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Honor Among Thieves

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Fiona: The Miami gun smugglers and the Miami people smugglers? They don't get along. And I've always been more of a gun person.
Sam: Sure as hell not a people person.

As we all know, thieves are often found among the lowest criminals you're likely see in any given media. Their gifts, lying outside usual law-abiding social circles, mean little room for real friendship. Yet even among such lowly figures we occasionally see the admirable virtues of loyalty and honor. When most don't want to have their back, they've got someone looking out for them.

They could be family, lovers or childhood friends, but in the end outlaws take allies wherever they can find them. Even the more selfish thief may recognize strength in numbers increases his own chances for survival. Over time even the cynic comes to value allies beyond self-preservation and even realizes The Power of Friendship. In rare cases, like-minded individuals may even have formed a guild based on a rough sense of honor and prestige.

The ultimate test of this honor usually comes when the chips are down and the law is at the doorstep. Expect Villainous Valour, last stands and even last-minute heroics. All of which firmly seals that rare moment when mere thieves show loyalty above and beyond expectations.

Bonus points if this unexpected loyalty comes as a shock to those hunting down said criminal, especially if the thief in question has never cared for anyone but himself. In its purest form this trope sets out to show that deep down even criminals have some good in them. See also Even Evil Has Loved Ones. And usually a case of Moral Myopia.

A subtrope of Evil Virtues.

Then again, some thieves, having chosen a life of lawlessness and anarchy, elicit no more trust from each other than they do from the general populace. Then there are also those thieves who display loyalty only due to Pragmatic Villainy. If you are known as a dependable competent professional, you get jobs. If you are known as a backstabbing narcing sociopath, no one will work with you or do business with you.

Compare Gentleman Thief, Loveable Rogue, Classy Cat-Burglar and Scoundrel Code. Thieves' Guild is this trope made official. For the Sly Cooper game, see here. For the Dungeons & Dragons film, see here.

Found in Don Quixote, this trope is Older Than Steam.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bad Company: The Skull Gang stealing the motorcycle that Eikichi and his friends worked so hard to restore is a serious offense to the Midnight Angel gang.
  • Black Lagoon: A repeated motif, as the comparably "good" criminals are shown to be those who have a code, some standards, or just enough plain sense for what's good business. Revy even points it out at one point by saying that even criminals like her have a code of honour. By contrast, criminals like Luau, Chaka and Elvis who have absolutely no restraints or respect for the mutual code of conduct tend to be taken off the board quickly because nobody wants a loose cannon running about and complicating things.
  • Kaito Kid of Case Closed and Magic Kaito essentially returns most of what he actually steals. He also routinely helps other people, such as helping Servant A become a star in a play, and helping a child reconnect with his mother.
  • From Eroica with Love: The art thief Dorian views his crew as more family than anything else. They even have team t-shirts. The collection of rogues who attend his convention are also pretty civil and protective of each other
  • Lupin III: Lupin and his henchmen, Jigen and Goemon, have grown over time to become a close-knit group loyal to each other, almost until death in some cases. If one of them does betray the others, there's usually a damn good reason behind it. In contrast is the fourth member and Femme Fatale Fujiko, who usually suffers from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. However, when things get serious, she can be found right alongside Lupin.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid: The Seto Gang have their own code of honor. In the first episode, Sun tells Gozaburo that killing someone for no reason is just as bad as breaking the masquerade according to the mob code, and in episode 14, Maki saves the kitten from drowning because it saved her from being trampled, saying that she always pays back what she owes.
    Sun Seto: "Because honor among thieves is honor under the seas!"

    Comic Books 
  • Birds of Prey: Subverted, as Mafia Princess Helena Bertinelli is more than familiar with the concepts of criminal "honor" and hates the very concept, since all it does is provides excuses and justifications for their actions. This comes to a head when Black Canary and Lady Shiva are forced to fight a duel to the death over an affair of honor involving yet another criminal, the White Canary, and the end result is just that people will die for no good reason.
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics: This tends to be a fairly common belief among criminal characters, especially the Beagle Boys and Peg-Leg Pete, who usually stick fairly strictly to codes of thieves' honor. In general, this involves things like not stealing from "colleagues", only making one's living through "honest" thievery and not selling out other criminals to the cops.
  • In Diabolik, the title character and the more sympathetic thieves have their own codes that they hold themselves up to. The most honorable, however, are the Three Nymphs, who make a point of never harming anyone (and are furious when an occasional accomplice risked that) and when given the chance to rob Diabolik and Eva they not only didn't take it but facilitated their escape.
  • Lady Shiva is an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who knows she's the first or second best fighter in the entire DC Universe. She loves going out and finding people to fight to show off how great she is and will use anything at her disposal to win. However, she strictly abides by a code of honor. If there are rules set to the fight, she will stick by them and will be angry if her opponent doesn't. She also shies away from senseless acts of mass violence, even if that's just because she sees them it as cowardly.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Mentioned word for word in regards to Dystopians, despite known for being a Proud Merchant Race with a case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Somehow they've managed to sustain themselves as a country, meaning they do have some sense of unity under Queen Perfidia.
  • Taskmaster is a Consummate Professional who has very few scruples (one of his only scruples is he Would Not Hurt A Child... deliberately). He is on surprisingly good terms with people like Bullseye and Deadpool, and he always honours his contracts. In return, even the likes of HYDRA or the Kingpin (which very much believe in You Have Failed Me as an appropriate penalty for failure) still call upon his services even if his success rate against superheroes isn't always the greatest.

    Fan Work 
  • All Things Probable Series, Team Probable is a group of mercenaries who hire themselves out to villains, typically to steal something or to run interference while their client steals something. They are also a close-knit group of friends who genuinely care about each other. The author's notes indicate that this was a deliberate aversion of the common stereotype of villains as Dirty Cowards afflicted with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Basically avoiding the more common No Honor Among Thieves.
  • In Memento Vivere, Rikku repeatedly has to try and prove to Auron that she still lives by a code of personal honor despite her experience as a thief.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, there's a group of infamous criminals called the Seven Brothers of Orre, who made a pact of not to rat the others and not to have any children, ever. The second youngest of them, named Felgrand, is not happy to learn that one of them hasn't been keeping his word on the latter part.
  • Princess of the Blacks: According to Jen, there's a sort of "professional courtesy" among black wizards. It seems to amount to not intentionally interfering with each others operations, not selling each other out, and not killing each other. After Voldemort's resurrection, she notes that she would have lied to Fudge and hidden Voldemort's return if he hadn't tried to kill her.
  • Reconnected: West is a pickpocket, but largely limits her targets to those who have hurt her; for example, stealing potions and items from enemies in the heat of battle. She is also a perky Genki Girl who serves as Riku's Love Interest and easily fits in with Sora and his True Companions.
  • Tarkin's Fist: The members of the Gran Kajidic are a close knit group of friends who just so happen to make a living robbing, stealing and selling narcotics. They would never dream of betraying one another, and work together to make their fortune. This sense of honor, however, only extends to members of their own group. This is made to contrast with the more traditionally backstabbing, honor-less criminals who work for Black Sun and Crimson Dawn, whose members first real loyalty is to themselves.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Asphalt Jungle, the actual thieves are always honorable with each other even after the "caper" falls apart. Gus is already known as the man who won't squeal, and Dix is as ready to advance money to Doc as Gus was ready to advance it to Dix. The backstabbing comes from their backers.
  • The Batman (2022): When Salvatore Maroni went to prison from a drug-bust and Carmine Falcone took over the operation, The Penguin, Carmine's right-hand man, profited enormously from this. In spite of how much it benefitted him, The Penguin is practically seething with rage when he learns that it was gained by Carmine ratting out Maroni to the authorities to get a leg up on him.
  • 'Dungeons & Dragons (2000)'': Ridley thinks that makes his people, the Thieves Guild, better than the backstabbing Mages of the ruling class. His best friend is his fellow thief, Snails. It later turns out that only thieves of Sumdall feel this way.
    Ridley: We may live outside the law but we respect each other.
  • GoodFellas: Borderline. For the most part it's not, but they do appear to bond at times. Like when Tommy asks Henry advice on a bigoted girl she's dating who doesn't like Italians.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Parodied. The Ravagers claim to have a code, which is "steal from everyone else". Played straight in the sequel, which explicitly states Ravagers having a code, with "no children trafficking" being one of rules, something Yondu has disrespected in the past.
  • Heat: Neil's robbers, despite some bad habits, usually watch out for each other. Except for Waingro, who is too inhuman to count. Furthermore, it's Neil's adherence to this trope that makes him abandon his usual self-preserving pragmatism when the law is at his heels in order to avenge his friend.
  • In Inception the team is tasked by a billionaire businessman to insert the idea to break up a rival conglomerate's energy business in the mind of the soon to be heir. In return, the businessman will pull strings to get the protagonist Cobb's criminal record wiped note  so that he can go back to the US and be with his children. He keeps his word and the movie ends with Cobb going through customs at the airport without a hitch and then reuniting with his children.
  • John Wick: The criminal underworld is portrayed as being well-regulated and held together with a mutual understanding between the various mobsters and hitmen that populate it. The underworld society even uses their own form of currency — a gold token — they use to pay each other off, dirty cops that distract from their activities, cleaners that disposes of bodies and evidence, and the Hotel Continental is used as a Truce Zone and make-shift hospital. If anyone violates this order — just as when the disrespectful, full-of-himself Iosef beats up John, steals his car and kills his dog, or when Ms. Perkins violates Continental rules and tries to kill John and later kills Harry - they receive zero sympathy and are as good as dead.
  • Referenced by Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia as he's calling out the British politicians for not honoring their agreements.
    Lawrence: There may be honor among thieves, but there's none in politicians!
  • Mad Money: Played with. Jackie caves and confesses to the crime, but she does so secure a full pardon for Nina (who might otherwise have been too honorable to bargain for herself). Also, at one point, Bridget looks like she's abandoned the others, but she does come back to help them. They all freely admit they didn't expect her to.
  • Plunkett & Macleane:
    • Plunkett the highwayman returns to rescue Macleane from hanging despite the latter having spent their hard-stolen cash on hookers and gambling. Not only an example of this trope but also display of outright Honor Before Reason.
    • In the films beginning Plunketts young partner refuses to give him up, despite being tortured by Chance.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The pirates have laws, policies, a code of ethics, a bureaucracy, and even a Pirate Council that presides over all of this. Their ways are just a clear case of Blue-and-Orange Morality, since they see killing and pillaging as not just okay, but a way of life. Of course, said "laws" are really more guidelines than actual rules as far as some pirates are concerned. Of course, the one time the "Guidelines" aspect comes up, there are still strict rules in play:
    • The first time was when the person invoking the Pirate's Code was not a pirate (the person who was was a pirate).
    • The next time was the same character invoking this lesson to the other pirates who were about to invoke their rule "He who falls behind gets left behind". Of course, she might not be a pirate, but they are, so they keep to the code.
    • The final time was a character using this to justify outright ditching the rules because they are guidelines. Unfortunately, he said this in front of the Keeper and Arbiter of the rules, who promptly shot him, thus shutting up anyone who thought otherwise. Turns out they're only guidelines when there is no one about to see them become guidelines. They are rules otherwise.
    • In the third movie, Jack's argument for a combined attack hinges on the fact that pirates do not get along with each other at all. When the Pirate Lords suggest holing up in Shipwreck Cove and waiting out the EITC blockade, Jack points out that while they're united by a common enemy now, within a month they will have turned on each other and turned their "fortress" into a bloodbath of infighting. Nobody disagrees with him on this point. So, they pull together and form a united fleet so they can escape the EITC and get as far away from each other as they can.
  • Reservoir Dogs: When White accuses Mr Blonde of trying to rob the diamonds, Nice Guy reprimands him for it, reminding White of the loyalty that Blonde had shown them. Which makes sense because in the end, it's revealed that Mr Orange was indeed the one who was an undercover cop.
    Eddie: "He could've fuckin' walked. All he had to do was say my dad's name, but he didn't; he kept his fucking mouth shut. And did his fuckin' time, and he did it like a man. He did four years for us."
  • In Rififi the four jewel thieves are good friends who cheerfully ask each other after the robbery what each is going to do with their share of the loot. César betrays the other three to the Big Bad, but only at the point of a gun, and the other three stick together until the end.
  • Rob the Mob: Big Al gives a pep talk to his underlings about the value of solidarity, clearly intending to scare them off turning states evidence. And "The List" is intended to enforce this as well, although it doesn't do them any favors when the FBI gets a hold of it...

  • Discworld:
    • Barbarians like Cohen have a number of rules of conduct among them, which they rely on to protect them as "heroes" — the sort known for grand deeds, not good ones, since they're perfectly willing to pillage and rob "soft" civilized folk, or rob temples of gods but never rob the grave of a fallen hero. You obey the rules or else they stop protecting you. Even the villains they face follow rules, like hiring the most stupid mooks, having easily breakable dungeon cells, and giving the Hero a chance to escape because, by the rules, the villain can then Exit Stage Left. If the villain doesn't follow these rules, the hero might just not let them live to have a second go at things.
    • In Night Watch, the Night Watch of the past are just barely above criminals in terms of actual lawfulness. They bully, they take bribes, they're full of general scuz... but they Do Not Drop Their Mates In The Cacky, especially not when it's the dumb rookie who doesn't know any better. So when Quirke tries doing just that, he immediately loses any and all support he could've dredged from the others.
  • Don Quixote: "The old proverb still holds good, thieves are never rogues among themselves."
  • The Elminster Series: In The Making of a Mage, a young Elminster falls in with just such a crowd for a few years. They eventually part ways amicably, foreshadowing the same gang later joining Elminster's informal alliance to take down the Magelords.
  • Gentleman Bastard: The Gentleman Bastards are extremely loyal to other criminals who have the same principles as they do. On the other hand they have no problem being disloyal to and cheating criminals who have gone beyond what the Bastards consider is decent behaviour.
  • Mistborn: Kelsier's crew. Vin has been raised to believe that there is No Honor Among Thieves, and spends the first act wondering what Kelsier is trying to pull on her.
  • On Thievery: Discussed Trope; Zhuangzi uses this trope as an argument that Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Parker: Parker has a rigid code of honour, in that A) he will absolutely not double-cross another professional criminal with whom he is working, unless B) if anyone tries to double-cross him, Parker will unhesitatingly undertake to exact a thorough and brutal revenge.
  • Republic Commando Series: The Mandalorians, except of course for the evil ones. Likewise, Bounty Hunters have an informal code of conduct and honor among themselves. It helps that many of the bounty hunting traditions in the 'verse originated from the Mando'ade, and that Mandos (including the Fetts) are heavily represented among the best of the profession.
  • The Ink in Skate the Thief enforces a set of maxims that all members — and therefore all thieves in the city of Caribol — adhere to under threat of retaliation. One of these prohibits spilling other members' "ink". Other types of violence are apparently allowed, however.
  • Invoked by John Rumford in Victoria when the Japanese yakuza arms smuggler he negotiates a deal with at one point turns out to be not only polite, but also honest, and works hard to uphold his end of the bargain. To Rumford, this attitude makes for a pleasant change in contrast to the depraved Gangbangers and Ruthless Foreign Gangsters who run most of organized crime in America.
    In Japan, there was still honor among thieves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad: This comes up a lot.
    • After Walt & Jesse are abducted by the Ax-Crazy cartel boss Tuco and forced to stay with him and his elderly uncle Don Salamanca, they escape as Walt's DEA brother-in-law Hank ends up in a firefight with Tuco while tracking them down. Hank then tries to use Tuco's uncle to place Jesse at the scene, but he refuses to cooperate as he once spent 17 years in prison when he was younger for refusing to snitch.
    • After Walt and Jesse kidnap the borderline Amoral Attorney Saul Goodman, who has a long history of going outside the law himself, he swears to keep their secrets under attorney-client privilege in exchange for a single dollar each. However, once he becomes a partner in Walt and Jesse's criminal enterprise, they are no longer protected by attorney-client privilege which he fails to mention to them.
    • Uncle Jack, while being a ruthless hardened criminal and leading a gang of Professional Killers, treats his partners-in-crime as a family and absolutely abhors snitches and liars.
    • Walter's own waffling on this trope causes no end of trouble for him.
  • In Better Call Saul, Jimmy spots a valuable collectible in an office building and has an associate steal it so they can split the money. The robbery goes awry because the business's owner is staying the night in the office after a marital spat, leaving the burglar hiding and unable to escape. Jimmy come to bail him out by creating a distraction; afterward, the figurine sells for even more money than expected, and the burglar cuts Jimmy in on his full share out of gratitude, instead of just pocketing the difference.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael Weston used to be a spy, or as some call it a thief on the government's salary, and still regularly pushes or even breaks the law to help his friends and the helpless people who come to him. He acts this way from a combination of loyalty to his higher ideals and his own abusive childhood which makes him staying back and letting the little person be hurt very hard to do. He spends much of the series trying to get his job back in the US Government because one, he is innocent of the crimes they burned him for, and two he wants to protect his country and family.
    • Fiona Glenanne is a former IRA bombing expert. Much like Michael, she has lines she wouldn't cross even in her worst days after a tragedy drove her to terrorism. This includes not harming kids. While she wasn't on a friendly relationship with both Michael (her ex-boyfriend) and Sam Axe (he ruined one of her business dealings when he was with the government) over the series, she grows to be a very loyal and fierce friends to both. To save Michael from his own desires to do anything to save her from a tragic mistake she makes thanks to a manipulative villain, she willingly turns herself into the FBI for blowing up part of a British Consulate.
    • Sam Ax is a former Navy Seal. He is a fierce and loyal man. Threaten his friends and he will get angry very quickly. He will go to many lengths to help his friends or the family of friends, including some not-so-legal phone work to help locate a missing cop buddy, to when he saves a kidnapped Fionna, who was close to escaping anyway, and slams one kidnapper's head into a wall making a head-shape-whole in the drywall. Fionna is very impressed by this.
    • In season 4 episode, "Made Man" the villain of the week is a Miami mobster boss Tony Caro. As part of the operation to take him down, the team first makes him think his bosses in New York had gotten to his crew and tried to kill him. When they then try to get him personally involved in a $5 million heist in merchandise, he isn't trusting until Sam is forced into telling him real and very personal story when he stays with a friend in hostile lands when the guy was injured. Tony is moved and agrees to work with the crew. When they set him up and get him driving off with the merchandise and Sam is "captured" by a security guard, he turns the truck around to come back to rescue Sam because he is now fiercely loyal to Sam after hearing that story.
  • Due South: Discussed and dismissed in an early episode. Fraser's father once told him that contrary to the old adage, there is no honor among thieves, and he proceeds to predict the bank robbers' next move by assuming that they would turn on each other rather than stick together when things stopped going according to plan.
  • Firefly:
    • The crew, especially Mal.
      Mal: Now this is all the money Niska gave us in advance. You bring it back to him. Tell him the job didn't work out. We're not thieves. (beat) Well we are thieves. Point is, we're not takin' what's his.
    • While it is implied that some thieves operate that way, such as Mal's old war buddy Monty, it is also heavily implied that many of them don't, in particular Mal's on-and-off employer Badger. Niska firmly stands behind his own warped version of this trope, making him a very dangerous enemy after Mal returned his money and thus failed to do the job he gave his word that he'd do.
    • When Jayne, who is mostly a case of No Honor Among Thieves - having turned against his former crew simply because Mal offered to pay him more and implying several times that he will do the same to them if he gets an offer good enough (though he is at times shown to have developed some slight degree of reluctant loyalty) - encounters a vengeful former partner of his whom he had betrayed after a job gone bad, he tries to downplay his actions by insisting that the man would have done the same, only for Stitch to angrily rebut that he would never have done so.
      Stitch: You protect the man you're with! You watch his back! Everybody knows that!
  • Hustle: The protagonists have a strict honour system and are loyal to each other and other members of the trade.
  • Justified: In season 4, the Marshals are looking for Drew Thompson, a fugitive whose testimony can put mob boss Theo Tonin behind bars for life. Raylan finds our that Hunter Mosley, a Corrupt Cop and convicted murderer, knows Drew's current identity and location. Mosley once tried to sell Raylan out to a murderous Miami drug cartel, so Raylan figures that Mosley will not hesitate to sell out Drew for prison perks or maybe a reduction in his sentence. However, Mosley not only refuses to tell Raylan where Drew is but also murders the only other person who knows that information. When Raylan tries to force Mosley into telling what he knows, Mosley tries to kill himself by stepping in front of a truck. It seems Mosley has a very specific set of loyalties and Drew is one of the few people he will never betray. In turn, when Drew finds out what's going on, he breaks his own cover specifically so Mosley is off the hook with the Marshals and the mob.
  • Kung Fu (1972): One episode features a thief with the qualities of this trope. It works out pretty well for him.
  • Leverage: The crew. Oh so much. Their opponents, not so much. Especially Chaos, who has Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • My Name Is Earl: Earl and his gang mostly. (During the Flashback bits when they stole stuff that is). One episode played with this a bit. They establish that thieves don't steal from thieves, but when Earl finds out his former friend stole from him now that he'd "turned good", he figured if he wasn't part of that group anymore, he can break their rule on "snitching." This action is treated by other lowlives as even more of a betrayal than simply ceasing criminal activity. In the end, they all cave from light police pressure and snitch on each other, indicating their thieves' code was never that strong to begin with.

  • Dragon Magazine:
    • An article in Dragon Magazine #115 has a Thieves' Guild Code of Ethics.
      • Never reveal guild-related information or its sources to the authorities, nor to any non-Guild member. Guild premises, procedures, or personnel may not be discussed with any non-Guild member.
      • Never inform on another Guild member.
      • Never tell the authorities where the Guild headquarters is.
      • Never disclose the identity of the Guildmaster.
      • Never rob a business or individual protected by the Guild.
      • Never bring a non-Guild member onto guild premises without the Guildmaster's approval.
      • Never include non-Guild members in Guild activities.
      • Never belong to or work for another Thieves or Assassins Guild.
      • Don't enlist the aid of another Guild or a member of another Guild without the Guildmaster's approval.
    • Don't get involved in non-Guild thievery within the Guild's territory.
      • Guild members must pay all regular Guild dues.
      • Guild members must pay the Guild and the Guildmaster their share of all loot before receiving their cut.
      • No large heists or robberies may be performed without the Guildmaster's approval.
      • Guild members must get the Guildmaster's approval before taking an apprentice.
      • Apprentices may not become involved in Guild business without their mentor's or Guildmaster's consent.
    • An article in Dragon Magazine #160 has a few Thieves' Guild policies.
      • Don't kill victims just to rob them. Try to keep your crimes non-violent.
      • Never commit treasonous crimes (against the city itself).
      • Don't fight with your fellow thieves.
      • Pay your Guild dues (percentage of loot).

  • Pinball Dreams: Played with. Many Amiga pirate groups promised to not crack or release the game out of respect for the developers, who were originally members in the Demoscene area. It was eventually cracked by a group called Fairlight, though with the message "A GAME WORTH PLAYING IS A GAME WORTH BUYING!" added on their boot screen.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The 2nd Edition Complete Thieves Handbook had these Thieves' Guild rules.
    • Always pay your dues, training costs and loot percentage.
    • Keep all guild information secret.
    • Tell your Guild leaders what you're planning and any other information they should know.
    • Don't steal in territory or from activities that are "off limits".
    • Only commit crimes in your designated territory.
    • Only train apprentices with the knowledge and permission of the Guild.
    • Be ready to perform any legwork the Guild needs you for.
  • Being that dog culture in Pugmire heavily values friendship and being a "good dog", choosing the Criminal background for a dog will give the player the Trick known as "Friend in Low Places", which allows the dog to be on good terms with certain criminals. If the player expends fortune, they can declare that a particular non-player criminal is one of the characters they are friendly with.
  • Shadowrun: Shadowrunners, or at least most who survive to reach a certain level of experience and infamy, seem to share a set of informal ethical standards. Said standards usually boil down to "limit property damage, try not to make the news and don't sell out your fellow runners". They're more Pragmatic Villainy than anything else, but they ease frictions between high-level runners and also decrease the chance you'll get geeked by employers, coworkers or revenge-seeking victims. Of course, like in everything else there are always those who toss the guidelines out the window. One of the things that pissed off the players about the Fourth Edition was the writers' forceful, increased insistence that shadowrunners don't have this and the ones that so much as try either live very short lives or are long dead (understandably, this is an item they backpedaled on come Fifth Ed.).
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Dark Eldar are backstabbing jerks at home, but are consummate professionals during real-space raids. Any ongoing feuds, grudges, intrigue, etc., are unanimously shelved by all members of the raiding expedition until they are safely back in their home of the Wretched Hive Commorragh. The raids' continued success is vital to the Dark Eldar's survival, and Dark Eldar usually aren't stupid enough to risk failure in this just to get rid of their rivals. Once they get back to Commorragh, though, all the aforementioned backstabbing is firmly back on the table.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, all the main joinable factions have an associated book which outlines their basic ideals and makes the case for why you should join them. The Thieves' Guild's book is actually called Honor Among Thieves, and indeed part of the author's argumentation is that the Thieves' Guild is this trope made official (the major other part is that they aren't the murderous, drug-dealing xenophobic slaver scum the Camonna Tong are).
    • Skyrim: The Thieves' Guild in Skyrim is on hard times, but a few still hold out. When the player gets inducted into the Guild, they have the option of saying "Why do we need rules? We're thieves. We do what we want", which earns them a reprimand from the guildmaster Mercer Frey. It turns out to be an act: Mercer abandoned anything resembling principles years ago, murdering the previous guildmaster, framing another thief, and stealing an artifact belonging to the thieves' patron Daedra, Nocturnal — which is believed to be the source of their bad luck. During the final confrontation, Mercer openly mocks this concept, stating that as thieves all that matters is money. You're given the option to agree or disagree with him.
    • In The Elder Scrolls Online, this returns as the name of the achievement for assisting four Thieves Guild members in personal matters.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The Rogues' Guild is a group of vigilantes who work to dispense justice that Limsa Lominsa's Yellowjackets can't. They uphold an old code from the days when Limsa was a pirates' hotspot that calls for them to stand up to organized criminal groups that would exploit the innocent.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening: All that "Sticky Fingers" Gaius signed up for was stealing a bunch of treasures, not getting an innocent woman murdered! (And especially not the kidnapped Exalt of Ylisse.) He's very unhappy when he finds out, and when Chrom and his Badass Crew arrive he can be easily talked into joining the group. Further, if you make him support with Maribelle, it's revealed that he was once forced to frame her father to save her life... but once she was released, he sent a letter to the judges to save her old man from execution.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: At the start of the game, Tommy Vercetti holds this belief deeply, and he expects it of the rest of the family. As Sonny makes it more explicitly obvious how much he's been set up and used, and how disposable Sonny considers him, Tommy reacts with as much anger over his betrayal as the betrayal of this principle.
  • Might and Magic: In Might & Magic X: Legacy, the Player Characters are Raiders, shady adventurers who are considered thieves by some, treasure seekers by others, and often themselves consider both to be the same thing. However, the first part of the ten-part Raider's Code states that Life is More Precious than Gold, and that no treasure is so valuable that you should choose it over helping a comrade. The second part says that a Raider who violates the first part is no longer a Raider, and that it becomes a true Raider's job to punish the violator with death.
  • Pokémon X and Y: Malva claims that she does possess such honor. It's why she helps you post-story in the Looker quest, she claims.
  • Quest for Glory: The Thieves' Guild has as its motto "Thou shalt not steal HERE".
  • Romancing SaGa: This is one of the reasons why the Thieves Guild of South Estamir is willing to hire any of the potential protagonists and send them after the Assassin's Guild. More than a mere rivalry, the Assassin's Guild is willing to cross lines that they find abhorrent, such as kidnapping and brainwashing innocent people into their unwilling agents.
  • Sly Cooper: A lot of the games are based around this, where the good thieves follow this trope and the bad ones are double-crossers or otherwise deserve to be robbed by the good thieves. The third game is even called Honor Among Thieves.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: A Light-Sider Bounty Hunter or Smuggler. Yes, the Hunter captures and/or kills people for a living, the Smuggler sells black market weapons, and both of them are doing "off the books" and highly illegal privateering missions for their respective factions, but a light side run means they have higher ethical standards than most of their employers.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves half-quotes this trope in the subtitle, and is what separates Nate from his opponents in the franchise as a whole; Nate isn't in it for the money or power but more for the journey and adventure. In this game Elena quotes the trope directly in response to Nate saying that he has no choice but to rescue Chloe from the borderline psychotic Lazarevic.
  • World of Warcraft has an aura with that exact name, produced by rogues, which granted whole party/raid with some crit chance in exchange of producing Combo-points every time someone crits. Since the release of the last expansion ability got rid of "granting the crit chance" part, so it's sort of inversion though.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The fact that DeMasque sends out calling cards before his heists and acts like a Gentleman Thief instead of a common crook is what keeps Dessie loving him when she finds out her husband's a thief. Since he 'plays fair' he doesn't count as a normal criminal.
    • One could argue that a minor version of this is why Calisto Yew named herself as the Yatagarasu rather than exposing Tyrell Badd as her partner in crime, when she could have neatly gotten him arrested and out of the way.

  • Freefall: Part of Sam Starfall's Blue-and-Orange Morality is that while he comes from a culture that esteems burglary, deception and other forms of non-violent crime, he has also brought with him his culture's codes of how those things should be done. For example, when Sam ends up a partner in a safety training initiative for robots that he'd accidentally inspired, he notes that he'll need a list of the robot stockholders, since technically, they're helping him, thereby making them illegitimate targets for his usual petty larceny.
    Sam: Max, since it's dishonorable to steal from a partner, how would you like to buy me out?
    Max Post: No thanks. It's far more fun to watch your frustration at being honest.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Tagon's Toughs are mercenaries rather than thieves (mind, the two aren't exclusive), but the same esprit du corps appears to be in play. Many of the crew are Heroic Comedic Sociopaths, but messing up a fellow crewmate is a good way to end up staring down the wrong end of a plasma gun. They're also considerate of things like preventing civilian casualties and (usually) not dishing out cruel and unusual punishment.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: This trope combined with Pragmatic Villainy is why just about everyone in respects Whateley Academy's status as a Truce Zone. Even supervillains have families, and nobody wants to see their kids dragged into their professional conflicts.
    • The Syndicate tries to encourage its members to follow 'The Code of the Honorable Outlaw', a simple set of precepts which amount to "keep it business, not personal". While few actually follow it explicitly, really blatant rulebreakers can end up losing Syndicate protection, or even being targeted by them.
  • In Worm, most supervillain teams follow a set of unspoken rules, avoiding targeting civilian identities of their enemies for reasons of Pragmatic Villainy. In addition, betraying one's team is a major taboo, as going up against superheroes requires a lot of trust in your teammates. The Villain Protagonist breaks both of these rules over the course of her career, for what she thought were good reasons.

    Western Animation 
  • In Argai: The Prophecy, Prince Argai runs into and befriends a trio of noble thieves, who in a later episode assist our heroes.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Surprisingly, the Penguin believes in a form of this in the episode "Second Chance". Oswald has standards when dealing with fellow crooks, even when he owes them payback, as he tells Batman when the hero suspects him of ordering Two-Face kidnapped.
      Penguin: True, he cheated me out of jewel encrusted statue of a two-headed roc... It was worth millions. But my dear Batman, I would never snatch a fellow rogue from his sickbed. It simply isn't done.
      Batman: Honor among thieves?
      Penguin: Precisely. If I wanted to attack Harvey, I'd do it face to face... To face, as it were.
    • Similarly, Rupert Thorne is one hell of a nasty piece of work who is more than willing to kill anyone who crosses him, but he won't go after anyone's family members.
    • Even Two-Face has his moments. When saved from The Judge by Batman who ends up pinned under rubble from the act, rather than take the opportunity to kill or unmask the Dark Knight, Two-Face instead just gives him a swift kick to the face to stun him and runs.
      Two-Face: Remind me to thank you later!
  • The Batman: The Penguin shows signs of this, despite being portrayed as far more unstable than he is in most versions, getting very angry at the Joker for violating "professional courtesy" by butting in on his robbery. ("You don't see me barging in on your 'gas all of Gotham' schemes, do you?" he shouts.) However, this attitude was dropped the second time the two villains met when they and the Riddler developed a rather dangerous rivalry.
  • In Tangled: The Series, Flynn Rider and Lance Strongbow are like brothers and help each other out often. His relationship with the Stabbington brothers on the other hand...

Alternative Title(s): Honour Among Thieves