Walter Scott's "A Legend of Montrose", set in Scotland during the Civil War of the 1640s includes the finely drawn character Dugald Dalgetty, an experienced mercenary who does not fight out of political or religious conviction, but purely for the love of carnage. However, he is very professional, and remains loyal to an employer to the end of his contract. He gained his experience fighting for various armies during the Thirty Years' War, then still raging in Germany.
Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" features a band of mercenaries referred to as the Free Companions, led by Maurice de Bracy. They are initially supportive of an attempted usurpation of the rule of England by Prince John.
During the 1880s, Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery wrote or co-wrote a series of dime novel adventure stories said to have been inspired by his own activities as a mercenary in Central America and South America.
Both the titles Dogs of War and The Wild Geese are derived from other sources. Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war is from Julius Caesar (III.i), a play by Shakespeare. After the signing of the Treaty of Limerick (1691) the soldiers of the Irish Army who left Ireland for France took part in what is known as the Flight of the Wild Geese. Subsequently, many made a living from working as mercenaries for continental armies, the most famous of whom was Patrick Sarsfield, who, having fallen mortally wounded on a foreign field, said "If this was only for Ireland".
An episode in With Fire and Sword (Ogniem i mieczem), an 1884 historical novel by the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, set in the 17th century Khmelnytsky Uprising, depicts a band of German mercenaries with high professional ethics, who prefer to fight to the death against impossible odds rather than betray their contract to the King of Poland.
At the end of Micah Clarke, a historical novel by Conan Doyle, the protagonists - hunted in England for their part in the failed Monmouth Rebellion of 1685 - set out to be mercenaries in Europe, until conditions in their homeland change. The book's young protagonist is told: "You are now one of the old and honourable guild of soldiers of fortune. While the Turk is still snarling at the gates of Vienna there will ever be work for strong arms and brave hearts. You will find that among these wandering, fighting men, drawn from all climes and nations, the name of Englishman stands high".
The 1967 novel Dirty Story by Eric Ambler depicts the misadventures of the half-caste petty criminal Arthur Abdel Simpson who takes up a career as a mercenary for a cynical mining company in Central Africa. Simpson is a misfit unsuited for the role of mercenary, yet he manages to outwit his far tougher professional colleagues, and to keep the reader's sympathy as an engaging rogue.
Tenth Man Down by Chris Ryan, a military novel regarding modern-day British training advisers in a chaotic post-colonial African nation (Known as "Kamanga", possibly after the unrecognized state in Congo), features mercenary characters ranging from minor antagonists to unlikely allies. Many are revealed to be Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans who formerly served with the SADF. The mercenaries in this storyline are initially working for anti-government rebels, paid for their services in diamonds pilfered from a local mine. However, this alliance begins to falter after subsequent clashes with Kamangan Special Forces robs the employers of their payment source. Several of the Afrikaners desert, while two others, including a sniper, are captured and cannibalized by the government troops. The only American mercenary soldier in the unit, a former US Navy SEAL, eventually helps the protagonist, Geordie Sharp, escape from a rebel camp.
There have been a number of books based on the fictional universe developed for the board game BattleTech and in which mercenaries feature: Robert Thurston, The Legend of the Jade Phoenix; Loren L. Coleman, Patriots and Tyrants and Storms of Fate. The mercenary industry in the BattleTech universe is also depicted as a booming profession, with mercenaries being accredited for work through an interstellar body called the Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission.
The South African mercenary, Christian Rindert is a principal character in Hugh Paxton's 2006 novel Homunculus published by Macmillan in paperback (March 2007, ISBN978-0-230-00736-9) which features mercenary operations and the testing of horrific new bio-weapons during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
In the Ashes series by William W. Johnstone, the main character of Ben Raines is mentioned as having worked as a mercenary-for-hire in several African armed conflicts after leaving the U.S. military (having served during the Vietnam War). During his service time, he was a member of the 'Hell-Hounds', a military unit that is said to be the closest version to a mercenary group that the U.S. has ever fielded in battle.
Mercenaries or "Mercs" are a recurring characters in "The Chronicles of Riddick" Universe. In this setting, Mercs are often found filling the roles of Bounty Hunters who take out contracts to capture the universe's most dangerous criminals and turn them over to brutal Triple Max Prisons. These Mercs often work alone or in small groups, however they are known to sign on to larger crews depending on their contract. Mercs are contracted through an umbrella organisation known as "The Guild" which legalizes and loosely monitors their activities, however, many Mercs are partial to the practices of kidnapping for profit and stealing prisoners, often using extreme violence. There are vary few limits to which these Mercs will go to accomplish a mission, such as posing as police officers and infiltrating occupied planets just to capture one rogue convict. The recent Xbox 360 game The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena features a large group of "Rogue Mercs" arguably space pirates, who raid passing vessels and transform the occupants into mindless "Ghost Drones" which become a commodity to sell to the warring factions of the galaxy. Bounty Hunter Mercs are sometimes known as "Fake Badges".
Magazines and comics
A magazine ostensibly written for mercenary soldiers is Soldier of Fortune (SOF). The popularity of SOF led to a several similar magazines with titles such as Survive, Gung Ho!, New Breed, Eagle, Combat Illustrated, Special Weapons and Tactics, Combat and Survival (still published), and Combat Ready that have mostly ceased publication.
The mangaHellsing features a band of mercenaries known as The Wild Geese, led by Pip Bernadotte. It is unclear whether the mercenaries are intended to be representing the same group as in the Daniel Carney novel, though this is possible. It is also likely that the group takes its name from The Wild Geese, the Irish who left Ireland following the Treaty of Limerick, since it was the Wild Geese serving France who finally broke the back of the English army at the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745.
The manga Berserk promeniently features a group of mercenaries, the Band of the Hawk. The main character, Guts, is also raised by mercenaries.
The manga Inuyasha features The Band of Seven, a band of seven mercenaries that loved to kill and were so strong that warlords feared their strength even as allies, before they were hunted down and beheaded. They were revived 10 years later as spectres guarding the main antagonist Naraku in exchange for eternal life from Shikon Jewel shards.
Hell and High Water (1954) - Samuel Fuller's account of a former submarine commander Richard Widmark leading a team of naval mercenaries, an atomic scientist, and his daughter on a secret mission to the Arctic Circle to stop a Red Chinese plan to atomic bomb Korea using a captured American B-29. In addition to its topicality of the Soviet H-Bomb, the film was made to showcase Cinemascope being used in the confined sets of a submarine.
Scorticateli Vivi/The Wild Geese Attack/Skin 'Em Alive/Duri a morire/Tough To Kill (1978) - An Italian action film which concerns a group of mercenaries in an unspecified African country who turn on each other. Many action setpieces from The Red Berets reappear in the film that was made by the same director.
Men of War (1994) - John Sayles wrote a film about a group of mercenaries led by Dolph Lundgren who are sent to an unnamed Asian country on behalf of big business interests, When they empathise with the locals, their employers have to hire another mercenary group to destroy them.
Jurassic Park 3 (2001)- 3 mercenaries named Cooper, Nash, and Udesky are infiltrating the island of Isla Sorna to find a missing boy named Eric Kirby only to be eaten by a Spinosaurus and a pack of Velociraptors
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)- The main antagonist, Lyle T. Rourke turns out to be a ruthless mercenary who is out to steal a crystal from Atlantis to make tons of money only to be crystallized and shattered into a million pieces at the end.
The Chronicles of Riddick - A trilogy that contains numerous mercenary/bounty hunter characters, most notably William J Johns and Toombs.
Man on Fire (2004) - Denzel Washington plays a former mercenary hired as a bodyguard for a young girl in Mexico City who subsequently gets kidnapped. Christopher Walken plays his buddy and fellow mercenary who currently runs a bodyguard service in Ciudad Juarez.
Blood Diamond (2006) - Leonardo DiCaprio plays a white Rhodesian mercenary and diamond smuggler who attempts to obtain the diamond from Djimon Hounsou's character. The film examines the use of professional mercenary soldiers in third-world conflict zones, often paid directly in namesake "blood diamonds". Especially notable is one of the movie's later scenes, which depicts a private army of ruthless South African mercenaries launching an assault on one of Sierra Leone's many dangerous conflict zones in search of rare pink diamonds.
Outpost (2008) - Ray Stevenson plays a mercenary who is hired to protect a mysterious businessman in a war-torn eastern-bloc country with a crack team of ex-soldiers.
Rambo (2008) - John Rambo, the main protagonist of the series, played by Sylvester Stallone joins a team of mercenaries, on a mission to save a group of volunteered missionaries, who are held captive in Burma.
Deadpool (2016) - The titular protagonist of the film is a former Canadian special forces soldier and mercenary who becomes Deadpool in a quest for revenge against the man who made him ugly and tried to make him a living weapon a scientist named Francis.
Soldier of Fortune (1955) had John Russell and Chick Chandler as two do anything go anywhere adventurers, however none of the episodes involved them being hired to wage war.
Have Gun Will Travel (1957–1963) featured Richard Boone as "the man named Paladin" whose services were hired in each episode, answering the requesting telegram with the title of the show. Paladin's symbol was the head of a horse, the knight piece in chess that narration would explain the unexpected moves of the piece. On a later television show The Richard Boone Show Boone played a modern version of Paladin on one episode.
The A-Team was a TV series about a team of benevolent mercenaries. The violence was usually "toned down" to an almost cartoonish level to make the series acceptable for prime-time viewing (everybody shoots, no one gets hit).
The anime television series Area 88 portrays fictional mercenaries in a country called Asran where foreign freelance pilots of all nationalities are assembled in Area 88, an isolated air force base that houses the military's only mercenary unit to fight in Asran's civil war.
One of the major antagonists in the TV series Jericho is a mercenary group called Ravenwood, which is alleged to be inspired by Blackwater Worldwide. They are a subsidiary of a large government contractor and are often operating on private agendas.
The character Jayne Cobb in the Firefly series is a career mercenary who joined the crew of the Serenity after his previous employer hired him to track their ship only to switch sides when offered a larger percentage and better perks. When later offered a bribe to again switch sides, Jayne refuses. When confronted, he explains that he would have but, "The money wasn't good enough." Despite questionable loyalty, Jayne remained more or less loyal to the Serenity crew until the end of the series.
The comedy machinima series Red vs. Blue uses the mercenary premise regularly, usually around Tex and Wyoming, who themselves, were freelance mercenaries.
The soap opera Days of Our Lives features a villain named Stefano DiMera, a wealthy Italian businessman with a history of dabbling in organized crime and terrorism, and who has utilized a cadre of private mercenaries to execute some of his more outlandish operations, including John Black, and his own nephew Andre DiMera. Flashbacks on this show have included Black leading a team of soldiers in battle in some type of (unidentified) Third-World conflict. DiMera has also kidnapped and brainwashed some of his own antagonists, including Roman Brady, Hope Williams, and Steve Johnson, into serving as his agents.
In LOST a group of mercenaries come to take over The Island, kidnap Ben Linus, and kill everyone on the Island in order to completely secure it for their employer, Charles Widmore, so he can exploit the Island's mythical properties for his own gain.
Irish band Thin Lizzy included a song titled "Soldier Of Fortune" on their album Bad Reputation 1977. The soldier of fortune that appears in the lyrics is Costas Georgiou also called Col. Callan who was executed after the Luanda Trial in 1976.
American singer-songwriter Harry Chapin recorded a song entitled "Mercenaries", which first appeared on his 1977 album Dance Band on the Titanic. A live version of the track appears on 1998's The Bottom Line Encore Collection.
Board and card games
In Magic: The Gathering, 'Mercenary' is one of several 'creature types' game cards can possess. The type was introduced in Ice Age, but became widely used in Mercadian Masques, in 1999. The Mercadian Masque mercenary cards were colored black, representing entropy/darkness. Many of these cards could expedite bringing smaller Mercenaries into play.
The computer game series Jagged Alliance focuses on a team of mercenaries doing several missions in fictional underdeveloped nations. In 2005, LucasArts released a game for PlayStation 2 and Xbox titled Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, where the player controls one of three mercenaries in North Korea, and is able to accept mercenary contracts from the Allied Nations (a fictional version of the United Nations), South Korea, China, and the Russian Mafia. The game Army of Two and Army of Two: The 40th Day focuses on a pair of Mercenaries. More recently, the game Far Cry 2 allows the player to take control of one of 9 mercenaries in a fictional African conflict; this portrayal of mercenary ethos is thought to be particularly realistic. Borderlands is a first-person role-playing shooter from Gearbox Software that puts players into the shoes of one of four playable mercenary characters as they traverse the hostile planet of Pandora in search of a mysterious "Vault," said to contain priceless unknown riches. Also the game Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War puts the player in command of a group of mercenaries. The classes in the multiplayer first-person shooter Team Fortress 2 are stated to be mercenaries hired by RED and BLU.
Mercenaries from the board game BattleTech were featured in several of the spin-off MechWarrior computer games.
Many video games feature mercenary characters or organizations, either in a modern setting such as Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, the Far Cry series, the Metal Gear Solid series; or in a fantasy/sci-fi setting, such as Mass Effect, MAG, Strife: Quest for the Sigil, Haze, Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife; or a full organization like SeeD from Final Fantasy VIII, the Star Fox team, or the mercenaries from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, who form a separate faction in the game. The latter is presented mainly as independent groups of loosely affiliated private military forces, and although most are professional soldiers, they are ill-equipped and inexperienced with many of the "special" dangers posed in Chernobyl's contaminated zone. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Mercenaries can be completely routed and almost entirely driven from the region by the last installation of the series. The faction itself is unique because its members utilize small numbers of modern and sophisticated NATO-type weaponry in contrast with the outdated Warsaw Pact equipment still used by most other groups. Due to a general lack of fresh ammunition and supplies, however, the Mercenaries apparently found their own small arms increasingly difficult to maintain while attempting to support a permanent presence in the Zone. By the end of the storyline, many have simply started using the Soviet-era weapons utilized by rival factions.
In Red Faction, "mercs" are used by the corporation ULTOR to kill rioting miners before the Earth Defense Forces arrive. Players may also participate as mercenary pilots in Air Combat, Ace Combat 2 and Ace Combat Zero, and the game Strike Commander features a player-run mercenary air force. Armored Core features a mercenary organization consisting of pilots of huge Mecha. In the Total War series, battalions of mercenaries can be hired at inns (in Medieval: Total War 1) or in the field (in Rome: Total War). In two Fire Emblem games, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the protagonist Ike is the leader of a mercenary group employed by other kingdoms in heroic causes; additionally, in most other games in the series, the "mercenary" is a basic sword-wielding character class. Along with these, the Beowulf archetype in the series applies to characters who only join the player's army if paid a large amount of G. In the Treasures of Aht Urgan expansion for Final Fantasy XI, players are recruited into the "Salaheem's Sentinels" mercenary company, for which they can take on various missions called "Assaults" for various rewards. This is likewise for Dante, the protagonist (antagonist of Devil May Cry 4) of Devil May Cry.
In a recent release, Age of Empires III and Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs allows a feature that mercenaries from foreign countries may be hired. In the Halo universe, the Kig-Yar (Jackal) species are employed as mercenaries and privateers and are commonly deployed as scouts, snipers, or special infantry. Blizzard Entertainment's award-winning game Diablo II features several mercenaries for hire in each Act to fight for the player. The same applies to Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, Blizzard's expansion to their strategy game Warcraft III, where players can hire mercenary heroes for a slightly higher cost than regular heroes from a special building called the tavern, and as well in the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty campaign where you can hire mercenaries based on normal units with higher attributes in the cantina in the Hyperion. Numerous mercenary characters are found in Resident Evil, groups that provide such services as mercenaries include the U.B.C.S. or characters like Hunk, Jack Krauser, etc. In the Xbox 360 game Chromehounds, a mercenary organization called Rafzakael guides the player throughout the story mode and the online mode. A highly known series regarding the government hiring mercenaries in order to fight a threat is the Soldier of Fortune (video game) games; it regards a Capitol Hill conspiracy about Specialized mercenaries hired by G8 and the United Nations. In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Cuban and Central American Mercenaries are used by narco-terrorist Raul Menendez to attack China and NATO, alongside hacked drones. They carry advanced weaponry, including the IWI X95, XM8 rifle, Saiga-12, QBB-95 and the A-91, as well as UAV technology and active camouflage.
In Splinter Cell: Conviction, Sam Fisher has several run ins with a notoriously ruthless private military company known as "Black Arrow". Although nominally based in Panama City, the corporation conducts business on the global scale and is implied to rely mainly on American operatives. Due to controversy over previous dealings, Black Arrow is eventually expelled from the United States and works on improving its business in third-world conflict zones such as Uganda, the Comoros Islands, Haiti, and Suriname.
Several different mercenary groups appear in the 2008 video game Fallout 3; most are presented as antagonists to the player.
In the DC Comics video game Batman: Arkham City, a specialized team of highly trained mercenaries are featured, contracted from a clandestine private security agency known as "Tyger". Made up of former military and police operators, Tyger is implied by viral marketing sources to be one of the best mercenary units "in the world". When the denizens of Gotham City are rounded up and carted off to rot in a walled-off prison district known as 'Arkham City', Hugo Strange arms the perimeter of the new project with Tyger troops to prevent inmates from escaping. Dressed from head to toe in starched black uniforms, berets, and flak jackets, the mercenaries are equipped with high-powered assault rifles and night vision goggles to go about their tasks. Some personnel also make overhead passes in armored helicopters to monitor the situation on the ground, although their main purpose seems to be to eventually take down Batman, the protagonist, himself.
Early on in the game, players are given an option to hack Tyger's radio frequencies, giving them insight into the organization and its goals in and around Arkham.
In the game Mount & Blade and its sequel Mount & Blade: Warband, the player character can hire mercenary units at taverns in all cities. They cost more than normal units recruited from villages both in the initial cost and their upkeep, they are however stronger than the lowest tier of units recruited from villages which need to gain experience to advance in rank and therefore in ability and equipment.
In Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, "Wolfpack" is a featured mercenary group employed by Umbrella Corporation. They are dispatched into Raccoon City to run various missions on behalf of Umbrella's interests ranging from destruction of physical evidences to assassination of incriminating eyewitnesses.
In Call of Juarez: The Cartel, a bankrupt PMC known as Peacekeepers International become a rogue group that supplies weapons to the Mendoza Cartel.
Once again, Deathstroke is featured in many DC Comics games.
The popular video game "Grand Theft Auto V" features the company "Merryweather Security", as a satire on the corruptness of the real world company "Academi" (formerly "Blackwater")
A mercenary toast: "Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive le sacré mercenaire" (Long live death, long live war, long live the sacred mercenary) was used in the novel and film The Dogs of War (1980). It is also mentioned in a couple of books. There is a similar toast to the French Foreign Legion which pre-dates the film "Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive la Légion Etrangère".