Free lunch every day. Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but think about: Lunch is awesome. If Charlie Manson brought me a free lunch every day, I'd at least listen to his sales pitch on forehead swastikas. "I don't think it's for me, Charlie, but keep talking, this is delicious!"Sometimes, things can get tough. You might be The Load or the Cowardly Lion. Your Five-Man Band really wants you to go into the Abandoned Hospital or to stand up to The Bully for the first time, but you find yourself incapable of going. What you need is the proper motivation. But would it be for cash? For a kiss? No? Then perhaps you would do it for food. Food can be a very powerful motivator for some people. All you have to do is offer them a burger, or a french fry, and they're like putty in your hands. Sometimes, the food used can be anything, although, typically, it's one treat in particular. And sometimes, depending on the situation, one will not be enough. You'd have to offer them the whole box. For animals, bribing them can be just as easy as offering them the food their species is known for eating. And if you ever come across a cop you just can't buy your way out of a ticket from, try offering him a donut. Compare Delicious Distraction, which is when food is used to distract, and I Was Told There Would Be Cake and And Your Reward Is Edible (you're congratulated with food even if you were not initially promised it), and Through His Stomach and Tastes Like Friendship, when food is used to cement a relationship. Can be invoked with Trademark Favorite Food. Contrast Denied Food as Punishment. Can possibly be thrown to invoke a Go Fetch situation.
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- Used in various ads for Klondike Bar. "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?"
Anime and Manga
- Ryuk and apples in Death Note.
- In K-On!, the band uses cake and other sweets to motivate Yui to join the band, practice, and study.
- In Angel Beats!, Matsushita will do just about anything for meat udon.
- Fancy tuna for Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club.
- In A Channel, Run's mother promises her all the Kobe beef she can eat to motivate her to study harder and apply to a better high school.
- Hana of My Heavenly Hockey Club. Just about any food will work, if there's enough of it.
- Horo from Spice and Wolf can usually be bought with apples, but will occasionally demand fancier foods (most notably, the honey-pickled peaches that are considered a delicacy in the city they are currently visiting)
- Koufuku Graffiti is about the social experience of food, so there're a few examples:
- Generally speaking, Kirin, being Obsessed with Food, can easily be bribed with food.
- In episode 4, Ryou, wanting Kirin to stay with her at the following weekend despite having no Cram School, proposed cooking a full-course Chinese meal. Kirin's parents won by the counter-offer of a dinner at a three-star Chinese restaurant.
- In episode 11b Kirin had a fight with Shiina. So when Shiina offered to share her lunch with Kirin, Kirin refused, saying she has her pride. After Shiina announced the lunch was cooked by Tsuyuko, however... Kirin comes back.
- Used in the next episode preview skit at the end of episode 6. Kirin and Ryou are still in their bath towels while doing the singing, but Ryou is hiding just off screen. Kirin then pulls out a popsicle and throws it at her to get Ryou to come. Unfortunately her towel falls off as she jumps at the popsicle, and Kirin leaps towards her in an attempt to cover her.
- Generally speaking, Kirin, being Obsessed with Food, can easily be bribed with food.
- Luffy of One Piece doesn't consider himself a hero. Why did he agree to save Fishman Island? Because they offered him meat.
- In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi offered Elma sweets if she'd help Tohru defeat Iruru. Tohru also offered her 10 cream puffs if she would go away in her introductory chapter (it worked)
- In Dragon Ball Super, Bulma takes Whis to various restaurants to convince him to protect Bulma's family if Beerus ever tries to destroy the Earth again. And Vegeta bribes Whis with instant ramen to get Whis to train him.
- Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai:
- One chapter has Kaguya and Fujiwara reprimanding Shirogane for trying to eat instant ramen in the student council office. Fujiwara quickly joins his side when he gives her one of the instant ramen.
- Another chapter has Fujiwara giving Shirogane a soda as a bribe to increase her club's funding.
- For much of the Johto arc, Pokémon's Team Rocket are dirt poor and thus almost entirely food-motivated. They often postpone a crime for the sake of free food and will happily help anyone who gives them a meal, regardless of which side they're on or how many Gyarados are involved.
- The Munchkin card game has a card called "Bribe the GM with Food." It serves as an instant level-up. As does "Pay For The Pizza."
- Coroner Fatty from Inspector Canardo unsurprisingly take chocolate box from Canardo in exchange of his help.
- In Beetle Bailey, Beetle can get Sarge to excuse him from anything with four simple words: "my mom's homemade cookies".
- One case where food is offered as payment happens in Peanuts where Charlie Brown offers to trade players with Peppermint Patty's team, offering Lucy for Marcie. When Lucy complains that he was robbed, Charlie Brown disagrees, saying that he got the better deal because Patty included a pizza. (He was more right than he imagined. When Patty realizes what a terrible player Lucy is, she wants to call the deal off; Charlie Brown tells her, "I already ate the pizza...")
- Hobbes is easily bribed to do something with tuna in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
- Played with in the fifty-ninth chapter of Kyon: Big Damn Hero. After Kyon and most of the girls in the Brigade teleported to Yuki's Pocket Dimension for some training Hanyuu instantly assumed they went somewhere to do "naughty things" and ran off to inform Rika, only to be stopped by Kuyou buying off her silence with cookies. Funnily enough, the "bribing" part only happened in Hanyuu's head as Kuyou only wanted to share some of her cookies with her.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Freeza offers to give Goku a pizza if Goku will let Freeza power up to 100%. Goku's having none of it. Then Freeza offers two pizzas. Goku still isn't interested, and charges at Freeza. Then Freeza offers two pizzas with stuffed crust...
- In The Witch of the Everfree, when Twilight starts asking Cadance how old she is compared to Shining Armor, Cadance distracts her by ordering her coffee.
Cadance: Hey! Wow! They have lava cake on the menu! Let’s get a round of those, and I’ll let you have coffee if you stop asking questions.Twilight: Celestia says I can’t have coffee after the accident with the west garden.Cadance: That’s why it’s bribery, Twilight.Twilight: ...Deal.
- In Protection- The Three-Phase Plan Remus gets Sirius out of bed by offering to make chocolate chip pancakes.
- There Be Dragons, Harry:
Ilsa: Butterscotch pudding. It's Theodore's favorite.
Harry: You're telling me this, why?
Ilsa: Because sex can't always get you what you want. And Theo can be stubborn, it's in our nature. But if you can't get in his pants, you can certainly get in his stomach. Never hurts to have a bit of leverage.
Film - Animated
- The protagonist of Kung Fu Panda is motivated to do great deeds and work his butt off in training... for food.
- In A Goofy Movie, Max paid his friend Bobby with spray cheese to assist him in hijacking a school assembly.
- In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Cartman insists that they lure in potential members of La Resistance by offering punch and pie, in spite of the offer being completely false. Eventually, one child asks where the punch and pie is. Two people get up and leave when it's confirmed there isn't any.
- Ballerina: Camille's mother got her into the ballet school by making the best ribs in town. The school's choreographer, who claims to be a vegetarian, makes a point to single out Camille as the only girl who didn't earn her spot.
Film - Live-Action
- Home Alone 3: The brother's parrot only plays along with the scheme if you have TWO crackers.
"Double, or nothing"
- In Strange Brew, Bob and Doug McKenzie successfully bribe the secretary at Elsinore Brewery for information by using a donut: "Perhaps one of THESE would refresh your memory?" She gives them a little information, but holds out for another before giving up the full scoop.
- In The Matrix, Cypher betrays the resistance so he can get plugged back into the Matrix. One of the reasons he does this is so he can enjoy the virtual food in the Matrix without knowing it isn't real. The Agent offering him the deal is treating him to a steak dinner in the Matrix at the time.
- In Kopps, the police officers bribe Göran with a bottle of Vodka to make him steal a package of sausages at the local supermarket.
- In The New Centurions the police have been ordered to crack down on street prostitution. The veteran cop pulls up in a paddy wagon brandishing a bottle of booze, so the hookers will go along willingly. Once the hookers are too drunk to work the streets, the police let them go.
- Harry Dresden is known to secure the loyalty of the Wildfae with pizza. It started as a simple quid pro quo: Pizza for information. Now they're his own little personal volunteer army.
- In the Discworld novel Night Watch, the narration mentions that the Ankh-Morpork City Watch has been reformed to the extent that they don't accept bribes, except donuts and beer.
- In Unseen Academicals Glenda Sugarbean gets in to see Vetinari twice by doing this to the palace guards.
- Though they had been instructed to take all bribes offered, bring the people in question to a waiting room, and then lock it until Lord Vetinari decides what to do with them. Unfortunately they also dispose of any food bribes afterwards in fear of poison, which in this case even Lord Vetinari considered a crime against good cooking.
- In Unseen Academicals Glenda Sugarbean gets in to see Vetinari twice by doing this to the palace guards.
- In the later books of the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles Vorkosigan is known to use Ma Kosti's cooking to bribe people, though this tends to lead to half-joking threats to kidnap her.
- Stephanie Plum is often bribed by her mother by food. Seeing as how she is a very good cook and Steph is often broke, it is a very powerful motivator. When regular food just won't do, cake will usually seal the deal.
- In one book former hooker Lula has witnessed a murder but is reluctant to go to the police station to make an official statement. Joe finally gets her to go by promising to buy her a bucket of chicken and a Carvel ice cream cake.
- In the Tim Dorsey novel Orange Crush, a lobbyist considers the food and drink he provides at campaign functions to be part of the lobbying, with the impact being about ten cents on the dollar (A free meal worth fifty dollars provides as much influence with a politician as a $500 donation to his campaign).
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, at the beginning, Uncle Vernon is trying to seal a business deal by inviting a potential client to dinner.
- Templeton the rat in Charlotte's Web only helps out Wilbur and the others when it's pointed out to him that if Wilbur is taken away to be slaughtered, the trough that is Templeton's primary source of food will be empty. Templeton also only travels to the fair with them when the others tell him that fairgrounds are a smorgasbord of leftovers. Finally, Templeton initially refuses to help carry Charlotte's egg sac until Wilbur offers to let him eat first from his trough for the rest of his life.
- Between Silk and Cyanide. Leo Mark's relatives provide him with cakes for his superiors, so they won't post him to the front line (they don't know that he's a codebreaker, who'll never get posted there for security reasons). This leads to a Running Gag when various VIP's are impressed by his delicious cream cakes, demanding to know where he got them in a rationed WW2 Britain.
- A Song of Ice and Fire gives us Nettles, a Dragonstone peasant girl who lived well before the main story, during the civil war called "the Dance of Dragons" when three wild dragons could be found there. There were attempts made to either recruit or kill said dragons (because having random, arguably sapient, unaffiliated Weapons Of Mass Destruction around isn't generally considered wise). Most went badly because "recruit" generally meant "find and try to fight them into submitting to your will". Nettles found the one known as Sheepstealer and, because it liked to steal and BBQ sheep, she left gifts of mutton carcasses out until it got to know her and link her with good things. She got to be a Dragon Rider, rather than a burns victim.
- In the Dinosaurs episode "Slave to Fashion," Earl bribes the baby with a cookie in order to find out who stole his money for the purchase of the mink coat.
- iCarly: Sam can be bribed with food for a variety of reasons. Once, so that she'd leave resident Butt Monkey Freddie alone for a while, and earlier in her life, so that she'd be someone's boyfriend. Both times, the food in question was bacon.
- Kel on Kenan & Kel would do anything for a bottle of orange soda.
- Used with Schultz on Hogan's Heroes regularly.
- Power Rangers RPM: In "...And Action", the cast gives the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the show without actually breaking character. Ziggy has to offer Doctor K sweets to get her involved.
- The Amanda Show: Amanda's stalker Penelope Taynt tries to bribe Barney the security guard so she can sneak into Amanda's show. After failing to bribe him with money and jewels, Barney finally gives in when Penelope gives him a Pizza. A very nice slice of Pizza.
- Kamen Rider OOO: While Ankh genuinely does need Eiji to get Cell and Core Medals from enemy Greeed and Yummies, he is frequently bribed into good behaviour with icy poles.
- In Psych episode "Shawn Interrupted", Shawn needs to get a possibly-insane character in front of a hidden camera in the hospital library, so he uses a bowl of Skittles to do it since he's already seen that they're his Trademark Favorite Food.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Stabler and Benson once use food to get a starving girl to start talking about a murder suspect.
- In one Law & Order episode, the detectives convince a pair of streetwalkers to share any information they might have concerning the episode's case by offering them free doughnuts and coffee for breakfast.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy and Cordelia are shamelessly pandering for votes for the Homecoming Queen. One contestant offers a cookie only for Buffy to barge in front of her and hand out large cupcakes. Cordelia then appears handing out baskets of chocolates, taking the cupcakes and throwing them in the trash.
- Married... with Children : During one episode, Al gets Kelly to help him work on the car by telling her they're going for ice cream.
Get in the car, get out of the car. You sound like one of my dates. They always promise me ice cream, too, and I never get any.
- On Limitless Brian needs to convince an imprisoned hitman to confess to a murder and rat out his employer. The hitman is already serving multiple life sentences so another murder conviction is not going to change anything for him but he is not going to do the FBI a favor for free. Brian offers him a dozen bagels from a Brooklyn bakery famous for its baked goods. The hitman agrees to testify in exchange for a dozen bagels delivered to him in prison every week.
- Person of Interest. "The Cold War" opens with Harold Finch annoying an Asian food vendor with an overly-specific sandwich order. He brings the sandwich back to their secret headquarters and nervously presents it as a peace offering to Shaw, currently handcuffed to a bench and not happy about it.
- At the start of season 1, Foggy has a habit of bribing Sergeant Brett Mahoney for information with cigars for his mom.
- Ben Urich bribes the Metro-General nurse this way when he's petitioning an extension for his wife's medical care. He does it at the end of the negotiation because to do it at the start would be cheating.
- Supernatural: The Winchesters do this every time they have to talk to Death. He's quite fond of fast food, so feeding him before talking to him (or more to the point, asking a favor of him) is a good way to improve his mood.
- In The Dalek Invasion of Earth, an old woman reports the TARDIS crew's antics to the Daleks and is rewarded with some food, including an orange. She stares at it for a moment, realizing it's been years since she had one.
- In Lost Souls MUD, this is the most pleasant way of getting past Kerberos, the three-headed dog guarding the fiery portal from the cave of Tainaron to the River Tethys.
- The Kappa is a fearsome monster that likes to eat human entrails and blood. And babies. One way to survive an encounter with one is to offer it the one treat it enjoys more than human flesh: cucumbers. Offering a kappa a cucumber inscribed with your name on it will earn you your safety and maybe even the kappa's friendship.
- In The Bible, Jacob was able to get his brother Esau to sell his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew.
- In Portal, you are meant to be motivated by cake.
- The original The Legend of Zelda I features this in the seventh dungeon, as you have to buy a bait to pass a particularly hungry Moblin enemy.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- Your companions have different ways of getting past the guard to the Circle Tower. Morrigan or Shale will scare the living daylights out of him, Leliana will regale him with stories, and Sten... will offer him sweets (that he stole from a kid "for his own good"). Truly, Templar discipline is to be feared. It's less funny when you learn the guard is an example of what lyrium does to the brain.
- Later on, when choosing a champion to fight for you in a Trial by Combat, you can try to choose your dog. Arl Eamon is quick to point out that the dog's loyalty could be bought with a ham bone.
- In Paper Mario, an Anti-Guy guards a chest with a very useful badge in Chapter 4. You could try to tough it out and beat him in a straight fight, or you could just bring him some Lemon Candy in exchange for the badge.
- All of the Quest for Glory games have this trope.
- To make friends with the Apple Kid in Earthbound, you have to give him a food item.
- Maybe it counts more as "bait" than a "bribe", but ever since Honey was introduced as an item in Pokémon in Gen IV, it can be used to attract Pokémon. In Gen VI, it can even be used to attract Pokémon Hordes.
- In Shadows of the Damned, this is how you get past the baby-faced door guardians; it seems that, in the Underworld, the youngest demons get stuck with this job for the first century (“Eh, everyone’s gotta start somewhere,” says the first one.) Thing is, you have to find out what they like first before they open; some of them simply like strawberries, but others have stranger (and more unpleasant) tastes, like eyeballs and brains. (They are demons, after all.)
- In Tales from the Borderlands, the only reason Yvette goes along with Rhys and Vaughn's crazy plan to screw their Bad Boss Vasquez out of millions of dollars is because Rhys offered to buy her lunch. Although she sells them out to Vasquez almost immediately.
- In Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, a potentially universe-destroying fight between the Player Character, Goku, God of Destruction Beerus, Mira and the Masked Saiyan is averted when the Supreme Kai of Time drops in her secret weapon - a supply of pudding. This annoys Mira and the Masked Saiyan, causing them to run off. However, because the Supreme Kai is a Lethal Chef, all it does is nearly poison Goku and angers Beerus, forcing the Player Character to stop Beerus.
- In Tsukihime, Shiki regularly uses curry bread to get Ciel to talk to him.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the lunch lady witness Angel Starr is fond of offering people lunches to get them on her side. At one point, she offers the judge a triple-decker lunchbox if he allows her to testify one more time. He agrees without a second thought.
- In Strawberry Vinegar, Rie is giving food to Licia in exchange for...not getting sent to Hell. Sounds like a fair trade.
- In Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire, Garrit demonstrates why the testimony of talking animals isn't admissible in court by bribing Spark to change his story about Bumper in one story arc.
Spark: I saw nothing. Bumper sucks. Gimme fish.
- In General Protection Fault, Trudy Trueheart obtained a stockpile of advanced alien weapons by bribing an Alien Overlord... with cheese. Apparently, Earth is the only place in the galaxy where cheese is made, and their attempts to synthesize it (see: cattle mutilations) have so far failed.
- In Freefall, Sam explains the use of donuts to Florence for easing the way into a bureaucracy's building.
- Clippy attempts this with Florence, but she is shown to have much higher moral standards than everyone else in the comic (including at least four of the humans).
- Awful Hospital double subverts this when Methanyll tries to gain Fern's trust with "a selection of fine cheeses." When that falls flat, they try a different tack:
Methanyll: Not a cheese person, I take it? We do have a fine selection of alcoholic bev—
Fern: Lead the way.
- Scooby-Doo: Perhaps the Trope Codifier. Scooby Snacks have been used in nearly all incarnations of the show to motivate Shaggy and Scooby into going into some creepy places. See the theme song to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!.
And Scooby-Doo, if you come through,
Then you can have yourself a Scooby Snack!
That's a fact!
- In one of the more modern cartoons, Scooby and Shaggy think ahead and bring their own Scooby Snacks so they can't be persuaded this way. Unfortunately, Fred is still one step ahead of the two of them, because they didn't think to bring milk.
- Parodied in Futurama, where Bender retracts his limbs and head into his body. Leela tries to coax him out with a beer. "Would you do it for a Bender-snack?"
- Johnny Test: Dookie will do anything for steak.
- On South Park, when Ike's birth parents come to take him back to Canada he refused to get in their car, until they offer him chocolate.
- Jackie Chan Adventures this apparently partiallynote precipitated Tohru's Heel–Face Turn.
- A few episodes of Clifford the Big Red Dog showed that Mac refused to listen to what Jetta wanted him to do, unless he was offered a Tummy Yummy as motivation.
- Also showed up when the four main dogs ended up in obedience classes; Mac won a prize named "Tricks for Treats" and predictably Jetta has to bribe him to come up onstage to accept it.
- Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy
- In the episode "Honor Thy Ed", Kevin says he will give Eddy a jawbreaker if he and his friends go in the abandoned house. However, Kevin backs out of the promise a few minutes later and sucks on it after the kids see Ed fake being strangled.
- In "Three Squares And An Ed", Eddy implies that Jonny would do anything for granola, in this case, dressing up like a leprechaun to distract Jimmy, who was guarding a grounded Ed.
- Used a couple times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Twilight is faced with this several times throughout "Ticket Master" by her friends in attempts to gain an extra ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala, but Twilight manages to turn away the bribes each time despite stating several times how hungry she is. Pinkie Pie also uses this against Spike in "Party of One" as part of her Perp Sweating sequence.
- In The Simpsons episode "Homer and Apu", Homer got sick eating food from the Kwik-E-Mart, and when he got better, stormed into the store to tell off Apu, who offered him a pound of frozen shrimp as consolation. When Homer noticed that it wasn't actually frozen and smelled funny, Apu upped the bribe to two pounds, which Homer eagerly accepted. (He got sick again, naturally.)
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Billy's dad Harold accepts fried food in exchange for fake doctor's notes to get the boys out of gym class.
- The main six try to bribe Brittany A. to give her sister, Ashley A.'s diary back, by using candy. It doesn't work.
- In another episode, the Ashleys bribe T.J. with candy to get him to hang out with them after realizing he found a $100 bill.
- In the Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode, "My Kingdom For Pie", Duke Igthorn tries to bribe Tummi with a feast in order to find Gummi Glen.
- In Smurfette's origin episode in The Smurfs, Smurfette tempted Greedy with a scrumptious smurfberry cake into opening the village dam gate so she could flood the village back before she was changed into a real Smurf.
- In an episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Fat Cat ships in a gang of nutty fruit bats from Jamaica to use as jewel thieves, paying them with fruit. Even he is amazed at how easy it is:
Fat Cat: Imagine, trading nectarines for necklaces! Bananas for brooches! And tangelos for tiaras!
- Kim Possible: The closing scene of "Emotion Sickness" shows Drakken frantically running and dodging plasma blasts from a Moodulator-enraged Shego. He tries yelling various apologies and pleas to calm her down, concluding with "I'll cook you dinner!"
- * In the first half of the Looney Tunes cartoon "Prince Violence", Yosemite Sam has a pink elephant helping him try to break into Bugs' fortress; however, with each failed plan, Sam yells at the elephant and occasionally clubs him, eventually telling him to get lost so he can do it himself. After a few more failures, Sam finally manages to get in, only to find that the elephant is working for Bugs now and chases Sam away with a club. It's then revealed that Bugs is convincing him to work for him by paying him with peanuts.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Band Geeks", Squidward organizes a band by setting up fliers all over town, promising free refreshments. At the first meeting, Mr. Krabs asks "When do we get the free food?"
- Fancy Dinners have long been a way to smooth the waters of diplomacy. In fact in the British Diplomatic service it used to be a requirement to have a high tolerance for liquor. At times expensive food or drink was used as a bribe. A wine bottle might save face for instance when money is insulting. After all the spy you want might be a traitor but he wants to be known as a cultured traitor.
- Cory Montieth mentioned that the choreographer for Glee uses candy as a bribe so that they can keep working.
- Many parents offer to give their little ones candy or ice cream or cookies if the child behaves himself or herself.
- Many of the extras' services and rent for some vehicles appearing the original Mad Max were paid for in beer.
- Napoleon supposedly once faced an enemy army that was ill-supplied. He promised them food if they joined his army. It worked!
- Animal trainers are fond of using this trope. For many animal species it's the only training method that works.
- Bonobos (a type ape related to the chimpanzee) have been observed exchanging food for sex.
- Taken to extremes by preying mantis males, who offer themselves as food-bribe in exchange for mating.
- Offering police officers complementary coffee or food is a common (albeit unethical) practice for urban restaurants and food-carts, as being seen to be on good terms with the cops can discourage petty robberies and vandalism.