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Honest John's Dealership

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"It used to belong to a little old lady who only drove it on Sundays."

"He's out to sell some used cars,
and it doesn't matter who you think you are
He's got a line for everyone,
He'll treat you like his daughter or son
But wait, don't go for that bait—
Too late!"
The W's, "Used Car Salesman"

You're in a sticky situation; you need to get something and there doesn't seem to be a cheap or legal way of getting it. (It could be banned, rationed, expensive, from overseas or possibly just made in extremely limited quantities). If you're unlucky, you'll have to visit Honest John's Dealership. While this trope focuses on used cars, it covers anything sketchy that a pushy salesperson tries to sell you.

These are the guys who'll attempt to sell you anything, mostly items that Fell Off the Back of a Truck. The items may be off warranty, withdrawn by the manufacturer in your country, returned items that broke and got refurbished, salvaged from a wreck, or out-of-date models. The "gently used car" was probably an Uber or police car. They sell anything that is just barely legal. The prices are usually dodgy too, either Too Good to Be True or obnoxiously overpriced. (The former usually catches more people out than the latter.) Sometimes there's big hidden fees and charges. Sometimes, there's a catch hidden on page 26 of the agreement. All in all, their main goal is quick money.

Like its cousin trope, the Friend in the Black Market, Honest John can fit anywhere on the neutral or chaotic side of the Character Alignment spectrum: a good comparison would be the Loveable Rogue Jerk with a Heart of Gold 'Del Boy' Trotter or Mr. CMOT Dibbler types VS Jerkasses like Mr. Wormwood or Sociopaths like Harry Lime. After all, selling malfunctioning blow-up dolls is a far more forgivable occupation than selling The Alleged Car that hates you with a passion or fake pharmaceuticals to orphanages. If the "Honest John" character is genuine, pure evil, then you've got a Deal with the Devil on your hands. More likely he's just a Slimeball - maybe one with friends in the Totally Not a Criminal Front. However you slice it, you're probably not coming out ahead on this deal.

Expect him to wear an obnoxious outfit (plaid polyester suit jackets seem to be popular), record Insane Proprietor advertisements and Kitschy Local Commercials, and say "But Wait, There's More!" every other sentence. If this character is rendered as a Funny Animal, chances are quite high that he'll be a weasel or a fox. Items for sale at Honest John's may include All-Natural Snake Oil, Asbestos-Free Cereal, the Brooklyn Bridge, and of course The Alleged Car. If he's primarily out to scam women out of their money rather than everyone, then he's a Sexist Used Car Salesman.

Despite trying to appear as having Names to Trust Immediately, chances are fairly good that the "Honest" part makes it an Ironic Name in the same spirit as the People's Republic of Tyranny. You know, if he has to tell everyone he's honest...

Compare and Contrast Friend in the Black Market, who also sells items at a premium but at least guarantees he's giving you the good stuff. May also overlap with a Shady Scalper, who generally will gain the items they sell legally, but in doing so inflate the prices to profit. In a military setting, this trope is almost guaranteed to overlap with The Scrounger. See also Snake Oil Salesman, Shady Real Estate Agent, New Job as the Plot Demands, Crooked Contractor, Medicine Show, The Barnum, and Traveling Salesman. Only tangentially related to Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman, as that doesn't actually require characters to have this job, just a different one than in real life. Related to Unknowingly Possessing Stolen Goods, where a character gets in possession of items that are stolen, which can be sold from one of these dealers.

Completely straight examples tend not to last long in Real Life, but we've probably all met one at least once. They're called "gray market salesmen" in business/econ terms. Ironically enough, they have less of a reason to lie and cheat than new car salesmen, as used car sales are a) more profitable in general and b) usually grant more consistent commissions because you're largely just selling the car and have fewer middle-men to appease, while new car salesmen derive a far larger portion of their commissions from tacked-on extras, leading to overwhelmingly high-pressure tactics and occasionally outright lying or grossly stretching the truth.


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  • The narrator of Big Bill Hell's cheerfully admits to this, all while believing you're still dumb enough to fall for their bullshit.
    Bad deals! Cars that break down! Thieves! If you think you're gonna find a bargain at Big Bill, you can kiss my ass! It's our belief you're such a stupid motherfucker, you'll fall for this bullshit, guaranteed!
  • Sarcastically praised in Bud Light's "Real men of genius: Mr. Used Car Lot Auto Salesman" in which the titular used car salesman's dodgy sales techniques are discussed and the announcer deadpans "...because when life gives you lemons, you sell them."
  • A series of ads for Carfax Vehicle History Reports have a sleazy salesman determined to make a used car sale and acting like he is mishearing a customer's request to see the Carfax Report.
  • Then there was Joe Isuzu, fictional spokesman for Isuzu cars and trucks in the late 80s and early 90s (and again briefly in the early 2000s), as played by David Leisure from Empty Nest. He would frequently make outrageous claims about the car he was pitching (which would then be immediately contradicted by captions at the bottom of the screen). However, iconic as they were, it also caused a case of What Were They Selling Again?. When Joe made his brief 2000s return, he was more about selling and/or pointing out the Isuzu, rather than making weird claims.
  • Local used car dealerships often portray their competitors/rivals as these in their commercials.
  • Parodied and inverted in a couple of Whittaker's Peanut Slab adverts, including this one.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Area 88: The base quartermaster McCoy is a prime example of this, stocking everything from toilet paper to nuclear weapons. He is not above tricks like placing a photographer's bag in the sun to force him to buy new film or selling faulty Sidewinder missiles at $20 each.
  • Bucchigiri?! has Nyan Nyaight Love - a dubious establishment where the Cat Boy receptionist coaxes his would-be clientele in a a blatantly shady, yet hillarios manner.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: The NightMare Enterprises/Holy Nightmare salesman. Dedede gave him nearly 100 episodes worth of payback when they finally meet personally. In the 4kids dub, he's like an American car salesman, while the original version is based on a polite and humble Japanese salesman — but the roles are just about the same.
  • Pokémon: The Series: The Magikarp Salesman from the show's early seasons routinely tricks Team Rocket into buying useless things. A notable example is in James' first meeting with him, where he tricks James into buying a Magikarp by making him think that it's essentially a Hand of Midas. James seems to wise up and is suspicious in later encounters with him, although Jessie's a different story.
  • Ranma ½: Nabiki Tendō. In one episode she becomes Ranma's "financée", rents him out to her classmates, tries to get Ranma to break up with her and pay a "consolation fee", then tries to sell him back to Akane for anywhere from (what's equivalent to) $19 to $50. As she said in another episode:
    Akane: Whose side are you on?
    Nabiki: I'm on the side with money.
  • Slayers: Lina Inverse.
    • In the very first episode, she actually haggles over how much she can get paid to save the town she's in from an attacking dragon, stating to her companion that "Necessity drives a hard bargain". A couple of episodes later, she sets prices for several items in her possession at 100 times the street price and accuses the would-be buyer of having no balls for balking when he explicitly stated that he'd pay any price she named. Even her normally easy-going traveling companion is floored by that one.
    • The same exchange occurs in the original light novel; Lina justifies herself to Gourry, saying that the extreme paranoia with which the buyer conducted himself (refusing to even specify which item he wanted to purchase until he was actually handing her the money) piqued her curiosity, so she deliberately named outrageous prices so that the buyer would buzz off long enough that she could have a closer look to find out what was so damn important about three valuable, but otherwise unremarkable, tchotchkes. Not that she would have complained if the buyer had actually ponied up...
  • In Vamp!, there is a team of vampire hunters known as Otherworld Welfare Inc., Branch 666, that has a website that sells garlic spray, stake kits, and talismans, in addition to exterminating vampires themselves. They admit that this is done purely for money and that their wares aren't necessarily effective in fighting vampires.
  • In Vandread, Rabat (or as Word of God said, a contraction of Rat Bastard) is a Honest John. Only later we learn his true purposes, but until then, he sells everything from weaponry to cosmetics to ship drive boosters.

    Audio Play 
  • One Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama starts with the Doctor visiting one of these in search of a material needed to repair his TARDIS, as the alternative is going home and begging for it.
  • The Firesign Theatre's album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All? opens with a character buying a car from "Ralph Spoilsport", who definitely fits the trope.

    Comic Books 
  • In Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift, Suspencer is an obnoxious, greedy, hipster who appoints himself keeper of the (falsely believed) dead Marceline's memory and produces tons of tasteless merch before finally looting her house for memorabilia.
  • In Alan Ford, the seldom-seen Bing (and perhaps his brother) is such a dealer. Sir Oliver is usually seen conducting business with him over the phone, and then not buying but selling stuff fallen from the back of... well, everyone.
  • Archie Comics: One comic has Archie buy a snowmobile from a place like this to impress Veronica, and it's likely the worst model they had. Reggie, naturally, has a ball laughing in Archie's face (wagering he can circle the block in his newer model ten times before Archie can even do so once) until Mr. Lodge recognizes the heap Archie bought for a rare antique and offers Archie his own (the snowmobile version of a Lambourgini) $500 in spending money and use of his chauffeur for the day. Reggie actually goes back to the dealer (who's still smug because he thought he had conned Archie) and pleads for a similar "deal".
  • Asterix:
    • Asterix and the Banquet (Le Tour de Gaule d'Astérix) has a car chariot dealer selling Asterix and Obelix a shiny, sparkling, good-as-new chariot pulled by a strong black stallion... the only problem is, the carriage breaks with the first stone in the road, and the strong black stallion turns out to be an old, battered white horse painted with black dye...
    • There's also a Phoenician recurring character, Ekonomikrisis, who calls his slaves "partners with the right to row". He's just a humble partner without the right to row, of course.
  • The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) comic book established that Cobra Commander used to be an unscrupulous used car salesman.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: Weird Pete routinely fast-talks B.A. into buying whatever he's trying to unload by talking it up as "just what he needs" for his game. Weird Pete and his customers are themselves regular targets of sharp dealing from game publisher Hard Eight Enterprises.
    Weird Pete: I'm tellin' ya, B.A., Orcs at the Gates is the largest, most comprehensive Hackmaster campaign set ever published...
    Weird Pete's spiel finally convinces B.A. to spend $89.99 for it. After he leaves....
    Weird Pete: (on phone) Gamin' Dick? Ha, ha, guess what! I just unloaded that piece of crap Orcs at the Gates! Finally!
  • Mafalda: Played for laughs with Manolito, a grocer's son who fancies himself a future Wall Street magnate and often tries to get his friends to buy his father's products by talking up pickles and sausages in the way a car salesman talks up his wares.
  • Super Mario Adventures: In the comic serial, Mario and Luigi buy a Yoshi language learning book from a man named Friendly Floyd, only to find that it's worthless because all the sentences are translated simply as "Yoshi." Later on, though, Luigi manages to get help from Floyd in rescuing Mario from the Koopalings.
  • Suske en Wiske: Theofiel Boemerang, a vacuum cleaner salesman who prides himself to be trustworthy, but really isn't.
  • Tintin: The eponymous hero meets Mr. Oliveira da Figueira, a gent who manages to sell him a whole lot of junk, including a pair of skis with poles, in a desert. This is also after Tintin assures his dog that he wouldn't be conned into buying anything he didn't need. Worse, Tintin actually points out to his dog how he AVOIDED being conned. Depending on the specific translation, Tintin sometimes even points out that it was Figueira that got conned. Despite this, he isn't a liar or a cheat at all, just extremely charismatic and skilled at convincing people to buy stuff they don't need.
  • The Transformers: One issue of Marvel's series has Big Steve, a slimy dealer who uses every dirty trick in the book.
  • Varmints has Smilin' Jim. He manages to swindle Ned from the very impressuce horse he was eyeing, and sell Ned a mule.
  • What The--?!:
    • Issue #2 features a fake advertisement page where a character called Honest John sold human brains, including Hitler's, possessed dolls; Elvis Presley's phone number and several of the devices in the Marvel Universe such as the Ultimate Nullifier. Other issues of the comic-book also featured false advertisement pages.
    • Issue #1, for instance, included ads for an "Ironed Man" suit of armor and courses in a martial art called "Yubewasted" that would allegedly allow its practitioners to take out opponents with just one finger. It also had an ad on the back promoting a guy hiring losers to ink comic books that states "He's looking for gullible people with lots of money."

    Comic Strips 
  • Beau Peep: Honest Abdul, purveyor of tat to Cloudcuckoolanders Dennis and the Nomad. A typical Abdul strip will have him reflecting that no-one will buy his latest product, then a Gilligan Cut to Dennis proudly showing it to a disbelieving Peep.
  • Brother Juniper: One comic shows the title character asking a smug-looking salesman at Honest John Used Cars "Cross your heart?"
  • Dilbert: Dogbert tries his hand at this and unsurprisingly discovers he is quite good at it.
    Dogbert: This one used to belong to Carlos the diamond smuggler. It drives well, but corners a little off, almost as though it has something heavy hidden in the door panels.
  • Garfield:
    • Honest Ed, who claims he stands beside every car he sells. When Jon asked if he means behind, he discovers that Ed's engineers are so incompetent that they seem to have fitted the gearbox the wrong way round, and the car rockets backwards into a wall. Not to mention, windshield wipers, seatbelts, and *tires* are optional, and as Garfield observes, his office is in a pickup truck with the engine running. Also, Honest Frosty's Used Trees.
    • In another strip, Garfield watches a TV ad for "Honest Arnie's Used Car Emporium". Arnie's cars are as bad as expected from this kind of dealership but, unlike most examples, Arnie is really honest about them.
      Honest Arnie: You want cars?! We've got cars!! Here's a sweet 2009 minivan... candy apple red, and only driven off a cliff twice! And how about this little beauty? Just 30,000 miles, and absolutely no, that's right... no brakes! Want an economy car? Look no further! It's a V-8, but only four of them work! Think of the gas savings! Like folks to know you're coming? The engine in this stunner shrieks like a debutant at a rat convention! So come on down to Honest Arnie's used car emporium, and push one of these bargains off our lot!
      Garfield: He never sells anything, but he is honest.
      Honest Arnie: Flat soda and day-old balloons for the kids, too!
  • In Peanuts, the advice Lucy gives at her psychiatric booth is usually worthless at best, but she always manages to get a nickel out of it from Charlie Brown.
  • Piranha Club: Elvis Zimmerman is one of these. Sid, too, who runs a shady real estate business.
  • Ziggy: In one cartoon, the protagonist walks past Honest John's Used Autos and sees Honest John being arrested. The next day's strip sees him walking past Honest Otto's Used Johns, which sells toilets.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Nicodemus Asbraxe sells products of possibly violent and criminal providence. He especially enjoys dealing with Evil Overlords because they rarely care about the moral niceties of where he got his products.
    Nicodemus liked Keepers. They did not ask pointed questions about where a particular object came from, or why there was blood splattered all over it.

    Films — Animation 
  • An American Tail actually has a character named Honest John. However, he is more of a Loveable Rogue politician trying to get people to vote for him. Including dead people (in other words, he symbolizes the political machines of The Gilded Age).
  • The Brave Little Toaster: The Television poses as one of these in a fake commercial as he tries to get the attention of the Master in an attempt to save his friends from the junkyard, which he calls Crazy Ernie's Amazing Emporium of Total Bargain Madness.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Aladdin: The Merchant at the beginning tries to sell to the viewers all sorts of useless junk while presenting them as something special until he shows something that has genuinely a much higher value than it looks: an oil lamp. And then using it as a basis, offers one of the important things that he has: a truly valuable story.
    • Hercules:
      • When Hercules lands in Thebes, a man appears, opens his vest, and asks Hercules if he wants to buy a sundial.
      • Of course, Hades himself would be on the infernal edge of this trope if his deals involved actual money. James Woods even modeled Hades after a used car salesman.
    • Pinocchio: While not the first fictional con artist to be named "Honest John," J. Worthington "Honest John" Foulfellow is the effective Trope Namer due to his decades of prominence as a major Disney character. He is a fox who cheats Pinocchio on several occasions.
      • While this Honest John doesn't exactly run a dealership, he actively seeks out dishonest deals (selling Pinocchio to a crooked puppetmaster); he and his daffy assistant, Gideon the cat, are obviously out to make a crooked buck however they can.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Arizona Dream: Leo, played by Jerry Lewis, runs a Cadillac dealership in Arizona, to which he unsuccessfully tries to recruit his nephew Axel to be his salesman. Leo himself seems to feel that the answers to all life's questions lie in selling Cadillacs. He's so attached to the brand that at a point where he has shooed a pesky browser off his lot, the worst insult he can think of to yell after him is "Buy a FORD!"
  • In Beetlejuice, the title character is the spirit world's answer to this trope, complete with Insane Proprietor-style Kitschy Local Commercials.
  • Borat: Reversed. The characters want a really cheap vehicle just to get across the country, so the guy tells them that he can sell them a used ice-cream truck which isn't very well equipped but it will at least get them where they're going (i.e. the guy told the truth).
    • It was a real used-car salesman who was being filmed and thought it was a documentary, not a parody of one. The salesman declared "I just feel bad I wasted three hours of my time for 150 bucks. And I had nothing to do with selling him an ice cream truck."
    • The series How It Should Have Ended essentially makes the argument that Sacha Baron Cohen is an Honest John's Dealer delivering a movie that was (he assumes) not to most people's taste then telling them "so long suckers, you can't have your money back."
  • Breaking Away: The main character's father was a used car dealer like this. He told one customer that the reason the car he was test-driving had stalled was that it had premium gasoline in its tank instead of regular, and had a heart attack at the possibility of giving a refund for a crappy car.
  • In The Compleat Al, a number of salespeople selling tacky souvenirs and questionable merchandise lurk outside Al's concert at the Greek Theater.
    "These are your actual partially-eaten hot dogs by Al or members of his immediate entourage, complete with buns and condiments."
  • Flywheel: Jay Austin Motors starts off like this before Austin's Heel–Faith Turn. His business becomes much more successful after he vows to start treating his customers completely fairly and honestly.
  • It Takes Two: The main antagonist is the CEO of Denver luxury car company "Trovare", who sells pretty literal knock-off Lamborghinis (as in, "they fall apart after driving them for four miles after selling them and were built with sub-sub-standard parts" kind of literal) and uses every delaying tactic to mooch time and money from people trying to get them fixed (and swindled to avoid buying the warranty, on top of every other expensive extra). The dealership ends up being blown sky-high on the film's climax by a disgruntled employee: the company's mechanic, who was fed up with having to deal with said crap cars and seeing people get scammed constantly, as well as being generally treated like garbage.
  • Lethal Weapon 3: Averted by Leo Getz. When trying to sell Murtaugh's home in, he insists on following the law and disclosing such interesting and alarming tidbits as the upstairs bathroom being "recently remodeled due to unexpected bomb damage" (which happened in the previous film).
  • The Love Bug: In Herbie Rides Again, Grandma Steinmetz can get Herbie to calm down by implying that she'll send him there if he doesn't behave.
  • In Mad Max, Max encounters a shady gas station repairman who tries to sell him repairs on everything but Max's car frame. It's implied that his parts are all stolen as well. Max is too canny for the man and escapes with his pocketbook intact. The mechanic ultimately foments Max's downfall, though unwittingly.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man 2: His goods may be a quite a bit more high dollar than your average Honest John, but Justin Hammer certainly has the attitude down pat as well as the cluster of malfunctions, if the videos from the Senate Briefing at the beginning are any good sign. Later in the film, Rhodey and the Air Force go to him to weaponize the Iron Man MkII, and he demonstrates his complete ignorance (or apathy) of basic firearms safety when he flags numerous airmen with weapons that he never even bothered to clear, with his finger on the trigger. The Air Force still buys from him.
    • By Luke Cage (2016), this turns itself around as his company has pioneered the Judas bullet, the only thing capable of penetrating Luke Cage's impenetrable skin, and even manages to bulk-sell it to the NYPD. Given the fact that the last time we saw Justin Hammer, he was being arrested, it's reasonable to assume that actually competent engineers took over.
  • Matilda: Mr. Wormwood crosses the line into outright criminality — his entire business model is built on selling cars that appear to run fine, until they get about thirty miles off the lot when the customer's Sudden Onset Unbridled Rage is further aggravated by whatever means he will choose to use to prove he doesn't owe them a refund. This attracts the attention of the FBI, who intend to put Wormwood in the slammer.
  • The Muppet Movie: Mad Man Mooney, who offers the traveling Muppets a $12 trade-in for both of their vehicles (Fozzie's Studebaker and Gonzo's plumber's truck) and claims a $2,000 car that falls apart in front of their eyes has "detachable fenders for narrow garages." He also has a "you pay the price you see on the sticker" policy. Although it usually means you're getting a lemon and no haggling, it proves to be his downfall when Sweetums swats a fly in juuust the right place and turns an $1,195 car into $11.95.
    Gonzo: Less our $12 trade-in, you owe us a nickel!
  • National Lampoon's Vacation: Clark Griswold falls victim to one of these. He goes to trade in his old car, only to learn the model he ordered won't be in for six weeks and is instead sold a complete lemon that makes his family's lives hell for the next two weeks. On top of that, the dealership crushes his old car before he's even completed the trade.
  • Never Say Die: Inverted; the car salesman (played brilliantly by the late John Clarke) makes a sale in a little over a minute by honestly admitting that the vehicle is basically a wreck, but worth the low price.
  • Planet of the Apes (2001): Limbo grabs some random stuff from a space pod and starts hawking it within 20 minutes of touchdown.
  • Star Wars:
    • In A New Hope:
      • The Jawas steal and scavange droids that they find around Tatooine. One of the droids sold, R5-D4, had a defective motivator and proceeds to blow its parts right after being sold to the Larses, who are not impressed. C-3PO talks them into getting R2-D2 as a replacement.
      • Before leaving Tatooine Luke sells his landspeeder to an alien running a second-hand speeder lot and it's stated that he didn't get much for it because there is a newer model on the market. Given how beat up his vehicle is it seems odd that he would expect to be paid more, but it's possible that in that environment any speeder, however used, would normally fetch a higher price. The implication is that the dealer recognised a motivated seller when she met one.
    • The Phantom Menace: Watto is similar to the Jawas from A New Hope, except that he stays in one town with a permanent storefront. (A few Expanded Universe sources go so far as to say he learned most of the tricks of the Trope from them.)
  • The Three Stooges got in on this more than once. Including one time set in Ancient Egypt, of all places, where they sold used chariots that were about as good as you'd expect. It had a truly comical line from Moe:
    "Greetings, friend! I'm Honest Moe, that's Honest Shemp, and that's... that's Larry."
  • Transformers (2007): Bobby Bolivia. "Honest" enough to present an old, battered Camaro (which wasn't there yesterday) as a very awesome ride. Ironically, that Camaro turns out to be Bumblebee, a very awesome Humongous Mecha...
  • True Lies: Simon, the loser who tries to seduce Helen, is a used-car salesman. This is mostly just to immediately establish him as a sleazeball through inference, since from what little we see of it it appears that his business is actually legit. Upon finding out about the "affair" his wife is having, Harry pays him a visit to scope him out, but Simon does not attempt to rip him off (he do however uses his 1959 Corvette as buyer-bait and does the typical "other guy was interested but maybe I'll sell it to you because I like you" spiel to Harry during a test drive where he also explains his seduction method, but the other part of the swindle — see if Harry offers much more money than "the other guy" — doesn't happens).
  • The plot of Used Cars revolves around a war between two of these establishments. The protagonists are as sleazy as they come, but they at least don't go as far as to commit murder to eliminate their competition.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Played with. Violet's father Sam Beauregarde owns a car lot and pitches it at every opportunity he gets. During the contract signing scene, he has no trouble admitting his sleaziness to Wonka.
    Mr. Beauregarde: Don't talk to me about contracts, Wonka; I use 'em myself. They're strictly for suckers.

  • Arthur: In one book, Muffy Crosswire's super-rich father sells used cars of questionable value, what with his Punny Name. Ironically, one of the episodes of Arthur reveals that he hates liars.
  • The Belgariad: Some of Silk's personas, on varying scopes. Averted once when he is unable to set a good price on an unfamiliar perfume (in his mind this meant good as in making an exorbitant profit without setting it so high he'd be laughed out of the Fair), In the end, he gives it to Polgara, who 'thanks him for a princely gift', which only disgruntles him further.
  • In Busytown, by Richard Scarry, the Funny Animal variant is in play, as the proprietor of the city car dealership is a fox— usually trying to make a sale to a rabbit.
  • Catch-22: Milo Minderbinder begins as a light-hearted version of this trope, paying far more attention to his various moneymaking schemes than the actual war he's supposed to be fighting. However, his financial syndicate grows so large and arcane that he eventually bombs his own airbase, firmly believing that it's in everyone's best interest because it brings profit to his investors.
  • The Crying of Lot 49: Subverted with Mucho Maas, who — during his time spent as a used car salesman — was terrified of becoming one of these and developed a psychosomatic allergic reaction to pencil shavings and a fear of checked suits.
  • Discworld:
    • This trope was formerly named after Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, Ankh-Morpork's most famous entrepreneur and inedible-sausage-inna-bun vendor. The true CMOT Dibbler is, if nothing else, an excellent salesman for his ability to continue selling his horrible products, even after everyone knows just how bad they are. Besides the Ankh-Morporkian Dibbler, the Disc is home to a host of suspiciously similar salesmen, including Disembowel-Meself-Honourably Dibhala, Fair Go Dibbler, Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah, Al-Jiblah, May-I-Never-Achieve-Enlightenment Dhiblang, Dib Diblossonson, May-I-Be-Kicked-In-My-Own-Ice-Hole Dibooki, Swallow-Me-Own-Blowdart Dhlang-Dhlang, and Point-Me-Own-Bone Dibbjla. Reluctant world traveler Rincewind has remarked that if CMOT Dibbler ever shook hands with one of his international doppelgangers, there would probably be some sort of explosion. In the Discworld Companion, the author explains that "Wherever people are prepared to eat terrible food, there will be someone there to sell it to them."
    • Hobson's Livery Stable employs an Igor as a vet, but is rumored to use his extreme surgery skills as a horse "chop-shop". There's an urban legend about a two-toned horse with one long scar going down its body, the result of two particularly nasty cart accidents. He isn't, however, dishonest, and isn't a salesman as such (he's only renting horses out).
    • Heme Krona, proprietor of Camels-R-Us in Pyramids, also qualifies, given that he's ready to sell Teppic's camel ("One Careful Owner. Lo! Mileage") because Teppic hasn't come back for it all day. It is also revealed that Teppic's ancestor who founded Djelibeybi was persecuted for his beliefs; specifically his belief that people wouldn't notice he was selling them camels with plaster teeth.
    • In Monstrous Regiment, Blouse makes the mistake of buying a second-hand horse from "Honest Jack" Slacker, "who went around all the horse fairs' bargain bins and sold winded old screws that dropped a leg before you got home."
  • Dr. Seuss: Sylvester McMonkey McBean in The Sneetches, who manages to con the eponymous creatures into repeatedly paying to use his star-applying and star-removing machines, so they can remain "different from the inferior type"/indistinguishable from their former oppressors. He only leaves when the Sneetches are all completely broke, laughing at their stupidity. This being a children's book, however, they do learn a valuable lesson, and stop discriminating based on belly stars or the lack thereof.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Jack from Searching for Dragons. Telemain actually warns him not to pad the bill on a magic carpet repair after learning that he's doing the job for a princess and the King of Dragons.
  • The Exploits of Ebenezum: Brax the Salesdemon, complete with extremely obnoxious, loud checkered suit.
  • Falling Sideways has a business actually named "Honest John's House of Clones". Which puzzles David Perkins, since, as far as he knows, cloning is something that only been attempted in a few of the most advanced labs in the world. With sheep. There shouldn't be a place on the streets of London offering to clone the woman he's hopelessly in love with for the low, low price of fifty pounds. Seventy-five tops. Plus fifteen for VAT.
  • In Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead, our protagonists are stranded on Necropolis and want to buy a ship. They end up in a used ship lot with a pushy, fast-talking dealer who is very put off when Tash starts guessing everything he's going to say and finishing his sentences. Usually, she doesn't know she's doing it, but this time it's deliberate, and she reflects that he must be shallow.
  • The Grapes of Wrath: The car dealership where the Joads buy their car. An unusual example in which this is not played for comedy.
  • Matilda: Mr. Wormwood. He crosses the line into outright criminality — his entire business model is built on selling cars that appear to run fine, until they get about thirty miles off the lot when the customer's Sudden Onset Unbridled Rage is suddenly aggravated by whatever means he should choose to use to prove he doesn't owe them a refund. He dinkers with worn-out cars to make them seem newer and in better conditions then they are (sawdust in the crank case is a common one), and he's involved with dealing in stolen cars too. At the end, it's not clear whether the law, his associates, or his clients are after him, but he's moving to Spain in an awful hurry.
  • Nursery Crime: The second book, The Fourth Bear, has Dorian Gray as a used car dealer. Much like his original story, each of Dorian's cars stays in pristine condition while a portrait of the car looks worse and worse and, in each car, the odometer runs backwards. When the odometer reaches 0, the cars self-destruct with the hapless driver/occupants inside.
  • The Princess The Crone And The Dung Cart Knight, by Gerald Morris, has Adrian the Pardoner, a traveling salesman of papal indulgences and fake holy relics. The character seems to be based on the Pardoner of the The Canterbury Tales, an example that makes this trope Older Than Print.
  • In Stray, Pufftail was the product of an unplanned cat pregnancy. His mother's owners were able to find homes for everyone besides him and his brother. Their owner sold the brothers for 1 pence each to a local pet shop who planned on selling them for 4 pounds each. The owner of the shop is a shady salesman who sweet-talks gullible shoppers into buying pets, such as when he sold a boy 2 aging mice, a cage, a mirror, a treadmill, and a feeding bowl for 9 pounds when the boy had come in just wanting a lizard. The owner also doesn't like animals. He threatens the kittens that he'll drown them if they start costing more than he originally expected.
  • The Two Georges: Richard Nixon is a salesman for used steam cars.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam-12: In one episode, Reed and Malloy investigate a 415note  call that turns out to be a crooked used-car salesman and the man whose poor grasp of English he exploited. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome when Malloy gives the crook's newly-fired secretary a business card for the LAPD and directs her to ask for the bunco detectives.
  • Adam Ruins Everything focuses on several of these throughout various episodes, including car dealerships, the wedding industry, the funeral industry, and the egg-freezing industry, all of which resort to having their customers spend money on things they may not even want.
  • Alien Nation: One opener shows a Newcomer who runs a place like this giving the standard routine to a customer... Until he discovers a murder victim in the trunk of the car. (Then the scene shifts to the main plot.)
  • Arrested Development: Inverted. When Michael goes to buy a car, the dealer is blunt, honest, and keeps trying to show Michael utilitarian, reliable, cheap cars. When Michael shows interest in a Corvette, he goes out of his way to talk about how impractical it is. Michael buys it anyway.
  • Babylon 5: The mantis-like alien N'Grath. Whenever a character needs to sneak around the station, he's there, willing to sell them plans, access keys, and anything else, for a "very expensive" price. Of course, N'Grath isn't exactly an Honest John, as he (she? it?) is also known to use and hire out hitmen if you don't pay her (him? it?); it (he? she?) implied to be some kind of crime lord, but since the B5 command staff can't pin him (her? it?) for anything and finds her (him? it?) somewhat useful at times, they more or less leave it (him? her?) alone.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies:
    • In the first season episode "Jed Buys the Freeway", a conman, played by Jesse White, tries to sell Jed the freeway, Griffith Park, and the Hollywood Bowl. The Con fails when Jed discovers the conman isn't a mountain man . . . he can't hold his moonshine.
    • The Beverly Hillbillies run into "Honest John", whose actual name is Shifty Shafer in the eighth and ninth seasons. Naturally he's played by Phil Silvers as an Expy of Saergant Bilko. He conducts two cons; one in New York and another in Washington, DC; the latter to have Jed buy land on behalf of the US government. Not only that, but he tries to sell Jed on a phony scheme to get rid of Los Angeles smog. However, the Clampetts are such nice people that Shifty ends up saying he can't accept the money.
  • Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction: One segment takes place at a used car dealership. However, only one salesman fit this trope. He sells at least two cars which are in desperate need of repairs, one of which is involved in a fatal accident. When informed of his client's demise, he brushes it off saying "it was their time." He's killed when he's run over by that same vehicle, supposedly possessed by the victim's ghost. This story is marked as "Fiction" by the show.
  • Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul: Saul Goodman is essentially an Amoral Attorney with Ambulance Chaser trimmings (including the garish advertising)... but, with all the underworld connections, ad-sense, fashion aesthetic, business savvy, situational awareness, people-reading skills, morals, and crooked-but-harmless persona more generally associated with an outright Honest John and borderline con-man. His name is even suspiciously close to "it's all good, man", which should tip you off.
  • Burkes Law: In "Who Killed Jason Shaw?," "Give 'Em Away" Murphy is a Motor Mouth who owns several prosperous used car dealerships and once spent six months in jail for lying about the engine of a car he sold.
    Tim: You think that Murphy is our most promising suspect?
    Burke: Not necessarily, but he's the biggest liar.
  • Dad's Army: Private Joe Walker is your man if you want more of something than your ration book allows.
  • Daredevil (2015): Turk Barrett is an illegal arms dealer. He sells guns that don't work. In "Rabbit in a Snowstorm," the gun he sells to one of Wilson Fisk's assassins fails to live up to his promise that they don't jam (the buyer had said he preferred revolvers for this very reason). In the Season 2 premiere, Matt interrupts Turk while he's trying to sell a bunch of sawed-off shotguns to potential clients, overly praising them, only to then admit to Matt they couldn't even kill a rabbit and are best used when bludgeoning someone to death.
  • Degrassi Junior High: Joey Jeremiah was the High-School Hustler in the '80s versions. He grew up to become a used-car dealer in the Revival.
  • Diili, the Finnish version of the reality TV show The Apprentice, had Juhana Helmenkalastaja (his surname means "Pearl diver", which he had legally changed his name into), who actually talked a jeweller into selling him a gold bar for spare change. The incident, however, was frowned upon by the big boss.
  • Due South: In one episode, Benton and Ray went undercover at a used-car dealership which was fencing stolen cars. While the real car salesmen were examples of this trope, it was subverted when ever-honest Constable Fraser proved to be an excellent car salesman simply by telling people the truth and helping them find the car they wanted. (Okay, and by inadvertently being a magnet to female car buyers.)
  • The Electric Company (1971): A memorable skit from the first season, pairing Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby. Cosby brags to a potential client that he is Honest John (pointing out the words with his stick). Just then, an angry customer (Freeman) bursts into the office and demands an explanation about why "Honest John" sold his son a lemon. Freeman then suggests that "Honest John" is an inaccurate name, to which Cosby admits "I lie a lot!"
  • Family Matters: Explicitly lampshaded when Laura wants to buy a car from "Honest Joe's Used Car Dealership". Carl immediately warns against patronizing any business with "Honest" in the name.
  • Farscape: Furlow's garage. There's nothing that woman can't fix, and nothing she won't sell to the one evil empire you really don't want getting hold of it.
  • Firefly: Mal bought Serenity from a spaceship version of this. The guy was trying to sell Mal on a different ship, but he spotted the broken down Serenity nearby and fell in love.
  • F Troop: Sergeant O'Rourke, whose get-rich-quick schemes tend to fail. He manages to maintain secret ownership of the local saloon, though.
  • In Green Acres, no matter what Oliver's predicament of the day was, it was a sure bet that Mr. Haney would show up at his door hawking whatever miracle product or service he needed to resolve it. For a modest fee, of course. In one episode, just as Mr. Haney pulls up with the necessary item:
    Oliver: Mr. Haney, how is it you always happen to have what I need on your truck?
    Mr. Haney: Well... how is it you always happen to need what I have on my truck?
  • Hannah Montana has Rico's Surf Shop, a beachfront establishment that sells mediocre, overpriced food and merchandise, and has been investigated by the health department more than once.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: John's segment on sub-prime auto-loans ends with a fake advert for Crazy Johnny's Used Cars, complete with his cousin Crazy Jimmy (Keegan-Michael Key) and their accountant Crazy Walter (Bob Balaban).
  • Midnight Caller: Boxing promoter Cash Dollar from "Kid Salinas" has a long history of scams, including a used car dealership where he used to turn back the odometers.
  • Minder: Arthur Daley was definitely one of these. Played by George Cole who was known for his role as Flash Harry of the St. Trinian's series (see above), Arthur constantly had his finger in a number of dirty pies which in at least one case did include selling shoddy cars but was generally (at best) in the gray market, if not outright criminal. (The pilot episode mentioned that Arthur was mostly legitimate nowadays and possibly didn't need a "minder" (i.e. Mook) anymore.)
  • Subverted in Modern Family. Phil spends weeks researching and negotiating the best possible price for Hayley's first car but when he goes to pick it up Jay, who believes that all car salesmen are crooks, insists on coming along and tries to play hardball for a better deal. He mistakes the salesman's honest assurances that he can't go lower as a tactic and blows up the deal. They then go to another dealership where the second salesman tells them (again, completely truthfully) that he's never seen that model go for such a low price and he couldn't possibly match it, and when Jay bluffs that they can go back to the first dealership and get the original deal, the salesman replies with a totally sincere "Oh yes, you definitely should". Jay eventually secretly pays him the difference under the table to avoid looking bad in front of Phil, but the salesman still tells Phil the truth because he also has an overbearing father-in-law.
  • Monk: "Honest" Jake Phillips in "Mr. Monk Buys a House" is a subversion in that he turns out to be an entirely different sort of criminal. Jake smooth-talks Monk (who just bought a new house) into trusting him, and even hands him one of his business cards. When Monk calls Jake to repair an off-centered ceiling light in his dining room, Jake starts finding more and more faults in the building that need to be repaired. He then calls his plumber, "Honest" Ramone, to help knock down the walls and fix allegedly corroded pipes. It looks like Jake and Ramone are fleecing Monk, but their actual goal is bigger: they think a bank robber's haul is stashed in the house, and they're knocking out the walls to find it.
  • The Munsters: One episode has the family fall victim to one of these when Marilyn needs a new car.
  • Newhart: Played with in an episode where George leaves the Stratford Inn and finds a job as a car salesman. Due to his reputation of informing the customers when a car actually was a lemon or not, he was given the nickname "Honest George" and would often be sought after by potential buyers. Another salesman tried to take advantage of this by saying he was Honest George. Even to Dick when he came looking for him.
  • One Day at a Time (2017): Subverted. When Penelope has to sell her old car and get a new one, she fully expects to be dealing with an unscrupulous, dishonest salesman and prepares accordingly... only to be completely thrown off when the saleswoman, Jill, is a veteran just like Penelope and is also friendly and perfectly trustworthy. She even comforts Penelope and invites her to a female veterans' support group when the latter breaks down crying and admits she's been having a lot of personal problems.
  • Only Fools and Horses.
    • "Del Boy" Trotter is a relatively sympathetic example.
    • In his first appearance, Boycie is offered Trigger's car as part of a poker bet. His response: "You must be joking, I sold it to him!"
  • The Phil Silvers Show: Sergeant Bilko. While he never has a formal store, it doesn't stop him from always thinking about profit and acting accordingly. The trope is invoked in "The Empty Store". After one of Bilko's men loses the squad's money in a poker game, Bilko gets it back by renting out an empty store. Everyone assumes he's starting one of these, and are desperate to get in on it. Eventually he sells a third of it to each of the guys who ran the game. All three of them. The episode ends with Bilko congratulating the card sharks on their ownership of an empty store, and asking what they intend to do with it.
  • Phoenix Nights: Dodgy Eric is a Bolton wheeler-dealer who sells dubious goods to Brian Potter and the Phoenix Club, such as a fruit machine themed on Das Boot(which goes off at the funeral of the Captain, a World War II veteran), and a bouncy castle with inflatable Gag Penis and testicles(for a family fun day, no less!). The one product he sells that doesn't have anything wrong with it is a bucking bronco.
    • Gypsy Joe from the Phoenix Nights spin-off Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere is an Irish Traveller who Max and Paddy visit to obtain a TV from. He shows them the store that sells such a TV, and assists them in stealing it — then gets his leg broken in the process. In his defense, he didn't know that TV was not equipped with speakers, but Max and Paddy still blame him anyway.
  • Press Gang: Colin Mathews, who has been known to sell, among other things, defective half ping-pong balls, cans of soft drink that stain people's faces green, homicidal "security" briefcases, and the services of a sadistic hypnotist. For some reason that is never entirely clear to the audience or the rest of the characters, he is somehow allowed to remain in charge of the newspaper's finances.
  • Saturday Night Live featured two sketches in the early-90's with the character of Uri Shurinson (Tom Hanks), a salesman who repeatedly tried to haggle customers into purchasing shoddy electronics that were either off-brand and claimed to have the "guts" of a name brand, or outright lying about what the product is. The first sketch featured Shurinson as a host on the "Sabra Shopping Network", which constantly claimed to be going out of business, and twice sold a VCR that was claimed to be the last one in stock. The second, better-known sketch featured Shurinson hosting Sabra Price is Right, a show that cons contestants who thought they were appearing on The Price Is Right by offering such "prizes" as a television antenna claimed to be a satellite dish with "Toshiba guts", a "cordless telephone", and a "microwave" that is actually a toaster oven. Shurinson proceeds to haggle everyone's bids, and the "winner" is dragged backstage and forced into paying for their prize at the price they bid at. At one point, he also makes a contestant buy one of the buzzers after reporting that it wasn't working.
  • Seinfeld: "The Dealership" features Jerry buying a new car from David Puddy, who can get him an insider deal. George tags along because he's positive that all car dealerships are Honest Johns and wants to protect Jerry. At one point in the episode Puddy and Elaine break up and Jerry loses his insider deal, so Puddy rings him up for thousands of dollars worth of useless junk and tries to sell Jerry a yellow car instead of the black he previously requested. At the end of the episode Puddy and Elaine get back together and Puddy happily admits the dealership doesn't even know what some of the expenses actually do. He gives Jerry a good deal, which Jerry blows by refusing to give him a high-five.
  • Shake it Up: Deuce Martinez has many aspects of this in his make-up. Amusingly, his girlfriend turns out to be his Distaff Counterpart, if not more so, being able to out-wheel and out-deal him easily.
  • Sledge Hammer!: In one episode, the protagonists investigated a Black Widow of a Serial Killer who targeted car dealers like this. At the end, when the killer was caught, she showed no remorse, asking if it was truly a crime to kill car dealers.
  • Star Trek: The Ferengi are an entire planet of scheming salesmen.
    • The DS9 episode "Little Green Men" lampshades this. After Quark, Rom, and Nog get thrown back in time to Roswell, 1947, one of the humans sizes Quark up pretty accurately by comparing him to his brother-in-law. His brother-in-law's profession? Used car salesman.
    • Harry Mudd of The Original Series is also an excellent example of this trope, although he thinks he's a Magnificent Bastard...
    • The same goes for Cyrano Jones, who's much like Mudd in personality — he's just not quite as ambitious.
    • Voyager ran into the interstellar version of this in "Alice". He forgot to mention the used spacecraft he sold Tom Paris was sentient and channeling Christine. In fairness he didn't have much choice in the matter, but his introduction is played very much like this trope.
  • Step by Step: One episode revolves around J.T. getting a job at a car dealership with the word "Honest". He lampshades the trope later when he tells his stepmom that he keeps the owner honest.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • Used as a plot point in "One for the Angels", as the CMOT Dibbler type uses his schtick to distract and delay Death, saving a young girl's life.
    • In "The Whole Truth", the used car salesman Harvey Hunnicut is a wheeler and dealer who is willing to tell any and every lie necessary to sell one of the dilapidated cars in his lot. However, an elderly man sells him a haunted Model A Ford for $25 which renders him incapable of telling a lie.
  • Vintergatan: Benke Bengtsson. A rather extreme door-to-door salesman, you could say, who travelled around the cosmos in a yellow, truck-like thing, usually coming onto the protagonists' spaceship and offering to sell them an "Intergalactic Multi-Tool". Slightly subverted, as, despite his energetic sales pitch causing him to be mistrusted, the Multi-Tool is actually useful (Or, as Benke says, "It's used for everything!"). Looks like he actually was honest, for once.
  • Which Way To..., a reality travel show, has the Eagar brothers return home to Cape Breton Canada for the last episode of the first season. On their way to their parents' home, they stop at a used car lot that meets every single checkmark of this trope, including the owner actually calling himself Honest John. They negotiate a deal on a car and predictably the car dies the moment they get home, never to start up again.
  • The Young Ones: Reggie Balowski, the "International arms dealer, scrap metal merchant and French cabaret chanteuse" of the Balowski family, to whom Mike tries to sell the unexploded bomb dropped on their house.
    Reggie: So, is that the atom bomb is it, eh? (sharp intake of breath) Oooh, naaaa, not in that colour, you know what I mean? See, that bomb, to me it's worth, well, a pony, couple of tortoises at most.[...] Tell you what, right, tell you what, come outside, I'll give you part-ex on a Reliant, right.
    Mike: Reliant? That's a three-wheeler, innit?
    Reggie: Usually, yeah...

  • Joe Diffie: Occurs in "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)" :
    Diablo Motors had a hell of a sale downtown yesterday
    Word got around, no money down, take years and years to pay
    When I got there, the lot was bare, but the salesman said "Hold on,
    For a little cash, I gotta two-tone Nash out behind the barn."
  • Jonathan Young's "Starship Velociraptor" is sung from the perspective of a starship salesman extolling the virtues of the titular ship, along with its various extras and warranties.
  • "Marcel Galarneau" by French-Canadian music group Les Cowboys Fringants is sung in the words of a self-described used car selling swindler. His offenses include selling a Chevette to a young woman looking to buy a Corvette (earning the ire of her machine gun-toting father) and selling a Malibu while forgetting it was his own car.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: Convincing John is a subversion of this in that he doesn't do it for money (of which Fraggles apparently have no concept) but for the lulz.
  • Sesame Street: The guy in the trenchcoat and fedora that always cons Ernie out of his nickel.
  • The Sifl and Olly Show: Each episode features a home shopping segment in which the hosts pitch a product sold by their sponsor, Precious Roy, an apparently senile huckster who does nothing but spout non-sequiturs before shouting, "Suckers!" The products he sells are almost always shoddily-made and extremely impractical (the "Night Vision Goggles" are a pair of glasses with birthday candles attached to them). And even if they weren't, Olly's tendency to get way too into his pitch usually drives off potential buyers.

  • Hancock's Half Hour: This is the entire schtick for Sid James throughout the series. James (who is implied to be a "spiv") shows up whenever Tony needs something for his latest Zany Scheme. He just coincidentally happens to have the exact product or service needed... or much more often a very unreasonable facsimile thereof. Some of his cons of Hancock include:
    • Claiming to have created a gasoline substitute that was not under rationingnote , that was actually just gas stolen from hijacked tanker trucks, he was all too happy to give Hancock the sales franchise for a small cut of the profits;
    • When Hancock wanted to emigrate from Britain because of... reasons... James sold him a disguise kit that included a fake passport in the name of the then-current Prime Minister;
    • On a couple of occasions, James sold Hancock shoddy property (a house in one instance, a "farm" in another) that was more firetrap than actual living space.
  • KYTV: The spoof radio comedy Radio Active features frequent appearances by, and commercials for, a highly dubious businessman called Honest Ron, whose debt collection methods mainly revolved around half a dozen out of work jockeys with sledgehammers. Adverts for his extremely questionable products and services were invariably accompanied by his trademark jingle, sung in a near-tuneless drone which did not inspire confidence in the prospective buyer:
    Honest Ron, Honest Ron, the others are a con... honest.
  • In The Navy Lark C.P.O. Pertwee will be glad to sell you anything from a pen lid to a Battleship (usually the same one he has sold to 3 other different people too). He has an extended clan of Pertwees that run the navy as their own personal supermarket.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: According to the campaign books, this is encouraged for game masters who run full-length campaigns in especially questionable parts of space, such as the Periphery. The books encourage the GM to do their best to scalp players for actual goods in the Periphery, anywhere from two to ten times the going rate in the Inner Sphere—while at the same time trying to fob off awful, lower-quality stuff for cheaper than the going rate (but still far more expensive than it's worth). This is particularly bad in regards to Battlemech related technology, where the markup can be up to twenty times the going rate. A ruined Assassin in the Periphery can cost as much as a new Marauder in the Inner Sphere!
  • Dungeons & Dragons: One of TSR's add-on books for 2nd edition AD&D has an Underdark merchant playable class. As a class perk, this character is not only expected but required to moderately cheat any customers. If the character does a completely honest transaction, underdark NPCs such as drow assume it's a ruse for something even worse and automatically attack.
  • Paranoia: What do you get when you cross Honest John with Don Corleone? Probably something a lot like the Free Enterprise secret society.

  • Les Misérables: Monsieur Thénardier runs an extortionate, thieving scam of an inn, with filthy conditions and extremely questionable food, as made clear in his Villain Song "Master of the House":
    Charge 'em for the lice,
    Extra for the mice,
    Two percent for looking in the mirror twice!
    Here a little slice,
    There a little cut,
    Three percent for sleeping with the window shut!
    When it comes to fixing prices,
    There are lots of tricks he knows!
    How it all increases,
    All them bits and pieces,
    Jesus! It's amazing how it grows!
  • Matilda: Matilda's father ends up pissing off the Russian mafia. Whether it's his criminal antics with reselling stolen cars, selling the Mafia a bad car, or what isn't clear.
  • RENT: All of the vendors in the "Christmas Bells" scene, in particular the one who tries to sell Collins' stolen coat back to him.
  • The Trail to Oregon!: The General Store Guy, who relentlessly cons the family until the Father holds him at gunpoint.

    Video Games 
  • 1001 Spikes has Conseil's Duty-Free, which has elements of this. All of the costumes you buy are explained as an advertising contract where you have to buy the uniform yourself, leading to a humiliating cutscene trying to advertise the shop. The outfits themselves seem to be subpar, such as the Knight Armour being made of flimsy materials or the kung-fu suit smelling pretty strongly of BO. However, the rest of his goods, such as extra lives and the Skull Detector are all perfectly fine, and to be fair, some of the jobs Conseil sends you on for the Extra modes are legitimate.
  • Animal Crossing:
    • Tom Nook has almost complete control over your town's economy, forcing you to buy a house, and then upgrade it several times without really giving you a choice. He has two young-looking twins work for him when his store is fully upgraded, so he's also (potentially) into child labor. He even manages to get control over the hair industry, having a salon in his store. And it's kinda creepy how he stalks you when you run around his store because he wants to be sure you don't steal anything. It should be noted that all this gets slowly downplayed throughout the series, though — the salon splits off by City Folk, and in New Leaf he's moved exclusively into the housing industry, and this time he actually gives you a choice as to whether or not you want to expand your house. Plus, even the old shop, now run by Timmy and Tommy, isn't nearly as economy-dominating since the selling function was moved to a separate shop, Re-Tail. This is dropped in New Horizons, but the itinerant vendors who drop by once a week still give good alternatives for selling your stuff. In City Folk, he even lampshades his dismal reputation among players.
    • Crazy Redd is a competitor of Nook's who specializes in selling furniture that Fell Off the Back of a Truck and counterfeit paintings — a built-in mechanic in his transactions requires you to work out whether the painting he's selling you is the genuine article or a worthless fake.
  • Several in the Baldur's Gate series:
    • Ribald Barterman in Baldur's Gate II, proprietor of the "Adventurer's Mart", has the lingo, but most of the stuff he sells is actually good.
    • There is however a merchant in the first game who sells potions who is this trope to a tee. (each potion will increase one of your stats to 25... And lower all the others to 3)
    • Another flamboyant merchant whom you can encounter in the wilderness between Beregost and Nashkel will offer you one of three items for a much lower price than they are actually worth. All three of them are cursed.
    • A halfling near the Ulcaster Ruins tries to sell a "Gem of Seeing" for 1,000 gold that turns out to be a nearly worthless non-magical zircon.
    • Baldur's Gate proper has Lucky Aelo's Discount Store. Every single item for sale there is cursed, including the cool-looking leather armor.
    • Baldur's Gate III has tiefling Street Urchin Mattis, who tries to scam the Player Character by distracting them with worthless junk like fake enchanted rings while while his partner rifles through their pockets. If the party saves him and the other refugees from the goblins, he'll reappear in Act 2 with actual valuables for sale alongside more junk.
  • Beyond Skyrim has "Razzada the Resplendent", Bruma's resident back-alley enchanter. Casual interaction with him makes it clear that he puts more effort into his Speechcraft skills than his shoddy enchantments, none of which work as he claims (though some he can get away with by exact wording in his sales pitch, the rest are just Blatant Lies). When pressed, he hides behind a strict "No Refunds" policy, and it's also revealed that the citizens of Bruma have had similar frustrating experiences with his crappy merchandise.
  • Beyond the Edge of Owlsgard: One of these is represented by the ferret in town, who tries to sell Finn some (fairly useful) junk. He goes as far as to try to sell Finn a tissue when he mentions his family's missing.
  • At one point before the events of Bug Fables, Shades sold Vi the stolen A.D.B.P./Beemerang without mentioning that it was stolen. And when Vi calls him out on this, he states she should've known this would happen, and then adds that he never gives refunds. It's also heavily implied that the rare medals he sells are also stolen.
  • Crash Bandicoot: Pinstripe is implied to run one of a classic variety in the epilogue of Crash Team Racing. While there's no suggestion of quality, he does apparently seal a deal more quickly once his tommy gun comes out. A less typical example in the same game that references the trope title would be "Honest Joe's Wedding Ring and Rare Gem Outlet". Joe was convicted for laundering Cubic Zirconias.
  • Subverted in Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Demon's Souls. Trusty Patches has a laugh almost as obnoxious as his huge nose and has a habit of kicking people off cliffs, making him look like this trope, but all of his goods are the real deal, albeit exorbitantly priced (presumably this is just the cost of labor; he has to climb down those cliffs and back up again to acquire his stock after all). He'll even throw in some free advice on who is and isn't a psychopath if you can believe a man who has to put "Trusty" in his name.
  • Deltarune:
    • Spamton G. Spamton, as a seeming embodiment of spam mail, certainly has the attitudes of one, often aiming for your KROMER and trying at every turn to make an important-sounding deal with you, seeking to make you a [Big Shot] in exchange for your SOUL. He started out as an unsuccessful one, too, but then started working with an Anonymous Benefactor he talked with only through phone calls, which sent him soaring into success with their advice. After the benefactor left Spamton behind, everything fell apart without their influence, aside from one last call that made everything go to hell. Now, Spamton is so utterly messed up he can't even speak properly and the prices in his shop fluctuate extremely wildly, from two to five digits, by the second. And everything he sells in there other than the Keygen is utterly mislabeled and mostly unusable, if not outright harmful.
    • The Addisons outright proclaim all they do is advertise, and besides the Pink Addison's tea, none of their items are good, with them tricking you into buying from them by using Exact Words. One of them offers "free samples" of shoes (as in, a single shoe with a toothpick through it), another sells a dress for 300 Dark Dollars (with the mannequin attached, making it almost completely useless). Funnily enough, they actually used to be friends with Spamton when he was an unsuccesful salesman, but after he became a big shot with the help of his Anonymous Benefactor, they became envious of him and left him behind, believing he no longer needed them. If you interact with them after fighting Spamton, they will claim that they either haven't heard his name in a long time, refuse to talk about him, or outright Unperson him by denying any connections. After you defeat Spamton in his One-Winged Angel Optional Boss form, the Addisons gather around his shop to mourn for their fallen friend.
  • Descent: Lampshaded in the second game, where the cheat code "Honest Bob" gives you all weapons.
  • Diablo II: Gheed, one of the two merchants in Act I, is one of these. He offers you a lifetime guarantee and a two-day warranty on all items (presumably on the basis that he doesn't expect you to last any longer as a hero in a world swarming with monsters). He doesn't, of course, in gameplay terms, charge any more than any other merchants. He probably also qualifies as A Friend in the Black Market, as Warriv intimates that Gheed's goods are of high quality.
  • In Dicey Dungeons, Val lampshades how she doesn't much care if her trades are honest or fair and that you have no power to negotiate with her. The odds that an offered trade is beneficial to the player are very spotty, and once they make the trade, they can't get their old item back.
  • Dizzy: In Treasure Island Dizzy, you need to buy a boat to get back to the civilization. Conveniently, you meet a shopkeeper who'll sell you a boat for one of the treasures you can find in the game ... with no motor. For the second treasure, you can buy the motor ... with no fuel. For the third, you get the fuel ... but you still need to buy the keys for the motor with the fourth treasure.
  • Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime: Splodgy Dave comes off like this (he definitely got the name for it), but Gameplay and Story Segregation prevents it from affecting the stuff you buy.
  • In Endless Frontier practically half the people you meet all get a turn at this. It gets Lampshaded quite a bit too, especially the pricing part.
  • Fable II: Murgo is a classic example. He sells you several cursed quest items, and while he offers a variety of clothing, makeup & hairstyle cards, and other items, most of them are merely aesthetic in purpose. The real invoking of this trope comes from his spiel about items he's selling in the "childhood" portion of the game as well as the things he'll hawk when you're standing near his kiosk as an adult. He actually does have some real magical items, but only sells them to serious customers (read, those who can defend themselves against the monsters in the places that said items teleport them to.)
  • Fallout: New Vegas: The "wind brahmin" salesman, a Nightkin who tries to sell you tumbleweeds. Due to his schizophrenia (which all Nightkin have), he mistakenly believes they are a new species of brahmin.
    Courier: Oh, you're crazy, aren't you?
    Nightkin: Crazy with low prices on wind brahmin!
  • In Final Fantasy X, Wakka calls out Rin on the fact that, if they fail to defeat the upcoming Boss, everyone would be in trouble. However, Rin calmly affirms his confidence in their abilities and charges them for his goods anyway. Which is actually kind of funny, noting that said boss is usually considered to be That One Boss.
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: Tristam the Ninja indulges in this. He'll usually have the right medicine you need to heal someone (i.e., Kaeli)... if you pony up some gold pieces beforehand, that is. (All credit cards and mystical treasure accepted. Except Discover.)
    Benjamin: But my allowance is only 2GP a month!
    (Note: A cup of coffee in-game costs 10 GP. If he wasn't being hyperbolic, Ben's parents were cheap.)
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Simeon Yetarian has made a business out of selling expensive cars on credit to people who he knows won't be able to fully pay them off, then sending Franklin and Lamar to repossess the cars once the payments stop coming in. Whenever anybody calls him out on his business practices, he claims that they're being racist against hard-working Armenians. He eventually gets a dose of Laser-Guided Karma when Michael, whose Dumbass Teenage Son Jimmy bought a car from him, catches Franklin trying to repo it and forces him at gunpoint to drive it at full speed straight into Simeon's showroom, whereupon Michael gives Simeon a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Franklin, who was Only in It for the Money to begin with, tells Simeon to Take This Job and Shove It and starts working with Michael instead. Simeon shows up again in the game's online component, where he's portrayed as even sleazier than in the single-player game — he flat-out steals some of his 'merchandise', sending players to steal valuable cars off the street and bring them to his garage.
  • Hidden City: Alford Stone is an antiques dealer who frequently replaces his clients' goods with fakes while keeping the original artifacts for himself. Most of his customers know too little about antiques to notice that their purchases are phoneys.
  • Kings Quest (2015): The Merchant of Miracles. He's a traveling merchant who says he has the cure for what ails you, but he's also a liar, a con artist and petty thief. However, the antidote against everything that he sells in Chapter 2 does work, so not everything he sells is fake or useless.
  • L.A. Noire:
    • One of these guys shows up in the DLC case The Consul's Car. At first, he just seems like an overzealous car salesman, but when you successfully question him, it quickly becomes evident that he's kind of a sleazebag. Bribing people in order to get them to buy his cars is just good business.
    • Another DLC case, "A Slip of the Tongue" has one questioned in his relations to distributing stolen cars as legitimate ones. He's a little less sleazy than the last guy, but his sense of humor is so grating that your partner starts begging you to let him shoot the guy. After questioning this guy, your partner posits a chicken-and-egg question: "Do you think you have to be an asshole to sell cars, or that selling cars turns you into an asshole?" When Phelps thinks the partner is in a bad mood, the partner states he HATES car salesmen no matter what day it is, and loathes the fact they all think they're hilarious while only being funny as, quote, "a heart attack". Phelps then guesses that the more annoying they are, the faster the customers sign the paperwork.
  • The Legend of Kyrandia: One of the salesmen on Volcania in Hand of Fate'' is like this. If you keep gathering seashells, coins, and starfish for him (not required and takes a long time), you eventually become so pissed off you punch him out.
  • The Monkey Island games have fast-talking salesman Stan, who in the course of the five games has run a used-ship yard, a funeral home, an insurance company, a timeshare agency, and a law firm. And who sports a highly implausible jacket. Subverted (at least in Curse) because after being trapped in a coffin for some time, he decided to turn his life around; the insurance company was actually a legit business venture, so it's a shame that you can only progress by outright scamming him.
  • Persona: Tanaka of the "Tanaka's Amazing Commodities" home-shopping show in Persona 3 and Persona 4. Notable for being a Social Link in the former (each Social Link is modeled after a Tarot card — his is The Devil), for somehow managing to avoid being shut down between games despite his epilogue in 3 involving a massive class-action suit, for selling a mixture of legitimate merchandise and pure crap, and for having one of the most infectious theme tunes ever recorded by human musicians. He makes a comeback in Persona 5, this time dropping the pretense entirely and operating in the Black Market.
  • In Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, you are playing one yourself. Or at least you CAN, since the price you can get for an item isn't just the item itself but the customer you are selling it to (the well-dressed man will pay more than the little girl) as well as your relationship with them (if you've given them "good deals" in the past, you can trade on that friendship to charge them more later). Not to mention taking advantage of the daily price fluctuations certain items are in/out of demand) when a horde of shoppers enter the store, desperate for certain items. Not quite — everything you sell is in working order, but you charge through the nose for it. Euria is a better example, selling rare, wondrous items and accepting a wider spread of prices for them... with that spread centered at 500% market value.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Bosco games from Telltale Games, mainly in the first season, where he sells the Freelance Police various overpriced (but strangely effective) Homemade Inventions. In Season Two, he's too preoccupied with his conspiracy theories to sell Sam and Max any goodies. He lampshades his role as an Honest John at the end of the first season: when Sam and Max complain that Bosco's newest invention has a price tag of one hundred billion dollars, he points out that he keeps coming up with ridiculous prices, and yet Sam and Max always get the money he's asking for: he has a captive market of an anthropomorphic dog and a rabbit-cat-thing, so why not get all the money he can?
  • Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter:
    • Tiny, the used spaceship dealer. Of the three ships you can purchase from him, two will crash as soon as you get in them (one fatally). The third was just randomly parked next to the merchandise, and Tiny simply decided it was his to sell. As soon as you take off in it, the real owner shows up and demands to know where you're going with his ship.
    • Droids B Us. If you buy the wrong droid, it breaks down, just like the R5 with the bad motivator in A New Hope. In the remake, there are two droids you can buy that will explode in your face and kill you. (One blows up with no warning, the other if you touch it a 3rd time, being warned twice by the game that the robot is too complex for you to possibly handle without killing yourself.)
  • Moneybags from the Spyro series has an interesting relationship with this trope. In Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, he plays this trope straight by offering services that are upfront on the surface level, but ultimately hinges on him abusing loopholes that imply that you could've done things without his help. In Spyro: Year of the Dragon, on the other hand, he constantly flip-flops between this and being a flat-out extortionist, offering to free prisoners of the Sorceress in exchange for Gems, coughing up threats such as, "Sheila won't stay in jail forever! ...The Sorceress is thinking of having her executed next Thursday!" By the time of Spyro: A Hero's Tail, however, Moneybags backs down on both of these practices and becomes a genuine, honest-to-god salesman.
  • Star Control:
    • The Melnorme Traveller-Traders act a lot like this, selling the player a variety of useful goodies as the end of (nearly) all sentient life steadily approaches. That said, without the information and technology they provide, the game is substantially harder. They also aren't exactly in it for the profit, their culture just considers it unethical to give without receiving (and that goes both ways. If you have something for them, even if you are willing to give it for free, they will find something to give to you in return).
    • The Druuge as well: they consider profit to be of utmost importance, therefore they will do anything they think they can get away with if it will net them a profit. Trading with them can yield some useful items, but one must be very careful in how one does it. (They don't have a problem with slavery, or using said slaves as reactor fuel.) Also, unlike the Melnorme, who are generally quite honest about their merchandise, the Druuge are quite comfortable selling the player useless baubles and hyping them as powerful artifacts. Happily, the game does give you a chance to solidly screw over one of the Druuge captains on a deal, and it's quite satisfying if you manage it.
  • Startopia: Arona Daal is the absolute epitome of this trope. He'll be selling you anything you're looking for, all top quality; swear on all six of his grandmothers' graves. And at those prices, too; he's slitting both his throats.
  • Super Daryl Deluxe — Paul and Alan's Textbook Emporium is based entirely on selling textbooks that have been stolen from the school classrooms. Paul and Alan are (as a pair) also a Bad Boss who demand their employees commit crimes, including arson and murder. What they offer in exchange is pages torn from a self-help book that (they think) is worthless.
  • Team Fortress 2: Saxton Hale supplementary materials is a Testosterone Poisoned version of this. He actually PRIDES himself in selling "dangerous, cheaply-made products that catch on fire!"
    "If you aren't 100% satisfied with our product line, you can take it up with me!"
  • Quest for Glory II: Ali Chica in Trial by Fire. His goods are guaranteed the best in town or you no getta your money back. However, he does sell two useful items: the map and compass. In the AGD Remake, he also sells a souvenir snow-globe. Of a desert city.
  • Viva Piñata: Costalot (it's all in the name). While she probably wouldn't sell her own grandmother for a buck, she is doubtlessly extremely greedy — she doesn't cotton to window shoppers at all.
  • Warcraft: The goblins were first given this characterization in Warcraft III, where they peddled magic items to all sides of the war. It was continued in World of Warcraft.
    "Time is money, friend."
    "I've got what you need."
    • It should however be noted that the Goblins are not universally this trope. Trade Prince Gallywix fit this to a T, but other cartel leaders like Gazlowe are legitimately honest businessmen. Goblins are however universally focused on profit.
    • Of particular note is Griftah, a troll merchant in Shattrath Lower City who claims his merchandise conveys great powers to the wielder. Charm that allows you to heal wounds merely by eating food! Charm that anchors your spirit to the mortal world, and you just need to get back to your corpse to return to life! As you probably know, said abilities came standard with your character. As well he sells an outrageously overpriced ornament, which is necessary for certain crafting recipes.
  • WildStar: Phineas T. Rotostar, CEO and owner of Protostar. While his products are legitimate, the quality is dodgy, the prices "imperceptibly inflated," and he's not above some rather shady business practices.
  • World of Mana: Almost every game of the series features a suspicious merchant who is either an anthropomorphic cat or rabbit named Neko, Nikita, or Niccolo. Sometimes he is playable, but he's always out to bring "happiness" to his customers by, for example, selling them overpriced glass beads as jewelry.

    Web Animation 
  • Dingo Doodles:
    • Sips runs a stall that sells items of questionable providence, many of which Sips has personally cursed. His body language in the few instances we see him selling convey the kind of sleaziness you would expect in such a venture.
    • Old Gothi was very scatterbrained and unconcerned with her customer's well-being. On at one occasion she sold a potion to a goblin that turned him into a puddle of goo.
  • Homestar Runner: Bubs, who sells an astounding number of things, often at ridiculous prices, out of his concessions stand. Snacks, drinks, broken computers, letters that fall off his sign, stolen artifacts, questionable medical care, bazooka-flamethrowers that throw throwing stars, chicken beaks, VCR repair, paint, Internet service, and so on. In the email "pom pom", he even tried to charge Strong Bad for "face smashings" and "severe pummelings" after Strong Bad tried to pick a fight with Pom Pom. He also attempted to sell Coach Z a used napkin. Twice.
    • Also, he'll take anything for his wares, including cash, money, cash money, Quesos, first-born children, and organs stolen from Strong Sad. And pencil shavings.
      • Since he's the only purveyor of anything in Free Country, USA, he also operates the black market out behind the concession stand. Of course, since the concession stand sells dangerous crap, naturally the black market sells quality goods. The Cheat even has an adverse reaction to the ferret ointment (which is apparently what Strong Bad looks for in a tube of ferret ointment).
    • And then there's Senor Cardgage, but he's well aware of it.
      Senor Cardgage: (standing on a lawnmower) Why, hello, Miss Trela. Check out Senor Cardgage's Intregway. Dump Tell No Mandy -- it's just a landmower turned bankways!Explanation
  • Rocket & Groot: The salesman whom Rocket and Groot buy the new ship from shows just how shady his dealing methods are. The moment Rocket and Groot have the money to buy the ship, he tells them that the price increased, prompting them to trade their old ship for it. Then they find that the new ship is far too demanding for them to tolerate, so they go back for a refund only to be told that all sales are final and that their old ship is a one-of-a-kind model. He then gives them their old ship back in exchange for the new ship and a helmet that Groot really liked. The old ship breaks down on them in the middle of space.

    Web Comics 
  • Adventurers!: One strip features "Honest Cid's Used Airships."
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Akbar: present every time the Light Warriors turn around, ready to sell them anything they desperately need. What a bargain! Even if getting into one of his airships is tantamount to suicide, which is saying something because the Light Warriors' luck with airships is practically suicide to begin with. Why they keep buying from him... he always claims to be an identical relative that isn't anything like the others. And the heroes are just incredibly thick. It's become a running gag to show some device failing to work (often catastrophically), then to reveal via flashback that the device was purchased from one of Akbar's many, many stores.
    • Opposite Akbar is Jeff, the proprietor of "Jeff's Discount Death Traps (Not To Be Confused With Actual Airships)". His wares aren't any better than Akbar's, but he's completely honest about it, thereby earning the trust of Red Mage. Of course, the Light Warriors also like him because he kicks Black Mage whenever BM speaks. "When I say deathtrap, I mean deathtrap."
    • Thief also occasionally dabbles in this line of work. For example, when the Light Warriors end up on a frozen tundra, he successfully sells blocks of ice to his teammates, marketing them as Ice Armor and Ice Spells. He's a Thief! He is extremely greedy, steals anything that isn't nailed down and/or on fire, considers anyone that won't steal something that is nailed down/on fire to be an amateur, and then manages to sell it back to you. So he's stealing your money twice. He was at one point very honest about his bad deals. Black Mage declared him a Magnificent Bastard upon finding that satisfaction was not, in fact, guaranteed. To elaborate, a contract had a tiny, harmless-looking dot between the words "satisfaction" and "guaranteed." Magnified to an extreme degree, the dot turned out to be the word "not."
  • Housepets!: 'Four-Finger Discount' Jack is well known for this, repeatedly shown early on selling scalped or stolen items, on the rare occassions where we find out where they come from. Later in the story, when he gets a legitimate job, he continues to treat it like one of his scam businesses anyway.
  • Joe vs. Elan School: One of Joe's temp jobs while living in New York City as an adult is at a sketchy call center that sells junk to elderly people, and celebrates using deceptive tactics to do so. He finds that this place doesn't delete caller info even if the caller requests it, and often keeps buyers' card info on file so they can be upsold and charged without knowing it. Joe is absolutely disgusted by all of this, so he figures out the hotkey for permanently deleting callers' contact info, spends four days doing so while pretending to make sales (which the center doesn't check), and then walks out for good.
  • Misfile: Subverted in this story arc. The car dealer is "honest John" to a tee, but Ash is enough of a Wrench Wench to play him at his own game.
  • Station V3 features a used-spaceship dealer/all-around scheming huckster named "Honest J!on".
  • Subnormality: Doubly subverted by this strip: after giving honest information about cars on the lot, the salesman admits he's a member of Vendeurs Sans Frontières and is doing this as a public service. The real dealer then chases him off the lot, and it's heavily implied that he's as crooked as his tire iron.
  • Tales of the Questor features Merchant Max, a rather slick secondhand-goods salesman who isn't above selling cartloads of (mostly) total junk to a drunk Questor. To his credit, he later gave Quentyn some really canny advice of how to bargain for the quest items that would be in someone's possession. Yes, this was an excuse to make the hero take on a ship's load of low power magic trinkets as trade goods, but the general intent is decent.

    Web Original 
  • Gaia Online: Nicolae, especially in the manga where he fences goods stolen from The Mafia to people who want to visit the local Don... in-game, users are more likely to notice the fact that he charges real-world money (via "donations" to the site) for zOMG! Power Ups.
  • Hat Films have this as an extension of Hat Corp in the Yogscast Minecraft Series, selling land to various members of the Yogscast. The trio gives Simon Lane a ton of gear and a new deed to Craggy Island after the Jaffa Factory explodes, but they hint afterwards that they scammed him with some dodgy terms and conditions, and plan to scam Simon and Lewis Brindley too. Unfortunately for them, Simon can still hear them.
  • Homestar Runner: Bubs, the concessions stand owner, being apparently the only storeowner in town, often overcharges for everything and anything. He's charged people for waiting in line at his store or saying "Thank you" after a purchase. Everyone seems okay with him, amusingly.

    Web Video 
  • This salesman at a Kansas City-based budget used car lot gained quite a bit of notoriety for his excruciatingly honest explanation of their business practices, or how they aimed to have happy customers but also sold shitty beaters with low four-figure price tags that were bound to have issues and did not pretend otherwise.
    "Alright. Now, some'a y'all may not understand what 'as is' or 'as the FUCK is' means. When we say we sell motors and transmissions, when we tell you to take it on a test drive, I'm just going to explain the shit to you 'cuz some'a y'all don't understand the words that come out our mouth or the words that you read. Alright, here we go: motor and transmission, alright? When we say 'if the motor ain't blown up, tranny ain't slippin', don't bring that bitch back trippin'', if yo car is hesitatin', spittin' and sputterin', it DOES NOT give you warranty to bring it back - it still runs!"
  • Several Regular Car Reviews episodes feature "Kunkleman Chevrolet". Located in an inconvenient corner of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, their commercials proudly proclaim that they WILL sell you a car and you WILL buy one.
    We know the game! All of our sales associates DO COCAINE!
  • Sword Art Online Abridged has Agil's counterpart, Tiffany, gain notoriety from playing this role in-game.
    "Boss won't get off your back? Girlfriend won't stop nagging you? Did that fuckstick Tiffany sell you a bullshit dagger that broke almost immediately despite the fact that you spent half your goddamned Col on it?! Have you considered murder?"
  • In Wonder Quest, Charly Tan sells spaceships and also runs the Bee Depot in Wonderberg. He also tries to swindle his customers by offering his products at a higher price than the selling price he originally lists them as, which Stampy and Keen call him out on.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Wes Weasley, who first appeared in the episode "Birth of a Salesman". It should be noted Weasley has a few similarities with Phil Silvers, namely his voice, clothing, and glasses. This may have been intentional. He's also a slight subversion in that he's not a complete fraud — after several failed attempts at capturing Sonic, an angry Robotnik accuses him of selling defective machines. Weasley reasonably counters this by pointing out that his products have all performed exactly as he promised, but Robotnik's idiot henchmen Scratch and Grounder are simply too incompetent to use them effectively, which is hardly his fault.
  • Beany and Cecil: Dishonest John, the villain in nearly every cartoon. He even runs a used car dealership some of the time.
  • The Berenstain Bears cartoon from the 1980s featured a con artist called Raffish Ralph as a recurring antagonist. He was eventually incorporated into the books and later, for some reason, renamed Ralph Ripoff.
  • Code Lyoko: Hiroki Ishiyama is another Honest John in training. He's already quite good at selling overpriced concert tickets to the students of his school. Just give him a few years...
  • Danger Mouse: "The Man From Gadget" had DM and Penfold subjected to the dubious quality of the wares of Egregious M. Murphy, senior sales rep for Gadgets Incorporated.
  • Daria has a used-car salesman who is not only sleazy but creepy, trying to pick up Brittany, who is in high school.
  • Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines: "A Plain Shortage of Planes" has the Squadron getting a beat-up run-down plane at Bargain Bill's Used Plane Lot. Dastardly offers to pony up $10 for it (Bargain Bill asked for $3000, but he took the sawbuck if Dastardly threw in Muttley's medal).
  • Disney: In the 1943 cartoon The Flying Jalopy, Donald Duck runs into Ben Buzzard, the seedy proprietor of a "wrecked Used" airplane dealership. Ben is even nastier than most characters of this type; not only does he sell Donald the eponymous flying jalopy, he also attempts to knock Donald off as part of an insurance scam.
  • Dragon Hunters: Gwizdo; he negotiates the contracts with villagers (while Lian-Chu does the actual dragon hunting). One of his catchphrases is: "Can't read? No problem! Just make a cross here, here and here."
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Eddy is an Honest John in training. One episode has the Eds running "Crazy Ed's Dealership", with Eddy admitting he got the idea from his dad.
  • Erky Perky: Frenzel always has profitable schemes on the go, preying on other bugs' naiveté or weaknesses to get himself ahead.
  • Family Guy: Jim Kaplan. You name it, he'll try and sell it. Such examples include a car with a drawing of an engine and volcano insurance.
  • Futurama: Malfunctioning Eddie and the dealer who sells Amy her car. Not that Amy makes it very hard for him... (Ironically, Eddie is in even worse shape than any of the cars he sells. In a later episode, he's at the Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots, being treated for exploding every time he's startled or excited.)
    • Almost any time Bender operates a scam business, he calls it "Honest Bender's [insert business description here]."
  • Garfield and Friends had Recurring Character Al Swindler, who always managed to con Jon into buying whatever he's selling. He even owned a car dealership in one short.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Cobra Commander causes all the cash in America to spontaneously combust, and during the montage of his chaos a man is shown attempting to leave a used car dealership in a lemon that falls apart before it even leaves the lot while the dealer counts his money. When he storms back for a refund, the dealer attempts to hide his money under his hat only for it to burn his toupee and make his victim laugh at him.
  • Goof Troop: Pete. Although you have to wonder how accurate the portrayal really is when you consider how relatively successful Pete's business is over the series. You'd think he would have been shut down at some point but he still makes a steady income; either he's not always as dishonest as he's shown to be, or the residents of Spoonerville are just too oblivious to complain about him too much.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Gideon's dad Bud Gleeful sells used cars for a living, and does so in this manner. "Engine possum at no extra charge!"
    • Grunkle Stan. Before he started running a tourist trap, the majority of his adult life had been a cycle of "settle, scam, flee angry mob, repeat", often with the scam involving some type of defective product. These questionable products have included cleaning rags which were poorly dyed and left dye smears on surfaces, adhesive bandages which gave people rashes, and pitchforks which fell apart easily, among countless others. After creating the Mystery Shack, he went over to selling merchandise which isn't much worse than your standard gift shop fair, but most of his attractions are fraudulent (but still a whole lot safer than the actual cryptids of Gravuty Falls) and his merchandise is sometimes absurdly overpriced.
  • Hey Arnold! had Big Bob Pataki (beeper shop owner), who once said of gadgets he'd just discovered were defective "I'll make thousands!" The guy has no refund department and was even shown in a later season episode telling off a woman demanding a refund for her defective beeper.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Rudolpho, a British-accented salesman who sells all sorts of objects (usually whatever is convenient for the episode) to Jimmy and lives in a mobile shop. He was originally a One-Shot Character in the first season, but in Season 2, he reappeared numerous times. The same season also introduced his son, a Cockney pickpocket with a crush on Heloise named Peep.
  • Jonny Quest: Pasha Peddler "Calcutta Adventure". He might charge a lot for his goods, but he delivers great service for the money. For instance, when Benton Quest and Race Bannon are being pursued by Mooks in a mountain range, they suddenly find some skis and poles waiting for them to make their escape courtesy of Pasha Peddler, along with the bill. Obviously, they don't argue with such salesmanship.
    • In the same episode, Pasha films the heroes successfully destroying the villain's secret chemical weapons factory and later mails them a copy - Race jokingly wonders if it was sent C.O.D.
  • Kim Possible: Wacky Wally, owner of Wacky Wally's Weather Machines, who sells slightly-used devices for controlling the weather to supervillains.
    Drakken: We'll take it!
    Wally: Great! Hey, why don't we step into the office....
    Drakken: No, I mean we'll take it. Shego!
    (Drakken and Shego steal the weather machine.)
  • King of the Hill:
    • Played with in "The Accidental Terrorist", Tom Hammond's car dealership actually seems very genuine; selling perfectly good cars, employing certified mechanics and salesmen, and Tom himself looking like a regular clean-cut businessman in a proper suit. However, he has fooled Hank into buying five cars from him at sticker price.
    • Played straight with Lane Pratley who owns several dealerships in Arlen. His business ethics are questionable and frequently engages in illegal activities outside of his work. He also lives up to the Honest John facade with his tacky suits and shit-eating grin.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Experiment 020, dubbed Slick by Lilo, was made by Jumba to market his experiments and can sell just about anything with his charisma. His "one true place" is working his salesman magic for a charity organization.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Get Rich Quick, Porky features the con man Honest John Gusher, who sells cheap vacant lots supposedly rich in oil—but Honest John is really piping in the oil through a sprinkler system to fool potential buyers.
    • The Pest That Came to Dinner has Porky Pig trying to get rid of a termite. He enlists the aid of a fast-talking, shyster exterminator named Sureshot ("I'm here to help ya, son!") whose various schemes keep making things worse for Porky.
    • Daffy Duck frequently plays the role of a pushy door-to-door salesman strong-arming a reluctant character into buying unwanted goods, as in The Stupor Salesman, Fool Coverage and Design for Leaving.
      • In Dime to Retire, he runs a hotel offering rooms for the meager cost of ten cents a night, and makes his money by releasing various animals into the room and charging guest Porky Pig outrageous "exterminator" fees to get rid of them.
      • In Daffy Dilly, he's shown to be a loud-mouthed street peddler trying to sell joke novelties to an uninterested crowd.
      • In The High and the Flighty, representing the Ace Novelty Company of Walla Walla, Washington, he tries to profit from Foghorn Leghorn's rivalry with the barnyard dog by independently selling both rooster and dog elaborate practical jokes to each play on the other, only to go too far when he sells them both a "Pipe Full of Fun Kit #7" at the same time, after which, realizing they've been had, Foghorn and the dog set their feud aside to get even with Daffy, using his own novelty device against him.
  • Mr. Magoo: "Magoo's Puddle Jumper", Magoo's nephew Waldo expresses some skepticism about buying an ancient electric car. The used car salesman yanks his hat over his head, leaving him incapacitated while Magoo signs the papers.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Flim and Flam start off as a Shout-Out to Robert Preston's character from The Music Man. They're charming, fast-talking, and will sell anything for a quick bit, including "health tonic" that may or may not simply be apple juice and beet leaves. Subverted with the Cider Squeezy 6000, which actually was a legitimate, working machine.
  • The Pink Panther: "Pink Sphinx" starts with the Pink Panther shopping at "Honest Abdul's camel lot".
  • Popeye references this in "Vacation with Play" as he's holding the wheel-less rear axle of Olive's jalopy en route to a vacation resort.
    Popeye: "Used car"...wait'll I gets me hands on that Smilin' Dutchman!
  • Rainbow Brite: One episode has a shady traveling salesman who conned Twink into trading the mine where the Star Sprites mine Color Crystals for some phony "color crystal seeds". The guy then proceeded to try and turn the mines into a tourist trap.
  • Rick and Morty: Parodied with a commercial for Ants-In-My-Eyes Johnson's Electronics.
  • Rugrats (1991) had an episode play off the Grandpa's description of car salesmen being sharks, and it turned into a pseudo-Jaws parody.
  • In Schoolhouse Rock! episode "Elbow Room," during the "Manifest Destiny" scene, one of the covered wagons has a sign "Honest John's Goods," complete with a Dastardly Whiplash-looking proprietor.
  • Sheep in the Big City had several Parody Commercials for Oxymoron products hosted by a man named Victor, who's either oblivious or apathetic toward the fact that many of Oxymoron's products are either defective or completely useless.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Gil Gunderson, the eternally luckless salesman sometimes tries to pull this off but lacks the backbone, charisma, and intelligence to do so.
    • There was the one-shot Crazy Vaclav, who tried to sell Homer a car from an Eastern European country that no longer exists.
    • There's also the salesman who sold Homer the snowplow. Partially averted, as the scheme he used to sell the snowplow to Homer actually worked for Homer... until he sold another one to Barney.
    • And the salesman from "Homie the Clown", who convinced Homer that bullet holes in a car were 'speed holes' that made the car go faster.
    • And then there was the time an unemployed Homer saw a "Help Wanted" sign, planned to steal it so the store proprietor would have to pay him to make a new one, only for the proprietor to show Homer what he did to scammers like him... by immediately hiring him.
    • And Honest John's Computers in "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", with overpriced computers, slick salespeople, complimentary coffee, and have a deed swiper as a form of payment.
    • In another episode, Marge had to go buy a new car and the salesman banked on her being easy to fool since she was a woman. The whole ordeal is him trying to manipulate Marge, only for her to reveal more and more info she got from the internet about the car's true performance, availability and price down to the personal information of the salesman when he tried to guilt trip her.
    • Herman seems to do this. In "Old Money", he charged $400 for an old fez, claiming Napoleon had owned it. When Grandpa bought it, Herman picked up Grandpa's discarded hat and displayed it with a sign claiming it was worn by President McKinley when he was shot.
    • The Comic Book Guy engages in profiteering all the time, in one episode claiming a photograph of Sean Connery that was signed by Roger Moore is worth $500. He does seem to have some valuable stuff for sale, however.
    • Zigzagged with the outlet mall in Ogdenville. At least one clerk there is honest with the cheap stuff they sell, which includes "crappy" knock-offs of brand-name electronics (the brands in the shop include "Magnetbox", "Sorny", and "Panaphonics") one clerk embellishes them to make them sound better than they are without actually lying, telling Homer that one television "features two-pronged wall plug, pre-molded hand-grip well [and] durable outer casing to prevent fall-apart". (Of course, Homer, much like all the customers, aren't too bright.)
    • In "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace", the Simpsons buy a car with the money they raise from the Springfieldians. Homer doesn't notice that the dealer marked a $12,000 car up to $15,000.
  • Played for Laughs in South Park: Post Covid, where in the Bad Future Butters has turned into a charismatic, fast-talking salesman. Except instead of dealing in used cars, he's made billions scamming people into investing everything they have into cryptocurrency- specifically NFTs. He became so proficient at it that it led to him being institutionalized and treated as a Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): "Case of the Hot Kimono" had Donatello dressing up as an Honest John to lure in Don Turtelli.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In one short, Buster went to a bike dealer who claims his bikes will be perfect or he'll eat a bucket of scorpions. Naturally, the bike fails to stay together for the initial "Warranty" length and refuses to give Buster his refund or admitted that he sold shoddy bikes. Naturally, he makes good on his promise at the end (except in the version that aired on Nickelodeon).
  • Transformers:
    • Swindle, from the The Transformers cartoon (and comics), is a giant transforming robot con artist. He once sold the rest of the Combaticons to the Russians (the equivalent of selling his own brothers) and has complained when being shot because it damaged his own resale value.
    • His alternative continuity counterpart in Transformers: Animated proudly continues the tradition with some blatant conning and extortion-at-many-gun(s)point thrown in for maximum profit. He's honest in that the things he sells tend to be exactly as he described them... but he makes absolutely no guarantees about not walking over and selling your opponent just what he needs to counter your expensive new upgrades and leave the fight at a standstill.
    • Action Master Gutcruncher is arguably even worse than Swindle. While Megatron can tolerate Swindle because at least he's obvious about it, you never know what angle Gutcruncher is working.
    • In the TransTech comic continuity, Swindle manages to partner with himself via the joys of dimensional travel. Twice. The three of them run a business known as Swindle, Swindle & Swindle, and deal in black market modifications, equipment, and parts. It's every bit as shady as you would imagine for a store with Swindles as the barker, salesperson, and cashier. Simultaneously. The main reason it works is because of a sort of business-based Mutually Assured Destruction: each one already knows how they would scam someone like themself and has taken precautions, and they also know disrupting this partnership would be terrible for their bottom line. In short all three have done the math and accepted that they will make more money working together than competing with or scamming each other, leading to the amusing result that the only way for each of the Swindles to remain honest is to accept that each of them is also equally crooked.
  • Wait Till Your Father Gets Home has Harry decide to buy a new car, and he finally buys one from a crooked dealer who has a horrible service department and sells car equipped with defective parts.

Alternative Title(s): CMOT Dibbler, Dibbler, Honest John, Ultimate Salesman, Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler, Fast Eddies Dealership



Ali G tries to sell products that were clearly stolen.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / HonestJohnsDealership

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