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Gabriel Caine: Do you know the difference between a hustler and a good Con Man?
Fitz: No.
Gabriel Caine: A hustler has to get out of town as quick as he can, but a good con man - he doesn't have to leave until he wants to.

The Hustler is working The Con. They have a simple tale, one that a single person can tell. Generally, the hustler is a little down on his luck, and a little less smooth than a Con Man.

The way to tell the difference between the Con Man and the Hustler is that a Hustler usually has only one trick, a short con that's designed to get him a lot of money in a hurry. Once he has the cash he needs, he'll split and move on to the next place— hence the name. The Con Man, meanwhile, generally has more patience and professionalism in his craft, taking his time to use Social Engineering to earn his mark's trust, and generally running longer or more elaborate schemes to extract more money from more people.

Another use of the term is for a con artist who tricks others into competing against him for money, known as Hustling the Mark. The Hustler will join a game as an enthusiastic but unskilled player, building up the other players into believing they are superior. Once that's done, the Hustler (or an accomplice) will then suggest playing for high stakes; when the money is on, the Hustler will demonstrate his true skills and take their overconfident opponents to the cleaners.

The teen version is the High-School Hustler, who usually runs lower-stakes cons.

Often a Slimeball. Compare and contrast The Barnum, Snake Oil Salesman, Shady Scalper, Card Sharp.

"Hustler" may also be slang for someone who is driven to work hard at their career in the hopes of becoming a Self-Made Man. It also can refer to athletes who bring a lot of dedication to the court. And, of course, to The Oldest Profession. They're related in that they all apply a lot of energy to their work, but those would be different tropes.

Not to be confused with the Larry Flynt porn magazine, or Hustler One, or the Convair B-58.

Also see The Hustler (1961).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hare from Monster Rancher started off as this, cheating the main characters out of all their cash on his first appearance after he correctly gauged their rather extreme level of gullibility. He later joins the group himself, mostly out of the desire for a bigger challenge and the chance for some fun.
  • Because of its frequent focus on criminals, Monster features several examples - notably, Otto Heckel and Gunther Milch.

    Comic Books 
  • Hunter's Hellcats: Snake Oil is a Con Man who works without partners, so it seems safe to assume he was a Hustler before the war.

    Fan Works 
  • Trixie and her magic, which is just a shortcut to finding rich and famous patrons, in Rainbooms and Royalty.
  • Colosseum of the Heart: When visiting the Duel Square in Pyrite Town, Ash poses as a naive rookie to bait a trainer into wagering a Shadow Pokémon in their battle, before surprising him by pulling out Charizard. Note that by this point Ash has become Champion of Alola.

  • Fast Eddie Felson of The Hustler (1961), who screwed the pooch on the hustle so bad that both Paul Newman and Tom Cruise had to do a movie about him.
  • Moses Pray and Addie Loggins are an (suggested) father-daughter team of hustlers in Paper Moon.
  • In Duets, Ricky Dean makes a living by traveling across the country and visiting karaoke bars, where he finds the singer with the biggest ego and insults their hobby and their singing voice until they demand that he take the stage himself, usually betting him money that he can't do any better. Since the character is played by Huey Lewis, it goes without saying that they're usually dead wrong. Usually this pays off for Dean, though sometimes it doesn't turn out so well.
  • In the sixth Police Academy movie, Commandant Lassard and another officer enter a tough bar hoping to question everyone, and a shady guy "invites" him to a game of pool, telling another shady guy he's going to "hustle the old cop for all he's got". Unfortunately for the crook, Lassard is much better at pool than they thought, winning easily. The crook nervously asks him what he wants to know.
  • Blonde Crazy: Bert has aspirations to pull off huge cons, but is too wrapped up in being tough that his plans almost always blow up in his face.
  • In Big Hero 6, Teen Genius Hiro Hamada is introduced hustling Yama in an underground bot-fight.
  • Nick in Zootopia is shown running a short con that is just within legality. He evokes sympathy from Judy to get her to buy an elephant-sized popsicle for his "son" (actually his adult partner Finnick, a fennec fox), then melting the big popsicle down into dozens of smaller popsicles, and collecting the used sticks and selling them to a mouse construction company as lumber.

  • Discworld
    • In Witches Abroad, some river-boat gamblers make the mistake of hustling Nanny Ogg, and are swiftly beaten at their own game by her friend Granny Weatherwax.
    • In Going Postal, conman Moist von Lipwig is probably too smooth to qualify as a hustler (at least before Vetinari starts boxing him), but deserves mention for one of his personas, a "lack of confidence trickster" named Edwin Streep. Streep's down-on-his-luck demeanor and inept Find The Lady game are a cover for forgery (none of the money he loses is real) and pickpocketing (once the marks have shown him where their wallet is, they often never have the chance to discover the money is fake).
  • That Was Then... This Is Now: The two protagonists of the novel are lifelong friends and have an elaborate con set up to help them hustle at pool. Until one night when they find out what happens when hustlers get caught. It involves being outnumbered, people wearing brass knuckles, and firearms. It ends with their mutual friend who owned the pool hall and tried to come to their rescue laying dead in an alley.
  • Time Scout: Skeeter Jackson, Chuck Farley, and Goldie Moran are all masters of the short con.
  • Mr. Wednesday of American Gods is a hustler, when he needs money he pulls a fast one on a cashier or tricks a bunch of bank patrons into depositing their cash with him. Being a god who can Charm marks if necessary doesn't hurt.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sneaky Pete: Marius for the first part of the series.
  • Harry Anderson had a small role on Cheers as this type of character.
  • Ash in Hustle.
  • In one episode of Married... with Children, Kelly made money hustling pool with Jefferson managing her. (Unfortunately, Al ruined what would have been her biggest payout.)
  • The protagonists of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia run an Irish bar together, but more often than not they abandon their duties in favor of some con or others. Unlike most examples of this page, they are usually unsuccessful in their endeavors.
  • Sarah Manning in Orphan Black.
  • On White Collar Neal is a master forger who specializes in long cons but is just as good in doing short cons and hustles. A flashback shows him doing simple cons on tourists when he is low on funds because he had all his money stolen by a mark who managed to out gambit him.


    Western Animation 
  • Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender takes up this role in the Season 3 episode "The Runaway". She plays up her blindness in various gambling events, and then uses her Earthbending to cheat and win plenty of money. Things go awry when Combustion Man hijacks one of her schemes to try and kill Aang.
  • Grunkle Stan in Gravity Falls pulls con after con every single moment of his life, from massive amounts of tax fraud to regularly scamming gullible tourists with fake monster attractions to exploiting everyone around him until he's squeezed every last bit of money he can from them... and in the end proves himself so talented a grifter he can scam Bill Cipher into following his lead until the monster's in too deep to escape his fate.

    Real Life