Unscrupulous Users of Wealth Change Their Tune

Underrepresentation Bias  
Table Of Contents

Main Description

Conservatives love to cry out whenever a wealthy person is depicted unscrupulously on screen while conveniently ignoring the countless more instances of everyday people also depicted negatively. In movies & TV, you need antagonists and conflict and so you are always going to have characters depicted negatively. However, on screen unscrupulous users of wealth usually change their tune and do the right thing at the end of the movie. They become more charitable or put people over profit. But this doesn't happen in real life. So, this helps create a perception that wealthy people will eventually do the right thing in real life so there is no need to regulate their behavior.

Conservative Trope Examples

  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
    Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) alienates his daughter by unscrupulously taking a $100 million trust fund in her name and using it to start his own investment firm. He has a change of heart later though and gives the $100 million back which is used to help fund a new revolutionary clean energy company.
  • Iron Man (2008)
    The CEO of Stark Industries, Obadiah Stane, goes rogue after taking over for Tony Stark and engages in dangerous, illegal behavior out of greed. Tony Stark thwarts the plot and Obadiah gets what he deserves. Tony then retakes over Stark Industries and has a change of heart in their mission. He focuses the company on maintaining higher ethical standards than before he left and using it be a force for good over profit.
  • Pretty Woman (1990)
    Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) starts out as a corporate raider but ends up saving a company rather than dismantling it for a quick profit after having a change of heart from being with Vivian (Julia Roberts).
    Staff Aside
    In real life, corporate raiders rarely have a change of heart.
  • Christmas Vacation (1989)
    Clark's (Chevy Chase) boss Frank cancels Christmas bonuses which he depended on to pay for his dream swimming pool. His cousin Eddie then kidnaps Frank and brings him to their house because he's an idiot and took an earlier rant by Clark literally. Despite all this, Frank realizes the error in his ways and restores the annual bonuses for everyone, giving Clark his same bonus as last year plus 20 percent. And refuses to press charges.
  • Scrooged (1988)
    Frank Cross (Bill Murray) thanklessly forces his employees to work long hours on Christmas Eve in order to pull off a dramatic live rendition of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol." Just as in the original story, three ghosts visit Frank and he turns into a great person who promises to only do good the rest of his days.
  • Wall Street (1987)
    Stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) has a change of heart and loses out on millions by choosing to save Blue Star airlines and its employees' pension fund from being raided by Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas).
    Staff Aside
    In real life, pension funds do get successfully raided by exploitative companies who don't care about the impact it has on their workers. But in the movie, the workers all keep their pension funds and the airline survives.

How Trope is Biased


  • Unscrupulous users of wealth rarely change their tune in real life but on screen it is quite common

Conservative Biases

  • Helps promote the false idea that unscrupulous wealthy people will do the right thing in the end so there is little need to regulate such behavior