Mugger: Don't make a move, this is a stickup. Now, come on — your money or your life.A good indicator a character is on the low end of the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality is that the character acts greedy or materialistic at any point. This is not the same as being a Rich Bitch. You can be poor and greedy, and that will still get you whacked. The usual form of this is failing to get away from the monster or escape a major disaster because you have to pick up valuables off the floor. This is of course a highly Anvilicious Aesop showing that Greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, along with how often Corrupt Corporate Executives bite it in disaster films and Jaws ripoffs. Can sometimes be a Karmic Death, but more often comes across as Too Dumb to Live. Often set in a Treasure Room. Compare Death by Sex, Death by Mocking, Gold Fever and Villain by Default.
Jack Benny: (silence)
Mugger: Look, bud! I said, your money or your life!
Jack Benny: I'm thinking it over!
Jack Benny: (silence)
Mugger: Look, bud! I said, your money or your life!
Jack Benny: I'm thinking it over!
As a Death Trope, Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- In the Anime OVA Guy: Double Target, the Big Bads of both episodes are cruel and sadistic, but they also show this trope, just in case it isn't clear they deserve their fates. Then again, the heroes are greedy, so this is a bit of a Broken Aesop.
- In Hunter × Hunter, Squala, one of the bodyguards for the Nostrade family, finds out the Phantom Troupe is after them, so he decides to run away and quit the job. Unfortunately, he takes with him a treasure he happened to be guarding, without realizing that the treasure was wired, and it was precisely what the Troupe was searching for.
- The 'ingot scene' in Gankutsuou is an anthologic case of this. Basically, the Count catches Danglars as he's trying to escape from the Earth with 50 million francs in his private shuttle, forces him to confess his crimes, and leaves him in his shuttle with nothing but pure gold — no food or drink. It is strongly implied that the Count's henchmen have hacked into the shuttle's program so that it can't land anywhere. In the last scene Danglars is heard of, he's rolling around naked in his gold and probably close to dying.
- In Ranma ˝, Nabiki is challenged by Kinnosuke Kashao to a date in which neither can spend even a single yen of their own money — the loser has to pay for all expenses incurred throughout the date. At the end, having rented a helicopter, Kinnosuke bails out and Nabiki, Ranma, and Akane (there as Nabiki's chaperones) find out the helicopter controls run on five-yen coins, and bail out themselves. When Kinnosuke discovers his parachute is a fake (planted there by Nabiki in advance) she offers to sell him a real parachute for one yen. He smacks into the solid asphalt hard enough to leave a Kinnosuke-shaped impression. (But still survives.)
- Humorously subverted in an early episode of Dragon Ball. A Mook decides Screw This, I'm Outta Here! when Goku starts trashing the bad guy's fortress, and stops by the treasury to steal as much stuff as they can. While they're trying to escape, they get shot full of holes by the heroes, but survive because all the jewels they stuffed down their shirt stopped the bullets.
- Tokyo Babylon features a haunted Chanel suit. It doesn't actually kill its owner, though. Its entire arc/chapter is clearly meant to criticise consumerism; Hokuto does an outright speech at the end.
- No Face in Spirited Away becomes the living embodiment of this inside the bathhouse. A few unlucky employees going for too many of the gold nuggets he offers them wind up getting eaten.
- In the 70s Cutey Honey series, Panther Claw's main goal is obtaining Honey's elemental manipulation device to create an unlimited amount of shiny things. In the final battle, Honey throws a spray of gems at their leader Sister Jill to distract her while Honey brings a huge statue down on her head.
- Nearly happens to Donald Duck in Don Rosa's comic story The Money Pit, where Donald gets buried alive while digging for rare coins in Uncle Scrooge's money bin.
- A non-fatal version happens in one Scrooge McDuck story; A robber gets into Scrooge's office and holds him at gunpoint. Rather than getting upset, Scrooge is seemingly impressed that this hoodlum made it that far and happily gives up so many (Very heavy) bags of loot that the crook is buried under the swag. Scrooge then phones the police that he's "Got another one."
- In one The Order of the Stick comic that ran in Dragon Magazine, Haley explained the "copper coin trap" to Belkar to get him to leave behind a huge number of copper coins; basically, a huge amount of low-currency coins that amount to a good bit of money, but weigh so much that it'll slow you down, allowing monsters to catch you. (When he agrees to leave the huge pile behind, Haley surreptitiously puts it into her Bag of Holding instead.)
- Subverted in the Sonic X fanfic Don't Keep Your Distance. Nisaya the wolf, who runs a child labor camp at a diamond mine, almost burns to death because, when she refuses to leave a crumbling building until she has picked up a number of valuable diamonds from the floor, she is trapped under a falling beam. Nevertheless, she is rescued by her brother Nettle and her captive (and the protagonist) Paint, unconscious but safe.
- In Not the Only Redhead Lucius Malfoy "rewards" sleazeball lawyer Neville Borgin with a bag of galleons which includes a single galleon with an anti-apparation spell cast on it. Instead of dropping the bag and escaping he runs around yelling for help until Bellatrix Lestrange casts the killing curse on him.
Film — Animated
- In The Princess and the Frog, Doctor Facilier's entire plan — kidnapping and transforming Prince Naveen, having a servant seduce and toy with Charlotte, and eventually promising the "wayward" souls of everyone in New Orleans to a group of demons — stems from his jealousy over Big Daddy Lebouf's vast fortune and his desire to acquire it. This, of course, serves as a foil to Tiana and Naveen, who desperately want money themselves but use legal methods of obtaining it (Tiana works several jobs and Naveen... erm... plans to marry Charlotte as well, but then later decides against this and works for a living in Tiana's restaurant after they are married).
- Nearly happens when Abu (Aladdin's pet monkey) grabs a large, shiny ruby in the Cave of Wonders, despite Aladdin telling him not to touch anything (per orders from the Cave; "Touch nothing but the lamp.") and the Flying Carpet trying (and failing) to stop Abu from grabbing the ruby.
- Played straight earlier on with Gazeem, who is told to enter the Cave of Wonders by Jafar despite the cave forbidding entry with the promise of a reward. It doesn't go well for Gazeem.
- The primary villain of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Sa'luk, does die as a result of his own greed. Cassim throws Sa'luk the Hand of Midas in the climax to protect Aladdin from him. Too late does Sa'luk realize that touching it will turn him too into gold.
- In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Commander Rourke, Helga, and the rest of the crew kidnap the super-powered Kida for great profit, condemning the people of Atlantis to die when their lifesource is taken away. Most of the crew abandons the plan out of guilt after Milo calls them out on it. Rourke and Helga follow through. Helga winds up falling a long way down and is crushed by a flaming Zeppelin. Rourke winds up as a blue crystal monster and ultimately gets hacked up in the propellers of his air craft. In a twist, the crew who abandoned the plan are richly rewarded by the grateful Atlanteans with a huge pile of treasure that the Atlanteans have no practical use for anyway.
- In Treasure Planet, most of the pirate crew die when the titular planet blows up to keep thieves from taking the treasure. Those who clung to their treasure eventually fell into the crevices below that opened as part of the booby trap. Those that dropped them and ran for their lives probably survived and can be seen tied up in the brig near the end of the film. Long John Silver escapes, though he does renounce the treasure at the last minute in favor of rescuing Jim. In a similar twist to the Atlantis example above, Silver gives up the few bits of treasure he managed to save to Jim for his mom to rebuild the inn that he and his pirates destroyed earlier in the movie, allowing them to rebuild it bigger and better than before. The fact that the entire crew aside from Jim and a few characters were pirates (and either were arrested or ended up dead) is another plus.
Film — Live Action
- It didn't result in death, but this is what set the wheels of the movie The Wedding Planner into motion. Steve meets Mary by saving her after she refuses to leave her Gucci shoe stuck in a manhole cover, despite the heavy Dumpster speeding at her. It goes into Too Dumb to Live when you look at the Dumpster in question and realize that it's pretty high off the ground thanks to the wheels, and she could just get the damn shoe after the Dumpster rolls by.
- Living Dead Series:
- Dawn of the Dead (1978) had this trope as its main theme. The survivors holed up in a mall that happened to attract zombies even when there were no living people around there at first, apparently the zombies were drawn there because it was "an important place in their lives" and this is to say nothing of Roger dying to help secure the mall instead of leave it and Stephen dying after shooting at bikers for trying to loot their mall...to say nothing of the bikers themselves, who invade the mall to steal the money and various other objects, which results in several of them getting killed by both Peter and the various zombies that they let in.
- Land of the Dead:
- The zombies hit the rich folks harder than the poor because the rich simply lacked the Mole People-like hiding skills that the underclasses had developed.
- A more straight example of the trope is Kaufman, who wastes precious time trying to escape with his huge sacks of money, even though it's after the apocalypse and cash presumably only has value outside of the Last Human City as toilet paper.
- In the 1994 film of The Jungle Book, Mowgli and his love interest flee a treasure-filled chamber in some ruins while the antagonist, who is also Mowgli's romantic rival, shouts to her "Go then! Go with your jungle boy! I got what I came for! I don't need you." Kaa the snake then emerges from the treasure and startles him, and he falls into the water, weighed down by the treasure he has in his pockets and bag. His terrified screams go unheard as he views the drowned corpses of all the greedy treasure hunters who came here before him.
- Anticipated and lampshaded by Mowgli, who dissuades the love interest from taking the treasure with a comment along the lines of, "To take this gold is to take death." It's also implied that he's seen the snake.
- Partially based on an original Kipling story, but there a bunch of people kill each other for an item of treasure.
- The Mummy Trilogy:
- The Mummy (1999):
- The four Americans are picked off one by one because they took and kept the valuable ivory canopic jars from the crypt.
- Warden Gad Hassan, who attempts to take some of the jeweled scarabs from a wall mural, only to discover that they're real flesh-eating scarabs after one burrows into his boot... up his leg... over his chest... and into his brain...
- Subverted with Evie and Rick's determination to gain the Book of the Dead. Granted, neither of them dies from it, but that's not for a lack of trying on the antagonist's part. The alternate search party who does find the book, on the other hand....
- What happens to Beni at the end is a Double Subversion. He safely brings a bag of treasure to his camel. Then he goes back to load up another bag, and doesn't make it. Doubly ironic because it's setting down the sack of treasures that accidentally sets off the traps.
- Inverted with Rick, Evie, and Jonathan, who inadvertently carry off Beni's treasure at the end and wind up filthy rich in the sequels as a result (Jonathan squandered most of it in the interim), though Evie's inheritance from her late parents probably helped as well. Although one could argue that it was accidental and more of a case of serendipity/good karma.
- The Mummy Returns:
Rick: It's not worth your life, you idiot!Jonathan: Yes it is! YES IT IS!
- Subverted when the heroes are escaping the collapsing pyramid in an airship. Evie's brother Jonathan is dangling by his ankle off the side of the ship and screams to be pulled up... until he notices the diamond pyramid topper. And surprisingly enough, he manages to take it!
- Their ride: Izzy wants his share of it for all the things O'Connell forced him through, and Jonathan owes him for defrauding him out of an investment in leather manufacturing.
- The Mummy (1999):
- In the 1989 Batman movie, numerous Gothamites grab cash offered by a known serial killer. Many walk away in good shape, thanks entirely to Batman, but at least some disregarded warnings until it was too late.
- In a bit of a subversion, the scene apparently went on longer originally, showing that all the money was fake, one dollar bills with the Joker on it, calling back to a earlier joke he made.
- Indiana Jones
- At the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, although it wasn't choosing the wrong grail (that was just paying attention to Biblical history), it was that Elsa kept reaching for the grail, instead of taking Indy's hand.
- Happens to Mac in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Maybe.
- Indy risking his life for his Nice Hat is another situation entirely.
- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the villains are killed when they open the Ark.
- Early in Raiders, Alfred Molina as Satipo leaves Dr. Jones to die so he can escape the temple with the solid gold idol. Of course, he runs right into the spear trap they both avoided earlier.
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mola Ram dies when he tries to catch the stone and his hand is burned, then eaten by crocodiles. (And he had just displayed a bit of Genre Savvy by pointing out to Indiana that if he dropped the stones, they could simply be found again — why did he bother trying to grab them as they fall when he was now in actual danger himself?) The Indiana Jones movies ARE this trope.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and just about any other film that involves Captain Nemo made from the 50s to the 70s involves some person dying because of them trying to get/steal/carry gold.
- This is basically the plot of the movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
- James Bond examples:
- Licence to Kill: The corrupt DEA Agent Killifer accepts a two million dollar bribe to help drug lord Franz Sanchez escape. Sanchez then abducts Bond's friend Felix Leiter and has him mutilated by a shark. When James Bond catches up with him, Killifer offers to split the two million with him. Bond tells him to keep it and throws the suitcase containing the money at Killifer, knocking him into the Shark Pool where he is devoured by the same shark that mauled Leiter.
- Thunderball: Angelo Pallazi, the SPECTRE agent assigned to kill and replace Major Francois Derval, demands an increase in his payment, smugly pointing out he's the only person able to do his job. But when word of his behavior reaches the top of SPECTRE, Blofeld tells Largo to eliminate Angelo after his job is done.
- In the Sci-Fi Channel movie Webs, the Black Dude Dies First because he stopped to grab a huge sack of cash from an abandoned armored car instead of running away from the horde of Spider-Vampire hybrids chasing him. What an Idiot.
- In Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a group of kidnappers threaten to kill a woman's husband if she does not give them her case of Wonka Bars. She is unsure how to respond. Apparently, a slim chance at a trip to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and the possibility of a lifetime supply of chocolate means more to her than her husband's life.
Detective: "Mrs. Curtis, did you hear me? It's your husband's life or your case of Wonka Bars!"Mrs. Curtis: "How long will they give me to think it over?"
- Onodera from Gamera vs. Barugon. He manages to steal a giant diamond from the middle of a military operation. The operation was to use the diamond to lure Barugon into a lake where he could be killed. Onodera knew this because a radio announcement for this told him where the diamond was. He's too greed-crazed to realize that "carrying monster bait" = "YOU are monster bait." Dinner Ensues. Also serves as Karmic Death, as Onodera had racked up a bit of a Gold Fever-fueled body count earlier in the movie.
- The otherwise horrid film of Doc Savage ends with The Dragon, in the middle of a hidden valley where a lake of molten gold is erupting, dancing in glee, and trying to catch the superheated metal in his pockets. Amazingly, he does not die from this, or even get burned as liquid gold splatters across him. However, when the hero and his allies leave the cave they took shelter in, they find him nothing but a statue, completely encased in gold.
- In Marathon Man, Dr. Christian Szell (played by Laurence Olivier) dies after he acidentally stabs himself risking his life to rescue a briefcase full of diamonds.
- In The Lone Ranger, Latham Cole perishes at the bottom of the river, pinned beneath the tons of silver ore he was attempting to hijack.
- In Superman Returns, when Superman starts lifting up the artificially created island, Lex Luthor yells for everyone to run for the helicopter, specifically telling them "Take nothing!" Despite this, his three Mooks Riley, Grant, and Stanford linger to gather up their stuff: Riley his video equipment, Grant a suitcase and the money he and Stanford were playing poker with, etc. He even pauses to grab the still lit cigar Lex dropped! Small wonder they lag behind during the run for the chopper and end up crushed under a huge, falling column that Lex and Kitty outrun but they don't.
- Dante's Peak: When the volcano is erupting, a helicopter pilot is bribed by a fleeing businessman to get him out of the danger zone. Against his better judgment the pilot takes the money, but the volcanic ash in the air fills up his engines and every occupant dies in the crash.
- Pitch Black: Bounty hunter Johns dies as a result of his own greed. He's been hunting Riddick for years and knows full well how dangerous he is, but strikes a bargain with Riddick in the hopes that he can keep him on a leash until they're off planet and Johns can collect on his bounty. Riddick arranges for Johns to be eaten by the predators, noting that it's Johns' own fault for not killing Riddick when he had the chance.
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:
- The Master flees Smaug's destruction of Lake-town on a boat loaded with the towns gold. When it seems like he's about to get away, Bard successfully kill Smaug who lands on top of his boat crushing him into the cold waters. In contrast his book counterpart fled the battle with as much gold as he can carry in to the wilderness with no food. By the time Bilbo gets home he had starved to death.
- In the Extended Edition, Alfrid suffers it as well. During the battle he escapes in a dress stuffed with gold coins, one of which later falls out and activates the catapult he hwas hiding in.
- In Death On The Nile Hercule Poirot hints to a businessman that he suspects he has been embezzling by telling him of a Pharaoh's servant who was crushed under a fortune of gold for stealing.
- In Sharknado 2: The Second One, while everybody is running for their lives, a snobby rich guy drops his briefcase and doubles back for it, despite the others telling him to leave it. As a result, he gets crushed by the falling Statue of Liberty's head.
- In Mothra vs. Godzilla, a corrupt business tycoon refuses to abandon the money in his office. Godzilla destroys the building he is in while he was wasting time trying to gather it all instead of evacuating like the others did.
- In The Devil's Backbone, Jacinto is wounded by the kids after they manage to outsmart him, but his real death comes when he's dragged by Santi into the pool beneath the orphanage and is unable to get out thanks to the weight of the gold bars in his pockets, the ones he spent years searching for.
- The final act of The Magic Christian had Sir Guy Grand (Peter Sellers) and his adopted son Sir Youngman Grand (Ringo Starr) telling people they could grab all the cash they wanted. All the cash the two poured into a vat of human excrement.
- Wishmaster: When the Djinn visits Alexandra's boss to get her address, the latter gets a bit too greedy when he sees the possibilities. He wishes for a million dollars, so the Djinn blows up a passenger plane with the guy's mother onboard so he can get the life insurance, then later drags him to hell.
- The Uncanny: In the "London, 1912" segment, both Janet and Michael die because they attempt to destroy the will that will remove Michael's inheritance.
- in If Looks Could Kill, the escaping villain Augustus Steranko Loves Only Gold and loads his getaway helicopter with so much of it the thing will barely get more than thirty feet off the ground. He dies when Michael Corben shoots the helicopter, causing the gold to fall out. Letting go of the steering stick, Steranko falls out with the gold trying to save it, and is killed when the now pilotless helicopter lands on him as a result.
Steranko: [grabbing desperately at falling coins] No! My money! My gold!
Michael: Time to cash it in, Steranko!
Steranko: Not my gold! [falls out] Aahhhhh!
- Assault on a Queen (1966). The plan by Submarine Pirates to rob the QE2 goes awry when one of the robbers decides to forcibly remove an expensive ring from a female passenger (he's already hauling a crateful of gold bullion) and gets shot dead by one of the ship's officers.
- In one of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, you had many adventures through caves that sometimes contain treasure. If you tried to take anything valuable, however, it would always be a Bad End
- One of the funniest parts in the Mockumentary Zombie Apocalypse novel World War Z is when a bunch of celebrities (including not-so-hidden pastiches of Paris Hilton, Ruben Studdard, Bill Maher, and Ann Coulter) set themselves up in a fortified mansion on Long Island and then broadcast the resulting party to the world. The compound is promptly overrun, not by zombies, but by desperate still-living humans, following the transmissions and looking for a safe place to hide. Cue the rich, arrogant bastards dying and the mercenary/bodyguard narrator fleeing the scene, along with Hilton's dog.
"If you've got it, flaunt it."
- Played straight with the man who sold the fake zombie vaccine Phalanx, who made loads of money on "the appearance of the appearance of safety!" He then used his money to pay rent in a Russian facility in Anarctica. He appears to be a Karma Houdini, until in the closing chapter a government official says that he's in talks with Russia to stop renewing his lease.
- If some street robbers on Discworld demands "Your money or your life" from some dwarves, they should be prepared for a long wait while the dwarves discuss.
- It's also suggested that any bandit attacking a Dwarf mail coach, Dwarfs being faithful about sending money home, and demanding their money or their lives should bring a book, folding chair, and lunch.
- In Soul Music, one of the main characters is a dwarf, and at one point finds himself hanging over the edge of a cliff, holding on with one hand and holding a sack of five thousand dollars in the other. His friends yell at him to let go of the money, or he will fall and die. His response is "Letting go of five thousand dollars is death!"
- Also in Discworld, the Luggage often suckers bandits or other riffraff into biting range by sitting perfectly still with its lid open, exposing a fortune in gold coins within.
- "The Golden Girl", a short story by Ellis Peters in the Alfred Hitchcock collection Stories Not for the Nervous. A man and his pregnant wife are passengers on a ship. The ship catches on fire and the passengers must evacuate. After she gets her life jacket on, a ship's officer drops her over the side into the water, where she sinks like a stone. The man jumps in after her. The story ends with a line about how they'll never know if he jumped in to save the girl or to save the 30 pounds of gold being smuggled in her fake maternity bulge.
- Eternity Road is set After the End, but the old money is still shiny and valuable. In one building, where all the signs have faded, there's a huge pile of money in the middle of the floor, waiting for someone to take it. The middle of the floor is as far as the last looters got before a police robot arrived to arrest the "bank robbers." This isn't directly Shoplift and Die, since the robot is armed with a stun gun. Rather, it's shoplift and slowly starve to death as the robot forces you to wait for the long-deceased real police to arrive and haul you off to jail. One protagonist who stayed outside helps the rest by committing another crime: impersonating an officer.
- This is exactly what happens to Duhamel in the Aubrey-Maturin books. He converts his entire fortune to gold, straps it to his waist, then drowns. Of course, he was only getting on the ship so he could defect to the Americas and retire from working as a spy, so this one's also Retirony. This might be a case of Truth in Television, as it was customary at the time that officers of seized ships be stripped and searched for valuables, which led to a lot of officers having to carry gold bullion or coins sewed into their jackets. This is how many officers of the "Prince de Conty" drowned when the ship sank off the Bretton coast of France in 1746.
- In both Thieves Like Us and Thieves 'Til We Die, the villains die when they get too greedy in an ancient tomb/temple and set off some mechanism that leads to the place collapsing. This is driven home more in the second book, in which the villainess actually asks one of the protagonists to help her carry the "treasure" she gathered out (she had hit her head and thought that a lot of worthless rock and pottery was gold). On the other hand, it's subverted with the protagonists, who also loot the same places but manage to come out alive (in fact, that's pretty much their life's work). Mainly it's because they're Crazy-Prepared with a bit of Genre Savvy.
- In The Aeneid, Nisus and Euryalus are spotted and killed in the woods after a raid because the loot they stole sparkles in the moonlight. Unusual in that it's presented as tragic instead of a deserved comeuppance, and because they are explicitly stated to be lovers who die defending one another.
- In The Builders, Bonsoir breaks away from the Captain's group so he could find Mephetic's vault hidden in his castle. Despite knowing the castle is filled with enemies, he spends almost half an hour picking the vault's lock just to get inside. Moments after he opens the vault, Puss sneaks behind him and shoots him in the torso.
- In Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman, a man dies in a flash-flood when he could have saved himself by letting go of a bag of diamonds.
- In the Matthew Hawkwood novel Rapscallion, Morgan attempts to escape wearing a waistcoat filled with gold guineas. Hawkwood shoves him off the side of the ship and he drowns.
- In the second Book of Swords, the party makes it to Benambra's Gold, the main vault of the Blue Temple. Shortly after entering the Treasure Room, the party hits the seventh sealing protecting the treasure — the greed of thieves. Despite the fact that there's more money lying around than all of them combined could carry, they start fighting each other over the loot. Out of everyone in the cast, only the protagonists Mark and Ben make it out alive.
- Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan narrowly averts this, when Alek and Count Volger are forced to dump about a quarter ton of gold from the titular airship to allow it to escape. The gold had been smuggled aboard by Volger, because it was the last scrap they have left of Alek's inheritance.
- In The Silmarillion, the Dwarves that sacked Menegroth are successfully ambushed by Beren and the Green-Elves because their loot was weighing them down.
- Ivan Krylov wrote a fable about a man who received a purse (either from a spirit or a devil) which contained a golden coin, with new ones spawning up as soon as the old one is taken out. The only catch is, not a single coin can be spent - unless you get rid of the purse. Try to guess the rest.
- In Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale, the Pardoner (basically a wandering preacher) tells people that this trope will happen to them if they don't change their ways. Of course, he just tells them to give him the money instead. His entire story is basically him bragging about how he manages to pull this off again and again.
- Jungle Doctor's Monkey Tales has the Aesop-tale of the monkey who drowned because he wouldn't leave his money behind (African coins at the time all had a hole in the middle which allowed them to be kept on a string which the monkey kept around his neck).
- Averted by Robert A. Heinlein’s Friday: She decides not to pick up her luggage because it might get her into trouble. “How many people have died because they would not abandon their baggage?”
- The fate of Lot's wife in Sarah, the first book of Orson Scott Card's retelling of the stories of the women of Genesis. In Card's version, the "killed because she looked back" was metaphorical and she actually died because she was trying to collect her belongings rather than flee the city with Lot and their daughters.
- The story of King Midas has the eponymous king's greed cause the death of his wife and daughter, who got turned to gold when he touched them. In some versions he ends up dying too.
- In The Clone, a shopper at Steinway's winds up getting absorbed by the titular amorphous blob of flesh whilst making a noble attempt to save a suit he was thinking about buying.
- Alex Rider: In Eagle Strike, Damian Cray pays Charlie Roper the two million dollars he owes him by dropping it on him in the form of coins: crushing him to death.
Live Action TV
- In the Adam West Batman series, the only people who died were bad women who fell to their deaths. In Catwoman's case she died (until she was used again) because she wouldn't let go of her bag of loot.
- Although anyone expecting Catwoman to stay dead hasn't paid attention to the name.
- In the Doctor Who serial "Horror of Fang Rock", the last surviving non-regular character is killed when he starts scrabbling for a handful of diamonds the Doctor discards on the floor, despite the fact that the Monster of the Week is steadily advancing.
- Game of Thrones: It's implied that the Good Masters of Astapor were too blinded by the prospect of owning a dragon to see the many holes in the deal.
- In the Lost episode "Exposé," Nikki has been bitten by a spider which causes paralysis. Before running to the beach to tell her fellow Losties what has happened, she takes time to bury $8M worth of diamonds. Had she not done this, she would have had time to explain her situation, preventing the Losties from burying her and Paolo alive.
- Happens routinely on Tales from the Crypt.
- In one Twilight Zone episode, a group of thieves steal some gold bars and escape to the future. They then proceed to kill each other when they can't decide how to split up the gold, only for the audience to learn later that at the time they were in it was no more than Worthless Yellow Rocks. This episode probably came from the story of the three thieves who set out to kill death and wound up murdering each other over a bag of gold coins (which, of course, belonged to Death).
- Happens to Jeff in Community's Zombie Apocalypse episode "Epidemiology": he gets bitten and turned into a zombie because he doesn't want to ruin his jacket while escaping a room through a window. Of course, since this is not an actual zombie movie but an Affectionate Parody of one, the damage is not permanent and everyone goes back to normal at the end.
- In one segment of an episode of 1000 Ways to Die, a mortuary employee assigned to burn the body of a man who had been killed by a rocket removes the deceased's gold teeth with greedy intentions. When he loads the body into the retort, the rocket is lit and sends the door flying straight through the poor blighter's neck.
- Another segment focused on a man who was grave robbing his brother after he left everything in his will to his dog. He steals valuable accessories from brother's corpse but makes the mistake of digging too close to the tombstone and it falls on top of him, crushing him.
- Another segment was about a woman who spent her days frolicking in the cash she embezzled from her rich husband. One day an earthquake strikes and multiple bags of money fall on top of her, suffocating her.
- Another segment was about an ex con who was tasked with community service wound up working for a moving company, he steals a diamond flower ornament and puts it in his shirt pocket, but when the van moves he falls out and a cabinet falls on top of him, and the ornament pierces his lungs.
- Another segment was about two women who posed as relief workers for Hurricane Katrina but were merely there to steal valuable items. After robbing a church they go into its flooded basement, turned on the faulty improperly grounded lights, stepped in and were promptly electrocuted.
- Another segment focused on two thieves in New York in the 1920's. They hijack the pneumatic tube system banks used at the time to transport money, but pressure builds up in the blocked pipe and it explodes, bombarding them in shrapnel.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: A look at Jon-Kenneth Longeur's film "Le Fromage Grande" centers on a couple in a rubbish dump and a consipucous head of Webb's Wonder lettuce. The film ends with the couple perishing as the lettuce explodes.
Host: Pretty strong meat there from Longeur, who is saying to us that ultimately materialism—in this case, the Webb's Wonder lettuce—must destroy us all.
- Stormwitch song "Cave of Steenfoll" tells a story of a man who is lured into and drowns in a lake of gold, which is actually a trap devised by Satan.
- mothy gives us Gallerian Marlon from the Evillious Chronicles. As he represents the sin of Greed, that's pretty natural. He took it Up to Eleven, though, when he had a choice between giving up his money and going to hell. He chose to go to hell.
- Jack Benny's famous "Your money or your life!" routine, quoted above, is a bit of a parody of this.
- Monsters such as the mimic from Dungeons & Dragons often mimic treasure chests or the like, the better to lure in gullible adventurers.
- About half of all adventurers have "Risk your life for treasure" as their job description, making this pretty much a guarantee.
- In the backstory of Warhammer 40 000, Vulkan almost dies when he refuses to let go of a captured salamander while stuck in a Literal Cliffhanger over a pool of lava. If he did so, he could use his second hand to prop himself up. As it was, the Emperor ends up throwing his salamander to form a bridge for Vulkan to stand on.
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary had one scene where Lara fails to find the 2nd piece of the Scion and discovers that Pierre took it and he shows up with a gun to her head. He taunts her as he gets ready to take Lara's other Scion piece in the following scene:
Pierre: "You see, instincts can be expensive, mademoiselle. Yours is going to cost you both pieces of the Scion!"
Lara: "That's not a price I'm prepared to pay."
Pierre: "Don't be absurd! No job is worth dying for!"
Lara: "Yes, it is."
- The trope only applies to this scene if the player fails the quick time event that follows afterward.
- Much of the plot of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune revolves around this. Nathan Drake is searching for El Dorado (in the game El Dorado is not a city, but a giant idol), for the riches it will bring him; he learns of its real power to create zombies out of normal people and decides to leave it as it is, although the Big Bad of the game takes it for its monetary worth — death soon follows. It's suggested that the entire purpose of the idol is to punish people for excessive materialism.
- Can be used as a weapon in MadWorld. In various levels, you can pick up big suitcases filled with dollar-bills, and throw them at the Mooks — who will immediately abort their attempts to kill you to instead go jumping around, trying to pick the floating currency out of the air. Leaving them all nicely gathered in a single spot with their defenses down. Cue the chainsaw.
- Other levels use alternate objects with a similar effect, though only some of them falls under this. Throwing a big-ass bloody steak at a bunch of zombies, or a plateful of hot pork buns at some Kung-Fu Mooks probably still counts... throwing a pirate-hat at a group of Ninjas so they'll ignore you to cut the hat to pieces instead, maybe not too much.
- In Toontown Online, one set of Lure gags (which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin) contains money on fishing poles. You throw out a $1, $5, or $10 bill on a line toward one of the Cogs, and if it works, they come toward you. While they are lured, they cannot attack. Higher denominations keep them lured longer. Also, if a Trap gag is set before the Cog before it's lured, they walk right into the trap, resulting in anything from the famous Banana Peel to actually being blown up. Unfortunately, this kind of Lure gag only works on one Cog at a time, and are single-use. And low chance of working. But combined with traps, this is the best example of Death By Materialism in the whole game.
- Except possibly the Cashbot CFO, where you have to fling safes at him to damage him. And then he gets run over by a train.
- Paper Mario: Narrowly avoided by Professor Kolorado. He's inside an erupting volcano, jumping to grab a treasure chest, and another character has to drag him out to save his life. Even after seeing the volcano erupt and barely escaping crispy doom, he continues to complain about the rescue and the loss of the treasure. Oddly, the treasure is actually blown clear, and you have to give it to him to advance the story, making him a very happy man and simultaneously shooting the Aesop in the foot. Even though Kolorado was interested in the treasure for its historical value rather than the money, he was still about to die for it.
- The Legend of Zelda: In Ocarina of Time the House of Skulltula was a wealthy family cursed by their greed and turned into spiders, while in Twilight Princess Jovani was turned into gold after selling his soul for wealth. Good thing for them Link came along to put things right.
- Particularly greedy players can bring this fate upon themselves in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.
- If the player has over 50,000 RU and reaches the Wish Granter, the PC will say "I want... to be rich". He then sees hundreds of gold coins falling around him... which is actually a hallucination. The "coins" are actually bolts falling from the roof of the building which then collapses on him.
- The game also likes to put valuable artifacts near dangerous anomalies. Some are positioned in such a way as to be all but unreachable, with the anomalies almost certainly crushing anyone greedy enough to take the risk.
- The ending of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves has this. Doctor M is finally in the Cooper vault... which is collapsing around him. Rather than flee for his life like everyone else was, he just kept yelling. It's heavily hinted he was buried alive.
- The infamous Dwarf Fortress Let's Play Boatmurdered has dwarves rushing under the Elephants' feet to loot their trampled comrades.
- There's a monster in Monster Rancher 4 that looks exactly like a treasure box. If you "open" it, it attacks.
- In Quest for Glory II, there's a treasure room while on the way to get the lamp. If you try to take any of the treasure, it's game over time for you!
- At the end of Fallout: New Vegas DLC "Dead Money":
- The treasure of the Sierra Madre includes several gold bars that each value at a little over 10,000 caps and weigh 35 pounds. However, at the end of the module, the player's Explosive Leash will activate, giving them limited time to make it out, with the intent that the player can at best grab a few of the bars before becoming overencumbered. It's all part of the DLC's theme of "letting go", though it's possible for a very crafty player to make it out with all the treasure.
- The Sierra Madre vault itself was also intended to be an example of this: Dean Domino and Vera Keyes had been planning to betray Frederick Sinclair and escape with his gold, so he arranged to trap them both in the vault with the treasure. Neither of them make it down there, though, but you can lock Father Elijah (the one who's currently trying to crack the vault) inside anyway.
- In Startopia, the mindblowingly rich and lazy Gem Slugs have their own private, personalized bar and bathhouse; the contents of the latter smell positively vile to non-Slugs. Every once in a while, a Gem Slug will become so relaxed in one of these baths that they'll forget to take care of their health, eventually dying/drowning. The developers caught it early... but didn't really feel like fixing it because Gem Slugs dying by their own opulence was just plain funny.
- Interestingly played with in the Myst spinoff Uru. One age consists of seven large puzzles/locks protecting a massive vault filled with gold, art, carpets, gems, valuables... and a single skeleton reaching out for a linking book out of the age. Bit of backstory, the D'ni suffered a great tragedy that killed them off, the few survivors retreating to other ages. This survivor retreated to his vault and locked himself inside to be with his valuables... lacking any food or water. He didn't USE the linking book due to the terror of dying away from his riches.
- This is then inverted when Yeesha, the only person who can legitimately travel through time, goes back to save his life. In the 'alternate' vault, there's no treasure, no wonders, and just outside the vault, the whole Age has fallen apart.
- In the third DLC of Borderlands, the last mission takes place in an armory teeming with weapons chests; however, the armory is set to explode in exactly two minutes. In short, the player has a limited amount of time to search the massive armory. Although the player is given the option to escape, the other alternative is to continue searching for weapons knowing full well that time is running out. Interestingly, Athena watches in the distance as the base explodes; this implies she planned to kill the mercenary with the one thing they could not defeat: their own greed. This is, of course, assuming the player fails to escape in time.
- Athena planning to get rid of the mercenary permanently in this way is highly unlikely, as death only means a temporary monetary loss.
- In Batman: Arkham City, there are two areas in the subway tunnels that are obvious traps set up by the Riddler. It's easy for someone gunning for 100% Completion to rush into the traps to get the Riddler Trophies hidden inside, but if you have the right tools, you can save yourself from it all. As well, if you die from the traps, the Riddler will taunt you for it, but will be aghast if you manage to outwit him.
- In the final scene of Jurassic Park: The Game, Yoder makes a rush for the canister filled with dinosaur embryos and is eaten by the Tyrannosaurus rex. Later on in the same scene, the player can invoke this by having Nima choose to grab the embryos instead of save Jess. She is also eaten by the T. Rex.
- The PAYDAY: The Heist games frequently invoke this trope in the mechanics of how the game plays, as most heists involve balancing between lingering to get more loot, in the face of increasing danger from police opposition as more numerous and powerful enforcers arrive, vs a quick and expedient escape after the easy loot has been acquired. Many times a heist can fail because players couldn't resist staying to crack those last few safe deposit boxes despite the bulk of the loot already being loaded into the escape vehicle.
- The Dead Rising franchise has several Too Dumb to Live people who won't get to safety from the zombies unless the hero gives them a lot of money or some item.
- In Dead Rising 3, Albert Contiello kidnaps people and harvests their organs to sell on the black market. Nick Ramos defeats him by knocking some of his organ storage containers to the floor. Enraged about losing his profits, Albert breaks off from the battle and tries to save the containers, allowing Nick to get behind him and inject the Mad Doctor with his own drugs.
- Taken to a bit of an extreme with the Monk in Crypt Of The Necrodancer. Having taken a Vow of Poverty, picking up any gold at all causes him to bite it then and there. Thankfully, once per level, the Shopkeeper will allow him to take one item for free.
- Amelia Sturtz (formerly Amelia Travoria) from Dominic Deegan, who wears the most extravagant (and minimalistic/revealing) clothes of the Travoria sisters. After her plan to have her husband assassinated in order to gain control of his wealth goes south, the would-be assassin strangles her — with her own pearls.
- One of Zola's henchmen in Girl Genius is swallowed by The Castle for trying to pick up a gold coin. Notably, this was after Zola had already told everybody not to touch anything metal, because "it is a trap that will kill you".
- This nearly happens to the gold-obsessed "El Capitan" in the DuckTales (1987) Five-Episode Pilot "Treasure of the Golden Suns", but since it's a Disney production and the good guys can't leave him to die, Scrooge saves him from falling into a lake of molten gold.
- This is also a Running Gag for Scrooge himself; on at least two occasions (including "Super DuckTales" and DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp), a character asks him point-blank "what's worth more: a fortune, or your life?". Scrooge has a hard time giving a straight answer to this question.
- Thailog, Goliath's Evil Clone in Gargoyles, fakes his death this way.
- Daffy Duck in many Looney Tunes cartoons.
Daffy: Oh, no you don't! You want my treasure! Well, it's mine, you understand?! (tries to shove the genie back in the lamp) Get back in there! Down! Down! Down! Go! Go! Go! Mine! Mine! Mine!Genie: Duck! You have desecrated the spirit of the lamp! Prepare to face the consequences!Daffy: Consequences, schmonsequences, long as I'm rich. (get zapped by the genie)
- Particularly in "Ali Baba Bunny", where after he finds a genie in a lamp in a treasure trove, this is his reaction:
- At the end, we find Daffy was shrunk to only a few inches high when he runs out of a tiny hole in the ground and tries to steal a pearl Bugs Bunny found in an oyster. Bugs casually closes the oyster, trapping Daffy inside.
- He gets in trouble for this again by assuming there's treasure in Elmer Fudd's castle in "Beanstalk Bunny". When he and Bugs are fleeing from giant Elmer at the end, Daffy insists on going back, certain there's gold in the castle. Bugs is smarter, and keeps running, finding a rabbit paradise in the form of gigantic carrots. In the final scene, it's shown that Elmer has turned Daffy into a watch.
- Subverted in "Ducking the Devil" where, as Daffy is counting his reward money for recapturing the Tasmanian Devil, one of the dollar bills falls into its cage. He rushes in, the audience hears the sounds of someone being beaten up... then Daffy emerges from the cage, largely unscathed, with a badly injured Devil behind him, and Daffy proclaims "I may be a coward, but I'm a greedy coward!"
- The Archie's Weird Mysteries episode "Megamall of Horrors!" was about the villain trying to invoke this trope to claim his victims. However, he also fell victim to it in the end, as he made a Deal with the Devil to slate his own material desires and needed to bring in as many souls as he could as payment. His inevitable defeat ends with him being dragged into Hell.
- Non-lethal example, probably, in the Samurai Jack episode "The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful". Outlaw Couple Zeke and Josephine Clench actually succeed in catching Jack; however, Josephine gets a little too greedy and, hoping to gain the huge bounty all for herself, shoves Zeke off the train - not knowing that Jack saw this coming. A carefully placed kick and roll lets him entangle his bindings around Zeke's ankle in a way that snags her ankle as he falls, letting Jack break free and drag her down with him all in one swoop. (When last scene, the two were bound and dangling upside-down from a tree with Zeke reminding her of the 150-foot restraining order he has against her; quite likely, this sort of thing happened before.)
- Beetlejuice gets a credit card in "Keeping Up With The Bonses" and goes on a buying binge in order to one-up said couple. But then he gets his first bill. With no money to pay it, the creditors take Lydia as collateral until he either pays his tab or returns his swag.
- A variation in Critical Role: while looting the tomb of the Raven Queen's Champion, Vex'ahlia hears that Percy found treasure nearby and rushes over to claim it, just in time for him to trigger a trap hidden in the sarcophagus. The blast of necrotic energy, combined with a natural 1 on the saving throw, brings her hit points below zero and kills her instantly. Possibly subverted since she was successfully revived, but the fact remains that she would have been safely outside of the blast range had her greed not compelled her to run over and grab the loot.
- This has happened to Lifty and Shifty the thieving raccoon twins in Happy Tree Friends on more than one occasion. One good example of this is in the episode Sea What I Found. After Lifty gets pinned under an iron pillar, Shifty chooses to save the jewelry Lifty is carrying rather than Lifty himself. The weight of all the gold he's carrying slows him down enough for the underwater volcano they're over to start melting it, causing it to cover him and burn him to death. Lifty manages to escape with only minor injuries, only to notice his now golden brother and, overcome with greed himself, try to grab him. The statue is for heavy for him, his hand gets stuck, and he gets pulled to the bottom and drowns.
- Turkish wrestler Yusuf Ismail always carried his whole fortune (in gold coins) in his money belt. He was returning to Turkey on the SS La Bourgogne when it started sinking. He didn't want to take off his very heavy belt, and thus drowned.
- This was also the fate of many of Cortez's men when they fled the Aztec capital. Set in the middle of a lake, the city was only reachable by man-made causeways. As they fled across these, in their panic many fell into the water. The weight of the gold they had stuffed their clothes with caused them to drown.
- One reason for the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Flodden (1513) was the behavior of the Scottish border troops who, after shattering one wing of the English army, stopped to loot the dead there and then instead of securing their position or continuing to attack the English center. This allowed a much smaller force of English cavalry to attack and wipe out the 6000 strong Scottish regiment.
- Mark Twain relates in "The Innocents Abroad" on his trip to Pompei, "In one of these long Pompeiian halls the skeleton of a man was found with ten pieces of gold in one hand and a large key in the other. He had seized his money and started toward the door, but the fiery tempest caught him at the very threshold, and he sank down and died. One more minute of precious time would have saved him."
- Very often the outcome in an Ancient or Medieval battle. A previously victorious army begins to loot the enemy baggage and is attacked by a fresh enemy force and gets defeated. At the Battle of Kadesh, for example, a division of Hittites was slaughtered by their Egyptian enemies, because they were too distracted looting a campground.
- The Eastern Roman Empire loved to exploit this trope. To encounter their enemies, they preferred to let the enemy advance deep in their territory, loot a town or two, and then ambush the enemy army while it was returning back to home, being greatly encumbered with the loot and swag. They could then both wipe out the enemy army and recover the loot.
- It was once thought that this was how the Teratorn birds ended up in the La Brea Tar Pits of all places, that they scavenged on the animals already trapped there and fell victim to the tar themselves. Science Marches On, however, and it's now believed that they got stuck while trying to snatch small animals out of the tar.
- Some of the more extreme hoarders may find themselves trapped in their homes by years' worth of accumulated junk and garbage. They may be unable to escape in the event of a fire or other emergency, or starve to death when their food supply runs out (and they can't get more because they can't get out), or become exposed to disease and unable to get medical treatment.
- This can happen to people being robbed if they refuse to cooperate with the robber. Most people will tell you that you are better off giving the robber what they want since you can replace your things, but not your life. Some victims refuse to give up their items, which can cause the robber to injure or even kill the person and steal the items anyway.