• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Redcloak: So why the Southern Mountains, sir?

Xykon: I keep a back-up fortress here, just in case.

The evil counterpart to Infinite Supplies.

We know how it goes. The good guy defeats the villain. Whatever the villain stole is returned, and his Doomsday Device is blown up. Every single time.

Yet, time after time again, the villain is right back at it again next week, his Evil Minions at the ready. (Apparently their paychecks have not bounced.)

How on Earth does he fund this? Why does anyone take him seriously anymore? The only possible explanation is that there have to be scores of successful operations the villain is undertaking that we're not seeing... much like how scientists speculate that there's "dark matter" in the universe - substances that can't be directly observed, but must exist if the universe is to keep working the way we believe it does.

See also No Delays for the Wicked and Step Three: Profit. Contrast with No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. Not to be confused with a certain villain named Dark Matter. Forgot to Feed the Monster is a Subversion.

Examples of Offscreen Villain Dark Matter include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, the villain group, Galactor, has massive war machines in almost every episode and an estimated one million members around the world. It is suggested that the true leader of Galactor, the alien Sousai X, somehow has the massive personal resources to keep the operation going.
  • The Jovians of Martian Successor Nadesico have a basically infinite supply of robot drones, no matter how many thousands of the things the heroes blow up over the course of the series. However, no one finds this odd as they're an Alien Invasion force... actually, they're just disenfranchised human colonists that stumbled across Applied Phlebotinum similar to Knights of the Old Republic. When this starts breaking down, they start entertaining the notion of peace talks.
  • Jail Scaglietti of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha never seems to run out of Gadget Drones and laboratories despite losing a number of them to Combat Mages under the Space-Time Administration Bureau's employ. His being supported, funded, and supplied by the heads of the Bureau themselves may have something to do with this.
    • And having a steady supply of mass-produced women to sell to arms dealers or lonely men as Dutch wives makes for good money. Especially when they can activate and kill its buyer if he needs them to.
  • Averted (if only just barely) in Yatterman: in each episode, the Doronbo Gang is busy raising money through improbable scam schemes in order to build a new mecha.
  • In Samurai Pizza Cats, the Big Cheese has a surprising amount to spend on giant killer robots. However, this gets subverted when he runs out of funding in one episode and has his Ninja Crows working at minimum wage to scrounge up funds, and in the finale, we find out he's been embezzling from the royal court, to the point where there wasn't enough left to buy an ice cream cone. The princess was mighty peeved when her check bounced.
  • Pokémon's Team Rocket straddles a bizarre mix of this and Perpetual Poverty. Despite the fact that they're often depicted as being cut off from the rest of their organization, generally ignored and frequently starving, they always have money to build an insanely huge robotic contraption or some other such nonsense to capture Pikachu and/or the Monster of the Week with (which subsequently gets destroyed by whichever of the aforementioned two was not captured.) You'd think they'd either start selling their mechanical prowess for profit or stop buying machines and start buying food, but...
    • They once realized they could make a lot of money just selling souvenirs for the some tournament or another, and set themselves to go into legit business doing so. They succeeded just after the tournament was over and the demand was gone, leaving them out of money, again.
  • In Naruto Orochimaru has managed to single-handedly construct a series of immense underground bunkers populated by fanatic followers hidden throughout the Elemental Nations. On top of this, he has managed to conduct extensive large-scale experiments on human subjects. He throws away powerful minions like confetti. And despite setbacks, he never seems to face any serious damage.
    • Madara seems to have access to all of the abandoned assets of the Uchiha clan, to the point that he can afford an entire building just to store eyes.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water averts this with Gargoyle's mooks reporting how his dark matter (I.E. commerce in wool and banking) is proceeding, and how it is paying for things like his submarine and the Tower of Babel.

Comic Books

  • Most Batman villains, except for the ones who are directly involved in organized crime and fencing (like the Penguin). In the latter part of Batman: The Animated Series, the Joker was seriously low on funds for multiple episodes thanks to Batman foiling his schemes, leaving him vulnerable to a hated enemy's masterful scheme to humiliate him with a massive inheritance with a big catch in "Joker's Millions".
    • This trope was Lampshaded in one episode of the 1990s animated series, with the Scarecrow infecting star athletes with his fear poison and then betting against them for huge sums of money. When Batman confronts him, the Scarecrow explains that chemicals and other research materials are very expensive...
      • In some versions, the Riddler's goons seem to like their boss. In the comic book tie-in to the Animated Series, some of them were worried about him suffering a nervous breakdown if Batman solved one more of Ed's riddles (of course, it might just be that Mr. Nygma is comparatively pleasant as Gotham villains go). Similarly, one comic in which the Joker planted time-bombs in Gotham had one of his goons joking about working for Two-Face, and describing Batman's oncoming fist as "quitting time".
      • There have also been a couple of times we see henchmen who have worked for multiple villains in the past (one issue of Birds of Prey even has them trying to unionize), and this always leads to a certain amount of Lampshading as they discuss their former bosses. Apparently the Penguin actually offers health coverage and a 401K, and Riddler is a nice enough boss who pays well and gives lots of time off. Joker's secret is just how mercurial he is; he'll throw wads of cash at you one minute (he doesn't really value money), then kill you for lulz the next. It's a gamble, but can be a profitable one. One wonders if they look forward to getting pummeled by Batman, considering it's the easy way out.
  • Recently we learned that The Tinkerer, a minor character responsible for building, upgrading, and repairing most of the B-list villains in the Marvel universe, was secretly financed and supplied by Doctor Doom. Before that, Justin Hammer funded a number of villains as seen in the classic "Demon In A Bottle" arc of Iron Man. Norman Osborn is also revealed to have been hired by various crooked business interests to create supervillains to distract the heroes from their own nefarious misdeeds, before he became the Goblin.
  • In Marvel Comics, there are several high-tech organizations whose budget is unexplained. A rare exception is the evil HYDRA, which was funded with hidden Nazi assets, and (in one case) structured itself as a corporation! (Not openly, of course.)
    • HYDRA also controls a small nation.
    • Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), another terrorist group that broke off from HYDRA and became independent, also generates revenue by developing and selling deadly high-tech devices. This could arguably explain where many Marvel villains get all their fancy toys.
  • Scrooge McDuck's longtime foes The Beagle Boys, though not always. Lately we often see them more realistically broke, but they've also been seen going after Scrooge McDuck at sea or elsewhere with special equipment that should probably cost more than the amount of money they were after, when it wasn't Scrooge's entire property. An explanation might have something to do with how they're (rarely) shown as a world-wide criminal organisation family of which the Duckburg gang is just a small part, but it still wouldn't make much sense.
  • Nodwick: Anti-Santa did it.

  Artax: Monsters get their magic weapons from somewhere, and we don't think they're bright enough to make them...

  • Lampshaded in one arc of Fantastic Four. Sick of Doctor Doom pulling this trick over and over, Reed Richards travels to Latveria to destroy the villain's stockpiles and powerbase. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The old Star Wars Expanded Universe, Dark Empire in particular, was infamous for this. Despite the Empire being a broken state, every Imperial warlord and remnant had some superweapon that rivalled the Death Star in their possession, often having built it themselves.
  • Referenced in Transformers More Than Meets the Eye where Brainstorm notes that the Decepticons always had access to better and more resources than the Autobots. Come Transformers: Unicron, the Decepticons reveal that they even have a whole fleet of planet smashing warships (as in each ship is capable of destroying planets) in hiding across the galaxy.


  • The Virtucon Corporation in Austin Powers is a wonderful example, and satirizes the trope when Number Two points out to Doctor Evil that the company makes more money from its legitimate activities than Dr. Evil originally wanted from his latest evil scheme.
  • In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Emperor Palpatine managed to smuggle enough resources to a Death World in the Unknown Regions to build the largest fleet in galactic history. The 2020 Darth Vader comics however do show that the fleet took several decades to build with the earliest stages of its construction having the full backing of the Galactic Empire's industry such that they were half-complete by the time of The Empire Strikes Back, justifying it to a degree.

Tabletop Games

  • The Chaos Marines of Warhammer 40000 never seem to run out of supplies despite having been fighting the Imperium (and each other) for the best part of 10,000 years. This has been justified recently with "daemon forge worlds" and a much greater emphasis on Renegade Marines (recently turned to Chaos) than the Traitor Legions (ten thousand years of war against the God-Emperor).
    • Traitor Marines also often raid Imperial supplies and use Loyalist geneseed from dead Marines to make more Chaos Marines. They also don't use the technology that would require extremely high amounts of maintenance like anti-gravity vehicles and assault cannons. Being able to bind Daemons into their machines helps to keep them working, too.
    • It's worth noting that the majority of Chaos Marines operate from the Eye of Terror, where the laws of physics are a funny joke you tell your friends. In other words, they have literal Offscreen Villain Dark Matter at their disposal. The Alpha Legion, the only Traitor Legion that doesn't, are low-key guerrilla warfare specialists and seldom attack the Imperium openly in large-scale campaigns.
    • In the Warp they can probably conjure up anything they desire, so long as it has a daemonic motif to it, and is probably cursed in some way.
    • Eldar are a perplexing example. They are apparently on the brink of extinction with only a dozen or so active Craftworlds and miniscule armed forces for a war that spans the galaxy, but neither the gameplay nor the story reflect this, repeatedly throwing away hundreds, thousands of soldiers on futile endeavors and generally having little better regard for their soldiers than the Imperium.
      • Should note Eldar have small numbers compare to the other races, Craftworlds are planet size that houses billions. Which is small when you compare it to the trillions of humans.

Video Games

  • See Also: Not Playing Fair with Resources
  • Despite being clearly both evil and insane and even jailed multiple times, Doctor Wily of Mega Man is always able to build at least eight new war robots and a fortress. Well, except when he manipulates Cossack in the fourth game or tricks various national representatives in the sixth, anyway. Maybe he just uses really cheap parts; after all, he did make one of his robots out of wood.
    • His fortresses. Those things are huge, requiring poor ol' Mega four or even five stages to traverse. And there's a new one every time? How is Wily doing it? Then there's Sigma, who apparently thinks that bigger is better, creating a floating island in the first game, and topping it every. Single. Time. Mainly by using other people's facilities.
    • While the speed of setting up his fortress and robot army is never explained, Mega Man 9 manages to give believable reasons to Wily's supplies: The Robot Masters are actually Dr. Light's own robots that were reprogrammed because Wily tricked them into thinking he could be make them more useful before they became expired scrap, and Wily got his funding by holding a telethon so he could build robots to combat the berserk Light-bots (which he obviously did not use for the public's intended purpose). Considering the general reactions of some people in Real Life, Wily's entire scheme in this game seems plausible.
    • Perhaps he starts off with a single Sniper Joe, which he uses to steal supplies for more Joes, until he gets enough supplies to build a Robot Master, who steals supplies at a faster rate than the Joes. Exponential growth and whatnot. As for why Mega Man doesn't notice? He's really good at being stealthy. As for the fortresses, by that point, he'll have an entire army of robots to build it lightning fast.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series Hand Waves this by having Dr. Robotnik seemingly get the funds for his schemes from Casino Night Zone. Doesn't do so very well because Sonic tends to gain far more rings than he loses whenever he passes through the Zone, making it far more generous than any real-life casino. Sonic Battle also went into much more detail about this: Eggman has his robots often commit small-time thefts too petty to attract the attention of Sonic, and he also sells stripped down versions of his robots to other corporations and companies to have a steady supply of cash while keeping the real good stuff for himself.
    • In addition to selling Guard Robos for extra cash in Sonic Battle, he also owns two companies, Robotnik Corp - which sells air boards - and Meteotech, a company that develops security robots.
    • Beyond just "monetary" issues is the fact that Robotnik's machines must require an utterly massive amount of natural resources and time to construct (not even factoring in R&D time), yet he always has some new, extensive machine on the ready when his last one fails. It doesn't help that beyond all the robots he has built, he has seemingly no other sentient biological creature with any significant role in his operations.
    • One of the most notable examples is in Sonic Adventure. The Egg Carrier, an absolutely massive battleship is destroyed. Near the end of the game, Eggman reveals that he had another one.
      • Even more absurd then the Egg Carrier was the Death Egg, which first appeared in Sonic 2. It was a giant space station, similar to the famous Death Star. How could Doctor Eggman pay for that?
      • It was explained in Sonic 3-Sonic and Knuckles that he was trying to repair rather than replace the Death Egg. Doesn't explain the numerous extra Death eggs he whips up in the Sonic Advance games.
    • Sonic Unleashed, Eggman produces a fleet of entirely expendable space ships solely for the purpose of luring Super Sonic into attacking his hidden superweapon.
    • Ditto for the Egg Fleet and Final Fortress. Hell, every ship in Final Fortress could very well be a fortress in themselves. Even lampshaded by Knuckles, of all people.

 Knuckles: The Egg Carrier was nothing compared to this!

  • Justified in Super Smash Bros Brawl, where the villains actually are getting their supplies from subspace. Mr. Game & Watch could have dark matter extracted from him endlessly, helping the villains create an infinite army of mooks.
  • In Mother 3, once you realize who King Porky is, you have to wonder how he funds the production of Happy Boxes, the construction of New Pork City, the remodeling of Tazmily Village, and pays the Pigmask Army.
    • This is explained, but very briefly and only very late in the game. He uses time travel to take (or steal) high technology from eras when it's cheap and common and easy to get, and uses it to establish himself as a techno-dictator in eras when it isn't.
  • In Prototype, it's not difficult to cause the military to spend 50 to 75 or more billion dollars in one in game day's worth of main missions alone, plus any side missions or general harassment of the military you also decide to do. The game's plot takes place over the course of 18 days, meaning the Marine Corps and Blackwatch go through more than the entire US military budget for 2010 in a little over half a month. Keep in mind, this all takes place exclusively on Manhattan Island.
    • Probably partially justified by how long they've been receiving a blank check, all those weapons and armaments were likely accumulated over a couple decades, barring the Thermobaric tanks.
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future explains how Clive got enough funding to build an underground near-perfect replica of London, and a Humongous Mecha on top of that, by mentioning his inheritance from his wealthy adoptive mother. It doesn't, however, explain how he got the manpower to build it all in under five years without anyone noticing.

Western Animation

  • The Mega Man cartoon played with this trope a bit. A number of episodes involved Dr. Wily stealing some technology or supplies for his plans or trying to acquire funds one way or another, but every so often, he'd bust out a machine that wouldn't be out of place in the games as a fortress boss.
  • Inverted in Despicable Me. When the main villain Gru wants to make a Super Death Ray, he doesn't have the funds and must get a loan from the Bank of Evil. The Bank denies him the loan until he steals a certain item, putting the events of the movie into motion.
  • Kim Possible has a running gag where she blows up Dr. Drakken's lair. It'll be up again by their next meeting. Many a Lampshade Hanging has been made about this. However, several episodes deal with Drakken's cash-flow troubles, notably "Ron Millionaire", wherein Drakken goes broke just as Ron receives a massive royalty check.
    • Of course, many of Drakken's cash-flow/supply problems have a simple solution, considering that his sidekick is the world's most notorious thief.
    • Dr. Drakken also ends up in the "Time Share Lair" from time to time when his current lair has been destroyed. Dementor apparently owns a share there, too, as Dr. Drakken keeps getting Dementor's mail when he's there...
  • Cobra never won a major tactical or strategic victory against the Joes in G.I. Joe, yet they never seemed to lose the ability to field their army for next week's evil plan. Two episodes did center around Cobra having fiduciary problems; one where the Joes capture Cobra's assets for the fiscal year, and the infamous episode "Cobrathon" where extra funds have to be raised via a telethon for a special weapon. Several episodes hint that much of funding for the animated version of Cobra comes from Extensive Enterprises, a seemingly-legitimate Mega Corp that the Joes know is just a front, but apparently can't prove it well enough to shut it down.
    • Having the clandestine backing of an elder race of Snake People probably helps, at least according to the questionably can[n]oned 1980s movie.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eventually subverted this with an episode where the villains successfully stole the Applied Phlebotinum required to power the Technodrome after creating a series of diversions to distract the turtles, essentially letting the bad guys win one.
  • The Limburger Building, HQ of the main villain of Biker Mice From Mars gets blown up in spectacular fashion in just about every episode, only to be rebuilt in time for the next episode.
  • Carmen Sandiego, particularly in the animated series. She has yet to hang on to her pilfered goods long enough to use them (and it's not like she could sell any of them anyway, given how famous they are), so where does she get the money for all the gear required to loot them in the first place?
    • Carmen Sandiego, like most phantom thieves, is probably independently wealthy. Phantom thievery tends to be an occupation taken up by the rich out of boredom or the need for a challenge. See also Arsène Lupin.

 Lupin: My organization operates with a budget that surpasses that of most cities.

      • Or, maybe, she changes her outfit, wears a mask, and routinely successfully steals ordinary valuable items, for which she takes no credit.
  • No matter how many times Dr. Claw of Inspector Gadget loses and conducts Villain Exit Stage Left, he will always have enough funds and resources to conduct his next scheme. Partially justified however as he's implied to be the head of a worldwide criminal empire, and Gadget can only be in so many places at once.
  • In Transformers Animated both Swindle and Lockdown work almost exclusively for the Decepticons because Megatron pays better. This is despite the Decepticon Empire being a rump state that has only a fifth of the Autobot Commonwealth's industrial capacity. In Season 3, both display eagerness to even get their servos on Autobot Elite Guard resources but that was when Sentinel Prime was in charge so it may simply have been that Ultra Magnus refused to deal with such unscrupulous types.
  • Subverted and Lampshaded in the hilarious Robot Chicken Star Wars spoof where Vader calls up Palpatine regarding the Death Star's destruction.

 Palpatine: That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! Do you have any idea what this is gonna do to my credit? [...] Oh, oh, "just rebuild it"? Oh, real f***ing original! And who's going to give me a loan, jackhole? You? You have an ATM on that torso light-brite?