troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
The Mafia

Michael Corleone: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man who's responsible for a lot of people, like a senator or a president.
Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed!
Michael Corleone: Oh? Who's being naive, Kay?

Scary Italian (especially Sicilian) dudes with guns. Part tight-knit community, part protection racket, these paesani live by a code - which just happens to include vendetta (killing anyone who wrongs la famiglia) and omertŕ (going to your Don, rather than the cops, when you have trouble with a fellow Italian). Classically known as the Cosa Nostra ("our thing"), and also called "wiseguys". Although the power of the mafia (at least, the American mafia) has diminished sharply in recent years thanks to most of its bigger players either getting stuffed into prison or simply becoming too old to participate in the game, the mystique surrounding these organizations is so strong that they have almost replaced other established historical figures such as knights as carriers of a romantic ideal.

While the Italian mafia has obvious basis in fact, it has remained a staple of entertainment even as the Yakuza, former Soviet-bloc mafias and Latin American drug cartels lapped it for sheer scare value in the real world. For the laughably inept, PG-rated version, see The Family for the Whole Family. If present as a global player, The Mafia may evolve into The Syndicate. See also Mafia Princess and The Don. Obviously not connected with Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club at all.

Compare The Mafiya, The Cartel, The Triads and the Tongs, Yakuza, The Irish Mob, London Gangster, The Kosher Nostra (which the Mafia sometimes employs), and Generic Ethnic Crime Gang. For more information about the real organizations, see the Useful Notes page, The Mafia.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Death Note, Mello joined the mafia after leaving Wammy's House.
  • Baccano!! takes place during the American prohibition era. It prominently featured a Neapolitan Camorra organization. In Real Life, by that time all the Camorra groups in the United States had merged with the Mafia.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Real life Camorra groups didn't have an immortal working for them. Or an Eldritch Abomination
      • And later on, a whole bunch of them. Including the head of the Martillo family and all three (official) Gandor brothers.
  • In one of the Bleach ending songs for the anime series, there are about a dozen maskless arrancar dressed up in black-colored suits, reminiscent of the Mafia, maybe even a Shout-Out or parody, with three of the only female Arrancar introduced (Menoly, Loly and Cirucci Sanderwicci) are wearing Chinese-style or Western-inspired dresses, leaning seductively on the old, wrinkled and fat "Godfather", Baraggan Luisenbarn. The "mobsters" surrounding Baraggan are Gantenbainne Mosqueda, Ggio Vega, Avirama Redder, Choe Neng Poww, Nirgge Parduoc, Charlotte Cuuhlhourne, Findor Carias, and three unnamed background stand-ins.
  • The Golgo 13 story "Wiseguys" has Duke Togo called in by a Mafia don over a matter of a blood feud. It opens with an FBI presentation that attempts to strip away most of the romantic myths surrounding the Mafia, and does a decent job at presenting organized crime as just prettied-up hooliganism. In fact, organized crime members are probably the most common mooks Golgo takes out, and any member whose loyalty to their boss extends to trying to take out Golgo is universally depicted as an idiot.
  • Verrocchio's gang in Black Lagoon; in a reversal of the common portrayals, they come off as more brutal and overall worse people than Balalaika's or Chang's gangs.
  • "Iron Goldie", the nemesis of Rally Vincent from Gunsmith Cats, and her people. She's from Sicily.
  • Interestingly, given that it's set in Italy, Gunslinger Girl has never shown any genuine Mafiosi. Mostly, this is because almost all of the stories happen on the boot. The Camorra do show up quite often and are either called by their proper name or The Naples/Napoli Mafia depending on whether exact accuracy or quick description is called for. The Five Republics separatists tend to act a bit like this trope (including having "cleaners"), but seem to make most of their money more-or-less legitimately.
    • The five republics are actually based on the most radical and indipendentists elements of the Lega Nord party
  • Pokémon - Although not obvious at first glance, Team Rocket, especially in the games (see below), may be based off of the Mafia. It's masked by the fact that the three you see in the anime so often are the bottom rung of the team and none of the higher-ups really give a damn about them (in fact, in one episode another member tells them their memberships have all expired), though this is no longer applicable in the Best Wishes series. In the games, you break into their bases and disrupt or (more commonly) shut down several major operations, among them two hostage situations and a (quite popular) casino. Even in the anime, the protagonists occasionally stumble across a full-scale operation. Also, you know, Giovanni (although this name was deliberately given to him in the English version).
  • The premise of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Vento Aureo.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. A series about a mafia boss who gets shot in the head. A lot. Him and his Harem of Bishōnen Although they're the Girlscout Mafia. The good guys, at least (I'm looking at you, Yamamoto Takeshi!). The antagonists have plans like possessing the body of the thirteen year old wimp and using him to cause World War III.
    • We later meet the Millefiore Family, which is possibly even worse than any instance of the mafia around today, mainly because they control the world, and their leader seems wacky enough, but he's quite unpleasant... Or used to be...
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, when S. Italy was rushing to save Spain, he ran into the mafia, who demanded that he gave them Spain's imports. S. Italy just beat them up and continued on his way. He also blames his cold (which is an in universe representation of a recession) on the mafia.
  • In Noir, the Sicilian Mafia is the enemy of the eponymous assassin duo in the "Intoccabile" arc. Also, one of the protagonists is the sole survivor of a massacred Corsican Mafia family (never mind that Corsica is French).
    • Actually Truth in Television: the Corsican Mafia does exist and is actually quite powerful and influential in France and even in other countries (though it is divided into several gangs and families). "Bouquet" isn't a Corsican name though.
  • Appears in Japan Inc when the Japanese have to do business in Italy.
  • The mafia is all over the place in Acid Town. Roughly half of them appear to be decent as far as mafia go (we're not talking Reborn here) while the other half are creep scumbags.

    Card Games 
  • In Illuminati!, the Mafia is one of the most powerful groups in the game.
  • Mafia. Where the mafia are the informed minority versus an uninformed majority.
  • Sentinels Of The Multiverse has Graham Pike, also known as the The Chairman. He is the undisputed kingpin of the Rook City crime circles. Gameplay wise, his deck features many Underboss and Thug minions to attack and disrupt the heroes while he and his right hand assassin The Operative penalize the heroes for fighting back.

    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher's first of many victims. The original version has his family being gunned down by gangsters for stumbling onto a gangland execution, while the version told on the one-shot MAX comic The Cell has an attempted coup go bad with both the hitman and the target's bodyguards killing the Castle family in the crossfire.
  • Many of Batman's non-Cape villains. Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, Salvatore "Boss" Maroni, Rupert Thorne and Carl Grissom qualify.
  • In Marvel Comics, organized crime has traditionally been represented by a Captain Ersatz syndicate called "The Maggia."
    • The Kingpin, head of New York City's criminal empire.
  • In both the original comics and game of The Darkness, the main character begins as a mafia hitman. And in the comics has had a time as both an informant gone straight, and the Don. A good portion of the supporting cast and villains are connected as well.
  • In Astro City, the main crime syndicate is run by The Deacon. The "Dark Ages" story arc included a gang war between groups led by The Deuce, Bamboo, and Josef "The Platypus" Platapopulous.
  • Almost every bad guy in Sin City is a part of one mafia organization or another.
  • Road to Perdition deals with the Looney mob, the Capone mob, and one soldier who seeks revenge against his former bosses for betraying him and murdering his family.
  • Superlópez: Al Trapone's gang, and others.

    Fan Works 
  • Alternate Universe Fic where characters are members of organized crime (often called Mafia fic or Mafia AU) is quite popular in fanfiction circles.
  • Mega Man Recut has the Steel Crescent Syndicate.
  • The Headhunt features the (fictional) Famiglia Motta, a member of La Cosa Nostra that branched out into space after humanity went FTL. They've reportedly formed alliances with alien organized crime such as the Orion Syndicate, and seemed to have dropped the male domination used in present day settings (Dul'krah interrogates a female capo). They're powerful enough that they can stand up to Starfleet directly on a limited basis, including stealing the decommissioned USS Enterprise-A from the breaker yards over a century ago, and orchestrating the break-in at Facility 4028 that sets off the plot.

    Films 
  • The Godfather is the Trope Codifier. The genesis of the modern media portrayal, though the actual word 'mafia' was notably absent from the film versions. (Ironically, it would go on to influence real-life mafia culture, particularly the glamorous self-image that would be aspired to, and the word "godfather" itself.) The producers of The Godfather were able to speak to a real member of the Mafia, who provided some of his 'boys' for crowd-control on-set. In exchange, he made several requests, one of which was that the word 'mafia' be removed from the script (the director agreed, which was easy enough to do — considering that it wasn't in the script in the first place).
  • Goodfellas. Unlike The Godfather, it concerns itself more with the "working-class" mob, rather than the bosses, with several of the protagonists aspiring to get "made".
  • Casino
  • Mobsters
  • Hoodlum
  • King Of New York
  • The original Scarface was about Tony Camonte, an Italian, and based off the life of Al Capone.
  • Spoofed in The Triplets of Belleville — the otherwise entirely stereotypical mobsters are actually French, and obsessed with cycling.
  • The book of Man on Fire and the first film had the Mafia being behind the kidnapping that Creasy seeks vengeance for, but the 2004 film with Denzel Washington removed them from the picture.
  • Bullitt has the eponymous cop going after Mafia hit men.
  • Gomorra (2008) takes a rather more realistic view of the Camorra clans in Naples and Caserta, showing how they create a climate of fear, murder and corruption.
  • The Valachi Papers was created from interviews and testimony of Joe Valachi, the first major mob informant.
  • Mafia boss Tony T and his henchmen act as the main antagonists of Carlito's Way, opposite Puerto Rican Charlie Brigante.
  • The Untouchables (1987)
  • Donnie Brasco. Very Loosely Based on a True Story.
  • In Married to the Mob, a mafia wife tries to escape the life after her husband is bumped off.
  • In Eraser, Arnold Schwarzenegger talks to a Mafia boss when he needs allies to stop a weapons deal. The Mafia boss initially thinks that it's somebody else's problem, but changes his tune when he finds out that the deal is going down on his dock.
  • The Yakavetta family in The Boondock Saints.
  • A Fine Mess. Tony Pazzo is The Don who orchestrated the horse-doping that launched the whole story into motion in the first place. This being a comedy film, The Family for the Whole Family are, to quote Tony, "those two numbskulls, Binky and Turnip."
  • They don't get a lot of screen-time, but along with The Irish Mob, they're a major driving force in the plot of The Dark Knight. Mostly because they were unwise enough to attempt to collaborate against Batman with The Joker. That turned out about how you'd expect.

    Literature 
  • Mario Puzo's novels mostly feature the mafia.
  • The Mafia was the major villain in the early stories of The Executioner starring Mack Bolan. Bolan would be a major inspiration for The Punisher above.
  • In John Grisham's book The Client, mafia members play a large part.
  • In Snow Crash, the Mafia has become a public company and is one of many organizations competing in the marketplace of a corporate-run America. One of their most successful enterprises is Uncle Enzo's Cosa Nostra Pizza, which uses The Don as their mascot. The company guarantees delivery in 30 minutes, or you get your pizza free. Uncle Enzo flies down to your house, apologizes, and gives you a free trip to Italy. It's implied that the failed deliveryman suffers fatal consequences.
  • Key figures in the Stephanie Plum books, along with possibly all of the other organized crime outfits mentioned above.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Sopranos finally put an end to the popular cliche of mobsters acting like 1940s era gangsters from The Godfather.
  • The Mafia makes several appearances in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, unsurprisingly considering the location. CSI: New York also dealt with a New York branch, and particularly, The Tanglewood Boys, a gang of Mafioso youth. Early on, any Mafia episode usually contains a "...but the Mafia haven't been active in Las Vegas since the 80s" line. Don't want to scare away the tourists, after all.
  • The Mafia battles the Yakuza on the fifth episode of Deadliest Warrior. Al Capone's gang battles the James-Younger gang in the third episode of the second season.
  • On Caprica, the Tauron Ha'la'tha is an example of this, with elements of The Cartel. Oh, and they speak Ancient Greek.
  • The intimidating, social club-dwelling recipients of a huge roulette wheel cake on Cake Boss (filmed in New Jersey) are heavily implied to be the Mafia.
  • Mary's first husband in Soap was a mobster and, after his death, his son, Danny, joins. The boss, Lefkowitz, is Italian and so are a number of the other higher-ups and Danny starts believing he is too. After Danny refuses to kill his father's murderer (his step-father, Burt), Danny goes into hiding (aka. remaining where he is but changing into a series of ridiculous outfits) and Lefkowitz eventually lets him live and leave The Mafia if he agrees to marry his daughter, Elaine.
  • Parodied in a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch where the Vercotti brothers visit an Army base and try to intimidate the colonel by threatening to set fire to his troops. Luigi Vercotti made a few subsequent appearances.
  • A few legitimate businessmen have appeared in episodes of White Collar.
    • In "Book of Hours," a mob boss asks for the FBI's aid in recovering a stolen bible.
    • In "Copycat Caffrey," Peter poses as an enforcer for the Detroit mob.
  • The Untouchables
  • Boardwalk Empire has an Italian gang (a literal crime family composed of brothers and cousins) trying to move in on the rackets in Atlantic City. Important Mafia figures like 'Lucky' Luciano, Joe Torrio and Al Capone also feature prominently. The main Gang boss, Enoch Thompson and many of his allies are Irish-American whilst the often forgotten but very powerful Jewish Mafia are represented by New York Boss Arnold Rothstein.
  • The Law & Order universe includes the Masuccis.
  • The Sonozaki Family from Kamen Rider Double act as this. Just replace drugs with Gaia Memories.
  • Bud Bundy borrows money from a man named Capone (who operates a bank from his car) to produce a workout video.
  • In Community episode "Contemporary American Poultry" the study group becomes the community-college-chicken-finger-running equivalent thereof.
  • The long-running Italian drama La Piovra (The Octopus) deals with organized crime in Italy. The title is a metaphor, comparing the Mafia to an octopus whose tentacles are in everything. Interestingly, the show gives equal time to the heroes affected by its dealings, including Detective Carrado Cattani who is killed in a hail of gunfire at the end of Series Four.
  • Tracker had 'A Made Guy', where the alien Zin uses the Earth Mafia to reach some of his goals, and Cole goes undercover as a mobster.
  • While they certainly feature, Italian novel-based crime drama Romanzo Criminale ("Crime Novel") is about a group of non-Mafia criminals.
  • Ellery Queen: "The Adventure of the Wary Witness" concerns the murder of the son in a prominent crime family. Mobsters also figure prominently in the plots of "The Adventure of the Sunday Punch" and "The Adventure of Caesar's Last Sleep". In both cases, it's a red herring, as said mobsters have no involvement in the deaths of either victim.
  • On Person of Interest Elias is the illegitimate son of a Mafia Don and plans to unite the New York City Mafia families under his leadership so he can defeat the competing Russian mob and and make the Italian Mafia as influential and powerful as in the 'old days'. His adherence to old school Mafia values gets him a loyal following among both old traditional mobsters and new up-and-comers who detest the current Mafia leadership.

    Music 
  • Although never explicitly stated, Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" (off Nebraska) clearly involves someone mixed up in Mafia business. The opening line about how "they up the Chicken Man in Philly last night" is a clear reference to the assassination of Boss Philip Testa of the Philadelphia crime family; most interpretations hold that the perspective character is either going to AC for a hit or to distract himself before taking employment as a hitman. (Testa's assassination set off a mob war in Philadelphia; also note well that AC is roughly where the Philadelphia and New York Mob spheres of influence converge, although AC is much closer to Philly, and that Testa was backed by New York—long story.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This was the original gimmick of Captain Lou Albano's Tag Team the Sicilians with Tony Altimore, until the real thing got word of it and told them not to do it.
  • In December 1999, WCW introduced the tag team the Mamalukes, Big Vito and Johnny the Bull, with their manager Tony Marinara. They had a Mafia gimmick and claimed to have come there because Disco Inferno had owed them money. Vito and Johnny would often say that they were "Paisans", not "Mamalukes."
    • Johnny, renamed Johnny Stamboli, would recycle this gimmick in WWE as a member of the WWE SmackDown! version of the Full-Blooded Italians, with Nunzio and Chuck Palumbo.
  • At WrestleMania 22, which was held in Chicago, John Cena had a dramatic Al Capone-themed entrance, with one of the gangsters being played by an uncredited CM Punk, who is from Chicago.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Even the Old World of Darkness had its share, with a few branches of the Giovanni, a vampire mob with necromantic power. As Gary puts it in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: "Spaghetti and corpses, boss."
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse includes the urbane Glass Walkers, who developed strong footholds in Italy (there really is a breed of Italian wolf). And since Werewolf absolutely loves its cultural stereotypes, it played these connections up heavily. Later material (3rd edition and onwards) reversed course on the idea, however, because the idea of Mafia werewolves was, to quote the developer, a bit of a one-note joke.
    • The telekinetic Spooks' Guild in Wraith The Oblivion were based on the Mafia, particularly in how they were organized.
    • There was a mortals supplement, too: World of Darkness: Mafia.
    • Mage: The Ascension has the Syndicate, which controls all the Technocracy's economic aspects, and is tasked with overseeing the global economy. Their Enforcers branch get involved where commerce and violence flow into one another, which includes organized crime. (The Syndicate in general, however, tends more towards Corrupt Corporate Executive.)
  • Mafia, the parlor game.

    Theater 
  • The Chandler family has loose ties with a stereotypically Italian mob boss in The Fix.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto 3 revolves around The Mafia, and the group also shows up in important roles in the other parts of the series. In fact, Liberty City Stories has you play as a mobster who's of some importance in 3.
    • In IV, by contrast, The Mafia doesn't really show up until the latter parts of the game and is comparatively weak and racked by infighting, and who are ultimately played for fools by Dimitri. In The Ballad of Gay Tony, they are secondary antagonists who effectively fade into the background when Luis offs the main antagonists in spectacular fashion.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the 'Pianta Syndicate', a Cultural Translation of the Japanese version's Yakuza Piantas.
  • Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven is all about La Cosa Nostra. And it's got a sequel.
  • City of Heroes has the Family, who are Italian mobsters in nice suits and bowler hats. City of Villains also has the Mooks, who are just the same, except less well-dressed. Both are hilariously anachronistic as well, even the Mooks wear 20s-style fashion outfits in a Twenty Minutes into the Future world, and wield tommy guns equally as effective as modern assault rifles and lasers. Rule of Cool, folks.
  • Parodied in Sam & Max: Freelance Police with the Toy Mafia, who all wear colorful grinning teddy bear heads and use a Suck E. Cheese's-style restaurant as a thinly-disguised front for their operations.
  • Fallout 2 has 4 different criminal families vying for control over New Reno, with 2 based in family-owned casinos, one in a bar, and the last in an out-of-ways mansion overlooking the old railway station. You can do quests for more than one at a time, so long as they don't involve killing members of the other crime families you work for. Pledging your full allegiance with one by accepting a final quest to test your loyalty will have the others permanently gunning for you. Given that this last quest tends to involve eliminating a rival family wholesale, its not too big of a deal unless you're aiming for 100% Completion.
    • Invoked by Mr House in Fallout: New Vegas when he made over a local tribe into the Omerta casino family.
  • Mafia Wars lets you play a Mafia don and do all sorts of illicit stuff for cash and prizes.
  • Pokémon Red and Blue has Team Rocket. They're more based on the Yakuza in the Japanese version, but were adapted to be more like The Mafia in the international releases, as best evidenced by the name of their boss, Giovanni.
    • We also have the Mon Honchkrow, a crow that looks like it's dressed like a Mafia Don. Appropriately enough, Giovanni of Team Rocket uses one in his appearance in HeartGold and SoulSilver.
  • Urban Rivals has their own Mafia group known as the Montana, who make money by terrorizing the citizens of Clint City.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the Penguin Mafia. The reason they're penguins is probably partly the resemblance between penguins and men in fine black suits, and partly that penguins are inherently funny.
  • Mafiosi play a somewhat major role in the first two Max Payne games as Mooks.
  • In Conkers Bad Fur Day, Don Weaso and his men.
  • The Revache & Co from Zero No Kiseki
  • One of the bonus levels in Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain has you playing as Gary Stoneman to assassinate a Mafia boss in Pescara, Italy with a one-bullet sniper rifle.
  • The Darkness and its sequel, based on the comic series of the same name, stars Jackie Estacado, a mafia hitman who inherits an ancient evil and uses it to help him fend off his crazy Uncle Paulie...who happens to be the Don.
  • A Hat In Time has the Mafia of Cooks, a rather goofy example. They still rob people and punch seagulls who eat thir fish, though.
  • Gangsters Organized Crime Player leads his own gang that isn't any way Mafia in Prohibition Era
  • Omerta: City of Gangsters, like above, places player in a role of a mob boss in Prohibition era.
  • Gangland player character comes after is three brothers, all leaders of their own families. While doing so, player establishes his own gang
  • For the first time in....ever, the main cast of Final Fantasy XV are all citizens of the Lucis kingdom ruled and defended by the Caelum Mafia family. The main character, Noctis Lucis Caelum, is effectively (and literally) a Mafia Prince.
  • Skull Girls features the Medici family, who are a particularly nasty bunch. Cerebella is the only playable character who are a part of the mafia but several characters have histories tied to them. Ms. Fortune and the band of thieves she was in were murdered by Medici assassins, but she survived. Peacock and Marie were captured by slavers funded by the Medici and Squigly was killed by the Medici when they attacked her family due to her mother obtaining the Skull Heart
  • Town of Salem, a flash based web browser game, has Mafia as one of the random alignments to play as. The members of all alignments are chosen at random from a pre-selected list by the server or by the room's host.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Lucky Dog 1 the main characters are part of a mafia group called CR-5. The main character, Gian, starts out as a man who is very good at breaking in and out of prison and his first job of the game is to break out himself and the four captains who all got locked away at the same time. He soon learns if he succeeds in breaking them out he gets to become the new boss.

    Webcomics 
  • La Cosa Nostra, unsurprisingly given the title.
  • Many of the characters in Fishbones are in the mafia, and the protagonist's father is a sort of business partner/associate of theirs.
  • In Rusty and Co., run by illithid (mind flayer) — who else did you expect in illithid activities?
  • In Sinfest, the cartoon mafia
  • In Sonic The Comic Online, there is The Family a group of bugs from the Special Zone lead by a spider called Don Long-Legs that control the Casino Night Zone and employ Max Gamble a gangster and an old enemy of the Freedom Fighters as a "legitimate" front man.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Fat Tony's gang in The Simpsons.
  • Futurama has the Robot Mafia, which is composed of only three members. Passing mention is also made of "Sicily 8, the Mob Planet."
    • A gangster planet is destroyed by "love radiation" in the episode where Bender dates the delivery ship.

That's a real nice trope page you got here. Lots of work building this thing up. It'd be a shame if something were to happen to it...
Les Cops SportifEurope IndexOlive Garden
Olive GardenNational Stereotyping TropesAnime Land
GialloTrope Names from Other LanguagesMondo
Law Enforcement, Inc.Organization IndexThe Mafiya
Knight in Sour ArmorFilm NoirMysterious Woman
Mad BomberCriminalsThe Mafiya
London GangsterOrganized Crime TropesMafia Princess
Magic FeatherOlder than TelevisionMarilyn Maneuver
The DonImageSource/Live-Action FilmsMoe Greene Special

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
83876
0