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So you're the plucky group of young heroes out to defeat the Evil Overlord and bring peace back to the world. You'd think that means that shopkeepers might give you discounts or even free items — after all, you're protecting them and ensuring they'll still have not only their shops but also their businesses in the future. And, y'know, their lives.
But nope. You still pay full price, same as everybody else.
Even for more localized examples, where you'd think it'd be more personal: You've driven all the local bandits out of the peaceful hamlet and put their mob's leader to the sword, and even the shopkeepers will actively thank you for saving the place, but they still charge you full price.
Happens especially in web-based Flash Games: You may be the chosen one, they may plead with you to save their village/island/country/world from destruction, but unless you rustle up an incredible amount of money (from behind the Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence maybe?), you'll never get the best armor and weapons that you would need to do it with.
See also Adam Smith Hates Your Guts, which is where shop prices steadily rise regardless of how much sense this makes, and Karl Marx Hates Your Guts, where prices stay the same, again, regardless of logic. Also see Dude, Where's My Respect?. This is averted with Hospitality for Heroes and Discount Card.
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Not only will shops in The Legend of Zelda always charge you full price, but given how this game averts Wallet of Holding and yet combines Money for Nothing and Cash Gates for the shop's best items, you're often dealing with shopkeepers who sell items at such prices that you need a legendary wallet, fabled in song and story, just to carry the rupees needed to buy their wares.
The Wind Waker takes this Up to Eleven with Bomb-Master Cannon, who sells his bombs for prices several orders of magnitude above what you can possibly carry. This isn't intended as a Cash Gate, but as a Broken Bridge, and bombs can be bought for normal prices after the pirates rob the merchant of his bombs as part of the story. Prior to that, the merchant seems mighty pleased with his greedy exploitation of his monopoly, seemingly forgetting that, monopoly or not, he's not making money: no one can buy his wares because they cost more than the combined wealth of the world.
Also in The Wind Waker, Tingle charges 398 Rupees to decipher each of eight maps needed to find the pieces of the Triforce. You have to get the first wallet upgrade to even pay this.However In the HD remake, the base wallet amount is upped to 500 Rupees, so you don't need the first upgrade to be able to decipher the charts. Luckily, you can hold up to 5000 Rupees after finding both wallet upgrades, a big jump from previous Zelda games.
In Skyward Sword, despite everyone in Skyloft knowing that you're saving Zelda (or at least that you're on a VERY important mission) you have to buy your potion, your equipment, and pay for its upgrades.
Lampshaded in Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean, where the shopkeeper who follows you to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon justifies herself saying that she not only trusts your ability to defeat the bad guy, but if you should fail, the money wouldn't matter anyway.
Alundra eventually averts this, once the entire village puts their trust in you to save them, you can take healing items from the shop for free.
Avoided for the very last mission in Archimedean Dynasty, where the fate of humanity hangs in the balance (but what's new?). Even the most expensive and most powerful cannon is offered for a pittance.
Baldur's Gate zig-zags this trope. If you perform enough heroic acts and get your reputation high enough, shop prices start going down (to a maximum of 50% at 20 reputation) as the shopkeepers realize you're probably going to use the ludicrously expensive items for a good purpose (on the opposite side, being evil makes store prices higher). You still sell items for less than a fraction of what they're being sold for, and nobody ever just gives you items no matter your need. This creates a few Fridge Logic moments, such as Drow (evil underground elf) merchants giving you lower prices based on your heroic deeds on the surface, as well as having to buy items from a priest in an elven city you're currently saving from an Evil Sorcerer.
Averted in Brave Soul with Coolbough and his associates (the Innkeepers). Though they don't let you stay in their inn for free because you're going to save the world at some point, but because the Hero's father saved Coolbough's life.
In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, the monk, Vincent, will sell you various supplies. During a plot event, he'll be bitten by a vampire, and he'll run back in asking you to heal him. When entering his shop menu, he usually says "I'll make you a deal!", but when he's sick, he literally says "I'll lower the price... I'll lower the price!" However, he doesn't, and after you heal him, your characters ask him if he will lower the price—to which he responds that he's gotta make a living. Bummer.
Also justified in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The Librarian is actually in the employ of Dracula, and only helps Alucard at all as he's a greedy bastard. And if you use any of the extra characters, he'll refuse to deal with them at all; Alucard is permissible because he's the Master's son, estranged or not, but dealing with the Belmonts would be outright treason.
In Chrono Trigger, you can rescue a falsely imprisoned shop clerk from a dungeon. When you visit the shop later, the clerk will slip you some free potions when the shopkeeper isn't looking.
There is also the island in 1000 AD where, at first, the Mystics running the shops hate humans and charge far more than the asking price for items and weapons. However, completing a sidequest in 600 AD will improve the Mystics' attitude about humans, and the shops will now give a discount instead.
Played straight throughout most of Clash At Demonhead, which sells a rotating stock of items to your character every time he uses the Shop Call or goes to the ocean on Route 5. However, once he visits the shop 30 times, the shopkeeper makes all of his items available to the hero at half price.
The Command & Conquer series often has opposing forces mining resources on the front lines of battle, with commanders more often than not conducting battle with minimal support from their factions.
Zig-zagged in Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars. Fort City doesn't charge the teenage protagonists for equipment... but it does require them to cash in Glow Points. GP are a merit system, earned by fighting monsters - and real, potentially lethal monsters at that, training in the simulator doesn't count. When one character asks why they're not being given this equipment for free, he's promptly told "nothing good ever comes when man's grasp exceeds his reach" - the war effort is half-run by the Church, who firmly believes man's pride has caused the current crisis. That said, the other half of the effort, AngelMarker R&D, is only too eager to provide experimental but crucial equipment like Wake'sEther Amp of the heroines' Dusk Breakers for free. All of this becomes a plot point when it turns out the CEO of AngelMarker is stonewalling attempts to end the war permanently so he can continue profiteering from the research funding the church is giving them.
Averted in Dark Cloud, where the Wise Owl will sell you a special sword for a discount. It's still pretty high but as he (along with some other merchants in the game) will tell you, they are still merchants and need to make a living.
The weapon and item shops in Demon Gaze not giving you discounts is one thing, since you're just another mercenary to them. Fran, on the other hand, in depending on you doing jobs only the Gazer can do, but will not discount you a cent. Booking more rooms so you can take more party members? Be prepared to cough up a cool 1000G (and Lorna had to cover the first one just so you wouldn't be flying solo). Fail to pay room and board the moment you step in the door after another life-threatening dungeon dive? She'll blacklist you from all but the most essential services until you settle. When Lancelorna warns you that money is Serious Business to Fran, she's not kidding.
"Smuggler" in Deus Ex won't give you explosives unless you pay an absurd amount of money for them, even if you've helped him out before, and even though he knows you need them to blow up a superfreighter full of enough of an incurable virus to infect the entire North American continent!. The exception is the first time you're in Hell's Kitchen, where he gives you a discount if you rescue his friend from MJ 12.
Furthermore, those characters who suggest you ask someone else for needed items and information - and who are fully aware of the importance of you getting them - can't be bothered to so much as loan you the necessary credits.
Occasionally, some of your allies will give you items for free. Other characters will offer you a discount on items for sale in exchange for completing a side quest.
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, despite your boss spending what must have been an absolute fortune to turn the PC who is the head of security into an augmented super soldier, you still need to pay for your own augmentation upgrades. And weapons. And ammo. And information. Considering you are trying to track down a mercenary group that killed half a dozen scientists and are planning some kind of conspiracy that would dramatically change the outlook of the company, you really should have a platinum company credit card that makes credits meaningless.
There's also a LIMB clinic office on Panchaea, where the shop keeper has barricaded herself against the crazed augs. She mentions that she'd like to give you a discount but the whole thing is based off a computer she cant change, so you're still charged full price for medicine, Typhoon ammo, and upgrade kits.
Averted in the case of Seurat, an arms dealer in Detroit. If you rescued Greg and Josie Thorpe during the factory mission, he will give you "the egghead discount" any time you visit him for the rest of the game.
In The Missing Link, Quinn (the only merchant) defends charging you for goods by reminding Jensen that he's a fugitive in the facility they're both in, so he's taking a tremendous risk doing business with him. However, if you saved a person earlier, he does give you a discount.
In general you're presumably on an expense account, with the plot is over before you can file the associated report and be reimbursed. For the really expensive stuff (such as getting access to Heng Sha) your company does provide, which turns out to be a whole new problem - and makes the advantages of using money and equipment which can't be traced to your employer clear.
Diablo II has Tyrael, who charges up to 50,000 gold to resurrect your mercenary companion. He's an angel! What's he going to do with the money? Build ornate churches?
In regard to the Merchants of Light accompanying Tyrael, additional information at Battle.net gives a reason for why they charge you for weapons and armor despite being at Hell's doorstep. Like Tyrael, they are forbidden to help you directly. Selling and buying equipment is a way for them to work around it, because it qualifies as indirect help at best.
From the game's Web site:
In Act IV, Tyrael will resurrect your Hireling but he will charge you. What does he do with that gold? Angels got to pay the bills too.
The first Diablo game averts this trope to a degree, on the fact that nobody is expecting you to succeed. If the merchants gave free goods to every would be hero that tried to save the world, they'd have gone broke long before you showed up. This logic begins to fade after you've gone far past what anybody else has accomplished, and everybody starts believing that you are the real deal, but still charge you full price.
In Dragon Age: Origins, some folks will offer a discount...but the prices stay the same. The only time this is averted is with one merchant in Denerim, and then only if you played a certain origin story.
Oh it's far worse than that, your camp merchant will promise you a discount, but is actually one of the worst merchants in the game! He buys lower than average and sells higher. The worst part? He's right there in your camp, so invariably you'll sell him most of your loot for convenience's sake!
Somewhat-mocked in Dragon Quest IX, where after you save Batsureg, the shopkeepers declare that all their wares are yours...but of course you are such a hero that you will still compensate them.
Lampshaded just before the last stage of Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms: Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance II where the eponymous city is overrun by the undead, and only a makeshift barricade stands between the shopkeeper and a horde of zombies, and the city's Only Hope is for you to storm the villain's citadel. If you complain about the shopkeeper still charging you full price, he points out that he's confident of your success, but if he gave away his goods where would he be after you save the city. Furthermore, you can afford it, so it isn't like he's jeopardizing the city's safety by refusing to just give the items away.
In one instance your base of operations is a village where you are praised as the Chosen One, but the village merchant is such an infamously stingy bastard he explicitly warns you right away that he will still charge you with all your purchases. Later all the village money happens to be stolen and he once again clearly refuses to supply the village guards with weapons for free... because they didn't stand for him against brigands.
Another time you join some rebels and obtain all the gear from their blacksmith. He actually apologizes for his shameless prices and explains that he has to smuggle the weapons and bribe the officials of the Evil Empire.
However, at the very end of the game, it's subverted; the very last 'merchant' you meet before the final battle will give you anything he has in stock and perform all services for free.
In Exit Fate, it's possible to recruit a few people to your army who then set up shops in your castle. Even though they're working for you, they still charge the same prices as every other shopkeeper in the game.
In Fallout 3, being nice to the ghoul bartender gets you a discount on anything he sells, but others are fairly unfriendly towards you, even after you repeatedly save their collective asses.
In Rivet City, there's an unmarked quest involving a city council member and a fellow merchant who accuses him of stealing his council seat. Completing the quest in favor of one will get you a discount from them, but cause the other to raise their prices.
This is lampshaded in the Mothership Zeta DLC, when Somah charges you money to repair your equipment despite the two of you having been kidnapped by aliens and fighting for your lives to escape. Somah points out that even if you both do escape, she's as good as dead anyway if she doesn't have any money to survive on in the Wasteland.
Fallout: New Vegas averts this with the addition of faction reputations, as you get a discount from merchants who are associated with a faction that likes you. This mechanic highlights other vendors apparent lack of gratitude though, a particularly notable example is Old Lady Gibson, who runs the junkyard just outside Novac. Despite being tied to Novac and its economy, she isn't marked as being part of the town and won't give you any discounts when you restore the town's salvage industry by clearing out the Repconn test site during the Come Fly With Me quest, even though she explains she gets all her junk from Repconn. She will even charge you five hundred caps for a MacGuffin critical to completing said quest, which is a lot for low level characters. She is tied for first with the Gun Runners for being the richest vendor in the game, so its hard to ignore her if you want to sell all your Vendor Trash.
The bartender in Goodsprings will give you a discount if you drive away the attack by the Powder Gangers "on account of what you done for us."
Cost for repairing items is also completely unaffected by discounts or Barter skill.
The Great Khan armory merchant sells at price if you're liked by them. No discount - base price, whether you're buying or selling. This makes her an excellent choice for unloading expensive stuff, since you can trade in for ammunition and other cheap stuff without suffering price attrition.
Final Fantasy V sort of subverted this by having the shopkeeper in Bartz's home town give a discount (which is very appreciated when the single revival item in the game costs 1000 gold). But only because it's Bartz's hometown.
Final Fantasy VI subverted it at Figaro Castle, where the shopkeepers will refuse to charge Edgar (the king) or Sabin (his brother). However, both characters insist on paying, pointing out that the shopkeepers still have to earn a living. (If Edgar or Sabin is your party leader, they still give you a 50% discount, though.)
Final Fantasy VIII contains one exception. If you return to Timber after you're finished there in the main story, you can save a little girl from getting run over by a train, and it earns you a free night at the inn. Played straight for everything else. How much for a train ticket?
Lampshaded in Final Fantasy X right before the battle with That One Boss, Evrae, which also leads almost directly to a whole gauntlet run of bosses, Rin will still charge you exorbitant prices. When asked why, when you could all die, he replies:
Rin: I have faith in your victory.
Also, 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. Otherwise, he charges almost double what any other shop would.
In Final Fantasy X-2, O'aka is so in debt to the Al Bhed that he's willing to avert this trope and give you a discount just so he can pay his debt off. In fact, if you help him clear out his entire debt, he'll be so thankful that he'll sell you his stock at a 90% discount.
While less related to the economy, in Final Fantasy X random people would give you items if you talked to them, considering you're a summoner and her guardians. It made the stinginess of the shopkeepers more noticeable.
Handwaved in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, where the only vendor in the game actually works for you, purchasing equipment while you're off adventuring. One NPC in the ship points out he must be losing quite the amount of money, as Tomah sells said equipment at only a fraction of the original price.
Averted in Final Fantasy XIII, where all transactions are done via the internet, so vendors are not aware of your status as heroes, but even then as you're characterised as villains for the entirety of the plot, even if they knew your identity, they'd probably not want to sell to you, let alone give a discount. Another aversion is that the Fal'Cie control all technology, and are revealed late game to be secretly manipulating you in your quest to destroy them (which they desire) but are prevented in their programming from aiding you directly (by lowering prices presumably) One late game vendor though has a message from the Fal'Cie wishing you luck!
Before the final boss battle in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, one of Lightning's friends will sell her reecovery items and spell synthesis at standard prices. What is he going to do with the money? It's the end of the world, and he won't have to repay his suppliers.
Watts from Final Fantasy Adventure distills this trope to its essence. He accompanies you through a dungeon to get some silver he needs. Despite the fact that you're accompanying him on his quest so that he can get what he needs without dying, he still charges you full price for more items in the middle of said dungeon.
It gets worse. After you finish the dungeon and Watts gets the silver, he goes back to the Dwarf Cave to forge equipment with it. Does he give you any for free? Of course not, he charges you full price for the sword and armor. You even have to get the silver helmet from a different shop.
Fire Emblem can get rather silly about this. Radiant Dawn is especially bad near the end. All of humanity is frozen in stone by an evil god. The only people still alive are your party, the enemies (brought back to life by the god to stop you) and a group of merchants following you. They STILL don't offer you a discount. The kicker? In a few cutscenes, they outright give you the Infinity+1 Spellbooks they found lying around for free BECAUSE you're the last people alive and you're the only hope for everyone. Not the most consistent of merchants, these guys.
It gets even sillier when you realize that they DID give your army a discount for one chapter earlier in the game, before everyone was turned to stone. Why they didn't think to do so again is anyone's guess.
Completely averted in Freelancer, once you encounter the Order. They give you the best ship in the game at that point for 1100 credits, when other ships are in the hundreds of thousands.
Unfortunately, when time comes to trade that ship in to the next best one, you'll notice you can't sell it for a normal ship's price either.
In Harvest Moon series, most of the marriageable bachelors and bachelorettes work in the area's shops, which are usually owned by their families. You won't get any kind of discount from their family's store if you marry one of them, even if your spouse is the one running the store. This may be so that people would marry characters they liked, rather than just marrying the person that gives them the biggest discounts. It makes little sense in universe, but a lot of sense when you consider the implications of marrying someone for free cake at the bakery.
Averted, however, in one of its spin-off series, Rune Factory, you may get free fortune-telling or free bathing from your wife. Not that much, though.
In the sequels, your spouse will cook you a free meal every day, and her charging you for goods and services is justified in that they still have to help their own family.
Just Cause 2 The Sloth Demon will make you pay a ton of money for anything (except transportation), even after you find out he's Tom Sheldon in disguise. Granted, Panau is a dictatorship and it's money is worth less than crap (Rico says himself than putting a bullet in the head of a guy to obtain some info would be more expensive than greasing his palm with a handful of banknotes), but come on, 20 grand for a pistol?
In Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, Huey, Dewey and Louie don't give a damn that their uncle is buying and saving the world as we know it, as long as he keeps on coughing up the munny.
In 358/2 Days, the Organization Moogle admits that you're the only one who will buy his wares. In fact, he follows you when you run away just so he can continue to charge you. Still, he's useful before that final battle...
The Lunar Lunch-O-Mat owner from Kingdom of Loathing gives you a mere 25% discount for being "the savior of [his] entire species," but it's sort of meaningless because you can't even visit the store until you've saved his entire species. Plus, the undiscounted prices would be things like 133 and one-third isotopes, and since you can't have a fraction of an isotope, he's probably lying about the discount. Or it's, you know, a joke.
After you rescue Big Brother Sea Monkee from the digestive tract of a carnivorous sea-plant, he still charges full price for everything in his store. Well, almost. He gives you a magic air-producing rock for free because he thinks it's worthless, and he refunds your payment for a spooky black lens because he hates it and never wants to see it again. The expensive maps are especially silly, since Little Brother gives you some of them for free.
Justified in Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, in which the player starts with a writ identifying him as on official business for the king, which can be presented for free services. However, the writ is stolen, leaving him with no proof that he works for the king and justifying why he must pay for things like everyone else.
In Lunar: The Silver Star and its remakes, your old childhood buddy Ramus takes over a shop in Meribia. He initially charges you full price because he's still trying to establish his business, but just before the final battle with the fate of the entire world at stake, he gives you unlimited free items from his store to help out. This ends up being a good PR move, as after you do save the world, word gets around about him helping the Dragonmaster and he brings in more business than ever.
In both Makai Kingdom and Phantom Brave, you can have a merchant job class in your party; the higher level the merchant, the better stuff they sell (and possibly at lower prices).
Said merchants still need to get stuff from somewhere (some kind of off-screen third party provider, possibly), so they still need money to pay for it.
In Mario & Luigi, shopkeepers are willing to give the Brothers a discount if they have good-looking mustaches (or in Bowser's case in the third game, if he has good-looking horns).
In the final dungeon of Super Mario RPG, just before the entrance to the final boss battle against Smithy, The Toad as in Peach's assistant, sets up the area with a save block. He also sets up shop to sell you items like mushrooms and revival potions. Note that this Toad is on your side and the fate of the world hangs in the balance on this next fight. Guess the economy's more important than that. Although he does sell them at half price.
It gets weird when storming Bowser's Castle in the endgame, where Kamek will still sell Bowser and the others end-game equipment, and to help them afford the prices conjures a block that never runs out of coins, but only gives them one at a time, making it so that you have to strike it over a thousand times to buy everything.And you can carry at most 999 coins, so even if you came prepared you'll still have to jump quite a while.
Before that, Hinopio charges positively extraordinary prices for the luxury of sleeping on a pile of wooden crates. In a volcano. This gets lampshaded in the official strategy guide.
It helps that Hinopio is the only game in the volcano. It also makes for a great Crowning Moment of Funny when Mario awakens face-down on the very uncomfortable-looking crates.
Absent in the original Paper Mario , where the Toad Houses are free of charge. It is hinted somewhere in the game it's because they're owned by the Mushroom Kingdom and thus are a public service and not a private one like in every other RPG.
In Super Paper Mario, you're saving the universe, and you still have to pay for every single thing including Inns, items, and even fortune telling on which places you're supposed to be. How about the fact that Mario was the legendary hero to save the universe foretold 1000 years ago? And of course the things you buy are twice as costly as when you sell them.
Bestovius makes reference to this trope, telling Mario that he will not teach him how to flip dimensions for free, and complaining that "heroes always expect everything to be given to them!". It does turn into a subversion if you refuse to pay twice in a row, whereupon he offers to teach it for free just so you can continue on your quest.
This goes back to Super Mario Bros. 3 where Toad lets you pick one of three boxes and get whatever item is inside it. Why not just let Mario get the items from all three boxes?
Lampshaded in Mass Effect 1, where you can yell at the requisitions officer of the Normandy (and pretty much anyone else who sells equipment during moments of emergency) for charging you for equipment. This turns out to be a justified case, however: the requisitions officer is actually obtaining you items that are not N7 standard issue out of his own pocket. He explains that each time ship docks he sells and buys weapons on his own expense and more licenses and more money he has, better he can supply you with. It's also completely justified during one mission; You can berate a shopkeeper about not giving you stuff, but he ALREADY gave a bunch of stuff to the paid security forces that had been protecting him and various others before you arrived, and he has no way of knowing how helpful you'll be anyway.
Averted in the sequel. You can get a discount at every shop, either by Charm/Intimidate dialogue or by completing a Side Quest. It's also lampshaded in this game by Mordin, a former salarian Special Task Group member who - comparing the STGs to the Spectres - comments that they're quite similar, but better-funded and not generally expected to buy their own weapons.
Downplayed in Metal Gear Solid 4 as the last act offers a 50% off all of the weapons etc. in Drebin's shop. However, this isn't directly related to aiding you on your missions; it's only because business is going bad (The disabling of ID'd guns creating a slump on the 'necessary' war economy) and they need to make sales.
In Metro 2033, the only money is bartering with 5.57 ammo left over from before the apocalypse. The ammo is in perfect condition, and packs more punch than the homemade crap you usually find. Therefore, you must choose between supporting the economy and saving your ass in a firefight. There's even an Achievement (Scrooge) for hoarding 500 Bullets.
MMORPGs can take this trope go Up to Eleven. Not only do you not get discounts for saving the town/country/world—not even if the shopkeeper himself gives you quests for Twenty Bear Asses—but your fellow players will often charge ridiculously exorbitant prices for rare items and equipment.
Averted in Dungeons & Dragons Online: Certain overworld areas have major quest chains, usually given by an important person from that area, or otherwise about something much more important than some random person's problems. When you finish the major quest chain for an area, all shops in that area will give you a small discount.
Also averted in World of Warcraft, where you get discounts by 5% or so for every level of rep you have, up to 15% for exalted.
Final Fantasy XI also has NPC shopkeepers give you (small) discounts if you've got a high Fame score.
In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, you can ask a couple of merchants why you must pay if you are trying to save them all. One says you are "trying"—that is, he can't afford to lose money in case you fail, and if it comes to that he plans to run away. The other is a smith and needs gold for his furnace to burn properly.
During the climax of Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir, Volo helpfully comes to your party bearing supplies from the stores... that you have to pay for. He justifies it by saying that the merchants he requisitioned the items from expect to be paid for them.
Averted in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Morrowind, where completing quests raises reputation, and by extension, disposition of shopkeepers. Doing personal favors will be similarly rewarded.
Similarly averted in Skyrim, where doing favors for merchants (or simply being a regular customer for long enough) can allow you to take the cheap stuff off their shelves for free, when it would otherwise be considered stealing.
Ocular Ink A freeware game. Parodied, in which the hero's travel fees are paid for by the government.
Justified in Ōkami's very last "shop" in the Ark of Yamato, the place where all the demons and evil spirits have gathered for you to defeat once and for all. You're not really "buying" anything - as Marco the NPC puts it, you are leaving a cash offering for the Celestials, and being rewarded based on however much you leave.
The Talan in Outcast believe you're Messianic Archetype, prophecised to save them from tyranny. This doesn't stop a group of identical merchants, all brothers, from selling your own equipment to you and others (as "sacred objects") in an attempt to prove to their father that they can make enough money to inherit the family business.
One of the children in Persona 3 was the daughter to a multi-national company. God forbid they spare a couple million yen to help save the world.
Justified in that the multinational was doing everything in its power to hide that they caused the problems that she's trying to repair in the first place. Why would they do anything that might give away what they're hiding? Even when she takes it over following her father's murder, she still answers to the stockholders and can't pull any resources out of their grip. (Besides, she talks them into giving you a way to buy weapons in the first place - not to mention putting the Robot Girl on your team, something they could theoretically overrule.)
Justified in Quest for Glory series, in which every game takes place in a totally new setting, where your heroism in the previous games is known only to a few people, if any. The second game somewhat averts this trope: the people who you helped in the first game provide you with free room and board at their inn, and the merchants will give you the items you need to subdue the Elementals for free, but only if you ask at the appropriate time (so they won't just hand you over a brass lamp at any random point just because you asked for it, but if there's a fire elemental rampaging and you explain that you need it to capture it, they'll do so).
Lampshaded in Ratchet & Clank with this conversation involving a scientist they've rescued from mutant aliens:
Scientist: How about I sell you these, at cost?
Ratchet: 'Sell?' After we just saved your scrawny butt?
Can be averted or played straight in Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, seeing as you're the merchant and it's up to you whether or not adventurers get discounts. Tear recommends that you give discounts to the heroes you hire, even if at a loss sometimes, since it will save you from having to equip them when you go dungeon crawling. Think of it as an investment.
Averted in Red Dead Redemption as a sufficiently famous and heroic John Marston can get up to 50% discount in the shops. However, the shops in the game's Wretched Hive, Thieves' Landing, which, in an inversion of the trope, only give a 50% discount if you are deeply criminal.
In Resident Evil 4, the vendor(s) charge you rather high prices for weapons and other items, even though Los Illuminados are just as much a threat to him as to you (Though Fanon and the heat scope show he may be infected, and thus in less danger). Lampooned in this Penny Arcade strip.
To be fair, they do give you a great gun for free just for showing your skill at target practice. This particular vendors' greed seems to stem from pure laziness, since they will happily accept money you just took from the table right beside them.
Averted in Romancing SaGa 2, where, as a monarch, the player has access to such ungodly sums of money from the country's treasury that they never have to worry about being able to afford equipment from stores. Building new facilities in their kingdom, on the other hand...
Justified in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, where you're on a self-sufficient exploration ship with a fabrication lab; the options aren't "buy" and "sell" but "Manufacture" and "Dispose," and they're just using the resources you picked up (and demon money, "macca,") to build stuff.
Double-justified, since macca is actually a form of energy used to power the ship's fabricators and healing devices. Since there are a ton of wounded soldiers and soldiers who need better weapons, armor, and revived demons, if they all just extracted what they wanted without ponying up the energy difference in macca, you'd swiftly be out of juice in the heart of an alternate dimension filled with demons.
Averted in Slime Forest Adventure, but in an unusual way. You're not a hero, you're a local farmer. You don't actually become a "hero" until after you've Saved the Princess (and even then, you only become a member of the royal guard rather than a famous hero).
At the same time, the king inverts this. If you bring him some evidence that you've actually got a shot at saving the princess, he'll just give you an axe to replace the hoe you've been using.
In Spyro the Dragon, Moneybags not only never gives you a discount, he charges you exorbitant amounts not only for items, and even sometimes to get places you need to go. Chasing after him in Year of the Dragon is more satisfying than fighting bosses.
Lampshaded toward the end of Star Ocean The Last Hope. The Morphus, an ancient and advanced race of galactic guardians, have recognized you as a group of remarkably powerful heroes, and have made you the spearhead in their strategy to prevent the destruction of the entire universe. However, if you approach their own weapons-vendor, he will curtly inform you that "Despite the impending end of the universe, we unfortunately cannot offer you a discount..." But actually it's averted —- you can get a 10% discount in this and every other store, if you help the owner with a few Fetch Quests.
You can find or craft several vending machines for your ship. Yes, you still have to pay full price for the items even when you own the "shop."
Also Lampshaded in Star Ocean: Second Evolution by an NPC mercenary at the Lacuer Frontline Base, who's planning to steal the equipment he needs to fight the monster army invading the country.
Averted in Stonekeep. The only shop in the game is owned by a dwarf who'll charge you full price despite the fact that you're at war with their mortal enemies, the throggs...until you show him some feathers from a throgg shaman's headdress. He then goes on to tell you that his family was murdered by a throgg shaman (possibly the one you killed) and allows you to take whatever you want from his shop for free!
In Suikoden I, you're the son of a well-respected general and later become The Leader of the army. Do you get any discounts? Nope.
In Suikoden II, you're leading against another nation because of an Ax-CrazyWarrior Prince ravaging the land and you are a former child solider of his army. You can employ a glitch in the game that can give you unlimited money bur still no discount.
In Summoner 2, much like Romancing SaGa, the PC is a Queen (and the Chosen One besides), with full access to the Royal Treasury... which, unfortunately, is rather bare when you start the game. Earn some gold by adventuring and invest it wisely, however, and your kingdom will soon start to earn you enough money to buy whatever equipment you need. Unfortunately, you can't buy equipment within your own kingdom. Guess that would be too easy...
Averted. Some service providers are initially happy to help out for free when they discover that you're the Chosen's group. Naturally, you quickly run into a group of people taking advantage of this by impersonating you.
Played straight. None of the actual shops'll give you any credit. The shopkeeper in the Doomed Hometown won't give a discount for the people who are going to save the world and whom he's known forever. Even "Marble's" charges you full price, even after you are identified as the Chosen's group and directly save the lives of both Chocolat and Cacao, the owners of the shop.
Averted again. Later when you get Regal, the president of a very powerful company — his mere presence in the party gives you a 10% discount on everything you buy and 10% bonus for everything you sell (provided you have his EX Skill "Personal" on). But the name of said skill is "Charisma", meaning it is his charm, not his business connections or anything. As to why a character in tattered prison clothes, messy hair and handcuffs inspires such respect in shopkeepers is left unexplained.
There's a similar aversion in Tales of the Abyss: Jade's "Emperor's Best Friend" title gives you a 10% discount buying, and Anise's Katz costume gives a 10% bonus selling. There's also a global economy system by which you reduce the price of goods in each town by doing sidequests that help out the townspeople, and reducing the price of goods in one location affects the price of the same goods in others. For example, since Engeve is stated to grow lots of food, lowering prices there will affect food prices worldwide.
In Tears to Tiara, the hero tries to persuade Epona the shopkeeper to give stuff for free, because he is fighting for world peace and everything. She responds by giving a lecture that healthy economy is necessary for world peace, and if she will give stuff for free, it will ruin the economy. Said economic theory is definitely anachronistic.
In the Diablo clone Throne of Darkness, you can rescue a blacksmith who then joins your home base. To improve his inventory, you have to give him found equipment that he can take apart. You can then buy better gear. That's right: you have to give him tons of stuff for free, but he'll charge you money for stuff you want. Note that the game takes place in a shogunate-era Japan overrun by demons and monsters, he works for you (or rather your master), and you saved his life.
Lampshaded and averted in the final chapter of Treasure of the Rudra - Cid does give you a discount, but is chewed out because he still charges you at all, claiming he's selling from his personal emergency stash.
In X-Men Legends II, Beast and Forge will charge their friends for health, energy and powerups. Pretty mercenary, considering that the X-Men and Brotherhood are using these items to defeat Apocalypse. Partly justified in that they accept not money, but "tech bits" (little pieces of Applied Phlebotinum dropped from enemies and destroyed objects).
Justified in Lemegeton. You're not giving gold to Noiva as payment, but rather so she can use the stuff, being the king element and all, as alchemical fuel to create what you need.
In the Dink Smallwood mod Attack of the Mutant Veggies the only sword available costs 500 gold pieces and a note of permission from the king. When Dink tried to argue that he should just be given the sword since he was the only one out there saving their butts from the title ex-foodstuffs, the blacksmith countered that he and his family still had to eat.
In Heroine Quest, doing major favors for the shop keepers (rescuing one's child and helping two of them unite with each other) will not get you free stuff, but will get you everything sold at cost instead. It is the Fimblewinter, and people do have to eat.
Steve Jackson's Sorcery: When the shopkeeper of the First Town tells you the price for rations, you can choose "Haggle" and your character will tell him that s/he is "the new best hope" for the kingdom. The shopkeeper apologises, but says "I still have to feed my family, whatever happens to the Crown."
The Daichis: Earth's Defense Family are enlisted to protect the world from danger, and given all sorts of cool weapons to do it with. But they have to pay each time they use them. And the cost of using their weapons is usually much more than the reward. And they weren't warned about this ahead of time.
Also happens in most any bounty hunter anime, from Cowboy Bebop to Gunsmith Cats. You break it, you bought it. Used mostly as an excuse to keep the heroes working by remaining in debt for the period of the show and sometimes past the ending as well.
Marvel's Alias featured Jessica Jones complaining that she still had to pay for a pack of cigarettes after saving the shopkeeper from a robbery.
Similar to the above, a story in Spider-Man Unlimited featured the titular webslinger stopping by a take out restaurant while in costume, where he watched the store owner give a pair of cops their meal for free. After asking if there was a discount for being a member of the Avengers he was informed that for him, everything on the menu was full price.
"I have little to do with that," replied the innkeeper; "pay me what you owe me, and let us have no more talk of chivalry, for all I care about is to get my money."
Subverted in Three Hearts and Three Lions. It appears that one character is going to charge for his services to the hero, even though he knows full well the hero probably going to be in a major battle to save the world soon. But before he can, another character guilts him out of it.
Subverted in the BattleTech novel Hearts of Chaos. An invasion force is dropping from the sky, and a handful of mercenaries caught away from their 'Mechs are looking for a quick Five-Finger Discount in a gun shop they've run across to help fight it off. Does the owner who catches them in the act argue? Yes, briefly — but then he does allow himself to be talked into letting them arm themselves to their hearts' content, mostly on the grounds that if the invaders win they'll likely confiscate his property anyway.
How much this trope applies in Tabletop RPGs tends to fall squarely on the shoulders of the Game Master. By default, in games that feature them price lists for equipment, services, magic items, physical spell components and so on will be fairly standardized for convenience — if a longsword costs 10 gold pieces, it costs that everywhere unless the GM specifically says otherwise. (Magic in particular often has the excuse that there's not really anyone to negotiate discounts with. If casting a particular spell requires a ruby of a size and quality normally worth 500 gold pieces, then in a "realistic" economy the actual ruby in question might well cost the caster more or less in terms of raw money depending on circumstances...but they can't just use a "lesser" substitute.)
In The Order of the Stick, being an adventurer doesn't give you a discount, it increases the prices. This is because the Genre Savvy townsfolk are fully aware that adventurers fresh from acquiring loot in a dungeon can afford the inflated prices. This is a Lampshade Hanging of the fact that the prices in most DnD books don't fit the amount non-adventurers make — your average townsperson gets a gold piece a month, so if they broke their pickaxe would have to save up three months wages for a new one.
In Anti Hero For Hire, there is constant concern over the cost of specialty ammunition outweighing rewards. He eats a lot of ramen.
Yahtzee: I have a lot of respect for the fantasy peasant village economic model. It seems those guys have a good scam going. You just accidentally build your village in walking distance of the local gnoll camp, or near a dragon cave, or directly on top of a gateway to hell, build a big fat checkpoint in the village center and keep giving birth to potential kidnap-victims, and your shopkeeper, your blacksmith, your tailor and your inkeeper, they'll all be set for fucking life.
The Final Fantasy example is parodied in the flash animation "Awesome Tribute" by Ricepirate.
Frequently averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender as people will often just GIVE the group supplies (at least in the first season when they weren't really trying to hide the fact that Aang is the Avatar most of the time).
Sponge Bob Square Pants: Masked superheroes Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are frequent patrons of the Krusty Krab, but they have to pay full price just like everyone else. Barnacle Boy attempts to ask for a "living legend discount", to no avail.
Often, the person behind the counter is not the decision-maker who has the ability to grant you a discount. Giving you free things is essentially stealing from their employer.
The American Government was often charged "barrack fees" by the British government during WWII when U.S. soldiers were billeted in British Army barracks. This was sometimes a very large amount of money.
The US charged Britain so much for weapons used to fight the war that Britain was still paying the money back in the 1990s. They gave 90% discount, it's just that they sold so much that even a tenth of the actual price was enough that Britain had to continue to pay the loan out through half a century.
The reason that many veterans hate the Red Cross is that they charged soldiers for doughnuts during World War II. They also charged for shaving kits in the Korean War. Without telling the troops about the charge, or that accepting it was optional.