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Hospitality for Heroes

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Publicly being The Hero can sometimes be a thankless task. The bad guys know where to find you, your loved ones can get Stuffed in the Fridge, and the only solace sometimes is that you passed What You Are in the Dark. On top of that, it's generally just stressful work but fortunately, there's another rare soul who's also good and does what they can to help.

This soul is also a business person, and at explicit cost to herself, provides the good with a good. Need a shopkeeper to show gratitude to the hero who saved the town from the villain? The hero will not be allowed to pay for goods/food/drink. Want to show someone who does the good deed for a living is also exceedingly honest? Have them decline such an offer.

To some extent, they can get away with this, because the economic impact of losing a customer or two may not be that large, or the personal impact of making sure the "customer" has had their deed paid forward. They may also believe it's important that the good guy has one less stressor or burden to deal with due to their good deeds, whether they know it or not.

If others know this to be an occasional offer for good deeds, the morale boost and customer loyalty this causes can be effective for business, and for the general well-being of everyone around.

Contrast No Hero Discount, Adam Smith Hates Your Guts, and Dude, Where's My Reward?. Compare Hero Insurance and Pro Bono Barter. For actual hospitality, see Sacred Hospitality.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto often gets this treatment from Teuchi, the guy who runs his favorite ramen shop, Ichiraku Ramen. After he saves the whole town, in addition to finally being respected by everyone else, the owner (who already respected him, and knew him to be a Shounen Hero Big Eater) goes above and beyond them by giving Naruto a free buffet.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Where she gets funding is unknown, but Nurse Joy is able to provide healing for Pokémon free of charge, along with food and lodging for trainers, even those who aren't "heroes". The only time Ash and his entourage were turned away from a Center was when a large event made it too crowded.
  • In the anime of Trigun, after Vash saves a town from marauding escaped convicts and then lets the townsfolk turn in the bounty (despite the fact that the townsfolk themselves had originally sicced the criminals on him), he's delighted when a local sandwich shop owner declares that he can have unlimited free food. Meryl naturally points out that he could have bought a sandwich factory if he had kept the money.

    Comic Books 
  • Played with early in the Thunderbolts. The villainous Masters of Evil are thrilled to find out that the citizens of New York will give them free equipment out of gratitude for their fake heroism.
  • Typically pops up when one of the more dark and brooding characters (or Spider-Man) is being given a Hope Spot after a long period of thanklessness, or in a Slice of Life bit between more epic storylines. One memorable bit was Daredevil making his nightly rounds and stopping by at this one hot dog cart; he had saved the guy from a mugging and possible murder a while back, and the grateful man would often give him a freebie. Not just for that one act, but generally making New York safer. "Good thing, too; not much room for a wallet in this spandex." Matt also occasionally gets free meals from restaurant owners who know his "secret".
  • The Punisher: Given that Frank is always being hunted down for multiple counts of murder and vigilantism and doesn't have a Secret Identity, he can only get help from the local Back-Alley Doctor or people he knew in the military, who help him no questions asked as it usually involves I Owe You My Life.

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Amulet of the Moon, Harry mentions in a Daily Prophet article that he "couldn't and wouldn't accept free service or merchandise from any business, much as he appreciated the intentions of those who made such offers."
  • In Heroes Assemble the Avengers walk into Harry Potter's cafe after the Chitauri invasion and he announces that "superheroes don't pay here."
  • In the Harmony and Valor story "Cultural Differences", two assholes sexually harass Lyra and Sweetie Drops while they are on a date at a restaurant. Flash Sentry steps in and he and Sweetie effortlessly kick their asses. The entire restaurant applauds and their meals are offered on the house.
  • In Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, the barmaid Flissa in Haven offers Varric and the newly minted Herald of Andraste a meal on the house. In his case, it's because he rescued her from the unwanted attentions of a ruffian prior to the start of the story.
  • Saruman of Many Devices: Upon liberating the city of Dorwinion, Prince Brand reminds his army to treat the locals respectfully, since they've been through a hard time.
    Not that they'd have much opportunity to offend the locals, for the simple fact that they were hysterically grateful to their saviours. The problem was more likely to be fending off enthusiastic offers of drink and company.
  • Pokémon: Equestrian Adventures: The final chapter has the residents of the Dragon Kingdom give Flash Sentry a dragon egg as thanks for all he did for them, including returning their stolen prince to them and saving them all from Cadmus. Though they know it will never be able to replace Hopper, they know he will raise it just as well as he did with him.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • After bailing from his plane in Battle of Britain, a pilot parachutes into a greenhouse in someone's back garden. A boy who lives in the home rushes inside, returning with a box of cigarettes.
    Archie: Thanks awfully, old chap!
  • Cowboys & Aliens: The bartender's wife lets Jake have a drink for free after he stands up to the town bully.
  • In Bad Ass, Frank gets a free bottle of tequila from a shopkeeper as thanks for beating up two armed robbers.
  • In Tombstone, Wyatt Earp is shown preparing for the legendary showdown at the O.K. Corral by pulling out a gun he hasn't used in a long time, possibly ever; it's an exceptionally fine weapon in a custom case, and a small engraved plaque reveals that it was a gift to him from "the grateful citizens" of the town where he had been the peace officer.

  • Happens often on the Discworld:
    • The series has this with respect to the often heroic Witches. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg often offer to pay for something, but they nearly always get it for free. This is because the Lancrastrians both love and fear witches.
    • Captain Carrot Ironfounderson also get offered free meals... because the business owners know that he's so squeaky clean, he'll insist on paying anyway.
    • Vimes spends some time pondering this trope at one point. Vimes is famously incorruptible and reacts violently to people trying to bribe him, and he also knows that local merchants offering discounts or free goods for watchmen isn't really altruistic; it's an attempt to get the watch on their side. Regardless, Vimes considers it too petty to get worked up about, knows that the free or discounted stuff the watch gets from merchants is a perk of the job and that attempting to curtail it would wind up with the watch up in arms. He's even willing to consider that maybe a tiny fraction of the merchants are just sincerely showing their gratitude.
  • In the early Harry Potter books, Harry's reputation as "the boy who lived" gets him this treatment. It's especially prominent in the third book, while he's staying in Diagon Alley until the new term (e.g. the local ice cream vendor both helps him with his homework and gives him free sundaes, the minister for magic basically lets him off the hook for inflating his aunt, and so on). Of course, the fact that everyone is relieved he hasn't been killed by Sirius Black helps.
    • In Deathly Hallows, it's revealed that Aberforth Dumbledore has been giving free food to the members of Dumbledore's Army, even though they are all wanted by the Death Eaters.
  • The novelization of the Dirty Harry movie Sudden Impact mentions that Harry received his unusual .44 Automag pistol as a gift from a custom gunsmith after he had saved the man's wife... probably by killing those endangering her, knowing Harry. It's suggested that he is often offered free stuff because the text states that the pistol is the only such gift he ever accepted.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots, the mechanic deduces she can't pay after the coffee house is destroyed, so he won't charge her — the town had needed a masked man to swoop in and deal with the coffee house for a long time.
  • Serpico discovers that this trope has become corrupted over time — despite receiving a meal allowance, police officers still expect free meals. Serpico notices the free meal is often leftovers or something that isn't selling well, so he starts paying for his meal. This so alarms the cafe owner that he chases Serpico down the street with his money. After some argument, they agree that Serpico will pay cost only while leaving a large tip for the waitress. He then finds the staff treating him with a lot more appreciation.
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern books, dragonriders are supported by the rest of the Pern community in exchange for risking their lives to protect the people from Threadfall. Since they have to devote their entire lives to caring for their dragons and training to fight Thread, the riders don't have time left over for things like earning a living or raising crops. Most dragonriders are honorable about the whole affair, but some of the more belligerent riders are prone to abusing this.
    • At the end of the second Long Interval (when the initial series of books take place), this trope has begun to fall by the wayside. After several hundred years without Threadfall, the people of Pern have started to wonder why they bother supporting all these layabouts and their hungry dragons if there's no Thread for them to deal with. The single Weyr left by the time of Dragonflight has suffered from years of neglect, leaving it woefully undersupplied for when Thread finally begins falling again.
    • This also serves as a major source of culture clash for the time-displaced dragonriders that came forwards to help with Threadfall — they went from heroes who could have pretty much anything they wanted just for the asking to depending on the grudging support of a world still getting reacquainted with the necessity of dragons. Quite a few of the Oldtimers can't reconcile their old worldview with the new and get banished to the Southern Continent, where they can easily support themselves in the continent's incredibly lush climate and will be less likely to cause trouble elsewhere.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first episode of Sherlock, we meet Italian restaurant owner Angelo, whom Sherlock cleared of murder charges during a case some time prior. Angelo greets Sherlock happily when he and John arrive at his restaurant and offers him (as usual) anything he wants, on the house.
    • In fact, Sherlock's apartment is a similar situation. Mrs. Hudson's husband was accused of murder. He assured the conviction.
  • The original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers weren't charged by Ernie for their juices and smoothies. Word of God states that it was because he figured out they were the Power Rangers.
  • Dragnet routinely defies this trope when it comes up. Friday and Gannon explain to anyone happy enough to give them a "reward" for their services that they are duty-bound (by law and department policy) to refuse any benefits from the public for their services. The reason is twofold: one, it prevents actual corruption or grift from hiding as this trope, and two, it prevents both the cops and the general public from getting the idea that rewarding cops in this way is mandatory. The only payment that cops are allowed to receive from rendering their services - is their department-issued paycheck.
    • In one episode, however, Friday and Gannon had just busted a group of con-artists before they could rob the till of a restaurant. Immediately afterwards, a line of dialogue reveals that the cops haven't had lunch yet. The restaurant owner immediately offers a free lunch; when they refuse, she tells them to sit down and order anyway, because there's nothing controlling the size of the portions she serves them.
  • On Fringe, a bartender in the alternate universe refuses to let Agent Broyles pay for his drink. This is because he recognizes Broyles as one of the law-enforcement officials who helped deal with a major disaster (a gigantic vortex) years before; he tells Broyles that his money is no good there because the world needs more heroes like him.
  • At one point in Joan of Arcadia, Joan's father uncovers a large conspiracy within the municipal government and calls in the FBI. The FBI removes all heads of various municipal agencies - including Joan's father, who is Chief of Police. But the community still knows who the real hero is.
  • Somewhat deconstructed in What I Like About You Val opens a coffee shop/muffin store in later seasons, and also starts dating a firefighter. He brings in some of his firefighter buddies, and she comps their food. They initially refuse, but she says it's the "Firefighter Special" and insists. Soon, word gets around and firefighters start showing up in droves for free muffins. Val quickly does the math (as in, extrapolates the costs in her head in under ten seconds; her coworker calls her "Rain Man") and realizes that she'd be ruined in a matter of days and quickly backpedals.
  • Seen in one episode of Seinfeld, when Jerry returns a valuable earring he found in his dry cleaning. It turns out that the dry cleaner's wife has been frantic over this missing earring, and to reward him for the kindness, he promises Jerry free dry cleaning from that day forward. Of course, the trope is then played with because Jerry's friends keep asking him to get their stuff cleaned for them.
  • The last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond ends with the show's usual "Where's Lunch" Vanity Plate, but this time, instead of food, we see a bill reading "NO CHARGE", The idea is that it's a show of gratitude after nine seasons of the viewers being loyal customers.

    Video Games 
  • In Dicey Dungeons, Ned offers to upgrade your items for free, although he can upgrade only one item per visit. He and the other shopkeepers then give you more support in the final chapter, with Yolanda and Val giving you free items.
  • In the Disgaea series you get free rewards from the Healer when you reach certain milestones of total damage healed. May only partially count because it encourages you to get hurt more so you can buy more healing, thus possibly resulting in a profit.
  • Invoked in Mass Effect 2, Shepherd can convince a bar-tender to throw a round of drinks on the house to get another character's attention.
  • In Final Fantasy X, the shopkeeper O'aka actually would give you a discount, but in his case only if you had donated a large sum of money to him when he was struggling to get his business off the ground. That point in time was at the beginning of the game, and you were likewise probably low on funds. Otherwise, he charges almost double what any other shop would. He also seems to suspiciously follow you around, to make sure you're prepared for upcoming fights. In Final Fantasy X-2, he sells at discounts to begin with, but mostly because he has debts to pay, and if you buy enough from him to pay off his debt, he'll lower his prices to ridiculously cheap values.
    • Many Non Player Characters will give you healing items when you speak to them from the time you leave Besaid until you reach the Macalania Temple because they see Yuna as a hero for going on her summoning quest to bring a calm to Spira. This stops after your team is branded traitors for attacking and defeating Maester Seymour.
  • The reward for one of the quests in Diablo II is that shopkeepers in that town give you a discount.
  • In Breath of Death VII, innkeepers never charge you, because you're a hero. Merchants, on the other hand, lower their prices for nobody.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, many merchants will reduce their prices (down to, with enough barter skill, selling at cost) if you do good deeds for their faction. The Kings regularly give you free stuff if you've helped out the people of Freeside, and the Brotherhood of Steel provide you with surplus ammo if you've helped them. Likewise in Fallout 3, settlers in Megaton would give gifts to a hero protagonist, while slavers in Paradise Falls would reward a villain. In Fallout 4, Mrs. Abernathy will offer a discount on the items she sells if you bring her daughter's locket back from the raiders who killed her.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the more good deeds you do, the more "steal" tags on items in shops will vanish. This means that shopkeepers won't react to you taking them. Put simply, townspeople won't mind if the hero of the town helps themselves to a few odds and ends from store shelves, or a meal and a few drinks at the inn.
  • In Borderlands 2, if you talk to Moxxi prior to starting the final storyline mission, she invokes this, promising that if you take down Handsome Jack, you'll never pay for another drink at her bar again.
  • In From the Abyss use of the inn is absolutely free because the innkeeper considers it silly to charge the people who're supposed to be ridding the kingdom of monsters.
  • In the Pokémon games, Nurse Joy's healing service is always free to everyone. Later games have the actual Poké-Marts in the Centers, suggesting that's where her funding comes from.
  • In Far Cry 3, when Jason unjams a cell tower the shops will give him weapons for free.
  • Inverted and discussed in Monster Girl Quest, when a shop owner claims that all merchants dislike the church because they are expected (or rather forced) to give heroes such huge discounts that they have a hard time making ends meet. On the other hand, one of those examples seen which happens to be absolutely hilarious is this: Luka, a little boy, defeats Granberia, one of the most powerful monster girls in the world by showing courage and the will to improve (something Granberia honours), then Luka and his companion Alice show up at an inn to spend the night. The daily rate is the ludicrous amount of 4.8 MILLION gold for the two of them but since Luka is a hero, the amount is reduced to... four. The best part here is that the innkeeper makes it crystal clear that she will send the rest of the bill directly back to the church, the same people enforcing the discounts for "heroes" in the first place. It also helps that she saw Luka acting like a real hero, so her opinion of him and Alice is decidedly better than of those who flee at first sight of a monster like many other "heroes" did when spotting Granberia.
  • Rabi-Ribi has Miriam offer to give her wares to Erina for free, but Erina turns it down, making it a voluntary form of No Hero Discount for her.
  • In Quest for Glory II, the hero spends the whole game getting free room and board from his Katta friends at their inn. (Pretty justified considering the hero helped them in the first game, and they believe he is destined to help them reclaim the homeland of their people.) In addition to that, when various disasters happen or monsters attack the city, telling the other Katta merchants that you need their goods to save the city will result in them giving you what you need free of charge. The only exception is the human blacksmith Issur, who firmly believes in No Hero Discount.
  • In The Swords of Ditto, when you go to face the Big Bad Mormo on the final day, some of the townspeople will give you free items. You will still, however, have to pay for items from the stores.
  • In Fable, all goods are increasingly discounted as the player's renown rises. Early in the game, many goods are sold at above market value unless the merchants have a surplus of themnote . By the end of the game, even items a merchant only has one of will be priced significantly below market value.
  • Dragon Age: Origins invokes the trope - and then subverts it. In the first town you visit, the party rescues a pair of dwarven merchants, Bodahn and Sandal Feddic, from being attacked. Because you saved their lives (and inventory), Bodahn insists on accompanying the party from that point onward, setting up their wagon in the party camp. This is good because it means there's always a convenient merchant and it also gives the party the ability to add runes to weapons. However, Bodahn also insists that he gives you a hefty "hero's discount" on your purchases, and mentions it frequently. This is a lie. It's easy to overlook, but Bodahn's prices are actually slightly higher than most of the other merchants in the game!
  • While Trevor Philips, one of the player characters in Grand Theft Auto V, is anything but a hero, he nonetheless gets a free Sniper Rifle and silencer from the local Ammu-Nation in the mission "Nervous Ron"...because he's set fire to the store in the past and the owner doesn't want a repeat. Rather frustratingly, Trevor does pay for anything else he acquires from the store afterwards, and there's no apparent reason for his outburst of empathy other than the player's inconvenience.
  • Littlewood: The Hero gets a free drink a day at the Coffe Shop set up by Dudley, their Parental Substitute.

    Web Animation 
  • In Girl-chan in Paradise, the heroes temporarily defeat a villain, and the restaurant manager gives them a free meal. Kotomaru shoots him, correctly reasoning that the owner would never give out anything for free. They find the real owner tied up in a closet, and free him. As thanks, he gives them a free meal. He gets shot too.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: People will often just give the Avatar's group supplies (at least in the first season when they weren't really trying to hide the fact that Aang is the Avatar most of the time).
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, Mr. Krabs offers SpongeBob, his own employee, a Krabby Patty "on me... well, maybe at a discount."
  • A Plumber from Ben 10 was releasing aliens and then capturing them again explicitly for this trope.
  • In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), Leonardo and Michelangelo are shopping in a supermarket when two goons try to hold it up. They respond and catch the crooks, but they have to split before the cops show up, so they ask the cashier if she can ring them up quickly. Seeing as they just saved her life, she tells them it's on the house.

    Real Life 
It's common for soldiers, cops, firefighters, et al. to get free drinks from bartenders. American Airlines lets military traveling on orders use their Admiral's Club lounges for free (they still have to pay for meals but they waive the other fees), Air Canada lets traveling military check as many bags as they wish for free (whether traveling on orders or as civilians), and all airports in Canada and the US let military use their Priority Security Clearance lanes for free. Many, many places will give discounts or outright freebies to said people in uniform or who flash an ID card as well.
  • Happens in convenience stores as well. Some chains even have it as store policy that police get free coffee and fountain drinks, plus counter space to do their reports if they want it. Of course, this can also be seen as enlightened self-interest; when your place of work is often seen as a very large free ATM, having police hanging around or known to commonly come in at the cost of a few drinks is cheap insurance.
  • At least one McDonald's in Australia gives half-price for uniformed police. And yes, cops hanging around isn't a bad thing, plus you get to look good for being nice to the community.
  • Unfortunately, this has the side effect of a Phony Veteran Taking Advantage of Generosity by dressing up as a real soldier, a situation called "stolen valor".
  • In particular for the Medal of Honor recipients, they may receive, among other benefits, a monthly pension including to what other benefits they might have received note , and free air travel under the provisions of DOD Regulation 4515.13-R. The other privileges and courtesies are listed here.
  • Many awesome customers on Not Always Right receive free meals, drinks, or gift cards from grateful employees for standing up to other rude or violent customers (though many times, the story's comments section will be full of people saying that it sounds more like someone's wish-fulfillment fantasy than a factual depiction of events).