False Hero Thieving
Someone steals the reward from right under the hero's nose.
Better Name Better Name Motion To Discard Already have?

(permanent link) added: 2012-11-23 19:40:13 sponsor: Bisected8 (last reply: 2012-12-10 19:10:44)

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Generally speaking, heroes can expect something for their efforts (if only bragging rights), unfortunately now that they've done the hard work, there's nothing stopping opportunists from grabbing their rewards. This trope is about characters who try to steal the hero's reward for their task, be it in the form of theft of material goods or taking credit for their achievements.

As mentioned on Fake Ultimate Hero, many Fairy Tales will have a false hero who tries to take credit for what the protagonist has done (often going as far as murdering them) before being caught out (often by the hero's timely resurrection). More sympathetic versions of this trope can be a Lovable Rogue (generally a helpful one), who makes off with the material rewards while the hero settles for the Love Interest, a new home, a sense of achievement or some other insubstantial reward. The Rival might also resort to these tactics (and get away with it to ensure that Failure Is the Only Option for the hero).

Compare and contrast Ninja Looting (for when this happens between players in a MMORPG), MacGuffin Delivery Service (for when the Big Bad gets ahold of something this way) and Fake Ultimate Hero (which often overlaps with the "taking the credit" variation.

Examples

Comics
  • The Beano and other British children's humour comics often had stories which involved the local bully (or the protagonist) getting someone else to do a chore or odd job and claiming the reward for it.

Film
  • Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark has apparently made his career on this.
    "Dr. Jones. Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away."
    "So once again, Jones, what was briefly yours is now mine."
  • At the end of Maverick Annabelle shows up and steals the bounty from Maverick and Cooper. Turns out it's only a half, a quarter of a million, and this is mostly played for laughs since the two seem to love the thrill of the upcoming chase.

Literature
  • Inverted in The Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Sam finally reach The Crack of Doom; Golum tries to steal the ring from Frodo (who's failed to resist its corruption and plans to keep it for himself) and ends up falling with it into the lava.
  • In Small Gods, Brutha leads a catatonic Vorbis through the desert back to Omnia so he can stand trial for his crimes. When they've nearly made it back, Vorbis regains his senses, knocks Brutha unconscious and carries him back to Omnia, claiming it was he who led Brutha.

Video Game
  • In Borderlands 2, Gaige the Mechromancer's backstory involves her Sitcom Archnemesis stealing her design for a robot (one thing leads to another, and after Marcy's Accidental Murder, she flees to Pandora).
  • In the ending of La-Mulana, the protagonist's Jerk Ass father runs in, trips him up and makes off with the treasure.
  • In Super Mario RPG, after Mario & Co. defeat Zombone to get the penultimate Star Piece, it's stolen by the Axem Rangers. They have to chase the Rangers down and fight them onboard Blade to get it back.
  • One quest in Oblivion references the Indiana Jones example (an old man asks you to recover an artifact and a rival attempts to steal it from you). Appropriately enough, it's called "Nothing you can possess".
  • In Colossal Cave a pirate appears at random and steals all the treasures you are carrying. They can be recovered once you get into his lair inside a maze, where there's an additional treasure.
  • Walnut of Phantom Brave attempts this and succeeds multiple times due to the main character being viewed as a cursed freak and social pariah, which he will constantly bring up at the worst possible time.

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