• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

You Have Been Warned.

"I wasn't kidding when I said pay! Now, you'll pay the ultimate price!!"
The shopkeeper of Mabe Village in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, if you steal from him and then come back.

In some games, the player is expected to grab everything not bolted down, in other games, if you have the option of not paying for wares, doing so makes a shopkeeper attack you or send powerful Mooks against you. Often, the attacker will be an Invincible Minor Minion that you have no choice but to outrun. Good luck with that. Other times, they'll just be brutally overpowered, to the point that they could probably tackle the dungeon themselves and conquer it without even breaking a sweat. Either way, you'll probably be wondering why you're even allowed to try to shoplift, seeing as it near-inevitably results in suffering Yet Another Stupid Death.

See also Badass Bystander. Compare Ballistic Discount, Disproportionate Retribution, Can't Get Away with Nuthin', I Fought the Law and The Law Won, and Video Game Cruelty Punishment.

Examples of Shoplift and Die include:
  • Nethack's shopkeepers. The trope was formerly called Izchak's Wrath for a reason [1]. They get indignant if the player tries to steal, trying to kill the player themselves or sending the police - which happen to be the Keystone Kops - after the player. The shopkeepers will also charge you for damaged or eaten merchandise. They tend to be well armed (with the occasional Wand of Death); the Keystone Kops would be predictably ineffective but for their overwhelming numbers.
    There's a delightful variety of complications: they're killable but that counts as murder for the non-chaotic, they can grab the character's backpack if they try to tunnel through the floor while standing too close, characters with uncontrolled teleportitis should be very careful indeed... On the other hand, a trained housepet can steal items and somehow avoid attracting any attention.
    • Any monster besides the player can steal from Nethack shops without penalty. Only a few 'greedy' monsters will actually do so. Drop all your gold in the shop (for store credit). Lead a greedy monster in (a dwarf will do), then back out. Kill them for your money, while keeping the store credit. Much more reliable than pets.
  • It's the same story in ADOM, except the cops summoned are generic thugs, and the shopkeeper himself is a tough enemy — and shopkeepers can throw gold pieces with bullet accuracy. Stealing from a shop (unless your familiar does it) causes a drop in alignment (shifting the player from lawful toward chaotic). The casino shop prevents you from teleporting out.
    • Shopkeepers in ADOM can also become hostile just because you have the unholy aura corruption ("Stop scaring away the customers!") By that time, it's fairly likely you can actually kill a shopkeeper, which is no mean feat. (Unless you got corrupted early on by unwisely playing with that powerful ancient scythe which just happened to be lying around the dungeon ... then you're screwed.)
  • In the Mystery Dungeon games, some very nasty dogs are sent after the player if they somehow get away with shoplifting.
    • In the Pokémon version, it's the Kecleon shopkeepers themselves that swarm the characters if you shoplift. Ironically, this is the only way to recruit one to your team. Said Kecleon also have a recruit rate of negative 33.9%, thus to even have the tiniest chance of recruiting them you need to be at least Level 90 if not 100, the level cap, due to the fact that the recruitment rates are highest at those levels, and be equipped with the Friend Bow. Even with the bonuses, the chance is 0.1%, as the highest bonus to recruit rate you can achieve is 34%. Have we mentioned that these Kecleon are superpowered, are at level 91, call reinforcements, and move at double speed?
    • Chocobos Dungeon 2 has the Grim Freaking Reaper attack you. With multiple bodies. In higher levels, each body is stronger than the endboss, and respawns if "killed."
      • In Final Fantasy Fables, lifting a "super-rare" item will cause the shopkeep — *ahem* Dungeon Hero X to attack you. He moves twice a turn, knocks Chocobo into the far wall if he attacks, and has the "Mog Beam X", which always does 777 damage. You can try to escape the room instead to keep the item, but if you aren't quick, he freaking teleports on top of the stairs. However, this is the only way to get the Thief's memories.
    • Shiren the Wanderer has a rather elaborate system to prevent shoplifting. First, upon picking up any item, the shopkeeper blocks the only exit until the player pays. If the player tries to attack the shopkeeper, he moves at double speed to eviscerate the player with powers rivaling the final boss. Finally, if the player manages to paralyse or otherwise subdue the shopkeeper, upon leaving the store the game will declare "Thief!" and then sic double-speed Guard Dogs and incredibly powerful Sheriffs on you until you somehow manage to leave the town or dungeon floor. To add insult to injury, if you actually are able to kill any of these creatures, you gain neither experience nor items. Small wonder the stats screen has entries for both times you stole items and times you successfully stole items.
    • In Torneko, if you get something and leave the room without paying, or attack the gargoyle shopkeeper, many other gargoyles will come after you. And they're quick and kill you with a single blow.
  • Been doing a little gambling in a casino in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, and you're a bit in the red? No problem, they'll give you time to pay them back...about two days. After that, the casino owner will send a hit squad of four guys with SMG's after you. Even if you happen to be the casino owner...
    • And when you kill them, they drop a lot of money. An interesting way to pay off your debt.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has a parrot who attacks Link if he doesn't pay for his wares in a tiny box. However, since it doesn't do much damage (and you can down a red potion before leaving the stall), the bird isn't very persuasive. And it certainly doesn't help that Link can underpay (to the tune of a single Rupee) and the bird will only respond to this by calling him a cheapskate, sans divebombing. Of course, if you want, you can pay a little extra in the box, prompting the parrot to call Link a "generous young man".
    • In an earlier Legend of Zelda game, Link's Awakening, if you're quick enough to steal from the shop in Mabe Village, you get a little message asking you if you're proud of yourself. Your save file is also renamed to "THIEF," causing everyone to call you that. And the next time you attempt to enter the shop, the shopkeeper kills you with Force Lightning for an instant Game Over. Mind, this is the best way to achieve One Hundred Percent Completion, as the Bow costs an exorbitant 980 Rupees.
    • The Happy Mask Shop Keeper from Ocarina of Time is also an example. He always has a grin on his face coupled with Eyes Always Shut, but if you don't have enough Rupees to pay back the mask you sold, he'll be extremely angry and the angry face alone can be Nightmare Fuel for some people. Luckily this is the only thing he will do if you are short on funds.
  • All of The Elder Scrolls games have this as a gameplay mechanic. It is possible to steal from a store without getting caught. If you DO get caught, the shopkeeper and any guards in the place will run to attack you. Notably, in Morrowind and Oblivion, you can be attacked for accidentally picking up random, nearly-worthless items that happen to be lying around and owned by the shopkeeper.
    • Made worse by the fact that "Pickup object" and "Talk to shopkeeper" use the same key. When they put the shopkeeper behind a counter cluttered with towering knick-knacks, it's just asking for trouble.
    • Even if you were unobserved, the shopkeepers would realize it if you tried to sell them back an item you stole from them. Sounds reasonable, but the AI only remembers which type of item you stole, not the exact item. If you ever stole a soul gem from a merchant, expect the merchant to scream "THIEF!" if you ever sell them a soul stone. Even if you got rid of the stolen soul stone hours ago and tried to sell him one you picked up in dungeon, he'll still claim it's his soul stone.
      • Not only that, but that merchant's entire faction will somehow know that you once stole that type of item from one of their members, or from a supply closet in a guild hall. Tempted to grab some alchemical ingredients from a Mage's Guild barrel? Even if you pick more in the wild, you won't be able to sell it to any Mage's Guild alchemist without being swarmed by angry wizards.
    • Even worse in Oblivion due to the physics. It's easy to accidentally knock something off a table while walking around the shop. There's a button which lets you lift an item and move it around, without placing it in your inventory. Naturally, this lead to many players trying to put the displaced object back where it belongs... only to be arrested for theft. It's to keep the player from moving the merchandise off the shelves to the entrance of the store and mashing the pick up item button then making a quick getaway. And not even that works since you can easily just punch items into dark corners out of the shopkeepers line-of-sight.
      • Averted, though, in that you are very unlikely to do the "and die" bit unless it's right at the beginning of the game. This troper once wiped out the entire guard force of the entire capital city and two more cities before becoming bored and allowing the idiot guards in the third to finally kill the character off. Ordinary folks, whether guards or citizens, just aren't a threat to an Oblivion PC except MAYBE early on.
    • Played straight in Skyrim, but because so many people got arrested for accidentally picking up a bowl when they meant to talk to the shopkeeper, shops and inns in Skyrim decided to move items away from in front of them, so the player won't accidentally steal something if they bump the mouse or analog stick. Of course, you could just put a bucket over their heads and rob them blind. On the other hand, if you steal from the shopkeeper (or anyone, for that matter) they'll figure out who the thief was and send either a gang of hired thugs or assassins after you.
      • This applies even if they've never met you and were asleep when you stole it. Somehow, some way they know it's you and have the funds and means to send assassins after you even if they're the local hobo. It appears the common folk have inherited the guard's psychic powers.
  • In the Dink Smallwood comedic RPG, you could not only drink without paying, but menace the shopkeeper with death. He then called two city guards. It was a good way to make money.
  • In the game Fable, you can get away with various crimes if you're not seen, but if you're caught in the act you'll be attacked by the guards. Once your guile level is high enough, you can attempt to steal items from shops. Getting caught sets the guards on you. This almost counts as a Useless Useful Skill: by the time you're leveled high enough, the stuff you can steal usually isn't worth the effort.
    • Fable 2 revamped the stealing skill: now, anyone can steal from anything at any time. All you have to do is hold A, which causes an "eye" meter to appear. If the eye is closed, no one can see you and you're safe from reprisal. If the eye meter is open, you can stop stealing and no one seems to care that you had your hand in the cash register but didn't take anything. Of course, there's a rare (but significant) bug where, if you steal something when no one can see you, then hang around that area long enough for the house owner or shopkeeper to notice that the item is missing, then everyone knows it was you.
    • Stealing in the original Fable was a great way to make a ton of cash early in the game. Head over to the weapon smiths, get him to follow you, get him drunk, leave him alone, go back and steal all the augments laying around, sell them back to him or to someone else and make tens of thousands of gold for a few minutes of work.
    • Let's not forget that if you got caught stealing(or trespassing, etc.) then when the guards come to attack you, you could simply say "Sorry." if you were generally a nice guy. They simply let you go.
  • Saints Row had the First Born Loans company. Go ahead, take out a loan. But pay them back on time. If you didn't, they'd send two guys in a car with a knife. Then two guys with pistols. Then four with shotguns, etc. up to the helicopter with two assault rifle gunners (which would not stop spawning until you paid off the loan).
    • Saints Row 2 allows you to rob stores by holding a gun to the cashier and leading him or her to the safe with their money. After they do this, or if you take your gun off them for too long, the alarm sounds and you're immediately given 3 stars of police notoriety.
    • Saints Row the Third also let you rob stores; it subverted this trope, however, due to the fact that you could rob stores you own (giving you notoriety), only to walk outside and reenter the store (which removes all notoriety because you own it.) But really, you're given so much money you'd never have to do this (other than just to be a dick).
  • In Earthbound, taking eggs and bananas from the Happy Happy Village's food stand without paying causes the Unassuming Local Guy watching over it to attack. However, said Local Guy is weak and easy to defeat and doesn't attack again if you beat him.

 "You won this confrontation. But the good side of you must ache with regret. Ha ha ha."

  • Shoplifting gets you shot in Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest IV, (in a humorous way) and Police Quest: Open Season (in a more serious way).
    • Perhaps more comical than Space Quest or Leisure Suit Larry, in Open Season a Korean woman shoots you, a LAPD homicide detective, in the face at point-blank range if you try to leave her convenience store without paying for an apple.
    • Stiffing the cabbie in Leisure Suit Larry will not only have him killed by the cabbie's fists, but his carcass run over by his cab. Evil doesn't even begin to describe this!
    • Police Quest: SWAT has an early mission where the team is called out to a Korean 7-11, after robbers enter and gunshots are heard. The mission can have the gunmen shooting the store owners or holding them hostage, or it can work the other way around with the store owners waving guns about, requiring an interpreter.
  • In Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, Roger Wilco orders a whistle via mail required to solve a later puzzle. In both Space Quest III and Space Quest V, the owners of the mail-order company dispatch Terminator-like androids to collect the debt or kill him (but mostly kill him).
  • In Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide, an NPC has a device that allows you to recharge magic items. If you use the device and try to leave without paying for it, he turns you into a penguin. And magically seals the door so you can't leave.
  • In Way of the Samurai 2, it is possible to run off with items before paying. They won't chase you or harm you directly, but it does decrease your standing in the Karma Meter. You usually have two chances before the shopkeepers all over Amahara refuses to sell you anything. You then have to work for the townspeople to raise your standing all over again. If you're particularly unlucky, some random ronin will spot you as trouble and will try to take justice into his own hands...
    • In the original Way of the Samurai however, there is only one shopkeeper in the game (the Blacksmith) who you can choose not to pay and will be attacked by. What makes him different from most games though is you can kill him, but will deprive yourself of a vendor for the rest of the game. You do get a unique weapon though.
    • The third game has a variation on this: While the shopkeepers themselves will not attack you, their bodyguards will. An exception is the Legendary Merchant who is armed himself. The difficulty of the battles depend on who are you snitching from (both the Legendary Merchant and the guard for the Takatane Item Merchant are pretty bad; the rest of the bodyguards are quite decent), and the difficulty. Playing in Instant Kill Mode pretty much guarantees you to want to pay, or get the first strike in.
  • In Ultima IV, underpaying a blind shopkeeper is not penalized physically, only causing you to lose ranks in the important Honesty virtue. Clever players can pay 1 coin for a huge pile of expensive items, and then regain Honesty by purchasing cheap items at full price.
    • In Ultima VIII, any sort of theft or other misdemeanor you committed in the city would lead to you getting blown up by the (almost) invincible town sorcerer. It is possible to shoplift, e.g. from the blacksmith, but only by waiting or sleeping out of sight of him until he locks up and leaves on his regular walks downtown. Alternatively, you could just chuck something into a container (e.g. a large chest), then keep throwing the chest away until you're out of sight, where you can then safely loot the items from it.
  • In the Fallout series, getting caught stealing from a shopkeeper will usually make said shopkeeper (or the bodyguards that some of them retain for that very purpose) start shooting. And most of the time, if you shoot one person in town, the entire town becomes hostile. Except for three guys in Fallout 2 - Tubby and Flick in Den and Eldridge in New Reno, who can be killed with minimal consequences.
    • There's one case in Fallout 3, where you can shoot a merchant, loot a key (and a unique combat shotgun), and open a safe to get his entire store's wares. But to be fair, he's in the middle of a raider stronghold.
    • Fallout 3 is a particularly odd example. As normal they go ballistic if you touch their property, but they also give ominous warnings when you just glance at the merchandise.
  • Pressing the attack key instead of the purchase key in Spelunky is a good way to be instantly killed by the shotgun-toting shopkeeper.
    • Spelunky shopkeepers get angry over quite a few offenses, and there's a fairly complex system to determine their response to you. Killing a shopkeeper at any time, for any reason, causes the rest to be hostile to you for the rest of the game. Any other crime merely increases your Wanted Meter, which goes down by one each floor. Notably, for whatever reason, stealing from a shopkeeper who is already angry doesn't count as a crime, which can be exploited for consequence-free robbery. As if that wasn't bad enough, some shopkeepers will not be in their stores, but waiting for you at the level exit hoping to catch you.
  • While not taking place in the game per se, OC Re Mix's "Satomi Tadashi remix from Persona showcases the shopkeeper ranting about teens invading his store in an exaggerated Japanese accent.
  • In Wizardry 7 PCs can steal from traders, but can be caught and then NPC gets angry (leaves or attacks with reinforcements). In Wizardry 8 traders can eventually figure out where their stuff gone even if they fail to catch PCs immediately (obvious protection from The Mighty Wand of Save/Load).
    • “Smiley's Shop” in Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land. This time you get two chances to return the item and if you take either of them nothing happens. Not to mention they actually warn you on the sign the security guards are very powerful. Ignore both warnings and you get attacked by a group of four enemies collectively much harder than even the final boss and that you normally fight one at a time, very rarely on the final level of the main game. Defeat them (which actually isn't as hard as it sounds) and you get to keep the item (not really a big deal), get a lot of experience and gold... and the shop closes forever.
  • In Thing Thing Arena 2, if provoked the shop keeper will wail away at you with a minigun. It is, however, possible to defeat him and he will drop limitless minigun ammo.
  • Subverted in Temple of Elemental Evil while Rannos Davl and Gremag are listed as CR 20 (designed to use 1/4 of a 20th level (the cap in the unmodded game is 10) party's resources on their own, only Iuz, who you are not meant to, but can, beat is higher) in the games bestiary they are only a decent challenge for a group of first level characters, particularly if you bring Elmo.
  • If you break a shop window in Bioshock, the security system activates and sends machine-gun equipped helicopter robots to kill you. This comes across as an awfully extreme method of stopping shoplifters. Since the usual things you get from shop displays are inexpensive first-aid kits and EVE hypos, there's usually no reason to risk it.
  • In Postal 2, one of the first tasks is to get milk from the store. If you take it and leave without paying, the owner will come after you with a gun. Of course, this being Postal, you can just shoot him. And of course, that's assuming you didn't already shoot him before even getting the milk. The game strongly implies that this is the preferred outcome: the objective is counted as complete as soon as you grab the milk without even hinting at actually paying for it. Plus, attempting to do so places you in ridiculously long queue filled with people custom-designed to irritate the player with their words and behaviour. That, and the shop owner is clearly a terrorist.
  • Averted in the vast majority of World of Warcraft, where most vendors can't be attacked, most things you can pick up in towns without talking to a vendor are free for the taking, and most enemies in the world don't care what you pick up on the ground near them. One place in the game that plays this trope straight, maybe the only place, is in the Grim Guzzler bar in the city of Blackrock Depths, an instance. Players can freely walk into the bar from a golem-manufacturing area, but the backdoor of the bar cannot be opened normally or lockpicked. There are several ways to open it, some of which fit this trope, including killing the bartender for the key (and he's definitely the toughest mob in the bar, and this will make some of the other mobs in the bar aggressive and might bring in city guards to "break up the fight") and getting one particular dwarf drunk, who will then get rowdy and break open the door and/or bring in the city guards on his own.
    • The part of this that actually fits is a platter of mugs of dark iron ale, and another with a roast boar that can both be picked up will trigger the bartender to attack you. And since he provides the booze, most of the bar will turn hostile and attack if you get too close.
  • Played fairly realistically in Spiderweb Software's Geneforge series. While shopkeepers can't be stolen from, a lot of the loot lying around is locked up and protected. The results of stealing from NPCs will vary. If one is not caught (there is no NPC nearby to see), there's no penalty. If one is caught stealing, reactions range from losing friendship points with a particular faction, to instant mob attack. Some faction alignment quests require the player character stealing from, and thereby completely alienating, a rival faction.
  • In Deja Vu, you may take one cab trip without paying the driver afterwards - try it again and he'll call the cops on you. Coupled with the murder rap you're trying to beat, it's ten to life for you. Taking a Ballistic Discount doesn't work either - it turns out that there's bulletproof glass between you and the cabbie, and he's even quicker about calling the cops on you if you test it. Perhaps you should try shoplifting from the gun shop owner instead...
  • RuneScape tries to play this trope straight with the Thieving skill. If a NPC catches you picking their pocket, they will smack you, if a guard sees you steal from a market stall he will attack you, and some chests and doors are armed with traps. However, said smacks and traps do little damage and the guards are too weak to pose a threat past low levels, so it's not so much Shoplift And Die as Shoplift And Be Briefly Annoyed.
  • The old Apple II game Legacy of the Ancients allowed you to steal from shopkeepers. If you did, though, you would get a few waves of city guards sent after you, and for a good portion of the game you were too weak to actually stand up to them. Of course, when you became powerful enough...
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the player can loot virtually every room in an apartment block, but one contains a bounty hunter who tells your player in no certain terms to leave. If you take her stuff, she attacks and won't surrender until either she or everyone in your party die. She's a wanted criminal though, and you get money for killing her.
  • One of the puzzles in the online flash game Johnny Rocketfingers II is to figure out how to steal an item from a store without the shopkeeper blowing your head off. Fortunately, if you don't guess right, he gives you the chance to return what you stole before killing you, and only does so if you are an absolute idiot (i.e. "Don't move!" *do jumping jacks*).
  • In the Streets of Rage fan remake, Blaze, of all people, pulls this trope if you dare to try to steal an unlockable without paying. If your computer clock is set between 6 AM and 7 AM, Blaze will be sleeping and you can attempt to steal one item. If you fail, you get banned from the store for a day. If you managed to successfully steal the item, you get banned from the shop and every time you complete the game, Blaze will take all the money you collected to pay off the item you stole until it is fully paid.
  • In Divine Divinity, stealing from shopkeepers will lower their attitude towards you, possibly making them refuse to trade with you in the future. (You can fix it by giving them free stuff.) If they get angry enough, they will call the guards. You can get away with stealing, however, if you've already killed all the guards in the area or if you just steal outside of the shopkeepers' line of sight.
  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, stealing an item from a shop provokes the high-level shopkeeper to attack you and spawns mass armies of enforcer demons to kill you.
  • Non-video game (but still relevant) example: In the webcomic Kid Radd, taking place in a world of video game characters, easily angered invincible shopkeepers are used as human shields/weapons.
  • Another non-video game example is Ray Charles in the first Blues Brothers movie. Despite being blind, he just barely missed a shoplifter with his gun from across the room. The kid promptly left without trying that again.
  • In Baldur's Gate, there are only two things to do with the shoplifting/pickpocketing skill: either get it up to maximum and savescum relentlessly, or just never use it. This is because a failed theft or pickpocketing attempt will call down the wrath of every NPC within quite a wide radius, leading to your reputation dropping like a cartoon anvil and huge pointless pitched battles in the Athkatla government centre. In addition, stolen items can only be sold to very specific shopkeeps. (Don't ask us how they manage to discern a stolen generic longsword from the hundreds of thousands of others scattered around Amn.)
  1. Izchak is the only shopkeeper guaranteed to be in any playthrough.