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Friend in the Black Market
Andy: I understand you're a man who knows how to get things.
Red: I'm known to locate certain things from time to time.

You're in a sticky situation; you need to get something and there doesn't seem to be a legal way of getting it. (It could be banned, rationed, from overseas or possibly just made in extremely limited quantities). If you're lucky, you'll have a Friend in the Black Market.

These guys are the real deal, never dealing in substandard goods because that wouldn't be good business practice and they rely on their reputations. They don't ask any questions either. Their main vice is that they're going to ask for a fair bit more than what the item is worth. Their defense for this is often that it's the circumstances and the effort to get the items that makes them charge the prices, but often it's also a bit of avarice too. (Which often makes them Mr Vice Guys.)

Personality wise, like Honest John, they can fit anywhere into the Character Alignment spectrum. (Although the fact they deal in quality products usually puts them at least chaotic neutral.) If the character is part of the main cast, then they'll usually be Chaotic or Neutral Good. In a war situation, they also tend to screw it and party, unless the action is centered on the military in which case they'll be doing this work on the side.

Compare and Contrast Honest John's Dealership who also sells products at a premium... except theirs are of lesser quality. The Scrounger is likely to either be this trope or to have dealings with him.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The Penguin could fit into this trope; while his main merchandise is information for Batman, he also does a lot of shady business. Because Batman's a poor tipper.
  • Al Capp's Li'l Abner had Available Jones, who could provide anything from a safety pin to a battleship, for a price.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Recurring character Bubba Rogowski of Dennis Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro Series is a former Marine who specializes in obtaining lots of illegal weapons and tech, and has put lives mines through his entire warehouse apartment to deter unwelcome guests. He's also something of a Psycho for Hire and a Man Child who can barely read, but he's been friends with Patrick since they were kids and will kill anyone who messes with him.
  • Mundungus Fletcher in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix starts out this way, as the guy brought in to help the Order get information on dark dealings (and to get the Weasley twins illegal goods), but his role in the story develops.
  • Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, who lives quite well despite the late unpleasantness. (He is a privateer, after all.)
  • In Neuromancer and it's two sequels, there's "The Fynn", a blackmarket dealer that appears regularly to sell equipment and information to the protagonists. Due to the nature of the depicted cyberpunk society, it's debatable wether he can be considered a friend, though.

    Live Action TV 
  • Private Walker, the spiv in Dad's Army.
  • Both Radar and Klinger from M*A*S*H, who use their wits to get anything the hospital needs. (Klinger getting the job when Radar leaves)
    • And when that didn't work, more than a couple times Father Mulcahy was the go-between between the camp and the actual black market.
      "You'd be surprised with what a priest can get away with."
  • Babylon 5's G'kar deals with... not really a friend, but a man he knows who deals in black market weaponry, which he needs for the resistance on Narn. The dealer is selling him for far more than the weapons are worth. G'Kar should know, because he sold many of those very weapons to Earth during the Earth Minbari War fifteen years earlier. In this case, the quality of the merchandise is guaranteed with the understanding that what G'kar will do to the dealer if it isn't will be unpleasant.
    • From the same series, the station's postmaster ends up filling this role as well. Despite Babylon 5 declaring independence from the Earth Alliance, and a blockade and trade embargo being enacted in retaliation, he still finds ways to get mail and packages delivered along more out of the way routes, charging accordingly. Oddly enough, Garibaldi didn't seem to consider that the post office should work any differently despite that.
  • In Firefly, the crew of Serenity tend to work for this guy (or a variety of these guys), using their skills and ship to acquire the goods for the market. From time to time, they will be seen doing business of their own with these sorts when they need to get things like disguises for their heists.
  • In one episode of Space: Above and Beyond, Captain Vansen is forced to deal with this guy aboard the Saratoga, trading him a key to the Officers' Lavatory (presumably much nicer than what the enlisted guys normally get to use), in exchange for a bowl of strawberries that she needed to trade with someone ''else'' to get his spot in line to make a call home.
  • Sgt. Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show
  • Dorium in the Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes to War". He starts out working for the villains, then learns that they've kidnapped one of the Doctor's companions and her child and decides to run for it before the Doctor turns up, knowing how many people owe him favours. As it turns out, he's one of those people, and is drafted into the Gondor Calls for Aid scenario.
  • Barney from How I Met Your Mother "has a guy" for just about everything, from a "Suit Guy" and a "Whip Guy" to a "guy in the DA's office" who "scored us front row seats to a lethal injection!"
    Barney: And, if I don't have a guy for something, then I have a Guy Guy to get me a guy. And, oddly enough, his name is Guy.
  • In Seinfeld Kramer's unseen friend "Bob Sacamano" provides many obscure, black-market products - from counterfeit Russian "rat hats" to "The Wizard" Tip Calculator for the condo association (which may be hot!). He is said to have made a fortune for having invented the "paddle with ball" toy, being the first one to attach a rubber band. Before that, Kramer insists, people would hit the ball and it would just fly away.
  • Uncle Eddie from Grounded For Life has a lot of connections with suspicious people, and is often able to obtain questionable items. Pointed out in one episode:
    Lily: You always say you "know a guy". How many guys do you know?
    Uncle Eddie: I know about 75 guys.
  • Peter from Fringe worked as a middleman for these types of people before he joined Fringe Division. He still has plenty of contacts in that world.
  • Frank from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia claims to have "a guy" for just about anything he needs. In one episode he even claims to have a "human meat guy".
  • Thomas has one of these in the second season of Downton Abbey.
  • On Cheers, Diane wanted an engagement ring that cost over five thousand dollars. Norm told Sam he had a Friend in the Black Market who could get essentially the same ring for only $1200. Frasier cautioned against this, saying that Diane wouldn't wan her engagement ring to be bought from someone who started conversations with "Pss, buddy." (After a phone call to his guy, Norm called Sam over with "Pss, Sammy.") Of course, everything goes wrong.
  • In Orphan Black, Stepford Suburbia housewife Alison recommends the services of a Ramon for Sarah when she needed a gun. Ramon turns out to be a friendly and slightly campy employee at the local big box store, who supplies Alison with pills and firearms.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The indie-RPG Hellcats & Hockey Sticks features the "Fixer", a character class who is essentially this; capable of obtaining any illicit item and (one assumes) selling it or misusing it for profit and/or amusement.
  • In d20 Modern, players can use the Knowledge (streetwise) skill to find or justify already having such a friend, aided by Occupations like Criminal that can grant a skill bonus.
    • In the CyberRave setting of the Cyberscape Source Book, this becomes more important as everyone has Gray Wealth that represents their barter-and-pawning based non-digital buying power in both the aftermarket and the black market. The Street Broker feat makes you into one.

    Video Games 
  • This arises as a gameplay mechanic in an awful lot of video games (especially RPGs) where the shopkeepers expect the heroes to cough up the dough even when the world is about to end. After all, Adam Smith Hates Your Guts. It fits this trope more than Honest John as at least they sell you legitimate items. Except that little snotrag Wirt.
  • The Spyro the Dragon series has Moneybags, who will perform various services for you for, "* ahem* , a small fee." It's usually anything but small (not to mention sometimes the price is insane for what he does), but if you want to finish the game, let alone get 100% Completion, you'll have to pay up. At least you get your money back.
  • Ratchet can buy a lot of black market gear during the course of his adventures, from weapon mods to hypnosis gadgets to giant overpowered weaponry.
  • Drebin in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is named for The Naked Gun character due to what he sells; 'naked guns' - the arms he sells are not ID-Locked, and so can be used by anybody, which comes in very handy for Snake. Also plays the Big Damn Hero at times, and serves as Mr. Exposition in relation to the backstories of the Beauty and the Beast Corps.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, Irish and Seth are this for Nigel West Dickens. Of course, West Dickens is a Snake Oil Salesman.
  • Krew is this in Jak and Daxter to the Underground but he;ll sell them out if the price is high enough.
  • Gheed in Diablo II could qualify as this and Honest John. Warriv states that, while Gheed is greedy, his wares are beyond reproach, suggesting that he realizes that selling low quality goods means that people would stop buying from him.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, none of the merchants in the area around The Strip will openly sell you the kind of Hidden Weapons you can smuggle past casino security. However, a shady guy hanging around Gomorrah calling himself "Mister Holdout" will sell them to you, and Mick at Mick and Ralph's can be convinced to sell you some from a secret back room if you pass a Speech challenge.
    Crier: We've got stuff we're not even allowed to sell, people. Only at Mick & Ralph's.

    Webcomics 

    Web Animation 
  • While Bubs of Homestar Runner may mostly be an Honest John, he also sells stuff on the black market—and his black-market merchandise are more legitimate, higher-quality products than anything he sells at his store.

    Western Animation 
  • Hustler Kid in Recess. In one episode Gus became the "Gusler Kid" and did even better than him. TJ also went a bit mad when an expy of Pokémon cards was adopted as a currency of sorts.
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force Carl has a friend named Terry. Terry can get things...but you don't want to know where he got them.


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alternative title(s): I Know A Guy
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