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Black Market

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Buyer and seller beware!
Image courtesy of ShadowYingZhi.
Used with permission.

"[Jubbulpore's] inhabitants brag that within a li of the pylon at the spaceport end of the Avenue of Nine anything in the explored universe can be had by a man with cash, from a starship to ten grains of stardust, from the ruin of a reputation to the robes of a senator with the senator inside."

Black Markets Best Markets!

A Black Market is an established "underground" economy which deals in the transfer of illicit goods and services, the exact nature of which will vary wildly depending on era and location. The Empire may be actively trying to stamp it all out, or taking its cut under the table and vigilantly looking in some other direction. The stuff for sale may be worthless crap, lethally dangerous, genuinely useful, or, most likely, a mixture of all three. But you're going to pay through the nose, and when you arrive to pick up your purchase, it might be a good idea to come armed. Or send someone who knows what they are doing. As there are no price stickers, haggling is used to arrive at the price.

In Real Life, the term is generally used to describe the encompassing gestalt: a collection of individuals and covert operations which can be spread across a wide geographic range, dealing in goods which may be entirely illegal (such as hard drugs, military weapons, human organs, human trafficking), or legal but regulated (such as prescription drugs and rationed goods), legal but people want to evade taxes (cigarettes) or entirely legal but acquired illicitly (such as stolen goods or goods that Fell Off the Back of a Truck). As well, illicit services are available, ranging from prostitution to off-the-books plastic surgery.


The archetypal example probably being the vast array of illicit transactions which occurred in Great Britain during World War II; in that particular case, it was rationed food, clothing, textiles, cigarettes, gasoline, nylons, and real and forged ration books which were being bought and sold.

A subcategory of Black Market are the underground channels for buying goods and services in prisons. The items on the prison black market might be everyday items that are easily available in the outside world, but in jail, they are contraband that'll get you thrown in solitary if you're caught with them. Items that are legal outside jail but contraband inside include cell phones, cigarettes and liquor. Illegal items are sold too, such as drugs.note 


Sometimes you will encounter a literal Black Market, a covert shopping emporium complete with merchants hawking their dubious wares from established stalls. This latter type is often a subset of the Bazaar of the Bizarre, with everything for sale and the outright illegal stuff lurking around the edges. The black market goods may be offered in a private, invitation-only section of a innocuous-seeming front business, which looks normal except for the 6'4" Bouncer at the door.

Honest John, The Scrounger, The Rat, Venturous Smuggler and obviously the Friend in the Black Market will often be found thriving in this environment (and possibly an undercover cop or spy doing The Infiltration), but they'll just be manning one of the (literal or metaphorical) stalls; the ultimate power will usually be in the hands of The Syndicate. Unless it all comes full circle, and the whole thing is just another branch of The Empire...


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The people of Ceres slums largely survive in Ai no Kusabi by relying on goods from the Black market. Unbeknownst to them save a key few, it is actually run by Iason, the top ruling Blondy.
  • In the World of Funny Animals of Beastars, eating another animal is seen as the ultimate taboo but there are hidden black markets that sell illicit meat from hospitals and funeral homes for carnivores. Early on, the wolf protagonist Legoshi ends up at one with several of his carnivore classmates by accident and Bill the tiger tries to persuade the rest of them to pool their money together to buy a goat hobo's fingers.
  • In Kengan Ashura, Chairman Metsudo in the past ran a post-WWII black market under a Yakuza don and turned it into the biggest market in the Kantō region, earning his spot in the titular Kengan tournament.
  • In Monster, Johan runs one of these.
  • In Mother Keeper, Zelik runs one that's used by some of the people in the slums.
  • The "Underworld" features increasingly in One Piece, with the crew encountering major black market hubs on Sabaody and Dressrossa. The clientele are often pirates less scrupulous than our main characters, explaining the bad reputation pirates have with the government (but since the government-supported World Nobles are also major buyers on the black market the hypocrisy is obvious).

    Comic Books 
  • Gotham Central features the black market of Gotham City as a pretty integral plot-point for its multiple Corrigan story arcs. Jim Corrigan, a crime scene technician for the Gotham City Police Department, has a nasty habit of stealing evidence from crime scenes to sell on the black market, since there is a brisk trade in Gotham crime memorabilia. This originally seems to be something of a victimless crime, since he is not actually stealing from a person who is losing their own property, except that his tampering with evidence lets criminals go free and gets honest police officers charged with felonies. After his memorabilia scheme is halted by Renee Montoya, it is revealed that his black market connections actually run a lot deeper than believed, and for years he has also been stealing and reselling heroin that the narcotics squad had confiscated.
  • An issue of Invader Zim (Oni) takes place entirely on the planet Cyberflox, the hat of which is being the most dangerous black market in the galaxy. Funnily enough, it's organized like a giant mall, full of various shops selling everything from ordinary products like scented candles and sweaters, to more dangerous stuff like bombs and laser guns.
  • In Persepolis, Mariane buys Iron Maiden tapes at a black market in Teheran.

    Fan Works 
  • With This Ring: When he wants a sample of the Dominators' plant-based computer technology, Paul turns to an under-the-table arms dealer. There are limits on what the dealer is willing to work with, since anything large-scale will draw the Dominators' attention, but so long as Paul sticks to small purchases of older-generation technology, not threatening the Dominators' monopoly control of warp gates, they have better things to do than crack down.

    Films — Animation 
  • Moe's gang in Sky Blue intends to steal a shipment of weapons being moved into Ecoban to sell on the black market. Unfortunately for them, this turns out to be an Evil Plan on the part of Locke.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The black market in a WWII French boarding school plays a significant role in Au revoir les enfants.
  • The Brave One. The female protagonist goes to buy a gun but is told there's a thirty day waiting limit. A customer notices her look of desperation and approaches her outside the store, offering a Kar K-9 automatic for a thousand dollars, throwing in a box of ammunition and an impromptu instruction on how to load and fire it.
  • In Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (1966) a black marketeer exchanges food for gold and jewelry that's been picked up in the abandoned villages of Britain (even though such things should now be worthless).
  • In the British apocalyptic movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) the rising heat levels create a black market in water, and one character catches typhoid from it.
  • In Force 10 from Navarone, the leaders of the title group pretend to be black marketeers on the run from the Allied authorities.
  • In Wilder's A Foreign Affair, John trades a cake given to him by an old girlfriend for a mattress in postwar Berlin's underground market.
  • Germany, Year Zero: In an attempt to get some money for his family in the years after World War II, Edmund seeks out possible trades in the black market. He sells a record of Hitler given to him by his former teacher Henning to some allied soldiers.
  • In The Good, The Bad, The Weird, The Ghost Market is a physical black market that has grown to be a full-scale Outlaw Town.
  • Ellie in The Half of It has perfect grades... And secretly writes essays for her classmates as a side hustle. $10 for only 3 pages adds up quickly.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Iron Man: Stane has been selling weapons to the Ten Rings organization behind Tony's back.
    • Klaue is discreetly willing to sell any vibranium that he either smuggles out of Wakanda in Avengers: Age of Ultron, or finds through misidentified artifacts in Black Panther (2018).
    • Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne had been buying illegal technologies from Sonny Burch to build their Quantum Tunnel to save Janet van Dyne in Ant-Man and the Wasp. However, Sonny reveals that he had found out what they had been doing, and wanted a cut a deal to sell the Quantum Tunnel along the black market, but they refuse and have to take the last part that they need by force.
  • In a famous Gun Porn scene in Taxi Driver a smooth-talking salesman offers handguns from a suitcase to the protagonist along with anything else he might want, such as drugs or a stolen Cadillac. He refuses the latter but buys himself a small arsenal. The scene gets homaged in God Bless America and Death Sentence.
  • In They Made Me a Fugitive, Narcy makes his money through the thriving London black market. As mentioned above, England continued to ration their food until 1954, so several commodities were still hard to find and were often found through the unsavoury black market.
  • The Third Man deals with the black market in post-World War II Vienna.
    Opening narrator: I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm. Constantinople suited me better.
    (Scenes of black market goods changing hands)
    Opening narrator: I really got to know it in the classic period of the black market. We'd run anything if people wanted it enough and had the money to pay. Of course a situation like that does tempt amateurs.
    (Dead body seen floating in the river)''
    Opening narrator: But, well, you know, they can't stay the course like a professional.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies opens with James Bond infiltrating — and destroying — a terrorist arms bazaar.

  • In Heinlein's Between Planets, there is a flourishing one on rebellious Venus to, among other things, convert Federation currency to Venus Republic bills.
  • The Bronze Horseman, by Paullina Simons. During the siege of Leningrad Tatiana goes with her mother to buy food from a black marketeer, but her mother is outraged at the high prices and walks out. Later as things go From Bad to Worse she gives Tatiana all their money to buy whatever she can, but by that stage there's barely any food to sell.
  • The city of Jubbulpore in Robert A. Heinlein's novel Citizen of the Galaxy.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: Charisat's "Silent Market" is a loose network of people who deal in information, favours, and illegally traded artifacts. Like many traders, Khat tries to do business aboveboard as much as possible, but dearly values his Silent Market connections.
  • Inverted in the Left Behind books, as Christians operate an underground co-op during the latter half of the Tribulation when the Mark of the Beast is in place.
  • Knockturn Alley in the Harry Potter novels. Also, Hagrid's frequent purchases of contraband magical creatures.
  • In The Hunger Games, District 12 has the Hob, which operates out of an abandoned coal warehouse. Until it goes up in flames.
  • Invictus: There's a thriving black market of items stolen from the past. The main characters are time travelers stealing artifacts to sell on the market.
  • In The Iron Teeth web serial, the city of Daggerpoint is basically one big black market. Bandits and thieves gather there to sell goods that are illegal or stolen.
  • Journey to Chaos: It's implied that Motsuc's Customization shop is part of a black market and that he is the one who sold a prison runed maid outfit to Tahart Ligo.
    Basilard: Team, let's go before I get an urge to ask Motsuc where he got these items.
    Motsuc: I assure you I run a legitimate business!
  • In Lockwood & Co., following the onset of The Problem (of ghosts), any and all historical artifacts were shunned as potentially dangerous items from which ghosts might arise. Over time, however, there emerged a shadowy black market of people interested in collecting these objects and relic-men in the business of acquiring them and selling them to the highest bidder.
  • Mindstar Rising by Peter F. Hamilton is set in an Alternate History Britain recovering from a left-wing dictatorship. Philip Evans, the CEO of Event Horizon, describes how he had consumer goods built in cyber-factories outside Britain's territorial waters, which were then smuggled in by stealth aircraft and distributed via an army of spivs to undermine the socialist economy. He says the biggest problem was the goods were paid for by bartering fruit or fish, which then had to be exchanged for gold, silver or diamonds which were then smuggled out of the country.
  • Robert Lynn Asprin's Myth Adventures novels features the Bazaar, which fills the entire dimension of Deva, and serves as the Black Market for all the other dimensions. People go to Deva to buy things that are illegal in other places, usually for a good reason.
  • A black market is the beginning point of the Nero Wolfe story "Before I Die", published in the omnibus volume Trouble In Triplicate. It's set in 1946, after World War II, but with food rationing still in full effect. When a crime boss tries to hire Wolfe to stop a blackmailer, Wolfe declares that he'll accept the case only if he's given access to the meat black market as part of his fee. The crime boss agrees and provides a phone number of a man "who might have meat", and the necessary password.
  • The Floating Market in Neverwhere.
  • In Dan Abnett's Ravenor Rogue, Ravenor and his retinue go fishing for "coherence" on a planet. They badly offend a merchant by going about it the wrong way. Eventually, they make the right hook-ups to reach the psychic door that will take them to where they need to learn the information.
  • In Replica, there is a thriving Black Market. Though it's illegal, many Executives not-so-secretly use it.
  • Many of the worlds of Star Wars, in both Legends and canon have a fairly extensive black market. In fact, in the short story "The Perfect Weapon," readers learn that the bounty hunter Bazine Netal was taught by her master that every planet with sentient beings had a black market on it, if one knew where to look.
  • In You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) by Ruth White, there is a black market for books, magazines and anything of an exciting or subversive nature, as "gross uniqueness" is banned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: A substantial black market exists on the station dealing in a variety of items, despite the efforts of station security to stamp them out.
    • In "Comes the Inquisitor" G'Kar makes arrangements with the black market to smuggle weapons to the Narn resistance after the fall of Narn to the Centauri Republic. G'Kar however warns his contact Chase that if Chase had any thoughts of swindling the Narn resistance his fate would not be a pleasant one.
      G'Kar: The money to buy these weapons comes from the life savings of those Narn who were able to escape the Centauri occupation. It is a limited resource, purchased with blood. If it should be squandered, or stolen, be assured that while your body might one day be found, it could never be identified from what's left.
    • In the episode "Racing Mars" Captain Sheridan and Commander Ivanova turn to the black market to help bring in needed supplies by providing smugglers with upgrades for their ships, armed escorts, and pardons for relatively minor crimes they were being sought for.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003). As shown in the episode of that name, there's a thriving black market dealing in everything from fresh fruit to antibiotics and child trafficking. Even Apollo argues that the black market is necessary and should be allowed to continue as long as it stops doing Obviously Evil stuff like the latter. Given that the difference between legitimate and illegitimate trade in a post-apocalyptic society was ill-defined, Ron Moore regarded this as lazy writing, with the child trafficking thing put in as a Kick the Dog to make the black marketeers the villains.
  • Dad's Army featured both sides of the World War 2 Black Market with the classic 'spiv' Walker selling all sorts of dodgy goods 'off the back of a truck' and the genial Jonesy quietly providing extra sausages and the like from his butcher's shop.
  • In Firefly, Mal and the other heroes have dealings with Badger, who runs a small black market operation on Persephone. In the movie Serenity it's Fanty and Mingo on Beaumonde. Mal and his crew often act as agents of the black market, either smuggling or stealing the illicit goods that one of the traders wants.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Unsurprisingly one is revealed to exist in Gilead. Not only are alcohol and various illegal drugs traded, but also cosmetics and pregnancy tests. Nick provides drugs to a Martha working in the brothel, with her giving him dirt on the customers back (they also have a casual sexual relationship).
  • M*A*S*H had several episodes involving the black market.
    • In "To Market, To Market", black marketeers steal vital medical supplies, the doctors must make a deal to get them back. Their contact with the underworld? Father Mulcahy!
    • In the later episode "Death Takes a Holiday", Winchester donates a substantial amount of chocolates to an orphanage, but is outraged to learn that the chocolates intended for the orphans was instead sold on the black market, until he is told that the chocolates netted the orphanage enough money to buy food for the orphans for a month.
    • In "Snap Judgment", Klinger goes to the black market (called "Little Chicago" in this episode) to try and find Hawkeye and BJ's stolen camera. He succeeds and buys it back, but gets stopped by MP's and charged with the theft.
  • Power Rangers Jungle Fury: Implied to be how RJ got his morphers — apparently, he "knew a guy who knew a guy who had an uncle". How else is a guy running a pizza shop who isn't a rocket scientist going to get some of those?!
  • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: The main villain of this Super Sentai series, Agent Aburera, is a prominent figure in a galactic black market, providing Mecha-Mooks and equipment for any alien criminal who can meet his price, and fencing their spoils for them. In fact, he doesn't even get directly involved with the Rangers until late in the series, when their interference of his clients' plots start tanking his profits.
  • The episode "One Man Band" of The Unusuals provides us with a Murder Store. Everything you need to kill someone, including the weapons and cleaning products for body disposal. You can only get in if you know the password, although every potential client used a different one, so the screening process must have been crap.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Mind of Simon Foster", the black market is the only way that people can get real meat as opposed to meat substitutes in 1999. The pawnbroker Mr. Quint also illegally sells memories removed from desperate people to wealthy collectors.
  • Star Trek: Various black markets appear throughout the franchise.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Ferengi bar owner Quark ran the black market on DS9, then known as Terok Nor, during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. The Bajoran Ibudan ran black market medical supplies through the station during the occupation. After the Cardassians left Quark was still involved with black market activities.
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Random Thoughts", an ostensibly peaceful telepathic race has a black market in violent thoughts. The Crisis of the Week occurs when B'Elanna Torres has a violent thought illicitly stolen, which leads to a murder for which B'Elanna is held legally responsible.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: A black market on the Klingon homeworld Qo'noS was based out of the Orion outpost. In the episode "The Red Angel" a Section 31 operative learned that a time crystal was being offered for sale through the market and informed Section 31 chief Leland, who promptly had Section 31 agents steal the crystal.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The underground enclave of Skullport in the Forgotten Realms thrives on this trope, being the site where Underdark trade routes and surface-world black markets intersect.
    • The elven markets in Dark Sun, where you can even buy prohibited magic.
  • The Infrared Market in the RPG Paranoia. The secret society Free Enterprise has a major hand in it.
  • Pathfinder: The Night Market in Numeria's capital city Starfall, an irregular and secret meeting where the city's thieves and scavengers gather to sell the technological artifacts they've plundered from the wrecks of the spaceship littering the nation — from flare guns and stun batons to advanced medical tech, laser weaponry and AI personality chips — outside of the stranglehold that the Technic Legue enforces on the sale and possession of technology.
  • The Black Market in Rifts is probably more grey than anything. On top of the usual illicit goods and organized crime rackets, they sell weapons and armor from both legitimate vendors and "acquired" military gear, and even weapons and commercial goods they make themselves. At least one faction of the Black Market is one large organization that even owns a Powered Armor factory out West(at Area 51, no less), one that brings in more money as a semi-legitimate business than their criminal activities do.
  • In the RPG Shadowrun, the players must usually turn to this to unload any loot they acquire. Seattle has a literal example in the Crime Mall, a gathering of merchants hawking just about everything under the sun, and a large portion of these goods are usually not seen in places found in the common eye; from the most common drugs to high-end weaponry and cybernetic/bionic implants (such as the rare and costly Betaware and Deltaware implants) up to the ridiculously elusive (and expensive) Fairlight Excalibur cyberdeck; all set up in the decaying shell of an abandoned, actual mall located in the Puyallup Barrens. It gets raided regularly by the police/Lone Star, but it's mentioned in supplemental materials that these raids are almost perfunctory, and the mall always reopens the next day.
  • In Traveller Interstaller Wars, the Vilani duraag serves this purpose. This is a generic term for all black-market activities in the Vilani Imperium. Theoretically all trade in the Vilani Imperium is dominated by the three Shangarim (major castes). However it is common enough to secretly trade in the duraag. Marginalized people trade there. Sometimes as well important grandees, when short of supplies will arrange to make exchanges there. So in a sense it is "another branch of the empire". When a Terran Intrepid Merchant vessel arrives carrying the swashbuckling PCs to smuggle, raid, and gain glory and gold in the Vilani Imperium they will tend to go here.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, a Black Market is standard rather than exception in the hive cities and major spaceports in the Imperium of Man.

    Video Games 
  • Barnabas' Black Market in ADOM is the only general-store style shop in the early game. It often has good stuff, but the prices are quite steep unless you're the head of the Thieves' Guild.
  • Angband and most of its variants have black markets in the town. The black market can sell any item in the game—but at a substantial markup.
  • Crazy Redd in Animal Crossing sells a collection of unusual items—some rare, some ordinary, with huge markups on prices. He also sells paintings, but being as this is the black market, there's no guarantee that they're the real deal, and not huge fakes. In New Leaf, Redd deals exclusively in art items, but his forgeries are obvious (at least, obvious if you read the manual and do some research, or if you are acquainted with what the equivalent real-life paintings and sculptures look like).
  • BattleTech has a black market for weapons, 'Mech parts, and even whole Battlemechs that you can gain access to through a random event. The prices are better if the Space Pirates like you. On top of that, it contains a much better selection of lostech mechs and weapons than legitimate stores.
  • Going down a trap door leading to a crawl space in The Binding of Isaac Rebirth has a small chance to open a path to a black market, where you can buy a variety of items with heart containers.
  • The Mammago Garage in Beyond Good & Evil is a place that sells rare and illegal modifications for various vehicles, such as jumpers (for hopping over government laser barriers) and space engines. Of course, they only accept illegal pearls.
  • The browser game Black Market unsurprisingly features a black market or two.
  • Borderlands 2 has a black market run by Crazy Earl, who sells inventory upgrades that increase the amount of ammo/guns you can carry in exchange for Eridium, the game's Purple Rocks.
  • In City of Villains, the player-driven marketplace is called the Black Market. Imagine that.
  • The Global Liberation Army in Command & Conquer: Generals has the Black Market as a building for researching weapon upgrades, which as a bonus generates a steady stream of income.
  • If you choose to use weapons in Death Rally, then you will visit the black market before each race. The market tends to sell items that are double edged swords, like rocket fuel that makes you go fast, but damages the your car when used.
  • The Omar in Deus Ex: Invisible War use their Hive Mind to run a global black market.
  • Every weapon dealer in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a local version of this, selling weapons, ammo and modifications out of somewhat low-key establishments.
  • At the start of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory you rescue your starter Digimon and two others from a black market dealer mistreating them. Later on, he gives you access to the DigiMarket where you can buy Digimon off The Deep Web from him and his partners. In Chapter 8, you have to choose whether to liberate the Digimon or protect the market so you can keep using it.
  • There are fences in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. There's also a vendor called Shady Sam who is dressed in all black, hangs around outside a city wall and sells illegal goods.
  • Elite Dangerous has examples at some starports as a way to sell off illegal or stolen goods that can't be sold at the normal market. From pirated goods, to weapons and narcotics, to slaves, if you've got it, the black market will buy it. The influx of illegal goods can also lower the security of the system you sell them to, or have other effects, such as the infamous Unknown Artifact bombing disrupting several stations soon after their discovery.
  • Grand Theft Auto games include black markets to buy weapons in Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto 4 and its expansions.
  • One of the earlier examples is found, of all games, in Kid Icarus. The Black Marketeer's goods are both more expensive, and in many ways more useful than the stuff you get from the normal shopkeeper. You could also find a credit card that would allow you to buy an item from him you couldn't afford, but you wouldn't gain any more money until you paid the balance off. Even worse, the second world in the game featured thieves that could steal your powerups... guess where they showed up?
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, the Black Market is rather literal; it's located in the Black Forest, and everything it sells is black in addition to being illegal. Except your kidney.
  • In the The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games, the Erebonian Empire has a relationship with its foreign neighbors, particularly Calvard, that can be described as... complex, at best. Naturally it has a black market, and in Cold Steel III you get to meet some of its leaders and even buy some of their merchandise.
  • In Mass Effect, various types of markets, both black, white, and grey, are depicted.
    • In Mass Effect, your supply officer on the Normandy justifies making you pay for gear because he strictly speaking is only authorized to draw on supplies of Alliance standard issue gear (that is, what you are issued at the beginning of the game). He spends money out of pocket to get you the good stuff from various sources, and needs to be reimbursed. Buying licenses for different manufacturers will improve his selection.
    • Various places avoid the normal restrictions on the sale of certain goods by operating out of the boundaries of Citadel Space, such as Noveria and Illium. It is lampshaded that certain dangerous products, such as Red Sand, which are considered contraband in Citadel Space, are actually perfectly legal on Illium and thus aren't actually Black Market.
    • Omega is nothing but the Black Market, with cutthroat dealers operating nearly every business you find (save one honest quarian selling salvage, and he's only doing so to pay for a ticket to get out of Omega; you can pay his way if you're feeling generous, or put him out of business if you're not.). You can even talk up one slightly more honest merchant by telling him his prices are too high and saying you'd rather buy black market, and he'll adjust his prices to give you the "uppity human discount."
    • Ilium is described in-game as "Omega with nicer shoes", and is also home to a wide variety of commercial services that are not available in more civilized (or at least better regulated and enforced) areas of the galaxy. Sidequests mention that red sand (a drug with biotic-enhancing powers and debilitating and possibly deadly side-effects, illegal in the rest of Citadel space) can be sold with nothing more than a disclaimer, and that slaves are openly traded.
  • Both of the Mercenaries games have these. In the first game, there's the Merchant of Menace, whose prices depend on your current standing with the Russian mafia (get on their good side and you'll get discounts; get on their bad side and you can't even use the service). In the sequel, it's the Caribbean gangsters who play this role.
  • One-Eyed Sam's in the NetHack variants Slash'EM and UnNetHack.
  • In Persona 5 after fixing a broken laptop you gain access to a black market website called "Shady Commodities" run by President Tanaka from Persona 3.
  • There is one in Professor Layton and the Last Specter. This one deserves special mention because it is run entirely by children.
  • There's a fence in each Quest for Glory game where thieving types can unload their loot. In the first and fifth game, they also sell useful thieving tools.
  • SaGa Frontier has it as basically the only form of commerce in Koorong. Everything from off-brand medicine to looted military goods can be purchased on the streets of the city, with even more questionable items available in the "Back Streets".
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, as soon as you arrive in Tokyo's Ueno region, you will find an old man selling various odds and ends. Chat with the old man and correctly repeat the password he gives you to access the local Black Market, where you can buy armor and weaponry. There's one in every city visited afterwards, except Ikebukuro (everyone left the place already).
  • In Sonic Adventure 2 and its Remake Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, there's the Black Chao Market. Both function the same way - it allows players to pay rings for Chao toys, specialized Chao Eggs and even brand new soundbites for the main screen. However, it's how you got there that differed - in the original, it was an actual Sega-ran website. In SA2B, it was a market that you went into in the Chao Garden hub world.
  • Spelunky has a Black Market level, which features one of every kind of shop (but not automatically every type of item in the game) plus one very expensive unique item, the ankh, which acts as an extra life and helps gain access to the City of Gold.
  • In Star Traders: Frontiers, the Black Market, which you gain access to from various Contacts, such as Smugglers or Weapons Dealers, provides an excellent means of selling illegal goods, especially Xeno Artifacts. Furthermore, it can be used to bypass the Rep penalities from trading into a Trade War or Trade Ban.
  • There's a very, very small one in Tancred's in Summoner, but the only place you get illegal goods is from him.
  • SunDog: Frozen Legacy: Each world has a tech level and a law level that control what can be bought there, and there can be good money to be made by carrying personal items such as weapons, high-tech starship parts, stat-boosting drugs, and questionably-legal starship accessories to worlds where such things are not available.
  • Trials of Mana has a black market located in Beiser, the merchant city. Open only at night, it's the only place where you can buy spell-replicating items.
  • Tropico 2 has a literal version in which the Black Market is a marketplace-type structure you can construct on the coast that allows you to buy weapons for piracy.
    • The third game allowed the player to sell weapons to "everyone", (presumably the black market) which would lower relations with the superpowers. The fourth game didn't give you an option on where one could sell the weapons too, but making assault weapons or landmines would end up in the wrong hands, which would also upset the global powers.
  • The Wild ARMs series has black markets in every game, traditionally in the form of a shop hidden within a normal shop, often requiring you to have to have some sort of authorization to interact with (in the form of a Black Pass, which oddly enough is found in a random treasure box in the middle of a dungeon). In the earlier games, they simply sold rare things that you couldn't buy elsewhere (like healing items), but in the fourth and fifth games they started selling the best equipment in the game... at the cost of your characters' levels rather than money. Cue Power Leveling.
    • In Wild ARMs 2 the black market is the only way you can get healing items without winning them (very rarely) from enemies.
  • The Black Market Auction House in World of Warcraft acts as a source of items removed from the game, high-end items that are difficult to acquire legitimately, and rare vanity items such as mounts. Both factions are able to visit and bid on items. It was introduced partly to act as a gold sink, as even the least expensive items still cost several thousand golds for the first bid.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has a "Gray Market" that will purchase alien corpses and artifacts, and indeed some items like wrecked alien devices from downed UFOs are nothing but Shop Fodder. During your Early Game Hell, it can be a primary source of income - just don't ask what your buyers are doing with all those dead Sectoids or "alien entertainment" systems.
  • XCOM 2 has you running La Résistance in a Vichy Earth, and you can turn to the Black Market for supplies, useful gear, and personnel. It's unclear whether they're genuinely sympathetic to the cause, war profiteers, or straight-up The Syndicate, but whatever the case, XCOM is in no position to be choosy. The catch is that while you can unload captured alien equipment, spare munitions, and alien corpses on the Black Market for some extra resources, the market itself isn't interested in currency, instead you have to spend your rare Intel resource to purchase things on it.
  • XCOM: Chimera Squad doesn't have a Black Market, no sir! These are all legally scrounged things found throughout the city, and the Scavengers are absolutely on their way to give them to the authorities as required by law! But, since they're here at Chimera Squad headquarters for a you want to take a look?
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has an interesting example in Tantal. Due to the country's extreme isolationism and poor conditions for farming causing a shortage of most goods, a flourishing black market has sprung up in the middle of the capital, charging exorbitant prices for smuggled goods. It is unofficially allowed to operate in the open, as the market is essentially the only thing keeping the country's citizens from starving to death.

    Visual Novels 
  • The plot of Kissed by the Baddest Bidder involves a secret black-market auction at which anything can go up for sale, including stolen artwork, the rights to donor organs, and occasionally even people. In theory the rules of the auction prohibit selling a person without their consent, but that doesn't keep the protagonist from ending up on the block.
  • Queen of Thieves features the Underbelly, an illegal market slash criminal trade bazaar operating in an abandoned subway station in Paris. The main characters, a Caper Crew of infamous thieves, frequent the Underbelly to meet with professional contacts and are well-known there.

  • In Champions of Far'aus, Skye and Rom go looking for the Stage Thief at a literal market a fair distance away from the city of Vickerton. Skye points out the sign outside the market, reading "You can't prove anything" is the opposite of inconspicuous, while Rom points out that at the very least, they aren't advertising "stolen stuff for sale".
  • In Girl Genius the Black Market of Paris is an underground Bazaar of the Bizarre. Since the Master is aware of its existence and keeps an eye on it many of the things sold there fall into a legal grey area rather than being completely illegal, like parts scavenged off ruined clanks in the wastelands which are legally considered stolen but since they're from abandoned wrecks it's not like they were stolen from someone.
  • The Glass Scientists has Blackfog Bazaar, where an enterprising rogue scientist can find many illegal substances necessary for their research and potions. Jekyll doesn't go there due to both his and its reputations, but Hyde claims to visit it every night.
  • Metompsychosis Union: The Megacorps are secretly trading and selling things on a black market through unmarked shipping containers. The first chapter reveals that an unmarked shipping container Tilo had been wondering about, with a redacted log, contains people, which the rich have been euphemistically referring to as labor.

    Web Original 
  • The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids short story Misadventures in the Inderdimensional Black Market focuses on, well, what it says on the tin: the wanderings of Director Darius and Tracker a black market for Dimensional Travelers, in which to purchase supernatural items or advanced technology away from the prying eyes of the various authorities which attempt to regulate interdimensional travel.
  • Empires SMP Season 2: There exists one that's accessible under Chromia's outpost on the Greatbridge, dedicated to selling misellaneous goods and contraband items, including and not limited to custom hatsnote , Sheriff toys (in Joel's case)note , and various treasures that Scott has robbed from the items' rightful owners.
  • Fat, French and Fabulous has the following exchange:
    Janel: I want to know how you resell stolen bull semen... is there a bull semen black market?
    Jessica: I don't know how you fence bull semen.
    Janel: Somebody's like, you know, I could get these cows knocked up legitimately, or we could hit the black market.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: Somewhat parodied when Lois and Peter are trapped in Cuba without passports. They find the Black Market, which is pretty much a Walmart with bombs and other weapons. They even had a "Black Market Club", 10% off your first purchase! Sadly for Peter, they do not accept bits of string as bartering objects.
  • The Tex Avery short Jerky Turkey has the pilgrim getting a turkey from the "Black Market", which is a deli market that is painted black and hidden behind a curtain painted to resemble the scenery.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), young prince Lion-O apparently makes a habit of traveling incognito in cloak and hood through Thundera's City Narrows to frequent his friend Jorma's shop in search of what Lion-O politely calls "certain hard-to-find collectibles." He's hoping to discover Black Box Lost Technology. His new friend Cheetara takes a look at one Grail in the Garbage and assumes that Jorma's wares are universally forgeries.
  • In The Owl House, the Boiling Isles have the Night Market. Eda visits it to get some potion to stave of her curse when her usual apothecarist is out, and a flashback in the season one finale shows that Lilith got the owlbeast curse from a stall there.

    Real Life 
  • Usually, real black markets are not nearly as dark or as fantastic as fiction makes it out, and involve non-exotic goods that are not legally available being sold in small, privately owned shops. While they are technically illegal, the local law enforcement rarely, if ever, prosecutes the merchants involved. Therefore, a fan-convention which sells (at a high markup) locally-unavailable anime products smuggled in by travelers from the products' home country - or a vendor at a flea market selling military/police surplus not technically permitted to own by the public and illegal/unregulated knives (examples of which include police batons and switchblades, respectively) as curios.
  • Related to black markets, a grey market is the legal trade of goods outside distribution channels that are authorized by the owner or trademark owner. Grey markets typically consist of trade in goods where a party buys a product in one region where there is a price or design advantage. The party sells the goods in another country below the cost of the second country's authorized equivalent product, but still at enough of a markup to make a profit off the sale of the goods. However, because the item is being sold outside the authorized distribution channel post sale services like manufacturer warranties are usually unavailable.
  • Asian countries are known to have bootleg vendors that operate out in the open. In Seoul, South Korea, a lot of the street markets will have bootleg DVDs being freely sold. These vendors are often gracious enough to have a small TV and DVD player available to ensure their quality.
    • Mexico has similar markets, especially in the cities on the border with the United States. For twenty pesos (about $2 USD), one can buy a DVD of a movie that's still in theaters, a soap opera, concerts taped from Mexican television, you name it. In some cases, these movies have the "in theater experience" built into the movie - that is, they were taped in the actual theater, and you can occasionally see the outline of the chairs and people walking to/from their seats in the bootleg copy of the movie.
    • Lampshaded by the band In Extremo in an interview. When they played in Mexico City, they saw merchandise of themselves that they've never seen before.
  • During the Prohibition Era, alcohol (both locally-produced and smuggled in from abroad) was sold in secret bars called speakeasies.
  • After losing World War II, Japan experienced widespread famine during the U.S. occupation as the government lost significant amounts of resources to the war, and the liberation of their rice-producing colonies Korea and Taiwan meant they had to rely on their own mediocre yields. As a result of the failure of Japanese and American authorities' ability to properly regulate the trade, production, and allocation of food nationwide, large and lucrative Yakuza-run black markets exploded across the country with desperate people accepting their inflated prices in exchange for access to basic goods. U.S. authorities tacitly overlooked the black market system, but arrested an estimated 1.5 million individual consumers and vendors rather than the major suppliers in order to give the appearance of opposition.
  • The various "businesses" running on the TOR anonymity network. Located in the so-called "deep web" (the part of the internet that cannot be reached by regular search engines), the traders are protected by some of the most powerful encryption softwares publicly available and transactions are done via Bitcoin, a (practically) untraceable digital currency, or other cryptocurrencies. The most famous of the TOR shops are/were Silk Road and The Armory, specializing in illicit drugs and weapons, respectively. If you look a little harder, you can find just about anything you want down there, from pirated video games and hacked personal data (credit card numbers) to child porn to hitmen for hire, legality be damned.
  • Many Communist nations (and even some ex-Communist nations) do business in the black market; in cases like North Korea, it's the only reliable place where they can get anything at all. Guns, fuel, food...if it can be bought or bartered, it usually is.
  • Endangered animal parts are a whole subcategory of black market. This ranges from poached elephant ivory for carvings and rhino horn for aphrodisiac preparations to shark fins for fancy restaurants.
  • Another natural product black market is for illegally felled timber.
  • Pretty much anything that's technically legal but has a lot of restrictions on it can easily become a part of this. Cigarettes / tobacco is a good example. With the taxes so high on packs of legal cigarettes, there's a thriving black market in people who buy cheap tobacco from stores, roll in tubes and then sell it. Or the cigarettes are smuggled into the country and evades all taxes. This also applies in general to stuff in the United States that has only been restricted in certain states, or just certain locales. If you want to have fun, try also searches for stuff like "black market light bulbs" (incandescent bulbs being phased out) or "black market plastic bags" (e.g. the California ban on plastic grocery bags.) Fireworks is another good one, for example, certain states have laws saying you can buy certain types of fireworks, but can't set them off, or vice versa.
  • Services are available in the underground economy. Some are illegal (prostitution). Other services are legal if sold with a receipt, but sold in the black market to evade taxes (home renovations done for cash).


Video Example(s):


Thing black market

The shady Toad sells Things in his illegal black market to get you hooked.

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Main / BlackMarket

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