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The Caper
aka: The Heist

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Told from the criminal viewpoint, a group plans and executes an elaborate crime. The criminals are usually more rounded than the opposition, or at least more colorful. When the crime is a robbery, the plot is called a "heist."

The Caper is more action-oriented than The Con. It often revolves around a brilliant Gentleman Thief who Just Got Out of Jail hoping to do One Last Job, usually by Putting the Band Back Together (in comedies, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits). However, almost any type of protagonist can be found planning a caper, often out of necessity when their usual methods won't work or aren't available. If one or more of the crew works for the target, it's an Inside Job. Can lead to Just Like Robin Hood as a way of Caper Rationalization. The crew's leader will inevitably present the job as A Simple Plan that is certain to go off the rails due to unexpected variables. Optionally, the leader may have a Plan B, but it can only be used as a last resort, as it involves going loud, or doing something very dangerous, and that would otherwise defeat the whole purpose of an elaborate heist.

The members of a Caper Crew fall into standard roles. For targets, see Bank Robbery, Armed Blag, The Casino, Train Job. See also Impossible Mission, The Infiltration and Double Caper. Not to be confused with The Cape. Can contain an A-Team Montage or Avengers Assemble sequence. Heist Episode is for when works that are normally not about thievery pay homage to the Caper genre for an installment, usually by having the characters steal something. Contrast Caught Up in a Robbery.

Not to be confused with the webseries Caper. One of the reasons heist films may be so popular is that conceptually, pulling off a heist and making a movie are pretty much the same thing.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In an early episode of Armored Trooper VOTOMS, Chirico and company hijack a jijirium shipment.
  • The basic plot of most Cat's Eye episodes is the trio putting on a caper - and Toshio trying to prevent it.
  • A lot of the filler arcs of Get Backers qualify. Even though the titular characters only steal items to return then to their original owners, sometimes the definition of "original owner" can get really fuzzy (especially with Clayman).
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The JOJOLands, Jodio and Dragona are brought in by Meryl May Qi, who assembles a team to steal a diamond worth millions from a tourist.
  • The point of virtually all Lupin III stories. They usually involve at least two or more members of Lupin's gang in the process of executing a grandiose heist, while Zenigata opposes them (mostly to capture Lupin).
  • Magic Kaito is about a boy becoming a phantom thief and putting on a caper , it covers almost every episode.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Being about a criminal mastermind and his plans, most of the series' arcs features at least one of these. Some of the more exemplary ones include:
    • The dramatic staged murder of Blitz Enders in front of an entire cruiseship full of witnesses to Enders committing his crimes—all organized by Moriarty to put him on display.
    • Arranging for Hope's murder of Drebbers and then framing Sherlock for murder, dragging him around London to clear his name.
    • There's an offhand mention of "The Red-headed League" and how Moriarty's crew arranged to have access to a shop in order to dig a tunnel to commit a crime—although what crime they were organizing for remains unclear.
  • One Piece Film: Gold: The second half of the film focuses on this with the crew trying to pull off a heist to get the money to prevent Zoro's execution.
  • In an episode of Sgt. Frog, Momoka, Natsumi, and Moa form the "Phantom Thief Troupe: More Peach Summer" to steal the painting "The Birth of Venus"... which turns out to be an embarrassing portrait of Momoka as a baby, naked.

  • The Mona Lisa: Infamously, in 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in broad daylight. The plan was simple and brazen: The thief dressed as a maintenance man, removed the painting for "cleaning," and simply walked out with it under his coat. It was recovered 28 months later when he tried to fence it at an art gallery in Italy. Since then it has been protected under bulletproof safety glass.

    Comic Books 
  • Firefly: The Sting: The plan centers around stealing the goods of diamond mine owner Logar Keppelwhite, making use of a crew and the timing of the commitment day ceremony.
  • The Superior Foes of Spider-Man revolves around one complicated caper, which gets increasingly convoluted as everyone involved tries to screw everyone else involved over.
  • The Marvel Comics miniseries Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK's 11 features a destitute MODOK recruiting a group of equally destitute C-list supervillains to help him steal a powerful energy source, for which he will pay them. Predictably, most of the villains are either working for someone else or trying to screw each other over.
  • Zombo: Subverted in the TV satellite story where a bunch of goons are planning a heist when they're attacked by zombies and subsequently change up their plan to make them "Like Us! Like Us!"

    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction The Amulet Job is a parody and somewhat-deconstruction of this genre: The Alicorn Amulet has been stolen by a shady casino-owner to sell on the black market, and Starlight has to steal it back; the only co-conspirators she can find are Ponyville's residents, who are law-abiding citizens who only know how to crime from reading crime stories.
  • In Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness, Neville and company pull one of these to retrieve the Sword of Gryffindor from Snape's office, complete with seemingly impossible odds on getting inside.

    Film — Animation 
  • Catwoman: Hunted: The first act of the movie has Catwoman stealing Black Mask's diamond (his entry fee to Leviathan) from Minerva's vault.
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation: Partway through the film, the characters attempt to steal the Pegasus Crystal forming the centerpiece of Queen Haven's crown during a royal showcase in Zephyr Heights, which they do by waiting until the queen is distracted by her daughter's musical performance, swapping her crown and sneaking out. It goes off perfectly until the queen's dog and Hitch derail the whole thing.

    Film — Live Action 
  • American Animals: Four college students plan to steal millions of dollars worth of rare books from a university library that are guarded by only a single librarian. It's a dramatization of a real crime. Also a deconstruction of many heist movie tropes.
  • The Anderson Tapes, featuring an immediately post-Bond Sean Connery and one of Christopher Walken's first roles. The title refers to the fact that the story was told though surveillance tapes.
  • Any Number Can Win: This French film is about the elaborate plan of criminals to rob a casino in Cannes.
  • Armored: A newbie guard for an armored truck company is coerced by his veteran coworkers to steal a truck containing $42 million. But a wrinkle in their supposedly foolproof plan divides the group, leading to a potentially deadly resolution.
  • Army of the Dead — Mixed with action and horror/zombie genre.
  • The plot of The Art of the Steal centres around a plan to heist the Gospel of St. John from a high-security customs warehouse.
  • The Asphalt Jungle — A deconstruction in which The Caper ends badly for all participants. Also the Trope Maker.
  • In Assault on a Queen, a group of morally dubious treasure hunters turn Submarine Pirates when they salvage a sunken U-boat and plan to use it to rob the RMS Queen Mary mid-ocean.
  • Bad Genius has a foursome of Thai high school students execute an elaborate plan to steal and profit off the answers to an international standardized test.
  • Bandits: The Sleepover Bandits' final heist is on a much larger scale than their previous robberies, and ingenious and multi-layered in nature.
  • The Bank Job: A group of small-time crooks are engaged to stage a heist to cover the retrieval of steal embarrassing pictures of a member of the royal family. First, they aren't told that this is the heist's actual goal, and then it turns out some of the safe deposit boxes also had ties to organized crime...
  • Bank Shot. Crooks plot to literally steal a bank, i.e. to steal the entire building.
  • I soliti ignoti (US title Big Deal on Madonna Street), a 1958 Italian comedy about a group of small-time thieves and ne'er-do-wells who bungle an attempt to burgle a pawn shop in Rome. Americanized as Crackers (1984) and Welcome to Collinwood (2002).
  • Bottle Rocket is something of a caper parody, with a group of idle rich kids planning a series of ill-advised capers.
  • In Botched, The Mafiya boss Groznyi sends Donovan, Peter and Yuri steal a priceless cross from the penthouse of a Russian oligarch. They get the cross, but escaping the building proves much harder than they anticipated.
  • Bound (1996): Two lesbians steal several million in cash and try to pin it on the mobster boyfriend of one of them.
  • Subverted in The Bourne Identity. Jason plans an elaborate caper to get Marie in and out of a luxury hotel so he can get hold of some documents he needs regarding a pseudonym he apparently used before he lost his memory, but Marie changes her mind midway and just asks the clerk for a photocopy.
  • The Brinks Job is a fictional retelling of the infamous Brink's Company robbery in Boston, which took place on January 17th, 1950, with a score of $2,700,000, and cost the American taxpayers $29,000,000 to apprehend the culprits with only $58,000 recovered.
  • In Carry On Matron, Sid Carter and his gang of thieves plan to make their fortune by stealing a shipment of contraceptive pills from Finisham Maternity Hospital to sell abroad. Sid's son Cyril infiltrates the hospital disguised as a nurse named "Cyrille", but almost nothing goes to plan.
  • City of Industry: The heist of a jewelry store by a four-man operation occurs early on and proceeds without a hitch. The actual fall-out results from the newest member of the group later betraying his associates so he doesn't have to share the loot with them. He kills two of them but the third guy gets away, and since one of the other two was the surviving party's younger brother he spends the rest of the movie gunning after his treacherous ex-partner.
  • The Con is On: To pay off their debts, Harry and Peter plant to steal a $5 million ring given to Peter's ex-wife Jackie by her new husband.
  • Day of the Wolves: A gang of six professional thieves isolate a small town and systematically loot every target of value. However, they encounter resistance from the recently sacked chief of police, who stages a one-man fight back on the streets. Interesting as it devotes as much time to the bad guys' planning of the heist as it does to the hero's retaliation.
  • The Day They Robbed The Bank Of England: In 1901, a group of IRA members decides to rob the Bank of England in order to finance their movement and to embarrass the British government.
  • Deconstructed in Dead Presidents. Despite a well-planned heist, the ex-Vietnam veterans are ill-suited to committing a robbery and the whole plan goes to pieces.
  • In Den of Thieves, Merriman and his crew are planning a heist on the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles: the 'bank for banks'.
  • In Dobermann, Dobermann and his gang are planning to rob multiple banks on the same day.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves combines a heist comedy with a High Fantasy setting as a group of adventurers scheme to steal a magical artifact from a treacherous former party member.
  • El Robo del Siglo ("The Heist of the Century"), based on the real-life robbery of the Argentinian Banco Río, shows how Fernando Araujo came up with and masterminded the titular heist.
  • Entrapment, which started a heist-film revival after two decades of relative silence on the caper front.
  • Fast Five: Dom and Brian assemble a Caper Crew equipped with characters from the franchise's previous installments for One Last Job — robbing Rio's biggest drug lord. The crew pulls two more capers in the next two The Fast and the Furious films.
  • A Fish Called Wanda, though it's more a farce dealing with the events after the robbery.
  • Foolproof: Kevin, Sam and Rob are founding members of a theoretical group which pulls off heists. Leo, a gangster, blackmails them into pulling off a real multi-million dollar heist. Now it's up to them to get out alive.
  • Four Against the Bank: German heist comedy with four men teaming up to rob a bank in Berlin that deliberately emptied the accounts of three of them. The fourth guy is the Inside Job, he got fired by the bank's CEO for being too honest with the bank's clients.
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle begins with a bank robbery that takes up about 20 minutes of its runtime, even though this is only one of several plot lines in the film. The bank robbers perpetrate a number of similar crimes while the title character mulls over whether to inform on them to get himself a lighter prison sentence.
  • Fun with Dick and Jane, what happens when a suburban couple are forced into a life of crime by circumstances.
  • Gambit: An art curator decides to seek revenge on his abusive boss by conning him into buying a fake Monet, but his plan requires the help of an eccentric and unpredictable Texas rodeo queen.
  • Going in Style: The 1979 version has three senior citizens plan and execute a bank robbery, largely to put some excitement back into their dull, post-retirement lives. The 2017 remake follows the same basic story, but the three lead characters resort to bank robbery after their pensions are dismantled when the company they worked for for 30 years is bought out.
  • In Graduation, four best friends plot to rob a bank during their high school graduation ceremony in order to help out one of the teen's sick relatives.
  • Grand Slam: After retirement, Professor James Anders presents criminal Mark Milford an elaborate plan to rob a diamond company in Brazil with a crew of professionals.
  • The Great Riviera Bank Robbery (also known as Dirty Money and Sewers of Gold). In the film, based on a bank robbery, masterminded by Albert Spaggiari in 1976, members of a neofascist group team up with professional criminals to rob the safe deposit vault of a bank in a French resort town.
  • In The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery, John Egan assembles a crew to rob the Southwest Bank in St. Louis.
  • The Great Train Robbery is about, as you might expect, a train robbery.
  • Happy New Year, about a Master of Disguise (Peter Falk) and his Bumbling Sidekick (Charles Durning) planning to rob a Palm Beach jewelry store.
  • In The Heist (1989), Neil formulates a plan to take revenge on the man who framed him by knocking over the counting room of the racetrack on one of the busiest days of the year.
  • In Heist (2015), a desperate father teams with some local thugs tok over a casino that is laundering money for the mob. However, more screen time is devoted to the botched getaway which turns into a mobile Hostage Situation than to the actual heist.
  • Henry's Crime follows Henry, who goes to jail for a bank robbery he did not commit. Once released, he plans to rob the same bank with his former cellmate Max.
  • High Sierra: After being released from prison, notorious thief Roy Earle is hired by his old boss to help a group of inexperienced criminals plan and carry out the robbery of a California resort.
  • The comedy Hot Money, where a group of cleaning staff for the Bank Of England steal some of the old money that's about to be incinerated, by stuffing it in their underwear.
  • The Hot Rock: Dortmunder, the world's unluckiest crook, discovers just how many time he can steal the same gem.
  • How to Beat the High Cost of Living is about about three suburban housewives who, in order to beat inflation and subsidize their alimony checks, plot to steal $1 million from a large plastic ball which is displayed in a local shopping center.
  • How To Blow Up A Pipeline: We follow the group as they get ready to blow up the pipeline, with extensive planning for how to make the bomb, set it and get away afterward.
  • In How to Rob a Bank, Jinx gets caught in the middle of a Bank Robbery that turns out to be far more complicated than a simple grab for cash.
  • How to Steal a Million- A woman must steal a statue from a Paris museum to help conceal her father's art forgeries, and enlists the help of a man she believes to be a professional art thief.
  • In Inception, the main character's career is doing this with ideas. The plot of the movie is an inversion: They must leave an idea instead.
  • The Innocent (2022): The protagonists are trying to steal a heft of caviar from a truck driver stopping to eat.
  • Inside Man involves a heist masquerading as a hostage situation. The protagonist is the police hostage investigator, but the film spends as much time watching the heist play out inside the bank.
  • The Italian Job - both the new one and the original one. The 1969 version centres around a gang stealing gold bars in Turin by loading them into the back of Mini Coopers, preventing the police from following them by causing a city-wide traffic jam and escaping over the rooftops and through the storm drains in the tiny cars. The 2003 version transplants the action to Los Angeles, and has the gang attempting to steal back the gold they lost in Italy when one member of the original heist team betrayed them.
  • Kelly's Heroes: During World War II, a group of U.S. soldiers sneaks across enemy lines to get their hands on a secret stash of Nazi treasure.
  • The Stanley Kubrick film The Killing. Crooks plan and execute a daring race-track robbery. However, despite the thoroughness of the planning, things start to unravel for reasons that could not have been planned for.
  • Killing Zoe is what happens when The Caper is attempted while on heroin. Things don't end well.
  • King of Thieves is a dramatization of the Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary: the "largest burglary in English legal history."
  • The Ladykillers (both versions) have a crew of lowlifes trying to tunnel into a vault through an old woman's basement while posing as a musical group having rehearsals.
  • The Lavender Hill Mob:A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbor to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers.
  • In The League of Gentlemen, a disgruntled veteran recruits a group of disgraced colleagues with specialised skills to perform a bank robbery with military precision. One of the direct inspirations for Mission: Impossible.
  • Logan Lucky is basically the Deep South and blue collar version of Ocean's Eleven, with a NASCAR circuit as target instead of banks/casinos/museums.
  • Loophole (1981): When architect Stephen Booker loses his partnership, he finds jobs hard to come by, and with money in short supply, he unwittingly becomes involved in a daring scheme to rob one of London's biggest bank vaults.
  • In Mad Money, three female employees of the Federal Reserve plot to steal money that is about to be destroyed. A loose remake of the British film Hot Money (see above).
  • The Maiden Heist is centered on three museum security guards who devise a plan to steal back the artworks to which they have become attached after they are transferred to another museum.
  • A Man Called Sledge: After meeting the Old Man and learning about the gold shipment from the Big Rock Canyon mines, Sledge starts formulating a plan to heist the gold as it stored overnight in the maximum security wing of Rockville Prison.
  • Man on Wire: The documentary details the real-life story of a daredevil who, with the help of his friends, breaks into the World Trade Center and wire walks between the towers.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Ant-Man, a genius millionaire gives master cat burglar Scott a superhero outfit that lets him shrink down to the size of an ant, all to steal exactly the same technology from an unscrupulous businessman who plans to sell it to some very shady types. About half the plan is "use the suit" which justifies otherwise unrealistic tropes like Air-Vent Passageway, and the other half is the regular standard heist techniques that Scott and his fellow criminals do anyway.
    • Avengers: Endgame, of all movies, is an example, with a super-heroic twist. Following up on the last Avengers movie, the heroes are trying to re-assemble the Artifact of Doom that killed their friends with the hopes of reversing the damage. After learning that the Macguffins have all been destroyed, they decide to use Time Travel to go back to where the Infinity Stones had been across time and space in other Marvel movies, bring them back to the present, and save the universe. There's a planning phase as they gather everything they know about the Infinity Stones and where they would be, then they split off into smaller groups, each targeting a specific Stone. And of course, not everything quite works out as planned.
  • Masquerade (2021): It's revealed early on that Rose is working with the thieves. Except this is actually a narrative bluff, and Rose (the grown up Casey) is really in league with Sofia's sister to avenge her murdered parents.
  • In The Masters Touch a just released from prison professional thief decides to do one last high-risk heist, which could settle him for life or land him behind bars again.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Mission: Impossible (1996): Ethan's team steals the NOC list to start, then upon discovering the entire thing was a sting operation and the list is a trap Ethan goes on to steal the real NOC list from its high security vault in order to draw out the true traitors.
    • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: The team infiltrates the Kremlin to steal information, only for the mission to be sabotaged. They later have an elaborate, and altered at the last minute plan, to steal the launch codes from the assasin who killed an IMF agent in the film's intro.
  • In Money Movers, Eric, Brian and Ed are formulating a plan for knocking over the counting house of the largest armoured car firm in the city, on the day of the week when it holds the most cash. Local mobster Jack Henderson finds out about the scheme, and muscles his way on board.
  • Money Plane is about a group of thieves robbing an airborne criminal casino.
  • A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square: Pinky is released from prison and has decided to go straight from now on, but takes a job as a maintenance man at a large bank, which gives him a lot of undue attention from "Ivan the Terrible", the local hoodlum. By using Pinky, Ivan hopes to rob the bank, and Pinky starts to like the idea of going back to his old ways.
  • Ocean's Eleven (the original, the remake and the remake's sequels) thrived on this trope, with con artist Danny Ocean assembling a Badass Crew to commit audacious robberies without any violence. There's a prominent use of Once More, with Clarity for the remake and its sequels.
  • Odds Against Tomorrow — Can easily be seen as a deconstruction in the vein of The Asphalt Jungle, as the three-man heist operation falls apart due to internal strife between the racist Earl Slater and the black Johnny Ingram, and the leader, Burke, being unable to keep their differences in check.
  • The Danish film-series Olsen-banden and its Swedish and Norwegian counterparts consists of nothing but this.
  • The Perfect Score - A group of teens steal the answers to the SAT, as failing would jeopardize their respective futures.
  • The Pink Panther (1963) follows inspector Jacques Clouseau as he travels from Rome to Cortina d'Ampezzo to catch a notorious jewel thief known as "The Phantom" before he is able to steal a priceless diamond known as "The Pink Panther".
  • Raining In The Mountain is a variation; it takes place in a Buddhist mountain monastery during China's Ming Dynasty. The MacGuffin is a Sacred Scripture, and rather than a Caper Crew that falls apart there are two rival crews competing for the same prize, versus the elderly Abbot who, it's implied, suspects what's going on and is trying to foil them.
  • Reservoir Dogs does an interesting version by completely skipping the caper itself, making it a subversion.
    • The video game of the film, on the other hand, is all about the heist.
  • Rififi is the Trope Codifier and one of the direct inspirations for Mission: Impossible. A foursome band together to commit an almost impossible theft, the burglary of an exclusive jewelry shop on the Rue de Rivoli. The centerpiece of the film is an intricate half-hour heist scene depicting the crime in detail, shot in near silence, without dialogue or music.
  • Robot and Frank, a sci-fi dramedy secretly including several caper tropes.
  • The first part of Ronin (1998) has a team of former spies of various nations planning the elaborate take-down of a four-car caravan to steal a mysterious case for an Irish militant group.
  • The Score features an interesting take on safecracking, even if the Mythbusters showed it wouldn't work.
  • Sexy Beast, though the main character spends most of his energies trying to avoid participation in the caper.
  • The Silent Partner, which is about two thieves engaging in a battle of wits over who gets to pull off the heist.
  • Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks starts out as one of these, then shifts gears when the cookie business set up as cover for their activities becomes an unexpected success.
  • Sneakers: Our heroes are security consultants who test the security of businesses by trying to break it. The instigating event forces them to start using their skills outside of the law.
  • Son of a Gun: After he helps Lynch break out of prison, JR becomes part of Sam's plan to pull off a heist at the gold refinery in Kalgoorlie.
  • Les Spécialistes, a 1985 French heist film in which the two protagonists plan and execute the robbery of a mafia-owned casino's safe, which has top notch security (for its time), including a vault room where nothing must touch the ground.
  • Star Wars:
    • The climax of Rogue One features the titular team stealing the plans for the Death Star to discover its weakpoint. Being a Foregone Conclusion, the mission is accomplished, but the entire team ends up dying in the process.
    • Solo features two heists of coaxium (a highly valuable source of fuel) in which Han Solo takes part. The first one is a Train Job that ends up ruined because of a gang of Space Pirates. The second one involves stealing unrefined coaxium in the mines of Kessel.
  • In St Trinians, the St. Trinian's girls must get into the final of School Challenge, a TV quiz show held in the National Gallery in London, as a cover for stealing Johannes Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring".
  • Swelter has a casino robbery as their backstory, seen briefly in flashbacks. It went wrong, and the film follows four of the conspirators 10 years later as they attempt to track down their fifth man and the $10 dollars they stole.
  • Takers follows a group of professional bank robbers who specialize in spectacular robberies. They are pulled into One Last Job by a recently-paroled cohort only to be pitted against a hard-boiled detective and his partner who interrupt their heist.
  • The Thieves is a Korean take on the genre, with a crew using a mix of Korean and Hong Kong members. It also has a truly epic Gambit Pileup.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair - both the new one and the original one. A debonair, adventuresome bank executive believes he has pulled off the perfect multi-million dollar heist, only to match wits with a sexy insurance investigator who will do anything to get her man.
  • Three Kings: In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, four soldiers set out to steal gold that was stolen from Kuwait, but they discover people who desperately need their help.
  • Thunderbolt and Lightfoot: With the help of an irreverent young sidekick, a bank robber gets his old gang back together to organize a daring new heist.
  • In Topkapi, a Con Man gets mixed up with a group of thieves who plan to rob an Istanbul museum to steal a jewelled dagge. One of the direct inspirations for Mission: Impossible. Rififi is the Trope Codifier.
  • Tower Heist: A group formerly employed at a Manhattan high rise plan to break into the owner's penthouse suite and rob millions from a hidden safe, in order to compensate themselves and all the other employees who lost their pensions and savings to said owner's Ponzi scheme.
  • The Town: The film centers on a working-class Boston Irish crew of bank robbers who execute several daring heists throughout the film.
  • Trading Places: The caper is a scheme to swap out a crop report on oranges and use the advance information to make a fortune on frozen concentrated orange juice futures while tricking the main characters' enemies to do the opposite. While the theft is illegal, the insider futures trading itself was perfectly legal at the time, but was eventually outlawed.
  • Triple 9 opens with the crew knocking over a bank to steal a safety deposit box. A large chunk of the latter part of the film is devoted to them planning and then executing a heist on a Homeland Security safe building.
  • The Usual Suspects: The suspects are a group of criminals who form a gang after getting assigned to the same police line-up, but they ultimately discover that they were selected for the line-up and must execute a new heist to pay a debt they all share.
  • Vabank (''Hit the bank'' in USA), is about a retired safe cracker organizing one to avenge his best friend, whom the mark, a Morally Bankrupt Banker, had killed.
  • John Wayne and Kirk Douglas team up to steal a half million in gold from The War Wagon, an armored stagecoach.
  • In Who's Minding the Mint?, a mint worker accidentally destroys some money and decides to break in and reprint it, but finds he has some unwanted partners.

  • Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code: The group comprises a caper against Jon Spiro to steal back the C-Cube and take him down at the same time.
  • Danny, the Champion of the World centers around a plot to poach over 200 pheasants in a single night, in order to ruin an evil industrialist's grand hunt.
  • Dortmunder: Every story that Dortmunder is involved in and Dortmunder himself was a comedic version of the author's other main character, Parker.
  • The third act of The Ember Blade focuses on La Résistance breaking into Hammerholt, the most secure fortress in Ossia, to steal the titular sword on the eve of a royal wedding.
  • Flawless is the story of the Real Life Antwerp diamond heist, where thieves stole an estimated $100-$400 million worth of diamonds in 2003.
  • The Fourth Stall series has one in each book, and they get progressively larger. They range from merely breaking into a kid's locker, to shutting down an entire school.
  • Gentleman Bastard: Locke Lamora being a thief, capers play a large role in the first two novels, particularly the second.
  • Goldfinger. While in the movie, Goldfinger was going to irradiate the gold, in the book he was actually planning to steal it.
  • The Great Greene Heist: High-School Hustler Jackson and his allies set out to bolster Gaby's student council campaign while undermining Keith's after determining that Keith will use his Absurdly Powerful Student Council authority to cut the budgets for all of their clubs if he wins. This ultimately leads to a plan to rig the voting machines. [Only that's just a bluff, and the real plan is to make Keith paranoid enough to tamper with the ballots himself and get caught in the process.
  • The Great Ringtail Garbage Caper details the plan of a group of raccoons to save their community by hijacking the local garbage truck so they can get first dibs on their town's valuable trash supply.
  • The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. It is the story of the Great Gold Robbery of 1855, a massive gold heist, which takes place on a train travelling through Victorian-era England on 22 May 1855.
  • The Hobbit: The dwarven party Bilbo joins is a fantastic version of this, with the idea being to take the riches of the Lonely Mountain. They explicitly enlist Bilbo as a "burglar."
  • The first book of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is patterned after a heist, where our motley crew of thieves decides the best way to fight the Evil Overlord is to rob his treasury and bribe away all of his armies.
  • Neuromancer is built around a caper, but stakes in this one rise out of the normal territory as the story progresses.
  • The Nick Velvet stories by Edward D. Hoch frequently require Nick to pull off an elaborate caper in order to steal something worthless; which is why he charges so much for his services.
  • Parker: Each book is divided into four sections of roughly equal length, subdivided into shorter chapters. The first and second sections are written in a limited third-person perspective focused entirely on Parker as he plans and undertakes a robbery or heist with colleagues. The second section ends on a cliffhanger, as Parker is betrayed — often injured and left for dead. Section three shifts to the perspective of Parker's opponents, usually in flashback as they plan and execute their double-cross. Section four returns to Parker's perspective as he survives the plot against him and sets out for revenge.
  • Played With in River of Teeth. The story involves Houndstooth assembling a Caper Crew of the usual suspects and the target is a corrupt businessman running several casino boats, however, the goal is not to rob him but to remove thousands of feral hippos from the lake where the aforementioned corrupt businessman is feeding cheating customers to them. Preferably without him noticing until it's too late. The operation, as Houndstooth insists on calling it, is also sanctioned by the federal government. This stops none of the crew members from calling the entire thing a caper and treating it as such, much to Houndstooth's annoyance.
  • Six of Crows - Taking place in the world of The Grisha Trilogy six teenage criminals try to break into and out of the most secure prison in the world.
  • Skate the Thief features the title character planning and executing burglaries of wealthy wizards' and scholars' libraries for their books on behalf of the old wizard who took her in off the street.
  • In Skin Game, fifteenth book in The Dresden Files, Harry is on a crew trying to steal the Holy Grail from the vault of Hades (yes, that Hades).
  • Star Wars: Scoundrels: Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian lead a crew to break into a local criminal bigwig's Big Fancy House and steal the contents of his vault, including 163 million credits. Later, it turns out Villachor isn't just the head honcho of planet Wukkar, but also a lieutenant in Black Sun, and his vault is currently hosting the files Black Sun uses to blackmail officials across the Empire. The files become both an additional target and a way of gaining access to Villachor.
  • The Supervillainy Saga book, Tales of Supervillainy: Cindy's Seven, has Cindy Wachkowski AKA Red Riding Hood assembling a team to rob the Dragon King's The Casino. The Dragon King is a literal dragon and the richest being on Earth.
  • The novel Thunderball had SPECTRE doing this — rather than an organised crime Cosmopolitan Council, they were a gang of highly-professional criminals who were planning the Empty Quiver heist as One Last Job.
  • The Vlad Taltos novels often have at least elements of this. Jhereg and Yendi are straight examples.
  • All of the Wyatt novels centre around a heist of some kind: usually high value and easily convertible to cash. Wyatt prefers to steal cash, but will also steal other easily transportable valuables, like jewels or art. These heists never run as smoothly as he would like.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Every single episode of The A-Team.
  • Blake's 7. Given that the eponymous Seven are mostly a group of ex-cons that Blake rescued from a penal colony this trope comes up in several episodes, ranging from stealing a Federation decoder in "Seek-Locate-Destroy" to robbing a gold shipment in the final season — by which time their idealistic leader has long since gone and the Seven are little better than Space Pirates acting under the guise of revolutionaries.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a heist episode usually once a season, generally on Halloween (but subject to change), with the squad planning to "steal" (i.e., retrieve, since they're cops and a real heist is obviously a crime) certain precious items owned by any one of their number, previously agreed-upon. It's technically all a game, but one that becomes increasingly elaborate with each year, and after the first season, it becomes the Nine-Nine's annual tradition.
  • The Community episode "The First Chang Dynasty" has the study group plot an elaborate heist Ocean's Eleven-style to rescue the Dean after Chang replaced him with a doppelgänger and took over the school.
  • In the Earth: Final Conflict episode "Motherlode", a criminal attempts to steal 3 trillion dollars in gold from the Taelon mothership.
  • Farscape: The "Liars, Guns and Money" trilogy from the end of the second season. Stark returns with a plan to rob a "Shadow Depository", effectively a bank for criminals, to secure funds to save D'Argo's son Jothee from slavery.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Caesar", Cleo's planned big score is to knock over a rival gang's stash of drugs and cash.
  • Firefly: "The Train Job" (which is, um, a Train Job), "Ariel," and "Trash."
  • The NBC actioner Heist revolved around professional thief Mickey O' Neil, who created a team of experts to try to pull off the biggest heist in history — to simultaneously rob three jewelry stores on Rodeo Drive during Academy Awards week.
  • Hustle usually revolves around The Con, but...
    • The season 2 finale, "Eye of the Beholder", is a classic caper plot in which the team steals one of the Crown Jewels. Until the end, when it turns out that the entire point of the caper was to con a bunch of people into buying fakes...
    • In an episode in season 5, New Recruits, Hustle pulls a similar "caper" again. This time, they're conning their mark, who had been advertising a completely foolproof security system, into thinking they'd stolen a painting. Really, they just hid it behind a false wall.
    • In the season 4 finale, "Bid Daddy Calling", Albert makes the fatal mistake of visiting a casino he had been banned from years ago. When an old friend inadvertently reveals this to the casino's new owner, mafia boss Johnny Maranzano, Albert is beaten up for disrespecting his father's ban against the grifter. Upon hearing of this, the crew rush to Vegas, with Danny intent in making Johnny suffer by hitting his prized gem — a fruit machine made in tribute to his late father, which holds a $5 million jackpot. Despite tough security measures, the crew learn that the weak point is a large fish tank which is housed in front of the safe holding the jackpot, allowing it to be seen on display. Danny learns that while the heist must be perfect, they must also outwit Johnny's mafia connections, as it will spell trouble for the crew if they are caught.
  • The Knights Of Prosperity, originally titled Let's Rob Mick Jagger.
  • Children's sitcom The Legend of Dick and Dom has an episode called "The Heist"; the heroes have to rob a bank to get back the MacGuffin that the corrupt manager has stolen. Features cunning disguises, a decoy robbery and tunnel digging. And Creepy Twins, just for fun.
  • Leverage uses this trope as its main premise often mixing it with The Con.
  • Lupin: the protagonist, who styles himself after Arsène Lupin, pulls off a heist to steal a necklace that belonged to Marie-Antoinette in the first episode. The thugs he hired to help him pull it off betray him amidst the heist, but he anticipated that and gets out of it alone with the collar just as he planned.
  • MacGyver (1985) episode "The Heist". A Virgin Islands casino owner steals $60 million in diamonds. Mac and an American senator's daughter plot to steal them back from the casino's impregnable vault.
  • Mission: Impossible prided itself on its use of The Caper. Sample episodes include "Charity" (with a cache of platinum bars hidden under a pool table) and "The Mercenaries" (a vault of gold in an African jungle).
  • Spanish series Money Heist revolves around a meticulously planned heist on the Spanish Royal Mint.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a sketch about a nest of hoodlums setting up an elaborate buy an alarm clock.
  • The Partridge Family: In "Forgive Us Our Debits," Keith, Danny, and Laurie get "revenge" on a computer that almost cheated them out of thousands of dollars by breaking into the computer room and sending Shirley a check for $50,000.
  • Spaced episode "Chaos" homages caper films.
  • Tales of the Tinkerdee: The whole plot of the pilot boils down to this, albeit taking place in a fairytale kingdom, and most of the screentime is the Wicked Witch attempting to remain undetected: the expensive birthday presents that Taminella is in the castle to try to steal in the first place only receive about a minute of screentime!
  • The FX character drama Thief starred Andre Braugher as Nick Atwater, a master thief and leader of a Caper Crew, balancing his personal life with the planning of a major heist.
  • The short-lived series Thieves. After being caught, professional criminals Johnny (John Stamos) and Rita (Melissa George) make a deal with Special Agent Shue (Robert Knepper) to work for the government in exchange for not doing jail time.
  • The 1980's British TV series, Widows is about a group of thieves who get killed pulling a caper, and their widows resolve to pull it off themselves.
  • The X-Files episode "The Amazing Maleeni". It's pulled off so ingeniously that you don't even know it's a heist until the later half of the episode.
  • A historical documentary used this format to explore theories on how an Egyptian pyramid was broken into and looted during ancient times. It gave the theoretical participants nicknames like The Mastermind, The Foreigner and The Engineer to illustrate the various social backgrounds and skill sets the people involved would need to have to pull off such a crime. In particular it theorized that The Engineer was probably blackmailed or coerced into participating since he would have been of a much higher social strata than the rest of the crew and the one with most to lose if caught. The show also regularly reminded the audience that the punishment for such a crime in Ancient Egypt was to be burned alive.

  • Barenaked Ladies' "Bank Job" is the heist leader dressing down a member of his crew after a (hilariously) failed caper.
  • The Decemberists' "The Perfect Crime" tracks are about the planning and execution of "the perfect crime." "The Perfect Crime No. 2," off The Crane Wife, is specifically about a heist that somehow also involves kidnapping a mogul's daughter.
  • Paul Kantner's science-fiction concept album Blows Against the Empire is about a rag-tag band of hippies who devise and implement a caper to hijack a starship in order to escape an increasingly oppressive America.
  • In the German "Stimmungslied" (read: song that is usually only sufferable with alcohol levels of at least 2 promille) "Sauerkraut und Bier" the caper ends as epic fail since the loot consists of, well, sauerkraut and beer.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The core gameplay loop of Blades in the Dark (as well as most games under the Forged in the Dark umbrella) is centered on a caper (dubbed "Score" in the game) of some sort: the Crew looks for a criminal opportunity to advance their goals (even if it's just to earn some coin), chooses their approach (guns-blazing, stealthy, black-tie, etc.), rolls for the initial position, and then uses the flashback mechanic to retroactively prepare for whatever complications arise. After completing (or abandoning) the score, the crew enters a downtime where they lay low and enjoy some R&R before going right back to looking for the next opportunity.
  • Burgle Bros. is a map exploration game where the players are members of a team trying to pull off a heist without getting caught. Together, they must explore the building (represented by a grid of initially face-down tiles for each floor), find and crack all the safes, and escape to the roof.
  • A game of Shadowrun generally follows the structure of The Caper in a future urban fantasy setting, with a party of a combat specialist, a hacker, a con man, and a mage planning an elaborate theft of a highly guarded target from a corporation, on the behest of a mysterious paymaster.

    Video Games 
  • The City of Heroes summer event mission "Casino Heist" is based on the tropes of The Caper, with the players taking the parts of the Caper Crew.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: The final level has Conker breaking into the Feral Reserve Bank to steal the cash for Don Weasel.
  • The entire Act 1 of Cyberpunk 2077 is centered around the heist to steal the Relic biochip from Yorinobu Arasaka. In preparation, V diligently studies the recording of Yorinobu's penthouse suite and retrieves a Militech recon bot together with Jackie, while Dex The Fixer and T-Bug the netrunner prepare costumes and electronic countermeasures. The heist goes swimmingly right up to the point where V and Jackie grab the biochip, when Saburo Arasaka himself, Yorinobu's father and the most powerful man in the world, suddenly shows up to berate his wayward son... who promptly strangles him to death, takes over as Arasaka patriarch, and puts the whole hotel on lockdown. T-Bug manages to get V and Jackie out, but has her brains fried by Arasaka netrunners, while Jackie is mortally wounded in the ensuing shootout. The Relic's containment is also damaged, so V ends up having to slot it into their own head... right before Dex decides to cut his losses and shoots V in said head. V survives, but the Relic is now permanently fused with their brain and slowly killing them, kicking off Act 2...
  • The Dragon Age II expansion "Mark of the Assassin" plays out very similarly to Kasumi's mission. You join up with a Loveable Rogue, infiltrate a high-class party, find your way past the guards to your host's vault...and then it turns out Tallis is actually a Qunari agent. After that, it shifts gears to a kind of medieval fantasy spy drama.
  • The final quest for the Thieves Guild in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is called "The Ultimate Heist" — rightly so, because it sees you breaking into the Emperor's Palace and stealing one of the titular Elder Scrolls. The preparations for this mission comprise the three penultimate quests that you perform for the Grey Fox himself.
  • The Big Dig quest in Fallout 4 has you and a few others tunnel from Goodneighbor to the Diamond City vault in order to rob Mayor McDonough blind although the end of the quest reveals that you're not stealing from that Mayor McDonough, but instead his brother, Hancock, the mayor of Goodneighbor.
  • The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money, where the player (who's been strapped with an Explosive Leash) is forced to help the insane Father Elijah loot the Sierra Madre casino with the help of three other NPCs, one of which has been trying to rob said casino for two centuries.
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in a clear homage to Ocean's Eleven, has CJ robbing a vegas casino with a colourful group of characters (Its GTA, they're always colourful)
    • Grand Theft Auto V takes this premise and runs with it - not only are there several heists in the game (and later on, a variety of unique heists were added to the Online portion of the game), each one has a variety of missions associated with it to prepare for said heist. For example, when the team plans to rob a jewelry store, they send in a guy to case the joint and take pictures of the various security systems. Once they have the pictures, the player has to make a decision on whether to go in "loud and dumb" with guns blazing, or recruit a hacker and steal some knockout gas, an exterminator's van, and dress up as exterminators so that people won't question their gas masks. You also need to hire a crew to help you with the support stuff - the more competent they are, the bigger take they demand, but the less likely they are to fail and drop their loot. And finally, after all that, comes the heist itself.
  • The Heist: Monaco: You are the leader of a gang of thieves who want to steal the crown jewels and take revenge on an old ally.
  • Pulling off capers is the primary focus of Fragile Alliance, the multiplayer mode of the Kane & Lynch games.
  • Kasumi Goto's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 is framed as a heist, with her and Shepard infiltrating a party hosted by one Donovan Hock to recover a graybox belonging to her former partner, Keiji Okuda, which is stored in his heavily secure vault. Once you complete enough tasks to break in, the pair are caught, leading into a typical shoot-out segment to escape the scene.
  • Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine is essentially this trope as the High Concept for an entire game.
  • Noel The Mortal Fate: Episode 6 takes place in a casino with Noel and the team planning to shut down and cut off Burrows' funding.
    • PAYDAY: The Heist is "Heist Film: The Game". Hell, the central bank heist is a huge homage to Heat.
    • PAYDAY 2 expands on this further. Containing everything, from bank robberies, to rigging elections, to double crossing meth dealers before a bridge showdown, the game covers numerous heist and action tropes (and even adds several more references to Heat and other caper classics).
  • Piratez: The "Mansion of Anguish". Your team is to "conduct reconnaissance" (an excuse to wear maid's outfits) in a seemingly never-ending mansion.
  • Parodied in one Saints Row 2 mission where an elaborate plan is thought up for a heist, but the plan is scrapped in favor of just walking through the front door and shooting everyone. Also doubles as a Shout-Out/Take That! to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas below, as the initial plan, as described, is similar to CJ's plan, before Gat and the Boss scrap the idea for just shooting everybody.
  • The premise of the Sly Cooper series is a gang of thieves planning heists against master criminals, with each target requiring preparation, planning, and sometimes improvisation.
  • The Imperial Agent's storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic includes planning and executing a caper of the top-security facility operated by the Star Cabal in the very heart of the Republican prison planet of Belsavis. Complicating matters is the facility's murderous AI protector that can strike at you pretty much anywhere on the planet and the fact that for your Caper Crew, you have to rely on a bunch of career criminals previously locked up there for life, most of whom naturally turn on you the moment your arrangement is complete.
    • Its predecessor, Knights of the Old Republic also required a pair of heists at the end of the first act, in order to steal the starship needed to get off Taris and away from the Sith from a crime boss, and the security codes to get past the blockade from a Sith military base.
  • Tales from the Borderlands: Rhys loves to imagine heist scenarios where everyone on the team plays their role and they pull off their objective without a hitch. The start of episode 4 plays out just like a Hollywood scenario, complete with him patting himself on the back for doing such a good job as the mastermind.
  • Some of the subplots of Thief enter into this trope; Garrett sometimes goes through elaborate plans over multiple game levels to enter secure locations.
  • The Clue! is based around planning an executing a succession of these.

    Web Animation 
  • Strong Bad and The Cheat of Homestar Runner occasionally engage in capers. These ventures rarely turn out to be successful.
    • In the Strong Bad Email "caper", Strong Bad gets mad at The Cheat for screwing up an attempt to steal the Jumble puzzle from Homestar's morning paper, but then later feels bad about it, which leads to him performing a song about how he's glad The Cheat is not dead.
    • "Strong Bad Is In Jail Cartoon" opens with Strong Bad and The Cheat getting caught breaking into Bubs' Concession Stand to steal candy bars.
    • Then there's the one where they somehow manage to set Homestar adrift in the Arctic Ocean, and can't for the life of them remember how they pulled off their "greatest caper ever". It apparently started with The Cheat peeing in Homestar's melonade...
  • The plot of Lackadaisy revolves around a Caper Crew of Venturous Smugglers executing a whiskey run for Lackadaisy Speakeasy, with several complications presenting themselves. Firstly, their funeral home supplier operates via Coffin Contraband which they must dig up on the outskirts of a cemetary after decoding an obituary's Cypher Language. Secondly, they're operating in the territory of rival Marigold Gang and poaching that supplier, necessitating stealth and discretion to avoid getting caught on enemy turf. Thirdly, they fail rather spectacularly at that last part, and find themselves on the wrong end of a Car Chase Shootout with Marigold's top three Hired Guns.
  • A few times by the heroes in RWBY:
    • In Volume 6, Team RWBY and JNPR pull off a caper to try and steal an airship so they can get into Atlas. The plan goes completely lopsided when Adam Taurus uses that moment to get his revenge on Blake, preventing her from doing her part.
    • In Volume 8, the teams pull off a better plan to fool Ironwood and get into Atlas' vault without surrendering Penny. Helping things here is having the assistance of Emerald, Winter and Marrow.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In "Combat Camp", Anne, Sprig and Polly are trained and tricking into stealing a priceless jewel.
  • Chowder: Parodied in "The Heist", in which Mung and Co. work to steal sugar sapphires from beneath Endive's house. The regulars become a Caper Crew (with limited success). The roles are:
    • Mung — The Mastermind
    • Shnitzel — The Muscle
    • Gazpacho — The Driver
    • Truffles — The Burglar (operates the jackhammer they use to break in)
    • Chowder — The New Kid (acts as lookout)
  • DuckTales (2017): "Louie's Eleven!" sees the crew trying to sneak into a high-class party and includes Donald meeting Daisy Ducknote  for the first time.
  • Glenn Martin, DDS: In "H*e*i*s*t", Glenn meets home old friends who now make money by robbing casinos. He gets roped into helping them rob a riverboat casino while everyone onboard is distracted by an eating contest.
  • Justice League Unlimited: "Task Force X" features a makeshift criminal team executing a daring theft from the League's orbital headquarters.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Sparkle's Seven" sees Twilight Sparkle attempt to thwart the new security on Canterlot Castle put in by her big brother as a way to both settle a longstanding sibling rivalry and test the system, with the goal of the exercise being to steal a crown laid on Princess Celestia's throne.
  • The Owl House: Kikimora's Faked Kidnapping in "Follies at the Coven Day Parade" is an elaborate one planned by Luz. Luz goes over the plan: They have to stage an accident that will prompt Kikimora to send guards to investigate. Then using smokescreens, Luz in disguise would swoop in and secure Kiki.
  • Rick and Morty: "One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty" take this trope to its logical extent: the duo attend a convention dedicated to heists and, after pulling one over on a renowned heist artist, Rick's Heistotron AI goes rogue and begins assimilating the universe into a crew for his next caper, which turns out to be stealing entire planets. The end of the episode reveals the whole thing was Rick's convoluted plot to get Morty to lose faith in his pitch for a heist movie to Netflix so he won't give up going on adventures with Rick.
  • South Park: "About Last Night" is a Troperiffic example, in which the 2008 presidential election is revealed to be merely a step in a plan to steal the Hope Diamond.
  • Steven Universe: The plot of "Gem Heist". The Crystal Gems have to infiltrate a highly secure Homeworld facility and rescue the kidnapped Greg, under the nose of not one but two Diamonds, all without being caught.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Heist, Heist Film, Caper Story


Mission: Impossible

Ethan Hunt lays out all the challenges for breaking into the CIA mainframe. But they're gonna do it anyway.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheCaper

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