Is this the face of a man who would lie to you?
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 unlucky, you'll have to visit Honest John's Dealership.
These are the guys who'll attempt to sell you anything, mostly items that Fell Off the Back of a Truck
. The prices are usually dodgy too, either Too Good To Be True
or obnoxiously overpriced. (The former usually catches more people out than the latter). All in all, their main goal is money
Like its cousin trope, the Friend in the Black Market
, Honest John can fit anywhere on the neutral or chaotic side of the Character Alignment
spectrum: a good comparison would be the Jerk with a Heart of Gold 'Del Boy' Trotter
or Mr. CMOT Dibbler
types VS Jerkasses
like Mr. Wormwood
or sociopaths like Harry Lime
. After all, selling malfunctioning blow-up dolls is a far more forgivable occupation then selling The Alleged Car
that hates you with a passion
or fake pharmaceuticals to orphanages. Deal with the Devil
is when the "Honest John" character is genuine, pure
Expect him to wear an obnoxious outfit (plaid
suit jackets seem to be popular), record Insane Proprietor
advertisements, and say "But Wait, There's More!
" every other sentence. If this character is rendered as a Funny Animal
, chances are quite high that he'll be a weasel or a fox. Items for sale at Honest John's may include a Pig In A Poke
, All-Natural Snake Oil
, Asbestos-Free Cereal
, and of course The Alleged Car
Despite trying to appear as having Names to Trust Immediately
, chances are fairly good that the "Honest" part makes it a Non Indicative Name
. You know
, if he has to tell
everyone he's honest
Compare and Contrast Friend in the Black Market
, who also sells items at a premium but at least guarantees he's giving you the good stuff.
See also Snake Oil Salesman
, Shady Real Estate Agent
, Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?
, Crooked Contractor
, and Medicine Show
Completely straight examples tend not to last long in Real Life
, but we've probably all met one at least once. They're called "gray market salesmen," in business/econ terms. Ironically enough, they have less of a reason to lie and cheat than new car salesmen, as used car sales are a). more profitable in general and b). usually grant more consistent commissions because you're largely just selling the car and have fewer middle-men to appease, while new car salesmen derive a far larger portion of their commissions from tacked-on extras, leading to overwhelmingly high-pressure tactics and occasionally outright lying or grossly
stretching the truth.
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- Sarcastically praised in Bud Light's "Real men of genius: Mr. Used Car Lot Auto Salesman" in which the titular used car salesman's dodgy sales techniques are discussed and the announcer deadpans "...because when life gives you lemons, you sell them."
Anime & Manga
- The Firesign Theatre's album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All? opens with a character buying a car from "Ralph Spoilsport", who definitely fits the trope.
- Astérix and the Banquet (Le Tour de Gaule d'Astérix) has a
car chariot dealer selling Asterix and Obelix a shiny, sparkling, good-as-new chariot pulled by a strong black stallion... only problem is, the carriage breaks with the first stone in the road, and the strong black stallion turns out to be an old, battered white horse painted with black dye...
- There's also a Phoenician recurring character, Ekonomikrisis, who calls his slaves "partners with the right to row". He's just a humble partner without the right to row, of course.
- In the Super Mario Adventures comic serial, Mario and Luigi buy a Yoshi language learning book from a man named Friendly Floyd, only to find that it's worthless because all the sentences are translated simply as "Yoshi." Later on, though, Luigi manages to get help from Floyd in rescuing Mario from the Koopalings.
- In the Tintin series, our eponymous hero meets Mr. Oliveira da Figueira, a gent who manages to sell him a whole lot of junk, including a pair of skis with poles, in a desert. This is also after Tintin assures his dog that he wouldn't be conned into buying anything he didn't need. Worse, Tintin actually points out to his dog how he AVOIDED being conned. Depending on the specific translation, Tintin sometimes even points out that it was Figueira that got conned.
- Played for laughs with Manolito from the Mafalda comic books.
- In Alan Ford, the never-seen Bing (and perhaps his brother) is such a dealer. Sir Oliver is only ever seen conducting business with him over the phone, and then not buying but selling stuff fallen from the back of… well, everyone.
- One issue of Marvel's Transformers series had Big Steve, a slimy dealer who used every dirty trick in the book.
- Issue #2 of Marvel's parody comic-book What The—?! featured a fake advertisement page where a character called Honest John sold human brains, including Hitler's, possessed dolls; Elvis Presley's phone number and several of the devices in the Marvel Universe such as the Ultimate Nullifier. Other issues of the comic-book also featured false advertisement pages.
- Issue #1, for instance, included ads for an "Ironed Man" suit of armor and courses in a martial art called "Yubewasted" that would allegedly allow its practitioners to take out opponents with just one finger. It also had an ad on the back promoting a guy hiring losers to ink comic books that states "He's looking for gullible people with lots of money."
- Weird Pete in Knights of the Dinner Table routinely fast-talks B.A. into buying whatever he's trying to unload by talking it up as "just what he needs" for his game.
Weird Pete: I'm tellin' ya, B.A., Orcs at the Gates is the largest, most comprehensive Hackmaster campaign set ever published...
Weird Pete's spiel finally convinces B.A. to spend $89.99 for it. After he leaves....
Weird Pete: (on phone) Gamin' Dick? Ha, ha, guess what! I just unloaded that piece of crap Orcs at the Gates! Finally!
- Weird Pete (and his customers) are regular targets of sharp dealing from game publisher Hard Eight Enterprises.
Films — Animation
- Disney's Pinocchio gave us the actual Honest John who was a fox that cheated Pinocchio on several occasions.
- The Merchant at the beginning of the Disney Animated Canon Aladdin.
- Similarly, in the Disney Hercules, when Hercules lands in Thebes, a man appears, opens his vest, and says "Wanna buy a sundial?" Of course, Hades himself would be this trope if his deals involved actual money. James Woods even modeled Hades after a used car salesman.
- An American Tail actually has a character named Honest John. However, he is more of a Loveable Rogue politician trying to get people to vote for him. Including dead people.
Films — Live Action
- The entire movie, Used Cars.
- Reversed in Borat in which they wanted a really cheap vehicle just to get across the country, so the guy tells them that he can sell them a used ice-cream truck which isn't very well equipped but it will at least get them where they're going (i.e. the guy told the truth).
- It was a real used-car salesman who was being filmed, and thought it was a documentary, not a parody of one. The salesman declared "I just feel bad I wasted three hours of my time for 150 bucks. And I had nothing to do with selling him an ice cream truck."
- The series How It Should Have Ended essentially makes the argument that Sacha Baron Cohen is an Honest John's Dealer delivering a movie that was (he assumes) not to most people's taste then telling them "so long suckers, you can't have your money back."
- Bobby Bolivia, Bernie Mac's character in the Transformers film, when he isn't masquerading as a Magical Negro. "Honest" enough to present an old, battered Camaro (which wasn't there yesterday) as a very awesome ride. Ironically, that Camaro turns out to be a very awesome Humongous Mecha...
- The Hutts are turned into this in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Understandable due to the Law Of Unequal Returns, but that part is never mentioned.
- Flash Harry in the St. Trinian's movies.
- Ferdy the Fence in the movie version of Stardust.
Lamia: You'd better be telling the truth, you two-faced dog.
Ferdy: I can get you one of them, actually. Very good guard dogs. They can watch the back and the front door at the same time.
- Limbo in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes grabs some random stuff from a space pod and starts hawking it within 20 minutes of touchdown.
- The Robin Williams movie Cadillac Man.
- His goods may be a quite a bit more high dollar than your average Honest John, but Iron Man 2's Justin Hammer certainly has the attitude down pat as well as the cluster of malfunctions, if the videos from the Senate Briefing at the beginning are any good sign.
- In Mad Max, Max encounters a shady gas station repairman who tries to sell him repairs on everything but Max's car frame. It's implied that his parts are all stolen as well. Max is too canny for the man and escapes with his pocketbook intact. The mechanic ultimately foments Max's downfall, though unwittingly.
- The father of the bicyclist hero in Breaking Away was a used car dealer like this. He told one customer that the reason the car he was test-driving had stalled was that it had premium gasoline in its tank instead of regular, and had a heart attack at the possibility of giving a refund for a crappy car.
- The Three Stooges got in on this more than once. Including one time set in Ancient Egypt, of all places, where they sold used chariots that were about as good as you'd expect. It had a truly comical line from Moe:
"Greetings, friend! I'm Honest Moe, that's Honest Shemp, and that's... that's Larry."
- Clark Griswold falls victim to one of these in National Lampoons Vacation''.
- Humorously averted by Leo Getz in the Lethal Weapon films. When trying to sell Murtaugh's home, he insists on following the law and disclosing such interesting and alarming tidbits as the upstairs bathroom being "recently remodeled due to unexpected bomb damage".
- Jay Austin Motors in the first Sherwood Pictures film, Flywheel, starts off as this before Austin's Heel-Faith Turn.
- This trope was formerly named after Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, Ankh-Morpork's most famous entrepreneur and inedible-sausage-inna-bun vendor, from the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. The true CMOT Dibbler is, if nothing else, an excellent salesman for his ability to continue selling his horrible products, even after everyone knows just how bad they are.
- Besides the Ankh-Morporkian Dibbler, the Disc is home to a host of suspiciously similar salesmen, including Disembowel-Meself-Honourably Dibhala, Fair Go Dibbler, Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah, Al-Jiblah, May-I-Never-Achieve-Enlightenment Dhiblang, Dib Diblossonson, May-I-Be-Kicked-In-My-Own-Ice-Hole Dibooki, Swallow-Me-Own-Blowdart Dhlang-Dhlang, and Point-Me-Own-Bone Dibbjla. Reluctant world traveler Rincewind has remarked that if CMOT Dibbler ever shook hands with one of his international doppelgangers, there would probably be some sort of explosion. In the Discworld Companion, the author explains that "Wherever people are prepared to eat terrible food, there will be someone there to sell it to them."
- In fact, in Making Money, Dibbler's proper name is cited as Claude Maximillian Overton Transpire Dibbler, meaning that it's not just a nickname based on his catchphrase, he really is CMOT Dibbler.
- Alternatively, his name could have come out of the catchphrase, and was created to make his application for a loan more... legitimate, shall we say. Back in Night Watch, before the infamous catchphrase had crossed his mind, his cart was simply marked "Dibbler Enterprises, est". It's entirely possible he doesn't even HAVE a first name.
- While unrelated to the Dibblers, Heme Krona, proprietor of Camels-R-Us, in the Discworld novel Pyramids also qualifies.
- Mention should also be made of Hobson's Livery Stable, which employs an Igor as a vet, but is rumoured to use his extreme surgery skills as a horse "chop-shop". There's an urban legend about a two-toned horse with one long scar going down its body, the result of two particularly nasty cart accidents.
- Mr. Wormwood in Roald Dahl's Matilda. The tinkering with the cars differs between the book and movie. Maybe because the books is several decades older, and the Honest Johns had to update their methods meanwhile.
- In this case, he crosses the line into outright criminality - his entire business model is built on selling cars that appear to run fine, until they get about thirty miles off the lot, when the customer's Sudden Onset Unbridled Rage is suddenly aggravated by whatever means he should choose to use to prove he doesn't owe them a refund. He's also involved with dealing in stolen cars too.
- In an Arthur book, Muffy Crosswire's super rich father sells used cars of questionable value, what with his Punny Name. Ironically, one of the episodes of Arthur reveals that he hates liars.
- In the Harry Turtledove Alternate History The Two Georges, Richard Nixon is a salesman for used steam cars.
- Subverted in The Crying of Lot 49 with Mucho Maas, who — during his time spent as a used car salesman — was terrified of becoming one of these and developed a psychosomatic allergic reaction to pencil shavings and a fear of checked suits.
- The car dealership where the Joads buy their car in The Grapes of Wrath. An unusual example in which this is not played for comedy.
- Milo Minderbinder from Catch-22 begins as a light-hearted version of this trope, paying far more attention to his various moneymaking schemes than the actual war he's supposed to be fighting. However, his financial syndicate grows so large and arcane that he eventually bombs his own air base, firmly believing that it's in everyone's best interest because it brings profit to his investors.
- Mundungus Fletcher from Harry Potter.
- Tom Dennis Fitzgerald, the title character in The Great Brain children's book series.
- Jack from the book Little Men.
- Silk from the Belgariad.
- This is even somewhat lampshaded in one of the books, when he ends up receiving a bottle of Rivan perfume, and is unable to set a good price (In his mind this meant good as in making an exorbitant profit without setting it so high he'd be laughed out of the Fair), In the end, he gives it to Polgara, who 'thanks him for a princely gift', which only disgruntled him further.
- Robert A. Heinlein's novel Red Planet. Smythe, a student at Lowell Academy.
- Sylvester McMonkey McBean of Dr. Seuss's The Sneetches, who manages to con the eponymous creatures into repeatedly paying to use his star-applying and star-removing machines, so they can remain "different from the inferior type"/indistinguishable from their former oppressors. He only leaves when the Sneetches are all completely broke, laughing at their stupidity. This being a children's book, however, they do learn a valuable lesson, and stop discriminating based on belly stars or the lack thereof.
- Brax the Salesdemon from The Exploits of Ebenezum and The Wanderings of Wuntvor— complete with extremely obnoxious, loud checkered suit.
- This is Robin Goodfellow's day job.
- Jack from Searching for Dragons. Telemain actually warns him not to pad the bill on a magic carpet repair after learning that he's doing the job for a princess and the King of Dragons.
- In Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead, our protagonists are stranded on Necropolis and want to buy a ship. They end up in a used ship lot with a pushy, fast-talking dealer who is very put off when Tash starts guessing everything he's going to say and finishing his sentences. Usually she doesn't know she's doing it, but this time it's deliberate, and she reflects that he must be shallow.
- Tom Holt's Falling Sideways has a business actually named "Honest John's House of Clones". Which puzzles David Perkins, since, as far as he knows, cloning is something that only been attempted in a few of the most advanced labs in the world. With sheep. There shouldn't be a place on the streets of London offering to clone the woman he's hopelessly in love with for the low, low price of fifty pounds. Seventy-five tops. Plus fifteen for VAT.
- In Gerald Morris' The Princess, the Crone, and the Dung-Cart Knight, Adrian the Pardoner is a traveling salesman of papal indulgences and fake holy relics. The character seems to be based on the Pardoner of the Canterbury Tales, an example that makes this trope Older Than Print.
- In Richard Scarry's Busytown books, the Funny Animal variant is in play, as the proprietor of the city car dealership is a fox— usually trying to make a sale to a rabbit.
- The second Nursery Crimes book, The Fourth Bear, has Dorian Gray as a used car dealer. Much like his original story, each of Dorian's cars stays in pristine condition while a portrait of the car looks worse and worse and, in each car, the odometer runs backwards. When the odometer reaches 0, the cars self destruct with the hapless driver/occupants inside.
- Under the Dome has "Big Jim" Rennie, a corrupt town official who owns a used car lot.
Live Action TV
- The Electric Company: A memorable skit from the first season, pairing Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby. Cosby turns his portrayal of the Snake Oil Salesman Up to Eleven as he brags to a potential client that he is Honest John (pointing out the words with his stick). Just then, an angry customer (Freeman) bursts into the office and demands an explanation about why "Honest John" sold his son a lemon. Freeman then suggests that "Honest John" is an inaccurate name, to which Cosby admits "I lie a lot!"
- Most characters played by Frank "Yeeeeeeeeeees?" Nelson, especially on The Jack Benny Program.
- The Ferengi of Star Trek are an entire Planet of Hats of scheming salesmen.
- Star Trek: Voyager ran into the interstellar version of this — he forgot to mention the used spacecraft he sold Tom Paris was sentient and channeling Christine.
- Classic Twilight Zone episode in which the used car dealer acquires a used car that forces the owner to tell the truth.
- Lampshaded as a plot point in the episode "One for the Angels", where the CMOT Dibbler type uses his schtick to distract and delay Death, saving a young girl's life.
- Arthur Daley of Minder was definitely one of these. Played by George Cole who was known for his role as Flash Harry of the St. Trinian's series (see above), Arthur constantly had his finger in a number of dirty pies which in at least one case did include selling shoddy cars, but was generally (at best) in the gray market, if not outright criminal. (The pilot episode mentioned that Arthur was mostly legitimate nowadays and possibly didn't need a "minder" (i.e. Mook) any more.)
- Rip-off Rodney in iCarly.
- One episode of Step by Step revolved around J.T. getting a job at a car dealership with the word "Honest", he lampshades the trope later when he tells his stepmom that he keeps the owner honest.
- Del Boy Trotter from Only Fools and Horses.
- In his first appearance in Only Fools and Horses, Boycie is offered Trigger's car as part of a poker bet. His response: "You must be joking, I sold it to him!"
- In an episode of Due South, Benton and Ray went undercover at a used-car dealership which was fencing stolen cars. While the real car salesmen were examples of this trope, it was subverted when ever-honest Constable Fraser proved to be an excellent car salesman simply by telling people the truth and helping them find the car they wanted. (Okay, and by inadvertantly being a magnet to female car buyers.)
- Explicitly lampshaded in Family Matters, when Laura wants to buy a car from "Honest Joe's Used Car Dealership". Carl immediately warns against patronizing any business with "Honest" in the name.
- Mike Thecoolperson (yes, he changed his name) from The Young Ones.
- Also, Reggie Balowski, the 'International arms dealer, scrap metal merchant and French cabaret chanteuse' of the Balowski family, to whom Mike tries to sell the unexploded bomb dropped on their house.
Reggie: So, is that the atom bomb is it, eh? (sharp intake of breath) Oooh, naaaa, not in that colour, you know what I mean? See, that bomb, to me it's worth, well, a pony, couple of tortoises at most.[...] Tell you what, right, tell you what, come outside, I'll give you part-ex on a Reliant, right.
Mike: Reliant? Thats a three wheeler, innit?
Reggie: Usually, yeah...
- Sergeant Bilko from The Phil Silvers Show.
- Mr. Haney from Green Acres.
- Sergeant O'Rourke from F Troop.
- In Diili, the Finnish version of the reality TV show The Apprentice had Juhana Helmenkalastaja (his surname meant "Pearl diver", which he had legally changed his name into), who actually talked a jeweller into selling him a gold bar for spare change. The incident, however was frowned upon by the big boss.
- Auntie Wainwright from Last of the Summer Wine.
- And her counterpart Arkwright from Open All Hours (by the same author).
- The mantislike alien N'Grath from Babylon 5. Whenever a character needs to sneak around the station, he's there, willing to sell them plans, access keys, and anything else, for a "very expensive" price.
- Of course, N'Grath isn't exactly an Honest John, as he (she? it?) is also known to use and hire out hitmen if you don't pay her (him? it?); it (he? she?) implied to be some kind of crime lord, but since the B5 command staff can't pin him (her? it?) for anything and finds her (him? it?) somewhat useful at times, they more or less leave it (him? her?) alone.
- Colin Mathews from Press Gang, who has been known to sell, among other things, defective half ping-pong balls, cans of soft drink that stain people's faces green, homicidal "security" briefcases, and the services of a sadistic hypnotist. For some reason that is never entirely clear to the audience or the rest of the characters, he is somehow allowed to remain in charge of the newspaper's finances.
- Dan Aykroyd's early Saturday Night Live character, Irwin Mainway.
- The Dodgy Brothers from Australia Youre Standing In It.
- Vinnie from StreetSmartz.
- Benke Bengtsson from Vintergatan 5B. A rather extreme door-to-door salesman, you could say, who travelled around the cosmos in a yellow, truck-like thing, usually coming onto the protagonists' spaceship and offering to sell them an 'Intergalactic Multi-Tool'. Slightly subverted, as, despite his energetic salespitch causing him to be mistrusted, the Multi-Tool is actually useful (Or, as Benke says, "It's used for everything!"). Looks like he actually was honest, for once.
- Hannah Montana has Rico's Surf Shop, a beachfront establishment that sells mediocre, overpriced food and merchandise, and has been investigated by the health department more than once.
- The ninth season episode of Seinfeld, "The Dealership", features Jerry buying a new car from David Puddy, who can get him an insider deal. George tags along because hes positive that all car dealerships are Honest Johns and wants to protect Jerry. At one point in the episode Puddy and Elaine break up and Jerry loses his insider deal, so Puddy rings him up for thousands of dollars worth of useless junk and tries to sell Jerry a yellow car instead of the black he previously requested. At the end of the episode Puddy and Elaine get back together and Puddy happily admits the dealership doesn't even know what some of the expenses actually do. He gives Jerry a good deal, which Jerry blows by refusing to give him a high-five.
- Joey Jeremiah was the High School Hustler in the '80s versions of Degrassi. He grew up to become a used-car dealer in The Revival.
- Played for laughs with Junior Samples' used car lot on Hee Haw.
- Private Joe Walker in Dads Army
- Furlow's garage in Farscape. There's nothing that woman can't fix, and nothing she won't sell to the one evil empire you really don't want getting hold of it.
- Averted/Played with on an episode of Newhart. George leaves the Stratford Inn and finds a job as a car salesman. Due to his reputation of informing the customers when a car actually was a lemon or not, he was given the nickname "Honest George" and would often be sought after by potential buyers. Another salesman tried to take advantage of this by saying he was Honest George. Even to Dick when he came looking for him.
- Kamekona in the remake of Hawaii Five-0
- Young Entrepreneur Deuce Martinez in Shake It Up has many aspects of this in his make-up. Amusingly, his girlfriend turns out to be his Distaff Counterpart, if not more so, being able to out-wheel and out-deal him easily.
- Invoked in the fake commercial leading into the Impractical Jokers car dealership challenge.
- "Honest" Jake Phillips in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Buys a House" is a subversion in that he turns out to be an entirely different sort of criminal. Jake smooth-talks Monk (who just bought a new house) into trusting him, and even hands him one of his business cards. When Monk calls Jake to repair an off-centered ceiling light in his dining room, Jake starts finding more and more faults in the building that need to be repaired. He then calls his plumber plumber, "Honest" Ramone, to help knock down the walls and fix allegedly corroded pipes. It looks like Jake and Ramone are fleecing Monk, but their actual goal is bigger: they think a bank robber's haul is stashed in the house, and they're knocking out the walls to find it.
- Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad is essentially an Amoral Attorney but with underworld connections and personality generally associated with an Honest John.
- In one episode of Sledgehammer, the protagonists investigated a Black Widow of a Serial Killer who targeted car dealers like this. At the end, when the killer was caught, she showed no remorse, asking if it was truly a crime to kill car dealers.
- Completely averted to the point of parody in Arrested Development. When Michael goes to buy a car, the dealer is blunt, honest, and keeps trying to show Michael utilitarian, reliable, cheap cars. When Michael shows interest in a Corvette, he goes out of his way to talk about how impractical it is. Michael buys it anyway.
- Honest Ed from Garfield. As Garfield observes, his office is in a pickup truck with the engine running.
- Private Cosmo in Beetle Bailey; basically Ernie Bilko with a reduction in rank.
- Peter occasionally takes this role in B.C.
- Elvis Zimmerman in Piranha Club is one of them. Sid, too, who runs a shady real estate business.
- Honest Abdul in Beau Peep, perveyor of tat to Cloudcuckoolanders Dennis and the Nomad. A typical Abdul strip will have him reflecting that no-one will buy his latest product, then a Gilligan Cut to Dennis proudly showing it to a disbelieving Peep.
- Convincing John from Fraggle Rock is a subversion of this in that he doesn't do it for money (of which Fraggles apparently have no concept) but for the lulz.
- Mad Man Mooney from The Muppet Movie, who offers the traveling Muppets a $12 trade-in for both of their vehicles and claims a car that falls apart in front of their eyes is "collapsible, for narrow garages." He also has a "you pay the price you see on the sticker" policy. Although it usually means you're getting a lemon and no haggling, it proves to be his downfall when a slapped fly means that twelve-dollar trade-in means he owes the Muppets a nickel.
- Each The Sifl and Olly Show episode features a home shopping segment in which the hosts pitch a product sold by their sponsor, Precious Roy, an apparently senile huckster who does nothing but spout non-sequitors before shouting, "Suckers!"
- Sesame Street- the guy in the trenchcoat and fedora that ALWAYS cons Ernie out of his nickel.
- What do you get when you cross Honest John with Don Corleone? Probably something a lot like the Free Enterprise secret society in the Paranoia Tabletop RPG.
- The Yasuki family from Legend of the Five Rings have been described as "the Wal-Mart of Rokugan."
- One of TSR's add-on books for 2nd edition AD&D had an Underdark merchant playable class. As a class perk, this character is not only expected but required to moderately cheat any customers. If the character does a completely honest transaction, underdark NPCS such as Drow assume it's a ruse for something even worse and automatically attack.
- Magic: The Gathering features a class called Mongers that...all have an ability that any player may activate, for the right amount of mana. Oddly, the Sailmonger grants any creature flying, which would be great...if she weren't blue, blue being the color that has the most flying already. The Warmonger, in red, has a similar problem, doing 1 damage to each creature without flying...and being in the color that is the most earthbound.
- The Engineer from the musical Miss Saigon.
- Thénardier from the musical Les Misérables, made clear in his Villain Song:
Charge 'em for the lice,
Extra for the mice,
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice!
Here a little slice,
There a little cut,
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut!
When it comes to fixing prices,
There are lots of tricks he knows!
How it all increases,
All them bits and pieces,
Jesus! It's amazing how it grows!
- All of the vendors in the "Christmas Bells" scene in RENT (in particular the one who tries to sell Collins' stolen coat back to him).
- The Monkey Island games have fast-talking salesman Stan, who in the course of the five games has run a used-ship yard, a funeral home, an insurance company, a timeshare agency, and a law firm. And who sports a highly implausible jacket.
- Subverted (at least in Curse) because after being trapped in a coffin for some time, he decided to turn his life around; the insurance company was actually a legit business venture, so it's a shame that you can only progress by outright scamming him.
- Tiny, the used spaceship dealer in Space Quest I. Of the 3 ships you can purchase from him, 2 will crash as soon as you get in them (one fatally). And the third was just randomly parked next to the merchandise, and Tiny simply decided it was his to sell. As soon as you take off in it, the real owner shows up and demands to know where you're going with his ship.
- Also, Droids B Us. If you buy the wrong droid, it breaks down, just like the R5 with the bad motivator in Star Wars. In the remake, there are two droids you can buy that will explode in your face and kill you. (One blows up with no warning, the other if you touch it a 3rd time, being warned twice by the game that the robot is too complex for you to possibly handle without killing yourself.)
- Perhaps as a nod to the Ferengi are the Goblins in Final Fantasy XI, who are pretty much Ferengi IN VANA'DIEL!
- The goblins in the Warcraft universe were first given this characterization in Warcraft III, where they peddled magic items to all sides of the war. It was continued in World of Warcraft.
"Time is money, friend."
"I've got what you need."
- Of particular note is Griftah, a troll merchant in Shattrath Lower City who claims his merchandise convey great powers to the wielder. Charm that allows you to heal wounds merely by eating food! Charm that anchors your spirit to the mortal world, and you just need to get back to your corpse to return to life! As you probably know, said abilities came standard with your character. As well he sells an outrageously overpriced ornament, which is necessary for certain craftsmanship.
- Almost every game of the World of Mana series features a suspicious merchant who is either an anthropomorphic cat or rabbit named Neko, Nikita, or Niccolo. Sometimes he is playable, but he's always out to bring "happiness" to his customers by, for example, selling them overpriced glass beads as jewelry.
- At exactly twice the normal buying price, at least in Secret of Mana.
- And in Seiken Densetsu 3, Nikita is revealed to be from an entire race of traveling cat-people merchants.
- In Animal Crossing, Tom Nook has almost complete control over your town's economy, forcing you to buy a house, and then upgrade it several times without really giving you a choice. His two nephews work for him when his store is fully upgraded, so he's also into child labor. He even manages to get control over the hair industry, having a salon in his store. And it's kinda creepy how he stalks you when you run around his store because he wants to be sure you don't steal anything.
- Crazy Redd also fits this trope very well- he sells counterfeit paintings, after all.
- Bosco from the Sam & Max: Freelance Police games from Telltale Games, mainly in the first season, where he sells the Freelance Police various overpriced (but strangely effective) Homemade Inventions. In Season Two, he's too preoccupied with his conspiracy theories to sell Sam and Max any goodies. He lampshades his role as a CMOT Dibbler, pointing out that he keeps thinking of the most ridiculous prices he can, but Sam and Max keep buying his stuff.
- The Melnorme Traveller-Traders of Star Control II act a lot like this, selling the player a variety of useful goodies as the end of (nearly) all sentient life steadily approaches. That said, without the information and technology they provide, the game is substantially harder.
- The Druuge as well: they consider profit to be of utmost importance, therefore they will do anything they think they can get away with if it will net them a profit. Trading with them can yield some useful items, but one must be very careful in how one does it.
- Costalot (it's all in the name) from Viva Piñata. While she probably wouldn't sell her own grandmother for a buck, she is doubtlessly extremely greedy — she doesn't cotton to window shoppers at all.
- Arona Daal of Startopia is the absolute epitome of this trope. He'll be selling you anything you're looking for, all top quality; swear on all six of his grandmothers' graves. And at those prices, too; he's slitting both his throats.
- Tristam the ninja from Final Fantasy Mystic Quest indulges in this.
- In Final Fantasy X, Wakka calls out Rin on the fact that, if they fail to defeat the upcoming Boss, everyone would be in trouble. However, Rin calmly affirms his confidence in their abilities, and charges them for his goods anyway.
- Which is actually kind of funny, noting that said boss is usually considered to be That One Boss.
- The Magikarp salesman, both in Pokemon Red And Blue and the anime, where one is a recurring character.
- Easily subverted in the games. Buy the Magikarp from him, train it well, and you can have a Gyarados by the time you'd be able to catch a Magikarp normally.
- Also averted in Pokemon Black And White, as buying from him is the only way to get a Magikarp in Unova.
- Ribald Barterman from Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, proprietor of the "Adventurer's Mart" has the lingo, but most of the stuff he sells is actually good. There is however a merchant in the first Baldur's Gate who sells potions who is this trope to a tee. (each potion will increase one of your stats to 25... And lower all the others to 3)
- Murgo in Fable II is a classic example. He sells you several cursed quest items, and while he offers a variety of clothing, makeup & hairstyle cards, and other items, most of them are merely aesthetic in purpose. The real invoking of this trope comes from his spiel about items he's selling in the "childhood" portion of the game as well as the things he'll hawk when you're standing near his kiosk as an adult. He actually does have some real magical items, but only sells them to serious customers (read, those who can defend themselves against the monsters in the places that said items teleport them to.)
- One of the salesmen on Volcania in Hand of Fate is like this. If you keep gathering seashells, coins, and starfish for him (not required and takes a long time), you eventually become so pissed off you punch him out.
- Ali Chica of Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire. His goods are guaranteed the best in town or you no getta your money back. However he does sell two useful items: the map and compass.
- Gheed from Diablo II, one of the two merchants in Act I, is one of these. He offers you a lifetime guarantee and a two-day warranty on all items (presumably on the basis that he doesn't expect you to last any longer as a hero in a world swarming with monsters). He doesn't, of course, in gameplay terms, charge any more than any other merchants.
- He probably also qualifies as A Friend in the Black Market, as Warriv intimates that Gheed's goods are of high quality.
- Saxton Hale from the Team Fortress 2 supplementary materials is a Testosterone Poisoned version of this. He actually PRIDES himself in selling "dangerous, cheaply-made products that catch on fire!"
"If you aren't 100% satisfied with our product line, you can take it up with me!"
- In Recettear you are playing one yourself. Or at least you CAN, since the price you can get for an item isn't just the item itself but the customer you are selling it to (the well dressed man will pay more than the little girl) as well as your relationship with them (if you've given them 'good deals' in the past, you can trade on that friendship to charge them more later). Not to mention taking advantage of the daily price fluctuations certain items are in/out of demand) when a horde of shoppers enter the store, desperate for certain items.
- Not quite - everything you sell is in working order, but you charge through the nose for it. Euria is a better example, selling rare, wondrous items and accepting a wider spread of prices for them... with that spread centered at 500% market value.
- Pinstripe is implied to run one of a classic variety in the epilogue of Crash Team Racing. While there's no suggestion of quality, he does apparently seal a deal more quickly once his tommy gun comes out. A less typical example in the same game that references the trope title would be "Honest Joe's Wedding Ring and Rare Gem Outlet". Joe was convicted for laundering Cubic Zirconias.
- Splodgy Dave in Dragon Quest Heroes Rocket Slime comes off as this (he definitely got the name for it), but Gameplay and Story Segregation prevents it from affecting the stuff you buy.
- In Endless Frontier practically half the people you meet all get a turn at this. It gets Lampshaded quite a bit too, especially the pricing part.
- In Treasure Island Dizzy you need to buy a boat to get back to the civilization. Conveniently, you meet a shopkeeper who'll sell you a boat for one of the treasures you can find in the game ... with no motor. For the second treasure you can buy the motor ... with no fuel. For he third you get the fuel ... but you still need to buy the keys for the motor with the fourth treasure.
- Lampshaded in the second Descent game where the cheat code "Honest Bob" gives you all weapons.
- One of these guys shows up in the DLC case The Consul's Car in L.A. Noire. At first he just seems like an overzealous car salesman, but when you successfully question him, it quickly becomes evident that he's kind of a sleazebag. Bribing people in order to get them to buy his cars is just good business.
- Another DLC case, "A Slip of the Tongue" has one questioned in his relations to distributing stolen cars as legitimate ones. He's a little less sleazy than the last guy, but his sense of humor is so grating that your partner starts begging you to let him shoot the guy.
- After questioning this guy, your partner posits a chicken-and-egg question: "Do you think you have to be an asshole to sell cars, or that selling cars turns you into an asshole?" When Phelps thinks the partner is in a bad mood, the partner states he HATES car salesmen no matter what day it is, and loathes the fact they all think they're hilarious while only being funny as, quote, "a heart attack". Phelps then guesses that the more annoying they are, the faster the customers sign the paperwork.
- Phineas T. Rotostar, CEO and owner of Protostar, from WildStar. While his products are legitimate, the quality is dodgy, the prices "imperceptibly inflated," and he's not above some rather shady business practices.
- 1001 Spikes has Conseil's Duty Free, which has elements of this. All of the costumes you buy are explained as an advertising contract where you have to buy the uniform yourself, leading to a humiliating cutscene trying to advertise the shop. The outfits themselves seem to be subpar, such as the Knight Armour being made of flimsy materials or the kung-fu suit smelling pretty strongly of BO. However, the rest of his goods, such as extra lives and the Skull Detector are all perfectly fine, and to be fair, some of the jobs Conseil sends you on for the Extra modes are legitimate.
- In the original Space Quest, Roger has to deal with a really sleazy used spaceship salesman. Buying the one he suggests will cause Roger to crash moments after taking off. Hilariously, when you buy the right ship off him (naturally it's the most expensive) and figure out how to get it to take off, you then find out that he sold you some other guy's ship. Even MORE hilariously, if you pay close attention during the takeoff, the guy who comes screaming at you for taking his ship is also a man who will mug you if you follow him earlier. (Maybe these dealers aren't completely bad.)
- Bubs from Homestar Runner, who sells an astounding number of things, often at ridiculous prices, out of his concessions stand. Snacks, drinks, broken computers, letters that fall off his sign, stolen artifacts, questionable medical care, bazooka-flamethrowers that throw throwing stars, chicken beaks, VCR repair, paint, Internet service, and so on. In the email "pom pom", he even tried to charge Strong Bad for "face smashings" and "severe pummelings" after Strong Bad tried to pick a fight with Pom Pom. He also attempted to sell Coach Z a used napkin. Twice.
- Akbar from 8-Bit Theater: present every time the Light Warriors turn around, ready to sell them anything they desperately need. What a bargain! Even if getting into one of his airships is tantamount to suicide. Why they keep buying from him... he always claims to be an identical relative that isn't anything like the others. And the heroes are just incredibly thick. It's become a running gag to show some device failing to work (often catastrophically), then to reveal via flashback that the device was purchased from one of Akbar's many, many stores.
- Opposite Akbar is Jeff, the proprietor of "Jeff's Discount Death Traps (Not To Be Confused With Actual Airships)". His wares aren't any better than Akbar's, but he's completely honest about it, thereby earning the trust of Red Mage. Of course, the Light Warriors also like him because he kicks Black Mage whenever BM speaks.
- Thief also occasionally dabbles in this line of work. For example, when the Light Warriors end up on a frozen tundra, he successfully sells blocks of ice to his teammates, marketing them as Ice Armor and Ice Spells.
- He's a Thief! He is extremely greedy, steals anything
that isn't nailed down or/and on fire, considers anyone that won't steal something that is nailed down/on fire to be an amateur, and then manages to sell it back to you. So he's stealing your money twice. Oddly enough, the player character can actually do this in the Fable games.
- He was at one point very honest about his bad deals. Black Mage declared him a Magnificent Bastard upon finding that satisfaction was not, in fact, guaranteed. To elaborate, a contract had a tiny, harmless-looking dot between the words "satisfaction" and "guaranteed." Magnified to an extreme degree, the dot turned out to be the word "not."
- Station V3 features a used-spaceship dealer/all-around scheming huckster named "Honest J!on".
- Subverted in Misfile. The car dealer is "honest John" to a tee, but Ash is enough of a Wrench Wench to play him at his own game. 
- An Adventurers strip features "Honest Cid's Used Airships."
- Tales of the Questor features Merchant Max, a rather slick secondhand-goods salesman who isn't above selling cartloads of (mostly) total junk to a drunk Questor. To his credit, he later gave Quentyn some really canny advice of how to bargain for the quest items that would be in someone's possession. Yes, this was an excuse to make the hero take on a ship's load of low power magic trinkets as trade goods, but the general intent is decent.
- Doubly subverted by this Subnormality strip: after giving honest information about cars on the lot, the salesman admits he's a member of Vendeurs Sans Frontières and is doing this as a public service.
- Al Coda's Used Instrument Kiosk in Tone Deaf.
- The Crooked Spine runs one of these in Awful Hospital.
- Nicolae of Gaia Online, especially in the manga where he fences goods stolen from The Mafia to people who want to visit the local Don... In-game, users are more likely to notice the fact that he charges real-world money (via "donations" to the site) for zOMG! Power Ups.
- Parodied in this YouTube video (warning: NSFW).
- Bubs, the concessions stand owner from Homestar Runner, being apparently the only store in town, often overcharges for everything and anything. He's charged people for waiting in line at his store, or saying "Thank you" after a purchase. Everyone seems okay with him, amusingly.
- Hat Films have this as an extension of Hat Corp in the Yogscast Minecraft Series, selling land to various members of the Yogscast. The trio gives Simon Lane a ton of gear and a new deed to Craggy Island after the Jaffa Factory explodes, but they hint afterwards that they scammed him with some dodgy terms and conditions, and plan to scam Simon and Lewis Brindley too. Unfortunately for them, Simon can still hear them.
- Cheddarman from Class of 3000.
- Pete in Goof Troop. Although you have to wonder how accurate the portrayal really is when you consider how relatively suscessful Pete's business is over the series. You'd think he would have been shut down at some point but he still makes a steady income; either he's not always as dishonest as he's shown to be, or the residents of Spoonerville are just too oblivious to complain about him too much.
- Rugrats had an episode play off the Grandpa's description of car salesmen being sharks, and it turned into a pseudo-Jaws parody.
- Gwizdo in Dragon Hunters; he negotiates the contracts with villagers (while Lian-Chu does the actual dragon hunting). One of his catchphrases is: "Can't read? No problem! Just make a cross here, here and here."
- Malfunctioning Eddie and the dealer who sells Amy her car in Futurama. Not that Amy makes it very hard for him... (Ironically, Eddie is in even worse shape than any of the cars he sells. He's eventually caught in the act, seeing as in a later episode, he's at the Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots.)
- Almost any time Bender operates a scam business, he calls it "Honest Bender's [insert business description here]."
- Wacky Wally, owner of Wacky Wally's Weather Machines, who sells slightly-used devices for controlling the weather to supervillains, in an episode of Kim Possible.
We'll take it! Wally:
Great! Hey, why don't we step into the office.... Drakken:
No, I mean we'll take
it. Shego! (Drakken and Shego steal the weather machine.)
- In the 1943 Disney cartoon The Flying Jalopy, Donald Duck runs into Ben Buzzard, the seedy proprietor of a "
wrecked Used" airplane dealership. Ben is even nastier than most characters of this type; not only does he sell Donald the eponymous flying jalopy, he also attempts to knock Donald off as part of an insurance scam.
- The Looney Tunes short The Pest That Came to Dinner has Porky Pig trying to get rid of a termite. He enlists the aid of a fast-talking, shyster exterminator named Sureshot ("I'm here to help ya, son!") whose various schemes keep making things worse for Porky.
- Daffy Duck frequently played the role of a pushy door-to-door salesman strong-arming a reluctant character into buying unwanted goods, as in The Stupor Salesman and Design for Leaving
- And, oh yeah, ACME.
- Bluto often took on this role in the long-forgotten 1980s series Popeye and Son.
- In one Tiny Toons short, Buster went to a bike dealer who claims his bikes will be perfect or he'll eat a bucket of scorpions. Naturally, the bike fails to stay together for the initial "Warranty" length, and refuses to give Buster his refund or admitted that he sold shoddy bikes. Naturally, he makes good on his promise at the end (except in the version that aired on Nickelodeon).
- Swindle, from the Transformers Generation 1 cartoon (and comics), is a giant transforming robot con artist. He once sold the rest of the Combaticons to the Russians (the equivalent of selling his own brothers), and has complained when being shot because it damaged his own resale value.
- His alternative continuity counterpart in Transformers Animated proudly continues the tradition with some blatant conning and extortion-at-many-gun(s)point thrown in for maximum profit. He's honest in that the things he sells tends to be exactly as he described them... but he makes absolutely no guarantees about not walking over and selling your opponent just what he needs to counter your expensive new upgrades and leave the fight at a standstill.
- Action Master Gutcruncher is arguably even worse than Swindle. While Megatron can tolerate Swindle because at least he's obvious about it, you never know what angle Gutcruncher is working.
- In the TransTech comic continuity, Swindle manages to partner with himself via the joys of dimensional travel. Twice. The three of them run a business known as Swindle, Swindle & Swindle, and deal in black market modifications, equipment, and parts. It's every bit as shady as you would imagine for a store with Swindles as the barker, salesperson, and cashier. Simultaneously.
- Trader Slick from the Jumanji animated series.
- Family Guy's Jim Kaplan. You name it, he'll try and sell it.
- Hey Arnold! had Big Bob Pataki (beeper shop owner), who once said of gadgets he'd just discovered were defective "I'll make thousands!" The guy has no refund department, and was even shown in a later season episode telling off a woman demanding a refund for her defective beeper.
- Wes Weasley from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, who first appeared in the episode "Birth of a Salesman". It should be noted Weasley has a few similarities with Phil Silvers, namely his voice, clothing, and glasses. This may have been intentional....
- Daria has a used-car salesman who is not only sleazy, but creepy, trying to pick up Brittany, who is in high school.
- Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy is an Honest John in training.
- Hiroki Ishiyama of Code Lyoko is another Honest John in training. He's already quite good at selling overpriced concert tickets to the students of his school. Just give him a few years...
- The Berenstain Bears cartoon from the 1980s featured a con artist called Raffish Ralph as a recurring antagonist. He was eventually incorporated into the books and later, for some reason, renamed Ralph Ripoff.
- Gil, the eternally luckless salesman from The Simpsons sometimes tries to pull this off, but lacks the backbone, charisma, and intelligence to do so.
- There was also that one car dealer that tried to sell Homer a car from a Eastern European country that no longer exists.
- There's the salesman who sold Homer the snowplow.
- partial averted, as the scheme he used to sell the the snowplow to Homer actually worked for Homer...until he sold another one to Barney.
- And the salesman from Homie the Clown, who convinced Homer that bullet holes in a car were 'speed holes' that made the car go faster.
- And then there was the time an unemployed Homer saw a "Help Wanted" sign, planned to steal it so the store proprietor would have to pay him to make a new one, only for the proprietor to show Homer what he did to scammers like him... by hiring him.
- Season 1 - Call of the Simpsons: Homer, jealous of Flanders' new RV, heads to Bob's RV Roundup to get his own "all-terrain vehicle." One of the most memorable lines in the entire series.
(After Bob checks Homer's credit)
Homer: Is that a good siren? Am I approved?
Bob: You ever known a siren to be good? (Chuckles) No, Mr. Simpson, it's not. It's a bad siren. That's the computer in case I went blind, telling me, "Sell the vehicle to this fella, and you're outta business." That's what the siren says.
- In another episode, Marge had to go buy a new car and the salesman banked on her being easy to fool since she was a woman, the whole ordeal is him trying to come up with something to manipulate Marge just for Marge to reveal more and more info she got from the internet from the cars' true performances, availability and price to the personal information of the salesman when he tried to guilt trip her.
- Pasha Peddler in the Jonny Quest episode "Calcutta Adventure". He might charge a lot for his goods, but he delivers great service for the money. For instance, when Benton Quest and Race Bannon are being pursued by Mooks in a mountain range, they suddenly find some skis and poles waiting for them to make their escape courtesy of Pasha Peddler, along with the bill. Obviously, they don't argue with such salesmanship.
- Dishonest John, the villain in nearly every Beany And Cecil cartoon. He even runs a used car dealership some of the time.
- Al Swindler, he of the enormous nose, in several episodes of Garfield and Friends.
- Frenzel from Erky Perky.
- A recurring unnamed Salesman on Jimmy Two-Shoes.
- An episode of Rainbow Brite had a shady traveling salesman who conned Twink into trading the mine where the Star Sprites mine Color Crystals for some phony "color crystal seeds". The guy then proceeded to try and turn the mines into a tourist trap.
- The Dastardly & Muttley episode "A Plain Shortage Of Planes" has the Squadron getting a beat-up run-down plane at Bargain Bill's Used Plane Lot. Dastardly offers to pony up $10 for it (Bargain Bill asked for $1000, but he took the sawbuck if Dastardly threw in Muttley's medal).
- Danger Mouse: "The Man From Gadget" had DM and Penfold subjected to the dubious quality of the wares of Egregious M. Murphy, senior sales rep for Gadgets Incorporated.
- Wait Till Your Father Gets Home has Harry decide to buy a new car, and he finally buys one from a crooked dealer who has a horrible service department and sells car equipped with defective parts.
- Cobra Commander of G.I. Joe got his start as one of these, in the comics at least.
- Flim and Flam from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, who started off as a Shout-Out to Robert Preston's character from The Music Man. They're charming, fast-talking, and will sell anything for a quick bit, including "health tonic" that may or may not simply be apple juice and beet leaves.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Little Dipper", it turns out that selling used cars is what Gideon's dad Bud Gleeful does for a living. "Engine possum at no extra charge!"
- Gruncle Stan can be considered an example of this trope as well
- There's a reason that the trope name and page image refer to cars: the automotive sales industry is so rife with dishonesty, corruption, and trickery that it's hard to visit a car lot without getting the distinct impression that the sales reps are mentally picturing bending you over the nearest table. It's the very reason that lemon laws exist, and there are very few other sales sectors that recommend bringing someone knowledgeable along to make sure you aren't actually being bent over the nearest table.
- One other such sector being computer hardware, thanks to GeekSquad, among others
- In the city of Geneva, Illinois, there are two stores that actually have "Honest John's" in the title. Honest John's Emporium, and Honest John's trading post. They're not really rip offs, just filled with a lot of cheap useless crap you'll never need but will have a compulsion to buy.
- Honest Jon's records in London, England - a legitimate and well regarded record store.
- honestjohn.co.uk - a website run by a Daily Telegraph motoring writer who's answered around half a million letters and emails about all kinds of motoring issues with thousands of car reviews and a thriving community offering legal, technical and general advice.
- Notably averted in the case of Honest Ed's, a long-lasting department store in Toronto known for its very reasonable prices.
- In Britain during World War II, sharply-dressed men knowns as "spivs" sold black market goods to people who were unable to get them otherwise due to rationing. They fit this trope almost to a "T".