"The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with."
— Major General Philip Sheridan
The Heroes may be saving a Damsel in Distress
. They may be fighting against The Empire
. Being a hero is a hard job. But it has its perks. And one of the biggest is...
Yes, indeed even our heroes need something to satisfy their sense of mischief and avarice. They need to take joy in depriving their foes. For our heroes make money the old fashioned way: they steal
- wait- plunder
it. When done by soldiers in a war, this is sometimes called "Spoils of War"note
However, the Geneva convention actually allows for soldiers taking anything neccessary for warfare from the enemy. That is, you can plunder ammunition, guns and fuel (as it allows you to keep on fighting and prevents the enemy from doing so) but you can't steal someone's watch, food or valuables, for example.
Within games, it is like Experience Points
(and commonly both used, as well) - a reward from defeating your enemies. The difference may be generally more less certainty in what you may get from your enemies where with Experience Points
, it is generally clearly aligned by certain parameters.
Related to this is Pirate Booty
which is a treasure hoard gathered by pirates when they do this. Compare Kleptomaniac Hero
and Rewarding Vandalism
, which are the video game equivalents of this trope. The villainous equivalent is Rape, Pillage, and Burn
, where stolen property is not the only offense. As well, the common gaming term of this trope is "loot, lewt, or 13\/\/7
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- Spoofed in the After the End B-Movie Battletruck (aka Warlords of the 21st Century).
- The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. After defeating Prince Koura, Sinbad has the opportunity to gain a "crown of untold riches". He generously gives it to the facially-disfigured Vizier instead, and the crown restores the Vizier to normal.
- In Lawrence of Arabia following the storming of Aqaba the Bedouin turn their attentions to plunder. In another incident later, Lawrence explains that this is part of his men's pay. Which of course it was, as they had no other clear reason to care whether they were ruled by Prince Feisal or the Sultan.
- The Patriot: one of the principal financial motivations for some of the French-Indian war veterans to join Mel Gibson's protagonist was the ability to sell back every English gun or uniform found or recovered.
- Zulus are shown rifling British dead at Isandhwana in Zulu.
- Glory had the 54th Regiment's first field mission accompanying a white officer leading African American irregulars. The irregulars prove to be a mere rabble of plunderers and the 54th are disgusted to a man at seeing their robbery of a civilian home, but Col. Shaw is no position to keep his unit from at least taking part in the destruction.
- Mild case in Gettysburg when Tom Chamberlain gets coffee from "some poor souls who had no more use for it." Lawrence calls it ghoulish, but he drinks it anyway.
- Merry Brandybuck: "One thing you have not come by in your travels is brighter wits" (explaining why he and Pippin are feasting amid the ruins of Isengard in The Lord of the Rings).
- In The Hobbit Bilbo is promised this. As it belonged to the Dwarves in the first place, it was kind of Re-Plunder.
- Horatio Hornblower:
- Hornblower never gets as much of this as he likes because he is too busy fighting the war to turn aside to trifles like prize-money. Almost every time he does get any, something keeps him from profiting.
- True until Flying Colors, at the end of which he receives prize money from the prizes he took in the previous book, plus more from the (re)capture of the Witch of Endor.
- Jack Aubrey of the Aubrey-Maturin series is more fortunate in the matter of prize money; when he has money problems, they tend to come from unfortunate investments on land.
- Aiel in The Wheel of Time look forward to plundering wetlander settlements, though they have a strict custom of only taking 20% of what is available.
- The books devote a fair bit of time to the loot and plunder that most of the British, French and Spanish armies get up to (not to mention the army wives, who worry even the badass Richard Sharpe). Of particular note is the looting that occurs at the end of Sharpe's Honour, a real incident where the retreating French baggage train was captured by British soldiers, and Sharpe and Harper (taking the place of some unknown soldiers) captured the Marshal of Vitoria's royal baton and King Joseph Bonaparte's royal jakespot.
- Sharpe actually gets into trouble in one book because some of the items he and his men took technically did not qualify as legitimate military plunder under the conventions of the time. For political reasons the army cannot just tell the lawyers to go to hell so he is sent to an out-of-the-way outpost till the matter blows over.
- He does however forbid looting from civilians unless it's that or starve, though that's not for any particular moral reason; it's just that pissing off the local residents will make his job considerably harder than it has to be.
- One of Rudyard Kipling's "soldier" poems, Loot deals with this:
Now remember when you're 'ackin' round a gilded Burma god
That 'is eyes is very often precious stones...
- Flashman's attempts to have a chapter on foraging and decorating included in the British Army Manual get nowhere. However the loot he gathers from the Indian Mutiny alone is enough to set his family up for life (but not retirement, unfortunately, as he continues to get into scrapes).
- Honor Harrington made a substantial amount in prize money (see Real Life section below) under some of her earlier commands. Even some of the junior officers did fairly well out of more successful anti-piracy operations.
- In the Malazan Book of the Fallen book The Crippled God a character alarmingly notices that the common soldiers in the Bonehunters army stopped caring about plunder. This signifies that the Badass Army is turning fanatical in their purpose.
- Citadel (AKA Run Between the Raindrops) by Dale Dye.
- During the battle of Hue the protagonist (a combat reporter) goes to a camera store to find a Marine smashing up a box camera and complaining that the other soldiers stole all the expensive Japanese cameras. The aghast reporter points out he just smashed up a Hasselblad worth over a thousand dollars.
- In another scene, some high-ranking US and Vietnamese officers complain that the Marines stole money from a bank vault and demand a court martial of those responsible. The Marine CO, who's got more sympathy for his men than these people, retrieves the money and claims they 'found' it. The Vietnamese officers promptly divide up the cash among themselves.
- Defied in Red Storm Rising, when the senior officer of a group of US military personnel stranded in Soviet-occupied Iceland leads his men to an isolated farmhouse to ask for food.
"Yes, ask. And pay cash. And say, 'Thank you, sir'. Unless you want him on the phone to Ivan ten minutes after we leave."
- In the backstory to A Brother's Price, the Whistlers sneak into the palace of the Queens of Southland on reconnaissance near the end of the war, and while there they liberate some impressively elegant cutlery, jewelry, and the almost-old-enough-to-marry Prince Alannon in a bathrobe. He was not happy about this, but since the war ended and his mothers, father, and sisters were executed for treason, he made the best of things. And got his new wives to build him a bathhouse.
- Belisarius Series revels in plunder. Every time he wins a victory(often over arrogant generals who have their own marching Deadly Decadent Court with viands, sex slaves and luxurious tent-palaces)great hoards of plunder are found and when divided ordinary soldiers get enough to set up a small farm or business on retirement. Or knowing soldiers, just to get really, really smashed.
- A Song of Ice and Fire. Even the notoriously strict King Stannis doesn't try to stop his men from plundering. And a sign of the discipline of the Unsullied slave soldiers is that they have no interest in plunder (being forbidden any private possessions) unless ordered to do so on behalf of their master.
- In Discworld, watch officer Nobby was in the military, and was infamous for stealing equipment from both sides, sometimes just to make profit and sometimes to make himself look like a member of whichever side was winning.
- In The Sun Over Breda, Alatriste and his squire Inigo experience the Spanish soldier's life in the Eighty Years' War. The promise of plunder drives many of the soldiers, especially as the Spanish Crown rarely bothers actually paying their wages. However, they're also expected to operate under various rules of conduct and are often denied the right to plunder (especially as the Crown hopes to hold the conquered lands, not just pillage them) and must pay civilians for food. As a result many of the men are on near-starvation rations except for the rare times they're allowed to plunder, and often had to resort to mutiny to get paid.
- Source Of The Nile: When an explorer wins a fight with natives he can plunder their village but that costs him victory points, reflecting perhaps that folks back home really don't like to think about that part of it.
- In Chaosium's early Call of Cthulhu adventures the investigators could almost always find some kind of valuable treasure among the Cthulhu Mythos menace's belongings. It's not clear whether this was unconsciously based on Dungeons & Dragons type games or a practical decision due to the investigators' need for money to carry on their work.
- Shadowrun adventures usually have this trope as well. Even if Mr. Johnson stiffs them on their pay and dead enemies have no money, PCs can at least loot and fence the enemies' equipment. Note that, because of the nature of the setting, this extends to their opponents bodies (and not just cybernetics).
- Most RPGs (since many of them are spiritually descended from Dungeons & Dragons) have you discover all kinds of money and equipment when going through dungeons.
- Meanwhile, the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons book Oriental Adventures discusses how to best avert this trope in parties where one or more of the characters are nobles of some sort (as samurai and most spellcasters are), and as such it would be highly improper for them to handle the dead at all, much less going through a fallen foe's pockets for coin.
- Sid Meiers Pirates: Every time a ship is captured, they show this quite deliciously.
- In a CD-ROM game based on the show Arthur, if one succeeds in finding a treasure chest in the scuba diving minigame, a newspaper article with a picture of Arthur surrounded by the treasure will appear.
- Borderlands allows you to plunder enemy weapons, grenade mods, and cash.
- A game play mechanic in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776. Since you get very little money on your own, the best way to get items and weapons are to Capture enemy units, strip them of their possessions and then release them.
- The average RPG has the gameplay mechanic of "When it's dead, loot it.". The moral implications of robbing the dead rarely come up, because getting cool new stuff is always fun.
- Though Fallout 2 draws the line at literal Grave Robbing, causing the player to take a hit to their reputation and receive a special negative title.
- Partially subverted in Elona. Looting the bodies of monsters you kill yourself is OK, but looting dead adventurers' bodies (most have been dead for long) aren't— there is a karma penalty for the latter.
- Looting is an integral part of Warcraft III: Creatures hostile to all players are found all around the map, and killing them gets you experience, gold and sometimes items. The Orcs even have an upgrade that lets their units gain money by attacking enemy buildings.
- Pretty much the only reason Wario will ever be interested in doing anything even remotely heroic (that and taking back things that were plundered from him.)