Karmic Jackpot

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The opposite of Karmic Death. Because of a good deed the heroes do, a streak of spectacular good luck crops up and everything starts to go our protagonist's way. Often seen as consequence of giving a beggar some money, where it turns out that the beggar is someone important who decides to help them.

Done poorly, this can lead to a Broken Aesop, where the possibility of a great reward undermines the lesson about selfless actions.

Compare Curse Is Foiled Again, Throw the Dog a Bone, and Earn Your Happy Ending. Contrast Karma Houdini Warranty. See also Laser-Guided Karma.

Examples of Karmic Jackpot include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Slave 23 provides a bit of blood so that his master can perform an alchemical experiment. This results in the creation of a homunculus. Out of gratitude, the flask-bound creature gives the slave a name (von Hohenheim), enough alchemical knowledge to make him one of the most powerful men in the country, and when the homunculus tricks the king into sacrificing every living person in the country to create a Philosopher's stone, Hohenheim gets half the souls, making him immortal. Although the slave wasn't very happy about that last one.

Comic Books

  • Archie Comics used this trope every so often, with either Archie or Betty encountering a poor-looking man who they help out, while Reggie mocks them for it. Later, either the poor guy turns out to be a wealthy man who lends Archie a fabulous car for a week, or Reggie ends up stranded at a mall with no money to call for a tow truck after his car broke down.

Fairy Tales


  • Slumdog Millionaire is this trope.
  • Melvin and Howard is based on the never-verified story (possibly inspired by the urban legends detailed below) that Howard Hughes promised part of his fortune to a guy who stopped to give him a ride in the middle of the desert.


  • In the book Holes and its film adaptation, the hero, Stanley Yelnats, is the latest in the line of the Yelnats who suffered from a familial curse of bad luck, including being sent to a crooked prison camp for a mistaken indictment. However, when Stanley risks his life finding his friend, Zero, in the desert and brings up him a mountain, he inadvertently fulfills the conditions necessary to break the curse. As a result, several generations' of denied good luck come to him all at once and suddenly everything starts to go his way.
    • It turns out that the friend he helps is the descendant of the person who placed the curse in the first place.
  • This trope is Older Than They Think since it appears in The Bible. King Solomon, at the start of his reign, was visited by God who offered a wish for any one thing. Solomon, intimidated by his complex job as ruler, asked for great wisdom to do it properly. God is so pleased at this modest wish that he threw in great wealth and peace in the bargain.
    • Additionally, Job loses pretty much everything and then gets covered in sores, as a test to see if his faith in God depends on whether or not his life is going well. When he (more or less) praises God anyway, thereby passing the test, God gives him double everything he had before.
    • A possibly derived folk tale tells of the incarnations of Love, Wealth, and Health (or maybe Power) visits a family, in which they can only choose one of them. After some time the family chose Love, and then Love and the other two comes along, thanks to The Power of Love.
    • Don't forget heaven. Live right and go to paradise for eternity. It doesn't get more extreme than that.
  • Very common in 18th century novels. For instance, both those of Smollett and Fielding have their heroes undergoing one hardship after another but ending up rich and Happily Married and all of their enemies are badly off. The main difference is that since Smollett's protagonists were more in the way of anti-heroes, they tend to gloat over their defeated opponents.
  • In Robin Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy, the widow Amzil feeds and shelters a homeless wanderer, despite barely having enough food for herself and her three children. Via a long, Hobbian route she eventually gets true love, wealth and a noble title.
  • The main emphasis of The Count of Monte Cristo is the Count's revenge on the four men who had him imprisoned. One frequently-overlooked plot point has the Count discovering that Monsieur Morrel, his employer when he was arrested, had made a valiant effort to try and get Edmond Dantes (the future Count) released, as he was convinced of Dantes' innocence. Morrel was taking a dreadful political risk in doing so, due to the struggles between royalist and Bonapartist groups that were convulsion France at the time and were in part what led to Dantes' imprisonment. By the time Dantes escapes and becomes the Count, Morrel's shipping company is on the verge of bankruptcy and his family's honor is ruined because of his inability to pay his debts. Using the alias of "Sinbad the Sailor", the Count repays his old employer by buying out and paying off the company's debts, giving them a brand-spanking new merchant ship to replace the one that had recently been destroyed in a storm, and also providing a generous dowry for Morrel's daughter. Monsieur Morrel would die soon after, but his good name and family honor were both fully restored.
  • In the Apprentice Adept book Split Infinity, Stile's first encounter with Neysa the unicorn culminates with Neysa running towards a cliff, with Stile hanging on for dear life on her back. He thinks she's trying to commit suicide rather than be broken, so he risks his neck to talk her down, gambling that she'd respond to his tone rather than his words. He didn't know that unicorns were sapient and she understood every word. He also didn't know that unicorns were Voluntary Shape Shifters and that she was planning to kill him by leaping off, then changing to her firefly form, leaving him to fall to his death. By speaking from the heart, he not only saved his own life, but gained his closest friend and ally on Phaze.
  • In And Another Thing: Constant Mown manages to talk Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz‎ out of destroying the planet of Nano and the last humans in the universe by playing to the letter of Vogon law (They were legally no longer "Earthlings", but "Nanites" or however they'd like to put it, so destroying them would result in an embarrassing amount of paperwork for Jeltz). Turns out he saved the entire ship as well, since if they hadn't retreated at that very moment the Not Quite Dead Thor would've destroyed the ship.
  • A Simple Survey has a short story where this is literally the law. Whenever someone brings great benefit to society, they are rewarded appropriately. This doesn't even have to be deliberate - the main character lost a 100 yen coin which (through a complicated series of events) led to an entire country being lifted out of poverty. He's rewarded with the services of a personal maid.
  • The Malfoys in the Harry Potter books, primarily Lucius. This man practically radiated "Evil" in every appearance, and was The Dragon to Voldemort for all intents and purposes, the acts he and his family committed clearly worthy of a life sentence in Azkaban. But ultimately becoming the wizard version of "state's evidence" at the end, they were pardoned, and while it is doubtful they had many friends from that point on, they never received much comeuppance. Draco even ended the franchise Happily Married with a family

Live-Action TV

  • On The Drew Carey Show, one episode has Drew conspiring with his villainous boss Mr. Wick to secure both of them promotions. By the end of the episode, Mr. Wick has been ousted for unrelated reasons, but Drew still gets the promotion. At this point Drew reveals the entire scheme to the higher-up out of guilt, but only succeeds in impressing the higher-up with forthright honesty because Drew made the confession when it was absolutely in his best interest to shut up.
  • A minor example in the CSI episode "Turn, Turn, Turn": Nick's small act, giving a vagrant money for coffee, not only turns the guy's life completely around (He cleans up, kicks intoxicants, and goes to college), it yields a witness in the case Nick's working, a year later.
  • Averted in the Blackadder take on A Christmas Carol. After being taken advantage of by everyone he knows because he's so charitable Queen Victoria is about to make him rich as a reward, but unfortunately he chose that day to do a Face Heel Turn and he throws her out.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Arena", Captain Kirk is pitted against the Gorn captain in one on one combat by the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens called "Metrons". When Kirk wins, he refrains from killing the Gorn captain. Because of this, the Metrons release both ships when they had planned to kill the victor (who was the greater threat).
  • Discussed in Deadliest Catch, season 3. After a pretty terrible king crab season so far, the Time Bandit pulls an unlucky fisherman from another boat out of the water. Afterwards, the Time Bandit has successive strings of pots so full of crab, they make their quota in a couple of days.
  • Storage Wars' Barry Weiss, buys up a locker for $2.50 that no one else was interested in, as a courtesy to the seller. The locker turns out to be holding several glass fly catchers which amount to $2k.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • The story of Philemon and Baucis, here told by Bulfinch.
  • There's an urban legend along these lines. A man goes to a funeral and sees that another funeral is going on in another room without a single mourner. Out of pity, he signs the guestbook as a well-wisher. The following week, the man is contacted by the dead man's lawyer, who tells him that his entire estate was to be divided amongst the people who attended the funeral, and he was the only one.
    • In another version, it's about a woman who went into that room only to use the bathroom.
  • A rich man's awesome art collection is put up for auction when he dies. A poor man buys a picture of the rich man's son since no one else will. The poor man, since he "took the son" gets the whole lot—allegory for Christianity and all.
  • Generally common in any Glurge that does not involve a Karmic Death...
  • From Greek Mythology, we also have Prince Admetus, who benefited from this twice. When Apollo was forced to serve a mortal for a year as a punishment, he chose Admetus, who was such a Benevolent Boss that Apollo repaid him by arranging it so that when Death came for him, he wouldn't have to die if someone else was willing to take his place. Unfortunately, Death came sooner than expected, and the only person who would take Admetus's place was his fiance, Princess Alcestis. Admetus was deeply upset, and berated himself for letting her take his place with Death. He held a funeral for her...
    • ...and it was at this time that Heracles came calling, needing to rest during his travels as part of the Ten Labors. Although he was uncomfortable imposing on Admetus during a time of mourning, but Admetus told him to Think Nothing of It and gave Heracles the best hospitality he could ask for, explaining only that the funeral was for a "foreign woman, not related to me by birth." When Heracles later found out the whole story, he was so overcome with gratitude that he went to Alcestis's tomb and fought Death for the right to bring her back to life. Naturally, he won and repaid Admetus's friendship by bringing back Alcestis alive and well.

Video Games

  • In Fallout 2, one of the Chosen One's odd jobs is to collect a hefty gambling debt from a Woobie-type loser who plays the pity card to gradually shift as much of that debt to you on the unlikely promise that he'll pay you back. Returning to the casino late in the game, he can be found sharp-dressed, flushed with cash, and willing to pay back 10x the amount and throw in an appreciable supply of some valuable fusion cell as well.
  • Similarly, in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you can find a rat down by the docks sometime after Chapter 3 who needs funds to start an operation to strike oil in Dry Dry Desert. He asks for 100 coins each time you talk to him. At this point in the game, it's difficult to have anywhere above 200 unless you've refused to buy anything, so dumping it into his funds is a huge risk. In the Playable Epilogue, he returns to the docks and gives you triple the coins you loaned him. If you lent him 300 coins, he Caps your wallet at 999 coins.

Web Animation

  • This animated adaptation for SCP Foundation, focusing on SCP-111 (Dragon Snails). "Lettuce Boy", as the intern is called, seeing as he is in charge of feeding the eponymous SCPs, makes a mistake causing dozens of them to hatch prematurely; the snails proceed to attack and kill his Mean Boss, and one of them is yanked through a portal to Hell, returning as an oversized Hell Snail. But, his quick thinking results in him befriending and containing the Hell Snail (which now loves him very much) and not only does he not get in trouble, he gains a promotion.

Web Comics

  • Tales of the Questor, the title character has just finished being the quarry of a fae lord's hunt, which he took on to spare a human child from that impossible task. However upon winning, the fae lord is horrified that his quarry is a Raccoonan (a Raccoon man) and furthermore, is specifically favored by the mystic White Stag; two categories the Fae are strictly told not to hunt lest they be severely punished. As a result, the Questor gets not just one boon for completing the chase, but also two more from the Fae Lord who is forced to give them to the hero as punishment.
    • But then again, that meant Quentyn could've saved himself a night's worth of being chased by murderous fae just by flipping his hood back though he would have had to be aware of that particular fact, then taken advantage of it by stopping and letting the hunt catch up with him.
  • The Dark Warriors in Eight Bit Theater are some of the least unpleasant people in the comic. At the end of the series, they get the credit for saving the world from Chaos along with all of the fame and fortune that comes with that.
  • This is the flipside to Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell—Ella's parents did so many good deeds that she could kill several people and still come out neutral. So far, she's restricted herself to minor misdeeds, so she continues to have incredible luck.

Western Animation

  • In The Raccoons, Cyril's evolution through the series from being an unrepentant Corrupt Corporate Executive to largely a nice guy seemed to have granted him a few karmic jackpots as a reward.
    • He gave up an opportunity to speak to a wealthy investor so he wouldn't miss his son's banquet speech, only to suddenly meet that investor, who was going to the same event, sitting on the train to the banquet with Cedric and so charmed with the young aardvark that he was eager to meet his father for a long, friendly conversation beyond anything Cyril dreamed.
    • Cyril was about to be taken by a swindle when he suddenly had a health emergency bad enough to get hospitalized and then gave up the chance to sign the deal to help a new friend get well, which means he avoided losing a fortune when the fraud was exposed.
  • In the Simpsons episode "Blood Feud", Homer becomes enraged when Bart's donation of blood to Mr Burns fails to result in this trope and writes an angry letter. In a Spoof Aesop, Mr. Burn is initially furious and prepared to make the Simpsons suffer, but Smithers points out that Bart saved his life, and as a reward gets the family a massive Olmec monument, which is seen in their basement in later episodes.
  • Harley Quinn, Harley herself has truly got it made by the end of season 3. Despite the horrendous crimes on her rap sheet (including multiple murders), the city views her as a hero after her Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Plant Zombie Apocalypse, most villains love her (Ivy still in love with her no matter what side of the moral spectrum she is on), she has made a truce with the Joker (despite still hating him), Batgirl, Nightwing and Robin trust her enough to allow her on their team, and Batman? She learns his identity and he trusts her enough to keep it secret, while she acts as his psychiatrist.