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Phoenix: "Win Through Compromise"?

Viola: That's Tender Lender's guiding principle. Compromise the customer to win.
Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations

A character borrows some money, but for whatever reason is unable to pay it back. Cue pursuit by some rather aggressive "providers of innovative financial services," who are determined to get their money back by any means necessary. The character really should have thought twice before borrowing money from the All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks.

A Loan Shark is a stock Villain who typically loans money at high interest rates and will stop at nothing to get it back. The loan shark may be only too eager to use violence if necessary. He may also have mob connections — money-lending is a time-honored means for organized crimes to use money gotten from any number of less-than-honest means, and the hounding of their victims for payment and interest is just another means of extortion.

Loan sharks feature a lot in action movies, where they're usually tied to The Mafia, The Triads and the Tongs, the Yakuza or whatever other organized crime group features as the primary villain of the piece. Typically, the person being hounded by the loan sharks is someone who ran up a nasty gambling debt or needed money for some other reason and had nowhere else to turn, and now they are putting the heat on him to get their money back (with interest) and the borrower is unable to pay. Enter the hero, who is usually a friend of said borrower, who comes across the loan sharks doing their bit of nasty, beats the crap out of them and sends them packing. The loan sharks get pissed and the conflict ensues.

Unfortunately, this is Truth in Television (although some real-life Loan Sharks can be more flexible than others), and some high schools show videos warning students about the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks. Actual banks, within the United States at least, do not operate under this trope and will in fact often accept pennies on the dollar rather than have to repossess cars and houses. Bankers do not want to own your collateral because they tend to have trouble selling it to get their money. Also of note is payday lending, which, due to its legality, does not involve violence but is less lenient than banks.

Compare Morally-Bankrupt Banker.

Examples of Loan Shark include:

Anime and Manga

  • Half the premise of Hayate the Combat Butler is that the hero's parents, being pursued by exactly these kinds of loan sharks in the form of the Very Nice People, agree to sell him to them for his organs without his knowledge in order to repay their debt.
    • Although that plotline is closed up in short order it's likely that both Hinagiku and Yukiji's parents and Luka have had dealings with these same type of people.
  • Binbou Shimai Monogatari has a father who ran away from a dangerous debt.
    • It turns out that he's paying his friend's debt, not his own.
  • This is the main reason Kaiji gets involved with such bizarre games.
    • Also part of Gin to Kin, another series by the same author.
  • One of the characters in Paranoia Agent owes the Yakuza a large amount of money. And it just keeps getting larger.
  • A running theme in seinen manga Wa Ga Na Wa Umishi is how they are ever going to pay off the astronomical $14 million debt they owe the bank. The slimy loan officer never fails to turn up to collect most of their earning whenever they do a succesful job.
  • Disaster survivors such as Faye Valentine of Cowboy Bebop didn't get their cryogenic treatment for free.
  • On a slightly larger scale, SEELE from Neon Genesis Evangelion, with NERV as the unsuspecting protagonist. SEELE destroys most of Tokyo-III in the attempt to get their money back- or at least to get their money's worth.
    • Arguable. The conflict was never only about money. NERV was supposed to be an organization under SEELE, but Commander Ikari's actions caused SEELE to consider the entire NERV traitors to their cause. The actual reason is mostly for control of Plot Important Mac Guffins...which is also technically the series Final Boss.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. One of the cons run by Teppei and Rina. Teppei will lend money to gamblers. After they lose it, Rina will offer to loan them money so they can pay him back. True, the interest rate is downright extortionate, but being in debt to her is better than being in debt to him, right?
  • In One Piece, Paulie makes his entrance while being chased down a public street by a pair of suits demanding money. Apparently this happens a lot.
    • One could argue that Nami's original reason for stealing money was due to this, since she was attempting to buy her village free from Arlong and his fish-men. Bonus points for Arlong being an actual shark, too.
    • 'Arlong' even sounds like the Chinese dialect Hokkien phrase for 'loanshark' (at least in Singaporean Hokkien, see Live Action TV below).
  • The series Akumetsu kicks off with the initial female lead (who fades out of the story after a while) renting/selling herself into teenage prostitution because of her father's crushing debt, caused by a loan-sharking bank. At first it was indicated that her parents had sold her, a la Hayate above, but later it emerges that they have no idea she even knows how dire their financial straits are. The girl is rescued by Akumetsu, who kills the central bureaucratic fat cat with an axe before having his head blown off. A later arc involves Akumetsu taking on the leaders of various banks in a shame-and-threaten campaign on national television after running across the girl's father contemplating suicide by revenge-with-large-truck in a playpark on his way to school.
    • Given that the father's debts are owed to banks who appear to have harmed him mostly by refusing to extend further loans when they promised they would, even if the debts are large and his business is sunk one would think both the girl's prostitution and renunciation of her life and the father's intended suicide are a bit premature. They only get away with it because of the established use in anime of both tropes in situations of indebtedness.
  • Garome from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, who even sends thugs after children. When forced to duel, his deck theme concentrates on loaning creatures to his opponent, then doing massive damage to them each turn if they can't get rid of the creatures.
  • The Otogi Bank from Ookami-san functions this way, although they deal in social debts and not finances.
  • One entire manga is about loan sharks, Naniwa Kinyudo, though from a more realistic perspective — they operate legally if exploitatively, charging extremely high interest to desperate people, sometimes merely making sure they will get ahold of the collateral, but also doing things like manipulating them to take second jobs or go into prostitution.
  • One appears in Detective Conan. Unsurprisingly, he becomes the Asshole Victim of the case.
  • Tom of Durarara is a pleasant, even-tempered man who works in the Loan Shark business for some Yakuza-types. He doesn't like using violence and generally relies on his super-strong and hot tempered friend/partner Shizuou to frighten recalcitrant customers.
  • Those in Kaiji are quite happy to pursue not only their debtors but also those who have co-signed for them in nefarious ways.

Comic Books

  • A Scooby Doo comic book had the Scooby-Doo gang in Vegas for unspecified purpose. Shaggy is, at one point, threatened by two enormous thugs, who demand $30. Later on, he frantically visits a loan shark and says he needs $30 on the spot; the loan shark is happy to oblige, but he'll need $100 in an hour. At this, Shaggy runs off in a panic, making excuses. The kicker is that Shaggy had at no point done anything to actually incur this debt — he was just randomly assaulted by two goons who weren't going to take "broke" for an answer.
  • In the Judge Dredd universe, one of the most lucrative rackets is Body Sharking, a form of loan sharking where suspended animation technology is used to keep the debtor's loved one as collateral. You don't pay up and mummy dearest will never wake up.
    • After having her organs harvested. A different one being removed for each missed payment.
  • The Robert Asprin/Mel White graphic novel Duncan and Mallory: The Bar-None Ranch has the main characters and their fellow con-artists dealing with a gang of literal loan sharks.
  • The Disney Duck universe has Soapy Slick, who tried to swindle Scrooge McDuck out of his entire fortune by claiming that he was never paid off on an ancient debt with an outrageous interest rate.
  • The Angel comic continuation, "After the Fall", featured a loan-shark-demon of the same type as the Buffy example below (according to one of the writers, they're the same character). He was one of the "Demon Lords" who carved up LA after the Senior Partners sent the city to Hell, but betrayed the other Lords to Angel.

 Angel: We picked the Lord most likely to sell everyone else out.

Connor: You went with the loan shark.

Angel: Man's career path is based on a pun, can't be too much inner pride.



  • Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars.
    • While in the Expanded Universe, Jabba does indeed do loan sharking, his business with Han in the movies is that Han was smuggling for him, and dumped his cargo when an Imperial Patrol intercepted him. The money Han owes Jabba is the value of the lost cargo. It still follows the trope, though, because he keeps tacking on interest.
      • Although for a Hutt dealing with a human, Jabba was being sympathetic, he actually liked Han, or as much as a greedy crime lord can like anybody. Most Hutts would have killed Solo upon learning of the lost shipment.
      • An encyclopedia of some of the varied and sundry species from Star Wars (both the main movies and the EU) includes under the entry for Hutts an excerpt from an interview with Han about Jabba; evidently at one point he was a pretty cool guy, but after an extended absence on Han's part Jabba had gained weight, authority, and arrogance, and suddenly Jabba's personal glossary defined "friend" as "exploitable."
      • Expanded materials have also shown an itemized detailed list of the Solo debt to Jabba. Not only does it include the intial spice shipment amount (which Luke's money would have covered) but more than 1000% cumulative interest and bounty hunter fees to capture him. Yes, Jabba bills people their own bounty hunting fees!
    • And by extension Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs.
  • In Truck Turner, one of the hero's old friends is in debt to a shady fellow. A Running Gag is that he keeps making a few extra marks on the IOU that exponentially raise the debt every time his debtor angers him. He turns a 1 into a 4 the first time, for example.
  • The hero of Takeshi Kitano's Hana-bi (Fireworks) should really have known better than borrow money from the yakuza. However, he might be even more Badass than them, being played by Beat Takeshi and all.
  • Gene Co in Repo! The Genetic Opera fill this role. They'll lend you money so you can get an organ transplant, but if you miss a single payment, they'll send out their Repo Man to take the organs back...
    • To be fair, they do give you 90 days to pay before sending in the Repo Man.
  • In Stroszek, a regular loan is taken out by the lead and the love interest, which they can't quite afford. In contrast to these examples, the bank worker is comically non-combative. Things still don't turn out well.
  • In Twins, Danny DeVito's character is hounded by a family of violent loan sharks in virtually every other scene.
  • The plot of the first Addams Family film in 1991 revolved around an amnesiac Uncle Fester who had been brainwashed by the film's villain to assist in her loan-sharking schemes.
  • Dirty Work. Dr. Farthing (Chevy Chase) the gambling-addicted doctor is being "asked" to pay back his loans.

 Dr. Farthing: What I don't understand is... when you owe a bookie a lot of money, and he, say, blows off one of your toes, you still owe him the money. Doesn't seem fair to me. Especially when he's gonna kill me in four days anyway.

  • The Sinister Urge, a film by Ed Wood about the dark, twisted crime world of pornography, uses this trope. The porn studio is shown to prey on young, unsuspecting girls by having the nice, sweet porn director hire naive girls as actresses and offer to front them money to live on, complete with paying their rent and buying her expensive dinners in order to prepare her for work at his studio. As one girl found out though, her first "audition" has her meeting the director's financial backer and secret head of the porn syndicate. When she fails to get the drift when ordered to seductively pull up her skirt and show the porn boss her "hat", the porn boss reveals that it was HER money that the actress was living off of during the previous weeks and that if she doesn't do the movies the porn queen wants her to do, then she would contact the actress's father to make him pay back the money.
  • In Ken Loach's Raining Stones the main character borrows money from loan sharks to buy his daughter a communion dress. This plot turns up a lot in social-realist film and TV.
  • An odd subversion, in the Thai movie Chocolate, the main character is collecting loans found in her loan shark mother's ledger, to fund her mother's cancer care. None of the debtors wants to pay up, so she's forced to beat them up.
  • In Rounders, Worm had accumulated several fairly small poker debts before going to jail. His former partner, Gramma, sensing an opportunity for a good score, goes around and buys off all Worm's creditors, meaning that Worm now has one big debt to him. Gramma states at least once that he's more than willing to use the traditional loan-shark "collection methods", but the real threat to Worm — and by extension, Mike — is fellow poker player and underground poker club owner Teddy KGB, who is called KGB because of his strong connections to the Russian mob. Turns out that Teddy provided the money for Gramma's business venture, figuring they'd both make a nice profit from the interest.
  • Gazzo in the first two Rocky movies. In the first, Rocky works for him collecting money and beating up people who don't pay. Or in his trainer Mickey's words he's: "a legbreaker for a cheap, second-rate loan shark". In Rocky II, Rocky's brother-in-law Paulie gets his old job. Gazzo is seen with a date rooting for Rocky during the climactic fight of both movies. Working for Gazzo later comes back to haunt him in the fifth movie.
  • One of these kicks off the plot of Ringo Lam's Full Contact. Chow Yun-Fat's character rescues his brother from a loan shark, who the brother borrowed money from in order to pay for their mother's funeral. Since Chow had to kick the asses of his men in order to secure his brother's release, the loan shark is pissed. The brother mentions a friend of his who is looking for people to cut in on a job, which they can use to pay off the loan shark and get him out of their hair. The friend in question, Judge, and his gang were shown in the opening scene to be nothing but bad news, and the loan shark makes a deal with this guy behind Chow's back to have him killed during the job. Chow survives the resultant betrayal and hit attempt, and you better believe he wants payback.
  • The movie Tom Cats had a cartoonist going to Vegas for a friends wedding, where he ends up losing thousands, even though he said he had stopped. The casino owner said the roll was legitimate because he gave the dice to a hooker, who rolled for him. This kicks off the main plot.
  • The Hong Kong comedy movie Shark Busters has these (and they are more honest and fair than the legal versions).
  • Two of the villains in Suicide Kings. Who it is that owes them money becomes a plot point.
  • The Bill Sykes of Disney's Oliver and Company is a Loan Shark, and Disney doesn't even try to play down how ruthless he is. There are even possible Mafia connections and the very real prospect of him killing Fagin, to whom he had lent the money.
  • In the first Otto movie, Otto lends 1000 marks (minus exorbitant fees) from a Loan Shark and very soon has debts of exactly 9876.50 marks. Hilarity Ensues as he tries to get the money.


  • In the Aubrey-Maturin series, Jack Aubrey is pursued by creditors; for a while, he has to take advantage of some ridiculously arcane laws about where people are allowed to be arrested for debt. He ends up press-ganging the bailiffs who are trying to arrest him.
  • Averted in The Name of the Wind. The Loan Shark who appears, Devi, doesn't send thugs to collect money. She just has a small, sealed vial of her client's blood. No one ever has the courage to find out what nasty sort of magic she will do to those who are delinquent in their payments, and the protagonist Kvothe goes to great lengths to avoid paying late. Apart from this, however, Devi is really quite pleasant.
  • The goblins in Harry Potter fit this trope to a T, especially in Goblet of Fire, where it turns out that Ludo Bagman owes them a lot and has conned Fred, George and a whole lot of other people out of their bettings to pay them back... and it's still not enough. This is why he keeps trying to help Harry during the Triwizard Tournament, since he bet that Harry would win.
    • Even more so in The Deathly Hallows, when Harry makes a deal with one to help him break into Gringotts bank so they could steal/destroy Hufflepuff's Goblet. What Harry didn't know, and had to find out the hard way, was that Goblins view every single Goblin-made item as being "borrowed" instead of "bought", and that they despise the idea that Goblin items are handed down through generations. He learns this when, being trapped in the vault, Griphook chooses that exact moment to make off with Gryffindor's Sword and escape.
  • Mack Bolan (of The Executioner series) sets forth on his campaign against the Mafia after his father snaps under pressure and kills his own family in a murder-suicide, brought on by the revelation that his daughter was prostituting herself to pay his debt to Mafia loan sharks.
  • In Neil Stephenson's novel The Diamond Age, one character considers a loan from some highly respectable Parsi bankers but declines when he finds out about the nature of their collections policy. Their "reminders" to pay seem to be some kind of painful torture mechanism implanted in the debtor's body and the bank establishes workhouses for those having difficulty paying. It's not for nothing that the novel's setting is described as "Neo-Victorian".
  • The protagonist of Get Shorty, Chili Palmer is one of these and it's noted at one point how the loans he enforces have like 150% interest on them. He's pretty reasonable about it though, and an important part of his character is that he's such a confident Badass in his mannerisms that people will play these debts without his needing to resort to physical violence.
  • Similarly to the above, this was one of the areas of crime engaged in by Vlad Taltos while a member of the Jhereg, a fantasy equivalent of The Mafia. His organization is relatively reasonable, in that when someone is a business owner making an effort to pay, they are likely to be lenient about payment or else take over the business temporarily before using violence, although they are more than willing to break the kneecaps of recalcitrant debtors. It's suggested that the Jhereg are the source of loans for the common people, which is understandable given that the group associated with banking, the Orca are less than trustworthy.
  • Adrian Mole gets in this trouble once for his naivete and ends up several hundred thousand British pounds in debt.
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series, has literal sharks do this job; they, of course, charge an equally literal arm-and-leg minimum for their services.
  • In the novel Inferno, loan sharks are condemned to Hell. This has some basis in the original Divine Comedy, which depicts usury as a sin, in turn deriving this from the laws of The Bible. The protagonist, although generally opposed to the concept of eternal damnation, reflects that if anyone belongs in Hell, it's them.
  • Troll mobster Chrysophrase of Discworld provides this service. He's described as "having people's limbs torn off" as a penalty for non-payment; so again, owing him an arm and a leg can be quite literal.
  • Also in Discworld, in Mort, when Alberto goes back to Ankh-Morpork after a 2000 year absence, he finds a small bar tab he had has been handed down, and has interest added. Subverted because of what Alberto does when he has the discussion over the ancient, now huge, bar tab.
  • Emma Bovary, the title character of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary, falls into an all devouring black hole of debt which ultimately destroys her by purchasing fine clothes, fabrics, furniture and general haberdashery 'on credit' from unscrupulous merchants — maybe more like the modern credit card debt for consumer items than loan sharking, but with the same disastrous, life-destroying results.
  • In the Red Dwarf novelization, one character commits suicide after being fed his own nose by loan sharks who had generously given him a loan with a 3000% interest rate. The details on the interest rate, by the way, were contained in the microdot of an "i" in the closing line of the loan agreement.
  • In Guy du Maupussant's short story "The Necklace", the young couple are compelled to deal with loan sharks to get the money to replace the lost necklace. It takes them ten years of scrimping and penny pinching to get out from under the debt. Only at the end do they learn that the necklace was actually just costume jewelry.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Iron Bank of Braavos has this reputation. On learning that the crown has defaulted on its debts, Jon considers that when princes default on ordinary banks, the bankers starve. When they default on the Iron Bank, new princes arise and overthrow them. As a result of the Lannister's defaulting, a representative of the Iron Bank goes to find King Stannis, presumably to offer him the financial aid he needs to claim the throne, traveling through harsh weather and ransoming prisoners to serve as a protective escort.
  • Harn suffers from a case of them early on in The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor

Live Action TV

  • Nikki Sanders of Heroes borrows money from a Las Vegas mob boss, Mr. Linderman, who sends thugs after her to retrieve it. In a twist, Linderman actually doesn't care much about the money. He's much more interested in having Niki's... interesting family under his influence.
  • In a comedic subversion, Threes Company had Jack teaching a loan shark's lusty wife to cook because he couldn't pay back his loan.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured a loan shark that menaced Spike. The loan shark was an actual demon shark guy.
    • And the currency of the loan was kittens.
    • After seeing her fighting prowess first hand, the loan shark offered Buffy some "freelance" debt collection work.
  • An episode of Blackadder revolves around Edmund having to pay back a loan he took from such a group — which is, as it happens, the Anglican Church — under penalty of imminent death if he doesn't ante up. He ultimately gets out of the debt by producing a painting of the debt collector, the Baby-Eating Bishop Of Bath And Wells, engaged in an unspecifically perverse sex act after learning that he'll "do anything to anything".
    • Making the unspecific act even more Squicky is the fact that the other person involved was Percy.
  • Michael Westen goes up against one in an episode of Burn Notice. He mentions that all loan sharks, while usually criminals, are ultimately businessmen. They aren't really interested in harming their clients, but just want their money. Michael naturally manages to use this trait to his advantage.
  • Quite a number of Chinese-language dramas shown on Singapore's Channel 8 feature the local 'sharks.
  • Korean Series like using this as a plot twist. Case in point, Twinkle Twinkle, both the poor dad and the rich son end up owning lots to the local "money lenders".
  • Frequently show up on Law & Order when the murder victim-of-the-week turns out to have had money problems. They mostly are never the real guilty party, expect to hear some variation of the line "Yeah, I killed him, that'll make him pay me" as a reason why they may have beat the guy up, but not killed him.
    • A subversion happened in a 2000 episode where a stock scheme runs so bad that the Mafia comes to the Manhattan D.A.'s office to get their money back.
    • There's also an episode in Criminal Intent where the loan shark is so impatient to get his money back that he kidnaps a guy's family, during which his hired kidnapper rapes one of the daughters. Big surprise? He's a former member of the Serbian Volunteer Guard, though he tries to pass it off as a member of a Serbian infantry regiment. Too bad he didn't know that Goren knew what the letters on his tattoo stood for.
  • In one episode of Baywatch, one of the life-savers loses money with gambling and has to get a loan with 20% cumulative interest. Per month.
  • Used quite a lot on The Sopranos.
    • Robert Patrick plays a local Sporting Goods store owner who gets in over his head in poker debts to Tony. This culminates when Tony, in a genius move, gives Meadow an SUV that he took as collateral from Patrick, her boyfriend's father.
    • Christopher loaning to, beating, and ultimately murdering his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor.
    • One of the thugs exploits Vito by borrowing money from him, then turning him in to the rival New York family that wanted him dead.
  • Hal goes to one on Malcolm in the Middle to pay Malcolm's college tuition, explaining that there's no way he can pay it back, but he's offering to be the guy who gets his thumbs broken as a lesson to everyone else.
  • Mr. Lisgoe and his incompetent collectors in the third season of The League of Gentlemen.
  • Inverted in Seinfeld. Kramer places a large bet with a bookie in Jerry's name and end sup winning a large amount of money (The precise figure is never revealed). Unfortunately, his bookie is very new to the business and can not afford to cover the bet. Since Jerry never actually placed the bet at all he is in no rush to get the money, but he keeps accidentally behaving like a debt collector. First he breaks the guys thumbs, then he locks locks him in his trunk and in the end he seemingly plans a murder. All of it (In true Seinfeld fashion) is unintentional and misinterpreted to turn Jerry into an unstoppable debt collector.
  • Kenji from Deep Love borrows some money from some loan sharks to pay for his drug addiction, unfortunately he got fired from his job because of his drug addiction. It doesn't end well.
  • An episode of WKRP in Cincinnati has the enforcer for this type of shark loitering in the station's lobby, waiting for loan-defaulter Johnny Fever to turn up. He was only given a vague description of what Johnny looks like, so of course Hilarity Ensues.
  • One story in The Twilight Zone deals with an All Devouring Black Hole Credit Card, which literally reposesses your existence if you don't pay up.
  • Red Dwarf had an Outland Revenue man in the Better Than Life episode who was instructed to "to break both (Rimmer's) legs and pull off your thumbs-...sir" for some money Rimmer owed. The episode ends with the Outland Revenue man taking a hammer to Rimmer's hand. He was, however, virtual. Given that Outland Revenue appears to be based on the Real Life Inland Revenue, he was probably collecting taxes, not loans, but the trope is functionally the same.
  • The Villain of the Week for the Leverage episode "The Bottle Job" was a dangerous loan shark with connections to the Irish Republican Army. He threatened to close down Nathan's favorite pub.
    • Nate's father was also a loan shark as well, fueling some of Nate's anger with that mark.
  • In the alternate timeline in the sixth season of Lost, Sayid's brother borrows money from a loan shark to open a second business. When he can't pay the high interest rate, he asks Sayid to use his "skills" to scare off the goons. Sayid refuses until his brother is beaten and hospitalized, at which point he meets with the loan shark...who turns out to be none other than this timeline's version of Martin Keamy.
  • Joe McIntyre fell victim to one in Coronation Street.
  • Paddy Maguire lends Yvonne Karib money in Shameless when banks do not deal with her.
  • Jimmy from Third Watch gets visited by several throughout the seasons. One notable example is when a Loan Shark takes Jimmy's car and makes him walk his kid home, in the cold and dark.
  • Hack had an episode where Mike, the protagonist becomes the personal driver of a local mob boss who is a Loan Shark. When a restaurant owner is about to be beaten for not paying back a loan, Mike saves the guy and the mob boss makes him personally responsible for collecting the debt. He tries to be reasonable but it turns out the the restaurant owner is actually Too Dumb to Live and does not intend to pay back the money. If Mike can't get the money, he will owe the mob boss and thus having to join the crime gang to avoid getting killed. Desperate he ends up threatening the restaurant owner with a bat till the guy give up the money. Disgusted he quits and goes back to being a taxi driver.
  • An episode of Crusade had a loan shark trying to extort money from a David Brooks's wife. He responded by using an alien artifact that was used to control prisoners, mentioning that it will kill on proximity to either him or the wife, or by a manual code entry.
  • In Castle, some evidence quite often implicates loan sharks who the Victim of the Week had dealings with in one way or another, whenever they come up, but it's never them who's guilty of the episode's murder. All of the loan sharks of the show's universe apparently operate by a more sensible, but less exciting, "I can't get my money back from [insert victim's name here] if I kill him/her." and just scare/threaten them with violence but never go any further than that.
    • Often, when questioned, these sharks mention, that the victim had just paid off their debts before they were murdered.
  • Once Upon a Time's Mr. Gold, in addition to being a pawn broker and the landlord for pretty much the entire town, frequently operates as a particularly inflexible loan shark. Mr. Gold is not a man you want to be indebted to.


  • In Bleak Expectations, Harry Biscuit borrows a swan from a "food lender" at 10% interest. Unfortunately, this turns out to mean 10% per second. Half an hour later, Harry owes 14 billion swans.
  • Linda Smith's A Brief History of Timewasting has a spoof "debt consolidation" advert for a firm called Loan Guppies.

 Customer: But how can I be sure you're not sharks?

Spokesman: Because we're called guppies.

Customer: I'm completely reassured.



Video Games

  • A rabbi with mobster Loan Shark connections is the Big Bad of The Shivah.
  • In Pikmin 2, the President of Hocotate Freight has to go on the run from debt collectors after discovering that the company's loan came not from Happy Hocotate Savings & Loan, but from the building next door, the All-Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks. Previously the Trope Namer.
  • Case 3 of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations. This one has a twist: the loan shark of Tender Lender, Furio Tigre, is so vicious because he is in debt to the Cadaverini family mafia (Viola, from the top quote, being the darling daughter of the family who needed some very expensive surgery for a car accident caused by Tigre.
    • Tender Lender and Viola are alluded to again in case three of Ace Attorney Investigations. In fact, they're indirectly responsible for the murder in that case.
  • This trope actually drives the plot of the Mega Man Legends spinoff The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.
  • You can take out a loan in Boktai and Boktai 2 from Dark Loans. If you can't pay it back in three days, you're kidnapped and forced to run on a treadmill until you've built up however much energy you owe.
    • The game heavily advises against patronizing Dark Loans, however, and says that Dark Loans should be resorted to only once you've expended your last resort. The crazy-ass interest rates help drive the point home.
    • Apparently, Django didn't listen. In Lunar Knights, Laura of the Solar Bank tells you at one point that Dark Loans went bankrupt!
  • In Saints Row, the player can borrow money from a loan shark, with three days to pay it back. Once the time expires, two goons will start to chase the player.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, Roman is chased by loan sharks from a small-time Albanian gang due to his massive gambling debts, requiring the player character to evade them in a car chase and finally fight them and chase down and kill their leader.
  • Animal Crossing has Tom Nook, via Memetic Mutation.
  • A large percentage of the early parts of Atelier Judie is spent paying of a very high debt incurred to one of your party members in exchange for a place to stay. He doesn't threaten Judie with violence, but he's not very nice about it either.
  • In the original Fallout, there is a guy named Lorenzo Giovanni who runs the Friendly Loaning Company in the Hub. He claims to be a respectable businessman, but is actually a loanshark that has ties to the local crime lord. If the player doesn't pay off his debts, his two thugs attack him.
    • To give it context, the loan has 10% daily interest, and must be repaid within 10 days. Considering how long it takes to travel from town to town, it's almost as if Lorenzo doesn't want you to pay it back.
  • In the old Apple II/TRS-80 game Taipan!, you can borrow money from Elder Brother Wu. The interest rate is quite high, and if you don't pay him back he'll eventually send thugs to beat you up.
    • Amusingly, you can pay him back more than you owe, which causes you to have a negative debt--to which the same exorbitant interest rate is applied. He still sends thugs to beat you up, but with the money you can very quickly make this way, you'll be able to take them on.
  • In Super Paper Mario, you will unavoidably break a vase at the start of one level. Once you do this, the resident villain appears and traps you in the level until you pay back the 1 million rubies it's supposedly worth. The rest of the level is revealed to be a gulag where you can do physical labor to generate power. However, you get paid so little that you'll never pay off the debt unless you rob the villain's safe on the top floor
  • In Mario Party 2, in the final board called Bowser Land, there are the Bowser Banks. Now, the normal banks ask for a loan from the players and give the money back when someone lands on the space. The Bowser ones? Give away loans to everyone, but chance the next unfortunate person who lands on the space the full combined total of all the money deposited by all the players in the game, which can total up to a heck of a lot. Or take all their money if they don't have enough. Or a Star if they have one and don't have all the cash.
  • The Exchange in Knights of the Old Republic, and Davik in particular. Exorbitant prices for basic necessities and Fantastic Racism seem to have most of the Lower City scared out of their mind. Can't pay? They'll have the hired thugs kill you if you're lucky, or sell your kid into slavery if you aren't (Ada in the Black Vulkar base and Juhani).
  • Tear the Fairy of Recettear is basically a Loan Shark in all but name (despite how much she tries to deny this) but is willing to help Recette pay off her father's debts as a business advisor for her item shop. She'll still repossess her house if Recette fails though. And then she'll turn back time (to Day 2) and give Recette all of the stuff she got before her failure and give her another shot at it. As many as it takes.
  • Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos has Caleb Maas, who also doubles as a Corrupt Corporate Executive. He claims that Felix Johnston hasn't paid him back, although Felix himself objects and says that he's paid him ten times over. Maas apparently expected this and threatened to "close his account", by which he means "KILL HIM". As if that weren't enough, Felix's son Cal Johnston (protagonist and Player Character) inherits his father's debt (as shown in some main menu screen text) in addition to just becoming orphaned, and not too far into the story, Maas gets him imprisoned for life with ease, as the authorities don't even bother to question Maas...until he breaks out with some other fellow prisoners 15 years later and becomes a Space Pirate like his grandmother. Needless to say, it's VERY personal.
  • Averted in the Murder, She Wrote PC game, where a loan shark interviewed in the first case was offended at the implication that he'd kill a debtor who hadn't paid him back, since that would prevent him from ever getting the money back, period.
  • In Death Rally you can borrow money through a "loanshark" option (it's literally called that).
  • The tutorial of Yakuza takes place in the offices of Peace Finance. According to Kazuma's informant, the loansharks have been extorting money from the locals in addition to accumulate a hefty debt themselves. When faced, the old man in charge refuses to pay, opting to call out his henchmen to beat up the Dragon of the Dojima Clan. That went as good as expected.
  • Subverted in Startopia. During the third mission you are given the option of taking an energy loan from Arona Daal, owner of the local Honest John's Dealership. Given his other business practices most players would probably trust him with a loan as far as they could throw him, but his interest rates are actually rather sensible (you have to pay him back 110% of the loan sum at a later point in the mission and you'll be quits; you lose if you can't pay though). Of course, given you probably will be spending most of that loan in his store anyway...

Web Comics

  • Zortic starts with Zortic being subtly threatened by a loan shark. The kicker?
    1. He looks and talks like Jabba the Hutt in a Mafioso suit, and …
    2. … he's in the student loan business.
  • Kevin and Kell had a literal shark who traveled by plumbing, charged absurd interest rates, and threatened to kill Kevin if he missed the deadline. Coney met him during her potty training and promptly ate him.
  • MSF High: Miss Fenris is well known for this, anyone who cannot pay for a debt to her becomes a salesgirl in her employ until the debtor has paid off the debt.
  • Sluggy Freelance had Riff end up owing a company $200,000 for cloning a toothbrush. Much seizing of property and other general shenanigans ensued.
  • Living With Insanity had an example. While David doesn't act violent toward Alice, one has to wonder how she managed to rack up a debt that high after just a year.
  • Naps in SSDD as part of his backstory turned to wiretapping celebrities to pay off his ever-increasing debts to a series of increasingly persistent loan sharks.

Web Original

  • In Kate Modern, Gavin and Tariq borrow money from a rather shady businessman named Terrence. When it becomes apparent that they have no means of paying him back, he becomes violent.

Western Animation

  • Woody Woodpecker encounters this in the short The Loan Stranger, in which he gets a loan of one dollar, but it later escalates to $365 in interest, not including the dollar he had yet to pay back. (justified, as Woody simply forgot to pay the loan back after 30 days.) The Loan Shark in question (who is a wolf, or coyote, it's not really clear) tries everything in his power to get Woody to pay back the loan.
  • Stewie from Family Guy did it once to Brian. Brian made a rather safe bet on a boxing match, but by a twist of fate, he lost. Stewie spends most of the episode brutally beating Brian, using everything from glass shards to a flamethrower, until Brian gives up and agrees to pay.
    • Shady loan sharks are again seen when Bonnie gives birth and Joe has to take a loan to cover the hospital expenses.
    • Also in an episode where Peter buys a boat and gets a loan, using his house as collateral. Weeks before the loan is due, the "bank" takes most of the possessions and sells the house to another couple.

 You see, Mr. Griffin, what sets us apart from other banks is that other banks are banks...

  • In The Simpsons, Krusty winds up in hock to the Springfield Mafia repeatedly. On one memorable occasion, he is forced to open a clown college in an attempt to pay his debts, which Homer attends and then assumes Krusty's identity while the real one flees to change his appearance and live a new life. At the end of the episode, after Krusty has moved hell to placate the Mob, he finally pays his debt — $48.
    • The other side of that joke was that Krusty bet against the Harlem Globetrotters.
    • Inverted and Played for Laughs in another episode, when Homer uses Lisa's near-flawless ability to pick football winners as a means of bleeding his bookie, Moe, dry. When Marge finds out, she's very angry, and Homer protests that his football gambling is a victimless crime. The only victim is Moe, after all.
    • Another episode played it straight when Homer goes to the employee credit union to get the money to buy Lisa a pony. The loan is personally handled by Mr. Burns:

 Burns: By the way, are you familiar with our state's stringent usury laws?

Homer: Use-your-what?

Burns: Oh, silly me! I must have made up a word that doesn't exist! Just sign right here, and you'll get your money...Evil Laughter

  • In an episode of Cow and Chicken, the duo is relentlessly pursued by The Red Guy after Chicken uses a credit card found as a cereal prize to purchase a 25-cent pack of gum.
  • Batman the Animated Series — This is strongly implied to have been the reason Andrea's Father had to uproot both himself and her and run to Europe in the Mask of the Phantasm movie.
  • An episode of Sniz and Fondue on Ka Blam!! had Fondue borrowing a quarter from a loan shark to make a phone call, and he quickly accumulates a $200.00 debt because the guy charges "...200% interest-- by the minute." The debt increases to $10,000.00 by the end of the episode, but fortunately the guys win a cash prize in a radio contest that they use to pay off the debt.