This is the character in Cop Shows, Detective Dramas, and Espionage Thrillers that everyone despises. Even the cops who make use of his services hate him. He is beneath the level of more dignified, "honest" crooks. He is a low level version of the Knowledge Broker; perhaps even the minion of one. But where a Knowledge Broker is high status and has an arbitrarily greater reputation, this character is just a stoolie. (This difference is sort of like the difference between a courtesan and a street-walker... they are both prostitutes, but one is considered "high class".)
The Informant lives in a miserable fashion selling information. But he is needed, so he is tolerated. Sometimes a sort of patronizing affection is granted him. In such a case, he is likely to be a Lovable Coward as well as a Lovable Traitor. Probably there are those who will not find him lovable...
A subtrope of Knowledge Broker. Mysterious Informant is a Sister Trope to, and The Stool Pigeon is a Sub-Trope of, The Informant. This trope may be averted entirely if a particular crime boss or criminal empire is considered too scary to inform on.
- In the Marvel Universe, Turk, a petty street criminal, often has this role in several different titles. Many of the heroes (notably Daredevil, The Punisher and Spider-Man) seem to use "I need information; I think I'll go beat on Turk until he sqeals" as a standard operating procedure, although this has varied Depending on the Writer.
- Ribs in The Tainted Grimoire makes a living as a streetear. He is on good terms with the protagonists.
- Juan Martinez in Running Scared (1986). He's a second generation stoolie.
- The informant in The French Connection is portrayed more seemingly realistically than the norm described in the trope description at the top of this page, perhaps because the film is based somewhat closely on a true story.
- Clarence Darlington in Lakeview Terrace is a small time drug dealer and Dirty Cop Abel Turner's informant.
- In the Guy Ritchie movie Rock N Rolla, the London underworld is puzzled by he identity of an informant whose testimony has been putting away multiple well connected gangsters. At the very end of the film it's revealed to be The Don himself, Lenny. Lenny's men quickly and ruthlessly turn on him, especially since some of them, including The Dragon have gone to prison based on that testimony.
- In The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Eddie (Robert Mitchum) is what can only be termed an aspiring informant. It doesn't go so well.
- In Hellraiser: Inferno, Detective Joseph has an ex-con snitch named Bernie running an icecream truck, whom he abuses for information on the Engineer. Then again, Bernie is implied to have been sent to prison for being a pedophile. The Engineer tortures and murders the informant on camera to spite Joseph.
- In Black Mass Whitey Bulger pretends to be one, but in reality he's mostly feeding the FBI things they already knew, and in any case he's informing on the Italian mafia so he and the rest of The Irish Mob can replace them as head of organized crime in Boston. Later, a real informant rats Whitey out for smuggling guns to the IRA, and Whitey kills him with the contempt usually associated with a rat.
- Nick the Nose from Donald Sobel's Two Minute Mysteries series.
- David in China Miéville's Perdido Street Station sells out Isaac to the militia as part of his work as a paid informant.
- In Discworld, Lord Vetinari gets intel from the city's beggars, mostly by way of unfounded rumors that he pays for information. And the City Watch under Commander Vimes gets information from similar sources, as well as some of the pettier of petty criminals, who have an almost jocular relationship with the lawmen. It's mentioned that the Watch House break room is populated by a collection of "petty crooks, informants and ex-watchmen, some of whom were the same people." Vimes signs off on the doughnuts, since the information they bring in is well worth the price.
- In Night Watch, Nobby Nobbs started out as one of these, and eventually became a real member of the Watch. Though not a particularly good one.
- Willy the Snitch from Buffy runs a dive patronised by demons, and lives up to his name
- In Miami Vice, Crockett and Tubbs regularly called upon Izzy "The Snitch" Moreno and Neville "Noogie" Lamont to get information on whatever big plot was going down. The two cops treated the latter like some unpleasant form of fungus, while the former was treated like a favored pet.
- In Plain Sight, by its very nature, often deals with Informants who are now on the run from their former employers.
- While very few of the Informants were ever actually shown, the detectives on Law & Order often had regular informants they relied on. Detective Rey Curtis often referred to an entire network of confidential informants he had from his days as a vice cop.
- Fin from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had a number of these as well, most of whom he'd acquired from his time in Narcotics.
- One or two episodes make it clear the NYPD expects cops to register their CI's with the department, and frowns on officers who keep informants "off the books".
- In the episode of Fantasy Island with the two old actors who used to star in a cop show together, their characters had an informant they used to rough up when they wanted information. When they get stuck in a real-life version of the show, the informant shows up with a massive grudge against them for the way they used to treat him.
- Alexei, a Russian taxi driver in Moscow, in JAG a Lovable Rogue that works for "the highest bidder", but develops a crush on Mac.
- Merl from Angel.
- The Wire
- Bubbles was a frequent informant to the police, and on very friendly terms with the officer he worked for. Kima in particular even helped him when he was trying to quit heroin.
- In the fourth season, Randy's story is used to show the darker side of this trope and illustrate how becoming a police informant can completely ruin your life, even if you're in middle school.
- Several one-off characters in The Sweeney, whose portrayals ranged from "contemptible but necessary" to actually fairly sympathetic. Of course, one of the show's central themes was that the cops and the cons were Not So Different.
- Guerrilla: One of the black radicals turns out to be a police informant. He points out the leader of the protest for the police, who beat him to death. Pence also has a female one, whom he's involved with and fathered a son by.
- Star Trek: Enterprise. While battling time agents in WW 2 New York, Captain Archer is put in contact with a man who sells information to them. However the informer frankly admits that he makes most of the stuff up.
- Ziggy in Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra. Unfortunately, his dangerous career got the better of him in the end.
- Ugarte in Quest for Glory II and Quest for Glory V.
- Time Splitters 2 has a Prohibition-Era level where you have to protect a snitch.
- The Cohdopian embassy in Ace Attorney Investigations has a slight problem with their employees wanting to snitch and then winding up dead.
- Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: Zimbo, see The Stool Pigeon.
- In the Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island", Race Bannon's "old friend" Jade questions an unnamed informant, who pulls the old "more money might help me remember" trick until Jade gets tired of him and pulls a gun.
- Josh Stone from Recess was closer to this trope than The Stool Pigeon, as not only was he undercover for the Superintendent Skinner, he was also not even a kid. He did such a good job at covering his tracks that TJ and his friends initially thought Randall was behind their being snitched on, despite Randall's insistence that he did not, until they literally chased him into a bathroom.
- Trader Johann from Dragons: Riders of Berk could often be counted on to provide information if you meet his price. Or just threaten him with trade sanctions.