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He'll welcome you into his lair,

Like a nobleman welcomes his guest,

With free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest!

Beware of his generous pensions,

Plus three weeks paid vacation each year,

And on Fridays the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!

He loves German beer!
—Theme song of Hank Scorpio, from The Simpsons

Tired of your boring job? People not giving you the respect you deserve? Looking for some Bread and Circuses? Then consider a career in evil.

This is where the Big Bad, usually, helps someone either by moving them up the corporate ladder or by helping them improve their standard of living. The person so helped in return will either repay them in the form of a favor at a later date or just join the Big Bad and his/her crew.

Can be a Deal with the Devil. Contrast Evil Feels Good.

Examples of Better Living Through Evil include:


  • In Wanted, Wesley is unwittingly doing this by joining the Brotherhood; he escapes his mundane daily job, which he hates with a passion, and a girlfriend who is cheating on him, and becomes an Assassin. The Reveal is that the Big Bad was the Brotherhood leader, who was supposed to liquidate the entire order as it is implied that it had served its purpose. Instead, he uses his position to increase his power and influence.
    • This is to say nothing of the book the film was based on, in which, rather than being recruited by assassins to become a badass hero, Wesley's trained to become a supervillain. The Fraternity of the graphic novel make no pretense of heroism or righteousness -- they cross the Moral Event Horizon on a regular basis because it's fun, and encourage Wesley to do the same. In fact, at the end, in a fabulous deconstruction of the Comes Great Responsibility Aesop, Wesley pretends to have a moral epiphany, tells his sidekick/fuck buddy that he was just kidding, then mocks the reader for having a moral compass. And then he rapes you.
    • It really should have been obvious to Wesley that he was doing evil. He was never given any believable or verifiable explanation for why he was killing strangers.
  • In Fight Club, Tyler Durden helps the protagonist live a better life by abandoning materialism and consumerism. Too bad Tyler is his alter ego who uses Fight Club as a training program for a nihilistic assault on modern society.
  • The Devil's Advocate: what makes this trope and not simply a Deal with the Devil as the title implies, is that Kevin is helped unknowingly (except maybe some gut feelings along the way) and without knowing Milton's true nature and his relation with himself. Milton says in the end speech that it is because of Kevin's accepting his dad's nature was the reason he got that far, and basically because it ran in the family.
  • In The Apartment, C.C. Baxter (played by Jack Lemmon) is promoted by Mr. Sheldrake (played by Fred MacMurray) in exchange for letting Mr. Sheldrake use his apartment for his affair with Fran Kubelik (played by Shirley MacLaine).
  • Frank White of King of New York recruits some new goons after they try to mug him on the subway. After scaring them with his pistol, he tosses them a wad of cash and says if they want jobs, they should look him up.
  • In The Lion King, the Hyenas follow Scar because he promises to let them back into the Pride Lands where they will be able to eat as much game as they want when he is made King. Unfortunately for them, years of their excessive hunting, a drought, and Scar's inept rule have driven out most of the prey animals. The first time the Quirky Miniboss Squad of Hyenas is seen after the Time Skip, they are once again begging Scar for food.


  • The original Taken from the Black Company became taken as a bid for power. It works because they are given quite a bit of land to control and each one has a pretty sizable army under their command.
  • The subject of a few books by Neil Zawacki: How to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!! and The Villain's Guide to Better Living.
  • How to Succeed in Evil is a story about a consultant who makes a nice living assisting super villains.
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, Lloyd is a petty crook who is locked in jail when the Superflu hits. He's one of the few immune to the virus, but when the guards die off and no one opens his cell, he resorts to cannibalism to keep from starving to death. Flagg comes along and lets him out, and from then on Lloyd is his loyal right-hand man. He even continues to serve Flagg when he stops believing in the cause, because whatever happens he owes Flagg his life.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • In Mage: The Awakening, this is the main appeal of joining the Seers of the Throne, who are given much power and influence in exchange for working to keep the world under control and doing the will of the Exarchs. Their Sourcebook even details a Merit which allows Seers of most ranks to live with prestige and luxury. Its noted that the Merit doesn't provide any actual money, which means the priviliges can be revoked by higher ranking Seers.
  • 'Forgotten Realms: This is the M.O. of Asmodeus, God of Sin. While an evil deity with evil goals, he generally rewards his faithful in life. In the after life, not so much.

Video Games

  • In Resident Evil 5, Excella Gionne's backstory is this. She was born into a branch off of the main family and went into Tricell Pharmaceuticals. She worked her way up and eventually was brushed aside because she wasn't a member of the founding family. Wesker comes in and gives her information about making bio-organic weapons and she is able to corner that market when Umbrella folds. She is then promoted to the head of Tricell Pharmaceuticals as a result. But not for long.
  • Cerberus takes this approach with Shepard in Mass Effect 2. They are still up to all the horrific experiments and other tricks they were in the first game, but manage to throw the entire fandom into a Flame War by not only resurrecting Shepard, but providing him/her with every resource imaginable. Brand spanking new Cool Starship, the most advanced in the galaxy with as much Reapertech as they could steal - and leather seats. A handpicked crew, including a certain awesome Ace Pilot. Leads on recruiting the most astounding badasses in the galaxy. And periodic injections of money, supplies and intelligence. If you don't think of the DLC packs as a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, they even arm you with some of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy right out of the gate!
  • Fallout 3: So, you're a bright-eyed and able-bodied vault dweller, out into the Capital Wasteland in search of your father or riches? First place you come to's quaint little Megaton. You could always help the local sheriff disarm the town's namesake nuke and get yourself a squalid little shack and a couple caps. Or, alternatively, you can arm the thing and score up to 1500 caps, get a nice suite with a stunning view by working for the badguys. By the first hour out of the vault in Fallout 3, you've all ready bettered your living arrangements more through evil than good. Enjoy the chance to drink the wasteland dry if you don't feel too terribly like saving it.
    • Over on the west cost however its somewhat averted. While working for the Legion you will become a second god and have your face on one of their coins they don't give a rats ass about "better living".
  • Riku gets kind of mocked by Ansem for this in his storyline. "You cast away your home, your friends,everything... But at least they gave you a nice room." Riku doesn't find this funny.

Web Comics


 Torg: Wow! When you become a vampire, men become broad shouldered and muscle-bound and women become tall and thin! You ever think of selling this on QVC?

Lysinda: Foolish mortal ... do you really think humanity would give up its immortal soul forever just to look good?

(Beat Panel)

Lysinda: Sylvia?

Sylvia: "Infomercials next quarter." Check.

  • Defied by Mr. Stratus in Our Little Adventure when the Emperor gives him a job offer as his head tactician. The result of this was, of course, a face full of lightning and an ensuing battle.

Web Original

  • The plot of Dr. Horrible is this essentially as the title character attempts to join the Evil organization to gain respect and prestige. There was also something about social reform that he never seemed entirely clear on.
  • The title character of Interviewing Leather by Eric Burns (now Burns-White).
  • In the latest Cheat Commandos short from Homestar Runner, Reynold defects to the villains side because they actually let him DO things.
  • Ted in The Joker Blogs says he's cooperating with the Joker because he wants to die, but you can tell the respect is a factor.

Western Animation

  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Shredder does this with two of his dragons, Karai and Hun. With Karai, the trope comes into play due to the fact that the Shredder is the Daddy Warbucks to her Annie; Hun, while already a criminal, was allowed to move up from "gang leader" to "syndicate higher-up" thanks to his association with his "Master".
  • In Kim Possible, the business of villainy (conventions, magazines, Jack Hench's henchman hiring agency) is Not So Different from any other sort of big business.
  • The Venture Bros: In order to come up with a competent and cheap workforce for Dr. Venture, Dr. Killinger hires a team of Venchmen, all of whom are on a work/stud program paid for by the state. Evidently, the life of a henchman has some degree of allure.
    • Killinger is also trying to do this to Dr. Venture himself. He provides the Venchmen, new threads, helps get his finances in order, and improves the lives of his family. It isn't until the end that he reveals this was all to get Venture to join the Guild Of Calamitous Intent as a fledgling supervillain, with his brother Jonas as his archenemy. Venture has a Heel Realization and refuses, and Killinger departs.
  • Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz of Phineas and Ferb does not only have his own evil incorporation, and plans of an evil institute, but he's also a member of LOVEMUFFIN, an evil organization with evil doctors and scientists that not only have invention contests and buffets but also hosts pageant-like contests of evil. There also seems to be a variety of evil magazines, one of them being the Evil Beat magazine which is purely about evil of dance. It also appears that some branches of evil corporations on the show have different kinds of benefits, such as maternity leave.
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