Kids will be kids. They like to have fun and don't tend to give a lot of consideration to how adults feel about it. The entire world is their playground, pretty much, and they generally don't mean any harm, even when their playing gets out of hand. Most adults are understanding, or at least willing to be tolerant of kids getting a little rambunctious.
And then there's this adult. The one every kid in the neighborhood dreads.
Maybe they're a Child Hater, or they can't remember what it was like to have been young, or they have some other Freudian Excuse for their behavior. Whatever the cause, they feel that children should be seen and not heard, and that their fun is noisy, disruptive, dangerous, offensive, annoying, and otherwise undesirable. In their opinion, most other adults are far too lenient with those rotten little brats and let them get away with too much. While this Cranky Neighbor type can't control the whole world or even their whole neighborhood, they can and will exert complete tyranny over one area —their own lawn.
Any child whose toy or other plaything ends up on this adult's property — lawn, roof, backyard, pool — is in for a bad time; the Fun Hating Confiscating Adult will triumphantly declare something along the lines of "It belongs to me now!" and make off with the plaything in question, which may end up forgotten in a box in the garage, or put in a trophy room of sorts — or worst of all, thrown in the garbage. Such an adult may have a vicious Angry Guard Dog to chase away any children brave enough to try retrieving their belongings. (Curiously, nobody ever seems to think to just report the geezer to the police for Theft of Property.)
There's a Sadist Teacher variation too, who will snatch whatever they catch a student using that they disapprove of. Sometimes they will give it back at the end of the semester — or the school year. Sometimes they consider it theirs from that point forward. Such a teacher may have a sniveling suck-up student helping to point out targets.
The most common resolution to a plot involving this villain involves some Kid Hero or another hatching a plan to get in and get all the stuff back, returning it to its happy and grateful owners. Occasionally, the kids will run to a parent, and the parent will confront the confiscator.
The most common subversion to the trope tends to be when the kids finally work out a plan to get their stuff back, only to discover that the adult in question isn't actually fun-hating and hasn't actually confiscated it. In cases like this, it's most likely some kind of misunderstanding. They're usually just a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold, and they've just been holding onto it, waiting for the kids to come for it.
For practical meta-reasons, this trope is common to family and children's fare. The Media Watchdogs tend to frown on shows involving children facing the types of more serious and deadly dangerous villains that turn up in media targeting an older or adult audience. This trope allows both kid viewers and adult viewers to dislike the villain, as (a) they are showing disrespect to the child and the child's property, and (b) the parent is usually the one who paid for or gifted the child with the toy being confiscated.
When the Confiscator is old (and they usually are) expect to see such tropes as Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!, When Elders Attack, and Grumpy Old Man as well. Compare Fantasy-Forbidding Father and The Killjoy. May overlap with Fun-Hating Villain if the Confiscator is a main antagonist. See also Threw My Bike on the Roof for a more general application of the same principle.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! manga: A teacher not only confiscates a toy from Yugi, but threatens him, Jonouchi and Honda with expulsion if they can't find where he hid it within a time limit. Other Yugi triggers the toy's beeping, which reveals that the vain teacher hid it under his wig. And reveals to everyone that the teacher is actually bald.
- Justified and subverted in Monster House: Mr. Nebbercracker cultivated the "scary, cranky old man" image, and would snatch the toys that ended up landing on his lawn to protect kids from trying to retrieve them, because his house was sentient, possessed by the vengeful spirit of his wife who had big issues with nasty, pranking hooligan children and couldn't tell them from non-malicious children being playful. The truth is that he was a kind-hearted sweet old man who was happy to give the toys back once the danger was over.
- The Sandlot has one. He even has an Angry Guard Dog called The Beast; this ends up being a subversion as neither is really as bad as the children originally believed.
- Mr. Strickland in the Back to the Future trilogy.
- Ms. Stout from The Search for Santa Paws hates Christmas for no explained reason and will confiscate any toys or Christmas decorations the girls in her Orphanage of Fear have. She actually goes a step further by throwing them in a furnace.
- A brief gag in A Christmas Story has the children in Ralphie's class wear fake buck teeth when their teacher comes in. Without saying a word, she holds out her hand and the students hand them over. The teacher isn't so much shown as fun-hating than no-nonsense though, and the fact that the students know the drill and she already has a drawer full of confiscated novelty items implies this is far from the first time they've done something like that.
- Filch from Harry Potter had a room full of things confiscated from students, including the Marauders' Map, which the Weasley twins liberated and then gave to Harry.
- In Horrid Henry and the Demon Dinner Lady, a new lunchroom monitor starts confiscating all the unhealthy snacks the kids have in their packed lunches and eating them herself.
- Just William had to deal with several of these, and generally came out on top.
- In the children's book, The Wonderful Farm, one story has an unusual variant in that the girls have their ball confiscated by an angry old goose, who proceeds to lecture them on not taking proper care of their things (they were, the ball had just flown past one of them and had the bad luck of rolling too close to the pond). Interestingly, he is quite happy to play with it himself and let his own children play with it. The girls, meanwhile, spend the rest of the story trying to get it back to avoid a scolding from their parents. In the end, the family's donkey uses some clever trickery and the goose ultimately relents.
- There was an episode of Crossing Jordan where the Fun Hating Confiscating Adult in Jordan's childhood neighborhood had recently died and a skeleton was found in the baseboards of her floor soon turns out that it was the remains of her husband who she killed several years ago to protect her mentally disabled son. This trope was played with in the sense that over the course of the investigation, she was shown to be a more of a human being. Though they did find the cedar chest where she kept all of the toys.
- Saturday Night Live: Cheri Oteri's recurring character Rita DelVecchio, who would tell kids "I keep it now! It's mine now!" when their football/novelty flying disc/etc. would land on her lawn or porch.
- The Troop: Jake and Phoebe each have something confiscated by their neighbor. Jake's takes advantage of the neighbor having been temporarily petrified by a Basilisk to get their stuff back from his box of confiscated toys.
- Brent and Hank of Corner Gas lived near one of these as kids, and as middle-aged men they raid his shed to get their toys back.
- Cold Case: In "The Brush Man", one of the suspects is a reclusive Vietnam veteran who keeps any toy who lands on his property. When the police search his home, they find a huge stash of bikes and balls.
- Goosebumps: Major McCall in the Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes adaptation, who confiscates anything that lands on his lawn.
- Fanboy and Chum Chum: Their teacher confiscated Kyle's magic wand and told him he could have it back at the end of the year. Justified example, because Kyle was about to use it to cast a hostile spell on the titular duo.
- Mrs. Munson from Kid vs. Kat has confiscated hundreds if not thousands of toys in her lifetime, keeping them all locked away in her garden shed. She's been doing this for so long that when Coop manages to return all the toys to their owner's a grey haired senior is thrilled to get his long lost kite back.
- The Fairly OddParents:
- Mr. Crocker has an extensive knowledge of The Crimson Chin because of how many comic books he's confiscated over the years.
- There's another teacher who confiscated one of the wands, and said it would be given back at the end of the semester.
- Dr. Bender, the mean dentist, is also a Confiscator. Any toy that ends up in his yard, he gives to his son Wendell as a present. But Timmy's mother took him on to get Timmy's ball back.
- Kick Buttowski:
- Kick, after setting up a Ringer Ploy, retrieves all the things from the garbage that Ms. Chickarelli confiscated and returns them back to their owners.
- There's also a librarian who confiscates anything in the library. Kick defeats her and returns Gunther's book and sandwich.
- There's also a subversion. The spooky old house where no kid has ever dared try to retrieve a lost toy... Is actually owned by a sweet old lady who is happy to give them back when asked.
- Subverted in Recess when Gus kicks a ball into a yard near the playground where nobody had dared recover a ball from before (complete with a legend about a kid who disappeared after trying to do so). After actually trying, they find out that the owner's a Cool Old Lady who lets them take the entire lawn-ful of balls that had built up over the years.
- The Simpsons:
Boy: All right! I've been waiting nine years to get my frisbee back. [He throws it, but it goes right back inside] Aw!
- Stacy Lavelle, the woman who invented Malibu Stacy, is implied to be this. When Lisa tracks her down, she opens her electric gate to let Lisa in. A neighbor boy takes the opportunity to get his frisbee.
- That's really more because she's a shut-in and never opens her gate, though.
- Springfield Elementary has a whole room full of stuff confiscated from students over the years.
- Miss Mucus from Camp Lazlo has a room in her trailer full of toys she has confiscated. Scoutmaster Lumpus also has elements of this but, in his case, he tends to confiscate items so he can use them himself rather than to deprive the children of them.
- One episode of Arthur has Mr. Ratburn confiscating a toy Buster brought to school, and when the kids are theorising what goes on in the teachers' lounge, one of them suggests they might be playing with the confiscated toys. That turns out to be correct.
- Entirely unsurprisingly, Miss MacBeth from Invisible Network of Kids. At the end of term, she incinerates all of the toys she has confiscated.
- Played with in Steven Universe episode "Nightmare Hospital": Connie's mother confiscates Rose Quartz's sword from Connie, reasonably pointing out that's it not something children should play with. Connie and Steven try to explain she wasn't playing with it and fully knew how to use it, which Connie's mother refuses to believe, even as they're being attacked by monsters.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Cranky Neighbor Old Man Rivers confiscated some very important adoption forms after Bloo threw them at his grandson for making faces at him. This leads to Mac doing a Rear Window Investigation to get them back.
- The Loud House: Christmas Episode " Eleven Louds A-Leapin" indicates that cranky Mr. Grouse is one of these. Lincoln and Clyde react with Big "NO!" upon realizing Link's sled has ended up in his yard. Grouse gets the Christmas spirit and gives everything back.
- Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was reported to be like this: children who kicked a soccer ball over the wall would not receive it back (as bin Laden was paranoid that fingerprints belonging to him or his close associates could be lifted from the ball). The guards usually paid the children for the ball—often handsomely—instead.