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More! More! More! More! More! More! MOAR! More! More! More! More! More! More! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE!
—Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob SquarePants
Greed, or avarice, is the desire for large amounts of money and material possessions. While simply attempting to earn more money to make oneself better off is no big deal, greed applies when one attempts to garner ever greater amounts of possessions and money simply for the sake of having more than everyone else.
The thing about Greed is that it's never satisfied - as soon as the thing sought after is obtained, the obtainer starts craving more, and more, and more, ad infinitum.
Greed is the main motivation of the Corrupt Corporate Executive. It is also a Fatal Flaw of the Miser Advisor and commonly of a Mr. Vice Guy; in the cases of these characters, they usually learn a valuable lesson at some point about what's really important. The Gold Digger is motivated by Greed -- as is, often enough, the Black Widow. A character defined by Greed often has a Money Fetish.
Greedy villains often try to bribe the hero, a tactic in which they have great confidence. After all, justice and even Revenge aren't shiny, and don't get a very good exchange rate. When The Hero turns down the Briefcase Full of Money, it can be a great shock.
Villains -- and heroes -- seemingly afflicted by Greed can be humanized by demonstrating that it is not the money they are after; they need it to buy something of actual value. At the same time, their Greed may threaten to transform their goal into a Tragic Dream.
May lead to Death by Materialism. Gold Fever is a Sub-Trope. Often goes hand in hand with gluttony. Compare Lust, which is desire for abstract concepts as opposed to material possessions. If a greedy character is featured in a musical, expect a Money Song.
For the classic silent film on the subject, see Greed.
Anime and Manga
- The third Kira in Death Note uses the notebook to kill off executives of rival companies along with criminals in order to make his own company expand and increase his salary.
- Kakuzu for Naruto.
- Also, Shiranami. He even stated that the reason he killed his father, who was protecting the expensive forbidden jutsu, was because he's greedy.
- Nabiki of Ranma ½ -- she likes nice things, provided someone else is paying.
- Genma accidently knocks his wife Nodoka off a cliff in his attempts to steal a 20 dollar medal to pawn.
- Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist, as his name would imply. However, the positive qualities related to his sin are also inspected: He is so possessive over his minions that it crosses to being actually loyal and caring. Even Greed himself eventually addresses the fact that while things like wanting money, food, power, etc. seem worlds apart from wanting to protect people, they're also still both forms of desire.
- In addition, despite his desire for "Money, food, women, everything!", he's able to keep his desire under enough control that it doesn't ruin him, and he ends up working for the good guys (under the guise that they work for him, of course).
- While Ling Yao has nobler beliefs than the previous example, he embodies some of these qualities as well, having goals such as becoming emperor and obtaining immortality, but being absolutely against sacrificing his followers or letting them sacrifice themselves for him. This serves as foreshadowing as to why he ends up becoming the second Greed. He even calls out Greed himself on it - initially Greed is in control of Ling's body when they become the second Greed, but when "Greedling" kills one of his former minions while hving Laser-Guided Amnesia, Ling's conscience reacts fiercely and tells him that if he's willing to hurt and abandon his friends, he does NOT deserve being Greed.
- In both continuities, Greed also dies for good due to entirely selfless reasons -- though he'd probably protest it and rationalize it as "getting revenge by proxy/taking care of his possessions".
- Nami from One Piece started off as treasure obsessed, and would do nearly anything to get large amounts of money, which includes raiding a Marine's base during the confusion of an attack. This is justified a couple arcs in: She wants to use the money for the REAL Greed-monger, her then-captain, so she could buy him off and he'll leave her hometown alone.
- the orginal Noah in Soul Eater as he is the emobiment of Greed.
- The fact that it's a defining characteristic of hers is played with in her in-betweener. Even after Arlong is dealt with, she's still just as greedy.
- Lina Inverse of Slayers fame has this as a rather significant personality trait, though it crops up more earlier on. However she is always on the look out to make a bit of cash. It's part of the reason she left home in the first place, having gotten into trouble by selling illusions of her elder sister Luna in the bath.
- Baron Danglars from Gankutsuou.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of Phantom Quest Corp. Ayaka Kisaragi finds herself in a relationship with a Corrupt Corporate Executive. When it goes poorly, cut to the executive bemoaning his unsuccessful love life - to his mistress, as she's cuddling him in bed.
- Viper from Katekyo Hitman Reborn is a baby who cares about nothing but money. He frequently attempts to charge his own team members for favors or just to watch him fight, and he complains if he has to do something for free. His alias, Mammon, even means greed.
- Meiko Shimono from Hell Girl is such a selfish Rich Bitch that she first kills her parents for their money, and later murders her baby son to not have to share said wealth.
- Reiko Mikami could very well take the crown for this trope. It seems there's nothing she won't do to get a little more money.
- Lawrence from Spice and Wolf suffers in episode 10 because of this trope. He ended up trying to buy too much armor on credit, only to find out that the value of armor in the city he was going to sell it in crashed. None of his merchant associates want to help him repay the debt as well because he got greedy.
- Magic: The Gathering had a card named "Greed" with flavor text that summed up the trope very succinctly.
'An advisor once asked the Western Paladin how much gold would be enough. "I have no need of fools who can imagine ‘enough,'" he told the advisor's corpse.'
- Scrooge McDuck. He may be a Noble Demon or just a Jerk with a Heart of Gold Depending on the Writer, but no matter how admirable his dedication to hard work and honesty is, Greed is always his defining vice.
- It runs in the family; his nephew has sinned of this as well.
- Pictured above is "Agent Orange". real name Larfleeze, "leader" of the Orange Lantern Corps in The DCU. In the emotional spectrum, Orange represents selfishness and greed, and Agent Orange is the greediest creature to ever live. True to form, he's the only true member of the corps; the others are all spirits of the people he killed in his constant search for more.
- Funnily enough, Larfleeze was once referred to in-story as "Scrooge McDuck with a power ring"
- Johns has stated one of Larfleeze's inspirations is Daffy Duck.
- Later on, Lex Luthor is inducted as a deputy Orange Lantern and becomes so utterly consumed by greed that he turns on the other lanterns, wanting ALL the rings.
- Funnily enough, Larfleeze was once referred to in-story as "Scrooge McDuck with a power ring"
Larfleeze to Lex Luthor: Victory is mine! And if you had hair that would be mine, too!
- Ironically enough, his last act of the Blackest Night arc was tossing Luthor back to the humans, which Sinestro lampshaded was an act of him giving something to someone. Larfleeze reacts in stunned shock.
- He's hanging around on Earth after Blackest Night because he believes Earth caters to greedy bastards like him. After watching commercials he's come to the conclusion that everyone else on Earth shares his neverending desire for more.
- The Orange Lantern is always a singular individual because nobody avaricious enough to activate and control the orange light could ever bear the thought of sharing it. This is why the deputy didn't work out: they'd fight each other over the power, cutting their strength to less than half.
- As a bit of a Tragic Hero, the top thing Larfleeze wanted was the only thing he really wants, his family.
- In Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, Superman's Evil Twin Ultraman mentions that on his world, ruled by evil, the only god people knew was Mammon, the demon who patronizes greed in the Seven Deadly Sins. However, when Ultraman found out about Mandrakk The Dark Monitor, he was more than happy to follow this greater evil.
- In the original Lee-Ditko run of Spider-Man J. the real reason Jameson hates Spider-Man is that Jameson has always been greedy and he can't understand how Spider-Man can give without any personal gain for himself.
- Speaking of Spider-Man, Electro pretty much shouts out a bit from the intro paragraphs verbatim in his first appearance as he gloats over his victory, readily admitting that he's greedy, but he doesn't care. Fitting then that Electro is pretty typically the most greed-driven villain in most incarnations.
- Jack Horner of Fables shows how much greed can stab you in the back. After losing a fortune several times in his series, he resigns to never spend the gold he gained from El Dorado, just to ensure he can't lose it. He consequently becomes a dragon as a result of his greed. He spends at least a few years (if not decades) in this state before the last issue. Everyone Dies .
- Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother is often depicted as wanting Cinderella's inheritance for her daughters' dowries.
- In "The Juniper Tree", the Wicked Stepmother murders her stepson so that her daughter will inherit everything.
- Hansel and Gretel's Wicked Stepmother begrudges her stepchildren their food and has them abandoned so they will not have to feed them. Although sometimes she has the excuse that there is a famine, in some variants, she just resents spending anything on them.
- Greed by Erich von Stroheim, a silent movie classic.
- The eponymous villain of Goldfinger, whose ultimate goal is to increase the value of his gold reserves by irradiating all the gold in Fort Knox.
- Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers 1993.
"All for one... and more for me!"
- Gordon Gecko in Wall Street:
"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works."
- Greed is the motivating factor in the lives of all three protagonists in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. They want the Civil War gold, and they don't care what they have to do to get it. Angel Eyes, The Bad, is by far the worst about it. He's basically this vice in a coat and a cowboy hat.
- Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol is the greediest, most miserly man in London. After a visit from the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-To-Come, he gets second thoughts.
- Each of the villains in the Keys to the Kingdom series represents a deadly sin, with Grim Tuesday representing greed. He takes it to rather ridiculous levels, in fact. He turns his entire kingdom into an open-pit mine and risks the destruction of the entire universe in order to obtain more stuff. And he already posseses the power to make anything out of Nothing and a building about the size of a small town filled entirely with treasure.
- Miss Minchin in A Little Princess -- Miss Amelia's description of her in one of the movie adaptations as "a pitiless, hard-hearted woman who cares for nothing but money!" holds very true in the original book.
- Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Pretty much everything that he does is because of his desire to obtain the Baudelaire fortune.
- Sir Peter, Ella's father, in Ella Enchanted.
- Smaug from The Hobbit - probably the Trope Codifier for the evil dragon sleeping on a bed of treasure.
- As well as the character he is based on - the dragon from Beowulf who has similar ... ummm ... exactly the same hoarding-and-killing tendencies.
- In Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, while King Haggard explains that the reason he keeps unicorns is that they are the only thing that makes him happy. Where it becomes greed is that his goal is to collect them all -- every unicorn in the world.
"Each time I see the unicorns, MY unicorns, it is like that morning in the woods, and I am truly young, in spite of myself!"
"Men say you have gold," mouthed the man, shivering under his rags. "Give some to me! Give me gold and I will show you how to defeat the king!"
- Chichikov's vice in Dead Souls which drives him.
- In Julian May's The Rampart Worlds sci-fi trilogy, this is pretty much the main reason the Hundred Concerns start dealing with the Haluk (although Emily Konigsberg started all the trouble through naivete). It turns out that giving technology to a touchy, paranoid race is not a good idea.
- Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Let's see...the Monarch HMO from Payback. The Barristers from The Jury. Rosemary Hershey in Sweet Revenge. Arden Gillespie and Roland Sullivan in Lethal Justice. Maxwell Zenowicz in Fast Track. Baron Bell in Deadly Deals. Owen Orzell and Jason Parker in Home Free. In at least 7 books out of 20, you have Greed as the motive for their terrible actions!
- Both Margaret "Meg" March and her sister Amelia aka Amy from Little Women are said to be greedy, though Meg moreso than Amy. Both end up subverting the trope: Meg marries a poor Englishman nd even defies Aunt March when she says the guy's likely to be a Gold Digger (he's NOT) while Amy marries the rich family friend Laurie - after rejecting a proposal from an even richer guy, since she wants status but isn't willing to be in a loveless marriage for it.
Live Action TV
- In Star Trek, this is the hat of the Ferengi, who have built an entire society out of greed and avarice. While they even have a codified system of rules governing this behavior, going around said rules if it's for a profitable goal isn't considered a bad thing. Thus, things like theft or piracy are only considered bad if you get caught.
- On the bright side, the Ferengi don't practice racism, slavery, or genocide because they consider it bad for business (fewer customers->lower demand->LESS PROFITS)
- It's almost a case of Blue and Orange Morality for them, as any action which is not profit-seeking is seen as disgraceful (whether it was acting out of Charity or Revenge, if there's no profit to be made, it's just WRONG).
- Illustrated by Liquidator Brunt (Ferengi Commerce Authority) when he accuses Quark of being a "phil-AN-thro-pist!" in much the same tone a human might accuse someone of eating their own children.
- Subverted in the Penn and Teller Bullshit episode "World Peace," where they argue that greed is the key to world peace, since war is usually bad for profits.
- The Ferengi (see above) would disagree vehemently. While "Peace is good for business" is one of the most important Rules of Acquisition, the very next rule is "War is good for business", and they would know
- Parker on Leverage. From the episode "The Nigerian Job": "My money is not in my account. That makes my cry inside... in my special angry place." From "The Homecoming Job": "I don't like stuff.. I like MONEY."
- The villains of Kamen Rider OOO, the Greeed (sic), are literally made out of desire. The hero Eiji has no desires due to Survivor Guilt, which allows him to use their powers easily. Interestingly, it slowly becomes apparent that having no desires is a bad thing, with the Big Good believing that desire is necessary for life and encouraging his workers to be ambitious as long as they are not prideful.
- One of the primary vices of the mercenary Jayne Cobb of Firefly, though he's usually smart enough not to let this drive him to do stupid things. Unless the money's too good...
- In Vocaloid's Seven Deadly Sins series, Kaito, a judge, accepts bribes from customers to make them "innocent". The reason he needs this money is to help his "daughter" Miku and to collect the Seven Deadly Sins in order to restore her condition. Later, he is bribed by a general for mass murder and lets him walk free. This eventually causes a civil war and he is killed in a fire. He is then faced with "the master of this hellish yard" who tells him he can be saved if he gives up his money. He refuses to give his fortune to anyone and is sent to Hell, where he hopes to make the place a utopia for himself and his "daughter" after he collects the sins.
- Pooh-Bah in The Mikado.
Pooh-Bah: I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family Pride is something inconceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering. But I struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride continually. When all the great officers of State resigned in a body because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitatingly accept all their posts at once?
- Fafnir from Der Ring Des Nibelungen. His greed was so great that he transformed himself into a dragon to protect his hoard. Possibly the inspiration for Smaug from The Hobbit.
- In In Nomine, Mammon is the Demon Prince of Greed, though lately he's lost a lot of his power and influence, particularly to Haggenti, the Demon Prince of Gluttony. The game describes the difference between the two as while Gluttony wants to consume, Greed just wants to have. Mammon's demons aren't allowed to give away anything...even the time of day.
- In the third chapter of Disgaea, the main characters target someone specifically because they are rich and its the prinny's pay day.
- Wario pretty much exemplifies this, in both the Wario Land and Wario Ware series. His motivations for most of the game stories are pretty much to get as much money and treasure as he possibly can, doesn't really pay his 'staff' in Wario Ware, ignores the captured damsel in Wario Land: Shake It for the infinite cash purse and manages to subvert the Honest Axe trope.
- Overlord has Goldo Golderson, the Dwarf Fallen Hero who is the epitome of this trope. His greed drove him to invade the Elven forests to enslave the population to put in his mines.
- Big Bad of Jagged Alliance 2 Deidrana usurped the throne of a backwater country Arulko and was milking its natural resources dry and practically starving its population before your team intervened.
- Arl Rendon Howe of Dragon Age Origins is driven by an unhealthy mix of Greed, Ambition, and Envy. His last words say it all:
"Maker spit on you! I... deserved... more."
- Greed is basically the reason Pigma Dengar is so repugnant. He sold out the people who were supposed to be his friends to Andross just for the money, and a reward is basically his only motivation for doing anything.
- Sector Carina in Strange Journey. A massive shopping mall, warped by a demonic viewpoint on Humanity's excesses and obscene desire for more possessions. Fittingly, the resident Tyrant, Horkos, is a demon obsessed with devouring everything - food, energy, inanimate objects, people, his own servants... And the worse thing is, when finally confronted, he calls out Humanity on being even more greedy and materialistic than he.
- Laethys, the Dragon of Earth, in Rift.
- Haley's opening motivation in Order of the Stick. Then, we learn why.
- As pointed out in the author commentary for the first prequel book, she was always pretty greedy before getting a motivation. And she still intends to ultimately make a profit from that.
- So it's odd that since we learned that motivation, that aspect of her character has been rather de-Flanderized.
- It's still here, it's just not her main motivation -- see "The Love of Money" strip.
- Vince, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Greed in Jack, "earned" his position in Hell because he was an insane cult leader in life who always wanted more worshippers -- he got greedy for power.
- Among the Seven Stakes of Purgatory, Greed is represented by a girl named Mammon, Ange's "closest friend" and the one who is serious about "taking Sakutaro home".
- In Sinfest, the bank tries to guilt Seymour over this.
- Swindle in Transformers is defined by his greed. In Transformers Generation 1, he sells off parts of his fellow Combaticons to a shady arms dealer to make himself a profit. In Transformers Animated, Megatron comments that he'd sell his own motherboard if the price was enough.
- Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants is very greedy. He always gets angry when something happens to his money. In fact, in Jellyfish Hunter, he got Spongebob to capture most of the jellyfish for their jelly. It turned out Mr. Krabs was processing and killing them in horrendous conditions in his factory and Spongebob was appalled when he found out.
- Mr. Krabs put a toe over the Moral Event Horizon when he sold his most loyal employee, SpongeBob, to the Flying Dutchman for the grand total of...sixty-two cents. Even Squidward, who hates SpongeBob, called him out on it. Cue My God, What Have I Done?...and then the Flying Dutchman dumps SpongeBob back onto Mr. Krabs, partly because Status Quo Is God, but mostly because he's too damn annoying to keep in Davy Jones' locker.
- Kaz from Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi.
- "A good candy taken in greed always turns sour." Greed is a recurring theme in conjunction with candy hunting on Codename: Kids Next Door. Number 5's old-partner-now-rival Heinrich uncovered a tomb of candy but ignored the warning "Share not, and only taste asparagus," which sure enough happened when he refuses to share the candy. When a candy pirate named Black John didn't share the licorice he cut down on an island but hoarded "it all for himself," he and his crew were cursed by being pretty much turned into licorice Gargoyles. The Noodle Incident at Guatemala also turned out to be Heinrich performing a ritual to get perfect caramel that cursed him at the same time; the only way to break the curse is to share the caramel.
- In the animated video to Disturbed's version of Land Of Confusion, the giant fat man (called Big Daddy by many) is either an Anthropomorphic Personification of greed or big industry. When The Guy kills him, he explodes, revealing that inside he was full of money and nothing else at all.
- Daffy Duck.
It's MINE, you understand!? Mine, all mine! Get back in there! Down! Down! Down! Go! Go! Go! Mine! Mine! Mine!
"I'd trade it all for a little more."
- In Powerpuff Girls, Princess Morbucks is a Lonely Rich Kid from a family so wealthy, her allowance alone amounts to Fiction 500. However, after the Powerpuff Girls reject her application for membership, she decides to become a villain out of jealousy that she can't be a superhero too. Forgetting the fact that she could have just used her wealth to found a superhero group herself.
- But, of course, being a superhero wasn't the point. She wanted to be a Powerpuff Girl specifically. She was denied this. And no one denies her.
- Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes. Not his main sin (that would be Pride) but definitly present, as noted by his demand for more gifts at his birthday and his willingness to marry Beezy off in exchange for a large dowry.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Dragons have greed as a racial weakness. The more they acquire, the larger they get, and the more they want. Spike ends up trapped in this loop in "The Secret of My Excess".
- Scott Boras has a reputation among baseball fans as the most vile agent in the game because of the way he always tries to drive up the price of his clients, which can often lead to them ending up nowhere until the season has almost started when his asking price is too high. After all, since his salary is based on percentage, the more money his clients make, the more money he makes.
- When Ayn Rand was a Hollywood scriptwriter, she worked with a woman who stated her aim in life as follows. "If nobody else had a car, I wouldn't want one. If anybody has two cars, I want two. If someone else has a better house, I want it, etc". Rand was unable to understand why anyone would define their own value only in terms of what other people have. Her heroes, of course, function on love of their own work, although they insist on getting full payment for it.
- Not to say she didn't have her own share of it. Selfishness and self-interest as the highest virtues? Altruism as evil? Heroes who were often wealthy and powerful while anyone who didn't have talents in the top 1% as "Moochers" and "Looters" out to grab what belonged to the John Galts of the world?
- Let's see what Mother Nature have to say on this. Pelicans steal fish herded by penguins. Penguins pinch those they can reach in time. Then a pelican stuffs his beak-sack so much that he have problems with lift-off and half of the pack converges to pluck the poor bastard.