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Seizing the Italian Relics by George Cruikshank, 1815

"The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with."
Union Army Major General Philip Sheridan

The Heroes may be saving a Damsel in Distress. They may be a battalion fighting against The Empire. Being a hero and leading the troops in battle is a hard and dangerous job, with daily risks of being cut, speared, or killed and sleeping in a cold camp tent at night. But it has its perks. And one of the biggest is...


Yes, indeed even our heroes need something to compensate them for risking life and limb and satisfy their sense of mischief and desire for booty. They take joy in depriving their foes of treasure. They also need to get food, supplies and new weapons. For our heroes make money the old-fashioned way: they steal — wait — plunder it.

When done by soldiers in a war, this is sometimes called "Spoils of War". This is outlawed as a practice today by many modern military forces, not that it doesn't still happen on some scale. However, the Geneva Convention allows soldiers to take anything necessary for warfare from the enemy. That is, you can plunder ammunition, guns and fuel (as it allows you to keep on fighting and prevents the enemy from doing so) but you can't steal someone's watch, food or valuables, for example. Despite these rules, some soldiers may discreetly pocket a small item after capturing a city.

This is Truth in Television and it is Older Than Feudalism. Whenever a tribe would raid the neighboring village, even if the main goal was something other than getting the enemy's possessions (say, getting sole possession of a good hunting ground), getting their livestock, stored grain, tools and weapons was a bonus. Historically, plunder was only limited by what you could carry or heap on your wagon. Personal possessions of conquered civilians, artwork, statues, jewelry could all be looted. Is the priceless relic mounted in a wall in a church? No problem, pry it off and throw it in the cart. Are the jewels decorations in a holy shrine in the conquered city? Smash them out with the butt of an axe...This rapacious plundering was the normal practice in all through the medieval era all the way up to when the Geneva Conventions were signed.

Within games, plunder is like Experience Points (and commonly both used, as well) — a reward from defeating your enemies. The difference may be generally more or less certainty in what you may get from your enemies where with Experience Points, it is generally clearly aligned by certain parameters. Most RPGs (since many of them are spiritually descended from Dungeons & Dragons) have you discover a variety of equipment and currency when going through dungeons, both by taking them off of defeated enemies and by finding chests and other storage areas. The moral implications of Robbing the Dead rarely come up, because getting cool new stuff is always fun.

Related to this is Pirate Booty which is a treasure hoard gathered by pirates when they do this. Compare Kleptomaniac Hero and Rewarding Vandalism, which are the video game equivalents of this trope. The villainous equivalent is Rape, Pillage, and Burn, where stolen property is not the only offense. As well, the common gaming term of this trope is "loot, lewt, or 13\/\/7".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • For the most part the plunder in Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? are the magic crystals dropped from slain monsters; adventurers would them exchange them to Vals. Orario seems to use them as an energy source.
  • A plot point in Eikou no Napoleon: Eroica (the little-known sequel to The Rose of Versailles dedicated to Napoleon's rise and fall) is that Napoleon, differently from any other general, forbids his soldiers from plundering (and keeps them in line by eating less then them when on the field, thus the soldiers are too ashamed to protest). This is not out of goodness but out of sheer pragmatism: by not plundering, the inhabitants of the entire territory they're marching through love them more than the other army and, to keep themselves on their good side, pool their collective resources to maintain the army, thus on the long term giving them more than they could have stolen, and are also more sympathetic to the ideals of the French Revolution.note 
  • The accompanying Drama CD for Girls und Panzer der Film explains the reason why the Jatkosota High School girls don't show up in the ending sequence where everyone's going home. That is, they left early to loot the University Strengthened Team's stockpile.

    Comic Books 
  • In Marvel, every main superhero team will help themselves to Doctor Doom's time machine technology. And a few (notably the Fantastic Four) will take his Doombots too.
  • Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher, freely takes weapons, money, and vehicles from the criminals he kills.
  • In DC, Batman will definitely pocket inventions from his enemies in order to analyze their equipment and have a nasty surprise waiting for future foes. Superman, himself, isn't above taking some trophies to pad out the Fortress of Solitude. The Justice League even got one of their later bases by looting and plundering Overmaster's escape pod.
  • Hit Girl and Big Daddy from Kick-Ass have looted and plundered from so many criminals around the world that in the 3rd series, it turns out that they have a secret base complete with submarines and underground docks.

    Comic Strips 
  • There was a Knights of the Dinner Table strip where Bob's dad who was hostile towards roleplaying. He joined a Cattlepunk game, and was shocked and appalled that players would casually loot the bodies of their adversaries, which John Wayne would never do, and other instances of "gamer logic."

    Fan Works 
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: As Rigel is officially responsible for the death of the basilisk, she's entitled to claim its corpse and the many valuable potion ingredients therein. She's initially reluctant and wants to just hand it over to Professor Dumbledore, but when it's pointed out that that could get politically complicated, she accepts. At her request, though, a lot of it is donated or sold cheaply to charitable causes.
  • At the start of Rocketship Voyager, the eponymous rocketship has just taken part in the compulsory evacuation of the Asteroid Belt, prior to them being handed over to the Jovians. Because it's their only source of contraterrene, Spacefleet has confiscated every gram they can get their hands on, plus anything else they can get from the asteroid mines and refineries including uranium, tungsten and high-quality steel. All this comes in handy when Voyager ends up on the far side of the galaxy with only the contents of their cargo holds for trading or repairs. There they find a Portal Network run by the Caretaker, who uses K'Zon and Hirogen mercenaries to plunder riches, slaves and technology from throughout the galaxy.
  • Tarkin's Fist: Fort Knox and other national gold reserves are looted the world over by the Imperials during the war, both as a means of enriching the Empire itself and depriving the enemy of its more precious resources.
  • With This Ring: Part of what makes the Accala such a terrifying threat is that they don't need any logistics train at all. A couple of hundred people with their level of Super-Strength and Super-Toughness, able to shatter concrete, shrug off most bullets, and outrun cars, can easily take food and perhaps replacement clothing from their defeated enemies, and they don't need anything else — which means they could launch their assault at the drop of a hat.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Spoofed in the After the End B-Movie Battletruck (a.k.a. Warlords of the 21st Century).
    Big Bad: [to The Dragon] Tell the men to Inventory and Requisition.
    The Dragon: [to his Mook Lieutenant] Tell the men to Inventory and Requisition.
    Mook Lieutenant:
    [to everyone else]'' LOOT! LOOT!
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. After defeating Prince Koura, Sinbad has the opportunity to gain a "crown of untold riches". He generously gives it to the facially-disfigured Vizier instead, and the crown restores the Vizier to normal.
  • In Lawrence of Arabia following the storming of Aqaba the Bedouin turn their attentions to plunder. In a later incident, Lawrence explains that this is part of his men's pay. Which of course it was, as they had no other clear reason to care whether they were ruled by Prince Feisal or the Sultan.
  • The Patriot (2000): One of the principal financial motivations for some of the French-Indian war veterans to join Martin's militia is the ability to sell back every English gun or uniform found or recovered.
  • Zulus are shown rifling British dead at Isandhwana in Zulu.
  • Glory had the 54th Regiment's first field mission accompanying a white officer leading African American irregulars. The irregulars prove to be a mere rabble of plunderers and the 54th are disgusted to a man at seeing their robbery of a civilian home, but Col. Shaw is no position to keep his unit from at least taking part in the destruction.
  • Mild case in Gettysburg when Tom Chamberlain gets coffee from "some poor souls who had no more use for it." Lawrence calls it ghoulish, but he drinks it anyway.
  • The plot of Flesh+Blood (1985) is kicked off by this. A nobleman promises his mercenaries they can loot a town if they succeed in taking it. Once they succeed however, the nobleman reneges on the deal because he needs the money and goodwill of the townspeople. The mercenaries are thrown out, and plot their revenge.
  • In The Monuments Men, the Allies set up a section of the military dedicated to ensure the protection of works of art in the Allied-controlled areas of Europe as well as finding the whereabouts of works of art plundered by the forces of Nazi Germany.
  • The treasure in National Treasure is an enormous hoard of riches plundered from one owner to another. Which go as far as Ancient Egypt up to the Crusades, where it was kept hidden by the Knights Templar, who took it to America to hide it.

  • Ukraine's success in capturing Russian equipment after the later invaded the former in 2022 led to the following:
    Russian General: Sir, I have good news and bad news.
    Vladimir Putin: Give me the good news first.
    Russian General: Sir, Intelligence reports that Ukraine's latest shipment of military equipment is outdated, poorly maintained, and likely to fail if they try to use it against us.
    Vladimir Putin: Finally, something in this war is going our way. What's the bad news?
    Russian General: Sir, Intelligence reports that Ukraine has just captured a large stockpile of our best equipment.

  • Merry Brandybuck: "One thing you have not come by in your travels is brighter wits" (explaining why he and Pippin are feasting amid the ruins of Isengard in The Lord of the Rings).
  • In The Hobbit Bilbo is promised a fair share of the dragon's hoard in payment for his services as a burglar. As it belonged to the Dwarves in the first place, it was kind of Re-Plunder.
  • Horatio Hornblower:
    • Hornblower never gets as much of this as he likes because he is too busy fighting the war to turn aside to trifles like prize-money. Almost every time he does get any, something keeps him from profiting.
    • True until Flying Colors, at the end of which he receives prize money from the prizes he took in the previous book, plus more from the (re)capture of the Witch of Endor.
  • Jack Aubrey of the Aubrey-Maturin series is more fortunate in the matter of prize money; when he has money problems, they tend to come from unfortunate investments on land.
  • Aiel in The Wheel of Time look forward to plundering wetlander settlements, though they have a strict custom of only taking 20% of what is available.
  • Sharpe
    • The books devote a fair bit of time to the loot and plunder that most of the British, French and Spanish armies get up to (not to mention the army wives, who worry even the badass Richard Sharpe). Of particular note is the looting that occurs at the end of Sharpe's Honour, a real incident where the retreating French baggage train was captured by British soldiers, and Sharpe and Harper (taking the place of some unknown soldiers) captured the Marshal of Vitoria's royal baton and King Joseph Bonaparte's royal jakespot.
    • Sharpe actually gets into trouble in one book because some of the items he and his men took technically did not qualify as legitimate military plunder under the conventions of the time. For political reasons the army cannot just tell the lawyers to go to hell so he is sent to an out-of-the-way outpost till the matter blows over.
    • He does however forbid looting from civilians unless it's that or starve, though that's not for any particular moral reason; it's just that pissing off the local residents will make his job considerably harder than it has to be.
  • Flashman's attempts to have a chapter on foraging and decorating included in the British Army manual get nowhere. However the loot he gathers from the Indian Mutiny alone is enough to set his family up for life (but not retirement, unfortunately, as he continues to get into scrapes).
  • Honor Harrington made a substantial amount in prize money (see Real Life section below) under some of her earlier commands. Even some of the junior officers did fairly well out of more successful anti-piracy operations.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen book The Crippled God, a character alarmingly notices that the common soldiers in the Bonehunters army stopped caring about plunder. This signifies that the Badass Army is turning fanatical in their purpose.
  • Citadel (AKA Run Between the Raindrops) by Dale Dye.
    • During the battle of Hue the protagonist (a combat reporter) goes to a camera store to find a Marine smashing up a box camera and complaining that the other soldiers stole all the expensive Japanese cameras. The aghast reporter points out he just smashed up a Hasselblad worth over a thousand dollars.
    • In another scene, some high-ranking US and Vietnamese officers complain that the Marines stole money from a bank vault and demand a court martial of those responsible. The Marine CO, who's got more sympathy for his men than these people, retrieves the money and claims they 'found' it. The Vietnamese officers promptly divide up the cash among themselves.
  • Defied in Red Storm Rising, when the senior officer of a group of US military personnel stranded in Soviet-occupied Iceland leads his men to an isolated farmhouse to ask for food.
    "Yes, ask. And pay cash. And say, 'Thank you, sir'. Unless you want him on the phone to Ivan ten minutes after we leave."
  • In the backstory to A Brother's Price, the Whistlers sneak into the palace of the Queens of Southland on reconnaissance near the end of the war, and while there they liberate some impressively elegant cutlery, jewelry, and the almost-old-enough-to-marry Prince Alannon in a bathrobe. He was not happy about this, but since the war ended and his mothers, father, and sisters were executed for treason, he made the best of things. And got his new wives to build him a bathhouse.
  • Belisarius Series revels in plunder. Every time he wins a victory (often over arrogant generals who have their own marching Decadent Court with viands, sex slaves and luxurious tent-palaces), great hoards of plunder are found and when divided ordinary soldiers get enough to set up a small farm or business on retirement. Or knowing soldiers, just to get really, really smashed.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. Even the notoriously strict King Stannis doesn't try to stop his men from plundering. And a sign of the discipline of the Unsullied slave soldiers is that they have no interest in plunder (being forbidden any private possessions) unless ordered to do so on behalf of their master.
  • Discworld:
    • Watch officer Nobby was in the military, and was infamous for stealing equipment from both sides, sometimes just to make profit and sometimes to make himself look like a member of whichever side was winning. In Night Watch, when a young Nobby suggests that boots are a decent battlefield haul, a career soldier in the room implies that anything that heavy just isn't worth the time or effort: best to stick to jewelry.
    • This certainly doesn't apply just to Nobby. In Monstrous Regiment, Jackrum makes sure to train the squadron that if the other guy's dead, he's not using what's on him, much to Blouse's discontent. Field-expedient acquisitions are also encouraged to make sure the squad survives.
    • The Royal Sto Plains Riflers, in The Discworld Mapp, are not named after a weapon that doesn't exist on the Disc (or at least didn't for long), but for their tendency to rifle through an opponents pockets, taking jewelry, boots and gold teeth. Some of them don't even wait until the enemy is dead, and go into battle armed only with shoehorn and pliers.
  • In The Sun Over Breda, Alatriste and his squire Inigo experience the Spanish soldier's life in The Eighty Years' War. The promise of plunder drives many of the soldiers, especially as the Spanish Crown rarely bothers actually paying their wages. However, they're also expected to operate under various rules of conduct and are often denied the right to plunder (especially as the Crown hopes to hold the conquered lands, not just pillage them) and must pay civilians for food. As a result many of the men are on near-starvation rations except for the rare times they're allowed to plunder, and often had to resort to mutiny to get paid.
  • How Zbyszko and Maćko from The Knights of the Cross earn their living. Justified Trope, since they're knights and only plunder other knights having bested them in duels, but still.
  • The Traveler's Gate: Valinhall's emphasis on earning everything means the Territory has an odd ability. If a Valinhall Traveler wins an item from another Territory in battle, they can take it back to Valinhall and have it remade into a form that the Travelers can draw power from. It is placed in a room and given an appropriate test, and once a Traveler passes that test they can use its power.
  • Congo Mercenary by Mike Hoare. When Stanleyville is liberated, the Congolese Army start looting and Hoare's mercenary commanders point out they're going to be blamed for it whether they loot or not, so they might as well get some of the benefits. Throughout the night as he's trying to sleep Hoare keeps hearing small explosions, and concludes his men are blowing up safes to see if there are any Simba rebels hiding inside them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Firefly: The crew of Serenity, are more or less space scavengers and bandits (only taking from the very rich, or people who died before the crew showed up). The Alliance considers such "unlicensed" activity to be outright piracy and, as such, the goods and cargo they claim (the most valuable being packages of manufactured food, which sells for a high price) to essentially be plunder claimed illegally. Still, despite the risk and legal troubles, the crew couldn't really get by without it. This exchange near the end of the episode "Ariel" is fairly indicative:
    Wash: How much did we get?
    Mal: Enough to keep us flying.
  • Band of Brothers:
    • The soldiers go through the mansion of a Nazi grandee and find a large supply of expensive wine. After which they solemnly enact an Ancient Military Custom...
    • Later, Major Winters shows his friend Nixon (who has a major drinking problem) Hermann Goering's wine cellar warehouse. The expression on Nixon's face is priceless.
    • Also, Ronald Spiers' collection of silver, and other various characters collecting everything from Hitler's personal photographs to Luger pistols.
  • In The Pacific, a Seabee on Peleliu says he is looking for a Japanese sword to take home. The Marines, who have just been through some very nasty fighting, give him a very dirty look.
  • Game of Thrones: In Daenerys's storyline she goes to Qarth to get ships, but is double crossed by the New King of Qarth Daxos, and the warlock Pyats Pree. After killing the warlock she locks up Daxos in his empty vault, and takes all the gold and jewels in the palace to buy her ship.
  • In the 1996 mini-series Rhodes, Cecil Rhodes is planning to invade Matabeleland, currently ruled by the powerful Chief Lobengula. As he's short on cash, he intends paying his army of mercenaries and adventurers with a percentage of Lobengula's land and cattle. Fellow businessman Alfred Beit urges him against this policy, as it means he's got to attack Lobengula even without a Pretext for War (fortunately Rhodes's men are able to create one).

  • One of Rudyard Kipling's "soldier" poems, Loot deals with this:
    Now remember when you're 'ackin' round a gilded Burma god
    That 'is eyes is very often precious stones...

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: On of the original slogans is "in the 31st Century, life is cheap, but Battlemechs aren't." It's traditional in the setting to try to capture as much of the enemy's equipment as you possibly can. This was especially true in the game's beginning, when there were few factories able to continue producing Battlemechs, and also after the Clans invaded — their equipment was drastically superior to Inner Sphere weapons and armor, so once the Inner Sphere factions figured out how to start winning fights with them they made a habit of sending raiding forces across the border to take their stuff.
  • Call of Cthulhu: In early adventures, the investigators can almost always find some kind of valuable treasure among the Cthulhu Mythos menace's belongings. It's not clear whether this was unconsciously based on Dungeons & Dragons type games or a practical decision due to the investigators' need for money to carry on their work.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Third Edition book Oriental Adventures discusses how to best avert this trope in parties where one or more of the characters are nobles of some sort (as samurai and most spellcasters are), and as such it would be highly improper for them to handle the dead at all, much less going through a fallen foe's pockets for coin.
    • Tomb of Horrors, famed of course for its unfairness and sheer level of cruelty, has quite a lot of more interesting things the party can plunder if they're careful. Certainly, there were such treasures as one would expect within the dungeon... but how many people would think of stealing the adamantium doors? Revised versions have since patched many of the most dire examples, but where there's a will (and a ton of platinum to be made), there's a way...
  • HeroQuest: Played with in Warhammer Quest. Your heroes will definitely yank every bit of gold out of any orifice of their dead enemies. In fact, gold from the dead is so vital that it replaces experience in the game. However, your heroes will never loot enemy equipment, the reason being that all the evil races use weapons that are tainted with black magic that's harmful to your heroes.
  • Shadowrun adventures usually have this trope as well. Even if Mr. Johnson stiffs them on their pay and dead enemies have no money, PCs can at least loot and fence the enemies' equipment. Note that, because of the nature of the setting, this extends to their opponents bodies (and not just cybernetics).
  • Source Of The Nile: When an explorer wins a fight with natives he can plunder their village but that costs him victory points, reflecting that folks back home really don't like to think about that part of it.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Orks are notorious for looting and plundering. They even have a squad dedicated to this, the Lootas, who scrounge battlefields and mug enemies for loot to sell in return for the heavy weapon Deffguns.
    • Chaos warbands rely heavily on plundering to meet their need for equipment, slaves and Space Marine gene-seed.
    • Tyranids plunder the biospheres of whole worlds to take back genetic information and bio-matter for their Hive Fleets.
    • Dark Eldar have a lust for looting too but differ from the other villainous races in that they're typically not interested in material goods except as an odd trophy. Rather, they take enemies as slaves to take back home, so they can get their souls sucked out and other nefarious purposes.
    • The Imperium largely gets the short end of the looting stick and will usually find anything from their enemies to be incompatible/dangerous to them — at most, various veteran guardsmen might acquire something special off of other, deceased simultaneously-luckier-and-unluckier guardsmen — but isn't without their own legendary looters.
      • The Primarch Roboute Guilliman got his Gauntlets of Ultramar by yoinking them off the corpse of a defeated Chaos champion, while the Space Wolves commander Logan Grimnar got his axe, Morkai, in a similar fashion.
      • The Minotaurs chapter of the Space Marines are infamous for attacking other Space Marine chapters (despite being Loyalists) and taking their weapons. This had earned them the ire of almost all Space Marines who have been targeted by them.
      • The fandom has long nicknamed the Blood Ravens Chapter as "the Bloody Magpies" because their army has a lot of wargear from different Chapters, which are usually claimed to have been gifted to them when the other Chapter have no records of such an exchange. Became an Ascended Meme in one of the novels when one character compares a trophy room to a magpies' nest.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
  • Sid Meier's Pirates!: Every time a ship is captured, they show this quite deliciously.
  • Arthur: In a CD-ROM game based on the show, if one succeeds in finding a treasure chest in the scuba diving minigame, a newspaper article with a picture of Arthur surrounded by the treasure will appear.
  • Fire Emblem: Thracia 776: A gameplay mechanic. Since you get very little money on your own, the best way to get items and weapons is to Capture enemy units, strip them of their possessions, and then release them.
  • Fallout 2: You can freely plunder the bodies of defeated enemies, but the game draws the line at literal Grave Robbing — doing this causes the player to take a hit to their reputation and receive a special negative title.
  • Elona: Downplayed. Looting the bodies of monsters you kill yourself is OK, but looting dead adventurers' bodies (most have been dead for long) isn't — there is a karma penalty for the latter.
  • Warcraft III: Looting is an integral part of the game. Creatures hostile to all players are found all around the map, and killing them gets you experience, gold and sometimes items. The Orcs even have an upgrade that lets their units gain money by attacking enemy buildings.
  • Wario Land: Pretty much the only reason Wario will ever be interested in doing anything even remotely heroic is if there's a decent chance of making himself richer by sacking his way through somewhere loaded with treasure (that and taking back things that were plundered from him).
  • Total War: In all games, armies can raid trade paths and the victors of a battle for a town can choose to damage and loot it at some sort of trade-off — usually in the future to contrast with the immediate cash injection looting gives one. Total War: Rome II adds the ability for armies to be set in a raiding over an area (which is more profitable while over trade routes that don't belong to you) which carries over in future titles. Total War: Attila adds "sack" and "raze" options when defeating a town's defenders — the former is like looting but even more profitable and doesn't transfer control of the town to you, while the latter grants less money but destroys the town entirely and penalizes its fertility should anyone decide to reclaim the area again. Befitting the Darker and Edgier style of Attila, players are likely to find both options very necessary at times. Total War: Warhammer adds a guaranteed cash bonus for every army's victory over another army and can allow you to get items for your generals and heroes/steal the items of enemy, while sack and raze options remain, though they are somewhat less strategically significant because there are large swaths of territory that are habitable only by specific factions anyway and all armies can fortify to replenish their numbers while outside of allied territory.
  • Empire Earth: In the last mission of the Greek campaign, Alexander the Great's forces come across small villages, which can either be spared and assimilated for civilization points, or razed for plunder.
  • Borderlands: The lifeblood of the series, aided by a weapon generation system that randomizes every single weapon, shield and grenade you find, allowing for eighty-seven bazillion combinations of loot.
  • The Elder Scrolls series, in addition to the standard "RPG uses" of this trope, actively utilizes this trope to compensate for the low monetary rewards most quests offer. In most cases, whatever you are being paid to complete a quest won't even cover the costs of the potions, arrows, and weapon/armor repairs (at least prior to Skyrim) you will need after. Instead, you are expected to loot the cave/lair/ruin/house of whatever/whoever you were sent to kill. In the vast majority of cases, plunder will be your real source of income.
  • Legends of Runeterra: Plunder is a keyword in the game, mostly concentrated in the Pirate-themed Bilgewater region. Cards with Plunder can only be played (or in some cases will generate bonus effects) after their controller has managed to deal at least one point of damage to the enemy Nexus that turn. Coinciding with this theme, a lot of Bilgewater cards with Plunder allow you to steal your opponent's stuff, most prominently letting you draw cards directly from their deck instead of your own.
  • Puzzles & Survival: One way of gaining resources is by attacking other players and stealing theirs.
  • World of Horror: Miku has access to two perks that simulate this, Looting, which grants Miku 1 fund after defeating an enemy, and Pickpocket, which increases the chances of finding items after combat.
  • The whole point of the 1974 dnd game is to kill the inhabitants of this dungeon so you can get their money. This is even reflected in the leveling system, which is tied to how much loot you bring out of the dungeon.
  • Star Trek Online: While it may be a bit out of character for Starfleet officers (though not necessarily other factions or races), it's perfectly possible to equip a ship or away team with equipment drops from defeated enemies. Certain mission rewards also read like battlefield loot, like the Vaadwaur Pulsewave Pistol acquired after the final assault on the Vaadwaur homeworld at the end of their storyline. Most explicitly, the Klingon Defense Force has the Marauding Duty Officer missions, where groups of Mauve Shirts are sent out to raid civilian vessels and minor colonies, and the Orion Slaver hanger pets that randomly "acquire" currency and commodities for their owner in battle.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Worm:
    • When Skitter helps take down a drug house during the war against ABB, she has some of her bugs gather up all the cash and splits it with the other villains.
    • Regent tried to steal Kid Win's hoverboard as a trophy and cool toy until it's pointed out that the Protectorate would have tracking devices installed for just this kind of situation.

    Web Videos 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall : Most of Linkara's "Arsenal of Freedom" consists of magically enchanted toys, but he makes a habit of picking up souvenirs from his defeated foes. This has included everything from simple weapons to Humongous Mecha and a fully functional starship.

    Real Life 
  • In Herodotus' Histories:
    • King Croesus is captured by King Cyrus and they watch Croesus' city burn, Croesus remarks that, since he's already lost the battle and his kingdom, the soldiers sacking the city are technically destroying Cyrus' property and stealing Cyrus' wealth.
      Croesus: What are your men doing?
      Cyrus: Burning your city and taking your treasure.
      Croesus: I have no treasure left. That is now your treasure they are taking.
    • Later on, after the Battle of Salamis, Persian dead were washed ashore for the Greeks to rifle. The Athenian politician Themistocles perhaps thought being a scavenger might lose votes. So he told a companion, "Help yourself, for you are not Themistocles."
  • According to legend, after the Siege of Vienna a local storekeeper came out to watch the soldiers rifling the Turkish camp. One soldier found a bag full of black beans. He almost threw it away in disgust but the storekeeper went up to him and bought it. This was the founding of Vienna's first coffeehouse. Enjoy it folks!
    • On a less legendary and more historically accurate note, the first coffeehouse in Vienna was founded by a Polish noble who fought in the aforementioned Battle of Vienna and took the Turkish coffee supplies as his part of the loot.
  • A variant: Capturing an enemy warship intact netted Royal Navy officers a substantial monetary reward in the Wooden Ships and Iron Men era.
    • Indeed. And a lot of the country estates of Jane Austen's friends were "unwillingly subsidized " by France.
    • Though it wasn't quite a "reward". The Navy bought captured ships from the ships' crews that captured them, and the ships' crew split the money, according to ancient custom. It was cheaper and quicker for the Navy to get ships that way than to have them built.
  • One book described Israel as "The second largest exporter of Soviet arms" because of all the gear it had "acquired" in the course of their relations with surrounding powers.
  • The Allied advance over the Rhine into Germany in World War II was codenamed "Operation Plunder." While the pilfering which took place during the advance was mostly of a rather touristy kind (cameras, fine wines, certain photographs) the British, Americans and Canadians took the name of the operation as a rather tacit permission to go to town. Their officers generally looked the other way, or took part in the pilfering themselves; among the most valuable items to Allied troops was the German Luger pistol.
  • Looting the enemy dead was generally seen as perfectly acceptable for much of history. The biography of Rifleman Benjamin Harris, an British soldier in the Napoleonic War, describes how when an officer saw him searching the corpses of the French after a battle, his only action was to inform Harris that the French soldiers typically hid money by sewing it up inside the layers of their coats.
  • British diplomat Harold Nicholson (21 November 1886 – 1 May 1968) once grumbled that American soldiers marching through a town was an unusual nuisance-because according to him they had enough well-educated people with them to know what was worth stealing.
  • The so-called Monuments Men (yes like the movie) in World War II were former academics and curators authorised to protect cultural works of art in the path of the Allied armies; they ended up tracking down and preserving many works of art stolen on an organised basis by the Nazi German regime.
  • The nec plus ultra of WWII looting was the Soviet invasion of Germany. Red Army soldiers looted whatever they wanted, secure in the knowledge that there was almost zero chance of punishment. One of the most famous images of the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Berlin is just such an occasion. Soviet soldiers often resorted to violence and threats to get their way; a British officer of the occupation recalled seeing a Soviet NCO ask an old German man the time, and then shoot him for his watch. When the shocked Briton took the man to the Soviet headquarters at gunpoint for punishment, he was spat at and forced to present the murderer with a medal. Even the famous image (itself a propaganda shot) of a Soviet soldier raising the Red Banner over the Reichstag had to be edited to hide the fact that one of the Soviet soldiers was wearing two watches, a sure sign of looting.
    • And it was not only Germany the USSR plundered, but also their own allies through which they marched. It is said the march of the Red Army through the Eastern Europe 1943-1945 was far worse a catastrophe to those countries than the Mongol conquest 700 years earlier. Most of Eastern Europe has not still yet fully recovered from WWII.
    • Of course, the previous Nazi looting of occupied territories (including Soviet Union) was what set these events into motion. Hermann Göring was known to help himself on some of the stolen art.
  • The US first infantry division actually converted itself into a motorized division this way in France. During the German retreat they captured and hot-wired enough German vehicles — and probably stole some from the civilians — that they could carry the entire force.
  • When the Swedish army retreated from Norway after King Charles XII was shot, thousands of them froze to death. The local Saami who found the bodies were not lax in "re-distributing" the stuff they could find. However, this being the early 1700s and the Saami having little use for the fancy sleds (that some officers rode — and died — in) or cannon, one of the most popular items to "acquire" were the soldiers' wigs. Apparently they were really warm and the Saami used them as insulation under their fur hats.
  • The Finnish army firearms and field guns have traditionally had the same calibre as those of Russian/Soviet weapons. The rationale is that the troops could replenish themselves with captured ammunition.
    • Captured tanks and aircraft made up a large portion of Finnish Army and Finnish Air Force fighting capability in WWII. There are still many WWII Russian tanks in Finland in fully operable condition, albeit in museums and collections. [Actually so many that many Finnish war films have been able to be made using the actual individual tanks which participated in the real battles in history.]
    • Compared to the rest of the Eastern Front, WWII in the Karelia was pretty civilized in this respect, and civilian property was usually respected on both sides. On the other hand, many soldiers took mementos in form of enemy militaria and fighting gear. There is a reason why there are more firearms per capita in Finland than any other Western country save US. Finnish soldiers simply took any captured pistols and revolvers as war souvenirs. Since they were not in official records, they did not exist. Most still exist as family heirlooms.
  • For most of history it was pretty much assumed that armies would feed themselves from local civilians. The more decent and/or rational commanders would try to at least organize this so that it was at least in intention not much different from taxation or rent collecting. They might even pay for their take; and if soldiers got out of hand they would buy goodwill by ostentatiously hanging the perps. Besides keeping them from assassinating soldiers this policy, if well done would ensure more forage next year. All this of course was a description of the system at its "best"; quite commonly it was random Rape, Pillage, and Burn. Civilians got some of their own back though, because they would often get to scavenge the dead (and the "mostly dead") who often carried valuables with them.
    • This was gradually abandoned as a serious logistical stratagem throughout the 19th and 20th centuries; one of the key reasons for the success of The Duke of Wellington's trans-Pyrenees assault on France was that the Anglo-Portugese armies paid for everything in coin, unlike Napoleon's forces which "requisitioned" whatever they needed. Admittedly, most of the coin was forged (Usually by smelting down British coins and re-minting them into French coins the local peasants knew and liked), but such was the quality of British minting that their forgeries were of a higher quality than the real thing.
  • Both the Persian and Turkish armies seem to yield unusually massive plunder when a decisive victory is won over them, at least according to chroniclers. It has been speculated that a lot of Persian and Ottoman warriors took much of their wealth on campaign as a handy way of making sure it was far away from tax collectors.
  • In Alan Moorehead's classic of war reporting Desert War, he describes the ravaged camps of the Italian army after General Wavell's offensive with a rather piratical glee. Among the items found were luxuries brought along by Italian officers including fine food and drink. When Benghazi was taken, Moorehead bileted on the Italian Commander's villa, drank from his wine cellar and was quite pleased about it.
  • During later American military campaigns in Vietnam and Kuwait, it was fairly common for American troops to acquire non-American guns for their own use during patrols. Since they were expected to account for all weapon discharges and ammo use, firing your own gun to scare off civilians or dogs could get you in trouble... but if you pried that rusty Kalashnikov folding-stock rifle off the dead Iraqi guard by the roadside, you could use that for the same purpose without getting in trouble. Later on, when American forces pushed up Death's Highway and into Iraqi territory, some soldiers reported that inexperienced troops would sometimes have to be stopped from taking too many trophies from captured buildings, lest locals become too resentful.
  • When a certain city fell in Imperial China, the soldiers immediately flocked to the treasury and looted the gold and precious stones within. Meanwhile, the prime minister of the invading force instead ordered his men to loot the city's archives, collecting documentations on the city's affairs, population demographics, resource capacity and so on. When the invader had to establish control over the city, they did so easily as they knew how to properly allocate their resources and address any local problems. The king of the invaders ultimately commended the prime minister's wisdom in looting 'the real treasure'.
  • The archaeology awareness playing cards were designed to prevent this trope by educating US troops in The Middle East about cultural heritage, as soldiers often spend their downtime playing cards.
  • During the mass scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia since February 2022, the most notorious (to the point of invokedMemetic Mutation) subjects of mass plunders by Russian soldiers were... toilet bowls and washing machines. Apparently there's a severe lack of such commodities in a number of The Glorious Federal Subjects, although in the case of washing machines, Russians apparently plundered them for microchips, facing shortages of them for their highter tech equipment early on in the invasion until they got resupplied via China and sanctions-evading third party states.