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Offscreen Villain Dark Matter

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Redcloak: So why the Southern Mountains, sir?
Xykon: I keep a back-up fortress here, just in case.

The evil counterpart to Infinite Supplies.

We know how it goes. The good guy defeats the villain. Whatever the villain stole is returned, and his Doomsday Device is blown up. Every single time.

Yet, time after time again, the villain is right back at it again next week, his Evil Minions at the ready. (Apparently their paychecks have not bounced.)

How on earth does he fund this? Why does anyone take him seriously anymore? The only possible explanation is that there are scores of successful operations the villain is undertaking, even though we never see them. Much like how scientists speculate that the universe is filled with "dark matter" note , we speculate that the villain's resources are vast and unseen.

It should be noted that this trope can also be used by the hero, if the writer needs to explain how they're Crimefighting with Cash. Since the heroes can't necessarily spare the time to go out and make money themselves, having a convenient source of funds being run by someone else frees them up to do things the audience enjoys.

See also No Delays for the Wicked and Missing Steps Plan. Contrast with Mook Depletion and No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. Not to be confused with a certain villain named Dark Matter. Forgot to Feed the Monster is a subversion.

See also Not Playing Fair With Resources for Video Games.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
    • The villain group, Galactor, has massive war machines in almost every episode and an estimated one million members around the world. It is suggested that the true leader of Galactor, the alien Sousai X, somehow has the massive personal resources to keep the operation going.
    • One possible source of income is shown in "Speed Race from Hell"; Galactor is show to be strongarming the king of Ruman into turning over much of the profits from the kingdom's many, many casinos. By the end of the episode, Ruman is on its way to being freenote , but it's not the last time Galactor is shown bullying or trying to bully the government of a country into "allying" with them.
  • Dr. Hell from Mazinger Z has the resources to build over one hundred Mechanical Beasts, two Super Villain Lairs, several -aerial or submarine- fortresses and war machines, and he has an infinite supply of Mooks. It was explained on a chapter of one of the manga versions Count Brocken -one of his Co-Dragons- had taken over several European crime organizations long before the beginning of the manga and was using their resources to fund Hell's operation. And regarding how Hell has an endless army of Mooks... It was justified, but the answer is pure horror: All his subordinates are corpses he has turned into Cyborgs personally. Often they were people he or his subordinates had slain. Hence, he has an infinite supply of soldiers.
  • The Jovians of Martian Successor Nadesico have a basically infinite supply of robot drones, no matter how many thousands of the things the heroes blow up over the course of the series. However, no one finds this odd as they're an Alien Invasion force...actually, they're just disenfranchised human colonists that stumbled across an Applied Phlebotinum alien factory. When this starts breaking down, they start entertaining the notion of peace talks.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
    • Jail Scaglietti never seems to run out of Gadget Drones and laboratories despite losing a number of them to Combat Mages under the Space-Time Administration Bureau's employ. His being supported, funded, and supplied by the heads of the Bureau themselves may have something to do with this.
    • And having a steady supply of mass-produced women to sell to arms dealers or lonely men as Dutch wives makes for good money. Especially when they can activate and kill its buyer if he needs them to.
  • Averted (if only just barely) in Yatterman: in each episode, the Doronbo Gang is busy raising money through improbable scam schemes in order to build a new mecha.
  • In Samurai Pizza Cats, the Big Cheese has a surprising amount to spend on giant killer robots. However, this gets subverted when he runs out of funding in one episode and has his Ninja Crows working at minimum wage to scrounge up funds, and in the finale, we find out he's been embezzling from the royal court, to the point where there wasn't enough left to buy an ice cream cone. The princess was mighty peeved when her check bounced.
  • Pokémon: The Series's Team Rocket is a textbook example:
    • It straddles a bizarre mix of this and Perpetual Poverty. Despite the fact that they're often depicted as being cut off from the rest of their organization, generally ignored and frequently starving, not even being able to afford a motor for their pedal-powered submarine, they always have money to build an insanely huge robotic contraption or some other such nonsense to capture Pikachu and/or the Monster of the Week with (which subsequently gets destroyed by whichever of the aforementioned two was not captured.) You'd think they'd either start selling their mechanical prowess for profit or stop buying machines and start buying food, but...
    • They once realized they could make a lot of money just selling souvenirs for the some tournament or another, and set themselves to go into legit business doing so. They succeeded just after the tournament was over and the demand was gone, leaving them out of money, again.
    • Part of the reason could also be that James' family is hilariously wealthy (their compound is the size of a village, one of their summer homes which they hadn't used since James was 6 was still being upkept and probably cost the real-world equivalent of 2 million dollars). Presumably, whenever Team Rocket HQ won't give them funding they get the money to buy one of their ridiculous mechs from James withdrawing from his personal account. Why they don't use that to buy food is still anyone's guess though.
    • Throughout the original series, it turned out they had racked up a huge debt to pay the organisation, with a Delibird constantly badgering them for pay ups throughout Johto. This was dropped in later seasons, where they seemingly met payments and now take part-time jobs to fund their next schemes (throughout Sun and Moon they run a malasada business and are occasional MCs for the Battle Royal Dome, all incognito of course). This offers them a steadier income, even if they often find the process tedious.
  • Naruto:
    • Orochimaru has managed to single-handedly construct a series of immense underground bunkers populated by fanatic followers hidden throughout the Elemental Nations. On top of this, he has managed to conduct extensive large-scale experiments on human subjects. He throws away powerful minions like confetti. And despite setbacks, he never seems to face any serious damage to his organization, just his own person.
    • Tobi seems to have access to all of the abandoned assets of the Uchiha clan, to the point that he can afford an entire building just to store eyes.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water averts this with Gargoyle's mooks reporting how his dark matter (I.E. commerce in wool and banking) is proceeding, and how it is paying for things like his submarine and the Tower of Babel.
  • Inverted in Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department. The story is told through the titular department, which is almost always strapped for cash in its Kaiju development budget. From their perspective, the Toku heroes they're up against look like they're the ones playing this trope straight, especially once they start bringing out the Humongous Mecha.

    Comic Books 
  • Most Batman villains, except for the ones who are directly involved in organized crime and fencing (like the Penguin).
    • This trope was lampshaded in one episode of Batman: The Animated Series, with the Scarecrow drugging star athletes with his fear poison and then betting against them for huge sums of money. When Batman confronts him, the Scarecrow explains that chemicals and other research materials are very expensive...
    • In some versions, the Riddler's goons seem to like their boss. In The Batman Adventures, some of them are worried about him suffering a nervous breakdown if Batman solves one more of Ed's riddles (of course, it might just be that Mr. Nygma is comparatively pleasant as Gotham villains go). Similarly, one comic in which the Joker plants time-bombs in Gotham has one of his goons joking about working for Two-Face and describing Batman's oncoming fist as "quitting time".
    • There have also been a couple of times when we see henchmen who have worked for multiple villains in the past (one issue of Birds of Prey even has them trying to unionize), and this always leads to a certain amount of lampshading as they discuss their former bosses. Apparently, the Penguin actually offers health coverage and a 401K, and Riddler is a nice enough boss who pays well and gives lots of time off. Joker's secret is just how mercurial he is; he'll throw wads of cash at you one minute (he doesn't really value money), then kill you for lulz the next. It's a gamble, but can be a profitable one. One wonders if they look forward to getting pummeled by Batman, considering it's the easy way out.
    • Brian Azzarello's Joker graphic novel seems to suggest that the Clown Prince is a silent partner/co-owner of a local strip clubnote  and hires Penguin as a stockbroker to ensure a steady flow of cash. While working with Joker is undoubtedly risky, it's probably also good insurance against anyone who might want to make trouble. Who's going to mess with the Joker's club? The story also shows that if he needs a quick boost, he just has to walk up to a bank with a picture of the director's daughter.

  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Scrooge McDuck's longtime foes The Beagle Boys, though not always. Lately we often see them more realistically broke, but they've also been seen going after Scrooge McDuck at sea or elsewhere with special equipment that should probably cost more than the amount of money they were after, when it wasn't Scrooge's entire property. An explanation might have something to do with how they're (rarely) shown as a world-wide criminal organization family of which the Duckburg gang is just a small part, but it still wouldn't make much sense. A possible explanation comes from Italian stories showing they are actually formidable thieves and only Scrooge or bad luck can stop them, implying they fund their special equipment to go after Scrooge with the loot of other heists.
  • Cobra in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) has enough military hardware to put up a good fight against the U.S. military. The comics do make a much better effort at explaining where their resources come from than the animated series. Cobra is shown being involved in various legitimate, though highly corrupt businesses. They even sell military equipment they themselves designed and built to some shady government officials from small countries, presumably the kind who have little chance of making any deals with the U.S. government.
  • Godzilla x Kong: The Hunted: For the head of a mere construction company, Raymond Martin is somehow able to fund cartoonish levels of villainy. He has his own private army, a gigantic base, a Humongous Mecha, and he effortlessly bribes every other agency that might interfere with his Titan murder sprees, including Monarch itself, to look the other way.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Tinkerer, a minor character responsible for building, upgrading, and repairing most of Marvel's B-list villains, was secretly financed and supplied by the Latverian politician Lucia von Bardas, as revealed in Secret War (2004). Before that, Justin Hammer funded a number of villains, as seen in the classic "Demon in a Bottle" arc of Iron Man. Norman Osborn from Spider-Man is also revealed to have been hired by various crooked business interests to create supervillains to distract the heroes from their own nefarious misdeeds, before he became the Green Goblin.
    • There are several high-tech organizations whose budget is unexplained. A rare exception is the evil HYDRA, which was funded with hidden Nazi assets, and (in one case) structured itself as a corporation! (Not openly, of course.) HYDRA also controls a small nation. Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), another terrorist group that broke off from HYDRA and became independent, also generates revenue by developing and selling deadly high-tech devices. This could arguably explain where many Marvel villains get all their fancy toys.
    • Doctor Doom from Fantastic Four runs a European nation and must have billions of dollars in tax dollars alone to fund his various schemes.note  In one arc, Reed Richards — sick of Doctor Doom pulling this trick over and over — travels to Latveria to destroy the villain's stockpiles and powerbase. It doesn't work out very well.
    • The Kingpin from Spider-Man owns a vast empire of legitimate businesses that he built from the ground up, starting with one small spice importing firm. The money trail being big and complex is one reason why it was so hard to pin anything on him for a long time.
    • In the graphic novel Revenge of the Living Monolith, the title supervillain is the leader of a centuries-old religious cult that still worships the Pharaohs, and also possesses vast underground bases described as rivaling anything Washington or Moscow could built, fleets of high-tech vehicles that could turn half the world's dictators green with envy and the other half with fear, atomic generators enough to power a city, and consisting of thousands of agents from around the world. The comic never explains how a simple cult acquired such resources.

  • Played with in Mega Man (Archie Comics). Dr. Wily mostly acquires his supplies from re-purposing old factories for hideouts and get his mooks by reprogramming local robots, stealing them or buying them cheap. He also exploits any available resources that can produce raw materials and assembly for him, such as Ra Moon or the Skull Egg Zone. After the comic's take on the third game, billionaire Mr. X provides funding for Wily's plans, implying this is how Wily can afford to go until at least the seventh game.
    • And how did Mr. X gain enough to finance Dr. Wily, you may ask? As a time-displaced Xander Payne from the future, he pulled a Biff Tannen and used his knowledge of events like lottery numbers, stock market events and gambling outcomes to gradually build his fortune before founding a company out of it.
  • MonsterVerse graphic novel Godzilla x Kong: The Hunted: Raymond Martin. For the head of a mere construction company, he's somehow able to fund cartoonish levels of villainy. He has his own private army, a gigantic base, a Humongous Mecha, and he effortlessly bribes every other agency that might interfere with his Titan murder sprees, including Monarch itself, to look the other way.
  • In Star Wars: Legacy, the last issue of the main series reveals that Darth Krayt has spent decades building a fleet of ships and fighters which outperform anything else in the galaxy, along with an army of Force-sensitive cyborg super-soldiers to pilot said fighters. He somehow kept this a secret from everyone, including his own Empire and his numerous Sith underlings, and also found the time to work on it despite spending long periods of time in stasis because of a lethal infection.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted with the Nightmare Factory in the Italian remake of Battle Fantasia Project: they do have legitimate businesses to finance their operations. This actually bit them in the ass: the spell enforcing The Masquerade prevented them from paying certain taxes or even know they were supposed to, and when the spell is inactivated the Guardia di Finanza starts confiscating their financial assets (this doesn't damage them that much, as by this time the money-making schemes are not that necessary anymore) and leaks the location of their bases to their foreign counterparts (and this, with Sailor Venus having connections in the police, does cause them a lot of trouble).
  • Child of the Storm averts this with several of its factions:
    • HYDRA has a lot of assets stocked away, as well as an ex-human AI in Arnim Zola (who can commit as much financial fraud as he likes), access to the vast resources of SHIELD, and are further bankrolled by Lucius Malfoy (a billionaire in his own right, who promptly backstabbed his fellow Death Eaters and took control of their assets).
    • The Red Room has the backing of Russia, at least, then promptly conquers Russia outright, as well as the rest of the ex-Soviet Union - though Asgard strangling its resources by nigh-biblical magical means is noted as a potential problem.
    • While not necessarily overly villainous, Victor von Doom is noted as running Latveria, which is increasingly becoming an economic powerhouse.
    • Also, note that all of these have access to both magic and advanced technology.
  • Queen of All Oni: Daolon Wong's former apprentice Lung has set up a series of safe houses and supply depots around the world, since when he tried and failed to take over from his sifu, he was forced to flee and lost all his resources, and didn't want it to happen again. He never gets a chance to use them.
  • Averted as well in Warband of the Forsaken Sons. The Chaos Marines of said warband have forges aboard their ship, plunder the worlds they conquer for supplies, and even make a deal with a daemon-possessed forge-world to get more stuff. Their boss, Arken, takes the supplying of his forces very seriously.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos
    • Averted. Tsali got the funds to build his own PMC and have his own private asteroid base from Maledict himself, who gave Tsali basically unlimited access to the Demon treasury so that money wouldn't be a concern. Also justified with the Demons themselves, which have the resources of half the universe in their control.
    • Played straight with Dark Tails, although he isn't exactly "natural"...
  • Very Averted in Wish Carefully. After Dumbledore's death, Harry Potter negotiates a Magically-Binding Contract with Voldemort: Harry and the other Light-aligned wizards will leave Britain, never to return as long as the Death Eaters or their descendants rule. It isn't long after the Light exiles leave that the Death Eaters learn that it was regular honest Light supporters who had provided nearly all the goods and services, but by then it was too late. The specific example is given of the time when the Ministry of Magic's magical lifts began breaking down. Not only had the clerk who oversaw the maintenance left in the Exodus, so had the artificers he had previously contracted. In the end, the Death Eaters had to hire expensive goblin artificers simply because none of them had the kind of skills necessary to fix the problem.
  • Sadistically Averted in the Macross Delta fanfic How Roid's Plan Could Have Backfired Horribly: a recurring theme in the ways Windermere could (and should) have lost the war is that their economy (shown to be completely agrarian except for the mining of Fold quartz in the series) could barely support the war machine through the sale of Fold quartz to Epsilon Foundation and their population is on the verge of starvation, twice leading to a general revolt.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race
    • Like the show it was based on, Wily's supplies and funding needs are an aversion. He mentions several times in earlier chapters about needing money for black market supplies and parts and within two years, he's low enough on both that he toys with having to surrender. After suckering the Vick-Tek corporation out of $200 million, he has enough to build Bass and Treble, the Mega Man Killers unit and the Mad Grinder, the last of which is implied to have cost $160 million alone. When those funds ran out, he resorts to a series of bank robberies to raise the $20 million spent on a robot eventually confirmed to be Zero. His power supplies are at least covered by having his electric Robot Masters alternate running his generators.
    • Secondary antagonist the Conduit seemed to play it straight at first, always having enough to provide whatever supplies and money their subordinates needed. Towards the end, it became a subversion as they eventually lost enough that they couldn't afford anything more than a final attempt at their master plan. It was eventually revealed that they were financed by filching from the New York government's funds by having the mayor under mind control. This helped bring about their downfall when it left enough of a paper trail for the cops to trace it back to them.
  • Averted in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Hunter J needs money to fund her operations, and when the Emissary reveals he knows about one of her major bank accounts, she's forced to work for the Bloodline King if she doesn't want it exposed to the authorities.
  • Averted in Bat Brats: while Blackfire isn't much of a villain anymore she seems to have an unexpectedly large supply of cash-that, upon being asked, she explains as just having a profitable and safe package deal at the stock exchange granting her a steady supply of money (she also says she could make more but prefers a steady supply to the risk), and even then she still has most of the billion dollars she made in prison jobs with the Suicide Squad-mostly dogsitting Krypto the Superdog.
  • Discussed and Averted in Inky Future. After dealing with Commander Tartar, X takes note that building the Deepsea Metro would have cost a lot of time, money and resources, so in the Hostile Takeover arc he takes the time to investigate Kamabo Corp's financials, discovering that the Metro was indeed a long-term project spanning decades, funded through Kamabo's legitimate business activities. And since Tartar was an immortal AI and nobody knew what he was actually up to, he had plenty of incentive to take as much time as he needed to execute his plans properly.

    Films — Animated 
  • Steven Universe: The Movie: The villain, Spinel, turns up on Earth with a giant, poison-filled injector whose top is shaped like her Wicked Heart Symbol (implying it was custom-made for her) and a Identity Amnesia-inducing weapon called a Rejuvenator, which according to Bismuth's wording had been phased out of widespread use even back before the Crystal Gem's rebellion. It is eventually revealed that she had mere hours to acquire these items between her leaving Pink Diamond's abandoned garden for the first time in 6,000 years and her arrival on Earth, but how is never explained.
  • Averted in Despicable Me. When the main villain, Gru, wants to build a rocket to fly to the Moon and steal it, he doesn't have the funds and must get a loan from the Bank of Evil. Unfortunately, the Bank has been getting annoyed at how few of his previous plots they invested in have actually turned a profit, and it denies him the loan until he steals the Shrink Ray central to the heist, putting the events of the movie into motion.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Virtucon Corporation in Austin Powers is a wonderful example, and satirizes the trope when Number Two points out to Doctor Evil that the company makes more money from its legitimate activities than Dr. Evil originally wanted from his latest evil scheme. Dr. Evil's inability to understand this P.O.s Number Two so much he threatens his boss before attempting to surrender to Austin Powers (Dr. Evil took care of him for that).
    • In the third film, Number Two explains how he finally managed to make large sums of legitimate money while retaining the ethics of an evil organization: turning Virtucon into a Hollywood talent agency that charges a smaller percentage in order to get A-list actors to go with them. Dr. Evil's Bond Villain Stupidity wins over in the end, but Number Two gets points for trying because the Doctor was very tempted to quit.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong: Apex Cybernetics have the resources to build a trans-Atlantic underground tunnel system with futuristic car-pods linking their facilities on different continents, and to build a 400-foot-tall Humongous Mecha that's armed to the teeth with missiles, rocket launchers, plasma punches and an all-destroying lazer beam.
  • Played With in the early James Bond movies, where Diabolical Mastermind and Greater-Scope Villain Blofeld is the shadowy leader of the Nebulous Evil Organisation SPECTRE which carries out expensive terrorist operations on behalf of shady foreign powers (who are explicitly funding some of their more outlandish ventures) as well as engages in nuclear terrorism, but whose plans are thwarted by James Bond so often that by the 6th film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, he's so strapped for cash that his Evil Plan is just to force the world to pardon him for his crimes (or he'll release a deadly virus) and let him retire in peace, and in the 7th, Diamonds Are Forever, he kidnaps a reclusive millionaire and uses his money and enterprises to fund his latest scheme (which is holding the world hostage for money). His final appearance is in the intro of For Your Eyes Only where he's now an Evil Cripple with only a handful of henchmen who just wants to kill 007. In other words, Blofeld doesn't have unlimited funds of money and every time he or his organisation is defeated by James Bond he gets closer and closer to going totally broke!
  • In Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, fuel is the most precious thing in the world After the End, and the antagonists, a gang of raiders, besiege a refinery precisely for their fuel supplies. And yet the raiders never seem to have any problem with the fuel themselves, not only chasing after good guys, but also fooling around, staging motorshows and just riding circles, when you'd think such behavior would've been, uhm, frowned upon.
    • Pointedly averted in Mad Max: Fury Road, The People Eater (who provides fuel) briefly itemizes the materiel cost of Immortan Joe's "family squabble". Notably, he doesn't seem to care one whit about the cost in manpower. Immortan Joe never seems to actually run low on men or metal, nor do we learn how Gas Town and the Bullet Farm produce without supply chains, but at least it's addressed. Eventually, the chase costs Joe absolutely everything. We never learn where the desert bike bandits were getting their fuel and bombs from, either.
  • The Menu: Bitter celebrity chef Julian Slowik decides to take his revenge on the rich jerks who patronise his restaurant. They realise that things are going wrong when he serves them tacos laser printed with evidence of their misdeeds. The restaurant critic gets a clipping of a review that closed another restaurant. Easy enough to get. A rich old married man gets a photo of him with a young woman who is not his wife. Possible, if not easy. The finance bros get a bank statement with evidence of fraud. One of them says "This is a taco that will stand up in court." We are not told how Slowik managed to get his hands on such a thing.
  • In the Saw series, Jigsaw always has another abandoned building filled with elaborate traps and a workshop for every movie, sometimes several. His backstory is that he's an engineer, which explains how he can design everything, and one movie showed that Jigsaw was part of a lucrative real estate deal, which explains how he got all the buildings, plus he has a few apprentices to help him build the traps. But that does not explain how he can get all the materials for the traps (apparently with no paper trail the police could immediately investigate), some of which are really elaborate, and find the time to build them all.
    • One possible explanation is that, since this film series makes heavy use of flashbacks and has multiple movies happening concurrently, and since Jigsaw is shown to heavily plan ahead, he had already got his hand on those materials and built or at least drawn designs for many of these traps before the police even catch onto him; it is also shown in later movies that he had a lot of offscreen cultists / minions who help him do his dirty work. Admittedly, even this only goes so far, as some of his traps are ridiculously elaborate, especially since at least some of them were built or used by aforementioned underlings rather than Jigsaw himself, despite Jigsaw being the only engineer in his cult.
  • Se7en: John Doe has no employment records yet can afford things like renting two apartments for a full year. The Captain notes he must be independently wealthy but there's never any explanation in the film as to how.
  • Star Wars:
    • A galaxy-spanning Empire was strained to build 2 Death Stars. The leftover First Order in The Force Awakens invents and builds the even-bigger Starkiller Base, using the former Jedi pilgrimage planet, Illum, which was previously mined during the Imperial Era. As a governing body, the Galactic Empire implicitly had massive tax revenue from the numerous star systems and planets under their control, but the First Order is a fringe N.G.O. Superpower without as obvious a means of funding.
    • The Rise of Skywalker tops it with Palpatine's new Xyston-class Star Destroyers. On Exegol, a world that nobody can access, inhabited only by his personal cult, the Sith Eternal, he somehow built and crewed what's explicitly stated to be the largest fleet ever assembled. And every one of those ships has a main gun that can blow up planets. The movie's Visual Dictionary states that this fleet was built by several companies and organizations secretly run by his cultists across the galaxy. The 2020 Darth Vader comic reveals that the Sith Eternal fleet was being built in secret during the Empire’s war against the Rebellion. It's impressive that all of this was kept a secret from the New Republic and other space civilizations for decades, and that these various NGOs, in secret, managed to build an explicitly larger navy than the Galactic Empire, which ruled the entire flippin' galaxy and nationalized most of the major corporations, such as the Trade Federation and the Techno Union.

  • Explicitly invoked in the Dread Empire. The Star Rider possesses, among other artifacts, a magical horn of plenty from which he can summon virtually any object (and even living creatures) to use as equipment or paraphernalia in his various schemes, meaning that so long as he has the horn, he can never run out of resources. Becomes a punch line later in the series when the horn is destroyed and its last act is to malfunction by spewing a mind-boggling array of random junk across the countryside.
  • The Arc Villain in the second book of The Girl from the Miracles District has a seemingly endless supply of mercenaries to throw at Nikita and Robin, even after they make it obvious that each meeting with them is a Curb-Stomp Battle. Nikita lampshades it, and it's later handwaved by a side character noting that the villain has made a fortune on blood diamonds.
  • In Interviewing Leather, third-string supervillain Leather describes two basic types of crimes she commits. One is "the full business" of supervillain ranting, destruction, goading superheroes to come out and fight, etc, to maintain her notoriety. The other is quiet robberies that pay the bills.
  • The Legend of Sun Knight:
    • Usually averted when it comes to bandits and undead. Since society rejects them, they can't buy weapons, clothes, or armor, so they're usually poorly equipped. Sun once identifies a man from a child's testimony as a bandit because he tied his pant legs, a common practice for ill-fitting clothes.
    • The Demon King's massive palace, army of loyal soldiers, and sheer amount of stuff comes courtesy of the Cathedral of the Shadow God, a religion that is obligated to provide such things to the Demon King. Silent Eagle mentions that the luxurious palace was created so the Demon Kings would stop trying to steal the other palaces around the world.
  • Averted in Wax and Wayne. Wax's investigations into The Set only turns up decoy gangs and crimes, and he briefly despairs when he realizes that the leaders only dropped bait to distract him from their real goals. Then it turns out that while he couldn't touch the leadership, their pawns are a different story; all the arrests punch a serious hole in their current manpower, and an even more serious hole in recruitment. By The Bands of Mourning, they're on their last legs.
  • Wuthering Heights doesn't explain how the previously penniless Heathcliff gets rich in the three years between running away from Thrushcross Grange and returning to wreak vengeance.
  • Explained and then defied in the Wraith Squadron novels of the X-Wing Series. Early in Wraith Squadron, the eponymous pilot-infiltrators run across several worlds where their enemy, Warlord Zsinj, has arranged (usually through a combination of Gunboat Diplomacy and money) to have properties and corporations transferred to the ownership of a whole constellation of false identities, all of which lead back to him personally. The Wraiths surmise that he uses them to fund and supply his armies, and promptly blow up as many as they can find.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: A handful of examples of this, but Season 4's Marwan is the biggest example. Marwan, unlike all of the other villains of the show (essentially), is the only one who is the real baddie directly squaring off against the heroes for more than roughly half a season. As a result of often having to alternate between his terror plots and how he consistently escapes arrest raids, Marwan seems to be replenishing his resources of manpower, technicians, firearms and safehouses every few episodes.
  • In Auction Kings, one of the recurring bidders mentions that she won the lottery. She uses this money to buy antiques. Certainly the other bidders must think of her as this trope.
  • Chousei Kantai Sazer X averts this pretty hard with the Descal. When they come to Earth they bring with them a limited amount of resources, having only three kaiju, a handful of human-sized monsters and just one battleship to serve as their lair. They don't even have their own Mooks, instead they borrow them from the Warp Monarch. It isn't long before the Descal's resources become depleted, at which point their Neo Descal descendants have to travel back from the future to bail their ancestors out. Neo Descal zig-zig this trope, as while they are only able to send two ships to the past, one of those ships apparently had all the resources they needed and more for their plans, including the parts needed to construct a Doomsday Device, a decoy doomsday device, at least two kaijus and an entire horde of giant Robeasts.
  • In The Leftovers:
    • The Guilty Remnant is a nihilistic cult which devotes all its resources to their goal of reminding people of the Great Departure. Its members have no apparent jobs, there's no hint of dues or entrance fees, and in general they are never shown doing anything but being annoying loiterers. Despite this, they're able to buy large amounts of property to house their membership or seemingly just to be jerks. In particular, they're able to afford a truckload of corpse dolls made up to look like Mapleton's Departed residents. Each one of these things has a $40,000 price tag, and Mapleton has 100 Departed. Even if one charitably assumes the truck only has the two dozen or so shown, that's still nearly half a million dollars they blew on a stunt.
    • Holy Wayne's cult is a subversion. He initially has access to a substantial amount of cash, some of which is given to Tom, but as the season progresses it's shown that he charges exorbitant fees for his "gift" and still lives like a hobo half the time (being a wanted fugitive, his options are limited). By the end of the season, Tom has completely run out of money and Holy Wayne dies in a bathroom of a fast food restaurant from a gunshot wound.
  • Daredevil (2015) averts this. From prison in season 2, Wilson Fisk is bleeding through what limited funds that the federal government didn't seize when he was arrested, between what it's costing him to pay his three-man protection crew on the inside and what outside money is being spent manipulating/bribing FBI agents as part of his later plans to take control of that organization that will come to fruition in season 3. He's not able to secure a new source of funding until he arranges Dutton's murder at the hands of Frank Castle, then takes over Dutton's prison contraband business. It is this new revenue, which he has Felix Manning launder through Red Lion Bank, that allows him to buy the Presidential Hotel before he puts into motion his plans to trick Ray Nadeem into letting him out.
  • Even harder averted in Luke Cage (2016).
    • In season 1, Luke is able to take out 80% of Cottonmouth's money in the span of a day, and Cottonmouth is forced to start collecting extortion money from businesses to recuperate.
    • In season 2, Mariah explicitly needs to raise $20 million to invest in a shady stock deal regarding the merger of Atreus Plastics and Glenn Industries, which for her means selling off the Stokes' guns to the Yardies in Brooklyn. Problem is, the Yardies are headed by Bushmaster, who wants Mariah dead over an old score his parents had with her grandparents. Bushmaster forces Mariah's banker to bankrupt her, then kills him, and burns down her brownstone. This cripples Mariah in days. The tide then turns in episode 9, after Luke thwarts Bushmaster's attempt to kill Mariah at a safehouse provided by Danny Rand, which gives Mariah the chance to regroup and get the upper hand in the war as she gets her money back and has henchmen, while Bushmaster is now a solo operator since all of his henchmen have been captured.
  • The Punisher (2017). Averted in "Cold Steel" when Billy Russo tells Rawlins that he can't use any more mercenaries from ANVIL because he's lost nine men already and so will have to use outsiders. Likewise Micro starts to panic on discovering that Rawlins is the CIA Head of Covert Operations and so can marshal all the resources of the federal government against them. Frank points out that there's a limit to what a corrupt bureaucrat can do through official channels without drawing unwanted attention.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • No matter how often we're told that House Lannister is running out of troops or the supplies necessary to raise them, they always seem to have enough mooks. Even after losing 30,000 men in season 1 with Jaime, thousands more in season 2 with Tyrion at King's Landing, and several thousand others at Oxcross in season 3 with Stafford, they're still stated to have the largest army in Westeros in season 5. This may be finally averted by the end of season seven, when after losing a large number of troops at the hands of Daenerys's dragons, the Golden Company (an Essosi mercenary army) is hired using gold the Iron Bank lent the Lannisters. This is all in stark contrast to the books on which the show is based: the Lannister army is only about equal to that of the Stark, Tully, or Arryn armies, and about half the size of the Tyrell army, which is why Tywin sucks up so much to Mace and Olenna and why Renly (backed by the Tyrells) was viewed as an easy victor at the beginning of the war.
    • Played even worse by Euron Greyjoy, who is able to built a whole new powerful Iron Fleet even after his niece stole the best ones in a matter of months. Even if he does have the riches to pay for it (thanks to his pillaging), the Ironborns live on rocky islands with few trees. All we know is he ordered the men to cut down the wood of their own houses and use drapes for sails, and yet it results in the strongest fleet shown on-screen, and it completely demolishes both Yara's fleet when they are escorting Ellaria and the Sand Snakes to Dorne and the Dornish fleet when they attack Casterly Rock. Furthermore, even if he did have the money and the wood, it still would have taken years to build so many ships. Heck, even if he had the money, the wood, AND a time machine, he'd still need tens of thousands of experienced oarsmen, marines, officers, archers, and artillery crew to man the fleet, which all just seem to appear out of nowhere.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • The remodeling surgery for a Shocker Kaijin in the original series is stated to cost the same as an expensive car. Where Shocker gets the money for this, on top of the funds for all their other operations, never really gets elaborated on.
    • Kamen Rider Build justifies this. Faust gets all their funding from a MegaCorp called Namba Heavy Industries. Namba Industries gets (at least a portion of) their money from selling weapons made based on the unsanctioned science experiments Faust conducts.
  • Metal Heroes:
    • Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya features a notable subversion in the Sorcerers Clan, who operate on a bare minimum in terms of resources. They only have three regular members at the start of the series, and only three Mooks. Each episode usually sees them finding a random ninja and tricking them into fighting Jiraiya. Other episodes see themselves loaning themselves out to other villains in order to make money to fund their own evil schemes.
    • Kidou Keiji Jiban: Criminal Syndicate Bioron somehow have access to missile platforms, the genetic materials to create Bioweapon Beasts and secret bases all over Japan. This is in spite of the fact that they're a crime syndicate with no known stream of funding or resources.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Dr. Forrester's reign seemed to mostly play it straight as he managed to run Deep 13 without any notable income. A minor line in the very first episode suggested that he and Dr. Erhardt were living a double life in Gizmonics Institute, implying they were pilfering supplies from there as well as using their own paychecks to fund the experiments. However, season seven ended with Forrester pulling the plug since he ran out of funding.
    • During Pearl's time, her supplies were provided by sponging off the ape people who conquered Earth, then by having the omnipotent powers of Brain Guy to materialize anything she needed.
    • Kinga pulled a particularly meta example as she was selling the series to Netflix in order to pay for her take on the experiments.
  • Super Sentai: The evil organization of each series always has enough resources to send out a Monster of the Week and a horde of Mooks each episode. This is justified in some shows where the villains are things like Evil Empires, which would presumably not have as many issues funding their evil plans as something like an underground terrorist organization.
    • J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai: CRIME has a curious explanation for where they get their funding. It's revealed two-thirds of the way through that CRIME is being backed by Alien Invaders, who for whatever reason have a stake in Earth's organized crime.
    • Choudenshi Bioman has a particularly glaring example, as the villain of that show was just a random scientist whose experiment backfired on him. Yet somehow he was able to build up a massive robot empire, all on his own, in the South Pole.
    • Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman plays with this by showing that the Galactic Imperial Army Zone has their own economy and form of currency, which they use to buy things like devices to enlarge their monsters.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Genius: The Transgression averts this trope; despite being supernatural-powered Mad Scientists with Magic Powered Pseudo Science, Geniuses aren't capable of pulling the materials and space needed to build their Wonders out of nowhere- they still need money for that. To reflect this, the Resources merit is required to avoid a penalty when building Wonders. The book also provides multiple suggestions of methods Geniuses could use to acquire these resources.
  • Red Hand of Doom: Many of the hobgoblin soldiers fought throughout the module, including the rank-and-file Mooks, carry masterwork or even magical equipment, potions, scrolls and so on. How Azzar Kul managed to fund his army is never addressed.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Chaos Marines never seem to run out of supplies despite having been fighting the Imperium (and each other) for the best part of 10,000 years. This has been justified recently with "daemon forge worlds" and a much greater emphasis on Renegade Marines (recently turned to Chaos) than the Traitor Legions (ten thousand years of war against the God-Emperor). Chaos Marines also often raid Imperial supplies and use Loyalist geneseed from dead Marines to make more Chaos Marines. And they don't use the technology that would require extremely high amounts of maintenance like anti-gravity vehicles and assault cannons. Being able to bind Daemons into their machines helps to keep them working, too. Finally, it's worth noting that the majority of Chaos Marines operate from the Eye of Terror, where the laws of physics are a funny joke you tell your friends. In other words, they have literal Offscreen Villain Dark Matter at their disposal. The Alpha Legion, the only Traitor Legion that doesn't, are low-key guerrilla warfare specialists and seldom attack the Imperium openly in large-scale campaigns. The Night Lords also often avert this as well, which is turn leaves them perpetually understaffed and under-supplied with deteriorating gear.
    • Fabius Bile is an important character that each Traitor Legion deals with because he can, depending on the author, create new organs or cloned soldiers.
    • The Eldar are a perplexing example. They are apparently on the brink of extinction with only a dozen or so active Craftworlds and miniscule armed forces for a war that spans the galaxy, but neither the gameplay nor the story reflect this, repeatedly throwing away hundreds, thousands of soldiers on futile endeavors and generally having little better regard for their soldiers than the Imperium. It should be noted that the Eldar only have small numbers when compared to the other races. Each Craftworld is a planet sized ship that houses billions, which is small when you compare it to the trillions of humans.
    • The Necrons mostly rely on the same numbers and resources they had back when they waged war against the Old Ones. Fortunately for them, they're built to last and are able to teleport themselves away for repairs if they are defeated.
    • Da Orks' technology is crude enough that they don't really need much to make more of it. Numbers are not an issue either: Orks are basically giant mushrooms who release spores upon death that eventually grow into new Orks. The only reason Orks haven't overrun the galaxy through sheer numbers is infighting.
    • Tyranids don't need anything but biomass to remain a viable threat. They are so efficient at consuming and processing it that every victory makes them stronger.
    • Brought up in-universe with speculations regarding how Krieg keeps supplying the Imperium with a seemingly endless supply of troops, despite the planet being a Death World that can barely sustain life as it is. There are rumors of them unnaturally increasing their birth rates, but no one knows for sure.
  • Warhammer Fantasy pretty consistently gives the bad guys higher troop numbers than the good guys. For some races, this makes sense, like the Skaven,note  Goblins,note  or Undead.note  Others are less-excusable:
    • Similar to their 40k counterparts, the Chaos Warriors faction hails from the harshest and least fertile areas of the Old World and have an economy based entirely on Rape, Pillage, and Burn, yet they somehow always seem to be able to invade Kislev and the Empire with vast hordes of men they shouldn't be able to feed, surprisingly many of whom are dressed in full plate mail and wielding advanced weapons they don't have the infrastructure to build or maintain. The lore basically chalks this up to A Wizard Did It, and that the Chaos Dwarves do most of the smithing for them in return for vast numbers of slaves that the Chaos Warriors take during their invasions, which implies there's a brisk business in platemail indeed considering how many chaos warriors die each time there's an invasion with nobody left to recover their equipment. There's also a Hand Wave about how a lot of the Chaos Warriors are actually Kurgan, steppe dwellers from a vast expanse covering a good chunk of the Asia-equivalent, but in practice their presence is downplayed compared to the Viking-inspired Norscans who occupy a much smaller area. In any case, the fact that there are huge gaps between their invasions (with a timeline of Everchosen going back 2,500 years) does imply that they take a while to recover from their losses, at least (some sourcebooks explicitly say as much). There'll also occasionally be an acknowledgement of how their campaigns beyond minor raids are often unsustainable even with the aforementioned wizards backing them up, e.g. the Storm of Chaos campaign had Archaon split his million-strong invasion force (drawn from all over Norsca, the Kurgan Steppe, the Chaos Wastes, and the Beastmen forests) into a dozen separate detachments spread around the continent (which were then further sub-divided) because he had no way to feed anywhere near that many troops in one place, no matter how much pillaging he did.
    • The Orcs are probably the second-biggest offender after the Warriors of Chaos. They'll often launch invasions of equivalent scale to the Chaos ones despite being even more primitive than the Norscans and Kurgan, being on average bigger and longer-lived than humans (thus logically requiring more energy), having even less to trade (not that they usually bother), and their closest thing to a homeland being the barren desert Badlands. On top of this they lack the heavy magic enhancement that allows the chaos warriors to somewhat hand-wave some of the associated problems.
    • The Dark Elves are the descendants of one of the ten original Elf kingdoms (albeit the strongest one, Nagarythe), and currently inhabit Naggaroth, a frozen wasteland full of monsters trying to eat them. They're also diplomatically isolated due to being Always Chaotic Evil, constantly suffer from literal and figurative backstabbing (which their leadership encourages), and are often harried by the Hung Chaos worshippers to their direct north. Their rivals, the High Elves, live on a supernaturally-fertile paradise, are the descendants of all of the other original Elf kingdoms (and even parts of Nagarythe), have a powerful trade empire with agreements and alliances spanning multiple continents, and are probably the most harmonious and least-infighting race in the setting. Guess which race consistently manages to outnumber the other in their (many) military clashes?

    Video Games 
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man (Classic): Despite being clearly both evil and insane and even jailed multiple times, Doctor Wily is always able to build at least eight new war robots and a fortress. Well, except when he manipulates Cossack in the fourth game or tricks various national representatives in the sixth, anyway. Maybe he just uses really cheap parts; after all, he did make one of his robots out of wood.
      • His fortresses. Those things are huge, requiring poor ol' Mega four or even five stages to traverse. And there's a new one every time? How is Wily doing it? Then there's Sigma, who apparently thinks that bigger is better, creating a floating island in the first game, and topping it every. Single. Time. Mainly by using other people's facilities.
      • While the speed of setting up his fortress and robot army is never explained, Mega Man 9 manages to give believable reasons to Wily's supplies: The Robot Masters are actually Dr. Light's own robots that were reprogrammed because Wily tricked them into thinking he could make them more useful before they became expired scrap, and Wily got his funding by holding a telethon so he could build robots to combat the berserk Light-bots (which he obviously did not use for the public's intended purpose). Considering the general reactions of some people in Real Life, Wily's entire scheme in this game seems plausible.
      • The series's extraneous material sometimes gives handwaves. Crystal Man from 5 was built to create crystals to sell for funds. As his stage is literally made of diamonds, it's obvious that's a main source of income, baring obvious economic issues. Junk Man, from 7, collects spare parts on his massive electromagnets. Some of the places that Robot Masters have taken over were for the purpose of obtaining funding and materials. Descriptions of some of the rank-and-file enemies also explain that some of their weaknesses are the result of cost-cutting measures, implying that building a massive robot army every game has left him with money troubles.
      • Some of the character CDs in Mega Man & Bass explain that several robots were the result of limited resources on his part. Gyro Man was built with a helicopter rather than a jetpack or levitation device to limit costs, and Frost Man was built from the leftover parts of Clown Man.
      • Mega Man 11 is an downplayed example. Wily still has his fortress, but we explicitly see him kidnap the Robot Masters this time around to justify where he got them from. It's also mentioned in the in-game bios that the fortress bosses can't fully utilize the Double Gear system as Wily lacked either the resources or money to build them to use both gears. During a Twitter ask session to promote the game, he also mentioned that budget restraints are what keeps him from just building a room full of insta-death spikes.
    • Mega Man Legends: Subverted with the Bonne Family, who constantly suffer from financial problems that hinder their operation. While they started with decent resources in the first game they were ultimately forced to steal boats to build Balcon Gelede and their ship in the end is barely cobbled together from the parts of their other machines. The massive refractor they got away with in the end funded them enough to attempt to go straight but Tiesel's poor business sense saw them right back in the can and forced to resort to piracy once more. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne shows them to be quite successful at both digging and theft when the Blue Bomber isn't around to foil them, explaining that their "offscreen dark matter" is simply them being good at their job and at reusing or acquiring parts.
    • Mega Man Battle Network: While the series generally played it straight, Mega Man Network Transmission averted it. The Professor enacted his scheme using leftover WWW resources and spread the Zero Virus via selling fake vaccines in order to raise the money for his real plan for rebuilding the Life Virus.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The series Hand Waves this by having Dr. Eggman seemingly get the funds for his schemes from Casino Night Zone. Doesn't do so very well because Sonic tends to gain far more rings than he loses whenever he passes through the Zone, making it far more generous than any real-life casino. Sonic Battle also went into much more detail about this: Eggman has his robots often commit small-time thefts too petty to attract the attention of Sonic, and he also sells stripped down versions of his robots to other corporations and companies to have a steady supply of cash while keeping the real good stuff for himself.
    • In addition to selling Guard Robos for extra cash in Sonic Battle, the Sonic Riders series reveals that he also owns two companies, Robotnik Corp — which sells air boards — and MeteorTech, a company that develops security robots. Yet another company, Eggman Enterprises, is mentioned in Sonic Colors, although it may be the same company as Robotnik Corp.
    • Beyond just "monetary" issues is the fact that Eggman's machines must require an utterly massive amount of natural resources and time to construct (not even factoring in R&D time), yet he always has some new, extensive machine on the ready when his last one fails. It doesn't help that beyond all the robots he has built, he has seemingly no other sentient biological creature with any significant role in his operations.
    • Sonic Adventure: The Egg Carrier, an absolutely massive aerial battleship, is destroyed. Near the end of the game, Eggman reveals that he had another one.
    • Even more absurd then the Egg Carrier is the Death Egg, which first appears in Sonic 2. It's a giant space station, similar to the famous Death Star. How can Doctor Eggman pay for that? It's explained in Sonic 3 & Knuckles that he's at least trying to repair rather than replace the Death Egg, but that doesn't explain the numerous extra space stations he whips up in the Sonic Advance Trilogy.
    • Sonic Unleashed: Eggman produces a fleet of entirely expendable spaceships solely for the purpose of luring Super Sonic into attacking his hidden superweapon.
      • Sonic Heroes: Ditto for the Egg Fleet and Final Fortress. Hell, every ship in Final Fortress could very well be a fortress in themselves.
    • One of E-123 Omega's lines in Sonic Heroes is "Worthless consumer models!," implying that Eggman produces and sells lower-quality robots for personal use. One of Vector's idle lines from the same game has him wonder how Eggman manages to afford all of this stuff, and wonders if he'll hire the Chaotix Detective Agency. The irony of that statement being Eggman did hire them since he's their mysterious client offering a vast payment for rescuing him while Metal Sonic is running around pretending to be him. Of course, Eggman reveals he doesn't have the money for them (presumably he or Metal spent it all on the fleet in question for this game) and has to leg it in the epilogue. Apparently, it never occurred to him to offer a ship or two as compensation.
    • Sonic Mania: Seemingly justified. Dr. Eggman gets the Phantom Ruby. Not only does it morph his Egg Robos into the Hard-Boiled Heavies, it can also bend reality and send Sonic & friends into his old bases, complete with newly rebuilt robots and machines.
    • Sonic Frontiers: Subverted. Eggman's goal as shown in the prologue is to take control of the Lost Technology of the Ancients, which is so advanced that even his own tech is outmatched. Unfortunately for him, the AI he created with the intent of helping him hijack it over suddenly goes rogue after jacking in because she realized just what that technology is keeping locked up.
  • Team Fortress 2: Exaggerated:
    • In the video "Meet the Heavy", he claims that one round from his weapon costs $200, it fires 10,000 rounds per minute, and, as a result, it costs $400,000 to fire it for twelve seconds (you can do the math yourself, he's right). Assuming he's telling the truth, and given how much the Heavy uses the thing in the game, that might bring his expenses almost equal to the US National Debt by this point.
    • RED and BLU's income is justified as being a globally owned and controlled industrial military complex, but where in the world did Gray Mann get the spending power to build a seemingly infinite number of robots that run on money?
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Justified. The villains actually are getting their supplies from subspace. Additionally, Mr. Game & Watch can have dark matter extracted from him endlessly, helping the villains create an infinite army of mooks.
  • Mother 3: Once you realize who King P is, you have to wonder how he funds the production of Happy Boxes, the construction of New Pork City, the remodeling of Tazmily Village, and pays the Pigmask Army. This is explained, but very briefly and only very late in the game. Porky uses time travel to take (or steal) high technology from eras when it's cheap and common and easy to get, and uses it to establish himself as a techno-dictator in eras when it isn't.
  • [PROTOTYPE]: It's not difficult to cause the military to spend 50 to 75 billion dollars or more in one game day's worth of main missions alone, plus any side missions or general harassment of the military you also decide to do. The game's plot takes place over the course of 18 days, meaning the Marine Corps and Blackwatch go through more than the entire US military budget for 2010 in a little over half a month. Keep in mind, this all takes place exclusively on Manhattan Island. Probably partially justified by how long they've been receiving a blank check, all those weapons and armaments were likely accumulated over a couple decades, barring the Thermobaric tanks. Also justified by the fact that, considering the circumstances, they're not going to get shut down for going over budget. As for where they're getting that money? It's the US government — we're already trillions of dollars in debt, what's a few billion more?
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future explains how Clive got enough funding to build an underground near-perfect replica of London, and a Humongous Mecha on top of that, by mentioning his inheritance from his wealthy adoptive mother. It doesn't, however, explain how he got the manpower to build it all in under five years without anyone noticing.
  • Dr Despicables Dastardly Deeds: The third mission involves annoying families with super-persistent telemarketing calls during mealtimes in order to force them to go eat at the restaurant chain financing most of the doctor's operations.
  • Nintendo Wars:
    • Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising has factories: an enemy property that can produce one of any unit per turn at no cost whatsoever. It's justified, as it turns out the pipelines that snake through most of the maps are transporting raw materials to said factories to give them the supplies to do so.
    • Kind of the point of Advance Wars: Dual Strike — we just smooshed the entirety of The Black Hole army last time. How can they possibly have recovered so quickly? Turns out, they did it by draining the life force from the planet itself. Black Hole even pulls the same damn trick in the last six missions of the game, having been supposedly completely defeated (again) in Crystal Calamity.
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword: A slight variation, justifying how Nergal keeps throwing soldiers at you even after the Black Fang is pretty much kaput. He's been storing up quintessence from various sources all game, and he uses it to make more and more morphs to replace the human soldiers.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: The Underworld Army use the Mirror of Truth to duplicate their army of dangerous monsters; after the mirror is destroyed, however, the monsters keep on coming. Turns out Hades is harvesting deceased souls en masse to form into monsters, and this method is wreaking havoc on the cycle of reincarnation.
  • Goldeneye Rogue Agent: SPECT — sorry, "Our Organization", has seemingly unlimited funds from various companies and things. There's even "The Octopus", an underwater lair that's also a sovereign state unto itself. However, it's implied that the money is finite: the player character is given an "unlimited line of credit" to infiltrate an evil weapon/gadget fair, but if he goes on a spending spree, Goldfinger will call and yell "STOP SPENDING MY MONEY!"
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM lampshades this trope when you hack into Marik's bank account.
    Game: All that's left to do is hack his password in order to steal the funds for his evil plan. Where does he get all that money anyways?
  • Mass Effect: Cerberus is absolutely dripping in money. Even in the first game, they had enough money to keep losing research bases full of valuable technicians to problematic experiments; in the second, they built an improved version of a top-secret Alliance frigate (which was said to cost more than a heavy cruiser or 12,000 fighters) and, oh yes, brought Shepard back to life (estimated budget overrun: at least two billion credits), and in the third game they have enough resources to wage open war with the Alliance and Citadel races at certain points. Once unshackled, EDI can explain the basics of where it all comes from; mostly shell corporations and other legitimate interests. Miranda's father, an obscenely wealthy man with similar goals to Cerberus, is also said to have been a generous donor. They could construct the Normandy SR-2 because they own many of the contractors who built parts for the Normandy project in the first place. This gets ridiculous in the third game, where they suddenly have entire fleets of modern warships and an army that can wage open war with galactic governments; the army is eventually revealed to be a result of hideously unethical brainwashing experiments, and it's also mentioned they had to liquidate a lot of their assets to wage war on the Citadel. So much so that they had to take over Omega and its eezo mining operations just to get funding from somewhere.
  • Hopkins FBI: The villain Bernie Berckson is a former terrorist leader whose organization, before the game began, managed to kill 50,000 people in California with two nuclear bombs, for which he was captured and sentenced to death—only to escape. He goes on to become a typical fictional Serial Killer who kills random women and leaves cryptic clues on their bodies for the title character to find. Eventually, Hopkins discovers Berckson's base of operations. It turns out to be an elaborate, futuristic underwater base with an island factory as its front, complete with full security detail and functional cloning facilities. The big question that goes unanswered by the game is how a former terrorist and active serial killer managed to fund its construction.
  • Sunless Sea: The Pirate-Poet is notable for her trademark Alcaeus-class corvette. Depending on how often you encounter her and how good a zailor you are, you can in theory sink said corvette multiple times on one voyage.
  • X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse, the titular villain commands an nearly endless supply of mercenaries, renegade mutants, clone soldiers, has two factories to supply his forces, commands his own air fleet and his own religious cult, and over the course of the game managed to invade not only a micronation like Genosha, but the Savage Land and later on occupies New York. Not bad for a guy that hasn't even taken over the USA and reduced the world to ashes like in the Age of Apocalypse event. This becomes a plot point in Act 3 following his New York attack, the heroes must sabotage his factories to deprive his forces of resources and halt his world domination.
  • Super Mario Bros.: The only way Bowser has funds to build and maintain the incredibly well-oiled war machine he uses to take over other kingdoms and kidnap Princess Peach on a regular basis outside of A Wizard Did It is if you take the entire franchise as canon and he (and his minions) get paid for their appearances when Mario is Go-Karting with Bowser or when they manage to take home prize money.
  • Guild Wars 2: The Inquest are a splinter faction of the Asurans who have Mad Scientist as their hat. Despite having multiple bases destroyed by the players, there always seem to be more of them with even better equipment, up to and including a laboratory-city complex that rivals their racial capital.
  • Another Code: Bill is able to get to finance Richard's operations by enabling the construction of a state-of-the-art memory research lab in the basement of an abandonded island manor over the course of ten years without any explanation as to how he managed the money and supplies. It might be handwaved with the fact that as the last of the Edwards family, he might have some old money left over from before the family mining business went under.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Earthblood: Justified. Endron's limitless supply of goons is due to the fact they're taking prisoners from America's hardest penitentiaries and giving them pardons using their government influence, in addition to recruiting anyone willing to work for them and giving them advanced guns. An NPC in the Nevada base also wonders how Endron can afford to buy and maintain all their high-tech labs and facilities, which another replies to by stating that it's all bankrolled by Pentex, Endron's parent MegaCorp.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: It's mentioned throughout the game that the Sith fleet seems to get bigger by the day and they don't seem to lack for resources. The source of this wealth is the Star Forge, a massive factory that draws its raw materials directly from the sun it orbits.


    Web Original 
  • The Whateley Universe is eventually revealed to feature a regular supervillain support infrastructure, courtesy at least in part of plain old professionally organized crime in the form of the Syndicate. Pay your bills on time (and nobody'll be too concerned about where your money comes from), and you too can simply buy or at least rent your supervillain lair or mad scientist laboratory to order, and minions for hire are likewise readily available as long as you don't pick up too much of a reputation as a Bad Boss.
  • How much did it cost for King Boo to build Luigi's Mansion? On Game Theory, MatPat does some serious research and thoroughly calculates how much King Boo would have had to spend to build the elaborate trap. It comes out to over $500 million. (Note that this is played for comedy, as he does note that it's a work of fiction.)
  • Referenced in an article from The Onion, where a Mad Scientist faces budget cuts in his federal grants, forcing him to get funding by way of mundane scientific research.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Rob is implied to be a Minor Living Alone or possibly even homeless, yet he's never shown having any problems obtaining whatever he needs for his latest evil scheme, including several bombs.
  • Mega Man (Ruby-Spears)
    • The show played with this trope a bit. A number of episodes involved Dr. Wily stealing some technology or supplies for his plans or trying to acquire funds one way or another, but every so often, he'd bust out a machine that wouldn't be out of place in the games as a fortress boss.
    • In their episode, Vile and Spark Mandrill come back in time explicitly for this purpose, as Sigma needs Dr. Light's Lightanium rods for the billions they'll be worth in the future.
  • Teen Titans: Slade has no apparent source of income but still has an endless supply of advanced technology and Mecha-Mooks, no matter how much times the Titans break his stuff. In the tie-in comics, it's shown that he used to live in an enormous manor before his disappearance, and his robot commandos were bought from Dr. Chang, so one can assume he is very, very rich. He has a portrait of himself in Africa in the tie-in, a nod to the 1984 Titans version of Slade who used to live there. In the cartoon proper he also makes a few vague references of his past, implying he may have been a mercenary in this 'verse too, but nothing is really confirmed.
  • Kim Possible:
    • The show has a running gag where she blows up Dr. Drakken's lair. It'll be up again by their next meeting. Many a Lampshade Hanging has been made about this. However, several episodes deal with Drakken's cash-flow troubles, notably "Ron Millionaire", wherein Drakken goes broke just as Ron receives a massive royalty check. Of course, many of Drakken's cash-flow/supply problems have a simple solution, considering that his Hypercompetent Sidekick is the world's most notorious thief. Drakken also ends up in the "timeshare Lair" from time to time when his current lair has been destroyed. Dementor apparently owns a share there, too, as Drakken keeps getting Dementor's mail when he's there...
    • The endless armies of mooks are supplied by a temp agency run by a man named Jack Hench. They're Hench-Men, get it? So long as the bad guys' checks clear, Hench makes sure that the mooks are trained and equipped to the villains' specifications and takes care of all the bothersome administrative work that would distract from evil plots.
    • Speaking of Dementor, one episode's cold opening has him giving some nobleman he was holding hostage over to Kim and Ron — because the amount he was holding the guy hostage for was much less than the expenditures for his equipment, including remote-control attack choppers (destroyed by Kim) and micro-jetpacks.
  • Cobra never won a major tactical or strategic victory against the Joes in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, yet they never seemed to lose the ability to field their army for next week's evil plan. Two episodes did center around Cobra having fiduciary problems; one where the Joes capture Cobra's assets for the fiscal year, and the infamous episode "Cobrathon" where extra funds have to be raised via a telethon for a special weapon. Several episodes hint that much of funding for the animated version of Cobra comes from Extensive Enterprises, a seemingly-legitimate MegaCorp that the Joes know is just a front, but apparently can't prove it well enough to shut it down. Having the clandestine backing of an elder race of Snake People probably helps, at least according to the questionably can[n]oned 1980s movie.
    • In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Cobra is a legitimate worldwide conglomerate with a reach in literally everything from military weaponry to grocery store pies. Their ubiquity is what makes it so hard to get people to believe the heroes when they say Cobra is behind illegal genetic experiments, supplying weapons to foreign enemy countries, and slow (but effective) world domination. It helps that Cobra is funded by basically having their universe's version of Walmart under their control. Fortunately, the heroes finally triumph in the Grand Finale, stopping Cobra's plan to use the MASS Device to teleport Bio-Vipers and tanks all over the world (a Godzilla Threshold since the Joes kept derailing Cobra's other plans)...only Cobra Commander survived the destruction of his mansion and vows to finish the war the Joes started. Given Cobra's still-extant assets, it's likely he could've done so... had the show been given another season.
  • As in the video game, Ganon in The Legend of Zelda (1989) never ran out of Mooks. While it never openly explained this, the cartoon did show him having a kind of Soul Jar from which he would sometimes bring back his recently slaughtered minions, and the Triforce of Power from which he drew his much of his magical power was apparently an inexhaustible supply, so it's not too difficult to work out how he could still be in business immediately after his mook armies suffered yet another crushing defeat.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) eventually subverted this with an episode where the villains successfully stole the Applied Phlebotinum required to power the Technodrome after creating a series of diversions to distract the turtles, essentially letting the bad guys win one.
  • The Limburger Building, HQ of the main villain of Biker Mice from Mars gets blown up in spectacular fashion in just about every episode, only to be rebuilt in time for the next episode. The only exception was the villains' Broke Episode where they were cut off from funding and had to move into a trailer. One episode also revealed that Limburger is a counterfeiter, handily covering any transactions with humans.
  • Carmen Sandiego, particularly in the animated series. She has yet to hang on to her pilfered goods long enough to use them (and it's not like she could sell any of them anyway, given how famous they are), so where does she get the money for all the gear required to loot them in the first place? Carmen Sandiego, like most phantom thieves, is probably independently wealthy. Phantom thievery tends to be an occupation taken up by the rich out of boredom or the need for a challenge.
  • No matter how many times Dr. Claw of Inspector Gadget loses and conducts Villain: Exit, Stage Left, he will always have enough funds and resources to conduct his next scheme. Partially justified however as he's implied to be the head of a worldwide criminal empire, and Gadget can only be in so many places at once.
  • In Transformers: Animated both Swindle and Lockdown work almost exclusively for the Decepticons because Megatron pays better. This is despite Megatron being cut off from his army for years (although he's yet to actually pay that much, so it's possible that he's short on money and they just don't know). Lockdown is mostly in it for the upgrades.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in the hilarious Robot Chicken Star Wars spoof where Vader calls up Palpatine regarding the Death Star's destruction.
    Palpatine: That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! Do you have any idea what this is gonna do to my credit? [...] Oh, oh, "''just'' rebuild it"? Oh, real f***ing original! And who's going to give me a loan, jackhole? You? You have an ATM on that torso, Light-Brite?
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Temple Fugate lost everything in his Start of Darkness (an appeal for twenty million dollars against his company seven years ago), but when he appears in the episode "The Clock King", he has enough money to buy bombs, and an Abandoned Warehouse to act as a Supervillain Lair in his own name and use an incredibly expensive pocket watch as a component in a Time Bomb. Later in "Time Out of Joint" he steals a clock valued at 600,000 dollars, and then tosses it away, the theft just being a trial run for his newest criminal plot.
    • Averted when The Joker was seriously low on funds for multiple episodes thanks to Batman foiling his schemes, leaving him vulnerable to a hated enemy's masterful scheme to humiliate him with a massive inheritance with a ''big'' catch in "Joker's Millions".
    • Averted in the episode "Fear of Victory", which is all about building up funds for future schemes. Specifically, it centers on the Scarecrow using his fear-inducing chemicals to rig sporting events so he can clean up by betting on them - as he puts it, chemicals are expensive.
  • Batman Beyond: Spellbinder's initial motive is just money, hypnotizing people into tossing over their valuable possessions, because he's sick of his low pay as a school psychologist. But he nonetheless somehow has the resources for a fancy costume, cutting-edge mind control technology, a custom hovercraft, and a secret base of operations with multiple virtual reality generators. And of course it raises the question why he doesn't just sell his technology legitimately...
  • Dragons: The Nine Realms: Recurring antagonist Welma Sledkin has an entire lab set up in a mine despite being exiled from Rakke Town, the only settlement on the island. It is never mentioned where she got all the expensive, high-tech equipment from.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Despite being a Basement Dweller and living on a teacher's salary, Crocker can somehow afford to build fancy, fairy-finding gadgets. Subverted in Wishology when he explains to Mark that he pilfered the school's science fund to build his lab.
  • Gargoyles
    • Averted. It's mentioned that among the many divisions of Xanatos Industries are ones focused on robotics and genetic engineering, explaining exactly where his hired goon's suits of Powered Armor and cyborg limbs are coming from.
    • Defied with crime boss Tony Dracon. With the gargoyles constantly ruining his plans, he keeps losing money and territory. The last we see him is running his gang from behind bars. And to make matters worse, Tomas Brod tries to take over his turf.
  • This is actually lampshaded in ReBoot when Megabyte shows up with a fresh army out of nowhere.
    Phong: Where does he get those A.B.C.s from?
  • The Monarch in The Venture Bros. crashes or takes heavy damage to his Cocoon about once or twice a season, and his henchmen suffer pretty heavy casualties fighting Brock Samson. His only criminal efforts are to harass Doctor Venture, and even if he ever were successful, it's unlikely he could recoup the losses. Despite this, he usually manages to rebuild very quickly. It's suggested that he has both a very large trust fund and a habit of stealing equipment from other villains, which explains this a bit. In the sixth season, though, the Cocoon ends up getting blown up along with all hands lost, his trust fund is finally overdrawn and he ends up having to relocate to his parent's old home, carrying out supervillainy with nothing but the equipment he had on hand, until he finds his late father's secret identity as the vigilante hero Blue Morpho and uses his 1960s era super science technology to arch Dr. Venture's new arches.
  • The Mechanic of Thunderbirds Are Go is apparently conjuring giant digging machines, spacecraft, electricity-spewing remote-operated robotic insects, etc. out of thin air. He has no apparent source of income, but still has whatever he needs to try to get parts for his Kill Sat, break his boss out of prison, or whatever.
  • Addressed in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance". At the beginning of the episode, Flash's enemies commiserate about being so broke that they've been reduced to fairly petty crimes and might even have to get honest jobs. After Captain Boomerang tries and fails to kill Flash with a giant boomerang, he tries to get the other Rogues to chip in, an idea they dismiss out of hand.
  • The Legion of Doom in Superfriends were never successful, but still managed to scrape together all kinds of ridiculous schemes. A fairly infamous episode involved a planet of evil robot toys in the middle of a black hole on the other side of the galaxy, as part of a scheme to extort the UN for money. It's hard to imagine how a planet of toys could run you less money than anything the UN could give you.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), considering Robotnik's claimed territory is all but one forest on an entire planet and started with a successful coup on the primary goverment, he's got a whole planet to mine for resources to justify this trope.
    • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik played it pretty straight, considering how many massive schemes he could off every Saturday morning. Interestingly, his lair is destroyed at the end of "Robo-Ninjas" and stays as such, implying Sonic had finally drained his bank account enough through his victories to prevent its reconstruction.
    • In Sonic Underground, Robotnik uses the Bread and Circuses trope to keep the upper crust of Mobius in line. They keep funding him, and he keeps them living in relative peace.
    • In Sonic Boom, Eggman owns a legitimate business called Eggman Industries which supplies all purpose products across the world. This is apparently what allows him to work on taking over Seaside Island and start this continuity's version of Eggman Land.
  • Implied in The Transformers Generation 1 with Megatron and the Decepticons. Besides their activity on Earth and occupation of Cybertron, the episodes "Sea Change" and "the Gambler" show that Megatron has interplanetary operations for allies, resources and so on.


Video Example(s):


Evil Empire resources

The empire has inexplicably large resources that never seem to run out even when they logically should.

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Example of:

Main / OffscreenVillainDarkMatter

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