Created By: Bisected8 on November 23, 2012 Last Edited By: Bisected8 on December 10, 2012
Nuked

False Hero Thieving

Someone steals the reward from right under the hero's nose.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Alternative Titles

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.

Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • November 24, 2012
    DracMonster
    • In the ending of La Mulana, the protagonist's Jerk Ass father runs in, trips him up and makes off with the treasure.

    Purloining The Prize?
  • November 24, 2012
    Bisected8
    That title might work, I'll add it to the list.
  • November 24, 2012
    TBTabby
    • 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.

    • 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.
  • November 24, 2012
    DracMonster
    You know, grabbing a concrete reward and taking credit for their victory actually seem like two different tropes -- they can intersect but not always. Maybe make a separate Stealing The Glory (Or whatever) YKTTW? I'm amazed we don't seem to have that already!
  • November 24, 2012
    Bisected8
    Well the "false hero" example demonstrates that the two tend to go hand in hand (and the credit is generally what the hero cares about when they let the thief go). The important part here is that something the hero's worked for is taken by someone else.

    "Stealing the Glory" is probably too similar to Fake Ultimate Hero and Glory Hound on its own, anyway...
  • November 24, 2012
    SKJAM
    • Belloq in Raiders Of The Lost Ark has apparently made his career on this. "Again, Dr. Jones, what was briefly yours is now mine."
  • November 25, 2012
    Bisected8
    So, does anyone have any thoughts on the title or description?
  • November 26, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    • 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.
  • November 26, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    • 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.

    Rival Stole My Loot / Rival Stole My Prize ... too meme-esque?
  • November 26, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^When it's from a racist meme, yeah probably.
  • November 26, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    Ok, I have thrown it in because we have already Hero Stole My Bike, less subtle or oblique.
  • November 26, 2012
    Bisected8
    To be honest, the meme itself does bother me a bit, but I'll add it to the list and let the wiki hivemind decide.
  • November 26, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^^ Oh, hmm, didnt know about that. But in that case it probably fails the snowclone test anyway.
  • November 26, 2012
    Irrisia
    You probably want Fairy Tales, traditional tales about magic and weirdness and the power of true love, rather than Fairy Tail, a manga about magic and weirdness and the power of friendship =3.
  • November 26, 2012
    Bisected8
    ...yes, I probably do. v_v

    Does anyone have any more suggestions for names/support for existing ones?

    Speaking of which, is there a way to get rid of the second Needs A Better Name tag? Having two there looks untidy, and since users can't pull tags anymore....
  • November 26, 2012
    johnnye
    I think there's a few different tropes being discussed here.

    I like the "rival runs off with the material reward while hero takes the Standard Hero Reward" idea, though I can't think of any examples. It's a nice contrast between Keep The Reward and Only In It For The Money.

    The Gollum/Belloq "villain steals macguffin off the hero" thing is Mac Guffin Delivery Service.

    As you mentioned, the "guy takes credit for the hero's actions" is covered by Fake Ultimate Hero.
  • November 26, 2012
    Bisected8
    Fake Ultimate Hero is a character trope, though. What I meant was, if you take away the focus from taking what the hero has earnt (material or not) then you only have something that's pretty much just someone claiming credit for what they've done.

    Someone might use the hero as a MGDS (the trope specifies that the hero is manipulated into getting something important and specific that the villain needs, so it doesn't cover theft of material rewards for other reasons) or the acclaim they get to become a FUH, but the important part is that the hero earnt something and had it snatched away.
  • November 26, 2012
    0blivionmobile
    • 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.
  • November 29, 2012
    Bisected8
    So, does anyone have any thoughts on a title/support for an existing title, or should I start a crowner?
  • November 30, 2012
    TropeEater
  • November 30, 2012
    Bisected8
    Ninja Looting is a Video Game only trope (mostly found in MMORPGs, along with Loot Drama) that refers to players running off with rewards in said games. It's specifically a gamplay related trope, while this is a plot related trope.

    Apart from the fact it inspired the placeholder name it's a subtrope at best (you'll notice how none of the examples in the OP appear on, or fit in, Ninja Looting).
  • December 1, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Motion to discard disagreed with. Please read trope descriptions in the future before tagging something.
  • December 3, 2012
    Kernigh
    Removed a hat because I think all these examples belong on Mac Guffin Delivery Service.

    "Ninja Looting Antagonist" and Mac Guffin Delivery Service are the same trope: the hero gets the treasure, and the villain steals the treasure from the hero. The current draft says that Mac Guffin Delivery Service is "when the Big Bad gets ahold of something this way", but I think that Tropes Are Flexible, and Mac Guffin Delivery Service does not require that the thief is a Big Bad. (It also does not require that the treasure is a Mac Guffin.)

    Belloq taking the Ark of the Covenant, Gollum stealing the Ring, and the Axem Rangers seizing the Star Piece are all examples of Mac Guffin Delivery Service.
  • December 4, 2012
    Bisected8
    I think you're right, those examples do belong on MGDS.

    But I still think this is distinct; This covers the hero having any reward for any task taken from them. MGDS only covers cases where someone specifically maneuvers the hero into recovering something so they can steal it.
  • December 5, 2012
    Chabal2
    There's a folk tale where the hero, in order to marry the princess, must kill a multi-headed dragon. Unfortunately, while he succeeds (with the help of some talking animals) the court seneschal sneaks up on him, knocks him out and removes an eye to show his success. However, the princess feels something is wrong and adds the condition that he bring the dragon's tongues as well. The animals wake up the hero, cut out the dragon's tongues and return him to the princess.
  • December 7, 2012
    Bisected8
    I think I've seen that story (with links to at least one version of it) somewhere on the wiki, but I can't remember where...
  • December 10, 2012
    Kernigh
    Bisected8 wrote:

    > MGDS only covers cases where someone specifically maneuvers the hero into recovering something so they can steal it.

    I disagree. Mac Guffin Delivery Service is a subtrope of Unwitting Pawn, and Unwitting Pawn states, "These guys are not always being manipulated by the villain; sometimes they blunder their way into helping him of their own accord." So MGDS also covers the case where the villain does not maneuver the hero into recovering the treasure. If the hero still gets it, and the villain still steals it, then the hero is still an Unwitting Pawn, and the theft is still a case of Mac Guffin Delivery Service.

    If there is room for a new trope, it might come from these three examples:
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The folk tale that Chabal2 mentioned.

    These examples might not be Mac Guffin Delivery Service, because the thief didn't steal the reward from the victim. Instead, the thief is a Fake Ultimate Hero who stole credit for an accomplishment, and the reward goes to the wrong person.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=wk2turmsfzbahxl5ws696n68&trope=DiscardedYKTTW