Merchant: I can't take money from the king!
Edgar: Don't you have a family? Just shut up and take it.Authority figures, especially of the benevolent kind, have a hard life. Everywhere they go they are offered stuff for free. But, since they're benevolent, they feel bad about robbing innocent citizens of their income, and loudly insist on paying for meals and such. A lot of RPGs involving noblemen have the line, "I insist on paying for that!" to prevent you from getting stuff free. Though you usually don't get a nobleman's wealth along with the character (sometimes handwaved through a line such as, "The treasures in my treasury belong to the kingdom"). (See With This Herring.) Truth in Television with policemen being offered freebies.
- An old Little Caesar's ad from years ago, back when they were offering a free pizza with a purchased one, had a Boy Scout troop master insisting on paying for the freebie pizza, when ordering for his troop. Hilarity ensued.
- Captain Carrot of Discworld does this. Subverted in that they only offer him free stuff because they know he'll refuse.
- Averted with the other members of the Watch, particularly Fred Colon, who takes all the free meals he can get.
- In the short story Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones, "Singers" are people with very special talents who are known world wide. There are only about 20 or so in the world. Hawk the Singer always attempts to pay for things before someone just gives it to him. He explains to the protagonist that the day he stops attempting to pay or stops acting surprised at getting something for free is the day he will have to start paying.
If I ever start expecting it, it'll stop.
- Steve Carella (and, by extension, every honest cop) in the 87th Precinct novels. In one novel, he is offered theatre tickets to a hit musical and notes that as a cop you can either accept nothing that is offered to you, or everything: there is no middle ground. (He does take the tickets, but pays market price for them after first establishing that these are reserve tickets that would have been on sale to the general public before the show, so there can be no question of him being down special favours.)
- In a character-defining moment for both Thanos and Anat in the Shattered Twilight story The Farmer's Wife, Thanos leads the other priests out of an inn without paying for their stay for the night or for the food they ate, but Anat sneaks a few coins onto the table - out of Thanos' sight - before he leaves.
- Subverted in Friends, where Monica does accept free steaks (and an eggplant) from the new meat suppliers to the restaurant where she works, considering them a gift. She ends up being fired over it, since the owners of the restaurant wrongly interpreted it as a bribe (Monica had been recently promoted to a job which included selecting the meat supplier).
- In one episode of Frasier, "Our Father Whose Art Ain't Heaven", Martin expresses irritation that Frasier never allows him to pay for his meals, so he insists on paying at a fancy restaurant. When Niles and Frasier both order cheap meals to be nice, he refuses to pay, at which point Frasier refuses on a similar principle and Niles realizes that he left his wallet in their taxi.
- In The West Wing, Mrs. Landingham pays full sticker price for her new car, much to the dismay of her coworkers and boss.
- On Seinfeld, Jerry's parents flat-out refuse to believe that he makes anything remotely resembling a decent amount of money as a comedian. This leads to huge arguments between Jerry and his father Morty whenever they are together, as both of them insist on paying for everything: Morty because he thinks Jerry is perpetually broke, and Jerry because he wants to prove to his parents that he is far from it.
- This reaches its climax when Jerry buys Morty a Cadillac for his birthday. His parents sell it to Jack Klompus (for probably less than Jerry paid for it) and give him the money. Jerry responds by buying it back from Klompus at blue book value and giving it back to his parents. His parents respond by selling their house and moving into a trailer. For a bit of irony, the lengths Jerry went to in order to prove that he wasn't broke left him actually broke, and he had to sleep in the Cadillac for a night.
- Subverted with Edgar in Final Fantasy VI. If you put him at the head of the party and then visit a shop in Figaro, the merchants will say that they don't feel they should charge the King money if he needs something. Edgar will insist on paying anyway, but they will give him a half-price discount.
Edgar: Look, don't you have a family? Just shut up and take it.
- Edgar's brother Sabin does this as well. He justifies it with the question, "Don't you know I'm a notorious spendtrift?"
- Humorous subversion from Persona 3: In one of the Social Link scenes for Mitsuru Kirijo, she offers to pay for lunch... and is then flustered when she discovers the food stand from which you are buying doesn't accept credit cards, meaning you have to pay anyway.
- One of the fights between Peter and the Giant Chicken in Family Guy is put on hold as the two realize they forgot why they keep fighting whenever they meet each other, and so the Chicken takes Peter out to dinner with his wife to apologize. They get into an argument over who's paying, until eventually they're fighting all over again.
- Truth in Television. Many, if not all, companies have policies in place to prevent the slightest hint of favoritism. Usually, gifts of less than $10 are okay, anything over must be refused or cleared with HR first. Applies even to people who don't have any power to influence anything.
- British Coppers are strictly forbidden from accepting free or even discounted goods or services on account of their position. In fact, until quite recently it was technically against the rules for them to spend money at all while on duty, but this was seldom enforced.
- André the Giant famously refused to let anyone else pay for his meals at restaurants (given his size and appetite, on top of prodigious amounts of liquor, they tended to be very expensive). Arnold Schwarzenegger once attempted to pay behind Andre's back, but Andre caught him, picked him up, and firmly sat him back down at the table, saying "I pay."