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Penny-Pinching Crab

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Incidental 60: Hey! It's my lucky day! A penny!
Mr. Krabs: (grabbing Incidental 60's arm) Your luck just ran out!
Incidental 60: Hey, man. Ease back. You're crushing my arm!
Mr. Krabs: Unhand that penny or the arm comes off!

In popular culture, crabs are often associated with greed and materialism. Anthropomorphized crab characters will often be depicted as selfish and ill-tempered towards anyone who tries to take their valuables. Part of this may come from a few old idioms and other terms that relating to crabs. A "penny pincher" is someone who is incredibly frugal with money, and the use of "pincher" tends to be likened to a crab, making for a useful visual pun. The term "crabby" means irritable, which often goes hand-in-hand (or claw-in-claw) with the more greedy crab characters. There's also the fact that some kinds of crabs, with their ragged-looking faces, just look like stereotypical greedy old men. And another association is simply that crabs (and lobster) are often viewed as expensive luxury food (particularly before it became easy and cheap to ship frozen foods) and consequently are associated with money.

This stereotype may also come from some real species of crabs. For example, decorator crabs are known to take things such as sea anemones and attach them to their backs for camouflage or defense.

Although the stereotype usually only applies to crabs, other crustaceans (lobsters, shrimp, crayfish, etc.) who are greedy can also be added to this page if you know of any.

See Thieving Magpie for more greedy animals, and Giant Enemy Crab for more crabs. Related to Scavengers Are Scum. A surprisingly common sub-trope is the portrayal of crabs not merely being greedy, but as having pirate motifs, crossing over with Semiaquatic Species Sailor.


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    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Uncle Crab from Adventures in the Sea steals trash that has been thrown away and sells it at his shop to make a quick buck, leaving it on the ground and making it potentially dirty and bacteria-laden with more concern for his money than his customers. In episode 37 of his season, Tibbie gets the store in fresher shape by cleaning up the trash and turning it into entirely new items, such as a television and a lamp into a hat and newspapers into a wig.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Sherman's Lagoon. Hawthorne is a greedy and unethical hermit crab who is constantly coming up with questionable schemes to make money. He also gets angry easily (irritable/crabby).

    Films — Animation 
  • The fish protagonists of Finding Nemo encounter crabs gathered around vents on an underwater pipe, who aggressively wave their claws and shout at any passers-by to drive them away from "[their] spot"... even if the other animal is simply swimming by without even glancing at the crabs or the pipe.
  • In Moana, Maui's nemesis is a Giant Enemy Crab named Tamatoa who decorates his shell with all sorts of gold and other treasures. In his Villain Song, "Shiny", Tamatoa sings about how he believes being rich and decorated is more important than what's on the inside.

  • One of the obstacles in the fifth Super Mario Bros. Gamebook involves Mario and Luigi trying to get past the crab boss Clawgrip by giving him something. If you foolishly give the sharp-clawed crab the balloon, you'll have to throw him some coins to avoid a very pinch-filled bad ending.

    Live Action TV 
  • In a subtle way, the money hungry Ferengi of the Star Trek franchise have a connection to crabs. The design of a Ferengi ship is based on the likeness of a horseshoe crab. Plus, the insignia meant to represent the Ferengi empire kind of looks like crab claws.

    Video Games 
  • Clam Man: Played with. Mr. Bosman, a crab who is the CEO of the mayonnaise company, is initially thought to be taking part in a conspiracy for some sort of monetary purposes. As it turns out, the Big Bad's goons were actually pressuring Bosman into giving away his product for free, so Bosman had nothing to gain from the plan except safety from the mafia. However, he's still a selfish individual who doesn't care about the people who will (or do) get hurt because of the conspiracy.
  • The richest merchant in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a nameless mudcrab hiding out on Azura's Coast. Despite having the most money in the land (a whopping 10,000 Septims), however, it is not a particularly effective merchant, buying items at full price and regularly getting drunk on the booze it is selling. Just what exactly it is and why it exists at all is one of Morrowind's many, many unsolved mysteries.
  • Freddi Fish: In Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds, one character you come across is King Crab, a crab monarch who mostly just sits on his throne. He has a bunch of tiny pedestals topped with pearls leading up to his throne, and on some playthroughs, you might find that one of the pedestals has a message in a bottle instead (as the locations of the bottles change in every playthrough). King Crab won't let you have the bottle until you bring him another pearl to replace it.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: One of the bosses the brothers face is Hermie, a gigantic hermit crab obsessed with hoarding trinkets with which to decorate his shell: the crowning piece of his collection is one of the fragments of the Beanstar placed on the top of his shell, which leads to trouble when Mario and Luigi come looking for it. He's also very narcissistic — his battle is initiated when he gets angry that his companions are paying more attention to the famous brothers than to him and his decorations. He does eventually give up the star fragment, and the bros make peace with him later in the game by offering up Spangle, a starfish musician looking for a stage, as a replacement star.
  • Bubble Crab of Mega Man X2 is one of the bosses; he only worked for the villains because they paid him enough.
  • In the Aqua Grabber minigame in Club Penguin, you can find a crab in the Soda Seas level taking coins from a pile. You can take the entire pile for yourself, or just let him happily take it home. Doing so will have him come outside when he's done and give you a huge gem for your trouble.

    Web Comics 
  • Cucumber Quest has Captain Bubblebeard, a large crab who is the owner of a resort, and a former pirate. Subverted in that he makes it clear that he has moved on from his treasure-hunting days, and he's actually pretty nice to Cucumber and his friends, especially when he learns that his friend Princess Nautilus is accompanying them.

    Western Animation 
  • Fish Hooks: Randy Pincherson is a crab student know chiefly for two things: being very wealthy and being very narcissistic about his wealth. In the episode "Dollars and Fish", he plays the part of the strict, unforgiving loan shark whom Milo gets his money from... and who has no problem pressuring defaulting debtors with his claws.
  • Mixels:
    • Gox is a former tycoon and leader of the now-out of date Klinkers. He's easily swayed by promises of wealth to get back to where he and his tribe once were in their heyday, putting others in danger at times for his own sake.
    • Lewt is a living treasure chest crab, and is ridiculously protective of his coins, which make up his teeth. However, he's justified, as the other Pyrratz have ridiculously sticky fingers, and are always trying to swipe from him, so he's forced to stay on guard.
  • Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Square Pants is the Trope Codifier. He is an anthropomorphic crab, and the wealthy owner of the fast food restaurant the Krusty Krab. Krabs is shown to have a Money Fetish, caring about money more than anything else and often doing whatever it takes to get more of it. In the episode "Ugh", he appears as a small prehistoric crab that does nothing but repeat the word "money" over and over as it scurries around. Stephen Hillenburg suggested that this characterization is based somewhat in reality: crabs in real life are opportunistic detritivores, meaning that they subsist mainly on decaying food and aren't picky about where it comes from.
    • One episode had him attending a convention of penny-pinching crabs.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Dreamscaperers", where Dipper, Mabel and Soos enter Stan's mind. One of the many oddities that roam his mind besides Grunkle Stan's head with bat wings screaming "NO REFUNDS!". Is a small crab creature with Stan's features, while not upfront about it, the fact that Grunkle Stan is a notorious conman is definitely fitting this trope.

    Real Life 
  • The coconut crab (what Tamatoa, in the Film section, is based on) is also known as the robber crab. This is because it has the unique habit of carrying off shiny objects such as hubcaps, cooking utensils, and trash can lids.


Video Example(s):


Mr. Krabs greedy moments

Mr. Krabs (the Trope Codifier) has shown an obsession with money several times. These are just a few examples.

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Main / PennyPinchingCrab

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