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The Aggressive Drug Dealer

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"You might remember that these naggy junkies were a common theme in all anti-drug education of the time. It would have saved a lot of film if someone told educators that teaching children how to avoid getting expensive drugs for free is like teaching children how to escape from unicorns with a bag of magical shrieking peanuts. I can't remember ever saying, 'Fine, mister, I'll have some of your free heroin if you just get off my back.'"

A trope of yesteryear, born from The '80s' DARE programs and resulting commercials, "inspirational films," and very special episodes from the early War on Drugs. The Aggressive Drug Dealer is out there trying to force your kids into doing drugs. He won't take casual avoidance for an answer and will seek out and use intimidation just to coerce his target. So a type of training is required to "Just Say No".

This just isn't how it happens. No drug dealer in their right mind would risk attracting attention to themselves that way, especially not in the middle-class environments these commercials are aimed at. Any who do so will get caught very quickly, and be far less likely to actually get any customers. The same way children are more likely to be abducted/molested by someone already in their lives than a stranger, they're far more likely to do drugs with their peers than some shadowy figure lurking in the playground. Most drug users have their first taste at a party or some other social setting where the substance is being shared and they give it a try. From there, if they want more, they'll seek out the dealer themselves. Furthermore, it must also be noted that despite (and several would argue because of) government policy, the market for illegal drugs was and remains quite healthy throughout the world; the Aggressive Drug Dealer has little reason to waste time trying to bully unwilling people into becoming their customers when there are almost certainly lots more willing customers eager to buy their product.

So while the "just say no" narrative would make perfect sense in a social setting, where there might actually be pressure to take them in order to look "cool" to one's peers, the problem was, an anti-peer pressure approach to PSAs would wind up contradicting the prevailing theory held by Moral Guardians at the time: that deviant behavior arose from anti-social tendencies, and since surely such "bad kids" are a shunned minority, bowing to peer pressure must if anything be a good thing! Not only that, any such PSAs would also break the illusion any child might have had that their parents are a bastion of safety and morality. In the strict household hierarchy of yesteryear, that last point in particular was a no-no.

The only option left, then, was to fabricate this villain. "Talking to your kids" by scaring them with this nightmare was a lot easier than trying to understand the social environment one's child was in, and instilling values that would stand up and that parents agreed with. It's much easier to demonize an evil outsider inexplicably hell-bent on getting Little Johnny hooked to drugs than to talk about the fact that the people who are actually likely to be encouraging him to try will be his friends and peers.

Thankfully, most anti-drug PSAs have been taking a different approach in the last few years: encouraging children to be "above the influence" in all respects toward peer pressure, not just in regard to doing drugs. If your friends go get high after school, you don't have to go with them, and they'll just agree to see you tomorrow instead.

In this day and age, if a drug dealer is represented as "aggressive" in media, he will most probably be of the "shoot it out with the police and anybody who pisses him off" variety instead... who are, quite unfortunately, Truth in Television and have always been (e.g. Pablo Escobar, the Sinaloa Cartel, etc). Although even that can be exaggerated, as many drug dealers prefer to live, obviously — something that kind of behavior doesn't really encourage (if this happens, they're usually cornered like Escobar, preferring death over prison, already are holding a good hand and/or are high themselves-possibly on their own drug).

A subtrope of Drugs Are Bad.


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  • In Hip Choice, a shady shade wearing puppet in an alleyway offers two other puppets a handful of needles, joints, and pills. They make the hip choice and say no. Then he reveals his horrible eye condition.
  • Noted as a trope that is not Truth in Television in an educational video hosted by Kirk Cameron, possibly made in response to paranoid children who took Scare 'Em Straight tactics too much to heart. The video tried to explain that politely turning down a drug dealer is good enough, as they will not hire their bully friends to pin you to the ground and stab you with needles full of drugs that will give you horrifying hallucinations and make the world change all the wrong colors. The kicker was that they felt the need to animate that part of the film (and two others discussing other incorrect depictions of drugs) as "What will not actually happen to you," so it still gave everyone nightmares anyway.
  • Parodied by Progressive Insurance, which has one commercial in which spokesperson Flo hangs out in a dark alley and aggressively sells insurance in a manner that copies the standard '80s portrayal of the aggressive drug dealer.
  • Subverted in a public service announcement. The aggressive drug dealer turns out to be a trusted adult who was role-playing with the kid.
  • How about this "Snake" PSA from 1986/87? The aggressive (and not particularly subtle) drug dealer's transformation to a literal snake was definitely scary.
  • In the late '60s and early '70s, the slogan was "Why do you think they call it DOPE?" Here's the original 1969 PSA featuring an aggressive dope dealer on a playground and a Mouthy Kid who knows all about the various substances for sale.
  • Superman vs. Nick O'Teen pitted Superman against a villain called Nick O'Teen who acted like this in trying to get kids to smoke cigs. He had a top hat coloured to look like a cigarette butt and yellow teeth. Nick O'Teen tries to get children to smoke cigarettes because... he's evil! Note that he never sells the cigarettes or demands money for them, he just hands them over.
  • This early-90's anti-drug PSA featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Although it's worth noting that the dealer (a grade school kid, bizarrely enough) doesn't resort to any kind of physical violence. He simply calls his "victim" a chicken and then taunts him by imitating a clucking chicken.
  • Played straight in an early 90s Drug-Free America PSA. It depicts a young boy named Kevin running through a rough neighborhood on his way home. Kevin narrates about how at school, his teacher tells kids to "just say no". He points out that his teacher doesn't have to walk home through the same neighborhood that he does. And while the local dealers may be afraid of the police, Kevin says, "they're not scared of me, and they sure don't take 'no' for an answer".

    Anime & Manga 
  • In A Certain Scientific Railgun, the gangster Trick sells Level Upper, a sound file that enhances Esper powers in those who hear it. If people try to refuse or can't pay, he and his thugs beat the crap out of them.
  • "Iron" Goldie Musou of Gunsmith Cats is a mafia capo version of this. If she wants you as a "pet", she is going to send her thugs to get you, drag you to her, drug you... and then she will brainwash you into committing an atrocity horrible enough (like killing your entire family) that you are going to willingly remain a junkie because it's either that or the grief driving you insane. Her practices for getting control of distribution are no less brutal.
  • The Terraist Church from Legend of the Galactic Heroes spikes the food and drinks of pilgrims with Thyoxin, a highly addictive drug that can be used for brainwashing, to effectively enslave them. And if the pilgrims catch on before they are fully addicted, they are brought to the infirmary and forcefully addicted there.
  • Abe no Kai from Lone Wolf and Cub is a variant in that he gets people addicted to a drug called afuyo, which triggers severe withdrawal symptoms, essentially enslaving people through their addiction to it.

  • Mocked as unnecessary by Chris Rock.
    Yo man, drug dealers don't sell drugs. Drugs sell themselves. It's crack. It's not an encyclopedia. It's not a fucking vacuum cleaner. You don't really gotta try to sell crack, OK? I've never heard a crack dealer go, "Man, how am I going to get rid of all this crack? It's just piled up in my house".
  • Comedian Richard Sarvate says that the impression he got from programs like D.A.R.E. was that he would leave school and immediately he would have to dodge an assault of flying needles. The complete absence of drug pushers made him think he must be doing something wrong. He learned later in High School, "They only offer drugs to the cool kids. I was in no danger".

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics would occasionally have anti-drug mini-comics in the books. One specific example has two children accosted by drug dealers, complete with the girl crying "Oh, Jimmy, I'm scared!" They are saved by two generic superheroes.
  • One bizarre example pops up in a Captain America anti-drug comic where Cap has to fight this type of drug dealer. Who also happen to be a race of aliens who seek to subjugate humanity by using drug addiction to weaken humans.
  • Diabolik provided a Justified example, with the drug dealers forcefully addicting inspector Ginko to heroin to completely ruin his life in revenge for him busting too many mob operations.
  • Killing and Dying: Dennis is a drug dealer who regularly pops up around a young man named Bobby and keeps trying to get him to buy.
  • One of the deservedly obscure Tandy Computer Whiz Kids comics took this to absolutely ridiculous levels. The villains are completely focused on getting kids hooked, apparently For the Evulz — profit doesn't even seem to be a factor; apparently they just want to addict people to drugs.
  • This strange species of drug dealer turns up in the Teen Titans anti-drug specials (produced as part of the "Just Say No" initiative). The fact that Speedy (Roy Harper) was absent from those is rather telling...

    Fan Works 
  • In RWBY ABRG, Weiss' family sells dust as a drug as an Open Secret. Weiss has been forced to sell it by her abusive father for years. She usually goes up to random people and tries to sell it to them out in the open, though she isn't violent about it. In the ninth episode, Blake finally has enough and yells at Weiss about trying to sell to vulnerable people. Yang lampshades that their argument isn't something that should be talked about openly in the streets.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The main antagonists of The Black Godfather are a heroin ring willing to start a Mob War to keep their product flowing.
  • The Crow: City of Angels: Judah Earl specifically pushes drugs that are manufactured to kill the user. When his more business-minded underling objects to this, Judah orders him killed.
  • Enter the Dragon: Turns out that Mr. Han can afford his private island fortress and Thug Dojo by making cocaine in a laboratory concealed within said island and selling it (he even invited Roper in the hopes that he would become his agent in his planned expansion to the States)... and abducts women from the streets of Hong Kong and gets them forcibly hooked in order to "create demand".
  • The two corrupt hicks in Foxy Brown hold the title character hostage and deliberately get her addicted to heroin. Or, at least, they try to.
  • Slick in Hobo With a Shotgun, who gleefully maims a kid who owes him money, but then shoves the poor kid's face into a pile of cocaine. That Slick would casually wander around with such a big pile of cocaine is, of course, yet another of the over-the-top touches that make this film what it is.
  • I Come in Peace: A Space Whale Aesop version of this in the Big Bad: an alien drug dealer that gains his alien drugs by forcing a heroin OD on his victims and draining their cerebral fluid while they are dying, and plans an Alien Invasion that will turn Earth into a galactic drug lab.
  • Poppy Adams, the Big Bad of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. In spades. As in, she taints her drugs so she can do a Poison and Cure Gambit and then holds the millions of people who used said drugs as hostages with full nation-wide legalization of recreational drugs as her main demand.
  • This was the Evil Scheme in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die — Mr. Big intends to flood the US with free heroin, driving the Mob out of the market, then cornering it at a highly inflated price to the multitudes of new addicts.
  • The main antagonists of Lovely But Deadly are drug dealers who specialize in minors and control entire schools.
  • The Man with the Golden Arm: Louie the heroin dealer is awfully aggressive in trying to get former addict Frankie to use again. Justified in that Louie is also involved with a lucrative illegal underground poker game, Frankie is a skilled dealer, and the heroin is a means of control to bind Frankie to Louie and get him into the poker game.
  • Frankie Lideo, the villain of Moonwalker's "Smooth Criminal" segment. It's a particularly egregious example since, unlike your average Aggressive Drug Dealer who's in it to get kids hooked so as to keep a healthy flow of customers, he appeared to be in it for the sheer malicious joy of getting kids hooked on drugs.
  • In Pusher 3, Kurt insists on giving Milo some of his heroin. Kurt knows that Milo is a recovering addict, and he has a beef with Milo for his actions in the second film.
  • Chris-R, the ruthless drug dealer from The Room, who is willing to sneak into Johnny's apartment while he and three other people (Lisa, Mark, and Claudette) are inside, and then work his way up to the roof and force Denny at gunpoint to give him the money, but can't wait five minutes for it to arrive.
  • Thoroughbreds: Tim is a particularity pathetic variant, who talks the talk, but doesn't ultimately walk the walk. He wants to be a big-time drug lord, but only sells the children because deep down, he knows he can't compete with the really tough guys. He attempts to push his merchandise at a party some high schoolers are holding, but they just tell him to leave. It's pretty clear that Tim is seen as a loser by everyone, except perhaps himself.
  • In Underworld U.S.A., the kingpin Connors tells Gela, his head of narcotics, to make up lost revenue by selling to 10- to 15-year-olds, and instructs him to have his 'product men' target schools.
  • Inverted in Walk Hard, as each time Dewey stumbles upon Sam doing drugs, the conversation starts with Sam saying "You don't want no part of this shit". The first one (marijuana) in particular is hilarious, as Dewey keeps guessing reasons why it's so bad, only to be corrected each time that it doesn't give you a hangover, it's not habit-forming, you can't OD on it, it makes sex even better, and it's not only not expensive but ...
    Sam: It's the cheapest drug there is. You don't want it!
    Dewey: I think I kinda want it.

  • The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Eight Doctors has a Very Special Subplot involving one of these. Justified — maybe — by the fact that the drug dealer is a schoolkid whose classmate intends to tell on him, and he hopes that by forcing her to take crack, he'll get her addicted and she won't want to tell on him anymore. However, the fact that a teacher claims that, "One single rock is cheap enough. Some dealers even give the first one away. It's a good way to make new customers, especially young ones," is about when you start to realize that you are reading a book propelled solely by Narm Charm.
  • Averted with drug dealer Skizz in the early Fearless books: He isn't trying to force anyone to get hooked and he only goes after Mary Moss (who is working on getting clean) because she still owes him five-hundred dollars. When this puts him on Gaia's bad side, he seemingly decides that it's more trouble than it's worth and backs off, only to get killed by a CIA hit squad on the orders of Gaia's dad (long story).
  • Parodied in the Discworld novel, Feet of Clay, where dealers try to sell the drug 'slab' to troll-children. The troll watchman Detritus runs his own version of the "Drugs — Just say no" posters, aimed at the dealers: "Slab: Just say AarrghaarrghpleasennononoUGH". Considering the reputation of Detritus and his converted siege-crossbow 'The Piece-Maker', it's probably one of the more effective methods of scaring 'em straight.
  • Mocked, as early as 1967, in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. A small boy finds a chocolate bar on the ground and his twelve-year-old sister tells him that it was probably put there by a drug dealer and full of "dope" to get him hooked. Even allowing that it was a more innocent time, it was partly used to illustrate the character of the sister as someone less worldly-wise than she thought, and extremely prone to pointless worrying.
  • In Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I. series, the crime syndicate has been known to use drug addiction as a method of recruiting and controlling underage prostitutes. Garrett is not happy about this.
  • After the protagonist of Go Ask Alice tries to go clean, her drug-using ex-friends start bullying her and threatening her in order to get her back on drugs.
  • In Hal Clement's novel Iceworld, the protagonist is sent to infiltrate a criminal syndicate that has discovered a drug vapor that addicts those who inhale it with one dose. The story takes place among aliens who live at very high temperatures, and the drug is tobacco, acquired via robot probe from a human who has no idea why the aliens are willing to trade gold for cigarettes.
  • Justified in Harry Turtledove's World War series: Humanity discovers that ginger is a powerful and highly addictive narcotic to the aliens trying to invade Earth. Thus they try to spread it to as many of the aliens as possible in order to disrupt their invasion, not just by turning soldiers into useless drug addicts but because it compounds the war weariness that they'd been feeling as a result of their invasion not being the Curb-Stomp Battle they expected it to be. Since it also activates their mating instincts, it also disrupts the aliens' society by introducing them to formerly foreign concepts like romantic love, marriage, prostitution and (more worryingly) rape.
  • The talking cats in Catwalk Corridor in Modelland try to push drugs on the students. Deconstructed in Pete's Exhaustive Review of Modelland:
    "A key sign that someone doesn’t know much about drugs is this: A story where a drug dealer is desperately trying to give away all of her drugs. There’s that classic story about how the first taste is free, but come on. They’re drugs. I can give them away to you or SELL them FOR MONEY to someone else. This is how drug dealers work. Think of it, I don’t know, like a business. Do drywallers do one wall of a house for free, leaving you wanting more? Fuck no".

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Taiwanese Series Black and White, Gao Yi sends a subway train full of hostages hurtling down a dead-end spur while simultaneously aerosolizing a potent narcotic so everyone on board is zoned and now hooked on it.
  • Jesse in Breaking Bad turns into one of these when he needs to persuade a shy young girl cashier to accept payment in meth for the gas he just pumped. Though she's never done meth before, she's apparently not opposed to drugs in principle (she mentions she's smoked pot "a lot") and after some initial reluctance ("That's stuff's really addictive, right?") she seems to mainly be afraid she'll get caught. Which, if you squint just right, seems a lot like one of the writers believes in the "gateway drug" theory.
  • Viciously mocked by Chris Rock on his HBO special Bring the Pain:
    Drug dealers don't really sell drugs. Drug dealers offer drugs... You say "no", that's it! Now Jehovah's Witnesses, on the other hand...
  • Parodied in Brooklyn Nine-Nine when Jake meets up with Isaac, an informant of his and a former drug dealer who gets offended when the cops refer to him as a drug pusher:
    Isaac: Dude, drugs don't need pushing. They push themselves. People love drugs.
  • Wayne Brady is on on the Chappelle's Show episode with him, with scenes right out of Training Day. "This ain't no damn after-school special! SMOKE IT!"
  • Parodied in an episode of Engine Sentai Go-onger. Gunpei offers a child a suitcase full of candy in exchange for his missing Engine Cast, but his trench coat and sunglasses lead the child to mistake him for this trope and run away screaming.
  • Euphoria: Mouse simply won't take "no" for an answer when offering Rue fentanyl. Justified as she's already a drug user, and he wants to make a sale (she either gives him the money or sex). Fezco thankfully rescues her by paying for it.
  • In the "Blue Paradise" episode of The Flash series, said drug's creator produced a huge batch with plans to release it in a cloud over the entire city. Somewhat justified in that this drug was explained to be EXTREMELY addictive. Plus, the drug's creator frequently used his own products.
  • Averted in Friday Night Lights, Luke injures his hip, and becomes reliant on painkillers to play at his usual level. He quickly blows through his prescription and heads into East Dillon to get more, however, the dealers he approaches take one look at the clean-cut white stranger dressed like a ranch hand and immediately clam up, likely assuming he is a very inept undercover cop.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Friends. Ross, after accidentally injuring a Girl Scout, attempts to make amends by selling cookies on her behalf. Monica resists buying any, having been addicted to them as a child, but Ross tries to persuade her by giving her the first box for free, claiming that "all the cool kids are eating them".
  • Parodied on Good Eats, in the episode "Live and Let Diet" with a guy dressed as a milk carton trying to tempt Alton into eating cookies. (Which Alton cites as the reason he's stopped drinking milk.)
  • In the Heat of the Night: The two-parter "A Small War" has a gang of these coming from the "big city" of Jackson (the state capital of Mississippi) and setting up shop in Sparta, especially among the high school kids.
  • In iZombie, Blaine was a regular drug dealer (sleazy, but not too pushy) before becoming an intelligent zombie, but afterward, he pairs this trope with the Poison and Cure Gambit, deliberately infecting rich people and then charging them through the nose for the only substance that can prevent them from progressing to the mindless shambling stage. He also infected bodybuilders to serve as The Big Guy, and the city's police chief to help cover up the suspiciously high number of disappearing homeless people and troubled teens. Given that the "drug" he's selling is the product of murder, he certainly sells the aggressive part.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi: In Part II, Obi-Wan meets a spice dealer who goes as far as giving him a free sample.
  • Subverted in Santa Clarita Diet. When newly-zombified Sheila tries to limit her cannibal diet to monsters whom nobody will miss, she overhears her daughter Abby's friend talk about her ex-boyfriend, a "pedophile who sells drugs to children". The perfect choice? Not quite. It turns out Abby's friend had lied to him about her age and he promptly broke up with her when he found out. And "selling drugs to kids" sounds far more sinister than the more accurate description of selling pot to teenagers. And the primary reason he got into it in the first place was to help his sister financially when she got divorced.
  • In True Blood, the werewolf JD Carsons tells his pack to drink vampire blood (it greatly enhances physical attributes and gives a Healing Factor, but is highly addictive and has nasty withdrawal symptoms). When some refuse, he beats them up and force-feeds them the blood. His goal was to make them stronger and make them addicted so they can not leave and obey him more easily.
  • Veronica Mars: When the PCH bikers are selling drugs for the Fitzpatricks, the Fitzpatricks are not happy with how little they are selling. The bikers say it's a matter of supply and demand, to which Liam replies "You have to create demand. It's called drug pusher for a reason".
  • Occasionally, the villain of the day in Walker, Texas Ranger. Since the focus of the show is Walker kicking ass, the theme seems to be "If You Just Say No, Drug Dealers Will Kill You, Unless Chuck Norris Is There to Protect You".
  • The Wire:
    • Justified when Police Captain Colvin cruises up to a corner crew of drug dealers, causing a dealer to mistake him for a hesitant customer. The shocked Colvin gives increasingly less subtle clues that he's a cop, but the dealer keeps trying to make a sale. Finally, when Colvin puts on his police cap, the kid figures it out and scampers off. This trope was Truth in Television for Baltimore, at least, at the time. Dealers would scatter free heroin along the sidewalk to fish for new customers and keep junkies hooked.
    • The Wire also shows the various crews handing out free samples, called "testers" in the show, at fixed intervals. This is not only to keep the addicts around but apparently to demonstrate how strong (or weak) the current package is.

  • Christian Rock group 4Him have a song called "Freedom", which is about people searching for true freedom apart from Jesus, but not being able to find it. One such seeker is a child who defines freedom as "the hour when school would end and he could play"...but first he has to "get by the dealer selling drugs in the middle of the hall at grammar school". Yes, apparently this dealer openly practices aggressive sales tactics in the middle of the hall at an elementary school. The song makes the same mistake as the TMNT commercial noted above; dealers don't hang out inside schools, they do not try to bar kids' way to force their product on them, and they certainly don't do so at an elementary school, where no children would have any money with them even if their tactics worked.
  • Early appearances of Eminem's Slim Shady alter ego parody this moral panic (especially in the way it coalesced around Gangsta Rap) by making Shady a drug dealer who desperately tries to push his products on children, but is so Stupid Evil and not even cool that he's impossible to take seriously. The best example of this is in "I'm Shady", in which Slim is portrayed as a rather mediocre drug dealer who sells weed, psychedelics, mislabelled aspirin and legal ephedrine supplements, but is successful because if people don't buy his drugs, he murders them and their family:
    I just wanna scare somebody with a gun threat
    When they high off of drugs they haven't even done yet
    So bring the money by tonight
    'Cause your wife said this the biggest knife
    She ever saw in her life (Help me, help me)
    * Inspiring an alt-title for this page, Hoyt Axton's song "The Pusher", made famous by Steppenwolf, is about the evils of drug-pushers which featured the lyric "God Damn the Pusher Man".
  • From Songs by Tom Lehrer, Tom Lehrer's tribute to a "lovable old character" who had "never been properly recognized in song", "The Old Dope Peddler":
    He gives the kids free samples,
    Because he knows full well
    That today's young innocent faces
    Will be tomorrow's clientele.
    • Recorded in 1953 and composed in 1948, the song portrays the Old Dope Peddler as if he were selling candy, not dope. It's Played for Laughs.
    • In 1982, he wrote in The Washington Post that he found the song "almost chilling".

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Darren "Droz" Drozdoff lead a very short-lived stable with his piercing artist Prince Albert and Key. Key (played by Vic Grimes) was implied to be the stable's coke dealer - he wore all white, and even his name was a reference to kilos (the standard unit of measurement for cocaine). Key lasted under a month with only one match to his name.
  • Razor Ramon was derived from the Scarface (1983) movie and Razor was clearly meant to be one of the criminals released from Cuba's jails and dumped on Miami's shores as part of the Mariel boatlift.

  • In one episode of The Now Show, the guest standup describes living in a neighbourhood where there's an aggressive drug dealer on every corner, and that her mother only visited once. Describing her as someone who is scrupulously polite and hates saying no to people, but also has a determined understanding of the proper way of doing things, she claims she arrived clutching a bag of smack and a receipt.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dungeons & Dragons supplement The Book of Vile Darkness describes a demon who managed to possess a blue dragon. The first thing the demon did was force its new host to take some luhix, a viciously addictive drug made from Abyssal plants. Each day one of the demon's subordinates planeshifts to the dragon's lair with another dose of luhix, so even if the dragon succeeded in freeing itself from the demon, it would then be cut off from a means of sating its addiction and staving off the brutal withdrawal symptoms.
  • In Exalted, the Guild imposes trade embargoes on any nation that dares to try to keep itself drug-free. Since the Guild basically controls all international commerce in Creation, this is usually enough to bring a government to its knees fairly quickly. If it isn't, the Guild is not above hiring a mercenary army or two to invade the offending nation, depose its rulers, and install a Guild-backed puppet on the throne.
  • In the post-cyberpunk RPG "Fates Worse Than Death", the Drug Lords have recently managed (after years of hard work) to produce the "holy grail" of illegal street drugs: a drug that is dirt cheap to create, is instantly addictive, and has no effects whatsoever except for absolutely horrible withdrawal symptoms. No more of this tedious "convincing people to buy drugs" crap: their pushers just grab you while you walk down the street, give you one injection, and from that point on you have to pay them ridiculous prices to avoid the withdrawal symptoms of doom. Yet the drug is cheap enough for their victims to make? That formula won't be staying secret for long...
  • Subverted in Myriad Song, the "Pusher" career is mechanically a medic who's good at lying, and whose "medicine" is powerful but has a chance of getting the "patient" addicted.
  • Paranoia adventure Send in the Clones. When the PCs meet Hall-Y-Wud-5, he'll try to hook them on the drug he pushes, co-cola. He'll persuade them to try it with a sales pitch, and will offer them a free taste ("First hit is no charge").

  • Closely related — the Bad Idea Bears in Avenue Q exist solely to try to push other characters into having more sex and alcohol.
  • Conversed in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Padraic is convinced that James Henley "pushes his filthy drugs on children" while James claims that he sells reasonably priced weed to university students. To top off the Comedic Sociopathy, Padraic is perfectly fine with him forcing Protestant children to take drugs, but James sells to Catholics too...

    Video Games 
  • BioShock: Frank Fontaine was a variant. After discovering ADAM, a horrendously addictive substance that gives the user superpowers, he starts marketing it to Rapture's populace. He never forces people to take the drug, but given all the things ADAM can let you do, and how one side effect of ADAM overuse is violent insanity, eventually even people who didn't want to take the drug had to splice themselves in order to fend off other splicers, meaning that they also had to come to Fontaine. Of course, the brutal civil war brewing because of Ryan's descent into tyranny didn't help matters any.
  • A random encounter on the road in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a stranger who will offer you some Skooma. You can buy some, refuse, or threaten to report him for dealing in illegal substances - choosing the latter will cause him to attack.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 2, Jet was specifically engineered to be extremely addictive but only produce a short high, so customers would need to buy more frequently. However, the dealers aren't particularly pushy, since the client base in the three areas it can be found (New Reno, The Den, and Redding) are well-established. However, if you take on the quest to solve the Jet-overdose murder of Chris Wright, his father will insist that the boy was forced to take the drug; he's vehemently anti-drugs, has made his stance clear to his whole family, and refuses to even consider the alternative of his son doing it voluntarily. It eventually turns out that it was actually an assassination, as completing the quest reveals that the victim was poisoned and that the initial suspects (the mob family that controlled the Jet supply) weren't behind it, it was actually a different family that was trying to provoke a war between the two (which would, of course, leave both badly weakened to the point that the third family could fairly easily take over both of their territories).
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, drug dealer Dixon comes across as this to the denizens of Freeside, a slum right next to a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. He proves perfectly willing to sell a special "concoction" to the player, which ends up just being a mixture of Jet and whisky.
  • Galerians features a solicitous drug dealer who identifies Rion, the protagonist, as "a good customer" based on appearance, offering free samples to show that he can cater to Rion's exotic tastes. The whole scene is jarring since it is the only indication of black market activity for Rion's drugs in the game.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • There is A Suspicious Looking Guy, who gives you a free sample of "Goofballs", which boost your stats for a while, but make your parents worry about you. If you don't keep taking them, you suffer Goofball Withdrawal, which for a long time was one of the worst Status Effects in the game.note  Each time you go back for more, the price goes up. Aside from getting you addicted, and then price-gouging you, he's not particularly aggressive. And spoofed roughly five times a year, when because it's "Halloween" and you knocked on his door looking for "sweet treats" he's giving out free "candy" (meaning "sugar" and "artificial flavors" to get you all "buzzed") all night! (They're Rock Pops, and perfectly fine for you if you don't follow up by drinking cola.)
    • There's also a guy in Bad Moon that will forcefully shove a pill down your throat for free, which gives you so-so spooky resistance, but make you super weak to fire and stench damage. invoked
  • Super Fighter: Red Man is a drug dealer and also the Big Bad and Final Boss of this poor man's Street Fighter clone.

    Web Comics 
  • In a Patreon-only strip of Dumbing of Age, Joyce's parents (who, it should probably be noted, are very fundamentalist Christian) have raised her to be in fear of these people, and she expects Carla to be one when Carla mentions she does weed. Joyce is very shocked when an indignant Carla declares she doesn't share her weed and Joyce can find her own.
  • Sleepless Domain: When Kokoro tells Undine she used to date Outrageous Lime, but broke it off because she found Lime 'too hardcore' for her, Undine promptly pictures Lime as one of these, pushing a pack helpfully labelled 'The Drugs' toward a trembling Kokoro, who mutters about peer pressure. Reality...was much more mundane.
    Lime: Check it. [Bathroom Stall Graffitis 'Professor Parker Sux']
    Kokoro: Permanent marker...

    Western Animation 
  • Bravestarr: The episode "The Price" has a drug dealer who is pushing a drug called "spin," which starts with causing feelings of intense euphoria but can later lead to extreme paranoia and even death. He is extremely suave and persuasive but insists on targeting people with very little (or no) money, apparently just so he can persuade them to steal what they owe, suggesting he's more interested in corrupting people rather than actually earning a profit. Also, he actually manufactures the drug himself rather than getting it from a supplier, and once Bravestarr takes out his factory, New Texas is freed from the devastating influence of spin, tying everything up in a neat little bow. Sadly, not before a young boy has died from the drug.
  • In the Captain Planet episode "Mind Pollution", the villain Verminous Skumm was a dealer of a highly addictive drug called "bliss", had some people resort to stealing to get the drug, and he encouraged them to take it and wouldn't accept no for an answer. One of his clients turns out to be Linka's cousin, Boris, who he convinces at one point to get Linka addicted as well by spiking her food with the drug in return for "enough bliss to last you the rest of your life", and eventually dies from overdosing on it. Of course, Skumm's motivation was to wipe out humanity in order to create a world for rats, so profit wasn't really a concern for him. Not surprisingly, after his helicopter crashes, Skumm pulls out a slice of pizza from his pocket (with a bliss pill stuck to it), and gobbles it down. When he sees how his eyes totally bloodshot, Skumm realizes that he doped himself up.
  • A huge Massive Multiplayer Crossover inspirational film Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue including Garfield, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Smurfs (1981), ALF, Winnie the Pooh, Slimer, Bugs Bunny, DuckTales (1987), Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the Muppet Babies (1984), was create to combat this enemy, which included a foreword from the leader of whichever country it was being viewed in, such as then-President George H. W. Bush in its American airing. It's always fun when a sitting President has to talk about a show featuring Smurfs, especially when they clearly didn't know what a Smurf was five minutes before they turned the camera on.
  • Spoofed, skewered, and danced on in the Clone High episode "Raisin the Stakes: A Rock Opera in Three Acts". The eeeevil "Pusher" causes the entire student body to get addicted to (wait for it) ...smoking raisins. Ironically, he's actually far LESS pushy (at least directly) than examples that are played straight. Beyond using a bit of Reverse Psychology to create a demand, all he really does is sit in the shadows and quietly sell his wares to a willing customer base.
  • C.O.P.S. has a one-off villain called Addictum, who uses this as his modus operandi. During his only episode, called "The Case of the Lowest Crime"? he is seen harassing a pair of teenage girls into taking a free sample of his drugs. Unfortunately for him, his aggressive behavior (and possibly the fact he looks like a walking corpse) led to these girls calling the C.O.P.S., who subsequently arrest him.
  • The public service announcements for the G.I. Joe cartoon had aggressive criminals. Two kids home alone, revealing over the phone that they are home alone. A stranger's car drives up to the house... and drives off when noticing the Joe soldier Roadblock, a tall bald black man in a skimpy top, standing on the lawn.
    • Then there was the Very Special Episode two-parter that had the Joes and Cobras team up in an Enemy Mine scenario against an eeevilll drug dealer known as the Headman, who dressed like the Hamburglar and had gotten family members of both Joes and Cobras hooked on his stuff. Apparently, drugs are so bad that even an organization committed to genocidal acts of terrorism which once created a clone made from the DNA of Genghis Khan and Hitler will gladly embark on a crusade to stop them. (Note: this was a Recycled Script from the C.O.P.S. example above.)
  • Played with in the Jem and the Holograms episode "Alone Again", with Bobby Braddock, a sweet-talking drug dealer, though it's still used to the same effect. Bobby, a high schooler, wants the main girl of the episode, Laura, to start using drugs and get hooked on them, giving her a few bags of free pills and then charging her $30 for new ones after he successfully gets her hooked. When she can't pay, he ditches her and her new addiction and finds someone else. While more cold than aggressive, he absolutely fits this trope.

    Real Life 
  • There actually are very rare cases of this being Truth in Television, albeit not quite in the way they were depicted in the '80s and early-'90s. For example, a few of these have shown up on various World's Wildest Police Videos specials, with one infamously latching on to the undercover cop's car as she drove away. These dealers are usually extremely amped up on their own product. Notice as well that they get caught because of this aggressiveness.
  • The drug-laced lollipops mentioned in one urban legend. These are not to be confused with Actiq and its generic counterparts, which are fentanyl-laced lollipops used as painkillers in pediatric oncology. Although the odd Actiq gets abused from time to time, messing with anything containing fentanyl (an opioid much, much more powerful than morphine) is almost always a bad idea; just ask anyone who survived something like the China white scare around 1988, where a fentanyl analogue was sold as heroin and quite a few junkies died of what they thought was a modest dose.
  • It's an urban myth that pimps do this to keep their prostitutes from leaving them, simply because purchasing drugs eats into their profits. However, there are plenty of prostitutes who work to support a drug habit. It's also possible for someone to be both a pimp and a drug dealer at the same time, and if any of the prostitutes working for said person were addicted to the drugs they were selling it could certainly appear as if it were a deliberate action on the part of the pimp, regardless of how it had actually occurred.
  • Undercover narcotics officers will sometimes act like this to try to catch users in the act of buying drugs. However, since actual users and real dealers (at least, those that don't take their own product, as mentioned a few points above) are too smart to fall for this, undercover officers often target high schoolers or first-time users for an easy arrest, which brings up serious questions about the effectiveness of the war on drugs, and the exact definition of entrapment.
  • Every Halloween, local news will inevitably run a story on ecstasy, marijuana-laced candy, and other edible drugs passed off as candy and how parents should "beware" that these drugs could wind up in their children's trick-or-treat bags. Not only are edibles way too expensive to give away for free, but even if a child got hooked and wanted more, they'd have no way of knowing who the dealer was. So basically, such a dealer would be blowing hundreds of dollars just to get a bunch of kids high for no personal gain. Let's put it this way: if people really were giving away free drugs on Halloween, there'd be a lot more adults out trick-or-treating.
  • Somewhat to the surprise of law enforcement trying to catch them, modern dealers of heroin would actually give free doses to certain customers if they didn't have the money to pay at that time. Notably, though this is only partly to keep them addicted (see Dreamland); it's also both for the safety of themselves and their customer, since severe withdrawal symptoms can be fatal (dealers are very much interested in keeping their customers alive to keep buying from them, after all) and particularly desperate customers who don't want to be dope sick are far more likely to try and steal from or rob their dealers.
  • And of course there's the time-honoured tactic of offering a huge introductory discount only to jack up the price afterwards, entrapping anyone who failed to Read the Fine Print, which works even better for addictive narcotics than it does for the stuff you can legally hawk in an infomercial.
  • There is also the classic tactic of spiking relatively mild drugs, like marijuana or even alcohol, with more intense and addictive ones, like PCP or better yet some designer cocktail only they sell. Not exactly forcing straight edge kids to become addicts but it is tricking casual drug users into becoming full-blown addicts.
  • This trope is part of the reason for the disappearance and decommissioning of payphones, besides them being superseded by cell phones. According to Urban Legend, drug dealers would loiter around public telephones, both waiting for "customers" to call them, and trying to lure in new customers by offering drugs. However, there are no reliable reports of dealers ever having done this, even back in the days before cell phones were widely available, and it certainly wouldn't make much sense. Loitering around a payphone for hours and hours each day does, after all, look suspicious, and (this being the thing everyone apparently missed) looking suspicious is exactly what drug dealers don't want.
  • Interestingly, this sort of attitude was a large part of the cause for the opioid epidemic, with pharmaceutical companies bribing doctors into prescribing opioid medications to patients who didn't need such powerful painkillers, or prescribing them to people who did need them but in amounts so large that no human being could take them as prescribed without becoming addicted.
  • President George H.W. Bush, in his first address from the Oval Office, held up a bag of crack cocaine which had been seized from a drug deal which took place just across the street from the White House. The incident was used as an example to show how aggressive drug dealers had become, although it later turned out that the deal had been a deliberate setup so Bush could claim that dealers were "selling next to the White House" (although, from the 70's to the early 90's, DC really was Crack Central and the claim wasn't that far-fetched).
  • Done on an international scale by England to China during the Opium Wars, which were fought because the Chinese government decided to actually take action against the drug trade, so the English actually fought a war to force China to make that particular form of drug dealing legal. It doesn't get more aggressive than hauling in an actual army to make people take your drugs.


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Alternative Title(s): Goddamn The Pusherman



Fetch gets drugged by Shane and leaves her to the DUPs.

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Main / TheAggressiveDrugDealer

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