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Sometimes a minion doesn't want money from the Mad Scientist or Evil Sorcerer they call "Boss". Rather, they want to become the subject of the employer's transformation techniques. Perhaps the employee is disabled or ill, and wants to be strong and fit. Possibly they're wanted by the law or by deadly enemies, and need a new face to escape pursuers. Could be that the employer's exclusive brand of augmentation is superior to anything a cyborg-wannabe could acquire elsewhere. Possibly the minion is in the market for a Gender Bender in a world without sex-change operations. Or maybe they're just butt-ugly and want to be a Chick Magnet. Whatever the motive, the result is that they hire on with someone who can offer (or at least claims to offer) a chance to acquire the body of their dreams.

Not exclusive to villainous employers, but good examples aren't often seen, probably due to audiences' expectations of Transhuman Treachery by anyone so altered. A common motivation for The Igor or the Vampire Vannabe. Generally this leads to You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves as often as it does to the promised upgrade.

Examples of Working for a Body Upgrade include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books & Strips

  • Tyldak in Elf Quest works for Winnowill because she promised to give him wings. She did make good on her promise, on the condition that he kept working for her.
  • Prince Raffendorf from Snarfquest parted company with Snarf when he opted to work for Geezel and Etheah for a year, in exchange for them transforming him from a giant humanoid rat back into a human.
  • Subverted in Camelot 3000, in which Morgan la Fay tempts Tristan to betray Merlin in exchange for being transformed from a female reincarnation to male. Tristan never gets the chance because Kay betrays Merlin first; in any case, s/he had been planning to kill Morgan as soon as the transformation-spell was applied.
  • Spider-Man supporting character Flash Thompson lost his legs fighting in Iraq and was offered a deal to become an operative: he would get to wear a symbiote for missions, during which time his legs would be restored, but he wouldn't get to wear the suit at other times, in an effort to stop it from bonding with him. He's the most heroic Venom so far, although he has a little problem with eating his enemies when he loses his temper.
  • In Hollow Fields, the teachers of the titular school are working so they can have new bodies.


  • Daniel, the hunchback in 1944's House of Frankenstein, worked for an evil doctor who's promised to give him a new, straight-spined body.
  • Ygor in Son of Frankenstein wants the eponymous Son to transfer his brain into the Creature's body, and works for him in exchange.
  • In Avatar, Jake is promised the chance to restore his human body's legs if he works for the mining company to persuade the Na'vi to move. Double subverted in that he does acquire a new body, but via a completely different route.
  • An old Bela Lugosi movie, The Raven, had Lugosi as a mad surgeon who was approached by a dangerous drifter. The drifter said that maybe if he wasn't ugly, he wouldn't have been forced into a life of crime, "so could you please alter my face?" Lugosi's character responds by actually making the guy even uglier, just to use as leverage and to keep him as a personal servant. Make-your-own-Igor!
  • In Repo the Genetic Opera Blind Mag was given the option of working off her eye implants by acting as GeneCo's spokeswoman. Of course, when she decided to quit they killed her just like everyone else who missed a payment.


  • In Spellsinger, Pog the bat works for Clothahump because he's in love with a falcon and wants the turtle wizard to transform him into one.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl, the Big Bad, Sarapen, has a servant called Madrigal who has been promised a werewolf upgrade if he serves Sarapen well enough. Sadly, since werewolves are born not bit in that verse, all he does is Outlive His Usefulness.
  • Taylor in Animorphs becomes a voluntary controller when the Yeerks promise her a new face. She was a popular, beautiful girl whose face was badly damaged in an accident.

Live Action TV

  • Condo, The Igor to Mad Scientist Solon in the Doctor Who serial The Brain of Morbius, has been promised a new, complete body.
  • In a comedic Italian Tv Series, an ugly gardener decides to work for the villain of the week in exchange for a plastic surgery to become handsome.

Tabletop Games

  • In The Year Of Rogue Dragons, most of Sammaster's dragon minions work for the promise of being made into dracoliches, which would make them super-powerful and also immune to the Rage.
  • Some of the shadowtalkers in Shadowrun products have worked for corporations, on or off the books, in exchange for installations of cyberware they couldn't otherwise afford or gain access to.
  • In the Ravenloft adventure From The Shadows, it's the player characters who act out this trope, as they're reduced to disembodied heads imprisoned in Azalin's laboratory and have no choice but to do his dirty work if they're to get their bodies back.
  • In Eclipse Phase many people escaped the Fall by uploading themselves to other planets or habitats, but a lot of them were unable to purchase morphs and are still bodiless "infomorphs". The Hypercorps often take advantage of these "infugees" with indentured labor contracts promising them bodies after so many years of work (usually just a cheap synthmorph or splicer).

Video Games

  • In Deus Ex Human Revolution, quite a few people are implied to work in order to get augmentations.
  • In the first Deus Ex, the two early-generation cyborgs Hermann and Anna are implied to ignore their boss' corruption because he's the only one who can provide them with continuous upgrades to prevent their being scrapped for obsolescence.
  • Inversions are common, too. In Killer Instinct, Sabrewulf enters the tournament in hopes of finding a cure for his lycanthropy so that he can become human again.
  • In Mass Effect 2, it is stated that the heretic geth are working for the Reapers because they were promised a Reaper body as a collective platform.
  • Many splicers in Bioshock work for Andrew Ryan or Frank Fontaine in exchange for ADAM that will allow their continued genetic modification.
  • The hacker protagonist of System Shock is hired to hack into a complex artificial intelligence system as a Boxed Crook; however, an additional motivation for him is receiving a military-grade neural implant.

Web Comics

  • In Girl Genius, the captured (beheaded) general of an invading army agrees to work for Klaus for, among other things, a new body and a brass plate that says ABOMINATION OF SCIENCE!

Western Animation

  • In the first season of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the brain-like alien Krang has made a deal with Shredder, wherein Krang provides Shredder with a lot of weapons, while Shredder must give Krang a new body to replace the one he lost. Shredder is more busy dealing with the turtles, but eventually builds Krang the desired robotic body. (The turtles are able to defeat that as well, but Krang uses it in most later episodes of the series.)
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Wonder Man works for the villains because without the Enchantress' magic, he would have dissolved, and he's promised that his loyalty will be rewarded by making him human again.
  • Inverted in The Spectacular Spider-Man, in which Molten Man was tricked into getting transformed because of a gambling debt and is deliberately given Power Incontinence absent a control that's in the hands of the Green Goblin. The latter forces him to be a criminal with the promise of allowing him to control his powers; if he refuses, he'll naturally be left in his transformed state.
  • In Batman Beyond, Inque--a sort of liquid shapeshifter--is released and assisted by the man who was supposed to be guarding her. In return he wants to be turned into a being like her. Inque not being the world's most trustworthy person, she agrees...but only gives him half the treatment, turning him into a formless blob with no ability to move.

Real Life

  • The Gurkhas of Nepal actually had this deal with the Brits. They would join up as mercenaries for the British side for pay AND a Body Upgrade in the form of vaccination shots.
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