Everyone else has the hottest toy of the year
, the latest trendy fashion, or some other MacGuffin
. A character wants the Macguffin badly, but is unable to obtain it as he has no money, his parents say no
, or is otherwise inaccessible. So what does the character do? He usually just gives in and steals the Macguffin.
Usually, the character eventually gets caught in the end
and suffers the consequences of their actions. This functions as An Aesop
about why you should never give in to stealing, let alone wrongdoing, no matter how tempting it might be. Don't expect any sympathy or exoneration if you try to argue that you just had to have the Macguffin or how everyone else has one
; it won't work. May overlap with Trend Aesop
- In Raising Arizona the protagonists steal a baby after their attempts to conceive a child and adopt one both fall through.
- The 1989 children's book "Arnie and the Stolen Markers" by Nancy Carlson has the title character wanting a brand new set of markers in a store. However he has already spent his allowance and can't afford them. Arnie gives in and steals the markers - but gets found out by his mother and has to confess his crime to the shopkeeper. He eventually has to work for the store as he opened up the markers.
- Rapunzel has the mother of the title character wanting special herbs so bad that she sends her husband to steal them. He gets caught by the witch who owns the herbs; in return for the plants, the witch eventually claims their daughter when born.
- The Computer That Said Steal Me (1983, unknown publisher, paperback novel) is a story about a teenage boy whose parents can't afford a chess computer. He gives in to temptation, and then discovers the problem of explaining HOW he got such an expensive toy.
- Charlene from Dinosaurs does this under the influence of an expensive talking coat she bought. The coat (voiced by Tim Curry) convinced Charlene to steal her father's credit card so she could shop at expensive stores. Charlene does this against her better judgement, but ends up getting found out and ultimately punished.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- This was part of Buffy's short decent into semi-darkness along with Faith, who was a bad influence on her. Faith taught Buffy the following simple plan: "Want. Take. Have."
- Later in the series, Buffy's kid sister Dawn goes through a brief kleptomania phase. After Buffy finds out Dawn points out to her all the shops in town where she's been banned.
- Double Subverted with the Ghostwriter second season story arc "Am I Blue?" - Subverted initially when Gaby Fernandez wants a Galaxy Girl costume bad - but rather than steal it, she decides to steal money out of her family bodega's cash register to pay for it. Subverted again when she planned to return the money she took by trying to get a refund for her Galaxy Girl costume. Gaby is unable to do this because she bought it on sale. She is eventually found out and punished.
- The first Mario vs. Donkey Kong game takes the trope a step further -- the Mini-Mario toys that DK wanted so badly sell out, so DK decides to break into the factory producing the toys. At the very end, Mario decides to let DK have a toy anyway.
- The Raccoons episode "Stealing the Show!" has a B-plot involving the Pigs' obsession over Mudman comics. Floyd, the third pig, can't afford the comics and finally gives into his desire to have them by stealing them from Mr. Willow's store. He ends up getting caught and is punished by having to make restitution in the form of working at the store.
- This happens to Arthur and Buster in the Arthur episode "Nerves of Steal". Buster wants a CyberToy, but can't get one. At a local store, Buster steals one and slips it into Arthur's backpack. Buster is wracked by guilt after his theft and Arthur flips out when he learns what Buster did. They attempt to return the Cyber Toy anonymously but get caught and are punished.
- Subverted on The Flintstone Kids. Freddy is about to steal from his mother to get a new Captain Caveman gizmo, but after watching a Captain Caveman and Son cartoon titled "Greed It and Weep", he decides not to go through with it.
- Inverted in a Father's Day episode of The Powerpuff Girls, in which Professor Utonium very much wants a set of fancy, yet incredibly expensive golf clubs, but can't afford them. After Mojo Jojo has damaged a great deal of Townsville in a fit of rage, Blossom finds the clubs unattended, and is tempted to get them for the Professor for Father's Day - this unfortunately causes problems when the clubs are reported missing, and Professor is arrested since the clubs are found in his possession. Not wanting to get in trouble herself, Blossom tries to blame Mojo for selling the clubs to her, until pressure from others causes her to crack and admit she stole them because Professor wanted them so badly, and she wanted to make him happy.
- One episode of The Simpsons, "Marge Be Not Proud", focuses on Bart getting caught while trying to steal a copy of ultra-violent videogame Bonestorm, and how this changes Marge's relationship with him.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In the episode "Read It and Weep", Rainbow Dash breaks her wing, is stuck in a hospital, is introduced to an awesome book from the hospital library, and gets over her Anti-Intellectualism to read it. RD falls in love with it so badly that she needs it back, but can't allow herself to be seen asking for it, so she decides to go Tactical Espionage Action and steal it. Hijinks Ensue.
- In the Adventure Time episode "City of Thieves", everyone in the titular city indulges in this. Everyone. Including Jake, who steals a pair of red boots. The only one who fights the urge is Finn, who is instead tricked into stealing.
- An episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot appropriately titled Girl of Steal used this plot. A new do-anything gadget that pastiches a high-end MP3 player called the Musique comes on the market, and everyone seems to have one before Jenny does, including her friends and her mother. She eventually steals one, but tries to hide the fact by disguising herself as the Ruby Rocket and framing her as the culprit.
- Futurama. Bender does this constantly. A specific example being, when given a tax refund he goes to a store and sees a super fancy cigar. It's way out of his price range, but a set of burglar's tools isn't.
- Family Guy has Lois going on a shoplifting spree because of how she can't afford things (at first), then Lois starts stealing "for the thrills."
- In Avatar The Last Air Bender Katara becomes enthralled with a Water Bending scroll she discovers pirates are selling. So she steals it. Despite the ensuing chaos this decision causes, its okay because stealing is wrong...unless it's from pirates.