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Will Talk for a Price

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Vaan: What is a Chop, anyway?
Jules: When a boy wants information... that's right... A boy pays.

Our heroes are on a case. They're looking for a lead, and they know a confirmed witness who has the information they need. But their witness seems unable to remember what the sleuths are asking. Well, We Have Ways of Making You Talk...

Would a few dollars jog his memory?

Yes. Now he knows, and he will readily spill it. But there's still more questions, and they're starting to forget...

How about another dollar?

Of course. Now the informant will sing like a canary. The sleuths have everything they need and are happy to leave their witness alone.

Often the briber trying this tactic would imply this in the form of "would my friend Mr. Jackson ($20 bill) help you to remember?" With variations such as "Mr. Washington" ($1 bill) for a Comically Small Bribe. The bribe need not be legal tender at all; it could easily be a Trademark Favorite Food or other favor. The one with the information may subtly demand such a bribe by rubbing his fingers together.

A Sub-Trope of Every Man Has His Price.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Naruto, Karin, formerly Sasuke's subordinate, is brought to Konoha and interrogated. We see her crying while talking, until she promptly stops, and then in a hilariously annoying manner demands some food for the rest of the information.

    Fan Works 
  • Mirai SMP: Connor tells Techno that Schlatt's diary can give him any information he wants, including where to find Travis, and he offers their assistance... On the condition that Techno help them acquire guns.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: A man named Goldtooth has been supplying the Wolf with supplies. Unfortunately for him, the people asking him about it are Tormund Giantsbane and Sandor "the Hound" Clegane, who proceed to carry out a Good Cop Rabid Cop routine on him when he does the finger-rubbing gesture.
    Tormund: What does that mean?
    Sandor: It means he wants us to break his fingers.
    [Sandor grabs the man's hand and does just that]

    Films — Animated 
  • The Wolf does this in Hoodwinked! with one of Bo Peep's sheep, Woolworth, to get him to divulge information about Red, suspecting her to be involved with the crime spree of stolen recipes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun. Officer Frank Drebin questions the dock manager during his investigation of the attempted murder on Nordberg. The guy claims that his memory is foggy, so Frank gives him a twenty, to which he says he is still feeling a bit hazy, so Frank gives him another twenty, upon which he answers the question. When the dock manger subsequently asks Frank an innocuous question, he gives Frank his first twenty back to persuade him to answer, when Frank hesitates he gives gives him the other twenty back. He then asks Frank another question, and once again have to persuade him with two twenty bills, and has to borrow the additional twenty from Frank because he's out of money.
  • In Just Friends, the main character's younger brother promised to not tell Samantha James where Chris was when he snuck off. Mike withheld this information when Samantha later demanded it from him. However, Samantha knew that Mike had an immense crush on her and French kissed him. Mike told her what she wanted to know without hesitation.
  • In The Searchers, Futterman would talk to Ethan only for money.
  • The MacKenzie brothers in Strange Brew get inside information about shady goings-on at the beer factory by giving the secretary doughnuts.

  • In Making Money, Moist's internal monologue mentions a risk of an accomplice suffering "an attack of memory brought on by excessive money", or put simply, his friend would be paid off for blabbing.
  • Friday, which takes place in a Divided States of America, has this. The title heroine wants to travel up the Mississippi River into the Chicago Imperium, so she decides to hire on with a mercenary company heading that way. She goes to a local recruiter and tries to find out whether they're going upriver. She lays down some money in front of the recruiter as a bribe and asks some questions. When the recruiter doesn't answer, Friday slowly adds more money until the recruiter cracks and tells all she knows.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In Komarr, the lead investigator in the habitat indicates that he used to do this with informants until he found that they'd give him information for money even when they didn't have anything real. Now, he just keeps them on salary, and the information has become more true.
  • In The Dark Tower, one informant wants to know if he'll be paid in silver or gold. Once he's got the information, the man he's talking to decides to pay him in lead.
  • Defied in The Lord of the Rings: When an ominous hooded stranger offers gold for information about the Baggins family, Farmer Maggot refuses and tells him to leave, unaware that the stranger is one of The Dreaded Nazgûl. It's ambiguous whether the Nazgûl is annoyed or amused by the situation.
  • In the Myron Bolitar Series novel Win, Win tries to intimidate a hair-salon owner for a crucial clue by buying out her debt and repossessing all her stuff. The owner, however, realizes he wants the clue way more than she wants her salon and says she'll only talk if he forgives all 100,000 dollars of debt. Win pays it, and privately is impressed with her business sense.
  • Subverted in Sword Oratoria. When Lefiya and Bete ask Bors for information on what Aiz is currently doing, Bors tries getting some money out of them for it. However, Bete has no patience for Bors attempts to milk them and threatens him, which prompts Bors to freely give what he knows out of fear.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Barney Miller, the officers keep a supply of petty cash in the safe to pay off informants.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): In "AKA God Help the Hobo," Jessica finds out that the IGH killer wears a high-quality wig. She and Trish visit a wig shop in Greenwich Village that used to supply Trish with wigs during her days on It's Patsy. Sally demands payment for every bit of information. Trish pays a few $100s, "for the wigs I tore up," but is told that won't cover synthetic hair, so has to fork over another $100 to get Sally to talk. After a number of questions, they ask her what else she knows, to which she replies that she doesn't have anything else...after getting paid another $100. As they leave, Trish grumbles that things like that are the reason why she bit her.
  • In nearly every episode of Police Squad!, Frank Drebin visits Johnny, the local shoeshine person, for information, handing him a twenty or two with every sentence he says. Then, when Drebin leaves, someone else sits down and asks for advice.
  • Remington Steele: In hot pursuit of Major Descoine in "Elegy in Steele", Laura and Remington meet a deaf carver of tombstones (including one for each of them, listing that day's date—the Real Life original air date of the episode). He only plugs in his hearing aids and tells them which way Descoine went when presented with a $50 bill.
  • In an episode of NYPD Blue, a suspect promises to confess his crime (a rather grisly murder) for two 2-liter bottles of Coke. It has to be Coke though: not Pepsi, not RC, not Diet Coke.
  • Subverted in The Equalizer. Robert McCall bribes The Bartender to tell him where someone is. The barman tells him, then adds that he'd have told McCall for free if he'd just asked. And no, he's not getting his money back.
  • On NCIS: Los Angeles, Detective Deeks keeps a pocket full of "snitch money" for just this kind of situation.
  • Likewise in The Mandalorian episode "Sanctuary". On seeing former rebel shock trooper Cara Dune, Mando asks a waitress what she knows about her, and when she rambles about not knowing anything he assumes she's fishing for a bribe. But she really is just that awkward and didn't know anything, and is grateful for what seems to be a big tip.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. When Captain Janeway meets Neelix for the first time and wants to purchase his services as a Native Guide, they go through the rigmarole of Neelix pretending to be too busy salvaging a Derelict Graveyard, whereupon Janeway casually offers to 'compensate' him for his time. Though she's a bit surprised to find his price is water.
  • That '70s Show: When the adults need information, a bystander hints at a bribe.
    Kid: I can't seem to recall... but maybe my friend Benjamin Franklin can help me remember?
    Bob: Franklin, huh? [opens wallet] He's not in. You got anything to say to Lincoln and the Washington twins?

  • Shows up several times in The Goon Show.
    Seagoon: You're wasting your time, I won't tell you where that parcel is.
    Moriarty: Oh-ho-ho! I'll give you something to make you talk. Take that!
    Seagoon: A pound note! I'm English, money won't make me talk. I'll just point.
    • In "The Spectre of Tintagel":
    Cornishman: When I was a boy, I remember...
    Seagoon: Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes?
    Cornishman: I can't remember. My mind's gone dry.
    Seagoon: Two more pints, please, landlord.
    Cornishman: [Takes a drink] Ah, 'tis coming back to me now.

  • The Mikado:
    Pooh-Bah: I also retail State secrets at a very low figure. For instance, any further information about Yum-Yum would come under the head of a state secret. (Nanki-Poo takes the hint, and gives him money.) (Aside.) Another insult, and, I think, a light one!

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate optionally allows the player to request payment before talking to Brevlik.
    Gorion's Ward: I'm listening, though my ears don't hear so good lately. Perhaps I should test them with the rattle o' coins.
    Brevlik: Oh, of course! The bit o' coin to jog your memory! It's just as I imagined! Ohh, this is all just so naughty! Ahem..."here mate, 'ows 5 gold to get your attention?" Hee hee.
  • In Return to Krondor, this is the only way to get information from several vital NPCs, including Peg-leg Pete, the bartender at Ye Bitten Dog.
  • In Snatcher, Gillian Seed has to bribe the informant Napoleon twice in the middle of each meeting for the privilege of answering all of Gillian's questions. Napoleon's not terribly subtle, either, with phrases like "I'm not a charity" and "I'm not doing this for fun."
  • The Legend of Zelda. "PAY ME AND I'LL TALK".
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker had small girls on Windfall island who would never do anything as scandalous as spreading gossip... unless Link paid them a single Rupee each.
    • The less said about the spinoff, Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, the better. Suffice that nearly every NPC in the game must be bribed before giving information, opening shops, or unlocking new areas.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Some NPCs in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will refuse to discuss certain topics unless their Disposition is sufficiently high. You can raise an NPC's Disposition by playing a minigame, but it's easier to just throw money at him until he loves you.
    • The option of paying for information is also fairly common in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • In Quest for Glory I, there's two guys like this. The first one is an honest beggar who can't take time out of his job (begging) to answer too many questions, so you have to keep paying him to get all his info. His rate is about one silver for three questions. The second guy is less scrupulous, offering to give you info in exchange for money. If you only give him a single silver, he won't tell you anything. For five silvers, he'll tell you information that can be more readily acquired elsewhere. For a gold piece (ten silvers), he'll tell you some special information that is still easier to get elsewhere. For 5 gold pieces, he'll tell you some special information that can only be acquired in a few places, and in at least one case, is the only way of getting a special rhyme that is otherwise permanently missable.
  • Final Fantasy XII, has Jules of Archades, a "street-ear" who Balthier states would "bite a Gil given him by his own mother, and shave it by half to pay for her funeral." He's always willing to provide your party with information... for the right price.
    Jules: I've a message from Master Balthier. He's waiting in Central. He says to come quickly.
    Vaan: On this? But we need a... a Chop. What is a Chop, anyway?
    Jules: When a boy wants information... that's right... A boy pays. 2500 Gil sound about right.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: With a sufficient haggle stat, the player can do this to Prince LaCroix. It becomes amusing as the game goes on and he gets simultaneously annoyed with the player for doing this, and desperate for any bit of good news for himself that he forks over the cash immediately.

  • Brawl in the Family pokes fun at the Legend of Zelda example more than once. The first time, Link drops a bag full of Rupees into the old woman's pot and takes out a notepad to record all her gossip. The second time, the old woman's advice comes out as gibberish, prompting her to add, "Pay me and I'll translate."

    Western Animation 
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon's "old friend" Jade questions an unnamed informant. Twice he claims to have a bad memory and she offers him money to improve it. The third time he tries the trick she gets tired of it and pulls a gun on him.
  • In an episode of Hey Arnold!, Gerald's little sister Timberly's plush alligator was stolen. While Arnold and Gerald look for it, they bribe Chocolate Boy with malt balls to get him to talk, believing him to be a witness to the theft.
  • When Bolin goes missing in the third episode of The Legend of Korra, his brother Mako goes downtown and bribes a young street urchin to divulge any information he may have about his kidnapped brother's whereabouts. It should be noted that this episode was also a Broke Episode, and the two brothers were earning that same money to sponsor their team in the pro-bending tournament.
  • Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender. An informant tries to do this to Xin Fu, with the rubbing-fingers gesture. Fu replies, "Are you suggesting I break your fingers?"
  • In Beware the Batman Lieutenant Gordon is looking for information on a psychological reconditioning program that was done in Blackgate Prison. He tracks down a former participant Lunkhead, a former thug who's gone straight. Lunkhead attacks Gordon, thinking he wants to take him back to prison. Gordon promises that all he wants to do is ask a few questions, and persuades Lunkhead to talk to him by giving him a few chocolate bars.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons (parodying 24) has Bart agree to talk to principal Skinner if he teaches him a swear word he's never heard before.
    Skinner: All right, you little...(whispers something in Bart's ear)
    Bart: Wow, that's a swear?
    Skinner: When used as a noun, it is.
  • The Beany and Cecil episode "Beany Meets The Monstrous Monster," Cecil is on the trail for said creature. He happens upon Louie the Loan Shark:
    Louie: I understand youse is looking for a buzz on the whereabouts of the big guy.
    Cecil: Right.
    Louie: Is this for moolah? (Cecil dives down and returns with a chest full of treasure) The price is right!


Video Example(s):


GPS bribery

The rat requires payment in the form of cheese before he divulges driving directions.

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Main / WillTalkForAPrice

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