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We have heard about them: Lazy, incompetent, always passing the buck and more than willing to accept a bribe to "speed things up". This character type exists somewhere in the overlap between Punch Clock Villains and Obstructive Bureaucrats. And are only lazy and incompetent up to the point that it prevents them from getting any work done, however, when someone or something threatens their position or privileges, they forget everything about laziness and incompetence and become relentless in abusing their power, as they would not be above committing murder itself, of crossing the Moral Event Horizon. This can also happen if they have the object of their ambition within grasp.

This type of villain usually does not belong to the aristocracy or gets his power from money or businesses, instead his power comes from a position on the government (usually obtained through personal favors rather than merits and/or hard work).

In some variants, he will accept a bribe in order to illegally hasten things or do other "favors."

Examples of Corrupt Bureaucrat include:

Anime and Manga

  • Yoki from Fullmetal Alchemist (all versions) was a corrupt State Military official in charge of a mining town who horrendously taxed and oppressed the inhabitants before being stopped by the Elric brothers.



  • Feltipern Trevagg created new tariffs to line his own pockets, including on the water—on a kriffing desert planet. The barve ends up dead with delicious irony.
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, running an honest administration causes a revolt because they expect favors, too. (They do insist on your doing the job you accepted a bribe for, though.)
    • Likewise in Up Jim River, a man offers an official a large demonination bill—asking his opinion of the engraving.
  • Cornelius Fudge from Harry Potter is not above taking bribes from Lucius Malfoy.

Tabletop Games

  • The RPG game Paranoia regularly features encounters with these, freely mixed with every other flavor listed above.

Video Games

  • Many of the ministers of Jade Empire would certainly qualify, as they are lazy, always accepting bribes, and offering protection to slavers and criminal gangs.
  • Ragou from Tales of Vesperia is a corrupt governor who kidnaps kids to feed them to the monsters in his basement for amusement. When he is detained after his mansion is destroyed, he escapes all punishment because the witnesses are the party, an ex-knight, an as-of-yet-unrevealed princess, an imperial mage, a Guild member (who are unprotected by imperial law in the Vesperia universe), and a dog while Ragou is on the highest court in the world. He is only stopped when the main character murders him in cold blood.

Western Animation

  • Senator Wheiner of Galaxy Rangers fits this trope like a glove. Despite the fact that the Series 5 Rangers are possibly the best weapon the League has against the Crown Empire, he is constantly trying to get it shut down. He's got a massive case of Fantastic Racism against aliens, even their Andorian and Kiwi allies on top of it. But his Moral Event Horizon was crossed well before the series when he was shown to be the politician in charge of the Supertrooper Project. He wanted to bypass the safeguards that Walsh and Nagata put into a project that was highly dangerous and morally questionable at best, declaring they needed soldiers with "no mercy" to fight any alien Earth encountered. He tops it off by releasing Psycho Serum into the barracks, causing the Supertroopers (save Shane) to become super-powerful and riot, killing Nagata in the process. It's also established that Wheiner and Walsh keep each other in check through massive amounts of mutual blackmail...and this was a Animated Series from The Eighties!