They're also not above taking and maintaining legit work, until the inevitable screw up, and it's always manual labor anyway. Ironically, their "honest" work is almost always profitable. And they always prove to be much better at whatever work they do for extra cash than they ever are at being bad guys.
They'd probably have better lives if they just stopped chasing Pikachu. Then they sank all of their money into it, just in time for the tournament to end and the market for their stuff to disappear. Meowth is a borderline Gadgeteer Genius ; James mentioned that the cat's the one responsible for most of the Humongous Mecha that they throw at the twerps! Team Rocket is always trying to capture Pikachu because he's unique for a Pikachu. A Meowth that can talk. Adding to the fact that he's a Gadgeteer Genius , being a low-level flunky for a mob boss that ignores him is so beneath him and his companions.
While it was all just an act to lure them into another Pokemon-stealing trap, he was actually rather good at it most of the time, ending up solving several dilemmas the heroes ran into on their journey. However, just on the way to finding some media connections, the heroes start their usual beatdown on Jessie and James, and he just doesn't have the heart to turn his back on them.
Utilised since the Sinnoh era. It is revealed that Meowth has exceptional culinary abilities due to his precise Fury Swipes. He ends up using it alongside Jessie during her contest run, helping her get a top spot. He does the same in the Kalos showcases, where it again is usually received well. In the Pokemon short "Eevee And Friends" the heroes' Pokemon even entrust him to make a banquet for their party. Also subverted in that the few occasions Team Rocket actually tries to make a legitimate business, either demand fades, or it's the one time in a million that the twerps actually see through their Paper-Thin Disguises and drive them out of business.
In one dubbed episode, the trio actually does well enough in a legitimate business venture that the three momentarily consider leaving Team Rocket to pursue a new life. It just so happens that Ash and Pikachu walk right by, and the three promptly ditch their stall and go back to their old ways. They're just that obsessed with the yellow electric mouse. What makes their obsession even worse is that Ash's Pikachu is actually no more powerful than any Pikachu could hypothetically become: It does display an unusually strong electric attack during Team Rocket's first encounter with it, but this is because Ash is pumping it full of electricity, making it stronger.
You could do the same with any other of its kind and probably any other Electric-type, for that matter. Team Rocket attempts to poach a group of wild Pikachu along with Ash's, naturally. They completely fail to realize that they could just, you know, battle and capture the Pikachu like any other wild Pokemon. Only one of them has an owner. This also has the benefit of making it difficult for the Church Militant to try to kill him, since the Church would be in a lot of trouble if they were found to be behind an assassination attempt of such a prominent societal figure.
Inverted in One Piece , when minor villain Wapol actually starts a new life and builds a massive toy-making empire by using his powers to recycle objects into toys. In fact, the alloy his power creates dubbed "Wapometal" is apparently a unique and amazing compound, which makes him even richer when a scientist discovers its properties and Wapol begins capitalizing on that.
Heck, thanks to this discovery, he even gets his own kingdom Named the Evil Black Drum Kingdom and marries a supermodel! Ironically back to being an evil King, but this time kinda better. Later in the series, Franky starts building tanks using the revolutionary metal. Martina is horribly, comically hopeless as a villain, but turns out to be sufficiently talented in retail and handicrafts to raise a small army of thugs out of her profits from selling and making paper flowers for a few episodes.
The villain of Sword Art Online almost averted this, having created and sold an extremely popular total-immersion virtual reality game, presumably making truckloads of money off it. But then he decided to remove the logout button and fry the brains of anyone who dies in the game.
He also enters the game himself, and eventually disables his God Mode , allowing Kirito to kill him Invoked with One-Punch Man , the head of the House of Evolution, after his defeat and the eradication of his forces by Saitama and Genos, is shown to have used his impressive cloning technology to set up a Takoyaki stand selling octopus balls.
Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! He created the Solid Vision hologram system as a way to torture defeated opponents and the miniaturized Duel Disk to counter an opponent's mind-reading. But, as the head of a gaming corporation, he's very much aware of just what the benefits of portable lifelike holograms are for entertainment purposes, and indeed, his uses of them against his opponents are as much revenge plots as they are product showcases and beta-tests.
It's largely thanks to his technology that Duel Monsters becomes the most popular game in the world, and in pretty much every sequel or spinoff, it's shown that KaibaCorp is well past Mega Corp. Diamond is Unbreakable initially uses his power to make people literally heavy with guilt to scam people for money, and later averts this trope by getting a job as a mob debt collector.
Pre-Crisis, this was pretty much played straight. In fact, the specific scene that named the trope featured a Mad Scientist Lex Luthor being brought in to consult with some government officials who wanted to wipe out the Swamp Thing. After Crisis on Infinite Earths , Lex Luthor was retooled into an amoral billionaire industrialist, subverting this trope by showing that he was still a brilliant scientist and engineer, but had used his inventions to become fabulously wealthy.
Maggin beautifully subverts this trope in his Pre-Crisis novel Last Son of Krypton , which asserts that Lex regularly maintains multiple false identities as prominent scientists, businessmen, and even artists; and that they are how he is always able to raise the money necessary for the equipment and hired minions his world-conquering and Superman-busting schemes require.
In other words, Lex is perfectly capable of playing the legitimate marketplace like a fiddle and regularly does so as a matter of course, but because he views himself as an ubermensch , he considers the idea of just playing by society's rules and getting rich and famous to be beneath him. He only views the money thus earned as a means to an end — that end being conquest of the world and the destruction of Superman, two things polite society frowns upon. Also, although no one remembers it a fact Maggin has lamented , the name "LexCorp" actually originated in Maggin's story "The Ghost Of Superman Future," a Flash Forward that depicted Luthor going straight in his old age and marketing his inventions, as well as becoming friends with Superman again as they had been in their youth.
A year or so before the Crisis on Infinite Earths , Marv Wolfman wanted to write a story where Luthor "goes legit" and becomes a respected businessman, in the process gaining the public's trust and therefore becoming a much harder opponent for Superman to fight.
Editorial considered this too big a departure for Luthor and nixed the idea, so Wolfman rewrote the script with Vandal Savage as the villain in question. The resultant story feels a little forced, as Superman seems to take the whole thing very personally, despite the fact that he and Savage didn't have anywhere near the history that he and Lex did. In post-Crisis continuity, it is established that Lex Luthor became a corporate tycoon through his invention of the Lex Wing, a military airplane that Lex claimed made him an aeronautical revolutionary on the scale of John Glenn, or Neil Armstrong.
In the series, he has both built the Science Spire, a giant skyscraper-research lab-tribute to human ingenuity and bankrolled Hope, a new superhero who is actually an elaborate artificial human. It's ultimately deconstructed, as he ends up destroying both as part of a plan where the main outcome seems to be "make Superman look bad to people". For all his humanist talk, Lex's obsessions with Superman are blinding him to reality and the good he could be doing for others.
In several stories, this is shown to part of why Superman cares so much about Luthor, and at times, pities him. Superman may be powerful, but it's been shown many times that his brute force abilities can't change the world easily. Luthor, on the other hand, is a scientist, and therefore capable of helping people on a completely different level. If he put his mind to it, he could probably cure every disease, eliminate hunger and poverty, and bring humanity to the stars.
Instead, he takes time off from extortion and corporate skulduggery to stuff space rocks into robots and hold orphanages hostage. Played straight with Batman enemy and off-and-on Luthor ally Prometheus, a Shadow Archetype of ol' Batsy who also happens to be a Gadgeteer Genius of such talent that Lex actually offers to cut him a check in exchange for the advanced technology he's come up with.
Prometheus turns him down, though, because he also happens to be a Blood Knight who only sees his technology as a means to an end destroying institutions of justice and, like Bronze Age Lex detailed above, sees the idea of making money legitimately as beneath him.
Subverted with Doctor Sivana of Captain Marvel fame. He started in his youth as an idealistic scientist brimming with ideas to change the world for the better with superscience even Luthor would gape at.
Then he met the corporate world. Said encounter tremendously embittered him, showing him the world won't change without good reason and enough power to change the status quo. He resolved to change the world, and that's how a brilliant scientist got broken into the very image of the Mad Scientist. The Riddler is almost the patron-saint of this trope. It's been shown countless times over multiple media that, if Edward Nigma actually used his amazing intellect for honest endeavors, he'd be rolling in cash.
It's also been shown that he also could be a MUCH more formidable criminal mastermind than he is if he merely focused on the task at hand instead of following his obsession with riddles and trying to prove he's smarter than everyone else. On occasion he's tried to commit robberies without leaving riddles, but he just can't resist the compulsion to send them Batman's way.
At which point the Riddler came to the realization that he really is insane and needed treatment. Doom could have probably taken over the world financially in far less time, with less effort and without any legal opposition if he just incorporated rather than maintaining his feudal Ruritania and venting his Complexity Addiction.
Especially since people in the Marvel Universe are constantly shown to value security over freedom. This is mirrored by his heroic counterpart, Trope Namer Reed Richards , who seemingly makes more money patenting and then not selling his inventions, and thus not overly-disrupting the similarities between Marvel Earth and Real Life.
Ever wonder how he's able to fund his various schemes or afford to construct all that incredible technology including his never-ending army of Doombots? Turns out he's involved in thousands of perfectly legal businesses, and has made a killing in patents for robotics and medical research.
For all that he ends up being Worfed in practice, The Juggernaut of the Marvel Universe is in theory one of the most powerful people on Earth, combining strength roughly equal to The Mighty Thor 's with being indestructible.
Even if being capable of lifting mountains, immunity to any non-magical attack, not even being fazed by being Stripped to the Bone , and being incapable of getting hungry or tired doesn't present options in the legitimate world, Juggernaut could be a lot more of a villain than simply being a roving Brute. You would think he could make millions as a running back in American Football, even as he is today. Justified, since his powers come from a God of Evil named Cyttorak that wants him to wreak havoc.
If Juggy ever did go legit or try to be a less mindlessly destructive villain, Cyttorak would depower him. Not long after, Juggernaut was in a fight with the Hulk and to get the power he needed he cut a deal with Cyttorak that he'd return to his evil ways afterward. This provided a good example of how strong a fully empowered Juggernaut is, as Hulk couldn't overpower him and could only win by turning Juggernaut's unstoppable momentum against him.
Eventually subverted by the first Icicle, Joar Mahkent. He went into villainy partly for the thrills, but he used his time in jail to work on his inventions and made a legitimate fortune once he reformed, half of which he left to The Flash.
Averted with the Marvel Comics character Taskmaster. Able to flawlessly imitate anyone's physical abilities after seeing them in action once, he initially made money and his reputation training flunkies for supervillains , teaching them how to take down their superhero opponents. Once it became known he was a mercenary, not merely a dedicated villain, legitimate governments and law enforcement started hiring him to teach their people on how to take down superpowered threats.
To the extent that, in his first appearance, he concludes that if he stayed and fought, he could probably defeat the entire Avengers team and one of their more powerful line-ups at that. However, he sees no profit in it or point to fighting superheroes, and runs away instead. Subverted by the villain Purple Man, who has pheromone-based mind-control powers.
He lived the high life without doing anything to attract super-hero attention — only to get caught by Doctor Doom and used as a component in a world-conquest gizmo.
Averted with WildStorm Universe villain Kaizen Gamorra who sells battle-droids and pleasure robots to finance his country's terrorism. Upheld with the main character from the 's horror comic "The Man Who Tricked The Devil", a rich, and famous lawyer.
He journeyed back to Wisconsin, and used his futuristic technology to start a company as the aptly named Victor Timely. Discussed with Manhunter series, Kate Spencer version in which the titular character tells her technical support and former supervillain weapons designer, Dylan Battles, to imagine what would happen if he focused his talents on curing cancer.
In the Flash Forward at the end of the series, it is revealed that Dylan has become extremely wealthy, because the government is willing to pay big money to keep weapons patents off the market.