Follow TV Tropes

Following

Screw the Money, I Have Rules!

Go To

https://mediaproxy.tvtropes.org/width/350/https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/schlock20070606.png
Knowing Captain Tagon, this is really saying something.

"Working covert ops, you learn to exploit weakness: You manipulate greed, fear, pride, to make people do what you want. But when you're dealing with true believers, those weaknesses aren't there. All you can do is help, or get out of the way."
Burn Notice, "Truth and Reconciliation"
Advertisement:

For some people, money isn't an issue. Maybe a hero/heroine's morals and convictions are so strong that they can never be bought out, not even for all the money and riches in the world. Maybe someone is so committed to a goal he'll spend all the money he has to in order to reach it. Or perhaps there are some people who just don't need the money; the warm fuzzy feeling after doing a good deed is reward enough. Or there is simply no amount of money that can replace what they were stripped of. Whatever the reason, wealth comes second to personal values. Even a chance at matrimony may not be enough.

Note that this does not necessarily mean "wealth comes second to good personal values." This is a very common trope for Knight Templar types, and outright Chaotic Evil villains can enact it too, given Even Evil Has Standards, as can people who give amusement a higher priority than personal gain. The Honest Corporate Executive lives by this mantra.

Advertisement:

Of course, it's not unknown for it to be a Secret Test of Character with a Sweet and Sour Grapes.

Compare Money Is Not Power, Keep the Reward, Honor Before Reason, What You Are in the Dark, Doing It for the Art, Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!. The Last DJ is a specific character type who is likely to do this, although he may pay for it, especially in missed opportunities. If the character's refusal includes making the situation even worse for the offerer, that's a Bribe Backfire.

See also Screw the Money, This Is Personal!, when the character refuses pay not because of personal integrity, but because they'd rather get revenge on the person trying to buy them off.

Contrast Screw the Rules, I Have Money! (the obvious inversion of this trope), Only in It for the Money, and Every Man Has His Price.

Advertisement:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Schwartzwald of The Big O is a villainous example of this: when offered ridiculously generous severance pay from the Paradigm Corporation in exchange for his silence on the topic of the show's Ontological Mystery, he gleefully burns the cheque. He then follows suit with the guests at his party.
  • Despite being ridiculously poverty-stricken, Makino Tsukushi, the heroine of Boys over Flowers, refuses to take a bribe from Domyoji (either to hang out with him or to take back her challenge to him, depending on the continuity), and is unimpressed by the fat stacks of cash he throws around to get his way. This is a large part of what endears her to him in the first place, being among the two or three people who openly defy him.
  • Both Natsu and Erza do this in Fairy Tail when offered obscene amounts of money as a reward for various jobs they've taken.
    • A man named Kaby hires Natsu and Lucy to destroy his father Zekua's last work, a book called "Daybreak". Lucy discovers Zekua actually wrote a book for his son titled "Dear Kaby", and then rearranged all the words in the book, as well as the letters in the title. This way, the awful man that forced Zekua to write for him would only receive a piece of trash, while the book's magic would reveal its true contents to Kaby. Natsu realizes that the team failed to carry out the job as specified and turns down payment, even if the result is better than Kaby had hoped for. Though Natsu also realizes that Kaby doesn't have very much money anyway.
    • Later, Erza does this with a job that has been completed properly and then some, because when Natsu and Lucy first took it, they didn't have the guild's permission, and it was never officially accepted. However, while she does turn down a whopping 7 million Jewels (Yen by another name), she isn't above accepting a one-of-a-kind summoning tool they were also offering.
  • Hideo Ozu of Hand Maid May turns down 10 million yen in exchange for old videos he shot of his aspiring-actress childhood friend, Mai. But rather than keeping the videos, he simply gives them away for free to Mai's producer, who had told him that the videosnote  could get in the way of Mai's acting career. And when it turns out that the producer and director intend to profit from the videos by integrating them into their new movie, he gets indignant about the videos that were "taken" from him.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee won't allow its members to bill the people they help, as Leon calls out on Yuffie to not bill a woman she just saved.
  • What Nao and Akiyama do in Liar Game. In fact, Nao's reason for continuing to participate in the game is to save everyone in the game.
  • "Big News" Morgans from One Piece zig-zags this trope. On one hand, he's the corrupt president of a globally-sold journal, so he has no problems with accepting a bribe in exchange for publishing a distorted or outright false story. On the other hand, he's a journalist first and foremost, so if he gets a big scoop he's gonna publish it no matter how much you bribe him not to.
  • Rurouni Kenshin did this. A greedy money grubber tried to bribe him, but his bodyguard pointed out that Kenshin was never interested in money. Later on, even the bodyguard, who took the job more for the eventual fights than for the money, would no longer respect the money grubber.
    • Satou Hajime also made it very clear to one unfortunate rich guy that a bribe won't save you if he has you in his crosshairs.
      Satou: You can tame a dog with food. You can tame a man with money. But you can NEVER tame a Wolf of Mibu!
    • Hitman for hire Kurogaza (Black Hat) made his debut not allowing one of his targets to buy his way out.
  • In A Silent Voice, Shoya intended to pay off the debt he put his mother into and then kill himself. Later, when his mother confronts him about his plans, she yells at him for thinking she would care more about a debt than her son’s life. She threatens to (and accidentally does) burn the money he gave her if he didn’t promise not to kill himself.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! and its manga version, Seto Kaiba offers Grandpa Moto a huge briefcase full of rare cards and then an absurd amount of money for his Blue-Eyes White Dragon card. Grandpa refuses, saying it was given to him by one of his best friends, so it is irreplaceable. Undaunted, Kaiba then takes it by force.
  • One episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX featured the seagoing duelist Anacis. An incredibly wealthy man (among his possessions were a gold and gem encrusted Duel Disk and a submarine with a private dueling arena) he was also very shallow and arrogant, and thought anyone and anything could be bought. Unfortunately for him, his attempt to recruit Judai into his new project through bribery (even though the amount he offered was the equivalent of over a million dollars) failed; Judai's loyalty to Duel Academy and his allies was more important than money. During their duel, Anacis offers Judai an obscene amount of money to reduce his life points (subbed version) or forfeit (dubbed version), but Judai again refuses.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • In Batman's case, money really isn't an issue.
    • This is one of the reasons Batman trusts Jim Gordon, and helped him get promoted to Commissioner. In Batman: Year One:
      "...He slips Gordon a fifty with the handshake.. and Gordon looks at it like his hand has a disease. Then he throws the fifty in the padre's face. Gives the squad a two-hour lecture. Puts Schell on probation. He's just not fitting in, Gill."
  • Buck Danny will not put up with attempted bribery, in one case slapping the man responsible (an extremely wealthy defense industrialist) and throwing him out the door. As a general rule, most Franco-Belgian comic book heroes from this era have this attitude towards money and rules, while the villains, whether gangsters, traitors, mercenaries, or unscrupulous businessmen, are defined by their willingness to break every law and moral code for the sake of their own enrichment.
  • Cardboard: After Mike explains how he doesn't even have money for a birthday dinner for Cam, his boss, Mr. Machousky, tries to give Mike some money from his own wallet to help out, but Mike turns the offer down.
    Mr. Machousky: Well, you're in luck! I've got a heart and you're breakin' it right now! Don't tell anyone...but I think I can float you a little something 'til things turn around for you. I know you're good for it.
    Mike: Thanks, boss, but I came in for a job, not a handout.
  • Chuck Dixon's Avalon: King Ace is outraged to learn Fazer has stolen money from the bad guys, and demands he give it all to the needy. When Fazer tries it again, Ace ends their partnership and turns him in.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Scrooge McDuck, as created by Carl Barks. It's true that he is the richest duck in the world, but he earned his money by being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies, and he made it square.
  • Largo Winch has this show up in the second story arc, where Largo, still new to his CEO position, is disgusted to accept help from a corporate spy betraying his employer (whom Largo was looking at as a takeover target) for money. Largo's board of directors think this is putting Honor Before Reason, and convince him to act on the traitor's information anyway. Largo is then vindicated when the traitor turns out to be a Fake Defector, whose misinformation nearly destroys the company.
  • In the Polish comic book series Lil And Put (Lil i Put) Lil, Put and Miksja have no money to pay to the Fairies for the clock they made so Lil and Put prepare to run. Miksja stops half way and says she is too honorable to run without paying and would rather take punishment even if it means being lynched by the fairies.
  • Lucky Luke, another Belgian comic hero, must be related to Tintin as he embodies this trope to a similar extent.
  • Red Sonja is charged to find six artisans to attend an emperor's party and empowered to offer all his wealth to secure their help. Despite her offer zero of the artisans choose to do it for the money; they are persuaded by her noble aim and curiosity.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Appears in one case where Silver Sable and Captain America are involved. Spider-Man is offered a million in cash and flatly turns it down. It helped that the one offering was the the Red Skull. Of course, the Skull can't resist goading the hero before ordering his goons to attack:
      Skull: Tsk. Patriotism must produce its own hormone. One that promotes stupidity. Kill him.
    • Of course, they fail, and afterwards, Silver Sable, Captain America, and even a high-ranking general appreciate that Spider-Man did so.
    • During J. Michael Straczynski's run on the book, Spider-Man faced Digger, a radioactive zombie created from the corpses of 13 slain mobsters. Forelli, the mobster who ordered the hit on the "Vegas 13", offered to pay Spider-Man to take him down. After a bit of soul-searching, Spider-Man seemed to avert this trope by accepting the money (albeit after confirming that he was being asked to do nothing but keep in contact with Forelli, who he already suspected was Digger's main target, to protect him from Digger, which Spidey would do if he was in the area when Digger attacked Forelli anyway), but ultimately played it straight by donating the money to the school where Peter Parker was teaching to build a new library.
    • In another story, Spider-Man acquired a briefcase of laundered, untraceable cash. He then gave it to the Vulture, because he knew the Vulture's daughter and granddaughter were struggling and the Vulture could use the money to help them. This actually fits with Spider-Man's character, as he'd rather use the money that way then end up fighting the Vulture for robbing banks to get money for them.
  • Papa Smurf in The Smurfs comic book story "The Finance Smurf" refuses to go along with the title character's suggestion of charging his little Smurfs for his services, even as impoverished as he became when he has to pay off his little Smurfs for taking care of him when he was sick during the time the Smurf Village monetary system was in place. Eventually, every Smurf decides to go Screw The Money to Finance Smurf when they realize that their old ways of cooperation and sharing were better.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Silver Sable fails to capture Spider-Man. She refuses to admit failure, drop the job, and go away. "My reputation is everything to me. We'll finish the job for you. Comped. No charge."
    • It happens quite often in Ultimate Spider-Man. Probably played straightest when Spider-Man intervenes to save Boomerang, a C-grade bank robber, from being terminated with extreme prejudice by The Punisher, and the villain gratefully offers him $20,000 to get him away from the cops. Poor student Peter is clearly tempted for a moment before webbing the villain up beside the Punisher for the cops to collect.
  • Superlópez: In "El castillo de arena" Superlópez is offered a big amount of money by the Bey of Djebana to take care of their mysterious nuclear crisis. Superlópez does investigate it, but making it clear that it's only for the sake of the people.
    Superlópez: Of course I'll take care of the problem! As for your offer...
    Bey: Yes...?
    Superlópez: You can have it sugar coated! (flies out of the palace)
  • Do not try to bribe Tintin into working with you. Even if you have him in a prison cell, sentenced to die the next day, he will kick you through the door just to show you what he thinks of you and your offers.
  • Superman:
    • In the Supergirl storyline Red Daughter of Krypton arc, secondary character judge Sheko refused to let the prince of her world get off for his crimes, and no bribe, argument or death threats would move her.
    • Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow: On two occasions, Ruthye tries to hire Supergirl as a mercenary to carry her revenge out. Every time Kara replies she does not want swords or money and she is not a killer.
    • In Kurt Busiek's run, the Prankster has a peculiar code of his own. He expects to be paid for hiring himself out as a distraction, and paid well, but he refuses to sell his gadgets to his clients, regardless of how much they offer, because that's not what he does. In the course of humiliating a criminal who failed to understand this, he reveals that he can enter the vault of Metropolis Bank any time he likes. He's never robbed it because that wouldn't be a prank.
  • In the Wonder Woman Vol 1 storyline Judgment In Infinity, the Mayor of Mega City offers the Horseman of Death anything he wants in exchange for their lives. Unflappably, Death replies that the only thing he wants is their lives, as per his boss' orders.

    Fan Works 
  • In Bird in a Storm, this is basically the reason Laurel leaves C.N.R.I.. After she's injured during an attempt to capture the Hood and learns Oliver's identity when he's forced to take her away for treatment, some of C.N.R.I.'s backers threaten to withdraw their funding unless she publicly denounces the Hood as a lunatic after she returns. Laurel instead chooses to resign from C.N.R.I. as she genuinely believes in what the Hood's doing (affirming that she'd take that stance even if she didn't know he was Oliver; knowing his identity just assures her that she isn't putting blind faith in a stranger).
  • In a side story of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Belmondo intends to recruit Clemont for a think tank in Lumiose University in order to use his talent to develop weaponry to be used against the Ranger nations. When Meyer refuses, Belmondo attempts to bribe him with a blank check, but Meyer tears it up, even though he could use the money and Lumiose City has a high living cost.
  • Captain Janeway faces an equivalent situation in The Prodigal Daughter, when she rejects even the idea of getting a Sovereign-class ship in ‘exchange’ for returning Marla Gilmore to Section 31.
  • Son of the Seven Kingdoms: When negotiating a possible alliance against Joffrey's supporters, William's uncle Renly tells him that, by marrying Margaery Tyrell, he would gain a hundred thousand soldiers and the Seven Kingdoms. William replies that he could be offered a million men and a thousand kingdoms, and Arya Stark would still come out on top.
  • In Spots Off, Nadja Chamack and her fellow TV reporters are told about a viral video of Ladybug de-transforming, and are offered an instant raise to whoever identifies her. Nadja, being a family friend of Marinette, refuses to have anything to do with the story and tells them that if they have any decency at all, they will respect what privacy she still has and leave her alone. "But apparently, not all of my co-workers have decency."
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series, the Dowager of the Earth Kingdom doesn't approve of her son, Earth King Kuei, romancing a commoner healer named Song, but doesn't try to break them up. Instead, she insists that they keep their relationship secret in the hopes that it will tear them apart, and when that fails, tries to bribe Song to break up with him. Song, however, refuses the money, and ultimately stays with Kuei.
  • A Starstruck Phantasmic Romance: When a mall guard stops Dash and Paulina from bothering Starfire and Team Phantom, Paulina threatens to have her father buy the mall and fire the guard. The guard laughs it off.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: The Abridged Movie: Kaiba is the Trope Namer, even though it was just a random bout of spoonerism. Kaiba himself is an inversion.
    Kaiba: Screw the money, I have rules! (beat) Wait, let me try that again.

    Films — Animated 
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm has two examples, both from villains:
    • The Joker initially passes on a $50,000 down-payment offered to him in exchange for killing Batman.
      Joker: [Yawns] What do I look like, pest control?
    • The gangsters have Carl Beaumont killed for running away from them in the first place even though he eventually pays them back.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Chazz Darvey in Airheads. In spite of all the effort he went through to get a record contract for him and his band, when Chazz learns that Jimmy Wing is signing them without hearing their music, he promptly wipes his ass with the contract. Later, the entire band gets one after Wing talks Chazz into the contract when they learn that the contract is contingent on lip-syncing in public. They proceed to smash up the place and incite a riot.
  • In Aliens, Ripley refuses to be part of Burke's hopes of profiting off acquiring a xenomorph. Given her experience in the last movie, she has damned good reason to oppose this.
    Ripley: You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage!
  • This is itself echoing the script of All Through the Night, a 1942 movie in which Humphrey Bogart plays a Neighborhood-Friendly Gangster who runs afoul of a Nazi spy ring:
    Ebbing: You are a man of action. You take what you want, and so do we. You have no respect for democracy - neither do we. It's clear we should be allies.
    Donahue: It's clear that you are screwy. I've been a registered Democrat since I could vote. I may not be Model Citizen Number One, but I pay my taxes, wait for traffic lights, and buy 24 tickets to the Policeman's Ball. Brother, don't get me mixed up in no league that rubs out innocent bakers.
  • Doc Emmett Brown in Back to the Future Part II refuses to use his time machine to get rich - not because he wouldn't want to be rich, but because any fiddling with the timeline could have dire consequences for all of humanity, making this more of a "There are rules" example rather than an "I have rules" example (in the first movie he hints that he would very much like to bet on the winners of the next 25 World Series during or after his trip to 2010). He also managed to acquire a suitcase full of money from various eras, when it had previously been stated he'd spent his entire family fortune on the time machine.
  • How Jonathan Shields practically bankrupted his studio in The Bad and the Beautiful. He wouldn't even release a picture that could save it because he thought it wasn't good enough.
  • In The Blood of Heroes (aka Salute of the Jugger), Gonzo, the premiere player of a Blood Sport, is instructed by his patron Lord Vile to blind their mutual Arch Rival Sallow. Instead, Gonzo pins Sallow for an entire round of the match. During the break, Vile is pissed.
    Lord Vile: You protected him, you arsehole!
    Gonzo: Lord Vile, I've broken juggers in half, smashed their bones, and left the ground behind me wet with brains. I'll do anything to win, but I'll never hurt a soul for any reason but to put a dog skull on a stake.
  • The Blues Brothers has The Penguin, a nun who raised the protagonists and who owes the city of Chicago $5000 in taxes. When Jake and Elwood offer to get the money for her "in a day" (by stealing it, which Jake just got out of prison for), she immediately stops them, refusing to accept any money gained from a life of crime.
  • In Braveheart, the English king Edward the Longshanks sends Princess Isabella to deliver gold to William Wallace in an attempt to buy him out of an invasion of England. Wallace firmly refuses.
    Isabella: He proposes that you withdraw your attack. In return he grants you title, estates, and this chest of gold which I am to pay to you personally.
    Wallace: A lordship and titles. Gold. That I should become Judas?
    Isabella: Peace is made in such ways.
    Wallace: Slaves are made in such ways!
  • From Chef (2014), Carl's friend Martin abandons his job as a sous chef in a high-end restaurant to join Carl working on a food truck simply because he had earlier promised that he'd join him as soon as Carl found a new kitchen to work in.
  • In Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus, Crystal speculates that this is the reason why they can't find anyone willing to sell them the mescaline-bearing San Pedro cactus, even though many yards have the cactus.
  • In Daredevil, when Fisk first meets Murdock, he makes him a lucrative offer to take Fisk on as a client, only for Murdock to cite his firm's policy to only represent innocent clients. Fisk just laughs at such absurdity and leaves. Murdock's partner then tells him that he should be more like other lawyers and have something he calls a "moral vacuum" (i.e. represent a client whether or not he's guilty).
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins: Mentioned in a conversation between mob boss Falcone and Dr. Crane regarding Rachel Dawes getting a little too close to their illegal operations.
      Crane: There's another problem. An attorney sniffing around at the DA's office.
      Falcone: [dismissively] Buy 'em off.
      Crane: Not this one.
      Falcone: Ah, an idealist, huh? Well, there's an answer for that too...
    • In The Dark Knight, The Joker seeks to create chaos and doesn't respect people who commit crimes only for money. As such, he burns a pyramid of money with a money-seeking crook on top of it. A sort of Screw The Money They're Just Another Kind Of Rules, one might say.
    • Another dark variation in The Dark Knight Rises, where Bane, despite being touted as a mercenary, makes it clear to his "employer" that he's not in it for the money: he's in it to destroy Gotham and Batman. Money is just a useful resource to put toward that goal.
      Daggett: I gave you a small fortune!
      Bane: And you think this gives you power over me?
  • In The Departed, Frank and William are having a conversation about William's father. Frank tells William that his father (William Sr.) would and could have killed Frank and all of his associates to keep his son from working for Frank. Afterwards, William asks Frank if his father had ever worked for him. Frank says no, adding, "He didn't want money, you can't make a deal with a man like that."
  • In Dick Tracy, "Big Boy" Caprice is Tracy's Arch-Enemy whom Tracy wants behind bars for being The Don. Caprice tries to bribe Tracy into getting off his back at one point (even though all of the city's criminals know Tracy is a By-the-Book Cop) and Tracy responds to the offer by telling Caprice that he can add attempted bribery of an officer of the law to the very long list of crimes Tracy will put him away for.
  • John McClane in Die Hard with a Vengeance won't take money from criminals, even when it's a hell of a lot easier than getting the shit kicked out of him by them. In most cases it's because the bad guys spent quite a bit of time kicking the shit out of him first, so he's pissed off enough to completely ignore their offer by the time they make it (though his character wouldn't let him take it even then).
    Simon: John. In the back of the truck you are driving, there is $13 billion worth in gold bullion. I wonder if a deal would be out of the question?
    John: Yeah, I got a deal for you, crawl out from under that rock you hiding under and I'll drive this truck up your ass.
    • The villains in the franchise are more generally inversions. All of them claim to be idealists who are motivated by moral reasons (each Gruber brother as a left-wing radical, Colonel Stuart as an anticommunist, Thomas Gabriel as a concerned citizen trying to wake America up to the glaring holes in its defense system). In every case, it's all smoke and mirrors. They're just in it for the money.
  • In Flash of Genius, Kearns rejects Ford's settlement offer of $30 million but no admission of wrongdoing, and goes to trial. Ultimately, he was awarded $10.1 million in damages, and Ford had to admit they infringed on his intermittent windshield wiper patents. The real Kearns, however, subverts this, in that he was actually seeking exclusive manufacturing rights. He also settled with Ford for the $10 million.
  • The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas: Chip offers to release Fred from his gambling debts if Fred agreed to leave Wilma. Fred refuses.
  • In Flubber, the bad guy offers to make Robin Williams' Absent-Minded Professor character and his fiancée, the college president, very rich if they would sell him the formula to the titular substance. The reply: "If we were interested in being rich, we wouldn't have become teachers." The reason why he was interested in him in the first place is because Robin's character was flunking the Bad's spoiled son who was otherwise paying off the teachers to pass him without actually attending class. Naturally, our professor wasn't having any of that.
  • Played with by Angel Eyes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, who takes everyone's money, while sticking to his own personal code. Oddly, that just makes him seem more inhuman.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank: Freelance hit man Martin Blank is free to turn down some jobs:
    Marcella: Did you read today's offer? It's in French. It's a Greenpeace boat, it'd be so easy.
    Martin: No way! I have scruples.
  • The Highwaymen: At the end, after killing Bonnie and Clyde, a New York reporter from the Associated Press offers Hamer a thousand dollars for an interview. He just walks off in disgust while Gault mutters "shame on you".
  • The Hunter: Implied. When Martin tries to rent a room in town, the publican says his rooms are all occupied and he won't evict any of his regular tenants even if Martin pays triple what they do. However, it's unclear if this is out of principle or reluctance to accommodate a supposed environmentalist in a community that depends on logging.
  • In the Heart of the Sea: Owen Chase refuses to lie about the Essex's fate even after his employers offer him a bribe. Pollard eventually also decides the truth is more important than his family's good name.
  • In In Time, one of the wealthiest people in the world (he has millions of years to his name), tries to bribe the Timekeeper Leon, who was shot and wounded by the rich guy's daughter (who has decided to help the protagonist). Leon simply shakes his head at the offered check and tells him that he will go after the daughter anyway. The rich guy nods and starts writing another check for a larger amount of time, but Leon tells him that the guy doesn't have enough to pay him off.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark abruptly suspends the weapons manufacturing business that made him a billionaire several times over after coming face to face with the consequences of his work.
  • In James Bond, several villains (and occasionally even allies) have tried to bribe the title character away from Her Majesty's Secret Service, invariably to find that his loyalty isn't for sale.
  • Jason X: Sergeant Brodski is offered $500,000 to take dangerous fugitive Jason Voorhes alive, and seems to accept the offer, but really plans to disregard that command due to how unsafe it is.
  • Played for laughs in The Jerk. After becoming incredibly wealthy, Navin gets approached to invest in an apartment complex, and is initally interested until the developers tell him "[they] want to keep the niggers out.". Navin, having grown up in an adoptive Black family, doesn't take kindly to this, yelling "Sir, you are TALKING to a nigger!", and he whoops their asses.
  • In Judgment Night, Ray is too scared to cross from rooftop to rooftop over a ladder and decides to try and bribe his safety from the gangsters that are chasing them by trying to offer them money and his expensive ring in exchange for his safety. Fallon responds by explaining how he hates Ray and his friends for their privileged lifestyle and that no amount of money will stop the gangsters from killing Ray and his friends, before tossing the guy off a roof to his death and later dropping the ring by Ray's corpse as they pass it.
  • Evil version in Layer Cake. The Serbian drug lords hunt down some British crooks who stole $2 million worth of ecstacy tablets from them. In the end, they're happy to simply kill the crooks. Their vengeance was about honor, not the money. In fact, when they think that the tablets were seized by the police, they don't make any effort to force the protagonist to pay them back. In the end, it's shown that they're producing so much ecstasy that the lost shipment is a mere pittance, so they care enough to kill anyone connected with the theft, but not really about the money.
  • Lethal Weapon 2 plays with this. The two main characters find themselves in a crate jam-packed with the villain's drug money, the sight of which staggers Murtaugh. It leads to a short conversation, which doesn't change either character's mind, but illustrates the difference between them:
    Murtaugh: With what I'm holding in my hands right now, I could put all three of my kids through college.
    Riggs: Why don't you take it?
    Murtaugh: ... It's fucking drug money.
    Riggs: So do something good with it. Rudd's not going to need it, not where he's going.
    • Invoked in the fourth movie, when a rumor starts going around the department that Murtaugh might be corrupt. Both Riggs and his girlfriend in Internal Affairs can only laugh at the absurdity of it, as they know Murtaugh could no more take bribe money than he could grow wings and fly.
    • The first movie includes a villainous variation. The gang boss receiving drugs from the villains discovers that they're mercenaries, leading him to assume they're unreliable and only care about money. The main villain proceeds to order one of his men to place his arm over an open flame, which he does without complaint until he's ordered to stop. The point is made that while the unit as a whole may be a mercenary and drug dealing organization, everyone in it is utterly loyal to their leader.
  • Machete: It is mentioned that ruthless drug lord Rogelio Torrez bribes law enforcement to leave him alone. He is vexed that Machete can't be bought.
  • Marlowe: Philip Marlowe is a Private Detective who has been asked to find a missing man and along the way tries to solve some murders that happened during his investigation. The mob boss Sonny Steelgrave has his enforcer Winslow Wong offer Marlowe $500 (which was a lot of money in the 1960s) to stop his investigation. He refuses and tells Wong to take the money back.
  • In John Sayles's movie Matewan (based on a true story), the eponymous West Virginia coal town in the '20s is striking against the evil coal corporation, and the mayor is offered a bribe to side with the corporation. "This town ain't for sale, mister."
  • The adventure in Pee-wee's Big Adventure begins when the titular character refuses to sell his custom made bike to his rich, spoiled neighbor Francis for money.
  • Prom Wars: Geoffrey offers Percy $30,000 to throw the paintball contest but he refuses due to his hatred for Geoffrey and desire not to let his classmates down.
  • In Rambo IV, a group of aid workers attempt to hire Rambo to take them into a warzone, but Rambo refuses, believing that the workers will get themselves killed. The woman talks to him and somehow convinces him that he should let them try anyway.
  • The lead villain of The Rocketeer, Neville Sinclair, is a Hollywood star with all sorts of underworld ties. Eddie Valentine, the local Mafia boss he uses for muscle, doesn't exactly like him, but is happy to maintain the relationship as it's lucrative enough... until he finds out that Neville Sinclair is a Nazi agent. At that point, Valentine turns on him instantly and even sides with the cops and feds in the ensuing shootout. (Very much Truth in Television. The American underworld was full of immigrants from Europe who had their own bones to pick with Hitler and Mussolini, and went on to assist the war effort.)
    Sinclair: Come on, Eddie. I'm paying you well. Does it really matter where the money's coming from?
    Valentine: It matters to me. I may not make an honest buck, but I'm a hundred percent American. I don't work for no two-bit Nazi.
  • Tony's mother in Scarface (1983) refuses any assistance from her son and wants nothing to do with him thanks to his life of crime.
  • Charles Simms in Scent of a Woman turns down a scholarship to Harvard rather than rat out his friends. Doubly impressive in that the boys he's covering for are grade A assholes, and there's no way he can afford college without the scholarship. As Lt.Col. Slade puts it, "that's character."
  • Twice in The Searchers:
    • Figueroa returning the money Ethan gave him after he realizes why Ethan wanted to speak to Scar, because he does not want blood money. Not that he didn't know from the get-go that they were planning to kill Scar, but because it appeared that he had unwittingly led the white men to their deaths.
    • A little later Martin refuses to become Ethan's heir because his new will cuts out Ethan's surviving blood-relative, Debbie.
  • Serpico: Frank won't take a bribe, and goes on a crusade to clean up the NYPD. Unfortunately, this puts him at odds with his fellow officers who profit from illegal trade, and his own superiors see him as an embarrassment, and it is implied that the former set him up to get shot dead.
  • Shoot to Kill: When the killer offers his captive, Sarah, one of the stolen diamonds if she'll willingly guide him to the border, she throws it back in his face.
  • Speed Zone has a rare instance where a protagonist is the one attempting the bribe.
    Alec: My good man, how would you like to make one hundred dollars? Some friends of mine are going to come along and I was wondering if you could delay them. As a joke.
    We hear engines approaching.
    Ferryman No, I can't do it. It's against regulations.
    Alec: Three hundred dollars.
    Ferryman: Regulations.
    Alec: Four hundred dollars.
    Ferryman It's against regulations.
    Vic taps him on the shoulder.
    Vic: Regulate this! Punches him out.
  • Inverted in Star Wars: A New Hope. Han Solo is perfectly willing to let the Princess buy the farm until Luke reminds him that said Princess would pay handsomely for being rescued. After that, Solo pretty much does everything pro bono.
  • In Titanic (1997), Cal tries to bribe First Officer Murdoch to let him on a lifeboat, proposing a "business deal" and quietly shoves a wad of bills in Murdoch's pocket. Murdoch just looks at him in bewilderment and mild disgust that this is what's on Cal's mind when hundreds of people are about to die. He's still willing to let him on a lifeboat when no other passengers are waiting in line, but Cal throws away this chance to live for another opportunity to break up the two leads. When Cal arrogantly tries to enforce the "deal" later, Murdoch throws his money back in his face and responds: "Your money can't save you any more than it could save me."
  • The rookie cop in Training Day pisses off his Broken Pedestal mentor precisely because he won't flout the rules for money.
  • Set up to look this way in Tropic Thunder when Les Grossman attempts to bribe Rick Peck into abandoning his friend and client, but it seems that in the nick of time Rick took a third option and saved the day using the bribe money.
  • In The Untouchables (1987), a corrupt Chicago alderman in Al Capone's pocket tries to bribe Eliot Ness to put a stop to his liquor raids. Ness literally throws the money back in the man's face. This trope is literally what the film title and titular team name means.
  • Wake Me When It's Over: When the personnel at Shima Air Base get the idea to build a hotel, they run into a problem of funding. Since the Air Force is very unlikely to support construction, they have to resort to the locals of the backwater island they live on. However, being on a Japanese island during post-WWII occupation of Japan, neither the bank nor the mayor wants to back an American venture purely out of spite. The mayor, however, caves to the idea in the end since Gus's plea is backed by his daughter Ume, whom Gus had befriended earlier without knowing who she was.
  • In We're the Millers, Rose quits her job as a stripper when her boss wants her to start having sex with the customers.
  • This Trope is used in a negative way in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. When Baby Herman approaches Eddie asking him to help Roger, insisting that Roger was framed, Eddie won't get involved, stubbornly refusing to work for toons because of how he feels about them, even though Herman offers to pay him. (Eddie cleans up his act later.)

    Literature 
  • In Anton Chekhov's "The Bet", when a young Morally Bankrupt Banker is hosting a party, the subject of discussion is whether capital punishment or imprisonment is more humane. A young lawyer believes that imprisonment is the more humane of the two options, and wagers that he can remain under solitary confinement for 15 years versus 2 million of the banker's rubles. The lawyer spends the coming years in a gardener's hut without coming into contact with another human being; he is, however, permitted to read books, drink wine, and enjoy music. During his confinement, the lawyer reads novels, philosophy, historical volumes, scientific books, foreign languages, and even The Bible. Just as the 15 years are set to expire, the banker, who by this time has made some bad investments, fears that the lawyer will probably live it up and paint the town red. Just as the banker enters the cell, he discovers a letter the lawyer has written, where the lawyer finds the luxurious and worldly pleasures abhorrent, because during his confinement, he became wiser and more insightful from the volumes he has read throughout the years, and declared his intentions to leave the cell before the deadline arrives, thus waiving his claim to the two million rubles. At the end, the watchmen report that the lawyer has escaped, and the banker looks on with assurance as his remaining fortunes are safe.
  • Discworld:
    • Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Anyone who tries to bribe him will be met with a stern rejection at least - in The Truth, when Mr Pin and Mr Tulip (career criminals who are new to Ankh-Morpork) suggest that their employers just pay Vimes off, their go-between, Mr Slant, notes that the last person who tried to bribe Vimes still has not regained full use of his fingers. There are very few ways of putting Vimes in a bad mood more easily than offering him a bribe.
    • The unimpeachable Carrot plays back and forth with this trope in Feet of Clay. Suspicion for recent crimes falls on a golem named Dorfl, and its owner tries to get rid of it (Dorfl, that is) by giving it to Carrot. Carrot reminds him that attempting to bribe a Watch officer is a crime... and then offers to buy the golem. Dorfl's owner then tries to demand a high price for it (golems are valuable, after all), and Carrot offers... a dollar. As usual, Carrot gets what he wants. Finally, he does yet another turnaround by giving the golem to itself, thus setting off a chain reaction that leads to the most peaceful civil rights movement in history, as the golems insist on simply working up the money to buy their fellows out of servitude.
  • Various times in The Dresden Files.
    • Various baddies, including Magnificent Bastard Gentleman Johnny Marcone, bribe Harry with ridiculous amounts of money (in Marcone's case, it was less a bribe and more a job offer; a legit, legal one at that), none of which are ever able to tempt him from his path. Marcone is notable in that he knows Dresden is never going to take the money, but he keeps offering it anyway.
    • Despite how desperately Harry wants to be this, he has rent, though it's notable that the only people he takes monetary offers from are damsels in distress and such who he'd probably help anyway.
  • In Fleet of Worlds, we have Sigmund. He is extremely wealthy and hence cannot be bribed. As a mere accountant, he undertook an investigation into a Space Mafia gang which nearly costs him his life. After this, he joins the ARM (Earth's military) and goes after the enemies of Earth with such zealousness (due to his natural extreme intelligence and paranoia) that the Puppeteers (a species of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens) consider him a significant threat to their plans. Ironically, a Puppeteer, Nessus, saves his life, seeing in him a potent ally.
  • Played with in The Curse of Chalion. Caz, the protagonist, enters a negotiation on behalf of his princess with a ruthless, cunning ruler of another country. Said ruler tries repeatedly to bribe Caz into accepting terms that would disadvantage his princess, and Caz refuses. The ruler asks him why. Caz's answer? "I have been given a plot of six by eight, to be mine in perpetuity, and I find it suits my needs." Caz has a tumor which he's certain will kill him, and bribes are worthless to a dead man. That's not his real reason — he's loyal to the princess — but it's one the ruler will accept.
  • The Fountainhead: the hero is an interesting example, in fact, because making money is a central part of Ayn Rand's philosophy. The catch is that one must create real value in order to make money, and anyone who offers her heroes money to create something that's not valuable is rejected out of hand. This in itself demonstrates Rand's own naivete regarding finance and economy.
  • The Bible:
    • A classic and rather well-known example:
      Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." ~ Matthew 4:9-10 NKJV
    • And in Acts of the Apostles, Simon Magus offers Peter a fortune in exchange for an ordination. Peter's reply? "May your money perish with you, for you have thought that the gift of God can be bought with money!"
  • The Angel spin-off novel "Close to the Ground" features a slight variation on this. When Angel confronts a client who covered up the death of his own daughter as part of a deal with a sorcerer to boost his film studio's reputation and lure Angel into a trap (the trap having failed and the sorcerer now trapped in Hell), Angel does take the money, but dumps it straight into the fireplace in the man's office to reflect his contempt for the offer.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Imperial Stormtroopers are an evil example. Several sources state that they cannot be bribed. (Blackmailing and threatening doesn't work either.) The Retcon that made them Spaarti clones as replacements for the more expensive Kaminoan Clones which took ten times longer to grow may have explained this; inferior models may have had less free will and more Undying Loyalty (at the cost of less competence).
      • This is to be taken with a big grain of salt, though. It's frequently said by Imperial leaders that it is the case, but it happens plenty. During the Imperial Civil War after the death of the Emperor, Imperial leaders frequently bribe the troopers of other Imperial leaders to get information.
    • In one of the later X-Wing novels, Borsk Fey'ia goes to Booster Terrik seeking his assistance in procuring a Bothan corpse to fill in for a Rogue Squadron pilot who was listed as MIA. Terrik clobbers Fey'ia.
      Terrik: I won't say I can't be bought, but I certainly can't be bought by the likes of you.
    • Later in the story, it comes up again when Ysanne Isard attempts to bribe the mercenaries who have been tasked with defending the Lusankya from her takeover attempt. Unfortunately for her, those mercenaries consist of Booster Terrik, his daughter Mirax, and Asyr Sei'larnote ; naturally, they aren't open to the offer at all.
    • In I, Jedi, Corran Horn remembers a time when he was a cop and a spice lord (drug kingpin) offered him millions of credits as a forget-this-happened bribe. Corran refused, and it is likely that by offering the bribe the spice lord only dug himself in deeper.
  • In one of the Judge Dee novels, a criminal assumes the Judge can be paid off to look the other way. Instead, Dee spends every bit of the bribe money on a plan to take that criminal down. (How else was he supposed to fund the plan?)
  • Early in First Lensman, Virgil Samms is offered an obscene amount of money ($26 million and stock options estimated to rise to $200 billion in 10 years) to help grease the wheels for a company looking to forge a galaxy-wide monopoly. He refuses without batting an eye. Granted, this is an E. E. "Doc" Smith character.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac on several occasions alienates himself rich and influent people who were ready to fund him (even the cardinal of Richelieu) because of his ethics.
  • Time Scout's Malcolm Moore prefers to starve on his principles than earn well on the Time Tours payroll.
  • Harvey Birch, the eponymous hero of James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy refuses the money George Washington offers to reward him for his patriotic services: "not a dollar of your gold will touch; poor America has need for it all!" This was based on a real such case from The American Revolution related as an anecdote by Cooper's friend John Jay.
  • Done offscreen in Eragon. Brom goes to get information from a local clerk, then returns empty-handed and complaining about the most Obstructive Bureaucrat he's ever met. The bureaucrat even refused substantial bribes, to which Brom remarks that now he almost likes them better when they're corrupt.
  • Played with in the Codex Alera series. The most secure prison in the empire, specifically designed to keep prisoners who may have extensive political and economic influence, has a near foolproof way of ensuring the incorruptibility of their guards: if a guard is offered a bribe and reports it, they are given a reward of twice the amount of the bribenote .
  • Journey to Chaos: This is part of working culture of the Dragon's Lair mercenary company. Everyone has a metaphorical "lair" and they keep what is most precious to them inside it. This can range from their Love Interest to a Number One Dime to a personal code of behavior or just their own life. As Basilard explains to Eric, "the person who will do absolutely anything for money does not exist".
  • James Bond gives us a few:
    • The title character's family motto is: "Orbis non suffit" (lit. the world is not enough) meaning that you can't bribe them even if you offered the whole world in return.
    • Bond will occasionally end up working with people on the other side of the law. Whats generally makes them stand out as trustworthy is that they have some standards as to the kind of crime they engage in. Gangsters like Enrico Colombo and Marc-Ange Draco will traffic and steal all sorts of things, but they refuse to touch the drug trade.
    • Shockingly enough, even Ernst Stavro Blofeld has moments of this. It's more about enforcing discipline and maintaining SPECTRE's credibility than any moral qualms, though. At one point, it's called to his attention that a high-profile kidnapping victim was raped while in SPECTRE's custody. Since he had promised to return her to her parents unharmed, he reacts by refunding a portion of the ransom money to them, and immediately executing the offending employee.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Guan Yu, to Cao Cao. At one point, Guan Yu agrees to temporarily swear allegiance to Cao Cao, but only until such time that he learns of Liu Bei, his sworn brother, and his whereabouts. Cao Cao accepts, and then spends all his time giving Guan Yu kingly gifts every other day, from magnificent feasts, to gold, silks, pretty servant girls, and even the horse Red Hare (the finest warhorse in all of China, previously owned by Lu Bu). Cao Cao had hoped he could buy Guan Yu's loyalty, but when Liu Bei is found, Guan Yu immediately departs and leaves all of the riches behind without a second thought, only keeping Red Hare because the horse will allow him to rejoin Liu Bei that much faster. Cao Cao is stunned at this display of loyalty, and far from feeling angry, comes to respect Guan Yu all the more for it.
  • Error of Judgement: A witness for the inquiry into Prince's malpractice of is initially bribed into supporting his version of the story with the offer of a lucrative job once he finishes his residency, but ultimately admits the truth to the hospital staff without any prompting or pressure from Craig, and does so in full view of a furious Prince.
  • The Carl Hiaasen middle grade novel Squirm features an Egomaniac Hunter out to kill an endangered Florida panther. At one point he brings in Axel Burnside, a well-known trainer of hunting dogs for (legal) big game hunts to help him out, offering him twenty thousand dollars for one hunt.
    Billy: We saw you guys arguing outside the motel.
    Burnside: Yeah, that was shortly after.
    Billy: After what?
    Burnside: After I threw the man's cash in his face. I got a long drive home.
    Billy: I'm sorry, Mr. Burnside, I didn't know-
    Burnside: Whatever you may think of me, boy, I don't break the law.
  • In The Dogs of War, the main characters are mercenaries who are hired by a British industrialist to overthrow a communist dictator and replace him with a thug who will be just as bad, but allow the industrialist full access to his country's mineral resources. The mercenary leader carries out the coup as ordered, but at the last minute assassinates the nation's intended leader as well, and instead installs a more honorable general that he'd come to know in a previous campaign, and who actually has a large support base in the country.
  • Murder in Coweta County: After Wallace receives the death penalty, local solicitor general Wright Lipford is offered five times his yearly salary if he won't challenge Wallace's appeal to commute his sentence. Lipford refuses the offer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the "Beverly Hills Assault" episode of The A-Team, Hannibal Smith confronts the head of Intermode (the Monster of the Week) in his office. When said Corrupt Corporate Executive offers to hire the A-Team to do his dirty work, Hannibal says that he wouldn't take Intermode's money, but that he'd gladly tear them apart for free.
  • This went as badly as possible for Mike's son Matty on Better Call Saul. Unlike his father, he was unwilling to be a dirty cop, which only served to garner him extreme distrust from his coworkers, who were all fearful he'd blow the whistle on them. Mike eventually managed to talk him into reluctantly accepting the dirty money, but by that point it was too late—two of his fellow cops killed him anyway to protect themselves.
  • A variant of this is Jack Hodgins on Bones. He's a multimillionaire, yet doesn't think it puts him above the rules.
    • Booth accuses him of it at one point, when he conceals his past association with a victim in order to be allowed to work on the case, but it was actually about trying to find his friend's killer, not about feeling entitled to do whatever he wants. Hodgins even submits his resignation over this, which immediately patches things between him and Booth (when Hodgins asks Booth if they need to talk about this anymore, Booth just orders him a drink and says "What are we, girls?"). After the case is successfully won, Carolina (the prosecutor) convinces Cam to tear up the letter.
    • Later, when a serial killer/hacker targets the team, the bad guy targets Hodgins's billions. Hodgins then faces a dilemma: the siphoning of the money can be stopped, thus allowing him to keep his money, or he can allow the money to be taken and let the FBI track where it goes in hopes of catching the hacker. Naturally, he chooses the latter. He and Angela end up living paycheck-to-paycheck (despite her rich father). Then Bones and Booth decide to help them financially. Many episodes later, Angela manages to track down the money, only for Hodgins to refuse it and tell her to give it all away to charities, as he has grown accustomed to not having it and does not believe that billions can make them any happier than they are now. He does, however, end up at least somewhat rich again due to an invention he patented and sold, but nothing much changes really.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael Westen refuses money from both Carla and Strickler for doing what they wanted because it would turn him into a mercenary. Also, his grateful clients often offer him large cash rewards, but he usually takes signficantly less than they offer, especially if his clients need the money more than he does.
    • When arguing with his mother, upset that she had to blackmail an asset, Michael gets upset.
      Michael: Do you think I do this for the money?! ... People need me.
    • He's also willing to accept alternative forms of payment, such as when a yogurt shop owner jokingly tells him that all she can give him is free yogurt. Michael, who loves yogurt, perks up and tells her they'll work something out.
  • City on a Hill: Jackie lampshades the fact that he could live a very comfortable life working as chief of security for Sinclair Dryden and ignoring Dryden's criminal activity. However, Dryden committed rape, one of the few crimes Jackie cannot tolerate and Jackie vows to take Dryden down.
  • One episode of Columbo has this exchange between an IRA terrorist and a gun dealer he tries to procure weapons with.
    Gun Dealer: What I sell goes out under license, strictly legal.
    Devlin: (irritably) I'm offering a considerable amount, man. Surely that'll cover any legal technicalities.
    Gun Dealer: You got the wrong guy, sorry.
  • Daredevil (2015)
    • Played with in "Battlin' Jack" Murdock's decision not to throw the fight against Creel. He knew it would cost him his life but he could not let Matt down, wanting Matt to hear the crowd cheer for him one more time.
    • Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson chose to start their own practice in Hell's Kitchen rather than get fast-tracked at Landman & Zack because even though L&Z would have paid better, they also were known for representing very shady clients. The final straw was when they saw their bosses seeking damages against a man who suffered terminal illness due to the shady practices of an L&Z client. Which was also a good thing in the long run since most of L&Z turns out to be in Wilson Fisk's pocket.
    • Wilson Fisk tries to bribe Karen into silence after she leaks evidence of corruption at Union Allied to the media. James Wesley makes this clear before Karen kills him for threatening Matt's and Foggy's lives. Bribes don't work on someone who doesn't care about money and is determined to make those responsible for the attempts on her life pay for their wrongdoing. Karen makes this clear when Matt learns that she's been looking into Union Allied despite the payoff, and lectures her and Foggy for almost getting attacked outside Mrs. Cardenas' building:
      Matt Murdock: This is what I'm talking about. There are things out there. You can't be doing this! You're gonna get yourselves hurt--
      Karen Page: [angrily] No I—I have already been hurt by those bastards! You know what, I don't care what I signed or how much money they paid me to forget, I don't. And I'm not just going to stick my head in the sand and let it happen to somebody else because I am scared! Which I am. A lot.
      Foggy Nelson: [to Matt] If you could see her face, you'd know she means it.
      Matt Murdock: Yeah, I kinda got that.
    • Foggy is more in favor of trying to toe the line between making money and growing Nelson & Murdock with being ethical and helping people than Matt is. When James Wesley hires them to defend John Healy, Foggy is initially quick to accept simply due to the size of Wesley's check. Once he meets Healy, he quickly realizes Wesley wants them to defend an obviously guilty sociopath and he doesn't want anything to do with him, money be damned, only for Matt to overrule him because Matt wants to use Healy as a means of getting to Wesley's employer.
    • Fisk finds himself dealing with this in a minor subplot late in season 3. While he's been in prison, "Rabbit in a Snowstorm", the painting he bought at Vanessa's art gallery, was seized by the federal government and has ended up in the hands of one elderly Polish woman, Esther Falb. Esther refuses to sell the painting to Fisk no matter how much money he puts in his offers. Fisk decides to pay her a personal visit to find out why. She bluntly tells Fisk that she refuses to sell because the painting originally belonged to her family, until it was stolen by the Nazis when they took her family to the Warsaw Ghetto and killed them. She also tells him straight to his face that she isn't fooled by his claims of repentance, despite Fisk towering over her and being perfectly capable of killing her right there. Fisk actually relents, leaving the painting with Mrs. Falb. This is a Manipulative Bastard who has killed others for less, yet even he can't help but admire her unbending will. Sadly, though, this awesome moment ends up being undermined in the next episode when Dex goes out, kills Mrs. Falb offscreen, and steals the painting, out of a misguided belief that it's what Fisk wants him to do, much to Fisk's disappointment.
  • The Doctor Who serial "Ghost Light":
    Josiah: I'm afflicted with an enemy. A vile and base creature pitted against me. It's waiting for me now. [He holds out a bank draft.] I believe that you can assist me in defeating it.
    The Doctor: I'm not interested in money. [Beat] How much?
    Josiah: Five thousand pounds to rid me of the evil brute.
    The Doctor: [Whistles] Now that's what I call Victorian value! But I'm still not interested in money.
  • Downton Abbey has two examples in series two.
  • InThe Dropout, the Hulu series about the Theranos scandal, Elizabeth and Sunny are used to getting their way by dazzling people with what amounts to good marketing. But none of that means anything to Gary Yamamoto, the CMS inspector, whose only job is to inspect the lab. As a result, he issues a report that results in the shutdown of Theranos's blood testing facilities.
  • Humorously inverted in one of the first episodes of Elementary, where Sherlock Holmes is hired to solve the disappearance of a Wall Street executive. Holmes normally works for free, partly because of this trope and partly because he doesn't need the money. However, since he loathes bankers, he warns them that he'll be charging twelve times his normal rate.
    Watson: What is your normal rate?
    Holmes: Oh, I don't have one. Remind me to make one up before I leave.
    • It's also discussed by Sherlock's father in a later episode, who recognizes but downplays it:
    Morland Holmes: There are things in this life that money can't buy. But fewer, perhaps, than you'd like to believe.
  • Endeavour: Superintendent Bright delivers an excellent one in "Degüello" when a Sleazy Politician offers to get his terminally ill wife on test program for an experimental cancer drug in exchange for burying an investigation. When the politician remarks "What are friends for?", Bright coldly turns him down, saying:
    "You are not my friend, and you never will be."
  • Family Matters has an episode in which son Eddie says this to his girlfriend's father, then immediately subvert it when the father presents the money.
  • In Firefly,
    • In one episode where the crew have gone back on a deal, the villain's right-hand man comes by to make the pickup, Mal tries to talk him into returning the money. The man refuses, finishing his statement with words to the effect of "...and the last thing you'll see will be my blade." Mal kicks him into the engine intake and makes the same deal with his much-more pliable successor. The deal involved stealing medicine from sick people,and when Mal found out, he refused to stoop that low, even given his willingness to take illegal jobs.
    • In Serenity, this trope was only avoided by the Operative trying to appeal to Mal's morality from the beginning; as the Operative is quick to point out, if he had offered money, this would have been Mal's response. In other words, had he been offered money, Mal would have said Screw The Money I Have Rules, but when his morality was appealed to, he replied Screw The Rules, I Want Money. Mal hates "The Man".
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In a rare villainous example, Locke chooses to torture some of his noble captives rather than ransom them because he resents that they can buy their way out of trouble - and he's aware that taking some bribes will end very badly for him. He'll ransom them if the reward is high enough, but seeing them suffer is its own reward. On the other hand, in Brienne's case, Qyburn notes that Locke could have taken the ransom offered by Brienne's father if Jaime had not earlier led Locke to believe that Brienne's father is far richer than he actually is, ironically in an attempt to protect Brienne. It's his impression of being cheated that leads him to say "well, to Hell with her!".
    • Balon Greyjoy detests the very idea of buying something with money. To him, the only price worth paying is 'the iron price' — i.e. to take it from someone you have killed yourself... Note that the words of House Greyjoy are, "We do not sow"—as in, Why be a farmer when you could be a huge bully instead and steal what other people have built? But as Balon found out the hard way, being a bully only works until you run up against someone strong enough to fight back, as evidenced by the brutal ass-kicking he received from Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon.
  • Gilmore Girls plays it straight; Logan and the entire Huntzberger Clan, for that matter. Richard sometimes crosses into this realm, but Emily's treatment of her maids is a good example of this.
  • House
    • Dr. House cost the hospital one hundred million dollars because he refused to kiss the ass of a billionaire donor who wanted House to publicly praise a new drug produced by his companynote . The incident was the culmination of a series of confrontations between House and the donor over him trying to dictate hospital policy and procedure, and was really just the last straw which convinced the man House would never play ball. The hospital's refusal to terminate House's employment (because there weren't really any grounds for it) resulted in the donor backing out of his promised contribution. Without solid research to support his endorsement, House could've been in serious legal trouble if he had made the proposed speech - the Vioxx and Bextra lawsuits of the last decade were Real Life examples of that same concern. Furthermore, the show reveals that there was a pre-existing drug that was just as good as the new one, but cheaper and more readily available.
    • The donor in question, Edward Vogler, showed up toward the end of season one. Earlier in that same season, House displayed an odd version of this mentality when he received a Ferrari from a member of the New Jersey mob... and behaved exactly as he usually does without being bribed. Screw the money, I have rules to thumb my nose at? (It also shows how skewed Vogler's priorities are, even by his own standards, that when he mentions this incident during a board meeting, he focuses on the car, rather than on the fact that House's conduct on this case is, if anything, more ethical than some of his other cases).
  • JAG: Gunnery Sgt. Victor Galindez gave up a cushy private sector job when he decided he wasn't going to blame another Marine for a mishap actually caused by his future employer's prototype weapons system. Instead he began working at JAG.
  • In one Law & Order episode, "Jeopardy," the prosecutors discover that the presiding judge on a mass murder case was bribed by the defendant's rich family to ensure an acquittal. When they haul the crooked judge in for questioning, the District Attorney (who happens to also be a close friend) comes down personally to berate him for betraying his oath of office. When the judge whines that the defendant would have got off anyway because "They have so much money," the thoroughly disgusted DA remarks that shouldn't have mattered.
  • Leverage: This is the primary invocation of many of the team's clients. Since their personal and / or professional lives were destroyed by unashamed offenders who then got off without so much a scratch (via the inverted trope), they care far more about justice for themselves and / or those close to them than about any monetary benefits.
  • This certainly applies to the title character of MacGyver.
    • However, it also applies to his archnemesis Murdoc, despite the man being a Professional Killer for hire. Illustrated in one of the dream sequence episodes set in The Wild West, where Thornton, a wealthy rancher, hires Murdoc to scare Mac off of his land. When Murdoc kills one of Mac's farm hands, Thornton tries to call him off, since he'd specifically said that he wanted them removed, but not killed.
    Murdoc: Well it's not really that simple. You see, I have a reputation for always completing my professional assignments. And I rather treasure that reputation.
    • His childhood best friend, Jack Dalton, appears to be a subversion but is mostly a straight example. He's always looking for a quick buck and perfectly willing to break the law in the process. However, he'll back out immediately if the lawbreaking in question involves hurting people, or betraying his friends, or anything else that he considers beyond the pale (such as dealing drugs or selling out his country). This is the source of most of his problems: he's too greedy, impulsive, and prone to get-rich-quick schemes to stay on the straight and narrow path, but also too fundamentally decent to ever be a successful criminal, and therefore tends to end up with both sides of the law gunning for him.
  • Married... with Children:
    • One episode featured Bud dating Al's boss. She bought Al's approval but couldn't use the money to order Bud around.
    • Another episode featured Kelly being engaged to a rich man. It all ended when Al and Peg learned he's a polygamist. The man's sister was interested in Bud but no amount of money would make Bud overlook the fact she's ugly.
  • In season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge is supposed to be spending the summer touring as Shy Baldwin's opening act, but he gets hurt and has to put the tour on hold while he recovers. She instead starts doing radio ads while waiting on the tour to start back. She excitedly takes a job doing ads for a woman running for Congress to support her without doing much research on her. When she tells her dad her name is Phyllis Schlafly, Abe says she needs to quit because they're liberals and she's decidedly not. Midge decides she's going to do it just for the money even though she doesn't agree with her. Once she actually starts reading the ad that states Schlafly's beliefs, she refuses to read the lines. Suzie attempts to step in and read them too...and also has to stop reading them midway through the live ad because they're too offensive.
  • Mr. Robot: a defining trait of the vigilante hacker Elliot, established in the very first scene, is that he cannot be bribed or bought.
  • Night Court; one episode had a snobbish foreign prince who offered Christine a quarter of a million dollars to be his bride, and her refusal caused him to up it to half a million, then a million. While she did say it was tempting, she turned it down.
  • Even the ultra-avaricious Sergeant Bilko of The Phil Silvers Show has been shown to have his limits. In one episode, 'Elvin Pelvin' (a thinly disguised Elvis clone) joins Bilko's regiment, and Bilko spends most of the episode trying to secretly record him singing. Eventually, Bilko manages to get a recording of Elvin singing... and the song turns out to be a song he wrote praising Bilko for all his kindness. Upset at his hypocrisy, Bilko destroys the record.
  • Person of Interest:
    • In the flashbacks, Denton Weekes, one of the people sponsoring the creation of the Machine, finds Nathan's terms disagreeable. When he tries to threaten to cut Nathan's pay if he doesn't get better access, Alicia Corwin awkwardly says that Nathan is doing the entire multi-year, invaluable project for a grand total of one dollar. Nathan's smug smirk says it all.
    • After Detective Szymanski is murdered by HR, Det. Beecher asks imprisoned mafia boss Elias if Szymanski was on his payroll. Elias says he offered Szymanski money, "and he threw it in our faces."
    • Harold Finch discovers a politician they are protecting is in the pocket of Decima Technologies, who want him to pass legislation favourable to them. Finch offers to match their price from his Arbitrarily Large Bank Account, but the politician refuses. He believes the legislation is the best thing for the country, and if he's making money on the side, well that's just a fringe benefit.
  • Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Kelly refuses a chain store's attempt to buy her business for more than it's worth while keeping her on as a manager because they have a reputation for selling inferior products and not actually caring about extreme sports.
  • Done in Season 2 of Prison Break, when Henry Pope and Brad Bellick are both hauled in front of a review board for failing to stop the Fox River Eight from escaping the prison at the end of the previous season. Bellick is ultimately fired from his job as Head Correctional Officer on the spot, but the review board decides to let Pope keep his (rather lucrative) job as Senior Warden. Pope, A Father to His Men to the last, refuses to let Bellick go down alone—so he willingly resigns on the spot.
  • Scrubs:
    • Dr. Cox despises Kelso because he puts money above patients with no concern (apart from being a very evil man). We later learn that Kelso has to make those decisions and that it's not always so easy for him, but that doesn't change Cox's opinion.
    • Kelso makes it clear that for him, everyone else in the hospital is free to do what's for the good of the patients because he's doing everything he must to keep the place running, whether he likes it or not. He doesn't expect anyone else to do what he does, and even takes it upon himself to be hated so that they can feel solidarity as a Band of Brothers. When Kelso retires and Cox becomes Chief of Medicine, the latter learns all of this firsthand and the two become friends.
      Kelso: Dr. Reid, I'm sucking up to that man because that's my job. Now get out there and do your job.
  • While still a greedy person, the Chairman of OCP in RoboCop: The Series is much more moral and willing to fix things his own greed caused when he learns how the people they affected suffered because of it. He was even willing to cancel a space flight upon learning its fuel had flaws than go through with it and endanger the astronauts on board.
  • In Servant of the People, despite obviously being able to enrich himself now that he became president of his country, Vasiliy insists on remaining honest and living a modest lifestyle, and does not accept bribes. This also applies to the members of his team.
  • Sherlock:
    • Mycroft Holmes offers John money to spy on the eponymous character. John, despite having just met Sherlock, refuses. This leads to a Funny Moment when he tells Sherlock about it later.
      Sherlock: Did he offer you money to spy on me?
      John: ...Yes.
      Sherlock: Did you take it?
      John: No.
      Sherlock: Pity, we could have split the fee. Think it through next time.
    • Sherlock behaves in this manner as well — when Sebastian Wilkes hires him in The Blind Banker, he offers six figures up front. Sherlock's response?
      Sherlock: I don't need incentive, Sebastian.
    • He's also only interested in the complexity or intrigue of the case offered, rather than the ability of his clients to pay him — it's unlikely that the comic book nerds from A Scandal in Belgravia were able to come up with large stacks of cash, yet he chose them out of a sizable group of potential clients because their puzzle appealed to him the most.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World: In "Absolute Power", a dying Professor Challenger has a dream where he gains amazing superpowers that quickly go to his head and make him incredibly arrogant and reckless. When his recklessness gets Veronica killed, his friends shun him. He desperately tries to at least get Marguerite on his side by conjuring up a huge diamond for her. Even though Marguerite is usually known for her greed, she rejects the diamond and calls him out for thinking a bribe could make her forget what happened to her friend.* In
  • In Smallville, the Kents among others. Chloe Sullivan later on (though she initially accepts a bribe from Lionel to spy on Clark at a point when she's jealous of his and Lana's relationship; she eventually gets called out on it and becomes a better person later on).
  • Exploited in Season 2 of Sons of Anarchy, when the titular biker gang is engaged in a turf war against a neo-Nazi movement. The leader and "respectable" face of the movement is a pragmatist and a criminal first and foremost, and as such has no problem forming a business partnership with the Sons' Arch-Enemy, a Mexican biker gang, providing them with guns and assisting in their narcotics trade. His Dragon, however, is a white nationalist ideologue who would never approve of such a partnership, and therefore is left in the dark about it. The Sons revealing to him what his boss has been up to essentially destroys the neo-Nazi movement.
Squid Game, Loser Protagonist Gi-hun tries to leave the Deadly Game offering millions in prize money, only to discover that his mother is Secretly Dying from diabetes because of him cancelling their insurance to feed his gambling addiction. He goes to everyone he knows begging for money to pay for the treatment, including his ex-wife and her well-off new husband. The husband then offers Gi-hun the money he needs on the condition that he stop trying to contact his daughter, causing Gi-hun to punch him while shouting that money can't solve everything.
  • A variant in the Veronica Mars episode "Cheaty Cheaty Bang Bang". Veronica is taking a class called "Future Business Leaders of America", and the teacher, Mr. Pope, tells the class he's invested his savings in a real estate venture done by Richard Casablancas (father of two of Veronica's classmates, Cassidy and Dick). While investigating Richard's trophy wife, Kendall, for infidelity, Veronica inadvertently stumbles on the fact that the real estate venture is a fraud. She goes to Mr. Pope to tell him to sell what he owns, but he points out he'd just be passing on the debt to some other poor sucker, and it wouldn't be right.
  • The stick-up man Omar Little on The Wire lives by a moral code based on honor rather than accumulating wealth.
    • When out for revenge against his hated rival Marlo, Omar stole a large amount of Marlo’s money and then burned it on the spot rather than keeping it, specifically telling Marlo’s wounded mook to make sure that Marlo knows that Omar isn’t doing it for the money, but to destroy Marlo’s empire.
    • Even as a kid, he had this. When he and his brother rob an innocent man, he questions the reason for it. Then at gunpoint demands they give the man his money back.
    • Both Omar and Professional Killer Brother Mouzone display this simultaneously. The two men had both been betrayed and manipulated by Stringer Bell, who tried to trick them into killing each other. When they put aside their differences and corner Stringer together, he tries to bribe them out of killing him. Omar angrily refuses the bribe and Brother Mouzone doesn’t even dignify it with a response.

    Music 
  • Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance":
    "No money man can buy me love"
  • Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money":
    "Never sell out she never will
    Not for a dollar bill"
  • Linda Ronstadt's "Silver Thread and Golden Needles":
    "You can't buy my love with money cause I never was that kind"

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the case of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, it was more a case of "Screw the money, I have rules to break," as he rebelled violently against WWE chairman Vince McMahon's attempts to mold him into a "corporate champion."
  • Back in the '80s, "The Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase offered Hulk Hogan an obscene amount of money to simply hand over the WWF Championship instead of defending it against him. Hulk refused, naturally (otherwise, this wouldn't be an example), so DiBiase instead used the money to hire André the Giant to get it for him. After Andre won the belt (thanks to referee Dave Hebner's Evil Twin, Earl), he tried to hand it over to DiBiase, only for WWF President Jack Tunney to make an appearance and declare that, not only would the WWF title not change hands that way, but for his deplorable conduct in even trying, Andre would be stripped of the title on the spot. In this case, Screw The Money, The WWF Has Rules.
    • Just about any time DiBiase was in trouble, he'd try to bribe his way out, and the Face would always reject the offer (unless it was part of a Face–Heel Turn, of course).
    • Big John Studd wouldn't take DiBiase's payoff to eliminate himself from the 1989 Royal Rumble, and in fact eliminated DiBiase to win the match.
  • The Apostle Judah Mathew doesn't wrestle for money, but for the opportunity to strike down sinners. He will pay his opponents his own wage for the opportunity to do so.
  • Allysin Kay won't do nudity even if you join her Patreon at the highest level.

    Radio 
  • Martin in the Cabin Pressure episode "Edinburgh", totally outraged that his co-pilot and steward let Mr Birling break the rules of flight just because he's a big tipper (last Birling Day he gave them £500, but that was only because England won the rugby). Subverted when he learns that Birling is Welsh, and £500 is the sort of tip he gives when he's in a bad mood. Once he knows toadying could net him £6,000, he decides maybe he can't afford to screw the money after all. Naturally, Douglas teases him mercilessly about this.

    Theater 
  • Bobby Strong from the musical Urinetown refuses the bribe of the main villain, Mr. Cladwell, saying that the only bribe he'll accept is freedom for the people. Possibly derivative of a similar scene in The Cradle Will Rock.
    Larry Foreman: It means that much to you, huh? Well, you can take all that money... and go buy yourself a big piece of toast.

    Video Games 
  • Steven Heck in Alpha Protocol with Mike Thorton. In spite of being violent and psychotic, he is honorable. If you get him to like you, he tells you about how he turned down a 5 million dollar bribe to frame you for a murder, instead choosing to cut off the fingers and set alight the guy who made the offer. He only takes the bribe if you piss him off.
  • An interesting case happens in Bound by Flame. Even if the plan of a group of sages to save the world seems entirely hopeless, the Freeborn Blades mercenaries escort them all the way to the site of the planned final battle, because they always complete every contract to the very end. When the sages are unable to get to the gold that would have been the payment, the captain doesn't really care, since money has long become worthless with no more towns to spend it being left. But even if it's the end of the world, nobody shall ever say that the Freeborn Blades do not keep their part of a contract.
  • Destiny: In one lore entry, a group of crooked guild leaders try to bribe Lord Shaxx into rigging Crucible matches. He responds by arranging a clandestine meeting with them, then telling them to piss off and blackmailing them into giving out sponsorships, pointing out that, as a high-ranking and widely respected Guardian, he can destroy their careers by just telling people about the meeting, whereas the crooks have absolutely nothing to threaten or entice him with.
  • Devil May Cry: While Dante constantly complains about living in debt, he seems to take jobs for the sake of helping people, and will not take a job he doesn't like, even if it pays high.
  • If you chose to take down Hiram Burrows non-lethally in Dishonored, the guards will refuse Burrows' bribes; they're that disgusted at his actions.
  • Subverted in Dragon Age: Origins, wherein you can almost always demand/request a reward for your services without repercussion. Meanwhile, giving charitable donations doesn't get you any kind of reward whatsoever, it just means you lose money. On the other hand, even when you are offered the chance to make a questionable moral decision, money isn't usually part of the reward. So what kind of hero are you, anyway?* Petra from Emerald City Confidential proves that she has limits when she refuses to get any more involved in obtaining illegal magical items, even though Dee—her client—offers to pay her more.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: If you successfully play option C, Trevor will lock Devin Weston in the trunk of his car, and carry him to his doom. He will start trying to buy his way out of trouble, but a sociopath like Trevor won't let you go after you've screwed him and his fellow stick up artists so many times.
    • Subverted, they're all rich anyway. The fact that Trevor isn't willing to take a bribe of ANY kind to spare the guy counts, though.
  • In Endless Sky, the Author Avatar will always refuse your bribe, telling you that he does not want your money. Justified, as the game an open source project and you can play for free.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, a random event in the Rock Homeworlds lets you escort a reluctant bride to her groom for an Arranged Marriage. The groom's escorts offer you scrap and an augment in exchange for assisting them. You can either accept the offer, resulting in the bride cursing you out, or you can reject the offer and rescue the bride by fighting the escorts, invoking this trope.
  • In Jagged Alliance, mercenaries cannot be bribed into working with mercenaries they hate, especially when the merc they hate in question is arguably unhinged in some way. For example, several mercs draw the line at working with Ax-Crazy Psycho for Hire "Unusually Ruthless" Reuban in the first game. Additionally, in Jagged Alliance 1, some elite mercs cannot be bribed into staying if the player's death ratio, turnover ratio and/or failure rate gets too high:
    Col. Leo Kelly: If I wanted more money, I'd have told you straight out. I'm a professional. Greenbacks aren't going to change my mind!
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the player has an encounter with bounty hunter Calo Nord. If the player tries to bribe him, Calo will tell the player that it's not about the money; he's never had a bounty escape him, and has a reputation to maintain.
  • The final flashback in L.A. Noire shows the soldiers that served with Cole Phelps getting the idea to sell the army's surplus supply of morphine on the streets in order to make a lot of money since they feel they are owed for serving their country. Jack Kelso refuses to go along with it, stating that he doesn't need money to feel validated for serving in the war and if the guys go along with the plan to sell the drugs, he is dead to them. The crew go for the money anyway.
  • In the Mass Effect games, this is Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, which can further go into Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!, but anyway... This is most easily seen in Noveria, where you have to reject several offers that would've gotten you a bit of money because they're not right.
    • Inverted with Zaeed's mission; the reward for Paragon is considerably a lot more than if Shepard helps Zaeed in his quest for revenge. This is because your mission is to rescue an industrial plant and its workers, which is mutually exclusive to helping Zaeed, who tries blowing it up in the process of his revenge against Vido. While Zaeed will pay you for helping fulfil his personal vendetta, the plant's owner will pay you double for saving their property.
  • In Papers, Please, when a drug smuggler attempts to bribe the Player Character, the player can have him detained, saying: "You cannot bribe an officer of Arstotzka."
  • At the end of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Flora, the heiress to Impossibly Cool Wealth, prefers to leave the treasure untouched in her family's manor house. To do otherwise would have resulted in the immediate cessation of "life" for her Ridiculously Human Robot servants, and she was too fond of them to see that happen.
  • In The Reconstruction, there are a few quests where Dehl turns down payment afterwards.
  • In the Sly Cooper series, this is pretty much the Cooper Clan's entire M.O.; they only steal from other criminals because stealing from ordinary civilians is not only neither fun nor challenging, but also immoral and wrong. They tend to hoard the majority of their stolen goods for the sake of it rather than spending it and living like kings, Sly is occasionally seen donating the cash he swipes to charities such as orphans, and he even flat-out chastizes Dmitri for counterfeiting money: Sly can't even comprehend why anyone would want to just create tons of money rather than steal it the fun old-fashioned way for the sake of stealing it.
  • Star Trek Online: In one of the New Romulus reputation cutscenes, D'Tan, proconsul of the Romulan Republic and the Big Good to Romulan player characters, flat out tells the Tal Shiar to get out when they try to bribe him.
  • In Streets of Rage 4, at the end of the second stage Mr. Y shows up and tries to buy a ceasefire with the heroes with a Briefcase Full of Money. Axel performs a Grand Upper (a flaming uppercut) on the briefcase instead and he and the heroes jump out of the tower as Mr. Y and his goons fire at them.
  • In one of the audio logs in System Shock 2, Captain William Diego warns TriOptimum CEO Anatoly Korenchkin that even though both have reasons for undertaking the Von Braun's mission, Korenchkin cannot buy, trick, or circumvent Diego in any way. This partly stems from William's loathing of corporate tactics that his father Edward used in the first game to accidentally free SHODAN.
  • Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider series will always raid tombs and artifacts for the sake of observing their beauty and history rather than doing it to make money. Tomb Raider: Anniversary has Lara telling her rival, Pierre, that life is about more than just money when it comes to artifacts. Pierre disagrees and treats tomb raiding as just another job that he gets paid to do.

    Webcomics 
  • In Consolers, Namco has the Yakuza offer to help him be the most powerful company in the industry. Although it seems slightly tempting at first, he refuses, because it wouldn't be right for the industry.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Mike volunteers as a chaperone for a date for the privilege to punch anyone stepping over the line in the face. The boy attempts to bribe him with $50 to get lost. The results are predictable.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • In this comic, Haley considers a reader question about whether she's more like a ninja or a pirate, and since she imagines her ninja self applying this trope, she goes for pirate.
    • It turns out the most formative event in Durkon's life was when his mother chose to forgo the chance to get a lot of money to end all her financial problems, or even get her dead husband or arm back, and instead use it to save the lives and souls of five total strangers killed in a mining accident. Because hard as it was, even though keeping the money itself wouldn't have been wrong, this was just the right thing to do. Especially given the particulars of how Dwarves in the setting are sorted into the afterlife her husband died an "honorable" death in the line of service, earning himself a place in heaven already, the miners died in a random accident and would have spent eternity being tormented in Hel, so bringing them back to life would give them a chance to earn a better afterlife
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • At one point, Tagon turns down an offer for an extract and rescue mission, even after his employer is willing to multiply his standard salary by 20 to get the job done. The company psych officer asks Tagon if this means he's grown a conscience, only to discover that Tagon said no because he hated the guy he was hired to rescue—in other words, a different set of "rules" was in play.
      Captain Tagon: Well... Petey wanted to hire us to rescue Xinchub. He offered me an awful lot of money, but I realized we'd all rather just kill the fat man, or maybe clone him, and kill him twice. I can't believe I let Petey talk me into it at first. I'll see Xinchub rot on a pike before I accept money to help him.
      Reverend Theo: So... You're motivated by hatred here.
      Captain Tagon: Yeah, that sounds right.
      Reverend Theo: False alarm, everybody. If anyone needs me, I'll be praying for our immortal souls in my cabin.
    • It's also played with in the Mallcop Command arc, with the Toughs' employer setting impossible restrictions on the equipment and force-levels the company can use to do their job, then complaining about the (minor) havoc they cause doing their job, before attempting to extort money out of himself to stop Tagon from (he believes) attacking him in response to a scolding. This culminates in Tagon refusing the money in favour of his company's freedom to do their job, and then immediately subverted when he sells "unlimited Shout at the Captain Rights" for another 20%.
      Employer: Is not that the more money you said you do not want?
      Tagon: That was crazy talk. I'm not sure what came over me.

    Web Original 
  • In Pokémon Apokélypse, Ash stops fighting to protect his Pikachu and gives back the money Team Rocket bought him off with.
  • Welcome to Night Vale The Science Team of Night Vale have spent over a year trying to work up the courage to ring the doorbell of the house in Desert Creek which doesn't actually exist. They offer Carlos five dollars to go ring the doorbell for them, but he refuses out of a sense of scientific integrity. Cecil would've done it though.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Played with in the episode "The Terrible Trio," which features a group of rich punks who have turned to crime out of boredom. When Batman takes down their leader, Warren, he tries to offer Batman a hefty bribe to let him go. Of course, Batman doesn't even listen, since besides the fact that he would never let a criminal buy his way out of justice, he is already plenty rich in his own right in his secret identity as Bruce Wayne. Though Bruce Timm, producer and creator of the DCAU, has listed "The Terrible Trio" as one of the worst episodes of the series, the final scene is quite memorable: after Batman has refused his bribe, the criminal claims it won't matter since he has every judge in Gotham "in [his] pocket" and will get "the best justice money can buy." There is then a quick cut to the thief being escorted into his jail cell, meeting his "roommate," and staring stupefied at the squalor around him. Apparently, it didn't occur to him that his victims were even more rich, powerful, and well connected than he was.
    • In "Showdown", Arkady Duvall tried to bribe Jonah Hex $5,000 in gold to let him go free, which was a lot more than the $200 reward for his capture. Hex flatly refused. Hex is not only that principled, the list of crimes Duvall was wanted for included badly injuring a woman, which Hex in any version tends to be very unhappy about.
  • One episode of the Dilbert animated series revolved around Dilbert being tasked with programming a new online voting system for the goverment, which would allow him to program a backdoor for himself to manipulate voting results if he was so inclined. When the tobacco lobby finds out, they hope to bribe Dilbert to change votes for their interests, only to discover that Dilbert has no interest in money. In desperation, they turn to the Pointy-Haired Boss, who tells them Dilbert has one weakness and winks suggestively. The lobbyists assumed he meant women, but the Boss had actually been talking about free t-shirts.
  • Twice in one episode of Doug. Our title character finds an unmarked envelope with a large sum of money, and he decides to turn it in to the police, despite the amount of flak he received from his friends. Then, 30 days later, he gets a call from the police station telling him that nobody claimed it so the money was now legally his. He soon finds out an old lady lost the exact same amount of money around the time he found it. Legally his, or not, his conscience tells him to return the money to her.
  • On Futurama, Robot Santa may be a psychotic Knight Templar, but he can't be bought. Not even with milk and cookies.
    Robot Santa: You dare bribe Santa? I'm gonna shove coal so far up your stocking you'll be coughing up diamonds!
  • Garfield and Friends: The episode "The First Annual Garfield Watchers Test" has Garfield's attempts to host the titular test interrupted by a spokesperson mouse from the Schlocko Company attempting to hock their companies Acme Products. Garfield accepts when the Undisclosed Funds the company offers is enough to keep him well-fed, but when they roll out a brand of lasagna even he can't stomach, he chases off the spokesperson using the Schlocko Mouse Catcher.
    Spokesperson: Garfield, think of the money...
    Garfield: I don't care about the money! Some things are more important! Good lasagna for one.
  • Played With on GargoylesMacbeth offers to get rid of the gargoyles for Xanatos, and only accepts payment so it won't be obvious he has a secret agenda (drawing out Demona). And, as with every fight against them, he refuses to attack them when they're Taken for Granite.
  • Stinky on Hey Arnold! becomes a soda mascot in one episode. When he realizes that the executives are just exploiting his thick Southern accent as a funny Simpleton Voice he quits, even when offered a million-dollar contract.
  • King of the Hill: Hank Hill is incredibly passionate about selling propane and propane accessories, but when push comes to shove, he'll stick to his principles.
    • In "The Company Man", Hank goes in with the normal confidence he has, planning to do his normal sales pitch and ending it with pie and a handshake. But Mr. Holloway doesn't take Hank at all seriously, thinking he should be the cowboy he thinks Texans should be. Hank ends up making up stories and wearing a cowboy hat and boots just to win him over. But even through all that, Holloway still isn't impressed and decides to go with Thatherton Fuels after all, which causes Hank to rant how he didn't need his business after all, especially not in the way that degrades his dignity.
    • In "Joust Like A Woman", Hank is trying to work out a deal to sell propane to a Renaissance Fair owner. But when Peggy, who's working part-time there, tells Hank that the owner regularly abuses and harrasses the women workers, Hank's willing to end the potential propane deal for the sake of Peggy and her co-workers.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Bell Hops", a paparazzo offers Stimpy a bribe (first five bucks, then a million dollars) to get a picture of a reclusive VIP. Stimpy refuses, saying he's taken the "bellhop oath" to respect the "preversity" of his guests.
  • On The Simpsons:
    • In "The Old Man and the Lisa", Mr. Burns enlists Lisa to help him regain his lost wealth. She inspires him to build a recycling plant, but on discovering that he uses it to kill vast amounts of sea life, she rejects her share of the money. Which is twelve million dollars.
    • In "Simpson Safari", Lisa also refuses to help a Jane Goodall Expy hide the secret diamond mine she created with forced chimpanzee labor. The rest of the family take the bribe and happily fly home with armfuls of diamonds.
    • In "Bart the Murderer". Bart, while emulating Fat Tony, tried to bribe Principal Skinner into looking the other way at his mischief. Cue Bart in detention being forced to write "I will not bribe the principal" on the blackboard.
    • In "Homer vs. Dignity", Homer becomes Mr. Burns' "prank monkey," doing increasingly immoral or humiliating things for money. He balks at Mr. Burns' final request that he exploits his position as Santa Claus in the town's parade to throw rotten fish on the audience, though. (Unfortunately, Mr. Burns just does it himself instead.)
    • In "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", Mr. Burns interrupts a government inspector's tirade to notice that "some careless person" left a huge pile of money on his coffee table, and quickly exits with Smithers, hoping that the money will somehow disappear in their absence. He comes back a moment later to see the annoyed inspector hasn't touched it.
      Burns: Oh, look, Smithers, the money and a very stupid man are still here!
    • In "Homer Goes to College", Burns offers a pair of inspectors a choice of bribe: a washer-dryer set, or a mysterious box covered with question marks. One immediately screams, "The box! THE BOX!" while the other remains unaffected.
    • In "Homer The Whopper", Comic Book Guy's indie comic book Everyman is optioned to be made into a movie, but before signing with the studio, CBG has a demand. He doesn't want money, nor does he want women (which he acknowledges would be an impossible demand anyway), his sole demand is that he get to pick the lead actor, and picks Homer Simpson because Everyman is supposed to look like an average dumpy loser. The studio is eventually forced to agree since it's the only hold they have on him, but get around it by having Homer work with a personal trainer to make him more physically attractive. At this point, it becomes a subversion, as CBG has gone Hollywood by the time Homer's training is done and is no longer keeping track of the production.
  • In the South Park episode "Sponsored Content," Jimmy is editor of the school paper and takes his journalistic ethics so seriously that he refuses to run any ads, even when offered a $26,000,000 deal. (Amusingly, he seems flustered by it for a moment...except that it's actually just his trademark stutter as he says "S-S-S-Stick it up your ass.") He is similarly unfazed when the guy making the offer puts a gun to his head.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Tombstone offers Spidey a lot of money to do some of his dirty work and, mostly, to look the other way when instructed. Spider-Man refuses, of course...until a certain black suit gets on him.

    Real Life 
  • Hardcore Communists proved too fanatical to be bribed. Of course, the hardcore often gets swept out over time, and often through The Purge by even more devoted members - which opens the path to bribable officials taking the post instead.
  • Corsair. In the world of power suppliers, where every manufacturer tries to inflate the specifications of their products, Corsair asked the independent organization 80plus.org to downgrade the rating of two of their products because they felt that, while the particular samples had achieved "Gold" ratings, they believed most of the units they had designed would only achieve "Silver." As much pragmatic as noble, however, as the backlash from a notable discrepancy between the review figures and actual user experience would not have been good for business.
  • Moral crusader Eliot Ness earned his men the nickname "The Untouchables" by his vehement refusal of a large bribe from Al Capone.
  • This was Maximilien Robespierre's defining trait, to the point of being publicly nicknamed "The Incorruptible" in an otherwise quite corrupt era.
  • There's an urban legend/joke about Abraham Lincoln that when he was a lawyer, somebody came to him once with an unethical request. Lincoln kept saying no as the guy offered him more and more money, and finally grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him out into the street. His partner said, "You could have just told him no. Why did you have to do that?" and he answered, "Because he was getting very close to my price."
  • Most of the world's major religions have some variant of this as a commandment to their followers. Of course, whether a specific person of that faith actually practices it kinda depends on the person...
  • This is the ethos of much of alternative culture, from music to film. (This is somewhat tautological, as "alternative" is defined as those who lack mainstream amounts of money.)
  • Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield offered $300,000 to Occupy Wall Street. Linnea Palmer Paton's response was "Right now, we have a system where the wealthy design, create, build, and have control over what happens. And I think it's very important that the wealthy do not have that power." Read more.
  • This sometimes poignantly comes into play during end-of-life care in hospitals. People have been known to beg, plead, and offer large sums of cash to hospital workers if they will save them or their dying relative, not completely realizing that when a doctor says "There's nothing that can be done", it literally means just that. Even more tragic is the steady parade of really sleazy people (spiritualists, faith healers, unethical medical providers) who will gladly take as much money as you are willing to give to offer up some false hope or reassurances. This is usually especially true with people who have been very wealthy for their entire lives; if all your life you have never been denied anything, it can be hard to comprehend that there is something in life that money just can't buy.
  • The comic book and graphic novel author (and magician) Alan Moore has no interest in money from big movie studios who want to adapt his stories. In one interview, Alan commented on an instance when he refused to have his name on the credits of a certain adaptation of his work and thus forfeited a cut of the profits. The movie execs were baffled by this move, and as Moore described their reaction: "He doesn't want money! What DOES he want??"
  • Minnesota Vikings punter, Chris Kluwe, put a Post-It note on his uniform in support of election of famed punter Ray Guy to the Hall of Fame (which, at the time, held no punters), knowing that he would probably be fined for it. (Ray Guy was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.)
  • In her interview in the February 2012 issue of Esquire UK, supermodel Irina Shayk said, "Yes, I am a lingerie model, but I have class. Playboy offered me so much money last year. I was like: 'No way.'"
    • Also regarding Playboy, Nivea Stelmann, one of the most desired Brazilian actresses of the 2000s, said that she always backed out from invitations for the magazine, no matter how enticing - "I always raised my price, but then they matched it!". She says it was for the best, lest her son's friends discovering images of his mom naked.
  • Mississippi State University has a longstanding tradition of ringing cowbells during their football games in lieu of clapping. If you've ever attended a game, the noise can be staggering. The NCAA told the school that if it continued, they would be fined. They agreed to pay the fine, partly on principle, and partly to not upset their tradition-concerned fans, who pay them way more than they were to be fined.
  • Dave Chappelle shocked the world when he suddenly turned down a 50 million dollar contract to keep his hit show Chappelle's Show going for several more years. Even more shocking, he left the country and went to spend time in Africa not telling anyone. When he finally got back, he did several interviews telling the fans why. These reasons ranged from him realizing a certain segment of the viewers liked his show for the wrong reasons, to people behind the scenes telling him what he can and can't do on the show, which meant the show really wasn't his anymore if he signed. There's also him being tired of the strange practices that he noticed in the entertainment industry in general.
  • It's a somewhat well-known fact that Jim Carrey has a very strict "No Sequels" policy, which he still refused to compromise when he was one of the highest paid entertainers in Hollywood.note  How committed is he to that policy? In 1995, he turned down a $10 million paycheck—at the time, the highest sum ever offered to an actor for a single role—to reprise his role as Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask II. Even though not all of Carrey's movies have been what most would call "high art", he takes his integrity as an actor very seriously, believing that reprising a role is a waste of time because it doesn't challenge his acting ability. Presumably, he made an exception for Dumb and Dumber To because he considered playing a twenty-years-older Lloyd Christmas to be a worthwhile acting challenge. One of the few exceptions to this was agreeing to reprise his role as Dr. Robotnik for the Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) sequel, made particularly surprising that he elected to have a sequel be his final film before retiring.
  • Some police forces have a reputation for being extremely principled or immune to bribery.
    • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are globally renowned for being professional, efficient, and unyielding: while local police are more or less just that, and pretty individual, the RCMP is known as the group you do not want to mess with. Usually they're handing out traffic citations, or chilling out on horses, or just doing normal police work. But when they go full bore on a crime, they have enormous power, and extreme financing to back it up. If you only know them from their checkerboard hats and red tunics, and think them to be a joke, they will ruin you, and no amount of money or power will deter them. One reason is that the RCMP are very well paid, especially to those of many other countries, can make a LOT of overtime especially with local staffing shortages, and have excellent pension, medical and dental plans. Which they would lose if thrown out for corruption charges. Why throw away a sure thing for something that's going to have you suffering stress illnesses, sleepless nights and ulcers for the rest of your life? But at least they're very polite about it.
    • Chilean cops are famous for never accepting bribes and hauling the people attempting to do so into the station and charging them. This frequently happens to tourists who are pulled over for traffic violations and figure that every South American cop must be willing to accept a bribe. Instead of a small fine, they end up in jail.
    • German Polizei are another famous group. Take that German efficiency and adherence to the rules and apply it to a police force.
  • In 1982, seven people in Chicago were killed when they took poisoned Tylenol. Johnson & Johnson's response? Halt the production and advertising of Tylenol, and issue a nationwide recall. This cost them an enormous sum of money, but more than made up for it in the public goodwill it generated.
  • In 1994, Pearl Jam launched a three-year boycott of Ticketmaster, the largest concert ticket seller in the US, out of a belief that they were a monopoly that was ripping off music fans, going so far as to file an official antitrust complaint with the Department of Justice and testify before Congress on the matter. This move essentially derailed the band's mainstream success by making it far more difficult for them to tour nationally (most major concert venues were contracted with Ticketmaster, forcing them to play at much smaller arenas and theaters in smaller cities and towns), and even caused drummer Dave Abbruzzese to leave the band because he disagreed with the boycott.
  • A far more notorious example from the grunge era was that of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana frontman who killed himself because he couldn't reconcile his anti-establishment punk values with his newfound stardom. In his suicide note, he stated that he felt like a phony standing on stage and trying to play The Rock Star.
  • After Nintendo was hit with financial problems over the Wii U's lackluster sales in 2014, many of their higher ups announced that they would each take a 20-50% pay cut in order to avoid any major lay offs of their employees at the time. Former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had previously taken a pay cut when the Nintendo 3DS initially released to poor sales as well.
  • American officials are LEGENDARILY hard to bribe. In fact, trying to bribe one is a very good way to get yourself in even bigger trouble than you're already in. Zealous I.R.S inspections are a good deterrent.
  • The GameStop short squeeze of 2021. The video game retailer GameStop had been circling the drain financially. Many hedge funds and investors, including their own executives, were "shorting" the stocknote , which effectively meant they were betting on the fact the stock would go down which had historically worked out well for them. Until financial analyst and Reddit user Keith Patrick Gill note  pointed out laymen could make a ton of money by betting on the opposite - that the stock would go up - based entirely on the risk:reward ratio. Then, Gamestop made changes, including announcing a new CEO with a plan to get them on track. That, combined with the Reddit betting, caused their price to skyrocket, with individual shares going from less than $20 to over $500. This caused what is called a "squeeze". Basically, in order to cash in their "shorts", executives were required to obtain stocks. Except there weren't enough stocks to go around. This meant that they had to buy them at basically any price the people wanted in order to cover their investments, with the vast majority of everyday users holding onto their stocks out of spite as the movement had evolved into a small-scale class war as an act of revenge against the American elites for their role in the financial crisis of 2008. Gill himself had the opportunity to sell his stocks for 90 million dollars. He didn't, and in the end losses on short positions in U.S. firms topped $70 billion.
  • Trey Parker and Matt Stone made the South Park episode Band in China, which is a big Take That! to the Chinese government's corruption and frequent censoring of Hollywood productions, in the midst of negotiations for the show's streaming rights with the full knowledge criticizing China could lead to streaming services who do business in the country backing out. Indeed, Apple wound up ending negotiations but the duo remained unapologetic.


There are some people money can't buy. For everyone else, there's Tropercard. ...Wait, let me try that again...
Top