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"Mmmm! This is a tasty burger!... Do you mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash it down?"
"The best tasting food is stolen from the mouths of the enemy."
Griff, World of Warcraft, "War Forage"
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A classic tactic of psychological warfare.

You've just met someone. They don't know what to make of you. They happen to be eating at the time. What do you do?

Take their food. It's a step beyond just invading personal space, and it shows who the alpha dog is. Unless it is really called for, it comes across as very insulting and a way to make the offensive party appear unlikable. Frequently the victim is too stunned by the audacity of such a move to protest.

May overlap with The Snack Is More Interesting and Lost Food Grievance. See also The Bully, who is known to beat people up for their lunch money. Food Interrogation is when somebody tries to bribe another person with food to get information.

Compare to Filching Food for Fun when it's done in secret for fun and excitement or out of petty revenge. Compare to Robbing the Dead when a character takes food from someone they have killed. While Enemy Eats Your Lunch is about establishing dominance, Robbing the Dead shows the character's cavalier or pragmatic attitude to death. Compare Villainous Face Hold, another way of asserting dominance by invading personal space.

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Contrast They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich, where a meal is abandoned as the result of a conflict, and No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine, a psychological gambit based on offering the hero food.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Tubby and Willy both eat Lulu's food in an episode of the Little Lulu anime, with a tray of sandwiches that Lulu was preparing to have.
  • In Death Note there is L's (cat)fight with Misa. "You can call me whatever you like but I'm still taking your cake."
  • Samurai Champloo: Mugen digs in uninvited to the lunch of some Yakuza thugs. When the predictable reponse follows their boss is so impressed by his badassery he invites him for dinner.
  • In Sailor Moon Stars, when Sailor Aluminium Siren and Sailor Lead Crow attack a TV show host who arrived to Usagi's house under the guise of a pizza delivery guy, Siren's first action is... to eat one of the pizzas, much to Lead Crow's exasperation.
  • In an episode of MegaMan NT Warrior, a character's establishing moment when barging in is to eat Maysa's lunch.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Squirtle Squad make their debut by beating up Team Rocket and eating their lunch right in front of them.
    • Georgia (a rival character) helps herself to our heroes' breakfast just to show her disdain.
  • In Naruto, Jirobo delays delivering a finishing blow to Choji long enough to take and eat Chouji's last bag of chips in front of him. This is less for psychological warfare reasons (since they're already fighting to the death) and more just to be a dick, although he does claim to be hungry from burning chakra in the fight. Also, this slams down hard on one of Chouji's Berserk Buttons and is promptly followed by Jirobo's death.
  • Ranma ½ has Picolet Chardin II whose family turns this into their martial arts style.
  • In the first episode for World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman, when Satsuki claims she's not hungry, Urushibara starts eating her fries. When Satsuki protests, Urushibara says the fries would otherwise go to waste. Moroha agrees, and starts eating them as well.
  • While not outright an enemy at that point, Haizaki from Kuroko's Basketball is shown in a flashback stealing main character Kuroko's food at the table the latter's sharing with the other Generation of Miracles' players. He even makes a point of saying he eats other people's food just because it tastes better (as opposed to Aomine, who asserts he only does that when he's actually hungry). Kuroko doesn't mind the food stealing, but it's still clearly used as a way to remind the readers how much of a jerk Haizaki is.
  • In Assassination Classroom, Koro-sensei tends to overreact when the food he brings back from overseas winds up lost or stolen. In his introductory chapter, Karma baits Koro-sensei into a trap by stealing the gelato he bought from Italy and eating it in front of him during a quiz.
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    Comic Book 
  • Asterix and the Great Crossing has the protagonists doing this to the pirates, whose captain had an elaborate birthday feast laid out but is robbed of all but a single sausage.
  • In one Birds of Prey story, Black Canary and Wildcat are having lunch in Singapore while pretending to be drug dealers as part of a plan to prevent a drug shipment from reaching Gotham. A detective, thinking they really are drug dealers since they were seen in the company of a notable suspected (as in everyone knows but there's no concrete evidence) drug dealer, sits down and helps himself to some of Dinah's chili crab and tells them they should leave Singapore immediately and never come back.

    Fan Works 

    Films - Animated 
  • Pinocchio: Honest John takes the apple Pinocchio is bringing to the teacher and eats it as he talks him into becoming an actor instead, then gives him the core. Given how much he's bombarding him, in the meantime, with fake promises, this is a subtle way to showcase both his thieving attitude and his disrespect without Pinocchio getting either or him wanting Pinocchio to realise that he is insulting him in his bamboozled face.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, this is the strategy that Master Shifu eventually hits on as the best way to motivate Big Eater Po. He gives Po a bowl of dumplings and deftly snatches them away from him before he can eat them. Cue a Training Montage of the two Chopstick Fencing over dumplings.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer, not being one to pass an opportunity for free food and taking advantage of his neighbor, steals a handful of Flanders' fries at Krusty Burger.
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the unnamed hitman who would become the Joker nonchalantly picks up an apple dropped by Andrea Beaumont right before a horrified Andrea discovers that he murdered her father. The way he casually starts munching on it as she screams is chilling.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The most defining example is probably the one in Pulp Fiction: When Jules and Vincent bust into the preppies' hideout, Jules asks Brett—in a way that really isn't asking at all—if he can sample his burger. Jules also offers Vincent a bite of Brett's burger, and just tosses it back on the table before he "requests" a sip of his Sprite, and drinks the whole thing while glaring defiantly at Brett the whole time. Even the way he asks "What's in this?" for the drink is done with a Menacing Hand Shot, and he intentionally makes his voice deeper while asking, to amp up threat.
  • Inglourious Basterds: Once again in a Tarantino film. Near the beginning, Nazi colonel Landa invites himself into Lapadite's home to "share" a drink of milk and a smoke, and casually chat about his "Jew hunting". His power in occupied France makes their own home a prison, as he casually eats while intimidating the host family, before eventually having his troops surrounding the place shoot anywhere any Jewish people may be hiding.
  • In the Disney Channel Original Movie Brink, the main characters find this happening to them all the time. They get revenge, though - they stuff a sandwich full of worms, and when the big bad eats it, he gets a nice mouthful of the little wigglers. Revenge is a dish best served...with worms.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Angel Eyes invites himself to his victim's lunch table and pretends to have a friendly conversation while eating his food, then kills the man and his family after getting the information he needs.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger Colonel Phillips brings an imprisoned Arnim Zola a relatively fancy steak meal whilst trying to get him to release information on the Red Skull's plans. After Zola reveals that he is a vegetarian (possibly as an excuse because he suspects it's poisoned), Phillips, not wanting to waste a prime cut, proceeds to eat Zola's lunch, and only then threatens him with Captain America.
    • In Captain Marvel (2019), Talos infiltrates the Rambeau household, and after announcing his presence to Carol, Maria, and Fury, he helps himself to a soft drink in a red and white striped cup, taking a sip from the straw. This is an Actor Allusion to Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Fury here and whose character in Pulp Fiction does the same with another character's soda. Thankfully, Talos turns out to be a good guy.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, after being repeatedly denied a fruit by her captors claiming it wasn't ripe, Nebula breaks out, sides with the Ravagers to capture the Guardians, and in a power move, proceeds to take a bite out of the fruit she was denied earlier. Then comedically spits it out because the Guardians weren't kidding when they told her it wasn't ripe.
  • Detention:
  • When The Joker crashes Bruce Wayne's party in The Dark Knight, he helps himself to a shrimp kebab and then grabs a glass of champagne from a guest, tossing most of it out and drinking the rest with great gusto before replacing it on a stack of wine flutes.
  • An example from Machete: after capturing the priest, Booth helps himself to sacramental wine and sarcastically remarks that "God's blood tastes like Merlot".
  • Happens in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, after Christie covers Michele's back with magnets and takes Romy's burger. Funnily enough, the titular girls don't realise this is a power play at first.
  • In Men in Black II, Serleena interrogates the pizza parlor owner actually the alien protecting Laura, the Light of Zartha for the location of the Light of Zartha. When he remains Defiant to the End, she kills him. Then she takes a pizza to go.
  • Inverted in Congo, when Captain Wanta demands the protagonists have some coffee and cake, then makes it clear who's top dog by ordering Tim Curry to STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE!
  • Dumb and Dumber: The main characters get pulled over by a cop who thinks they've been drunk driving and decides to intimidate them by making them give him one of their beer bottles. Unfortunately for him, the bottle they gave him was just used as a Jar Potty.
    Lloyd: Tic-tac, sir?
  • Discussed in There Will Be Blood, where Daniel Plainview famously uses the analogy of using a long straw to drink someone else's milkshake as an analogy for how he rendered his bitter rival's land worthless by drilling all the oil out of it from his own property.
  • In D3: The Mighty Ducks, the Jerk Jock varsity players repeatedly steal the Ducks' lunches—until Charlie, Fulton, and Russ exact some payback with a decoy lunch bag filled with horse crap.
  • In Kelly's Heroes, the American general scoffs at his German counterpart, boasting that he's operating out of his opponent's former headquarters, eating his dinner, drinking his Scotch, and even has one of his counterpart's women around the place.
  • In Jurassic World, Hoskins reaches across Lowery's workspace and takes his soda and remarks "The fox is in the henhouse!" as the I. Rex rampages. Lowery looks annoyed but doesn't (or can't) do anything about it.
  • Variation in Robocop 1987: During tense negotiations with a rival gang leader Clarence Boddicker dips his fingers in his wine glass, pretty much to show he can get away with it.
  • Tit for Tat: Laurel and Hardy steal and eat a marshmallow from their neighbor's grocery store every time they went inside to inflict some sort of revenge on him in their Escalating War. Hilarity Ensues when the marshmallows get spiked with alum.
  • Life (1999): An enormous inmate asks the pair, "You gon' eat yo' cornbread!?" in a way that makes it clear that no, they certainly aren't going to be eating their cornbread.
  • Played with in Murder on the Orient Express (2017). Ratchett, whom Poirot has already pegged as a nasty individual, sits down at Poirot's table and tries to make small talk as a preliminary to hiring him as a bodyguard. Poirot, who's shown earlier to have a love of good food, only agrees if he can share his desert.
  • Happens in Hitchcock's film adaptation of Rebecca. During his blackmail attempt, Smug Snake Jack Favell helps himself to a chicken leg from his opponents' picnic basket.
  • In The Accountant, Living Robotics's CFO, Chilton, heads downstairs for a midnight snack, only to find Braxton in his kitchen, having his lemon meringue pie, along with a glass of milk. After serving Chilton another slice, Braxton gives the completely cowed man two options for how he can be killed: an "accidental" insulin overdose, or a faked home invasion that will also have to include Chilton's sleeping wife.
  • The Devil and Daniel Webster: After taunting Jabez Stone for attempting to break their contract, Scratch flees from the approaching Ma Stone; taking a bunch of Stone's carrots with him.
  • In The Gentlemen, Ray arrives home to find Fletcher waiting for him, and casually drinking his 150 year old scotch. Later during their very strange interaction, Fletcher asks Ray to cook a steak for him.
  • In Yellowbeard, the eponymous pirate has a habit of snatching food off people he is passing and eating it.
  • A variation is done halfway through the Death Note Series. L goes to meet Light with the same kind of potato chip bag Light had used earlier to hide a piece of his Death Note. He then eats out of it in front of him as a way of letting him know he's a suspect.

    Folklore and Mythology 
  • In a discussion of vampire folklore, one author noted a tale in which a bloodsucker invited itself into some villagers' home just as they were sitting down for dinner. It came in, sat at down at their table, ate all of their food off their plates (even sucking the marrow out of the bones) and then left without saying a word.
  • In Greek Mythology, the harpies were sent to plague King Phineus of Thrace for revealing the secrets of the gods—whenever he would try to eat, they would swoop down and snatch his food away, spoiling any remnants to make them inedible. Eventually two sons of the wind god Boreas chased them away, and the goddess Iris promised that they would leave Phineus alone from now on.
  • At least one tale involving the Bakedanuki has him taking the form of a guest invited to a wedding or some other banquet in order to gorge on all the avaible food, leaving nothing to the others.

    Literature 
  • Seen from the other side in The Iron Teeth. Blacknail responds to a bandit speaking disrespectfully of Saeter by stealing his food.
  • In Unique, Clauss makes his opinion of werewolf culture very plain by commenting "this is our tradition" and then stealing Gunther's food and eating it with his hands.
  • In the Peter Straub novella "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff", a rich man hires two eccentric hitmen to kill his wife and her lover. When they arrive at his home, they quickly polish off his lavish breakfast and tell him to make himself some toast.
  • Arthur Dent tells an anecdote about this in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. After purchasing a bag of train station biscuits (cookies), Dent sits down at a table with a stranger and reads a newspaper. The stranger reaches over, opens the bag, and eats one of the cookies without comment. Dent, stunned, can only react by eating one himself. The two men go back and forth eating the cookies without comment until they're all gone, and they exchange meaningful looks before the man leaves. Only when Dent himself prepares to leave does he pick up his newspaper and discover his own unopened bag of biscuits. Adams claimed numerous times that this incident happened to him in real life in 1976. However, it is almost identical to a pre-existing urban legend.
  • In Horatio Hornblower series, one of the first affronts committed to Hornblower as a midshipman by the senior-most midshipman was his tendency to help himself to pieces of the other midshipman's food — right off of their plates. The antipathy between them eventually reaches the point where Horatio challenges the other man to a duel.
  • In Blossom, Burke advises the nephew of a friend how to survive in prison, as well as paying the prison Big Bad to protect him. When someone tries intimidating the kid during lunch and the Big Bad steps in to stop it, the kid deliberately grabs the cake off the man's plate and eats it.
  • Mass Effect: Deception has Cerberus assassin Kai Leng eating a bowl of Anderson's cereal when he sneaks into his apartment to bug it. Needless to say, readers quickly immortalized Leng's petty actions into the Fan Nickname, "cereal killer". It also cemented his status as a really petty guy.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In the book Verdigris, when chatting with Verdigris at a Chinese restaurant, the Master absconds with both his lunch and the monster's. And for the final insult, he sticks the monster with the bill.
  • The Art of War (Sun Tzu) encourages robbing the enemy of their supplies, as it feeds your army while depriving the enemy of theirs. In the past food storage and transportation was much more labor-intensive with a lot more loss and a much higher opportunity cost. You would expend a lot of food getting a small amount of food from your lands to where your army is. Thus, the adage says that 1 bag of rice from the enemy is worth 20 from your home nation - because getting 1 bag to you in the field will cost you the other 19.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Only the Good", Cat steals French fries from a fellow inmate in the hopes that he will be hospitalized for his troubles. Instead, it backfires hilariously and the inmate swears to become Cat's bitch.
  • In House, House steals Wilson's food repeatedly and sometimes eats it right in front of Wilson to tick him off. It's Played for Laughs as they are friends who bicker all the time. This is along with bigger versions of the same thing, such as getting him to lend him money and not repaying it. Eventually he admits that he does it as a way of quantitatively testing their friendship. Wilson plays games with him as well, for instance he began randomly switching between an extremely health-conscious diet and pure junk, leaving conflicting hints that he was going on a diet. This quickly drove House up the wall since he could never figure out why Wilson was doing it (House would eat his food either way). Eventually he realized Wilson was jerking him around just to fuck with him. There is also the time when Wilson's complaining about this served to trigger House's "Eureka!" Moment. Turns out the patient had an intestine parasite that was eating the medicine and generally messing up the tests.
  • Awesomely parodied by Stella, which includes a scene where Michael attempts to psych out his enemy by eating his ice cream cone in an intimidating fashion. Macho posturing and eating ice cream cones do not go well together.
  • Oz. Inmates eat other inmates' food so they can intimidate, usually leading to Prison Rape and other much worse things.
  • In one episode of Leverage, Tara walked up to a guy whose invitation to an auction they needed and started eating his sandwich. With a little help from Eliot's Death Glare, she intimidated him so badly he gave her the invitation. Without either Tara or Eliot saying a word.
  • On ER, our first introduction to antagonist Kerry Weaver is when she eats several of Mark Greene's French fries (he was interviewing her over lunch). Although she does ask for them rather than taking them outright, she does proceed to be a thoroughly irritating thorn in his and practically everyone else's side for the next 12 years.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Sea Devils", the Third Doctor duels with the Master with swords. During the fight, he proceeds to steal the Master's sandwich and eat it in front of him.
    The Doctor: I always find (grabs the sandwich) that violent exercise makes me hungry. Don't you agree? (takes a bite)
  • The Americans: In the pilot, after a child predator makes crude remarks about his daughter, Phillip catches the guy barbecuing in his backyard. Phillip beats his ass, threatens to kill him if he catches it happening again, and then walks away with a hot dog off of his grill.
  • Parodied in Justified. Dickie Bennett, looking to build his reputation after being cut off by his mother, steals food as part of an attempt to intimidate Boyd. As it happens, Boyd and his henchmen were just discussing who they can target to establish themselves as being back in the criminal game. Dickie's pathetic attempts are seen by Boyd as good fortune, and he can't stop laughing when Dickie tries.
  • From the mini-series Horatio Hornblower:
    • In "The Even Chance", Jack Simpson is a twisted bully who torments his fellow midshipmen. He steals Horatio's mutton and drinks from his mug in his very first scene.
      Horatio: What do you mean by helping yourself to my vittles, sir?
      Jack Simpson: I should have thought my intention was quite obvious.
    • In "Mutiny", a jerk of a sailor Randall tries to take Styles' mug from the table, but Styles demands he put it back, which he eventually does because of gunner Hobbs who just entered the room.
  • In The Office (US), Michael, Pam and Ryan have returned from the Michael Scott Paper Company, and the others are jealous that they are getting special treatment. They have a secret meeting in the warehouse, saying it was their lunch break. Michael then proceeds to take their real lunches out of the fridge and eat them in front of the others with Pam and Ryan.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In "Blackwater", Bronn and some gold cloaks and Lannister soldiers are drinking, singing and whoring in a tavern, expecting Stannis' siege. Then Sandor Clegane the Hound, King Joffrey's intimidating guard, enters with a guy, and he motions to two guys to get out from their table. They don't even blink an eye and go. One of them tries to take his mug of ale with him, but the Hound calmly takes it from his hands, sits and starts drinking. Pure alpha dog.
    • The Hound, a former personal bodyguard to King, now wandering in Riverlands, calmly chugs down Polliver's mug of ale and demands one of his chickens when Polliver started getting confrontational. Bar Brawl ensues. With swords. Shortly before the Hound slaughters Polliver and three or four of his men.
      Polliver: You don't seem to understand the situation.
      Hound: I understand that if any more words come pouring out your cunt mouth, I'm going to have to eat every fucking chicken in this room.
      Polliver: You lived your life for the king. You’re going to die for some chickens?
      Hound: Someone is.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. The episode "Counterpoint" opens with Devore Imperium soldiers boarding Voyager to search it for the umpteenth time. Our introduction to the episode antagonist, Inspector Kashyk, has the smug commander summoning Captain Janeway to her own Ready Room where he's sitting in her captain's chair (itself a severe violation of etiquette), ordering his underling to make them some coffee using her own replicator.
  • Early in Power Rangers RPM, Ziggy and Dillon have landed themselves in jail. Many of the inmates already hate Ziggy, and in the prison lunchroom one intimidates him by bragging that he's such a big shot, he gets a special dessert of lime Jell-O just for him. While this is going on, Dillon is in the lunch line getting his food... including, very deliberately, the lime Jell-O. A fight ensues - which Dillon decisively wins, which catches the attention of the Rangers.
  • iCarly:
    • Lewbert had his steak stolen by a trick-or-treating kid in "iScream on Halloween" who didn't get any candy. He angrily shrieks and throws vegetables at that kid.
    • At the Groovy Smoothie, Carly had her fries eaten right in front of her eyes by the school bully Jocelyn in "iMake Sam Girlier".
  • Diff'rent Strokes: The two-parter "Crime Story" has two teenage bullies stealing the lunches and money of both Arnold and Dudley. They are not depicted as being harmless or goofy; they back up their words with physical force. The bullies even beat up Willis, who intervenes for Arnold and Dudley, so badly that he has to be hospitalized!
  • The New Avengers: The Avengers help themselves to the Unicorn's champagne while holding him prisoner in his apartment in "The Lion and the Unicorn".
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: While Goren and Eames are questioning a doctor at a dinner party, Goren helps himself to the doctor's steak.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Exploited. Malcolm goes around the house scraping every disgusting bit of filth he can find onto a sandwich, knowing that Reese will steal it from him and eat it.
  • Scrubs: One episode has a moment where Turk casually sticks his finger in Carla's brother's drink as he walks past.
  • The Tick (2016): The Terror does this to establish his Evil Is Petty credentials. While blinding and murdering a superhero team he sees a boy sitting horror-struck at a table nearby, walks up and taunts him with his helplessness, then steals his ice cream, drinks it one gulp, and just walks off.
  • Daredevil (2015): Played for Laughs early in season 3 where Dex decides to play a prank by taking a bite out of a burger being delivered to Fisk from room service just to see how Fisk will react. He just cuts off the bitten piece and eats the rest of the burger with a spork.
    Dex: If I'm being honest that's not the way I thought this was gonna go.
    Lim: Who eats a burger with a spork?
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Amy takes the last danish for her coffee break. Gina takes it from her and starts eating it. Lampshaded. They are discussing characters from Terry's book for his children that are kind of based on them. Character based on Gina is a stone-cold bitch, while Amy's character is a pushover.
      Gina: Is that how people see us?
      Amy: Well, you did just steal that danish out of my hand and start eating it. And I let you. And apologized.
    • Terry's intimidating brother-in-law who unfairly treats him like a wimp takes the sandwich that Terry prepared for himself and casually starts eating it.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Asakura, a fugitive murderer, breaks into the flat of Kitaoka, a lawyer who refused to represent him in court, and ate his seafood right in front of him, shells and all. It did the job of disgusting and horrifying Kitaoka (and his Battle Butler Gorou, who’d prepared the dish) as if Asakura was not scary enough already.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid plays it as a Funny Background Event. When Parado "negotiated" with the staff of CR, Graphite found the cake prepared for Hiiro by his father and ate it. Simply 'see cake, eat cake'. It went mostly without opposition as Hiiro was not even there and everyone else was paying attention to Parado.
  • Played for Laughs in Kamen Rider Zi-O, where Sougo’s biggest issue with Kadoya Tsukasa is that the latter ate his dinner while he was out, rather than the fact that Tsukasa is playing Psycho for Hire towards the Big Bad and has outright said he intends to destroy this world.
    • Also an inversion - enemy makes your lunch. Daiki wanted to one-up Tsukasa, so he made everyone a breakfast. Which they barely touched because 1) they finally realized who he was, 2) he had already left before they could confront him, and 3) the whole thing was a distraction to steal all of the Ridewatches.
  • In the Zoey 101 season 1 episode "Disc Golf", Coach Phelps angrily snatches Michael's bag of potato chips and berates the boy for eating in his gym class, only for Phelps to start munching on the chips himself.
  • In Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere, Pepe, a Camp Gay black inmate at the prison Max and Paddy are staying in after they hijacked a school bus carrying Max's son, tries to intimidate a prisoner who's behind on "collection day" by scooping out a handful of sponge cake that the prisoner's daughter made for him. Max and Paddy successfully intimidate him into withdrawing by hitting him with a steel tray, but he takes revenge later on by reporting them to his boyfriend, Raymond the Bastard.
  • In Ratched, Nurse Bucket does this with Mildred's peach that she brought for lunch, clearly trying to establish dominance. But Mildred still gets the last laugh when Bucket ends up vomiting it up during a lobotomy demonstration.
  • In Sherlock season 3 episode His Last Wow, Magnussen considers himself untouchable due to the leverage he has over his enemies, and allows himself to engage in offensive behaviour whenever possible. One of these (not the worst one by far) include stirring the pasta in Sherlock's plate and eating an olive from his plate, then wash his fingers in his glass of water.
  • In episode 4 of Lupin (2021), Assane announces his presence at a man's table by taking a bite of his bread and jam, then dipping it into his coffee.

    Music 
  • The song "Haunted House" sung by Jumpin' Gene Simmons:
    In my kitchen my stove was a-blazin' hot.
    Coffee was a-boilin' in the pot.
    The grease had melted in the pan.
    Had a hunk a-meat right in my hand.
    From outer space there sat a man
    On the hot stove with the pots and pans.
    "Say that's hot" I began to shout.
    He drank a-hot coffee right from the spout.
    He ate the raw meat right from my hand.
    Drank the hot grease from the frying pan.
    Looked at me said "You better run.
    "And don't be here when the mornin' comes."
  • In the official music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Party in the CIA," a CIA agent shoots a South American dictator who happens to show up next to him at a bar; the spy then takes the dictator's drink with him when he leaves.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Peanuts strip Linus is asking, "Who took my group of grapes?" Lucy corrects him that it's called a "bunch" of grapes...as she eats his grapes right in front of him. Then she tosses the emptied grape tendril at him as she leaves.
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin is eating his lunch, only for Hobbes to swoop in, beat him up and take his lunch.
  • In Garfield, pet cat Garfield constantly steals Jon's food.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Santino Marella assaulting Jerry Lawler at the commentary desk of Monday Night Raw and running off with his subway sandwich, mocking him before taking a bite of it.
  • As a Heel, Big E Langston takes a bite out of Theodore Long's Hardees thick-burger and lists all what's in the burger while Teddy gives him an annoyed look.

    Urban Legends 
  • There is an urban legend circulating in many a country, known at Snopes.com as "pinched cookies". A stranger comes to an old lady's table at a cafe and keeps helping himself to what she thinks are her cookies. When the stranger leaves, she finds out her cookies are unopened.

    Video Games 
  • The reveal trailer for Bendy and the Ink Machine Chapter 3 includes a cartoon short called "Tombstone Picnic." In it, Bendy trips and loses his picnic basket. Boris takes it and starts eating nonchalantly. Bendy, after demanding his picnic basket back and getting ignored, sprays Boris with a shaken soda bottle.
    • Another short called "Cookie Cookin'" shows Bendy making a Gingerbread Man, but as he pulls the tray out of the oven, he finds that it's empty because Boris already took Bendy's cookie and eats it.
  • The chancellor in Chrono Trigger invokes this trope at Crono's trial to get him to look like a villain, saying that Crono stole a guy's lunch at the Millenial Fair (which, to be fair, most players have him do on at least their first playthrough).
  • Mid-Boss steals the lunch that Flonne and Jennifer made for a picnic in Episode 10 of the first Disgaea game. When they finally catch up to him, he's eaten it all.
  • Grim Fandango: Invoked almost word for word by the Big Bad in one scene when berating a subordinate for his failure.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: A variant, player character Link can steal food from enemy camps. This can be played straight as well if an enemy is near their preferred food (such as killing a goat near a Bokoblin) when they can't see Link - the enemy will focus on the food and try to grab it before Link can - Link can abuse this to set up ambushes.
  • During a party in Mass Effect 3: Citadel, Garrus and Zaeed decide to start "preparing" Shepard's apartment in case someone else tries to steal their life. One of their ideas is to rig the coffeemaker to dispense poison and/or explode (their opinions vary as to what would be most effective) in case anyone tries this trope. Shepard is skeptical about this whole plan, to say the least.
  • Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games has this trope ever constantly. The one that benefits from the buffs by jungle creeps are the ones that deliver the killing blow (or in the case of Heroes of the Storm, the one who stays at the mercenary area after subduing them the longest), therefore junglers usually had to be aware of enemies trying to invade their jungle and stealing their lunch. Especially common in early game where the jungler tried to get a head start to get a lot of experience when they're severely underleveled, they have to exhaust their resources in a significant number, and all it takes is for one enemy to act in the right time and all of their hard work rendered futile... and the enemy with advantage can go ahead and kill them too while they're at it. The stake is bigger when fighting Bonus Boss, because an enemy team can use this as an advantage to wipe out your team and then kill the Bonus Boss for their own benefit, putting yours in a disadvantage. Dota 2's famous e-sport scene, "Six Million Dollar Echo Slam", is an example of this trope at work. This tactic often has nicknames depending on the game, such as "creepjacking/Roshjacking" in DOTA, or "buff/dragon/Baron/Herald theft" in LOL. Could overlap with Robbing the Dead, but technically speaking, killing the enemy is not necessary but rather landing the killing blow and/or snatching the relevant reward away.
  • In Persona 5, Goro Akechi attempts to do this to the Phantom Thieves, by taking some of their takoyaki. Unfortunately, they're eating "Russian takoyaki"; one of them is very, very spicy. And it's the one the antagonist takes, to his immediate regret.

    Web Animation 
  • Several Simon's Cat cartoons revolve around the Cat and sometimes the Kitten stealing Simon's food. The Cat also falls victim to this when the Kitten steals his food.

    Web Comics 
  • In Dubious Company, the pirates get lost while breaking out of Kreedor's castle. They eventually meet Private Charles and get him to lead them. When they learn he is as lost as they are, Tiren steals his last sandwich in frustration.
  • One Living with Hipstergirl and Gamergirl strip has Sophia barge into her neighbor's house as they're eating lunch, takes a bite out of their food and gulps down their glasses, then leaves without having said a single word. The neighbor then wonders if maybe she knows they've been using her wifi [1].

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Hero For Hire", the Beagle Boys torment Doofus by eating his pancakes.
  • In the first episode of TaleSpin, Don Karnage intimidates the customers at Louie's by drinking someone's drink.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Subverted in one episode where Cyborg infiltrates the H.I.V.E. disguised as "Stone". In the cafeteria, both Gizmo and Mammoth try to intimidate him, Mammoth taking his hamburger and eating it to do so. It fails to intimidate him at all; he quickly assumes a stone-like form and crushes the table, eliciting nervous laughs from both of them.
    • In "Final Exam", Jinx, Gizmo and Mammoth all broke into Titans Tower, Mammoth started eating up the food in the fridge though the Titans couldn't eat the food since it was completely covered in blue goo so Mammoth might have been doing the Titans a favor.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Critters", Farmer Brown sends a talking goat into the police station to deliver an ultimatum to Commissioner Gordon, and it eats Harvey Bullock's donut on the way in. (Bullock is very angry at first, but then he finds out that the goat can talk and the rather serious nature of the threat, and forgets about it.)
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Lemon of Troy": After people from Shelbyville steal a Springfield lemon tree, one of them gloats to Homer by biting into a raw lemon and desperately pretends he didn't regret his decision as his face curdles and his eyes water.
  • In Megas XLR, Gorrath has Coop separated from his robot on his ship and bound in heavy shackles, and what does he do first? He holds a Philly cheese steak in front of his face and takes a big bite of it right in front of him. Even more hilariously, he's clearly disgusted by the taste, but swallows it anyway with a stilted "Mmm!" just to spite Coop. He is not amused.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Sidetracked", Perry the Platypus meets Dr. Doofenshmirtz in the dining car of a train running along the US/Canadian border, and Doofenshmirtz announces he's got Perry trapped... by social convention, as the heroic Perry wouldn't want to cause a scene in a fancy restaurant. Perry's temporary partner Lyla Lolaberry solves this problem by sneaking bites of Doofenshmirtz's fries, getting him angry enough to make a scene and break the "trap".

    Real Life 

  • Robberies of pizza delivery drivers have been reported in a number of areas; usual tactics include deliveries to vacant houses where the driver gets robbed at gunpoint. While money is the main target, many drivers have also been robbed of their pizzas.
  • The infamous crooked New York lawyer Roy Cohn had a habit of rarely ever ordering food when visiting fancy restaurants. In most cases, the only food he ate in these places were openly and unashamedly stolen off his tablemates plates. He would do this to friend and foe alike, and his personal connections both within the New York mob and to several powerful local politicians and businessmen meant this behavior went unchallenged.
  • Naturalists studying social interaction among animals always watch for this trope, as being able to appropriate another individual's food without repercussion is one of the strongest indicators of an animal's dominant status. This is known as kleptoparasitism, and occurs both between individuals of different species and between members of the same species.
    • The extinct short-faced bear is thought to have obtained most of its food this way. It was more carnivorous than modern brown and black bears but lacked the speed to catch agile prey like deer and horses and lacked the strength to catch large prey like mammoths and bison, so it probably used its size to chase smaller carnivores like wolves and lions away from their kills. Though newer evidence suggests that it actually wasn't as carnivorous as previously thought, but it could still have been an accomplished kleptoparasite.
    • In another famous example, spotted hyenas and African lions are well known for doing this to each other: both will chase the other from a kill whenever they've got enough friends on their side to do so. Both of them also frequently steal from other predators like leopards and African wild dogs.
    • Cheetahs fall frequent victim to this trope, to the point where it's estimated that they lose an average 50% of their kills to other carnivores. Being the quintessential Fragile Speedsters, cheetahs are grossly unsuited to any kind of fight, and a confrontation with just about any other large African predator will force them to retreat.
    • In this video, a honey badger steals a puff adder's lunch and eats it right in front of it, then eats the snake for good measure.
      Badass Of The Week: This really takes being an asshole to another level, which is something I can appreciate.
  • Humans, long-established as the apex predator of Africa, can do this to lions too. The key is to just walk confidently towards them and they'll run away. But if you flinch or hesitate...
  • Frigate birds get their name from a type of ship favored by pirates, as they regularly engage in this trope's sort of "piratical" behavior, stealing fish from other seabirds that are returning to their nesting grounds with their catch.


 
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Alternative Title(s): Villain Eats Your Lunch

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Hornblower: The Even Chance

Midshipman Hornblower is received by Midshipman Simpson in a rather nasty way.

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