->''"No one's gonna tell [[Franchise/{{Batman}} you]] nothin'. They're wise to your act. [[TheFettered You]] [[ThouShaltNotKill got rules]]. SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker, [[TheUnfettered he's got no rules]]. Nobody's gonna cross him for you."''
-->-- '''Sal Maroni''' explains this trope to Batman in ''Film/TheDarkKnight''

Everyone has watched enough crime dramas to know that one of the easiest ways to bring down a BigBad gangster is to catch one of his mooks doing something illegal and threaten the mook with a ton of jail time for it. After spending some time thinking about what it would be like to spend 20 years or so in jail, the mook breaks down and tells the cops what they want to know. The cops arrest the mook's boss, the mook testifies, and everything ends happily ever after.

Sometimes though, things don't go so smoothly. Sometimes the boss is [[TheDreaded so fearsome]] that the prospect of the boss looking to get revenge on the mook ([[EvenMooksHaveLovedOnes or their family]]) means the mook will gladly take anything the law can throw at them rather than that. Bonus points if the BigBad is either a TortureTechnician or keeps one around just for this purpose.

Naturally, this can also apply to the general public, although in this case it may be a more general fear and unwillingness to get involved that is the motivation. Tends to be particularly common in poor countries where the [[PoliceAreUseless criminals may have more control than the government]]. Things aren't helped either if the police are known for being [[CorruptCop corrupt]], [[PoliceBrutality brutal]], [[BadCopIncompetentCop incompetent]], or all three.

This is often the result of the BigBad using OutscareTheEnemy and IControlMyMinionsThrough (Fear). It's particularly likely to happen if the villain is TheDreaded or the crime organization in question happens to be RuthlessForeignGangsters.

A variation is for police to make it ''look'' like the perp is cooperating with them so that they'll be targeted anyway, and their only hope is to take their chances with the police.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* During the Stardust Crusaders arc of ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventure'', this it the main reason why the heroes have so little information on the BigBad's stand. The most obvious example is Daniel J. D'Arby, who has a mental breakdown after being cornered to spill this information.
** The next arc demonstrates exactly ''what'' would have happened if he did talk, by the way; [[spoiler: Dio's implanted cells turn the Nijimura brothers' father into [[AndIMustScream an unkillable blob monster]] with almost no memories of his former life.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'' (anime only) when Vash defeats ColdSniper Caine from [[QuirkyMiniBossSquad the Gung-Ho Guns]], he destroys Caine's rifle and gives Caine a chance to surrender. Caine, knowing his boss is a KillAllHumans type who loves pulling YouHaveFailedMe and YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness, responds by calmly drawing his backup pistol and shooting himself in the head without a word.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Book ]]

* In the ''LuckyLuke'' book "Billy The Kid", everyone is too scared of him to testify when he's arrested.
* Common in ''ComicBook/{{Diabolik}}'', with mooks and even ordinary citizens being often too scared by mob bosses to testify against them. To [[SympatheticInspectorAntagonist Ginko]], the only thing most frustrating than this when dealing with them is their tendency to piss off Diabolik, resulting in the worst criminal of Clerville either killing them or giving Ginko the evidence he needs.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fic ]]

* ''FanFic/MassEffectHumanRevolution'': Whoever [[spoiler: Shepard's]] killer is working for, [[spoiler: Harkin]] thinks their wrath would be worse than anything C-SEC could do. [[spoiler: Considering double crossing the Alliance Black Ops could result in a bioroid ripping his head off, himself being replaced by one, or both, it's very justified]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga'':
** Sal Maroni spells this out for {{Franchise/Batman}} in ''Film/TheDarkKnight''. Everyone, from the ordinary citizens to hardened criminals are more afraid of SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker than of Batman. No one is going to give Batman information on the Joker, knowing what sort of reprisals would result. What makes this even more notable is that The Joker isn't even a mob boss. In fact, the mob thinks that he's working for them but they are STILL [[TheDreaded too terrified of him to give him up]].
** This also pops up in ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises''. Selina Kyle is arrested by Blake, and he wants to know what she knows about [[BigBad Bane]], who Selina just saw break Bruce's spine. He offers her protection in exchange for information, but [[SilentSnarker Selina just gives him a look of "Really?"]] that tells him it'd do no good. When she is placed in Blackgate prison, Bane liberates all of the prisoners.
* Taken to the extreme in StevenSeagal vehicle ''Film/MarkedForDeath'', where one mook is so sure that his boss can't be taken down and so scared of him that he ''jumps out a window'' when cornered by Seagal rather than act as TheStoolPigeon. It's brought up even earlier in the movie, when the BigBad asks his mooks "Who do you fear more, him or me?" Their wordless reaction makes the answer perfectly clear.
* ''Film/ABronxTale'' has the InnocentBystander version. When the protagonist Calogero witnesses the neighborhood Mafia boss kill a man right in front of him at age 8, he doesn't tell the police anything both because of the street ethic of his neighborhood and out of fear. Later at confession he refuses to even tell the priest any details. When the priest encourages him not to be afraid because no one is more powerful than {{God}}, Calogero responds by saying "Your guy may be bigger than my guy up there, but my guy is bigger than your guy down here." The priest reluctantly concedes the point and gives up asking.
* The first ''Film/OnceUponATimeInChina'' movie also used the InnocentBystander version. When Wong Fei-Hung beats the crap out of a powerful gangster and some of his men, all the people around applaud and cheer for him. Fei-Hung then says that he's going to turn the gangster in and asks for someone to testify in court. Everyone in the crowd that had gathered around promptly leaves.
* Notably averted a few times in ''Film/{{Payback}}''. Several people tell main character Porter (an AntiHero who verges on being a VillainProtagonist) that [[TheSyndicate the Outfit]] will kill them if they talk to Porter. Porter's response is always the same; "What do you think ''I'm'' going to do to you? Worry about me."
* Early in ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough'', a character fears Renard so much that she commits suicide rather than be arrested.
-->'''Bond:''' We can protect you!
-->'''Her:''' Not from ''him''!
* In ''Film/{{Timecop}}'', one of the BigBad's accomplices refuses to talk to the TimePolice, because the worse they'll do to him is execute him as he is now, while the BigBad can and will have him and his whole family RetGone if he talks.
* This seems to be the case in ''Film/TheUsualSuspects'' when Kujan brings up Keyser Söze and Verbal reacts with stark terror. [[spoiler: Subverted at the end when it's revealed that Verbal ''is'' Keyser Soze.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* This is a recurring problem for the cops on ''Series/TheWire'' and with good reason, as many characters who decide to become witnesses end up dead. This is particularly evident in season 1, where in order to convict Barksdale enforcer Bird they have to have [[JustLikeRobinHood Omar]], (a criminal with a grudge against the Barksdale group) give an obviously false testimony because all the ''actual'' eye witnesses are unwilling to testify and risk being killed for it. (Bonus points: Bird is on trial for killing a witness who testified against another Barksdale member.)
* ''Series/TheMentalist'': one VictimOfTheWeek is the son of a mob boss who is dying of cancer. The boss is on record as planning to kill the person responsible. Cho goes to investigate a possible suspect, who got beaten by the son's goons over a bar dispute. The suspect loudly says that the victim was a great man and he had no problems with him. Then he tells Cho quietly to come back after the old man dies & he might have a different story to tell.
* PoliceProcedural shows like ''Franchise/LawAndOrder'' and ''NYPDBlue'' utilize this trope a lot when dealing with organized crime. [[TheMafiya Russian mobsters]] are portrayed as being especially intimidating, with a willingness to wipe out employees, witnesses, and families of same.
* One episode of ''Series/{{Psych}}'' was only resolved in a crowd scene where the bystanders were shamed/encouraged to come forward and start testifying about the behaviors of the gang in their midst. It was a ChristmasSpecial.
* An epsiode of ''Series/{{CSI}}'' had a hitman refuse a deal to name the man who hired him in exchange for not facing the death penalty, figuring he'd live longer on death row.
* On ''Series/{{Justified}}'' a [[DirtyCop corrupt FBI agent]] working for mob boss Nicky Augustine chooses to kill himself rather than be arrested because he believes that merely being arrested will cause Nicky to have the agent's family killed. Nicky later threatens Raylan's family in order to get Raylan to give up a federal witness. Raylan believes him and knows that if he arrests Nicky, Nicky will make good on the threat. Instead, Raylan [[spoiler: gets a rival mob boss to kill Nicky]].
* In season 3 of ''Series/{{Dexter}}'', the police catch on to the identity of a killer when a witness who had previously begged not to be deported away from his family does a complete turnaround at the mention of the man's name. They eventually secure his cooperation by tricking him into thinking that the killer is targeting him anyway.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Castle}}'' has the former prison mate of a suspected serial killer wary of cooperating for fear of reprisals that the man can secure through his prison connections (which seem justified when he gets beaten in the yard). [[spoiler: It turns out that the prisoner is the serial killer, and [[BatmanGambit manipulated the suspect and the police]] in order to get himself out of prison.]]
* In the first episode of ''Series/{{Lexx}}'', an admiral in service to [[EvilOverlord His Divine Shadow]] orders his ship to follow the Lexx into a [[NegativeSpaceWedgie Fractal Core]] as per His Shadow's orders. When his subordinate warns him that doing so would likely kill them all, he replies that since he's never gone through a Fractal Core before, he does not know that with certainty. On the other hand, the admiral does know with certainty the [[YouHaveFailedMe fate of those who disobey His Shadow's direct orders]]. So into the Fractal Core they go.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Justified in {{The Darkness II}} and doubles as an example of AsskickingEqualsAuthority. Jackie Estacado is not only the don of the most powerful mob in New York City, he's the host to a demonic EldritchAbomination, whose main powers include [[LovecraftianSuperpower sprouting fanged tentacles and tearing people to shred with them.]]
* There's an amusing scene in ''MaxPayne'' 3 when the hero, still clueless as to how law enforcement works down south, suggests they just ''arrest'' the corrupt politician dealing dope and [[spoiler: selling organs]]. Gee, why didn't the DEA think of that?
-->'''Max:''' So, you're here to bring him down?\\
'''Da Silva''' (chuckles) Yeah. [[SarcasmMode Because I want to lose my wife, and my children, and get killed myself]]. All that, ''after'' watching him walk free.
* An overheard audio diary in ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'' has a smuggler caught and tortured by the Rapture police say, "...Whatever Ryan thinks he can do to me, Fontaine can do double!". Considering you find said diary on his bound, electrified ''corpse'', that's pretty damn impressive.
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