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Basic Trope: A payment extorted by intimidation, as by threats of injurious revelations or accusations.

  • Straight: Alice tells Bob that she has evidence of an embarrassing secret, and demands money and/or favors in exchange for her silence.
  • Exaggerated: Alice blackmails Bob into committing a crime, and then uses evidence of that crime to continue to blackmail him.
  • Downplayed: Alice agrees to keep a secret for Bob, but tells him she will need something in return.
  • Justified:
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    • Bob's secrets would incriminate him or at least ruin his reputation, so he decides giving in to Alice's demands is a lesser evil..
    • Bob is hated by Alice, so she wants to destroy his life or gain something from.
    • Bob is in such a position that something that would be merely embarrassing for the average person would be life-ruining for him. He also has the means to give Alice money or favors in exchange to keep the information secret.
  • Inverted: Alice offers Bob a bribe.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted: Alice herself is being blackmailed, and the blackmailer forces her to go through on her threats to Bob.
  • Parodied:
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    • Everyone up and down the block is continually and habitually blackmailing Bob, and he doesn't realize how many people know his secrets so he just goes along with whatever they say to do.
    • Bob receives blackmail threats through black-colored letters/envelopes.
    • Alice tries to blackmail Bob with information that is clearly known to the public.
  • Zig Zagged: Alice and Bob dig up each other's secrets to blackmail and counter blackmail eachother.
  • Averted:
    • Bob doesn't care about what he's being threatened with.
    • Alice wants to expose things that are public knowledge.
  • Enforced: The fans want Bob to do bad stuff, despite his Incorruptible Pure Pureness, so the creators make Alice blackmail him.
  • Lampshaded: "Way does she have to resort to blackmail? I mean, why doesn't Alice just ask for what she wants?"
  • Invoked: ???
  • Exploited Charlie notices Bob giving Alice money or favors and concludes that he is not doing it willingly. He then threatens to expose Alice unless he gets a cut of the action.
  • Defied:
  • Implied: Alice regularly has information to give to the police and/or press, but often brings it in long after it happened and is evasive about her sources.
  • Discussed: "I mean, Black Mail Is Such An Ugly Word. But yes, that's what this is."
  • Conversed: "What's with Bob being so easily blackmailed? Why does he have so many awful secrets that can be exploited?"
  • Deconstructed: Bob calls the police on Alice.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob is actually a teen or younger. He has a weird dance he does or something embarrassing from his past. His sister and/or best friend, Alice took a snapshot of it, and is threatening to show it to a love interest or their mother in exchange for his help.
  • Played For Drama:
    • Bob is an otherwise respectable man. He has a good life, maybe even a family. However, he has something Alice wants. His past is quite shady, and if she reveals it to either his family or the police, his life will shatter beyond repair.
    • Charlie discovers proof that Bob, a public figure, is corrupt and hands it over Alice, hoping for her to deal with him appropriately. Instead, however, Alice holds on to the information for her own personal gain, and later reports Charlie to Bob to patch up things between them.

Come back to the Blackmail page or I tell everyone that you browse TV Tropes all day.
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