"The best tasting food is stolen from the mouths of the enemy."A classic tactic of psychological warfare. You've just met someone. They don't know what to make of you. They happen to be eating at the time. What do you do? Take their food. It's a step beyond just invading personal space, and it shows who the alpha dog is. Frequently the victim is too stunned by the audacity of such a move to protest. May overlap with The Snack Is More Interesting and Lost Food Grievance. See also The Bully, who is known to beat people up for their lunch money. Compare to Robbing the Dead when a character takes food from someone they have killed. While Enemy Eats Your Lunch is about establishing dominance, Robbing the Dead shows the character's cavalier or pragmatic attitude to death.
— Griff, World of Warcraft, "War Forage"
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- One line of Realtor.com commercials shows us how the people who try to compete with you for the best real estate are just as evil as the people who try to beat you at sports. Once they have lost, they will vent their frustration by doing something petty, and in one commercial this takes the form of stealing food off the plate of the couple who bought the house they wanted.
- In the introduction of Dark Gary on Nintendo Week, he nukes and eats Allison's lunch shamelessly. Using a microwave that he had to unplug Gary's TV mid-game to use.
Anime and Manga
- Tubby and Willy both eat Lulu's food in an episode of the Little Lulu anime, with a tray of sandwiches that Lulu was preparing to have.
- In Death Note there is L's (cat)fight with Misa. "You can call me whatever you like but I'm still taking your cake."
- Samurai Champloo: Mugen dugs in uninvited to the lunch of some Yakuza thugs. When the predictable reponse follows their boss is so impressed by his badassery he invites him for dinner.
- In Sailor Moon Stars, when Sailor Aluminium Siren and Sailor Lead Crow attack a TV show host who arrived to Usagi's house under the guise of a pizza delivery guy, Siren's first action is... to eat one of the pizzas, much to Lead Crow's exasperation.
- In an episode of Mega Man NT Warrior, a character's establishing moment when barging in is to eat Maysa's lunch.
- The Squirtle Squad make their debut by beating up Team Rocket and eating their lunch right in front of them.
- Georgia (a rival character) helps herself to our heroes' breakfast just to show her disdain.
- In Naruto, Jirobo delays delivering a finishing blow to Choji long enough to take and eat Chouji's last bag of chips in front of him. This is less for psychological warfare reasons (since they're already fighting to the death) and more just to be a dick, although he does claim to be hungry from burning chakra in the fight. Also, this slams down hard on one of Chouji's Berserk Buttons and is promptly followed by Jirobo's death.
- In episode 5, season 1 of Love Live!, Nico swipes Honoka's and Umi's fries, but is caught when trying to steal Honoka's hamburger. When Honoka demands her fries back, Nico defiantly opens her mouth, causing the former to clarify by having her buy new fries.
- In the first episode for Seiken Tsukai No World Break, when Satsuki claims she's not hungry, Urushibara starts eating her fries. When Satsuki protests, Urushibara says the fries would otherwise go to waste. Moroha agrees, and starts eating them as well.
- While not outright an enemy at that point, Haizaki from Kuroko no Basuke is shown in a flashback stealing main character Kuroko's food at the table the latter's sharing with the other Generation of Miracle players. He even makes a point of saying he eats other people's food just because it tastes better (as opposed to Aomine, who asserts he only does that when he's actually hungry). Subverted in that instance since Kuroko doesn't mind the food stealing, but it's still clearly used as a way to remind the readers how much of a jerk Haizaki is.
- In one Birds of Prey story, Black Canary and Wildcat are having lunch in Singapore while pretending to be drug dealers as part of a plan to prevent a drug shipment from reaching Gotham. A detective, thinking they really are drug dealers since they were seen in the company of a notable suspected (as in everyone knows but there's no concrete evidence) drug dealer, sits down and helps himself to some of Dinah's chili crab and tells them they should leave Singapore immediately and never come back.
- In Interstitium, Grunt falls in love with the whole concept of flavor and becomes a Big Eater, wanting to taste everything. During their first mission, he tells Garrus he doesn't have any problem with him, but will unless he hands over his rations. Garrus incredulously points out that it's dextro-formulated and will just make Grunt sick, but hands it over anyway to avoid a fight. (Then laughs to himself when he does wind up sick.)
- This is a fan-made video — though the author was asked to create it by the authors of House themselves. "Wilson Food" has clips of Wilson eating and House stealing his food accompanied by song "Let's Twist" by Chubby Checker. Back-up link to youtube upload called "House and Wilson & food".
- The Death Note fic Seigikan opens with one ineffable genius mind game between Light and L where Light steals and takes a bite out of one of L's strawberries and then L steals the half-eaten strawberry back and eats it.
- From Death Note: The Abridged Series (1KidsEntertainment):
Light: Is that MY coffee?L: Not anymore, it's not. It evaporated.
Films - Animated
- Pinocchio: Honest John takes the apple Pinocchio is bringing to the teacher and eats it as he talks him into becoming an actor instead, then gives him the core.
- The Princess and the Frog: Big Daddy is eating beignets when Charlotte comes in gushing about Prince Naveen and keeps taking them out of his hands as she plans on how to get the prince to meet her.
- In Kung Fu Panda, this is the strategy that Master Shifu eventually hits on as the best way to motivate Big Eater Po. He gives Po a bowl of dumplings and deftly snatches them away from him before he can eat them. Cue a Training Montage of the two Chopstick Fencing over dumplings.
Film - Live Action
- The most defining example is probably the one in Pulp Fiction: When Jules and Vincent bust into the preppies' hideout, Jules asks Brett—in a way that really isn't asking at all—if he can sample his burger. He then requests a sip of his Sprite and drinks the whole thing while glaring defiantly at Brett the whole time.
- Inverted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. After wrangling access to General Zod's corpse and ship in return for a chunk of kryptonite, Lex Luthor cheerfully establishes his dominance once more by shoving a Jolly Rancher into a Senator's mouth.
- In the Disney Channel Original Movie Brink, the main characters find this happening to them all the time. They get revenge, though - they stuff a sandwich full of worms, and when the big bad eats it, he gets a nice mouthful of the little wigglers. Revenge is a dish best served...with worms.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Angel Eyes invites himself to his victim's lunch table and pretends to have a friendly conversation while eating his food, then kills the man and his family after getting the information he needs.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger Colonel Phillips brings an imprisoned Arnim Zola a relatively fancy steak meal whilst trying to get him to release information on the Red Skull's plans. After Zola reveals that he is a vegetarian (possibly as an excuse because he suspects it's poisoned), Phillips, not wanting to waste a prime cut, proceeds to eat Zola's lunch.
- When The Joker crashes Bruce Wayne's party in The Dark Knight, he helps himself to a shrimp kebab and then grabs a glass of champagne from a guest, quaffing it with great gusto before replacing it on a stack of wine flutes.
- An example from Machete: after capturing the priest, Booth helps himself to sacramental wine and sarcastically remarks that "God's blood tastes like Merlot".
- Happens in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, after Christie covers Michele's back with magnets and takes Romy's burger. Funnily enough, the titular girls don't realise this is a power play at first.
- In Men in Black II, Serleena interrogates the pizza parlor owner actually the alien protecting Laura, the Light of Zartha for the location of the Light of Zartha. When he remains Defiant to the End, she kills him. Then she takes a pizza to go.
- Inverted in Congo, when Captain Wanta demands the protagonists have some coffee and cake, then makes it clear who's top dog by ordering Tim Curry to STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE!
- Dumb and Dumber: The main characters get pulled over by a cop who thinks they've been drunk driving and decides to intimidate them by making them give him one of their beer bottles. Unfortunately for him, the bottle they gave him was just used as a Jar Potty.
- Lloyd: Tic-tac, sir?
- Discussed in There Will Be Blood, where Daniel Plainview famously uses the analogy of using a long straw to drink someone else's milkshake as an analogy for how he rendered his bitter rival's land worthless by drilling all the oil out of it from his own property.
- In The Breakfast Club, when it's time to have lunch, Bender, who didn't bring a lunch, plops down next to Brian and asks what they're having. Subverted in that Bender never actually does eat it.
- In D3: The Mighty Ducks, the Jerk Jock varsity players repeatedly steal the Ducks' lunches—until Charlie, Fulton, and Russ exact some payback with a decoy lunch bag filled with horse crap.
- In Kelly's Heroes, the American general scoffs at his German counterpart, boasting that he's operating out of his opponent's former headquarters, eating his dinner, drinking his Scotch, and even has one of his counterpart's women around the place.
- In Jurassic World, Hoskins reaches across Lowery's workspace and takes his soda and remarks "The fox is in the henhouse!" as the I. Rex rampages. Lowery looks annoyed but doesn't (or can't) do anything about it.
- Variation in Robocop 1987: During tense negotiations with a rival gang leader Clarence Boddicker dips his fingers in his wine glass, pretty much to show he can get away with it.
- Tit for Tat: Laurel and Hardy steal and eat a marshmallow from their neighbor's grocery store every time they went inside to inflict some sort of revenge on him in their Escalating War. Hilarity Ensues when the marshmallows get spiked with alum.
- Life (1999): An enormous inmate asks the pair, "You gon' eat yo' cornbread!?" in a way that makes it clear that no, they certainly aren't going to be eating their cornbread.
- In a discussion of vampire folklore, one author noted a tale in which a bloodsucker invited itself into some villagers' home just as they were sitting down for dinner. It came in, sat at down at their table, ate all of their food off their plates (even sucking the marrow out of the bones) and then left without saying a word.
- Seen from the other side in The Iron Teeth. Blacknail responds to a bandit speaking disrespectfully of Saeter by stealing his food.
- In Unique, Clauss makes his opinion of werewolf culture very plain by commenting "this is our tradition" and then stealing Gunther's food and eating it with his hands.
- In the Peter Straub story Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, a rich man hires two eccentric hitmen to kill his wife and her lover. When they arrive at his home, they quickly polish off his lavish breakfast and tell him to make himself some toast.
- Arthur Dent tells an anecdote about this in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. After purchasing a bag of train station biscuits (cookies), Dent sits down at a table with a stranger and reads a newspaper. The stranger reaches over, opens the bag, and eats one of the cookies without comment. Dent, stunned, can only react by eating one himself. The two men go back and forth eating the cookies without comment until they're all gone, and they exchange meaningful looks before the man leaves. Only when Dent himself prepares to leave does he pick up his newspaper and discover his own unopened bag of biscuits. Adams claimed numerous times that this incident happened to him in real life in 1976. However, it is almost identical to a pre-existing urban legend.
- In Horatio Hornblower series, one of the first affronts committed to Hornblower as a midshipman by the senior-most midshipman was his tendency to help himself to pieces of the other midshipman's food — right off of their plates. The antipathy between them eventually reaches the point where Horatio challenges the other man to a duel.
- In Burke, Burke advises the nephew of a friend how to survive in prison, as well as paying the prison Big Bad to protect him. When someone tries intimidating the kid during lunch and the Big Bad steps in to stop it, the kid deliberately grabs the cake off the man's plate and eats it.
- Mass Effect: Deception has Cerberus assassin Kai Leng eating a bowl of Anderson's cereal when he sneaks into his apartment to bug it. Needless to say, readers quickly immortalized Leng's petty actions into the Fan Nickname, "cereal killer". It also cemented his status as a really petty guy.
- Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In the book Verdigris, when chatting with Verdigris at a Chinese restaurant, the Master absconds with both his lunch and the monster's.
Live Action TV
- In Red Dwarf, Cat steals French fries from a fellow inmate in the hopes that he will be hospitalized for his troubles. Instead, it backfires hilariously and the inmate swears to become Cat's bitch.
- In House, House steals Wilson's food repeatedly - for laughs as they are friends who bicker all the time. This is along with bigger versions of the same thing, such as getting him to lend him money and not repaying it. Eventually he admits that he does it as a way of quantitatively testing their friendship. Wilson plays games with him as well, for instance he began randomly switching between an extremely health-conscious diet and pure junk, leaving conflicting hints that he was going on a diet. This quickly drove House up the wall since he could never figure out why Wilson was doing it (House would eat his food either way). Eventually he realized Wilson was jerking him around just to fuck with him. There is also the time when Wilson's complaining about this served to trigger House's Eureka Moment. Turns out the patient had an intestine parasyte that was eating the medicine and generally messing up the tests.
- Awesomely parodied by Stella, which includes a scene where Michael attempts to psych out his enemy by eating his ice cream cone in an intimidating fashion. Macho posturing and eating ice cream cones do not go well together.
- Saturday Night Live parodied the famous scene in There Will Be Blood by having Daniel Plainview host a Food Network show in which he visited malt shops and literally drank people's milkshakes.
- In a Chappelle's Show sketch, Wayne Brady acts like a violent psychopath and reduces Dave Chappelle to tears. Then he takes Dave's food after they grab some from a drive thru.
- Not quite as rude as stealing from someone's plate, but federal flack Twitchell on Tremors: The Series was always taking food and soft drinks from Jodie's store without paying for them, in one of many ways he threw his weight around.
- Oz. Inmates eat other inmates' food so they can intimidate, usually leading to Prison Rape and other much worse things.
- In one episode of Leverage, Tara walked up to a guy whose invitation to an auction they needed and started eating his sandwich. With a little help from Eliot's Death Glare, she intimidated him so badly he gave her the invitation. Without either Tara or Eliot saying a word.
- On ER, our first introduction to antagonist Kerry Weaver is when she eats several of Mark Greene's French fries (he was interviewing her over lunch). Although she does ask for them rather than taking them outright, she does proceed to be a thoroughly irritating thorn in his and practically everyone else's side for the next 12 years.
- Doctor Who: In "The Sea Devils", the Third Doctor duels with the Master with swords. During the fight, he proceeds to steal the Master's sandwich and eat it in front of him.
- The Americans: In the pilot, after a child predator makes crude remarks about his daughter, Phillip catches the guy barbecuing in his backyard. Phillip beats his ass, threatens to kill him if he catches it happening again, and then walks away with a hot dog off of his grill.
- Parodied in Justified. Dickie Bennett, looking to build his reputation after being cut off by his mother, steals food as part of an attempt to intimidate Boyd. As it happens, Boyd and his henchmen were just discussing who they can target to establish themselves as being back in the criminal game. Dickie's pathetic attempts are seen by Boyd as good fortune, and he can't stop laughing when Dickie tries.
- From the mini-series Horatio Hornblower:
- In "The Even Chance", a very well-written and excellently performed hissable villain Jack Simpson is a twisted bully who torments his fellow midshipmen. He steals Horatio's mutton and drinks from his mug in his very first scene.
Horatio: What do you mean by helping yourself to my vittles, sir?Jack Simpson: I should have thought my intention was quite obvious.
- In "Mutiny", a jerk of a sailor Randall tries to take Styles' mug from the table, but Styles manages to make him put it back, with the help of some officers who just entered the room.
- In "The Even Chance", a very well-written and excellently performed hissable villain Jack Simpson is a twisted bully who torments his fellow midshipmen. He steals Horatio's mutton and drinks from his mug in his very first scene.
- In The Office (US), Michael, Pam and Ryan have returned from the Michael Scott Paper Company, and the others are jealous that they are getting special treatment. They have a secret meeting in the warehouse, saying it was their lunch break. Michael then proceeds to take their real lunches out of the fridge and eat them in front of the others with Pam and Ryan.
- Game of Thrones:
- In "Blackwater", Bronn and some gold cloaks and Lannister soldiers are drinking, singing and whoring in a tavern, expecting Stannis' siege. Then Sandor Clegane the Hound, King Joffrey's intimidating guard, enters with a guy, and he motions to two guys to get out from their table. They don't even blink an eye and go. One of them tries to take his mug of ale with him, but the Hound calmy takes it from his hands, sits and starts drinking.
- The Hound, a former personal bodyguard to King, now wandering in Riverlands, calmly chugs down Polliver's mug of ale and demands one of his chickens when Polliver started getting confrontational. Bar Brawl ensues. With swords.
Polliver: You’re going to die for some chickens?Hound: Someone is.
- Star Trek: Voyager. The episode "Counterpoint" opens with Devore Imperium soldiers boarding Voyager to search it for the umpteenth time. Our introduction to the episode antagonist, Inspector Kashyk, has the smug commander summoning Captain Janeway to her own Ready Room where he's sitting in her captain's chair (itself a severe violation of etiquette), ordering his underling to make them some coffee using her own replicator.
- Early in Power Rangers RPM, Ziggy and Dillon have landed themselves in jail. Many of the inmates already hate Ziggy, and in the prison lunchroom one intimidates him by bragging that he's such a big shot, he gets a special dessert of lime Jell-O just for him. While this is going on, Dillon is in the lunch line getting his food... including, very deliberately, the lime Jell-O. A fight ensues - which Dillon decisively wins, which catches the attention of the Rangers.
- Diff'rent Strokes: The two-parter "Crime Story" has two teenage bullies stealing the lunches and money of both Arnold and Dudley. They are not depicted as being harmless or goofy; they back up their words with physical force. The bullies even beat up Willis, who intervenes for Arnold and Dudley, so badly that he has to be hospitalized!
- The New Avengers: The Avengers help themselves to the Unicorn's champagne while holding him prisoner in his apartment in "The Lion and the Unicorn".
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent: While Goren and Eames are questioning a doctor at a dinner party, Goren helps himself to the doctor's steak.
- Malcolm in the Middle features a sort of inversion, where Malcolm goes around the house scraping every disgusting bit of filth he can find onto a sandwich, knowing that Reese will steal it from him and eat it.
- Scrubs: One episode has a moment where Turk casually sticks his finger in Carla's brother's drink as he walks past.
- The song "Haunted House" sung by Jumpin' Gene Simmons:
In my kitchen my stove was a-blazin' hot.Coffee was a-boilin' in the pot.The grease had melted in the pan.Had a hunk a-meat right in my hand.From outer space there sat a manOn the hot stove with the pots and pans."Say that's hot" I began to shout.He drank a-hot coffee right from the spout.He ate the raw meat right from my hand.Drank the hot grease from the frying pan.Looked at me said "You better run."And don't be here when the mornin' comes."
- In one Peanuts strip Linus is asking, "Who took my group of grapes?" Lucy corrects him that it's called a "bunch" of grapes...as she eats his grapes right in front of him. Then she tosses the emptied grape tendril at him as she leaves.
- In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin is eating his lunch, only for Hobbes to swoop in, beat him up and take his lunch.
- In Garfield, pet cat Garfield constantly steals Jon's food.
- Santino Marella assaulting Jerry Lawler at the commentary desk of Monday Night Raw and running off with his subway sandwich, mocking him before taking a bite of it.
- As a Heel, Big E Langston takes a bite out of Theodore Long's Hardees thick-burger and lists all what's in the burger while Teddy gives him an annoyed look.
- Grim Fandango: Invoked almost word for word by the Big Bad in one scene when berating a subordinate for his failure.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: A variant, player character Link can steal food from enemy camps. This can be played straight as well if an enemy is near their preferred food (such as killing a goat near a Bokoblin) when they can't see Link - the enemy will focus on the food and try to grab it before Link can - Link can abuse this to set up ambushes.
- Mid-Boss steals the lunch that Flonne and Jennifer made for a picnic in Episode 10 of the first Disgaea game. When they finally catch up to him, he's eaten it all.
- During a party in Mass Effect 3: Citadel, Garrus and Zaeed decide to start "preparing" Shepard's apartment in case someone else tries to steal their life. One of their ideas is to rig the coffeemaker to dispense poison and/or explode (their opinions vary as to what would be most effective) in case anyone tries this trope. Shepard is skeptical about this whole plan, to say the least. The whole thing is probably a sideways reference to the Deception example, above; it even takes place in the same apartment.
- The chancellor in Chrono Trigger invokes this trope at Crono's trial to get him to look like a villain, saying that Crono stole a guy's lunch at the Millenial Fair (which, to be fair, most players have him do on at least their first playthrough).
- In Dubious Company, the pirates get lost while breaking out of Kreedor's castle. They eventually meet Private Charles and get him to lead them. When they learn he is as lost as they are, Tiren steals his last sandwich in frustration.
- One Living With Hipstergirl And Gamergirl strip has Sophia barge into the neighbor's house as their eating lunch, take a bite out of the food and gulp down the glasses, then leave, not having said a word. The neighbor then asks if maybe she knows they've been using her wifi.
- In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Hero For Hire", the Beagle Boys torment Doofus by eating his pancakes.
- In the first episode of TaleSpin, Don Karnage intimidates the customers at Louie's by drinking someone's drink.
- Subverted in an episode of Teen Titans, where Cyborg infiltrates the H.I.V.E. disguised as "Stone". In the cafeteria, both Gizmo and Mammoth try to intimidate him, Mammoth taking his hamburger and eating it to do so. It fails to intimidate him at all; he quickly assumes a stone-like form and crushes the table, eliciting nervous laughs from both of them.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Critters", Farmer Brown sends a talking goat into the police station to deliver an ultimatum to Commissioner Gordon, and it eats Harvey Bullock's donut on the way in. (Bullock is very angry at first, but then he finds out that the goat can talk and the rather serious nature of the threat, and forgets about it.)
- Parodied in The Simpsons, when people from Shelbyville steal a Springfield lemon tree. One of them gloats to Homer by biting into a raw lemon and desperately pretends he didn't regret his decision as his face curdles and his eyes water.
- Robberies of pizza delivery drivers have been reported in a number of areas; usual tactics include deliveries to vacant houses where the driver gets robbed at gunpoint. While money is the main target, many drivers have also been robbed of their pizzas.
- Naturalists studying social interaction among animals always watch for this trope, as being able to appropriate another individual's food without repercussion is one of the strongest indicators of an animal's dominant status. This is known as kleptoparasitism, and occurs both between individuals of different species and between members of the same species.
- The extinct short-faced bear is thought to have obtained most of its food this way. It was more carnivorous than modern brown and black bears but lacked the speed to catch agile prey like deer and horses and lacked the strength to catch large prey like mammoths and bison, so it probably used its size to chase smaller carnivores like wolves and lions away from their kills.
- In another famous example, spotted hyenas and African lions are well known for doing this to each other: both will chase the other from a kill whenever they've got enough friends on their side to do so.