"I thought he'd go away if I gave him a dollar!"A common reaction to the Annoying Younger Sibling or Dreadful Musician, where for the sake of a quiet life, the put-upon person resorts to paying off a pest in return for them leaving. The bribe is usually money, but could be anything. Of course, this trope is perhaps one of the most likely to get invoked and/or exploited by a less scrupulous character, who realize they can make a quick buck or otherwise get their way by acting extremely intolerable towards their targets on purpose. A subtrope of Screw the Rules, I Have Money!. Compare with Every Man Has His Price for "bribery" in a more generic sense. See also Remittance Man.
open/close all folders
- In Dilbert, the title character wonders where "Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light" gets his vast fortunes from. Phil responds, "Corporate sponsorship. Procter and Gamble pays me to stay away from them."
- Paige once made money in FoxTrot by blogging. Meaning she hogged the computer using that pretense until Jason paid her to get off.
Films — Animation
- In The Boss Baby, the Boss Baby likes to throw money at people as a way of trying to get rid of them.
Films — Live-Action
- In Animal Crackers, Ravelli tells Captain Spaulding that he makes ten dollars an hour for playing, and twelve dollars an hour for not playing.
- In Cool Runnings, Sanka is only able to raise less than two dollars for the team, and only this way.
I'll pay you a dollar to SHUT UP!
- Stu, the protagonist in Phone Booth, dismisses others by offering them money or valuable items, on more than one occasion. The Caller reminds him of this later and comments on how it shows Stu's disrespect towards other people.
- Apparently in Star Wars Jar Jar Binks once found employment as a shudderup musician; people pay to shut 'em up.
- In Big Daddy Julian will not stop talking to a bum (Steve Buscemi) on the way to McDonald's. Sonny (Adam Sandler) offers him an egg mcmuffin to end the conversation; he pretends to fall asleep after its upgraded to a sausage mcmuffin with hash browns. During the trial at the climax, Sonny waves a McDonalds bag at him to get him to conclude his testimony.
- The concept comes up twice in A Bronx Tale:
- C complains to Sonny about a guy who owes him twenty dollars and has taken to running away every time he sees C coming. Sonny asks if this guy is really someone that C wants as a friend, and when C says no, Sonny tells him to view the exchange as getting rid of the guy instead of being about collecting the debt. Paraphrased slightly, Sonny says "He'll never ask you for anything again and he's out of your life forever for twenty dollars. You got off cheap."
- When C tries to give the same advice to one his friends later on, his friends instead say they are going to beat up the debtor anyway. This highlights how C's friends, despite idolizing Sonny and imitating him in any way they know how, don't really understand his philosophy or what separates him from "common" criminals.
- In the Discworld books:
- This is said to be the modus operandi of many members of the Beggar's Guild. Ankh-Morpork Guilds being what they are, you can do this in advance, sending the Guild an "anti-invitation" to an important event, with suitable remuneration.
- In Night Watch, Young!Nobby Nobbs comments to Vimes what a deal it is for him stop following him for a pence (I think), sometimes he followed people until they paid much more.
- In Hogfather, Foul Ol' Ron and his fellow tramps tell a restaurant owner that they'll sing (badly) for free, since it's Hogswatch (the Disc's version of Christmas). He takes the hint and gives them some food to make them go away.
- In The Truth, William de Worde pays his father a generous estimate of what it cost to raise him in order to get him to go away. The money isn't the thing, as Lord de Worde has gold in his DNA, but instead is based on the Dwarven tradition in which betrothed dwarves buy one another from their parents to symbolize their independence.
- In Mort, when Death has retired, and is looking for a new job with the first and only Ankh-Morpork job placement official, he is interrupted by a woman. Said woman ignores Death's sinister VOICE and threats. She only leaves when Death bribes her to leave.
- Variation in Jingo, also involving Nobby: he's in disguise as an exotic dancer, but since he's ugly enough to defy the Attractive Bent-Gender trope, people are paying him not to take his clothes off.
- In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe there is a violinist at the eponymous restaurant who Zaphod and Ford get rid of like this. He leaves and goes over to bother Arthur and Trillian.
- In Twenty Years After, Aramis relates an anecdote about a time when Cardinal Mazarin got into a disagreement with a prince whose alliance he desired:
... "The prince immediately sent fifty thousand livres to Mazarin, begging him never to write to him again, and offering twenty thousand livres in addition if he engaged never to speak to him again. What did Mazarin do?"
"He took offence?" said Athos.
"He beat the messenger?" said Porthos.
"He took the money?" said d'Artagnan.
"You have guessed right, d'Artagnan," said Aramis.
- In one of the Myth Adventures books, Aahz is kidnapped. Skeeve immediately goes to the king's treasurer (who hates Aahz) and tells him that for a bribe, Aahz will go away. He pays it.
- In a later book, a con artist that Skeeve has held a torch for for a number of books hits him up for some cash to start up a new scam, and he finally realizes how amoral and mercenary she is. He gives her the money on condition that she go away and never come back.
- In the Italian short story La Patente (which is a sort of deconstruction of The Jinx trope), the main character, after having his life ruined because of his fame of jinx, decides to get a living this way by standing near shops, so that shopkeepers, fearing his bad influence, would pay him to leave.
- Rudyard Kipling warned in Dane-Geld that this only encourages aggressors to extort more Begone Bribes in the future.
And that is called paying the Dane-geld
But we've proved it again and again
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
We never pay any-one Dane-geld
No matter how trifling the cost.
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!
- The Annoying Younger Sibling version is deconstructed in the Ogden Nash poem "The Comic Spirit", about a man whose life was a string of comic-strip tropes.
Later he grew comparatively poor by giving the young brothers of girls he sat on sofas with a quarter to run along and play,
Little realizing that they had no interest in the doings of anyone crazy enough to sit on a sofa with their sister and were already on their way.
- Amber Brown is Green With Envy combines both the Annoying Younger Sibling and the Dreadful Musician variants. Dylan gets his father, his sisters and Amber, their friend, to pay him to not play the accordion around them. His father gives him five dollars, Amber gives him a dollar, Savannah fifty cents and Polly a $1.50. However, shortly after this it's discovered that he ruined one of Polly's dolls and he has to give her everything he just got, plus seven dollars on top of it.
- In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, there is a guy named Rob McKenna whom it always rains around because unbeknownst to him, or anyone else, he is a rain god. While the phenomenon cannot be explained, it can certainly be quantified. McKenna shows scientists his notes of the rain that follows him and they prove that it is indeed a real phenomenon. After this, McKenna is able to make a good living getting payments from resorts and stuff for him to not visit them.
- The Sleeping Beauty: Prince Leopold has been making a kind of living this way ever since his own father shoved him out of the family castle. He shows up in a new kingdom, attracts attention from young and unmarried noblewomen (if not the princess herself), and daddy pays him to get lost.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Hermione starts the Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare (S.P.E.W.) and starts waving around a collecting tin, some people pay her for membership in the hope that if they do so, it'll get her to leave them alone and shut up. It doesn't work; she only becomes more vocal.
- In Albert Helps Out, a children's picture book about two anthropomorphic mice named Albert and his sister Wanda, Albert wants to earn two quarters to pay to use a penny-smashing machine at the local library. He asks his sister, Wanda, who has just sat down to read for her homework, if there's anything she'll pay him to help her with, such as doing her homework, making her a special snack, or singing her favorite song. She tells him to sit quietly and that she'll give him a penny for every minute he does so. He makes it four minutes. When he asks if he can do it again, she says she can't afford it and suggests asking the neighbors if they need help.
Wanda got out her piggy bank and counted out the pennies. "One, two, three, four."
- The Ring of Solomon, a prequel book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, features an example similar to the Dane-Geld idea. Solomon is the powerful ruler of Jerusalem thanks to his magic ring and many other nations are in thrall to Jerusalem. Unbeknownst to Solomon, however, some members of his council of advisers, particularly Khaba the Cruel, have been threatening other nations in his name, promising to bring down the power of the ring upon them if they don't offer vast monthly tributes.
- In Scrubs, there's some part where JD is trying to get Cox to hire more nurses. Cox claims that there just isn't enough money for it, but that JD could raise the money himself, since he's so annoying, by offering people a service whereby he doesn't talk to them in exchange for a monthly fee.
- Heroes has Nathan Petrelli do this a lot in the first season to get rid of people threatening his campaign to become the senator. Among them being his brother Peter, Company member Noah Bennet, Meredith Gordon (his past lover and the mother of his daughter, Claire), as well as numerous others.
- The Benny Hill Show: Benny is sitting in the park reading a book called "How to Get Rich." A young boy comes along with a toy trumpet blaring away. Benny buys the trumpet from the boy, then throws it away. Along comes a bunch of kids each with his/her own instrument (led by the trumpet boy, now with a new toy). Benny buys all their instruments, then realizes how much he just spent. He throws the book away and calls trumpet boy over, talking to him and taking notes on how to get rich.
- From Blackadder season two:
Blackadder: Excuse me, could you move along, please? Look, I'm waiting for my father in law. Last thing I want is some scruffy old beggar blocking the church door, smelling of cabbage.
Kate's father: I am your father in law.
Blackadder: Oh, no... All right, how much you want to clear off?
Kate: Edmund, how could you? He's my father, my only living relative.
Kate's father: Ten pounds should do the trick.
- On Mad Men, Don's long-lost half-brother Adam, who has thought he was dead for years (as Don intended), tracks him down and tries to re-establish their relationship. Don gives him five thousand dollars and tells him never to contact him again. Adam commits suicide, leaving Don with a vast amount of well-earned guilt. This storyline gets a Call-Back a couple of seasons later when Don volunteers to drive his current mistress's epileptic younger brother to his new job out of state, only for the brother to announce that he has no intention of staying there because his jobs never work out. Don lets him go, giving him some money and telling him that if anything happens to him, his sister will never forgive herself.
- Starsky & Hutch: When Starsky finds out that Hutch's girlfriend is a prostitute, he tries to pay her a large amount of money to leave town so Hutch won't have to find this out. She declares her love for Hutch and refuses to go; he accepts this, though he warns that she needs to tell Hutch her secret, or he'll do it for her. It being that kind of show, she's dead before she has a chance to.
- In Zoey 101, Logen's father arrives to confront his son about overspending his credit card and demands that Chase and Zoey leave the room, Chase responds "It's my room, you can't make me leave." until the butler offers him a 100 dollar bill, "And suddenly I feel like standing in the hallway."
- In Trailer Park Boys, Ricky says this after a soured business deal with Lahey:
Ricky: And you know what? I get out of jail, I try to start things off on the right foot. And you wouldn't do that, would you? So I'm gonna pay you $100 to fuck off. Leave me alone. Just give me my trailer and fuck off.
- One episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus had a character who would randomly come into a sketch and say something like "I will not interrupt this sketch for a pound." The difference being that no one would pay him.
- The main characters on Vikings, just like the historical figures who inspired them, often demand such bribes to stop raiding local kingdoms in England and France. Specific examples include:
- In the first season, Ragnar manages to pull of several successful raids in Northumbria, and eventually defeats an army raised by King Aelle, capturing the king's brother who was leading said army. At first Aelle balks at paying the large ransom Ragnar demands, but when Ragnar defeats another army and executes the brother because of Aelle's refusal to pay, Aelle is forced to capitulate and pay off the vikings rather than let them continue raiding the countryside.
- In the third season, the Franks manage to repel a Norse attempt to sack Paris, but the Norse stubbornly keep up The Siege until hunger and disease are running rampant in the city and the Franks are forced to try to negotiate a payment to make the Norse leave.
- A Sesame Street sketch had Cookie Monster's picnic interrupted by a mosquito, which wants to enter his picnic basket. Cookie Monster offers the mosquito various cookies if it will go away, but the mosquito refuses every one. Finally, Cookie Monster offers the mosquito a letter Z, which the mosquito happily accepts.
- You do this all the bloody time in Assassin's Creed I with beggars, bards, etc. Sometimes guards too. In the sequel, you can throw money on the ground for people to pick up. Useful for distracting those goddamn minstrels.
- A learnable skill in Final Fantasy X, which becomes rather useful due to the rare items some enemies leave behind them after using it. In particular, don't enter the Bonus Dungeon without at least one million gil. The mid-boss of the dungeon hands over 99 of an extremely potent item if you give him that much as a bribe. Final Fantasy X-2 takes it Up to Eleven by not only having it still available, but also offering the ability CONGRATS! You get this if you land all 7s on the Lady Luck's Random Reels ability and it's very easy to manipulate with a bit of practice by using pause. Hitting it not only gives you the effect of the bribe on the enemy at no cost, but also still gives you the spoils from the battle and actually inverts it in a way by giving you a large amount of gil.
- On some levels of hell in NetHack the level's resident Demon Lord will let you go peacefully if you pay it a sufficient bribe. Amusingly, if you type in a negative number for the amount of gold pieces to give, the demon will attack you for trying to short-change it.
- Referenced in Sam & Max: Freelance Police season 2 episode 2 if you talk to the Maoi heads after drinking from the fountain of youth. "Look, I'm not very good with kids. Can I just give you some money or something so you'll go away?"
- The city of Okriana in Outcast has street musicians you have to pay to shut up.
- The Legend of Zelda I actually has this happen to Link. Moblins in usually-hidden caves will bribe him with various amounts of Rupees in return for leaving them alone.
IT'S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY.
- FTL: Faster Than Light:
- One Random Encounter has a Space Pirate offer you half the spoils from the cargo ship they're raiding if you don't get involved.
- If you're really laying the Smack down on an enemy, they'll offer you their remaining stock of missiles and drones and some FTL fuel to let them live. Sometimes they also offer a new gun on top of it; but it just as often amounts to a Comically Small Bribe since they're almost out of both and have no spare weapons.
- In the Strong Bad Email, "Trading Cards" Strong Bad exchanges a "get outta my face" with Homestar for a post-it with a picture of Strong Bad bench-pressing a dinosaur. Homestar then reveals that he has been collecting these in exchange for "get outta my faces"; he currently has thirty-five of them.
- In Ninja Action 1, among many, many Mooks that are simply slaughtered, there is a little girl that the ninja protagonist has to pay small change so that she'd stop buggering him (including one time when he's hidden under a cardboard box). However, considering that the one mook who refuses to pay her gets his brain blown up by a shotgun, it's probably the wisest choice. The ninja later buys her shotgun to finish off the Final Boss, but she doesn't include the ammunition...
- In Megatokyo, Largo is being surprisingly nice to Erika after her past has caught up with her. However, she assumes he wants something from her, so just bluntly asks him "If I sleep with you, will you go away?"
- In Brawl in the Family, turns out the Moblin only paid off Link so Link doesn't tell anyone about his doll fantasies and to make Link go away.
- In Freefall, Sam is often the one being given something to go away, and uses this to his advantage.
- In Schlock Mercenary, Schlock once manages to do this to a delivery driver after hijacking him in midair and trashing his van. It helps that he's actually fairly rich.
Schlock: Sorry about your van. Do you want some money?
Kidnapped Driver: You can't just buy your way out of—! *sees what Schlock is offering* Huh. I guess you can buy your way out of.
Lt. Flinders: Wow. That bribe let you break the law and a prepositional phrase.
- Neopets has a random event where a rendingly mewling Mutant Kadoatie appears and "you pay its owner 5000 Neopoints to take it away".
- The Pittsburgh SOAPranos has Sami get rid of an annoying busker who'd set up outside of her shop with a bribe of soap.
- In an episode of Recess, Mikey imagines himself as a bard/minstrel when he's older. He serenades a couple, making the lady swoon and prompting her date to pay him to move on.
- In the Family Guy episode "One if by Clam, Two if by Sea" the Griffins get new British neighbors. When Stewie hears Eliza's accent, he gives her a sixpence to keep her mouth shut and go away.
- The Simpsons:
- After Homer and his dad discovered and began selling a concoction of stuff from the medicine cabinet with a powerful aphrodisiac effect, Homer gives the kids money to go out to the movies so he can have sex with Marge. Evidently, every other parent in Springfield did the same. On Valentine's Day, Homer lets the kids watch TV as loud as they want, for the same reason.
- Marge once gave Homer a camera for him to fix in the basement so she could fantasize on her romance novel. He proceeded to hammer a drill into it.
- Princess Bubblegum of Adventure Time essentially did this to get rid of the character of James. The original James had made a Heroic Sacrifice, and Bubblegum had taken a piece of him beforehand so she could clone him. The clone then got a medal of bravery for the previous James' bravery, and had liked it so much that he decided to keep charging into danger and faking his death, so he would get both more clone companions and medals. When Bubblegum caught on to this, she was very upset and went to strip them of all their medals, (and possibly more) but then the James clones performed a genuinely brave and heroic act, so Bubblegum instead exiled them, which they went into willingly when she said she'd send them a medal for every day they are away.
- In "The Scare Your Pants Off Club" from Arthur the kids circulate a petition to get the Scare Your Pants Off books, an Expy of Goosebumps, which a group of parents had removed, back in the library. Brain's way of soliciting signatures involves giving a long lecture to innocent bystanders. This prompts one to say, "We'll sign if you promise to stop explaining why we should!"
- Kaeloo: Stumpy, while trying to raise money by playing music, finds out that he is horrible at it. He uses this to his advantage by threatening to keep playing if he isn't paid.
- School counselors advise students being bullied against paying off The Bully, because the bully will just keep coming back for more money.
- The Raj had a variation of that. It basically told border tribes with a propensity for raiding that they could have either gold or lead as incentive to peaceful behavior. It is hard to gauge the effectiveness of this; the area was never too much of a nuisance but it was never peaceful either.
- The Vikings were also quite fond of extorting payment from nations they raided — this was the inspiration for Kipling's Dane-Geld.
- Policies of appeasement in general basically amount to this. As history has shown, appeasement of aggressors is very bad policy.
- Frequently, young people will pay their date's Annoying Younger Sibling to leave.
- Cledus T. Judd has recounted an anecdote about his early career where one man kept coming by and putting money in the tip jar. At a break in the music, Cletus thanked the man for the tip, to which the man retorted that he thought that maybe if he paid Cletus, he could get rid of him.
- This trick is used by mariachis at tourist resorts in Mexico. "The mariachis would serenade / and they would not shut up till they were paid..."
- The tradition of going door-to-door singing Christmas carols has its origins in the older tradition of Wassailing, in which peasants would demand gifts from wealthy landowners. One Christmas carol, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", has largely forgotten verses that consist of the singers saying that they won't leave until they're given "figgy pudding." The verse outright demands figgy pudding and threatens that the singers "won't go until we get some; we'll just stay right here."
- This comes back to haunt Doofenshmirtz in the Phineas and Ferb Christmas special. After ranting and railing against the carolers for nearly the entire episode, he finds a can of figgy pudding in his cupboard and finally gets them to go away.
- Eric Idle on John Cleese in The Pythons Autobiography:
He once told me, and he won't deny this, "I'll do anything for money." So I offered him a pound to shut up, and he took it.
- Remittance men (or in some cases women) made a living at this. This was a convention especially associated with Victorian Britain wherein someone thought for whatever reason to be an embarrassment to their family would be paid to stay far away from them, often overseas.
- One possible etymology for the word "bribe" itself comes from "a peece, lump or cantill of bread given to a begger", to appease them.
- In 14th century France, it's said a woman known as "Marie the Nuisance" would play the bagpipes at hung-over tavern guests until they gave her money to stop.