A character is on a quest that could potentially decide the fate of the universe... but they don't care about that at all or any of this good/evil stuff, they're only on this quest for a personal reason: revenge, money, repaying a life debt to someone, and so on. It's a common motive for an Anti-Hero, Punch-Clock Hero, Nominal Hero or the Dragon with an Agenda.
Not the same as It's Personal, where a character who is already in it out of duty or righteousness or whatever is given an additional personal motivation.
There will often be a moment where the character has an opportunity to leave with what they came for while the rest of their group continues the quest alone. They will either choose to stay for the sake of their comrades or the mission, or actually decide to leave. The latter typically leads to them returning later to reveal that they have grown a heart, often in the form of a conveniently timed last minute rescue.
Other cases there may not be such a moment, but the character in a way, becomes the mask and finding out that they truly do believe in the ideals and the goals of the group they are working with.
See Only in It for the Money when wealth is the main motivation. Compare Staged Populist Uprising, when the leaders of the revolution themselves don't actually care about the revolution's cause. Often overlaps with Enemy Mine. Contrast The Only Believer, where only a single person associated with a cause truly believes in it, while others are around for more cynical reasons.
- Afro Samurai: The titular character does not care about the supposed "Godhood" you get from wearing the Number One Headband — He just wants to avenge his father. In Resurrection, it appears that he hasn't even been wearing it, which allows the villain to just walk up and take it.
- FLCL: Haruko sets the whole plot in motion because she's (possibly) in love with/wants to eat Atomsk. The fact that freeing him from Medical Mechanica stops them from destroying the world is an unintended side effect.
- Bastard!! (1988): Dark Schneider is fighting to keep his ex girlfriend and ex army from showing him up. At first. Later his motivations become much more complex, but showing everyone who's the top banana remains one of the main among them.
- One Piece:
- The Straw Hat Pirates could be said to be not in it for their own revolution, when they declare war on the World Government not because they've taken the time to have an issue with the way the highly corrupt government conducts itself, but only because they want a friend, Robin, back. They have this sort of attitude towards everything too, exemplified on Thriller Bark after they save a bunch of people and Zoro essentially tells them "We were doing this for ourselves, saving you just sort of happened."
- On Fishman Island, Hyouzou openly states he is assisting Hody Jones for the money and doesn't care at all about the uprising Hody is instigating.
- Same arc, Vander Decken doesn't care about Hody's regime change, he just wants to marry Shirahoshi. Wadatsumi is even less invested, he's just obeying his Captain.
- In Wano, Captain Kid ends up joining Luffy, Law, and their allied forces in the attack on Onigashima. However, it's clear he's not actively joining their alliance, he just wants to personally take revenge against Kaido for what he did to him and his crew. The Straw Hats, the Heart Pirates, the Minks, and rebel samurai staging a coup to overthrow Kaido and Orochi's tyrannical rule of Wano means nothing to Kid, but it is mutually beneficial that they're fighting the same enemies.
- In Negima! Magister Negi Magi Cosmo Entelecheia are ruthless, but have a valid reason for it. Tsukuyomi helps them only for the opportunity to kill.
- In Desert Punk, the Oasis Government does the bare minimum to keep life in the Great Kanto Desert inhabitable and otherwise only cares about sustaining itself. A secret group exist inside it called the Underground Mercenaries which wish to help the weak and improve quality of living throughout the desert, even if it risks instability. Kanta in fact approves of the current government because he admires that they force people to gain the strength to make it on their own. He still works for the underground mercenaries because they're paying him and knows they're making An Offer You Can't Refuse even if they won't admit it. In the anime the government captures him and he and immediately switches to their side to stay alive.
- In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, The 2nd Databook states that while Akaza is completely loyal to Muzan, the elite Upper-3 demon doesn't personally like him or any of his fellow Upper Ranks, nor personally cares about Muzan's goals, Akaza is loyal for loyalty's sake, almost in a professional manner; he is a demon with no recollection of his past life but Akaza's diligence as a warrior seemly was too deeply imprinted on him, so even as a malicious demon Akaza respectively follows his demonic master without question because that's what a dutiful warrior does. When Akaza finds his humanity again during his final fight, all that loyalty goes straight back his beloved human family trying to reach his heart from beyond the grave, nurturing enough willpower to directly break Muzan's influence over his mind.
- Gieve in The Heroic Legend of Arslan only joined Arslan's group because he wanted to get close to Farangis.
- Originally, Daryun and Farangis joined Arslan due to the wishes of his uncle and the previous head priestess respectively. But similar to Gieve, in time, they've became loyal to Arslan by his own right.
- In Endride, Demetrio invites former opponent Guidoro to join the Ignauts, but the latter makes it clear he's only in this to get revenge on his betrayer, who has a grudge towards members of the Ignauts and will come to them sooner or later.
- In Brave10, Jinpachi agreed to help Kakei and eventually joined Yukimura because Kakei said there's a certain busty blonde named Anastasia in Yukimura's entourage. Although he does get drawn in by Yukimura, he's noticeably less interested in being a Brave than the other nine and eventually splits out of anger on Anastasia's behalf in the sequel, and then after a brief cavalry reappearance in the climax, stops sticking with the Braves after her death.
- Food Wars!: Rindou Kobayashi isn't really interested in Azami's Perfect Gourmet plan when he takes over Tootsuki Academy, and is often called out for actively doing little, if anything, to get rid of the rebels. Her main motivation was to see what was going to happen because it would be fun, and to stay by her Childhood Friend Eishi Tsukasa, who does follow Azami.
- Wolverine is rarely depicted as actually having an invested stake in human/mutant relations. In the beginning, he simply thought that the X-Men sounded like more fun than working for the Canadian government. Then the writers decided that he had amnesia, and uncovering the truth about his past became his primary motivation.
- Various members of the Brotherhood of Mutants are more interested in their own goals than the mutant supremacy espoused by Magneto, and are usually Only in It for the Money. In fact, most of the first generation Brotherhood members felt this way (Unus and Blob only cared about the cash, as did retconned member Astra, while Mastermind was purely in it for personal gain and the siblings Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were working off a debt). Thus, ironically enough, the only member of the original Brotherhood who actually believed in the cause was Toad.
- During the Krakoa era, while most of the members of the main X-Books are in it for Krakoa, some of the side-characters are less invested. Mystique, for example, only joins up because of the promise of resurrecting her wife, and starts to sour when Professor X and Magneto welsh on the deal. Abigail Brand makes clear she thinks the whole thing is silly and small-minded, but the X-Men pay her and give her a pick of people she can use for her own agenda. Whiz Kid is only there because Krakoan medicines help with his dyslexia, but as he explains to Cable during The Last Annihilation he has no interest in dying for "the glory of Krakoa" (or for Cable, either).
- Deadpool: In #1 (1997) Deadpool has "liberated" a gun from a repressive Bolivian government for the revolutionary force. The revolutionaries try to pay him in a not-yet-viable currency. Deadpool is clearly not in it for the revolution, because as soon as he figures out he is not getting paid in real money, he offers to show the revolutionaries how to use the big gun and quickly wipes out the entire revolutionary force before teleporting out.
- Bone: Phoney Bone is more concerned with getting himself and his cousins home—and making some quick cash on the way—than anything else. Well, really he's just interested in getting rich like he used to be. The unholy obsession with getting himself and his cousins home that appears to eclipse his money obsession is mostly because they've found themselves in an agrarian community whose economy is based on barter, so it's impossible to get rich the way he understands the concept unless he can get the Bone trio back to Boneville.
- The Transformers:
- The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Some of the crew members are less devoted to the Lost Light's quest than others. Swerve joined largely because he didn't have anything better to do, Jackpot lost a bet and didn't really want to go, Chromedome admits that he and Rewind only joined to find Rewind's former lover, and Ravage only sticks around because Megatron asks him to. Whirl is the most extreme example however; he ended up on the ship due to an accident and only hung around at first because he wasn't sure yet where else to go. Even after he becomes attached to the rest of the crew, he only stays onboard to be with them. He never gives even the slightest indication that he cares about completing the quest.
- The Transformers: Robots in Disguise:
- Shockwave cares not for the Decepticon's revolution against the Senate, or the Functionists. He only serves one master - logic. That, and his ludicrously elaborate scheme to solve Cybertron's fuel problems via crunching space and time into a ball. Everything else is just passing the time while he waits.
- Starscream doesn't care about the Decepticons, beyond the opportunities for power it gives him.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): The post-reboot has a villainous example: Eggman's henchmen are divided between those who genuinely believe in his cause and those who not only don't believe in it, but are outright disdainful of Eggman and only joined out of fear or to fulfill their own agendas. Cassia and Clove take this the furthest; they secretly only joined to exploit Eggman to find a cure for Cassia's illness and plan to split as soon as she's cured. Clove doesn't realize until it's too late that Eggman figured out their scheme before they even joined. He lied about being able to cure Cassia and instead gave them a chemo-esque machine that stops the disease from getting worse but does nothing else. That way they have to start being in it for the revolution to keep Cassia alive.
- Between Minds: When Chell helps out Judith Mossman find Dr. Freeman, she doesn't do it for humanity but so she can get a lift out of the Arctic.
- In The Butcher Bird: The Wild Hunt as a whole is this. Their job is simply to fulfill their contracts, and whatever they're hired for is simply a job, not something they're attached to.
- Eugenesis: The Decepticon scientist Sygnet doesn't care about that whole civil war thing, or that his inventions are used by some of the most psychotic warlords the universe has ever seen. He just wants some recognition, dammit.
Your name is VRISKA SERKET. You always found the idea of CONSCRIPTION to be BORING, so instead you DESERTED to become a PIRATE like your ANCESTOR. You are currently living in the CAVERNS with the SUFFERISTS. You think they are WEIRD and take every opportunity to MOCK KARKAT VANTAS about his position as the SUPPOSED SECOND COMING of the SUFFERER. You organize RAIDING PARTIES for them, STEALING FROM and GENERALLY HARASSING the EMPIRE. As soon as you can find a SAFE HIDEOUT of your own, you are OUT OF HERE.
- In Memento Vivere, a Final Fantasy X fanfiction, Rikku doesn’t initially want to help Braska on his Pilgrimage.
- Queen of Shadows: Most members of the Shogunate in the Shadows aren't in it solely for the virtue of liberating Japan from the Shadowkhan: Rosuto, Gurando, and Kyouaku are only in it for material and social gains, Yasashi wants revenge on the Shadowkhan for destroying and enslaving her family, and Himitsu and Nonki want access to the Shadowkhan's libraries as a means of finding the keys to their own goals (immortality and Nirvana after death, respectfully).
- What About Witch Queen?: Admiral Klaus Hauser and the rest of navy stationed on Westerguard join Weste secession only because they believe they've been Reassigned to Antarctica and want to stick it to the king of the Isles.
- In Winter War, Grimmjow joins up with the heroes for two reasons: to recover his strength, and to have a chance to fight Aizen. At first, that is. He develops an actual sense of loyalty to his companions- and a bit of compassion and conscience- as the fic goes on.
- With Strings Attached: The four were forcibly brought to C'hou and empowered and saddled with the Vasyn quest. While restoring the Vasyn would remove a curse on the continent of Ketafa and presumably make life better over there, the four detest the place and are only pursing the Vasyn pieces so they can get home.
- Even more true in The Keys Stand Alone, when they're dragged back to C'hou by the Pyar gods in order to fight the Black Tower and its minions. Being Actual Pacifists, they are utterly opposed to participating in the war, and say on more than one occasion that if they could pick up and leave right away, they would, and to hell with C'hou. Still, they attempt to help the various Power Groups put together the Nine-part Key, again just so they can go home with their magic at the end of it. However, given that they're actually in a giant telepathic MMORPG and every single thing is fake, this trope abruptly stops applying at the end of The Soft World.
- Touma constantly berates MINUS in A Certain Unknown Level 0 for believing that he fought against Accelerator just to prove that level 0s weren't weak.
- In RWBY/Hetalia crossover Weight of the World England and the other nations (with the exception of Canada and America) do not care about Ozpin's war against the Grimm and Salem. Their only goal is to retrieve Canada and America and go home.
- In Heart of the Inferno, Smaug eventually agrees to ally with the Free Peoples in the War of the Ring against Sauron. He has for it a list of reasons of which the most altruistic one is to ensure the safety of his mate Kathryn and their twins. The other reasons are to destroy Sauron and Fankil for what they've done to him and Kathryn, get rid of Sauron's corruption inside him, and retake Erebor as his reward for helping the Free Peoples win the war.
- In Infinity Crisis, Malekith makes it clear he doesn't want to join with the Skull but is willing to do it to get revenge on Thor. Meanwhile, Thanos couldn't care less what the Skull does with Earth as long as the heroes are finally eliminated.
- Through Her Eyes: Qrow claims that he only works with Ozpin against Salem to keep his family - i.e., Tai, Ruby and Yang - safe from her, and that he wouldn't particularly care whether or not the world were destroyed if not for them. Ozpin clearly doesn't believe this, but lets the issue lie.
Ozpin: You may be a bitter, sarcastic ass, but you want what's best for the world too.
Qrow: I want what's best for my family. My real family. Everything else I save-
Ozpin: - Is mere collateral, yes, I know.
- Yugioh EQG: Ω Zenith: Most of the Omega Zealots want to revive their master Zeronull so he will destroy both the Earth and Duel Monsters Spirit World, and allow them to keep "living" in a perfect dream reality. However, Flaming Emperor Hellfire, the newest official member, doesn't actually care about Zeronull or his promised dream reality. All Hellfire wants is power, enough that prove that he isn't weak and will not die like those he sees as being weak, and wants revenge on the humans who humiliated him in the Double X championship. This eventually leads to him disobeying orders and going after Flash and his friends himself to complete the Zealots mission, while denouncing Zeronull in the process.
- Chasing Dragons: Unlike the rest of the Sunset Company's leadership, Ser Lyn Corbay doesn't care about the righteousness of their cause and is only interested in gaining wealth, fame and whatever power he can from the wars. As for the company as a whole, he is hardly the only one.
- Doing It Right This Time: Gendo. He feels absolutely no loyalty or fondness towards SEELE, but he's helping the nascent conspiracy to prevent them pulling off Instrumentality for one reason only...
Kaworu: "Help me stop that mad old fool Keel and his cronies from destroying human life as we know it forever, and I will drag your wife out of Unit-01 by the hair if that's what it takes."
- Descensus Averno: Lumine doesn't particularly care about the Insurgency or the oppressed people of Teyvat; she's only joining them so she can confront the Big Bad, her twin brother, Aether. Deconstructed in that this not endear her to the Shogun's Insurgency, the biggest resistance group in Teyvat on top of their biases towards Lumine being Aether's twin. Jean brings this up as a concern during the meeting Lumine introduces herself in, and another character Veer utilizes the fact that she could care less about anyone else except her brother in a heated argument later on.
- BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant: Azrael may serve Salem and Terumi as a mercenary and physical powerhouse, but he doesn't care for their plans regarding the world of Remnant. All he cares about is satisfying his thirst for violence, and helping them just so happens to coincide with such desires.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Olympian Journey: During the Poseidon arc, the Buckingham Palace guards only help fight the villains in order to first protect the palace and then to retrieve the stolen royal carriage, as that falls under the aegis of their duty to safeguard the royal family. They draw a line at fighting the Poseidon-empowered Six-Eared Macaque when he goes on a rampage in the rest of London, not seeing it as their problem.
- Shadows over Meridian: While Jade might be helping Phobos, it's only to repay Raythor for his kindness to her by aiding the man he's sworn his loyalty to, as indicated by her conditions to Phobos for her aid. Her ultimate goal is still finding a way home to her family.
- Star Wars:
- As Han Solo demonstrates in the title and quote, he's in the events of Star Wars: A New Hope for the money. At first, anyway. Even then he's mostly doing it for his friends. Especially Leia. One parody explains why he came back at the end of A New Hope: After he said he was in it for the money, Leia wrote him a cheque. He later noticed that the cheque was from the First National Bank of Alderaan.
- Captain Phasma, introduced in The Force Awakens, is a rare villainous example, commanding the Stormtroopers of the First Order, but being perfectly willing to take actions that will endanger her cause when threatened by the heroes. She is really only out for herself, and the First Order means just as much to her as an ordinary desk job.
- In Rogue One Jyn Erso is similar, in that she has little desire to support the Rebel Alliance, having been raised by an extremist Rebel. Unusually for this trope, she is not at all in it for the money, instead wanting to find her father.
Saw: How can you live with the Empire's flags reigning across the galaxy?
Jyn: It's easy when you don't look up.
- Finn in The Last Jedi and explored somewhat more so in the supplementary material, particularly the film's novelization. However, his arc with Rose in the film begins with her finding him trying to board an escape pod because he wants to find Rey and get her somewhere to safety. Even in The Force Awakens, he initially tries to run in order to protect her, not really interested in trying to join up with the Resistance. It's his journey with Rose that really begins to make him see the greater cause.
- The only thing about the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order that interests DJ is how he can profit off it and otherwise doesn't care one iota about it either way, even after he agrees to work with Finn and Rose. And he doesn't have a change of heart like Han did. The moment the mission goes wrong, he saves himself by selling them and the Resistance out to the First Order.
- In The Rise of Skywalker, General Hux is revealed to be a spy for the Resistance. When Finn asks him why he's helping them out, he explains that he doesn't care whether the Resistance wins, only that Kylo Ren loses.
- Lone Star in Spaceballs, being a combination of Han Solo and Luke in Star Wars.
Lone Star: We're not just doing this for money. We're doing it for a shitload of money!
- Ultimately subverted, as he turns down the million spacebucks he was promised and keep only $248 for food, gas, and tolls. Though it helped that his creditor ate himself to death.
- Star Wars Down Under. Jedi Knight Merve Bushwacker is motivated entirely by his need to get his hands on a nice cold beer. As the Big Bad has confiscated all the beer on the planet, this drives the entire plot.
- In the first Conan the Barbarian (1982) movie, Conan is out for revenge since the Big Bad destroyed his village and killed his family (and took his father's sword!); in the second, he's a mercenary hired by the Big Bad. But apparently he ends up becoming king. At the end of Conan the Destroyer, the princess he rescued asks him to rule at her side as her husband. He declines, saying "Someday I will have my own kingdom, my own queen." The shot of him sitting on a throne implies that he did eventually go and conquer a kingdom of his own. But that is another tale...
- The Patriot: The name of the film obviously doesn't apply to the main character, who refuses to help either side until his son gets captured by the cartoonishly evil Colonel Tavington.
- The Running Man. Arnold Schwarzenegger's character Ben Richards turns down a chance to join the revolutionaries after they help him escape from prison; he just wants to get his ass out of the country. Events conspire against him however when he's roped into the Deadly Game show and his continued survival makes him a symbol of resistance, and the deaths of his friends who happen to be rebels during the game means It's Personal.
Rebel Leader: *upon hearing Richard's offer to lead the attack on the studio* I thought you were looking for the door?
Richards: I told Killian I'd be back. I wouldn't want to be a liar.
- A Fistful of Dynamite. Juan. He was only interested in robbing a bank, but managed to get suckered into helping significantly in The Mexican Revolution. He drags his feet and gives a big speech about how revolutions are cyclical and only hurt the common people, but he eventually turns his ideals around.
- Don't Turn the Other Cheek! Max Lozoya, like Juan, ends up being dragged into a revolution he has absolutely no interest in, thanks to a journalist who's using him to get a story for her newspaper. He also ends up turning his ideals around and becomes a hero of the Mexican Revolution, even being the one to shoot down General Huerta.
- Stephen the Irishman in Braveheart. He joins William Wallace only for the opportunity to kill Englishmen. And William himself, to some extent; he initially shoots down any attempt at roping him into rebellion, having seen enough war and bloodshed to last him a lifetime in the Holy Land. Until the English murder his wife...
- Rick Blaine in Casablanca ... so he says.
- Fifty Fifty (1992): Jake Wyer and Sam French. They change their minds.
- Jack in Romancing the Stone: He joined up with Joan to try to get El Corazon from her, but love and helping her save her sister turned out to be more important than the money...well, mostly.
- Snake Plissken, the titular Anti-Hero of Escape from New York, spends the majority of the franchise looking like he'd rather be anywhere else, but is forced into situations where he needs to escape or break free:
- Escape from New York: Snake attempts to renege on Hauk's offer at several points, first telling him to "get a new President" when the current one is captured in New York, then claiming that the President is dead and that he wants out when he finds the trashed escape pod. Both times, Hauk's threats and the fact that he has an Explosive Leash keep him in line. At the end of the film, he sabotages the President's speech upon finding out that the latter didn't care about the sacrifices made by Brain, Maggie and Cabbie.
- The comic sequel series:
- Escape from Florida: Snake breaks into Florida under the pretense that it will protect him from the United States Police Force, only to be captured by two twins who are planning a civil war against the mainland. He repeatedly tries to escape, but is conscripted into training recruits, which eventually leads to him sabotaging the Twins' efforts before escaping.
- Escape to New York: Lappawinsoe and the Native tribe attempt to get Snake to help them, which he only agrees to do so when he finds out that they can kitbash the car he used to get into the city with the glider he used when he got in the first time, in a bid to fly out.
- Escape From Cleveland: After stealing the U.S. Bill of Rights, a group of rebels attempt to enlist Snake to help them fight when the USPF besieges the city. He books it out of there and leaves them to be massacred by the police force.
- Escape from L.A.: Snake is injected with a virus that is on a countdown to kill him, and has to be coerced by the President and Commander Malloy to retrieve the Sword of Damocles and kill Utopia. Subverted at the end, when it's revealed that Plutoxin-7 is just a short-term case of the flu, and the government tricked Snake into helping them.
- In Brick, Brendan invokes this, deadpan and almost bored sounding, to the school's vice principal despite how much power the other man has over him. Their dialogue also hangs a lampshade on the unlikelihood of anyone invoking this in real life, but Brendan's just that kind of crazy and-or awesome.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dr. Elsa Schneider tries to convince Indy how she really doesn't believe in Nazi ideals, but he doesn't buy it.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past:
- Initially, Xavier doesn't agree to help because of the future mumbo-jumbo, which he doesn't believe, but because of Raven.
- Pietro Maximoff only helps free Magneto from the Pentagon just to prove that he could.
- Kim Man-seob from A Taxi Driver is a cynical taxi driver who is unwittingly thrown into a student uprising in Gwangju when he agrees to take a German journalist there.
- In Hardcase, Jack makes it very clear to Simon that he is not in Mexico to join his revolution. He is only there to collect the money he believes Rozaline and Simon owe him.
- In Swashbuckler, Nick is very clear about this when Jane attempts to recruit Captain Lynch and the Blarney Cock to spring her father from prison and overthrow Lord Durant: especially as he knows that Lynch is falling for her. Jane promises to pay the crew for their part in the plan, which mollifies him.
Nick Debrett: We're pirates, not revolutionaries.
- In The Scavengers, the ex-slaves make it clear to Nancy that they are not attacking to avenge her rape, help her white friends, or even to take revenge on Confederates. It is just that have nothing better to do tomorrow than kill white men.
- Easy A: Rhiannon joins Marianne's Christian group when they protest Olive for being promiscuous because she found out Olive went on a date with a boy she had a crush on. Ironically, Rhiannon proudly declared herself a "super-slut" earlier in the film.
- The Berenstain Bears: In the Big Chapter Book and the Showdown At Chainsaw Gap, Brother finds that Two-Ton Grizzly is joining the protestors who are trying to stop Birder's Woods, home of the endangered (and until recently, thought-to-be extinct) Yellow Popinjay, from being cut down. Brother is surprised because he didn't think Two-Ton (despite being a reasonable adult) cared about an endangered bird; Queenie admits that he doesn't, but he does like living and working in the wide open areas outside Beartown, and isn't happy about a new housing development — which would be built with the wood gained from cutting down the trees — being put up next to "his space".
- Chrysalis (RinoZ): Anthony helps to overturn a coup and restore good queen Verita to her throne, but he genuinely doesn't care about her or her cause in the slightest. He's there because she has promised him a large number of monster cores from her treasury, which he can use to strengthen his colony. As soon as it turns sour, he snatches his payment and runs off.
She could almost feel the weary disinterest rolling off the creature in waves, confusing her. What was it so bored about?!
- Roland of Gilead from Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is trying to find the titular tower simply for the spiritual fulfillment of seeing it and climbing to the top to see what's there. The fact that the Crimson King is trying to destroy the tower (which would consequently destroy all of existence) is only a concern for Roland because he can't reach the tower if the Crimson King knocks it down first.
- This gets retconned in the prequel series. Roland seeks the Tower because he thinks it is a source of incredible power that can defeat John Farson and restore his shattered world.
- In multiple books Rincewind makes it damn clear to everyone he meets that he just wants to go home, hang up his things and never leave again. Everything he does to help them is purely by accident. (At least, on his part.)
- Initially, Vimes in Night Watch. He never wanted a revolution, he only wanted to protect a few people on the street.
- In Wyrd Sisters, Granny really doesn't care that the new king killed the old king, and is a terrible leader: these things tend to sort themselves out, and its not a witch's job to meddle. Then it turns out that the king is turning the people against witches, and it becomes personal.
- The Dresden Files:
- In Changes, Harry ends up essentially saving the world by decisively winning the entire Vampire War, now and forever, in one fell blow. But screw that. He did it because they took his daughter.
- Jared Kincaid is a mercenary who never seems bothered about helping Harry with any of his various good causes unless money is involved, but he genuinely cares about the Archive beyond being her bodyguard. He still gets paid, though. Hey, he's a mercenary!
- In The Falconer, Kiaran repeatedly tells Aileana that his motives are not the same as hers and that he's not actually very honourable. She remains sceptical, as he did save her life.
- Katniss in The Hunger Games takes a LONG time to come around to the "Revolution" she brought about. Most of Mockingjay is her arguing with people about whether or not she should stand as a symbol and leader for them to rally around.
- Older Than Steam: In Journey to the West, published in the 1590s, Xuanzang's "disciples" (traveling companions) are all bound to him in order to atone for their various crimes.
- In Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, Yama makes it very clear to Sam that he's joining his side out of having been jilted by Kali, not as a Defector from Decadence.
- Vin in Mistborn doesn't believe that Kelsier's thieving crew can really rob the Lord Ruler or overthrow The Empire at first. She still joins up because she's intrigued by how the crew considers each other True Companions, especially when every other thieving crew she's been a part of considers backstabbing to be a part of life.
- Les Misérables
- Grantaire only hangs out with the revolutionary students and ultimately dies with them because of his devotion to Enjolras, their leader.
- Marius, who didn't originally care about the revolution, only joined the barricade because he was Driven to Suicide after it appeared Cosette would be leaving him forever. Eponine, who caused him to believe that, came only so she and Marius could die together. Jean Valjean only came to save Marius.
- Monsieur Mabeuf, like Marius, only came because he had lost everything worth meaning to him.
- Mike in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress doesn't care about the revolution at all (being a childlike sapient computer with little understanding of human political concerns), but helps out for fun and in order to win attention and approval from his human friends.
- The Nero Wolfe novel The Black Mountain involves apathetic detective Wolfe travelling to his homeland of Montenegro, which is currently languishing under communist oppression, to find the murderer of his best friend. His friend was actively supporting a revolutionary movement trying to overthrow the communist government, but Wolfe — while not wholly unsympathetic — is dismissive of their efforts since they're surrounded by Tito's armies on one side and the Soviet Union on the other and one of those would just move in and, if by some chance they did manage to pull off an overthrow of the government, one of those factions would simply move in and completely steamroller them. He never really changes his mind on the subject, but manages to convince the rebels to help him by pointing out that their motives are running on parallel tracks.
- This is a recurring theme in Rafael Sabatini's novels: a non-idealistic character is pointedly not supporting a less competent idealistic character on his/her quest. Then the forces the idealist opposes hurts the non-idealist or those he cares for. This is a Bad Move.
- Captain Blood: His Odyssey: Dr. Peter Blood was not supporting plotting against the King of England until the Crown assumed he was and enslaved him for it.
- Scaramouche: The title character joins the government of The French Revolution to seek revenge on a single aristocrat who murdered his republican idealist best frient, but doesn't really believe in the Revolution's ideals.
- The Secret of Santa Vittoria: Many of the townspeople aren’t too concerned about the overthrow of Mussolini until Babbaluche points out that it removes the protection awarded to the local Facist party officials who've been making themselves hated for the last decade or so, and the crowd delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the first one to arrive on the scene.
- The Shattered Kingdoms: In Blood's Pride, the mercenary known as the Mongrel makes it fairly obvious that she doesn't actually care about the rebellion she's assisting. However, the obvious alternative motives (first money, then revenge) get crossed off as well, leaving everyone else to realise that they don't know exactly what she is in it for.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Tywin's primary motivation for joining Robert's Rebellion is so that Robert will marry his daughter once he becomes king. He even sat out most of the war, waiting until it was clear who would be victorious.
- Star Wars Legends:
- In Star Wars: Allegiance, set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Han has already gone on several "charity runs" for the Rebel Alliance and is bitter about this. Luke, the Princess, General Rieekan, the whole Alliance assumes he's on "their side", and he doesn't remember when he turned. Helping Luke at the battle of Yavin was one thing, and he didn't mind if they were grateful to him for that. Chewie would join in a heartbeat. Han very reluctantly stays on through the book—he threatens to leave and never does.
But Han wasn't going to let anyone's passion drive him on this one. Not Chewie's, and certainly not Luke's. He had his own life to lead.
- Part of Han's dislike of the Rebellion, and his outright hostility to Leia at the start, probably has something to do with his First-Love-turned-La Résistance-Girlfriend, Bria, from The Han Solo Trilogy. She utterly ruined his smuggler cred, got his pre-Luke sidekick killed, and was what Lando "Has probably already forgotten about" in Empire. The Arron Allision Solo trilogy goes into this much deeper.
- In The Thrawn Trilogy, Talon Karrde and Mara Jade make similar statements about why they're working with the New Republic. After one of Karrde's protests, Leia can't help but lampshade the similarity of his comment to Han's protests from A New Hope.
Leia: The money's not really important to you, is it?
Karrde: Don't believe that, either. I have certain obligations to meet. If Fey'lya hadn't been willing to cooperate, your New Republic would have had to do so.
Leia: [a little smugly] I see.
Karrde: [unconvincingly] I mean that. I'm here because it suits my purposes. Not for the sake of your war.
- In Star Wars: Allegiance, set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Han has already gone on several "charity runs" for the Rebel Alliance and is bitter about this. Luke, the Princess, General Rieekan, the whole Alliance assumes he's on "their side", and he doesn't remember when he turned. Helping Luke at the battle of Yavin was one thing, and he didn't mind if they were grateful to him for that. Chewie would join in a heartbeat. Han very reluctantly stays on through the book—he threatens to leave and never does.
- In The State Counsellor, a rich industrialist sponsors the revolutionaries but when they try to thank him, he bluntly replies that he is financing their operations for the government and the people to realize that The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized and that their best course of action is capitalistic reforms that he supports.
- In This Immortal, Conrad, upon finding out who wants to kill Myshtigo and why they want to do it, makes it quite clear that he's not on this job for any kind of revolution or political statement, which is ironic as he's the retired founder of that very same revolutionary movement.
- Tortall Universe: Aly says this when Kyprioth abducts her to protect the subjects of The Prophecy (his prophecy) in Trickster's Choice. She just wants to prove to her father that she can take care of herself as a spy. By the end of the first book, though, she decides she has to see things through and becomes spymaster for the raka rebellion.
- In the last two books of the Venus Prime series, Forster's team, which consists mainly of scientists, gets caught up in an alien religious war. Needless to say, most of them are less than thrilled with the notion.
- In the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight, Drummer Boy joins the group of aces fighting the anti-joker genocide explicitly to impress Action Girl Curveball. He fails to get the girl but succeeds in making the nearly invincible Righteous Djinn's head explode.
- In Watchers of the Throne, Fadix sides with the progressive Reform Council, but says he actually believes more in the ideology of their opponents. The only reason he takes sides in the first place is that he wants to avoid a civil war that the conflict between the two would spark. He's also sure that over time, the Reform Council's patron will come to see the world the way he does.
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this applies to the villains involved in Project Centipede, as despite HYDRA being the ones pulling the strings, few of the named characters seem to be true believers in their cause. Garrett is a case of I Fight for the Strongest Side!, Ward has a My Master, Right or Wrong mentality, Quinn is probably Only in It for the Money, Raina is For Science! (and has at least some connection to Skye's parents), and Deathlock and at least some Cybertek employees are suffering from I Have Your Wife.
- Andor: Luthen intends to recruit Cassian to the rebellion but finds that while Cassian enjoys stealing from and harassing the Empire he really just wants to live a simple life without the Empire bothering him. Instead Cassian ends up hired as a mercenary for a single heist the rebellion is planning, and when tensions are rising within the group points out that he's there for the money, which he will only get if the heist is successful.
- Kerr Avon of Blake's 7. Whoof, where to begin? Even when Blake is lost and he becomes the leader he never loses this attitude.
- Though Avon was the most vocal, the rest of the Liberator's crew (except Blake and Cally) also fit the bill, as they are wanted criminals with nowhere else to go. Gan and Jenna are won over fairly quickly, but the lack of choice is still there. Vila claims to be too much of a coward to leave the ship.
- In Series 4 Soolin, a skilled mercenary, joins them on a basis of mutual convenience (not that there was much revolutioning going on by then).
- In Choudenshi Bioman, this is why Bio Hunter Silva declines to work with Doctor Man — Silva was programmed by the Anti-Bio Union to hunt down and eliminate anything with Bio Particles, meaning the Biomen and the Bio Robo. But he's not interested at all in working with Gear to conquer Earth, and more than once he simply lets the Biomen go and stop Gear's plans; he simply doesn't care about humanity or Earth, only about following his programming, so he frequently opts to wait until he can kill the Biomen on his own terms.
- Rebecca Bush of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is more of a self-deluded people pleasing version of this. She gets involved with class-action lawsuits, reuniting families, and helping people with job/college applications, all in bids to get closer to Josh. The pessimism is somewhat undercut in that she does end up making friends and helping people, even if her motives are less than pure.
- Game of Thrones: Brienne is a curious example in that she altruistically upholds oaths and enters services of people she respects and admires, but she limits her loyalty to personal relations rather than the causes they espouse, and is more keen on personal commitment than beliefs in said individual's values and goals. She swears an oath to Renly who saw himself as a benign alternative to Stannis and Joffrey, and later to Catelyn Stark who also opposes Joffrey. Yet after Renly's and Catelyn's deaths, she somehow doesn't see anything contradictory in hanging around King's Landing among the Lannisters (the very people who ordered Catelyn's death) and not only attending the royal wedding but personally greeting Joffrey, who Renly and Catelyn hated. This does bite her later, when Sansa calls her out on her chumminess with the Lannisters at Joffrey's wedding and questions her loyalty to her mother, on their first encounter. Her vendetta against Stannis is such that she doesn't take into account the fact that at the time of his death, Stannis was fighting the Boltons and seeking to liberate Winterfell (which technically puts her and Stannis on the same side). She deserts her post to fulfill her oath to Renly, who she calls the rightful king Because You Were Nice to Me and she had sworn an oath to him rather than any legal principles. She takes this even further when she arrives at Castle Black and, despite taking revenge on Stannis, insults both Davos and Melisandre even when they are on the same side, going as far as taunting them about Stannis's death and trying to turn Sansa against them. When she meets Jaime Lannister at the Siege of Riverrun, she doesn't raise the fact that Jaime is marching alongside the Freys, the same people who slit the throat of Catelyn Stark and committed the Red Wedding. She lets it slide because she is friendly with Jaime, and she does admit that she doesn't look forward to actually meeting him in battle, hoping to fulfill the letter of her oath to Sansa while keeping her friendship with Jaime intact, despite the fact that Sansa is an enemy and fugitive of the Crown (as Jaime points out). If necessary, however, she'd have had to fight him.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Pharazôn supports saving the Men of the Southlands from Sauron... because in doing so the Númenorans will establish a human vassal state in Middle-earth, which will have all sorts of future benefits. He is also quick to reconsider his support the moment victory starts seeming less certain.
- The Mandalorian: Following in the footsteps of Han Solo is the main hero Din Djarin, only this time he has a much more nobler goal of returning an infant member of Yoda's species to his people. In exchange for the whereabouts of a Jedi, Djarin reluctantly helps Bo-Katan raid an Imperial Cruiser as part of her quest to reclaim Mandalore even though he's convinced it's a lost cause. Then again, Djarin was adopted into a splinter clan and thus never felt as personal connection to the ancestral homeworld in the same way that a member of Kryze clan would.
- In the Batman lore-based prequel series Pennyworth, a young Alfred gets employed as enforcer by Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane for the No Name League, a group that very much displays revolutionary left wings traits. He doesn't really care for their political goals but still prefers working for them than for the fascist Raven Society. His allegiance ultimately goes to Queen and Country.
- In the first half of season one of Revolution the protagonists are on a mission to rescue Danny from the Monroe Militia and really do not care about the rebellion or attempts to overthrow President Monroe. They only join forces with the rebels because the two groups can help each other. Charlie is much more idealistic and would probably join the rebels on her own if she did not need to rescue Danny but Miles is quite jaded and quickly sees that the rebels are dedicated but inexperienced and incompetent. This becomes more pronounced when we find out about Miles's backstory: after the Blackout he did a lot of bad things in order to make the Monroe Republic a good place but he screwed up and blames himself for all the bad things that followed. Ironically, in the second half of the season Miles becomes the reluctant leader of the rebellion since he is the only one capable of taking on Monroe.
- Royal Pains starts off with Hank Lawson just wanting to take a weekend off in the Hamptons. Having barely survived a terrible malpractice suit, he's in no rush to resume being a doctor, especially not one that requires him to work alongside his squirrelly, overeager brother or the pushy British chick who suddenly shows up at his guest house and insists upon joining him. But one thing leads to another, and by the end of the pilot, he decides to set up a concierge practice.
- Just like his literary counterpart, Grantaire from Les Misérables is a member of the revolution not for France but for Enjolras.
- In Friedrich Schiller's William Tell, Tell refuses to join Swiss insurgents against Austrian oppression and becomes active only as tyrannical reeve Gessler makes it personal by forcing him to shoot an apple off his son's head with a crossbow because he didn't see the order that everyone had to tip their hats for Austrian officials. He shoots Gessler after shooting the apple off his son's head, sparking a full-scale revolt, which succeeds.
- The Hat Kid from A Hat in Time will assist anyone she comes across, good or bad, if it means getting her Time Pieces back. It's also what separates Hat Kid from her foil, Mustache Girl. Hat Kid just wants to use the Time Pieces to get back home, and has no interest in time-traveling or heroics. Mustache Girl wants to use the Time Pieces to remove the Mafia from Mafia Town, but her passions often lead her to violence. Mustache Girl eventually collects enough Time Pieces to become the Final Boss, and Hat Kid knocks Mustache Girl off her high horse, too. This is also the only time Hat Kid can break from her neutral stance and hand over one of her Time Pieces.
- In Hordes of the Underdark, the second expansion for Neverwinter Nights, the player can frequently claim that the reason they are fighting the Drow is that they just want their stuff back.
- Fire Emblem is full of this trope. In each game, you can recruit a number of people, each with their own motives for joining you. These motives range widely, from loyalty to someone else, to earning money, to getting revenge on someone, and all sorts of other reasons.
- Volke from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is an extreme example: he's only there for the money, and in both games you have to pay him before he joins your party (and in Path of Radiance, you have to pay him extra every time he opens a door). Before he joins, he'll gladly sit around on the battlefield watching your party members die since you haven't paid his fee. At least he gives you a discount in Radiant Dawn because he doesn't like the boss of that chapter. Subverted when it turns out that although he's not in it for their revolution, he wouldn't have showed up in the first place if not for his contract with Greil. Greil spent some time searching for the world's greatest assassin in case he ever touched the Fire Emblem again and went on a similar berserker rage to the one that took his wife's life. Upon learning this, Ike promptly signs Volke on for an identical contract for himself.
- Guy in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade owes Matthew his life (Matthew fed him when he was starving, and Guy's tribe believes in I Owe You My Life). When you recruit him, he vociferously complains about how he has to leave his paying job to work for you.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses has several instances, if a character was recruited out of their house before the timeskip:
- If Linhardt is recruited on the Azure Moon or Verdant Wind routes, he admits to having spent the timeskip with his family (which supports Edelgard), before leaving to join Byleth five years later. He does admit to feeling slightly guilty, but believes it was worth it.
- If Ferdinand is recruited on the Azure Moon or Verdant Wind routes, he defects not because he believes in the Kingdom or Alliance's cause, or in Byleth, but because he believes that Edelgard is "running amok," and he refused to be their puppet.
- If Felix is recruited on the Crimson Flower route, he says doesn't actually believe in Edelgard's cause and is there to carve his own path, although he believes that all the bloodshed had better be worth it. Similarly, if recruited on the Verdant Wind or Silver Snow routes, his reason for leaving Faerghus is a combination of self-preservation and believing Leicester or the church has a better fighting chance.
- Shamir is the only member of the Knights of Seiros who is not a devoted follower, being a mercenary from Dagda. If she's not recruited, she'll need to be killed in chapter 15 of the Crimson Flower route, as she continues following Rhea, feeling as though she owes her a debt. However, if Shamir is recruited on any route, she'll invert this, saying that it feels good to fight for a cause.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Mask of The Betrayer the central motive is saving yourself from a curse that is slowly killing you. Similarly, the Betrayer's Crusade — though advertised as a heroic revolution to change the order of the planes and correct a great injustice — had, at its core, Akachi's desire to see his love freed from it — after he, as Myrkul's, disciple, had been fine with countless other people going to the Wall of the Faithless.
- Tommy Vercetti from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He lost all the money Sonny Forelli entrusted him in a trap set up by Colombians, barely manages to escape alive, and now he must spend the rest of the game earning back a million dollars. Whenever someone asks for his loyalty in their faction, he replies with "Thanks, but I'm here for the money".
- Manny Calavera from Grim Fandango is initially hesitant about helping the LSA, pretty much saying the page title out loud in a cinematic. Not surprising, considering that he is an expy of Rick Blaine from Casablanca.
- Edison Trent from Freelancer turns down every single faction invitation, saying "causes come and go". In the late game, however, he joins the Order, saying nothing would please him more than fighting against the ones who were responsible for having 2 countries after his head.
- Rise of the Third Power: Aden joins the party only so he can get a chance to kill Viktoriya, and not because he cares about stopping the Arkadyan Empire. In Tarindor, he has no problem trying to kill everyone in the room, including himself, just to bring Viktoriya down with him.
- In the original Silent Hill game, Dr. Michael Kaufmann actually fits this trope twice. The first time, he was working with the cult to produce the drug "P.T.V.", a highly addictive hallucinogen that both gained the cult proselytes (who wanted to continue their "religious experience" and/or ensure their supply) and allowed Kaufmann to profit from their addiction. However, since learning of the cult's plans to cleanse the world by fire, and him along with it, he develops a plan to undo their god's rebirth and save his own life. This plan ultimately serves to help Harry defeat the god and, more or less, reclaim his daughter. Of course, in either of the two good endings, Kaufmann's past transgressions come back to haunt him.
- In The Witcher at one point, when Geralt is asked his motivations for his quest, one option is "they robbed me and killed a friend" and that he has no other motive.
- Jak joins up with the Underground in Jak II: Renegade solely because he's looking to hurt the Baron in any way he can. Invoked by Torn when Jak accepts a mission, not because it'll help save the lives of other Underground fighters, but because it means he gets to trash some KG Hellcats.
Torn: Never part of a bigger cause, eh Jak? Fine, I'll take your help any way I can get it.
- Mercenaries: The leader of North Korea's provoked war with the South and China, and is building up a large WMD stockpile, but you are in it for the price on his head. In Mercenaries 2, the new ruler of Venezuela is causing havoc with the world's oil supply and repressing the populace, but the main reason your character wants to take him out is that he refused to pay you for helping him seize power. Oh, and he shot you in the backside.
- Kratos from Tales of Symphonia accompanies the party during the Journey of Regeneration and only states he does it for the money when Raine questions him about it. Played with in that his real motives — reuniting Sylvarant and Tethe'alla and helping Lloyd, his long-lost son, develop as a warrior — are still different from the party's at that time, but the former becomes the party's goal later on.
- Final Fantasy:
Balthier: I'm only here to see how the story unfolds. Any self-respecting leading man would do the same.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud Strife is introduced in this way; when Barret rants about how the Planet's dying, Cloud replies that he's only in it for the money. Later, he stays with the group as their leader because he has a grudge against Sephiroth. He becomes truly heroic later, after recovering his memories.
- Speaking of Sephiroth, Sephiroth himself qualifies under this trope in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy: He doesn't actually care whether Chaos' faction or Cosmos' faction wins the cycle of war, he just participated so he'd be able to regain his memories.
- Final Fantasy VIII's Squall is a mercenary by career, and as such takes no personal interest in the cause of the Forest Owls whom he is sent to assist. He starts becoming more clearly heroic after developing a crush on Rinoa. And even then he regulary announces that the problems aren't his. That is until his adoptive mother gets almost killed by him, Rinoa falls into a coma and is then supposed to be left in a coffin in space.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Quina remains blissfully unaware of the plot for most of the game. Quina just likes food, lots and lots of food, and is out on a personal quest to taste all kinds of food.
- Balthier and, to a lesser extent, Fran of Final Fantasy XII.
- Chrono Trigger's Magus is a double-whammy. He's introduced as the Fiendlord, a powerful sorcerer that the magic-using demihumans have rallied under to wage war against the humans; but for his part, Magus is lurking in his keep, intent on summoning and taking revenge on the Eldritch Abomination that destroyed his life. The heroes thwart him, and later in the game Magus becomes an optional party member, only for another chance to kill Lavos. While killing Lavos is the heroes' goal by that point as well, Magus doesn't really care about the fact that he's saving the world by doing so. It's still all about revenge to him.
- In Just Cause 2, Rico Rodriguez is only in Panau to stop the country's corrupt President and clear the name of his mentor Tom Sheldon, and doesn't care about the revolutionary goals of Reapers and Ular Boys. As the Roaches are a cartel, basically a mafia outfit trying to control the business in Panau through force, they don't count as revolutionaries. Rico is really only in bed with these guys because they just so happen to be against Panau's corrupt President — the enemy of my enemy is my friend — he actually goes so far as to dismiss them as criminals when talking in private with Tom Sheldon. During the first meeting with the factions Rico says very clearly that his goal is finding Tom Sheldon and that he will do any job they ask in exchange for information. Despite stating the rules of their partnership the Reapers' and Ular Boys' leaders "test" Rico's loyalty on multiple occasions and even ask him about his stance on the politics of the situation in Panau, with Rico standing there stiff as doorknob not even responding to their inquiries. Amusingly Rico doesn't actually talk much to the faction leaders during the game, aside from their initial agreement and a few Deadpan Snarker exchanges.
- In the section of Red Dead Redemption that takes place in Mexico, John Marston participates in both sides of the revolution taking place. Everyone involved is baffled, and he explains several times that all he wants is to get his family back. While John has no interest in being a part of either side's Civil War — something he makes explicitly known, telling them he is doing this only because they are the only ones that lead him to finding Bill Williamson — he does at least take the time to hear out their political views and philosophical views. On Reyes' side John claims he can sympathize with the people's frustrations with the corruption of government, and even claims that is why he became a bandit back home in America. On the Colonel's side he claims he understands how difficult it can be to run a government but doesn't speak highly of the oppression of the people. John has an opinion on the revolution, but he just feels that his family is a higher priority, and that the Mexicans should solve their own problems rather than have a guy like him intervene.
- Kalas of Baten Kaitos initially couldn't care less about the end magnus, he just wants to take down Giacomo
- The PC mercenaries in Jagged Alliance liberate a nation from under tyrannical rule for money. However, while they are being paid for it, quite a few see it as doing a service for the people of Arulco once they get there. They still need to get paid, though.
- In Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow only wants the truth. ...Even though he saves the world. Again.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Fatman only participated in the S3 plan as a Patriot Agent to test Raiden's skills so he'd have the opportunity to kill Peter Stillman, and otherwise did not really care about their goals.
- Alec Mason in Red Faction didn't come to Mars to fight the EDF, he just wanted to do good, honest work. But then it got personal.
- Baldur's Gate II: some evil characters will join you and participate in good deeds like freeing slaves or serving the Noble Order of the Radiant Heart just because they think that they will get more power or loot by staying with you. Korgan will be literally on-hire if you dismiss him and later want to recruit him again, and for a good buck he will join in you in whatever heroic quest you are going to do. There is a limit though, since if your reputation increases too much, they will be disgruntled and leave.
- Mass Effect 2: the point of going on Loyalty Missions is to convince your squad to be in it for your revolution (or at least make sure they've got a clear mind). If you don't, they have a tendency to die during the Suicide Mission. In Mass Effect 3, Kasumi opts out of rejoining Shepard for yet another suicide mission, though she can be convinced to join the Crucible project, and help with... "Cerberus Requisitions".
- Assassin's Creed III: The Assassin protagonist, Connor, is the son of a Native American and a British colonist. He helps the Colonials in their fight against the British during the Revolutionary War, but his true interest is the Assassin/Templar conflict (both sides of which back the rebels). He is, however, much more sympathetic to the Colonies until he finds out Washington has been attacking his people's villages. On the Templar's side, there's Thomas Hickey. Most of the high ranking Templars are Well Intentioned Extremists who believe eradicating The Evils of Free Will is necessary to creating a utopian society under their command... Hickey's just a hired thug who sees the Templars as a good way for him to gain money and power, and openly mocks Connor for being an idealist.
- Assassin's Creed: Unity: The protagonist, Arno, despite being a fallen aristocrat, actually isn't all that invested in the French Revolution the game takes place during. Rather, his reasons for fighting the templars are personal, trying to take down the people involved in his adopted father's death.
- Assassin's Creed Origins: Bayek, unlike his wife Aya, cares nothing for restoring Cleopatra to her throne, only wanting to kill the Order of Ancients to avenge his son's death, and then go home. He even tells Cleopatra this to her face (which, on the plus side, means he's less violently disillusioned than Aya when it turns out getting and keeping her throne is all Cleopatra cares about). Not that this stops Bayek from helping anyone he runs into while hunting the Order, that is.
- In Wario Land 3, Wario collects music boxes to free the god of the world in which he's trapped, but not until after said god promises him his own freedom and whatever treasure he finds along the way. Played twice over when it turns out that the "god" is actually a demonic clown, whom Wario kills - lifting the curse on the world's inhabitants, saving his own world, and inadvertently earning the freedom and treasure anyway - just so he doesn't get crushed like a bug.
- Booker DeWitt, the protagonist of BioShock Infinite, stopped believing in order and revolutions after the Massacre at Wounded Knee. That doesn't stop the Vox Populi from declaring him a revolutionary hero... or attempting to kill him to keep his 'false' martyrdom intact.
- Jason in Far Cry 3 is only out to save his brother and friends from Vaas' pirates, but Dennis Rogers sees the spirit of a warrior within him and encourages him to help the Rakyat reclaim their land from the pirates and slavers; Jason agrees because (along with being a good person) the experience and training he gets during the process will help him finally defeat Vaas. Flipped on its head later when Jason ends up falling so deep down the rabbit hole that he has a very good chance of losing his way and adopting the revolution as his mission instead.
- Ajay in Far Cry 4 was only in Kyrat to return his mother's ashes, but is swept up in a massive civil war because he's the son of the resistance leader Mohan Ghale. Pagan lampshades this, stating that a normal person who didn't want to fight would take the path of least resistance over mass-murdering the entire royal guard, even if the path of least resistance was following a psychopath dictator. Of course, if Ajay just shoots him in the head, it could mean that his priorities changed from "respect my mother" to "kill this tyrant once and for all".
- The player character in Descent is credited with a major, decisive role in putting down the berserk mining robots, which if left unchecked could have become a major problem for humanity. He only did it because he was paid an exorbitant amount of money to do so, and tries repeatedly to quit the job partway through because he feels he's fulfilled his contract already.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, both the Smuggler (the resident Han Solo Expy) and the Bounty Hunter (the Boba Fett Expy) can be played as mercenaries who don't care about their respective factions and are simply working for them because they're the ones paying them. The Smuggler in particular can eventually be played as being a legitimate patriot of the Republic whose final decision determines whether or not they wish to become a Republic privateer or a pirate lord out for themselves. The Bounty Hunter however keeps a purely business relationship with the Empire, at best acknowledging a certain level of respect for certain individuals.
- StarCraft II:
- Tosh in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (if you choose his route) openly dismisses Matt's thoughts about building a better future after defeating Mengsk, because he thinks that someone like him will just take his place and so on after. He joined Raynor's "little revolution" just to get revenge against Mengsk.
- And if you choose Nova's path instead, she is simply following orders, ready to support Raynor in exchange for killing Tosh.
- Alarak in StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void joins Artanis' Daelaam in their fight against Amon, not because he cares about Artanis' wish to save the Universe or rebuild his species' society, but because Amon betrays his own people, and he really wants payback for this.
- Thief: Garrett only looks out for number one. He cares about nothing except practicing his thievery and earning cash doing so. Yet circumstances keep conspiring such that the latest threat to the City also makes itself a personal enemy of Garrett's, so when Garrett brings them down just to keep them out of his way, he also saves the City at the same time.
- The Vault Hunters in Borderlands 2 are somewhat variably dedicated to the cause. Axton is mostly in it for glory, cash and revenge; Krieg is in it for love and (again) revenge; and Zer0 just wants a challenge worthy of his skills - and everyone concerned would love to have Handsome Jack off their backs.
- In Sunrider, while most of the titular ship’s crew is in it to stop PACT from conquering the galaxy, Claude Trilleo joins up for one reason: to get into the pants of Captain Kayto Shields. Sunrider Liberation Day shows that she does have more serious goals, namely returning certain time travellers to their native time in order to prevent a Reality-Breaking Paradox, but even this seems secondary to her fixation with Shields.
- In the Rebellion path of Tyranny, the Fatebinder can insist they're only bringing the Tiers together in an alliance to establish themselves as an Evil Overlord to rival Kyros, or alternatively because uniting the Tiers under Kyros with the Tiers' consent is preferable to having to work with the Disfavoured or the Chorus again, though it rings a bit hollownote . For most of the Fatebinder's companions save Eb and Sirin, though, this really is the case if the player goes Rebellion:
- Verse only keeps following the Fatebinder into the Rebellion because it means she'll not soon run out of new enemies to savagely kill. It means turning against her Scarlet Chorus sisters, but by then the Fatebinder will have satisfactorily proven themselves a more worthy leader.
- Barik initially joins only because he swore an oath to follow the Fatebinder, not expecting it would pit him against his fellow Disfavored; later, with high Loyalty or Fear, he decides the Fatebinder is the only one cunning and vicious enough to bring order where Kyros has so clearly failed.
- Kills-in-Shadow fights for the strongest side. She's in awe of the carnage even a careful Fatebinder will necessarily leave in their wake, and enjoys killing Disfavored soldiers, something a Rebel will be doing a lot of.
- Lantry naturally gravitates towards those who prove themselves able to shape history, and the Rebellion is clearly history in the making. Plus, at this point, he owes the Fatebinder his life, for whatever that's worth.
- In Yakuza 2, Ryuji Goda is a survivor of the massacre of the Jingweon Mafia by the Tojo Clan and is even the son of the murdered boss, yet doesn't later join up with the remnants of the Jingweon because he wants to help them with their elaborate revenge plot. He's only interested in taking over the Tojo's territory and getting his 1v1 with Kazuma Kiryu, and sees them as convenient to use in those goals. Fair enough though, as the Jingweon in turn see him as a tool for their revenge due to his refusal to join them and would prefer to see him die in attempting to achieve said goals.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- In the series' spin-off Action-Adventure game, Redguard, the hero Cyrus is an Only in It for the Money pirate. After a Duel to the Death goes awry, Cyrus was forced to flee Hammerfell, his homeland. He only returns later when his sister goes missing. During his quest to rescue her, Cyrus unintentionally becomes the leader of the Hammerfell Rebellion against the corrupt Imperial governor of Stros M'Kai, leading them to great success. They would have named him King of the Redguards afterward, but he turned them down.
- In Skyrim, it is possible to play this way by avoiding the Civil War storyline almost entirely. During the one part of the main quest where it is required to deal with it (getting the sides to agree to a ceasefire in order to deal with the dragon threat), you can ensure that neither side leaves the parlay with more gains than the other side, meaning they'll pick right back up where they left off once the war restarts.
- In the first Samurai Warriors game, Saika Magoichi spends most of his story doing mercenary work for the Ikko sect, who are rebelling against the Oda. In the fourth stage, the Ikko surrender to the Oda, but Magoichi chooses to continue battling against the stronger clan. Should the player fulfill all the correct conditions across the story, they access the good ending, where Magoichi decides It's Personal, and heads to Azuchi Castle alone in order to kill Nobunaga on his own terms.
- Persona 5:
- Zig-zagged with Futaba Sakura. After enlisting the Phantom Thieves to change her heart and save her from her suicidal depression and hallucinations, she asks to join. She says it's not to carry out social reform, but to find her mother's killer; since the culprit is the one responsible for the mental shutdowns, the Phantom Thieves don't mind. However, she soon becomes no less driven to help others than the other Phantom Thieves are.
- Kasumi Yoshizawa, a New Transfer Student who joins the Phantom Thieves in The Royal. While her motives aren't totally clear, she doesn't believe in their cause of Brainwashing for the Greater Good. To her, people need to develop self-confidence and change on their own. To her, the Phantom Thieves are actually doing more harm than good. As such, while she does fight alongside Joker after awakening her Persona, and in the In Medias Res opening, she refuses to join the Phantom Thieves. However, things get complicated when it turns out that "Kasumi" was actually Sumire, who wanted to become her dead sister. It's implied that this disapproval of the Phantom Thieves would have been Kasumi's opinion of them. By the time Sumire properly joins the Phantom Thieves, she shares their goal of stopping Maruki and restoring the original reality.
- Kingdom Hearts has Braig/Xigbar, a villainous example. All the other villains, incarnations of the same man, are in it out of a desire to remake the world. Xigbar? He just wants to inherit the main villain's special weapon, and is willing to put up with whatever asinine plan that villain has concocted in the meantime so long as it ends with that weapon being given to him. Which gets pretty complicated given that he's also Luxu, the original wielder of said villain's Keyblade...
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II has everyone who is an "ally" of Duke Cayenne to be this as while he's trying to clear his ancestor's name for causing a bloody Civil War for two and a half centuries ago, his allies don't even care for his cause and are just allies with him because their goals just so happen to align.
- Lost Soul Aside: The main character states as much in the first trailer that he isn't fighting to save the world, but rather to save himself.
- In the Inazuma arc of Genshin Impact, the Traveler repeatedly turns down requests to aid the resistance against the Shogunate and its Vision Hunt Decree, as their primary goal is looking for their lost sibling, and fighting against the Raiden Shogun's forces would make it difficult to ask her for information, to say the least. However, they change their mind and join the fight after meeting some people who had their Visions taken and witnessing the effects of their loss.
- In Ruined King, only Miss Fortune and Illaoi start off with the goal of defeating the titular character. Ahri wanted to look for her past in the Shadow Isles. Yasuo wanted to find and protect Ahri. Braum was looking for the Water of Life from the Shadow Isles. Pyke was simply compelled by whatever force that animates him. Over time, they all realize that Viego needs to be stopped and join on fully.
- Collar × Malice:
- Sasazuka flat out admits that he has no interest in catching any X-Day criminals. He just wants to reinstate the Swords and Firearms Control Law. Despite that, he does help out when Adonis suspects become involved in his investigation.
- Shiraishi isn't particularly interested in X-Day, only investigating certain X-Day incidents because it catches his interest. He is actually an agent of Adonis so he wouldn't actively help solve the cases, though he isn't directly involved with X-Day.
- In Hazbin Hotel, Alastor the Radio Demon is this for the hotel staff. He makes it very clear upfront that he thinks Charlie's dream of rehabilitation for the demons of Hell is a joke, that redeeming a sinner is impossible, and every one of them had their chance for salvation when they were alive. But that isn't going to stop him from helping her anyway, if only to watch the suffering of every sinner that tries.
- Drowtales: In the first Act, Ariel uses her trial by conquest as an excuse to find her friend, who ran away to the surface. Everyone else is a hang-on, has an agenda, or is one of Ariel's servants.
- In Looking for Group, it's pretty obvious that Richard only goes along with them because he can find more people to kill and more places to wreak havoc that way. In truth, Richard was hired by The Archmage to overshadow Cale's character development as a tyrant. Except Richard decides to mutiny against the Archmage and eventually kills him, then goes back to adventuring with Cale to torment the party and everyone they come across.
- Girl Genius had one: false Heterodyne heir, true heir... Oublenmach isn't in this for politics, he just wants the Heterodyne treasure.
- Part of the humor in DM of the Rings is that all the players except the one playing as Gimli (being The Roleplayer) treat all the GM's plot arcs this way.
- In the Ciem Webcomic Series, Miriam initially wants nothing to do with the war between the Hebbleskin Gang vs. everyone else. She merely wants to be left alone. She does come around; but her initial reason for looking for her sister is not to help her sister save the world. It's merely to clear her name.
- Schlock Mercenary: Here Colonel Pranger explains to his client what the primary interest is for his mercenary company, and revolutionary zeal isn't it.
Phica: With you on our side, our just cause cannot fail, Colonel.
Pranger: The only "just" I do is "just pay us on time". I'm not interested in your preaching, Phica.
- Some Regulars from Tower of God aren't ascending the Tower to reach the top to fulfill their strongest desire. Rak Wraithraiser just does it to fight people, and Anaak Jahad climbs because the only way she can exact her revenge on the Jahad family is to enter the Inner Tower, which is where everybody climbs.
- Also within the Tower there also exists a criminal organization called FUG, who are trying to take down the tower from the inside. In season 2 it is revealed Bam/Viole is a FUG member. His motivation is not to destroy the tower, but because they threatened to murder his friends.
- In Stand Still, Stay Silent, Onni is introduced with a Refusal of the Call statement. While his younger sister and cousin go on the expedition, he still plans to keep contact via the latter, who's a fellow mage. When they manage to make contact again, Onni annnounces to Lalli that communicating via mage-space is no longer an option because it involves at least one of them leaving his safe space and some danger that is simply called "it" had started looking for them "again". Next time we see Onni, he joins Mission Control, willing to do any work they give him. He also makes a beeline for the radio used to contact the expedition.
- One episode of Adventure Time displayed Marceline as only helping Finn stop her dad from sucking out souls to get back her bass guitar that he took.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Toph Bei Fong doesn't join the group out of any hatred of the Fire Nation, nor a sense of obligation to teach Aang earth-bending, but merely because she's tired of her family restricting her, and wants a taste of freedom.
- Similarly, Mai agrees to help Princess Azula more because she's bored and wants something to do than anything else. When she betrays Azula, it's not because she's turned against her country, but because she loves Zuko. Ty Lee, in turn, acts out of friendship for Mai.
- Entrapta of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. She couldn't care less about the war between Brightmoon and the Evil Horde. She only joins the Horde later because it gives her a bounty of magical technology to play with.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- The episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V" had Squidward only help Mermaid Man so Mr. Krabs wouldn't fire him. And Mr. Krabs only forced him to because no world meant no money.
- Similarly, in "Whatever Happened to SpongeBob?", upon learning that SpongeBob ran away after he accidentally upset them all (well, everyone except Squidward), they decide to go look for him...except Squidward. When threatening to fire him doesn't work, Mr. Krabs is forced to bribe him with a rare Faberge egg that Squidward needs for his collection to get him to come along.
- Beast Wars:
- Former Predacon Dinobot originally joined the Maximals not because he believed in their ideals, but only out of a desire to defeat Megatron. Similarly, Blackarachnia allies with the Maximals in the last season only to protect her existence as a Maximal protoform and as a promise to Silverbolt, refusing to consider herself a Maximal until "Crossing the Rubicon", when her Predacon shell program was finally removed.
- Over on the Predacon side, Rampage was mostly loyal to the Predacons because Megatron took appropriate precautions (read: ripped out half of Rampage's soul and poked it with sharp things whenever Rampage got uppity). Without that incentive, it's likely he would have preyed on whoever was available, Serial Killer that he was.
- The Constructicons from Transformers: Animated don't even know what Cybertron is, they just work for Megatron because he gave them good oil.
- Beast Wars:
- Many of the colonial levies of European powers in the 19th Century up to World War II included soldiers from its colonies in India, Burma, Egypt, Africa and the Middle-East fighting in wars that were not entirely in their interest. The motives of these services varied on loyalty, professional committment and plain cash and these same rebels often made strange alliances out of their own personal grudges.
- In The British Empire you had the Nepali With Nasty Knives. They still chopped up a lot of Those Wacky Nazis with their nasty knives. The soldiers who fought the East India Company during the 1857 Mutiny were originally mercenaries who loyally served the Company in warring and suppressing the Sindh and the Punjab, committing many war crimes there. During the Mutiny, those states who suffered at the hands of these mercenaries regarded them as Les Collaborateurs who bit the hands of the hands that fed them, and many of these Princes and nobles now fought for their British conquerors to gain revenge and payback. Likewise, the Indian National Congress supported the mass recruitment of many Indians to serve the English during World War I, in the hopes for dominion status. The failure of the English to keep this promise is a key reason why the Indian Assembly were more lukewarm during World War II.
- Subhash Chandra Bose was an anti-imperialist committed to militarily toppling the British. To this end, he initially sought an alliance with the Soviet Union, but Stalin was uninterested in world revolution ("Socialism in One Country" was his policy at this time). He then decided to court the support of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan instead, an action which earned him condemnation from the Congress and the British. Bose was ideologically not at all in synch with the Axis, since the Indian National Army he started was the first non-segregated army with people of all castes, religions and gender serving alongside as opposed to the British Indian Army or crown loyalists which was deliberately segregated on caste and religious lines, but he considered a tactical alliance with them, especially Imperial Japan necessary to get the Occupiers Out of Our Country, even if it meant trading one imperial power for another.
- Jinnah's Muslim Assembly, a group within the Indian independence movement, suggested agreeing to support the British through World War II in exchange for a guarantee of independence as a reward. When the Imperial Japanese Army took Burma from Sino-Indian forces in Spring 1942, the Indian Assembly decided to side with Imperial Japan instead and demand immediate Indian independence. The Indian Muslim Assembly refused to go along with them and instead pledged their support for the Allied war effort on the understanding that the British would then owe India, and India's Muslims in particular, a huge favour and Indian independence would follow soon thereafter. Another understanding was that the new Indian state would have significant Muslim representation or that Indian Muslim MPs would at least have the power to veto bills which might attack Islam. This second understanding is immensely important in the British decision to adopt a 'two-state' solution to Indian independence - the Muslim Assembly threatened to form their own Indian state if the rest of the Indian Assembly did not make certain guarantees about Muslim Representation and Islam, and the Indian Assembly basically didn't take them seriously because forming a new and rather poor country from scratch would be extremely troublesome and expensive. The rest, as they say, is history.
- Ditto for the Irish in World War I. The Home Rule bill (that would've created a devolved Irish Parliament within a federal United Kingdom) was deferred for the duration of the war, and most of the 200,000 Irish men who joined the army did so on the understanding that they would be coming home to a regional government with considerable autonomy. In practice, it looked like Westminster was hoping that The War would cause everyone to just forget about Irish devolution and delayed the bill indefinitely. Half-way through the war, in 1916, a group of revolutionaries launched an uprising in the name of full independence. Their campaign slowly but surely morphed into what was somewhere between the third and the fifth British Civil War in four hundred years, depending on how you count them.
- Likewise during The American Revolution, the British got the support of Indian tribes and runaway slaves with promises of autonomy and manumission, while the Americans got the support of factions such as the Southern slave colonies by promising to protect "liberties" of slaveowners, as well as free settlers who wanted to expand West into native land. Neither of them truly supported the ideology of the Patriots or Loyalists, nor were the latter entirely on board with their interests. The French supported the colonies even though the latter fought against them during the Seven Years' War to hurt England's control of its colonies. Eventually at the Paris Peace Conference at the end of the war, the British, American and French decided unanimously to throw the Native Americans under the bus, even the ones who fought loyally for the Crown, while the Americans blackmailed the English with a better trade deal than with the French.
- An Afghan may or may not like the Taliban and their idea of theocracy, but since the Taliban is fighting the foreign occupiers and their corrupt local allies, they help the Taliban anyway. During the Cold War, the Americans did not like the Taliban and couldn't care less about their religious revolution against the godless Soviets, only that they kill the Communists.
- The Syrian War sees a lot of these types from both sides of the conflict. The foreign religious fighters don't care about the common Syrians' struggle to improve their country, only that the Assad 'infidel regime' to crash and burn. The USA initially backed the Syrian revolutionaries because they are useful in destroying Russian influence, but seeing that the only ones with real power are said religious extremists, they quietly leave the scene (i.e. NITFYR^2).
- US support for the Kurdish YPJ in northern Syria was entirely based on their effectiveness at opposing ISIS, as the PKK's (the Kurdish Worker's Party, of which the YPJ is the paramilitary wing) goal of creating a libertarian socialist society is obviously not in line with interests of the US.
- During World War I Italy and Romania joined the Entente Cordiale (in 1915 and 1916, respectively) and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers (in 1915) because both alliances' leaders promised them generous loans and material+technical aid to fight the war and large war-reparations and some territories from the defeated countries. Italy only entered because France promised her Austro-Hungary's Mediterranean coastline and parts of The Alps. Romania joined because Russia and France promised her the ethnically mixed Austro-Hungarian province of Transylvania and Bulgarian territories with Romanian minorities south of the Danube. Bulgaria joined because she had a military alliance with the Ottoman Empire and Germany, who both promised her all Romanian territory south of the Danube and a generous chunk of eastern and southern Serbia.
- Since they originally hated each other's guts and were constantly warring, both France and England would occasionally join sides whose causes they didn't particularly care about, for the sole reason the other was on the opposite side. For example, France offered their support to the American Colonies during The American Revolution because England happened to be the enemy, and they wanted to salvage some of its losses from the Seven Years' War.
- Eventually the French and the English made alliances against common foes despite not liking each other. The French monarchy became anglophiles and the latter monarchists at the onset of The French Revolution since both sides (a liberal constitutional monarchy and reactionary absolute monarchy) feared and loathed the rise of modern democracy and its greater levelling. The English had asserted a claim on the French Crown since The Hundred Years War, but during the Revolution, they surrendered that claim to support the Bourbons against the First French Republic and later Napoléon Bonaparte.
- The French and the English also allied against the rise of the Deutsches Reich of Bismarck and Wilhelm II, since both regarded their arrival as a threat for very different reasons.