay low until they can do so, or at least do some real damage—the Gaiden Game Daxter covers one such attempt, disguised as a bug infestation to avoid alerting anyone before it's too late. Baron Praxis bribes them to make periodic ineffectual attacks so he can justify his brutal, fascist rule as necessary in the face of this threat. note 
  • Mega Man ZX: Serpent and his Slither Inc. has been known for fending off Maverick actions and attacks, among other things. It turns out that Serpent himself, with the help of the Biometal Model W, is the one who created those Maverick attacks.
  • Might and Magic V features this in the game's very first quest, in a city full of giant man-eating bugs. An exterminator has spent years getting paid to "work on the problem," while actually having the bugs shipped in from elsewhere.
  • The Pigmask Army in Mother 3 unleash some Mix-and-Match Critters around Tazmily Village and use the ensuing chaos as a means to take control of the village by taking control and re-stabilizing things, and of course their Happy Boxes do quite a good job of preventing the mysterious lightning strikes that conveniently seem to target homes that refused them. To make matters worse, their leader Porky Minch has no real ultimate goal in mind. He doesn't want or need anything from the village; he's just doing it for the hell of it while he searches for the Golden Needles to destroy the world.
  • In Okage: Shadow King, the Chairman Evil King started a rumor that the heroes' guild was pulling this sort of scam with the ghosts. It's doubtful that they were, though.
  • In Episode 2 of Phantom Brave, Walnut falsely claims that Marona was running one of these, using her powers to summon evil phantoms to Windmill Promontory and then getting rid of them so she'd get paid for it. It's a lie, but given how hated and distrusted people with Marona's powers are, the person who hired her believes it without question and pays Walnut instead for the work she did. And this is after his plan to just defeat her and take the credit that way falls through. Jerkass doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon introduces us to Team Skull, a group of petty thugs and gangsters who are regarded as little more than a nuisance by the populace in spite of their crimes. Seems a little out of character for Pokemon villains, right? That's because the Aether Foundation, a non-profit conservation group operating in the area, always rush in to save the day! ... because it turns out, the president of Aether Foundation is paying off Team Skull to attack areas so that Aether can rush in and save the day, 'rehabilitating' abused Pokémon for research purposes and otherwise benefiting from being seen as being so good that butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: Turns out to be why Megacorp is giving away the vicious, maneating "Protopets". Captain Qwark planned to use them to refurbish his reputation after it got tarnished by the events of the previous game, and frame our heroes for creating the problem.
  • StarCraft:
    • Discussed in StarCraft's Terran campaign. Arcturus Mengsk believes based on captured Confederate intelligence that the Confederate government planned to use psi emitters and the psi disrupter to point the zerg at dissidents and rival governments, after which they would swoop in and "save the day". He argues for using the Confederates' own weapon against them, and does exactly that on Antiga Prime and Tarsonis.
    • StarCraft II: In the Nova Covert Ops expansion pack, the 'Defenders of Man' use psi emitters to lure feral zerg on Dominion worlds, then swoop in and purge the zerg on livestream after most of the population is dead. They're little different from Arcturus Mengsk because they were the aristocrats of his regime.
  • Star Trek Online: The entire Dominion turns out to be one of these in the Victory Is Life expansion. The Hur'q and Fek'Ihri are both revealed to be early attempts by the Female Changeling to create Super Soldiers so she could conquer herself an empire, but Escaped from the Lab. Her third, successful, attempt was the Jem'Hadar, whom she used to offer protection from the Hur'q to planets she wished to vassalize.
  • Suikoden V has Euram do this with bandits rather than monsters. As an added bonus, the bandit leader was a look alike for the protagonist, adding an extra dividend to the plot.

  • Duncan & Mallory tried to pull this off a couple times: (vegetarian) dragon J.P. Mallory would scare some villagers, they'd post a reward, then Duncan would "slay" the "beast" and collect the money. The first time a little girl that Mallory had helped out earlier spilled the beans, the second time they had to deal with a real dragon-slayer.
  • A variant in Darken, where the dragon menacing a village turns out to be an illusion created by a shopkeeper to boost sales of (bogus) anti-dragon Protective Charms.
  • Latchkey Kingdom has a "cobra effect" case: it's believed the reason there are so many scorpions in the desert, when they're easy to kill and there's a bounty on stingers is because of "scorpion cultists". They explain: "We aren't scorpion cultists. We're scorpion enterpreneurs. We breed scorpions so we can sell their stings for the town bounty". They refuse to see anything wrong with this, and even accuse other people killing scorpions for the bounty of being rustlers.

    Web Videos 
  • Tobuscus' "Safety Torch" video has Toby pulling this on an innocent child, waking him up in the middle of the night and offering to sell him torches to scare away the monsters that are coming to eat him... and then water to put out the fires caused by the torches. Close examination of the video reveals that one monster says, "Sup Toby," in a blink-or-you'll-miss-it speech bubble.
  • In Noob, Tenshirock makes a living in real life by hacking his town's businesses by night and working as a computer security expert by day.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10:
    • In the first Ben 10, there is an ex-plumber who made a scam by releasing imprisoned aliens from the Null Void and offers his services at a price.
    • In Ben 10: Alien Force, Mike Morningstar/Darkstar's first appearance has him bluffing his way onto the Plumber team by driving away zombies he made with his own energy-stealing power.
  • The Berenstain Bears cartoon had an episode where Con Artist Raffish Ralph befriends an extremely hungry termite named Terrible Termite and has him eat people's property so that they will buy termite insurance. Terrible Termite refuses to continue the scheme when he realizes that it is just a protection racket and forces Ralph to give the money back by threatening to eat his houseboat.
  • Danny Phantom during the Grand Finale had the Masters' Blasters, a trio of teenage ghost hunters who do a better job fighting ghosts than The Hero Danny does. This is all tied to Vlad's secret plot to ruin Danny's reputation, and the trio later charge in exchange for their services. Could count as somewhat of an inversion, since it was the monster (Vlad) hiring the heroes. Notably, the Blasters didn't seem to realize their boss's secret either.
  • Dudley Do-Right featured a mundane variation of this trope in one episode. In his latest scheme against the Mounties, Snidely Whiplash forms his own competing Mounties. They always got their man and made the regular Mounties look like a bunch of incompetents. However, all the captures made by the Snidely Mounties are staged since Snidely controls the local criminal element.
  • The end of the second season of Justice League starts with a convenient save by the Thanagarians as they shoot down a Gordanian scouter when it tried to invade the White House. The Thanagarians claim they can protect Earth from future invasions if Earth offers no resistance in their occupation. Batman, crazy paranoid as usual, realizes the Gordanian pilot was dead long before entering Earth's atmosphere.
  • Looney Tunes: In "The Unexpected Pest", Sylvester ropes a mouse into letting him chase him so Sylvester's owner won't kick him out. The mouse quickly tires of this shabby treatment and threatens his own life to try and blackmail Sylvester into giving him a fairer stake in the arrangement.
  • Pinky and the Brain: In the episode "Tokyo Grows", Brain's plan is to dress up Pinky as the monster "Gollyzilla", turn him into a giant with a Growth Ray, and send him on a rampage in Tokyo so that Brain can defeat him and be celebrated as a hero. Hilarity Ensues when the real Gollyzilla shows up.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) has this with a fake superhero called Major Man. It turns out he is setting up disasters, crimes, and even monster attacks so he can pretend to save the day and it will look as if the Girls aren't needed anymore. The girls beat him at his own game by calling a favor from a monster to attack him, forcing him to admit his crimes and that he couldn't handle a real emergency.
    • In a later episode, the Girls use a similar technique, hiring Mojo Jojo to rampage through the city so they can "stop" him for a reward of candy from the Mayor.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: Ren and Stimpy attempt this in "The Boy Who Cried Rat." When their customers insist the mouser (Stimpy) eat the "mouse" (Ren in a Paper-Thin Disguise), the results aren't pretty.
  • Bizarro in Superman: The Animated Series does this when given his own planet to watch over. Of course, the planet is entirely uninhabited save for him, and all the "city-zens" are just piles of rocks and sticks, so Bizarro will occasionally kick a boulder down a hill so he can stop it and save the day. In other words he's running a monster protection racket on himself.
  • The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo plays with this in the Pied Piper way. The gang try to infiltrate Befuddled Manor as exterminators. When Scrappy asks how do they know they have pests there, Flim Flam releases several rats into the building. This is made somewhat funnier when the Hall is populated with many monsters who themselves give an off screen scream when the rats are released.
  • X-Men: Evolution does this with the Brotherhood who, decide to try the hero thing out, after they accidentally save a group of civilians from a train crash and are rewarded with fame and fortune by the media. They then try to be heroes to get the rewards, but when they run out of people to save they get greedy and desperate for more, eventually starting disasters of their own so they can get the recognition for saving the day. This blows up spectacularly, of course, and they lose all their luxuries (including the ones they got for legitimate work).

    Real Life 
  • Covertly introducing termites, rodents, or other vermin to a building, then "conveniently" showing up to provide fumigation services, is an old scam used by thieves to gain access to homes or other properties.
  • In the past, a popular scam was to pretend you were a dhampyr and hunt "real" vampires for money, food, goods, and any and all favors that a vulnerable community could provide. The myth that only a dhampir can see an invisible vampire seems to be invented specifically for this sort of scam...
  • Some malware will pretend to be an anti-malware program and alert the user that the computer is infected with tons of viruses. Then they'll charge money to make the "viruses" go away while providing no actual protection to the computer. They can usually be detected by being massively more obnoxious than any legitimate defensive program.
  • The same tactic is used by auto-dial scammers. They call every number in the book and pretend to be "Microsoft Customer Support" and warn that their "remote system" has monitored a virus on your computer which they want to help you remove.note  If you accept their offer the website they direct you to will infect your computer with the very virus they then help you remove, for a fee, or in worse case scenarios will infect you with a ransomware. Alternatively, they simply run a fake program showing a non-existent virus being removed while asking for payment in the form of random gift cards. Anyone who knows even a little bit about computers will laugh at tech support scammers, but the scammers mainly prey on elderly people who did not grow up with computers. Tech support scams are in something of a golden age due to computers having reached mass usage but generations who only became casually (as opposed to professionally) familiar with them without growing up with them or being capable adults at the time of introduction are at a point where they essentially have to engage with the digital world without being informed. The scambaiting community partially rose up to defend vulnerable people from the glut of low to mid level scammers taking advantage of this window of opportunity.
  • In British India in the 1800s, an example quite similar to the Discworld "Tax the rat farms" above, people started breeding snakes in captivity to collect a lucrative bounty on snakes, including cobras. This actually increased the snake population as some snakes occasionally escaped confinement, and once the ruse was figured out and the bounties stopped being paid, many remaining snakes were released into the wild. The phenomenon of a policy that is intended to reward people for solving a problem, but actually rewards them for creating it, is called the "cobra effect" in reference to this.
  • The French did something similar with bounties paid for rat tails in Vietnam. The results were predictable in hindsight — rat ranchers chopping the tails off of rats, then letting them go.


Video Example(s):


Syndrome's Plan

Syndrome brags abouthis plan to the Incredibles to unleash robot monsters he designed and then use his technology to defeat them.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / MonsterProtectionRacket

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