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Food as Bribe

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Free lunch every day. Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but think about: Lunch is awesome. If Charlie Manson brought me a free lunch every day, I'd at least listen to his sales pitch on forehead swastikas. "I don't think it's for me, Charlie, but keep talking, this is delicious!"

Sometimes, things can get tough. You might be The Load or the Cowardly Lion. Your Five-Man Band really wants you to go into the Abandoned Hospital or to stand up to The Bully for the first time, but you find yourself incapable of going. What you need is the proper motivation. But would it be for cash? For a kiss? No? Then perhaps you would do it for food.

Food can be a very powerful motivator for some people. All you have to do is offer them a burger, or a french fry, and they're like putty in your hands. Typically, it's one treat in particular, but for some, they can be bribed with anything. And sometimes, depending on the situation, one will not be enough. You'd have to offer them the whole box. For animals, bribing them can be just as easy as offering them the food their species is known for eating. And if you ever come across a cop you just can't buy your way out of a ticket from, try offering him a donut.


Compare Delicious Distraction, which is when food is used to distract, I Was Told There Would Be Cake and Just Here for the Free Snacks (deciding to go to a function for the complimentary food), And Your Reward Is Edible (you're congratulated with food even if you were not initially promised it), and Through His Stomach and Tastes Like Friendship, when food is used to cement a relationship. Supertrope to Food Interrogation. Related to Motivation on a Stick. Can be invoked with Trademark Favorite Food. Contrast Denied Food as Punishment. Can possibly be thrown to invoke a Go Fetch situation.



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  • Used in various ads for Klondike Bar. "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?"
  • A Kellogg's Crunchy Nut advert depicted an outlaw evading state troopers, who along with many others comes out of hiding when the troopers pull out boxes of said cereal.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In A Channel, Run's mother promises her all the Kobe beef she can eat to motivate her to study harder and apply to a better high school.
  • In Angel Beats!, Matsushita will do just about anything for meat udon.
  • Ryuk and apples in Death Note.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, it's horribly clear that Mikbell is abusing Kuro's loyalty - all he thinks being a "good boss" means is giving him food instead of actually paying him properly.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • Bulma takes Whis to various restaurants to convince him to protect Bulma's family if Beerus ever tries to destroy the Earth again.
    • Vegeta bribes Whis with instant ramen to get him to train him.
  • Gourmet Girl Graffiti is about the social experience of food, so there are a few examples:
    • Generally speaking, Kirin, being Obsessed with Food, can easily be bribed with it.
      • In episode 4, Ryou, wanting Kirin to stay with her for the following weekend despite having no Cram School, proposes cooking a full-course Chinese meal. Kirin's parents win with the counter-offer of a dinner at a three-star Chinese restaurant.
      • In episode 11b Kirin has a fight with Shiina. So when Shiina offeres to share her lunch with Kirin, Kirin refuses, saying she has her pride. After Shiina announces the lunch was cooked by Tsuyuko, however...
    • Used in the next episode preview skit at the end of episode 6. Kirin and Ryou are still in their bath towels while doing the singing, but Ryou is hiding just off-screen. Kirin then pulls out a popsicle and throws it at her to get Ryou to come. Unfortunately, her towel falls off as she jumps at the popsicle, and Kirin leaps towards her in an attempt to cover her.
  • In K-On!, the band uses cake and other sweets to motivate Yui to join the band, practice, and study.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • One chapter has Kaguya and Fujiwara reprimanding Shirogane for trying to eat instant ramen in the student council office. Fujiwara quickly joins his side when he gives her one of the instant ramen.
    • Another chapter has Fujiwara giving Shirogane a soda as a bribe to increase her club's funding. It doesn't work.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Elma can be bribed with sweets, which has also gotten her into trouble in the past.
    • Tohru offers her ten cream puffs if she'll go away in her introductory chapter. It works.
    • Kobayashi offers Elma sweets if she'll help Tohru defeat Ilulu.
  • Hana of My Heavenly Hockey Club. Just about any food will work, if there's enough of it.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy doesn't consider himself a hero. Why did he agree to save Fishman Island? Because they offered him meat.
    • In the Whole Cake Island Arc, the Straw Hats get info from Pound (Big Mom's ex-husband) by bringing him apple juice.
  • Fancy tuna for Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club.
  • For much of the Johto arc, Pokémon's Team Rocket are dirt poor and thus almost entirely food motivated. They often postpone a crime for the sake of free food and will happily help anyone who gives them a meal, regardless of which side they're on or how many Gyarados are involved.
  • In Saki, Teru Miyanaga's backstory shows that she was convinced by fellow Shiraitodai student Sumire Hirose to join the mahjong club by him stating that she can eat all the sweets and pancakes she wants.
  • Horo from Spice and Wolf can usually be bought with apples, but will occasionally demand fancier foods (most notably, the honey-pickled peaches that are considered a delicacy in the city they were visiting at the time).
  • Tis Time for "Torture," Princess: A common "torture" the Hellhordes' minions inflict on the Princess is to show her delicious food and offer it to her in exchange for information. The first chapter shows this happening with crispy toast and beef stew. The Princess often falls for these ploys quickly because they're foods she's never had and/or has always wanted to try. The few times she doesn't fall for it right away, it's because the food is something she's already eaten plenty of times or dislikes, at which point the Grand Inquisitor adds some unexpected twist that makes the Princess fold. For example, making cup noodles and not opening the cup after they've been left to sit for three minutes, which threatens to make the noodles soggy and inedible.

    Card Games 
  • The Munchkin card game has a card called "Bribe the GM with Food". It serves as an instant level-up. As does "Pay For the Pizza".

    Comic Books 
  • Jughead Jones of Archie Comics more often than not can be lazy and apathetic. However, he's also one of the most famous examples of Big Eater in any media. Naturally, food is one of the guaranteed motivators to get him to do anything.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In Carl Barks's "The Status Seeker", Scrooge tries to negotiate with the chief of a South Pacific island tribe in order to buy the rare Candy-Striped Ruby. The chief says he has no need for material possessions, as in his society girth is considered a status symbol. This gives Scrooge the idea to offer the chief a few crates of "calorie-loaded candy" in exchange for the Ruby.
  • Coroner Fatty from Inspector Canardo unsurprisingly takes a box of chocolates from Canardo in exchange for helping him.
  • Judge Dredd has the Kleggs, a race of alien reptile mercenaries who demand to be paid in meat rather than money. When the insane tyrant Judge Cal seizes power, he hires an army of Kleggs to do his bidding, and initially intends to feed them citizens, but his right-hand man Judge Slocum manages to convince him that letting the Kleggs get a taste for human flesh would be a bad idea. It's one of the few sane choices Cal makes in his tenure as Big Bad.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): On the rare occasion Etta is not interested in helping Diana or joining in with the latest Holliday Girls plot, which only happens if there aren't lives on the line and it sounds boring to her, she can be convinced to come along in exchange for sweets.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Beetle Bailey, Beetle can get Sarge to excuse him from anything with four simple words: "my mom's homemade cookies".
  • One case where food is offered as payment happens in Peanuts, where Charlie Brown offers to trade players with Peppermint Patty's team, offering Lucy for Marcie. When Lucy complains that he was robbed, Charlie Brown disagrees, saying that he got the better deal because Patty included a pizza. He was more right than he imagined. When Patty realizes what a terrible player Lucy is, she wants to call the deal off; Charlie Brown tells her, "I already ate the pizza..."

    Fan Works 
  • Hobbes is easily bribed to do something with tuna in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Freeza offers to give Goku a pizza if Goku will let Freeza power up to 100%. Goku's having none of it. Then Freeza offers two pizzas. Goku still isn't interested, and charges at Freeza. Then Freeza offers two pizzas with stuffed crust...
  • Finding a Family:
    Harry: Well I will continue to press this issue until I receive an apology.
    Daphne: How about, in Neville and Luna's stead, I ask one of the house elves to sneak you a couple of treacle tarts? Away from Madam Pince's eyes?
    Harry: Done! Deal!
  • Played with in the fifty-ninth chapter of Kyon: Big Damn Hero. After Kyon and most of the girls in the Brigade teleport to Yuki's Pocket Dimension for some training, Hanyuu instantly assumes they went somewhere to do "naughty things" and runs off to inform Rika, only to be stopped by Kuyou buying off her silence with cookies. Funnily enough, the "bribing" part only happens in Hanyuu's head, as Kuyou only wanted to share some of her cookies with her.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku quickly learns that the best way to get Nora to do anything is to offer her pancakes or threaten to take them away from her.
  • Suggested in Skyhold Academy, when the teachers are cleaning the school's main hall. Bull suggests that they get some of the students to pitch in by offering them pizza. It doesn't actually happen, because a plot point wanders into the room and diverts their attention, but they do consider it briefly.
  • There Be Dragons, Harry:
    Ilsa: Butterscotch pudding. It's Theodore's favorite.
    Harry: You're telling me this, why?
    Ilsa: Because sex can't always get you what you want. And Theo can be stubborn, it's in our nature. But if you can't get in his pants, you can certainly get in his stomach. Never hurts to have a bit of leverage.
  • In Protection- The Three-Phase Plan, Remus gets Sirius out of bed by offering to make chocolate chip pancakes.
  • In The Witch of the Everfree, when Twilight starts asking Cadance how old she is compared to Shining Armor, Cadance distracts her by ordering her coffee.
    Cadance: Hey! Wow! They have lava cake on the menu! Let's get a round of those, and I'll let you have coffee if you stop asking questions.
    Twilight: Celestia says I can't have coffee after the accident with the west garden.
    Cadance: That's why it's bribery, Twilight.
    Twilight: ...Deal.

    Film — Animated 
  • Ballerina: Camille's mother got her into the ballet school by making the best ribs in town. The school's choreographer, who claims to be a vegetarian, makes a point to single out Camille as the only girl who didn't earn her spot.
  • In A Goofy Movie, Max pays his friend Bobby with spray cheese to assist him in hijacking a school assembly.
  • Incredibles 2: When Jack-Jack shifts into another dimension, Bob uses a cookie treat to lure him back into his home dimension. It's an effective enough bribe, but when Bob doesn't continue to feed him cookies, Jack-Jack has a tantrum and shifts into his demon imp form and starts biting Bob's arm.
  • The protagonist of Kung Fu Panda is motivated to do great deeds and work his butt off in training... for food. He uses this to his advantage while brawling Tai Lung for the Dragon's Scroll, which ends up stuck on top of a building during the scuffle. He immediately imagines it as a peanut cookie and effortlessly scales the building to get it. Tai Lung thinks the scroll is giving him power.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Home Alone 3: The brother's parrot only plays along with the scheme if you have two crackers.
    Parrot: Double, or nothing!
  • In Kopps, the police officers bribe Göran with a bottle of vodka to make him steal a package of sausages at the local supermarket.
  • In The Matrix, Cypher betrays the resistance so he can get plugged back into the Matrix. One of the reasons he does this is so he can enjoy the virtual food in the Matrix without knowing it isn't real. The Agent offering him the deal is treating him to a steak dinner in the Matrix at the time.
  • In The New Centurions, the police have been ordered to crack down on street prostitution. The veteran cop pulls up in a paddy wagon brandishing a bottle of booze, so the hookers will go along willingly. Once the hookers are too drunk to work the streets, the police let them go.
  • Operation Daybreak: A member of La Résistance smuggles an SOE agent past a German roadblock with some fresh fish he's caught. "I'll make it worth your while..." The German soldiers don't know this, of course; they just assume they're turning a blind eye to a curfew violation for a local Czech with whom they're on friendly terms.
  • In Strange Brew, Bob and Doug McKenzie successfully bribe the secretary at Elsinore Brewery for information by using a doughnut: "Perhaps one of THESE would refresh your memory?" She gives them a little information but holds out for another before giving up the full scoop.
  • A nasty version in Threads, where the government guards the few remaining stocks of food because it's the only way of forcing the survivors to work on the post-nuclear clean-up operations. Money is now worthless and food is the only currency.
  • Subverted in Tremors. In an early scene, Val and Earl decide to leave Perfection for good, but are stopped by Nancy, who offers them work with free lunches and beer. In the next scene, they're on their way out of town, hardly able to believe they turned the offer down.

  • Between Silk and Cyanide: Leo Mark's relatives provide him with cakes for his superiors so they won't post him to the front line (they don't know that he's a codebreaker, who'll never get posted there for security reasons). This leads to a Running Gag when various VIP's are impressed by his delicious cream cakes, demanding to know where he got them in a rationed WW2 Britain.
  • Templeton the rat in Charlotte's Web only helps out Wilbur and the others when it's pointed out to him that if Wilbur is taken away to be slaughtered, the trough that is Templeton's primary source of food will be empty. Templeton also only travels to the fair with them when the others tell him that fairgrounds are a smorgasbord of leftovers. Finally, Templeton initially refuses to help carry Charlotte's egg sac until Wilbur offers to let him eat first from his trough for the rest of his life.
  • Discworld:
    • Night Watch: The narration mentions that the Ankh-Morpork City Watch has been reformed to the extent that they don't accept bribes, except donuts and beer. And even Vimes sees that as the grease that keeps the wheels turning.
      • Once the "glorious revolution" gets going, the rebels' methods of persuading the opposition's troops to switch sides include free steak dinners. This is wildly successful, because the revolutionaries hold all the city's meat-packing facilities and cattle yards, so have tons of fresh beef to spare, whereas the government's conscript-soldiers have been living on reduced rations for days.
    • Unseen Academicals: Supreme Chef Glenda Sugarbean gets in to see Lord Vetinari twice by doing this to the palace guards. However, it's later revealed that the guards are under orders to take all bribes offered, bring the people in question to a waiting room, and then lock it until Lord Vetinari decides what to do with them. Unfortunately, they also dispose of any food bribes afterwards in fear of poison, which in this case even Lord Vetinari considers a crime against good cooking.
  • In one of the Dragaera novels, Vlad offers to treat another character to dinner at Valabar's in exchange for help in one of his schemes. As Valabar's is the undisputed best restaurant in the Empire, his offer is instantly accepted.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden is known to secure the loyalty of the Wildfae with pizza. It started as a simple quid pro quo: Pizza for information. Now they're his own little personal volunteer army.
  • In the beginning of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Uncle Vernon is trying to seal a business deal by inviting a potential client to dinner.
  • In the Tim Dorsey novel Orange Crush, a lobbyist considers the food and drink he provides at campaign functions to be part of the lobbying, with the impact being about ten cents on the dollar (a free meal worth fifty dollars provides as much influence with a politician as a $500 donation to his campaign).
  • Release That Witch: After Roland creates ice cream sandwiches in the fantasy world, it usually becomes one of the rewards for doing any particularly dangerous or annoying work inside his inner circle.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us Nettles, a Dragonstone peasant girl who lived well before the main story, during the civil war called "the Dance of Dragons" when three wild dragons could be found there. There were attempts made to either recruit or kill said dragons (because having random, arguably sapient, unaffiliated Weapons Of Mass Destruction around isn't generally considered wise). Most went badly because "recruit" generally meant "find and try to fight them into submitting to your will". Nettles found the one known as Sheepstealer and, because it liked to steal and BBQ sheep, she left gifts of mutton carcasses out until it got to know her and link her with good things. She got to be a Dragon Rider, rather than a burns victim.
  • Stephanie Plum:
    • The title character is often bribed by her mother by food. Seeing as how she is a very good cook and Steph is often broke, it is a very powerful motivator. When regular food just won't do, cake will usually seal the deal.
    • In one book former hooker Lula has witnessed a murder but is reluctant to go to the police station to make an official statement. Joe finally gets her to go by promising to buy her a bucket of chicken and a Carvel ice cream cake.
  • In the later books of the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles Vorkosigan is known to use Ma Kosti's cooking to bribe people, though this tends to lead to half-joking threats to kidnap her.
  • A Christmas Carol: The two gentlemen in the Bad Future discuss whether or not to attend the dead man's funeral. One of them opines that he might feel inclined, if there's a free lunch afterwards.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agent Carter: In a Reality Ensues moment, a hamburger and a bottle of booze are more effective in convincing a homeless wino to talk than a sympathetic ear.
  • The Amanda Show: Amanda's stalker Penelope Taynt tries to bribe Barney the security guard so she can sneak into Amanda's show. After failing to bribe him with money and jewels, Barney finally gives in when Penelope gives him a pizza. A very nice slice of pizza.
  • Batwoman (2019). The security in the WayneCorp building is a little lacking, as Mary proves when she just waltzes in.
    Luke: How did you get past security?
    Mary: Carl at the front desk loves double whipped Frappuccinos.
    Kate: Good. (aside to Luke) He'll be making them soon.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy and Cordelia are shamelessly pandering for votes for Homecoming Queen. One contestant offers a cookie, only for Buffy to barge in front of her and hand out large cupcakes. Cordelia then appears handing out baskets of chocolates, taking the cupcakes and throwing them in the trash.
  • In Burn Notice, one of Mike's tradecraft tips is to cultivate an asset to do you a favor by taking them to a fancy meal, since many people who wouldn't accept a cash bribe will gladly eat on someone else's dime. The problem, of course, comes when the asset realizes what you're doing, and tries to keep the gravy train rolling by procrastinating on that favor.
  • Daredevil (2015): Ben Urich bribes the Metro-General nurse this way when he's petitioning an extension for his wife's medical care. He does it at the end of the negotiation because to do it at the start would be cheating.
  • In the Dinosaurs episode "Slave to Fashion", Earl bribes the baby with a cookie in order to find out who stole his money to buy a mink coat.
  • Doctor Who, "The Dalek Invasion of Earth": An old woman informs on the TARDIS crew to her Dalek overlords and is rewarded with food, in short supply in an After the End Vichy Earth. She stares at an orange for a moment, realizing it's been years since she had one.
  • Game of Thrones. The Affably Evil Master of Whispers Qyburn is shown giving the Street Urchins who act as his spies candied plums from Dorne, an incredible luxury for children who've grown up in Flea Bottom. Though he's also shown doing them other favours, like healing a child who'd been beaten up by his father, and ensuring that father mysteriously disappeared so he won't do it again.
  • In an episode of The George Lopez Show, Angie is having a tough time dealing with a family death. George uses non-verbal signals to tell his mother to give Angie a hug. She promptly refuses, so he walks over to the fridge and takes a beer out. His mother is hesitant until he gestures as if he's advertising the beer in a commercial. His mother complies. Needless to say, Angie is shocked.
  • Good Luck Charlie: Bob can be easily distracted by this trope.
  • Heartbeat. When Dr. Kate Rowan is made the judge for a school competition, she finds herself being plied with free local produce by various parents. She asks a friend what to do and is advised to politely accept food but refuse offers of monetary compensation.
  • Hogan's Heroes use this on Sergeant Schultz regularly as a way to convince him to tell what he knows or declare that he knows nothing.
  • iCarly: Sam can be bribed with food for a variety of reasons. Once, so that she'd leave resident Butt-Monkey Freddie alone for a while, and earlier in her life so that she'd be someone's boyfriend. Both times, the food in question was bacon.
  • Kamen Rider OOO: While Ankh genuinely does need Eiji to get Cell and Core Medals from enemy Greeed and Yummies, he is frequently bribed into good behaviour with icy poles.
  • Kel on Kenan & Kel would do anything for a bottle of orange soda.
  • Law & Order:
    • In one Law & Order episode, the detectives convince a pair of streetwalkers to share any information they might have concerning the episode's case by offering them free doughnuts and coffee for breakfast.
    • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Stabler and Benson once use food to get a starving girl to start talking about a murder suspect.
  • On Limitless, Brian needs to convince an imprisoned hitman to confess to a murder and rat out his employer. The hitman is already serving multiple life sentences so another murder conviction is not going to change anything for him, but he's not going to do the FBI a favor for free. Brian offers him a dozen bagels from a Brooklyn bakery famous for its baked goods. The hitman agrees to testify in exchange for a dozen bagels delivered to him in prison every week.
  • Married... with Children: During one episode, Al gets Kelly to help him work on the car by telling her they're going for ice cream.
    Kelly: Get in the car, get out of the car. You sound like one of my dates. They always promise me ice cream, too, and I never get any.
  • Person of Interest: "The Cold War" opens with Harold Finch annoying an Asian food vendor with an overly-specific sandwich order. He brings the sandwich back to their secret headquarters and nervously presents it as a peace offering to Sameen Shaw, currently handcuffed to a bench and not happy about it.
  • Power Rangers RPM: In "...And Action", the cast gives the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the show without actually breaking character. Ziggy has to offer Doctor K sweets to get her involved.
  • In a Season 1 episode of Prison Break, Bellick tries to get Tweener to be his mole by offering him a burger.
  • In the Psych episode "Shawn Interrupted", Shawn needs to get a possibly-insane character in front of a hidden camera in the hospital library, so he uses a bowl of Skittles to do it since he's already seen that they're his Trademark Favorite Food.
  • On Shake it Up, Flynn will do anything if you give him ice cream.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Despite coming from a Post-Scarcity Economy, Voyager is stranded far from the Federation and so supplies need to be rationed. This includes use of the food replicator, so replicator rations are being used as an unofficial currency.
  • Star Trek: Picard. When Jean Luc Picard goes to ask Raffi Musiker for help, she greets him at gunpoint despite him carrying a bottle of wine from the vineyard he now runs.
    Picard: I just want to talk.
    Musiker: There isn't anything you could say that I'd want to hear.
    Picard: {slowly turning around and walking away} Secret Romulan assassins are operating on Earth.
    Musiker: {eyes the bottle} Is that the '86?
    Picard: {waves the bottle at her}
    Musiker: {lowers her gun} God... damn it. {tosses the contents of her cup}.
  • Supernatural:
    • The Winchesters do this every time they have to talk to Death. He's quite fond of fast food, so feeding him before talking to him (or more to the point, asking a favor of him) is a good way to improve his mood.
    • When Dean has to ask a favour from Rufus, a cantankerous old Hunter, Bobby warns him to bring a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky as a bribe. Hunters are pretty much all Functional Addicts, but Rufus at least has moderately discerning tastes.
  • On Teachers (2016), Ms. Feldman is once shown doing an interesting variation—she bribes her students with Wendy's coupons.

  • The Kappa is a fearsome monster that likes to eat human entrails and blood. And babies. One way to survive an encounter with one is to offer it the one treat it enjoys more than human flesh: cucumbers. Offering a kappa a cucumber inscribed with your name on it will earn you your safety and maybe even the kappa's friendship.

  • In The Bible, Jacob is able to get his brother Esau to sell his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew.

  • In Camelot, Morgan le Fay can be reliably bribed by her nasty nephew Mordred with promises of sweets.
  • In The Birds by Aristophanes, the promise of a meal of roasted poultry is enough for Heracles to give away the scepter of Zeus to the birds, thus ceding them the rule over the world.

    Video Games 
  • In Bendy and the Ink Machine, Henry bribes Boris for the lever out of the safe house by heating up some bacon soup for him.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Your companions have different ways of getting past the guard to the Circle Tower. Morrigan or Shale will scare the living daylights out of him, Leliana will regale him with stories, and Sten... will offer him cookies (that he stole from a kid "for his own good"). Truly, Templar discipline is to be feared. It's less funny when you learn the guard is an example of what lyrium does to the brain.
    • When choosing a champion to fight for you in a Trial by Combat, you can try to choose your dog. Arl Eamon is quick to point out that the dog's loyalty could be bought with a ham bone.
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, a potentially universe-destroying fight between the Player Character, Goku, God of Destruction Beerus, Mira, and the Masked Saiyan is averted when the Supreme Kai of Time drops in her secret weapon - a supply of pudding. This annoys Mira and the Masked Saiyan, causing them to run off. However, because the Supreme Kai is a Lethal Chef, all it does is nearly poison Goku and anger Beerus, forcing the Player Character to stop Beerus.
  • To make friends with the Apple Kid in Earthbound, you have to give him a food item.
  • The final zone in Hades has Cerberus, the resident Big Friendly Dog and guardian of the Underworld's gates, standing between you and the way out. Instead of fighting him like you do with the previous bosses, you have to head through tunnels filled with Satyrs and other very tough enemies in search of a Satyr Sack that you can give to him to let you pass.
  • You have the option use a donut to do this at two occasions during Nugget's mission in Kindergarten.
    • To convince Buggs to eat the chicken nugget Nugget wants him to eat.
    • To convince Ms. Applegate not to send you to the principal's office after you blow up the statue of the principal.
  • The original The Legend of Zelda features this in the seventh dungeon, as you have to buy a bait to pass a particularly hungry Moblin enemy.
  • Used in The Lost Crown to get Mr. Tibbs to follow you back from Ulcombe Church. Luckily, the cat adores cheese.
  • In Lost Souls MUD, this is the most pleasant way of getting past Kerberos, the three-headed dog guarding the fiery portal from the cave of Tainaron to the River Tethys.
  • In Paper Mario, an Anti-Guy guards a chest with a very useful badge in Chapter 4. You could try to tough it out and beat him in a straight fight, or you could just bring him some Lemon Candy in exchange for the badge.
  • Maybe it counts more as "bait" than a "bribe", but ever since Honey was introduced as an item in Pokémon in Gen IV, it can be used to attract Pokémon. In Gen VI, it can even be used to attract Pokémon Hordes.
  • In Portal, you are meant to be motivated by cake.
  • All of the Quest for Glory games have this trope.
  • In Shadows of the Damned, this is how you get past the baby-faced door guardians; it seems that, in the Underworld, the youngest demons get stuck with this job for the first century ("Eh, everyone's gotta start somewhere," says the first one). Thing is, you have to find out what they like first before they open; some of them simply like strawberries, but others have stranger (and more unpleasant) tastes, like eyeballs and brains. They are demons, after all.
  • Spelling Jungle: Some of the animals in both games can be bribed by Wali, using an apple (in Spelling Jungle) or mackerel (in Spelling Blizzard), which turns them pink for ten seconds until it wears off and either holds them in one place so Wali can pass safely or put them under his control.
  • Stigmatized Property: The crow on the second floor walkway of the apartment building won't give up the diary page in its beak until you give it a fish.
  • In Tales from the Borderlands, the only reason Yvette goes along with Rhys and Vaughn's crazy plan to screw their Bad Boss Vasquez out of millions of dollars is that Rhys offered to buy her lunch. Although she sells them out to Vasquez almost immediately.
  • This is sort of how you recruit Winston to your team in Wandersong. If you grab a dish from Beth's Diner, he will use it to befriend the dog that sits outside the pub all night.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the fifth case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the lunch lady witness Angel Starr is fond of offering people lunches to get them on her side. In the first trial, she offers The Judge a triple-decker bento if he allows her to testify one more time. He agrees without a second thought.
  • In Strawberry Vinegar, Rie is giving food to Licia in exchange for... not getting sent to Hell. Sounds like a fair trade.
  • In Tsukihime, Shiki regularly uses curry bread to get Ciel to talk to him.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "monster truck", adult admission to Awexome Cross '98 is just five dollars, but "kids and old people" will have to buy their way in by giving Strong Bad fried chicken.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Poor Deandra often falls victim to this trope. Not that she ever minds.
  • A man in Pony & Boy climbed a mountain because his mother promised him chocolate pudding.

  • Awful Hospital double subverts this when Methanyll tries to gain Fern's trust with "a selection of fine cheeses". When that falls flat, they try a different tack:
    Methanyll: Not a cheese person, I take it? We do have a fine selection of alcoholic bev—
    Fern: Lead the way.
  • In Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire Garrit demonstrates why the testimony of talking animals isn't admissible in court by bribing Spark to change his story about Bumper in one story arc.
    Spark: I saw nothing. Bumper sucks. Gimme fish.
  • Freefall:
  • In General Protection Fault, Trudy Trueheart obtained a stockpile of advanced alien weapons by bribing an Alien Overlord... with cheese. Apparently, Earth is the only place in the galaxy where cheese is made, and their attempts to synthesize it (see: cattle mutilations) have so far failed.

    Web Original 
  • Lieutenant Sabien of Black Jack Justice can barely tolerate Jack Justice and Trixie Dixon at the best of times. However, in later episodes, the private eyes discover Sabien can become a lot more cooperative with the gift or promise of good food. In one instance, they even go so far as to hold a sting operation on a pair of suspects at a fancy restaurant specifically so that they can eat a nice meal on the client's dime afterward.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode "My Kingdom For Pie", Duke Igthorn tries to bribe Tummi with a feast in order to find Gummi Glen.
  • In an episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Fat Cat ships in a gang of nutty fruit bats from Jamaica to use as jewel thieves, paying them with fruit. Even he is amazed at how easy it is:
    Fat Cat: Imagine, trading nectarines for necklaces! Bananas for brooches! And tangelos for tiaras!
  • A few episodes of Clifford the Big Red Dog show that Mac refuses to listen to what Jetta wants him to do unless he's offered a Tummy Yummy as motivation. It also shows up when the four main dogs end up in obedience classes; Mac wins a prize named "Tricks for Treats", and predictably Jetta has to bribe him to come up on stage to accept it.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • In the episode "Honor Thy Ed", Kevin says he will give Eddy a jawbreaker if he and his friends go in the abandoned house. However, Kevin backs out of the promise a few minutes later and sucks on it after the kids see Ed fake being strangled.
    • In "Three Squares And An Ed", Eddy implies that Jonny would do anything for granola. In this case, it's dressing up as a leprechaun to distract Jimmy, who's guarding a grounded Ed.
  • In Futurama, when Bender retracts his limbs and head into his body, Leela tries to coax him out with a beer. "Would you do it for a Bender-snack?"
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Billy's dad Harold accepts fried food in exchange for fake doctor's notes to get the boys out of gym class.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures this apparently partiallynote  precipitated Tohru's Heel–Face Turn. It's actually based on a Brick Joke two episodes earlier. Jackie tries to convince Tohru that working at Section 13 would be better and states that every Tuesday is Donut Day. He then repeats this statement when confronted with the Chans.
  • Johnny Test: Dukey will do anything for steak.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Quack Quack the duck will do just about anything if you offer him his Trademark Favorite Food, yogurt.
    • In Episode 56, Pretty steals Kaeloo's pet horse, and they both get into an argument and decide to ask the horse who it wants to be with. Kaeloo offers it carrots as a reward if it comes to her.
  • Besser, the principal from The Kids From Room 402, gets a cake from Polly so he can raise her grade from A- to A.
  • Kim Possible: The closing scene of "Emotion Sickness" shows Drakken frantically running and dodging plasma blasts from a Moodulator-enraged Shego. He tries yelling various apologies and pleas to calm her down, concluding with "I'll cook you dinner!"
  • In the first half of the Looney Tunes cartoon "Prince Violent", Yosemite Sam has an elephant helping him try to break into Bugs's fortress; however, with each failed plan, Sam yells at the elephant and occasionally clubs him, eventually telling him to get lost so he can do it himself. After a few more failures, Sam finally manages to get in, only to find that the elephant is working for Bugs now and chases Sam away with a club. It's then revealed that Bugs is convincing him to work for him by paying him with peanuts.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Adrien tries to make Plagg reveal the secrets Ladybug is hiding from him with promises of rare cheese. Though sorely tempted, Plagg refuses.
  • Used a couple times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
    • Subverted in "The Ticket Master". Twilight is faced with this several times throughout by her friends in their attempts to gain her extra ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala, but Twilight manages to turn away the bribes each time despite stating several times how hungry she is.
    • Pinkie Pie uses this against Spike in "Party of One" as part of her Perp Sweating sequence.
  • Recess:
    • The main six try to bribe Brittany A. to give her sister Ashley A.'s diary back by using candy. It doesn't work.
    • In another episode, the Ashleys bribe T.J. with candy to get him to hang out with them after realizing he found a $100 bill.
  • Scooby-Doo: Perhaps the Trope Codifier. Scooby Snacks have been used in nearly all incarnations of the show to motivate Shaggy and Scooby into going into some creepy places. See the theme song to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!.
    And Scooby-Doo, if you come through
    Then you can have yourself a Scooby Snack
    That's a fact
    In one of the more modern cartoons, Scooby and Shaggy think ahead and bring their own Scooby Snacks so they can't be persuaded this way. Unfortunately, Fred is still one step ahead of the two of them, because they didn't think to bring milk.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Homer and Apu", Homer gets sick eating expired cold cuts from the Kwik-E-Mart, and when he gets better, he storms into the store to tell off Apu, who offers him a pound of frozen shrimp as consolation. When Homer notices that it isn't actually frozen and smells funny, Apu ups the bribe to two pounds, which Homer eagerly accepts. He gets sick again, naturally.
    • In "Treehouse Of Horror XVII", Chief Wiggum shows up at the Golem's wedding to arrest him for murder, but the female Golem convinces him to let him go by telling him latkes are being served at the reception. Wiggum doesn't know what latkes are, but he agrees to let him go as soon as he knows that they're fried.
  • In Smurfette's origin episode in The Smurfs, Smurfette tempted Greedy with a scrumptious smurfberry cake into opening the village dam gate so she could flood the village back before she was changed into a real Smurf.
  • On South Park, when Ike's birth parents come to take him back to Canada, he refuses to get in their car until they offer him chocolate.
  • In the Timon & Pumbaa episode "Mind Over Matterhorn", Timon attempts to get past a goat border guard by bribing him with money, only to be stopped by Pumbaa, who tells him bribing is wrong. Timon gets him to keep quiet by feeding him a bug.

    Real Life 
  • Fancy Dinners have long been a way to smooth the waters of diplomacy. In fact, in the British Diplomatic service, it used to be a requirement to have a high tolerance for liquor. At times expensive food or drink was used as a bribe. A wine bottle might save face for instance when money is insulting. After all, the spy you want might be a traitor, but he wants to be known as a cultured traitor.
  • Cory Monteith mentioned that the choreographer for Glee uses candy as a bribe so that they can keep working.
  • Many parents offer to give their little ones candy, ice cream, cookies, or any other kind of sweets if the child behaves himself or herself.
  • In the United States, if friends or family members are helping you move, it's an expected courtesy that you'll provide food to everyone who's helping you, to the point where it can sometimes be used to convince people into it. After all, it may be hours of labor, but hey, free stuff! Not offering food to the movers is considered quite rude.
  • Many of the extras' services and rent for some vehicles appearing the original Mad Max were paid for in beer.
  • Napoleon supposedly once faced an enemy army that was ill-supplied. He promised them food if they joined his army, and it worked.
  • Animal trainers are fond of using this trope. For many animal species, it's the only training method that works.
  • Bonobos (a type of ape related to the chimpanzee) have been observed exchanging food for sex.
  • Taken to extremes by praying mantis males, who offer themselves as food-bribe in exchange for mating.
  • Offering police officers complimentary coffee or food is a common practice for urban restaurants and food-carts, as being seen to be on good terms with the cops can discourage petty robberies and vandalism. It can also discourage the cops from booking the proprietor if he's caught speeding, selling contraband under the counter, and so on, which is why the practice is forbidden in many jurisdictions. Donut Mess with a Cop is the logical conclusion of this trope. The pastry and the profession became so linked together thanks to a store policy of Dunkin' Donuts, which offered free donuts and coffee to uniformed officers. As one of the first food stores in the country to have 24/7 operations, it was cheaper to feed the cops than to actually install security systems to prevent would-be robbers, especially during the wee hours of the morning.
    • Inversely, the police will often offer the criminals they interrogate free food in the hopes that it will make them more relaxed and thus more likely to talk and offer up information.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Scooby Snacks, Bribed With Food


Chika's Cola

Fujiwara's attempt at diplomacy falls onto deaf ears.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / FoodAsBribe

Media sources:

Main / FoodAsBribe