An evil corporation is a staple of science fiction (but also features in other fiction genres), usually an enormous amoral multinational company—often a megacorporation or conglomerate with powers which are usually held by governments—which values profits over ethics and life, or at least started out as a company that meant well, but ultimately creates infinitely more harm than good.
These companies may be so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily armed (often military-sized) private armies, hold 'sovereign' territory, and possibly even act as outright governments. These companies are primarily responsible to their shareholders, not to those affected by their actions. Evil companies may be larger than the economies of some of the states within which they operate, and can wield significant economic and political power. No international treaties exist to specifically regulate the behavior of evil companies with regard to human rights or environmental rights. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, taking the idea of 'corporate culture' to an extreme.
List of fictional evil corporations
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- Oscorp Industries (Marvel) - This multibillion-dollar multinational corporation (owned and run by scientist and businessman Harry Osborn) is both directly and indirectly responsible for creating some of Marvel Comic's worst supervillains as collateral side-effects (Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Rhino, Vulture, Electro, etc.). Spider-Man's creation was the -only- product of genuine goodness from this company's shady history of unethical military hardware and genetic experiments for the sake of profit.
- LexCorp (DC) - Founded by Lex Luthor as a legitimate means to cover his criminal activities and establish ways to defeat his nemesis Superman as well as to achieve world domination.
- Weyland-Yutani Corporation (Alien) - This enormous inter-planetary/multi-national conglomerate, generally referred to as "The Company" (indicating its sheer size and realm of influence), apparently finds it morally acceptable to impregnate its employees with chestbursters, disregarding the very real possibility that a single xenomorph could wipe out the human race, in order to acquire the Alien-DNA for their reverse-engineered biological-weapons development. Compare the Weyland Corporation in Ridley Scott's 2012 film Prometheus.
- SPECTRE (James Bond) - This corporation, a global terrorist commercial enterprise, hides its true motives behind a seemingly legitimate visage and turns hefty profits by playing both sides of the Cold War. Unlike other corporations, they are fully aware and embrace being an "Evil Corporation" (as evident by their acronym: SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). It has spawned a laundry list of parodies and clones.
- Omni Consumer Products (OCP) (RoboCop) - This corporation creates products for virtually every consumer need, has entered into endeavors normally deemed non-profit, and even manufactured an entire city to be maintained exclusively by the corporation. OCP represents a "modern" example of the longstanding trope of the evil megacorporation in science fiction.
- Cyberdyne Systems (Terminator) - In the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” category, this corporation creates the AI technology that the cyborgs use to commit genocide and enslave humans.
- RDA Corporation (Avatar) - This corporation goes to any length to mine unobtanium even if it tramples on the rights of the native population of the moon Pandora.
- Globex Corporation (The Simpsons) - This corporation only appeared in a single—if memorable—episode. A deliberate parody of "Evil Corporation", the company (owned by Hank Scorpio) at first appears to be one of those "progressive" 1990s workplaces (where the boss wears loafers and everyone is on "flexi-time") until it emerges the loafer-wearing boss is a James Bond-style supervillain hell-bent on destroying the world. All while offering his employees free lunch and massages.
- E Corp - known as Evil Corp to the protagonist of Mr. Robot. A multinational banking conglomerate and tech monopoly company.
In video games
- Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil) - This omnipresent multi-national conglomerate is a textbook example of "corporatocracy gone wrong" and "The Evils of Capitalism". An international biochemical and pharmaceutical company portrayed as an international player and the worlds' leading supplier in petroleum, cosmetics, consumer products and foods, pharmaceutical goods and medical supplies, healthcare and health insurance, computer technologies, along with more clandestine operations utilizing military hardware, biological agents and genetic engineering. Their legitimate status being only a front for their secret research of bio-organic weapons (which forms the majority of their profits), developed through the use of a unique vector-virus (a powerful mutagen that could dramatically alter living and recently dead organisms) discovered by the company founders shortly after World War II. One of Umbrella's subsidiaries is UBCS (Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service), a private military company with a highly trained security force (composed mostly of convicts, war criminals and exiled soldiers) capable of targeted killing, counterintelligence, rescue and reconnaissance paramilitary operations, "field testing" Umbrella's bio-weapon prototypes, and are even authorized the use of nuclear weapons (as evident in the nuking of Raccoon City after the "zombie outbreak", an event that they directly caused); the corporation used its top-secret special forces group to secure and protect its assets and high profile employees.
- VersaLife and Page Industries (Deus Ex) - Page Industries, through its subsidiary VersaLife, manufactures an extremely aggressive virus based on nanites. The Majestic 12 conspiracy, which controls both Page Industries and VersaLife, attempts to use this virus to destabilize the world and make a grab for power.
- Abstergo Industries (Assassin's Creed) - This corporation is the public face of the Templars, a monastic military order-turned-transnational corporate giant. Much like the Assassins, the Templars have existed through the entirety of recorded human history. They are a secret society of people whose only goal is "save humanity from itself." To achieve their goal, the Templars plan to obtain the Pieces of Eden, which will allow them to control human minds.
- Aperture Science Laboratories (Portal) - This corporation displayed no regard for ethics or life; then they created GLaDOS.
- Shinra Electric Power Company (Final Fantasy VII) - The Shinra Electric Power Company, also known as Shinra Inc. and sometimes spelled Shin-Ra, is a company in the world of Final Fantasy VII. It is primarily a power company, supplying Mako energy and making electricity efficient and easily available. Shinra also operates in genetic engineering, space exploration, and projects its power through a military that includes the elite group SOLDIER. The military power, combined with their monopoly of Mako energy, gives Shinra a measure of control over the world populace.
In toys and card games
- Cobra Industries (G.I. Joe: Renegades) - This corporation's subsidiaries (such as M.A.R.S. Industries and Extensive Enterprises) are involved in communications, pharmaceuticals, and military technologies. Numerous governments have long suspected them of criminal activity, but have no evidence.
Use in real life
In an interview Edward Neumeier, the screenwriter for the original RoboCop reflected on how the film's script is starting to play into reality: "We are now living in the world that I was proposing in RoboCop…how big corporations will "take care of us" and…how they won't."
- List of fictional villainous teams and groups
- Business ethics
- Corporate crime
- Criticisms of corporations
- Ethically disputed business practices (category)
- Human rights#Corporations
- List of corporate scandals
- Multinational corporation
- New World Order (conspiracy theory)
- Don't be evil
- Sarath, Patrice (2011-03-08). "Bad company: science fiction and the "evil" corporation". Bizmology. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
- "Game Informer - Ah! What did you do?".
- RoboCop (1987)
- RoboCop 2 (1990)
- '"Flesh and Steel: Making RoboCop on the 20th Anniversary RoboCop DVD
- "Dr. Steven Best, PhD - Robocop: The Crisis of Subjectivity (1987)". Drstevebest.org. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
- The 15 Most Evil Movie Corporations, MTV.com, Adam D'Arpino, June 3, 2013
- "The Most Evil Corporations In Fiction". The Huffington Post. 16 October 2013.
- Resident Evil Zero BradyGames Official Strategy Guide, page 19
- Resident Evil 3 Dreamcast manual
- Connor Adams Sheets. "Monsanto Named 2013's 'Most Evil Corporation' In New Poll". International Business Times. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- Goldacre, Ben (August 4, 2007). "Evil ways of the drug companies". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "From 'Old Detroit' to Delta City: Robocop's Dystopia in Detroit I The Hampton Institute".
- Oliver Joy, CNN (25 July 2013). "RoboCop creator: Detroit shows this fictional future is upon us - CNN.com". CNN.