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Friend in the Black Market

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Always happy to a favour for his friends. For a price, naturally.

Andy: I understand you're a man who knows how to get things.
Red: I'm known to locate certain things from time to time.

You're in a sticky situation; you need to get something and there doesn't seem to be a legal way of getting it. (It could be banned, rationed, from overseas or possibly just made in extremely limited quantities). If you're lucky, you'll have a Friend in the Black Market.

These guys are the real deal, never dealing in substandard goods because that wouldn't be good business practice and they rely on their reputations. They don't ask any questions either. Their main vice is that they're going to ask for a fair bit more than what the item is worth. Their defense for this is often that it's the circumstances and the effort to get the items that makes them charge the prices, but often it's also a bit of avarice too. (Which often makes them Mr Vice Guys.)

Personality wise, like Honest John, they can fit anywhere into the Character Alignment spectrum. (Although the fact they deal in quality products usually puts them at least chaotic neutral.) If the character is part of the hero team, then they'll usually be Chaotic or Neutral Good. In a war situation, they also tend to screw it and party, unless the action is centered on the military in which case they'll be doing this work on the side.


This character is obviously part of the Black Market. Compare and contrast Honest John's Dealership, who also sells products at a premium... except theirs are of lesser quality. The Scrounger is likely to either be this trope or to have dealings with him.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Zelik Lindemann in Mother Keeper is this for Graham and Silas and is actually running the entire black market.
  • Chise mantains a friendly relationship with the guy who managed to convince her to sell herself onto the black market in The Ancient Magus' Bride.
  • BNA: Brand New Animal: Mary Itami, though "friend" might be a stretch, in her first appearance she saves Michiru from beastman hunters and then demands all her money in payment. In a later episode she sells Michiru a SIM card allowing her to access the external internet, and presents a phone bill that she has to pay off by delivering overpriced water filters (with lifetime payment plans) to the slums.

    Comic Books 
  • The Penguin could fit into this trope; while his main merchandise is information for Batman, he also does a lot of shady business. Because Batman's a poor tipper.

    Comic Strips 
  • Al Capp's Li'l Abner had Available Jones, who could provide anything from a safety pin to a battleship, for a price.

    Fan Works 
  • As befitting a Space Cop, Tovan tr'Khev has his sources on the other side of the law. In Peace Forged in Fire he reaches out to his contacts as intelligence sources, and one of them, a Suliban gunrunner named Rhaego, clues him in that the Tal'Shiar are trying to sabotage the negotiations between the Empire and the Republic.
    Morgan: Do you trust him?
    Tovan: Rhaego? Elements, no. But his information's always been good.
  • Varric's seat in the Merchants' Guild is treated as basically being this in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird. When the Inquisition needs a large supply of lyrium in a short amount of time, they have him reach out to his undercity contacts to get it. The actual bill of sale is presented in one chapter, only to have Varric - who is the story's editor — remove it and state his objections to the author including it.
    Editor’s note: Scholar, I don't read my mail from the Merchants' Guild — why should anyone else have to look at it?
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: "Father" Evergreen Road, who poses as a priest of Luna, is really a fraud using his position as a cover for receiving and selling stolen goods. He's also robbed the temple where he works, selling off its physical assets and using the money to fund his habits of drinking, women and gambling.
  • In the Inquisitor Carrow Chronicles, Severus Snape keeps a very small, private business dealing with illegal healing and fertility potions. Dumbledore consults him to learn of less morally inclined potioneers who might be linked to Augustus Crabbe.

    Films — Animation 
  • Nick and Fetcher from Chicken Run. They only work for you if you pay them in eggs, but they're very skilled at stealing the items you need. Eggs unfortunately are valuable to the chickens, who get the (literal) chop if they don't lay enough.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Sgt. Bilko in Sgt Bilko is the main character, but is willing to spread his loot around with his men on occasion.
  • The Sepent And The Rainbow: Louis Mozart, a provider of illicit zombie powder, although the “friend” part of that descriptor is initially averted, given how he first tries to sell the main characters some fake stuff, although he does come around in the end. A straighter example might be night club owner Lucien Celine, who is a more honest figure overall, but pointed them to Mozart in the first place.

  • Recurring character Bubba Rogowski of Dennis Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro Series is a former Marine who specializes in obtaining lots of illegal weapons and tech, and has put live mines through his entire warehouse apartment to deter unwelcome guests. He's also something of a Psycho for Hire and a Manchild who can barely read, but he's been friends with Patrick since they were kids and thus will gladly kill anyone who messes with Patrick. His profession doesn't come without consequences, however, and in one book he's absent because he's in jail for getting caught with an unregistered handgun.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Mundungus Fletcher in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix starts out this way, as the guy brought in to help the Order get information on dark dealings (and to get the Weasley twins illegal goods), but his role in the story develops.
    • Aberforth Dumbledore uses his role as a bar owner to feed his brother information Voldemort and company.
  • Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, who lives quite well despite the late unpleasantness. (He is a privateer, after all.)
  • Paul Sorrell of The Mental State keeps himself safe among the other prison inmates by providing them with drugs and other requirements. Zack later utilises his abilities to acquire other items from behind bars, illegal or not.
  • The Finn, of William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy. The Finn is a rare example of a smart one, who practices smart discretion and proves more than capable of defending himself when attacked. The Finn long surpasses the general life expectancy of this character type in most stories. Due to the nature of the depicted cyberpunk society, it's debatable whether he can be considered a friend, though.
  • In the Sven Hassel novels, Porta (The Scrounger of 2 Section) works in collusion or rivalry with Chief Mechanic Wolf, who is more this trope. The two men loathe each other, but that doesn't stop them doing business.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Private Walker, the spiv in Dad's Army tends to deal in goods of questionable origin. Since the show is set in World War II England a lot of his business is in food since rationing at the time limited the availability of food.
  • In Altered Carbon, we meet a friendly one who runs a front as a candy-peddling street vendor. He sells some wicket powerful guns.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • Both Radar and Klinger, who use their wits to get anything the hospital needs. (Klinger getting the job when Radar is discharged.)
    • And if that doesn't work, Father Mulcahy serves as the go-between between the camp and the actual black market.
      Father Mulcahy: You'd be surprised what a priest can get away with.
  • Babylon 5:
    • G'kar deals with... not really a friend, but a man he knows who deals in black market weaponry, which he needs for the resistance on Narn. The dealer is selling him for far more than the weapons are worth. G'Kar should know, because he sold many of those very weapons to Earth during the Earth Minbari War fifteen years earlier. In this case, the quality of the merchandise is guaranteed with the understanding that what G'kar will do to the dealer if it isn't will be unpleasant.
    • From the same series, the station's postmaster ends up filling this role as well. Despite Babylon 5 declaring independence from the Earth Alliance, and a blockade and trade embargo being enacted in retaliation, he still finds ways to get mail and packages delivered along more out of the way routes, charging accordingly. Oddly enough, Garibaldi didn't seem to consider that the post office should work any differently despite that.
  • In Firefly, the crew of Serenity tend to work for this guy (or a variety of these guys), using their skills and ship to acquire the goods for the market. From time to time, they will be seen doing business of their own with these sorts when they need to get things like disguises for their heists.
  • In Sneaky Pete, when Otto needs his safe opened as he forgot the code, Marius has a friend who would open the safe and tell Marius the code as well.
  • In one episode of Space: Above and Beyond, Captain Vansen is forced to deal with this guy aboard the Saratoga, trading him a key to the Officers' Lavatory (presumably much nicer than what the enlisted guys normally get to use), in exchange for a bowl of strawberries that she needed to trade with someone ''else'' to get his spot in line to make a call home.
  • Dorium in the Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes to War". He starts out working for the villains, then learns that they've kidnapped one of the Doctor's companions and her child and decides to run for it before the Doctor turns up, knowing how many people owe him favours. As it turns out, he's one of those people, and is drafted into the Gondor Calls for Aid scenario.
  • Barney from How I Met Your Mother "has a guy" for just about everything, from a "Suit Guy" and a "Whip Guy" to a "guy in the DA's office" who "scored us front row seats to a lethal injection!"
    Barney: And, if I don't have a guy for something, then I have a Guy Guy to get me a guy. And, oddly enough, his name is Guy.
  • In Seinfeld Kramer's unseen friend "Bob Sacamano" provides many obscure, black-market products - from counterfeit Russian "rat hats" to "The Wizard" Tip Calculator for the condo association (which may be hot!). He is said to have made a fortune for having invented the "paddle with ball" toy, being the first one to attach a rubber band. Before that, Kramer insists, people would hit the ball and it would just fly away.
  • Uncle Eddie from Grounded for Life has a lot of connections with suspicious people, and is often able to obtain questionable items. Pointed out in one episode:
    Lily: You always say you "know a guy". How many guys do you know?
    Uncle Eddie: I know about 75 guys.
  • Peter from Fringe worked as a middleman for these types of people before he joined Fringe Division. He still has plenty of contacts in that world.
  • Frank from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia claims to have "a guy" for just about anything he needs. In one episode he even claims to have a "human meat guy".
  • Thomas thinks he has one of these in the second series of Downton Abbey (to get around post-World War I rationing). As it turns out, the flour is half plaster dust and the rest of the goods are worse than useless, as well.
  • On Cheers, Diane wanted an engagement ring that cost over five thousand dollars. Norm told Sam he had a Friend in the Black Market who could get essentially the same ring for only $1200. Frasier cautioned against this, saying that Diane wouldn't want her engagement ring to be bought from someone who started conversations with "Psst, buddy." (After a phone call to his guy, Norm called Sam over with "Psst, Sammy.") Of course, everything goes wrong.
  • In Orphan Black, Stepford Suburbia housewife Alison recommends the services of a Ramon for Sarah when she needed a gun. Ramon turns out to be a friendly and slightly campy employee at the local big box store, who supplies Alison with pills and firearms.
  • In Series VIII of Red Dwarf, when the Dwarfers are in the brig, Lister is friends with a Skutter who can get him stuff from all over the ship to help him.
  • In the series Magnum, P.I., Magnum's friend Rick knew people who worked in the Hawaiian black market, which would sometimes come in play during certain story lines.
  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory Howard mentions that he has a friend who deals in black market nerd memorabilia.
  • The Army Game: No matter what the boys of Hut 29 need for their latest Zany Scheme, it seems that Cpl. "Flogger" Hoskins always knows somebody who can supply it at a knockdown price.

  • Jimmy DaWeasel in The Space Gypsy Adventures, though sometimes Fluff Catt or Gemma Mildury will fill this role. DC Fusky masquerades as one of these in the 2004 remake of The Great Chocolate Biscuit Caper, as part of a plan to finally catch Gemma red-pawed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The indie-RPG Hellcats & Hockey Sticks features the "Fixer", a character class who is essentially this; capable of obtaining any illicit item and (one assumes) selling it or misusing it for profit and/or amusement.
  • In d20 Modern, players can use the Knowledge (streetwise) skill to find or justify already having such a friend, aided by Occupations like Criminal that can grant a skill bonus.
    • In the CyberRave setting of the Cyberscape Source Book, this becomes more important as everyone has Gray Wealth that represents their barter-and-pawning based non-digital buying power in both the aftermarket and the black market. The Street Broker feat makes you into one.
  • In Shadowrun it's pretty much essential for every group of 'Runners to have two or three of these for getting all those less-than-legal things necessary for successfully operating as a 'Runner.

    Video Games 
  • This arises as a gameplay mechanic in an awful lot of video games (especially RPGs) where the shopkeepers expect the heroes to cough up the dough even when the world is about to end. After all, Adam Smith Hates Your Guts. It fits this trope more than Honest John as at least they sell you legitimate items. Except that little snotrag Wirt.
  • The Spyro the Dragon series has Moneybags, who will perform various services for you for, "* ahem* , a small fee." It's usually anything but small (not to mention sometimes the price is insane for what he does), but if you want to finish the game, let alone get 100% Completion, you'll have to pay up. At least you get your money back.
  • Ratchet can buy a lot of black market gear during the course of his adventures, from weapon mods to hypnosis gadgets to giant overpowered weaponry. Ratchet's most frequent friend across the games is Slim Cognito, who starts in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando selling ship upgrades, then in several of the sequels sells discounted weapons from older games, weapon upgrades, and eventually in the relaunch sells you the RYNO. Originally he appears as a pair of eyes peeking out of the mail slot in a terminal, but in Ratchet & Clank (2016) he's instead a green-skinned reptilian alien instead.
  • Drebin in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is named for The Naked Gun character due to what he sells; 'naked guns' - the arms he sells are not ID-Locked, and so can be used by anybody, which comes in very handy for Snake. Also plays the Big Damn Hero at times, and serves as Mr. Exposition in relation to the backstories of the Beauty and the Beast Corps.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, Irish and Seth are this for Nigel West Dickens. Of course, West Dickens is a Snake Oil Salesman.
  • Krew is this in Jak and Daxter to the Underground but he'll sell them out if the price is high enough.
  • Gheed in Diablo II could qualify as this and Honest John. Warriv states that, while Gheed is greedy, his wares are beyond reproach, suggesting that he realizes that selling low quality goods means that people would stop buying from him.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, none of the merchants in the area around The Strip will openly sell you the kind of Hidden Weapons you can smuggle past casino security. However, a shady guy hanging around Gomorrah calling himself "Mister Holdout" will sell them to you, and Mick at Mick and Ralph's can be convinced to sell you some from a secret back room if you pass a Speech challenge.
    Crier: We've got stuff we're not even allowed to sell, people. Only at Mick & Ralph's.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series, the Thieves' Guild acts as a friend in the black market for hire. They tend to operate out of Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club type establishments, usually bars or taverns, which serve as Open Secret unofficial guild halls to create plausible deniability, since their guild halls actually being secrets would be bad for business. For a fee, they'll *ehem* acquire certain goods, perform shakedowns, run protection rackets, and have members who can clear your bounties with law enforcement. Naturally, if you choose to join, you'll carry out most of these activities.
    • Starting with Oblivion and carrying over into Skyrim, Thieves Guild fences are the only merchants who will buy stolen goods. If you wish to sell these goods, you'll need this friend in the black market.
    • Skyrim's own College of Winterhold has Enthir, a Wood Elf who frequently handles the shadier dealings at the college. Notably, the missions that involve him involve getting something he traded away back from bandits, necromancers, or even vampires, one mission for the Thieves Guild (for whom he will act as a fence upon completion,) and he is the only merchant that reliably sells black soul gems.
  • In the Borderlands series, Crazy Earl serves this role after he is Demoted to Extra in Borderlands 2, continuing this practice into Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!.
  • Splatoon has Spyke in the first game, and Murch in the second. Both are literal Street Urchins who hang out in the back alleys of Inkopolis. They offer their various services at premium price (the in-universe reason for Spyke getting replaced is actually because he earned more than enough money to retire), amongst them being "obtaining" clothing the player asks them to get, selling it at three times the store price. Better not to ask how they got it.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, you meet several: Trip, the disaffected, twitchy, Triple Shifter pawn-shop manager; Mercurio, the sixtysomething ghoul in a thirtysomething body who can get "anything anyone wants at any time"; Fat Larry, a Soul Brotha who requires a few favors before he sells you his special stock; Slater, night shift convenience store worker, so bored in his Soul-Sucking Retail Job that he sells guns on the side; and Tseng, very definitely not a Chinese army veteran, vendor of herbal remedies that sometimes have a superficial resemblance to automatic weapons.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, there are recurring war table operations through which the Inquisitor can acquire crafting materials for the organization such as cloth and leather. How they are acquired depends on which adviser is selected to complete the operation; Cullen wants to send soldiers to make direct purchases from the weavers/tanners, while Josephine wants to deal with reputable merchants, but Leliana always offers to contact the black market for the rarest goods. Occasionally, selecting Leliana will result in her agents finding nothing.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Kafei has the Curiosity Shop owner as a friend, with the latter specializing in selling stolen goods. Kafei particularly wants to identify one of the Curiosity Shop's main clients who stole the Sun's Mask from him.
  • Most merchants in Vampyr: Milton Hawkes, Dorothy Crane and Rakesh Chadana are hospital staff that smuggle goods that can be sold to you and Edwina Cox is a gang leader that sells weapons so she is this trope by default. There are legitimate traders in the game, but they are fewer in number.
  • Munehisa Iwai of Persona 5. He's an ex-Yakuza who runs an airsoft shop, which doubles as a pawn shop for anyone looking to get rid of valuable items— and your protagonist happens to have a semi-genuine Olympic medal on his hands. From then on, he buys whatever treasure you pick up the cognitive world, and sells you model guns that function like real guns in said cognitive world.
  • In BattleTech, the Pirates become this if you get a high rating with them. They run the black markets and like all factions give nice discounts on their stores at high approval ratings. Since the black market is an excellent source for late-game mechs and weaponry, this is generally a good idea.
  • In Telling Lies, David's contact Harry is this, supplying him with drugs and explosives at various points in the timeline.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Squadmate Vetra Nyx is one of these. In fact, it's how she wound up in the Andromeda Initiative to begin with, being brought on to "procure" items that couldn't be attained through entirely legal channels. Fortunately, Vetra's a good person, but she and Ryder have to go through plenty of "I know a guy" conversations to maintain some semblance of plausible deniability. She never sells Ryder anything, but she does have an amazing amount of friends across the Initiative and outside it.
  • In Warframe the Tenno have an ally in rogue Corpus trader Darvo Bek, estranged son of Corpus board chairman Frohd Bek, who they help get away from his overbearing father to strike out on his own. He has a bit of the Honest John's Dealership about him (a lot of his merchandise is clearly stolen, salvaged or smuggled), but he's incomparably more ethical than the rest of the Corpus (who are generally one of the game's main enemy factions), and offers special deals to the Tenno, as well as giving them the odd special mission.
    Darvo: My competition would be upset if they knew I was selling this stock so cheap. Come to think of it, they would be upset to know I was selling this stock at all... they're probably still looking for it.

    Web Animation 
  • While Bubs of Homestar Runner may mostly be an Honest John, he also sells stuff on the black market — and his black-market merchandise are more legitimate, higher-quality products than anything he sells at his store.
  • In Freeman's Mind, Gordon occasionally muses that his friend Eddie can help him with some sort of illegal activity, whether it be pawning a large supply of weapons, procuring human skulls, or obtaining fake identification.


    Web Videos 
  • In Chapter 2 of TFS at the Table, Ezra and Eloy encounter a wind genasi known as Legitimate Larry, who has apparently closed and opened his shop again six times. He sells them some very elaborate and impressive equipment, but is also very hard to talk down from his extortionate prices. Later on, the party also discover he has a bounty on his head from the Adventurer's Guild in Rite. Ezra and Eloy, however, rolled so badly on their first meeting that they trust Larry implicity. Ironically, this has lead to him being a very useful resource for them sometimes.
    Zito, addressing Ezra: Legitimate Larry? No way this dude isn't legitimate, it's in his god-damn name.

    Western Animation 
  • Hustler Kid in Recess. In one episode Gus became the "Gusler Kid" and did even better than him. TJ also went a bit mad when an expy of Pokémon cards was adopted as a currency of sorts.
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Carl has a friend named Terry. Terry can get things... but you don't want to know where he got them.
  • In the Sofia the First episode "Winter's Gift," Clover calls on his old friend Whiskers (a fox) to get Sofia some ice lilies, since he has connections all over the wood, and literally gets his information from little birdies.

Alternative Title(s): I Know A Guy


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