Publicly being The Hero
can sometimes be a thankless task. The bad guys know where to find you, your loved ones can get Stuffed In The Fridge
, and the only solace sometimes is that you passed What You Are in the Dark
. On top of that, it's generally just stressful work.
Even for a normal person, similar things can apply. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
, or you simply don't come out on top on karma. After you spent your pocket money replacing something for a kid who just got robbed, you don't have cash for the place you were going to have your only meal of the day at while you contemplated what to give up to pay the late rent.
It could even be All a Part of the Job
. Being a social worker or the subjectively "mean", but effective teacher can be thankless, and often doesn't even pay well.
Fortunately, there's another rare soul who's also good, and does what they can to help. This soul is also a business person, and at explicit cost to herself, provides the good with a good. Need a shopkeeper to show gratitude to the hero who saved the town from the villain? The hero will not be allowed to pay for goods/food/drink. Want to show someone who does the good deed for a living is also exceedingly honest? Have them decline such an offer.
To some extent, they can get away with this, because the economic impact of losing a customer or two may not be that large, or the personal impact of making sure the "customer" has had their deed paid forward. They may also believe it's important that the good guy has one less stressor or burden to deal with due to their good deeds, whether they know it or not
If others know this to be an occasional offer for good deeds, the morale boost and customer loyalty this causes can be effective for business, and for the general well-being of everyone around.
Contrast No Hero Discount
, Adam Smith Hates Your Guts
and Dude, Where's My Reward?
. Compare Hero Insurance
and Pro Bono Barter
. For actual hospitality, see Sacred Hospitality
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Anime And Manga
- Naruto often gets this treatment from Teuchi, the guy who runs his favorite ramen shop, Ichiraku Ramen. After he saves the whole town, in addition to finally being respected by everyone else, the owner (who already respected him, and knew him to be a Shounen Hero Big Eater) goes above and beyond them by giving Naruto a free buffet.
- Played with early in the Thunderbolts. The villainous Masters of Evil are thrilled to find out that the citizens of New York will give them free equipment out of gratitude for their fake heroism.
- Typically pops up when one of the more dark and brooding characters (or Spider-Man) is being given a Hope Spot after a long period of thanklessness, or in a Slice of Life bit between more epic storylines. One memorable bit was Daredevil making his nightly rounds and stopping by at this one hot dog cart; he had saved the guy from a mugging and possible murder a while back, and the grateful man would often give him a freebie. Not just for that one act, but generally making New York safer. "Good thing, too; not much room for a wallet in this spandex." Matt also occasionally gets free meals from restaurant owners who know his "secret".
- In Harry Potter and the Amulet of the Moon, Harry mentioned in a Daily Prophet article that he "couldn't and wouldn't accept free service or merchandise from any business, much as he appreciated the intentions of those who made such offers."
- Cowboys and Aliens: The bartender's wife lets Jake have a drink for free after he stood up to the town bully.
- In Rugrats in Paris, when Stu Pickles is summoned to repair EuroReptarland's giant Reptar mecha, Coco LaBouche lets Stu and his entire traveling party stay at the resort for free. Unfortunately, it's about the only decent thing she does in the entire movie.
- Discworld has this with respect to the often heroic Witches. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg often offer to pay for something, but they nearly always get it for free. This is because the Lancrastrians both love and fear witches.
- In the early Harry Potter books, Harry's reputation as "the boy who lived" has gotten him this treatment. Particularly in the third book, while he's staying in Diagon Ally until the new term (e.g. the local icecream vendor both helped him with his homework and gave him free Sundaes, the minister for magic basically let him off the hook for inflating his aunt, etc)...although the fact that everyone was relieved he hadn't been killed by Sirius Black helped.
- In Deathly Hallows, it's revealed that Alberforth Dumbledore has been giving free food to the members of Dumbledore's Army, even though they are all wanted by the Death Eaters.
- The novelization of the Dirty Harry movie Sudden Impact mentions that Harry received his unusual .44 Automag pistol as a gift from a custom gunsmith after he had saved the man's wife... probably by killing those endangering her, knowing Harry. It's suggested that he is often offered free stuff, because the text states that the pistol is the only such gift he ever accepted.
- In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs The Junior Super Patriots, the mechanic deduces she can't pay after the coffee house is destroyed, so he won't charge her — the town had needed a masked man to swoop in and deal with the coffee house for a long time.
- Serpico discovers that this trope has become corrupted over time — despite receiving a meal allowance, police officers still expected free meals. Serpico noticed the free meal was often leftovers or something that wasn't selling well, so he starts paying for his meal. This so alarms the cafe owner he chases Serpico down the street with his money. After some argument they agree that Serpico will pay cost only, while leaving a large tip for the waitress. He then found the staff treating him with a lot more appreciation.
Live Action TV
- In the first episode of Sherlock, we meet Italian restaurant owner Angelo, whom Sherlock cleared of murder charges during a case some time prior. Angelo greets Sherlock happily when he and John arrive at his restaurant and offers him (as usual) anything he wants, on the house.
- In fact, Sherlock's apartment is a similar situation. Mrs Hudson's husband was accused of murder. He assured the conviction.
- The original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers weren't charged by Ernie for their juices and smoothies. Word of God states that it was because he figured out they were the Power Rangers. Some WMG states that it was because it was about the least he could do for the child labor of teenagers teaching martial arts classes for free in his gym.
- In one episode of Dragnet — Friday and Gannon had just busted a perp before he could go after a restaurant owner. Immediately afterwards, a line of dialogue reveals that the cops haven't had lunch yet. The restaurant owner immediately offers a free lunch; when they refuse she tells them to sit down and order anyway, there's nothing controlling the size of the portions she serves them.
- On Fringe, a bartender in the alternate universe refuses to let Agent Broyles pay for his drink. This is because he recognizes Broyles as one of the law enforcement officials who helped deal with a major disaster (a gigantic vortex) years before; he tells Broyles that his money is no good there, because the world needs more heroes like him.
- At one point in Joan of Arcadia, Joan's father uncovers a large conspiracy within the municipal government and calls in the FBI. The FBI remove all heads of various municipal agencies including Joan's father who is Chief of Police. But the community still knows who the real hero is.
- Somewhat deconstructed in What I Like About You Val opens a coffee shop/muffin store in later seasons, and also starts dating a firefighter. He brings in some of his firefighter buddies, and she comps their food. They initially refuse, but she says it's the "Firefighter Special" and insists. Soon, word gets around and firefighters start showing up in droves for free muffins. Val quickly does the math (as in, extrapolates the costs in her head in under ten seconds; her coworker calls her "Rain Man") and realizes that she'd be ruined in a matter of days and quickly backpedals.
- In the Disgaea series you get free rewards from the Healer when you reach certain milestones of total damage healed. May only partially count because it encourages you to get hurt more so you can buy more healing, thus possibly resulting in a profit.
- Invoked in Mass Effect 2, Shepherd can convince a bar-tender to throw a round of drinks on the house to get another character's attention.
- In Final Fantasy X, the shopkeeper O'aka actually would give you a discount, but in his case only if you had donated a large sum of money to him when he was struggling to get his business off the ground. That point in time was at the beginning of the game, and you were likewise probably low on funds. Otherwise, he charges almost double what any other shop would. He also seems to suspiciously follow you around, to make sure you're prepared for upcoming fights.
- The reward for one of the quests in Diablo II is that shopkeepers in that town give you a discount.
- In Breath of Death VII, innkeepers never charge you, because you're a hero. Merchants, on the other hand, lower their prices for nobody.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, many merchants will reduce their prices (down to, with enough barter skill, selling at cost) if you do good deeds for their faction. The Kings regularily give you free stuff if yo've helped out the people of Freeside, and the Brotherhood of Steel provide you with surplus ammo if you've helped them. Likewise in Fallout 3, settlers in Megaton would give gifts to a hero protagonist, while slavers in Paradise Falls would reward a villain.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the more good deeds you do, the more "steal" tags on items in shops will vanish. This means that shopkeepers won't react to you taking them. Put simply, townspeople won't mind if the hero of the town helps themselves to a few odds and ends from store shelves, or a meal and a few drinks at the inn.
- In Borderlands 2, if you talk to Moxxi prior to starting the final storyline mission, she invokes this, promising that if you take down Handsome Jack, you'll never pay for another drink at her bar again.
- In From the Abyss use of the inn is absolutely free because the innkeeper considers it silly to charge the people who're supposed to be ridding the kingdom of monsters.
- In Far Cry 3, when Jason unjams a cell tower the shops will give him weapons for free.
- Inverted and discussed in Monster Girl Quest, when a shopowner claims that all merchants dislike the church because they are expected (or rather forced) to give heroes such huge discounts that they have a hard time making ends meet.
- In Girlchan in Paradise!!, the heroes temporarily defeat a villain, and the restaurant manager gives them a free meal. Kotomaru shoots him, correctly reasoning that the owner would never give out anything for free. They find the real owner tied up in a closet, and free him. As thanks, he gives them a free meal. He gets shot too.
- On SpongeBob SquarePants, Mr. Krabs offers SpongeBob, his own employee, a Krabby Patty "on me... well, maybe at a discount."
- A Plumber from Ben 10 was releasing aliens and then capturing them again explicitly for this trope.
- In real life: It's common for soldiers, cops, firefighters et al. to get free drinks from bartenders. American Airlines lets military traveling on orders use their Admiral's Club lounges for free (they still have to pay for meals but they waive the other fees).
- Happens in convenience stores as well. Some chains even have it as store policy that police get free coffee and fountain drinks, plus counter space to do their reports if they want it. Enlightened self interest; when your place of work is often seen as a very large free ATM, having police hanging around or known to commonly come in, at the cost of a few drinks is cheap insurance.
- At least one McDonald's in Australia gives half-price for uniformed police. And yes, cops hanging around isn't a bad thing, plus you get to look good for being nice to the community.
- In particular for the Medal of Honor recipients, they may receive, among other benefits, a monthly pension including to what other benefits they might have received note , and free air travel under the provisions of DOD Regulation 4515.13-R. The other privileges and courtesies listed here.
- Many awesome customers on Not Always Right receive free meals, drinks, or gift cards from grateful employees for standing up to other rude or violent customers.