The character steals the complementary items from their hotel room, such as towels, robes, and unused toiletries. Another commonly stolen item is glass ashtrays. This is usually played for comedy, showing that the character is petty, rude, cheap or without class. It often results when a character is staying at a much nicer room than they can usually afford.
This is often taken to the extreme, where the character takes--or tries to take--everything in sight from the establishment.
Perhaps related or in contrast to when a character drops by another character's home/workplace and takes a small item or items (usually while the owner is right in front of them)?
This can be related to Poke the Poodle and Evil Is Petty, though it's often not an indication of villainy. Related to Stealing from the Till.
Ross always tries to get his money's worth out of hotels by staying in the room to the very last minute before checkout, taking the batteries from the remotes, and taking the Bibles. It was a Running Gag for his character.
There was an episode where Ross and Chandler were together on a hotel and they decided to do this.
Ross: No, Chandler, you have to find the line between stealing and taking what the hotel owes you. For example: hair drier, no, no, no, but shampoo and conditioners, yes, yes, yes. (pause) Now, the salt shaker is off-limits, but the salt (he opens the salt shaker and pours the salt into his hand) I wish I'd thought this through.
Chandler: I think I know what you mean though...the lamp is the hotel's, but the bulbs (goes to take the bulb)...oh, you already got that.
Ross: Not my first time in a hotel, my friend.
Chandler: Ok, how about this (picks up the remote control)?
Ross: No, no, no, you can't take the remote control!
Chandler: Yes, but the batteries...
(Ross claps his hands)
There's an episode of The Golden Girls where Sophia does this. There's even one thing she tries to take, but it's secured to its table, so it doesn't work. It was some kind of container that looked like a closed clamshell.
In the Rizzoli & Isles episode "Gone Daddy Gone", Angela returns from a trip to Atlantic City with a hotel robe, the contents of the minibar and a hairdryer.
Red Dwarf: In the episode "Justice", Lister reveals that he used to steal the furniture from hotel rooms.
In an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place Teresa and Jerry go away for their anniversary weekend. When they check on the kids at home they see that they're causing havoc and Teresa tells Jerry to "grab the towels, I'll get the bath soap" as they're hurrying out of the hotel.
Gilmore Girls: Lorelai works as a hotel manager. Michel, also an employee at the Independence Inn, spends one episode worrying that a pair of people who had stolen from them once returned. He insists that Lorelai let him check their suitcases.
In a MAD Magazine "Lighter Side of" feature by Dave Berg, a husband and wife are traveling abroad, when the wife is suddenly alarmed that one of their suitcases was stolen. She rants about how those foreigners are all crooks. When her husband asks what was in that particular bag, she replies "The ash trays and the towels and the silverware" that they took from the hotel.
On an episode of The Jack Benny Program, Rochester and a friend are cleaning in Jack's house when the friend asks Rochester what Benny's name was before he changed it. Rochester says he's forgotten. The friend looks down at the towel he's holding and says, "It wasn't Conrad Hilton, was it?"
Exaggerated in Spongebob Squarepants, episode "Kracked Krabs". Mr. Krabs starts "exaggerating" (stealing) from the hotel room, and Spongebob helps him. They steal the toiletries, the furniture, the wall.... They stole the entire room! As a hotel worker inspects their suitcase, the entire room pops out.
One Looney Tunes travelogue short showed a man who collected hotel silverware and towels. He is shown having several of them in his hands and when the camera pulled back, it's revealed he's in a jail cell.
The Simpsons: In the fifth season episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", we get this hilarious piece of conversation:
Principal Skinner: You're stealing a table?
Homer: I'm not stealing it. Hotels expect you to take a few things. It's a souvenir!
Principal Skinner: Ah. Is that my necktie you're wearing?
In an episode of Daria where the Morgendorffer family have been forced to live in a hotel following a Jake-induced kitchen fire, a lowly bellhop falls heavily for the airheaded Quinn. Quinn is therefore showered in complimentary food, drink, and an upgrade to the Presidential Suite, which the bellhop claims he has okayed with his uncle, who runs the hotel. Being an airhead and taking it as her due for being cute and pretty and popular, Quinn does not question this until her family are run into the police station for fraud. It turns out the besotted bellhop has been scamming the hotel computer system to pay for Quinn's luxuries, leading to her exclaiming:
You mean... I nearly went out with a... (shocked pause)...computer geek?
Bender steals from Calculon's hotel room in a episode of Futurama entitled 'Bender should not be allowed on TV'
I was staying at a luxury Hyatt hotel. There was a little plastic sign in the bathroom that said: "Our towels are 100 percent cotton. Should you wish to purchase a set, they are available in the gift store. Should you prefer the set in your bathroom, a $75 charge will automatically be added to your bill." This was Hyatt's polite way of saying, "If you steal our towels, we'll charge you 75 bucks." So I stole the sign. Really. I kept it in my guest bathroom for a couple of years, to amuse guests.
British comedian Peter Kaye used to dread being out on the road with his comic partner, Paddy Mc Guinness. Put in a hotel room together, Kaye relates that Paddy suffered from hotel room fever - he stole everything, regardless of whether he needed it or not. He would even gain access to empty adjoining rooms to steal things from them, too. Paddy would arrive with one suitcase and leave with four, which had Peter cringing with embarrassment. Both men have since become TV stars, Peter as a comic actor and Paddy as a dating show presenter.
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