"Happy": They wired this thing up with, like, five thousand volts. What kind of bank does that?
A mob bank. I guess The Joker
's as crazy as they say.
When a crook robs an individual or organization without realizing that the victim has criminal ties and the ability to hit back
with means outside of the law. Realization is typically an "Oh Crap
Depending on the types of ties the victim has, the crooks might get a warning
that they've made a fatal mistake. Other times they won't find out until the first drive-by on their mother's house
This is a subtrope of Mugging the Monster
. In that trope, the mugger is typically a mook
and the monster is a main character, while in this trope, the robber is typically a main character and the victim is a villain.
For cases where characters are deliberately robbing criminals because they think they deserve it, see Just Like Robin Hood
or Karmic Thief
- Perhaps the sole heroic instance of this occurs in Brian Michael Bendis's run on Moon Knight. Moon Knight cracks down on a particular gang that's causing problems in LA, only to discover the leader of said gang is Count Nefaria, a Physical God supervillain who can give Thor a run for his money. Needless to say things go downhill from there.
- The main action of Road to Perdition consists of Michael O'Sullivan holding up mob banks, deliberately targeting the off-the-books money the banks are holding for John Looney and Al Capone, as a means to force Capone to turn over Connor Looney, the son of John Looney and the murderer of Michael's wife and youngest son.
- The apparently valuable MacGuffin that drives the plot of The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling turns out to be evidence that Unreliable Expositor J. Rudyard Whelkin has successfully conned a very wealthy, very powerful admirer of Adolf Hitler.
- In one Burn Notice episode, Michael Weston once convinced some bank robbers that they were in the process of doing this.
- The Sopranos.
- In "46 Long", Christopher and Brendan Filone start hijacking trucks. The owner of the trucks pays Junior for protection and Junior orders them to stop, but their need to feed their drug addictions forces them to continue. In "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" Junior orders retaliation against them and Brendan is killed.
- Monk: A man attempts to steal coins from a gumball machine in a barbershop. One of them was a rare penny worth millions. Little did he know that that barbershop was a front for a mob family and they all start shooting at him. The man manages to get a hold of a gun, kills everybody in the shop, and attempts to make it look like a feuding mob had attacked them.
- Ziggy's backstory in Power Rangers RPM amounts to this. A low-level member of the mob itself, Ziggy got the chance to prove himself making a multi-million dollar shipment. But when he realized the shipment was of medical equipment that an orphanage of Littlest Cancer Patients sorely needed, he sent it to them instead (letting the mob think he took it himself so they wouldn't target the kids) and escaped into the wastelands outside the city. When he returned to civilization, he quickly got in with the Power Rangers through his new friend Dillon, which meant he was mostly protected from mob reprisals. Mostly.
- An episode of White Collar had a teen conman being targeted by one of the criminals he stole from.
- In an episode of Starsky & Hutch, a small-time crook robs a candy store and then discovers it's a front for the mob. He immediately panics and tries to give the money back, using the show's Information Broker Huggy Bear as a go-between. Naturally things don't go as planned.
- On The Shield, Vic and the gang rob the Armenian mob's money train at the end of season 2. They then spend much of the following five seasons dealing with the fallout.
- In an episode of The Eighties cop show Hunter, a not very smart crook steals cocaine from a courier, then asks around for someone willing to buy it. He's sent to the man whom the courier was working for, who finds it very interesting that he's being sold the exact amount of coke that's just been stolen from him...
- The plot of Saints Row: The Third is kicked off by a bungled bank heist; the Saints find out the hard way that the bank they're holding up is Syndicate property.