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Robbing The Mob Bank
"Happy": They wired this thing up with, like, five thousand volts. What kind of bank does that?
"Grumpy": 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!" moment.

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.


Examples

Comic Books
  • 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.

Film
  • Charley Varrick: The most famous (and so far the best) cinematic example of the trope, and literally the entire premise of the film.
  • Crime Spree: A group of French burglars on a performance tour in USA robs a mansion... at a wrong address. The house which they enter happens to belong to the underboss of the city's major crime family. And he happens to be inside.
  • The Dark Knight: Exploited by the Joker to start an underworld civil war. His gang of gunmen wearing clown masks rob an actual mob bank. Most of the mooks are oblivious, until the manager whips out a shotgun.
  • The Sting: A team of con artists (Johnny Hooker, Luther Coleman, and Joe Erie) inadvertently swindle a numbers runner for crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. Lonnegan assigns hit men to find and kill each of them, and the hit men appear and carry out attacks throughout the movie.
  • Beverly Hills Cop: Michael Tandino steals millions of dollars in bearer bonds from a man named Victor Maitland. Unfortunately for him, Maitland is a major drug dealer, who sends hit men to find Tandino, recover the bonds, and execute him.
  • Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000): Kip steals a car. Then they find the trunk full of cocaine and realize it probably belongs to a drug kingpin.
    Memphis: Where did you get this car?
    Kip: In front of a restaurant in Chinatown!
    Memphis: Do you even know why someone would leave a car like that with its keys in it?...Maybe because no one in that neighborhood would be stupid enough to try and rip this car off!
  • In The Bank Job, members of the British secret service need to retrieve incriminating photos of the princess from a criminal who has been using them as blackmail material to stay out of jail, so they set up some criminals to rob the bank where they are being stored. The criminals have no idea of the motive behind their instigator, and are unprepared when the real target, and other criminals who stored their incriminating evidence in the same bank, come after them.
  • The Usual Suspects: Each of the main characters supposedly were involved in crimes where they stole something from Keyser Soze. Since none of them knew who they were really stealing from, Soze allows them to make amends by engaging in a Suicide Mission on his behalf.
  • In Snatch, three of the characters rob an underground bookmaking establishment owned by a London Gangster.
  • In Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, the two main characters try to rob a bank to help a friend save his bar. Unfortunately for them, the bank CEO is involved in the drug trade on the side, and the transport they swipe is carrying the newest designer drug. It goes downhill from there.
  • Drive: Standard's "simple" pawn shop heist was supposed to turn up $40,000. Instead, the crew finds half a million dollars of money stashed by an out-of-town mob. Then things get really bad.
  • In Fast Five, Dominic Toretto and Brian O'Connor assemble a team to rob drug kingpin Reyes completely blind.
  • Hostage: Three teen crooks break into a rich suburban family's house. Unknown to them, the father has ties to the mob. When it escalates into a full blown Hostage Situation, the mob gets involved to prevent the police from stumblin upon incriminating data.

Literature
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
  • 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...

Video Games
  • 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.


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