One of the most ubiquitous tropes of all. Whenever someone is offering someone else an obscene amount of money for whatever reason, it will be in the form of neatly stacked and bound stacks of bills in a briefcase, or, if the amount is even larger, a suitcase. This frequently appears where the people making the briefcase can't afford enough money and therefore try to pad out the suitcase with stacks of paper with a few dollar bills on top.
For accuracy, the briefcase should be a Zero Halliburton brand brushed-aluminum model (oddly just the right size for exactly ten thousand one-hundred-dollar bills), the first choice of terrorists, drug dealers, and Las Vegas whales.
A full briefcase isn't really an obscene amount these days, relatively speaking. Assuming all $100 USD bills, an average-sized briefcase (25" x 18" x 4") could theoretically fit about US$2,400,000. An average attache case (18" x 12" x 4.5") is good for about US$1,000,000. That's obviously a lot of money, enough to make for a plausible bribe in most circumstances, but not generally enough in the modern developed world to live on like a king, or sufficient to fund a significant enterprise. That's precisely the reason why the US Treasury doesn't make any bills bigger than $100. Notice, however, that if you fly across the Atlantic it is possible to cram an obscene amount of euros into that same briefcase: using 500 bills and assuming each bill has a thickness of 0.16 mm, a briefcase as described above can hold 6,350,000 ($8,550,275 USD), whereas an attaché case can hold up to 3,213,000 ($4,326,304 USD). In fact, euros have become popular with organized crime — so popular, in fact, that in May 2016 the ECB announced it would stop printing 500 bills by 2018 and all central banks in the eurozone stopped issuing them by April 2019, though they are still legal tender.
A briefcase full of money would also weigh quite a lot: ten thousand American banknotes would weigh twenty-two pounds, twenty-four thousand would weigh fifty-three. Oh, and on top of that, those cool aluminum suitcases weigh eight; as much as a carton of milk. Carrying a million bucks in a silver briefcase would thus be like carrying one of those jugs that go on top of water coolers — in one hand. However, you never see anyone struggling to lift the suitcase. You're also unlikely to see the suitcase 'enthusiastically' spit out the excess bills that have been crammed into it when it opens, to make sure that everything's neatly stacked inside when the audience gets a look.
To get around inflation, sometimes the briefcase will contain a portable money transfer device ready to send the undisclosed sum to the nameless Caymans bank of your choice.
Interestingly, there exists a simple mechanism precisely designed for the impersonal transfer of arbitrarily large amounts of money: a handy little financial instrument called a bearer bond. It weighs as much as the one sheet of paper it's printed on, it's completely negotiable — in effect, currency — at any major bank, it's untraceable for practical purposes, and it can carry a huge face value, even into the hundreds of millions.note Unfortunately, criminals outside the sort of movies in which Interpol might be a factor never seem to think of this and lug around heavy briefcases full of money through, say, Customs.
As this trope is so common, only exceptions, parodies and subversions will be listed.
- A Canadian commercial for a hybrid car has a guy going into a gas station with a brief case and puts it on the counter, opening it up. You expect that the "gas station" is a front for something... until the guy says "Pump Number 3?", and the clerk motions towards the door. High gas prices indeed.
- An episode of Detective Conan had a rich person trying to get his daughter back by paying one of these...only the bills were all fake because he couldn't get that much in cash at the time without bankrupting himself and the kidnapper didn't really want the money anyways.
- Invoked in the third round of the Liar Game, in which the scenario has participants role play as smugglers trying to sneak conspicuous suitcases through customs and inspectors determining whether or not the suitcase really is full of money or whether the smuggler just wants them to think that. It is played straight several times, but also averted in that the obscene amounts of money also come in: rare gems, checks, bank-accounts complete with ATM cards, and poker chips.
- In the first episode of The Big O, Roger Smith negotiates the release of R. Dorothy Wainright (whom he doesn't yet realize is an android) from Beck by bringing a briefcase full of money. Roger activates a hidden feature in the briefcase which sends it flying back to them via built-in rockets. Beck's mooks open fire on the briefcase in surprise, only to break the lock and dump the money all over the city. The viewer can easily sympathize with Beck screaming about being Surrounded by Idiots.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Seto Kaiba substitutes a briefcase full of Duel Monsters cards. The implication is that they are all rare and valuable. In real life, a lot of them are common because his deck was released as a starter deck, but card availability is a lot different in the anime.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, Nagi offers one of these in order to pay off Hayate's debt to the "very nice men". They gladly accept.
- In Karakuridouji Ultimo, Iruma Tonomitsu, a shady politician (falsely) offers Present!Yamato a briefcase that contains $100 million in order to buy Ultimo. After Iruma ends up getting stabbed by his own Karakuri douji, Yamato's mother apparently takes the money to get a nice apartment.
- At the beginning of One Piece's Water Seven Arc, the gold retrieved from Skypiea is exchanged for three of these. Two are stolen by the Franky Family, and the theft is only noticed when Luffy realizes that the briefcase he's holding is lighter than it used to be.
- Late in Mobile Suit Gundam, Char Aznable sends his sister Sayla Mass a suitcase full of gold in an attempt to persuade her to leave White Base and the Federation military.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Chars Counter Attack, Char hands out briefcases of gold to a number of Federation officials as part of a short-lived peace deal that gave him control of the old Axis asteroid base.
- In Linebarrels of Iron the Big Bad is seemingly going to offer the main character a briefcase full of gold bars as an apparent bribe to get him to join him. But the "gold" is actually cake that he's giving to him regardless of his answer as something for them to snack on as he continues his proposition.
- Early on in The Voynich Hotel, we see Taizou debating in his mind whether to spend the money in his briefcase or not. This is because he obtained it by betraying the Yakuza along with his brother, who got caught by them and died. It's dangerous money.
- In the Cowboy Bebop episode Honky Tonk Woman, Spike and Jet end up in possession of a poker chip that contains an encryption key for an extremely valuable (and illegal) computer decryption program. They agree to sell it to a crime lord for a large amount of money, which is delivered via spacewalk in a case. Of course, it's really a double-cross and the case also has a hidden compartment with a gun that the crime lord's underling tries to use against Spike, but Spike and Jet were already expecting this and prepared accordingly.
- Subverted in Kick-Ass when it's revealed that Big Daddy was never actually a cop, made up everything about his past, and that the trunk he keeps with him is, in fact, full of old comics that he sells on the internet to fund his operations.
- Referred to in the Batman story The Joker's Millions. The Joker believes he's inherited a fortune and, just before he discovers that most of the money is counterfeit and most of the valuables are worthless fakes, he comments to himself "I've been spending a lot lately. Still, plenty more where that came from. I'll just take another suitcase full as pocket money."
- Jason Todd lampshades this in the original "Under the Hood" arc, where Black Mask sends Mr. Freeze and a bunch of Red Shirts to "deliver" his $50 million ransom for a stock of kryptonite.
Jason: So tell me, how much of that is Chinese newspaper underneath?Freeze: ... it's actually six inches of the Gotham Guardian.
- In the Marsupilami book "Le Temple de Boavista", photocopier tycoon Harold Stonelove carries with him a money briefcase he's willing to give to anyone who makes him laugh. He finally laughs in the epilogue, when he sees the briefcase's contents swapped with a statuette Blowing a Raspberry. He decides whoever did it earned the money.
- In DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, the briefcase is opened to reveal a single, lonely stack of bills. Even funnier is the fact that the man offering says that it's $100,000, which is more money than is shown. $100,000 would require ten 100-deep stacks of $100 bills.
- Except it's a suitcase, the main plot point of Shallow Grave after the drug addict/thief dies the group of friends decide to keep the money and go about removing the body. Then some other criminals come about looking for the money.
- Trainspotting features a briefcase of cash in the final heroin deal sequence. The filmmakers discuss this trope in the DVD commentary.
- A Life Less Ordinary features a suitcase of money. Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary are the first three films directed by Danny Boyle, who would later direct Millions, which also features a scene involving a large bag of money.
- The Way of the Gun overtly subverts the trope. When Parker and Longbaugh demand $15 million ransom in mixed bills, Jeffers yells, "You know how much that's going to weigh? Try a couple thousand pounds!" Even with the money in hundreds, it takes up three gigantic dufflebags.
- In an outtake scene from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Number 2 offers Austin a billion dollar bribe this way. Austin flips through one stack of bills and says he's $832 short. Number 2 explains that he had to buy the briefcase as well. They then argue over who should have to pay for the briefcase until Dr. Evil gets fed up and dumps Number 2 into the fire pit.
- In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, at a payoff between two characters, one of them hands the other his fee... in a metal lunchbox. Slightly lampshaded, as the character then comments he was unable to find a small enough suitcase for the sum of money the other had requested. Indeed, almost every time this trope is used in the film it is via a lunchbox full of money. In one case, it is shown that this is enough money to pay for the President's aide to betray him to the Barillo Cartel. The exception is the end of the film, where there is so much money shown that it fills the protagonists' guitar cases, with enough left over to stuff their jackets with.
- The script for Beethoven features one of these, but the actual cut of the film replaced it with a rather less impressive brown envelope of notes.
- In Kill Bill, a suitcase filled with one million dollars also contains a highly poisonous black mamba.
- James Bond
- Subverted in Die Another Day when Bond adds a C4 charge into the lining of a briefcase full of diamonds which then end up buried in The Dragon's face when Bond sets it off.
- In Licence to Kill, the Lawman Gone Bad is paid a suitcase of cash for helping Sanchez escape US custody. Bond later uses it to knock him into a shark tank.
- This movie actually shows how heavy the case is. Sanchez even explicitly says that it is $2,000,000 in $20 bills.
- Later on in the movie, Bond goes to a bank manager saying he wants to make a deposit. The manager politely asks why the tellers downstairs can't handle this when a porter enters and puts down Bond's huge case with a loud thump. Cue immediate fawning from the manager.
- The World Is Not Enough: In the Cold Open, Bond retrieves a massive pile of cash, which then explodes in Sir Robert's face when he goes to inspect it at the heart of MI6 headquarters.
- For Your Eyes Only. Bond witnesses The Dragon paying off a hitman, who casually tosses a wad of bills to a girl from his Paid Harem. After the hitman is killed and his guards are busy chasing Bond, The Dragon takes the briefcase back, even snatching the wad of bills off the girl.
- Casino Royale (2006) has them pop up a few times. Literal examples are seen at the beginning and end in the hands of Le Chiffre's clients and Mr. White, respectively. The banker for the high stakes poker game also has a briefcase, though his contains not cash but a portable online banking terminal.
- The Big Lebowski features a Briefcase Full of Money as the McGuffin; Or is it? The Dude deduces that the eponymous false millionaire has planted a False MacGuffin in an attempt to rid himself of his unfaithful Trophy Wife.
- Subverted and lampshaded in The Brothers Bloom: "Only Russian mafia men and Hollywood spies deal in large briefcases full of money. YOU get a certified check." Later, the Russian mobster Diamond Dog turns up with a a briefcase full of money.
- Dumb and Dumber characters, Lloyd and Harry, travel to Aspen to deliver a Briefcase Full of Money to Mary Swanson, initially believing that it's merely forgotten luggage. When they do discover the money, they quickly spend all the money and fill the briefcase with IOUs.
- Played with in Beerfest; the German Beerfest team is willing to play for the von Wulfhausen beer recipe with one of these, but they brought a briefcase full of German Euros, which the Americans mistake for Monopoly money. The Germans start arguing among themselves that they should've brought the now-obsolete Deutsche marks.
- Played with in Pulp Fiction: the MacGuffin is a suitcase full of something extremely valuable and impressive (so much so that it bathes everything before it in a diffuse golden glow) but we never get to see precisely what it is.
- In the 2009 film Astro Boy the robots open up a briefcase and are bathed in golden light, parodying Pulp Fiction, but the suitcase merely contains a flashlight.
- Used in Ocean's Eleven as a way for the con men to empty the vault: the fake SWAT team enters with duffel bags full of red light district flyers and swaps them with the duffel bags full of cash in the vault their confederates packed. The fact that the bags would weigh about 300 pounds each when full of cash, and not much less when full of low-grade paper flyers is glossed over.
- Snatch. features this as the stolen diamond is placed in an attache case secured by wire to Franky's arm. When Franky is captured by the Yardies, Boris the Blade asks for Franky and his case for 10 grand. When the Yardies say no deal, Boris executes Franky and then asks for the case again. The Yardies then say that Franky was the only one who knew the combination to the case. Undeterred, Boris chops Franky's arm off, removes the wire, takes the case, and leaves the Yardies with Franky's body.
- Spoofed in the opening credits of Zombieland, which shows a 'businessman' fleeing from a burning car chased by two zombies, heedlessly throwing away his briefcase of money.
- In Brewster's Millions (1985), the first order Monty Brewster (Richard Pryor) gives his newly hired head of security is for the man to go into the vault and collect $2 million in cash "for whatever expenses come up." The guard is later seen hauling around a single locked briefcase that he keeps handcuffed to his wrist.
- Back to the Future Part II has a scene where Doc pulls out a suitcase labeled "Emergency Cash" - this suitcase has labeled collections of period-era money (and future money as charge cards.)
- Priest the drug dealer collects a Briefcase Full Of Money in Super Fly. He is smart enough to switch it out with another briefcase full of laundry, before the dirty cops come and try and take it from him.
- For some reason, every other time money changes hands in Vabank, it's in a neat package.
- Freerunner has the prize in the classic Halliburton case.
- In The Siege, a mule comes into the country carrying a Halliburton containing $9,990 in ten-dollar bills, so as to avoid a law stating that any international transport of $10,000 or greater in small bills must be declared in advance. Tony Shalhoub's character adds a ten from his wallet so the FBI can grab him anyway. This gets turned around on him when a similar loophole enables the military to detain his son through racial profiling.
- In UHF, RJ Fletcher is seen with one of these as he prepares to try and buy U62, but the deal was cancelled, so he didn't get to use it. Weird Al mentions on the DVD that he cut a scene where RJ and his son fight over the briefcase and it flies open into a crowd.
- The island governor in McHale's Navy is bribed with a briefcase full of cash.
- In Hitman, 47 uses such a briefcase to pay off an arms dealer. He's secretly rigged it with an explosive charge, which he triggers when his cover has been blown and he needs a distraction.
- Assault on a Queen (1966). Submarine Pirates plan to rob the QE2 of a shipment of gold bullion, but run into an unexpected hitch when the crates prove too heavy to be carried unassisted. The QE2's crew naturally refuse to help, so the robbers have to drag the crates past gaping passengers who until now had no idea a robbery was in progress.
- Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman: The Machine Gun Woman's employers pay her with a briefcase full of cash during the meeting at the stockyard.
- In Circus of Fear, Mason arrives at the circus carrying a suitcase containing a quarter of a million pounds. After he is murdered, Gregor finds the case and keeps moving about the circus is an effort to keep it hidden.
- A plot point in Assassins. Robert Rath goes to a bank with a very large suitcase to empty his account, while Miguel Bain waits outside with a sniper rifle to blow his head off. Rath is running a Batman Gambit; given the time it takes to convert all that money to cash, Bain will become impatient and start worrying that Rath slipped out another entrance. Eventually he'll go into the bank to check, but must leave his rifle behind which Rath's accomplice can then steal.
- In Deewaar, Samant pays Vijay for the information about the gold delivery with one of these.
- Averted in The Wild Geese. Faulkner forces Matherson to empty his safe, putting several stacks of US thousand dollar bills in a suitcase he has open, adding up to $500,000 but not filling the suitcase.
- In Speed Racer, Cruncher Block presents one to the Semper Fibre racing team to bribe them into targeting Speed and his Mach 5 for the upcoming race. Parodied with the other teams, upon which he presents briefcases full of whatever they covet the most regardless of whether or not it makes sense to put them in briefcases, such as animal pelts.
- A duffel bag in Andhadhun, used by Manohar for the drop-off with the organ harvesters. It turns out to be mostly filled with blank pieces of paper.
- Aint Them Bodies Saints: On the run from the law, Bob digs up a suitcase full of cash he'd left buried for four years while serving time for armed robbery.
- The Con Is On: When Sidney sells out Harry and Peter to Irina for the price on their heads, she pays him with a briefcase full of cash.
- In The Criminal, Johnny buries the suitcase full of money from the racecourse robbery in an empty field. This because the MacGuffin driving the action in the second half of the film.
- Casino: The Outfit's skim operation at their Las Vegas casinos. Once a month, a bagman goes to Las Vegas, fills up a briefcase with cash from the count rooms, and then takes the money back to Chicago or Kansas City, where it's distributed amongst the families, divvied up by their ownership shares in the casinos.
- In the Russian comedy Shirli Myrli a diamond is found so big that, if sold, it would pay all of Russia's national debt AND allow all of it's citizens to take a luxurious vacation for several years. When the bad guy sells it, specifically requesting cash, the mooks roll into the room a wheeled wardrobe full of bills.
- In Disaster on the Coastliner, a con man stores large amounts of money in the briefcase he uses to carry his disguises.
- Subversion of this trope is discussed in detail in William Gibson's Spook Country. At the climax of the novel, Tito uses his Le Parkour skills to camouflage the contamination of a cargo container full of cash with radioactive material. When it comes to transporting ridiculous amounts of cash to fuel a Government Conspiracy, a briefcase just won't do.
- Three books in Tim Dorsey's Serge Storms series (set Only in Miami) follow a variety of wacky yet violent criminals (as well as a few unsuspecting Muggles) who chase after a suitcase containing $50 million in cash, which a Con Man ripped off from an insurance company that was actually a front for The Cartel.
- In the fifth Dexter novel, Deborah is presented with a case of money by a rich family seeking revenge for their daughter's kidnapping. She doesn't take it. Dexter mentions that it really is insultingly small anyway, only being about half a million dollars.
- In The Bad Place, the duffel bag Frank hauls around contains Multiple Identity IDs and bound twenties and hundreds, he estimates roughly $150,000.
- In the French kid novel Danger sur les Gratte-ciels (Peril on the Skyscrapers) the teenage window washer protagonist indulges in joyriding and one night finds such a briefcase (whose contents he eyeballs at half a million dollars) in the car he just stole. When the gangsters track him down, they send him a note containing only "500100", which he understands as the exact amount therein.
- Double, Double, Oil and Trouble opens with the delivery of a $1.5 million ransom payment, which fills four briefcases. However, given that the ransom demand specified small bills note , that's probably a reasonable bulk.
- This is a staple on a number of game shows:
- While the briefcases in Let's Make a Deal actually just contain a card with a dollar amount on it, the allusion to this trope is clear.
- See also: Deal or No Deal.
- The basic objective of the game show Take the Money and Run for the team of two civilians is to find a safe spot to hide a briefcase containing the $100,000 cash prize, after which the opposing team of two police detectives have 48 hours to try and track down the briefcase and take it for themselves.
- Schlag den Raab uses this to represent the Progressive Jackpot, each suitcase containing 500,000, of course said suitcase may vary in size or there may be more than one suitcase, but it's used as a big cash prize.
- In fact, many game shows used such a prop. Many of them, like the one in Sale of the Century, were clear, so you could see the money in them (though it was usually just prop money, or, as could be seen quickly as a Freeze-Frame Bonus, stacks and stacks of...one dollar bills).
- Parodied on 30 Rock, where Kenneth has an idea for a game show where models all have briefcases, but one of them is full of gold. Cue a shot of the first episode being produced, where the contestant quickly picks the model who's struggling to hold up her briefcase...
- The main objective of Interceptor is to find the keys to two backpack-like briefcases - one containing weights, the other containing £1000. Two obstacles stand in their way: a strict time limit, and more importantly the Interceptor, who's out to stop the contestants by zapping the IR receptors on the briefcases (causing the locks to jam).
- Discussed in the season 7 opener of Arrow, when two criminals exchange a USB drive with $400,000 worth of various cryptocurrencies on it in lieu of physical money. One laments the disappearance of this trope, while the other one is happy to see it go.
- Many episodes of The A-Team ended in drug deals gone bad or other situations in which the Team has just won the firefight and packed the bad guys off to jail. But what happened to the bag of money the villains left in that motel room? The subtle inference is that the Team got to keep it.
- Proctor gives Sanchez's manager a satchel filled with thousands of dollars as payment for agreeing to have the championship fight in Banshee. Clay Burton later comes to "repossess" it after the fight falls through.
- Sugar takes a bag containing $125,000 from the Camp Genoa Heist to a friend who owns a boxing club. It later turns out it is payment to support the man's family, as Sugar gave the man's father brain damage in a boxing match back in the day. Job later discovers Carlos Sr. has been dead for years, and his son has been playing Sugar, and promptly beats his ass and retrieves the bag.
- Bionic Woman managed to liven up the trope a bit by using a briefcase full of bearer bonds which, while definitely a more practical way to carry around a large sum of money, still isn't a very good idea.
- Blake's 7: "Gold" has a different twist on the fake money version. The money is indeed in the case, but it's in a currency that's just been rendered invalid because the planet that issues it has been taken over by the Terran Federation.
- Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad sometimes have sums of money that would warrant a briefcase, but partly because they're inept (at least at the beginning) and partly because the sight of Jesse, at least, carrying a briefcase would scream "drug money" to everyone who saw him, they usually use backpacks and duffel bags instead. Later, the amount of money becomes so large that it requires first a shipping pallet and then seven giant barrels. By that point, Walt has given up counting the extent of his fortune. By the time it reached shipping pallet levels even Skyler, who as a bookkeeper one might expect to be inclined to precision in such matters, has started estimating the total based on weight instead of attempting to actually count it.
- Mike keeps a satchel full of cash and a loaded gun in the trunk of a car located in an Albuquerque airport's long-term parking, just in case he has to escape.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine: When Jake finds out that Terry's wife is pregnant, he decides to repay him the 2300$ he owes this way. Problem is, it takes a LOT of bills to fill a briefcase, so they're all singles.
- Columbo: In "Murder by the Book", Ken Franklin brings the woman who is blackmailing him $15,000 in a briefcase and she comments that it is more cash than she has ever seen in her life. After he murders her, he pays the money back into his account. This sort of withdrawal and re-deposit, when timed with her murder, is enough to raise a red flag with Columbo.
- Cutthroat Kitchen has Alton Brown walk in with one filled with $100,000 in eight stacks of $12,500. Each of the four competitors gets two stacks for $25,000. During the course of the show, they use the cash to buy items to sabotage their opponents during each of three rounds and give Alton some of that back after each round (or all of it if they're eliminated that round). The winner keeps what cash didn't get spent in the auctions, so money management is important; buying disadvantages early can hurt you if you don't keep enough for the later auctions.
- Daredevil (2015): In "Penny and Dime", Frank Castle has stashed money he stole off the Kitchen Irish in a briefcase placed in the trunk of his camper van. He's also rigged it up with a bomb to kill the two grunts unfortunate enough to get sent to retrieve it.
- Death in Paradise: In "Erupting in Murder", Mayor Richards arrives at the observatory with a briefcase containing $5 million withdrawn from his secret bank account that is intended as a bribe to get the observatory to change the exclusion zone around the volcano.
- Doctor Who: In "The Lodger", the Doctor, temporarily separated from the TARDIS, pays for renting a room in a flat with £3,000 in a paper bag. This causes his landlord Craig's friend Sophie to wonder if he's a drug dealer.
- In an episode of Everybody Hates Chris the homeless person and local crazy man Kill Moves has a briefcase full of money and we don't know where it came from. He spends on finding a gift for his mother. At the end, it turns out that his mother was filthy rich and always gave him a briefcase full of money when he visited.
- In an episode of the Chris Elliot sitcom Get a Life, he is bribed with the hefty amount of five dollars, leading to scenes of him parading his newfound cash around town. At one point he tries to buy a car, and opens a briefcase containing the solitary five-dollar bill.
- In the Lie to Me pilot episode, Dr. Lightman's suspicious behavior and Briefcase Full of Money are a test of Transportation Security Administration profiler Ria Torres's abilities. After he and Dr. Foster end their hiring pitch, they leave behind the briefcase. When Ria calls them on the "forgotten" item, Lightman says nonchalantly that's her hiring bonus. The scene can also be seen as a bit of a Shout-Out to Tim Roth (Lightman) being well-known for two Tarantino films with important suitcases.
- In one episode of Lost, we see Sawyer run a con in which he "accidentally" knocks open a briefcase full of cash, intriguing his mark. In a later episode, we see him do it again, except the mark laughs at how obvious the con is, and discovers the "money" is just newspaper with bills on top. Doubly subverted, though, because this turns out to be exactly what he wanted to happen.
- Luke Cage (2016): Duffel bags are used to store Cottonmouth's money on the shelves of a storage room at Mariah Dillard's office in Crispus Attucks.
- Lampshaded in The Middleman:
Wendy: If action movies from the '90s taught us anything, it's that no good can come from anyone of Eastern European descent carrying or exchanging a shiny metal briefcase!
- The pilot episode of Mr. Lucky features a suitcase which the main characters stuff full of money in preparation for fleeing the country. Unfortunately, they're intercepted and forced to use the money-filled case as a bribe instead.
- One episode of NCIS had the villain planning a terror attack by tainting $100,000 in one dollar bills with a contact poison and randomly distributing them all over the DC Metro area. The money fills a large duffel bag.
- In Perfect Strangers, Larry is trying to sting counterfeiters, and tries to fake this trope where only the top of the stacks are money. Hilarity Ensues when Balki tries to show how the plan would fail.
- At the beginning of one episode of Person of Interest Finch goes to a morgue with a critically wounded Reese (he had been shot at the end of the previous episode) and tells the coroner that he knows that the man is a brilliant surgeon who hadn't practiced medicine since immigrating to the US because he couldn't afford the fees involved in getting certified to practice in the US (he was sending most of his money to his family overseas). Finch then produces a large handbag full of cash and says "Stitch him up, no questions asked, and you can be a doctor again."
- Parodied on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when O'Brien and Bashir attempt to gain entrance to Quark's game of Tongo (A Ferengi gambling game). When Quark explains that the game is not played for small amounts, O'Brien holds up the briefcase to show that he and Bashir are serious, and have the money to back up their interest. However, after Quark explains that buy-in is five strips of latinum (DS9 never established a definitive exchange rate, but one strip of latinum appears to be approximately equal to $10) O'Brien carefully opens the case so that none of the Ferengi can see inside it, and it is revealed to the viewer that the (extremely large) case only has six strips of latinum total.
- In Teen Wolf Isaac receives a briefcase of money from the Yakuza. However because the actual purpose of the meeting is to stall while the others carry out their plan, he proceeds to lose whatever suaveness he'd managed to assemble and start awkwardly counting the bills individually with the speed of someone who has never done it before.
- On the Top Gear Vietnam special, the presenters were each given 15 million dong to buy a vehicle: a shoebox full of bundles of bills. While initially delighted at having "inches of money," they quickly discovered this was worth only about US$1,000. They had to settle for used motorbikes instead of the luxury cars they were expecting.
- This was put startlingly into perspective when James May inquired as to the price of a baseline Fiat 500 and got 560,000,000 in response. This would equate to - at the time the show was filmed - just over US$37,000. Given Clarkson's allusion to a "200% import tax" (though likely an exaggerated percentage), the steep price for a car perhaps worth around US$20,000 in the West seems to have been handily explained.
- Three skits in Trigger Happy TV involve these briefcases. In one a character walks up to some street performers and drop a open briefcase full of money into the hat. In another, a character dressed like a covert spy tries to hand off the briefcase to an unsuspecting man on the street in exchange for the "dossier". In the third, a character confronts a random stranger in a parking garage by sliding a briefcase to him and begging him to let his family go.
- Subverted on Veronica Mars. In the season 2 finale, Kendall just gets a several-million-dollar windfall as the result of Cassidy's suicide. She then walks into Keith's office with a briefcase and tries to offer him a job. When he refuses, she shows him the contents of the briefcase — which the audience doesn't get to see — and he agrees to take it. A few episodes into season 3, we learn that the briefcase actually contained a van Gogh painting, not cash.
- White Collar:
- Subverted in "Front Man", in which Neal and Mozzie run a scam to obtain a titanium briefcase filled not with cash, but high-limit credit cards.
- In "Withdrawal", four bank robbers use briefcases to carry away their loot. But Neal realizes that the total amount stolen couldn't have fit into the eight cases seen on the security video. Implying the existence of a fifth robber, whose share was left hidden inside the bank.
- In "Unfinished Business", the MacGuffin is a set of "Samurai Bonds" - extremely high-value non-government Japanese bearer bonds:
Neal: The bonds are transferable?
Diana: No title. Whoever holds em owns em.
Jones: Each certificate is worth two hundred grand.
Neal: So a stack of a hundred million dollars is this thick.
(Neal holds his finger and thumb less than an inch apart)
- On The Wire, Drug dealer Marlo Stanfield tries to pay with a briefcase full of money, but Spiros rejects the money because it's "dirty," which Marlo mistakenly thinks is a comment on the physical condition of the money. When Marlo returns with a briefcase full of cleaner bills, Spiros explains to Marlo that he meant that the money was from the streets, but he decides to do business with Marlo anyway because Marlo was persistent.
- Subverted in the Dethklok song "Briefcase Full of Guts," in which Nathan Explosion describes harvesting people's organs to "sell them back and raise the price/make a profit off your interests[...]" So it's not full of "money," per se, but it can become money.
- In the music video for "Sell Out" by Reel Big Fish, a record executive uses a briefcase full of cash to tempt the band into quitting their jobs at a burger joint and going into showbiz.
- Plays an important role in "the Road Goes On Forever" by The Highwaymen:
Sonny met the Cubans in a house just off the route
With a briefcase full of money and a pistol in his boot
- Every Continuum spanner starts their new life with a big stack of bills, usually in multiple briefcases. An exception in that the briefcase or briefcases almost never include the full amount of money, and the Moneychangers usually just provide the equivalent currency in credit or direct deposit. The briefcase is used just to make sure that the point sinks in, and that spanners don't try something stupid.
- Shadowrun has the "portable money transfer device" standardized. Everyone uses sturdy USB drive-like devices called "credsticks" for money, and these come in two flavors. "Personal" credsticks are basically just biometric debit cards. "Certified" credsticks (also known as "checksticks") can be used by whoever picks them up, and have absolutely no limit on how much currency they can store — essentially cyberpunk bearer bonds. These are what Mega Corps regularly use to pay player characters for deniable operations, and demonstrate fairly well why bearer bonds are so rare and regulated in Real Life.
- Quite a few Fiasco playsets have "[portable container] full of [valuable thing]" somewhere in the Objects category; two out of the four playsets in the corebook contain either briefcases or suitcases full of money or bearer bonds in them, as do many of the non-core ones.
- In Urinetown, Caldwell tries to end the rebellion by offering Bobby a suitcase full of cash.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, you may open a briefcase to find either a stash of meat or "fat stacks of cash"... which aren't of any use except as Vendor Trash. Though the stacks of cash briefly found a use in the Crimbo 2008 quest for bribing members of the Penguin Mafia.
- In Evil Genius your construction workers carry the gold for purchases to and from the dock in briefcases.
- In Scarface: The World Is Yours some gangsters will drop these. Where they're keeping them, on the other hand...
- For whatever reason, these briefcases are used to store rough cut diamonds in Far Cry 2.
- Referenced in Scott Pilgrim VS the World: The Game, where they can be picked up and used as weapons in a stage based on a filming studio.
- In Interstate '76 vigilante Taurus finds one of these in the wreckage of a destroyed gang safehouse. He comments that it must be a pay off for something. His partner, a green vigilante named Groove asks how Taurus can be sure, to which Taurus says "Cuz' a suitcase ain't a BANK, Groove!"
- Left 4 Dead 2 - In the add-on episode "The Passing", finding one of these (with some handguns for you to take, too) in a bar is an Easter Egg. Depending on what character you're playing, you'll get a different reaction: for instance, when playing as Nick, you'll get the quip "I like how this guy packs!", while Coach will react by singing the "suitcase full of pistols and money" line from one of the Midnight Riders' songs.
- During the first few levels of MadWorld, you can throw one of these. When it hits, it scatters money everywhere, which will distract any enemies that see it.
- Dead Rising 2 has a few of these in casinos - in addition, several characters will use the outbreak as an excuse to fill their briefcases with money. If Chuck throws one at a zombie, it will break and spew out $1,800. Snobby rich guy Woodrow Rutherford refuses to part with his briefcase and uses it to smack zombies around if they get too close to him.
- They show up in "Off the Record," strewn around the casinos, carried by some of the survivors, and very early in the game, Frank West photographs T.K. giving one to a C.U.R.E. member as well as bomb to set lose a zombie horde on the people of Fortune City, Nevada.
- Mimicking the page picture above, Devil May Cry 4 parodies this trope: After Dante and Trish are done helping Lady, the latter gives the former pair a briefcase. Trish opens it to find just a small roll of cash and complains.
- In X-COM: UFO Defense, an agent holding an open briefcase full of money is the background screen◊ for financial transactions like buying or selling equipment and hiring or firing personnel.
- In Grim Fandango, Chowchilla Charlie asks Manny to retrieve a suitcase of money from Maximino's cat race club, claiming that he put it up for collateral but wants it back because the race was fixed. Manny doesn't bother to clarify how Charlie knows exactly where his money is or why he's sure that it's still in the suitcase. Things then get complicated, because the suitcase actually contains the Number Nine train tickets — and as Manny realize later, they're counterfeit, and the suitcase itself was apparently stolen from the Big Bad Hector who sells them for profit.
- Pay Day 2 has its criminals stuff packs of money (or jewelry, or gold, or...) into duffel bags when liberating them from banks, mob hideouts, and such. Notably, weight is accounted for as well - while carrying a bag of jewelry barely slows the thieves down, carrying money slows them down considerably and removes their ability to jump. Carrying gold practically turns a thief into an armed slug.
- Hitman: Blood Money had a couple of missions with characters carrying these as payments for hits or deals. 47 has the option to take the money for himself as a bonus objective or to rig them up with RU-AP mines to assassinate his target.
- Tales from the Borderlands features one of these as the MacGuffin in episode one, "Zer0 Sum". Originally intended as payment for a (fake) Vault Key, it's got ten million dollars in embezzled Hyperion funds in it, and gets stolen by bandits and used as the grand prize for Murder Rally 12000. Unfortunately, it gets blown up when Felix sets off the bomb implanted in the briefcase. However, if Fiona warned Felix about the explosion, he'll reveal in episode 5 that he actually faked the explosion and ran off with the money.
- In The 7th Guest, Brian Dutton's secret desire for wealth was all but granted by Henry Stauf leaving a briefcase filled to the brim with cash, except it also has a puzzle on top that distracted Dutton, and instead coerced him into following orders from Stauf, to find the last guest, Tad, and bring him to Stauf on the top floor. He almost succeeded, too, if Edward Knox and Martine Burden hadn't intervened and stabbed Dutton with the knife Stauf gave him. In the novel, Dutton recovered for just long enough to see inside the case, but died from his wounds before he could make any use of the money. In the game, after he unlocked the case, some toxic substance was laced in the cash that caused Dutton's demise.
- Double subverted in Persona 5. The real world form of Yakuza boss Kaneshiro's Treasure is thought to contain thirty million yen, but a closer look reveals it's Counterfeit Cash with Kaneshiro's face on it. Lucky for the Phantom Thieves, the case the fake money came in is plated with solid gold, so it's still valuable when it's sold.
- In Inanimate Insanity Season 1, the ultimate prize of 1 million dollars is held in a briefcase. The finale ends up having the briefcase be featured as a MacGuffin before ultimately being lost in a frenzied attack on the host, leading the winner to think he lost his prize... but it's then revealed that the money is actually just being held in the bank and the briefcase is a prop—after all, what kind of idiot would just have a million bucks in a suitcase?
- In Sluggy Freelance Bun-Bun actually requests "two briefcases full of money" as payment for fighting Oasis. Well, he requested two suitcases full of money, but those were a little too heavy for Torg.
- In the Zokusho Comics universe it's beginning to look like the only times that briefcases are used, they aren't full of money, but of explosive magic or some other form of trap.
- Spoofed in Everyday Heroes, when a multi-million dollar shipment of stolen cash is delivered in a bunch of ordinary cardboard boxes.
- In Exterminatus Now Janus hired a squad of mercs and a clan of shinobi terrapins using briefcases of money, then because he'd gone over budget he next paid a gang of chavs two litres of white lightening and a carton of cigarettes.
- In My Life At War Henry Macon has a suitcase full of stock certificates, which seems to be just for showing off.
- In Lackadaisy, Morecai uses the density of a briefcase full of money to his advantage when he blocks a shotgun blast.
- In The Order of the Stick #976: "Hard Sell". Haley tosses the fantasy equivalent (a big bag stuffed full of gold coins) at a shopkeeper because she doesn't want to rob them but is in the middle of a fight and doesn't have time to pay them the right amount. Due to the strange economics of adventuring in Dungeons & Dragons this takes the shopkeepers from insolvency to being able to retire in luxury.
- How Schtein in String Theory is convinced to visit Chicago.
Schtein: "You can't be serious! I refuse! You couldn't pay me to go in there!"Abel: <opens a briefcase full of money>Schtein: "Or, perhaps you could."
- The Tribe Twelve entry Extraordinary Circumstances. Noah works out the combination for a mysterious briefcase he was given, and finds a collection of his dead friend Milo's belongings. Then he notices something else hidden underneath and his jaw drops. The viewer has enough time to imagine something creepy before he reveals it's "just" wads of money. The weird part is where it came from.
- In Pokémon Apokélypse, Giovanni uses this to tempt Ash into taking a fall.
- An episode of South Park has Tweek's dad trying to be bought out with an ordinary, empty briefcase. When he turns the offer down, the investor whips out good-old-fashioned-bags filled with $500,000 cash, which he also turns down.
- The Simpsons:
- Referenced/parodied in an episode where Fat Tony gives Mayor Quimby a kickback in the form of a bag with a dollar sign on it. The mayor says that he'd prefer future kickbacks to come in a nondescript briefcase instead.
- Mayor Quimby can also recognize a suitcase full of cash by the sound it makes when it opens.
- An early episode had Smithers attempt to hire singer Tom Jones by showing him a briefcase full of money. When Tom refuses, Smithers opens a second briefcase and it sprays him with knockout gas.
- Referenced again in 'The President Wore Pearls' where Homer, after winning big at the school's faux casino, asked for his winnings in cash and suitcases to carry it.
- The Germans who buy the plant use a briefcase full of cash, which apparently contains not only enough cash to buy Springfield Nuclear Power Plant but also will have enough left over to buy the Cleveland Browns.
- In "Homer vs. Dignity", Homer is given a briefcase of money to buy a rare Spider-Man comic and then eat it in front of Comic Book Guy.
- Sideshow Bob's brother Cecil has one of these when he tries to escape with the money he embezzled from a dam project, leaving his brother to die inside when it collapses, along with Bart and Lisa. Problem is, he tries to hit Bart with it when they struggle on top of the dam, causing it to open and make him lose all the cash over the edge.
- In an episode of American Dad!, Stan opens the briefcase upside down, revealing a phone book that was supposed to be hidden under the bills to make it look full.
- Parodied in Squirrel Boy, when the protagonist is bribed into taking the blame for several pranks with a briefcase... that is revealed to be empty. As the protagonist is a squirrel, he considers the briefcase a good payment anyway.
- In Mutant League, Bones Justice gets a therapist to leave by offering her a duffel bag full of money. Unfortunately, the extremely heavy duffel bag tuns out to contain his formerly lovestruck teammate, doing some Exact Eavesdropping.
- In an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, when Birdman's at a baby shower for his pregnant wife, Phil Ken Sebben gives him a briefcase full of cash.
Harvey: Phil, wow. You shouldn't have!Phil: Oops, I didn't! (dumps out the money, then hands back the empty briefcase)Harvey: Phil, wow. You shouldn't have.
- In Pinky and the Brain, a doctor with the conclusive proof that would have made Brain's insurance fraud scheme successful is bribed with a briefcase that will "change [his] mind." It contains lingerie. (Make your own conclusion what it will be used for...)
- Parodied in an episode of Stroker and Hoop. The briefcase itself isn't included in the deal; the middleman got it as a graduation present and it has a lot of sentimental value to him. Besides, the deal was "fifty thousand dollars", not "fifty thousand dollars and a briefcase." Stroker has to stuff all the money in his jacket and pockets — and the money's all in five dollar bills so he wouldn't have to go to the trouble of making change. He ends up losing most of it in a chase.
- Archer has multiple occasions where someone has a briefcase posing as one of these...only to have it turn out to have a single cupcake instead.
- In Season 8, AKA Archer: Dreamland, the ransom money serving as the MacGuffin for most the season lampshades this when Cecil, who's the one paying, points out how heavy it is, since it's full of 20$ bills, adding up to 50.000 all in all, and that an envelope full of the rarely used 10.000$ bills would have been much easier. It's moot anyway since the season finale reveals he just stuffed the case full of weird German incest magazines
- Parodied in The Venture Bros. where Rusty tries to pay Monarch for Hank and Dean's ransom with a bag full of photocopied money. Monarch calls him out for being too cheap to spring for the double-sided copies.
- In the episode of Gargoyles where Thailog is introduced, a ransom for the clone demanded one of these filled with 20 million dollars. Turns out, Thailog orchestrated his own kidnapping and then faked his own death (and apparent destruction of the briefcase) to escape with the 20 million and start his own fortune.
- The Scooby-Doo episode "The Backstage Rage'' starts with Shaggy and Scooby discovering a violin case full of money. It's the start of a counterfeiting caper.
- In the Total Drama franchise, this is how the prize money is delivered. However, it usually gets stolen by a rogue contestant (Ezekiel in TDWT and Heather in TDRI) or comically destroyed whether it's eaten by a shark or burned in a volcano.
- Averted in realistic fashion by Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, of all things. On the occasions where the Mysterons find it more convenient to buy the services of a human than to dispose of them in favour of a replicant, they typically pay with a briefcase full of diamonds instead.
- The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature: The Mayor has received several "campaign contributions" that way.
- Daffy Duck is Boston Quackie (cartoon of the same name), a secret agent assigned to deliver a briefcase to the Embassy of Slobovia. The briefcase contains a jar of Instant Girl (just add water).
- The million-dollar grand prize of the World Series of Poker is traditionally paid in cash. Before the final round, the prize is hauled out to the playing floor. In ordinary cardboard boxes.
- The video gaming site ScrewAttack holds an annual "Iron Man of Gaming" in which the winner gets a briefcase-sized package of real money. They're all one-dollar bills.◊
- How Much Is Inside? decided to show what a million (fake) dollars in a briefcase entails.
- Victor Suvorov, a real life Soviet spy, wrote in his semi-autobiographic book how they used a sneak glance of a hidden compartment in a case in order to recruit agents. The trick was that they showed a relatively small (or rather, shallow) compartment which is easy to conceal, full of new shining bills, but the actual payment was in older cash.
- Photos from a Raid On A Mexican Drug Lord show stacks of money in all corners of the house, filling multiple filing cabinets, and 18 Briefcases Full Of Money proper.
- According to one of the former band members, when Black Sabbath first became well-known their producers actually gave them several of these to go buy drugs with. Hey, it was The '70s...
- According to the book Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King, this was one of legendary boxing promoter Don King's tactics when signing a new boxer. King would present the (usually poor and uneducated) young boxer with more cash than he had likely ever seen in his life as an inducement to sign... and also as a distraction. The relative pittance of up-front cash served as misdirection from the fact that King would also be taking a much larger percentage of the boxer's future earnings than other promoters would.
- A lot of banks have started making this trope hard to play straight by restricting the amount of cash private individuals can withdraw at once as well as imposing other restrictions (the usual excuse was that it reduces the amount of money tellers have on hand, which reduces the amount of money bank robbers can steal at one time). HSBCnote were recently caught up in a minor brouhaha in the British press because they were asking people intrusive personal questions about why they needed £3,000note or more in cash.
- A briefcase full, not of banknotes, but of bearer bonds (which are as good as money) was the subject of the world's biggest mugging; At 9:30 AM on May 2nd 1990, John Goddard, a 58-year-old messenger with money broker Sheppards, was mugged at knifepoint on a quiet side street in the city of London. Mr. Goddard was taking Bank of England Treasury bills and certificates of deposit from banks and building societies. In total, he was carrying 292 million pounds sterling, or 378 million dollars. Best part? At the time of the mugging, the thief had absolutely no idea what he'd stolen! It was the financial equivalent of an Empty Quiver; the news that it was in the wind brought every criminal syndicate in the world to London in search of the briefcase; the thief was eventually found dead in a bedsit in a slum district, chopped into a million pieces; since then the bonds have been surfacing in every third-world country, starting with Nigeria and most recently in the Cook Islands (in the Pacific, somewhere); the search for the case was allegedly the inspiration for the film Ronin.
- Some TV executive really wanted to see if some homeless person who has been dealt a bad hand in life could turn his life around with one million dollars. His boss talked him down to 100,000 dollars, which he put inside, you guessed it, a briefcase he put in a dumpster that said homeless guy often did Dumpster Dive into. Said homeless person being Genre Savvy, refused to touch the money until the TV crew announced him it was for him as long as he allowed the camera crew to film how he was spending it, initially believing it was drug money and he would be better served ignoring it lest he would end up killed over it. This would lead to the documentary Reversal of Fortune.
- The European Union stopped producing 500 euro bills in 2018, precisely because of it being used for this trope.