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"Machine stole my money!"
An angry NPC pushing a vending machine, Poptropicon episode I, Poptropica

A character wants a soda/candy bar/whatever from a vending machine. So, they put the dollar into the machine, it ejects the bill. They put it back in, the machine ejects it again. They take the bill out, smooths out the wrinkles, and puts it back in. The machine makes a "Ka-ching!" noise, and the character is thrilled.

The machine ejects the bill again.

Eventually, that character is ironing out the dollar on an ironing board he just pulled out of Hammerspace trying to get the machine to accept it. And it still won't.

Maybe they'll try to use coins instead. They end up in the coin return. And don't even ask about what happens if they try the credit card reader. Commonly Played for Laughs.

Truth in Television, since vending machines do tend to be quite touchy at times.

Compare Vengeful Vending Machine. Has nothing to do with No Export for You, unless the snack you're trying to get is not officially sold in your country. Also not to be confused with Denied Food as Punishment.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index: There is a vending machine that eats people's money without dispensing its drinks. Mikoto Misaka says it's because the machine is old. She gets drinks from it by hitting or shocking it, but she's often forced to run afterwards when the security robots show up, because taking something from a vending machine without paying is illegal. She mocks Touma for losing a large bill to it... but it turns out she lost even more on her first day (that's why she feels justified stealing from it).
  • Justified in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War when Kaguya fails to get some canned coffee from a vending machine as part of her plan to confess to Shirogane. Because of how shelterd she is, she tries to feed it a ¥10000 bill when it only accepts ¥1000, all the while convinced that the machine is broken.

    Asian Animation 
  • Motu Patlu: In "Samosa Vending Machine", Motu inserts some money into a samosa vending machine that Chaiwala has set up to do his job while he's attending a wedding. The machine doesn't give him the samosas, instead dropping them right back on the plate contained in it right when it's about to pick them up and drop them into the outside slot. For added kicks, a kid appears and inserts his money into the machine, which not only works for him but scores him a ludicrous amount of the samosas.

    Comic Books 
  • A Running Gag in Luke Cage's own comic was the soda machine in his old office (an old model that gave you a Styrofoam cup of soda) that tormented him. He was actually lucky if it just didn't give him the soda. One time it dispensed the soda before dispensing the cup, another time, the cup was upside down. Once it somehow gave him a cup of chicken soup. ("Christmas!" shouted Cage.) One time it gave up and did give him the soda, after he had already given up and left! The machine was eventually destroyed when a villain bombed the whole office, but it's curse remained, as Cage tended to have bad luck with crazy vending machines since then.

    Films — Animation 
  • Chicken Little: Occurs when Runt of the Litter tries to get a soda. A particularly cruel example, since the characters' lives actually depend on the acquisition of said soda. When the machine won't take his dollar, Runt goes into a ferocious rage, thrashing and pounding the machine, much to the astonishment of the others. The machine reluctantly spits a single soda bottle out.
    Runt: What happened? I blacked out there for a second.
  • Once Upon a Studio: One scene has Stromboli assaulting a vending machine in the halls of the Disney Animation building.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Silent Movie, there's a Coca-Cola machine that has multiple dispensers, and fires the Coke can at high speed out of whichever dispenser you aren't watching.
  • In The Monkees' Head, Micky is staggering through a desert, nearly delirious - he finds a Coke machine out there, drops in a coin...and nothing comes out. As he pounds on it screaming maniacally, the Coke jingle plays merrily on the soundtrack.
  • Used in the short Blair Witch parody by Toxic Bag, The Bag Witch Project, in which some gamers hopelessly lost in the hallways of a convention center search in vain for GenCon. They keep moving in circles and winding up at the same vending machine, which invokes this trope every time they return.

  • In the first Red Dwarf novel, after Lister has survived an event he thought was destined to kill him, he is filled with joy at life. When he puts a dollarpound in a chocolate machine and it jams, even that delights him. Of course it jams, that's what chocolate machines are for.
  • In the Discworld spin-off Mrs Bradshaw's Guidebook to the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Railway, she warns travellers against using the imp-powered confectionary machines on the station concourse, and suggests the Thieves Guild (which stamps down heavily on unlicenced theft) might want to take a look at them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "The Weighing Machine", the eponymous machine takes a penny from Miss Brooks but doesn't give her weight. Egged on by her friends, Miss Brooks spends the rest of the episode trying to get the penny returned on principle.
  • In one episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John is trying to buy a snack out of a vending machine and the device fails to push the chip bag far enough forward for it to fall out of its holder. Annoyed, John tries tapping on the glass to see if he can jar the chips loose. Cameron promptly steps up to tap the glass once, and the chips are quickly dislodged, along with about a dozen other snacks. Except that this never actually happened, being All Just a Dream.
  • A vaguely similar joke occurs on Dave's World. In the episode "Cyberspace", a program is described for an evil ATM which, after the customer inserts the card and enters the PIN, gives out nothing, not even the card back.
  • In the Scrubs episode "My Best Friend's Baby's Baby and My Baby's Baby", Panicky Expectant Father Turk is given one job: Get ice chips. When the ice machine won't co-operate, he gets his hand jammed in it. In an earlier episode, a similar incident happens when the hospital vending machine cheats him out of some Rolos.
  • In the Frasier episode "Rooms With a View", when the Cranes are waiting for Niles to have surgery, Martin tries to get a candy bar from a hospital vending machine. When it jams, an increasingly tense Daphne throws a chair at it.
  • In Red Dwarf episode "Only the Good", we get a vending machine with artificial intelligence that gets angry when Rimmer uses a coin-on-a-string to get a free chocolate bar. Rimmer is unimpressed with its threats of terrible vengeance, only to get clonked on the back of the head by a flying soda can at the end of the episode.
  • On Diagnosis: Murder, this happened to Dr. Mark Sloan, and in a bit of an Idiot Ball moment he tried reaching into the machine to get the stuck snack and ended up breaking a finger.
  • Barney Miller: In "The Arsonist", the cops of the 12th Precinct bring in one Mr. Lindquist, who shot a subway vending machine six times. Mr. Lindquist says that he's been feeding 20 cents at a time for years into that vending machine, wanting to get a Butterfinger, but virtually never receiving one. So he shot it.
  • Law & Order: SVU: Apparently the squad room vending machine does this often enough that Captain Benson responds to a complaint from a new arrival, Detective Muncy, by simply sticking her arm in the slot and fishing out a bag of cashews, which was apparently as far as she could reach.
    • In a later episode, Detective Velasco actually wants a bag of cashews, so Muncy sticks her arm into the machine and retrieves some.
    Velasco: You know, you shouldn't let Benson see you do that.
    Muncy: Who do you think taught me how to do it?

    Video Games 
  • Denying Mike Shadow what he's buying from the vending machine and not refunding his coin is what kicks off the premise of Mike Shadow: I Paid for It!.
  • One of the most outrageous puzzles in Stationfall involves getting your purchase out of a vending machine when it becomes stuck. It involves an ostrich.
  • In Zork: Grand Inquisitor, part of a puzzle involves getting out a piece of candy stuck inside a vending machine.

    Web Original 
  • Hazbin Hotel: Angel takes a pint of cocaine for a vending machine, which is immediately swiped by a hoodlum, who then gets crushed by a boulder along with the drugs.

    Western Animation 
  • Done in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Ain't No Kiddie Ride" with a kiddie ride.
  • The whole plot of the VeggieTales short "Lunch: An Animated Parable" is about one of these.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Wet Painters", this happens to Patrick when he was trying to put a dollar in a vending machine, which is what SpongeBob is telling him not to do.
    • In "Rock Bottom", SpongeBob tries to get a candy from the machine across the street from the bus stop, but every time he tries he misses the bus. He finally comes through, but as he reaches for the candy bar inside the bus pulls up, going back and forth as SpongeBob sticks his arm in and out, even revving up as he touches the candy bar. Finally, he makes a dash for it and the bus rides off without him. To top it off, someone comes and takes the candy bar, and as SpongeBob crosses the street to catch him, three busses in succession go by.
  • A background gag on Futurama features a vending machine for "Refreshing Crack". The vial gets stuck, leading the user to beg the machine not to hold out on him.
  • Done more often than it is possible to count on The Simpsons. In one notable case, Homer is trying to buy a soda with a stolen $1 trillion bill.
    • Mr Burns also tries to buy from a vending machine, but sees it as a "candy shop" and expects it to just obey his verbally given order. He's not very pleased when it doesn't react.
    "You have made a powerful enemy today, my friend."
  • Taken to the extreme in the Sealab 2021 episode "All That Jazz", where Murphy is trapped under an Evil Vending Machine for months.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head try to buy pork rinds from a machine that doesn't drop the goods - they figure if they try it again they'll get two for the price of one (?!?). While Beavis guards the machine, Butt-Head cadges a dollar from an old woman and goes to get change at the convenience store. When he spots a bunch of old nachos that are going to get thrown out, he buys them all and heads home, forgetting all about Beavis.
  • This happens in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Gone Efficien...t".
  • Family Guy did this when Peter tried to buy a pair of used women's underwear from a vending machine. The machine mocks his use of a crinkled dollar in an Asian woman's voice.
  • The episode of DuckTales (2017) in which Mad Scientist Gyro Gearloose debuts shows him, "One of the Greatest Minds of our Time" quoth Scrooge McDuck, ironically roughhousing with a soda machine that won't take his dollar.
    Gyro: You miserable piece of rust! I am man, you are machine! Do as I command or I will pull your plug!