Friend in the Black Market
aka: I Know A Guy
Andy: I understand you're a man who knows how to get things.
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.
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Anime and Manga
- Zelik Lindemann in Mother Keeper is this for Graham and Silas and is actually running the entire black market.
- 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.
- 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.)
- The Finn, of William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy. The Finn is a rare example of a smart, Genre Savvy one, who practices smart discretion and proves more than capable of defending himself when attacked. The Finn long surpasses the general life expectancy of this character type in most stories. 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 Dads 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)
- 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 thinks he has one of these in the second series of Downton Abbey (to get around post-World War I rationing). As it turns out, the flour is half plaster dust and the rest of the goods are worse than useless, as well.
- 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.
- CPO Pertwee in The Navy Lark
- Jimmy Da Weasel in The Space Gypsy Adventures, though sometimes Fluff Catt or Gemma Mildury will fill this role. DC Fusky masquerades as one of these in the 2004 remake of The Great Chocolate Biscuit Caper, as part of a plan to finally catch Gemma red-pawed.
- 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.
- In Shadowrun it's pretty much essential for every group of 'Runners to have two or three of these for getting all those less-than-legal things necessary for successfully operating as a 'Runner.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the Sofia the First episode "Winter's Gift," Clover calls on his old friend Whiskers (a fox) to get Sofia some ice lilies, since he has connections all over the wood, and literally gets his information from little birdies.