Follow TV Tropes


Psycho for Hire

Go To

River: You like to hurt folk.
Early: It's part of the job.
River: It's why you took the job. Not the chase, not the money... Power. Control. Pain.

A hired agent who is in it for the killing and torturing. There doesn't need to be killing involved; they like doing unpleasant things to people and there are people willing (and dumb enough) to pay them to do something they'd probably do for free. The paycheck or other reward they get at the end of the day is incidental; they get a huge kick out of hurting complete strangers. On the pro side, you could say they love their jobnote .

Instantly identifiable by their Evil Laugh, at least one unusual signature weapon, a flashy style, and a tendency to play with their victims like a cat. Many of them, the less-restrained ones, are Ax-Crazy and often wield axes. When on the side of the Good Guys, they are invariably the Token Evil Teammate.

Most are mercenaries, the handful who aren't are summoned and controlled with Applied Phlebotinum. They are almost never the Big Bad, because unstable maniacs don't make good or interesting plotters (usually). The Big Bad often has contempt for them for precisely this reason. Note that the Evil Overlord List discourages hiring such individuals, as they "tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance." In fact, it's hard to understand why any intelligent Big Bad would hire these guys, given their tendencies to attract attention by killing vast numbers of innocent bystanders as a regular occurrence, convert any assignment meant to intimidate into a bloodbath because "people scare better when they're dying", turn down easy chances to kill the hero because "it wouldn't be fun", and turn on their bosses because of trivial or imagined "insults" or just For the Evulz. Not every Psycho For Hire is an unstable lunatic, though — beware the mercenary who has managed to focus their love of violence into total professionalism in a job they adore.

The Blood Knight also enjoys himself without much purpose, but he just loves the fight, although both could overlap. The Combat Sadomasochist also enjoys hurting others, but differs in that they also enjoy being hurt. The Sociopathic Soldier can be extremely similar to this trope but is retained by a single employer, usually his nation's armed forces.

In most works that feature such characters, the psycho in question will make it quite clear to potential clients that murder is their calling. Despite this, it's not uncommon for them to get saddled with a job that outlines an explicit No-Harm Requirement (rather than say, a Consummate Professional who are much better at this). Despite being aware of their psychopathic nature, a client may find their skillset nonetheless ideal for the job and demand that the quarry in question be unharmed. As you can expect, the Psycho for Hire is rarely enthusiastic about taking on such a job. If they're not outright forced into the job, they often will only even consider cause they they need the reward offered. In the end, they may even end up defying the requirement and try to kill the target anyway.

Contrast the more realistic Serial Killer, who doesn't flaunt it, and the less realistic Heroic Comedic Sociopath who hangs around heroes and whose sadistic games are treated as wacky hijinx for the sake of comedy. As various examples of the latter may testify, it is all too possible for a character to sit on the fence. If the Psycho isn't for hire, he's doing it For the Evulz. The all but canonical alignment for these characters is Neutral Evil; Chaotic Evil characters of this type usually go "freelance"; and Lawful Evil is typically more professional.

Psychos abound in many criminal organizations and other places, so this is Truth in Television, but of course No Real Life Examples, Please!


    open/close all folders 

  • In the Mercenaries series, all the player characters qualify, but one of the TV advertisements for the first game has one of them state this explicitly.
    Jennifer Mui: "I will be grossly overpaid for doing things I'd probably do for free."

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Akame ga Kill!, Wild Hunt is this. While officially a secret police force, they're actually a group of sociopathic rapists and murderers who kill hundreds of Imperial citizens both For the Evulz and to draw Night Raid out. They get away with this because their leader, Syura, is the Prime Minister's son.
  • Baccano! has both the very talkative Ladd Russo, who is technically an assassin even though his killings on the train are strictly pro-bono, and Claire Stanfield (aka Vino), who is infamous for leaving unrecognizable remains.
  • Berserk: Wyald is an ape-like Apostle who serves the King of Midland as the leader of the Black Dog Knights, an Army of Thieves and Whores consisting of the most heinous condemned criminals in Midland. No one knows where he came from or how he got in prison in the first place, but when the King of Midland announced the creation of the Black Dog Knights, Wyald stepped forward from the assembled criminals and asked to be made leader if he could prove himself the strongest. With the King giving his assent, Wyald proceeded to kill the next-strongest guy in a gruesome and inexplicable way, after which no one dared to challenge his authority. Under Wyald's leadership, the Black Dog Knights quickly became infamous for Rape, Pillage, and Burn, visiting their depravities on the king's subjects as well as the enemies, but because of their military usefulness, the King kept them garrisoned on the frontier, far away from the population and the regular army. Wyald lives by a motto of hedonism, "enjoyment and excitement", which for him includes things like raping a teenage farm girl, chopping her to pieces along with her whole family, and sticking their body parts on pikes. He is also a Bad Boss, forcing his men to throw away their lives in suicidal attacks because they know he will kill them for showing the slightest instinct for self-preservation or hesitating to do whatever he orders, no matter how stupid and unreasonable. The fact that he allowed himself to be imprisoned in the first place and continues to serve the king of Midland despite his monstrous power suggests that he plays along for the fun of it, and he doesn't mind the arrangement as long as he's allowed to rape and slaughter as much as he wants.
  • Black Lagoon has a surprising amount of characters who could qualify. The most notable ones would be the Creepy Twins Hansel and Gretel.
  • Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index begins like this but changes to Sociopathic Anti-Hero when he picks up Last Order. He still prefers to brutally and painfully kill opponents with crazed laughter instead of sparing them but then again, it's not like he brings the girl with him into the battle zone.
  • In Chainsaw Man, the International Assassins arc revolves around several of these being hired by foreign nations to kill Denji and use his remains for the Lensman Arms Race.
  • Sir Luciano Bradley, the Knight of Ten, from Code Geass. A textbook Sadist at heart, he specifically states that he joined the army so that he would be allowed to kill a lot of people without being punished for it. Bradley doesn't have a single line of text where he isn't insulting, threatening, or otherwise expressing a desire to hurt someone. He is also incredibly racist towards the Japanese, and is even implied during his first meeting with Kallen Kozuki that he would most certainly rape her, given the chance. All this combined makes him a truly loathsome character.
  • Cowboy Bebop features the ultimate Psycho For Hire in "Pierrot Le Fou". Not only is he a lunatic, he's also Immune to Bullets.
  • Darker than Black:
    • Wei is sadistic and violent even by Contractor standards, which is saying something. But then, his power is to teleport chunks out of anything he's gotten blood on, so you shouldn't exactly expect him to be a nice guy.
    • Wei's a saint compared to Ilya Sokolov, a Contractor introduced in Episode 7 of the second season. Ilya was a Serial Killer prior to getting his powers, which makes him a very competent tracker and killer, although his boss is troubled by having to employ such a nut. Interestingly, Ilya is almost Good Powers, Bad People, as his power is to put people into a peaceful sleep/killing painlessly, but he's still a skin-crawlingly creepy psycho.
  • In Date A Live most DEM Wizards are trained to become Wescott's loyal fanatics who voluntarily obey what he says, while money may or may not be a secondary need. Best example are Jessica Bailey and Ellen Mira Mathers.
  • The Dragon Ball series has a number of these:
    • Tao Pai Pai charges 10 billion Zeni per kill but nonetheless loves killing people. Hell, the very first thing he says to Goku is "Pleased to kill you."
    • Tambourine's character profile lists his hobby as killing people, which is also his job. It's expanded on in the anime, where after he kills Giran, a bear person who Giran was bullying tries to thank him, and Tambourine promptly cuts him down, openly admitting to the bear's son that while he killed Giran for a job, he killed the father for fun.
    • The Saiyan race as a whole served as this for Frieza. While their planet was annexed by Frieza, they were nonetheless bloodthirsty, genocidal Space Pirates who took pleasure in causing pain and wiping out civilizations.
    • Dodoria, one of Frieza's Co-Dragons. In contrast to Zarbon, who's more of a Punch-Clock Villain, Dodoria is openly sadistic, cruel, and almost as bloodthirsty as Frieza himself.
    • There is also Beerus. As a Destroyer Deity, it's his job to destroy planets. In Dragon Ball Super, however, he mentions that he actually enjoys seeing the planets he destroys explode, and never gets tired of the sight.
  • The gleefully psychotic Anemone from Eureka Seven fits this trope perfectly, at least when she's on her medication (without it, not so much). In a way, she could be seen as a female version of Dilandau (well, not including the androgynous nature).
  • In The Five Star Stories most of the Left Wing of the Mirage Knights is made up of these types, most of whom are kept under lock & key in the aptly named Demon Tower when the emperor isn't using them.
  • Barry the Chopper and the Slicer from Fullmetal Alchemist are a pair of Serial Killers who were offered a chance at life in exchange for guarding Laboratory 5. Barry in particular makes it very clear that he only accepted the offer for the chance to start cutting people up again.
  • Full Metal Panic!:
    • Gauron actually had to be restrained from killing the pilot on an airplane he was hijacking, even when none of the other terrorists could fly the plane. He's been shown to also shoot and kill his employers when they say things that irritate him. Furthermore, while utilizing a Lambda Driver seems to drive another terrorist into a kind of delusional psychosis, Gauron doesn't seem at all changed by his experiences with it, suggesting he's already that crazy. Add in his intentionally brutal execution and gruesome display of Sousuke's comrades just to attempt to "wake up" the perfect killing machine he remembers Sousuke being, and the psychosis is rather clear. However, his sheer personality while doing this (such as utilizing his infamous "bang" finger pose to trigger his AS's Lambda Driver) have had some people torn between whether he's in Moral Event Horizon territory or an utter badass.
    • Gates, Gauron's replacement in Amalgam's antagonist role from The Second Raid, is also like this, with a Running Gag being his random killing off of his own men for any number of reasons. Also, his last words before his death? "I could use a haircut" while his mech is being vaporized around him by the Arbalest's Lambda Driver. If not for his apparent combat skills, one'd wonder why Amalgam'd hire someone MORE unstable than Gauron. It's an example of Adaptation Distillation. In the original novel, he was a nondescript goon who didn't even have a name and was known only by his Amalgam codename — Mr. Kalium. The whole psycho thing was invented by the animation team.
  • Kurodou "Dr. Jackal" Akabane and Takuma "The Enlightened" Fudou in Get Backers. Both of them tend to get sidetracked from their mission when they get too excited about fighting Ban / Ginji.
  • Episodes 20-21 of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has a cyborg "cleaner" working for corrupt government officials who relishes opportunities to cover up his crimes by slaughtering any witnesses, even his own men if it feels necessary/he feels like it.
  • Gundam:
  • The Gunsmith Cats OVA had Natasha Radinov, a sadistic ex-special forces Renegade Russian who has no qualms about killing civilians and undergoes major Sanity Slippage after Rally shoots off part of her earlobe.
  • Hellsing has Jan Valentine; being a minor villain didn't seem to matter for him at all as his part of attacking the Hellsing manor was mostly for the fun of it. He threatens to rape, kill, then rape Integra again, massacres everything in front of him, and dies flipping off the cast. While betraying his bosses. Not even during his fiery self-destruction does he stop laughing maniacally.
    • Alucard himself qualifies big-time — he's a vampire, by his own admission worse than what he fights, a nightmarish sadist who loves to terrify and then rip his enemies apart (frequently eating them) with totally overwhelming power, and he's got an impressive Evil Laugh of his own. But he's an unusual example in that he works for the good guys, and that he is unambiguously, absolutely loyal to his boss Integra. Which just means he massacres threats to her with even greater glee.
  • High School D×D: Freed Sellzen, big time. While initially seeming to just be a Knight Templar, it's ultimately revealed that he only joined the Church and became an Exorcist because it'd allow him to slaughter things and slake his bloodlust without consequence; he doesn't even believe in God, and never did.
  • The Shichinin-tai (Band of Seven) from Inuyasha, especially Jakotsu and Suikotsu (when dominated by his evil side). Even Bankotsu, their leader, casually admits that his only goal in life is to kill as many people as possible and even offers to help his subordinate Renkotsu become lord of his own castle by force should the man wish to leave their mercenary organization and "settle down".
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Dio Brando in Part 3 is extremely fond of hiring psychopaths in his league who are just as bat-shit insane, or even worse, than himself. Examples include Gray Fly, Devo, J. Geil, Steely Dan, Mannish Boy, Alessi and Pet Shop.
    • Part 4 has Anjuro "Angelo" Katagiri, a surprisingly horrifying Starter Villain hired by Keicho Nijimura specifically because of his depravity. Later on in the part is Terunosuke Miyamoto, whom Yoshihiro Kira hires to kidnap Josuke, his family, and his friends, and he agrees, all because he loves the thrill of exploiting people's fears.
    • Part 5 has Cioccolata who is easily the worst in this spectrum even considering all the other parts in the series. He is the only one who joined Passione as a chance to kill and torture people for his own amusement and goes on a completely motiveless killing spree after being dispatched against Bucciarati's group, endangering the lives of both innocent civilians and even other members of the organization in the process. And even Diavolo hates this guy!
    • Part 6 has Lang Rangler and Kenzō, hired by Pucci to stop Jolyne from obtaining her father's memory disc. Lang is a slightly downplayed example given his initially subdued demeanor, but he is also an unhinged psychopath with a Hair-Trigger Temper who was imprisoned for stabbing his college professor 69 times in a rage, and his preferred killing method is trapping his victims in a vacuum space which causes their heads to explode. Kenzō is even worse in this regard, being a former cult leader imprisoned for manipulating his followers into burning themselves alive and brutally kills dozens of inmates in his vicinity while waiting to pursue Jolyne as a demonstration.
  • Schwartz of Knight Hunters start out as a team of four Psychos for Hire, since they are the Evil Counterparts of the four Hitman with a Heart protagonists. That they turn on every single one of their employers before the end of the first series illustrates the dangers of employing Psychos for Hire.
  • Lupin III: Several villains employ these. Probably used for Asshole Victim, as this level of evil is usually not present in the Lighter and Softer stories. Many of them seem to have a past with Jigen, for some reason.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Most Eclipse Drivers are this. Partially justified since The Virus that creates them increases their aggression and bloodlust and can only be satiated by killing sentient beings, resulting in most Drivers having less than pleasant personalities and rather cavalier attitudes towards death and destruction.
  • Mnemosyne features the psychotic Laura, who takes sadistic pleasure in causing as much harm and destruction to her target, Rin, as she possibly can. She also enjoys harming those close to her as well.
  • In Naruto, this trope abounds. After all, it deals with a society of mercenaries where death is a commodity.
    • Momochi Zabuza was originally this and works for the Big Bad of the arc until he is betrayed. Cue messy end for both.
    • Deidara, on the other hand, took on contracts from antinationalist terrorists prior to joining Akatsuki, stating his reason for doing such was just to blow things up with his art. Even his time with Akatsuki was less about fulfilling their plans than getting even with Itachi.
    • Gaara before his Heel–Face Turn also qualifies for this. His main reason for acting as a shinobi was to find more people to kill and he shared a hate-hate relationship with his father/boss.
    • Kakuzu and Hidan are two sides of this coin. Kakuzu joined Akatsuki to gain money, power, and because he's killed everyone else he worked with. Hidan joined because it's more satisfying to kill powerful opponents and a world where he rules means more sacrifices for his god.
  • Tsukiyomi of Negima! Magister Negi Magi tends to fall into this. can I slice up the people on that ship, then?
    Fate:...were you even listening? (Not that I daresay you'd have any trouble slicing them up...)
  • Asuka Langley Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Atori in Noein. In a rare case for violent psychos, he actually gets better and pulls a Heel–Face Turn. This is largely due to Miho befriending him when he had amnesia: she reminded him of his dead little sister and brought out the goodness buried deep, deep inside him.
  • The World Government in One Piece has these guys comin' out the wazoo.
    • For starters, most high-level Marines aren't generally very nice people.
    • They employ seven pirates as privateers, the Seven Warlords of the Sea, and let them do whatever they want without so much as keeping tabs on them (one of them tried to amass a zombie army and take over the world, another pulled an Evil Plan to overthrow a country and revive a Forgotten Super Weapon, and the newest one has amassed a massive civilian body count pursuing a dumb vendetta that doesn't help them in the least), and the most likely worst of them is a sadistic psychopath who abandons slave trade because he thinks it's become passe.
      • Among the last one's worst underlings is one of the main antagonists in the Punk Hazard arc; his scheme is basically nukes for sale. It goes without saying that he's in it For the Evulz; his Slasher Smile is more than enough to give that much away.
    • Then there's the Cipher Pol No. 9 assassin squad, who all more or less qualify, but are led by one Rob Lucci, who is just out of his mind and states being able to kill is his reason for being there.
  • Hunter J from Pokémon: The Series. She's an utterly ruthless poacher-for-hire willing to sic an army of henchmen and Pokémon comparable to those of the Elite Four on children if they get between her and a valuable Pokémon. She will only relent in her merciless attacks if she captures her prey or if her employer cancels the job.
  • Drosselmeyer in Princess Tutu used to be one of these, until the fact that he'd write any story terrified even those that hired him so much that they cut off his hands.
  • Udo Jin-e (Kurogasa) from Rurouni Kenshin is an almost stereotypical example. He has everything from a Slasher Smile to even Glowing Eyes of Doom. In the never-animated Jinchu arc, Enishi's Six Comrades are also a squad of these.
    • Otowa and Gein seem to be the only ones in the group that fits the trope. Enishi, Mumyoi, and Kujirinami were motivated mostly by Revenge, while Banjin falls more under the Blood Knight category. A better example would be Heishin's personal fighting squad, the Sushin/Shishin.
    • Makoto Shishio was probably one of these, back when he was working for the Shishi
  • Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles: Lucius Orgueil and his mercenary group, the Heavenly Lions, are a bunch of sadists who like to use their power to torment those weaker than them, even when they're not getting paid for it. While on the payroll of Proxian agent Reiss, they attack various royals from other countries and enjoy the chaos they cause in their operations.
  • Karasuba from Sekirei is the only consistent member during all three incarnations of the Discipline Squad, because she genuinely LOVES killing. That she gets the perks of being MBI's top enforcer is only icing on the very bloody cake. She combines this with the Blood Knight since the stronger the opponent she faces, the more fun she'll have killing them. While Minaka is the more traditional, scheming Big Bad that controls the Sekirei Plan......she could be considered the true villain of the series, having been established as the Final Boss from the beginning. Her ultimate goal is to use the power gained from victory to destroy the world.
  • The chainsaw Living Weapon Giriko from Soul Eater. While he does have { or at least did have) the motivation of protecting Arachne, he has no problem fighting given the opportunity, and doing so violently and with obvious enjoyment. Example being in Chapter 75 when he encounters Maka. He also joined Noah apparently for want of something to do when found by Justin Law.
  • The anime Texhnolyze has an unexpected Psycho For Hire in Yoshi who murders innocent people and starts gang wars for the sake of amusement. While he may have an ideological purpose behind it all, it is so obscure that it only makes him look all the more hysterical.
    • It's a rather tragic one: He comes from a world where there are no passions, no one desires or fears anything, and death is just an irrelevant abstraction. Then he comes to Lux and sees people who truly care about living, due to being under a constant threat of violent death. He falls so much in love with this feeling, and thinks that the people of Lux don't appreciate it enough, that he decides to share his own newfound passion with everybody by starting a war that will swallow the entire city, allowing him to witness its overflowing lifeforce in the fullest.
  • Hauenkua in Utawarerumono is a sadistic maniac who wants to kill any chance he can.

    Comic Books 
  • Lono from 100 Bullets. He is good to send a message, or make things look like random aggression.
  • 2000 AD:
    • Judge Dredd: Judge Death was originally one of these when he signed up for his Alternate Universe's equivalent of the Judges so he could make a living out of killing people. In fact, this extends to the rest of the Judge force in his dimension: their recruitment posters actually advertised "Kill anyone you like (within reason)" as a bonus for joining. This is eventually subverted when he makes himself Chief Judge by killing his predecessor, as he considers life in general to be a crime and is thus obsessive in exterminating all of it.
    • They have run a comic strip about Ulysses Sweet in Tharg's Future Shocks. "Psycho for Hire" is practically his job description. However, he's a Heroic Comedic Sociopath, not a straight-up sociopath.
  • Astro City has Demolitia and the Unholy Alliance, who enjoy their work too much to be Punch-Clock Villains and are not classy enough to form Murder, Inc..
  • Seth Angus Billy Cletus Bubba Jamie Clement Callum Cowie, a hillbilly pedophile given superpowers by the world's richest nations and hired to take out The Authority.
    President: I didn't get involved in this because I'm some sort of cackling super-villain who gets off on hurting people or anything.
    Seth: Hell, I did.
  • The Frenchman and the Female from the titular The Boys divide their time between playing board games and inflicting grievous bodily harm.
  • The DCU:
    • Batman: The Joker has worked for other villains. Most of them start regretting that as soon they realize why he's the one guy who can keep Batman too busy to go after them.
      • In Infinite Crisis, Alex Luthor deliberately keeps the Joker out of the Society because of this. It turns out that this is actually the worst option when dealing with the Joker.
        Lex Luthor: You made a lot of mistakes. You underestimated Superman. Superboy. Me. But the biggest one? You didn't let the Joker play.
    • The biggest example is Lobo, a parody of Nineties Anti Heroes whose favorite sport is killing.
      • It's been shown that even hiring Lobo is dangerous. He's killed, and generally destroyed the planet of, most people who've ever hired him. Most recently he was tasked by a god with tracking down the one weapon that could kill said god and returning with it. Upon completing his mission, Lobo immediately killed the god with it. He really should have seen that coming.
      • On the flip side, Lobo always keeps his word and completes the contract to the letter. Meaning that if the contract had said 'not kill me with the weapon', Lobo would have left him alive. But you have to be careful with the words, as shown when he was forced to bring a certain person to Vril Dox only to discover it was his fourth grade teacher, the one person he wanted dead above everyone in the universe: Lobo brought her to Vril Dox alive (and legless), but as soon as Vril Dox said she was in his care Lobo killed her, as Dox had said nothing about leaving her alive after completing the job. Bear in mind that Vril Dox is just about the only person in the universe who Lobo will listen to.
    • Teen Titans:
      • Cheshire qualifies abundantly, at least after her Moral Event Horizon. It doesn't get much more "psycho" than nuking a small country just to prove to the world that you're not bluffing — and laughing while it burns. Cheshire originally wasn't this, instead being violent to degrees, but eventually Characterization Marches On.
      • The original Terra from The Judas Contract. In addition to being The Mole sent by Deathstroke to destroy the Titans from the inside out, Terra is explicitly psychopathic, and she hates "goody-two-shoes" for no apparent reason. However, a future retcon implies that she was drugged by Deathstroke into becoming evil.
    • Red Robin gets caught up in an international assassination competition where all of the many competitors fit the bill. He manages to shut it down but has to fake his own death to do so and is almost killed and raped by some of the contestants along the way.
    • Wonder Woman Vol 2 villain Cyborgirl chose to use her newfound gifts and power after getting lifesaving cybernetic implants for financial gain, she was already a jerk who happily manipulated others to gain drugs, but she'd never had the power to act as a killer for hire before.
  • Murdock in Carland Cross shows signs of belonging to this trope quite often.
  • Kabuki:
    • The twin assassins Siamese. "...we will do silly things to your tender parts..."
    • Snapdragon as well. She saves a man from a Jack Bauer-style interrogation and then tells him: "They would have killed you before you talked." [pulls a knife] "I won't have the same problem."
  • Griffen and Hyde from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. We eventually root for Hyde, his love for Mina making him (almost) a Sociopathic Hero, but the fact the government is delighted to have an invisible treacherous rapist on its books is troubling to say the least. You might also count Nemo but at least there's method to his madness.
    • Nemo actually seems fairly emotionally stable, if incredibly pissed off and bitter, at first. Then, at the end of the first book, he busts out the automatic harpoon gun. Quartermain points out that Hyde is actually better than Nemo, because you can reason with Hyde.
    • Their French counterparts, Les Hommes Mysterioux, are this almost to a man, consisting almost entirely of characters from French pulp fiction such as The Nyctalope, Zenith The Albino, and Fantomas. The only mildly heroic member of this group is Gentleman Thief Arsène Lupin.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Viper from Captain America might just be the crowning example of this. She's so Ax-Crazy that the Red Skull of all people won't work with her, if only because his actions usually have some kind of purpose, whereas she just likes killing and hurting as many people as possible.
    • Bullseye from Daredevil. In an appearance in Daniel Way's Deadpool comic, he even mentions that he rarely spends the money he makes from his hit jobs. He is actually extremely rich by this point, but rather than use it, he continues to be a hitman because he likes it.
      • The Kingpin will sometimes use a Psycho for Hire to make a mob hit look like a random killing. Once, it worked — but another time, the Psycho for Hire got carried away, and the whole thing was blown.
      • In Daredevil: Born Again, the Kingpin hires two psychopaths at once to draw out Daredevil and hopefully kill him: Nuke, a Super Soldier driven insane from years of harsh experiments and being pumped full of drugs, and a killer in a Daredevil costume. Nuke is to drop into Manhattan and just start firing his huge gun Betsy, and the other one is supposed to kill Matt Murdock's friends while dressed as Daredevil, framing him for the crime.
    • Deadpool is a shining example of this trope, compounded with being a Cloudcuckoolander. He was once hired to keep Spider-Man distracted. During that time, he tried to blow Spidey up with an exploding pen, blew up his own feet instead (a momentary inconvenience), and challenged Spider-Man to a Your Mom contest. (Apparently, he has a "yo mama" joke so bad that it can kill people.) Ultimately, he stops when the contract ends, leaving Spider-Man just as confused as anyone else who has ever tangled with him.
    • Unsurprisingly, given the Darker and Edgier nature of the series, The Punisher MAX features these characters in droves, the most noticeable being Barracuda and Bullseye. The latter takes this trope even further than his mainstream-universe counterpart does, with his psychotic side being even less picky about the death and destruction caused by carrying out his contracts than in his other incarnations.
      Bullseye: I'm going to need to pleasure myself now. You might want to leave the room.
      Kingpin: For fuck's sake, you're insane!
    • Psyko from Sleepwalker lives up to his name. A Serial Killer before he got his powers, he would later use them to make everyone around him Brainwashed and Crazy, and Mind Rape Sleepwalker until he nearly drove the alien hero crazy.
    • In the Soviet Super Soldiers one-shot, Firefox is a strong example. "You have come to the Firefox for either one of two reasons, Valentin Shatalov. Either you want to die... or you want someone else to." After being given his assignment, he asks with great interest whether he's allowed to make it "something worth talking about".
    • Sabretooth from X-Men, to the point that even hiring him is dangerous because if his employer pisses him off, he will go after them when he's done with the original task.
  • Minor Savage Dragon and Deadly Duo enemy Fusion puts an unusual emphasis on the "for hire" part. "You guys are pathetic. I'd put you out of your misery, but hey — I do this for a living. I start killing guys for nothin' and word gets around, you know?"
  • Sin City has Mr. Shlubb and Mr. Klump, along with a host of others including the silent farm boy cannibal Kevin. On the heroic (sociopath) side, we have Miho, who also does not speak and wears absolutely no expression on her face but a deadly calm, but clearly enjoys killing people and toying with her victims.
    Gail: ...but those boys in that hunk-of-junk Plymouth, they're one mistake away from seeing what Miho can do. She's been aching for some practice. Things have been so quiet since all the trouble with Marv and Goldie and Cardinal Roark. It broke my heart, seeing Miho so frustrated. I'd have to be made of stone not to give her something to do.
  • The final arc of Strikeforce: Morituri subverts this by demonstrating exactly why you shouldn't hire sadistic maniacs to do important jobs. The Government Conspiracy gives three Psychos For Hire superpowers to use them as assassins, whereupon two of them very quickly decide that they're being exploited and abandon their missions, and the third and most psycho one turns his mission into a pointless attention-seeking massacre and gets killed.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: Plays with it with Overlord. Overlord lives to fight and to kill, he has no ambitions, just a desire to kill more people "To upgrade from Homocide to Genocide." He joined the Decepticons to do just that. Megatron tries to put a leash on Overlord, but in doing so, Overlord chafes and abandons the cause. He's his own bot now, he doesn't want to hire himself out to anyone, just kill as many people as possible in all the painful ways he can come up with. Overlord is also obsessed with fighting Megatron — he had a catatonic breakdown when he heard Megatron was dead, and immediately recovered when he found out this wasn't the case.
  • Hazel and Cha-Cha from The Umbrella Academy. A diner chef makes the mistake of saying they'd have to chop off his arms and legs to get his secret pie recipe. They do just that. All while wearing adorable furry masks!
  • Usagi Yojimbo: Noriko "The Blood Princess" has had homicidal tendencies since childhood and uses random slayings as morale boosters for her slaves. It's implied that her master, an unseen Manipulative Bastard, would love to be rid of her if it weren't for her "usefulness". It's revealed that she's the ultimate Unfavorite, having been rejected by her "step" and biological fathers. This is somewhat tempered by the fact that she killed said fathers by poisoning and back-stabbing, respectively, and she's telling this to her favorite half-sister while beating her half to death.
  • Vampirella: One of Vampirella's recurring foes is an undead psychopath known as Von Kreist. While he's often The Dragon for another, more powerful villain, he works for several different ones over the course of the comics as they get knocked over by Vampirella while he pulls a Villain: Exit, Stage Left. He's clearly not in it for the money; his only real requirement is a fresh supply of victims.
  • The Comedian from Watchmen was this to a certain extent, suggested to have merely become a masked vigilante for a reason to kill people. Despite most of his comrades recognizing this he appears to have impressed part of the mindset that led him to such actions onto every one of them, with varying reactions. He becomes a more classic example, or so it's implied, after the very government that claims vigilantes are dangerous hires him as a political assassin. He knew damn well he'd passed any sane person's Moral Event Horizon and didn't give a damn.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In The Dark Knight Trilogy fanfic A Piece Of Glass, the Joker points out that the psychopath Breech Loader kills for money even though she claims to consider money worthless. Her answer? She mostly finds it amusing to see just how much she can get away with charging.
  • A Shadow of the Titans has both Gadjo and Machete, teammates in the HIVE who are equally Ax-Crazy and enjoy nothing more than fighting (and killing) people.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: From Horned Reapers to Dark Mistresses, Keeper Mercury's army is full of beings who are in it for the pain, the torture and the blood.
  • Pony POV Series: the Dark World version of Fluttercruel definitely qualifies. Of all of the Discorded Mane Six, she's the only one who enjoys carrying out her "father" Discord's orders, because she loves killing people.
    • The Changeling's Mad Doctor Professor Kabuto is another example. While his job DOES involve performing medical experiments, he really enjoys them and you get the feeling he'd be a Mad Doctor whether it was his actual job or not.
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return has Nightshade, who only joined Nightmare Moon's cause so she could get out of jail and get a job killing people.
  • Harmony Theory Charisma is a pretty pink pegasus that just so happens to have a literal talent for killing. Her talent constantly tells her the best ways to kill every living thing in her general vicinity, giving her the ability to take on physically stronger opponents, like griffons and dragons, while giving her a very good feeling every time she kills something. But this has also caused her to become an Ax-Crazy Dark Action Girl, whose urge to kill is forever present, whether she wants it to or not, and can not interact with the rest of pony society. After a stent in the Solar special forces, Charisma went rogue and became the dragon to criminal mastermind Max Cash. She's also the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend to Trail Blazer.
  • Jewel of Darkness has Guerra, the mercenary hired to do Midnight's dirty work. While he does seem to be mostly in it for the money, he seems to get a lot of enjoyment out of his work.
  • The Bridge has several in Bagan's forces. According to Word of God, this was entirely intentional on Bagan's part, as he wanted minions that he could easily get to do what he wants, and what better way than ones who would do it anyway?:
    • Gaira is a cannibalistic psychopath who actively targets humans to eat (despite being a mutated human himself). Bagan can only offer him meals out of the carnage they intend to cause.
    • Hedorah is primarily lured into service by the opportunity to cause destruction, which it also feeds on.
    • Grand King Ghidorah destroys planets For the Evulz and thus joined due to the offer of causing mass destruction. He takes it a step further by outright admitting he was never under mind control by the various alien races he's been under the 'control' of; he merely allowed them to think he was because it benefited him.
  • The Black Hearts has Marcus Black portrayed this way. He's an Ax-Crazy alcoholic who once joined the Atlas military for the opportunity to kill people. After being discharged, he became a Professional Killer. Sometimes, he would take extra pay for the chance to torture the targets if that's what the clients wanted. He's not too crazy to be effective at his job, but there's no doubt that he's a violent and bloodthirsty maniac.
  • Marcus Black is given this treatment again in Resurgence. His son Mercury recalls that Marcus "always had a tendency to overdo things on hired hits." On one such hit job, he went crazy and slaughtered Ren and Nora's entire hometown, including Nora's family.
  • Flinch:
    • Sheik is Zelda's Enemy Within. She likes nothing more than to make her enemies hurt and watch them bleed out. Super Smash Bros. tournaments don't allow people to die, though they still feel pain during the fight, so Sheik uses this to her advantage. She can inflict as much damage as she likes with no fatalities, and it's all allowed in the tournament.
    • Sheik considers Samus her mutual because they're both so similar. Samus has No Social Skills and knows nothing besides violence. She takes pride in hurting others and mocks her fallen opponents. The difference is that Samus has some level of a conscience and is shown battling her confusing emotions.
  • The Orange Lantern Corps in With This Ring recruits some Lanterns of this type for their war against the Reach. Lantern Velus is cheerful and cooperative, so long as he has a steady supply of people he's allowed to kill. He favors attacks that cripple a ship's guns before finishing it off, considering that to be the natural progression of his old habit of pulling the wings off insects, and is excited to hear that their mission isn't aiming to take prisoners.

    Films — Animated 
  • Aladdin: Played with in the case of Razoul, who, while genuinely loyal to the Sultan and Princess Jasmine, is hinted to enjoy executing people. In the first movie, he readily attempts to drown Aladdin/Prince Ali in the ocean under Jafar's orders, and considers seeing the body sinking to the bottom of the sea a sight worth having a good laugh over, and in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, when Jafar's Evil Plan leads him to think that Aladdin killed the Sultan, he's so eager to see Aladdin executed that he plays the role of executioner himself.
  • Mr. Gristle from The Boxtrolls. Unlike Snatcher's other henchmen, Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles, who are philosophical and introspective and completely believe their boss's claims that the boxtrolls are objectively evil, Mr. Gristle is just a dumb, bloodthirsty thug who works as a boxtroll exterminator for fun. Unsurprisingly, of the three, he's the only one of Snatcher's henchmen who doesn't pull a Heel–Face Turn.
  • A Bug's Life: Thumper is a deranged, almost feral grasshopper that works for Hopper. Though his boss keeps him in check, he looks only a second away from chowing down on the ants whenever he's on screen.
  • Willard Stenk from Missing Link is a hunter infamous for stalking and killing every kind of animal under the sun. As it turns out, he's not above working as an assassin either and shows obvious relish in his work. Even after his employer dies in the climax, Stenk makes one final attempt to murder the heroes anyway, admitting he's not doing it for the money, but out of "shallow, self-centered pride."
  • Rattlesnake Jake from Rango. He does not hesitate to kill and has no excuses for what he does.
  • Dennis in the The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie. Plankton describes him as "a vicious, cold-blooded predator" mere seconds before his first scenes. When about to kill SpongeBob and Patrick, he openly cheers, "I LOVE this job!", while laughing maniacally.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jonathan Brewster from Arsenic and Old Lace is a good example, in that although his villainy is motivated by a desire for wealth, it is apparent from his conversations with his sidekick, Dr. Einstein, that when killing someone who crosses him, he prefers to make their death as long and painful as possible.
  • Leon "Bats" Jefferson in Baby Driver is easily the most violent and unstable of Doc's heist crew members (that is until Buddy shows his true colors), something he actually revels in. He's hostile and abrasive towards pretty much everyone he meets and seems psychotically addicted to violent robberies, going out of his way to kill people for shaky reasons (such as not wanting to pay for gum at a convenience store). As he puts it, while his fellow crooks rob to support a drug habit, "he does drugs to support a robbery habit."
  • Batman (1989): Jack Napier is this before his transformation into the Joker, as he's a mob enforcer with dreams of being a mob boss, but Lt. Eckhardt points out that his Ax-Crazy tendencies make it extremely unlikely for him to succeed Grissom in running Gotham.
  • Hazar in Big Game. The man has no view on religion, politics, or ethics, and hunts Moore down mainly for the kicks. The fact that he wants to stuff the president and put him in his Trophy Room reinforces the impression.
  • Blazing Saddles takes this to the extreme, when Hedley Lamarr holds auditions and recruits an army of them.
  • Eightball from Blood Red Sky who's part of the mercenary team that's been hired to hijack a plane and stage it as a terrorist attack. Eightball is so psychotic and violent that even his fellow hijackers, who plan on killing a plane full of people, think he's a nutcase. He's so crazy that after he figures out the passenger onboard that's fighting them is a vampire, he steals a vial of her blood in order to become one himself.
  • Burke from Blow Out is hired by a conspiracy to stop a governor from running for president. He accomplishes this by shooting out the tire on his car, causing it to crash, killing him and nearly killing the call girl he was with. Then, to eliminate the witness and throw off suspicion for the reasons behind her death, he poses as a serial killer and starts murdering women that look like her. The kicker is that Burke wasn't hired to do any of this. He was just supposed to blackmail the candidate with pictures of himself and the call girl, not kill him, and even after the conspiracy fires him for his actions, he still goes through with his serial killer plan. Though Burke tries to maintain an effect of a professional just trying to accomplish a job, it's clear he's only using that as an excuse to act on his deranged desires.
  • Charley Varrick has Molly, the ruthless enforcer dispatched by the The Mafia to recover their money inadvertently stolen by a gang of small-time bank robbers.
  • The Coen Brothers seem fond of this trope
    • Blood Simple has "private investigator" Loren Visser.
    • Subverted in Raising Arizona. Nathan Arizona offers a reward for the return of his kidnapped child, which attracts the attention of evil bounty hunter Leonard Smalls. Smalls threatens to find the child and sell him on the black market unless Arizona pays him much more money than the reward. Arizona makes it clear that he won't be bullied.
    • Gaear Grimsrud from Fargo is a classic example. He is a demented psychopath who is completely apathetic and taciturn throughout the movie, even when he is committing cold-blooded and often graphic murder.
    • Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men is an utterly remorseless and unrelentingly evil mass murderer. He often takes lives simply for the sake of killing, as he follows a murderous and nihilistic moral code that revolves around the concept of fate and chance. He's so evil that he immediately turns on the people who hired him to take the loot for himself, making him something of an aversion to the trope.
  • Bennett from Commando:
    Matrix: How much are they paying you, Bennett?
    Bennett: They offered me a hundred grand. You want to know something? When I found out I could get my hands on you, I said I'd do it for nothing.
  • In The Crossing, Washington thinks of Hessians this way for their slaughter of surrendering troops at Brooklyn. (While this did happen, most Hessian foot soldiers were conscripted and brutally trained with no say in being sent to America, so it was more complicated than "evil mercenaries who love killing.")
  • Tin-Tin, Funboy, T-Bird, and Skank, Eric Draven's targets of vengeance from The Crow, who do particularly brutal jobs for the city's kingpin, Top Dollar. In something of a subversion of the trope, Top Dollar is far more evil than even these psychotic killers.
  • Bullseye in Daredevil (2003), who kills people even during his off time, and volunteers to murder Daredevil for free.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
  • Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man, although he is released and controlled rather than hired. He is prevented from killing Raymond Cocteau by mental tampering, but since it's too specific, he can order his newly released pals to do it, not because Cocteau called Phoenix a psycho but rather because Cocteau is "an evil Mr. Rogers".
  • In The Devil's Rejects, Sheriff Wydell hires a pair of psychotic bounty hunters called the Unholy Two and sics them on the Axe-Crazy, mass-murdering Firefly family. The Unholy Two are so badass that they actually win the showdown without breaking much of a sweat.
  • In Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, Percival Priceless, Simon Little, and Mona Clyde hire Cueball to do their dirty work and steal the diamonds coming in the ship. Cueball proves to be a loose cannon and kills the courier. Cueball has a Hair-Trigger Temper and a distinctive method of killing: strangling his victims with his hatband.
  • In Dick Tracy's Dilemma, the Claw is an ex-bootlegger and brutal killer, just released from prison, who is hired to act as muscle for the fur robbery. He uses his Hook Hand to kill at the drop of a hat for any pretext.
  • Kobus from District 9. Employed by MNU, nothing would make his day more than getting to kill some aliens, and considers himself lucky to even get paid to do so. He even says to Christopher that he loves watching them die.
  • George Higgins a.k.a. Machine, the Snuff Film performer from 8mm.
  • Kruger in Elysium; his profile mentions him committing numerous human rights violations. Kruger is one of those rare psychos that backfires against their employer!
  • Nicolai from The Equalizer became a private mercenary after the fall of the Soviet Union and is now hired by Pushkin to hunt down Robert.
  • Castor Troy of Face/Off describes his profession as "terrorism for hire", making him about as blatant an example as you can get.
  • Johnny Cash plays one of these (a mad, guitar-playing hitman) in Five Minutes to Live. In some areas, the film was actually marketed as Door-to-Door Psycho.
  • In Gamer, Hackman slaughtered a dozen people on the outside just so he could be locked up and enjoy all the death he can cause on the battlefield of Slayers. He teams up with Castle for the sole purpose to get free reign to murder Kable and anyone else he feels like.
  • Both Gigan and Ghidorah from the Godzilla films are two giant-sized versions of this trope. Both monsters are often under the employment (or control, as it were) of various evil aliens and both seem to really enjoy destroying cities as well as attempting to kill Godzilla and/or any of his allies, setting them apart from the big guy's other enemies, who tend towards Obliviously Evil. Needless to say 40-story Psychos For Hire can really screw up your day.
  • Angel Eyes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Greed aside, he enjoys too much of his job. One of his most sadistically unnecessary acts is when he forces soldiers to play music while Tuco is brutally tortured, and clearly he had done so before.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Ronan the Accuser is introduced working directly for Thanos, willingly participating in his planetary genocides with glee (Drax even said he laughed when killing his wife and daughter). That being said, Ronan is a little too psycho for Thanos, who regards him as a "pouty child" who needs to be kept in check by Gamora and Nebula.
  • The Guns of Navarone. "Butcher" Brown (AKA "The Butcher of Barcelona"), in the Back Story of the mission. Though it's more "to order" than "for hire", what with him being in the military.
  • Waingro, from Heat. He is hired to work with McCauley's team but is kicked out because of his psychopathic tendencies and impulsive killings. Waingro goes rogue, kills a prostitute (it is implied that he has done this several times before), and is hired by Smug Snake Van Zant to bring down McCauley's team.
  • Various Dragons in James Bond movies.
  • James Woods portrays Jack Crow in John Carpenter's Vampires as someone in love with─and sexually excited by─destroying vampires.
  • In Kill Bill, Gogo Yubari. The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad is, in general, not psychotic enough to count, though they're no less dangerous for it. Even the Bride admits under the effects of a truth serum that she enjoys tearing her enemies limb from limb, but when she was a professional assassin her main interest was the money she got paid for it, not the killing in itself.
  • Frank from Once Upon a Time in the West is a psychopathic ex-bandit who hires out his services to the highest bidder, yet inevitably interprets his orders in such a way as to allow for more killing. When hired to scare some farmers off of their land, Frank murders them all, not even sparing their youngest son; when his boss tells him he only wanted them frightened, Frank's response is that "People scare better when they're dying."
  • Sergeant Bob Barnes and Bunny from the film Platoon. Barnes for being good at killing, and Bunny enjoying the killing.
  • The Professional has Norman Stansfield, a ruthless and psychotic DEA agent who kills an entire family (kids included) while listening to Beethoven. Even when he learns about the death of his second-in-command Malky at the hands of Leon he is rather nonchalant about it.
    Stansfield: Death is...whimisical today.
  • Jackson Rippner of Red Eye is a murderous, cold-blooded sociopath (regardless of what fanfic writers say), who has found the perfect job for his unique worldview: assistant terrorism!
  • Nathan Wallace from Repo! The Genetic Opera works as a Repo Man, a legal assassin hired by Gene Co to repossess organs with surgical precision from people who are delinquent in their payments. He's also a tragic example of this trope since he was manipulated into becoming a Repo Man by Gene Co's founder after the latter murdered Nathan's wife. While Nathan can become a sadistic, psychopathic killer with the flick of a scalpel, the Repo Man persona almost seems like a split personality, and off the clock, he's a loving father who's consumed by guilt and self-loathing.
  • Reservoir Dogs: Mr. Blonde is described as having gone berserk during the robbery, and the other robbers take him to task for being a "psychopath" instead of a "professional." The "ear" scene is one of the most sadistically twisted scenes in film history. He even managed to disturb his own actor, thanks to an ad-lib by his victim. Ultimately deconstructed, as the fact that Blonde is completely Ax-Crazy leads to far too many problems for his employers than they can handle, and his associates would never have done a job with him if they knew because someone who enjoys what he does that much is just inherently unpredictable.
  • Road to Perdition has Maguire, a disgusting hitman and crime scene photographer with a fascination over death. He's hired by Frank Nitti to kill the main characters.
  • Captains Frye and Darrow from The Rock. While members of Hummel's task force, they slip into this trope when they discover that Hummel is canceling the ransom demand.
  • Run All Night has Andrew Price, the hitman hired to kill Jimmy Conlan and his family. Price claims that he'd kill Jimmy for free and has no problems burning down apartment complexes and killing cops to accomplish that.
  • SAS: Rise of the Black Swan. A literal version with the Black Swan's, a family-owned company of Private Military Contractors whose owner William Lewis and two adult children Grace and Oliver are higher-functioning psychopaths, a fact that's established in William's Opening Monologue. This makes them handy for doing deniable work for British national interests until one of their atrocities is recorded on someone's mobile phone.
  • In Scanners II: The New Order, the psychic Peter Drak gets a lot of enjoyment out of using his mind to mutilate and kill people in gory ways. The corrupt Commander Forrester laments that his psychopathic tendencies make him much too difficult to control even with the use of drugs.
  • Wilson(Jack Palance) in Shane manages to stand out the very moment that he enters the scene, with the way that his face lightens up, the moment that he is given a chance to kill, saying as much as his fearsome reputation and more than making up for being The Quiet One.
  • Yamada in Sharkskin Man And Peach Hip Girl. He's a psychotic, giggling, nervous, homosexual, childish Servile Snarker. He's also very bad at his job.
  • In Sleepy Hollow (1999), before he became the Headless Horseman, the Hessian was a Psycho For Hire for the Redcoats. He wasn't in it for the money, but rather "...for the love of carnage."
  • Bullet Tooth Tony in Snatch.. He's not only one of the toughest guys in London, but he's willing to torture and kill people for a visiting American who will only be in town for a few days.
  • Spawn (1997): Jessica Priest is an even darker assassin than Al Simmons (aka Spawn). She seems to be in it mainly for the joy of hurting people, as Simmons balks at how she always leaves a huge body count of innocent bystanders on her missions. Later, she sadistically burns Simmons to death on their boss Jason Wynn's orders.
  • Aurra Sing from Star Wars was a sadistic Dark Jedi Bounty Hunter who terrorized the galaxy for decades and engaged in various terrorist plots against The Republic alongside the likes of Cad Bane and Boba Fett. In Star Wars Legends she later became a Boxed Crook for The Empire and hunted Jedi on Darth Vader's orders.
  • The 1972 film Stanley has the antagonist hiring a crazy stoner who's actually known by the name "Psycho".
  • Udaybhan Singh Rathore from the Bollywood film Tanhaji has a perpetual grin on his face which only widens when he is killing or torturing someone. Even the Mughals, who are no saints, are shocked by some of his actions. During the end, when he is being thrown off a cliff while being tethered to a cannon, he still has a crazy grin on his face.
  • Miles Slade from The Tournament is completely insane and really loves his job.
  • Triple Threat (2019): The antagonist Collins and his team are brutal mercenaries in the employ of a Chinese Queenpin.
  • Frank Nitti as portrayed in The Untouchables (1987). He's the main enforcer and hitman of Al Capone — who himself is portrayed as Ax-Crazy — and carries out all of his boss's dirty deeds with sadistic relish. His Establishing Character Moment has him bombing a restaurant with a little girl inside, and he takes far too much joy in threatening to kill Elliot Ness's family as well as rubbing in the death of Malone who he claimed, "died screaming like a stuck, Irish pig."
  • Wanted has a particularly nasty case of this in a man named Max Petridge, whose signature assassination technique is to break into his target's home and tie them down to a chair. The target's loved ones are Forced to Watch while he burns the victim alive. Afterwards, he brands his initials on the back of the family member's necks so that they will never forget what he did to them.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
      • Victor Creed, once he leaves Team X.
      • Agent Zero, once Team X closes.
    • Viper from The Wolverine mentions being 'hired', and has no personal loyalty to her boss.

  • Taylor from Animorphs. Both the Yeerk and the human host are insane. And the Yeerk is sadistic, arrogant, and equipped with a device that can induce severe physical and psychological pain. Pleasure, too, just to upset any mental defenses. Tobias is the one who gets to spend book #33 at her mercy.
  • Harley and Olaf from Anita Blake. Harley was a maniac, and Olaf would disassemble his female targets and eat them.
  • Castor Morveer, the Master Poisoner in Best Served Cold. While he presents himself as a gentleman assassin, he's quickly revealed to be a narcissistic sociopath who holds human life in contempt. At one point, he poisons around forty people to ensure he kills one target, and that's not even mentioning his habit of murdering ninety-nine percent of his associates for flimsy reasons, including his beloved mother. However, Morveer is a three-dimensional example of the trope, as his POV sections show that he wants to connect with others but his numerous psychological issues prevent him from doing so, resulting in him killing his associates out of a paranoid belief they'd turn on him.
  • Simon Darcourt from Christopher Brookmyre's A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away and A Snowball in Hell is this. He is no longer for hire in the latter, but he still manages to find time to enjoy a little torture now and again.
  • In Black Man, Carl Marsalis is a genetically modified super soldier called a "thirteen" who works for the government hunting down his own kind. Hard-wired for war, he simply has the need to kill. Since he's an Anti-Hero, however, he never crosses the Moral Event Horizon and keeps his homicidal urges firmly focused on scumbags.
  • The Glanton Gang from Blood Meridian, a mercenary gang who've been hired by the Texan state to collect Apache scalps in exchange for bounties. The vast majority of the gang are bloodthirsty psychopaths, and not only are they led by John Joel Glanton, a man who's killed so much he's gone insane, but the group is being corrupted even more by Judge Holden, a man so evil that it's implied he might not even be human. Unsurprisingly, the group goes rogue and begins to rape, loot and kill everything in their path, whether Native Americans, Mexican civilians or Mexican and American soldiers.
  • Every Dan Brown book has one.
  • Teague from Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, also the film.
  • In Coma, the bad guys hire a hitman to kill medical student Susan Wheeler when she gets a whiff of their black-market organ scheme. He is specifically instructed to make it look like a rape/mugging gone bad, and when he is told this, it is stated that he absolutely relishes the idea of sexually assaulting Susan — Susan herself notes that he seems to savor the fear he's creating as he stalks her.
  • In the Daniel Faust series, Meadow Brand is a serial killer who works as an assassin so she can have fun and get paid at the same time. She's not averse to the occasional random victim if she's feeling bored or irritated, though... Justine and Juliette, Nicky Agnelli's enforcers, also qualify. When a half-demon hit team takes their aliases from a pair of novels by the Marquis de Sade, you know they're bad news.
  • Fedka the Convict, psychotic murderer and robber, who acts as paid muscle for Verkhovensky's gang in Demons.
  • Remo Williams from The Destroyer, while taking missions from the government, usually kills his enemies by goring their faces until it has the consistency of spaghetti in smashed jello and constantly rips arms and legs off. Unusually his motives are patriotic and he regularly has doubts about his 'profession'. His mentor also isn't quite pleasant.
  • There's one in around a third of the books Dick Francis wrote, with a notable one being the railway saboteur appearing in The Edge who is hired to sabotage a train with a bunch of valuable horses onboard and gets so carried away with it that he tries to destroy the whole train eventually, without even warning his client (a passenger).
  • Several villains in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series qualify:
    • Mister Teatime in Hogfather is one of the most infamous examples. A certifiably deranged member of the Guild of Assassins, rather than killing cleanly and dispassionately for payment as the Guild teaches, Teatime views money as a distraction, takes child-like joy in his work and spends his free time thinking of ways to assassinate "imaginary" figures. During one assignment, he nailed his target's dog to the ceiling, murdered the man's defenseless servants, and then made sure his target was dead by checking his breath with a mirror after the man's head was several feet from his body. The leader of the Guild, Lord Downey, who doesn't have morals but does have standards, is so repelled by Teatime that he planned on having him killed until he realized Teatime's corkscrew of a mind might be just the instrument needed when the Guild is commissioned to inhume the Hogfather.
    • Carcer Dun in Night Watch Discworld starts off as a Serial Killer but soon finds employment after being flung backwards in time. First he's hired on by Captain Findthee Swing, leader of the Nazi-esque Unmentionables, after he teaches them new torture techniques, then he works as the Captain of the Palace Guard for Lord Snapcase, a previous insane patrician of Ankh-Morpork. One character describes him as the sort that joins up for the plundering, then has to be hanged as an example to the other men.
    • Stratford in Snuff, a psychopathic killer who's murdered at least sixteen people and an unknown number of goblins. He works for Gravid Rust, silencing any witnesses or loose ends that could expose his boss's drug and slaving operations. He's also an example of why this type of minion should be avoided as it's solely his psycho-for-hire gratuitous cruelty and murderousness that end up provoking the hero to investigate evil-doing that would otherwise have stayed below the radar while other low-ranking minions who otherwise would have kept their mouths shut collaborate with Vimes out of sheer disgust.
  • Keith from Everworld.
    • Not just Keith. This is the job description of the Sennites. Somewhat Justified in the sense that Senna's ability to dominate mortal minds is greatly enhanced when that mind is unhinged.
  • John Rainbird from Stephen King's novel Firestarter. He's an assassin for a secret government agency, but he only kills people because he's obsessed with death. From the money he receives for it, he mostly buys shoes that he never wears.
  • From Russia with Love. Red Grant is a Serial Killer who defects to the Soviet Union because he figures they'll give him more chances to kill people. The initial reaction of SMERSH is to have him eliminated, but then it occurs to them that a political system that regularly requires the elimination of large numbers of people, which can cause the mental breakdown of even the most dedicated executioner, could do with a killer who isn't bothered by it.
  • The Falconer in the Gentleman Bastard novels starts out this way, working his magic on behalf of a vengeance-crazed killer with a knack for theatrics and clearly enjoying the murder and mayhem he wreaks a great deal. At one point he wastes valuable time figuring out the most sadistic way to force one of the main characters to kill the other. And if he'd stuck to his original idea he might not have ended up horribly mutilated by a justifiably pissed-off Locke.
  • Luca Brasi from The Godfather. He murdered the mother of his child and his own child. He also chops Capone gunmen into little pieces with an axe. He's described as being the only man who can make his boss, Vito Corleone, a little nervous. Which only serves to make his death all the more terrifying.
    • Al Neri is also this to Michael, once he takes over the family.
  • Drake Merwin from the Gone manages to be this despite only being 14-years-old. He was sent to Coates Academy for shooting a kid with an air rifle, but once everyone over the age of fifteen disappears from the FAYZ, Drake's "hired" by Caine Soren specifically because Drake likes to hurt people, and Caine thinks that can be useful for his plans to take over Perdido Beach. Drake later switches his allegiance over the Gaiaphage because it can give him greater power and more opportunities to act on his psychotic impulses.
  • Harry Potter
    • Fenrir Greyback, a minor villain from the later books, has the added bonus of being a werewolf. Most Death Eaters tend to blur the line between this trope and Psycho Supporter, but Greyback isn't counted as a "true" Death Eater. He's just a mercenary who Voldemort allows to wear Death Eater robes in exchange for his hired savagery. At one point, Greyback explicitly volunteers to join an attack on Hogwarts just for a chance to murder and cannibalize children.
    • While completely inhuman, the Dementors also fit this pretty well, only working for the Ministry of Magic because of the opportunities it gives them to feed off peoples' misery, inevitably joining the forces of evil when they offer more opportunity to cause harm.
    • Old habits die harder than fantastic beasts, which is why Walden McNair made the rather enterprising choice of getting hired by the Ministry as an executioner so that his axe would be felt by animals (at least) with the approval of the magical society this time, which is equal-opportunity enough to have a place even for a bloodthirsty maniacal killer.
  • Pe Ell of The Heritage of Shannara novel The Druid of Shannara. He's an assassin for hire because he loves looking into people's eyes while they die, believing that it will help him to understand death. Cree Bega of The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara is a Torture Technician and cold-blooded sadist employed as The Dragon to the Morgawr; while not a mercenary he certainly demonstrates this attitude.
  • Pierre McConville from the His Dark Materials prequel novella, Once Upon a Time in the North. A hired gun who Loves the Sound of Screaming, has committed at least twenty murders, and whose idea of fun is killing his victims slowly by ripping their daemons away from them over a long period of time. Daemons in this series being the embodiment of a person's soul, with the act of touching another person's daemon being described as the most disturbing and painful violation imaginable. McConville likens the sensation to reaching into a person's chest and slowly ripping out their heart.
  • The Hurog series has Bastilla. Technically a mind-controlled slave, but it is stated that the person actually enjoys violence, and would not want to be freed.
  • Johannes Cabal: Zarenyia is a succubine devil who works with Johannes for nothing more than the pleasure of being summoned to Earth to wreak havoc and devour mortal souls. As her Affably Evil nature comes to the forefront, it comes out that she also genuinely values her Odd Friendship with Johannes.
  • Zara from The Nova Chronicles is a heartless sadist whose only motivations are money and pleasure. She delights in killing and has no limits to who she targets. The bloodier a mission the wider her grin at debriefing.
  • Kraken: Goss is possibly the Anthropomorphic Personification of this trope... literally, at that.
  • Roger from the Lord of the Flies. He ends up becoming the Hangman of Jack's tribe, killing Piggy, torturing any dissenters, forcing the rest of Ralph's tribe to join, and preparing a stick on which to mount Ralph's head.
  • Tariq Suliman, the capital A-Assassin in Mr Blank. He refuses to carry weapons just to challenge himself by killing his quarry with whatever's handy. It's mentioned he once took out a target with the feathers from a pillow.
    • Heather Marie Tooms of the sequel Get Blank is another example. She's a member of a self-help cult and it appears to have completely broken her. Doesn't keep her from being hired out for hits, though.
  • Peter Riviera from Neuromancer. Not only is he a sadist with a sexual fetish for betrayal, but he also has an implant that allows him to project horrifying holograms to confuse and frighten enemies (or anyone else, for that matter).
  • Messrs. Croup and Vandemar from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. They're a pair of Humanoid Abominations that do freelance work for the sheer joy of torturing, killing, and causing widespread destruction. Their latest job, before being hired to massacre Door's family, was destroying a monastery and killing everyone within. They, in turn, hire Mr. Ross to do a spot of work for them, and later Mr. Varney. Croup and Vandemar prove themselves to be far out of the latter two's leagues, however, as Ross is essentially used as canon fodder, and Varney is implied to be eaten alive by Croup for failing them.
  • Otherland: Johnny "Dread" Wulgaru is a diagnosed sociopath with a string of vicious murders to his name. He is plucked out of the justice system by the Big Bad, Felix Jongleur, and trained as an assassin/attack dog, not least because of his technopath psychic power. Jongleur controls him via the threat of pain, but Dread proves too canny for his master and eventually discovers how to use his powers to usurp control of Jongleur's Otherland computer network, promoting himself to Big Bad in the process.
  • Blayce the Gallan, the Arc Villain of the final two Protector of the Small books. He left his homeland for Scanra and was handsomely rewarded by its king to create necromantic weapons of war — huge, insect-like metal automata that are known simply as "killing devices" to anyone who encounters them. Blayce uses the souls of children to power his creations, which is pointed out by other mages to have no practical purpose — it's just his preference. He ensures that once he is done playing sick mind games with his victims, they die painfully, and brutally executes local servants who try to ease their passing. When Keladry breaks into his workshop, Blayce shows no loyalty to his overlord and instead offers his services to her king. Although he claims that he is simply Blessed with Suck by having a necromantic Gift, it's made abundantly clear that he does these things because he enjoys it.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Ghul, a Glyconese assassin and Torture Technician.
  • Robert Crais's The Sentry gives us Daniel who the drug cartels use to track down and kill people. One scene has him in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and enjoying torturing people during the storm. He hears two voices which he calls Tobey and Cleo, believes himself to be a werewolf, and would like nothing more than to kill a zombie.
  • Richard Lopez and his crew from Ship Breaker. A drug-addict and a former gladiator, Richard is infamous in Bright Sands Beach for his brutality as an enforcer for the local gangsters, and the relish he takes in murdering his opponents (at one point killing a man even after he had already been declared the winner of their gladiatorial bout). His viciousness even extends to his own son, Nailer, whom he attempts to murder by the end of the story. The rest of his crew, which includes psychotic Life Cultist Blue Eyes (the only person in the story who may be crazier than he is), twitched-out junkie Moby, and Red Python gang skullcracker Steel Liu are no better. All of them have a deep-seated need to hurt some people, and their work as enforcers for Lucky Strike, and later Richard, enables them to do just that.
  • The Giant Spider Ungoliant in The Silmarillion, Morgoth's accomplice in the Darkening of Valinor. Morgoth is terrified of her and only his fire-whip-wielding legion of Balrogs can keep her under control.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Many warriors, especially those employed by Tywin Lannister. Specifically, there's the Clegane brothers. The elder brother, Gregor, "The Mountain That Rides," is a hulking horror, driven into a perpetual rage by migraines and painkillers, and spends the vast majority of his time killing and raping his way across the kingdom. The soldiers he surrounds himself with — the Mountain's Men, Raff the Sweetling, Chiswyck, and the Tickler — are of a similar disposition, becoming soldiers so they can loot, kill and rape to their heart's content. Relatively more sympathetic is Sandor Clegane, a brutal thug with some Wangst issues, who insists that all knights are psychos for hire by default, but like to pretend otherwise. He sums this trope up nicely with, "Killing is the sweetest thing there is." Though Sandor actually does go through some character development into a slightly better person.
    • The Brave Companions are an entire sellsword company comprised of these. Initially they work for Tywin Lannister before defecting to Roose Bolton for a better offer. They're initially led by Vargo Hoat, who earned his reputation as "the Crippler" by chopping off captives' hands and feet for his own amusement. The rest of the band consists of a Monster Clown, serial rapists, and child killers. It's telling that the most "sympathetic" member of their group is a Pedophile Priest who rapes and murders boys, but at least feels remorse over it. After Hoat's death, a faction led by Rorge, one of the most Ax-Crazy individuals in the series, goes on a senseless crusade of raping, pillaging, and burning as a band of outlaws.
    • House Bolton starts out as the Stark family's own psycho-for-hire bannermen, which is somewhat interesting as the Starks are generally good guys, and the Boltons are now considered the Token Evil Teammate of the North, due to their fond family history of flaying their enemies alive. Unfortunately for the Starks, the Boltons are The Starscream and betray them at the Red Wedding, and now Roose Bolton is Warden of the North.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Siege featured an evil shapeshifter Meta. He liked killing, but he also took money for it, which he spent for various evil things (including buying slaves who he killed slowly). He also slaughtered his last boss.
  • Rather a large number in the Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • One notable one would be Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku's Dark Acolyte and general all-around murderous underling. She numbers her Jedi kills and became obsessed with Obi-Wan, to the point of first keeping him prisoner in what looked almost like a gimp mask to stop his powers, then continually hunting him whenever he was near.
    • Tales of the Bounty Hunters: Bossk really fits the bill. While he's paid for bounty hunting, this is really just a side benefit as Bossk loves harming and killing other beings, especially Wookies (whose pelts he's collected). It's part of his religion even since he follows the Scorekeeper, a goddess named who rewards hunters depending on how well they hunt and the number of kills they get according to its tenets.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Szeth, the Assassin in White, is one, bound by honor to serve whoever holds his oathstone. Though he didn't start as a psycho...
  • Virtual Light: Good lord, Loveless. He's a ruthless assassin who never misses a chance to inflict needless pain and suffering. He kills a man by pulling his tongue through a hole in his throat, uses banned nanotech handcuffs that tighten when struggled against to the point of causing severe bleeding, shoots dead Chevette's friend Sammy Sal, and makes it painfully obvious that he's going to rape Chevette when he corners her and Rydell two-thirds of the way through the book, presumably before killing both of them horribly. Ultimately though, his depravity leads to his downfall — in the latter scenario he arrives when the protagonists are both asleep, and could very easily have killed them both while retrieving the glasses, but since he was determined to rape and torture, he waits until they wake up, which allows them to escape.
  • From Warbreaker Tonk Fah. His partner Denth is an aversion, however — he has his own goals, and is Affably Evil and somewhat sympathetic.
  • The Witcher:
    • Leo Bonhart became a bounty hunter so he could get paid to do what he loves most in the world: fight and kill. Bonhart has a reputation for professionalism, but this comes across as an Informed Attribute since he betrays every employer he has during the final two books. He's actually planning on retiring because of old age, but this doesn't stop him from being as ludicrously sadistic as possible to his latest target, the 16-year-old Ciri, and he ends up obsessed with being the one to kill her after seeing her in action.
    • Rience and Schirrú, a pair of killers and minor villains employed by the Big Bad, Vilgefortz. They're little more than bloodthirsty thugs entrusted with tasks that a respected sorcerer can't be seen sullying his hands with, but they both take savage delight in their cruelties. Rience admits in his first scene, as he's about to torture Dandelion, that he just loves hurting people, and Schirrú goes out of his way to burn a physically deformed man alive just because he wanted to be amused by his screams.
    • Witchers from the School of the Cat have an unfortunate tendency to be this, either due to intentionally recruiting remorseless killers or a flaw in the mutations that make them witchers (likely both). Cat witchers are feared for their cruelty and willingness to kill people just as readily as monsters, and they are even known to perform assassination work. Brehen is a rogue Cat School witcher apparently banished from the school because his fellows believed his methods were too sadistic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mandy a recurring antagonist from 24. She's a saner version of it, though, coming off as a Professional Killer. Unusually for this trope, this works in the heroes' favor. On Day 4 Jack notes that she's a hired gun, not a believer in the terrorist's goals, so if cornered she'd make a deal rather than commit suicide. He's right. She makes a deal for a Presidential Pardon and is one of the few characters to survive the series.
  • The Cousins from Breaking Bad. Behind the obvious personal reasons with Walt and Hank, they seem to take too much pleasure in slowly and painfully murdering their victims when they set their minds to it.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Marcus, Spike's hired torture expert, from the Angel episode "In the Dark". Spike thinks he's averting a sudden but inevitable betrayal by hiring someone solely interested in torture and indifferent to the Gem of Amara but fails to realize that Marcus quite naturally knows that a ring that makes vampires invincible will let him commit greater acts of torture (not to mention pedophilia). Spike promptly gets betrayed.
    • Also, Angelus himself acted as a reluctant Psycho For Hire to Jasmine for a while in Season 4 after he lost his soul and she threatened to restore it.
    • Spike himself was introduced as a Psycho For Hire working with the remnants of the Master's followers — the Badass Longcoat from out of town who maimed for fun and just dropped by to kill the hero and torture her boyfriend to death. However, it took less than an episode for him to decide he'd have more fun if he took charge and dispose of the "Annoying" (Anointed) One.
    • Then there was Faith, who acted in this way for a time as the evil Mayor's enforcer (and briefly as an assassin for Wolfram & Hart, which, because the target was Angel, was really an attempt to commit Suicide by Cop) after a Face–Heel Turn brought on by accidentally killing a random human while fighting vampires a bit too recklessly in an alley.
    • Sorcerer Ethan Rayne in the Buffy episode "Band Candy", where Mr Trick has contracted him to cause a distraction by making all the adults in town act like teens while the Mayor performs a ritual sacrifice.
  • Gilroy's subtitle in Burn Notice is "Freelance Psychopath."
    • Michael's former mentor "Dead Larry" is a pretty good example of the trope, too. He doesn't have to kill that many people to do his job, but he enjoys it so much.
    • Simon is a terrorist for hire who committed the various acts that Michael is accused of (resulting in his burn notice) while in the employ of Management and whoever he works for.
  • A lot of the later demons in Charmed (1998).
  • At the end of the pilot episode of Dark Matter (2015), the protagonists, who are suffering from total amnesia after coming out of stasis aboard their ship, discover that they used to be a Dreaded crew of these, frequently hired by corrupt Mega Corps to do their dirty work when they want plausible deniability; in this case, to wipe out the mining colonists on the planet below so that Ferrous Corp can take it over. Rebelling against their pasts, they decide to protect the colonists instead. Through the rest of the series, they continue to do some mercenary jobs (it's hard to find other sources of revenue when you're a wanted outlaw), but of a less murderous nature. There are several others like them in the galactic underworld as well.
  • Lorne Malvo from Fargo, although he also has a mercenary streak and branches out into side projects of his own. And some things he seems to do just For the Evulz.
  • Firefly:
    • Jayne has an extremely dark and cynical view of the world, a score of 0.01 in the morality department, and very inconsistent loyalties. Mal hired Jayne by offering more than his previous crew, whom he promptly betrayed and shot. Textbook Token Evil Teammate.
    • Inverted in "The Train Job", in which the psycho (Niska) hires them! Niska's first Dragon, Crow, is a straight example, a Psycho Knife Nut who shares his boss's love of hurting people. After the Serenity crew default on their job because the target turns out to be medical supplies people in Paridiso badly need, Crow forgoes Mal's offer of simply returning the advance money Niska had paid them and opts to threaten him instead (while captive and being made to stand next to the ship's turbine) by saying he'll return and "the last thing [Mal] will ever see is [his] blade." Mal's response is a small "Darn" before kicking him into the turbine. The next captive henchman lined up there is much more agreeable.
    • Jubal Early from the episode "Objects in Space". At first, he just seems like a somewhat quirky and oddly philosophical Bounty Hunter, but that goes out the window when he casually threatens to rape Kaylee as an intimidation tactic. A nut job who used to torture animals as a child and terrified his own mother, he tries to insist that hurting people is simply a necessary part of the job. However, as mentioned in the page quote, River's psychoanalysis reveals Early became a bounty hunter expressly so he could dominate and hurt people for a living.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The leader of the royal alchemists, shown giggling behind Tyrion, Joffrey and the Hound's shocked and horrified reactions at the explosion of wildfire at the open of the Blackwater.
    • Tywin Lannister is the Mountain's "employer" and unleashes him on the peasantry of those lords whom he feels have acted against Lannister interests.
    • Rorge and Biter join the Lannister army... with the likes of the Mountain and Polliver, they fit right in. Polliver makes it very clear that his loyalties to the Lannisters and the King are only maintained because they allow him carte blanche to murder, torture, rape, and thieve his way across Westeros.
  • Elle Bishop from Heroes. Ended up being a deconstruction. It turned out the higher-ups at Primatech thought she was too unstable, the only reason she kept her job was that her father insisted. After Bob was killed, Angela immediately fired her.
  • Justified has had a few. There's Billy Mac, an ex-boxer who likes taking the chance to beat up black people. There's Fletcher Nix, a Dixie mafia hitman who forces his victims to play a sadistic game before he kills them. There's the late Tommy Bucks, who put dynamite in a man's mouth to prove a point. And of course there's Wynn Duffy, Dixie Mafia middleman and certifiable psychopath who is purported to have once sewed a man's face to a soccer ball, though Character Development sets in after he spends a season or two working with some particularly Ax-Crazy individuals that considerably mellows him out, to the point he ends up being considered the Dixie Mafia's Voice of Reason. Apparently, he realized being a psychopath wasn't a very lucrative job position (in fact, mellowing out resulted in him stepping up in the criminal world).
  • Martin Keamy in Season 4 of Lost, a former marine turned Private Military Contractor who's implied to have a laundry list of atrocities to his name. Currently leading a group working for Charles Widmore, Keamy quickly establishes himself as one of the most bloodthirsty and sadistic characters in the series.
  • Murdoc from MacGyver. Not only does he kill people in a variety of interesting ways, he rigs cameras to photograph his victims at the moment of their death, ostensibly to prove to the person/people who hired him that victim X is really, really dead (for a while he even sent copies to the authorities "just for kicks"). He is also practically unkillable.
  • The Night Manager: Affably Evil Big Bad Richard Roper employs a bodyguard/enforcer/torturer named Frisky. Although Roper mostly keeps him on the leash, Frisky makes it very clear, first in words and later by actions, that he has no qualms about the torturer part of his job, and probably enjoys it.
  • Dwight Schrute in the US version of The Office. Too bad Michael hired him first.
  • Professional Wrestling example: Jake "The Snake" Roberts after his Face–Heel Turn in the early '90s.
    • The Undertaker, a Ghoul whole steals souls and buries people alive, was considered the GOOD guy in all his encounters with Jake the Snake.
  • Scandal: Becky, Huck's girlfriend is revealed to be this. This person enjoys killing people in general too much.
  • Moriarty on Sherlock is referred to as the "consulting criminal" — he's made a career out of solving problems for people, frequently in lethal ways. He does this for fun rather than money and sells out several former clients as part of his first "game" with Sherlock.
  • Slasher is an anthology series with a new Serial Killer each season. The twist behind the season featuring the Gentleman is that the killer's really an assassin. However, they murder their targets in the most sadistic ways possible because "it feels fucking fantastic." Her employer, a terminally ill rich man, hired her because she also had experience as a disgraced end of life specialist and he wanted her to euthanize him painlessly before setting her on his family. She injects acid into his veins instead.
  • In Spartacus: Vengeance Ashur enlists several of these, after finally showing Roman soldiers are no match for gladiators. Most notably is the Egyptian who manages to nearly kill Crixus, and later Oenamaus, with nothing but a pair of knives.
    • Unfortunately, as they're ultimately, well, psychos for hire, when Glaber offers them money and land in exchange for betraying Ashur, they all do so instantly.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Voyager: In the episode "Living Witness", the entire Voyager crew are portrayed like this in a falsified historical representation on an alien planet. Now the "warship Voyager", they were hired by a race called the Vaskans to defeat their enemy the Kyrians. The crew's main mission is still to get back to Earth, but they get so much fun out of killing that they happily torture prisoners to death, shoot unarmed people, and commit genocide.
    • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Magnificent Ferengi" gives us Leck, an Eliminator. Eliminators are Ferengi assassins, seen as psychos by the rest of the Alliance because they like the killing more than the latinum they earn from it.
  • Jamie McDonald of The Thick of It, Malcolm Tucker's lackey and attack dog whom Malcolm uses as much by reputation as by actual force. More than once he has convinced someone to get motivated by threatening to call Jamie over.
  • Chris Flannerly of Underbelly was certifiably off his rocker. He aims to be the biggest killer in Australia. He takes credit for the killing of horse race robber Ray Chuck before earning his reputation by going on a killing spree for the highest bidder. He eventually takes out contracts for racing identity George Freeman, before it is realised the hitman is too dangerous to live. Experts say the real-life Flannerly was either accurately portrayed or a lot worse.
    • 'The Runner' and 'The Driver' (their names could not be given due to the concurrent court case), whose claim to fame was to kill Jason Moran in front of their kids, would also qualify. Specifically, when the Runner thinks his wife is having an affair, he first tracks down who he thinks she is with, only for the teenager to not only be taken into protection by the police but is the wrong man, after trashing his house he beats and rapes his wife.
  • The Cigarette Smoking Man sometimes comes across as this in The X-Files. Indeed, in one episode, he's referred to as "the killer" by Deep Throat.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Downplayed and Played for Laughs with the (ex-)gang member Rocky in Beetle Bailey. It's implied he would like to be one, but, damn it, they just never go to war. Besides wishing he could see some violent action, he's shown violent tendencies and at least a couple of times tried to shoot others of his regiment — in humorous contexts, of course, but still for real, and without even any real reason. On the other hand, at other times he's portrayed as more sympathetic and human, a young man with a harsh past who has trouble relating to others.
  • Bizarrely, lovable comic-strip character Tank McNamara once stated that he became a football player because "I got to hurt people and it was legal." He seemed serious, although almost everything else we're ever shown of his personality contradicts this.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: Szuriel, the Horseman of War is what happens when a being of near-divine status adopts the mentality of a typical psycho for hire. Szuriel hires out her daemons as mercenaries to mortals, demon lords, archdevils, and anyone else who is willing to pay. These campaigns inevitably result in war crimes, genocide, and the eventual betrayal and destruction of both sides, because Szuriel doesn't care about causes or contracts — only violence and the theft of souls.
  • Dark Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 are a Planet of Hats of sadistic sociopaths. Creators of Slaanesh who are of a martial bent also fall squarely into this trope (and usually supplement it with playing the Mad Artist in their spare time as well) because the only missing ingredient for their eternal youth is entertainment.
    • The Dark Eldar also sometimes can actually be up for hire. They kill/enslave/unspeakable act your enemy, get paid, then horrify you.
    • All Chaos Space Marines actually. In every edition, they only get crazier. Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) lampshades it on being informed that a Chaos army is believed to have CSMs as advisors since he can't imagine them giving any advice other than "kill them all".
    • The barbaric Orks occasionally act as mercenaries for other races, particularly clanless Freebooter bands or Orks of the culturally contaminated (they wear uniforms and use camouflage!) Blood Axe Clan. This is generally a dumb move on the part of their employers, as the Orks prefer to be paid in weaponry that they will inevitably end up using against them.
    • Kroot kindreds, when they're not fighting for the Tau Empire, roam the galaxy looking for mercenary work. Though not technically sociopaths, their penchant for eating enemy dead as they seek evolutionary upgrades can strain relations amongst their comrades.
      • The Kroot are actually a subversion in that they are one of the least evil races in the Galaxy.
  • Cyberpunk (and occasionally ported over to Shadowrun) has the Cyberpsycho Squads, which are a sort of paramilitary super-SWAT team used to detain (or eliminate) criminals who are modded to the gills with cybernetic implants and have developed 'Cyber-psychosis'. The catch is that Cyberpsycho Squads are basically made up of 'rehabilitated' cyberpsychos themselves; they aren't so much 'given orders' as pointed in a general direction and turned loose. The Cyberpsycho Squad is scary as hell, and for good reason: as a mechanic, they exist basically as GM Fiat for punishing players for going wildly out of control.
    Spoony: Their assholes dilate so tight they could crush coal into diamonds - as well they should! They're not all going to die... just most of them. And that's the point.
  • A number of mercenaries in the Iron Kingdoms are more than a little deranged. Durgen Madhammer, for example, is a Rhulic dwarf who takes the approach that responsible deployment of explosives is for wimps, and who rarely works twice for the same employer because all but the most unhinged see the blasted ruin he leaves behind, pay up, and send him on his way.

    Video Games 
  • Armored Core has at least a few in every game. To name some, Armored Core For Answer has Shamir Ravi Ravi, who is known as "Algebra 's Femme-Arachnid", and her partner Du So, while Armored Core 5 has Chief. Several previous games have had the Recurring Boss Stinger, a power-hungry Irregular who has allied with the Doomsday Organization.
  • Phillip Clyde in Army of Two fits this perfectly, with the addition of the main characters taking it in stride. His batshittery is best summed up, if not with his use of grenades and a stinger while on a plane, then with a dialog example:
    Clyde: I'm gonna kill you, cut you open, and go to an aerobics class wearing your intestines for leg warmers!
    Salem: I mean, does that even make sense.
    Clyde: I'm gonna kill you both, drain all your blood, take out your bones, put your body in a big chair with some elves and reindeer, sit on your lap, and tell you all the cool shit I want for Christmas!
    Salem: Clearly, this guy had a messed-up childhood.
    Rios: Heh heh, you think?
  • Slythe and Krystin, two minor characters and a boss fight in Baldur's Gate; assassins hired by the Big Bad, they are described by another character thus: "Two unsavory beings who revel in the violence Sarevok allows them to commit. They are no more than animals in human guise, even by the standards of the company they keep."
  • In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, while very few of the playable characters are exactly nice people, Nisha, the Gunslinger, falls right into this trope. Wilhelm is Only in It for the Money, Aurelia is an Egomaniac Hunter, but Nisha loves to kill things and hurt people (including herself) and boy is she good at it. Her attraction to the Big Bad actually grows as he becomes more openly sadistic and megalomaniacal, and they're lovers in Borderlands 2, where Nisha has been given an entire town — and filled it with bandits just so she has people to kill.
  • Mugetsu from The Bouncer is an archetypical Psycho For Hire, being a genetically enhanced yet utterly unstable psychopath with a penchant for hysterical laughter and flashy, unorthodox movements in battle. Every time that you encounter him in the game, he gleefully exclaims his intention of slaughtering you in one way or another.
  • Deadeye Joe is this from Contra: Hard Corps. Depending on what route you took, you may fight him right before the Final Boss after you kill his boss, Colonel Bahamut.
  • Bulleta/B.B. Hood of Darkstalkers. A bit literal on the "for hire" part. In addition to being a sadistic, deranged sociopath, she's a Bounty Hunter — the fluff specifically identifies her as a "Darkhunter," a type of bounty hunter specializing in capturing or killing monsters. She ended up summoned to the Majigen because she was considered to qualify as a "monster" by Jedah, despite being completely human... and instantly decided to kill everyone else. Even more unsettling is her innocent demeanor and resemblance to Little Red Riding Hood.
  • Christie of Dead or Alive. Her weapons and fighting style are all specifically designed to kill her targets slowly and painfully, and she even aided Donovan in kidnapping Kasumi for Project Alpha.
  • Disaster: Day of Crisis: Evans seems cool and collected at first, but he rather enjoys fighting Ray, and eventually shows his true side as a man who gets a huge thrill out of the natural disasters that are occurring. The game itself notes that he is a mixture of a cool head and madness.
  • Disco Elysium has the Krenel mercenaries, a squad of racist lunatics with a long rap sheet of war crimes to their names who sell their talents to corporate interests. In-game, their squad commander (who was the only one capable of wrangling them in) was killed, which led to them going rogue to exact a "Tribunal" on the locals that they blame for his death. Defied however in the case of the player character, who in the end is explicitly stated to not be an assassin for the mob because he's far too unstable to be used in that capacity.
  • Shezar in Duel Savior Destiny is on the bad guy side simply because he likes to kill people with his own hands. He gets bored when the baddies use giant lasers and stuff to do it and unlike Mudou he seems to have no other goal than killing.
    • Ironically, Shezar's combat style is strictly ranged weapons.
  • The Horned Reaper in Dungeon Keeper. Monstrously powerful in combat, he won't take being mistreated like the other minions and will rapidly become rebellious if not treated with kid gloves.
    • Which is why you usually made a special small room just for him, and only release him in combat.
    • In the second game, Horny was ascended into a unique Juggernaut who could only be brought into play by Summon Magic after gathering all four pieces of a Talisman and he only stayed as long as you had mana to burn on him or until you dismissed him.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Dark Brotherhood is an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil. They accept anyone willing to kill on command and who has shown at least some skill in doing so. This eclectic mix of talented killers still tends to be very effective at what they do, right up to having assassinated the Emperor of Tamriel. They're joinable in Daggerfall, Oblivion, and Skyrim, and their questlines provide many opportunities for the Player Character to be one of these as well.
  • Ryuji Yamazaki from the Fatal Fury games is a knife-wielding maniac who is usually found in the employ of Geese Howard. He's by far the most brutally insane character in the entire SNK game universe, as evidenced by many of his gory attacks and penchant for maniacal laughter.
    • Another Psycho For Hire from Fatal Fury would be Freeman.
  • Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI starts out in the game as a particularly heinous Psycho For Hire, performing such acts as setting a castle filled with inhabitants on fire simply as an act of persuasion, to single-handedly causing the genocide of a kingdom (including his own men), simply for the sake of amusement. Eventually, through betrayals and an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, he evolved into an even more heinous Big Bad, vaporizing entire cities with his Wave-Motion Gun and attempting to annihilate everything because he thought that it was pointless to let it exist anyway.
  • Professor Hojo from Final Fantasy VII. He does numerous experiments on humans, and how he does it is worse than it sounds. He likes hurting people far more than money, highlighted when he actually tries to keep the Sister Ray from killing Sephiroth.
    • Mainly because Sephiroth is his son, who was the result of a particularly heinous experiment.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Jerme:
      Jerme: Such beautiful skin. If I cut you into lovely red ribbons with this, would the pieces be as soft and lovely as silk?
    • Valter in Sacred Stones, a Blood Knight who cares for nothing but seeing more combat and has an unhealthy obsession with the female protagonist.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Officer Eddie Pulaski is a particularly sociopathic Dirty Cop under Tenpenny's command. Unlike Hernandez, he does whatever Tenpenny tells him to do willingly. Only Tenpenny can control his homicidal intentions.
  • Halo:
    • Emile in Halo: Reach, blatantly pointed out with the skull carved into his visor. While Word of God is that some of his sadism is just an act, it's still clear that he doesn't care about anything but killing Covenant. Frankly, though, it's a wonder the rest of the Spartan-IIIs aren't like this, what with being war orphans trained as killing machines from, in some cases, the age of four (and the rest weren't much older).
    • In Halo Wars, there's Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee, who was picked right out of prison, and considered irredeemably evil even by the rest of the Covenant.
  • Flying Fox from Heavenly Sword is a prime example of this trope, as evidenced by the sadistic pleasure he takes in the imminent (and actual) slaughter he causes.
  • The Hitman series gives you the option of being a Psycho For Hire through your actions as the player, though it's heavily discouraged.
  • Horizon Forbidden West has Erik Visser, one of the Old Ones from before the apocalypse. While warfare was drifting away to relying on machines, Visser ran a PMC for clients that required a "personal touch." Rumors are he hunted down and killed his targets on occasion just for the thrill of it. Having joined Far Zenith, he escaped off world and achieved immortality alongside the rest of the group. He spent the following eon in VR simulations where he could go on rampages as bloody as he liked, and when he returns to Earth as Far Zenith's attack dog, he's ecstatic to get the chance to kill actual people again, saying snapping necks in VR is nothing compared to watching the life leave someone's eyes in real-life.
  • In Hotline Miami, Jacket's motivations for obeying the answering machine messages are mostly unknown (at least until the sequel), but the Biker is definitely one of these.
  • The Jagged Alliance series is full of these, although there are far fewer psychos than mentally "stable" mercs. It is also notable that between the second and third installment in the series when A.I.M. becomes a high-profile and almost respectable organization, most of the outright certifiable people on the roster are quietly dropped.
    • A notable example from the first game is Reuban, an outright psychopath who murdered his entire family with a hedge trimmer. If put on the same team with Ivan for even a short while, he will eventually pull out a weapon and attempt to kill Ivan. He will also leave if not allowed to kill a sufficient number of enemies each day. Partly as a result, two highly experienced mercs (in addition to a few others) outright refuse to work with him:
      Col. Leo Kelly: Unusually Ruthless Reuban, crazy Reuban, trimmer of the family can call him whatever you want, but I ain't working with him!
      Corp. Len Anderson: Unusually Ruthless Reuban has given this business a bad name! I won't work beside him!
    • There are several other characters with these traits, including Skitz, Postie, and a few others.
    • The Psycho trait from Jagged Alliance 2 causes a mercenary to randomly switch to autofire and needlessly expend a lot of ammo shooting wildly at the enemy. These characters also get a morale drop if equipped with a weapon that can't autofire.
  • Lynch from Kane & Lynch is a deconstruction. Lynch is a fairly realistic (if extreme) example of a person who suffers from schizophrenia with psychotic episodes, meaning he will have episodes where he becomes extremely violent, and has difficulties understanding what's real and what's in his head. He very much enjoys killing when he has an episode, but the aftermath, when he has to calmly face what he's done, can become very ugly.
  • HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic is an assassination droid whose only suggestion for every situation involves violence. It's up to the player as to whether or not he gets to fully embrace his psycho-for-hire status.
    Player: HK-47, can you translate?
    HK-47: Analysis: 98% probability that the miniature meatbag's compatriots have been captured and he is asking for our help in remedying the situation.
    Player: What about the other 2%?
    HK-47: Reply: 2% probability that the meatbag is simply looking for trouble and needs to be blasted. That may be wishful thinking on my part, master.
    • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the ante is upped by adding a New and Improved line of droids called HK-50s. They may seem harmless at first until you learn that every last one of them is out to kill you. "But anonymous contributor," you might ask, "how does that make them psychotic? Everything is out to get you in KotOR" That may be true, but recall this line: "[Mocking query]: Coortaaaa... Coorta, are you dead yet?"
  • In MechWarrior 2 Mercenaries, one of the pilots you can hire is described as being this. Given the Artificial Stupidity of computer-controlled characters, the only real difference between him and any of the other available pilots is some narm-filled battle crys.
  • Prometheus from Mega Man ZX will happily murder people for kicks. There's a good reason why his nickname in-series is "The Reaper." He's also one of those psychos who actually has some degree of intelligence, considering he and Pandora knew from the start that the Game of Destiny was a complete (and intentional) farce (Unlike every other villain character in the series except Albert). He even tried to kill Master Albert in front of the hero, in a betrayal on the level of Kefka... Except that one didn't quite work out, since Master Albert happens to be a Magnificent Bastard. Had he succeeded, he and Pandora had full intentions to wipe out and destroy everything for no justifiable reason except revenge against Albert (Destroying the world is kinda going WAY beyond revenge anyway).
    • It's safe to say Prometheus had planned simply to destroy the other Mega Men and, most likely, Model W as part of his scheme, but he went batshit by his own madness after losing to Grey/Ashe. Before the fight in Advent...
      Prometheus: What are you talking about?! It's not over yet! We're still here — the garbage left behind by that scum!
      Pandora: We can't get our old bodies back... we can't change our destiny... so we'll hasten the destiny of destruction.
      Prometheus: We will destroy all that Albert made. That is our revenge. So let's have some fun, why don't we — and go out with a bang!
    • After the fight in Advent...
      Prometheus: It was all a farce! Albert set up everything from the start according to his own plan. He said that Mega Men were the natural evolution of Man?! Don't make me laugh! What an epic sham! I'm going to demolish this whole wretched world! * Critical Existence Failure ensues*
  • Most Metal Gear bosses who aren't either Magnificent Bastards or Anti-Villains fall into this trope.
    • Vamp from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty displays a few of these tendencies. He takes on entire squads of Navy SEALs armed with only a large hunting knife, and always kills in a way that ensures maximum bleeding. So he can drink it.
    • Also, Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid explicitly states that he wasn't interested in a revolution, only in killing as many people as he possibly could.
      • Metal Gear Solid, strangely enough, also had a rare protagonist example of this trope, as Liquid Snake mentioned to Solid Snake when atop REX that [Solid Snake] enjoyed all the killing, and mentioned that this was most likely part of the reason he returned to Shadow Moses Island. Meryl also mentioned that Solid Snake also most likely felt alive when people were dying around him based on his answers.
    • The third game has the Fury, a deranged cosmonaut whose life goal seems to be to set the world on fire. The Pain and The Fear probably also count.
  • The non-Canon spin-off game of the above, Metal Gear Ac!d, had La Clown, who was a notable Psycho For Hire in that s/he cheerfully lampshaded every part of the concept — as well as the concept of The Dragon and the death-bed Heel–Face Turn in his/her dying speech.
    La Clown: I've never lost to anyone before, but I felt like letting you win this one, just to see what it's like.
    Snake: ...
    La Clown: But I never thought... losing would mean dying. I think I'm about to die. Snake, Flemming is in the underground hangar. He could be activating Metal Gear and deciding on a target for its nuclear warhead as we speak. To get to the hangar, you'll have to open a door in the north part of this section and go down the ladder.
    Snake: Why are you telling me this?
    La Clown: If I die here, it means I'm not the hero. The hero is supposed to survive to the end. So... I guess that makes me the villain. The villain is always supposed to take the hero's side right before dying.
  • In Modern Warfare Makarov is described as this. He's the world's greatest terrorist who only cares about money and power. Specifically, his Evil Plan is for Russia to rule all of Europe, with him as its Tsar. Failing that, he has no qualms about nuking those countries he cannot conquer.
  • Although all of the characters are assassins in No More Heroes, most of them seem to be SORT OF stable... except for Destroyman, who cosplays as a superhero when he kills people, and Bad Girl is, as Travis describes, "not an assassin," but "a perverted killing maniac."
    • Travis himself counts, too, as he sees his murders not as a job, but as a HOBBY. As if being an Otaku wasn't expensive enough!
  • [PROTOTYPE]: Many Blackwatch operatives count towards this. True, they're meant to contain The Virus, but that doesn't stop a group of Blackwatch soldiers from firing on civilians for no good reason and laughing the whole time. By the time of [PROTOTYPE 2], they've pretty much completely abandoned actually fighting the virus and spend more time tormenting and killing the citizens of New York for fun.
  • Thugs-4-Less in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. Their allegiances lie with whoever pays them the most money.
  • Captain Espinoza from Red Dead Redemption. After defeating a rebel platoon in Tesoro Azul, he orders the village burnt and the deceased rebels' wives kidnapped and (most likely) raped to send a message to surviving rebels.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: Uryu is a kill-happy swordswoman who takes on hit jobs for the thrill of the hunt. She is encountered in the rogue route due to Teor and Pingar hiring her.
  • Akechi Mitsuhide from the video game Sengoku Basara. Casual fans are shocked seeing this kind of Alternate Character Interpretation since Mitsuhide is the guy often receiving the Historical Hero Upgrade since Nobunaga is always often the villain. Strangely, even Nobunaga is also villainous here.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): Scorpion is openly Ax-Crazy, joining the Sinister Six for money and sadism. During his Boss Battle, he openly admits that he'd gladly kill Spider-Man for free, and getting paid for it is "a bonus."
  • Leon Powalski from the Star Fox games.
    • Pigma Dengar is implied to be one of these as well during the Bolse mission in Star Fox 64. While he may express his motives as being for the money, his opening line when Star Wolf attacks Star Fox on Bolse makes it very clear that he also absolutely enjoys killing people as well.
    Pigma Dengar: Daddy screamed REAL good before he died!
  • Montross from Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is introduced as Jango Fett's Rival, and manages to make Fett look like a hero by comparison. Jango brings in targets dead or alive, depending on what pays more. Montross brings everyone in dead.
  • You can play the Bounty Hunter class like this in Star Wars: The Old Republic, even admitting you're just there to "kill people and cause damage." The Hunter's companion Skage is a first-rate case of this in his own right.
    • The Imperial Agent's first companion Kaliyo Djannis is a murderous criminal who loves violence and destruction and will almost always approve of Dark-side options.
  • General Viper in Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity is this with a touch of Axe-Crazy. Fitting, then, that his weapon of choice is an axe.
  • Vega in the Street Fighter series. Vain to the point of insanity (driven by the murder of his mother), he harbors an extreme vendetta against all things ugly as well as anything that could be more beautiful than him. He is a powerful ally of M. Bison due to his unpredictable and sadistic behavior.
  • Bounty hunter Solo from Strider, specially in the 2014 entry. While in the first two games he's a Consummate Professional more interested in finishing a contract and keeping his reputation as the strongest, the 2014 game added a much more sadistic personality to the mix, exemplified by him taunting Hiryu mid-battle about not entertaining him enough and being generally disappointed by his performance, as well as breaking into a rather jarring Evil Laugh occasionally. Once he's defeated and half-heartedly brought back to life, he goes full Ax-Crazy, fully obsessed over killing Hiryu for his previous defeat.
  • Yuber from the first three Suikoden games is a classic example of the summoned and controlled type of psycho.
    • Luca Blight from Suikoden II fits the standard archetype, but does his work strictly pro bono and is, in fact, the Big Bad. He is widely regarded as one of the evilest, cruelest, and most sadistic villains in video game history. This scene makes this trait abundantly clear.
    • Childerich from Suikoden V is also an example, which has garnered criticism of his character because of his resemblance to Luca, right down to using (as a shout-out) his infamous "Die pigs!!" line when killing people.
  • Although instead being recruited — and also seemingly only a little off-kilter — Tempest Hawker and Tenzan Nakajima of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation end up growing into them, the reasons being different. Hawker joined the DC for revenge, Tenzan because he knows his way around a robot's controls. Over the course of repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of the Hagane and its small squad, including Tempest's "rival" and a girl that looks a bit like Hawker's dead daughter, they each lose sight of many things about life. In the final battles against them, they use powerful Valsion Customs... which serve as the straw that breaks the camel's back and induce complete, psychotic behavior and screaming "DIEDIEDIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" at the top of their lungs.
  • Archibald Grims from Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2, will take any job as long as it involves killing... preferably of the innocent. When the rest of the Neo Divine Crusaders get tired of his crap he simply defects to the Shadow Mirrors. He is also the enemy of the Branstein family, having caused the death of Elzam's wife by poisoning her with gas while trying to gas the rest of the colony of Elpis, thus forcing Elzam to kill his already lethally-poisoned wife to stop it.
    • Archibald was actually preceded by Lubikka Hakinnen from SRW Gaiden. Instead of the Bransteins, though, he targeted Tytti, having slaughtered her whole family in front of her eyes. He would've happily done this to other people, but he just takes extra pleasure if the victim is Tytti. When he got hired by the Shutedonian army, he also takes that job happily since it involves killing, and doesn't mind letting out Evil Laughs often. And then, he finally hammers it down in Tytti's breakdowns by killing her would-be-lover Ricardo and inflicted her fear of starting a new relationship.
  • Viath in Tales of Graces. If you meet him in a sidequest later in the story, you'll see that he has truly gone off the deep end.
  • Hasta from Tales of Innocence, who's a creepy Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • Zagi from Tales of Vesperia starts off as this, until his sole motivation becomes fighting Yuri.
  • Everyone in Team Fortress 2. In a game chock full of mercenaries with "interesting" personalities, we start with the Scout, an aggressive twerp who badmouths everyone he comes across and enjoys beating up others with his bat. The Soldier is a cross of a Drill Sergeant Nasty and Cloud Cuckoolander with a bazooka. The Heavy cheerfully laughs as he mows people down and converses with his miniguns and things he pulls out of a lunchbox. The Engineer gets a little too jolly when his machines kill people. The Demoman is a Scottish drunkard with a propensity for blowing things up. The Sniper thinks he's a utter professional but he enjoys his work and spits out insults far too much for that. The Medic sees healing as unrewarding in comparison to harming others and is morbidly fascinated with human suffering. The Spy is an actual professional who nonetheless mocks his victims with a jaunty cackle. Finally, the Pyro is an Obliviously Evil pyromaniac who legitimately doesn't know that they're killing anyone and thinks they're instead spreading rainbows and joy, though this doesn't make them any less enthusiastic about getting out there into a place that they do know harms them to spread that fire around.
    • Of course, the casual attitude towards killing is more reasonable when you remember everyone respawns. However, some classes such as Soldier however are known to have killed people besides the mercenaries, who wouldn't respawn.
    • Saxton Hale, the local Arms Dealer, exploits this clientele. According to him, the world's best mercenaries (not the main characters) are so insane that they don't care about money at all — which is why he sells his best weapons for obscene amounts of money.
  • Bryan Fury from the Tekken series possesses mental instability and sadism typical of this trope. However, he has not worked under anyone since Tekken 3, fighting on behalf of his "creator", Dr. Abel. Since then he's been in it for himself.
  • Wild Dog from Time Crisis. He's also the only recurring character in the entire series. Even though he's constantly getting exploded on!
  • Goh Hinogami from the Virtua Fighter series is a creepy-looking assassin hired and trained by the J6 corporation to kill as many fighters as he can. He takes great pleasure in his job, using his judo abilities to snap his opponents' limbs, and resorts to kicking and taunting them after they've been defeated.
  • In Way of the Samurai 2, the local Big Bad, Hanzaemon Takenuma, has a Psycho For Hire named Kyojiro Kagenuma. She scares the ka-britches out of everybody, wields the most scary sword in the game, has two ridiculously overpowered attacks, and will — in several endings — continue to haunt the player after the Big Bad has been defeated. Often referred to as a 'Mad Dog', though never to her face. Call her O-Kyo at your own peril.
  • Janus Cascade from Wild ARMs 3 is sort of like this. He's even willing to sacrifice his two comrades to obtain whatever he or the Prophets want.
  • Kartikeya from Wild ARMs 5. Sure, blow up a whole village just for the heck of it!
  • Albedo Piazzolla from the Xenosaga series frequently demonstrates that he has delved so far into madness and sociopathy that it is difficult to even describe him as human.

  • Demons in Blip. While Lucifer himself is Affably Evil, the chibi devils he employs are mindlessly destructive.
  • Skoll of Cry 'Havoc', while well-paid for her services as a mercenary, seems to be mainly motivated by a psychotic glee in killing people.
  • Exterminatus Now features Lothar Hex, who is a Psycho For Hire; he's a mercenary, and as an incidental bonus he's a psychopath. He has some features of the Sociopathic Hero...but he has also been known to explain to his friends that "You guys have three seconds to get off me, or I stop thinking of you as friends and start thinking of you as mutilated corpses," while revving up his circular saw.
  • Girl Genius
    • Captain DuPree. Not even the iron-fisted Baron Wulfenbach can really keep her under control, though...
      Baron Wulfenbach: DuPree. When I say the words "Alive and unharmed" — do any neurons actually fire in that brain of yours?
      Captain DuPree: Um — No Sir!
      Baron Wulfenbach: I thought not.
    • Also...
      Gilgamesh: Your orders are simple — kill anyone who enters [this room], except for Doctor Sun and myself.
      Captain DuPree: ["speaking" in Rebus Bubbles due to a broken jaw] :man: :woman: :little girl: ?
      Gilgamesh: Yes, anyone.
      Captain DuPree: :knife: :gun: :axe: :cheese: ?
      Gilgamesh: Yes, any way you like.
      Captain DuPree: [hugging a rather disgusted-looking Gil] :"World's Best Boss" trophy:!
  • Ysengrin in Gunnerkrigg Court is described by as being "on the brink of insanity." He demonstrates this via a Slasher Smile and Minor Injury Overreaction: his own boss has to smash him unconscious against a wall to calm him down.
    • However, later he reveals a lot more intelligence and depth than his initial appearance would suggest, and has since become somewhat friendly towards Antimony, the main protagonist of the comic, though he still has issues with humanity at large.
    • Until he really does snap and tries to kill Antimony. And then it's revealed his boss makes a habit of extracting chunks of his memory and eating them.
  • Ki from Harkovast, in his own words:
    "I'm not here to make friends. I show up to kill people...and look good while I do it."
  • Rocky and his cousin Calvin from Lackadaisy. While they don't seem to be sadistic, they are definitely psychos: One is a perpetually-grinning manchild and the other started Laughing Mad after his first kill before going on to get a few more.
    • And for the competition, we have the Savoy Siblings and Mordecai. Mordecai especially, although he would probably challenge that assertion, being a Consummate Professional instead of a gleeful sadist.
      Mordecai: "It was nothing so indulgent as a grand time. It's simply work ethic."
  • Ed from MegaTokyo
    Ed: (talking about his head) It's a head. It works. As long as it can express how much I enjoy killing people, it's all good.
  • Mell Kelly is a more amiable example of this trope than most, but this doesn't change the fact that she works for Narbonic Labs mostly because she likes big guns and shooting people with them. She would be a Sociopathic Hero if it weren't for what the main characters do for a living...
  • Belkar Bitterleaf from The Order of the Stick walks a narrow line between this and Heroic Comedic Sociopath. He has become an adventurer only because he loves to kill things, and he'll happily stick his daggers into anyone, even friendly and non-hostile NPCs. He has at times even considered killing his own party members for XP.
    • He's gotten somewhat better recently after a Vision Quest, if only because he's realized that if he plays along with the other heroes' rules most of the time, he'll have more free rein when it comes to "stabbing the bad guys" time. He's still not a good person by any stretch, but he may just have moved up from Stupid Evil to actual Chaotic Evil.
  • Jeff from RPG World probably fits the bill.
  • Sergent Schlock from Schlock Mercenary. He is, at best, a career sociopath working for a mercenary company.
  • The Story of Anima has the Bloody Flames, a group of merciless mercenaries that are way too in love with their work.
  • Unsounded: Starfish and the Red Berry gang are slavers, willfully transporting a bioweapon fueled by impaling slaves with silver thorns. While the rest of the gang are in it for the money, Starfish takes particular glee in mutilating and molesting the slaves. In fact, he personally gets a whopping zero shares of cash for the unsavory job, preferring to use the favor to buy the client's permanently growth-stunted daughter so he can rape her forever. The true level of his insanity blooms when he's forced to choose between cutting his losses and running, or charging headlong into a collapsing mine with no backup and no escape plan just so he can finally molest Sette; he actually recognizes how suicidal the latter option is, but he can't help himself. This gets him killed.

    Web Original 
  • In Noob, one of the characters is a mercenary who joins groups for money and is clearly in for the occasion to kill enemies. A mix of friendship with one of the main guild's members and the urge to hit on something will even make her frequently tag along for free as long as she gets to do the hitting on something part.
  • Parodied in Red vs. Blue with Agent Tex.
    Tex: I wouldn't say I'm mean. I just get paid to do mean things.
    Tucker: Yeah, but you enjoy it.
    Tex: Well, I think it's important to like what you do.
    • Season 11 introduces Locus, a mercenary working for the Federal Army of Chorus. Unlike Tex, he's played completely seriously. He objects to being called a "psycho" though and prefers being a "soldier".
    • Season 12 reveals that Felix, who we thought was a good guy, is not only more psychotic than Locus, but he is on the same side as him (that is to say, neither the Federation or the New Republic).
  • Under normal circumstances, Kirby from Sonic for Hire would border between Serial Killer and Heroic Comedic Sociopath. However, in Season 3, he becomes a Psycho For Hire by proxy of the fact that Sonic rallies him for his Casino Zone heist as the muscles of the group. Granted, it doesn't go quite as planned, since Kirby ends up killing Princess Potato when he's meant to take out the Casino Zone guards, but the heist ends up being a success... only to find out that Rings have a kajillion-to-one exchange rate in other worlds, making them all but worthless.
    Kirby: You mean I got gonorrhea in my mouth from eating Princess Potato for nothing?!
  • To Welcome Oblivion has Rhett Talbot, a man who gained superpowers after being exposed to Eldritch Energy. It didn't take long before he used said powers to roam around the world raping and massacring innocents, and he gleefully agrees to work for the Old Brotherhood so long as he can continue killing whoever stands in his way.

    Western Animation 
  • Though only appearing in one episode, Scorcher from Adventure Time is shown to be this. When the Ice King hires a hitman (not understanding what the term actually means) to physically hit Finn and Jake after they ground him for trying to kidnap another princess, he soon learns his error and tries to correct it. However, the mute, fire-controlling Scorcher refuses to go back on the deal, simply burning up anything Ice King offers him in an attempt to dissuade him. He only gives up trying to kill the pair when Ice King convinces him that they are already dead.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 3 has one in the Combustion Man, a mute assassin who Zuko hires to kill Team Avatar. His main method of attack/murder is projecting blasts that cause whatever they hit to explode, and he doggedly chases Team Avatar all the way to the Western Air Temple to do the job. In his final episode, Zuko, having undergone a Heel–Face Turn, confronts him during his latest assault and first threatens not to pay, and then offers to pay him double, if he backs off. In response, the Combustion Man attacks him before turning back to the Gaang.
  • Grim Reaper in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes seems to be working for HYDRA for the sole reason that he likes killing, fighting, terrorizing, etc. In his own words: "Finally... someone to hurt".
  • Paper Star from Carmen Sandiego effectively serves as this. She is heavily implied through her appearances to be a born psychopath, and unlike the other VILE operatives, shows little interest in actually stealing any artifacts or treasures, rather just seeming to enjoy the act of chasing down the heroes and attempting to (quite violently) assassinate them.
  • Pegleg Pete from various Disney properties often functions as hired muscle for a smarter villain, like Sylvester Shyster, Eli Squinch, or Agent Von Weasel. In service to all three, he's shown easy willingness to try killing Mickey Mouse and his friends, with any weapon from rifles to propellers to his own fists. Though occasionally Pete has a twinge of regret after believing he's finally dispatched his longtime enemy. After all, thug though Pete may be, he and Mickey have occasionally bonded to take on more powerful other villains.
  • Skulker from Danny Phantom is shown on more than one occasion to willingly perform tasks for Vlad Plasmius, though he clearly does it for the thrill of the hunt more than any actual payment.
  • The siblings Jackal and Hyena from Gargoyles are examples. Their sometimes-teammate Wolf is a borderline example, as he takes the same kind of jobs because he enjoys them, but is more of a vicious brute than an outright lunatic. Anton Sevarius is a variation, as a Mad Scientist for hire who isn't a physical threat — but his creations are.
    • Macbeth originally presented himself as one of these to get to the gargoyles, which he thought would get him to Demona. While he isn't as bloodthirsty or sadistic as most examples, and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge is only aimed at one person, the centuries have not been good for his mental health.
      Goliath: Why are you doing this? Did Xanatos pay you?
      Macbeth: Aye, I asked for money. If I'd offered to do it for free, Xanatos would've gotten suspicious.
  • G.I. Joe: Resolute, Zartan admits that he may be a mercenary but it was never about the money. He just likes killing people.
  • Invader Zim prefers Humongous Mecha and his Kill Sat instead of killing and maiming directly, but it's hard to ignore the maniacal glee with which he steals organs or reduces cities to rubble.
    • Even goes on a rampage on his own planet just for the heck of it.
      Zim: I put the fires out.
      Tallest Purple: You made them worse.
      Zim: Worse... or better?
    • As well as...
      Zim: But I blew up more than the other Invaders!
      Tallest Red: You blew UP all the other Invaders!
  • Killer Frost from Justice League is explicitly described as such by Gorilla Grodd in Secret Society. While the rest of the members have direct motivations (Grodd wants revenge on the League, Giganta is unwaveringly loyal to Grodd, Parasite has it out for Superman, Sinestro has a vendetta against the Green Lantern Corp, Shade wants free reign to commit his crimes, and Clayface wants to be human again), Killer Frost is only along for the ride because she enjoys killing people.
  • The appropriately named Psycho from Max Steel was typically found working for Big Bad John Dread. As most of his lines indicate, it's got less to do with the money and more to do with hurting people. In his own words, there's nothing he likes better than going on a rampage.
  • Protoman from Mega Man (Ruby-Spears). In "Future Shock", it's implied that he doesn't want Wily to completely dominate the world, as the man's draconian policies would severely limit Proto's opportunities to wreak havoc. Outside of that episode, he never hesitates to make things go boom (though he can't bring himself to kill his little brother).
  • Hexadecimal from ReBoot. She sows mayhem mainly for her own amusement and possibly to get Bob's attention.
  • Rick and Morty has Krombopulous Michael, an assassin who gleefully tells Morty that he has no personal ethics, and would gladly murder children, old people, and animals. Doesn't matter to him; he just loves killing.
    Krombopulos Michael: Oh boy, here I go killing again!
  • Samurai Jack: Aku's enforcers cause devastation and carnage on a daily basis, even without his direct involvement. Atrocities are pretty common in Aku's rule.
    • Scaramouche is a Robotic Psychopath who remorselessly slaughtered an innocent village filled with men, women, and children.
    • The Dominator is a sadistic Torture Technician who gleefully slaughtered a peaceful village, robs its children, and forced them into a violent frenzy.
  • Hobgoblin's Spider-Man: The Animated Series incarnation. Norman Osborn hires him to assassinate Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, wanting to end their "partnership". When that fails, Hobgoblin switches sides and kidnaps Harry Osborn for Kingpin, then convinces Osborn to give him a better glider so they can take Fisk down together, only to pull a Starscream, run Fisk out of his own base and keep Harry hostage for himself. Fisk and Osborn are forced to rely on Spider-Man to deal with him — and that's just in his first two episodes.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Xever/Fishface freely admits to Raph that he works for the Shredder because he "likes having a job where he gets to crack skulls every day."
  • When the villains from ThunderCats (2011) face trouble due to their forces surrendering to the heroes by the battalion, they conscript a couple of serial murderers (first letting them have some revenge on the jailers).
  • Lockdown, a Decepticon-aligned bounty hunter from Transformers: Animated. He claims to be in it for money and upgrades, but it's plain to see that his true pleasure comes from hunting down and brutally disassembling helpless robots. So much so that he often kept pieces of them as "trophies" which is his favorite part of the job. In fact, his motto is, "Run all you want; it'll make the chase more fun." Ratchet's encounter with him during the Great War was the cause for most of Ratchet's later emotional troubles.
    Lockdown: You couldn't stop an oil leak! But don't worry... I got everything I wanted from you long ago.
    • Extended to even further depths after it is revealed that he used to be a student of Prowl's mentor, Yoketron. And not only that, but he was the one who betrayed and killed him.
      Lockdown: If my first act as a bounty hunter was betraying my sacred sensei then everything I've done since has been easy.
  • Transformers: Prime brings us Airachnid. In a nutshell, mix together Lockdown, Rampage, and Tarantulas and put them into the body of a spider-helicopter fembot.
  • Though his motivations are equally ambition-based, Pavel from TRON: Uprising Loves the Sound of Screaming, has a Lack of Empathy, enjoys using his power to intimidate and harass allies and enemies alike, and is delighted at the prospect of dragging a couple of troublemakers back to his Ludicrous Gibs-splattered lair to interrogate.
  • The Venture Bros. gives us Herr Trigger, one of OSI's (former) most-wanted assassins. Something he has over the other two most-wanted is that he is a gun fetishist and kills simply for sexual pleasure. Most of his dialog is a creepy, ecstatic laugh.
  • Whammer from WordGirl. His dialogue is literally riddled with "wham".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Maniac Mercenary, Psychos For Hire


The Dark Knight - Joker

The Joker, with the emphasis on "psycho", since he doesn't really stay in the employ of the mob for long. He's definitely in it for the psycho part, though. "If you're good at something, never do it for free."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / PsychoForHire

Media sources: