Authority figures, especially of the benevolent kind, have a hard life. Everywhere they go they are offered stuff for free. But, since they're benevolent, they feel bad about robbing innocent citizens of their income, and loudly insist on paying for meals and such.
A lot of RPGs involving noblemen have the line, "I insist on paying for that!" to prevent you from getting stuff free. Though you usually don't get a nobleman's wealth along with the character (sometimes handwaved through a line such as, "The treasures in my treasury belong to the kingdom"). (See With This Herring.)
Truth in Television with policemen being offered freebies.
- An old Little Caesar's ad from years ago, back when they were offering a free pizza with a purchased one, had a Boy Scout troop master insisting on paying for the freebie pizza, when ordering for his troop. Hilarity ensued.
- Smokey and the Bandit: Bandit stops at a restaurant for lunch, then Sheriff Justice shows up not knowing he's standing next to the Bandit, the man he's been chasing since Texas. After some banter, Bandit pays for Justice's lunch ("You're an officer of the law. I'd be honored").
- Captain Carrot of Discworld does this. Subverted in that they only offer him free stuff because they know he'll refuse. Averted with the other members of the Watch, particularly Fred Colon, who takes all the free meals he can get.
- In the short story Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones, "Singers" are people with very special talents who are known worldwide. There are only about 20 or so in the world. Hawk the Singer always attempts to pay for things before someone just gives it to him. He explains to the protagonist that the day he stops attempting to pay or stops acting surprised at getting something for free is the day he will have to start paying.
If I ever start expecting it, it'll stop.
- Steve Carella (and, by extension, every honest cop) in the 87th Precinct novels. In one novel, he is offered theatre tickets to a hit musical and notes that as a cop you can either accept nothing that is offered to you or everything: there is no middle ground. (He does take the tickets but pays market price for them after first establishing that these are reserve tickets that would have been on sale to the general public before the show, so there can be no question of him being done special favours.)
- In a character-defining moment for both Thanos and Anat in the Shattered Twilight story The Farmer's Wife, Thanos leads the other priests out of an inn without paying for their stay for the night or for the food they ate, but Anat sneaks a few coins onto the table — out of Thanos' sight — before he leaves.
- Subverted in Friends, where Monica does accept free steaks (and an eggplant) from the new meat suppliers to the restaurant where she works, considering them a gift. She ends up being fired over it since the owners of the restaurant wrongly interpreted it as a bribe (Monica had been recently promoted to a job which included selecting the meat supplier).
- In one episode of Frasier, "Our Father Whose Art Ain't Heaven", Martin expresses irritation that Frasier never allows him to pay for his meals, so he insists on paying at a fancy restaurant. When Niles and Frasier both order cheap meals to be nice, he refuses to pay, at which point Frasier refuses on a similar principle and Niles realizes that he left his wallet in their taxi.
- In The West Wing, Mrs. Landingham pays full sticker price for her new car, much to the dismay of her coworkers and boss.
- Jerry's parents flat-out refuse to believe that he makes anything remotely resembling a decent amount of money as a comedian. This leads to huge arguments between Jerry and his father Morty whenever they are together, as both of them insist on paying for everything: Morty because he thinks Jerry is perpetually broke, and Jerry because he wants to prove to his parents that he is far from it. On one occasion Morty even insisted on paying for a meal even after his wallet had been stolen, leading him to plead to have his credit and good word accepted as payment by the restaurant's exasperated owner (who was just baffled why he didn't simply let his son pay).
- This reaches its climax when Jerry buys Morty a Cadillac for his birthday. His parents sell it to Jack Klompus (for probably less than Jerry paid for it) and give him the money. Jerry responds by buying it back from Klompus at blue book value and giving it back to his parents. His parents respond by selling their house and moving into a trailer. For a bit of irony, the lengths Jerry went to in order to prove that he wasn't broke left him actually broke, and he had to sleep in the Cadillac for a night.
- From The Bible:
- In Genesis chapter 23, Abraham's wife Sarah dies, and Abraham talks to the people of Heth about giving him a place to bury his dead. The people of Heth insist on giving him the choicest of burial sites the cave of Machpelah for his wife without having to pay anything for it since they consider him a prince among their people, but Abraham insists on purchasing the property. They finally settle on four hundred shekels of silver, which is what Abraham ended up paying, and it became the only site in the Promised Land permanently deeded to Abraham and his descendants, as Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob are eventually buried there as well.
- When God told King David to go to the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite in 2nd Samuel chapter 24 to build an altar to the Lord, David tells Araunah that he wants to purchase the threshing floor. Araunah was willing to give the threshing floor and the oxen and the wood free of charge to the king, but King David insists on buying the property, saying that he would not make sacrifices to the Lord with offerings that cost him nothing. In the book of 1st Chronicles (which repeats the same story), the threshing floor becomes the site for the future Temple that King David's son Solomon would build during his reign.
- Subverted with Edgar in Final Fantasy VI. If you put him at the head of the party and then visit a shop in Figaro, the merchants will say that they don't feel they should charge the King money if he needs something. Edgar will insist on paying anyway, but they will give him a half-price discount.
Edgar: Look, don't you have a family? Just shut up and take it.
- Edgar's brother Sabin does this as well.
Shopkeep: Sir Sabin, I can't take your money!
Sabin: Take it! Haven't you heard? My brother says I'm a notorious spendthrift!
- Edgar's brother Sabin does this as well.
- Humorous subversion from Persona 3: In one of the Social Link scenes for Mitsuru Kirijo, she offers to pay for lunch... and is then flustered when she discovers the food stand from which you are buying doesn't accept credit cards, meaning you have to pay anyway.
- In Mother3 Fassad insists on paying for his stay in Tazmily's inn even though the village has no concept of money and the innkeeper is willing to let him stay without asking anything in return. This is a negative example of the trope since Fassad is rejecting their hospitality in favor of making it a cold transaction. It's all part of his efforts to corrupt Tazmily.
- One of the fights between Peter and the Giant Chicken in Family Guy is put on hold as the two realize they forgot why they keep fighting whenever they meet each other, and so the Chicken takes Peter out to dinner with his wife to apologize. They get into an argument over who's paying until eventually they're fighting all over again.
- Truth in Television. Many, if not all, companies have policies in place to prevent the slightest hint of favoritism. Usually, gifts of less than $10 are okay, anything over must be refused or cleared with HR first. Applies even to people who don't have any power to influence anything.
- British Coppers are strictly forbidden from accepting free or even discounted goods or services on account of their position. In fact, until quite recently it was technically against the rules for them to spend money at all while on duty, but this was seldom enforced.
- André the Giant famously refused to let anyone else pay for his meals at restaurants (given his size and appetite, on top of prodigious amounts of liquor, they tended to be very expensive). Arnold Schwarzenegger once attempted to pay behind Andre's back, but Andre caught him, picked him up, and firmly sat him back down at the table, saying "I pay."
- U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant was once pulled over for speeding through Washington in his one-horse buggy. When the officer realized whom he'd just stopped he was willing to let the war-hero president off with a warning but Grant insisted, paid the fine out of his pocket, and walked back to the White House because his buggy had to be impounded.