Follow TV Tropes


Shoplift and Die

Go To

"I wasn't kidding when I said pay! Now, you'll pay the ultimate price!!"
The Town Tool shopkeeper in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, if you steal from him and then reenter his shop after.

In some games, the player is expected to grab everything not bolted down. In other games, you have the option of not paying for wares at a shop, but doing so makes a shopkeeper attack you or send powerful security guards against you. Often, the attacker will be an Invincible Minor Minion that you have no choice but to outrun. Good luck with that. Other times, they'll just be brutally overpowered, to the point that they could probably tackle the dungeon themselves and conquer it without even breaking a sweat. Either way, you'll probably be wondering why you're even allowed to try to shoplift, seeing as it near-inevitably results in you suffering Yet Another Stupid Death.

Depending on the story's setting, this can be a Justified Trope for why the main character can't simply mug the poor, defenseless shopkeeper by virtue of simply being strong enough not to care about the consequences. In an Adventure-Friendly World or Crapsack World where policing can be scarce, the shopkeep will either have to fend for themselves or hire powerful friends that can look after them. They'll also know the weapons and items they sell better than you do, and if they're confident or mad enough to set up shop in a monster-infested dungeon, they likely know its dangers better than you too. If they've managed to run a successful business in such a dog-eat-dog world, then it's probably because they have ways to deal with unruly customers — beware the old man in a profession where men die young!

From a more mechanical perspective, it serves as a justification as well as a balancing factor. Games that have the option of shoplifting often mean that once you piss off the shopkeep, you will lose access to their shop or all shops for the rest of the level and possibly even the rest of the playthrough. Seeing as shops are often your fastest and most reliable source of items, this can be a serious handicap, especially in the Roguelike genre where you often live or die on the whims of the Random Number God. This might make it seem like shoplifting in video games is a lose-lose situation (and might even be An Aesop that the game is trying to enforce), but you may find your logic and morals tested when the chance to fence a BFG or Infinity -1 Sword presents itself...

See also Badass Bystander, Super-Stoic Shopkeeper. Compare Ballistic Discount, Disproportionate Retribution, Can't Get Away with Nuthin', I Fought the Law and the Law Won, Video Game Cruelty Punishment, Scolded for Not Buying.


    open/close all folders 

Video Games:

  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: If you're quick enough to steal from the shop in Mabe Village, you get a little message asking you if you're proud of yourself. Your save file is also renamed to "THIEF", causing everyone to call you that for the rest of the game. And the next time you attempt to enter the shop, the shopkeeper kills you with lightning for an instant Game Over. Mind, this is the best way to achieve 100% Completion, as the Bow costs an exorbitant 980 Rupees. If you're playing the DX version, this is the ONLY way to get 100% completion, as one of the pictures needed for the picture book side-quest is of Link shoplifting. However, in order to get the true ending, you can't die once. Considering that you're likely to have to enter the shop at least once more if you try and shop lift at any point other then right near the end of the game, this means to get 100% completion AND the true ending it's advised the player waits until right near the end of the game before getting this shoplifting picture.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The Happy Mask Salesman. He always has a grin on his face coupled with Eyes Always Shut, but if you don't have enough Rupees to pay back the mask you sold, he'll be extremely angry and the angry face alone can be Nightmare Fuel for some people. Luckily this is the only thing he will do if you are short on funds.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: There is a parrot who attacks Link if he doesn't pay for his wares in a tiny box. However, since it doesn't do much damage (and you can down a red potion before leaving the stall), the bird isn't very persuasive. And it certainly doesn't help that Link can underpay (to the tune of a single Rupee) and the bird will only respond to this by calling him a cheapskate, sans divebombing. Of course, if you want, you can pay a little extra in the box (or pay anything without buying), prompting the parrot to call Link a "generous young man".
  • NieR: Automata: Steal from Emil twice, and he'll show you how he managed to survive for millennia in a go-kart. Painfully.

  • Shoplifting gets you shot in Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers (in a humorous way), and Police Quest 4: Open Season (in a more serious way):
    • In Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, trying to leave a software store without paying for an item will have the store's anti-shoplifting device fatally zap you. There's a change machine in the same game that will also defend itself with lethal force if you try and force it open.
    • Perhaps more comical than Space Quest or Leisure Suit Larry, in Open Season a Korean woman shoots you, an LAPD homicide detective, in the face at point-blank range if you try to leave her convenience store without paying for an apple.
    • Stiffing the cabbie in Leisure Suit Larry will not only have him killed by the cabbie's fists, but his carcass run over by his cab. Evil doesn't even begin to describe this!
    • Police Quest: SWAT has an early mission where the team is called out to a Korean 7-11, after robbers enter and gunshots are heard. The mission can have the gunmen shooting the store owners or holding them hostage, or it can work the other way around with the store owners waving guns about, requiring an interpreter.
  • A variant of this occurs in the 1997 Blade Runner video game. If you pull out your weapon more than once in Bullet Bob's store, he'll One-Hit Kill your ass.
  • In Déjà Vu (1985), you may take one cab trip without paying the driver afterwards - try it again and he'll call the cops on you. Coupled with the murder rap you're trying to beat, it's ten to life for you. Taking a Ballistic Discount doesn't work either - it turns out that there's bulletproof glass between you and the cabbie, and he's even quicker about calling the cops on you if you test it. Perhaps you should try shoplifting from the gun shop owner instead...
  • In the first episode of Sam and Max Save the World, Bosco's automated security system beats anyone who tries to steal something from his store unconscious, including the player if they leave with the Cheese item in their inventory. Sadly this doesn't prevent the villain Whizzer from bringing boxloads of video tapes into the store. This is solved by sneaking the cheese into Whizzer's basket, triggering the defense when he goes out for more merchandise. It also comes into play later, when Sam is brainwashed into doing Whizzer's job. He can grab the cheese on his way out to trigger the security system and cure his brainwashing.
  • In the starting area of Heist: The Crime of the Century there's a jewellery store and a famous gemstone known as the Python's Eye (which you need to solve a puzzle elsewhere). Disabling the alarm involves flipping the switch under the counter and replacing the real jewel with a fake. Screw up and your thieving career comes to an abrupt end.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • In the Streets of Rage fan remake, Blaze, of all people, pulls this trope if you dare to try to steal an unlockable without paying. If your computer clock is set between 6 AM and 7 AM, Blaze will be sleeping and you can attempt to steal one item. Regardless of if you manage to steal the item or not (its a coinflip), you will be banned access to the store at least until you complete the main game once. If you do manage to steal the item, Blaze will confiscate all the money you earn during the main game and won't open shop again for you until the debt is fully paid.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • If you break a shop window in Fort Frolic in BioShock, the security system activates and sends machine-gun equipped helicopter robots to kill you. Since the usual things you get from shop displays are inexpensive first-aid kits and EVE hypos, there's usually no reason to risk it.
  • If Booker in BioShock Infinite walks behind the counter in the Graveyard Shift bar, the bartender cocks a shotgun. If Booker takes something, or uses Possession on the vending machine (despite it probably not belonging to the bar's proprietor), almost everyone in the bar tries to kill him. The same happens when going behind the counter of the food line in Shantytown to get an Infusion before the Vox Populi uprising, and taking anything from the "Employees Only" room in Finkton Docks causes all the soldiers in the area to become hostile. Also, stealing from any of the cash registers or breaking the glass case of the Vox Heater replica when first entering Soldier's Field causes the shopkeeper to attack along with several police officers.
  • In Postal 2, one of the first tasks is to get milk from the store. If you take it and leave without paying, the owner will come after you with a gun. Of course, this being Postal, you can just shoot him. And of course, that's assuming you didn't already shoot him before even getting the milk. The game strongly implies that this is the preferred outcome: the objective is counted as complete as soon as you grab the milk without even hinting at actually paying for it. Plus, attempting to do so places you in ridiculously long queue filled with people custom-designed to irritate the player with their words and behaviour. That, and the shop owner is clearly a terrorist. Police response, on the other hand, is surprisingly measured. You can steal money from a bank vault, or even loot a police station, but if you don't pull a gun yourself, cops will not open fire on you. They will apply their batons on your back enthusiastically, though.
  • In the Arms Bazaar mission of Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, taking anything from the chests in the market will blow your cover.

  • In Thing-Thing Arena 2, if provoked the shop keeper will wail away at you with a minigun. It is, however, possible to defeat him and he will drop limitless minigun ammo.
  • In Abyss Odyssey, dying soldiers you encounter will sometimes mention they were killed by the Shopkeeper after trying to steal from him. And indeed, the Shopkeeper is more than a match for most low-level characters. The fact that he works as a shopkeeper in the Abyss should have been a clue.

    Point and Click 
  • One of the puzzles in the online flash game Johnny Rocketfingers II is to figure out how to steal an item from a store without the shopkeeper blowing your head off. Fortunately, if you don't guess right, he gives you the chance to return what you stole before killing you, and only does so if you are an absolute idiot (i.e. "Don't move!" *do jumping jacks*).

You'll probably notice that this folder's a bit bigger than the others. It's not clear whether it's the relative lack of lasting impact due to being contained within a single run, the smaller size of the game allowing for more options, or just developers finding it amusing to watch players get lit up for being greedy—this trope is a longstanding tradition of the Roguelike genre.

  • NetHack's shopkeepers. They get indignant if the player tries to steal, trying to kill the player themselves or sending the police - which happen to be the Keystone Kops - after the player. The shopkeepers will also charge you for damaged or eaten merchandise. They tend to be well armed (with the occasional Wand of Death); the Keystone Kops would be predictably ineffective but for their overwhelming numbers. It is almost a certain death for any low leveled player who tries to steal from a shop without some kind of escape plan in mind, usually in the form of a scroll or a wand of teleportation. However, this trope can become inverted and shopkeepers can quickly become Too Dumb to Live if they sell a wand of wishing or a wand of death in their shop, since one zap from the latter will instantly kill the shopkeeper, who is not at all suspicious of you picking that thing up. In addition, they will simply yell at you and charge a usage fee... while you're using up an entire wand of wishing to gain end-game level gear. Then you kill them in one hit. There's a delightful variety of complications if you want to kill them anyway: they're killable but that counts as murder (which angers your god and incurs a luck penalty) for the non-chaotic (and even then, chaotics still have a chance of a luck penalty anyway), they can grab the character's backpack if they try to tunnel through the floor while standing too close, they will prevent you from taking pickaxes into the shop, and will even catch a pickaxe if you try to throw one in diagonally. characters with uncontrolled teleportitis should be very careful indeed... On the other hand, a trained housepet can steal items and somehow avoid attracting any attention.
    • Any monster besides the player can steal from NetHack shops without penalty. Only a few 'greedy' monsters will actually do so. Drop all your gold in the shop (for store credit). Lead a greedy monster in (a dwarf will do), then back out. Kill them for your money, while keeping the store credit. Much more reliable than pets.
    • The black marketeer One Eyed Sam who appears in NetHack variants such as Slash'EM and UnNetHack is even more aggressive about defending his stuff, and has several powerful guard-critters patrolling his store as well. He is equipped with gear rivaling that of late-game players, and his weapon carries a chance of an instant kill. He also has nine various Demonic Spiders serving as guards, who also become hostile upon angering One Eyed Sam. In addition, normal shop stealing methods won't work, since pets are forbidden in the shop. You may be tempted to steal anyway, since the Black Market has so many good items that may be out of your price range... and god forbid you break anything.
  • It's the same story in ADOM, except the cops summoned are generic thugs, and the shopkeeper himself is a tough enemy — and shopkeepers can throw gold pieces with bullet accuracy. Stealing from a shop (unless your familiar does it) causes a drop in alignment (shifting the player from lawful toward chaotic). The casino shop prevents you from teleporting out.
    • Shopkeepers in ADOM can also become hostile just because you have the unholy aura corruption ("Stop scaring away the customers!") By that time, it's fairly likely you can actually kill a shopkeeper, which is no mean feat. (Unless you got corrupted early on by unwisely playing with that powerful ancient scythe which just happened to be lying around the dungeon ... then you're screwed.)
  • In the Mystery Dungeon games, some very nasty dogs are sent after the player if they somehow get away with shoplifting.
    • In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon version, it's the Kecleon shopkeepers themselves that swarm the characters if you shoplift. Ironically, this is the only way to recruit one to your team. Said Kecleon also have a recruit rate of negative 33.9%, thus to even have the tiniest chance of recruiting them you need to be at least Level 90 if not 100, the level cap, due to the fact that the recruitment rates are highest at those levels, and be equipped with the Friend Bow. Even with the bonuses, the chance is 0.1%, as the highest bonus to recruit rate you can achieve is 34%. In every game, the Kecleon are close to the level cap, and from Explorers onward, possess stats so high that your Pokemon won't stand a chance even at the level cap if you haven't used tons of stat boosting items. In Gates To Infinity, they've wised up further and will spawn around the staircase, giving anyone who tries to escape with a Pure Seed a nasty surprise. Also you can't defeat them.
  • Zettai Hero Project has a similar case; stealing from a shop will cause the game to endlessly spawn powerful monsters (which you can farm for EXP if you're strong enough). Hell, the ''guard dogs's'' descriptions mention the trope.
    Shoplifting must be punished by death.
  • Spiritual Successor The Guided Fate Paradox also spawns ridiculously powerful monsters to kill you if you steal.
  • Chocobo's Dungeon 2 has the Grim Freaking Reaper attack you. With multiple bodies. In higher levels, each body is stronger than the endboss, and respawns if "killed."
  • In Final Fantasy Fables, lifting a "super-rare" item will cause the shopkeep — *ahem* Dungeon Hero X to attack you. He moves twice a turn, knocks Chocobo into the far wall if he attacks, and has the "Mog Beam X", which always does 777 damage. You can try to escape the room instead to keep the item, but if you aren't quick, he freaking teleports on top of the stairs. However, this is the only way to get the Thief's memories.
  • Shiren the Wanderer has a rather elaborate system to prevent shoplifting. First, upon picking up any item, the shopkeeper blocks the only exit until the player pays. If the player tries to attack the shopkeeper, he moves at double speed to eviscerate the player with powers rivaling the final boss. Finally, if the player manages to paralyse or otherwise subdue the shopkeeper, upon leaving the store the game will declare "Thief!" and then sic double-speed Guard Dogs and incredibly powerful Sheriffs on you until you somehow manage to leave the town or dungeon floor. To add insult to injury, if you actually are able to kill any of these creatures, you gain neither experience nor items. Small wonder the stats screen has entries for both times you stole items and times you successfully stole items.
  • In Torneko, if you get something and leave the room without paying, or attack the gargoyle shopkeeper, many other gargoyles will come after you. And they're quick and kill you with a single blow.
  • Etrian Mystery Dungeon has Lizley, the shopkeeper, sic her Red Lions on you and disables your ability to warp away. Each Red Lion is capable of dealing 100 points of fixed damage each turn.
  • Touhou Genso Wanderer has Mamiya and her tanuki mafia minding the shops in the dungeons. Try to rob them, and an unsuccessful escape will have DOROBOU! be the last thing you hear before dying.
    • Also, pray you don't fight a Patchouli copy in a shop. Any items destroyed by their explosion will require you to pay the fee for them, with the above also happening if you don't.
    • And if a Shiki Eiki copy sees you trying to shoplift, she'll smite you, and it's instadeath.
  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, stealing an item from a shop provokes the high-level shopkeeper to attack you and spawns mass armies of enforcer demons to kill you. Unless you have access to one of the game's many game breaking items, in which case you can farm the enforcer demons for infinite XP. Or unless you can kill every shopkeeper on the dungeon level simultaneously, in which case no demons spawn and you can just loot all the shops.
  • Ragnarok (Roguelike) has two kinds of shopkeepers. The kind of shopkeeper found in the village, sometimes in the dungeon and occasionally in other areas; these are difficult to defeat but normal characters can do it. Then there's the Bazaar, an interdimensional trading post where you can find almost anything in the game (except for unique artifacts) if you're willing to pay for it. The bazaar's six merchants are on par with godlings like the lords of Niflheim, and if you want to take something from the bazaar without paying, you have to kill all six of them. Most players will find it significantly easier to just beat the game normally.
  • All versions of Spelunky feature some of the most trigger-happy shopkeepers you'll find anywhere. Any attack (or even just throwing a bomb inside the shop), any vandalism (including things that aren't entirely your fault, like a Fire Frog exploding at the edge of their store), any pixel of their wares moved outside the shop, and every shopkeeper will start running you down like a maniac. They run at speeds the player can only dream of, and come packing a shotgun note  You can stun them by jumping on their head, which will let you grab their shotgun, but even then the shopkeeper can throw you—which will let them get their shotgun back and leave you wide open to a face full of buckshot.
    • There's also the fact that once you piss off one, you'll become wanted; for the next few levels all shopkeepers will shoot on sight, and an extra one will be guarding the level exit. Killing just one shopkeeper will leave you wanted for the rest of the run. Being wanted will also turn the Black Market into a Brutal Bonus Level featuring no less than eight shopkeepers raring to go.
  • Shoplifting in Enter the Gungeon can't be done at all without the use of certain items that allow you to do it undetected, and doing so will result in the player being cursed. Firing your gun inside the shop, however, carries far more serious consequences: Do it once and Bello will yell at you, do it again and he'll double the prices; do it a third time and he'll flood the shop with nigh-undodgeable gunfire for several seconds. Once he calms down, he'll close shop so you can't even loot the place, and shops won't spawn for the rest of the run.
  • If for some reason you decide to attack the jovial, singing merchant in Crypt Of The Necrodancer, he'll very quickly make you regret it. He does more damage than most bosses and can move in any direction he wants on every single beat, making escape nearly impossible if you have to take even one step in a direction that isn't directly away from him.
  • The lion shopkeeper of Feral Fury has a ton of HP and an assault rifle. Try to kill him and he will ruin you. Still goes down like a lead zeppelin when shot with the Proton Cannon though. Averted with the Red Panda merchant, who is a One-Hit-Point Wonder and can be summarily murdered for a blue card if you don't like what he has to trade. Both will never be seen again in the run if you do this.
  • Attacking the Shopkeeper in One Step From Eden will force you to fight her, and she's much harder than all the other bosses in the game. Once you beat her, you can kill her for some random artifacts or spare her and she'll occasionally drop money at the start of a fight. She's also playable after you defeat her and you need to kill her in order to unlock the True Genocide ending.
  • In Hades, you might see a pouch of obols in the back of Charon's shop. You're given the option to "borrow" these obols, whereupon Charon will immediately notice and respond by "borrowing" your chance of a successful run. Much like all the other examples of this trope, Charon is one of the hardest bosses in the game and is on par with either of the Champions of Elysium stat-wise. After he kills you Zagreus is reminded that Charon is an ancient chthonic god, and it was stupid to steal from him. Defeating him allows Zagreus to keep his ill-gotten gains, at least until the next time you're forced to spend money in his shop, and provides a small discount for the rest of the run.
  • While you can't threaten the shopkeepers in World of Horror, you can still piss two of them off enough to get yourself killed.
    • Trying to reroll the inventory at the Shiba Inu Shop when the Doom meter is at 100% will lead to your character being killed and made into dog treats.
    • Trying to buy a fourth item from the School's History Club will result in your character becoming a Human Sacrifice.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Played straight in general throughout the series. It is possible to steal from a store without getting caught, though if you do get caught, the shopkeeper will immediately attack you and any nearby guards will move in to arrest you. It doesn't help that in most of the games in the series, the same button used for picking up items is also used to engage NPCs in dialogue. This makes accidentally shoplifting one of the nearly-worthless clutter items that happen to be lying around while attempting to speak with the shopkeeper a frequent issue.
    • Morrowind:
      • Even if you aren't caught while stealing an item, merchants can recognize items as belonging to them if you try to sell it back to them. That alone isn't unreasonable, but the AI only remembers which type of item you stole, not the exact item. So if you steal one Iron Arrow from a merchant, then attempt to sell him back a different Iron Arrow, he'll think that you stole it from him. You'll get a bounty and he will attack you on the spot. Therefore, it's best not to steal from merchants you regularly do business with. This also holds true for faction merchants. Steal some items from the Ald-Ruhn Mages Guild Hall and attempt to sell them in the Balmora Mages Guild Hall? They'll recognize it as theirs and attack. (And you'll be kicked out of the faction if you belong as well.)
      • In the Tribunal expansion, due to being designed for high-level players, the merchants can be level 30 and higher. They're easily capable of killing a low-level player very quickly if they attack.
    • Oblivion:
      • The added physics engine can lead to this. It's easy to accidentally knock something off a table while walking around the shop. There's a button which lets you lift an item and move it around, without placing it in your inventory. Naturally, this lead to many players trying to put the displaced object back where it belongs... only to be arrested for theft. It's meant to keep the player from moving the merchandise off the shelves to the entrance of the store and mashing the pick up item button then making a quick getaway. (And not even that works since you can easily just punch/kick/knock items into dark corners out of the shopkeeper's line-of-sight.)
      • Some NPC characters will steal food when they're hungry, and this is considered a crime that can get them caught by guards. The game isn't programmed to send NPCs to prison, so their only options are to pay a fine or have the guards attack them. Most NPCs don't have enough money to pay their fines (especially not if they're repeat offenders), so the guards will attack and murder them for stealing lunch.
    • Skyrim:
      • Hearing the players' complaints about the issues in previous games, shops and inns in Skyrim much more rarely have items in positions where they can be accidentally "stolen" while trying to speak with the shopkeeper, downplaying the trope.
      • Played straight in a different way in that even if you get away with stealing an item, the shopkeeper may still find out that you stole it and send either a gang of hired thugs or assassins after you. This can get taken to ridiculous levels in some cases. For example, you can pickpocket a Forsworn Briarheart and take his briarheart - aka the thing sitting in place of his heart keeping him alive. If you take it, he dies immediately, since you basically just ripped his heart out of his chest. That still won't stop him from sending thugs after you to teach you a lesson, apparently from beyond the grave.
      • It's implied by shopkeepers that they will kill you for trying to rob them by the fact that multiple shopkeepers will have a dagger behind their counter, even if they don't sell weapons.
      • The chicken at the gate to Riverwood is rather infamous, as even though the bounty for killing it is small, the usual consequence is the entire village drawing weapons and attacking you. That chicken is also one of the first things many players see after the prologue, causing some to kill it out of impulse, curiosity, or just by accident.
      • In fact, it's fairly common to accidentally kill random farm animals during dragon attacks on settlements, which can cause nearby guards and townspeople to suddenly attack the person who's, you know, trying to save them.
      • Fortunately, if you do accidentally steal can easily just bribe the guards (If you're in the Thieves Guild) or tell them that you're a Thane of the city (If you have completed a side-quest in the specific hold you're in) do either of these, and they just let you off, and they don't even take your loot! Even if you can't use those options, you can use your Speechcraft to convince a guard that you simply aren't worth his time if your bounty is particularly low.
  • In Might and Magic VII a character with the Stealing Skill can try to lift an item from a store (except a Magic Guild) without paying for it. Failing to do so won't get you attacked, but even trying (whether you are successful or not) will lower your reputation, and require you to pay a fine in the town where you shoplifted. (For some odd reason, a successful act of theft incurs a bigger fine than one where you fail and get caught.) The craziest part is, the fine you have to pay for shoplifting is in most cases more than the one you have to pay for killing a peasant. (Meaning they consider stealing worse than murder.)
  • In the Dink Smallwood comedic RPG, you could not only drink without paying, but menace the shopkeeper with death. He then called two city guards. It was a good way to make money.
  • In the game Fable, you can get away with various crimes if you're not seen, but if you're caught in the act you'll be attacked by the guards. Once your guile level is high enough, you can attempt to steal items from shops. Getting caught sets the guards on you. This almost counts as a Useless Useful Skill: by the time you're leveled high enough, the stuff you can steal usually isn't worth the effort.
  • In EarthBound (1994), taking eggs and bananas from the Happy Happy Village's food stand without paying causes the Unassuming Local Guy watching over it to attack. However, said Local Guy is weak and easy to defeat and doesn't attack again if you beat him. In fact, the fight can be completely avoided if you simply choose not to talk to him.
    "You won this confrontation. But the good side of you must ache with regret. Ha ha ha."
  • In Quest for Glory I the Kleptomaniac Hero can easily steal potions from Healer with no immediate consequences. Very tempting, considering how poor he is at the start, and that she is the only easy target. However, when the hero leaves and comes back, she calls him a thief and refuses to open the door. If this happens before she makes Dryad's potion, the main quest cannot be completed. Otherwise the game becomes much harder without a place to sell components and buy potions cheaply.
  • In Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide, an NPC has a device that allows you to recharge magic items. If you use the device and try to leave without paying for it, he turns you into a penguin. And magically seals the door so you can't leave.
  • In Ultima IV, underpaying a blind shopkeeper is not penalized physically, only causing you to lose ranks in the important Honesty virtue. Clever players can pay 1 coin for a huge pile of expensive items, and then regain Honesty by purchasing cheap items at full price.
    • In Ultima VIII, any sort of theft or other misdemeanor you committed in the city would lead to you getting blown up by the (almost) invincible town sorcerer. It is possible to shoplift, e.g. from the blacksmith, but only by waiting or sleeping out of sight of him until he locks up and leaves on his regular walks downtown. Alternatively, you could just chuck something into a container (e.g. a large chest), then keep throwing the chest away until you're out of sight, where you can then safely loot the items from it.
    • Ultima Online featured teleporting insta-kill guards that executed you about half a second after a successful theft. No penalty for those who immediately looted all your belongings (including the stolen item) from your dead body though.
  • In Pinball Quest, you can try to steal items from the Black Market Imps, but if you fail, you'll lose half of your gold as punishment.
  • In the Fallout series, getting caught stealing from a shopkeeper will usually make said shopkeeper (or the bodyguards that some of them retain for that very purpose) start shooting. And most of the time, if you shoot one person in town, the entire town becomes hostile. Except for two guys in Fallout 2 - Tubby and Flick in Den and Eldridge in New Reno, who can be killed with minimal consequences.
    • There's one case in Fallout 3, where you can shoot Smiling Jack, loot a key (and his unique combat shotgun), and open a safe to get his entire store's wares. But to be fair, he's in the middle of a raider stronghold called Evergreen Mills. There's a few other cases with the same possibility (save for the unique weapon) in other places, most notably Tenpenny Tower.
    • Fallout 3 is a particularly odd example. As normal they go ballistic if you touch their property, but they also give ominous warnings when you just glance at the merchandise. Even taking a piece of trash from a trash can can set them off.
    • One of the loading screen hints warns explicitly that there is no institutionalized justice in the Capital Wasteland. Not only are there no courts or judges, there aren't even any jails. The threat of physical harm - until you run away or until you're dead - is literally the only way all but the largest post-war settlements can use to keep order, nevermind individual merchants.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has the Van Graffs of the Silver Rush, who not only have a number of well-armed guards wearing combat armor but make it a point to confiscate the weapons of customers to prevent them from trying a Ballistic Discount. They don't take away your Stealth Boys, however. And the game also includes holdout weapons for this exact purpose so you can stay armed in areas that take away your weapons.
      • Even better, the Gun Runners have a bulletproof booth built around their Vendortron robot. Some other shops otherwise allow the same case for looting a key or picking a lock and stealing their wares. One case is particularly notable for not only letting you get a unique weapon (two of them, in fact, if you bought it legitimately right before) but also being filled to the brim with weightless, worthless novelty toys that respawn even if you try to take them all to get rid of them for the poor shopkeeper.
    • Also in New Vegas, just hanging around in an owned house too long may cause the owner to turn on you.
    • In one of the loading seen hints for New Vegas, it's noted that the NCR's military doesn't like being in the role of "peace-keeper", so all crimes across the Mojave are typically punished by death.
    • In Fallout 4, certain items, such as those at KL-E-0's and Daisy's shops in Goodneighbor, seem to be hard-coded to automatically aggro the owner and passersby if taken, no matter how stealthy the player is.
  • In Wizardry 7 PCs can steal from traders, but can be caught and then NPC gets angry (leaves or attacks with reinforcements). In Wizardry 8 traders can eventually figure out where their stuff gone even if they fail to catch PCs immediately (obvious protection from The Mighty Wand of Save/Load).
    • "Smiley's Shop" in Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land. This time you get two chances to return the item and if you take either of them nothing happens. Not to mention they actually warn you on the sign the security guards are very powerful. Ignore both warnings and you get attacked by a group of four enemies collectively much harder than even the final boss and that you normally fight one at a time, very rarely on the final level of the main game. Defeat them (which actually isn't as hard as it sounds) and you get to keep the item (not really a big deal), get a lot of experience and gold... and the shop closes forever.
  • Subverted in Temple of Elemental Evil while Rannos Davl and Gremag are listed as CR 20 (designed to use 1/4 of a 20th level (the cap in the unmodded game is 10) party's resources on their own, only Iuz, who you are not meant to, but can, beat is higher) in the games bestiary they are only a decent challenge for a group of first level characters, particularly if you bring Elmo.
  • World of Warcraft,
    • Averted in the vast majority of the game, where most vendors can't be attacked, most things you can pick up in towns without talking to a vendor are free for the taking, and most enemies in the world don't care what you pick up on the ground near them. One place in the game that plays this trope straight, maybe the only place, is in the Grim Guzzler bar in the city of Blackrock Depths, an instance. Players can freely walk into the bar from a golem-manufacturing area, but the backdoor of the bar cannot be opened normally or lockpicked. There are several ways to open it, some of which fit this trope, including killing the bartender for the key (and he's definitely the toughest mob in the bar, and this will make some of the other mobs in the bar aggressive and might bring in city guards to "break up the fight") and getting one particular dwarf drunk, who will then get rowdy and break open the door and/or bring in the city guards on his own.
    • The part of this that actually fits is a platter of mugs of dark iron ale, and another with a roast boar that can both be picked up will trigger the bartender to attack you. And since he provides the booze, most of the bar will turn hostile and attack if you get too close.
    • Not truly shoplifting, but the innkeeper at The Filthy Animal (the tavern at the Horde district in Dalaran) threatens to feed the player to her hounds if he tries to start a fight. (You have to assume that's true, because PVP isn't possible in Dalaran.)
    • An amusing subversion comes in the Tian Monastery sub-arc of the Jade Forest. One quest requires you to gather reeds for a training exercise later on down the road. You -can- go out into the wilderness to gather them, but one of the local merchants has more than enough to complete that fetch quest. If you just start grabbing them from around him he acts with indignation, and threatens to stand up with vague overtures of a threat... then admits he's too lazy to really do anything and praises your "skill" at stealing.
  • Runescape tries to play this trope straight with the Thieving skill. If a NPC catches you picking their pocket, they will smack you, if a guard sees you steal from a market stall he will attack you, and some chests and doors are armed with traps. However, said smacks and traps do little damage and the guards are too weak to pose a threat past low levels, so it's not so much Shoplift And Die as Shoplift And Be Briefly Annoyed.
  • The old Apple II game Legacy of the Ancients allowed you to steal from shopkeepers. If you did, though, you would get a few waves of city guards sent after you, and for a good portion of the game you were too weak to actually stand up to them. Of course, when you became powerful enough...
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the player can loot virtually every room in an apartment block, but one contains a bounty hunter who tells your player in no uncertain terms to leave. If you take her stuff, she attacks and won't surrender until either she or everyone in your party die. She's a wanted criminal though, and you get money for killing her.
  • In Divine Divinity, stealing from shopkeepers will lower their attitude towards you, possibly making them refuse to trade with you in the future. (You can fix it by giving them free stuff.) If they get angry enough, they will call the guards. You can get away with stealing, however, if you've already killed all the guards in the area or if you just steal outside of the shopkeepers' line of sight.
  • Played fairly realistically in Spiderweb Software's Geneforge series. While shopkeepers can't be stolen from, a lot of the loot lying around is locked up and protected. The results of stealing from NPCs will vary. If one is not caught (there is no NPC nearby to see), there's no penalty. If one is caught stealing, reactions range from losing friendship points with a particular faction, to instant mob attack. Some faction alignment quests require the player character stealing from, and thereby completely alienating, a rival faction.
    • This is an improvement over Spiderweb's earlier Exile/Avernum and Nethergate series, in which certain items were marked "not yours." You could safely pick them up if there was nobody around, but if something like, say, an invisible guardian-type monster was in the same room and watched you do that, the entire town would instantly acquire a death wish for you (including the guards who will suddenly be three times stronger than when fighting anyone else.)
    • Exile/Avernum 3 had one particularly notable case as well—there was an NPC who had a series of one-way teleporters you could use for a fee, and one sidequest involved stealing a rare book from him. If you do, he'll act like you got away scot-free... but the next time you use any teleporter it'll instead drop you in a cave full of fire drakes, possibly on the other end of the continent from where you wanted to go. (This can be escaped from, however, and if you return he'll let you use the portals normally, since as far as he's concerned you've learned your lesson—and he also implies that if you do anything like that again, he could send you to a far worse place than that if he wanted. Thankfully, there's nothing else in that place you need to get.)
  • In Baldur's Gate, there are only two things to do with the shoplifting/pickpocketing skill: either get it up to maximum and savescum relentlessly, or just never use it. This is because a failed theft or pickpocketing attempt will call down the wrath of every NPC within quite a wide radius, leading to your reputation dropping like a cartoon anvil and huge pointless pitched battles in the Athkatla government centre. In addition, stolen items can only be sold to very specific shopkeeps. (Don't ask us how they manage to discern a stolen generic longsword from the hundreds of thousands of others scattered around Amn.)
  • While not taking place in the game per se, OC Remix's "Satomi Tadashi remix from Persona showcases the shopkeeper ranting about teens invading his store in an exaggerated Japanese accent.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Been doing a little gambling in a casino in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and you're a bit in the red? No problem, they'll give you time to pay them back...about five minutes real time. After that, the casino owner will send a hit squad of four guys with SMGs after you. Even if you happen to be the casino owner...
      • And when you kill them, they drop a lot of money. An interesting way to pay off your debt.
    • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City actually required you to hold up all of the stores in the game, (save for the Ammu-Nation stores) in order to receive 100% Completion.
    • Holding up a convenience store (especially one you frequently hit) in Grand Theft Auto V will possibly and understandably end with the clerk pulling out a shotgun. This same response can also happen when you shoplift a candy bar in Online.
  • Saints Row:
    • Saints Row had the First Born Loans company. Go ahead, take out a loan. But pay them back on time. If you didn't, they'd send two guys in a car with a knife. Then two guys with pistols. Then four with shotguns, etc. up to the helicopter with two assault rifle gunners (which would not stop spawning until you paid off the loan).
      • You can also rob stores by aiming your gun reticle at the cashier, forcing them to lead you to the store safe (or just give you everything in cash register). However, if you aim your gun away from them for too long, the store alarm will sound, immediately giving you 3 stars of police notoriety and no cash.
    • Saints Row 2 no longer has the loans, but does bring back store robbery. However, now the alarm will still ring even after you successfully rob the store and take the cash. This makes robbing stores much less lucrative and not worth the hassle compared to the original- the only reason to bother doing so is to unlock the Homie gained by successfully robbing enough stores. Also, once you purchase and own a store, you can no longer rob it.
    • Saints Row: The Third continues store robberies; it subverted this trope, however, due to the fact that you could now rob stores you own (giving you notoriety), only to walk outside and reenter the store (which removes all notoriety because you own it.) But really, you're given so much money you'd never have to do this (other than just to be a dick, or for that one assassination where it's required to lure out the target).
    • In several games in the series you can strip the player character nude and engage in a streaking minigame. Should the police see you doing this, they will open fire.
  • In Way of the Samurai 2, it is possible to run off with items before paying. They won't chase you or harm you directly, but it does decrease your standing in the Karma Meter. You usually have two chances before the shopkeepers all over Amahara refuses to sell you anything. You then have to work for the townspeople to raise your standing all over again. If you're particularly unlucky, some random ronin will spot you as trouble and will try to take justice into his own hands...
    • In the original Way of the Samurai however, there is only one shopkeeper in the game (the Blacksmith) who you can choose not to pay and will be attacked by. What makes him different from most games though is you can kill him, but will deprive yourself of a vendor for the rest of the game. You do get a unique weapon though.
    • The third game has a variation on this: While the shopkeepers themselves will not attack you, their bodyguards will. An exception is the Legendary Merchant who is armed himself. The difficulty of the battles depend on who are you snitching from (both the Legendary Merchant and the guard for the Takatane Item Merchant are pretty bad; the rest of the bodyguards are quite decent), and the difficulty. Playing in Instant Kill Mode pretty much guarantees you to want to pay, or get the first strike in.

Non-Video Game:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Inverted bizarrely in the Pokémon: The Original Series episode "Here Comes the Squirtle Squad". When Ash arrives at the shop where he needs to buy a super potion, Team Rocket are holding the place up. Seconds after they leave with the demanded items, he enters and asks for the potion, only to find multiple guns pointed at him. Guns that everyone completely failed to use against Team Rocket, for some reason. They only relent when Officer Jenny arrives and tells them that he's not a Team Rocket member. Weirdly, this was retained in international versions, which are notoriously tough on firearms.

    Fan Works 
  • Gold Magic in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World has signs that read "TRY TO STEAL SOMETHING—WE DARE YOU" and "DEATH MAGIC IS THE EASIEST KIND OF MAGIC". The four protagonists, neither stupid nor crooks, don't test this.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, the standard punishment in Agrabah for theft is to have one of your hands cut off. When chasing Aladdin in the beginning, the captain of the guard boasts that he'll take both of Aladdin's hands as trophies. While in disguise, Princess Jasmine almost loses her hand to a fruit vendor when she had no money to pay for an apple. Aladdin is able to con the vendor to save her, thankfully.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Ray Charles in the first The Blues Brothers movie. Despite being blind, he just barely missed a shoplifter with his gun from across the room. The kid promptly left without trying that again.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Fighting Fantasy books tends to have shopkeepers which are powerful wizards and sorcerers, and attempting to rob them is an epic Too Dumb to Live option.
    • The Great Wizard of Yore, Yaztromo, debuting in The Forest of Doom, runs a shop as well, and have the abilities to transform his enemies into animals. More than one unfortunate idiot who tried robbing him ends up becoming animals, with you becoming a toad should you really want to attack him.
    • Trying to rob the three-eyes Haag in Legend of Zagor, and he will summon a genie to paralyze you on the spot. Forever. From the same book there is Elranel the Elven Thief, who proves to be a powerful fighter if you tried stealing from him; and even if you win, turns out Elranel's sack of goodies have a teleport spell that makes it disappear, making the entire fight pointless. In both cases it's best to just pay and go.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Drawn Together, Wooldoor steals a bag of candy from a store in the mall, prompting a security guard to threaten him into giving himself up by holding a woman at gunpoint. The woman's scream of "Run! He's gonna kill me no matter you do!" turns out to be true.
  • Those caught stealing from The Gash clothing store on American Dad! are sent to a South American sweatshop for the rest of their lives.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "Radio Bart" has a scene where Bart plays the arcade game Larry the Looter. Bart manages to break open the window and steal from the first shop he comes across. Immediately after moving ahead one screen, he comes across the angry shopkeeper, who blows Larry's head off with a shotgun.
    • The running joke involving Apu getting robbed or shot is mundane to his job, but occasionally he stands up to protect his establishment. Examples include when his shotgun-wielding nephew covers for him and threatens Dolph, Kearney, and Jimbo, and when Springfield falls into anarchy, to which he respondes by he standing on the roof of his store with a rifle shooting at potential shoplifters.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television in many places. Even if there's no obvious security personnel, many shops have guns right under the counter, making any would-be robber have a very bad day.
    • With the country's brutal drug cartels and occasional acts of domestic terrorism, some jewelry stores in Mexico employ security guards armed with submachine guns. Attempting shoplifting and/or robbery at these shops would undoubtedly be an effective way to commit suicide.
    • PROTIP: Robbing the local gunstore, police office or Bad Guy Bar is a bad idea.
    • A popular sign in stores with gun-owning shopkeepers reads "There is nothing in here worth your life."
  • During the Bloody Code in England, this was literally the casenote ..
  • Truth in Television in this case, guy steals beer, shopkeeper shoots him in the head.
    • In other words, this trope is averted in Real Life (or at least, in America), as killing someone for shoplifting in a case where you aren't acting in self-defense is murder. That's why a reasonable shopkeeper will only break out the gun if the thief brought a gun (or other deadly weapon, e.g. a knife or a club) first: showing the weapon in a threatening manner means the thief has used or threatened deadly force, which entitles the shopkeeper to do the same to the extent needed to protect his personal safety.
    • That said, the "Castle Doctrine Laws" does vary from jurisdiction. Some states require the owner to first give notice to the fact that they are armed or at the very least, cannot shoot the robber in the back. Others are looser, with Stand Your Ground laws that allow for the use of force if there is someone univited on your property (though you can't invite them, then rescind the invitation). In more pro-gun control areas, they might put further restrictions on the owner, such as making this only permissible if they cannot reasonably flee the robber. Regardless, almost all states take a dimmer view if you fire warning shots, which can make it harder to prove self defense, and can be dangerous in and of themselves. It's also not uncommon for the thief to be unarmed for any number of reasons ("Clean Guns", or guns with no criminal history are hard to come by for criminals and the gun will either have to be dirty (used in another crime... and if they arrest you you can be charged with that crime), stolen, or forged (very expensive), or they might be a crook (or on parole and doesn't want to be further charged with weapons possession) who doesn't want to kill anyone, but not above saying that they have a weapon).
  • As a rule of thumb, attempting to rob a sporting goods store, an army surplus store, a pawn shop, or a gun shop is not a good idea, doubly so if it's well known that the owner/proprietor is ex-military. Attempting a Ballistic Discount at a gun shop won't help you in real life, since the gun you get is unloaded, and in many cases not functional until the firing pin is installed, and the person you talk with will usually know how to use a gun themselves. They'll also be watching you carefully, since they've heard the stories too, and if you make a funny move (such as moving to load the gun), you might find yourself in deep trouble.
  • During the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, many shopkeepers decided to protect their livelihood, and none were more famous than the image of Korean shopkeepers on their roofs with rifles and shotguns defending their neighborhood. Ethnic tensions between Koreans and African Americans were very poor before the riots began (something that was ratcheted to a boiling point a year before the riots when a local Korean shop-owner received a bafflingly lenient sentence—a small fine and community service—for shooting a 15-years-old African-American girl in the back for supposedly shoplifting a bottle of juice), and much of the violence was directed at Koreatown, which suffered greatly. Koreatown was considered a low priority by the less than spectacular LAPD, who retreated to the wealthy and mostly white areas of the city. One shopkeeper even witnessed police officers fleeing from the sound of gunshots, leaving the shopkeepers and citizens to fend for themselves. So the shopkeepers and Korean volunteers took matters into their own hands and defended their shops with firearms and improvised weapons until the National Guard showed up to restore order.
  • A sign in front of the vendor area at an anime convention showed a screenshot of a Titan and the text "Shoplifters will be EATEN".
  • Sign at the Renaissance Festival. "Shoplifter Special. Steal one sword get free throwing knife".

Alternative Title(s): Izchaks Wrath, Easily Angered Shopkeeper



Zagreus learns the hard way of what happens when he "borrows" stuff from Charon.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShopliftAndDie

Media sources: