Monumental Theft

Gru: We stole the Statue of Liberty...
[the minions cheer]
Gru: The small one from Las Vegas.
[cheering stops]
Gru: I won't even mention the Eiffel Tower... also Vegas.

As a way to prove their thieving credentials, the best Impossible Theft is to steal something HUGE.

Thefts of this trope come from characters who set their sights high, higher than would be even feasible: why raid an Ancient Egyptian tomb if you could steal the pyramid in which the treasure is buried? Sunken pirate ship? No problem, just pilfer the entire body of water under which it's trapped. Even if it's anchored to the Earth's core, or is the Earth's core, and there's no possible way someone could steal it without drawing attention. That is the Monumental Theft.

It may be considered the inverse to the Sister Trope, Intangible Theft. While an Intangible Theft of the moon's gravity would cause tidal problems here on Earth, people can still see the moon itself in the sky. A monumental theft describes stealing the moon, so that no-one can find it. Both tropes are a type of Impossible Theft.


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    Carmen Sandiego 
  • As the Trope Codifier and a character appearing in Video Games, Live-Action TV and Western Animation, Carmen Sandiego examples go here.
    • The Moon, damage to the Earth be damned. Maybe she stole the damage too?
    • Countries.
    • The Bermuda Triangle. She probably made it get lost in itself.
    • The Ozone Layer. According to the Chief it has caused a worldwide disaster (of course the detectives are on the advice of the Chief wearing SPF 9 Zillion Sunblock so that they can track down and arrest Robocrook before the environment gets any worse).
    • The frickin' Milky Way Galaxy. Theoretically, that means she stole Earth as well.
    • The World Trade Center towers. Needless to say, that one's a whole lot less whimsical seeming now.
    • The Roman Forum.
    • In "The Case of the Unsolved Crime", Carmen and henchman Sam O'Nella steal the Pantheon from Rome, Italy. However Carmen, punishing Sam for a past betrayal, ditches him immediately after the heist, leaving him with a thousand-ton stone monument of a white elephant. Sam unsuccessfully tries to sell the stone to be used in paper-weights before being caught.
    • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? worked hard to make Carmen Sandiego's seemingly outrageous crimes semi-plausible in their execution. True to herself, she always commits her crimes just to prove she can, and allows the stolen goods to be recovered once the theft's been accomplished.
      • The opening credits have her stealing a Chinese stone lion, The Sphynx, and the Statue of Liberty in rapid succession.
      • A plan to make her the most famous crook in time by stealing the Roman Colosseum from Ancient Rome, deals with stolen miniature landmarks, ACME's first Chronoskimmer, a bust of a Roman leader, a electric magnet from the future, and Hannibal's elephants.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Issac and Miria from Baccano!! style themselves as Monumental Thieves. However, their ambition is offset by one simple fact: they are... mentally interesting. (For example, they once attempted to steal all of History itself... by stealing the front step of a museum, rendering it impossible to enter. Another theft saw them attempt to steal from the very Earth itself... by mining for gold. For nine months. In a cave that had no prior history of ever yielding gold.)
  • FLCL has Atomsk the Pirate King.
    • He is said to have stolen entire solar systems.
    • In FLCLimax, he takes the Medical Mechanica building.
  • Lupin III.
    • He'll sometimes steal things just to prove that he can. He once stole The Statue of Liberty.
    • He once stole the Cristo Redentornote  - because he needed someplace to hold the cash from the main heist of the episode.
    • In one movie alone he stole a submarine, a large nuclear fuel source, a space shuttle, and a satellite full of money.
    • In another he started a legitimate company by stealing oil from a rival company's well.
    • A subversion occurs in The Castle of Cagliostro, the treasure of the Cagliostro family is a lost and almost perfectly preserved Roman city which was hidden beneath the lake in which the castle rests. Lupin admits that it's the greatest and most valuable thing he's ever encountered, but it's simply too big for his pocket.
  • In episode 5 of Space Patrol Luluco Luluco's mother steals the entire city of Ogikubo and puts it up for sale on the black market.

    Comic Books 
  • The Black Knight: Le Chevalier Noir (The Black Knight) in Don Rosa's Scrooge McDuck stories is a Gentleman Thief who might pull one off, now and then. At one point, he steals a whole viking ship, whilst completely naked. Even he recognized the impossibility of swiping Scrooge's whole fortune, though, so he planned to disintegrate it instead. Scrooge doesn't find him as honorable as he claims to be, however, because he pulls off such heists to boost his ego, even calling the press beforehand and telling them where to be to cover the story.
  • DC Comics:
    • Batman villain Dr Tzin-Tzin once stole the Sphinx and hid it on the bottom of the ocean, for no adequately explained reason. Other than "because he Could!"
    • Justice Society of America, during The Golden Age of Comic Books, has the Injustice Society holding a competition amongst its members to see who could steal the most impressive patriotic item. Targets included Old Ironsides (which is, at least, designed to be mobile), the Liberty Bell, Plymouth Rock, the Freedom Train and the Washington Monument! They then stole a stadium full of people to judge the winner.
    • Superman
      • The villain Brainiac will often use a shrink ray to steal cities. The Bottle City of Krandor is the one kryptonian city that Superman was able to take from him.
      • A story written in The Silver Age of Comic Books has Lex Luthor planting bombs in all the world's great monuments, and then he threatens to detonate them unless Superman would physically steal them for him. Supes does eventually find a way to disarm the bombs, but not before he has had to carry half the world's monuments to Luthor's hideout.
    • Trinity has a group of villains performing ever-more elaborate thefts of items as part of a magical ritual. Amoung the items stolen are items related to the Origin Story to Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, including an entire street: (the space-plane rescued by Superman in his first public appearance, the clay Diana was made from, and Crime Alley). Ultimately they steal the heroes' status as The Trinity, the three most important people in the world, resulting in history itself changing.
  • The title character of the Italian comic Diabolik stole an enormous platinum disk, so great it took a train to move it... It was stolen just as a cop stated it was too big to steal.
  • In some Italian stories, Paperinik (Donald Duck's superhero-avenger of himself alter ego and protagonist of Paperinik New Adventures) steals huge amounts at once.
    • He stole Scrooge's money-filled bed while he was sleeping on it in the very first story.
    • In one story he faked a Face–Heel Turn caused by a supposed amnesia and stole half of Duckburg piece by piece (at that point the police just gave up and started playing with flowers), and gave it back once he had dismantled the criminal organization he had set to infiltrate.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Despicable Me:
    • Before the film, Gru has stolen the Times Square Jumbo-tron, the Statue of Liberty ("The small one, from Las Vegas"), and the Eiffel Tower ("Also from Vegas").
    • One of Gru's rival villains is able to completely remove one of the Pyramids of Giza and replace it with an inflatable model without anyone noticing.
    • Gru's notion of revenge is to concoct a plan to steal the moon. (Admittedly after shrinking it to the size of a basketball.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The plot of Men in Black hinges on an entire galaxy being captured by war-inclined alien bugs. (Of course, since it's a microcosmic galaxy about the size of a marble, this is not as difficult as one might think)
  • X-Men:

    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • Fred Colon justifies hanging around various Ankh-Morpork landmarks rather than going on an actual beat by the fact that he is guarding them against such grandiose thieves. This is made more impressive due to the fact many major landmarks were designed by Bloody Stupid Johnson, and are thus rather small.
      • In spite of this, Unseen University did get stolen once, but that was just a student prank.
      • As did the Brass Bridge. One wonders if Colon is really up to the job.
    • In Interesting Times, Cohen the Barbarian stole a country by going to the throne room and saying it was his.
  • Frenchman in Englishman has a habit of stealing landmarks from other countries and relocating them to Paris.

    Live-Action Television 
  • CSI: In "Stealing Home", the CSI team investigate when an entire house is stolen.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Stolen Earth"... well, you can guess.
    • And in "Smith and Jones", the entire Royal Hope Hospital is transported to the Moon.
  • One episode of Michael Bentine's Potty Time had someone stealing Nelson's Column, the Effiel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. It turned out he had only removed them so he could have them cleaned as gifts to the respective governments.
  • Mirai Sentai Timeranger start Big Bad stealing the prison instead of just breaking out the criminals they wanted as henchmen.
  • Power Rangers Time Force start Big Bad stealing the prison instead of just breaking out the criminals they wanted as henchmen.
  • Sarah Silverman's show: After discovering that God is black (as in the race, not the color), Sarah Silverman snarks that she's cool with it and not one of those racists who would wonder if a black God is going to steal the Moon (heavily implying she is EXACTLY that kind of racist). Then again, since God is....well, God, that might actually put the scenario above and beyond this trope.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the Asgard have been known to remove entire Goa'uld pyramids and armies of Jaffa by beaming them up and not bothering to reintegrate them again afterwards. They've also used this to borrow the Stargate more than once, and one one occasion, pilfer all of the food stores present in Cheyenne Mountain! Really, it's gotten to the point where Thor seems to be doing this simply for his own amusement!

    Tabletop Games 

    Theme Parks 
  • In The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Studios, Doctor Octopus and the Sinister Syndicate, with the aid of a levitation gun, steal the Statue of Liberty. They state that unless NYC surrenders themselves to them, they will destroy it. This thus propels forth the ride's storyline.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • Girl Genius: In Othar's Twitter, he was at one point asked to help after the Louvre had gone missing. It turns out that it had been stolen using a shrink-ray and hidden inside a cake in a refrigerator, because shrunken objects expand when heated.
  • Megatokyo: Yuki stole a zilla. That is, a Godzilla analogue.
  • The Brotherhood of Evil Henchmen, in the Nodwick comic, attempted to become a whole society of Monumental Thieves dedicated to the service of others. They abducted Nodwick, whose henchman "special power" is the ability to haul titanic weights around like other people would their luggage, and tried to get him to reveal the secrets of his amazing cargo-hauling strength. As their own "power" is the discovery and acquisition of small and rare items (magical artifacts, abnormal brains, etc.) for their masters, they hoped to make themselves even more powerful by being able to haul off whole arcane libraries instead of a single magic tome, or sealed buildings full of forbidden artifacts instead of having to break in just for the magic sword. They finally gave up when Nodwick proved to be too much trouble to keep contained for interrogation, and realized that someone's more likely to notice a whole building gone missing long before a book.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of CatDog, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower were seen inside a crocodile, along with the real Golden Hydrant.
  • COPS: As a birthday present for Big Boss, Berserko tried to steal the Cornucopia Bridge, by inflating the world's largest balloon and blowing up the supports. The C.O.P.S. stop him before he can fire the explosives so we don't see the bridge fly, but their reaction upon seeing the huge balloon inflated inside the bridge says that it wouldn't work.
  • Darkwing Duck: An one-shot villain, Lilliput, steals Saint Canard's skyline while Darkwing's back is (literally) turned. (With a shrink ray)
  • Futurama:
    • A possible reference in one episode, where a character mentions that New New York had a "super villain mayor" who stole several landmarks, such as the Sphinx and the Eiffel Tower, and put them on the beach at Coney Island.
    • In the aptly named movie, Bender's Big Score, Bender steals everything. Items seen include the Mona Lisa (incomplete), Tutankahmen's death mask, and what has to be the True Cross.
  • In one episode of Super Chicken (part of George of the Jungle), the villain stole the state of Rhode Island, by towing it out to sea, and hiding it under smog.
  • The Hoppity Hooper episode "Colonel Clabber—Limburger Cheese Statue" featured a villain who was stealing the world's great landmarks and having them transported to his estate because he was unable to travel to see them.
  • In the short-lived series Inhumanoids, Metlar had what was likely the craziest motive for stealing the Statue of Liberty - he fell in love with it!. (Maybe it makes sense a little, seeing as he was a giant monster made of living metal.) Even crazier, once he brings Lady Liberty to life, she's surprisingly accepting of it, but nags him relentlessly, working him even harder than his former slave-driving master Sslither did. Eventually, he decides to de-animate her and return her to her pedestal after getting sick of it.
  • Kids Next Door: An one-shot villain shrank and captured monuments - and his rival, Numbuh 2 - to defeat him in a spectacular mini-golf ("It's miniature golf!") game, also causing the planet to shrink so he could play a galactic golf game. Really.
  • In the first episode of Kim Possible, Drakken steals an entire toy factory.
  • In The Looney Tunes Show episode "Eligible Bachelors", Colonel Frankenheimer attempts to steal the Eiffel Tower by hooking it to a zeppelin and flying it to Germany.
  • "The Once and Future Thing Part Two" of Justice League Unlimited featured Lord Chronos stealing historic landmarks from throughout space and time. And displaying them in the streets of Neo Gotham. This included, among others, the Titanic, the Sphinx, and the Colosseum.
  • Phineas and Ferb has an episode where Doofenshmirtz steals the Eiffel Tower, among other things, by shrinking them.
  • The Simpsons has Snake steal the entire Kwik-E-Mart. "I'm taking this thing to Mexico!" It was left unguarded at the time.
  • The Secret Show episode "Monument Racing" involves two mischievous scientists using experimental "weird little motor thingies" to uproot and race several monuments in the air. While U.Z.Z. works to put a stop to it, everyone else bets on which monument will be the winner.
  • 1973/74 Super Friends episode "Menace of the White Dwarf". The super villain Raven uses a fragment of a white dwarf star to steal the Washington Monument.
  • An episode of Totally Spies! featured a villain who used a shrink ray to steal several monuments (i.e. the Taj Mahal and Mount Rushmore).
  • In the original series Transformers episode 'Thief In The Night', the Decepticon Trypticon steals several famous landmarks - including Fort Knox, the Taj Mahal, the St. Basil's Cathedral (mistakenly called 'the Kremlin') and the Eiffel Tower) in return for large supplies of high-quality fuel from the fictional nation Carbombya. The heists were neither very well-planned nor particularly cunningly performed: he basically just went there and pulled the buildings out of the ground before carrying them off (Trypticon is rather a large Transformer).
  • In one episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, a crooked travel agent who ends up getting the same elastic powers as Dale uses his abilities to steal all the world's monuments for ransom. When the Rangers investigate his travel agency, Dale thinks the models of the monuments on his desk were the real things miniaturized.

    Truth In Television 


Alternative Title(s): Beyond The Impossible Thief, The Carmen Sandiego, The Sandiego, Grand Theft Impossible, Stealing The Moon, Stealing The Impossible, Stealing The Unstealable, Monumental Thief

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MonumentalTheft