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.
ExamplesAnime 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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".
- 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?"
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