|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
Dr. Venture: Okay, I see how it is. And what would you prescribe for... (brings out a ten-dollar bill) Alexander Hamilton?
—The Venture Brothers, "Dia de los Dangerous!"
Hey, you. Yes you. I'm looking for some... information. What, you can't disclose that? Maybe this shiny new quarter would change your mind.
This is when a character tries to bribe somebody, but the bribe is either pathetically small or involves something of no conceivable value to the recipient. Common reactions include an incredulous stare, dismissive laughter, or even arresting them for attempted bribery. Alternatively, the recipient may enthusiastically accept the bribe, much to the amusement of the audience. (A once-common form of this variant involved Canadians being bribed in American currency, although economics can largely ruin any humor it holds.)
Common variations are:
- Attempting to use Monopoly money or a minor coupon in place of real cash.
- Doubling the payment of voluntary or forced labour, and when they refuse on the the grounds that double of nothing is still nothing, the briber offers to triple the payment.
- Bribing people with something they have in a great abundance, like offering a rock monster a rock you just found on the ground.
Sometimes gets inverted; the initial bribe is very large, at least by the standards of the person offering it. The other character refuses it but accepts something comparatively worthless instead, maybe even making the reduced counter-offer themselves. This is more likely to be a dramatic example than the normal way around—typically because the person taking the "bribe" has reasons of their own to do what's asked of them, but want to make a statement of some sort with the token payment. A specific example common in the real world is taking a single dollar (or local equivalent) as payment for services rendered; this is done because both sides have to give something in order for a legal contract to exist.
Can also apply to unusually small payments, tips, or demands. Usually Played for Laughs. Contrast Worthless Yellow Rocks, where the characters treat something as being less valuable than it is, rather than more valuable. Compare Not Rare Over There, where something is valuable to someone, but only because they need it and can't find it.
- A commercial for the now-defunct Pets.com company had their sock puppet mascot attempt to get into an apartment building by bribing the doorman with $3, quickly upped to $4 when the doorman seems to be seriously considering it.
- A commercial for 10-10-220 had French Stewart bribing a Maître d' with $1. It doesn't work until after Stewart explains the service.
Anime and Manga
- Invoked and inverted in Dragon Ball where Goku ends up paying a pedestrian a huge amount of money for giving him information about the city as well as where Bulma lives at. Justified because he legitimately thought that he was supposed to pay people for the information they gave due to a misunderstanding when he attempted to take a taxi (the driver was requesting that Goku pay him if he wants to use a taxi, but Goku thought he meant he should pay him for him to tell him where Bulma's house was located) as well as having absolutely no concept of how to use money during that time.
- L from Death Note shared a secret about something he uses to keep himself safe. He then tried to bribe one of the people he told it too by with a strawberry. There is absolutely no reason to believe the bribed person would share it anyways.
- A variation: In Spider-Man, The White Rabbit once tried to hold New York for ransom for a million dollars. They counter-offered her $1.50.
- Austin Powers: The concept is used in the first movie—Dr Evil, who's been in outer space since The Sixties, asks for a million dollars or he'll destroy the world. All the diplomats to whom he gives his request laugh their arses off, because it's such a small sum. The sequel plays it in reverse. Dr. Evil asks the US government in 1969 for $100 billion and they laugh because, "This is 1969! That amount of money doesn't even exist!" The third movie Double Subverts it by having him hold the world ransom for "one million billion shaba-daba-illion... yen", and having the world leaders agree that this is reasonable.
- Dirty Work:
Mitch: Hey, homeless guys! I'll tell ya what. I'll give you a dollar each if you'll go into this building here and run around yellin' and screamin'.
- A Night at the Roxbury. Trying to get into a club, the main character says something like, "Well, maybe my friend Mr...Washington will change your mind. Uh, and his friend Mr...Washington..."
- The movie doesn't call attention to it, but the bribe Happy Gilmore offers so the nursing home would take extra-special care of his beloved grandma is a single wrinkled Washington. Could be why the evil orderly wouldn't accept it.
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, during an early food shower, the mayor pulls Flint aside, asks him if he can "do lunch," and tucks a strip of bacon into his labcoat pocket. The same bacon that is currently falling from the sky.
- Inverted in Once Upon a Time In Mexico, in which Cheech Marin's character asks Johnny Depp for a small bribe, $10,000 instead of the originally offered $50,000. An amused Depp skips the traditional briefcase and brings it in a lunchbox. Marin explains that it is a nice amount of money, something they both can live with, and not big enough that Depp would kill him over it.
- Jackie Chan in The Tuxedo attempts to slip himself and Jennifer Love Hewitt into a club with seven dollars.
- In Easy A, Olive is usually paid for pretending to have sex with people in gift cards from various stores. The lowest price she ever accepts is soon-to-expire vouchers for the foreign language arthouse cinema.
- A very literal example appears in Dodgeball a True Underdog Story. The bribe is $100,000, which isn't a small amount of money, but it takes up a comically small amount of space inside the briefcase it's presented in.
- Judging by the bouncer's reaction, this was the case in Mystery Team.
- Taken Up to Eleven in The Naked Gun. Drebin starts out bribing his informant but he starts bribing Drebin back to find out what Drebin is investigating (Drebin even lends the informant twenty dollars to bribe him with). By the end of the exchange, Drebin is ahead twenty dollars and the informant owes him another 20.
- In Strange Brew, a doughnut is used as a bribe.
- It was a jelly, eh.
- Discworld series
- In Terry Pratchett's Making Money, Cosmo Lavish offers Moist von Lipwig ten thousand dollars in exchange for Mr. Fusspot, getting a rather indignant reaction. (Moist will get twice that per year just for not selling him, and that's without considering the associated contract with the Guild of Assassins.) Lampshaded later on during the scenes in which Cosmo talks with other Lavish relatives - he deliberately offered a Comically Small Bribe in an effort to get Moist to underestimate him.
How dare he try to bribe me, thought Moist. In fact, that was his second thought, that of the soon-to-be wearer of a gold-ish chain. His first thought, courtesy of the old Moist, was: how dare he try to bribe me so small.
- In Unseen Academicals Glenda is able to get her way into the palace and see the ruler of the city by bribing the guards with pie. This is a subversion, however, because A) Glenda is a Supreme Chef whose pies are fantastic and B) Lord Vetinari specifically instructed the guards to accept any and all bribes, no matter how small.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- Wraith Squadron has Face, in disguise as a stereotypical bumpkin on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a more civilized world, giving a customs officer one whole credit in exchange for information about where he might go looking for "brides". The whole thing is hilarious.
- The bribe is "insultingly" small rather than comical, but in the Hand of Thrawn duology, two Imperial saboteurs go to Bothawui pretending to be small-time merchants trying to make a quick credit. They reinforce this impression with a small bribe to get their stock through customs quickly.
- Inverted in Atlas Shrugged, where brilliant inventor/philosopher/scientist John Galt is captured by the evil government and offered the position of Economic Dictator of the entire United States. He refuses. The Head Of State, Mr. Thompson, tries to offer Galt comically large bribes to join them, such as a billion dollars in gold. Galt is unimpressed as any value he would be able to obtain from said gold in the collapsing society of the USA would have to be created by himself, making it totally worthless to him.
- In the Vorkosigan Saga short story The Mountains of Mourning, a woman tries to bribe a Vorkosigan armsman to let her in to see Count Vorkosigan with all the money she has on her - $1.20. Miles, seeing enough of the incident to know that that woman is trying to get in so that she can petition the count to send a criminal investigator to her village over a matter of justice (Something that as a subject of the Vorkosigan District, she had the legal right to do), lets her in without any money changing hands.
- The inverted version occurs in Labyrinth. A refugee from Jackson's Whole hands Miles and Bel Thorne her entire life's savings in cash, hoping it will be enough to engage them as mercenaries to get her off the planet. Bel tells her the price is wrong—then peels one single dollar off the stack, hands her back the rest, and tells her this is more like it. Needless to say, It's Personal for Captain Thorne.
Live Action TV
- As the preview for South Beach Tow shows, at least one car owner tries this on the truck driver, saying "You can buy all the Ho-Hos you want."
- Dinosaurs episode "License to Parent":
Earl Sinclair: Surely we can talk about this. After all, this is kind of a coincidence.
Clerk: I'm sorry, we don't give that kind of information.
- Happened on Monk once. Monk tried to bribe a doorman for information with three dollars; when he refused, Monk upped it to four. Finally, Sharona made him talk with forty dollars. After, Monk asked for his four back; when the doorman refused, Monk informed him that "we have a four-dollar credit on any future bribes."
- Also, in season 7 episode "Mr Monk and the Bully" he attempted to bribe a bar tender with two "General Washingtons". (Read, $1.25)
- Subverted in the Season 6 episode "Mr Monk Goes to the Bank." Disher attempted to bribe the living statue for information relating to a bank robbery at a trust bank. It didn't work, but the reason it didn't work had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of money Disher attempted to bribe him with: It's because his job required him to stand absolutely still until his beeper tells him when to take a break.
- Three's Company: When Cindy goes missing, Mr. Furley goes to the Regal Beagle to find her. He pays a blonde girl three dollars to tell him anything she knows. Hilarity Ensues when the girl turns out to be an undercover cop and arrests Furley for cheap solicitation.
- An episode of The Amanda Show had a security guard refusing to let somebody in when offered diamonds or cash... but he let them in for a slice of pizza.
- An episode of The New Statesman had the idiotic Piers Fletcher-Dervish, who upon deciding to become corrupt, demands a bribe of...£1.50!
- An early episode of That '70s Show has this:
Punk kid: I've got nothing to say to you... but Andrew Jackson on the other hand...
- Thirty Rock has Jack Donaghy offer Josh a comically small contract negotiation offer of $1 for a year of comedy work. Josh is so intimidated by Jack's negotiation skills that he almost takes it.
- In the iCarly episode "iWant a World Record", Spencer tried to bribe the representative of the world record book into overlooking the four seconds the webshow was off the air (his sculpture drew so much power that it briefly knocked out the power) with skee ball tickets. Upon realizing that they were tickets and not money, he promptly took them back so he could get a giant harmonica.
- At a time when The Beatles were being offered millions to reunite, a 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch had producer Lorne Michaels making an on-air appeal to the group, offering them a check for $3000 to perform on the show. John Lennon and Paul McCartney happened to both be in NYC and watching the show that night, and were amused enough to briefly entertain the idea of heading over to the studio just for the hell of it. They then talked themselves out of it, sadly.
- In a subsequent episode, George Harrison came on but was dismayed to learn that the $3000 was for all of them, meaning $750 for each ex-Beatle. ("Pretty chintzy.")
- McCartney appeared on SNL in the late 1980s and was shown trying to get the $3000 for himself and his backup band.
- Occasionally on Top Gear, when Jeremy Clarkson will offer ludicrously small sums of money if a certain celebrity will appear on the show or someone will lend them a particularly rare and valuable car.
- The Mighty Boosh: Bob Fossil, trying to bribe Bollo to let him into a party, offers him such worthless incentives as "the key to a bike I had in the '70's".
- The Loop is a comedy about a man who worked at an airport. In one episode he need to x-ray a bunch of dogs.
Sam: Hi. Can we use the luggage scanner to x-ray all these dogs?
- The $1.98 Beauty Show was a comedy Game Show mocking beauty pageants, in which the grand prize was Exactly What It Says on the Tin: $1.98.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anya once tried to bribe a demon with promises that she would have sex with him, and the demon responded that he didn't find a human-looking creature like Anya to be sexually attractive (thus averting the Mars Needs Women trope that has certainly been played straight elsewhere in the Buffyverse). Of course, Anya was insulted that her sexual bribery turned out to be a Comically Small Bribe. (There's a Double Entendre in there somewhere, but not quite as easily as if it were a male getting turned down.)
- On Blue Water High, Anna once suggested Simmo keep Deb occupied by offering her vouchers to a PG-rated movie.
- In 1996 the town of Wahoo Nebraska started a campaign to become The Late Show with David Letterman's "Home office." Letterman decided to have a bribe-off: whichever city gave him the most stuff (Wahoo or then-current Home Office Tahlequah, Oklahoma) would get it. After some very pathetic bribes from Tahlequah Letterman declared Wahoo the winner.
- The Office: Michael tries to give a terminated employee a pack of coupons in an attempt to make everything cool between them. Especially given that Michael is only firing him so that he doesn't appear indecisive, this doesn't go over well.
- When Dwight was left in charge after Michael's departure in the Season 3 finale, he announced that employees would receive "Schrute Bucks" when they did something good. He said that 1,000 Schrute Bucks would earn the recipient five extra minutes of lunch time, and that one Schrute Buck was worth 1/100 of a cent in actual money.
- Several times in Everybody Hates Chris, Julius would do this, at one point offering a bribe of a single penny.
- In an episode of The Odd Couple, Oscar and Felix are trying to get bumped up the waiting list for a space in a mid-town parking garage. Felix tries to "schmooze" the owner (played in a delightful guest shot by John Byner) by coyly displaying some currency:
Felix: Will...um...this get us anything?
- In the two-part M*A*S*H episode "Goodbye, Radar," Radar tries to bribe his way onto an earlier flight from Kimpo to get back to the 4077th:
Radar: Hey, Mac?
- In the Corner Gas episode "Hurry Hard", Brent and Wanda and Oscar and Emma each want Lacey to be their fourth for an upcoming curling bonspiel. Oscar and Emma rush to ask Lacey "Lacey, will you join our curling team?" Wanda then tells Brent to up the ante and he says "Lacey, will you be on our team please." And Wanda sarcastically says "Good ante-ing."
- Spin City: Paul attempts to bribe the office efficency expert to keep silent about his hoarding of office supplies with a 'Buy One, Get One Free' frozen yoghurt coupon.
- Alan B'stard once found himself having to bribe his former colleague Piers, now a junior government minister, in The New Statesman. The princely sum demanded? One pound fifty pence. As Alan commented, "You're a hard man, Piers Fletcher-Dervish... solid bone from the neck up."
- Cordelia tries it to prevent Angel from using his "patented burst of violence" to get past a security guard.
CORDELIA: I think I might have an approach that is a little more subtle. (To guard) Hey! Do you like bribes?
- Addressed in Burn Notice. They explain that actual cash in bribing someone is only part of the whole plan. If the location isn't too high security (like an upscale parking garage), you behave like an obnoxious tool offering five bucks and the guard will let you in just to get something from your stupidity.
- In FoxTrot, Roger has no concept of an appropriate tip, instead tipping the paperboy with a Shiny New Nickel and then wondering why the paper always ends up on the roof or in the rosebushes.
- He also does stuff like have Peter mow the lawn. When he offers to pay him, he then asks, "Can you break a dollar?" Obviously this wasn't worth it.
- It's somewhat of a running gag, since he only pays Peter Fox 10 cents a hole to caddy his golf clubs.
- Peter himself is similarly obvious to an appropriate tip. In one strip, Peter Fox does a complex order for a coffee (basically stating one cappuccino without any ingredients), and then paying him $5.00 and telling the clerk to keep the change (the amount was $4.97). Peter admits to Jason that he was being annoying, explaining that this was the reason he tipped him. Cue the three pennies being thrown towards Peter's head offscreen.
- Pearls Before Swine had a comic use this as a gag. Rat and Pig tip the Maitre'D a bribe to get a good table at a fancy restaurant. The next panel shows them sitting with their plates on the floor right outside the kitchen doors.
Rat: "Maybe I should try something bigger than a quarter next time."
- Not to mention the time that the Crocs sold their souls to the Devil...for a pack of gum.
Croc: "Me hope flavor last looooooonggggg time."
- Or the time when the Crocs offered Zebra french fries and a milkshake for his life.
- One Boba Fett comic has Fett tip a worker on a starship for information, who sarcastically says, "Ten whole credits? My, sir, wouldn't want you to leave yourself short or anything..." Since the value of credits is a bit inconsistent, we can only assume that he was expecting more.
- Dean the pig of Liberty Meadows attempts to bribe Frank the veterinarian into giving him liposuction with five dollars; he subsequently ups this to ten dollars.
- One of Garfield's Fine Dining Faux Pas in the 8th Garfield Treasury is bribing the maitre d' with a roll of nickels.
- The Goon Show, in which people will gladly perform insane actions for photographs of money or bags of sweets. (Of course, that last one was Bluebottle, and he's generally portrayed as a young and mildly insane Boy Scout, so...)
- A common net result of the skill check rules of Dungeons & Dragons when applied to bribery attempts. Players with high enough charisma, diplomacy, or raw luck can offer pitiful bribes and see amazing results. Couple it with a natural 20 and a permissive DM will allow a soldier to commit high treason for a bag of jellybeans. This has gotten only easier in fourth edition, with social interaction taking on a more rules-governed, mechanical aspect.
- Cyrano De Bergerarc: Cyrano invokes this trope at Act II, Scene V, trying to bribe Roxane’s Duenna to leave him alone with Roxane (and then bribe her properly).
Cyrano: Are you fond of sweet things?
- In Nethack some of the demon lords can be bribed to leave you alone. It's a one time offer. There's no opportunity to get gold from a container. So the bribe just has to be a sufficiently large fraction of the gold you have in open inventory. Carrying $10 in the open when necessary makes the bribe very cheap indeed.
- Happens annoyingly often in Medieval II: Total War, when the rival powers start threatening you with destruction unless you cough up some cash. "Yes, mein freund, I'm afraid the price for peace with the Holy Roman Empire is...one hundred and thirteen Florins!" And yes, if you refuse there is a good chance they'll invade.
- Of course they're just as likely to invade you a couple of turns after receiving your bribe, backstabbers. However a easy way to keep the Vatican on your side is to set up a "donation" to the state every turn - even one single florin will be appreciated, amusingly.
- Also happens amusingly often in the Civilization series. After annihilating another country's military and leveling some cities, they say, "Please make peace with us! Here's 25 gold!" If their empire is that poorly run, perhaps they deserve to get invaded.
- Galactic Civilizations II's eerily cunning AI realizes when you try this on your rival leaders. Proposing that someone enter an exclusive alliance with you, declare war on everyone else and give you all their techs and planets in exchange for 1 credit will be treated as a grave insult, and depending on the leader may very well lead to war.
- On the other hand, while the AI is aces at managing its economy to the fullest, it rarely builds up overly large savings to negotiate with. Furthermore, what wads of cash it has it tends to blow them away in rush-bought (or worse, leased) spaceships as soon as a war begins. Which means that should the war go pear shaped for them they are often reduced to begging for peace in exchange for all they have: 5 shiny credits.
- In Ace Attorney, Miles Edgeworth bribes a certain witness into behaving by offering her a stick of gum. And then requests that Phoenix gets the bill.
- The first guard of McNeil Manor in Breath of Fire III will let you past for 50 zenny. That's about the price of five healing herbs. McNeil is a really cheap employer.
- In The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, there are two little girls on Windfall Island who won't tell you anything they know unless you pay them 2 rupees. And even then, they try to be dodgy about it.
- In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni's Minagoroshi chapter Hanyu/Oyashiro-sama is highly against letting Takano into the shrine storage when Rika offers to take her. As a joke, Rika says she will charge 100 yen for each picture taken or 10000 yen up front for as many as they want. Hanyu is instantly satisfied at the thought of using this money to buy nothing but sweets.
- The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police:
Sam: Maybe a few...Washingtons will help change your mind?
- When Torg reaches into his wallet in Sluggy Freelance, he says "Maybe 'Mr Franklin' can change your mind", and then sticks his hand up into a puppet inside the wallet while yelling in a Mexican accent: "My name is Juan Frankleen, I shoot you in the head!" Actually works, once, but only because the guy in question was a "puppet-phobe".
- Used similarly in Moe, with this exchange.
Moe:Well, maybe my friend Benjamin Franklin can convince you to take on the case.
- A non-illegal variant appeared in Something*Positive. Davan's boss went shopping for superhero licenses he could turn into a musical, and got the idea for Batman: The Musical. He tried to purchase the licensing rights for ten thousand dollars. To put it in perspective, DC comics' father company, Time-Warner, owns the rights to Batman. They made about 2,6 billion in net income that year (total revenue is about 10 times that). Needless to say, it doesn't work out very well.
- Ctrl+Alt+Del: Ethan continues to demonstrate his Cloudcuckoolander credentials.
- In Oglaf, the Mistress bribes (straight) Ivan to give a blowjob to the Xoan Ambassador... for a pinecone. Eventually the Mistress explains that the box holding the pinecone was enchanted to "make you want whatever's in it".
- The Angry Video Game Nerd does its own spin on this. When Pat the NES Punk discovers a gold Nintendo World Championship '90 cart in a game bundle the Nerd bought, the Nerd tries to trade it back for some very common/pack-in games, such as Combat for Atari 2600 and Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt for the NES. It goes along as well as you'd expect.
- In Blogging Twilight, when Dan reaches the part where Alice bribes a guard with a "thousand dollar bill", he is initially confused as to what currency that is exactly, seeing as there is no thousand dollar bill in either US currency or Euros. He ultimately concludes that it must be a thousand Lira which is worth about seventy-five American cents, noting "So this guard is either really stupid and doesn't know much about money, or he's very poor and needs whatever funds he can scrounge up to buy half a potato for dinner." (Presumably the text meant to suggest that Alice still had thousand dollar American bills, printed from either 1928 or 1934)
- Aang attempts this on a pirate while haggling in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fortunately the pirate thinks it is quite comical, until Aang tries a higher price which is only one copper piece higher. Pirate's not so amused the second time.
- The Fairly OddParents had Cosmo's famous "Philip the Nickel." It was originally used as a bribe by Juandisimo to get Cosmo to hand over his wife, Wanda. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Family Guy when Peter is negotiating for peace in exchange for his nation's (that is, his house's) sovereignty, both his sovereignty and Joe's pool denied, so he demands... a pen sitting on the desk in front of him:
Mayor West: This pen, this worthless plastic pen I have millions of back in my office?
- Later when Peter was visiting Brown University he offers the Dean's secretary a $5 bribe to get Meg admitted.
- Peter also learns that the Cuban Black Market does not accept bits of string in lieu of payment. Store policy.
- One Episode of Kim Possible had Ron try and bribe a judge of a Dog Show with $5 to sign Rufus in as a Peruvian hairless. It actually works, much to Kim's surprise.
- Another episode had Kim successfully bribe a black market dealer with a chocolate bar. Though in this case, it's implied that the chocolate was a serious Weaksauce Weakness of the dealer, which Kim knew about from prior experience with him.
- The Simpsons,
- Bart Simpson once tried to bribe the officer with a hairdryer, or some other house appliance. The cop showed him his badge: "cash bribes only".
- Inverted in another episode, where Mr. Burns attempted to bribe the head of a media outlet to let him run the place with a huge bag of money, but he refuses, offers him another bag of money, he still refuses, to which a hot woman pops out of the second bag and while starting to actually consider the offer, was still not giving in, and managed to successfully bribe him when the hot woman in question offers him a hot-fudge sundae.
- In another episode, Officer Wiggum actually accepts two dry cleaning coupons as a bribe for an unspecified offense.
- In another episode, Bart and Lisa try to bribe the Blue-Haired Lawyer with 35 cents.
- A foreign currency variant when the family is in Canada, Homer gives the CN Tower guard one US dollar when it's five minutes to closing. "American currency! What time you would like your breakfast, sir?"
- Happened again, but backfired when Homer gives one dollar to Tony Blair to leave them alone, but he takes it anyway.
- In a Bait and Switch scenario, Homer and Bart had chloroform with them when they broke into a hotel. When they met a guard, Homer offered him the chloroform as a bribe, which the guard accepted.
- In another one, Homer was trying to find Lisa and decided he needed to look from a high spot. He then bought several baloons, which he used to bribe someone into helping him. It also worked.
- There's a subversion of the Briefcase Full of Money in the South Park episode "Gnomes": a global coffee company executive attempts to buy Tweek's coffee shop with an empty briefcase.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, the Flying Dutchman offered some change less than a dollar to Mr. Krabs if he sold Spongebob's soul to him. Mr. Krabs sold Spongebob's soul for the pocket change. Even Squidward, who absolutely hates Spongebob, called him out on it. A Beat goes by...and cue Mr. Krabs' Oh Crap / My God, What Have I Done? face.
- In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Spongebob attempts to bribe Dennis with "Goober Dollers". He's unimpressed.
- Mr Krabs once switched places with Plankton, saying he could do a better job at stealing the formula than him, for 1 dollar.
- In an episode of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, an Italian crook threatens to drain every canal in Venice dry unless he gets 3 thousand lire. Which is something like 6 American dollars. This is even funnier now that Italy has switched to Euros and lire can't even be used.
- Beavis and Butthead tried this when they photocopied a dollar bill in order to buy nachos. When the Quick Stop guy doesn't fall for it, Butthead offers him another obviously copied dollar, and then photocopied coins, until the guy throws them out.
Butthead: "Maybe this will change your mind?"
- In The Oblongs, when it is suggested offhandedly that Bob consider filing a lawsuit after being injured by a Globocide park ride, Globocide's lawyers immediately offer him a "really big check." It is in fact a novelty check worth only $20, which Pickles points out. They simply say, "But look how big it is!"
- Murdoc Niccals of Gorillaz was, as a child, forced to participate in embarrassing talent shows for money by his father. "The prize? £2.50 and the chance to humiliate yourself further in the biannual county finals." To add insult to injury, he apparently never won.
- In an episode of Earthworm Jim, Jim and his gang successfully enter the Hall of the Gods by giving the gatekeeper a $1 bribe.
- In The Weekenders, Carver attempts to bribe a man with "his friend Mr. Washington." When the man points out how stupid attempting to bribe with a dollar is, Carver replies that he was actually offering him a quarter.
- In Hey Arnold!, Arnold's grandmother attempts to bribe someone with, "Maybe a picture of Lincoln will change your mind..."—and shows the guy a small framed portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Arnold steps in and bribes him successfully with an actual $5 bill.
- Powerpuff Girls: When Princess became the Mayor of Townsville, in a flashback we learn that the Mayor rejected 30 million dollars, 10 billion, but sold the city for a room filled with candies.
- In Dan Vs. "Art", Dan attempts to get records of failed art school applicants:
Secretary: I'm not giving you our private records.
- In The Ren and Stimpy Show, Ren and Stimpy were working as bell boys. Ren was bribed by a photographer to take picture of VIP in a hotel for $20, which is very small considering, moments ago, he bribed Stimpy thousands of dollars to do it.
- In Pinky and The Brain, some male scientists are successfully bribed with women's nightgowns.
- Camp Lazlo: In "The Tusk Wizard", Raj attempts to bribe Nurse Leslie into removing a perfectly healthy tusk by offering him a quarter.
- The German satirical magazine Titanic offered a cuckoo clock, sausages and ham to delegates of the FIFA World championship committee to support the German bid to host the 2006 World Cup. A $20 value for arguably the biggest sporting event in the world. Amazingly, it worked, as one of the delegates who was supposed to vote for South Africa got very confused and abstained, causing the final vote to be 12-11 in Germany's favor. South Africa did get the World Cup in 2010.
- On November 8, 2009, Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals offered an official $1 during a replay challenge on one of his own catches. Even though he was joking, he got hit with a $20,000 fine.
- This (The Customer is) Not Always Right entry has a customer, convinced that the cashier knows when the store will get more Wiis but is trying to keep it secret, try to bribe him with $20 for the info. As the cashier points out, even assuming he did have secret knowledge of the store's shipments, $20 is not worth the punishment he'd get for giving out such a secret.
- People find it amusing when politicians and bureaucrats revealed to have accepted bribes turn out to have accepted what seem to be ridiculously small bribes in exchange for their favour. A few million dollars, people can respect that. A few thousand dollars worth of furniture, on the other hand...
- A lot of times the difference is explained by the odd ethic that regards cash as vulgar but ceremonial objects as magnanimous, because the later hearkens back to a gift economy. Arguably, the more vile the service you want, the more you have to polish it. If for instance you are a foreign agent and the service you want is treason then you have to make it look like it is something more honorable than, well, treason. Money just doesn't do it. In the above case, the guy who took a few thousand dollars of furniture may have taken really good furniture with expensive materials and craftmanship as opposed to numbers in the bank account (which might buy even more furniture but are not the point).
- There is also the straightforward point that someone has to hide his ill-gotten gains somewhere. A bank account might be to conspicuous, while an art object can hang on the wall and the secret police goons who are good at finding money may be too uncultured to realize you shouldn't have it.
- Roger Ebert's contests on his blog, such his limerick contest and photo caption contest have always given tiny rewards of "a shiny new dime." In the case of the caption contest, it became satirical Serious Business when the winning entry was accused of plagiarism, and the prize given to another, only to find that it wasn't and for the original winner to receive his dime after all.
- His "Outguess Ebert at the Oscars" defy this, as being official contests the prizes can range as high as a private screening to the years' Ebertfest or Pixar film. The most recent prize was the highest, $100,000, a year that Ebert only correctly guessed 15 Oscars out of 24.
- Stephen Merchant's harrowing encounter with a nightclub bouncer certainly counts. It's one thing to flaunt your cash in front of some girls, quite another when that attempt consists of offering 7 quid on a 5 quid entry fee.
- After Terminator: Salvation, Joss Whedon offered to buy the Terminator franchise for $10,000. This was apparently not taken seriously, as the rights were up for sale, and ended up not being sold.
- A contestant on Family Fortunes, whose family had not covered themselves in glory, once offered to buy the rights to that episode so it would never be shown - for £100. The producer had to explain to them that this fell somewhat short of covering the show's £38,000 costs.