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Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters
aka: Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters

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"I got Harlem, Richie. I took care of Harlem, and now Harlem is gonna take care of me. You can believe that."
Frank Lucas, American Gangster

It's not enough for it to just feel good to be a gangster, you should also win the sympathy of the audience and community. Since racketeering, trafficking women, random murders and selling drugs don't really fly with the general public, heroic criminals in fiction are usually Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters.

There is truth to this, particularly in the birthplace of The Mafia, Sicily. Eventually, the locals of that harried island got tired of being invaded every other week and banded together with the local gangsters. The same goes for Harlem during the Civil Rights Struggle, which saw its share of unfair treatment by police. The Japanese Yakuza tend to be more civilized to their neighbors as well since they tend to operate more openly than Western counterparts and like to preach how they provide "services" to the community (who, in return, owe them money and respect).

This trope is usually set against more villainous politicians or outsiders. They may distribute food during the holidays or fund the building of health clinics or schools. Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters almost always have standards; refusing to deal hard drugs is a common one. This may include a noble (if warped) sense of family values. May overlap with Anti-Hero Team if they're the heroes of the story.

This trope has some elements of Truth in Television: crime syndicates that wish to survive in a community try to have good public relations, after the philosophy "don't shit where you eat". Many criminal organizations (including the Japanese yakuza, Sicilian Mafia, the Chinese triad societies, and most American street gangs) also have their roots in community self-defense efforts, although they share a strong tendency to degenerate into more euphemistic forms of "protection", among other abuses. Moreover, having an organised crime outfit in your neighborhood tends to help cut down on disorganized crime — the common criminals who might otherwise commit crimes in that neighborhood (armed robbers and muggers) are too afraid of committing a crime against the wrong person, and paying for it, pissing off people who have every reason to keep the neighborhood off the police radar, or simply being made an example of by people who know that unaffiliated common criminals getting away with causing trouble in their territory is a bad look, and don't want to give anyone any ideas.

Compare Even Evil Has Standards, Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!, Gentleman Thief, Loveable Rogue, The Family for the Whole Family, and Honor Among Thieves. Contrast Ruthless Foreign Gangsters and Totalitarian Gangsterism.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baccano!: The series doesn't really touch at all on the crime-for-profit element of The Mafia (except for a few mentions of speakeasies), and its mobster characters might as well be violent aristocrats given their behavior and portrayal. The light novels do go a bit more into crime, with the Genoard fortune coming from cocaine and the Gandors being explicitly opposed to drug dealing. Of course, this only reinforces which characters are Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters. Also, Jacuzzi and Nice run a crew of community-minded delinquents.
  • Black Lagoon: The Washimine group of the "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" arc is an ethical Yakuza, fighting an uphill battle against more ruthless Delinquents and The Mafiya headed by Balalaika. Ginji Matsuzaki, the wakagashira and resident badass of the group, comments that while they're impoverished, it's more honourable than "selling women and meth".
  • Bodacious Space Pirates: They rob tourist yachts and take on bounties for odd jobs. Really, the whole "space privateer" thing has already been bogged down by the local bureaucracy, making teenage girls the perfect star-system neighborhood tax collectors... And then they kidnap a multibillionaire heiress so she can dump her hipster fiancée and get married to her girlfriend. And take down a prototype battlespace fortress.
  • Durarara!!: The Dollars are something of an example, whether they're a gang, a neighbourhood watch organisation, or just a group of random anonymous people depends on how you look at it. Also, when Kida ruled them the Yellow Scarves were this, at least in comparison to Blue Square.
  • Futakoi Alternative: The Yakuza are portrayed as this. Granted, when compared to biomechanical flying pyromaniac squid, simple Yakuza seem pretty tame.
  • Gokusen: The Kuroda group is like this. They still like a good fight and get most of their resources from illegal gambling and protection of hostess bars. Though unlike others they don't just get protection money to extort them, they really do protect them.
  • Heaven's Memo Pad: Souchirou's gang started as he and a few other delinquent punks getting together to protect themselves and those they cared about against other gangs, and grew from there. They're still small and realize they can't keep doing the gang thing forever, and so have been exploring more legitimate services like managing and promoting shows for bands at local clubs. They are also very down on most drugs, and Souchirou helps the heroes find and stop the source of a dangerous new euphoric drug circulating among the poor and disaffected in their area.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind:
    • Golden Wind has Bucciarati's group within the Passione mafia, a group which carries the arc protagonist, Giorno, as its newest member. Unlike the rest of Passione (who are decidedly not neighborhood-friendly), Bucciarati's group is beloved by the general community, with even old people willingly going to them, a group of rogues with supernatural abilities and trouble surrounding them, for help. Bucciarati and Giorno only joined up with Passione in the first place to stop the mafia from dealing drugs to children, and their goal is to overthrow The Don of Passione and insert one of their own in his place. In fact, they outright openly rebel and gun for him when they learn the hard way that he is willing to kill his own daughter only because of the insane, paranoid idea that she could be a clue to his identity, even though she had neither met the man in her life nor knew anything about him. The personal targeting of an innocent and unrelated teenage girl was the last straw, though learning that the drugs were designed to be self-destructive, were made by a sub-branch of Passione, not to mention Stand-made'' didn't help.
    • Giorno Giovanna got into crime because of one of these. When he was a child, regularly bullied and abused, he found a man bleeding out in a patch of tall grass. The men who shot him asked Giorno where the man had gone, and Giorno lied, saying that he had gone further away, saving the injured man's life. That man was a powerful gangster in Naples, and after he recovered he made it a point to use his influence to protect Giorno from a distance. His first act: having a "quick talk" with Giorno's abusive stepfather. Afterwards he mostly just ensured the local shop owners who trusted him would treat Giorno nicely and trust him as well. The only person who ever treated Giorno well was in the Mafia, and that inspired him to follow in his footsteps.
  • K: The red HOMRA faction gives off a strong street-gangster vibe and can often be rude to innocents, but they never intentionally do something evil. Their actions are mostly pushed by their close bonds and their instincts to protect and stick up for members of the gang.
  • Kyō Kara Ore Wa!!: Mitsuhashi and Itou are neighborhood-friendly punks: they rose as the strongest delinquent students of Chiba as an unintended consequence of deciding to reinvent their image in a cooler way upon moving there (Mitsuhashi is the blond) and being stronger than anyone who tried to beat them up for it, with Itou being a genuinely good person and Mitsuhashi being incredibly greedy and selfish but willing to help his friends and protect his school from worse delinquents and never did anything worse than getting his worst enemies hospitalized or some vandalism.
    • The series offers a few other examples: the gang at Itou and Mitsuhashi's school isn't too bad (partly out of admiration for Itou, partly out of fear of what Mitsuhashi would do them if they inconvenienced him. Plus Riko is a nice girl who happens to be in love with Mitsuhashi), Imai is the boss of his school but never committed a criminal act aside for assaulting Mitsuhashi (who pretty much deserves it) and, with his best friend Tanigawa, keeps the worst of his school at bay, Koyama started out as a Fat Bastard who moved at Imai's school but started admiring him and following his example after being defeated, Nakano likes fighting strong opponents and is quite a jerk but won't torment people just because (and in fact once sent to the hospital a dozen people because they were tormenting his neighbor, and joined the fight against Hokunei because Itou was angry at them, "Which means you must be real baddies. I shall punish you evildoers!"), Satoshi Katagiri is a friendly (if easily angered) fellow when he doesn't have reason to come after you in spite of a face that just screams "I'm a yakuza, give me protection money", Kagawa-san is a genuine yakuza but never gets in a fight without a reason, and a few actual yakuza are shown retiring and going straight for a number of reasons fully knowing that former criminals would have a hard time at working honestly (one of them even studying to become a teacher), even dragging a pickpocket into going straight with them.
  • One Piece: The Franky Family is the biggest, most feared criminal organization in Water 7, but on the other hand they are the only criminal organization in Water 7: before Franky gathered all the low-lifes of the island under his name, they were just a bunch of disparate, unemployed outcasts who made a nuisance of themselves and endangered everyone else. After Franky showed up, they became bounty hunters who made a point to keep more dangerous elements out of Water 7, bringing a measure of peace to the island where the Galley-La Company brought wealth and prosperity. Following the raid on Enies Lobby, Iceburg allows them to go legit by giving them actual jobs.
  • Reborn! (2004): Initially the plot was a wacky comedy where the cast is supposed to be a Mafia family, but are really more True Companions than anything else. After the first 8 volumes, however, the other parts of their family show that they are not Friendly and engage the heroes in the battle for succession of the boss title.
    • Later, another mafia family is introduced. This one (in the future) has taken over the world.
    • And the latest flashbacks reveal that the protagonist's family in its first generation was a vigilante group, and only later has been turned into a full-blown mafia family.
  • Rosario + Vampire: The Wong Family employs numerous powerful and intimidating monsters, they were founded by one of the Three Dark Lords, and they're currently headed by the most powerful Sword and Sorcerer Battle Couple around. They throw a ridiculously lavish and flamboyant welcome party when the heir brings home friends, and Inner Moka notes them to be "a noisy bunch". Overall, they're more cheerful than you'd expect.
  • The Way of the Househusband: While Tatsu's flashback to his days in the Yakuza indicate that his former life is filled with violence and bloodshed, the Yakuza he occasionally runs into in the present day are rarely seen committing such violent crimes. A couple of them occasionally threaten Tatsu with weapons, but more often than not, they get carried away by his house-husband antics and don't become too much of a threat. Tatsu himself still gets along with his former boss and colleagues, and when they show up, they behave decently.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Yusuke Urameshi is a crass delinquent punk who does things like shoplifting, smoking, and getting into fights with other delinquents for fun, but is otherwise a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who cares for his friends. The series even started because he died saving a young boy from being run over by a car. And often the quickest way for him to get stronger is if he sees his friends in serious danger.
    • Yusuke's rival-turned-friend, Kazuma Kuwabara, leans more on the "Friendly" part of the trope. While still a delinquent who gets into fights like Yusuke does, Kuwabara is much nicer and more honorable. He dutifully honored a deal he made with a Sadist Teacher to be a model student (even if it led to him getting beat up with increasing frequency), he has a pet cat he is very fond of, and while he does have perverted tendencies, he's nothing but a gentleman towards his crush, Yukina.

    Comic Books 
  • The E Street Bloodsuckers from Formerly Known as the Justice League were super-powered child prodigies who dropped out of college at 15 to seek enlightenment on the streets. They pretended to be gangsters in order to protect their neighborhood from genuine crime, and steal stuff. And, oh yeah, they were based on The Three Stooges.
  • Blue Beetle: Jaime Rayes's first run had the gang of La Dama. As a first twist, she's the aunt of one of Jaime's best friends. She keeps young superpowered teens outside Jaime's hometown for a meta army, but she's also providing shelter for them to give them safety from prejudice against metas. Also, no drugs, and she eventually starts decreasing her illegal activities over course of the run.
  • Catwoman and the Alleytown Kids. No drugs, no guns and don't steal from locals.
  • After a tornado destroyed the already crumbling Hub City, Mayor Fermin hired the local biker gangs on as a police force. They actually did a better job than the real police.
  • At one time or another, several of Gotham's street gangs have been under the leadership of Batman, whether they know it or not.
    • During the Gang War storyline, Tarantula took over her neighborhood and forced the gangs to be more proactive.
  • The later half of Brian Bendis's Daredevil run has Matt Murdock publicly beat Wilson Fisk and declare himself Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. He tries to encourage other heroes to do the same for their respective neighborhoods.
  • The Darker and Edgier Italian branch of Disney (yes, Disney) has one in the form of Paperinik, the Devilish Avenger. On one side he's a criminal who gleefully steals from anyone pissing him off (Depending on the Writer) has no qualms beating up policemen who try and arrest him. On the other side he's better known as a superhero because, when nobody pisses him off, he beats up criminals and leaves them to the police, which nowadays is rarely shown as an enemy. He's the alter ego of friggin' Donald Duck.
  • Tommy Tropic from Chassis used to a rumrunner for The Irish Mob during the days of Prohibition. When he made enough money, he bought a tropical island and started a casino: supposedly cutting his ties to organised crime. His casino is successful enough for him to sponsor one of the major races in the Aero-run. Rumours still circulate about possible mob ties, but he comes across more as a Lovable Rogue than anything else.

    Fan Works 
  • The premise of Another Way is that Marquis avoids his canonical arrest and leaves Brockton Bay with his daughter, then returns several years later to set himself up as a less malevolent alternative to the existing gangs. He doesn't feel obligated to work within the law, so he's still officially a villain, but he does believe in treating people with decency, he protects women and children, he doesn't deal in drugs, and when he collects protection fees, he provides actual protection. It dovetails neatly with his daughter's healing abilities (offered publicly for a price or at Endbringer attacks for free) to put him firmly in the PRT's zone of "don't rock the boat."
  • The Tsuruya Yakuza in Kyon: Big Damn Hero.
  • One chapter of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic Progress has Luna take up the mantle of the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well and try to fight crime. Unfortunately, she fails to find any; she even barges in on a Mafia meeting only to find that the mobsters are planning not a heist, but a charity toy drive.
  • This often used in ''Hetalia: Axis Powers' fics involving Romano. It's canon that he's involved with the mafia in his country, but plenty of authors love to have him use that influence to help or protect others (humans, Spain, Italy, etc.)
  • Avenged Sevenfold gang fic is very popular. While some will position the band members as outright Villain Protagonists, others will position the band as this trope. The popularly of this type of fanfic is probably based on the common practice of rock/metal magazines to portray the band as gangsters on their covers back in the "City of Evil"' era.
  • Naruto/Menma's gang in Eroninja, the Black Fox Gang, take the idea of protection money seriously. If someone pays their protection money, they get protection from everything from burglaries to fires to sickness. If they don't pay the protection money, rather than having their business vandalized, they simply don't get any protection. Given that the city they're based in is also host to a much more brutal gang, every business in their territory pays regularly. Furthermore, their entire territory is known for having a ridiculously low crime rate with them policing it.
  • Lord Hayase from Cinders and Ashes: the Chronicles of Kamen Rider Dante brings up that his Yakuza syndicate have stuck closely to the shadows and helped people where they could, naming a time they paid money to have a building rebuilt after it was destroyed in what the government claimed was an earthquake. He was also willing to fight two super-powered beings when he realized they were responsible for the chaos happening before being cut down by them. An officer later disclosed that the clan had bribed politicians to vote for projects that benefited the community. This slowly turned into a typical Yakuza once Hayase was replaced.

    Films — Animation 
  • Zootopia: Mr. Big, the shrewd crime boss of Tundratown. As a crime boss in a movie starring a police officer, he would be the villain of the story. In fact, he nearly ices Nick and Judy for trespassing. But when his daughter reveals that Judy saved her life, he spares them and offers whatever information and services he can, even threatening Duke Weaselton (the one who endangered Mr. Big's daughter) into coughing up the location of the toxin lab. Further implied in that when the apparently perfectly law-abiding Emmitt Otterton found out about the Night Howlers plot, he didn't go to the police; he went to Mr. Big. Zootopia+ reveals that Mr Big got his start protecting other small mammals from more ruthless gangsters, and literally created the neighborhood of Little Rodentia.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Akeelah and the Bee, set in an impoverished, mostly black neighbourhood of South Los Angeles, has a few minor gangster characters who appear as figures of menace in the early scenes. However, once Akeelah becomes a spelling bee champion and a figure of inspiration to the whole community, even these guys want her to succeed. There's a montage of various people from all over the South L.A. helping her practice, including the gangsters, and at the climactic nationwide competition, they're watching her on TV and cheering for her to win.
  • James Bond runs into helpful gangsters sometimes.
    • On Her Majesty's Secret Service: In his mission to track down and stop Blofeld, Bond gets help from Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti), leader of the crime syndicate Union Corse, as both have a common interest in taking Blofeld down due to the global threat that he is. And Bond falls in love with Draco's daughter Tracy, with Draco's blessing.
    • For Your Eyes Only: Bond is initially played like a fiddle by KGB-backed Greek criminal Ari Kristatos, until the former partner of Kristatos, smuggler Milos Columbo (Chaim Topol), tells him what Kristatos is really up to. Then they team up against Kristatos. Columbo is also adamant about not smuggling drugs.
    • The eponymous character from Octopussy (real name Octavia Charlotte Smythe), played by Maud Adams, is a wealthy smuggler of jewels based in India who also has legal ventures such as a circus. Her gang is an Amazon Brigade consisting of disenfranchised women she housed and trained. The film's Big Bad Duumvirate manipulates her to cause World War III via smuggling a nuclear bomb in her circus in West Germany, though Bond romances her and she eventually gets to see the true face of her previous associates and tries to stop them.
    • The World Is Not Enough: Russian gangster Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), who initially held a grudge against Bond as seen in GoldenEye, ends up helping him against Renard and Elektra King.
  • Johnny Dangerously. "I mean, sure, we were criminals, but we never hurt the general public. And every year at Christmas Time, we'd send a bit of money back to the community."
  • Michael Jackson was meant to be one in the Smooth Criminal segment of the Moonwalker film against the evil mobster Mr. Big, played by Joe Pesci.
  • American Gangster, though the drug trade isn't toned down, or glorified for that matter.
  • Big Trouble: Arms dealers Leonid and Ivan sponsor a girls' softball team.
  • The Corleone Family of The Godfather are like this under Don Vito: principled gangsters who rose to criminal prominence violating the unpopular law of Prohibition, maintain their wealth (mostly) through illegal gambling, and look out for those who show them respect; the central conflict is set off by their refusal to deal with drugs. Whereas the other families, particularly the ruthless Tataglias and Barzinis, are downright evil. The victims of the Corleone family are either rival gangsters or Asshole Victims, with the notable exception of a Disposable Sex Worker in the second film, by which point the Corleones have emphatically lost the moral high ground. Becomes somewhat of a Lost Aesop in the video game, when you're running around beating up shopkeepers and collecting protection-money in the name of The Family...
  • Sonny (Chazz Palminteri) in A Bronx Tale is a friendly gangster who becomes a sort of second father figure to the young male protagonist Calogero. Since it's all based on Palminteri's youth in the Bronx, the original Sonny is probably an example of Truth in Television as well. Deconstructed with members of his crew, who are losers or sociopaths barely being kept by a leash.
    • Also when the gangsters beat up a motorcycle gang which has been hassling the neighborhood.
  • Played for laughs in Ali G Indahouse. The sleepy suburb of Staines has two resident "gangs," who are really just middle-class kids who like to imitate gangsta rappers. Completely harmless to the public and each other, their biggest crimes are graffiti and smoking weed. One particular scene focuses on how Ali G won't even exceed the speed limit. He even volunteers at a leisure center to teach kids how to "keep it real."
  • The male protagonist of Victor/Victoria is a sort of Gatsby-like character—an educated guy who is the brains/face for mobsters, but he doesn't do anything evil on-screen except struggling against other gangsters who are presented as bad guys, and his gayngster bodyguard is an all-around nice guy as well.
  • Leon and Tony in The Professional are Italian mobsters who live by a simple Badass Creed: "No women, no kids".
  • In the Mexican film El Crimen del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro), the local priest has a long-standing friendship with the local drug lord who donates large sums of money for the church's new leper's hospital and orphanage.
  • Moses and his gang from Attack the Block. When he finds out that Sam lives in the Block, he apologizes for mugging her at the beginning of the movie and gives back the ring he took from her, and he's even willing to give his life to protect the Block from an alien invasion. He survives.
  • Frank White in King of New York seeks to be this, killing off rival gangsters who are Hated by All from the community for pimping young girls and dealing drugs indiscriminately and plans to use the profits from his drug trafficking to build a hospital for the underprivileged. Doesn't stop him from being a coldblooded killer, however.
  • Night Nurse (1931): Mortie took a bullet rather than sell a rival bootlegger's dangerously bad hooch, knocks over a delicatessen to get milk to save a dying child, and upon hearing about the plot against the children immediately offers to have Nick the Chauffeur taken for a ride.
  • The Act of Killing deconstructs this when the cameras follow a Pancasila leader on a shakedown. While the gangs and paramilitary organizations try to present themselves as this, everyone knows exactly what they really are, and are terrified of them.
  • The mob boss in Fast Five has a monologue about how this is pragmatic when it comes to running a city. If you help the community, they'll support you. If you're just brutish thugs, eventually you'll inspire enough people to fight back and you'll lose power.
  • Goodfellas is a subversion. In his narration, Henry considers Paulie and the other wiseguys to be regular people who simply protect the neighborhood from people trying to exploit it in return for payment. In reality, they're thugs who prey upon the mom and pop businesses to make their money and unleash several acts of Disproportionate Retribution on average joes who inadvertently disrupt their practices (i.e. strangling a mailman and shoving his face into an oven simply because he delivered a letter from Henry's school to his abusive parents telling them he's been playing hooky).
  • New Jack City: Invoked by Nino Brown and his CMB (Cash Money Brothers) drug crew, who make a token effort to provide relief to the poor in the form of a field kitchen to win the trust of the people. In reality, they ruthlessly took over one of the projects to set up their drug labs by forcing out all the previous residents and just make things worse by peddling their product to the unfortunate.
  • The Mask: The Mask, because of his wearer is a fan of the Tex Avery cartoons, decides to become a gangster; partly of them but mostly he wanted to instill fear and respect into people because of Stanley being bullied by some of those people. He goes after some of the people who ticked Stanley off the most, and robs a bank at one point so that he can have enough money to get inside the Coco Bongo, but other than that he is very polite, friendly, and nice towards the people who are nice to him or Stanley like Tina. He is also harmless, as he doesn't hurt or kill anyone at all, preferring to Trolling them and messing around as well, and he does help stop the Big Bad from killing Tina and everyone else in the Coco Bongo. Just about the worst thing The Mask does is shove mufflers up the asses of two corrupt mechanics who scammed Stanley out of a car. Even then, they're still alive (if in great pain) and last seen being taken to a hospital.
  • Jirocho Fuji is a romantic portrait of 19th-century yakuza in which the yakuza don't seem to do anything criminal except 1) run gambling dens and 2) fight each other. Gang boss Jirocho gets angry when his men do harm to "straight people" and gives them a "The Reason You Suck" Speech when they burn down a civilian family's barn while fighting a rival gang.
  • They Cloned Tyrone Fontaine is a drug dealer, engaged in a pretty violent turf war with Isaac, another dealer and his men in The Glen, but once he and his friends figure out the conspiracy to use cloned criminals to keep the communities crime-ridden, he reaches out to Isaac, and they hatch a plan where all the gangsters team up and storm the secret Elaborate Underground Base.

  • Marcone from The Dresden Files can fall into this trope as his syndicate helped Harry take down dangerous serial killers in book one and two, and the police for the most part don't bother him due to the fact that his brand of organized crime tends to keep crime non-violent and off the streets. He also keeps his competition in check (i.e. under his thumb or dead), Also, Marcone has standards; for instance, he won't tolerate violence against children, so his regime keeps certain types of heinous crime at a minimum. However, Marcone himself is insistent that whatever he does is done out of ruthless pragmatism, not love for his fellow man.
    I am not a humanitarian. When I give charity, it's for tax purposes.
  • Steven Brust's Dragaera novels keep Vlad Taltos sympathetic by showing how the Jhereg criminal organization to which he belongs has a strict code of ethics. They deal in the vice industry but don't force anyone to take their wares. They demand protection money but actually deliver on protecting the businesses. They carry out assassinations, but generally only on fellow power-players. If you're a common citizen who keeps his nose clean, you have virtually nothing to fear. Eventually, however, Vlad becomes disenchanted by criminality altogether.
  • Discworld:
    • The Thieves Guild of Ankh-Morpork 'has standards' and arranges crime in mutually beneficial forms (as far as crime goes): rich people pay an annual premium, and arrange for a convenient date to rob an acceptable amount from these rich clients in their own home. The truly penniless are left alone because they have nothing worth stealing (and there's no sense treading on the toes of the Beggars' Guild.) Poor-but-solvent citizens are robbed in a fairly polite fashion on the streets, their business premises or homes, are not badly injured, and are given a receipt which guarantees they won't suffer another official robbery for the rest of the year. Criminals who don't keep to this arrangement, or who don't display their license when on business, are dealt with by the Watch if they're lucky... or by the Thieves' Guild if they're unlucky.
    • Downplayed with the Troll criminal organisation "Breccia" - they're an extremely ruthless Mafia organization, but they exercise Pragmatic Villainy and don't want to rock the boat too much and destroy their own chances of getting rich(er). Their leader Chrysoprase is happy to assist the city Watch in order to further his own interests - he helps them uncover an illegal drug lab because the drug in question causes homicidal insanity and later death in trolls, and he prefers to keep his customers alive (and paying him regularly). Likewise, he seeks to help avert an upcoming war between trolls and dwarfs on the grounds that it's bad for business. Chrysoprase also has one of his own men executed for telling Vimes The Villain Knows Where You Live, and all but says as much to Vimes himself.
    • It is stated in the later books that the Thieves Guild is slowly evolving into an insurance company note . Chrysoprase also claims to be moving into legitimate property and financial services more than his first business, drug smuggling, though he remains a major underworld figure, whereas the Head of the Thieves Guild is an important and respected citizen who, it is implied, could even be a candidate for Patrician.
  • Crime bosses Stragen, Platime, and Calaador, all members of the "secret government" of thieves in David Eddings' The Elenium, are willing allies of the protagonists. Each is depicted as being essentially driven by good business sense rather than cruelty. Stragen in particular had taught his Guild to prey more upon the aristocracy than the common folk.
  • The hooligans in Football Factory are pretty close to a organized crime group, and even sell some drugs, but are decent people for the most part, with a code of honour to only fight with other hooligans and the "old bill".
  • The Corleones embody this even more in The Godfather, to the point of being the Trope Codifier. Vito's first overt act of "protection" is to save a widow and her kids from being evicted. As he rises to power, he provides charity up to and including college scholarships for his fellow Italian-Americans. Vito protects his neighbors and friends from the technically legal ripoffs of unscrupulous "legit" businessmen. And, when he moves out to the suburbs, he and Sonny use their skills against disorganized crime to the point that, to quote the text, "Long Beach became a model city."
  • Legends & Lattes: The Madrigal runs the local Protection Racket and starts leaning on Viv as soon as she begins renovating her new property into the city's first coffee shop, but turns out to be far more reasonable and practical than Viv expected, as she's willing to take payment in confections. She also helps rebuild the store after Fennus burns it down. It turns out she actually was hoping to revive the area, and the coffee shop fits perfectly into her plans.
  • Recurring character Tony Marcus from the Spenser series runs most of the black crime in Boston, but is generally a pretty friendly guy, even when he's threatening Spenser. But just as often he's willing to lend out his people to Spenser to get someone worse out of Boston.
  • The Mafia of Snow Crash are essentially just another corporation by this point; one of their biggest source of income is their chain of pizza places. They engage in gang war with some other, newer and more ruthless gangs—it's stated at one point that a Mafia branch had taken over an area traditionally dominated by the newer gangs, and turned it from a stereotypical gang-crime hellhole into a more-or-less peaceful neighborhood. Of course, in Snow Crash the distinction between criminal syndicate, corporation, and country is never entirely clear.
  • Hellion's Henchmen from Super Minion. Not only do they ruthlessly keep nastier gangs like Espada off their turf, they manage the Red Zone, which provides a cash flow to the sector that helps a lot of legitimate businesses, and a fair amount of the money from their crimes goes into public works like hospitals and orphanages.
  • In The Red Vixen Adventures the Red Vixen's crew only use stunners when boarding, only take the cargo and sometimes the captain for ransom, and leave the ship intact enough to call for help. And even when she starts on her vendetta against House Highglider she allows crews to escape in lifeboats before blowing their ship up. Her rival Bloody Margo, as her name suggests, is far more brutal.
  • Domina:
    • The cultures are this to varying degrees. They are so large and so inclusive that they're basically minor states. You want a job, you find a culture you like and start working for them. They'll take care of you and your family, and will represent your interests when Necessarius comes calling. Some are less so, though. The Nosferatu, for instance, are basically just a bunch of gangs with a vaguely common theme, and the Nessians are mentioned several times to be nothing but slavers.
    • Necessarius, the biggest gang in the city, effectively is the government. They collect protection money instead of taxes, but otherwise are the same, and are in charge of keeping the cultures from getting too violent and enforcing laws. They're even implied to be in charge of civil planning and repair, judging by some of Butler's reactions to the destruction caused by the events of the story. They even coordinate elections, both for the senators for individual districts and the boss of Necessarius itself—though the latter position appears to be mostly permanent, it is apparently theoretically possible to depose him legally.
  • Stinger: The Renegades and the Rattlers, the white and Mexican gangs of Inferno. They have some members who go to work for cocaine dealer Cade after high school, but most, although not all, members are only threats to each other. Even then, most of them are more reactive than proactive when it comes to violence (with incidents being stirred up by poor communication and some Overzealous Underlings).
    Daufin: This all you've got [for weapons]?
    Bobby Clay Clemmons That's about it. We to kill anybody.
  • The Perfect Run: The Made Men of the Augusti genuinely believe that their organization is a stabilizing force on post-war Italy, with Zanbato in particular going out of his way to be a nice guy. Discussed and deconstructed by multiple people.
    Shroud: No matter the friendly neighborhood gangster publicity, the Augusti do far more harm than good. And even if he killed no one personally, by protecting this shipment, Zanbato indirectly supported an organization causing almost twenty-thousand deaths each year, with three thousand in New Rome alone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow. Oliver Queen's friend Anatoly Knyazev of the Bratva is presented like this until Season 5 & 6 deconstruct it; when Oliver calls Anatoly over how he's Took a Level in Jerkass, he replies that he was never this trope and if Oliver chose to assume otherwise it was simply due to his naivete.
  • Jason Morgan and Sonny Corinthos of General Hospital. Outside of their work, they're quite sociable and very loyal to their loved ones and friends.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • Nucky is the city boss of Atlantic City and is tied into the Republican Party power structure. He's a Villain with Good Publicity, out only for his own gain, but in doing so often helps keep order and works to build up Atlantic City's industry. Atlantic City's primary industries are drinking and gambling, both illegal at the time of the setting, so anyone interested in supporting the community can't really avoid this trope.
    • Chalky White is the crime boss of the city's black population. He maintains his power over the community by helping them solve various problems. In several scenes, he's shown to have a detailed knowledge of the local residents and their day-to-day lives. In one scene, however, several black women accuse him of preying on the community and giving back only baubles like Christmas hams to keep them placated.
  • The Book of Boba Fett: After seizing control of the late Jabba's crime syndicate, Boba Fett decides to redefine himself as a crime lord that rules with respect rather than fear. He removes his criminal empire from the spice business to prevent the drugs from destroying the Tatooine denzins, and spares many prisoners from execution in exchange for their loyalty. His rule is completely alien to the lawless society of Tatooine still used to the rule of fear from the crime bosses and soon, the Pyke Syndicate intrudes into Boba's territory, believing that Boba Fett is weak for being benevolent.
  • Veronica Mars: Weevil becomes one towards Veronica later in the series. He was the head of a local biker gang, but he often helped her out and had a particular disdain for the entitled upper-class rich kids.
  • The Wire: A running theme shows how druglords seek notoriety and often stand as influential members of the community.
    • The Barksdale crew sponsors a crosstown basketball game against the Eastside Proposition Joe crew. The Barksdales also help fund Cutty's boxing gym.
    • Even Marlo is seen giving out money to the local kids for back-to-school clothes. In the process, he seems to be on the lookout for new hoppers such as Michael.
    • Omar Little, in contrast to the drug lords, has a more Robin Hood-esque reputation. He would steal drugs and cash from stashes, and then distribute the drugs for free to people who lived near his hideouts. They would then act as spies for him.
  • A major theme in Sons of Anarchy is the MC's belief that they're good for the community and help protect it from drugs, violent gangs, and greedy land developers. They're considered leading members of the community in spite of the fact that everyone knows that they're gunrunning criminals. However, it's frequently pointed out that the Sons really don't care about the community. Their actions are motivated only by the desire to have a safe base of operations to live their outlaw lifestyle. The growth of Charming has been stunted due to the fact that the Sons want to maintain their dominance over it.
  • The Ha'la'tha in Caprica, but only for Taurons. Over time, it becomes apparent that the Guatrau has drifted from the practice of helping Taurons and is more concerned with making money. This inspires Sam and Joseph to turn on him.
  • Michael and company have to deal with a gang leader of this sort in an episode of Burn Notice. The episode implies that this gangster's presence in his local community would be much more preferable to the rival gang.
  • Castle: Castle and Beckett come across one such gang in an interesting characterization of the Westies.
  • Sweet Daddy Williams is this on Good Times. One prime example is that he did not charge his usual exorbitant rates on the money that JJ owed him for Thelma's wedding. He was moved by Thelma giving him her heirloom necklace that Florida had given her for the wedding because it reminded him of his mother. Since Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas, he tells the family that he is letting them off the hook on the condition that they not tell anyone about his kindness.
  • Gunn from Angel used to belong to this kind of gang, and the members of his old gang appear in several episodes. The enemy they defend the neighborhood from is, of course, vampires and other demons.
  • Generally deconstructed in The Sopranos; while the main characters certainly see themselves this way, the predatory nature of the mob is not hidden and the local businesses suffer regularly. On the other hand, the Jersey mobsters throw a traditional Santa Claus party and occasionally organize activities for the community.
    • After Junior becomes boss in "Pax Soprana," he tries his hand at this trope by having a drug dealer who sold to children killed. The rest of the Jersey mob lambast this as bad business.
    • In "The Ride," Paulie is assigned as manager of an amusement fair. He is such a cheapskate that he cuts corners and security budget to the point one ride becomes hazardous and an accident ensues.
    • Artie practically exists to deconstruct this trope in microcosm — he's a childhood friend of Tony's whose restaurant gets regularly patronised by the mob and gets occasional gifts and favours out of his association with them, but they're awful at settling their huge tab and regularly ruin his life, so he just comes across as a naive, exploited mug.
  • Levi's crew in Amish Mafia is this. Levi's gang's duty is to help out his community. Half the community sees Levi as a saint.
  • The Southside Serpents are more and more this as Riverdale goes on, so much so that by the end of season 2 they don't seem to do anything more sinister than wear leather jackets and hang out at bars.
  • Damien and his gang in Harrys Law are this. We first see him when he comes in to talk to Harry, and it sounds like a protection racket. But, as it turns out, the police response time with the neighborhood is utterly abysmal, and Damien's gang was actually formed specifically to protect the community because the cops are so unreliable. When someone in his neighborhood is raped, Damien goes into Tranquil Fury and very nearly beats the rapist to death.
  • Gus Fring from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul puts on the image of one, posing as the benevolent owner of Los Pollos Hermanos who donates to pro-law enforcement charities, but is secretly a pretty ruthless drug kingpin.
  • Daredevil (2015): In the first season, Wilson Fisk paints himself to the press as one of these at Vanessa's urging to stall Nelson & Murdock's efforts to bring him down. Averted on his release into house arrest during season 3, where the Presidential Hotel is surrounded with protesters condemning him, and he has to arrange for Dex to carry out several attacks impersonating Daredevil in order to sway the public back to his side.
  • Luke Cage (2016):
    • The Stokes-Dillard gang has a reputation for Harlem throughout the ages. Mama Mabel Stokes was known for handing out school clothes and Thanksgiving turkeys, as well as protecting victims of domestic abuse. Cottonmouth runs Harlem's Paradise, which is a very popular nightclub in Harlem, and from which he runs a gun-trafficking operation.
    • In season 2, Mariah Dillard seeks to endear herself to the press and the public, using money from the gun-running to fund her community projects throughout Harlem. Eventually, her old friend Piranha Jones gets her and Shades hooked up with a lucrative stock deal wherein they purchase large shares of Atreus Plastics stock as it gets acquired by Glenn Industries, intimidating the company CEO Mark Higgins into approving the merger. Things quickly fall apart though, as Bushmaster launches a Mob War on Mariah, killing several of her allies and burning down her brownstone. Mariah retaliates by massacring a restaurant owned by Bushmaster's family and burns Bushmaster's uncle alive. Her actions during the war quickly cost her any goodwill the public had been giving her, and burn bridges with both Shades and her own daughter Tilda, who poisons her in jail whilst awaiting trial.
    • Bushmaster has a bit of this going on with the Jamaican community of Crown Heights, where his aunt Ingrid and uncle Anansi run a small restaurant named after Bushmaster's late mother Gwen.

  • The Geto Boys song "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" mentions "feedin' the poor and helpin' out wit' they bills" in the 2nd verse.
  • In Woody Guthrie's ballad about "Pretty Boy" Floyd, the titular outlaw shoots a deputy sheriff. Later on, he puts a $1,000 bill under someone's napkin, leaves a carload of groceries to provide a Christmas dinner for a family on relief, and pays the mortgage of a struggling farmer, remarking that while bankers might rob others with a fountain pen instead of a gun, an outlaw would never drive a poor family out of their home.
  • In The Northeast Arkansas Mississippi County Bootlegger by Kenny Price the Narrator observes, "But there's also the law of supply and demand. If it hadn't been him it might have been someone who wasn't as honest...".
  • the premise of the dead prez album RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta is a set of instructions on how to combine radical left wing politics with street life.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Robin Hood. Robbing from the rich, giving to the poor. One adaptation explicitly had him start the second half as a way of buying the loyalty of the commoners away from the noblemen he preferred to rob.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • WWE's Cryme Tyme were brought in as a parody of neighbourhood gangstas, quickly stealing the hearts of the fans. Shad... well, he got worse.
  • Kevin Nash as Vinnie Vegas. Despite his size, he was mostly all talk and got soundly beaten by anyone above mid-card
  • L.A.X. could be seen as this to the Hispanic audiences, especially once they turned full-blown face. If nothing else, they can almost always been counted on to protect TNA's Spanish Announcers' Table, which is more than can be said for their "successors" Mexican America.
  • Los Rabiosos/La Rabia in IWA Puerto Rico, WWC and the World Wrestling League, for the most part, given most are politically motivated rather than simply for profit and want good for Puerto Ricans.
  • The Global Green Gangsters of SHIMMER, which are what a face turned Kellie Skater and Tomoka Nakagawa look like.
  • Bullet Club are evil gangsters when operating in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and CMLL. In the United States however, they're usually friendly baby faces, with the exception of Ring of Honor and its offshoots.(basically they only behaved in ROH when AJ Styles or Karl Anderson were running things. Kenny Omega and Adam Cole were just pricks)
  • After being convinced to turn on Las Sicarias, Amanda Carolina Rodriguez described them as "A Latina Gang". While Ivelisse Vélez did form the group for the purpose of getting what she wanted from the SHINE promotion, all of their "crimes" after forming were committed against other more destructive power stables, to the point SHINE's officials openly recruited them to handle SoCal Val's Legion of Doom VALkyrie and the C4 faction dedicated to eradicating Las Sicarias that Rodriguez had been convinced to defect to were themselves the kind rogues Las Sicarias had otherwise dismantled.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • To combat the Templars and the Blighters gang who are under their control, Jacob and Evie Frye in Assassin's Creed Syndicate found their own gang, the Rooks, to take back the city of London bit by bit. Note that they are also technically working alongside the police of London; presumably Chief Inspector Abberline takes a "don't ask, don't tell" approach.
    • The Assassins were involved in organized crime before that game: in Assassin's Creed II, Ezio works with the Thieves' Guild in both Florence and Venice, while in Brotherhood he works with the Roman guild; in Unity, Arno works with Marquis de Sade, the new King of Beggars. It's always treated as preferable to being under Templar control (except in Rogue, which is from a Templar's point of view).
  • In Baldur's Gate III, the Thieves' Guild and The Queenpin Nine-Fingers Keene take the form of this. The Guild get up to all sorts of criminal endeavors but Keene also considers it their duty to defend common Baldurian citizens from outside threats and the depredations of the rich.
  • The Freakshow in City of Heroes are a gang of scary, drug-addicted, Cyborg gangers that exemplify the trope "Anarchy Is Chaos". That is, until Miss Francine comes along and teaches them how to to use their powers for good. Westin Phipps has you kidnap Miss Francine and bring her in for torture so the Freakshow will stop being altruistic. Thankfully, you can willingly fail this mission. Even Evil Has Standards, after all. Friendly Neighborhood Freakshow "inspired by Miss Francine" later show up in a Going Rogue tip mission. Heroes can rescue Miss Francine from Arachnos in another tip mission. Or they can just beat Phipps.
  • Played straight (until Fridge Logic kicked in) in the fun but forgettable Cold Zero action game. The plot had you working for a Mafia boss after a rival frames him and starts selling a drug with 100% lethality (...wait, what?). The game even ends with a Spinning Paper reporting "Mob Boss cleared of all charges!" You're supposed to feel pleased about this, but you're given no in-game reason to think this Don is any less psychotic than your average Mafioso.
  • In the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series, the Brotherhood of Nod is a terrorist variation on this, at least in the public opinion in the Yellow Zones by Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars; what they actually do isn't much better for people in Tiberium-contaminated areas, frequently kidnapping people for use in various experiments.
  • The Mox in Cyberpunk 2077 are a Band of Brothels that started out as a Vigilante Militia protecting Night City's sex workers from abuse. They're the most benign gang, as unlike the others they have no interest in gaining territory, focusing instead on running their club and protecting their own.
  • The Claire Brothers of Disco Elysium, who seized control of the local Dockworkers' Union and used their criminal ties, popularity with workers, and ruthless politicking to make it the only authority in town. They've bargained for better wages and benefits for the local workers, established a neighborhood watch in the form of the Hardie Boys to make up for the RCM's decades-long absence, and they have big plans to renovate the poorer parts of town (although they're willing to expel people in the fishing village to make this happen). Even their involvement in the drug trade has had a net positive effect on Martainaise, as they ensured that it stays regulated and that its destructive excesses are kept in check. Despite appearances, the twins genuinely care about Martinaise and want to lift the neighborhood out of poverty, even if they are willing to screw over some of its inhabitants in the process.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, Gentleman Jim Stacey runs an orderly, profitable business and avoids bad PR. Members of the Guild do not kill, do not rob those who cannot afford to be robbed (no profit in stealing from the poor anyway), etc. The heroes of the Guild are Robin Hood-type figures, and later missions include things like saving a poor woman's home from a corrupt official by stealing his forged land deed, stealing a locket that a retired miner was forced to sell to pay his taxes and returning it to him, and stealing history books to give to a temple trying to help educate the community.
      • Which is starkly contrasted by the opposing criminal organization, the Cammona Tong, a group of xenophobic murderers, drug pushers, slave dealers, and blackmailers. They're the only major civilian faction the player (as an "outlander") cannot join, and the only group other than the cult led by the Big Bad which is never portrayed in a positive light.
    • The Thieves Guild in Oblivion plays this trope straight. They're based in the waterfront (poor district) and refuse to steal from the poor as well as stealing their tax money back from the guard.
    • The Skyrim branch of the Thieves Guild is mostly about stealing for the money and trophies; they don't condone murder during missions (you will get a penalty to your cut if you murder innocents), and most of the precious artifacts they do steal end up on a wall behind the guildmaster's desk for decorations and bragging rights. As for PR, Riften is run by the Black-Briar crime family to the point that Maven Black-Briar is ruler of Riften in all but name (and if you fight for the empire, she'll be officially crowned the Jarl), so all those good connections between the Thieves Guild and the Black-Briar family means that they're basically the town's mascots.
  • Fallout:
    • The Wrights in Fallout 2 were a literal crime family who refused to take part in the gambling, prostitution, and drug trades within the Wretched Hive of New Reno. Alcohol, however, was fair game and their main source of income. One potential ending has them go straight and reform the city, although Fallout: New Vegas renders this non-canon as it's mentioned they're still a major faction in conflict with the other families and the NCR.
    • The Kings of Fallout: New Vegas are a gang of Elvis Impersonators who help protect the locals of Freeside, the slums of New Vegas. Mr. House provides power and security to the people on the Strip, but doesn't care about Freeside or the even-more-dilapidated Westside — the Kings are effectively both the government and the police in his stead. However, the game makes it clear that although the King himself is a genuinely good person who cares deeply about the members of his gang and the people of Freeside, there are some in the gang (especially his right-hand man Pacer) who are really just in it for power and the opportunity to feel important.
  • The protagonist gang (Grove Street Families) and their allies (Varrios Los Aztecas and the Triads under Wu Zi Mu) in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas fall on this side of the moral barrier. They are violent and will not hesitate to use to force on enemies, but they are all big on family, brotherhood, and loyalty (well, the part of the GSF that are under the Johnson brothers are, anyway) and all refuse to deal with hard drugs.
  • The Hidden Beks in Knights of the Old Republic. For a while, they were a resistance cell against the Mandalorian occupation of Taris, and Gadon was planning to repeat that by fighting the Sith's occupation. Unfortunately, Carth turned out to be right - the Mandalorians like a good one-to-one fight, but the Sith prefer things like Orbital Bombardment.
  • It's revealed in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III that Ash used to be the leader of a group who defended Raquel during the Civil War in Cold Steel II. When he finds out that his former group that he disbanded after the Civil War was over, was smuggling in weapons in Cold Steel IV, he calls them out on it.
  • Vinnie Pappalardo, The Don of LEGO City's Mafia branch in LEGO City Undercover, is an Affably Evil family man who dresses up as a clown for a kid's birthday party, and runs a high-class ice-cream restaurant/factory. When Chase McCain goes undercover in order to find out what Rex Fury's planning, Vinnie is one of the two crime bosses he spends the most time working with. In spite of the fact that Chase is required to pull off robberies for Vinnie, we never see any of the illegal activities carried out by Vinnie himself. And whenever Vinnie appears to be making a Deadly Euphemism about a person who used to work for him (the old "sleeps with the fishes" remark), we then find out that he means literally what he says ("he's a night watchman at an aquarium"). Certainly Vinnie's a lot easier to get on with than, say, Chan Chuang, or Forrest Blackwell.
  • While most of the Yakuza in the Like a Dragon series are the bad kind of gangsters, the protagonist Kazuma Kiryu represents a lot of the qualities that real-life yakuza said they used to embody: "We kept the streets clean. People liked us. We didn't bother ordinary citizens. We respected our bosses."
    • The Kazama Family, initially led by Kiryu's father figure, is definitely this: they help set up businesses and charities, protect businesses from thugs and other yakuza muscling in, and set up institutions which help rehabilitate former yakuza into normal civilian life.
    • Goro Majima is initially introduced as an unhinged violence-prone yakuza, but as the series progresses (especially in Yakuza 0), his Hidden Depths come to the surface: he is a Friend to All Children, he possesses business acumen that not only saved a few failing businesses but helped him start his own legitimate construction company, and he possesses Undying Loyalty towards his friends, including Kiryu and his sworn brother Taiga Saejima.
    • The Ryudo Family in Yakuza 3 are probably the best example. They are a small-time outfit in Okinawa, far from the high-stakes intrigue of Tokyo, and spend most of their time doing construction, dealing with petty crooks and keeping big chains from muscling out local shop-owners. This has earned them a lot of goodwill among the locals, who will cheerily greet the Ryudo family's soldiers when they are out on patrol.
    • The Hirose Family from Yakuza 6 are spiritual successors to the Ryudo, being a third-string family of the Yomei Alliance in Hiroshima that largely doesn't do much besides look after a few small bars and anchor one of the local baseball teams. They're largely treated as a normal aspect of the community, or an amusing nuisance at worst. Subverted when the affable old Patriarch is revealed to be the favored assassin of the Yomei Chairman, and they are unwittingly a major cornerstone in a massive conspiracy that could undermine most of the political infrastructure in Japan.
    • Ichiban Kasuga is a strong believer of this ideal to the point that he not only makes a point of returning money to others but will go through some loopholes to avoid actually shaking down people who are destitute. Unfortunately this only earns him the ire of his superior Jo Sawashiro, who is every bit as vicious as a Yakuza Captain should be and actively despises Ichiban for bringing no money to the clan. Thankfully for him, his patriarch, Masumi Arakawa (of the Arakawa Family, yet another overall tiny fish in the Tojo Clan's pool), shares some of his idealism.
    • Judgment somewhat deconstructs this with the Matsugane Clan, whose patriarch's adherence to old school honor means that they're a third-tier family at best. This led to Clan Captain Kyohei Hamura to resort to vicious and underhanded means of gaining money such as getting involved in a government conspiracy and help organize assassinations, which allowed him to effectively usurp control of the gang due to having the money and power necessary to being a criminal.
  • Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven: The Salieri family is presented as this at first, especially contrasted against the far more brutal Morello family. Tommy gives a few examples when telling his story to the chief of police, such as their refusal to deal in drugs and that their version of a Protection Racket came with actual services instead of the usual "give us money or we'll torch your restaurant" shtick. Ultimately becomes a subversion, as by the end Salieri is shown to be every bit as violent and cutthroat as Morello, he's just less capricious about it. Even the drugs were, by Tommy's own admission, more a case of Pragmatic Villainy than Even Evil Has Standards. ("With drugs comes big money and even bigger problems.") It becomes even worse in the Definitive Edition, as Salieri straight up goes back on his word and starts trafficking heroin. He even does it behind the main trio's backs, which both risks their lives in prison for something they didn't sign up for and screws them out of the profits.
  • Mafia III:
    • Lou Marcano runs a slew of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in the French Ward of New Bordeaux, and to the public, he plays up an image as a Mafia-esque guy who's nonetheless a family-friendly Santa Claus figure. Olivia Marcano, meanwhile, is a socialite and a major fixture of New Bordeaux's high society, supporting a scholarship program with Remy Duvall, himself an example of this trope who puts on a Southern Gentleman image on his talk radio show. Make no mistake, though: they are just as ruthless and degenerate as any other leaders in the Marcano crime family. Lou runs drug dens and prostitution rings in the French Ward, Olivia pushes PCP to bored housewives in the suburbs, and Remy is the head of the Southern Union.
    • In the ending where Lincoln and his associates choose to take over the city themselves, they take the Marcano family's place in this trope. Lincoln rebuilds the ghetto after a major hurricane, reopens the theme park, sponsors schools and hospitals, and supports local charities, but as Maguire points out, the money that he uses to do that comes from the criminal rackets he built his empire on. Father James flat-out ends his interview in anger rather than continue talking about Lincoln, the man and his crimes having become a major Berserk Button for him.
  • Mass Effect crime boss, Aria T'Loak, who controls the Omega space station; she provides useful information to Shepard, refuses to deal with the Collectors, she even provides the grieving mother of one of Morinth's victims with Shepard's e-address so she can properly thank him/her for avenging her daughter, and in Mass Effect 3 she puts the Blood Pack, Blue Suns and Eclipse crime syndicates at Shepard's disposition to help in the fight against the Reapers.
    • Also from Omega, the Talon gang which is led by Aria's old friend, Nyreen: They actively resist Cerberus' occupation while assisting and evacuating civilians caught in the crossfire.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo one level has a Chinese street-gang helping Neo to protect the local herbalist from police. In a voice-over, the herbalist even says that the gang "drives off the drug-dealers and protects the neighbourhood."
  • The Kantou Haguro-gumi in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army are a quick-tempered bunch, but they're generally Robin Hood-types. When their community is threatened, they are more focused on and do a better job of protecting it than the Army.
  • Saints Row:
    • This is the justification used by the 3rd Street Saints in Saints Row; specifically they seek to end a turf war in the city, but they jump off the slippery slope pretty quickly, particularly in the sequels, even then they are a lot more respected than the other three gangs and Ultor as people often come and show approval to the Boss.
    • This is the major theme of Saints Row: The Third; the gang has been selling themselves out for popularity and power, to the point where the victims of their robberies ask for autographs mid-shakedown, the penultimate choice of the game that decides the ending is completely dependant on if you want to go back to being corporate whores or (violently) show the world you're serious.
  • This is pretty much the case for Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong in the place of the player character and their crew. As Shadowrunners, you're technically criminals, to be sure, but in Dragonfall Monika sure as hell gave ten goddamns about the Kreuzbasar and tried to make it a good place to live (although the game's later sidequests do bring up questions of how willing she was to go for easy solutions as opposed to permanent ones) and the player character is encouraged to follow in her footsteps, and the Hong Kong protagonist can also do a lot for Heoi and its people, and even your boss Kindly Cheng, for all her bitterness, clearly gives something like a damn about Heoi and keeping it & her Shadowrunners safe.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, the Ashura-kai are a group of yakuza-like heavily-armed thugs who keep the populace of Tokyo safe by feeding the demons "red pills", which appear to be the more humane alternative to demons munching on humans. Subverted, in that the red pills are made with neurotransmitters forcibly extracted from human brains, and they even kidnap children in order to keep the supply going.
  • Despite what Peggy Li might tell you, the Water Street Boys from Sleeping Dogs (2012) are a subversion. They may protect vendors and stores from rival gangs and thugs but will strong arm them into earning protection money, deal drugs, and are quite thuggish to boot. Them, including Jackie, even casually talk about the last undercover officer who was tortured and then Buried Alive. Unfortunately, "merely" running extortion and protection rackets pretty much makes the Water Street Boys a picked-on "lower class" of the Sun On Yee triad, whereas more powerful subsidiaries are involved with more profitable drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, pornography, and money laundering, and the events of the game start with "Dogeyes" Lin's Jade Gang encroaching on the Water Street Boys' territory. It's also stated that the reason Winston's gang only runs extortions and protection rackets is that they're too dumb to successfully pull off anything more complicated than that (not helped that Conroy is essentially a symbol of Winston's inability to attract effective subordinates since he only makes his boss look even worse than better by comparison).
  • The Yoshimitsu Group of the Soul Series. They are established to protect the poor from both the corruption of the rich and the permeating evil of Soul Edge.
  • Implied to be the case in Team Fortress 2. Most of the game takes place in rural New Mexico, so the communities are understandably small and close-knit, and the local criminal/spy bases are so poorly disguised that watching violent turf wars is a substitute for going to the movies. More to the point, it's mentioned that without a fire department of their own, the town of Teufort relies on the Mob to put out fires.

    Visual Novels 

  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the Cumberland, Maryland mob is led by King Radical and works for the community through actions such as forcing college-bound students to go to the local Community College.
  • The Dark Mage Gang in Aetheria Epics.
  • Flork of Cows: trees has a drug dealer who exchanges drugs for "street cred," which can be earned by helping out the local community.
  • Hellper:
    • The Killberos group is led by Gwangnam, who absolutely forbids gangster-like behavior. For example, they don't take payment for their protection services, they earn money legitimately through concerts and selling their own brand of clothes, and as a rule, each member must never ever involve the rest of the group in their personal issues. Unfortunately, the story starts with Gwangnam dying and eventually several violent members, including one who was expelled, take over so they can make Killberos into a "real" gang while those who upheld Gwangnam's peaceful ideals are overpowered, turned to the dark side, or even killed (technically not yet but getting stabbed in the gut is probably not a good thing).
    • The other gangs in the story, be they groups of middle-schoolers or full-blown Korean mafiosos, are absolutely not friendly, although a few of the elders had a healthy respect/fear of a certain woman nicknamed "Blood Ocean" and stayed out of town. "Blood Ocean" also happens to be Gwangnam's foster grandmother; unfortunately she also died and now there's nothing stopping the more ruthless gangsters from encroaching onto Gwangnam's town.
  • In Lackadaisy, nobody really seems to mind they're living next to a bunch of sociopathic, hooch-running cats running a speakeasy. If anything, aside from the occasional shootout, their presence is rather appreciated.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Averted at first, and then played straight in the episode "Cobra's Candidate". At the start of the episode, local street gangs in a (unnamed) city are threatening and intimidating voters (even going right up to their houses and knocking on the doors) in the run-up to the Mayoral election. The gangs are trying to sabotage the candidacy of Robert Harper, and even disrupt his campaign events and wreck a stage with him on it. With the local police unable to get a handle on things, the Joes are sent in by the President to make sure the city can elect a new Mayor without the gangs' interference. Then the Joes discover that Harper and the gangs are both pawns of Cobra. Harper has made an alliance with Cobra and promised to be their puppet Mayor once elected. The gangs are secretly being manipulated by Cobra's agents to disrupt Harper's campaign because Cobra knows this will only increase support and sympathy for Harper. After this, the Joes try to recruit the same gangs they initially were sent to fight to their side by revealing the conspiracy to them. The gangs ultimately turn on Cobra when they find out and when they nearly prevented one of their members from rescuing her little brother from a fire. While the episode makes it clear these were bad kids prior to Cobra's conspiracy, they do ultimately do the right thing and the ending seems to indicate that they've seen the error of their ways and will be a more positive force in their community.

    Real Life 
  • Many of the major gangsters tried their hardest to cultivate their image of being honest businessmen or devoted family men. While a surprising amount were certainly the latter, the former was certainly not what they were.
  • Al Capone had soup lines set up in Chicago during the Great Depression. He had a soft spot for children, once trying to see that they got good milk (this actually led to the creation of expiration dates on food!) and telling a paperboy to take the day off before handing him 20 bucks. Ironically, the supplies for Al Capone's soup kitchens were acquired by threatening bakeries, packinghouses, and other food suppliers if they didn't meet the quota the gangsters demanded. Al himself also tried to endear himself to Chicago, such as paying the rents of poor tenants, and had a reputation for magnificent PR skills. He succeeded fairly well, and it appears that he actually enjoyed helping the city out when not ordering the assassinations of potential threats to him. However, following the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and the Mob War putting more and more civilians in danger, people began to turn against him.
  • In return for release from prison and deportation, Lucky Luciano supposedly used his underworld connections to provide aid against Mussolini's regime in Italy as well as keep American docks free of strikes and sabotage. There is debate, however, about whether he actually provided any worthwhile aid or whether it was all a scam on his own country during a time of war.
  • Sicilian gangsters and separatists (the two weren't always distinct) provided material and intelligence aid to the Allies during the WWII invasion of Sicily. This was hardly altruistic, though; Mussolini had severely cracked down on the Sicilian Mafia and the gangsters used the war as a means to regain their traditional power.
    • Luciano's cohort, Meyer Lansky, organized squads of gangsters to protect Jewish communities in New York City against the German-American Bund and other pro-fascist groups antagonizing Jews during the '30s. Lansky himself was Polish-Jewish, emigrating from the Russian Empire to America when he was 9, and his family had experienced antisemitism and pogroms carried out by the Imperial authorities.
  • Frankie Yale was known for generosity toward the less fortunate people in Brooklyn, who often approached him for financial assistance. When a local delicatessen owner was robbed, Yale replaced his lost cash. When a fish peddler lost his cart, Yale gave him $200 with an admonition to get a horse. Conversely, Yale was a violent man who did not hesitate to inflict pain on others, including his own brother.

  • Chicago sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh spent years researching the Black Disciples Nation crack cocaine gang, and noticed they spent a part of their income to hold block parties and paid the families of dead members. The leader of the gang explained that they didn't want to be seen as a scourge to the community, rather a pillar.
  • During the days immediately following Martin Luther King's assassination, there were horrific riots on the West Side of Chicago. Of course, rioting was a very mild term-the entire black population pretty much declared war on the police. The South Side, which was generally considered a much more dangerous area was not subject to rioting because the two large and powerful gangs (whose power struggle was what made it such a dangerous area in the first place) the Blackstone Rangers and the Disciples, cooperated to keep it calm.
  • African-American street gangs such as the Crips originally started as informal youth-oriented "street clubs" intended to protect the immediate community and counter the effects of the racism (both overt and institutional) that was pervasive in the mid-20th century.
  • The notorious MS-13 gang in Los Angeles was started by Salvadoran immigrants in response to attacks and intimidation by already-established Mexican and African-American gangs.
  • Many South-American gangs with large amounts of profit from drugs provide better safety and security to locals than the government themselves would.
  • The Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest Yakuza gang in Japan, is headquartered in Kobe; during the earthquake in 1995, they donated money and a helicopter to the relief effort and had their men rescuing people from the rubble. This trope is actually a part of their traditional code since they considered themselves protectors of their communities. Many yakuza traditions go back to vigilante groups in the early Edo period.
    • The Yakuza were a major contributor to the rebuilding of Japan after WWII's devastation. It's one of the primary reasons why they gained the power to go from small-time gangs to the corporate-level organizations they are today.
    • The cleanup and assistance crews at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster zone were heavily composed of yakuza. While it's scandalous and worrisome in some ways, and likely an attempt at good publicity, they are doing work that a lot of people would absolutely refuse to do out of justified fear of radiation risks to their health. There is a practical side to it as well. While some Yakuza syndicates have the audacity and the clout to operate by their own names, most are fronted by the same legal company, and traditionally these fronts are in construction and cleaning industry, which are more-or-less completely Yakuza-controlled in Japan. So it is only natural for them to be involved in the cleanup effort. Moreover, it is not that the mobsters are personally shoveling radioactive waste, most of their involvement is in hiring local bums on a shoestring pay, and sending them to Fukushima to work.
    • In recent years, local Yakuza families have also used their connections to take steps to protect Japan's tourist industry, especially with the rise of Ruthless Foreign Gangsters who have set up shop on their turf, and have no qualms about targeting and defrauding tourists in major cities.
  • Cracked lists "5 Inspiring Acts of Kindness by Terrifying Crime Syndicates"
  • The notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar invested heavily in the welfare of his HQ city of Medellín, building housing projects, churches, and sports facilities. The people of the city, especially the poor, saw him as a local hero. Escobar also offered to pay the entire Colombian national debt in exchange for immunity.
  • When the police and army of Jamaica raided Kingston in search of Christopher "Dudus" Coke—suspected by the U.S. to be a gang leader and drug smuggler—the fighting just to get into the city block where he was suspected to be hiding killed some 50 people. The search wasn't helped by the fact that Coke is quite popular in his neighborhood, thanks to several charity initiatives he runs there.
  • Solntsevo is a district in Moscow, that was the home of Solntsevskaya Bratva, one of the most powerful The Mafiya groups. At the same time, it was the safest neighbourhood in the city, as no one dared to make trouble on the Bratva territory and Bratva itself was keeping good PR.
  • There is a report about a case in the Balkans in which the local Mob retrieved a car stolen from a man who paid them for "insurance".
  • Many of the Mexican drug cartels (especially the old-school ones) could pass as this, with the exception of the Zetas which are relatively new and known for their utter ruthlessness:
    • The former drug lord Malherbe is regarded as a great benefactor of his home village, paving the streets and building schools and hospitals.
    • Osiel Cardenas, the head of the Gulf Cartel, even after his capture sent trucks filled with toys, clowns and magicians to the children of impoverished neighborhoods and slums every Children's Day (April 30), he even included greeting cards encouraging the children from there to go to school, study and work hard.
    • In the towns afflicted by the Drug War the members of the Gulf Cartel reportedly assist people looking for directions and give warnings about violent outbreaks, always reminding them that they are "Here to protect you".
  • Apocryphally, word has it that petty street crime rose considerably in some neighborhoods of New York City after the FBI successfully disrupted some major organized crime outfits.
  • Henry Hill in his autobiography 'Wiseguy' describes the unfortunate fate of a young black would-be mugger who tried to ply his trade in a mob-controlled neighborhood.
  • The Loomis Family, a notorious clan of criminals in nineteenth-century central New York State, made a point of not only not stealing, or allowing their associates to steal, from neighbors, but helping them get goods back that were stolen by others. Allowing this arrangement to break down was one of the reasons the neighbors ended up turning against them.
  • In the non-fiction book Chinatown Gangs: Extortion, Enterprise, and Ethnicity, author Ko-Lin Chin notes that many Chinese youth gangs are like this. They even have specific rules about how to treat those from whom they extort money. (For example, they generally won't trash a place of business simply because the owner fails to pay protection money one time, as such action is bad for public relations.)
  • Comando Vermelho (or Red Command), is a narcotic distribution gang that initially began as a communist organization (Falange Vermelha) as its two Marxist founders bonded in prison. Although decimated in 2010 by a government purge into the Favela slums of Rio (namely Cidade de Deus) CV is still powerful enough to hold public techno rave parties, sports meets and other such mass celebrations that attract youth. In addition, CV publishes popular funk rave music that can be found in the streets of the Favela, and its forbidden prohibitive nature has been very lucrative for funk artists. The group honors slain members and promotes its ideals, particularly against the war on drugs. CV, like most drug gangs, have also used social media such as Facebook to spread its ideals and romanticize the thug life. The CV also promote themselves as militia defenders of the residents of the Favelas against the corrupt and oppressive police and extortion.
  • While cops and organized criminals generally like to stay apart, often the organized criminals will aid the police when a cop is killed because while the cops are bad for business already, dead cops set the police on the warpath, which is even worse.
  • The BBC TV drama Doing Money gives the account of a Romanian woman who is kidnapped and sex trafficked by a Romanian gang. She and another woman are rescued by a local Irish Drug gang in Belfast who are outraged by the kidnapping and abuse the women have undergone (and are also annoyed when they hear that this gang now considers Belfast "their town"). They pistol whip and viciously beat the gang and run them out of town. The woman is then able to go to the police as she is no longer terrified of the Romanian gang and they ultimately convict the pimps.
  • The notorious Kray twins made the single largest donation to the relief fund of the Aberfan disaster (£100, equivalent to around £3000 today) as well as donating to many other charities, and were viewed as successful and charming celebrities who mingled with socialites, politicians, and performers such as Judy Garland and Barbara Windsor.
  • Notorious Chicago street gang the Vice Lords turned into this in the 1960s with the founding of their offshoot the Conservative Vice Lords, who founded legitimate businesses (with federal funds!), engaged in community service, and protected local residents from abuse by slum lords. Sadly this productive period did not continue, and eventually the CVLs reverted back into a violent street gang.
  • The Hells Angels lean heavily on charity and various legitimate businesses such as tattoo shops and medical marijuana dispenseries and insist that the title of an Outlaw Motorcycle Club is just an Artifact Title, and that any incidents attributed to them are only committed by rogue members and not by the club in general.note  The Angels, and by extension, other outlaw biker gangs, are unique in that they openly operate websites as well as social media pages, and even go so far as to trademark their logos and engage in litigation against unauthorised use of their insignia; the latter also serves as a shrewd legal tactic to keep federal agents from seizing assets with their name on it on free speech grounds.

Alternative Title(s): Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters, Friendly Neighborhood Gangster