Will Talk for a Price
Our heroes are on a case. They're looking for a lead, and they know a confirmed witness who has the information they need. But their witness seems unable to remember what the sleuths are asking. Well, We Have Ways of Making You Talk... Would a few dollars jog his memory? Yes. Now he knows, and he will readily spill it. But there's still more questions, and they're starting to forget... How about another dollar? Of course. Now the informant will sing like a canary. The sleuths have everything they need and are happy to leave their witness alone. Often the briber trying this tactic would imply this in the form of "would my friend Mr. Jackson ($20 bill) help you to remember?" With variations such as "Mr. Washington" ($1 bill) for a Comically Small Bribe. The bribe need not be legal tender at all; it could easily be a Trademark Favorite Food or other favor. The one with the information may subtly demand such a bribe by rubbing his fingers together. A Sub-Trope of Every Man Has His Price.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Naruto, Karin, formerly Sasuke's subordinate, is brought to Konoha and interrogated. We see her crying while talking, until she promptly stops, and then in a hilariously annoying manner demands some food for the rest of the information.
- The Wolf does this in the movie Hoodwinked with one of Bo Peep's sheep to get him to divulge information about Red and the Puckett family, suspecting them to be involved with the crime spree of stolen recipes.
- Parodied in The Naked Gun. Officer Frank Drebin questions the dock manager during his investigation of the attempted murder on Nordberg. The guy's memory is foggy, so Frank gives him a twenty. When the guy subsequently asks Frank an innocuous question, he gives Frank his twenty back to persuade him to answer, gives him another twenty for another question, and has to borrow an additional twenty from Frank because he's out of money.
- In Just Friends, the main character's younger brother promised to not tell Samantha James where Chris was when he snuck off. Mike withheld this information when Samantha later demanded it from him. However, Samantha knew that Mike had an immense crush on her and French kissed him. Mike told her what she wanted to know without hesitation.
- In The Searchers, Futterman would talk to Ethan only for money.
- In a Discworld title, Making Money, Moist's internal monologue mentions a risk of an accomplice suffering "an attack of memory brought on by excessive money", or put simply. his friend would be paid off for blabbing.
- Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, which takes place in a Divided States of America, has this. The title heroine wants to travel up the Mississippi River into the Chicago Imperium, so she decides to hire on with a mercenary company heading that way. She goes to a local recruiter and tries to find out whether they're going upriver. She lays down some money in front of the recruiter as a bribe and asks some questions. When the recruiter doesn't answer, Friday slowly adds more money until the recruiter cracks and tells all she knows.
- In Komarr of the Vorkosigan Saga, the lead investigator in the habitat indicates that he used to do this with informants until he found that they'd give him information for money even when they didn't have anything real. Now, he just keeps them on salary and the information has become more true.
- On Barney Miller, the officers keep a supply of petty cash in the safe to pay off informants.
- In hot pursuit of Major Descoine in "Elegy in Steele", Laura and Remington meet a deaf carver of tombstones (including one for each of them, listing that day's date—the Real Life original air date of the episode). He only plugs in his hearing aids and tells them which way Descoine went when presented with a $50 bill.
- In an episode of NYPD Blue, a suspect promises to confess his crime (a rather grisly murder) for two 2-liter bottles of Coke. It has to be Coke though: not Pepsi, not RC, not Diet Coke.
- Shows up several times in The Goon Show.
- The Mikado:
Pooh-Bah: I also retail State secrets at a very low figure. For instance, any further information about Yum-Yum would come under the head of a state secret. (Nanki-Poo takes the hint, and gives him money.) (Aside.) Another insult, and, I think, a light one!
- In Snatcher, Gillian Seed has to bribe the informant Napoleon twice in the middle of each meeting for the privilege of answering all of Gillian's questions. Napoleon's not terribly subtle, either, with phrases like "I'm not a charity" and "I'm not doing this for fun."
- The Legend of Zelda. "PAY ME AND I'LL TALK".
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker had small girls on Windfall island who would never do anything as scandalous as spreading gossip... unless Link paid them a single Rupee each.
- Some NPCs in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will refuse to discuss certain topics unless their Disposition is sufficiently high. You can raise an NPC's Disposition by playing a minigame, but it's easier to just throw money at him until he loves you.
- In Quest for Glory I, there's two guys like this: the first one is an honest beggar who can't take time out of his job (begging) to answer too many questions, so you have to keep paying him to get all his info. His rate is about one silver for three questions.
- The second guy is less scrupulous, offering to give you info in exchange for money. If you only give him a single silver, he won't tell you anything. For five silvers, he'll tell you information that can be more readily acquired elsewhere. For a gold piece (ten silvers), he'll tell you some special information that is still easier to get elsewhere. For 5 gold pieces, he'll tell you some special information that can only be acquired in a few places, and in at least one case, is the only way of getting a special rhyme that can otherwise be Lost Forever.
- Final Fantasy XII, has Jules of Archades, a "street-ear" who Balthier states would "bite a Gil given him by his own mother, and shave it by half to pay for her funeral." He's always willing to provide your party with information... for the right price.
Jules: I’ve a message from Master Balthier. He’s waiting in Central. He says to come quickly.Vaan: On this? But we need a…a Chop. What is a Chop, anyway?Jules: When a boy wants information…that’s right… A boy pays. 2500 Gil sound about right.
- Brawl in the Family pokes fun at the Legend of Zelda example more than once. The first time, Link drops a bag full of Rupees into the old woman's pot and takes out a notepad to record all her gossip. The second time, the old woman's advice comes out as gibberish, prompting her to add, "Pay me and I'll translate."
- Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon's "old friend" Jade questions an unnamed informant. Twice he claims to have a bad memory and she offers him money to improve it. The third time he tries the trick she gets tired of it and pulls a gun on him.
- In an episode of Hey Arnold!, Gerald's little sister Timberly's plush alligator was stolen. While Arnold and Gerald look for it, they bribe Chocolate Boy with malt balls to get him to talk, believing him to be a witness to the theft.
- When Bolin goes missing in the third episode of The Legend of Korra, his brother Mako goes downtown and bribes a young street urchin to divulge any information he may have about his kidnapped brother's whereabouts. It should be noted that this episode was also a Broke Episode, and the two brothers were earning that same money to sponsor their team in the pro-bending tournament.
- Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender. An informant tries to do this to Xin Fu, with the rubbing-fingers gesture. Fu replies, "Does that gesture mean you want me to break your fingers?"
- In Beware the Batman Lieutenant Gordon is looking for information on a psychological reconditioning program that was done in Blackgate Prison. He tracks down a former participant Lunkhead, a former thug who's gone straight. Lunkhead attacks Gordon, thinking he wants to take him back to prison. Gordon promises that all he wants to do is ask a few questions, and persuades Lunkhead to talk to him by giving him a few chocolate bars.
- In an episode of The Simpsons (parodying 24) has Bart agree to talk to principal Skinner if he teaches him a swear word he's never heard before.
Skinner: All right, you little...(whispers something in Bart's ear)Bart: Wow, that's a swear?Skinner: When used as a noun, it is.
- The Beany and Cecil episode "Beany Meets The Monstrous Monster," Cecil is on the trail for said creature. He happens upon Louie the Loan Shark:
Louie: I understand youse is looking for a buzz on the whereabouts of the big guy.
Louie: Is this for moolah? (Cecil dives down and returns with a chest full of treasure) The price is right!