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"He's not my kid. He's not even my dog. If I had a dog, and that dog had a kid, and the dog's kid had a pet, that would be Sid."
Manny about Sid, Ice Age: The Meltdown

Character who is so rich and powerful that even their underlings are wealthy. Count Plutocrat's servants have servants, Emperor Evulz's top henchmen have Mordors and Mooks of their own, the list goes on.

Note that only examples where this actually seems like an awe-inspiring or at least impressive situation count. For instance, it's no big credit to a general that his "underlings", lower-ranking officers, have their own 'minions' in the form of soldiers.

Can be Played for Laughs or serve as an example of strength.

Compare Recursive Ammo, Bifurcated Weapon, Meta Mecha.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Reinforce Zwei is a Unison Device who has her own Storage Device, The Book of the Azure Sky.
    • At the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Agito joins the Yagami "family", although unlike all other members, she pledges loyalty not to Hayate, but to Signum (who, in turn, has pledged her life to Hayate).
    • At the end of the same season, four Numbers choose to be imprisoned rather than renounce their creator Jail Scaglietti, although only three of them do so out of loyalty to him. The last one, Sette, rejects Scaglietti but chooses to remain with Tre, one of the three loyal sisters.
  • Is This A Zombie?: Seraphim offered to be Eucliwood's servant so she could kill her, but Eucliwood already had Ayumu and wasn't interested in having two servants. So she became Ayumu's servant. In reality, this is just an excuse to stay around and complete her mission and she treats Ayumu like a servant rather than the other way around.
  • Bleach: During the final arc, Yachiru is forced to draw her sword. Isane is baffled by the weapon as it doesn't behave like any Zanpakutou she's ever heard of. Yachiru is eventually revealed to be the manifestation of Zaraki's own Zanpakutou; while most sword spirits will manifest copies of their master's sword (i.e., themselves in sword-form), Yachiru uses a unique sword of her own that bears no resemblance to the weapon Zaraki himself wields.
  • Fate/Apocrypha:
    • Assassin of Red's Master is eventually revealed to be a Servant. Said Master eventually gains ownership of Archer, Lancer, Rider, and Caster of Red.
    • Caster of Black eventually gains ownership of Berserker of Red.
    • Caster of Red eventually summons his own Servant.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Suguru Geto has the power to absorb and control an enormous quantity of Cursed Spirits. It's eventually revealed the "Geto" seen past 0 is Geto's corpse being puppeteered by the transplanted brain of the ancient sorcerer Kenjaku.

    Films — Animation 
  • Invoked by Manny on Ice Age: The Meltdown.
    Manny: (about Sid) He's not my kid. He's not even my dog. If I had a dog, and that dog had a kid, and the dog's kid had a pet, that would be Sid.
  • Aladdin: When Jasmine recognizes "Prince Ali" as the boy she met at the marketplace, Aladdin claims that it couldn't have been him because he has servants to do his shopping for him, and that those servants have servants of their own to shop for them as well.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers, Tony Stark says of Nick Fury that "His secrets have secrets."
  • In The Phantom Menace, the young slave Anakin Skywalker builds a servant robot (C3PO) to help his mother.
  • In Thor: The Dark World, Jane's wise-cracking intern, Darcy, from the previous movie now has her own intern, Ian,...and she's still an intern.
  • The Godfather: The Corleone family have several hierarchical layers that work as functional safeguards. The orders of the Don pass from the Consigliere to the Capos and finally to button men; a plot point in Part II when the Senate committee is able to produce a witness who doesn't have a buffer between him and Michael.

  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, the eponymous character mentions this trope while explaining to Baptistin why he won't allow Baptistin's embezzlement to continue.
    Though a servant, you yourself have servants who take care of your laundry and your belongings. [...]Nowhere will you find a position comparable to the one that good fortune has gotten you here.
  • In Midnight Tides, Tehol Beddict's true and far reaching financial influence is shown when the dredging rights to the city's canals are discussed. Tehol tries to divert attention away from himself by saying the dredging rights are already owned by a merchant named Biri, but Shand points out that Tehol in turn owns Biri, so would he kindly stop playing a beggar, please?
  • In Prince Roger, D'nal Cord owes Roger his life, and later acquires a life-debt of his own when he saves Pedi Caruse from pirates. Prince Roger has a good laugh at the latter, noting that D'nal's Oh, Crap! reaction when he realizes Pedi's culture has life-debts exactly mirrored his own after he saved D'nal.
  • Able Team. In Justice By Fire, the mooks on a surveillance detail are wearing $500 suits, and it's pointed out that even if you could afford such a suit, you wouldn't wear it in a car all night unless you worked for a billionaire, like a certain Corrupt Corporate Executive that Able Team have come up against before.
  • In the Phule's Company series, Beeker (The Jeeves to Phule) is described as well-off enough to buy his own planet if he chose to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Daily Show had a skit about the rich complaining about the economy, one saying that his butler's butler had to fire his butler's butler to save money.
  • Daredevil (2015): Wilson Fisk has a large number of shell and dummy companies that he uses to move his illegal money around.
    • In season 1, Confederated Global Investments is Fisk's official main source of revenue in FCC filings. When trying to trace a check supplied by James Wesley on behalf of Confed Global, Karen is only able to determine from business records that it's "a subsidiary of a holding company of a loanout to a holding subsidiary and on and on and on."
    • Wilson Fisk runs the rest of his empire this way, at least until he becomes a public figure, with the majority of his men answering to James Wesley, who in turns answers to Fisk. This makes Matt's efforts to take down Fisk that much more complicated, because it's a matter of finding someone who is willing to testify to Fisk giving them a direct order. That comes in the form of Detective Hoffman, who is able to implicate Fisk in ordering him to kill his partner Detective Blake because the order came straight from Fisk, rather than from Wesley.
    • In season 3, Karen determines that Fisk secretly owns the Presidential Hotel that he tricked the FBI into putting him up in. She concludes this because it's owned by a shell company called Vancorp (obviously named after Vanessa), which is owned by another shell company...that's in turn owned by yet another one. And all of these shell companies have charters to do business in the United States that were filed by Donovan & Partners, Fisk's legal team.
  • The Defenders (2017):
    • A retroactive case. In Daredevil, Nobu Yoshioka is seen as the main leader of the Hand that Matt is taking on during Daredevil seasons 1 and 2, and leads a considerable number of men. However, The Defenders establishes that Nobu was just a subordinate to Murakami, one of the Fingers, and ran Murakami's New York operations in his steed.
    • Played for Laughs when Jessica Jones, trying to search the public archives for a business named on some shipping records she got at a crime scene, finds that this business is just a shell company that is nested within another shell company, and this list of shell companies dates all the way back to 1820, with her unable to find out what this company is or what they do. It's all one giant front for the Hand.
    • The Hand as a whole work this way. There are five Fingers who are the heads of the organization, and each of them has their own crew of lieutenants who give orders to underlings.
  • True Blood: Vampire progenies, while still bound to their maker, are allowed to become makers themselves to new progenies, although the new progeny is not bound to their maker's maker. As is the case when Pam, while still bound to Eric, ends up turning Sookie's friend Tara. Meaning that Tara is not bound to Eric, nor for that matter is Jessica bound to Bill's maker Lorena.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Gyp Rosetti is the main antagonist of season 3, who goes to war with Nucky after being snubbed on a large deal. However, despite the fact that Rosetti has complete authority over a sizable group of henchmen and territory, he still has to answer to Joe Masseria, which makes him simply a caporegime within the Morello Crime Family.
  • The Wire highlights how the more layers of hierarchy removed from the street one gets, the more the police brass become out-of-tune with the needs and demands of the beat cops on the street.
    • Also seen in season 1 when it comes to figuring out assets that are owned by Avon Barksdale and his gang.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones an in-universe conspiracy theory claims that MarsCo secretly owns the other six Mega Corps. It is publicly known that ASR, Pulse, and TTI were originally MarsCo branches, but IRPF and Spyglass may have arose independently and Progenitus was a Spyglass division.
    • In the novel Fate's Fangs the corptown of Sacroden is owned by the Reveidolon corporation, which is said to be a subsidiary of a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Progenitus.

  • Benny from In the Heights boasts that if he wins 96k from the lottery, he'll invest it so well that his money'll be making money.

    Video Games 
  • In Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack once offers to pay you "enough money to build a mansion, made of other, smaller mansions."
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Etna is Laharl's vassal (although she never actually listens to him) while also having the Prinny Squad under her command.
    Laharl: Etna's vassals are my vassals.
  • A major element in INSIDE (2016) are human bodies controlled by whoever's wearing a special helmet. Several puzzles rely on those bodies themselves putting a helmet on and controlling other bodies. This foreshadows what's hinted by the secret ending: that the player character is the Remote Body of some unknown entity.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Big Bad, Demise has a sword so deadly, that it can summon its own swords to fight you with. He accomplished this by enchanting it to take a mortal form as Ghirahim, a recurring boss.
  • Skelter Helter in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has a katana made of 3 katanas, and a revolver with a lot of bullet cylinders that themselves revolve into the revolver's body.
  • Touhou Project's Yukari Yakumo is so powerful that her shikigami (a nine-tailed kitsune no less) has her own shikigami (incidentally, a two-tailed cat).
  • In Crusader Kings it's not uncommon for vassals to have their own vassals, especially with Christian kings or emperors as they can't directly control church or city holdings and can accumulate a lot of territory over the generations (while Pagans and Muslims tend to be caught in a cycle of dividing lands among their sons followed by fratricidal wars).
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, it's revealed that some Flesh Eater Blades can bond with and use Blades of their own just like a mortal Driver can. Most of Torna's Drivers (read: all of them except Malos and Mikhail) are Flesh Eaters with this ability, though Jin doesn't use it presumably for moral reasons. Malos can also use Blades despite not being a Flesh Eater, but that's probably just one of the perks of being an Aegis.
  • This is the main thrust of Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Talion "recruits" Uruk captains in a region, and then assaults the region's fortress with his army of captains and their minions. Once victorious, he appoints some of those captains as the region's overlord and warchiefs. Move on to the next region, rinse and repeat.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary: Petey needs teams of accountants to keep track of the teams of accountants needed to keep track of all his money.
  • Homestuck's Dirk Strider Gadgeteer Genius qualities are emphasized by his creation of an artifial intelligent Auto-Responder, who's self-aware enough to create the Auto-Responder-Responder.
  • Girl Genius: Agatha, a Spark, created clanks (nicknamed Dingbots by fans) that itself have the Spark, and create less sophisticated Dingbot minions of their own. After both "Prime" Dingbots she created met and started fighting she made a "Queen" Dingbot that could command the Primes.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets are capable of having petpets, who in turn are capable of having petpetpets.

    Western Animation 
  • Principal Larry from Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero is so rich his butler has a butler.
  • Futurama:
    • In the episode "War is the H-Word", part of the cast goes to war. Zapp Brannigan is in command and has to punish Fry for his cowardice. He wants to give him a humiliating task, so he turns to his Beleaguered Assistant Kif and asks him what's the most humiliating thing he can think of. When Kif replies that it's being Zapp's assistant, Zapp makes Fry Kif's assistant.
    • Judge Ron Whitey is a wealthy arbiter of "justice" so rich that he needed "[his] caddie's chauffeur" to tell him what a bank was.
  • In the episode "Chocolate With Nuts" from SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob points out in awe that the guy on a magazine is so rich that he has a swimming pool in his swimming pool.
  • In Steven Universe, the Homeworld system has all Gems being subservient to the Diamonds, but higher-ranked Gems are allowed servants of their own from the Pearl caste.
  • Rick and Morty has the episode "The Ricks must be Crazy." Rick reveals that his car is powered by a Microverse battery, which works by having the sentient beings living in the Microverse unknowingly creating the electricity to power his car via an exercise device he gave them. When Morty says that Rick has enslaved the Microverse, Rick says they're not slaves because they created a complex society, but when Morty says it's "just slavery with extra steps," Rick just blows him off. Inside the Microverse they meet Zeep, a researcher that created a Miniverse battery to power his world, which works by having the sentient inhabitants of the Miniverse unknowingly create the electricity to power his planet via an exercise device, thus rendering Rick's device obsolete. When Rick says that he enslaved an entire planet, Zeep says they're not slaves because they created a complex society, but when Rick says "that's slavery with extra steps," Zeep ignores him. In the Miniverse, they meet a scientist named Kyle who created a Teenyverse, and is awaiting for a sentient species to evolve so he can give them an exercise device so they can unknowingly create the power necessary to light his world, thus rendering Zeep's devise obsolete. When Zeep tries to explain that he wants to enslave the Teenyverse, Kyle says they won't be slaves because they'll live in a complex society. However, after a quick deduction, Zeep attacks Rick when realizes how and why they ended up in there, and when he hears them fight, Kyle realizes why he was born, and crashes his ship, stranding Rick, Morty, and Zeep in the Teenyverse.

    Real Life 
  • This is how the feudal system worked. An overlord had "his men", or vassals, ruling pieces of his land in his stead. They had their own men, and subdivided their tracts of land between them. The lesser vassals had their own vassals, until the land plots became too small to be further divided.
  • The whole idea of organization hierarchy is one: in an army, a major sergeant's subordinate would in turn have subordinates, who in turn have their own subordinates, etc.
  • Same goes for police departments, where several layers of supervisors who have their own supervisors are what come in between the chief of police and the beat cops on the street.
  • Some very rich Romans owned trusted slaves who were, in effect, paid employees with a great deal of responsibility. Such slaves frequently owned slaves of their own to do the routine work, though in theory, slaves owned by a slave were also the property of the dominant slave's owner. However, many masters paid only lip service to this, and if the dominant slave was freed, any slaves he owned would then legally become his property.
  • In Brazil, some slaves owned themselves other slaves.
  • A corporation can own a subsidiary corporation, and that corporation can have its own subsidiaries. Larger corporations may have multiple layers of subsidiaries to hold their businesses in.