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Bank Robbery

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"Because that's where the money is."
Willie Sutton in response to "Why do people rob banks?" (attributed)

Robbing a bank. This crime is about as old as banks themselves, but became a standard when banks evolved into large public buildings. Since criminals tend to want money, and banks usually have a lot of money, it's an obvious combination.

Bank jobs range from a simple stick-up by a lone operator who goes for whatever the bank teller has in the cash drawer, to elaborate capers to hit the main vault requiring months of planning and preparation carried out by a team of experts. The elaborate versions are often the focus of an entire movie. The FBI's definition of bank robbery requires the perpetrators to threaten bank employees into handing over the money, so technically most caper-type heists would be considered burglary. But don't expect anything involving theft from a bank to be called something other than "bank robbery" in fiction.

A Bank Robbery is often the victim of a Plethora of Mistakes, or it results in You Have Outlived Your Usefulness as the robbers decide to split the proceeds among considerably fewer people. If one or more of the robbers works for the bank, it's an Inside Job. If subtlety fails, or if the robber is a Leeroy Jenkins that gets into the bank shouting "Hands up, this is a robbery!", it can easily escalate into a Hostage Situation.

If the setting includes Superheroes or Supervillains, and part of the action takes place in a bank, rest assured that the bank will be robbed sooner or later. No matter how innocuous is the action done in relation to the bank (pay taxes, ask for a loan, have a casual talk in front of it), if the hero goes anywhere near a bank, a villain will try to rob it. It's almost the Murphy's Law of superheroes.

In Real Life, most bank robbers go for a much more Boring Yet Practical route called the "note job". Instead of a group of hardened criminals busting in with ski masks and threatening people with guns, or pulling off elaborate heists, a lone criminal will simply walk in with little or no disguise, hand the teller a note demanding a certain amount of money, then walk out with the loot. This happens so quickly and quietly that other customers usually don't even notice that a robbery is taking place. Bank tellers are instructed to play along with the robbers' demands in such cases, as the bank prioritizes the safety of its customers over the relatively small amount of money these criminals usually demand. Of course, you'll rarely see this in fiction because it's not as cool or dramatic.

Over the years, real life banks have developed many ways of foiling bank robbers or at least minimizing their take, and stories involving modern banks will have to come up with ways to defeat those measures. Also, stealing gold bars and attempting to fence them is nearly impossible for the average joe without a fence. In many jurisdictions, these measures have resulted in organized criminals moving to the less risky and more lucrative trade of drug dealing.

Side note: In the United States, bank funds are insured by the FDIC, which makes Bank Robbery a Federal offense and often leads to FBI involvement. In fiction, this means Jurisdiction Friction.

Compare with Armed Blag. Frequently the kind of robbery that happens in Caught Up in a Robbery.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Tomo's dream sequence in Azumanga Daioh (animated version) has her foil a bank robbery. For some reason she imagines the crooks as her classmates. (Then again, Kaori also dreams of her classmates—some, anyway—as a street gang. Chiyo is a bad influence!)
  • Case Closed:
    • An episode had a bank robbery hold up with Conan and his friends including Jodie trapped inside. The robbers plot was to transfer money electronically, use hostages without close friends or loved ones disguised as robbers thinking to have died in an explosion accident, and escape as escorted hostages.
    • Akemi was killed off after a bank robbery.
  • One chapter of Crayon Shin-chan has our young fellow asked if he knew what to bring to the bank. He immediately grabs a kitchen knife, as that's the stereotypical bank robbery weapon in gun-scarce Japan.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Great Saiyaman mini-arc is kicked off by Gohan foiling a bank robbery.
  • In Heat Guy J, Monica has lost her home to arson, and since she is the one who supports herself and her Hard-Drinking Party Girl mother (ordinarily by taking pictures for a small fee), she feels she has no other options. So she rides her pet donkey up to a nearby bank...only to be stopped by Daisuke.
  • Love Mode: Naoya and Kichi are innocent victims in a jewelry store heist, leading to a Hostage Situation and a high speed chase.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Louis, Moran, Fred, and Bond are Caught Up in a Robbery at a bank while running errands in The Adventure of the Four Servants.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: The protagonist duo attempted it in Asterix and the Cauldron, to recover money that had been stolen from Asterix. They failed, since the bank was empty because of the ultra-high Roman tax rates. It was also Played for Laughs, as they actually spent some time spying on the bank from their inn and finding out the habits of the guards and when they could get in. Asterix developed a rather well-thought-out plan, but when Obelix failed to understand it...
    Asterix: Forget it — just get the money and get out.
    Obelix: That I understand!
  • Batman has, like every other long-running superhero, encountered loads of these throughout his publication history. Usually as a bit-part, but sometimes as the backbone of the plot (especially back when most of his Rogues Gallery were gimmicky thieves and gangsters). The Riddler pulled an especially tricky one in his debut, flooding a bank to loot it after sending a riddle pointing to the charity banquet in another building ("banquet" = "bank wet", geddit?).
  • Clone Wars Adventures: "The Precious Shining" features a trio of war refugees who attempt to rob a Separatist bank vault while disguised in clone armor.
  • In Our Fighting Forces #112, Hunter's Hellcats break into a Nazi-controlled bank to liberate a large amount of cash intended for the Free French Forces.
  • Michael O'Sullivan and his son, also named Michael from Road to Perdition make their business robbing banks. But Michael isn't after any old bank or any old money — he specifically targets mob banks controlled by Al Capone and John Looney and the off-the-books money that they hold for paying them off. He does this so that Looney and Capone will hand over Connor Looney, the murderer of Michael's wife and other son, to him so that Michael can take vengeance on him.
  • Robin #56 features the Cluemaster running Bank Robbery 101 classes for low-level thugs. His advice is generally sound (take no more than three minutes, don't let tellers trip silent alarms or slip a dye-pack in, use multiple getaway cars), but the mooks get caught anyway.
  • Runaways: the kids run into some supervillains robbing a bank, only to say that they aren't going to try to stop them, since they know the bank is insured; they just want them to hand over the kid in their ranks. Of course, they don't oblige and the kid turns out to be evil too.
  • A fairly common sight in Spider-Man stories too, especially since many of his Rogues Gallery have remained blue-collar types mainly in it for the money. Amazing #42 (yes, of "Face it, tiger..." fame) combines this with Superdickery, opening with Spidey apparently raiding a bank of a single bag that contains nothing but a bomb planted by the actual robbers; J. Jonah Jameson is not amused when he later calls the bank and is informed no money's actually missing.
  • Superman:
  • Wonder Woman: Black and Gold: In Golden Age, a take on Golden Age Wonder Woman, Diana and Etta foil a gang of bank thieves with a fight culminating in the safe.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 30 Minutes or Less is about a pizza boy who gets a bomb strapped to his chest and told to go find one-hundred thousand dollars in ten hours. He decides to rob the local bank and brings his friend into it.
  • The Air I Breathe: "Happiness" tries to rob a bank after the gangster "Fingers" threatens him with having his fingers cut off if he won't pay back a gambling debt. Happiness is shot and killed by the cops, but the money manages to aid another character, Sorrow.
  • Baby Driver opens with a bank robbery from the perspective of the Getaway Driver, all set to the tune of "Bellbottoms" by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
  • Bandits features two ex-cons who rob banks to fund their dreams.
  • The Bank Job is a dramatization of the 1971 Baker Street bank robbery in central London, from which the money and valuables stolen were never recovered.
  • In Bank Shot, Ballentine and his crew steal a branch bank that is temporarily being housed in a mobile home: stealing the entire bank so they can crack the vault in an isolated location.
  • Bonnie and Clyde made a career out of robbing banks and other criminality before their tragic end, both in Real Life and The Movie.
  • By Hook or By Crook begins with Shy planning to rob a bank to save his foreclosed home, after seeing a news report about a bank robbery. He hitchhikes to San Francisco and conspires with his new friend Val, making money through minor grifts and cons to save up to buy a gun. Subverted: Shy never saves up enough money and never tries to rob a bank. Instead, during the climax of the film, he unsuccessfully attempts to rob a convenience store with a toy gun.
  • Cien Años de Perdón: During the infamous Venezuelan Bank Crisis of 1994, four friends decide to rob via take over the main office of a big bank, only to find that the owner, anticipating the bankruptcy and the Government intervention, fled with all the money. A dark comedy.
  • The Dark Knight opens with a gang robbing a bank, with the Joker arranging for each of his accomplices to kill each other off once their usefulness has been expended. It also varies on the usual formulas since the banks are actually owned by the Mob, and used in their money laundering.
  • The Day of the Jackal: when the gang ask The Jackal how they're going to pay for his services as an assassin, he tells them to use their criminal network to rob a few banks. Which they do.
  • Day of the Wolves:
    • In his first scene, #6 walks into a bank disguised as a mailman, snatches a sack of money, and then races out.
    • The wolves plan to rob two banks by racing in with machine guns and scaring everyone, but only have time to rob one.
  • The original Dirty Harry kicks off with one, setting up Harry's famed "Do you feel lucky, punk?" speech as he takes out the perps.
  • The Caper in Dobermann involves bank robbery. A series of fake bank robberies are staged across the city to distract the police and send them scurrying about trying to cover them all. While this is happening, Dobermann and his gang hit two banks located close to one another in a pair of high firepower smash-and-grab raids.
  • Dog Day Afternoon is a film based on a Real Life bank robbery gone horribly wrong.
  • In Drive a Crooked Road, Steve and Harold have a plan to rob the Palm Springs bank. But that plan requires them to recruit a highly skilled Getaway Driver. And that is what sets the plot in motion.
  • Duel For Gold, a 70s wuxia film, is about a bank robbery in the Ming Dynasty where a band of thieves and bandits teams up to rob an imperial vault filled with booty (basically, the Dynasty equivalent of Fort Knox). But then the villains starts backstabbing each other thanks to No Honor Among Thieves,
  • El Robo del Siglo is an Argentinian movie about the robbery of the Banco Río bank in Buenos Aires.
  • Emperor (2020): Shields hides in a wagon to escape from slave catchers only to discover it's the home and getaway vehicle of Rufus Kelly, who has just robbed a bank and is being chased by the local lawmen.
  • Eve of Destruction: EVE and her handler are out on a field mission when they get caught in the middle of a bank robbery. The robbers kill EVE's handler and damage EVE herself, causing her to go into permanent combat mode.
  • Firewall starring Harrison Ford involves a bank robbery via electronic balance transfers.
  • Subverted in A Fistful of Dynamite. Juan relieves the bank of all its valuables but unfortunately for him its full of political prisoners, not money.
  • The Action Prologue of the Hong Kong western homage, The Fugitive (1972), has the two Anti-Hero protagonists robbing a bank before shooting their way out of town.
  • The main action in For a Few Dollars More involves trying to stop a bank robbery masterminded by Indio.
  • Four Against the Bank is a German heist comedy with four men teaming up to rob a bank in Berlin that deliberately emptied the accounts of three of them.
  • Getaway Plan: the plot of the film revolves around a plan to rob the Swiss Credit Bank of over 30,000,000 euros. Victor is only brought in for a small part of it, but is determined to learn the entirety of the plan before committing to it because he's an undercover officer assigned to the case. Eventually, he learns what the plan is and, unable to reach his superiors, executes it so that the criminals cannot.
  • Going in Style (1979): Three senior citizens decide to rob a bank just for the thrill of it. Remade in 2017.
  • The villains' plot in GoldenEye is essentially a massive, countrywide electronic bank heist covered up by the use of a stolen EMP warhead. Bond even lampshades it toward the end.
    James Bond: In the end, you're just a bank robber. Nothing more than a common thief.
  • The western-comedy The Great Bank Robbery is a film in which multiple gangs compete to steal a store of gold being held in the vault of the bank in Friendly, TX.
  • The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery is a Dramatization based on the actual robbery of the Southwest Bank in St. Louis in 1953.
  • The same bank gets robbed twice in Henry's Crime. The first is an amateurish smash-and-grab committed by Eddie Vibes and his buddies where they run in, grab the cash and run out holding armfuls of money. Henry, who was unknowingly the getaway driver, gets caught and sent to jail. When he gets out, he decides that as he already done the time, he should do the crime, and plans a far more sophisticated robber involving tunnelling from the theatre next to the bank.
  • The Hidden: The film opens with the evil parasite robbing a bank, as seen from a black and white security camera. The cops later say that he had robbed another seven banks during his crime spree in that body.
  • Hold-up: Jean-Paul Belmondo plays a clever rascal who plans to rob the most secure bank in Montreal with a clown disguise and his bravado and the help of his girlfriend (played by Kim Cattrall) and his best friend (played by Guy Marchand).
  • The Hooded Angels specialize in robbing banks. The audience sees the aftermath of the robbery they pulled in Twin Forks, an actual robbery in the town. Their procedure is practiced, professional and efficient, until Psycho Party Member Ellie sends the job Off the Rails.
  • How to Rob a Bank, as might be guessed from the title. Jason accidentally walks into the middle of of a bank robbery being conducted by Simon and his gang and immediately becomes the Spanner in the Works.
  • Inside Man has an interesting twist on this. In New York, masked robbers, dressed as painters and using variants of the name "Steve" as aliases, seize control of a Manhattan bank and take the patrons and employees hostage. They divide the hostages into groups and hold them in different rooms, forcing them to don painters clothes identical to their own. The robbers rotate the hostages among various rooms and occasionally insert themselves covertly into the groups. They also take turns working on an unspecified project involving demolishing the floor in one of the bank's storage rooms.
  • Midway through Joker, the mentally ill protagonist (Arthur Fleck) loses his job as a local clown-for-hire because of a gun that he wasn't supposed to have, has a live-in mother to support, dons a hood, uneasily walks through the city as the suspenseful music builds, loses his nerve at the exterior of the bank itself and leaves without anyone knowing he was there.
  • Killing Zoe: Eric, his American friend Zed, and Eric's gang carry out an extremely ill-conceived bank heist in Paris by cutting short on the planning stage and getting baked on heroin beforehand. It becomes a protracted hostage situation almost immediately.
  • Ladies They Talk About: Nan goes to jail because of a botched bank robbery.
  • In The Mask, on his second night with the Mask of Loki, Stanley decides to rob a bank so he can get into an exclusive club ("You can't make the scene if you don't have the green!"), foiling a group of other robbers in the process. No employees are threatened — he just busts into the bank and then busts out with the cash.
  • Masterminds (2016) tells the story of the 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery in North Carolina.
  • Maverick (1994): a brief Bank Robbery, the title character is a bystander.
  • Nite Tales: The Movie: "Karma" opens with four young thieves robbing a small-town bank and leaving several bodies in their wake.
  • The protagonists unwittingly help famous bank robber Babyface Nelson in O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
  • The Demolition man in the recent version of Ocean's Eleven was working a bank heist the night he was nabbed by Rusty.
  • Point Break (1991) had bank robbers who were also surfers and adrenaline junkies that rob banks just for fun.
  • Prairie Fever opens with a bank robbery that ends with Sheriff Preston Biggs accidentally killing his wife when one of the robbers uses her as a Human Shield.
  • In Rancho Notorious, Frenchy plans a bank robbery that involves most of the outlaws in Chuck-a-Luck. Things fall part when Kinch takes a shot at Vern partway through the robbery.
  • The Return of the Pink Panther. Clouseau fails to stop a bank robbery.
  • In Serenity, we meet the crew as they're getting ready for one. Mal insists that River join them since she's a reader, but her brother Simon tells her that it's okay to leave the others to die. During the robbery, Reavers attack and Mal tells the people to lock themselves in the vault.
  • Set It Off: Four women, for their various reasons -money, kicks, revenge- decide to rob banks. They do it quit efficiently, too. Just when they're on top of the world and think they can stop, up comes the need for one final big heist.
  • The Silent Partner. A bank clerk steals money during a robbery, allowing the robber to take the blame. The robber doesn't like it.
  • At the start of Sky Bandits, Barney and Luke are staging a series of bank robberies across the American west. These robberies usually end with Barney blowing up the bank by using too much dynamite.
  • Sugar & Spice follows a group of high school cheerleaders who conspire and commit a bank robbery when one of them becomes pregnant and desperate for money.
  • Superman Returns reintroduces the Man of Steel (after a real-life hiatus of 20 years!) foiling a very determined bank robber armed with a minigun.
  • The Town has a pair of bank robbing brothers as its primary characters. Their heists and the police pursuit that follows form the central plot of the film.
  • Frank Martin's first job in the movie The Transporter is acting as the getaway driver for a group of bank robbers.
  • In Two Hands, Jimmy comes up with a plan to pay off the debt by robbing a bank the next day in Bankstown along with two others. The robbery is not without its problems. When returning with the cash bags, one of the men attempts to jump over the bank counter, but fails and lands unconscious on the bank floor. He is dragged by Jimmy into the car, and comes round just as the police begin shooting and returns fire. The getaway driver is killed by the police but the robbery is on the whole successful.
Kwinto: Because that's where the money was.
  • In Violent Saturday, Harper, Dill and Chapman arrive in town intending to rob the bank. The bank robbery is successful, but the getaway goes sour.

  • In Zeroes, Jerry Laszlo owes money to The Mafiya, and tries to rob a bank to get the cash to pay them off. The robbery pretty quickly goes wrong: the silent alarm triggers, he can't get the vault open, and his accomplices turn on one another. It might also have been wiser for him to have chosen a bank a bit further away from the local police station.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam-12 has Reed end up wounded and a hostage when he gets caught in one while doing his own business at the bank.
  • The Brady Bunch: In the Season 4 episode "Amateur Nite," as the kids are trying to figure out how to pay for a big bill at a department store (an engraving, which is their parents' anniversary gift), Bobby suggests that holding up a teller would be a great idea. Greg quickly reprimands his little brother, telling him that is more than a bad idea for even suggesting it.
  • The UnSub in the Criminal Minds episode "Psychodrama" started out as a bank robber, but ends up degenerating due to a combination of drugs and trauma.
  • CSI has one involving setting off explosives to get a pair of ceremonial scissors that tie Sam Braun to a dead showgirl. Catherine considers him a killer even though he can’t be tied directly to it.
  • CSI: Miami has one that's discovered when a car falls through a sinkhole in the street, revealing the robbers' tunnel.
  • CSI: NY has at least three.
    • Season 1's "Rain" involves a plan to rob a bank's safe-deposit boxes of their contents. It's in an Asian neighborhood and the number 8 is considered lucky by many of the bank's patrons, so the robbers strategically place explosives to open boxes containing that number, thinking that they'll have the most valuable items.
    • The season 4 finale, "Hostage," sees a bank robber arrive at his target only to find that he's been beaten to the punch — and the manager was shot to death in the vault in the process. He takes everyone there hostage and demands that a CSI be sent in to prove his innocence. Mac volunteers and is eventually forced to drive the man away from the scene. His fate was left hanging all summer, not that any viewers actually feared for his life.
    • Season 6 has "Unusual Suspects" which revisits the same bank/two robberies idea, but with a twist. The bank is actually robbed by a 14 yr old, with his 12 yr old brother as his accomplice, on their way home from school. Another guy was planning on robbing it, but saw them and decided to snatch their haul instead. He confronted the boys in an alley & when the older one wouldn't hand over his backpack he shot him, which freaked out his little brother who made up a story that threw the detectives off their trail for quite a while. Turns out, they had asked the teller for just enough money to pay that month's rent ($933) because the 12 yr old overheard their widowed mother telling the landlord she didn't have it.
  • Arnold and family are hostages in a bank robbery in the Diff'rent Strokes episode "The Bank Job".
  • The Doctor Who episode "Time Heist" has the Doctor, Clara, and two others attempting to rob the Bank of Karabraxos. Subverted when it turns out the entire thing wasn't actually a heist, but a rescue mission.
  • Due South “Vault” has Ray and Fraser caught in a bank robbery when Ray is wrongly declared dead and wants his money. They get locked in the vault and it won’t open for a while because it’s on a time delay.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: A bread-and-butter trope – Hazzard Bank is seemingly the target of a weekly attempt by someone, and given the lax security and Boss Hogg's connections, the bank is often seen by criminal groups as an easy target. (The bank and/or armored cars making deliveries to Hazzard Bank is robbed in at least half of the episodes.) As a plot device, Boss always seems to try to shift the blame from his associates to his nemeses, the Duke family, particularly Bo and Luke – and did so in various ways, whether by trying to discredit their alibi, claiming that a Duke family friend was working with them, hiring actors to rob the bank disguised as Bo and Luke ... the list went on. All attempted and successful robberies at Hazzard Bank are bloodless, with nary a shot fired, although sometimes the armored car drivers were knocked unconscious. In plots where criminals were spending the night at the Hazzard County Jail – where Hazzard Bank may or may not be a new target – it is sometimes implied there were casualties in other unseen (but noted) robberies, and at least one on-screen robbery at the Capital City Bank (in Capital City) did involve shots fired but – at least on screen – nobody getting wounded.
  • Emergency! has one where the paramedics go to the scene and get taken hostage themselves before managing to talk the guys out of running.
  • The Endgame has New York suffer seven bank robberies, all on the same day, all orchestrated by Elena Federova, who is at that moment sitting in an FBI black site.
  • Multiple cases on The F.B.I. as bank robbery falls under the remit of the F.B.I. In "Slow March Up a Steep Jill", Erskine and Jim go after a bank robber who keeps robbing the one branch of the same bank.
  • Played for laughs in The Goon Show episode "Dishonoured" (remade as "Dishonoured Again"). The crooked bank manager Grytpype-Thynne gives impoverished new employee Neddie Seagoon the key to the gold vault, knowing that Neddie will steal the gold. Grytpype and his accomplice, Moriarty, then contrive to steal the gold back from Neddie. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Justified:
    • The series premiere has Boyd blow up a church, then while the police are all distracted by that, robs a bank. It's said this is not the first time he'd pulled that particular strategy.
    • In the second season, Winona is a bystander in a bank robbery, and the robbers take a $100 bill from her that she'd taken out of the courthouse's evidence room. Later, the lead robber sets his accomplices up to be caught in a robbery that's doomed to fail (he gives one guy a "suicide vest" loaded with road flares) while he tries to escape with the money, but Art figures it out and catches him.
    • Season six has an interesting variation. The bank Boyd is trying to rob has closed years ago and is now a pizzeria. However, the pizzeria is just a front for Avery Markham, a notorious gangster, who uses the former bank's vault to store millions of dollars he made in the marijuana trade. Markham employs a group of Private Military Contractors to protect his money and Boyd has to find a way to get to the money without getting himself killed.
  • The Kill Point is about a bank robbery that quickly turns into a Hostage Situation due a variety of circumstances forcing the robbers to hole up inside the building, such as an off-duty FBI agent starting a firefight outside, and a security guard from an armored truck getting involved after he drove back to pick up something he lost. They do manage to steal a few million dollars after forcing the bank manager to wire the money to another bank in a way that wouldn't arouse suspicion.
  • An episode of Leverage ended up being built around, the audience was reminded more than once, "robbing a bank during a robbery".
  • The Lost episode "Whatever the Case May Be" reveals Kate's participation as inside woman in a bank robbery.
  • The Murders: In "Heist", Kate investigates a bank robbery, with a guard killed by the two robbers. One of the bank employees it turns out also was an accomplice with the robbers, but was also shot (the motive is unclear at first).
  • The NCIS episode "Collateral Damage" starts with a security guard being shot during a bank robbery. It then turns out that the robbery was a smokescreen for the guard's murder, as he was the target—and that was the set-up for a hit on his son.
  • The Nine, a short-lived television series, centered on the survivors of a bank robbery, and the things that had happened during the event.
  • Pops up from time to time in Power Rangers:
    • "The Phantom Phenomenon" in Turbo has Divatox and crew try to rob a bank only to be thwarted by the Phantom Ranger.
    • An episode of Time Force has the villains rob a bank so they'll have cash.
  • In Smallville, Clark once robbed a bank (actually, robbed the would-be-robbers) and casually shrugged off bullets from dozens of cops. He was affected by red kryptonite.
  • Supernatural had an episode where a man runs into a bank with an assault rifle screaming: "This is NOT a robbery! Everybody get on the floor!"
  • Top Gear used a bank robbery and getaway as the final test of luxury cars for the Albanian Mafia. Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson managed to escape the police. James May...didn't.
  • In the Twilight Zone episode "A Nice Place to Visit", a deceased gangster's afterlife finds a casino he always wins at, other luxuries and niceties that he eventually grows tired of, and his wish to get up to what his old life was about leads to the idea of a bank robbery he'll be sure to get away from... which kind of defeats, he realizes before actually trying it, what he really wanted; it doesn't help when his smiling spirit guide offers him some pre-arranged exact chance that he'll be caught or not. All of this is leading up to the revelation, at the end, that the man is in a personal Hell.
  • The Unusuals episode "Boorland Day" opens with one of these being executed by the Boorland crime family...New York's dumbest family-run mob.
  • The season two opener of White Collar, "Withdrawal," pits Neal and Peter against "The Architect," a Smug Snake of a bank robber who leaves literal calling cards at the scenes of his heists.

  • The subject of Barenaked Ladies's "Bank Job", couched in terms of the blame game in relationships.
  • As sung by The Clash, "My daddy was a bank robber\But he never hurt nobody\He just loved to live that way\And he loved to steal your money" (although the song is mostly about the life lessons said father left the narrator).
  • The Austrian comedy band Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung had their first international hit with a song called "Ba-Ba-Banküberfall" which is about someone who is flat broke and desperately needs money, who then tries to rob a bank but isn't taken seriously by anyone. It even has a couple of English lines.
    The evil is always and everywhere
    Ba-ba-bank robbery
    Ba-ba-bank robbery
    Ba-ba-bank robbery
  • One of the ways Doctor Steel financed his giant robot construction, according to his song, "Build the Robots".
    I need assembly lines
    A crew and much more time
    The money's all mine
    And my funds are getting thin
    Probably have to rob a bank again
  • The music video for Rammstein's "Ich will" had the band portray bank robbers doing it just for publicity rather than money, on the basis of the If It Bleeds, It Leads trope. And the dumb part is it worked. They even win a Golden Camera for it! (Which they, sans the one that blew himself up, accept in prison attire and shackles, escorted by police guards.)

  • "Joker's Multiball" in Stern Pinball's Batman begins with the Joker's gang robbing a bank in clown masks.
  • This is one of the requirements for starting Stampede Multiball in Cactus Canyon.
  • Maverick The Movie has a Bank Robbery as one of the modes between rounds of poker.
  • The backglass for Police Force depict a bank robbery at the First Animal Bank.
  • In Safe Cracker, the player must break into a bank vault and steal the fortunes within.

    Reference Books 
  • World Book Encyclopedia: The article's 1974 revision for the encyclopedia's Television article includes a still from a bank robbery, to illustrate the uses of closed circuit and security cameras in television (such as helping to identify suspects in a robbery).

  • The Comedy About a Bank Robbery by Mischief Theatre is, er, a comedy play about a bank robbery. Specifically, it's about an attempt by an escaped felon and his bungling team to steal a priceless diamond from the vault of a bank in 1958 Minneapolis.

    Theme Parks 

  • LEGO: Several sets in the City line's police-themed sets have included a bank, presumably to encourage kids to play "cops and robbers" (ergo, minifigures representing the bad guys, the bank employees and police officers, and at least a getaway vehicle and a police car included with the set, to allow for a robbery, attempted getaway and eventual apprehension). One set included an armored vehicle, while another gave the kids a garbage truck (used to crash into the bank and load a safe).
  • Several of the Tamagotchi handhelds feature a burglar who occasionally steals some of your Tama Points. He's brought up in the newspaper you receive at mail call, with one of two possible stories with him being that he's robbed Tamatown's bank.

    Video Games 
  • Can be done in the western-themed 1866, which features a bank in a few of the big towns of the worldmap. Robbing the bank is an action in the contextual menu when going to one. Then, entering in it is automatic and looting the safe uses the same interface that the battlefield loot after a battle. The main part of the action consists in shooting the men who come in order to escape. In-universe, the bank belongs to the lawmen / outlaws minor faction which has its headquarter in the same town. Robbing the bank is considered as a declaration of war by the faction. It is actually the easiest way to do it, instead of attacking a party of several dozen of men and risking heavy casualties.
  • Bank Heist for the Atari has you playing as criminals trying to escape the police after having robbed a bank.
  • The objective of the Bank Panic is to shoot the robbers of a bank and avoid shooting the legitimate customers.
  • In Borderlands 2, you are allowed to rob the bank in Lynchwood as part of a revenge sidequest arc.
  • In City of Villains: A PC villain will periodically have the opportunity to perform a special bank robbery mission in order to access additional contacts and missions. Heroes have a corresponding set of missions to prevent the bank robberies.
  • The penultimate stage in Conker's Bad Fur Day is this, as you empty the Feral Reserve Bank. One of the Multiplayer modes features a bank robbery as well.
  • In Deltarune, the "real" world takes place in a small city where Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here, and Officer Undyne expresses a whimsical desire to see a bank robbery "so [she] can suplex" the perpetrators. Thinking it through, she realizes she's not sure that Hometown even has a bank and changes the idea to building a bank, first...
  • In Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive, one of the missions is robbing a bank. It contains the crime lord's ill-gotten money, which he was supposed to deliver to the Big Bad. Being unable to do that gets him killed by Big Bad's mooks .
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider: in the third mission you have to steal the Twin-bladed Knife (a powerful artifact) from the vault of a steampunk bank protected by guards, electric floors, security systems and robots.
  • In The Godfather: The Game you have the option of doing this to various banks across NYC, though it's not necessary for 100% Completion.
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • Grand Theft Auto IV contains a rather long and involved bank robbery mission.
    • So does Vice City, which is the focus of around one quarter to a third of the game.
    • You also do this in San Andreas.
    • It also shows up in Grand Theft Auto 2.
    • A bank robbery is part of the set-up for the story of Grand Theft Auto III; additionally, the mission "The Getaway" features the player character serving as getaway driver.
    • Grand Theft Auto V opens with a bank robbery Gone Horribly Wrong. A later robbery, an Homage to the one in Heat, goes much better.
    • The online multiplayer of V features two bank robberies as part of the original "Heists" update; the first heist has you knocking over a small local bank, and the fifth and final heist has you and a team knock over a big bank for a potential million-plus dollar payday.
  • In HeroSmash Dr. Insectro tries to rob a bank, with your Player Character (who can be either a hero or a villain) caught in the middle.
  • Gunfighter: The Legend of Jesse James: In the second game, the first stage has one of these being done by the titular outlaw protagonist before he's interrupted by his traitorous partner, Bob Younger. As Jesse players will have to shoot their way out of town.
  • The first Kane & Lynch game has the two committing a robbery so Kane can recover the money he owes the gang known as the 7. It doesn't end well.
  • The first stage of both Lethal Enforcers game, where you take on robbers in a bank, leading to a massive Car Chase Shootout in the first game.
  • The city stage from Maximum Force have you taking on terrorists raiding a bank in a massive shootout that later spills into the streets.
  • Max stops one of these fairly early in Max Payne, which is carried out via a tunnel through the wall of the Roscoe Street Station to the vault of the Roscoe Bank. While it seems like it's just a coincidence at first, as the game progresses, it's revealed that the bank robbery was set up specifically to draw out Max and Alex, killing the latter to frame the former.
  • The Banque Albert level in Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine is this.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist, as you may guess from the name, is about performing heists. One of them has you robbing a bank.
    • Its sequel, PAYDAY 2, has five different banks that can be robbed, ranging from small, satellite branches (GO Bank), to larger, full-service branches (Bank Heist: Boxes/Cash/Gold / Firestarter Day 3), banks robbed to cover up another crime (Election Day Plan C), to banks that are absolutely monolithic and have never been successfully robbed (The Big Bank).
    • Later updates also ported the bank robbery from the first game (First World Bank) and added another bank robbed not for its gold but for a plot-relevant medallion (Brooklyn Bank).
    • The Silk Road DLC campaign features the gang stealing from a bank in Mexico (San Martin Bank) at the behest of Vlad after their recent activities in the country have stirred up one of his criminal rivals. The objective isn't the money but the artifacts inside the vault that Vlad claims are priceless artifacts that belong to his family.
  • Persona 5 revolves around a crew of Ordinary High-School Student exploring a supernatural Mental World as a crew of Phantom Thieves, with the goal of infiltrating Palaces belonging to corrupted individual to steal the treasure within it, triggering a Heel–Face Brainwashing. One of said palaces is a bank.
  • Thief heroes in Quest for Glory V can rob the local bank twice. Paladin and Magic User heroes can participate in a sidequest to hunt down an NPC thief who robs the bank in their scenario.
  • Done twice in Red Dead Redemption II. The first is in the town of Valentine, and the second in the city of Saint Denis. Additionally there is a side mission involving a bank robbery in Rhodes.
  • The Wise Old Man in RuneScape robbed the Draynor bank, killing some guards and Player Characters (Not actual players, it was a cutscene) and stealing an item worth millions of Gp.
  • The first mission in Saints Row: The Third has the Saints robbing a bank. Because they're such big celebrities at this point, it's treated as more of a publicity stunt than a crime, as Josh Birk, a method actor, tags along to experience crime for himself and get in character for the Saints' upcoming movie, and the people in the bank ask for selfies. However, the bank turns out to be owned by Morningstar, a powerful gang that's part of the Syndicate, so the guards are more than well-armed enough to fight back. The mission ends with the gang using a helicopter to airlift the vault out of the bank, but getting arrested before they can get away.
  • Spider-Man (2000): The first few levels concern a criminal organization called the Jade Syndicate robbing a bank. They are incredibly dangerous, shooting down police choppers and being more than willing to kill hostages. They also have an incredibly powerful bomb. Spider-Man has to stop them and save the hostages.
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has Fisher break into a bank to find terrorist financial records then crack the vault to make it look like a standard robbery.
  • The penultimate tier of The Swindle is the Banks, following a selection of casino jobs.
  • Thief
    • The Thief II: The Metal Age mission "First City Bank and Trust", in which Garrett must steal an item from a specific safety deposit box.
    • "The Bank Heist" DLC for the 2014 game is a Call-Back to the above mission.

    Web Comics 
  • Acrobat has to stop these from time to time. It's even lampshaded a few times
  • In Captus Cinematic Universe, the Mind Siblings use their abilities to rob banks in order to pay for their rent.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Spider Grace gets called out for reusing quips by thugs who are robbing a bank.
  • Evil, Inc. has an employee credit union, withdrawals are made at gunpoint.
  • A species-specific variant in Kevin & Kell: birds are shown going through elaborate vault security scanners, open the door, and find ... a squirrel raiding their bird feeder.
  • This is a part of the plot of the first chapter of FireSoup, as this is what has happened to Biscuit Street Bank multiple times, and where Frida got her chance to show her powers.
  • In NIMONA, Lord Ballister Blackheart robs a bank, riding upon a dragon-shifted Nimona. Considering he's more of a Noble Demon, it's pretty much the most evil thing he's done.
  • Project Blackfire opens with one of these and features them throughout.

    Web Original 
  • The "prestige job" near the end of Interviewing Leather.
  • Red Panda Adventures has one near the beginning of "Secret Origins"
  • In the Web Serial Novel Worm, the first crime of the Villain Protagonist is... a bank robbery. The trope is deconstructed; it's noted that the bank, even the biggest bank in the city that they're about to rob, has a positively tiny output in comparison to other possible targets even if they time their robbery precisely, but also that it puts their names on the front page and is amazing for their reputation.

    Western Animation 
  • Almost ubiquitous when a criminal or supervillain is depicted. They're either shown holding the place up, or running out carrying a Thief Bag or nine.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "The Clock King", this trope is invoked when Alfred informs Batman that there is one in progress in a bank with a time lock. Batman immediately deduces the perpetrator is the Clock King. The Clock King left all the money, he only wants to get Batman locked in the Death Trap he set up in the vault.
    • The opening sequence begins with a couple of shifty-eyed mooks in front of a building prominently labelled "BANK", an apparent setup for a bank robbery. Instead, the mooks flee empty-handed after a huge explosion goes off.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Crime", in Donald's mind, taking money from his nephews by breaking open their Piggy Bank makes him a bank robber, and he worries about becoming a social outcast who has to hide out in the dark corners of the underworld.
  • DuckTales (1987): Happens often on Ducktales 1987. Special mention goes to "Hero for Hire", when the Beagle Boys trick Launchpad into unwittingly robbing banks in guise as the "Webbed Wonder".
  • In The Little Rascals episode "The Zero Hero", three little men rob a bank while Darla is on her date with Captain Muscles. Darla's hero stops the robbers, but one of them is smart and deflates his costume. Alfalfa as Alpha-Man doesn't fare much better.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: in the lead-up to the show, the series' producer, Greg Weisman, described the lead character as having had spider-powers for something like a summer when the series begins, that he's been interrupting small-scale crimes, specified "liquor store hold-ups" as one example, and that there was a "bank robbery" that Peter's particularly proud of.
  • On Spongebob Squarepants, the supervillain Man-Ray has been freed from his frozen-tartar-sauce prison by SpongeBob and Patrick, but they used a tickle-belt to train him how to be good. He escapes, and tries to rob the bank, but just can't stop laughing, even though he is no longer wearing the belt. Man-Ray decides to just open a checking account instead.
    "I've got checks! With little poodles on them!"
  • There are plenty of humorous bank robberies in the old Tex Avery Looney Tunes short Thugs With Dirty Mugs.

    Real Life 
  • Herman Lamm was the one who codified the typical bank heist, in the early 20th century. Up to then, bank heists were largely improvisational, and were very hit or miss for robbers. Lamm, an immigrant from Germany who had served in the Prussian military, theorized the best way to hit a bank was to plan everything like a military operation. Lamm pioneered the concept of "casing", drawing up detailed floor plans and escape routes for his heists. He would have members of his gang pose as journalists to find out where exactly each safe was located, and gave each one of them a specific job. While Lamm didn't invent the Getaway Driver (that honor belongs to the French anarchists known as the Bonnot Gang), he certainly popularized the concept in America, making his drivers practice on courses in various weather conditions until they'd mastered the route. From 1918 to 1930, him and his men stole over a million dollars (around 17 million in 2022), making them the most efficient and successful bank robbers of the era.
  • Shortly after World War II, Japan saw the Teikoku heist, in which someone employed a Bavarian Fire Drill to get over a dozen bank employees to drink cyanide - and then walked out with nothing but petty cash. While the perp was apparently caught within the year, both the government and the public were deeply split on whether he actually did it, and he eventually died in prison without any Minister of Justice (even the notoriously Hanging Judge ones) actually greenlighting his execution. (Longtime James Bond fans may remember a heavily exaggerated version of this incident from You Only Live Twice.)


Video Example(s):


Danica's Bank Robbery

Danica has been planning to rob a bank with Pete's help for a while, and once she breaks out of jail with Pete and Beef, who's taken against his will, she starts her plan. During the robbery, since Danica doesn't have a gun, she fakes one by making a finger gun and concealing it in her pocket while Pete carries a grenade with him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / BankRobbery

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