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War for Fun and Profit

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"War! What is it good for?
It's good for you! It's good for me!
War! What is it good for?
It strengthens the economy!"

War Is Hell for many, and some would rather it didn't happen. They say it's unnecessary, or they wish it wasn't necessary. In fiction, however, some villains not only like war, they frequently like to start wars for their own ends. Their motives may vary. They may set out to profit from the situation, or trick their enemies into destroying each other, or even try to Take Over the World in the aftermath. They may be terrorists, or just Card Carrying Villains.


The method is often some form of False Flag Operation; the villains pretend to be members of one country, and attack another. Nuclear weapons are commonly used in the set-up. At times, both sides in a conflict use a flimsy Pretext for War just so they can get to the "good" parts. Heroes typically struggle to Prevent the War, or end it as bloodlessly and quickly as possible.

It's sometimes implied in narrative examples of this trope that corporations profit from this war, e.g arms manufacturers. Then again, the opposite can also be true, (relative) peace tends to make arms markets flat - a long-standing threat of war (real or artificial) can be damned profitable for arms manufacturers... Let's just be real careful what gets put in the Real Life section, okay?

Compare Corporate Warfare, where corporations cut out the middleman and do the fighting themselves, and Blood Knight, where the fun comes from the fighting itself. See also Avoiding the Great War, when this coincides with WWI.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Remove the "Profit" and the twisted individual that is Sir Isaac Ray Peram Westcott from Date A Live will make more sense. He has no reasons, objectives or even logical goals that can justify what he does. He loves any kind of atrocity; from murder, to omnicide, to torture, to chaos and destruction. War is not an exception in his agenda. He transformed the center of Tenguu City into a battlefield and almost caused the destruction a entire city just for a "simple" end.
  • Lighthearted literal example from Dog Days, war in Flognarde is a large scale gladiatorial sporting game that is mostly harmless and totally nonlethal. Countries involved place equal stakes and the winner takes the major portion. Individual participants are also rewarded based on their accomplishments.
  • The Major from Hellsing doesn't care who wins, loses, or even why people are fighting. He just absolutely loves conflict for its own sake, as he explains during an inspirational speech to his men before launching his assault on London. Further, the Major believes that War Is Glorious as well and is gleeful in waging war against Britain, or rather the Hellsing Organization, specifically Alucard. His animosity toward Alucard is because the Major views the vampire as anathema to him. The Major was, in his own eyes, a man with the trappings of a monster, while Alucard was a monster with the trappings of a man.
  • Cyborg 009
    • Black Ghost sent a group of mass produced cyborg men to help try to spark a war in 008's home country in Africa and proceeded to sell his advanced weaponry to both sides.
    • In the original manga version it was in 'Nam during The Vietnam War. This happens a few more times, as well. The Black Ghost Organization is pretty much the king of this trope, being run by a consortium of arms manufacturers.
  • In Lupin III: Missed by a Dollar, the villainess, Cynthia, arranges for a third-world military junta to stage attacks on oil-rich areas throughout the world, at the same time buying as much oil as she can. The desired result is perpetual warfare, giving her an eternal market.
  • Madlax did this as some kind of bizarre magic ritual for a Nietzsche Wannabe. In fact, a lot of people were expecting this to be the reason of Enfant backing the civil war in Gazth-Sonika, only to be surprised to learn that there was no immediately obvious profit—Enfant was arming both sides for free.
  • Gundam series:
    • The Romefeller Foundation from Gundam Wing is the classic greedy military-industrial complex that manipulates warfare in order to line its own pockets, going so far as to create entirely unpiloted war machines, turning war into a game for anyone rich enough to afford their own army. Later, it gets defied when Relena is forced to become their figurehead leader and pulls an epic Reassignment Backfire by convincing most of the Foundation to move in more peaceful directions — or it would, if her reign as "Queen of the World", to use the Foundation's parlance, wasn't promptly ended by the professional military under OZ by Treize Khushrenada — the very split of which from the Foundation was what Relena was appointed to address in the first place.
      • In the radio drama-slash-manga Blind Target, the Big Bad is an arms manufacturer who's trying to start another war so he can make more money (and wants to steal the Gundams so he'll have the best products to sell). When the Gundam Pilots engineer a public confession, the rebels he had been manipulating instantly revolt and administer some karmic justice.
    • Gundam X has the Frost Brothers, who want a gigantic war because they're Artificial Newtypes (Category Fs) whose creators rejected them for being unable to use the Flash System and now want to kill off anybody who is a real Newtype or believes in them.
    • ∀ Gundam's Big Bad Gym Ghingnham is a violent Social Darwinist who wants eternal war to cull humanity and leave only those strong enough to survive, whom he considers "true" humans. In games featuring both Turn A and X, the Frost Brothers often willingly and gladly work for Gym despite being backstabbers extraordinaire in their home series.
    • Logos from Gundam SEED Destiny is in the same vein as Romefeller, and have done this all throughout history if Chairman Durandal can be taken at face value. What is true is that they turned a simple environmentalist group into frothing anti-Coordinator terrorist group who pull the strings of The Federation.
    • This is the motivation of Gundam 00's Ali al-Saachez, but more for the fun part (the money does help though; keeping up to date on military equipment is expensive after all).
    • Desil Galette from Gundam AGE somehow manages to outdo the above examples. An Ace Pilot for the UE, this monstrous brat views war as a game and the soldiers as toys at his disposal.
      • Decil and Ali are both modeled on Yazan Gable of Zeta Gundam, who joined the Titans solely for the chance to kill AEUG supporters. Jamitov Hymen, who's using the war to move himself into a position of power over the Earth Federation, and Paptimus Scirocco, who manipulates the conflict so that he can seize control of the Titans from Jamitov, are no better (Yazan ultimately signs on with Scirocco, who as a Mad Scientist can also provide Yazan with all the latest high-tech weaponry to kill people with).
    • Anaheim Electronics had done this for quite a bit, from selling weapons to all sides, building a Mobile Suit with nuclear strike capability just because they can, to concealing documents that could have prevented the One Year War so they could make more weapons. AE was able to get away with it for a long time because the winners of each war were so reliant on AE-provided weaponry that they failed to notice how most of the wars never would've even happened if not for AE's manipulations. And that's just the First Universal Century; in the F91 era, after losing favor to the Federation's in-house think tank SNRI, Anaheim responds by outright stealing SNRI's tech (Silhouette Formula 91) and helping Zeon remnants try to invade Earth (Gundam F90: Formula Wars 0122 Super Famicom game).
    • Nobliss Gordon of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans does this with Gjallarhorn and other parties in a vicious cycle of greed. First find the agitated masses looking for Independence and economic rights, then get someone to band around their cause and arm the people involved and hire Teiwaz to run the weapon shipments to the activists involved and watch as it all crumbles apart after the rebels fail at the hands of Gjallarhorn. This song and dance goes on until Ride kills Nobliss in response for killing Orga.
  • The Atreide Company from Noir is in this line of work - with the front of being an International Security Service, they sell complete coup d'etat packages to interested factions in unstable regions, toppling governments in return for resource rights. From training the soldiers and providing the weapons, right down to planning the actual takeover, all you need to do is provide a charismatic face for the Revolution!
  • One Piece:
    • Sir Crocodile inspires a rebellion in the kingdom of Alabasta by framing the King for stealing the rain, as well as some other villainous deeds. He does all this to force the king into telling him the location of an ancient superweapon.
    • Don Quixote Doflamingo runs a massive underground weapons running business from Dressrosa. He uses weapons he buys / trades from Caesar Clown and Kaido and sells them to nations at war. It's implied that he's even been going as far as to interfere in the affairs of other nations provoke wars just to have a market.
  • Orochimaru, the Big Bad of Naruto, loves doing this. He seems to consider it an art-form (but only if he is responsible — he thinks any other war is pointless).
    • This was also Akatsuki's stated aim initially: They would start a bunch of wars, and Akatsuki would offer their services cheaper than that of the ninja villages to one side, quickly quelling them and monopolizing the shinobi market across the globe, and the ninja villages will gradually diminish, giving them military control over the world. The real aims of Akatsuki actually turn out to be even more insidious...
  • Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid. Amalgam starts wars in order to test, demonstrate, and create a market for its Black Technology.
  • The villain from one of the Dirty Pair OVA episodes is a military contractor who has helped to incite (and finance) a rebellion against his own country in order to sell weapons to the guerrillas. He keeps upping the stakes by gradually selling each side better weapons.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, the war that split the Magic World twenty years ago was due to Fate Averruncus's group Kosmo Entelecheia, who wanted everyone else off their backs while they kidnapped a princess and used her to power their massive ritual (it's easier if the princess's home country thinks the enemy did it).
  • This is the main plot of Maoyu, with the reason being that the war has benefited both humans and demons and if the war ends, there will be civil war which would be a lot worse. Thus, even though the heroes include all of the most powerful fighters on the human side and the leader of the demons, they have to slowly and carefully end the war so that the war-based economies that have gone on for centuries won't collapse. It's later revealed that the Central Church and Blue Demon Tribe, the driving force behind the human war effort and the most militant of the demons, respectively, have been conspiring together all along to maintain an eternal war.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father incited wars with Amestris's neighbors just so there would be a lot of human souls released at certain points along the massive nation-spanning transmutation circle he needed to open the Gate.
    • The anime was no better; instead, the wars were all incited by Dante in order to cause enough despair in order for philosopher stones to be made. Then she would take those stones for herself.
  • Sword Princess Altina has not one, but two (if not more) groups of nobility who are all about this. The title character's own oldest brother, and crown prince, wants Belgaria to be in a constant state of war to justify constantly building up army infrastructure, and tries to convince himself, and anyone who will listen, that this is Necessarily Evil for the country's continued existence and prosperity. The court of High Britannia in volume 4 is no better. Second in line to the throne, Margaret, tries to assassinate her own sister, Elizabeth, and despite failing that, seizes the crown, and orders war with the nation of Belgaria, without cause or provocation, all because she was bored. Her attendant, deliberately enraged a mortally ill Queen into a heart-attack to speed up the need for a coronation, and furtively supports a Forever War purely for its own sake, and his own amusement.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has the Duel Academy teach it's students to commit mass genocide as part of a twisted series of "hunting games," producing sadistic Child Soldiers and unleashing them in another dimension. However considering the franchise (and the giant glowing machine in the Big Bad's lair that seems to contain a bunch of human souls trapped in cards) this is probably just a cover for a mass Human Sacrifice plot.
  • Ajin: Sato, leader of the Ajin resistance, claims to be fighting for the freedom of his species, but he's actually a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist who simply wants to start a war with humanity for his own amusement.
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045: After "The Great Default" bankrupted the global economy the major powers have adopted a policy of AI-regulated sustainable war in order to prop up the military-industrial complex that is now the only functional sector of the economy.

    Comic Books 
  • Albedo: Erma Felna EDF: It turns out the Independent Lepine Republic's industrial clans are partially responsible for the second ILR-ConFed war. And the military industry has consumed so much of the ILR economy that they were risking a recession.
  • In his first appearance, before he was a Mad Scientist, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, or President Evil, Lex Luthor was a weapons dealer trying to start a war between two Ruritanias.
    • Even before that, the first two issues of Action Comics in which Superman appeared involved him stopping a war in South America that was started by munitions companies to boost sales.
  • One of the ways that Max from The Losers gets his funding for his grand plan is P.A.M. (Policy Analysis Market), a special program that reads changes in the stock markets as a way of predicting terrorist attacks and also allows investors to earn huge profits by betting on the probability of said attacks. Max also runs a special outfit called P.2.O.G. (Proactive Preemptive Operations Group) whose objective is to provoke terrorism. You do the math.
    • In fact, the fear of something like the above happening in real life is why P.A.M. was cancelled in real life.
  • In the Tintin story The Broken Ear, an oil company helps start a war between San Theodoros and Nuevo-Rico for sole control of the Gran Chapo region which straddles the border between the two countries. An arms merchant in cahoots with the oil company representative makes his profit by selling cannons to both sides. The war lasts a few weeks until it is discovered that the report of oil deposits in the area was an exaggeration.
  • G.I. Joe features Destro, a weapons manufacturer who incites war and sells to both sides if it's profitable.
  • In Marvel Comics Six Guns mini-series, evil corporation Roxxon starts rumours about a vibranium mine in a Banana Republic, knowing that both halves of the country will go to war. Roxxon is providing the Private Military Contractors for both sides of the conflicts.
  • Shakara: There is a planet designed to be a total warzone and hired out by a corrupt Mega-Corp to different factions who want to kill each other without having to destroy their own infrastructure.
  • Col. Rudi Gagarin from Fury (MAX) only cares about the "fun" part.
  • In ROM (IDW), Rom is disgusted when he realizes that many of the higher ranking Space Knights are prolonging the war with the Dire Wraiths rather than trying to end it. It seems that after so many centuries of war, they now care about nothing but fighting for their own pleasure.
  • Robin Series: Ulysses is obsessed with war and idolizes warlords and generals throughout history, believing that it's the only worthwhile aspect of human history. He attempts to instigate a war when he's eleven and nearly succeeds, and prior to that did kick off a high-casualty turf war between gangs in Gotham.

  • In the Hetalia: Axis Powers / Doctor Who crossover The Men From Earth, the alien Proeliites engineer a world-wide crisis to profit from the war machine, prompting the Doctor to engineer personified nations to combat the crisis.
  • Kyubey flat out tells Merlin and Nimue in A History of Magic that the Incubators instigate wars because strife increases the amount of girls willing to become Puella Magi, thus giving the Incubators more energy to meet their quota. Among other things, they're behind the fall of the Roman Empire and the dissolution of the Round Table. Kyubey also aided in the Manhattan Project because he realized if it wasn't hurried up and used, all countries would stockpile nuclear weapons and risk destroying all of humanity.
  • In the The Legend of Korra fanfiction Repairs, Retrofits and Upgrades, Asami is deeply conflicted over whether to help the United Forces against Earth Empire holdouts, not wanting to spread more destruction but realizing the threat the loyalists and the Red Lotus pose to the world and specifically to Korra, eventually delegating the task to Baatar Jr.

  • The James Bond films do this several times.
    • In You Only Live Twice, Blofeld tries to heat up the cold war, by having a spacecraft steal American and Soviet space capsules, so the Americans and Soviets would each think the other is responsible.
      • Furthermore, he demands $100 million in gold before completing the scheme, and when his Chinese backers complain that this is extortion, Blofeld simply notes, "Extortion is my business."
    • Tomorrow Never Dies has media magnate Elliot Carver attempt to start a war between the United Kingdom and China, by sinking a British frigate sent off-course into Chinese waters, while shooting down a Chinese fighter plane sent to investigate. China wouldn't grant him broadcast rights, you see.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me was essentially You Only Live Twice but replaced spacecraft with submarines.
    • It seems that in the new films, this is the modus operandi of Quantum. In Casino Royale (2006), Le Chiffre plans to blow up a new airliner to make money as he's sold their shares short. When Bond stops the plan, Le Chiffre loses a great deal of money that belongs to other people and has to run the poker game to try and get it back. In Quantum of Solace, Dominic Greene helps General Medrano overthrow the Bolivian government in exchange for a seemingly useless piece of desert which, unknown to Medrano, allows Greene to completely control Bolivia's entire water supply and charge exorbitant rates.
    • The Living Daylights has a Soviet General buying guns from an arms dealer, who uses the down payment to buy diamonds. He trades the diamonds to the Afghan resistance for opium, which he intended to sell at a 1000% markup, and then use part of that money to get the guns to fill the order from the Soviets. The Soviets would then use the guns to fight the Afghans, who would arm themselves with guns bought with the diamonds. Thus the Russian Army would be funding both sides of the war, with the arms dealer and his friend the General making a massive profit in the process.
  • Lord of War:
    • The protagonist arms dealer Yuri Orlov doesn't instigate any wars, nor does he care about the outcome, he simply provides weapons to those who do. He points out that he doesn't put a gun in anyone's hands and force them to shoot.
    • His main competitor, Simeon Weisz, is closer to a straight version of the trope, stating that he supplied guns to Iraq and Iran during their war because he "wanted both sides to lose."
  • The Assassination Bureau: Bostwick plans to destroy a peace conference to ignite a war and profit as the stock prices soar.
  • In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the Trade Federation's blockade/invasion of Naboo, the Separatist Crisis, and the Clone Wars were all orchestrated by Palpatine in his plot to become Emperor.
    • The various megacorporations themselves, whom Palpatine was manipulating, were planning on selling their services to both sides of the conflict (though they would heavily favor the Separatists)
  • In Canadian Bacon, facing the prospect of economic recession from closing arms factories and low popularity among working people, the president of the US and a major arms dealer try to restart the Cold War. Since Russia isn't interested (at this point, anyway) they instead frame up Canada as the new enemy. Canadians, on the other hand, are either unaware, or just confused about the whole thing. There's also the fact that one of the President's advisors is in cahoots with the owner of said arms factories with a personal interest in a new Cold War. Unfortunately for him, not only does he fall to his death, but the Canadians actually end up "winning" the war.
  • A different take on this trope appears in The International. The International Bank of Business and Credit (IBBC) finances third world revolution and arms sales, but their goal is not to profit from wars, but from the massive debt racked up by those fighting them. This is an interesting case because it only works with small nations. If the same principle was applied to larger ones, it would never work because they are too economically powerful to care about a bank. Sadly, this bank is actually based on a real one, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
  • Destro in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is an arms dealer who creates a weapon, steals it back, and then attempts to use it to create global fear of terrorism so the entire world will seek unifying leadership from the most powerful man on the planet. The president of the United States of America, who is really Destro's agent, Zartan.
  • Possible Ur-Example: In Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane does this in order to sell newspapers. Based on the manipulations of real-life media mogul William Randolph Hearst:
    "Dear Wheeler: You provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war."
  • In The Man Who Knew Too Little, an English and a Russian official conspire to kill the diplomats at an Anglo-Russian peace conference. They aim to restart the Cold War, apparently because they're bored.
  • Toyed with in Wag the Dog in order to get a sex scandal off the front page and get the President re-elected, with the twist that there never actually is a war as far as the viewers know. There may be fighting going on off screen, or there may not at all. We don't know, because it doesn't matter and nobody cares. What's important are the photo ops, the slogans, and the huge PR spin.
  • In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Professor Moriarty is attempting to ignite World War I after acquiring stock in a great many arms manufacturing companies, as well as cotton and opium companies (i.e. bandages and medicine). When Holmes figures out his plot and derails it, he points out that the approaching world war is inevitable, and he'll make a profit regardless. Then Holmes reveals he snatched the codebook Moriarty uses to keep track of his fortune and Scotland Yard has been gleefully seizing all of his assets, leaving the good professor with a "significantly diminished fortune" (as in, he just lost all of it.) For further irony, all of the money is being donated anonymously to the Widows and Orphans of War Fund.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Big Bad Fantom (who is really Moriarty) is pitting Great Britain and Germany against each other at the turn of the 20th century in order to make a profit by selling advanced weapons (such as a tank, machine guns, and a rocket launcher) to both sides. His plan is to steal the abilities of the League and mass-produce them (Captain Nemo's Nautilus blueprints, Mina's vampiric blood, Dr. Jekyll's serum, a patch of Invisible Man II's skin). When the League prevents the destruction of Venice, which would result in the deaths of delegates in the middle of peace talks, Fantom replies that this is only delaying the inevitable. It's implied that even though Fantom's enslaved scientists were rescued, they refused to forget the wonders they learned in his service and began mass-producing them for their countries, leading to the ludicrously steep technological curve of WWI.
  • Three Days of the Condor: The CIA is involved in provoking a war in the Middle East to ensure plentiful oil supplies to the US.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man Tony Stark of Stark Industries sold weapons and military tech to the rest of the world to fuel his playboy lifestyle. However an ambush and the death of Yinsen made him take down the weapons division. Stane on the other hand other plans...
    • Iron Man 3 features a villain who is attempting this. Aldrich Killian manufactures a bin Laden-esque terrorist to strike at the United States, buys off the Vice President with a promise to cure his daughter's debilitating illness, and develops the ultimate weapon in the form of a new breed of Super Soldier. In short, he's perfectly poised to control and profit from The War on Terror.
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, H.Y.D.R.A, having reformed itself within S.H.I.E.L.D stronger than ever, has been doing this for decades. After their initial defeat they realized that the world could never be conquered with force alone, because people would fight tooth and nail for their freedom. Their new strategy was to seed conflict around the world for generations to scare people into willingly surrendering their freedom for security. By the time the movie starts, they have all but succeeded.
    • In Thor: Ragnarok, Hela claims that, contrary to the image of Asgard as a peaceful enlightened civilization guarding the Realms that was built up in the previous movies, Asgard was actually an expansionist empire built on blood and conquest. She even pointedly asks Thor "Where do you think all the gold came from?", implying that all of the shiny gold gilding in Asgard was forcibly taken in conquest. She mocks Odin's turn towards peace as him being "Proud of what he had. Ashamed of how he got it." It's rather sobering to realize that the Scenery Porn of Asgard was built out of the spoils of war.
  • Inverted in The Grand Illusion, where von Rauffenstein lists the silver plate in his skull and other silver items implanted into his heavily wounded body, adding wrily: "Yes, the war provided me with considerable riches."
  • And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself. Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa strikes a deal with Hollywood to make a movie about his life, even arranging his battles for Rule of Drama. Villa is able to finance his revolution, and gets favorable publicity to counter the press campaign being run against him by the Hearst media empire. In turn D. W. Griffith gets the first feature-length movie. This is Truth in Television, incidentally.
  • Iron Sky: Although she didn't start the war, the US President is overjoyed when the Nazi's attack earth since she is now a war time president, which significantly increases her changes of getting re-elected. Plus, it gives her a chance to invoke America Saves the Day with their space weapon, the USS George W. Bush.
  • In the Vietnam War documentary In the Year of the Pig, Senator Thruston B. Morton muses that since such a large portion of the U.S. economy is geared towards the military, there is a risk of a military-industrial alliance affecting policy, and Vietnam is a case in point.
  • In The Outlaws IS Coming!, Rance Rodan is exterminating the buffalo in order to set the Indians on the warpath, so he can make money selling arms to the Indians.

  • In 1984, The Book explains how Oceania keeps industries working and public sentiment worked up by a state of constant warfare.
  • In book 48 of Animorphs, Visser Three tried to start a war between America and China to weaken the Earth so that the Yeerks could win in all-out war.
  • Comrade Death, a short story by Gerald Kersh, features an Arms Dealer who successfully merges the world's arms suppliers into a single corporation, one specializing in chemical weapons. He doesn't start any wars himself, they come along without his help, but fear of his gasses and the need for his gas masks to counter them help spread paranoia and militarization and lead to more sales.
  • Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky plays this pretty straight... and then exaggerates the hell out of it. A large part of the book is dedicated to exploring the inevitable patterns that always arise in intelligent civilizations; namely, that they self-destruct, especially when they develop nuclear weaponry for the first time. So when the Exiled fleet in secret orbit around the Spider planet almost annihilate themselves in space warfare, they decide that they'll need to conserve their remaining resources until the Spiders inevitably start a nuclear war amongst themselves. Then they can Save the World and use that act to foster positive relations with the Spiders, to trade, and to rebuild their own technology as well as improve that of the Spiders. Things get complicated when it is revealed that Manipulative Bastard Tomas Nau's actual plan is to wait for the war to start, then black out communications across the planet, hijack and redirect the nukes to cause as much damage as possible to population centers and seats of government, nearly annihilate the Spiders and blast their technology back to the Stone Age, then enslave the survivors.
  • In "War Movie", one of the Draco Tavern stories by Larry Niven, Rick Schumann and a female soldier encounter an alien Drowning My Sorrows before returning to his homeworld as a bankrupt failure. Apparently a spacecraft from his species came to Earth in the middle of World War II. Amazed at what they were seeing, they filmed as much of the action as they could from orbit and returned to their world to sell it for a modest profit. They then raised capital to finance a First Contact mission and returned to Earth, planting secret cameras on the ground to get even better footage when World War III broke out. It never did — worse, the psychological and material changes caused by First Contact meant that humans no longer had any major conflicts other than an occasional riot or act of terrorism. Afterwards the soldier asks whether they should tell people about this. Schumann advises her to keep quiet, otherwise some unscrupulous dictatorship might get the idea of starting a war in exchange for a percentage of the profits.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 5 (Guard Against Dishonor), the lead villain of the book plans to use the super-chacal drug to create a war between his country and others, all so he can make money off the drug and other things in the war.
  • Several novels by Frederick Forsyth:
    • In The Negotiator, the 1989 novel unrelated to the film, the villains attempt to restart the Cold War because their weapons contracts are being canceled because the USA doesn't need them anymore.
    • The Fourth Protocol, though in that case the plan was to allow the head of the British Labour Party to avert the crisis at the last minute; the resulting popularity would enable him to win the election, whereupon he would be toppled by a Soviet-controlled communist faction inside his own party.
    • The Dogs of War was quite anvilicious about the role big business had in inciting warfare. The plot itself has a Corrupt Corporate Executive funding the overthrow of a small African state in order to get sole control of a mountain of platinum.
  • In Hurricane Gold, Count Carnifex is going to foment another great war in Europe, and while everyone is busy fighting each other, he'll create an underground empire which will be controlling things behind the scenes in the future.
  • From the Jack Ryan series:
    • The Sum of All Fears had terrorists detonate a nuke in the US, in the hopes of provoking a retaliatory strike against Russia, and ultimately an all-out nuclear exchange with the idea of wiping out the "Greater" and "Lesser Satan".
    • In Dead or Alive, the Emir was hoping to frame the Pakistani government for his acts of terrorism, inspiring the US to occupy Pakistan and get embroiled in another highly unpopular decade-long nation-building exercise like post-9/11 Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • The avian-serpiente war in the Kiesha'ra series doesn't initially look like one of these, but we learn in the first book that falcons have separated from the other avians to form their own society, and that the avians have only survived as long as they have by buying falcons' superior weaponry, at grievous prices. We're not initially told how the war started in the first place, and later books start putting the pieces together...
  • In Loic Henry's Loar, two neutral factions are selling their services to the different warring powers. One merely wished for war to continue lest they likely starve to death, the other actively makes it continue because in times of peace they'd be hunted down and exterminated.
  • The idea behind Richard Morgan's 2004 sci-fi novel Market Forces. It's referred to as Conflict Investment, where multinational corporations invest in either the government or a rebel faction in exchange for a percentage of the country's resources.
  • In "The Mark of Kane", from Angels of Music, the villain is a newspaper magnate who made a fortune selling newspaper headlines about the Spanish-American war, so he plots to start a sequel of sorts: a crisis involving the Suez Canal.
  • The first work of fiction by Andy McNab (or at least the first one he sold as fiction) had a slightly more plausible variant: Various defense contractors were conspiring to prolong The Troubles so that they'd have a convenient proving ground for their new products, with a faction of the British government getting some sort of kickback.
  • The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley has the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a tiny, impoverished, European country that declares war on the United States of America, planning to lose quickly, and then profit from the Americans coming in to rebuild their economy, just as they'd done for Germany and Japan after WW-II. Then they win, and are at a loss for what to do next.
  • In The President Vanishes by Rex Stout, written in 1934, a consortium of business leaders is actively pressing Congress and the President to join the war in Europe, simply because of the business opportunities it will provide.
  • Vizzini in The Princess Bride was hired to kidnap Buttercup and place the blame on Guilder, the sworn enemy of Florin. This would have triggered a war, if the Dread Pirate Roberts had not intervened. Her royal fiancé had much the same plan. Who do you think hired Vizzini? Strangulation on the wedding night was the back-up plan.
  • In the world of The Quantum Thief, war is literally a game to the Gun Club Zoku, because Zokus see all life as a series of games and pick their specialization based on their personal interests. Uncommonly for this trope they are for the most part decent (post) human beings; they just love to see stuff blowing up in new and exotic ways. If they lack an actual enemy, they arrange harmless miniature play-wars among themselves. With lovingly handcrafted nuclear weapons.
  • The Saint's foe Doctor Rayt Marius attempted to start warfare for profit. Later, the Saint used Marius' records to blackmail his accomplices to start a fund for the families of the wounded and casualties of war.
  • In Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly, a cabal of businessmen tries to start a new Cold War by using nukes with falsified signatures that'll convince the targets that someone else attacked them, increasing the value of their defence contracts. However, one of the businessmen secretly changes some things around so that instead of a Cold War, there's a series of red-hot ones (for example, one of his nukes is set to destroy Mecca and has the signatures of an American weapon). Why? Well... he's kinda big on anarchy.
  • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish from A Song of Ice and Fire pretty much engineered the War of the Five Kings for his own nefarious (and mysterious!) purposes, which include (presumably as a prelude to other things) placing himself in an easily-defensible position at the titular head of one of the few significant military forces thus far untouched by the war, with the attractive, newly-legal (by the standards of the setting) daughter of the only woman he ever loved (and his niece by marriage) close at hand.
  • The Stormlight Archive: By the main plot of the first book, this is what the Alethi armies have been reduced to. They originally were fighting for revenge against the Parshendi, but the War of Reckoning has become little more than a contest between the different highprinces over who can gather the most gems from gemhearts, with actual revenge being at best a secondary concern for the vast majority of them, barring Dalinar Kholin and his family.
    • In a flashback chapter, a pre-Character Development Dalinar says that the reason for most wars boils down to "'These guys have stuff. Why don't we have this stuff?' So we beat them up and take their stuff". Given that he was a Blood Knight at the time rather than the Wise Prince he became in middle age, he didn't see anything wrong with wars of this nature.
  • The Castigator from the Warhammer 40,000 novel Dark Adeptus claims that war is its sole purpose and one it enjoys, thus leading it to ally with Chaos.
  • The Warlord Chronicles gives us a view of how this might have worked in Dark Ages England, with numerous examples. First, war is both a source of fun and profit for many of the lords and kings, who view it as the most direct means of expanding their territory. Second, you have various different societies, warbands, and mercenaries who raid from other sides (or even kingdoms ostensibly allied to them) for extra food, plunder, or renown. Lastly, one instance in particular nearly exemplifies the trope: Prince Cadwy of Isca hires Owain to take his warband and slaughter tin miners from Kernow. In an attempt to deflect suspicion, Owain disguises his men as the mercenary Irish group the Blackshields while he does so. Since the raid threatens to shatter the fragile alliance holding the Briton Kingdoms together against the Saxons, it seriously pisses off Arthur, who quickly tries to get to the bottom of it.
  • Used in a less "evil" way in Will Save the Galaxy for Food. The Malmind Horde picks up a Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job of invading planets who pay them to, basically becoming a LARP troupe. Usually, they're hired by Proud Warrior Races looking to satisfy their hunger for combat. There's a war, the Malmind profit, and the Proud Warrior Race has fun.
  • Discussed in Wyatt's Hurricane by Desmond Bagley. However the mercenary helping the rebel forces angrily rejects Wyatt's comment that the war is being fought just so a fruit company can make money. He points out the rebels have to overthrow a dictator who's banned any legitimate means of replacing him, and the multinational concerned had the money they needed to fund the purchasing of arms and mercenaries.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season 2 of 24, a consortium of oil company executives attempt to provoke a war between the US and several Mideast countries in order to enrich their investments in Caspian Sea oil deposits, by planting evidence that incriminates those countries' leaders in an attempted nuclear strike on Los Angeles.
    • Season 6 repeated the trope, with "renegade" Russian general Dmitri Gredenko supplying Arab terrorists with nukes to use against the US, in the hopes that it would precipitate a nuclear war that would destroy Russia's rivals and leave them as top dog.
  • The most recent addition to the Burn Notice Myth Arc (in Season 4) consists of trying to find out the organization that's apparently been starting wars in third-world countries for the sake of arms sales and other business opportunities.
  • Cannon: In "A Flight of Hawks", a band of Private Military Contractors are planning to take over a newly formed African nation to sieze control of its mineral wealth.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Frontier in Space": The Master uses a variety of false flag operations to provoke war between Earth and Draconia, to his personal gain.
    • "Aliens of London"/"World War Three": The Slitheen disguise themselves as the British government and try to incite the titular event, so that the Earth is reduced to a radioactive pile of rock... which they can then sell as spacecraft fuel.
  • Game of Thrones: Littlefinger's modus operandi is to sow the seeds of chaos and crisis because he recognizes these situations can be exploited for his own advancement. It is he who started the War of the Five Kings with a few choice assassinations and calculated acts of treachery to propel himself to the heights of the Vale.
  • Highlander: The Raven featured a villain who made a living of starting wars. He planned something so horrible than even his watcher broke the non-interference rule to prevent it.
  • The pilot of The Lone Gunmen theorized that the end of the Cold War over might compel parties unhappy with this to fake a terrorist attack - triggering a "new Cold War" to keep arms sales up. Fast-forward six months to 9/11...
  • Merlin had a one-off villain that wanted to incite war between the Five Kingdoms for profiteering reasons. During a peace conference, King Alined instigates a Batman Gambit, using his jester's magical powers to make Prince Arthur and a visiting princess fall in love, thus enraging her Overprotective Dad and starting a war.
  • The Weatherman in NCIS intended to use knowledge of the US plan for handling war in Israel to make a killing on the stock market.
  • The New Avengers: In "Dirtier by the Dozen", Colonel 'Mad Jack' Miller plans to trigger a war in the Middle East and use the confusion to loot whatever isn't nailed down and disappear before any of the powers involved can work out what has happened.
  • In the final season of Nikita, the villains are a cabal of evil billionaires who plan to start a war between the U.S. and Pakistan in order to enrich their pet defense contractor.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Journey to Babel", the Orions tried to sabotage a diplomatic conference and attacked the Enterprise in the hopes of starting a war, preventing the Federation from interfering with their operations and allowing them to profit by selling dilithium to both sides.
    • The Ferengi are fans of this. They're also fans of peace too; one just has to be a diversified and savvy businessman to take advantage of both. Yes, the Ferengi are chodes.
      "War is good for business." — Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #34
      "Peace is good for business" — Rule of Acquisition #35
    • Quark doesn't sell weapons, but his cousin Gaila does. Which is why Quark only owns a single bar, and Gaila has his own moon... Then again, when a job-related business deal goes wrong for Quark, he's only got to deal with Odo or some angry bruisers, whereas when a job-related business deal goes wrong for Gaila, he's got to deal with government hit-squads who want to nail his head to a pike, possibly literally. Note the Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #62: "The riskier the road, the greater the profit".
      • At one part, Gaila tries to get Quark involved in weapons trading, but it turns out that Quark actually has a conscience and can't handle the idea of 28 million people dying as a result of his actions.
    • Enterprise: The Romulans used a holoship which could perfectly imitate the appearance and weapons signature of any ship, in various False Flag Operations on the members of the very first Babel peace conference. An alliance of these powers would represent a greater threat to them, while war would eliminate them as threats for years to come. The Romulans' actions instead helped found this alliance, and the rest is history.
  • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: The main antagonist, Agent Abrella, is a black market intergalactic arms dealer, who sells weapons, robotic soldiers and giant mecha to most (if not all) of the criminals the Dekarangers faced during the series, and was directly responsible for the outbreak of wars in seven galaxies. He finally decides to confront them directly when their interference causes him to lose a lot of money, and during the finale he says directly that his dream is to make a "world of just currency and crime".
  • An early episode of Xena: Warrior Princess features an arms dealer who kidnaps a princess in order to provoke war between her family and the family of her fiancé, playing off a long-existing feud between them.

  • System of a Down's Toxicity is a retroactive example, since it was released just a week before 9/11 and The War on Terror begun. Still, it includes a lot of references to jihad and the mindless attitude the public has toward war, such as on "Chop Suey!" and "Deer Dance".


    Tabletop Games 
  • The drow elves of the Underdark in Dungeons & Dragons undertake "wars" of this nature. About once a decade, a noble family in one of the drow's isolated, underground cities will attack and eradicate another noble family to take its power and prestige. This is honestly pointless in the grand scheme of things, as drow perpetuate an endless cycle of internal wars with each other for greedy and petty reasons instead building and expanding their society. This is, of course, what their patron deity Lolth wants, preferring to keep the race constantly warring and backstabbing one another to keep them from wanting to return above ground where she risks losing them to other gods and cultures.
  • Sky Pirate Johnathan Genghis Khan of Crimson Skies actually started a war between Utah and the People's Collective simply so he could steal a military zeppelin and a cargo hold full of ill gotten gains.
  • The Orks and Dark Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 qualify for this trope, while all of the other factions treat this as Serious Business.
    • The Orks are more fun oriented with profit being secondary. The only real reason behind the profit part is to sustain their war machine so they can keep fighting.
      • There is a story about an Ork raiding force that attacked one of Khorne's planets. Everyday the Orks are forced to fight a losing battle until every last one of them is killed. At the beginning of the next day, all of the Orks are resurrected to start the process again. This is considered by the Orks on the planet to be their equivalent of heaven.
      • Essentially for Orks, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, as long as you participate.
      • Some Orks, particularly among the Freebooterz and the Blood Axez, are smart enough to understand that certain people will give them loot for fighting their enemies for them.
    • Dark Eldar are sadists that use raids to steal wealth and slaves. However, the Dark Eldar are also incredibly arrogant, so they rarely consider anyone else to actually be a threat. As a result, they usually like to indulge their sadistic tendencies during raids for their own amusement.
      • The Dark Eldar also do this partly because they need a steady supply of souls to feed themselves lest they die and Slaanesh devour their souls. But it's mostly sadistic hedonism though.
    • Chaos does not qualify, even if it seems like it should. Chaos is essentially the twisted mirror image of the Imperium and shares the same Serious Business, fanatical approach to war. The Chaos Gods in particular take the conflict in the galaxy seriously since it is, in many ways, what fuels their very existence.
    • The Necrontyr declared war on the Old Ones using the Old Ones' refusal to share the secrets of immortality as a pretext. The real reason was because the Necrontyr had become spiteful and hateful beings due to their lousy short-lived existences and one of their leaders believed they needed an outlet. The Necrontyr waged a genocidal war on the Old Ones to relieve stress.
  • The Desert Wars in Shadowrun. Notably, they're an Invoked Trope - literally for Fun and Profit; they're televised theater-wide conflicts that are fought for sport. The official story is that two megacorps got into a massive fight over some Lost Technology in Libya and the media got wind of it, exposing it to the world; the corps got to field-test and advertise their technology, the media made a mint documenting it, and there was no collateral damage as it took place in an isolated area. The broadcasting rights turned out to be even more profitable than the lostech(which was destroyed in the fighting), so it became a yearly tradition for Private Military Contractors to meet in that same desert and blow the hell out of each other in front of cameras. Un-officially...
    Findler-Man: Of course the only port of that tale that's true is the fact that the megacorps did start holding war-games in the Libyan Desert and that they were televised. The rest is corporate spin-doctoring and urban legend. The Desert wars were a planned event from moment one. Once again, the megacorps found a use for an otherwise useless piece of land that serves to train their security personnel and make them money while doing it.
    • Unfortunately for Ares, resient go to companies for guns and military hardware. This proved to be their undoing when the Ares Excalibur, a manatech gun became a complete disaster on all fronts for the company, causing massive damage to their reputation.
  • The whole point of Imperial, the players are investors buying warbonds of the 6 greatpowers, each country is controlled by the player who owns the most of their bonds, they normally make them try to conquer a lot off territory (because the more powerful a country is the more their bonds are worth), or use them to protect countries in which they have invested a lot or attack the countries of the competition. However some players take this trope Up to Eleven by making two nations owned by them fight, as destroyed armies no longer consume upkeep, thus their countries have more money left which can be used paying interests to their investors.

  • Mother Courage and Her Children: an argument made by most of the characters. Many of them give it as the reason for Sweden going to war, and for them personally going to war (though not actually fighting). Though sometimes they just seem to be repeating it to convince themselves...

    Video Games 
  • Call of Duty
    • In Modern Warfare 2. General Shepherd, pissed off that he lost 30,000 men in the nuclear explosion of COD4, played Makarov like a fiddle to trigger a Russian invasion of America so that he can turn the USA into the most powerful country in the world through military might and pose himself as a legendary war hero.
      • It's worth noting that while Shepherd is unquestionably the Big Bad and his war-mongering is specific to accomplishing something, he's not selfish, he's just downright unhinged. There's some noble intent in his goal of waking America up from taking everything for granted and inspiring more people than ever to willingly enlist and earn their luxuries, all without dealing with the downsides of compulsory service like unwilling and apathetic soldiers. He believes his ends justify the means, and doesn't see what's wrong with anything he's done, unlike the player-characters and most actual players.
      • Vladimir Makarov also wants to start war for fun and profit, though the "fun" in this case is "dead Americans/British/miscellaneous Europeans" and the "profit" is his version of Russia ruling all of Europe like it "should have" after World War II.
    • In Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the Atlas company begins the game as Hired Guns for the world powers, then begins supplanting conventional militaries after a series of terrorist attacks send world governments into disarray. It is later revealed that Atlas CEO Jonathon Irons is an Omnicidal Maniac who orchestrated the terrorist attacks to allow his company to become a N.G.O. Superpower.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: In the game's first act, this is Gangrel's entire plan in a nutshell: to start a war with Ylisse purely For the Evulz.
  • The two main Mad Scientists of BioShock, Tenenbaum and Suchong, survived World War II by collaborating with the Axis Powers: Tenenbaum rubbed elbows with Nazi scientists who admired her cunning, and thus escaped the gas chambers. Suchong... well:
    "War a terrible thing. Japanese kill every man in my city, except for Suchong. Suchong have opium. Very good opium. This war, terrible thing, too, but not for Suchong..."
  • 2027 Evgeny participates in this in the Omar ending if you helped expand his territory.
  • In the game Dune the Battle for Arakis we are also introduced to the house Ordos who also fight for Arakis.
  • This is the very premise for the game The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, where you work for a company called Rostock against their rival Lautern. As the opening narration summarizes it, "There are those who need war, and those who supply it", casting war as just another normal business activity.
  • In Advance Wars, Big Bad Sturm goes for the gold with this trope, creating clones of Orange Star officers to start a four-way war, with the intent to swoop in afterwards with his own army and take over after everyone's resources were drained.
    • Ditto Batallion Wars Wii, where the Anglo Isles ("England") attacks the Solar Empire ("Japan") because the Solar Empire was rumored to be making a superweapon... and this is less than 30 years after the same thing happened between the Western Frontier and the Tundran Territories (take a guess). In BOTH cases, the whole thing was orchestrated by the leader of Xylvania (the closest Nintendo Wars has ever gotten to Those Wacky Nazis).
    • Days of Ruin has this with Caulder/Stolos and his company Intelligent Defense Systems, which supplies small arms and innovative weapons to both Rubinelle and Lazuria during their conflict. On the personal side, Caulder just likes studying the effects of war and death on humans.
      • The Beast, meanwhile, is the leader of a group of raiders who prey on the few surviving pockets of civilization... but even if they're set for a while, he'll still attack the villages because he just likes blood.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness in Metal Gear Ac!d was a company, BEAGLE, that existed to orchestrate minor but bloody civil wars, sell huge amounts of weapons to both sides, and profit.
  • In Metal Gear, Big Boss wanted to plunge the world into "eternal warfare" in order to give soldiers a place in the world. He started off as a fairly standard Bond-esque baddie, but as MGS3 rolled in it became apparent that his wild war fantasies were fed by the philosophy of The Boss that the world needed an "absolute timeless enemy". A couple of well-placed prophecies and his increasingly deteriorating sanity helped, too. The concept of a "world of eternal warfare" — named "Outer Heaven" — is a recurring theme throughout the series (MGS4 had Liquid Ocelot intentionally name the game's final location, a warship, based on this).
    • MGS4, however, takes the trope to the other end of the spectrum. It ultimately became clear that Big Boss initially didn't want an eternal World War III, and simply founded Outer Heaven to give people, especially soldiers, a place where they would be free from the La-li-lu-le-lo. It wasn't until Zanzibarland that he gave up all hope of soldiers being reintegrated into society. Years later, his ideals were further perverted by his successors, The Patriots, instigating countless conflicts and pouring the world's resources into soldiers and weapons; war ends up replacing oil as a commodity - a self-destructive commodity. Investing in war doesn't create new resources, so the world is falling ever deeper into a depression where "oil and gasoline are as precious as diamonds", but attempting to stop war would render those investments worthless, triggering a total global economic collapse. It's pretty much the Aesop Hideo Kojima is trying to convey: war isn't about right and wrong, it just is.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance shows that even after the Patriots were finally defeated, the world is still stuck in this rut. The Big Bad gloats that the Patriots are no longer necessary to maintain the "war economy", people can do it just fine on their own. However, unlike in MGS4 where the world at large seemed OK with the war economy, almost no-one (including the aforementioned Big Bad) supports it here. Apart from Sundowner.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is set in 1980's Afghanistan and Africa, where national armies and proxy factions slaughter each other and the local populations for the two superpowers. It's clear that the war has destroyed dozens of villages and allowed tyrants to rule unimpeded, but none of the sides refuse to de-escalate because it would mean losing everything. Skull Face's master plan is is to fracture the Cold War superpowers into impotent nation-states, by permanently disrupting all global communications with language-triggered parasitic killers and supplying affordable ICBM-equipped Mini-Mecha Metal Gears to everyone. The end result of this would have been a world locked in a total Enforced Cold War; every nation in the world would be the same, and capable of empathizing with each others' plights, but all nation-states would also be ruled by whoever (allegedly) owns the nukes, turning the entire planet into a patchwork of third-world cult-ruled dictatorships, all answering to Skull Face alone. And even worse, if any of them tried to collaborate with their neighbors back to peace, they would be instantly nuked into oblivion and their historical intents misunderstood due to lack of a common language.
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generations, the Shadow Mirrors were dedicated to creating endless conflict. Why? Their own dimension's Federation had become corrupt after the Inspectors had been driven off. They believed that with endless conflict that there would not be any corrupt politicians, and that technology would increase rapidly. The leader points out that since the Divine Crusaders war the strength of Earth has increased rapidly.
    • Likewise, from the same game, Mitsuko Isurugi, head of Isurugi Industries, who wanted the conflicts to go on as long as possible so that her company could continue making money by selling their weapons to every side. The only reason why she hadny been arrested is because her company is the only one still capable of supplying the Federation with mechs and if they had to do some backalley deals to stay ahead of the game, so be it
    • Except Einst, maybe because they hasn't any kind of economical activities.
      • The Ruina from Super Robot Wars Destiny live on this, mostly to gain negative energy for Perfectio and use worlds as fields to cultivate negative energies
  • The whole plan of the Big Bad of the first Baldur's Gate revolved around causing a huge war between two rival merchant governments as a way of proving himself worthy of inheriting his dead father's former position as the God of Murder. Once the plan is found out it initially looks like he has plenty of backing for this... but it soon becomes apparent that actual war is a step too far for most of the Iron Throne. Not for moral reasons, they just aren't privy to the 'become the new God of Murder' plot or would see the profit in it if they were, and that leaves war disruptive enough to cut down profits.
  • Ace Combat:
    • In Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, the Big Bad dictator who emerges after a civil war in his country invades a peaceful neighboring country, for allegedly working to prolong the civil war (in fact the neighbor had been supplying humanitarian aid). It's eventually revealed that the whole point was to demonstrate the villain's military might, thereby allowing for lucrative arms trading, particularly advertising his greatest fighter aircraft.
    • Ace Combat: Joint Assault manages to one-up this spectacularly. Although at first you are fighting a terrorist group "Vallahia" from remnants of a nameless Central European country, the attacks are backed by the CEO of an insurance company. The reasoning goes that with terrorism on the rise, terrorism insurance is selling for a massive profit, and the company benefits off of it. However, the shrewdest part is that said company will then sell the insurance business to other companies for an even greater price, and then stage a last attack so overwhelming no company can ever hope to follow through on the insurance. Then the price falls, and it's ripe for the company to take again. Rinse and repeat.
  • Freelancer starts with the colonies in the brink of war. It later turns out the Nomads are secretly parasitizing the top politicians in Sirius and using their power to declare all-out war, in order to soften the human defenses and let the Nomads mop the sector with their blood, and the Order is actually here to defend the Sirius sector against the Nomads.
  • This is essentially the motivation of the Prince of Highland, Luca Blight in Suikoden II. He starts a massive war between the newly allied nations of Highland and Jowston by orchestrating a False Flag Operation, in which he betrays and butchers a band of his own nation's child unit the night they are to return to their homes and blames it on Jowston. He uses this as his justification to invade Jowston and level it to the ground, hoping to torture and murder every last one of its citizens (usually by his own hand). Unlike most examples here, his motives aren't profit or terrorism... he just enjoys killing.
  • In RuneScape, most of the quest 'Royal Trouble' revolves around this. A group of kids unable to pass tests that would make them full adults of their tribe go to two warring islands and decide to start a war, stop it, and then be seen as heroes.
  • In Utawarerumono, court adviser and Humongous Mecha pilot Hien encourages Kuuya to unite the world under the Kunnekamun for the sake of peace. Fellow adviser and pilot Hauenkua also wants to invade the other countries as Hien does, but only so he could kill people.
  • Final Fantasy XI: While he didn't actually start the Crystal War, the goblin Boodlix certainly makes a profit from selling goods to both sides of it. Although Boodlix is a freelance that fights with the Beastmen Confederate, the Scholar Maruna-Kurina believes that Boodlix might be persuaded to fight for the Allies if it would help make the war (and thus his profits) last a little longer.
  • Alpha Protocol:
    • The fundamental plot of the game is an attempt by an American-based weapons corporation to boost their profits by causing a new Cold War between China and the US. Unfortunately, their calculations are off by a bit - the cold war they're attempting to start will actually become a hot war if they aren't stopped, so its up to Mike Thorton to put an end to the plot before the nukes start flying.
    • The player can also uncover some additional examples of this as the game progresses. For example, Mike can dig up evidence that a semi-anonymous US Senator wants to arrange for a war in Central Asia or the Middle East (he doesn't terribly care where) so he can sell off a few thousand artillery pieces manufactured by a company that he owns but are being left unused. There's also evidence of war profiteering, where the aforementioned arms company wants to sell weapons to both China and Taiwan, but give them weapons with different ammunition specifications, so they have to keep buying separate weapons' packages.
  • The Excuse Plot of the Saturn shooter AMOK. Two warring countries have finally made peace after 47 years of war, but the weapon manufacturer of both sides is pissed and so hires a mercenary to reignite the hostilities.
  • In Mount & Blade, if you are a lord and talk to another noble of your faction who likes you and possesses evil characteristics, he may propose starting a war with a neighbouring kingdom by raiding some caravans for this trope if you ask him for a task. Justified in that Calradian warfare offers many chances and few risks for nobles. The worst that's going to happen to them is being taken prisoner for a while until they can escape or are ransomed. On the other hand, they can improve their standing with the king and other nobles by being successful in battle, possibly obtaining new fiefs or even being promoted to Marshall, and raiding enemy villages and caravans happens to be very lucrative.
  • In Iron Storm, the Forever War has turned into this, with the arms industries and armies being an important part of the stock exchange and manipulating the USWE and The Empire to prolong the war in the name of profit.
  • Heavily hinted to be the motivation of The Administrator from Team Fortress 2. As the acting CEO of two feuding MegaCorps, each of which controls one half of the world, and as CEO of her own Weapon Supply Company, The Administrator has everything to gain from keeping the conflict going.
  • Might and Magic:
    • VII features another conflict between the mostly human kingdom of Erathia and the mostly elven kingdom of Tularea/AvLee over the Contested Lands. The evil path has an agent of the necromancers' kingdom of Deyja help escalate the conflict into a full-scale war, weakening Deyja's rivals, producing a rich bounty of 'resources' to exploit and ensuring that reconciliation between Erathia and Tularea is unlikely for the forseeable future.
    • VIII has Charles Quixote's dragon-hunting expedition, which makes some light pretensions at the usual dragonslayer reasons but quickly shows itself to be primarily interested in the commercial opportunities, both from harvesting dragon corpses and enslaving and 'training' young dragon. As to it being a war, dragons in the setting are fully sapient, and Quixote's expedition is in Garrote Gorge — seat of the largest known dragon settlement, complete with a king.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert, with Hitler erased from time (and thus no World War II), a rather bored Josef Stalin woke up one day and realized that starting a war to rule all Europe is something he'd like to do. In the end it turns out he was manipulated by the Brotherhood of Nod, many members of which are secretly on his staff.
  • After the war in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Uprising, Future Tech has taken the opportunity in acquiring the technology of the three war weary factions when no one's looking.
  • While this more or less applies to any time in Sid Meier's Pirates! the period 1640-1659 is called just that — "War for Profit".
  • The opening gambit of Hades from Kid Icarus: Uprising is to engineer a war between the nations of the world over a MacGuffin he completely made up. In his case, the reason is he's the ruler of the underworld, and he's learned how to turn all the souls that reach his realm into a valuable resource. Inefficiently. That, and they're apparently delicious.
  • Inverted with the Roving Clans in Endless Legend, who are incapable of declaring war because it's bad for business; can't have armies roving around plundering trading routes and scaring away the customers! It's probably a good thing too, because they're bad at combat. Luckily, they can hire mercenaries — and bribe them with mouth-watering delicacies and extra gold to make them more motivated in combat — who can engage in False Flag Operations.
  • The whole point of Null Sec in EVE Online. If your corp isn't making a profit on a war, someone certainly is.
    • The ongoing Red Vs Blue fight in Eve also qualifies.
    • Pretty much anytime something blows up, it has to be replaced by buying it from another player. If you're lucky, your corp is footing the bill.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, Faro Automated Systems, the company that developed all the machines that would build the machines on the post-apocalyptic Earth, was deeply into this. One of their recoverable corporate memos even mentions a sales exec arranging for two hostile enemies to "accidentally" meet at the same time for a sales pitch, and the resulting physical violence ended with both sides increasing their bids for weapons by nearly forty percent because of how pissed off they were at each other. In the end, Faro's greed led to developing robotic weapons that were self-directing, self-sustaining, and unhackable, and when those robots glitched out and stopped following orders, Ted Faro's perfect money-making war machines completely destroyed humanity.
  • Overwatch: Talon is a nebulous secret organization that promotes insurgency and warfare "to make humanity stronger through conflict". Profit is made from taking advantage of these conflicts, but a few high-ranking leaders (Doomfist) buy into the tagline.
  • The Gunrunning and Smuggler's Run patches for Grand Theft Auto Online allow the player to oversee and participate in the smuggling of weapons and other contraband.
  • The Resident Evil franchise has this as a recurring theme, as first the Umbrella Corporation; then their disbanded investors; and more recently the mysterious group "the Connections" develop biological weapons to sell for warfare. Often, mercenaries and the like have worked with these Ultimate Evils — sometimes with their own agendas that would allow them to profit from their military actions, perpetuating this trope.
  • One of the few heroic examples, Apex Legends has Rampart, a gun modifying specialist who sold modification for her guns that made her a popular choice for weapons in the Outlands and doesn't hold a grudge if she gets taken out by her own weapons as it is proof that she is that good at her job. While somewhat sarcastic and a tried and true Mean Brit, she has a hardworking attitude that makes up for her personality. Unfortunately it was her arrogance that led to her shop getting burned down.
  • In Ketsui, EVAC Corporation is a Mega-Corp that, in the midst of a World War III, sells weapons to all sides of the conflict to keep its profits going. They maintain a powerful standing army too and even intervene in any attempts at peace between nations, just so they can continue to rake in the dough.
  • Various factions in the Civilization series have bonuses that reward engaging in warfare. Conquering all other nations is one of the series' recurrent Multiple Win Conditions, but some civs get rewards just for fighting without even taking any territory. Examples include the Aztecs in V and the Spartans in VI who gain Culture for killing enemy units, the Byzantines in VI whose religion spreads faster when defeating units of a different faith and the Honour policy tree in V that grants Gold. There are also some unique units in V that grant points toward your next Golden Age from combat victories - so sorry about all those dead soldiers, but we really wanted to throw a party.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue, this is the main motivation behind the Big Bad of The Chorus Trilogy, Chairman Hargrove, whose plan involves exploiting the Chorus Civil War in order to wipe out the planet's population, so that once they're all dead, he can "discover" the planet himself and claim ownership of its invaluable alien artifacts.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers had a few episodes where the bad guys did this.
  • The Road Rovers were once sent to investigate a conflict between two Ruritanias over a missing scepter. It turned out that an arms dealer had stolen the scepter so he could make a profit off the war. (For some reason, said episode also had many Shout Outs to Disney, right down to the Ruritanias having the names of Disney's executives at the time.)
  • In one episode of Disney's Aladdin: The Series, the imps stole "the most sacred crock of cheese" from the Odiferians (cheese loving barbarians) and framed Agrabah for the theft. The angry Odiferians declared war on Agrabah and the imps made a fortune selling war machines to both sides until Aladdin and the gang uncovered the whole scheme.
  • In the original Transformers cartoon, the eponymous robots were actually originally built by (or, by the time of the series, built by 'bots that were built by) alien war profiteers known as the Quintessons. The evil Decepticons were the military models to be sold to both sides of a conflict, the heroic Autobots were consumer goods. Even after the Robot War that freed the Transformers, they continue to sell weapons to the highest bidder in-between trying to get revenge.
    • In a later episode, it is revealed that the Quintessons escalated a war between two neighbouring planets, by selling one side advanced weapons, then selling those same weapons to the other side; They did this continually for countless generations.
    • Swindle lives and breathes this in every incarnation of the character.
  • In an episode of Ben 10: Alien Force, Argit (and later Kevin) exploit an ideological war on an alien planet to sell weapons to both sides.
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns seems to be fond of this. He once listed among his childhood dreams: "...wiping out nations at the stroke of a pen."
    Mr. Burns: ...And that's how you win an Opium War.
    • Despite being an amoral, unrepentant war profiteer, Burns seems to bring a warped sense of integrity to his profiteering that doesn't show in his management of his nuclear plant. For example, when Mona Simpson helps to destroy his biological weapons facility, he laments that the science of germ warfare is set back by decades. This carries over to his other wartime endeavors:
      Burns: Schindler and I are like peas in a pod! We're both factory owners, we both made shells for the Nazis, but mine WORKED, DAMMIT!
  • In an episode of The Super Mario Bros Super Show! that parodies Romeo and Juliet, King Koopa instigates a feud between the fathers of said couple in order to make a fortune supplying the two with his arsenal.
  • Varrick in The Legend of Korra believes that "if you can't make money during a war, you just flat-out can't make money." That said, profit isn't his entire motivation for the Southern Water Tribe rebelling against the Northern, as the latter had put the former under martial law before Varrick ever rallied the men of the south. However, Varrick didn't count on the Man Behind the Man being a world-destroying Eldritch Abomination, meaning there was no way he was gonna profit from said war.
    • Come Book Three, he's given up on weapons production, instead focusing or architecture and creating the Avatar world's first cross-country rail lines alongside weird little side projects. He jumps back into warfare in Book Four. He works for Kuvira for a while, but after seeing the Spirit Vine Cannon in action and getting chewed out by his assistant Zhu Li, he has a change of heart.
  • Sky Marshall Wade in Voltron Force, is less interested in actually saving the universe from King Lotor, and is more concern in securing more power for himself, and spends more time and resources fighting the Voltron Force, and oppressing anyone who is against him.
  • Jack Hench from Kim Possible. His company, Henchco, supplies super villains with manpower (why do you think they're called henchmen?) and technology, including a ring that gives the wearer Super Strength, and a helmet that can alter a persons personality (for the evil-doer who isn't feeling evil enough).
  • In an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Padme and her colleagues are trying to convince other senators to vote against a bill that would order the production of more clones to fight in the war because they both want a peaceful resolution to the war and want the Republic's spending to go to other things like better living conditions. On the opposing side are senators whose homeworlds/corporations they represent would benefit greatly from the bill if it gets passed — the Kaminoan senator is named Halle Burtoni, if that wasn't subtle enough.
  • Yellow Diamond from Steven Universe has quite possibly the most petty and selfish reason for war imaginable; she wants to destroy Earth because her sibling, Pink Diamond, died there, and she's such an emotionally stunted tool that she'd rather eradicate any trace of Pink's existence than deal with her grief. Especially bad because there is legitimate motivation for Homeworld to take over Earth (Homeworld is dying from lack of resources, and Earth is teeming with everything they need to fix it), but Yellow doesn't care about that and just wants to obliterate Earth outright. She literally cares more about not discussing an uncomfortable subject than she does about saving her own planet.
  • Young Justice. When Lex Luthor is called in to mediate between expies of North and South Korea, Red Arrow points out that he's selling arms to both sides through shell companies. Luthor however says that such profits are a drop in the bucket compared to what he'd make from the economy of a peaceful unified country.

    Real Life 
  • Before the industrial revolution, farming the land was a hard way to get by, and there were fewer capitalist enterprises to invest in. It was riskier to loan money, since borrowers often defaulted, and as a result the interest rates were so high that most people couldn't afford to borrow capital. Unreliable modes of transportation, primitive means of navigation, high tolls and customs duties, banditry, piracy, and unpredictable wars and natural disasters meant that being a merchant was not for the faint of heart. Wealth was measured in things like land, livestock, slaves, and precious metals that could be siezed by force. In a world like this, raiding and conquest actually could enrich a country at the expense of its neighbors, at least in theory. Even during the 19th and early 20th centuries, colonialism and wars between great powers continued because of nationalist attitudes about politics and the economy, and the fact that national industries were based on the availability of scarce natural resources like oil and rubber, while imports of finished goods still made up a relatively small portion of domestic consumption in any given country. It's been speculated that part of the reason that war has become so much rarer since World War II—even more so since the collapse of the Soviet Union—is that agriculture has become vastly more efficient, and the majority of wealth now comes from international trade in manufactured goods, bulk commodities, and knowledge-based services, all of which would be disrupted by a war between developed countries. The most valuable forms of property are increasingly intangible or intellectual in nature, an example being that aside from all the other reasons not to do it, the government of China wouldn't be able to reap the value of American technology companies even if it were to stage a military invasion and occupation of Silicon Valley. This, combined with the industrialization and technological advancement of warfare, means that war is both more expensive and less profitable than ever before. The only countries that might think a war could be profitable in material terms tend to be international pariahs who do not participate in the global economy, and who have such underdeveloped economies that the theft of another country's natural resources could actually made a difference to their bottom line.
  • This is basically the philosophy behind Kleptocracy, or "rapine economy" where the upkeep of the society is funded by waging war and plundering the neighbours. Of course the host country generally gets plundered more than anyone, and only the rulers actually profit...
  • Ancient Rome gathered the majority of its riches by beating up neighboring countries and instituting colonial taxation.
    • The Aztecs took this one step further by encouraging their colonies to revolt so that they would have a reason to come in and make war on them again because the gods favored sacrifices captured in battle. The result was that many of these colonies allied themselves with the Conquistadores.
  • Truth in Television: the Opium Wars.
    • Like most examples on this list, there were geopolitical reasons behind the Opium Wars, as well as ideological ones (free trade). The profitability of the opium trade, however, was certainly a factor.
  • Although Great Britain was officially a neutral party during the American Civil War, it maintained far stronger foreign and trade relations with the North while simultaneously being the main supplier of armaments and other essentials for the South. Although the latter was mainly conducted by private citizens using English vessels, there were no serious attempts to curb this practice until later on.
    • Basil Zaharoff inspired the example in Tintin, and was nicknamed the 'Merchant of Death' for profiting off sales of the Maxim Gun to many powerful nations and their wars.
  • Consider all the people who made their fortunes from selling rifles and other weaponry during the Cold War.
  • Similarly, JP Morgan, the banking magnate, bought 5,000 severely defective rifles from the US military at $3.50 each... only to turn around and sell it back, sight unseen, for $22 each.
    • Even worse in that he'd used the payment from the US government as collateral to pay for them to begin with, making an easy $18.50 profit on each gun. He and his partner were never prosecuted for the crime, either, as the courts judged that the government really should have known better.
  • Many groups in the United States were accused of this during World War I, including the President by his own cabinet members.
    • Italy entered both World Wars for profit: the first aiming to take some territories held by their ally Austria-Hungary and take chops of the colonial empire of the other ally Germany (yes, Italy was initially allied with Austria-Hungary and Germany, who didn't take well Italy staying out of the war for months and then entering the war on the other side), and the second aiming to conquer Nice, the Savoy and some of the British and French colonies in Africa. The first attempt worked in part (between Woodroow Wilson's opposition and the idiocy of Italian diplomats, Italy didn't get any German colony), the second... Not so much.
  • The Second Congo War and its still ongoing offshoots. The aftermath of the Rwandan genocide mixed with the realization that the DRC had a crapload of resources to be exploited resulted in most of its neighbors and some countries further afield taking sides in order to loot the country's mineral riches. And killing several million people.
  • Sir John Hawkwood. Successfully played one Italian city off against another for a long and profitable career as a Mercenary. When some Monks said "May God grant you Peace" he replied by saying "May God take your Alms away" (since he lived by war and peace would destroy him).
  • The War on Terror is sometimes said to be an example. And that is all we are going to say on the subject.
  • Others make the claim that the US is profiting from the War on Drugs as well, partially by auctioning off the possessions of arrested drug dealers, partially by supplying the privatized prison industry with very cheap (some would go so far as to qualify it as "slave") labor. News items supporting this tend to drop from the news cycle quickly, but often return in fiction.
  • The Napoleonic Wars and the original French Revolutionary Wars, as recent research shows, was definitely driven by profit. The wars, initially opposed by Maximilien Robespierre of all people spoke about "spreading the Revolution" to other European countries and breaking down feudalism. When the original wars led to a Jacobin insurrection and the defense of France during the Reign of Terror, it immediately became wars of conquest and subjugation led by Napoleon who sponsored and encouraged art theft, forced conquered regions and "New Republics" to pay high taxes to France (who with the loss of its most prosperous colony Haiti were a trifle strapped for cash) and then invaded and conquered regions that defied his economic embargo on England.
  • The European Colonial empires were built on this. Sure, there was all the talk about "Bringing the light of enlightenment to these unfortunates", but the real driving motivation was greed. Some acknowledged this, many did not.
    • "We came here to serve God and the King. And to get rich." - Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Spanish Conquistador.
    • Then there's settlement, another major motivation. Emigrate to the colonies! Oversee the harvesting of agricultural produce and raw materials to shipped off to wherever - probably one's own country - and buy stuff from back home and elsewhere in the Empire, like a true patriot! This wasn't very profitable in pre-industrial economies like Colonial North America, but it caught on big-time in the 19th century.
    • Most countries were pretty up-front about the reasons behind imperialism; the "bringing civilization to the savages" line was a retroactive justification applied after the colonial empires had already been carved out. Sort of like how Biblical justifications for slavery and theories of racial inferiority only developed once the african-atlantic slave trade had already got going in earnest. The Scramble for Africa was partly triggered by the Long Depression of 1873-1896, as the Europeans sought to find new markets for their goods. For the most part, it didn't work, since most African societies (already pretty self-sufficient) had no use for all the cool stuff post-Second Industrial Revolution European economies churned out.
      • Well, the earliest official European imperialist rhetoric (by Spaniards and Portuguese) dealt with the need to baptize the indigenous population and thus spread the realm of Christianity, thought one could argue that was mainly to persuade The Pope to give his blessing to their efforts. The up-frontness came a bit later.
    • This did, however, sometimes backfire on the colonizing nations. The influx of large amounts of new gold from the colonies would lower that gold's value - a problem when your currency is based on gold. Some economic historians point to Spain as an example of this cause and effect in action.
  • As mentioned earlier, countless examples of yellow journalism purposely inciting wars purely from their sensationalistic rhetoric exist throughout history. The least controversial is probably the Trope Namer for yellowsheets: The Spanish-American War, created nearly out of whole cloth by the ongoing feud between robber barons Pulitzer and Hearst.
    • While this does count as an example, it should be noted that they did not create a war nearly out of wholecloth. America had a long and vital strategic interest in Cuba, and for them it needed to be neutral. Simply put, the war and the forces that brought it about go far further than two news barons wanting to get a good story first. They were not a cause, but an effect.
  • Fritz Thyssen, a German industrialist of the 1920s and 30s, supported Those Wacky Nazis at first. After all, he was a very conservative German nationalist, and the Nazis promised to "reawaken" and more importantly unite Germany (good), get rid of those Dirty Communists and their Social Democratic fellow-travellers (good), and abolish those pesky unions (very good). Then the Nazis took over, and the needs of industry were subordinated to the desires of the state and Nazi Party; those desires were for war. One problem: Thyssen was perfectly happy making goods for peace. As far as he was concerned, peacetime gewgaws were selling wonderfully, and being forced to make guns and tanks for the Nazis was a tremendous, profit-sucking pain in the ass. Thyssen quit the Nazi Council of State and cut all his connections to the Nazi Party in 1938; when the war started a year later, he sent a letter to Hitler expressing his disapproval of the war and moved himself and his family to Switzerland. After this he went to France to catch a boat to Argentina, but he took a detour to Belgium to visit his sick mother just as the Wehrmacht happened to be rolling in. The Nazis expressed their displeasure with Thyssen by sending him (with his wife) to Dachau concentration camp (admittedly in better conditions than the rest of the inmates), where he remained for most of the rest of the war (he would be transferred to Tyrol in the last months of the war with a number of more prominent prisoners). Thyssen wasn't a saint (he fired all his Jewish employees when the Nazis asked him to, and he let the Nazis take over his factories after he moved out in the hopes that he could have them back someday), but the point still stands.
  • Nazi Germany would often replace machine tools lost to strategic bombing raids by taking them from industries that were not weapons related. The result was that by December 1944 German weapons and ammunition production reached its highest levels for the entire war... while all the other German industrial sectors had pretty much collapsed.
  • A series of coups in Latin America in The '60s and The '70s were literally for fun and profit. Or at least for profit. And, well, for the sake of the Cold War, itself one of these.
  • Smedley Butler was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, who, between 1898 and 1931, participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean. After his retirement, he became an anti-war activist, writing that he had been "a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers". He also wrote a book called War is a Racket. When a group of quasi-fascist businessmen asked him to lead a coup against Franklin D. Roosevelt, he blew the whistle on their plot.
  • In Herodotus' Histories Herodotus claims Mardonius, cousin to Xerxes, persuaded him to invade Greece. As he put it "Mardonius' motive for urging the campaign was love of mischief and adventure and the hope of becoming governor of Greece himself; and after much persistence he persuaded Xerxes to make the attempt." Basically the Ur-Example of an Evil Chancellor.
  • King Nikita (also called Nicholas) of Montenegro started the first Balkan war (shortly before World War I) after he had started massively shortselling at the stock markets (via strawmen - not of the political kind). It worked: The stocks fell indeed.
  • In his farewell address to the nation, President Eisenhower warned Americans of the "military-industrial complex" (coining the phrase in the process) and the threat it posed to democracy.
  • Historians have argued that, in addition to the examples above, the entire Nazi economy was almost purpose-built (or the nearest thing to it) to make this an Enforced Trope. In the 30s, Hjalmar Schacht devised a shell corporation for the Nazi government, called the "Metallurgical Research Corporation" (''Metallurgische Forschungsgesellschaft" or MEFO). The company sold bonds to raise funds, funds that were pumped into German rearmament (since they weren't actual government bonds, the MEFO Bills flew under the Allies' notice and so wasn't formally a violation of the Treaty of Versailles) . The problem was that the bonds were an enormous Ponzi scheme — Hitler didn't have the money to pay back the bonds with or without interest, as all those Marks were invested in tanks, planes and genocidal SS thugs. The bills were to come due in 1938. World War II began in 1939. Gee. What a coincidence...


Video Example(s):


Bertrand's Evil Plan

Bertrand is up to something creating all of these monsters and forced conduits.

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Main / WarForFunAndProfit

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