Created By: DennisDunjinman on May 17, 2013 Last Edited By: DennisDunjinman on July 20, 2013
Troped

Will Talk For A Price

The witness refuses to blab. But he's open to certain persuasion.

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Our heroes are on a case. They're looking for a lead, and they know a confirmed witness who has the information they need. But their witness can't seem to remember what the sleuths are asking. Well, We Have Ways of Making You Talk...

Would a few dollars jog their memory?

Yes. Now they know, and they'll readily spill it. But there's still more questions, and they're starting to forget...

How about another dollar?

Of course. Now they'll sing like a canary. The sleuths have everything they need and are happy to leave their witness alone.

Often the briber trying this tactic would imply this in the form of "would my friend Mr. Jackson ($20 bill) help you to remember?" With variations such as "Mr. Washington" ($1 bill) for a Comically Small Bribe. The bribe need not be legal tender at all; it could easily be a Trademark Favorite Food or other favor. The one with the information may subtly demand such a bribe by rubbing their fingers together.

A Sub-Trope of Every Man Has His Price.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Naruto, Karin, formerly Sasuke's subordinate, is brought to Konoha and interrogated. We see her crying while talking, until she promptly stops, and then in a hilariously annoying manner demands some food for the rest of the information.

Animated Films
  • The Wolf does this in the movie Hoodwinked with one of Bo Peep's sheep to get him to divulge information about Red and the Puckett family, suspecting them to be involved with the crime spree of stolen recipes.

Film
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun. Officer Frank Drebin questions the dock manager during his investigation of the attempted murder on Nordberg. The guy's memory is foggy, so Frank gives him a twenty. When the guy subsequently asks Frank an innocuous question, he gives Frank his twenty back to persuade him to answer, gives him another twenty for another question, and has to borrow an additional twenty from Frank because he's out of money.

Literature
  • In a Discworld title, Making Money, Moist's internal monologue mentions a risk of an accomplice suffering "an attack of memory brought on by excessive money", or put simply his friend would be paid off for blabbing.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, which takes place in a Divided States of America. The title character wants to travel up the Mississippi River into the Chicago Imperium, so she decides to hire on with a mercenary company heading that way. She goes to a local recruiter and tries to find out if they're going upriver. She lays down some money in front of the recruiter as a bribe and asks some questions. When the recruiter doesn't answer she slowly adds more money until the recruiter cracks and tells all she knows.

Live Action TV
  • On Barney Miller they keep a supply of petty cash in the safe to pay off informants.
  • In an episode of NYPD Blue a suspect promises to confess his crime (a rather grisly murder) for two 2-liter bottles of Coke. It has to be Coke though: not Pepsi, not RC, not Diet Coke.

Theatre
  • The Mikado:
    Pooh-Bah: I also retail State secrets at a very low figure. For instance, any further information about Yum-Yum would come under the head of a state secret. (Nanki-Poo takes the hint, and gives him money.) (Aside.) Another insult, and, I think, a light one!

Video Games
  • In Snatcher, Gillian Seed has to bribe the informant Napoleon twice in the middle of each meeting for the privilege of answering all of Gillian's questions. Napoleon's not terribly subtle, either, with phrases like "I'm not a charity" and "I'm not doing this for fun."
  • The very first The Legend of Zelda. "PAY ME AND I'LL TALK".
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker had small girls on Windfall island who would never do anything as scandalous as spreading gossip... unless Link paid them a single Rupee each.
  • Some NPCs in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will refuse to discuss certain topics unless their Disposition is sufficiently high. You can raise an NPC's Disposition by playing a minigame, but it's easier to just throw money at them until they love you.

Web Comics
  • Brawl in the Family pokes fun at the Zelda example more than once. The first time, Link drops a bag full of Rupees into the old woman's pot and takes out a notepad to record all her gossip. The second time, the old woman's advice comes out as gibberish, prompting her to add "Pay me and I'll translate".

Western Animation
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon's "old friend" Jade questions an unnamed informant. Twice he claims to have a bad memory and she offers him money to improve it. The third time he tries the trick she gets tired of it and pulls a gun on him.
  • In an episode of Hey Arnold!, Gerald's little sister Timberly's plush alligator was stolen. While Arnold and Gerald look for it, they bribe Chocolate Boy with malt balls to get him to talk, believing him to be a witness to the theft.
  • When Bolin goes missing in the third episode of The Legend of Korra, his brother Mako goes downtown and bribes a young street urchin to divulge any information he may have about his kidnapped brother's whereabouts. It should be noted that this episode was also a Broke Episode, and the two brothers were earning that same money to sponsor their team in the pro-bending tournament.
  • Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender. An informant tries to do this to Xin Fu, with the rubbing-fingers gesture. Fu replies, "Does that gesture mean you want me to break your fingers?"
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • May 17, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    For that matter, is there a trope for the inverse (bribing someone so they "forget" what they've seen)? Probably Seen That A Million Times too.

    (Although for both, some other (more unpleasant) form of persuasion is probably more often used.)
  • May 17, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    I've looked under Bribes and Memory, but I can't find the trope for this specific case, so we're definitely going to need it.

    I can think of a couple examples off the top of my head:

    In an episode of Hey Arnold!, Gerald's little sister Timberly's plush alligator was stolen. While Arnold and Gerald look for it, they bribe Chocolate Boy with malt balls to get him to talk.

    The Wolf does this in the movie Hoodwinked with one of Bo Peep's sheep to get him to divulge information about Red and the Puckett family.
  • May 17, 2013
    DracMonster
    Reword the title to Memory Clearing Bribe (custom title "Memory-Clearing Bribe" after launch.) Memory Erasing Bribe could be a redirect unless this should just be split.

    EDIT; Wait, "memory clearing" sounds like erasing. Memory Restoring Bribe.
  • May 17, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Done. Thank you.
  • May 18, 2013
    Arivne
    Western Animation
    • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon's "old friend" Jade questions an unnamed informant. Twice he claims to have a bad memory and she offers him money to improve it. The third time he tries the trick she gets tired of it and pulls a gun on him.

    You can watch it here.
  • May 18, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    This trope really doesn't have anything to do with memory, you all know that, right? I've yet to see an example where the witness had literally forgotten any of the information the investigators are looking for. The informant is simply keeping quiet, either to protect their friend, protect themselves from retaliation, or in hopes that they would be offered a bribe. The "I can't seem to remember" is just an excuse, and I don't believe that's really the trope in play. The trope is the exchange of information for some sort of bribe, whether it's to "jog their memory" or some other lame excuse.
  • May 18, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Yeah I agree. They never really forget they're just feigning ignorance (for various reasons) so the title makes no sense. How about Will Blab For A Price?

    This really sounds like a Stock Conversation to be honest though.
  • May 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Multiplicity Doug gets Four to tell him why his wife left him by plying Four with a 2-liter bottle of Coke.
  • June 2, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Maybe Will Talk For Money. I don't think it's necessarily a Stock Phrase if the trope is summarized as "need to bribe someone to keep the information coming".

    Video Games
    • In Snatcher, Gillian Seed has to bribe the informant Napoleon twice in the middle of each meeting for the privilege of answering all of Gillian's questions. Napoleon's not terribly subtle, either, with phrases like "I'm not a charity" and "I'm not doing this for fun."
  • June 2, 2013
    dalek955
    • In Making Money Moist's internal monologue mentions a risk of an accomplice suffering "an attack of memory brought on by excessive money".
    • In Avatar The Last Airbender, an informant tries to do this to Xin Fu, with the rubbing-fingers gesture. Fu replies, "Does that gesture mean you want me to break your fingers?"
  • June 2, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    The Making Money example sounds like an inversion. Should that be a separate trope, as per the first responder?
  • June 2, 2013
    dalek955
    ^No, that's a Discussed straight example. (I kinda phrased it badly the first time.)
  • June 2, 2013
    Prfnoff
    • The Mikado:
      Pooh-Bah: I also retail State secrets at a very low figure. For instance, any further information about Yum-Yum would come under the head of a state secret. (Nanki-Poo takes the hint, and gives him money.) (Aside.) Another insult, and, I think, a light one!

    The inverse of this is Hush Money, which should also be a trope.
  • June 2, 2013
    SKJAM
    Often done in the form of "would my friend Mr. Jackson ($20 bill) help you to remember?" With variations such as "Mr. Washington" ($1 bill) for a Comically Small Bribe.
  • June 3, 2013
    Mareon
    Real Life:
  • June 3, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    ^ The lecture is 48 minutes, so it's a bit too long for me to watch through right now. Can you elaborate on how this is related to accepting bribes in exchange for information?
  • June 3, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^^ That video is about keeping silent so you don't incriminate yourself. A real life example for this trope would be a police officer paying a person money for information. It's a cool video, and all, but there's no money involved so it's not this trope.
  • June 3, 2013
    KTera
    • Some NPCs in The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion will refuse to discuss certain topics unless their Disposition is sufficiently high. You can raise an NPC's Disposition by playing a minigame, but it's easier to just throw money at them until they love you.
  • June 9, 2013
    polarbear2217
    In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Party of One", Pinkie Pie uses gems as bribes to get Spike to tell her why her friends are avoiding her.
  • June 9, 2013
    eowynjedi
    IIRC, the scene with Pinkie Pie and Spike is played more like Perp Sweating (in that she's playing keepaway with the gems, shining a light in his eyes, and being menacing), and a subversion since he's oblivious to the situation (and the menacing) and just repeats what she says so he can get the gems already.
  • June 9, 2013
    jbrecken
    In a sendup of this trope, on the TV show Police Squad Johnny the shoeshine guy could be bribed for information on any subject.
  • June 9, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    • On Barney Miller they keep a supply of petty cash in the safe to pay off informants.
    • In an episode of NYPD Blue a suspect promises to confess his crime (a rather grisly murder) for two 2-liter bottles of Coke. It has to be Coke though: not Pepsi, not RC, not Diet Coke.
  • June 9, 2013
    Arivne
    Now that this trope is no longer limited to informants with a "failing memory":

    Literature
    • Robert Heinlein's Friday, which takes place in a Divided States Of America. The title character wants to travel up the Mississippi River into the Chicago Imperium, so she decides to hire on with a mercenary company heading that way. She goes to a local recruiter and tries to find out if they're going upriver. She lays down some money in front of the recruiter as a bribe and asks some questions. When the recruiter doesn't answer she slowly adds more money until the recruiter cracks and tells all she knows.
  • June 16, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    • In the second level of Paper Mario, there's a rat named Moustafa who can tell you how to progress in the game. Before he says anything, though, you have to prove that you're a 'nice guy' by giving him items.
  • July 2, 2013
    DAN004
    • In Naruto, Karin (formerly Sasuke's subordinate) is brought to Konoha and interrogated. We see her crying while talking... and then promptly stops. She then (in a hilariously annoying manner) demands some food for the rest of the information.
  • July 10, 2013
    Morgenthaler
    • Parodied in The Naked Gun. Officer Frank Drebin questions the dock manager during his investigation of the attempted murder on Nordberg. The guy's memory is foggy, so Frank gives him a twenty. When the guy subsequently asks Frank an innocuous question, he gives Frank his twenty back to persuade him to answer, gives him another twenty for another question, and has to borrow an additional twenty from Frank because he's out of money.
  • July 10, 2013
    dragonquestz
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=8lg49kxi8t04t5q6bbomkz2d&trope=WillTalkForAPrice