->"''Stealing is wrong -- unless it's from pirates.''"
-->-- '''Katara''', ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' Ep. 9, "The Waterbending Scroll"

A Karmic Thief is a thief who steals from people for selfish reasons, but only steals from people that are portrayed as being unlikable. Their targets will usually be wealthy, corrupt, or more often than not both at the same time. Expect a few KickTheDog moments just to make you really not like the victim. The target might even be a criminal himself, who made his fortune by stealing, scamming, or extorting money from the poor, the middle-class, or even sympathetic rich people.

The Karmic Thief's actions are "[[CaperRationalization justified]]" because they're being done to someone that is seen as deserving it. This turns the thieves into heroes for whom the audience can cheer more easily. If the thieves are themselves poor, the story might contain implicit themes of class conflict.

A KarmicThief will never steal from those who are poor and honest. However, unlike a thief who is JustLikeRobinHood, a KarmicThief is not interested in charity through giving away all their ill-gotten-gains to the poor.

This is a SubTrope to CaperRationalization. Compare also to the LovableRogue, where the emphasis is on the likability of the thief rather than the idea that all his victims deserve their fates. See also ScoundrelCode.

%%If you have time, please take time to put examples in alphabetical order. This page Administrivia/HowToAlphabetizeThings should help you with that.
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!!Examples

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Franchise/LupinIII'', Lupin's schemes mostly focus on him stealing something from someone rich and powerful. It is usually obvious from the beginning that his targets are corrupt, tyrannical, or exploitative. Even when they seem initially seem nice or affable, they are often unveiled as evil by the end of the story.
* In Anime/AshitaNoNadja, Black Rose steals not just from the rich, but from rich people who are also snobbish and spoiled. [[spoiler: (He ''is'' actually from a rich family, but left them when he was young.)]] Double if they are dumb enough to ''challenge'' him to steal from then, like SpoiledBrat Fernando's aunt did '''in public'''. He's also seen helping out poor people, like giving a humble widow enough money to buy medicine for her child, and discussing social issues with the title heroine Nadja [[spoiler: aside of being one of her two more important love interests... [[SiblingTriangle the other being his twin brother]].]]
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[[folder:Film]]
* The team from ''Film/OceansEleven'' target two unscrupulous casino owners and a thief.
* The film ''TowerHeist'' involves a Wall Street banker being targeted by the workers in his penthouse building.
* ''TheSting'' is about {{Con M|an}}en [[TheCon scamming]] a mobster who murdered one of their fellow con artists.
* The band of highly-skilled hijackers and bank robbers in MichaelMann's ''Film/{{Heat}}''. They only target high-value targets like precious metal depositories, banks and corporate money vans. Invoked during the bank robbery scene when Neil says, "We want to hurt nobody. We're here for the bank's money, not your money. Your money's insured by the federal government, you're not going to lose a dime. Think of your families, don't risk your life, don't try to be a hero."
* The crew of career criminal protagonists in ''LockStockAndTwoSmokingBarrels'' decides to rob the much nastier gang of thieves who happen to live to next door to them to get themselves out of massive debt. Ironically, the profits they plan to steal from their neighbours are themselves being stolen from a group of drug dealers.
** Dog and his band of unpleasant thieves who're the neighbors mentioned above only steal from other criminals - mostly drug dealers.
---> ''"When they're not [[KickTheDog kicking puppies]] or picking the peanuts out of poo, they rip unfortunate souls off of their hard-earned drugs."'' \\
-- '''Bacon,''' ''LockStockAndTwoSmokingBarrels''
* The Four Horsemen from ''Film/NowYouSeeMe'' are thieves masquerading as stage magicians who steal from defrauders and give back to the audience, who are among the defrauded.
* In ''Film/{{Serenity}}'' Mal Reynolds and crew take a job which involves stealing a [[LawEnforcementInc corporate security payroll]]. It's a job hurting [[TheEmpire The Alliance]] from a probably corrupt corporation, so they're {{Jerkass Victim}}s, but Mal has no intentions of handing out his cut to any poor person who's not on his crew.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* At one point, Literature/ArtemisFowl chooses to focus his efforts solely on stealing from the wealthy and corrupt. However, he explicitly says he is not aiming to be JustLikeRobinHood.
* In ''Literature/NotAPennyMoreNotAPennyLess'' by Jeffrey Archer, a group of people who have been swindled by a con man band together to steal from him exactly the amount he took from them.
* Literature/ArseneLupin's first theft was from a family that had been paying his mother an unfairly low wage for the work she did.
* ''Literature/TheStainlessSteelRat'' refuses to steal from anyone but rich corporations that are insured against theft, though once he is recruited by the Special Corps, he turns his skill against various villains.
* Moist von Lipwig from Literature/{{Discworld}} claimed himself to be this trope, more than once. In the light of that we get to know about his career, his pretensions appear a little hollow, though.
-->"The worst I ever did was rob people who thought they were robbing me ... Okay, I robbed a couple of banks, well, defrauded, really, but only because they made it so easy." ''Discworld/MakingMoney''
** When it comes to Moist, we can consider this trope pretty well deconstructed. A few words from Mr. Pump sum it up: "When banks fail, it is not bankers who starve." Even if you think the person or organization deserves it, robbing them is going to cause harm somewhere to an average joe who ''doesn't''.
* Ragnar Danneskjold, the (in)famous pirate of ''Literature/AtlasShrugged'', never attacks private vessels. He seizes government ships containing -- in his point of view -- plunder stolen from hard-working citizens, sells the goods for gold, and returns the gold to those he believes the government owes restitution.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The crew from ''{{Hustle}}'' make money for themselves through conning people who earn their ire.
* ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rogues_(TV_series) The Rogues]]'' is an American television series that appeared on Creator/{{NBC}} from September 13, 1964, to April 18, 1965, starring David Niven, Charles Boyer, and Gig Young as a related trio of former conmen who could, for the right price, be persuaded to trick a very wealthy and very unscrupulous mark.
* ''ThePractice'' has this exchange:
-->'''Eugene''': What's this embezzling thing?
-->'''Alan''': Thank you for asking. It was kind of a half-Robin Hood thing, I took from the rich...
-->'''Eugene''': And who'd you give it to?
-->'''Alan''': I kept it. Thus the ''half''-Robin Hood
* Omar Little from ''Series/TheWire'' steals exclusively from drug dealers and other criminals, refusing to harm or threaten anyone who isn't involved in the criminal underworld. Extras from the final season's DVD package show this goes all the way back to when he was a StreetUrchin, as he was so disgusted by a robbery that he and his older brother Anthony took part in, (stealing a few dollars from an ordinary working man at a bus stop) that he made Anthony give the money back at gun point.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* Franchise/SlyCooper and his gang usually steal from very dangerous criminals. In a comic book, Sly told Carmelita that he will never steal anything from plain citizens. In his case, it's partly because they're generally good guys and partly because they believe that [[ChallengeSeeker stealing from criminals is where the true challenge lies for a master thief.]]
[[/folder]]

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