Created By: forsetipurge on June 6, 2012

Gangsta goes legit

Gangster wants to legitimize his business

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Organised crime isn't as glorious as it seems. No matter how much money a gangster makes from his criminal enterprise, there is always the possibility that one day he will get prosecuted and imprisoned. It's not really fun living with that possibility. So what is the prudent thing to do? Go legit, of course. This trope plays an important role in crime-based films and shows. Particularly, we will see the struggle of the gangster trying to convert his ill-gained wealth into a honest enterprise, the impact of that struggle on the gangster's pals and kins, and the response from the police. Truth in Television, but No Real Examples, Please!
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • June 6, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC Gomer happens upon a cafe which is being used as a front to break into a bank next door. He orders food, which nobody has ever done before. They seem to make it pretty good though, since Gomer keeps coming back and bringing his Marine buddies with him. Soon the restaurant part is making so much money that they decide to become an actual cafe.
    • Lois And Clark: A new generation of gangsters is taking over from the Old Man; the son wants to continue the operation pretty much as it has been going, but the daughter wants to take it in a different direction, essentially going into the legal corporate takover business, saying they can make more money that way.
    • The play turned Sylvester Stallone film Oscar concerns a mafia boss who promises his father on his deathbed that he'll go legit.
  • June 6, 2012
    Astaroth
    Might have some overlap with Cut Lex Luthor A Check

    • Artemis Fowl Sr. tried to use the Fowl family's ill-gotten fortune to set up a legitimate business exporting soft drinks to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • June 7, 2012
    AP
    • This is a reoccuring theme in The Godfather series. Michael tries his best to get the family to go legit. It usually doesn't work.
  • June 7, 2012
    Koveras
    If the going legit part doesn't work out and he returns to crime, it can be a Redemption Failure.

  • June 7, 2012
    Kaoy
    I can never keep the names straight, but one of the main characters of White Collar is something of a white collar criminal extraordinaire. In exchange for getting out of jail, he decides to work with the FBI to catch criminals in cases that meet his areas of expertise. Granted, he still uses illegal means to accomplish his goals and cunning to make his discoveries discoverable for his more legit partner, but he makes an honest effort to work on the other side of the law than he's used to.
  • June 7, 2012
    forsetipurge
    Another example: This is an important Story Arc in The Wire Season Three. Stringer Bell wants to do away from drug business completely and start his own real estate empire. Two problems: For one, his co-boss, Avon Barksdale, prefers to stay gangsta. For another, though educated in business, Stringer still carries ghetto mentality with him. He has no patience with red tape and paperwork and ends up being scammed by a corrupt politician.
  • June 7, 2012
    Omeganian
    An Entry With A Bang has Danilo Cremonesi, an Antallos kingpin who never dealt in the more shady business and does his best to go legit once the GDI take over.
  • June 7, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Why no Real Life examples? At least well-known cases where the person is dead should be ok.
  • June 7, 2012
    peccantis
    Please use the proper spelling in the title.
  • June 7, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In Austin Powers Number 2 set up a number of legit enterprises while Dr. Evil was frozen. He also tried to make a deal with Mr. Powers when he realized his boss's latest evil plot was going to fail.
  • June 7, 2012
    nitrokitty
    There was this old classic movie I saw a while back, about a former bootlegger who's trying to go legit after the repeal of Prohibition. His name was Marco or something. Anyways, the plot is that his beer tastes terrible, but nobody wants to tell him, so he's losing money. Anyone know what movie I'm talking about?
  • June 7, 2012
    MorganWick
    I know I'm dying to know what Real Life cases exist.
  • June 8, 2012
    TropeEater
    ^^^^ Wassrong widdat name, yo? I like dat name, yo. Issa good fer self-demmunstration, yo!

    Ya know, "legit" is kinda a colloko... collokia... gangsta-y word, yo.
  • June 8, 2012
    forsetipurge
    Problem with Real Life example is that the line between licit and illicit businesses is really blurry. There are business that is truly legitimate, business that for day-to-day operations is honest but is still financed with crime money, and business that is legit in paper only. Thus, listing a Real Life example could result on Flame War, and that we don't want.
  • June 8, 2012
    peccantis
    ^^ Only the fact that USA slang in the name of a trope meant to cover all organised crime makes it sound USA specific. "Legit" is ok, but you don't think yakuza or mafiya when you hear "gansta". You think USA thug. (Or rap...)
  • June 8, 2012
    NimmerStill
    @forsetipurge, can't the Real Life examples simply be those where it's confirmed that the person *intended* to go legit, whatever that means to that person? Granted, this might be a narrow group, involving knowledge of psychological states of (former) gangsters, but there are probably some clear cases.

    Alternatively, you could be really strict and only include cases where the new business had no connections to crime, or at least no substantial benefit from crime, whatsoever.
  • June 8, 2012
    henke37
  • June 8, 2012
    JonnyB
    This is the main plotline in Johnny Dangerously. Johnny wants to go legit. This is even lampshaded.
    Johnny: Alright here it is. Johnny Dangerously is going legit.
    Gang: Le-what?
    Johnny: Legit.
    Gangster: Le-why?
  • June 9, 2012
    forsetipurge
    @Peccantis nope, I'm not changing the spelling. It sounds catchy. @nimmerstill Connecting a Real Life business with a Real Life criminal is a weighty thing, too weighty even, that it may take the fun out of this trope. So no.
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