Only in It For the Money

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"We're not just doing this for money. We're doing it for a shitload of money!"
Lone Starr, Spaceballs

Some heroes do what they do for honor, some for glory, some For Great Justice. Others are only looking for the cash. This attitude is held by people who are honestly greedy, just need a living, or don't want to act like they care. Characters fitting this attitude are often Hired Guns and the Bounty Hunter. In fact, the Evil Overlord List states that bounty hunters should only be hired for money; those that love the thrill of the chase are too likely to give the prey a chance to get away.

This is a sub-trope of Not in This For Your Revolution. Money, Dear Boy is when it happens in Real Life. Might be a trait of a Proud Merchant Race Guy. Villains who say this are likely to be Punch Clock Villains, and might show that Even Evil Has Standards. On the other hand it might show they're a Greedy creep who doesn't care about anyone. Contrast the Psycho for Hire, who while equally villainous, has other motivations. Not to be confused with Every Man Has His Price, where the already-rich character feels money can be used to solve any problem.

Examples of Only in It For the Money include:

Anime and Manga

  • While Eisuke of Stepping on Roses (Hadashi de Bara wo Fume) nobly brings abandoned children home to live with himself and his orphaned sister Sumi, his primary motivation is to have them work for him in his future business schemes when they grow older.
  • In Honey Honey no Suteki na Bouken, Phoenix claims to be protecting Honey and her cat Lilly because he doesn't want the valuable ring that Lilly ate to fall into anyone else's hands and repeatedly says that he wants money and only money, but part of this is because the two fall in love and he can't stand to admit it.
  • In the Nirvana arc of Fairy Tail, Hot-Eye of Orachion Seis initally only ever talks about making money, and about how it's the greatest thing in the world. Once the effect of Nirvana changes his alignment, however, he reveals that he only wanted money so he could fund a search for his lost brother: Wally, who the protagonists from the eponymous guild had already encountered in the Tower of Heaven arc.
  • Fleet Admiral of the Free Planets Alliance Yang Wenli expresses it this way:

"I won't get paid if the Alliance ceases to exist, so I fight the Empire to secure my livelihood after retirement. That's pretty logical, right?"

  • Bleed Kaga from Future GPX Cyber Formula at first wants to get into races for the money, but at the last episode of the TV series, he refuses Kyoko's offer for the money and instead gets himself out of the race so Hayato, Shinjyo and Randoll would take the top three spots.
  • Gamble Fish has Kaoru Gokijima, a disgusting but cunning hustler who is only willing to help out Tomu Shirasagi as long as he believes there's money in it for him.
  • In One Piece, Merman swordsman Hyozu makes it quite clear that he's only helping Hody Jones because he's being well-paid for his services.
  • Naruto: Kakuzu is a villain who is only in it for the money. He doesn't really care about Akatsuki's plans and goals and is only interested in being paid. He's also known to go on side missions involving earning cash on the side, and tends not to want to involve himself in anything that isn't profitable. He feels that money is the only dependable thing in the world, though he does have a Freudian Excuse involving his village betraying him after losing to the 1st Hokage.

Comic Books

  • Buck Godot once offered to take down an apparent pirate for free. Someone asked his friend Al if this was normal, and Al replied, "Buck? Are you kidding? I'm convinced that somewhere there has to be somebody paying him to breathe!"
  • Deaths Head, Freelance Peacekeeping Agent, doesn't believe in killing if there's no profit involved.
  • In JLA: Rock of Ages, Batman convinces Mirror Master to defect from the Injustice Gang by doubling Lex Luthor's paycheck. This probably inspired the Justice League example under Western Animation.
  • Mr. Nobody once explained this concept to Spider-Girl:

Spider-Girl: "Why did you kill all those people? What did you hope to gain?"
Mr. Nobody: "At a million dollars a head--plus five for Fisk--it's kind of a no-brainer."

  • An old friend of Han Solo's sets him up to be captured by Boba Fett in Dark Empire. Money was not only a reason, but the only reason he betrayed Han. It's pretty sad if you read The Han Solo Trilogy prequel novels, in which he also appears, and see what a great friend he used to be before his Start of Darkness.
  • In Mega Man, Dr. Light mentions having designed several military robots early in his career strictly so he could gain the money and notoriaty he needed to work on more benevolent projects.
  • Taskmaster will work for whoever is willing to pay him the most money.
  • Paladin (who mostly appears in Spider-Man titles) is a rare heroic example; at least, he's a mercenary who sides with the good guys more often than not, but never for free.
  • Lobo is a bounty hunter who is willing to bag himself if someone pays him enough, and he has done that at least once.
  • X-Men villain the Juggernaut is pretty much the Trope Codifier for the Trope of the same name; once he starts to walk in one direction, no physical force can so much as slow him down. However, one method that is almost guaranteed to stop him (assuming he's working as a mercenary or assassin and not out for revenge or some other personal reason) is to offer him more money than his current employer is paying him.


Lt. Randall: You're not a detective, you're a slot machine. You'd slit your own throat for six bits plus tax.

Jack Sparrow: Who are you?
Tai Huang: Tai Huang. These are my men.
Jack Sparrow: Where does your allegiance lie?
Tai Huang: With the highest bidder.
Jack Sparrow: I have a ship.
Tai Huang: That makes you the highest bidder.

  • The bath house owner in And the Band Played On.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, right before the big fight, Kim says "We are Sex Bob-omb and we're here to sell out and make money and stuff." She changes her tune in the replay.
  • Dee Jay of the Street Fighter movie only worked for M. Bison because he promised him a fortune, and was fully aware that he was a power-mad dictator wannabe unlike the clueless Zangief. This became a case of Laser-Guided Karma as his "fortune" turns out to be stacks of worthless Bison dollars.
  • Juno Skinner in True Lies admits to Harold Tasker that she's only helping the terrorists because they are "well-funded raving psychotics."
  • From Mad Max: "I'm just here for the gasoline."
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Blondie, Tuco, and especially Angel Eyes. Unlike many villains with this trait it doesn't make him more sympathetic; in fact, it does just the opposite.
  • Hard Rain: Jim, says this almost word-for-word several times in the film. Even in the end, when Tom thinks Jim helped save his life:

Jim: You just don't get it, do you? (He grabs the money bags and puts them in his boat.)

  • Providing the quote for this page, Lone Starr from the Star Wars lampoon, Spaceballs. Initially, Lone Starr and Barf are indebted to Pizza the Hutt, and are only willing to rescue Princess Vespa if her father agrees to pay enough to cover it. They succeed, but then hear that Pizza has eaten himself to death, meaning they can keep the reward for themselves. However, Lone Starr has a change of heart and tells Vespa's father to Keep the Reward (taking only enough for lunch, gas, and tolls) while telling him not to tell Vespa after he leaves.


  • In the Disgaea novels we meet the Ozonne, who believe money is the solution to helping people, not love like all the other angels of Celestia. Ironic since her sister Flonne is the Love Freak.
  • The Mistborn trilogy has the Kandra, helping the protagonists only because they're being paid in Atium.

Live-Action TV

  • Miles Straume from Lost, who only joined the freighter crew because he was paid $1.6 million and would be willing to switch sides if he received a better offer.
  • Jayne from Firefly, this is why he works for Mal. Well, mostly. He is eventually becomes one of Mal's True Companions.
  • Spike at the end of season 4 and the beginning of season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Sergei Bazhaev in season 8 of 24, who's only involved initial Big Bad Farhad Hassan because he's set to make lots of money selling him spent nuclear fuel rods. After he gets captured by CTU and sees his deal has fallen through, he actually tries (unsuccessfully) to help Jack recover the rods.
  • An episode of Reba made a reference to this:

Reba, after watching a recorded clip of Barbra Jean with her dog: I feel bad for the poor sap who had to tape through all of this.
Kyra: Eighty bucks is eighty bucks.


Newspaper Comics

Tabletop Games

  • Basic Dungeons & Dragons adventure The Keep on the Borderlands. The ogre in the Caves of Chaos will fight for whoever pays him the most money.
  • In the Planescape setting, yugoloths are usually viewed as greedy mercenaries who will work for anyone. Although, it is rumored that higher-ranking ones have more sinister goals.
    • The mercane are like this too, but far less malevolent. One rumor claims they have some sort of racial compulsion to make money.

Video Games

  • Mike the mercenary from the Jagged Alliance series. In the first game, he makes it clear to the player he only works for money- in the second game, Queen Deidrenna has paid Mike to kill the player's troops.
  • Wario in general. Pretty much any time he's trying to do something it's either to get some treasure or the reclaim the stuff stolen from him, and anything else that happens (i.e. saving the world) is a side effect.
  • The Goblin Alchemist hero in Warcraft 3 has "For the highest bidder!" as his warcry.
  • The GLA's hero unit in Command & Conquer Generals is implied to work for money rather than to further the cause.
  • Almost averted[please verify] in the Ratchet and Clank series. When the Thug Leader is discussing a service with a client opposed to their current employer, he initially declines until he's offered a lot of money.
  • Ace Combat Zero: Cipher and Pixy initially fight in the Belkan War for Ustio's money, as Pixy regularly reminds us on the radio. In fact, many regular forces comment on this in disdain... until both of them are so feared/revered for their accomplishments that nobody mentions it anymore (especially if you take the Knight route). The fact that Pixy goes MIA and is replaced with PJ, who is a commissioned Ustio officer, as your wingman probably contributes.
  • Fire Emblem series. One particularly good example is Farina from Blazing Sword. The only way to recruit her is to have Hector pay her 20,000 gold. In fact, contrary to what might have worked elsewhere in the series, not even having her sisters talk to her will convince her to join your team! Oh, and once she's on your team, expect her to brag about her pay in her support conversations (besides her sisters and Hector). And just to top it off, her quote during the final battle? Making sure you don't forget her bonus pay!
    • Hugh from Sword of Seals, a Mage with a serious itch to line his pockets. For his recruitment, he wants 10,000 gold. Unlike Farina, you can haggle him down to as low as 5,000 - the catch is that the less you pay him, the crappier his stats will be! (If you decline to pay 5,000, he goes back to trying to kill you.) Even at the full 10 thou, though, he's not a particularly good unit and by the time you get to him, you've had the chance to recruit plenty of other magic users.
    • Volke also charges for his services—as a thief in Path of Radiance, 50 gold per lock picked; as an assassin in the same game, 50,000 one-time, and all locks picked afterward are free. Radiant Dawn plays with this characterization, however; while he does cost a 3,000 gold one-time fee for his services for the rest of the game (and you only get him very late in said game), he comes with a weapon that, by itself, normally costs about four times that, and is a worthwhile fighter in and of himself--in short, he's giving you a bargain. Volke also has a Running Gag along these lines; while he charges reasonable prices for his regular services, he charges far higher prices for "tasks" not part of his regular services (such as eating meals with the rest of the company), or to learn his real motivations—in other words, things he doesn't want to do.
  • Tommy Vercetti from Grand Theft Auto Vice City is in theory only for the money, due to his boss's three million dollars getting stolen during a drug deal gone awry. He does builds loyalty with some people, though. In turn, Ray Liotta said he voiced Tommy Vercetti for the money. Which is the opposite of irony. Possibly.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey:
    • Jimenez admits outright that he volunteered just because of the pay (he's contrasting himself to the various more idealistic members of the Schwarzwelt expedition). We're not exactly talking the most pleasant human on the planet here...
    • Captain Jack and his mercenary squad are the same way, but unlike Jimenez, they're actual villains.
  • Gobi in Breath of Fire joins and stays in your party because Ryu owes him money.
  • While many Champions in League of Legends are motivated to fight for their city or for influence and power, Sivir is motivated solely by material wealth and riches and has become one of the richest people on Valoran. She no longer works for Noxus after objecting to their war on Ionia; not on moral grounds, but simply because she foresaw that the war would end in a stalemate.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Zaeed Massani only joins up with Shepard because of the pay. This may end up being subverted if you earn his loyalty.

Zaeed: This mission doesn't sound like good business... but your Illusive Man can move a lot of credits.

    • Initially this may look like utter stupidity on his part since he is explicitly informed that this is for all intents and purposes a suicide mission...until you talk to him on the ship a few times and he reveals that he's been on a number of so-called "impossible missions" before and has always managed to come out in one piece. He's just that good.
      • His dossier in the Shadow Broker's ship also shows that he's really unconcerned about survival at this point. One of the retirement plans he considered was buying a ship, packing with explosives, and blowing himself up. Not that he's anything close to suicidal. You just can't go and settle down someplace quietly after a lifetime of kicking ass.
    • Suicide missions? Those are warmups. The man lived through being held down and shot in the head from point-blank range!
    • Kasumi Goto also initially appears to play this trope straight, as she tells you when you initially recruit her that Cerberus is paying her very well for her assistance, but it becomes obvious quickly that she's really more of a thrill seeker who considers the money to be more of a bonus.
  • This seems to be the team's motivation to do their work in the Star FOX games. In Star Fox Adventures, Fox constantly whines that he's not being paid enough to save the planet.
  • The summon Yojimbo in Final Fantasy X must be paid for each attack he makes. Which attack he uses depends partly on how much you pay him and partly on his affection level, with higher levels resulting in stronger attacks. His affection level rises when you overpay him or when he uses a strong attack, and it drops when you underpay him or he uses a weak attack.
  • In The Babylon Project, The Raiders begin doing mercenary contract work for an unknown employer. At one point they're told to stand down from massacring civilians, and they reply they would miss out on a big payout if they did.
  • Magnus in Kid Icarus: Uprising. Apparently, he's willing to fight the forces of a evil god for it.
  • Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: New angel Vulcanus is in it only for the Zenons. She's called the Angel of Avarice for a reason. Hard to say if it's to fuel the Great Flonnger or not...
  • Pierre, Lara's rival in Tomb Raider, raids tombs for artifacts like Lara does. However, Pierre only raids tombs for the money while Lara does it for appreciation of the past.
  • Finn, the main character of Adventures to Go, likes the recognition that comes with completing quests, but he mainly does it because he gets paid to do so.

Web Animation

  • The Karate Duo (Numbah One) from Bowser's Kingdom show off this trope.
    • Frogfucius chastises them for embodying this trope in Episode 9.
    • They only help Hal and Jeff in The Movie because Jeff is gonna pay them.


Western Animation

  • The Ghost in Iron Man: Armored Adventures abandoned his contract on Tony because Whitney paid him more to do so. He shows up later with a new target, indicating the previous hire was mad about him taking a better offer.
  • In the Justice League cartoon, Batman is able to convince the Ultra-Humanite to double-cross the Injustice Gang by offering double what Lex Luthor was paying(which was making sure that the Ultra-Humanite got plenty of opera when he went back to prison).
  • Parodied on The Simpsons where Krusty the Clown is quite often shown taking roles that are beneath even him (which is saying something) because his incredibly poor money management skills have left him constantly in debt. In one episode, Bart chastises Krusty for lending his name to an inferior production, to which Krusty replies, "They drove a dump truck full of money up to my house! I'm not made of stone!"
  • Parodied on The Boondocks where we find out Ann Coulter's entire conservative agenda is a ruse to make a lot of money.
    • And again in "It's Goin Down", when a plot to unite and inspire the American people was enacted mainly because a few already rich people would stand to make a lot of money.
  • One episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo featured a man who sells comic books for a living and claims to hate them and that he's Only in It For the Money. The fact his name is Cashmore does help with the impression. However, he's simply too ashamed to admit he likes comic books.
  • In The Legend of Korra, professional competitive firebender Mako doesn't care about glory, fame, the art of bending, or anything else - he just wants the cash prize that comes with winning the league, to keep himself and his younger brother Bolin from getting turned back out on the streets.