troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!
Toldja Tagon had a soul.note 

"I do'nae trust any dollar I hav'nae earned."
Scrooge McDuck, DuckTales

For some people, money isn't an issue. Maybe a hero's morals and convictions are so strong that he can never be bought out, not even for all the money and riches in the world. Maybe someone is so committed to a goal he'll spend all the money he has to in order to reach it. Or perhaps there are some people who just don't need the money; the warm fuzzy feeling after doing a good deed is reward enough. Whatever the reason, wealth comes second to personal values. Even a chance at matrimony may not be enough.

Note that this does not necessarily mean "wealth comes second to good personal values." This is a very common trope for Knight Templar types, and outright Chaotic Evil villains can enact it too, as can people who prioritize amusement over personal gain.

Of course, it's not unknown for it to be a Secret Test of Character with a Sweet and Sour Grapes

Compare Money Is Not Power, Keep the Reward, Honor Before Reason, What You Are in the Dark, Doing It for the Art. The Last DJ is a specific character type who is likely to do this, although he may pay for it, especially in missed opportunities. If the character's refusal includes making the situation even worse for the offerer, that's a Bribe Backfire.

Contrast Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, Only in It for the Money, and Every Man Has His Price.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Despite being ridiculously poverty-stricken, Makino Tsukushi, the heroine of Hana Yori Dango, refuses to take a bribe from Domyoji (either to hang out with him or to take back her challenge to him, depending on the continuity), and is unimpressed by the fat stacks of cash he throws around to get his way. This is a large part of what endears her to him in the first place, being among the two or three people who openly defy him.
  • Schzartzwald of The Big O is a villainous example of this: when offered ridiculously generous severance pay from the Paradigm Corporation in exchange for his silence on the topic of the show's Ontological Mystery, he gleefully burns the cheque. He then follows suit with the guests at his party.
  • What Nao and Akiyama do in Liar Game. In fact, Nao's reason for continuing to participate in the game is to save everyone in the game.
  • Rurouni Kenshin did this. A greedy money grubber tried to bribe him, but his bodyguard pointed out that Kenshin was never interested in money. Later on, even the bodyguard, who took the job more for the eventual fights than for the money, would no longer respect the money grubber.
    • Satou Hajime also made it very clear to one unfortunate rich guy that a bribe won't save you if he has you in his crosshairs.
    "You can tame a dog with food. You can tame a man with money. But you can NEVER tame a Wolf of Mibu!"
    • Hitman for hire Kurogaza (Black Hat) made his debut not allowing one of his targets to buy his way out.
  • Hideo Ozu of Hand Maid Mai provides an infuriating example when he turns down 10 million yen in exchange for old videos he shot of his aspiring-actress childhood friend, Mai. But rather than keeping the videos, he simply gives them away for free to Mai's producer, who had told him that the videosnote  could get in the way of Mai's acting career. And when it turns out that the producer and director intend to profit from the videos by integrating them into their new movie, he gets indignant about the videos that were "taken" from him.
  • Both Natsu and Erza do this in Fairy Tail when offered obscene amounts of money as a reward for various jobs they've taken. In the first case, Natsu turns down the reward because he can tell that the man offering wouldn't be well off after, and because even if their actions throughout the arc have made him happier than if they carried out the job as they asked, they didn't carry out the job the way he'd initially specified. Later, Erza does this with a job that has been completed properly and then some, because when Natsu and Lucy first took it, they didn't have the guild's permission, and it was never officially accepted. However, while she does turn down a whopping 7 million Jewels (Yen by another name), she isn't above accepting a one of a kind summoning tool they were also offering.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee won't allow it's members to bill the people they help, as Leon calls out on Yuffie to not bill a woman she just saved.

    Comicbooks 
  • In Ultimate Marvel, Silver Sable fails to capture Spider-Man. She refuses to admit failure, drop the job, and go away. "My reputation is everything to me. We'll finish the job for you. Comped. No charge."
    • This trope appears quite often in Ultimate Spider-Man. Probably played straightest when Spider-Man intervenes to save Boomarang, a C-grade bank robber, from being terminated with extreme prejudice by The Punisher, and the villain gratefully offers him $20,000 to get him away from the cops. Poor student Peter is clearly tempted for a moment before webbing the villain up beside the Punisher for the cops to collect.
  • It also appears in one case of Spider-Man where Silver Sable and Captain America are involved. Spider-Man is offered a million in cash and flatly turns it down. (It helped that the one offering was the Red Skull.) Though afterwards, Silver Sable and Captain America appreciate that Spider-Man did so.
  • Batman. Though in his case, money really isn't an issue.
  • Scrooge McDuck, as created by Carl Barks. It's true that he is the richest duck in the world, but he earned his money by being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies, and he made it square.
  • Papa Smurf in the Smurfs comic book story "The Finance Smurf" refuses to go along with the title character's suggestion of charging his little Smurfs for his services, even as impoverished as he became when he has to pay off his little Smurfs for taking care of him when he was sick during the time the Smurf Village monetary system was in place. Eventually, every Smurf decides to go Screw The Money to Finance Smurf when they realize that their old ways of cooperation and sharing were better.
  • Do not try to bribe Tintin into working with you. Even if you have him in a prison cell, sentenced to die the next day, he will kick you through the door just to show you what he thinks of you and your offers.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Tony Stark abruptly renounced the weapons manufacturing business that made him a billionaire several times over after coming face to face with the consequences of his work.
  • In Flubber, the Big Bad offers to make Robin Williams' Absent-Minded Professor character and his fiancee, the college president, very rich if they would sell him the formula to the titular substance. The reply: "If we were interested in being rich, we wouldn't have become teachers."
  • In Rambo, a group of aid workers attempt to hire Rambo to take them into a warzone, but Rambo refuses, believing that the workers will get themselves killed. The woman talks to him and somehow convinces him that he should let them try anyway.
  • In John Sayles's movie Matewan (based on a true story), the eponymous West Virginia coal town in the '20s is striking against the evil coal corporation, and the mayor is offered a bribe to side with the corporation. "This town ain't for sale, mister."
  • How Jonathan Shields practically bankrupted his studio in The Bad and the Beautiful. He wouldn't even release a picture that could save it because he thought it wasn't good enough.
  • In The Untouchables, a public official working for Al Capone tries to bribe Eliot Ness to put a stop to his liquor raids. Ness literally throws the money back in the man's face.
  • Inverted and played straight in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Han Solo is perfectly willing to let the princess buy the farm until Luke reminds him that said Princess would pay handsomely for being rescued. After that, Solo pretty much does everything pro bono.
  • In Titanic, Cal tries to bribe First Officer Murdoch to let him on a lifeboat. Murdoch's response: "Your money can't save you any more than it could save me."
  • Set up to look this way in Tropic Thunder when Les Grossman attempts to bribe Rick Peck into abandoning his friend and client, but it seems that in the nick of time Rick took a third option and saved the day using the bribe money.
  • Evil version in Layer Cake. The Serbian drug lords hunt down some British crooks who stole $2 million worth of ecstacy tablets from them. In the end, they're happy to simply kill the crooks. Their vengeance was about honor, not the money. In fact, when they think that the tablets were seized by the police, they don't make any effort to force the protagonist to pay them back. In the end, it's shown that they're producing so much ecstacy that the lost shipment is a mere pittance, so they care enough to kill anyone connected with the theft, but not really about the money.
  • Doc Emmett Brown in Back to the Future refuses to use the time machine to get rich in the second movie, not because he wouldn't want to be rich, but because any fiddling with the timeline could have dire consequences for all of humanity, making this more of a "There are rules" example rather than an "I have rules" example.
  • In The Departed, Frank and William are having a conversation about William's father. Frank tells William that his father (William Sr.) would and could have killed Frank and all of his associates to keep his son from working for Frank. Afterwards, William asks Frank if his father had ever worked for him. Frank says no, adding, "He didn't want money, you can't make a deal with a man like that."
  • The rookie cop in Training Day pisses off his Broken Pedestal mentor precisely because he won't flout the rules for money.
  • Charles Simms in Scent of a Woman turns down a scholarship to Harvard rather than rat out his friends. Doubly impressive in that the boys he's covering for are grade A assholes, and there's no way he can afford college without the scholarship. As Lt.Col. Slade puts it, "that's character."
  • Chazz Darvey in Airheads. In spite of all the effort he went through to get a record contract for him and his band, when Chazz learns that Jimmy Wing is signing them without hearing their music, he promptly wipes his ass with the contract. Later, the entire band gets one after Wing talks Chazz into the contract when they learn that the contract is contingent on lip-syncing in public. They proceed to smash up the place and incite a riot.
  • In the film version of Dick Tracy, Big Bad Big Boy is smart enough to know killing Tracy would likely lead back to him, so he attempts to bribe Tracy with thousands of dollars. Tracy throws it in his face.
  • In The Dark Knight, The Joker seeks to create chaos and doesn't respect people who commit crimes only for money. As such, he burns a pyramid of money with a money-seeking crook on top of it. A sort of Screw The Money They're Just Another Kind Of Rules, one might say.
  • Another dark variation in The Dark Knight Rises, where Bane, despite being touted as a mercenary, makes it clear to his "employer" that he's not in it for the money: he's in it to destroy Gotham and Batman.
    Dagget: I gave you a small fortune!
    Bane: And you think this gives you power over me?
  • Played with by Angel Eyes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, who takes everyone's money, while sticking to his own personal code. Oddly, that just makes him seem more inhuman.
  • In In Time, one of the wealthiest people in the world (he has millions of years to his name), tries to bribe the Timekeeper Leon, who was shot and wounded by the rich guy's daughter (who has decided to help the protagonist). Leon simply shakes his head at the offered check and tells him that he will go after the daughter anyway. The rich guy nods and starts writing another check for a larger amount of time, but Leon tells him that the guy doesn't have enough to pay him off.
  • Speed Zone has a rare instance where a protagonist is the one attempting the bribe.
    Alec: My good man, how would you like to make one hundred dollars? Some friends of mine are going to come along and I was wondering if you could delay them. As a joke.
    We hear engines approaching.
    Ferryman: No, I can't do it. It's against regulations.
    Alec: Three hundred dollars.
    Ferryman: Regulations.
    Alec: Four hundred dollars.
    Ferryman: It's against regulations.
    Vic taps him on the shoulder.
    Punches him out.
  • In Flash Of Genius, Kearns rejects Ford's settlement offer of $30 million but no admission of wrongdoing, and goes to trial. Ultimately, he was awarded $10.1 million in damages, and Ford had to admit they infringed on his intermittent windshield wiper patents. The real Kearns, however, subverts this, in that he was actually seeking exclusive manufacturing rights. He also settled with Ford for the $10 million.
  • In Braveheart, the English king Edward the Longshanks sends Princess Isabella to deliver gold to William Wallace in an attempt to buy him out of an invasion of England. Wallace firmly refuses.
    Isabella: He proposes that you withdraw your attack. In return he grants you title, estates, and this chest of gold which I am to pay to you personally.
    Wallace: A lordship and titles. Gold. That I should become Judas?
    Isabella: Peace is made in such ways.
    Wallace: Slaves are made in such ways!
  • In We're the Millers Rose quits her job as a stripper when her boss wants her to start having sex with the customers.
  • In Aliens, Ripley refuses to be part of Burke's hopes of profiting off acquiring a xenomorph.
    Ripley: You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage!
  • Die Hard: John McClane, won't take money from criminals, even when it's a hell of a lot easier than getting the shit kicked out of him by them.
    Simon: John. In the back of the truck you are driving, there is $13 billion dollars worth in gold bullion. I wonder if a deal would be out of the question?
    John: Yeah, I got a deal for you, crawl out from under that rock you hiding under and I'll drive this truck up your ass.
  • The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas: Chip offered to release Fred from his gambling debts if Fred agreed to leave Wilma. Fred refused.
  • The Blues Brothers has The Penguin, a nun who raised the protagonists and who owes the city of Chicago $5000 in taxes. When Jake and Elwood offer to get the money for her "in a day" (by stealing it, which Jake just got out of prison for), she immediately stops them, refusing to accept any money gained from a life of crime.
  • Tony's mother in Scarface refuses any assistance from her son and wants nothing to do with him thanks to his life of crime.

    Literature 
  • Hogfather: Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Anyone who tries to bribe him will be met with a stern rejection, and possibly a few broken fingers if he's in a bad mood.
    • The unimpeachable Carrot plays back and forth with this trope in Feet of Clay. Suspicion for recent crimes falls on a golem named Dorfl, and its owner tries to get rid of it (Dorfl, that is) by giving it to Carrot. Carrot reminds him that attempting to bribe a Watch officer is a crime ... and then offers to buy the golem. Dorfl's owner then tries to demand a high price for it (golems are valuable, after all), and Carrot offers ... a dollar. As usual, Carrot gets what he wants. Finally, he does yet another turnaround by giving the golem to itself, thus setting off a chain reaction that leads to the most peaceful civil rights movement in history, as the golems insist on simply working up the money to buy their fellows out of servitude.
  • Various times in The Dresden Files. Various baddies, including Magnificent Bastard Gentleman Johnny Marcone, bribe Harry with ridiculous amounts of money (in Marcone's case, it was less a bribe and more a job offer; a legit, legal one at that), none of which are ever able to tempt him from his path.
    • Marcone is notable in that he knows Dresden is never going to take the money, but he keeps offering it anyway.
    • Despite how desperately Harry wants to be this, he has rent.
  • In Fleet Of Worlds, we have Sigmund. He is extremely wealthy and hence cannot be bribed. As a mere accountant, he undertook an investigation into a Space Mafia gang which nearly costs him his life. After this, he joins the ARM (Earth's military) and goes after the enemies of Earth with such zealousness (due to his natural extreme intelligence and paranoia) that the Puppeteers (a species of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens) consider him a significant threat to their plans. Ironically, a Puppeteer, Nessus, saves his life, seeing in him a potent ally.
  • Played with in The Curse of Chalion. Caz, the protagonist, enters a negotiation on behalf of his princess with a ruthless, cunning ruler of another country. Said ruler tries repeatedly to bribe Caz into accepting terms that would disadvantage his princess, and Caz refuses. The ruler asks him why. Caz's answer? "I have been given a plot of six by eight, to be mine in perpetuity, and I find it suits my needs." Caz has a tumor which he's certain will kill him, and bribes are worthless to a dead man. That's not his real reason - he's loyal to the princess - but it's one the ruler will accept.
  • The hero of The Fountainhead is this trope.
    • An interesting example, in fact, because making money is a central part of Ayn Rand's philosophy. The catch is that one must create real value in order to make money, and anyone who offers her heroes money to create something that's not valuable is rejected out of hand.
  • A classic and rather well-known example:
    Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." ~ Matthew 4:9-10 NKJV
    • And in Acts of the Apostles, Simon Magus offers Peter a fortune in exchange for an ordination. Peter's reply? "May your money perish with you, for you have thought that the gift of God can be bought with money!"
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe: In one of the later X-Wing novels, Borsk Fey'ia goes to Booster Terrik seeking his assistance in procuring a Bothan corpse to fill in for a Rogue Squadron pilot who was listed as MIA. After clobbering Fey'ia, Terrik responds thus:
    "I won't say I can't be bought, but I certainly can't be bought by the likes of you."
    • Later in the story, it comes up again when Ysanne Isard attempts to bribe the mercenaries who have been tasked with defending the Lusankya from her takeover attempt. Unfortunately for her, those mercenaries consist of Booster Terrik, his daughter Mirax, and Asyr Sei'larnote ; naturally, they aren't open to the offer at all.
    • In I, Jedi, Corran Horn remembers a time when he was a cop and a spice lord (drug kingpin) offered him millions of credits as a forget-this-happened bribe. Corran refused, and it is likely that by offering the bribe the spice lord only dug himself in deeper.
  • In one of the Judge Dee novels, a criminal assumes the Judge can be paid off to look the other way. Instead, Dee spends every bit of the bribe money on a plan to take that criminal down. (How else was he supposed to fund the plan?)
  • Early on in First Lensman, Virgil Samms is offered an obscene amount of money ($26 million and stock options estimated to rise to $200 billion in 10 years) to help grease the wheels for a company looking to forge a galaxy-wide monopoly. He refuses without batting an eye. Granted, this is an E. E. “Doc” Smith character.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac on several occasions alienates himself rich and influent people who were ready to fund him (even the cardinal of Richelieu) because of his ethics.
  • Time Scout's Malcolm Moore prefers to starve on his principles than earn well on Time Tours's payroll.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Firefly,
    • In one episode where the crew have gone back on a deal, the villain's right-hand man comes by to make the pickup, Mal tries to talk him into returning the money. The man refuses, finishing his statement with words to the effect of "...and the last thing you'll see will be my blade." Mal kicks him into the engine intake and makes the same deal with his much-more pliable successor.
    • In Serenity, this trope was only avoided by the Operative trying to appeal to Mal's morality from the beginning; as the Operative is quick to point out, if he had offered money, this would have been Mal's response.
      • In other words, had he been offered money, Mal would have said Screw The Money I Have Rules, but when his morality was appealed to, he replied Screw The Rules, I Want Money. Mal hates The Man.
  • The Doctor Who serial "Ghost Light":
    Josiah: I'm afflicted with an enemy. A vile and base creature pitted against me. It's waiting for me now. [He holds out a bank draft.] I believe that you can assist me in defeating it.
    The Doctor: I'm not interested in money. [Beat] How much?
    Josiah: Five thousand pounds to rid me of the evil brute.
    The Doctor: [Whistles] Now that's what I call Victorian value! But I'm still not interested in money.
    • Played for Laughs in Doomsday:
      Jackie: How was life for you?
      Pete: I got rich.
      Jackie: That doesn't matter to me. How rich?
      Pete: Very rich.
      Jackie: That doesn't matter to me. How very?
  • A common subversion is to have the character express this sentiment... and then immediately take the first monetary offer that comes his way. For example, an ep of Family Matters has one of the Winslow sons effectively say this to some big daddy offering to give his daughter to him... only to then immediately grovel to him when big daddy gives his monetary offer.
  • In one Law & Order episode, "Jeopardy," the prosecutors discover that the presiding judge on a mass murder case was bribed by the defendant's rich family to ensure an acquittal. When they haul the crooked judge in for questioning, the District Attorney (who happens to also be a close friend) comes down personally to berate him for betraying his oath of office. When the judge whines that the defendant would have got off anyway because "They have so much money," the thoroughly disgusted DA remarks that shouldn't have mattered.
  • Dr. House cost the hospital one hundred million dollars because he refused to kiss the ass of a billionaire donor who wanted House to publicly praise a new drug produced by his company. The incident was the culmination of a series of confrontations between House and the donor over him trying to dictate hospital policy and procedure, and was really just the last straw which convinced the man House would never play ball. The hospital's refusal to terminate House's employment (because there weren't really any grounds for it) resulted in the donor backing out of his promised contribution.
    • Without solid research to support his endorsement, House could've been in serious legal trouble if he had made the proposed speech - the Vioxx and Bextra lawsuits of the last decade were Real Life examples of that same concern.
    • The donor in question, Edward Vogler, showed up toward the end of season one. Earlier in that same season, House displayed an odd version of this mentality when he received a Ferrari from a member of the New Jersey mob... and behaved exactly as he usually does without being bribed. Screw the money, I have rules to thumb my nose at? (It also shows how skewed Vogler's priorities are, even by his own standards, that when he mentions this incident during a board meeting, he focuses on the car, rather than on the fact that House's conduct on this case is, if anything, more ethical than some of his other cases).
  • Dr. Cox in Scrubs despises Kelso because he puts money above patients with no concern (apart from being a very evil man). We later learn that Kelso has to make those decisions and that it's not always so easy for him, but that doesn't change Cox's opinion.
    • Kelso makes it clear that for him, everyone else in the hospital is free to do what's for the good of the patients because he's doing everything he must to keep the place running, whether he likes it or not. He doesn't expect anyone else to do what he does, and even takes it upon himself to be hated so that they can feel solidarity as a Band of Brothers. When Kelso retires and Cox becomes Chief of Medicine, the latter learns all of this first hand and the two become friends.
      Kelso: Dr. Reid, I'm sucking up to that man because that's my job. Now get out there and do your job.
  • Even the ultra-avaricious Sergeant Bilko of The Phil Silvers Show has been shown to have his limits. In one episode, 'Elvin Pelvin' (a thinly disguised Elvis clone) joins Bilko's regiment, and Bilko spends most of the episode trying to secretly record him singing. Eventually, Bilko manages to get a recording of Elvin singing... and the song turns out to be a song he wrote praising Bilko for all his kindness. Upset at his hypocrisy, Bilko destroys the record.
  • In Smallville, the Kents among others. Chloe Sullivan later on (though she initially accepts a bribe from Lionel to spy on Clark at a point when she's jealous of his and Lana's relationship; she eventually gets called out on it and becomes a better person later on)
  • The stick-up man Omar Little on The Wire lives by a moral code based on honor rather than accumulating wealth. For example, he once stole a large amount of money from a hated rival and then burned it on the spot rather than keeping it.
    • Even as a kid, he had this. When he and his brother rob an innocent man, he questions the reason for it. Then at gunpoint demands they give the man his money back.
  • In the "Beverly Hills Assault" episode of The A-Team, Hannibal Smith confronts the head of Intermode (that episode's Big Bad) in his office. When said Corrupt Corporate Executive offers to hire the A-Team to do his dirty work, Hannibal says that he wouldn't take Intermode's money, but that he'd gladly tear them apart for free.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael Westen refuses money from both Carla and Strickler for doing what they wanted because it would turn him into a mercenary. Also, his grateful clients often offer him large cash rewards, but he usually takes signficiantly less than they offer, especially if his clients need the money more than he does.
    • When arguing with his mother, upset that she had to blackmail an asset, Michael gets upset.
      Michael: Do you think I do this for the money?! ... People need me.
  • In Sherlock, Mycroft Holmes offers John money to spy on the eponymous character. John, despite having just met Sherlock, refuses. This leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when he tells Sherlock about it later.
    Sherlock: Did he offer you money to spy on me?
    John: ...Yes.
    Sherlock: Did you take it?
    John: No.
    Sherlock: Pity, we could have split the fee. Think it through next time.
    • Sherlock behaves in this manner as well - when Sebastian Wilkes hires him in The Blind Banker, he offers six figures up front. Sherlock's response?
    Sherlock: I don't need incentive, Sebastian.
    • He's also only interested in the complexity or intrigue of the case offered, rather than the ability of his clients to pay him - it's unlikely that the comic book nerds from A Scandal in Belgravia were able to come up with large stacks of cash, yet he chose them out of a sizable group of potential clients because their puzzle appealed to him the most.
  • One episode of Married... with Children featured Bud dating Al's boss. She bought Al's approval but couldn't use the money to order Bud around.
    • Another episode featured Kelly being engaged to a rich man. It all ended when Al and Peg learned he's a polygamist. The man's sister was interested in Bud but no amount of money would make Bud overlook the fact she's ugly.
  • Gilmore Girls plays it straight; Logan and the entire Huntzberger Clan, for that matter. Richard sometimes crosses into this realm, but Emily's treatment of her maids is a good example of this.
  • A variant of this is Jack Hodgins on Bones. He's a multimillionaire, yet doesn't think it puts him above the rules. Booth accuses him of it at one point, when he conceals his past association with a victim in order to be allowed to work on the case, but it was actually about trying to find his friend's killer, not about feeling entitled to do whatever he wants.
    • Hodgins even submits his resignation over this, which immediately patches things between him and Booth (when Hodgins asks Booth if they need to talk about this any more, Booth just orders him a drink and says "What are we, girls?"). After the case is successfully won, Carolina (the prosecutor) convinces Cam to tear up the letter.
  • Downton Abbey has two examples in series two. First, Branson turns down Robert's offer of a bribe to abandon Sybil. Then, Ethel refuses to give her baby to Major Bryant's wealthy parents because she believes that a mother's love is more valuable than the privileged life they could give him.
  • JAG: Gunnery Sgt. Victor Galindez gave up a cushy private sector job when he decided he wasn't going to blame another Marine for a mishap actually caused by his future employer's prototype weapons system. Instead he began working at JAG.
  • In Person of Interest, after Detective Szymanski is murdered by HR, Det. Beecher asks imprisoned mafia boss Elias if Szymanski was on his payroll. Elias says he offered Szymanski money, "and he threw it in our faces."

     Music 
  • Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money":
    "Never sell out she never will
    Not for a dollar bill"
  • Linda Ronstadt's "Silver Thread and Golden Needles":
    "You can't buy my love with money cause I never was that kind"

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the case of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, it was more a case of "Screw the money, I have rules to break," as he rebelled violently against WWE chairman Vince McMahon's attempts to mold him into a "corporate champion."
  • Back in the '80s, "The Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase offered Hulk Hogan an obscene amount of money to simply hand over the WWF Championship instead of defending it against him. Hulk refused, naturally (otherwise, this wouldn't be an example), so DiBiase instead used the money to hire André the Giant to get it for him. After Andre won the belt (thanks to referee Dave Hebner's Evil Twin, Earl), he tried to hand it over to DiBiase, only for WWF President Jack Tunney to make an appearance and declare that, not only would the WWF title not change hands that way, but for his deplorable conduct in even trying, Andre would be stripped of the title on the spot. In this case, Screw The Money, The WWF Has Rules.
    • Just about any time DiBiase was in trouble, he'd try to bribe his way out, and the Face would always reject the offer (unless it was part of a Face-Heel Turn, of course).
    • Big John Studd wouldn't take DiBiase's payoff to eliminate himself from the 1989 Royal Rumble, and in fact eliminated DiBiase to win the match.

    Theater 
  • Bobby Strong from the musical Urinetown refuses the bribe of the main villain, Mr. Cladwell, saying that the only bribe he'll accept is freedom for the people.

    Video Games 
  • Many games cause the player to invoke this (even if your character has a different view on the matter), by simply showering you with money. It gets worse in that any time you're asked to give away a substantial amount (for "charity" or otherwise), you'll typically end up with a more valuable reward. Frequently, you have no use for the cash in the first place; there's no penalty for losing it, because there's nothing to buy, or because it's easy enough to get more.
  • An interesting case happens in Bound by Flame. Even if the plan of a group of sages to save the world seems entirely hopeless, the Freeborn Blades mercenaries escort them all the way to the site of the planned final battle, because they always complete every contract to the very end. When the sages are unable to get to the gold that would have been the payment, the captain doesn't really care, since money has long become worthless with no more towns to spend it being left. But even if it's the end of the world, nobody shall ever say that the Freeborn Blades do not keep their part of a contract.
  • Subverted in Dragon Age: Origins, wherein you can almost always demand/request a reward for your services without repercussion. Meanwhile, giving charitable donations doesn't get you any kind of reward whatsoever, it just means you lose money. On the other hand, even when you are offered the chance to make a questionable moral decision, money isn't usually part of the reward. So what kind of hero are you, anyway?
  • In the Mass Effect games, this is Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, which can further go into Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right, but anyway... This is most easily seen in Noveria, where you have to reject several offers that would've gotten you a bit of money because they're not right.
    • Inverted with Zaeed's mission; the reward for Paragon is considerably a lot more than if Shepard helps Zaeed in his quest for revenge. This is because your mission is to rescue an industrial plant and its workers, which is mutually exclusive to helping Zaeed, who tries blowing it up in the process of his revenge. While Zaeed will pay you for helping fulfil his personal vendetta, the plant's owner will pay you double for saving their property.
  • At the end of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Flora, the heiress to Impossibly Cool Wealth, prefers to leave the treasure untouched in her family's manor house. To do otherwise would have resulted in the immediate cessation of "life" for her Ridiculously Human Robot servants, and she was too fond of them to see that happen.
  • In The Reconstruction, there are a few quests where Dehl turns down payment afterwards.
  • Steven Heck in Alpha Protocol with Mike Thorton. In spite of being violent and psychotic, he is honorable. If you get him to like you, then he tells you about how he turned down a 5 million dollar bribe (and cut off the guy's fingers and set him on fire). He only takes the bribe if you piss him off.
  • In the Sly Cooper series, this is pretty much the Cooper Clan's entire M.O.; they only steal from other criminals because stealing from ordinary civilians is not only neither fun or challenging, but also immoral and wrong. Sly is also occasionally seen donating the cash he swipes to charities such as orphans.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, a random event in the Rock Homeworlds lets you escort a reluctant bride to her groom for an Arranged Marriage. The groom's escorts offer you scrap and an augment in exchange for assisting them. You can either accept the offer, resulting in the bride cursing you out, or you can reject the offer and rescue the bride by fighting the escorts, invoking this trope.
  • In Papers, Please, when a drug smuggler attempts to bribe the Player Character, the player can have him detained, saying: "You cannot bribe an officer of Arstotzka."
  • Star Trek Online: In one of the New Romulus reputation cutscenes, D'Tan, proconsul of the Romulan Republic and the Big Good to Romulan player characters, flat out tells the Tal Shiar to GTFO when they try to bribe him.
  • Petra from Emerald City Confidential proves that she has limits when she refuses to get any more involved in obtaining illegal magical items, even though Dee—her client—offers to pay her more.

    Webcomics 
  • The concept is explored with Haley of The Order of the Stick in this comic. It doesn't quite suit the character.
  • The page image comes from Schlock Mercenary when Tagon turns down an offer for an extract and rescue mission, even after his employer is willing to multiply his standard salary by 20 to get the job done. It's subverted after the company psych officer asks Tagon if this means he's grown a conscience, only to discover that Tagon said no because he hated the guy he was hired to rescue.
    Captain Tagon: Well... Petey wanted to hire us to rescue Xinchub. He offered me an awful lot of money, but I realized we'd all rather just kill the fat man, or maybe clone him, and kill him twice. I can't believe I let Petey talk me into it at first. I'll see Xinchub rot on a pike before I accept money to help him.
    Reverend Theo: So... You're motivated by hatred here.
    Captain Tagon: Yeah, that sounds right.
    Reverend Theo: False alarm, everybody. If anyone needs me, I'll be praying for our immortal souls in my cabin.
    • It's also played with in the Mallcop Command arc, with the Toughs' employer setting impossible restrictions on the equipment and force-levels the company can use to do their job, then complaining about the (minor) havoc they cause doing their job, before attempting to extort money out of himself to stop Tagon from (he believes) attacking him in response to a scolding. This culminates in Tagon refusing the money in favour of his company's freedom to do their job, and then immediately subverted when he sells "unlimited Shout at the Captain Rights" for another 20%.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Mike volunteers as a chaperone for a date for the privilege to punch anyone stepping over the line in the face. The boy attempts to bribe him with $50 to get lost. The results are predictable.

    Web Original 
  • The Science Team of Night Vale have spent over a year trying to work up the courage to ring the doorbell of the house in Desert Creek which doesn't actually exist. They offer Carlos five dollars to go ring the doorbell for them, but he refuses out of a sense of scientific integrity. Cecil would've done it though.
  • In Pokémon Apokélypse, Ash stops fighting to protect his Pikachu and gives back the money Team Rocket bought him off with.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Terrible Trio," which features a group of rich punks who have turned to crime out of boredom. When Batman takes down their leader, Warren, he tries to offer Batman a hefty bribe to let him go. Of course, Batman doesn't even listen, since besides the fact that he would never let a criminal buy his way out of justice, he is already plenty rich in his own right in his secret identity as Bruce Wayne. Though Bruce Timm, producer and creator of the DCAU, has listed "The Terrible Trio" as one of the worst episodes of the series, the final scene is quite memorable: after Batman has refused his bribe, the criminal claims it won't matter since he has every judge in Gotham "in [his] pocket" and will get "the best justice money can buy." There is then a quick cut to the thief being escorted into his jail cell, meeting his "roommate," and staring stupefied at the squalor around him.
    • In the film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Joker initially passes on a $50,000 down-payment offered to him in exchange for killing Batman.
    Joker: (yawns) What do I look like, pest control?
    • In "Showdown", Arkady Duvall tried to bribe Jonah Hex $5,000 in gold to let him go free, which was a lot more than the $200 reward for his capture. Hex flatly refused.
  • On The Simpsons, Mr. Burns enlists Lisa to help him regain his lost wealth. She inspires him to build a recycling plant, but on discovering that he uses it to kill vast amounts of sea life, she rejects her share of the money. Which is twelve million dollars.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Tombstone offers Spidey a lot of money to do some of his dirty work and, mostly, to look the other way when instructed. Spider-Man refuses, of course...until a certain black suit gets on him.
  • Stinky on Hey Arnold! turns down a million dollars because the company wants him to look stupid on television.
  • Played With on GargoylesMacbeth offers to get rid of the gargoyles for Xanatos, and only accepts payment so it won't be obvious he has a secret agenda (drawing out Demona). And, as with every fight against them, he refuses to attack them when they're Taken for Granite.
  • Twice in one episode of Doug. Our title character finds an unmarked envelope with a large sum of money, and he decides to turn it in to the police, despite the amount of flak he received from his friends. Then, 30 days later, he gets a call from the police station telling him that nobody claimed it so the money was now legally his. He soon finds out an old lady lost the exact same amount of money around the time he found it. Legally his, or not, his conscience tells him to return the money to her.

    Real Life 
  • Theocracies in general. They tend to be too fanatic to care about mundane issues like money, and are very hard to bribe or corrupt.
  • Likewise, hardcore Communists, who proved too fanatic to be bribed. Of course, the hardcore often gets swept out over time...
  • Corsair. In the world of power suppliers, where every manufacturer tries to inflate the specifications of their products, Corsair asked the independent organization 80plus.org to downgrade the rating of two of their products because they felt that, while the particular samples had achieved "Gold" ratings, they believed most of the units they had designed would only achieve "Silver."
    • As much pragmatic as noble, however, as the Internet Backdraft from a notable discrepancy between the review figures and actual user experience would not have been good for business.
  • Moral crusader Eliot Ness earned his men the nickname "The Untouchables" by his vehement refusal of a large bribe from Al Capone.
    • Though Ness had almost nothing to do with the actual case that convicted Capone.
      • Couldn't say "nothing"; aside from his own cases against Capone being a matter of record to present to the court and jury, he did inspire others with his unyielding conviction, both investigators and prosecutors. Taking Capone down took a lot of wrangling that may not have been done without a hard nose thrust forward.
  • There's an urban legend/joke about Abraham Lincoln that when he was a lawyer, somebody came to him once with an unethical request. Lincoln kept saying no as the guy offered him more and more money, and finally grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him out into the street. His partner said, "You could have just told him no. Why did you have to do that?" and he answered, "Because he was getting very close to my price."
  • News anchor Cenk Uygur was offered by MSNBC as part of his part time show, a smaller role in the news network, with double pay even after he beat Fox News Channel's ratings in the young demographic category. In no uncertain terms did he tell MSNBC that he was not going to shut up about his anti-establishment message and left.
  • Most of the world's major religions have some variant of this as a commandment to their followers. Of course, whether a specific person of that faith actually practices it kinda depends on the person...
  • This is the ethos of much of alternative culture, from music to film. (This is somewhat tautological, as "alternative" is defined as those who lack mainstream amounts of money.)
  • Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield offered $300,000 to Occupy Wall Street. Linnea Palmer Paton's response was "Right now, we have a system where the wealthy design, create, build, and have control over what happens. And I think it's very important that the wealthy do not have that power." Read more.
  • This sometimes poignantly comes into play during end-of-life care in hospitals. People have been known to beg, plead, and offer large sums of cash to hospital workers if they will save them or their dying relative, not completely realizing that when a doctor says "There's nothing that can be done", it literally means just that. Even more tragic is the steady parade of really sleazy people (spiritualists, faith healers, unethical medical providers) who will gladly take as much money as you are willing to give to offer up some false hope or reassurances. This is usually especially true with people who have been very wealthy for their entire lives; if all your life you have never been denied anything, it can be hard to comprehend that there is something in life that money just can't buy.
  • The comic book and graphic novel author (and magician) Alan Moore has no interest in money from big movie studios who want to adapt his stories. In one interview, Alan commented on an instance when he refused to have his name on the credits of a certain adaptation of his work and thus forfeited a cut of the profits. The movie execs were baffled by this move, and as Moore described their reaction: "He doesn't want money! What DOES he want??"
  • Minnesota Vikings punter, Chris Kluwe, recently put a postit note on his uniform in support of election of famed punter Ray Guy to the Hall of Fame (which, at the time, held no punters), knowing that he would probably be fined for it. (Ray Guy was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.)
  • In her interview in the February 2012 issue of Esquire UK, supermodel Irina Shayk said, "Yes, I am a lingerie model, but I have class. Playboy offered me so much money last year. I was like: 'No way.'"
  • The University of Mississippi has a longstanding tradition of ringing cowbells during their football games in lieu of clapping. If you've ever attended a game, the noise can be staggering. The NCAA told the school that if it continued, they would be fined. They agreed to pay the fine, partly on principle, and partly to not upset their tradition-concerned fans, who pay them way more than they were to be fined.
  • Dave Chappelle shocked the world when he suddenly turned down a 50 million dollar contract to keep his hit show Chappelle's Show going for several more years. Even more shocking, he left the country and went to spend time in Africa not telling anyone. When he finally got back, he did several interviews telling the fans why. These reasons ranged from him realizing a certain segment of the viewers liked his show for the wrong reasons, to people behind the scenes telling him what he can and can't do on the show, which meant the show really wasn't his anymore if he signed. And just him being tired of the strange practices that he noticed in the entertainment industry in general.
  • It's a somewhat well-known fact that Jim Carrey has a very strict "No Sequels" policy, which he still refused to compromise when he was one of the highest paid entertainers in Hollywood. note  How committed is he to that policy? In 1995, he turned down a $10 million paycheck—at the time, the highest sum ever offered to an actor for a single role—to reprise his role as Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask II. Even though not all of Carrey's movies have been what most would call "high art", he takes his integrity as an actor very seriously, believing that reprising a role is a waste of time because it doesn't challenge his acting ability.

There are some people money can't buy. For everyone else, there's Tropercard. ...Wait, let me try that again...
Scary Dogmatic AliensKnight In Shining TropesScrew the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right
Proper LadyDignity TropesTheyre Called Personal Issues For A Reason
Screw Politeness, I'm A Senior!Screw This Index, I Have TropesScrew the Rules, I Have Connections!
Scoundrel CodeMorality TropesScrew the Rules, I'm Beautiful!
Royalties HeirMoney TropesScrew the Rules, I Have Money!
Sarcastic DevoteeLoyalty TropesSeduction Proof Marriage
Screaming WomanCharacters as DeviceScrew the Rules, I Have Money!
Reading the Stage Directions Out LoudImageSource/Web ComicsSchool Bites
Scooby StackJust for PunScrew Yourself

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
98491
1