"I steal from the rich, and give to the needy"
- "He takes a wee percentage"
"But I'm not greedy!"In essence, a thief or other kind of criminal, usually of the gentleman kind, who targets people who probably deserve it in order to help the downtrodden. Robin Hood, is, of course, the Trope Namer and in his original stories not a strong example, robbing from the government and returning what was unrighteously taxed. Sociologists have noted that these characters tend to enjoy their greatest popularity during times of economic recession or (especially) depression. Depending on the writer, this kind of character can be anything from a hero to an Anti-Hero to an Anti-Villain, but they are rarely ever portrayed as outright villains. Academic texts sometimes use the term "Social Bandit" to describe these kinds of characters. Usually Chaotic Good. Can also be used more generally to describe a mysterious or eccentric character who is unmistakably a foe of tyranny and a (usually superficial) friend to ordinary folk, especially if large doses of Think Nothing of It are present. A common trait of the Depression-era Proto-Superhero. Compare and contrast Karmic Thief, who similarly targets oppressors but neglects the whole "give to the poor" bit. See Lovable Rogue, Gentleman Thief, Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Honor Among Thieves, Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters, Scoundrel Code and Anti-Hero. See also Involuntary Charity Donation. Bonus points if the character is also an Archer Archetype.
— Monsieur Hood, Shrek
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Anime and Manga
- Isaac and Miria from Baccano! philosophize away their thefts by stealing from the mafia, or from those that they feel money is causing more harm to than good.
- In The Daughter of Twenty Faces, the Gentleman Thief Twenty Faces is portrayed to some degree like this, although the primary motive for his actions is to set right the wrongs caused by war, such as recovering national treasures that were looted.
- There was a cat burglar in an early episode of the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist that claimed she did this. Subverted big time.
- Kaitou Saint Tail did a variation of this, but was very careful to only steal already stolen items, and return them to the people they were stolen from.
- Kurosaki from Kurosagi swindles money from other swindlers and gives it back to whomever they stole it from. He does, however, make a point to note he is not a social bandit nor does he care to do it for justice.
- Lupin III: Social Banditry isn't really Lupin's shtick, but he is willing to make the occasional exception.
- Risty from Queen's Blade robs nobles and gives the gold to orphanages.
- Thor from Saint Seiya, before becoming one of the Ansgard Saints.
- In SoltyRei, Rose Anderson and her brothers steal to provide medicine and other essential supplies to the cities 'unregisted' people, who legally cannot buy anything.
- Catwoman and Black Cat, the two most famous cat burglars in comics, occasionally do this Depending on the Writer. The former in particular comes from a poor background in most continuities, and is often shown looking after her neighbourhood strays.
- In Batman: Golden Streets of Gotham, Batman is Bruno Vanekow, a railroad worker whose parents die in a fire similar to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. He dons a bat costume and becomes a self-styled Robin Hood, stealing from the city's rich and powerful and donating to charity.
- Oddly enough, the Penguin had this personality (anti-villainous type) in his very first appearance in The Batman Adventures (based on Batman: The Animated Series). He's extremely arrogant, has a Hair-Trigger Temper and complains about being Surrounded by Idiots - but he's also given the quasi-sympathetic trait of half-scorning, half-envying the richest men in Gotham City, and (with the help of The Joker) executes a series of clever robberies of the homes and businesses of these plutocrats and then gives most of the money to charities of all kinds, making himself a respectable figure in Gotham and nearly winning an award for his "altruism." When the award goes to Bruce Wayne instead, the Penguin tries to avenge himself by robbing Wayne Enterprises (unaware that Wayne is actually Batman), and when his gang is defeated and Batman tricks him into publicly confessing to his crimes, the Penguin explains that his motivation for the robberies was partly to win himself some respect and partly to take out his resentment on the "fat cats", whose behavior always "made me sick." We also see the Penguin looking over a pretentious, nearly abstract piece of modern art in the lobby of the Wayne building and expressing his contempt for it ("Now, what's this supposed to be? It doesn't even look like anything!"). He tells his Mooks that, if anything, he's doing society a favor by making sure all that money isn't spent on anything wasteful.
- Parodied in Lucky Luke with Jesse James, who fancies himself the new Robin Hood, but is a bit reluctant about the "giving to the poor" part. His brother Frank has a brilliant idea: Jesse will give everything he steals to him, Frank, who currently is poor; by doing this, Jesse will become poor too, so Frank will give everything back to him, and so on. Robin-Hooding stays in the family.
- Depending on the writer, this is Green Arrow. Of course, Green Arrow also helps the poor through things like governmental power (he's been mayor of his Adventure Town) or business (anti-Big Business multi-millionaire fighter. Irony) and of course Fighting Crime.
- The Mock Turtle in Astro City gives all the money he steals, apart from that which he spends on his own maintenance, to help with the "charitable works" of his true love Lucia. Se, in turn, was a Manipulative Bitch who was just duping him into helping build her own criminal empire.
- Golden Age Two-Face would always rob someone, but if the "good" side of the coin came up he would give the entire thing to a random charity.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
- The motivation for Fantomius, a Gentleman Thief who Paperinik is a sort-of Legacy Character to (his equipment is based on Fantomius' designs, updated from the roaring 20s and he has access to Fantomius' old Elaborate Underground Bases). This trait is more marked in Danish stories: Italian Paperinik stories, including the one where Paperinik debuted and first mentioned Fantomius, make clear that Fantomius stole from the riches only out of a personal vendetta (as they called him a good for nothing just because of his British nationality, much like Donald Duck became Paperinik due having enough of being called called a lazy good for nothing in spite of all his efforts), and as much as he'd give to charity any cash he stole he usually grabbed jewels and other rare and valuable things.
- Also, in some newer Danish Paperinik stories, the motivation of immortal Classy Cat-Burglar Ireyon (who used to just steal for herself until she fell in love with Fantomius).
- Railroad Bill from Jonah Hex, who would rob trains and then redistribute the money he stole to those who had been forced off their land by the railroad companies.
- This is Kris' justification for using mind control powers to rob banks in Harbinger. They have the "rob from the rich" part down, but as with the Lucky Luke example above, never quite get around to the part where you give the money away.
- Taking her cue from Zorro, Lady Rawhide does this. She is even specifically compared to Robin Hood in the first issue of the Dynamite mini-series.
- In Robyn Hood, Robyn briefly indulges in this — throwing the money she stole from a Wall Street bank to the crowd — before ultimately deciding that her campaign of revenge is empty and that she needs to find something more worthwhile to do with her life.
Films — Animated
- In Disney Aladdin, Al gives a pair of kids the bread at the beginning of the original movie.
- From the quote above, Robin Hood and his Merry Men appear in Shrek. After a big (and quite humorous) musical number explaining his motives, it's clear he sees Shrek as a monster, and intends to cut the ogre's heart out in an attempt to impress Princess Fiona. She is not impressed and promptly kicks all their asses with Matrix-esque ease. This trope is subverted in that Robin is something of a jerk who is implied to keep at least a percentage of the money he steals.
- Parodied/Inverted in Flushed Away, where Roddy (a rich rat) steals Rita's boat (Rita being a poor rat) after a misunderstanding, causing her younger brother to quip that it's "like Robin Hood in reverse."
Films — Live-Action
- The remake of Fun with Dick and Jane focuses largely on a plot by the eponyma to steal a corrupt CEO's savings (which he had in turn swindled from his own employees), and eventually set up a pension plan with the money.
- Happens in Ghost, when Sam donates the stolen money to charity.
- The movie In Time has an interesting example: instead of the main characters stealing money from the rich, they steal time, which is basically currency in their world. They steal a million years, to be exact, and proceed to disseminate it through the slums, thus causing epidemic inflation and collapsing the economic infrastructure of their entire society. Which was their goal in the first place.
- The titular Iron Monkey robs from the very corrupt city governor and gives it directly to the poor in need, or he buys medicine to give to the poor. He's a bit more specific in his giving than many Robin Hood types.
- In Lajja Bhulwa is a thief who lives out in the woods with a band of followers, just like Robin Hood.
- The hackers in Sneakers did this back in the 60s. The ending implies that Robert Redford's character has returned to his old ways.
- North Korean action film Hong Kil Dong features the title character going around and kicking the crap out of the evil landlords and governor, forcing them to distribute rice and goods to the people rather than hoarding money and supplies for themselves. The character of Hong Gil Dong has been called the Korean Robin Hood.
- When the Time Bandits ran into Robin Hood they are dismayed that he volunteered them to become this. "He's obviously a dangerous man, unbalanced if you ask me. Giving away what isn't even his!"
- In Mirror, Mirror, Snow White learns that the seven dwarfs are robbing the evil queen's wagons as revenge for her tyranny. Snow convinces them to distribute the food and riches to the impoverished citizens. The dwarfs at first think she's crazy, but they accept when the citizens celebrate them as heroes.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne uses the trope name almost word-for-word to describe Selina Kyle.
- The heist film Now You See Me centers on a team of stage magicians who pull off elaborate bank robberies as part of their stage show, and shower their audiences with the money.
- Robin And The Seven Hoods loosely readapts the legend into a gangster comedy starring the Rat Pack.
- In Australian Westerns, historical bushrangers like The Outlaw Michael Howe, Ned Kelly, Mad Dog Morgan, and Captain Thunderbolt are often portrayed as heroic defenders of the weak.
- This is discussed in the Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief, in which the retired cat burglar John Robie is being questioned on his motives for stealing. When asked if he performed like Robin Hood, he freely admits to keeping everything for himself and makes no excuses toward being a criminal. The only thing he offers in his defense is he only stole from "people who wouldn't go hungry."
- Robin Hood, obviously, though notably, this wasn't originally a trait of his. Rather, it became more and more a part of his personality as time went on.
- In the original myths Robin Hood actually stole from the political class (including the politically empowered church), and usually left alone the common people and those among "the rich" who came by their wealth honestly.
- Robin Hood goes from this to resistance fighter against the Normans depending on the teller.
- In the Howard Pyle story "Robin Hood Aids a Sorrowful Knight," Robin has the Bishop of Hereford as his "guest," along with the caravan of goods the Bishop and his men are with. Robin doesn't touch some of the goods, depending on his evaluation of the person or place they're destined for. The rest he divides into thirds; one third for himself and the Merry Men, one third for charity, and one third for the owners, even if that owner is a Sinister Minister like the Bishop himself.
- Aiding the knight is one of his oldest tales, occurring centuries before any tale where he gave anything to the poor, and in the oldest variant, he carefully checks what sort of knight he is; only when the man assures him that his family have been knights for centuries does Robin agree to aid him.
- This is the reputation of Japanese folk hero Ishikawa Goemon. A more cynical interpretation — used in the original Samurai Warriors, among others — is that he was really just a self-serving thug and his reputation is wholly undeserved.
- This was also the folklore surrounding Nezumi Kozou. The real person almost certainly didn't actually live up to it in this case, though.
- Stepan Razin of the Cossacks, too. After a long war between Russia against Poland and Sweden, massive increases in conscription and taxation disaffected many. Many disaffected joined Razi's cossacks, including members of the unrepresented lower classes. His first great robbery was to destroy the great naval convoy consisting of the barges holding the treasury, the wealth of the Patriarch, and the gold and goods of the rich merchants of Moscow.
- The Illuminatus! trilogy romanticized John Dillinger to be like this. It is partially Truth in Television, to the extent that people at the time felt the same way about him in many cases. It was during the Depression, after all, so robbing a bank basically did mean "stealing from the rich."
- The legendary Thorn of Camorr in The Lies of Locke Lamora is also rumoured to rob the rich and give to the poor. The actual Locke Lamora, on the other hand... well, he does rob the rich... The rumor is made all the more appropriate by the fact that his gang's resident heavyset bruiser's name is "Jean", the modern French version of "John" (pronounced "Zhaun").
- Leslie Charteris' The Saint stories. The Saint regularly stole from criminals and, after deducting a small percentage for his expenses, gave the money either to the criminal's victims or to charity.
- In "The Man Who Was Clever," the closest thing Simon Templar has to an origin story, Simon specifies that he takes a 10% commission and donates the rest to charity (in the first case, the London Hospital). Later, in "The Man From St. Louis," Simon robs Tex Goldman, one of the new Ruthless Foreign Gangsters in London; this haul is to be divided up among the Innocent Bystanders and Red Shirt cops who got shot, except what Simon keeps for himself: "I take a rather larger share, because I was getting shot at all the time."
- Deconstructed in the late short story "The Spanish Cow", in which Simon comes close to seducing and stealing from an unattractive, lower-class wealthy woman purely because he doesn't like her, and only realises at the last minute that he was about to do something completely cruel and evil to an innocent person out of social and intellectual snobbery, because he thought she wasn't cool and sexy enough to deserve her lifestyle.
- Travis McGee, in Pale Gray For Guilt, runs his salvage operations on a 50-50 split with the victim: "When a man knows his expectation of recovery is zero, recovering half is very attractive." And averted in the same novel, in which it is only his friend Meyer's intervention that saves McGee from ruining his "professional standing" with an "unadulterated, unselfish, unrewarded effort in behalf of even the grieving widow of an old and true friend."
- Erle Stanley Gardner (the creator of Perry Mason) has a few short stories protagonized by Lester Leigh, a Rich Idiot with No Day Job who solves crimes, steals the profits from the criminals, and uses them to fund charities.
- As might be expected from her philosophical outlook, Ayn Rand considered Robin Hood — at least, as he is portrayed in this trope — deeply evil, and created an "inverse Robin" in the pirate Ragnar Danneskjold, who stole relief shipments to various failing socialist states and gave the money back to those who had earned it. Ragnar explicitly states that his motivation is to erase the false idea of Robin Hood — and he actually uses the phrase "steal from the poor and give to the rich" (more specifically, he stole from those poor who thieve from the productive rich).
In the book, Ragnar himself notes that the myth of Robin Hood was originally about fighting unfair taxation — which is a goal he certainly would have approved of. It is, in essence, this specific trope that he is fighting, rather than the original version of the myth — but he says that the name of Robin Hood has become so closely associated with this idea, that it must be destroyed entirely.
- The outlaws in The Last Unicorn aspire to this, but later one of them admits that they actually rob the poor (who can't fight back) to pay off the rich (who therefore tolerate their presence).
- In one of the Myth Adventures. books, there's a group of men with the same names as Robin Hood's crew (Robin, John, Alan, Tuck, etc.) who have been robbing royal tax collectors. The heroes go into town to investigate and actually end up unknowingly talking to some of the men in the group, who are naturally very nervous and refuse to tell them anything about the robbers. The heroes can't figure out why no one will talk to them and theorize that the gang must be splitting the take with the locals.
- The title character in The Tale of Hong Gildong.
- Mentioned in Ronja the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren: when Mattis (the robber chief and Ronja's father) defends himself by claiming that he only robs the rich and gives to the poor, the oldest bandit - much to Mattis' annoyance - confirms that indeed they give to the poor ... once every ten years.
- Parodied by Cohen the Barbarian in Discworld, who robs from the rich "because the poor haven't got any money." (Although since his men nearly always spend their money, it does typically end up in the hands of the poor, provided one considers taverns and brothels "the poor.")
- Don Quixote: Deconstructed by Roque Guinart, a deconstruction of the Gentleman Thief that leads a band of The Highwayman at Barcelonaís Civil War. He is an armed beggar, that takes only a part of the money of his victims... by asking them. His 60 men assaults two soldiers (300 crowns), a Noblewoman (600 crowns) and some pilgrims (60 reals). That would have been 15 crowns and a real for each The Highwayman. Roque asks for 60 crowns for the soldiers (20%) and 80 crowns from the Noblewoman (13.6%). Thatís 140 crowns. He gives 2 crowns to each highwayman and the 20 crown left he gives 10 to the pilgrims (thatís almost 100 reals) and 10 crowns to Sancho Panza in a clear attempt to Buy Them Off. The people who attacked are happy to keep most of their own money, and Roque Guinart is considered a hero. Everyone is happy! Except TheHighwayman were cheated of 13 crowns and a real, but Roque manages to Make an Example of Them by murdering the one who dares to be a Deadpan Snarker. Notice that the most rich person (the Noblewoman) gave proportionally less that the middle class victims (the soldiers)
- In L. Sprague de Camp's The Fallible Fiend, the leader of a bandit gang announces that they rob from the rich and give to the poor — and since they themselves are the poorest people they can find...
- Subverted in The Reynard Cycle in that, while Reynard tends to rob from the rich, he rarely gives to the poor. When he does so, his motivation for doing so is usually to win the hearts and minds of the common people. His success in maintaining this image is why he is loved by the poor and generally despised by the nobility.
- In Vernor Vinge's novella "True Names", some of the members of the Cabal like to view themselves this way. One even uses Robin Hood as his Nym. How accurate this self-assessment is may be subject to question, but there's no question that some of them play with the trope, redistributing wealth to a lot of people.
- Averted in The Executioner novel Cleveland Pipeline when a journalist asks Mack Bolan why he doesn't do this with the money he got Robbing the Mob Bank. Bolan goes into a Motive Rant on exactly where this money came from (e.g. drugs, prostitution and gambling) and if he gave it back to the people, they couldn't wait to spend it on exactly the same thing.
- Roald Dahl's short story "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" has the titular character pulling this on the casinos he gambles at. He has, over the course of several years, developed the ability to see through the backs of playing cards, and while he was originally going to use the power for self-gain, the lack of challenge left him empty. After a policeman suggests maybe putting the money into an orphanage, he decides to use this power to fund not one, but eventually twenty-one first-class orphanages. He specifically compares himself to Robin Hood, "robbing" the casinos (which are often run by shady figures anyway, which later necessitates him visiting the casinos in disguise once the mobs start to recognize him) and giving to those who really need the help.
- In the Domino Lady stories, Ellen Patrick (a.k.a. Domino Lady) steals ill-gotten loot from her criminal targets, deducts enough to cover her lifestyle, and donates the rest to charity.
- In the book Paranoia, Adam Cassidy's boredom working as a Cubicle Drone and seeing the injustice of Wyatt Industries instituting cost cutting measures across the board while its executives go on lavish vacations and have lavish parties, is to impersonate one of the board members and have the company pay for the exact same lavish party for a retiring security guard. The CEO, Wyatt, does not approve, and threatens jail for him if he doesn't become his personal spy on another company. Cassidy notes that if he had instead stolen the money and used it to booze up with his friends or pay for an expensive car, Wyatt would probably have approved.
- In the X-Wing Series, Corran Horn is dismissive of the concept, saying that during his law enforcement career he encountered plenty of criminals who claimed to rob from the rich in order to give to the poor, but none who actually did it. Ironically, in the fourth book he and the rest of Rogue Squadron become pirates who steal bacta shipments from the Big Bad and give it away to colonies who can't afford it.
- The bandit Guiliano, hero of The Sicilian, a novel by Mario Puzo. Unfortunately one man isn't enough to make a difference in the entrenched corruption of a Mafia-dominated Sicily, no matter how much of a folk hero he is.
- The bandits of Water Margin, led by the chivalrous Song Jiang, are very much the Merry Men of Song-dynasty China. Not only do the tales of these rebels with a cause compare to Robin's, but there are parallels in the history of the stories as well. Song Jiang was a real person in the 12th century, transformed into a semi-legendary folk hero, and eventually immortalized in Water Margin and other works a few centuries after the fact. Indeed, there's a good case to be made that the Chinese Robin Hood stories are older than Robin Hood himself, possibly even the Ur-Example, developed on the opposite side of the world from Sherwood Forest.
- Koba in the 1882 Georgian novel The Patricide by Alexander Kazbegi. Josef Stalin was a big fan and used it as his revolutionary pseudonym when he was robbing banks for the Bolsheviks... as well as in later life, when he was doing less virtuous things.
- The Witcher: The Rats give a fair portion of their take to the local poor, albeit for purely selfish reasons. After all, carrying large amounts of money when on the lam is impractical, and you can't really buy that much that's more useful and less cumbersome, so, all in all, spending their take on buying sympathy and aid from the local peasants really is the best use of the money they steal.
- In the first season, the band of the six most evil men in England that Prince Edmund assembles seem like evil counterparts of Robin and co. One of them, Three-fingered Pete, is an archer who dresses like Robin (and is introduced killing a competitor in an archery contest who might actually be Robin). The lecherous Friar Bellows is an obvious counterpart to Tuck, and the murderous dwarf Jack Large is used to allude to Little John. It's also worth noting that one of the members is a Guy de Glastonbury (shades of Guy of Guisbourne) and Prince Edmond himself smacks of the traditional portrayal of King John.
- In the third series, notorious highwayman "the Shadow" is described as being half-way to being the new Robin Hood - he steals from the rich, but hasn't gotten around to giving to the poor yet.
- In "Back and Forth", the 20th-century Blackadder met the actual Robin Hood, and promptly got him shot by his own merry men for being an insufferable git that doesn't pay them anything for their work. He ends up reversing this later due to the damage to history.
- Game of Thrones: The Brotherhood Without Banners is a band of outlaws who fight the nobility on behalf of the smallfolk and features pretty clear expies of the Merry Men such as a revered leader Shrouded in Myth, an alcoholic Badass Preacher, and an Archer Archetype. They're far from clear-cut heroes though.
- An episode of White Collar deals with a young thief who does just this. He steals valuable items from really rich people and then makes donations to charities. Neal jokingly calls him Robin Hoodie (the thief's trademark clothing item is a hoodie). The rest of the team picks up on the name and continues to use it, much to Peter's amusement and Neal's chagrin.
"We're not seriously gonna keep calling him that, are we?"
- The Hustle crew occasionally do this - they usually rob from the rich (and corrupt) and keep it for themselves, but they'll occasionally give some or all of a particular take to charity and they usually try to make sure that the decent or honest they encounter come out better off for helping them. There's at least two or three examples of this in the later series. (They steal from the rich and corrupt... and Eddie.)
- Hilariously lampooned by the Dennis Moore sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus. He starts out stealing Lupins from the rich to give to the poor, moves to stealing so much from the rich that the rich and poor change places, and ends up trying some complicated redistribution of wealth among those he holds up...
- This is the entire premise of Leverage, with the addition that they generally give their take to the specific people that their rich targets got their money from in the first place. Often, their clients aren't even looking for money, but revenge, or some other compensation. In these cases, they use the payout to bankroll their operation.
- Pushing Daisies had a whole episode devoted to the investigation of a rash of thefts of this nature. Of the two leads, Chuck is sympathetic to the perpetrator, Ned is not. The events of the episode eventually show Ned as the correct one.
- At the start of Power Rangers S.P.D., Jack and Z are stealing food and clothing for the homeless. The Space Police soon catch up with them, but offer them the chance to serve as Rangers instead of rotting in jail (Z jumps at the chance, Jack takes more convincing).
- In Firefly, Jayne Cobb is portrayed as one of these by the people of the mud-farming slave town of Canton. Emphasis on "portrayed."
- The Wire:
- Omar Little generally just steals from drug dealers, but he's been seen on more than one occasion giving money to poor kids. Additionally, Stringer tells Avon at one point that his 'Robin Hood' style is why he's so untouchable, despite the sizable bounty on his head; he's known to share his take of the drugs with addicts in the areas he settles in, so they won't pass on his whereabouts to the Barksdales.
- Marlo Stanfield also tries the trick of giving money to neighbourhood kids, possibly inspired by Omar, but that was more trying to buy their allegiance.
- Turned around in an episode of Remember WENN: Betty tells Scott that he is like Robin Hood — "You're doing a good thing, but somehow you're a criminal anyway."
- April and Andy were not quite like Robin Hood in an episode of Parks and Recreation:
Andy: We are like Robin Hood. We steal from the club and we give to ourselves.
- Family Ties
- In one episode, Andy dresses up as Robin Hood and erroneously describes him as "robbing the poor to give to the rich". His parents say that's not Robin Hood, that's Ronald Reagan.
- Elyse's brother(played by Tom Hanks) once embezzled funds from his company to prevent a business deal that would result in a factory closure and dozens of people out of work from going through.
- In one episode of Covington Cross, Eleanor runs away with a bandit who describes himself like this. When she finds out how small a percentage he actually gives to the poor, she goes back to her father in disgust.
- Subverted in The Practice with this exchange:
Eugene: What's this embezzling thing?Alan: Thank you for asking. It was kind of a half-Robin Hood thing, I took from the rich...Eugene: And who'd you give it to?Alan: I kept it. Thus the half-Robin Hood
- This gem from Cop Rock:
And you foot patrols keep a lookoutFor the supermarket Robin HoodHe's been stealing from the store and giving to the poorHe's the hero of the neighbourhood
- In My Name Is Earl, Joy once stole a loading truck from a store after they refused to let her return an expensive TV shelf that she didn't have room for.
Joy: Earl, this is not about the law. It's about right and wrong, and isn't that what your list is about, rights and wrongs? Doing unto others all that Robin Hood/Batman/Jesus stuff?Earl: Well you got a good point. The store DID do you wrong. I don't know if Jesus or Batman would sell a truck, but Robin Hood might.
- Knight Rider: The episode "K.I.T.T. the Cat" features a burglar who only targets people that got their wealth through questionable or outright criminal activities, both to teach them a lesson and to make sure they can't call the police without risking that their own crimes will be discovered. The money he steals is all donated to charity.
- One episode of Lie to Me involves a game of cat and mouse with a crew robbing a museum. Only it turns out the item they're stealing was itself stolen back in history, and they just want to return it.
- While The Doctor is not known for robbing the rich to give to the poor, he is a nobleman (a Lord of Time) who turned renegade to fight for the lives and freedom of others. This similarity is pointed out by Robin Hood himself in the episode "Robot of Sherwood" when the Doctor admits he still is not convinced Robin Hood is real.
"Is it so hard to credit? That a man born into wealth and privilege should find the plight of the oppressed and weak too much to bear... until one night, he is moved to steal a TARDIS? Fly among the stars, fighting the good fight?"
- The title character of Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow"). He's a smuggler rather than a stealer directly from the rich, but he uses the profits from his activities to help the townsfolk pay their taxes and debts. When a general comes in to try and put a stop to it, his plan is to find whoever's suddenly paid off their back rent and squeeze them for information. (This is partly why Syn cultivates a very Good Is Not Nice persona as the Scarecrow—his reaction to this is to fake-hang the traitor.)
- In the second Murdoch Mysteries Christmas Episode, "Once Upon A Murdoch Christmas", a figure dressed as Crabtree's comic book character Jumping Jack steals items from rich shoppers, specifically the ridiculously expensive presents bought at the luxuries section of a department store. Since the items are completely useless to the needy, and the parcels contain the receipts, Jumping Jack then returns them for store credit to spend on more practical items for the poor - a system which works because one of the two people in the Jack suit is actually the returns clerk.
- The song John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan depicts the 19th century gunslinger as a "friend to the poor". His name was actually spelled Hardin (without the G), by the way, and he wasn't much of a friend to anyone (He once shot a man for snoring.)
- Woody Guthrie applied a similar Historical Hero Upgrade in his song "Pretty Boy Floyd", patterning it after the folk song "The Ballad of Jesse James"; the latter actually includes the line "He robbed from the rich and gave to the poor".
- In It Ain't a Crime by the House of Pain, one of the lines refers to Johnny being an outlaw and thinking its fun because it's sorta like Robin Hood.
- Genesis, "The Battle Of Epping Forest":
To save my steeple, I visited peopleAnd for this I'd gone when I met Little JohnHis name came, I understoodWhen the judge said, "You are a robbin' hood."
- Aqua's song "My Oh My" is about a princess who's looking for a prince on a white horse...and finds him in a bandit outside the castle walls, but he's too busy for love:
- Gotta steal from the richwhen they don't know I'm comin',Gotta give to the poor,No time for lovin'
- The music video for "Say Say Say", by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney has them scamming people with a fake "super strength elixir"... only to donate the profits to an orphanage.
- The Ramones' Howling At The Moon (Sha- La- La)
- Eazy-E is not like Robin Hood, 'cause he wants more: steal from the rich, hang with the poor.
- In Celtic Thunder's show Storm, Keith plays a highwayman who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Or, at least, to one village, where they apparently pile the goodies in a chest.
No doubt, the gold that's been excisedWill be given to the poor.Whoah oh oh, for the poor are being squeezed ev'ry day.My fine friends, give it up, now it's your turn to pay.Who will stand up for the weak?Yes, mine is the voice that will speak.
- An Australian newspaper comic had Ned Kelly handing a bag of gold to a poor farmer, saying he's decided to rob from the rich and give to the poor like Robin Hood. The farmer is overjoyed, shouting, "I'm rich, I'm rich!" So Ned Kelly robs him.
- GURPS Robin Hood specifically refers to this trope (thought not by name) in its description of the "Robin Hood Mythos". Basically, as long as a dashing and pure-hearted hero of the oppressed is fighting the oppressors in ways that only make them look foolish and evil, it might as well be Robin Hood. The book itself presents six different such campaign settings, only one of which is the actual medieval Sherwood forest.(the others are 16th century Scotland where a mysterious "Black Rider" is harassing the religiously oppressive English, 19th century America where the leader of a native tribe fights the encroachment of the white man, a modern day superhero setting starring a bitter Batman-like vigilante, a cyberpunk world where master hacker "Robin Hood" steals credit from the megacorps and gives to the poor and a far future one about rebellious space miners)
- The introductory solo adventure "All In A Night's Work" hangs a lampshade on this; the player character is explicitly a thief who steals from the rich because "[t]he poor folk don't have any money!".
- Referenced in ''Android: Netrunner'' with Gabriel Santiago: "Of course I steal from the rich. They're the ones with all the money".
- Kyle in Lunar: The Silver Star (and remakes) is a bandit chief who runs a Monster Protection Racket...but he's chivalrous about it. He doesn't charge women and children. (He charges the men double.)
- In Lunar: Eternal Blue, Nall ends up leading a gang of orphaned children who may or may not rob passing travelers. The game is vague about this.
- In Shounen Kininden Tsumuji features Goemon who takes treasures and gives to those who need it, and by the end of the game it is revealed that Goemon is Tsumuji's father.
- In Skies of Arcadia, all Sky Pirates attack ships, but only the Black Pirates attack unarmed ones. Blue Rogues will only fight armed ships (in practice this amounts to The Evil Empire and the aforementioned Black Pirates), and they use the loot to both keep themselves afloat and to help folks who need it. Nothing is mentioned as to what they do when The Evil Empire turns over a new leaf after the game's end, but the fans have plenty of opinions on that.
- Kay Faraday (self-proclaimed 'Second Yatagarasu' and Highly Visible Ninja) in Ace Attorney Investigations refers to the Yatagarasu as a "modern-day Robin Hood". The original Yatagarasu stole documents revealing corrupt dealings and sent them on to the media to be exposed. While Kay is flamboyant and dramatic about her work, the real Yatagarasu is dead, evil, and mostly concerned with finding Faraday's murderer rather than showing off. Yes, at the same time.
- In MapleStory, in the Sand Bandits line of missions, you are tricked into thinking you are doing this by a band of not-so-virtuous desert bandits, and you are recruited by a band of actually virtuous bandits to steal back what you helped them take and spread it among the poor.
- Yoshimitsu in Soul Calibur and his descendant in Tekken.
- A borderline example is the "Robbin' Hood" monster from The Legend of Zelda I, in that it steals from the rich (i.e. you) and, er, drops the money on the ground.
- Fire Emblem:
- The Dawn Brigade from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Interestingly an example that behaves like Robin Hood actually did, stealing from the tyrannical occupying government and giving to the citizens that it was taken from.
- Pahn and the Dandelion Thieves from Fire Emblem: Thracia 776.
- Nina from Fire Emblem Fates involves herself in chivalrous thievery, with a Robin Hood mentality. In her paralogue, she along with some thieves raid a mansion belonging to a man that, according to Nina, obtained his wealth in a corrupt manner.
- Mizer of Blaze Union plays as close to the Robin Hood archetype as possible, but hates being considered a noble thief—partially because he does have to use some of what he steals to survive. The original members of Gram Blaze—Garlot, Siskier, and Jenon—also operated something like this (to the point of holding a rich slave merchant for ransom early in the game), but never kept anything they stole or won.
- In Breath Of Fire 3, the current party set about to do this, stealing from a greedy village mayor and giving the money to the village. Except that they seem to be the only people in the village not to realize that the mayor is a front of a huge mafia syndication. Oops. It takes only one day for the hitmen to obliterate the party and split them across the world, and the hero is forced to spend the next quarter or so of the game (failing at) running from the said hitmen.
- The Elder Scrolls
- In Morrowind, Gentleman Jim Stacy, leader of the Thieves Guild, offers a set of quests in this vein known as the "Bal Molagmer" quests, named after an ancient order of thieves who operated in Morrowind with this as their modus operanti. The quests involve practicing Karmic Thievery on the wealthy/corrupt, and then returning/gifting what you stole to the rightful owners and/or those more deserving. This serves two purposes — it is a good thing to do, and it is an excellent propaganda move (both for being known to do good things and by invoking ancient Dunmer traditions in a way that contrasts with their native Camonna Tong rivals, thus making the Thieves' Guild seem less foreign).
- Oblivion has the Gray Fox, the leader of the Thieves Guild. The beggars are his spies, are under protection by the Guild, and it is implied that much of the Guild's wealth is shared with them.
- Subverted in Skyrim, where the Thieves Guild are more like an actual crime syndicate due to having fallen on hard times (well, and just not having that kind of leaders — the Thieves' Guild weren't particularly Robin Hood-y in Daggerfall, either). They're even close allies of the Dark Brotherhood. Completing the Thieves Guild campaign will reveal this is due to the Guild's Jerk Ass leader, who's both secretly stealing from the entire organization, and also pissed off the Daedric Prince who backs them. This led to the Guild falling on such hard times that by the time you join them they've been reduced to Flim-flam schemes and loan-sharking, and causing them to act like a crime syndicate. At the end of the storyline you kill the old Guildmaster, patch things up with the Goddess, and restore the Guild to its former glory, moving it much closer to this trope.
- Sly Cooper is occasionally shown donating his purloined wealth to charitable causes such as orphanages. Considering the rich, evil sorts that he steals from, and the fact that he sends said evil rich sorts and their underlings to jail more often than not, leaving the treasure unguarded, they must donate a fair amount; the Cooper Gang pretty much lives in their van - though they do have some pretty wonderful toys.
- In Red Dead Redemption, John Marston used to run with a gang that by his own account stole from the rich and gave it to whomever needed it the most. However their leader Dutch eventually came to the revelation that no matter what he did he was unable to make any meaningful change to society, which promptly drove him insane and caused the gang to split apart.
- Nigel West Dickens, meanwhile, frequently questions whether they actually gave the money to anyone, or whether that was their cover. Marston is never able to give him a straight answer, since he isn't entirely sure himself (he can't guarantee Dutch put the money where he said), the crux of Dickens's Not So Different statements.
- He even attributes their beliefs as being "A Robin Hood with spurs" and declares that it's just poppycock.
- In Eternal Sonata, Allegretto and his younger companion Beat are both this, stealing bread from a bakery to take to orphans who are living in a sewer.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, old ex-Jedi Jolee Bindo did this in his youth. He was a minor space pirate and smuggler in a system ruled by a despot and will fondly reminisce about the ol' Force-trick-the-customs-agent routine when you pull the same thing to get out of landing fees.
- In Dark Parables's version of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack is a treasure hunter who grew up in poverty. He couldn't stand to see the wealthy get wealthier and the poor get poorer, so he started stealing from them to spread the wealth. He went into treasure hunting specifically to find and share the loot with the less fortunate, but that doesn't stop him from locking up the loot from less noble thieves.
- Overwatch: Lucio, in response to Vishkar Corporation damaging his turf and forcing his people into cheap labor with promises of "better living" (that they never fulfilled), stole sonic technology from them and shared its benefits with the people, and then rallied the people to an uprising that managed to drive Vishkar away. This action eventually gave him fame as first a DJ, then a worldwide superstar, and a possible hero by the standards of Overwatch (the organization).
- Parodied in The Order of the Stick, when Haley has a talk with another member of her old Thieves' Guild:
Hank: That was your dad's schtick, wasn't it? Rob from the rich, give 40% to the poor?Haley: 40%, after reasonable expenses.Hank: Well, obviously.
- Also parodied in Oglaf. Technically, he does distribute the money to the poor...by offering to pay them for sexual services.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Jet leads a group of bandits who look like like traditional "merry men" and rob from Fire Nation citizens. Somewhat uniquely, he is actually presented somewhat negatively, being a Well-Intentioned Extremist who initially has no problem with beating up a weak old man simply because he's a Fire Nation citizen.
- He is willing to flood a village to get rid of Fire Nation troops. It doesn't work, because Sokka warns the villagers in time and is backed up by the aforementioned old man, whom Sokka had tried to help.
- In one episode of Codename: Kids Next Door involved Robin Food, who stole from the young (school lunches) to feed the old, much to the annoyance of the senior citizens he was supposed to be cooking for, because they couldn't chew it.
- In the episode "Cookie Dough" of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Bloo convinces his friends to help him steal Madame Fosters secret cookie recipe because it's apparently for a good cause, just "like Robin Hood".
Bloo: We need to get that cookie recipe from Madame Foster.Wilt: But, that would be stealing.Bloo: No no no! We're like Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich, giving to the needy.Wilt: So we'll give away the cookies to the needy?Bloo: No, we're the needy. We need that dough! Hehe, get it? Knead dough?
- The supervillain Angry Archer in Transformers Animated jokingly tells Wreck-Gar that he robs the rich to feed the poor—namely, himself. Wreck-Gar, being fifteen minutes old and not all that sane in general, thinks that this is awesome.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Catwoman commits her robberies to fund animal reserves and conservation efforts. However, her actions are clearly portrayed as wrong, and she doesn't get off easy - she's caught, convicted and sentenced to five years' probation on her second or third appearance. (This aspect of Catwoman's character takes a backseat to other motives, however - with the episode Catwalk, we see that she wanders the streets and robs people not just for funding, but out of a desire for what she thinks of as "freedom".)
- Karl-Bertil Jonsson in the Swedish animated short Karl-Bertil Jonssons julafton ( known as Christopher's Christmas Mission in one english translation). He's 14 and works part-time in a post office, and since he idolizes Robin Hood, sends rich people's Christmas gifts to poor people instead of to the addressees. This outrages his rich father (who, according to the narration, "was one of those people who believe that anyone who willingly gives something away must be a Communist") but eventually earns him the admiration of the community, at least until the end of the film.
- Thoroughly subverted on the Beetlejuice cartoon in an episode-length parody of the Robin Hood stories. Beetlejuice starts out this way, robbing the evil Sheriff of Rottingham and giving the riches to the poor...at least until he gets greedy and begins keeping all the wealth for himself. This leads the Sheriff and the poor peasants to patch up their differences and form an Enemy Mine alliance against Beetlejuice.
- In Jem, Robin Goodfellow was an obvious Robin Hood expy with a surprise twist. The greedy monarch he led a resistance against was an usurper, who was holding the true king - Robin's father - a prisoner. When the tyrant was ousted, Robin is revealed as the heir, with the promise of a far-more benign ruler in the future.
- Spoofed in El Tigre. Grandpapi tells Manny and Frida about a legendary bandito called Ruben Hood, who stole from the rich...and just that. When Manny asks whether or not Ruben gave to the poor, Grandpapi just stares at him in confusion.
- Parodied/Inverted in Time Squad, where Robin Hood steals from the poor and gives to the rich.
- Danger Mouse suffers amnesia (episode "Public Enemy No. 1") and is convinced by Baron Greenback that he's the White Shadow, a daring criminal who robs from the rich to feed the poor.
DM: Oh. Just like...um....thingamybob!
- Rob Roy is portrayed this way in some adaptations. Dick Turpin too.
- Butch Cassidy was known for being a generous thief.
- We should be saying that Robin Hood is Just Like Vassilis Paleokostas, only not Greek, bald, and mind-blowingly awesome.
- John Dillinger was one of the few outlaws of his era to cultivate this type of image in any successful way. Compared to the other gangs of the time - the Barker-Karpis gang and the Bonnie and Clyde gang - his group was much less violent (although the gang did kill a number of police officers - an East Chicago police officer by Dillinger himself, a Chicago detective by John "Red" Hamilton, an Ohio sheriff by Pete Pierpont, and a South Bend traffic cop by Homer Van Meter), and his famous statement to a bank patron, "I don't want your money, I'm here for the bank's money", helped to solidify his reputation as a put-upon farm-boy who was just out to take back from the banks which had screwed everyone over. Whether or not he was actually like this is open for debate, but his scrupulous adherence to this character means that he has managed to survive the revisionist historical examinations which have exposed the true natures of his contemporaries with his reputation still largely intact.
- Clyde Barrow attempted to cultivate this type of image after noticing the popular support which Dillinger was garnering. To such extent that he once quoted the "I'm not here for your money, I'm here for the bank's money" line that Dillinger used in his January bank robbery in East Chicago. Because Barrow was, in reality, an Ax-Crazy narcissist, he was rather unsuccessful.
- Al Capone tried to consciously give himself this image as well, distributing cash to various people and organizations; it didn't work out as well for him since it was fairly transparent and had just as much to do with flaunting his wealth as it did with sharing it.
- Like many other historical outlaws, Jesse James has been depicted in this manner by ballads, dime novels and movies. It is doubtful that such a reputation is justified, however. Especially the notion of him (like so many others listed) "stealing from the rich and giving to the poor" has little to no evidence supporting it.
- A common (and possibly accurate) portrayal of the legendary Slovak highwayman Juraj Jánoöík.
- The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst in 1974, and demanded a ransom - in the form of a food distribution program.
- This was in the midst of several activities that didn't fit the trope as well. After two of their leaders were arrested for using cyanide-filled bullets to murder a school superintendent who had proposed an identification card system, the Symbionese Liberation Army demanded their release in exchange for Hearst's. They switched it to a food distribution demand later.
- Hearst herself got Stockholm Syndrome and joined them, eventually being convicted of bank robbery, getting a 35 year sentence, and serving just 22 months after some VERY high-profile officials (e.g. Jimmy Carter) commuted her sentence.
- Communist governments take it a step further, destroy the rich and spread their among the poor, although in practice they tend to keep a significant amount of wealth and power for themselves.
- It's been suggested that the Robin Hood archetype is the result of simple good sense: In specie-currency economies, the rich normally carried large amounts of coin on their persons. So robbers would take the coin, and then spend generously in poorer areas to make themselves popular enough not to be turned in.
- Many real world criminal organisations see themselves this way, and often try to promote the illusion to those around them. In particular, the Mafia and the Yakuza have their own variations of this, portraying themselves as downtrodden resistance fighters whose crimes were actually striking back at their oppressors. While it's possible that they may have started out this way, it's clear in both cases that they've long since left the truth of it behind.
- Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly, is often considered this and among the poor he was seen as a hero especially since when the Kelly Gang robbed the Jerilderie bank, Kelly's destruction of mortgage records helped the poor leaseholders of the area. Whether that was his intention can be debated.
- Japan, Edo. In 1831 Nakumura Jirokichi, aka Nezumi (rat/mouse) Kozo (errand boy) worked as a labourer and volunteer fire fighter by day, but by night he robbed over 100 Lord's estates, and stole 30,000 Ryo (oval shaped round gold coins). He was so named Nezumi for his facial features that resembled a rat, and using live rats to mask the sound of his larceny. He was branded with a tattoo prior to his execution, as he was caught committing similar crimes 10 years earlier and exiled from Edo. This evidence condemned him to beheading. He was found to have little gold on him, despite stealing 30,000 Ryo. This led to the legend of his generosity to the poor. However it is also theroized that he squandered most of the money on gambling and lavish luxuries such as prostitutes. He was popular among the commoners of Japan nonetheless as he humiliated the elite samurai Lords and their poor security measures. 30 years later the oppressive Tokugawa military junta shogunate collapsed.
- The most famous Japanese example, of course, is Ishikawa Goemon. Historically speaking he was a road bandit who attempted (and subsequently failed) to assassinate Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The fact nobody knew why he tried to do that (why would a thief try to assassinate the most powerful man of Japan?), Toyotomi Hideyoshi's (not entirely undeserved) reputation as a ruthless tyrant and the fact Goemon wrote a poem before being executed that stated that as long as society endured, thieves would still exist led to the belief that Goemon was some sort of freedom fighter thieving from Hideyoshi's tyrannical government to spread amongst the common people.
- Heraclio Bernal, leader of a gang of pistoleros in the late 19th Century, was portrayed this way frequently in songs and poems.
- Many seaside communities from the Golden Age of Piracy were quietly welcoming to visiting pirates, because most cargoes that Real Life pirates stole were trade goods, not gold. Having little use for most mundane goods beyond what they needed to keeps their ships floating and crews alive and happy, the pirates unloaded them on the sly for rock-bottom prices. This made imported goods affordable to colonials who otherwise couldn't buy such items. The colonists got bargains, and the pirates got the chance to come into port without being reported to the authorities. This was almost certainly more a case of practicality than goodwill, but the point stands.