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

He'd come up with a baby elephant if the men needed it.

The Great Escape, trailer voiceover

Where did you get your hands on some Saurian Brandy?
Nog: It's a busy starbase. I may be a cadet but I'm still a Ferengi.


This is the character who magically comes up with supplies whenever The Captain needs them. He has similarities to the Intrepid Merchant, and indeed may be one of his crew. However he tends to be seen in military shows, especially military comedy where there's no need to question how he comes up with the goods. May be officially described as responsible for "field acquisitions".

The Scrounger is seldom The Captain himself, but a crucial member of the squad. Just don't ask where he finds this stuff.

May overlap with Knowledge Broker if they also do this with information; both of these are favoured professions for The Rat. Can be the answer to the question, "Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?" If he makes you pay for it, he's your Friend in the Black Market, and if the goods aren't up to scratch then he's an Honest John.

Examples of The Scrounger include:

Anime & Manga

  • Doraemon has a fourth-dimensional pocket full of stuff—but because he's horribly disorganized, he occasionally can't find what he wants and he owns a frightening amount of useless gadgets.
  • McCoy from the Area 88 manga and anime combines this with Honest John's Dealership. He is especially good at acquiring hard-to-find aircraft and claims to be able to deliver the Kremlin if given enough cash, and at the height of the Cold War, no less.
  • Juiz from Eden of the East can provide those who can contact her with anything money can buy, whether these things are legal or not.

Fan Works

  • Lt. Kirce James in the Tiberium Wars fanfic is described as self-important and irritating but her commander still has a grudging respect for her because she was able to scrounge up high-tech equipment, Kill Sat support, troops and Mammoth Tanks on vital moments.


  • Zack Mayo from An Officer and a Gentleman.
  • Lt. Holden (Tony Curtis) in the comedic WWII-submarine film Operation Petticoat.
    • Highlighted by another crew member when Lt. Holden brings aboard several stranded Army nurses, "Now that's what I call scavenging!!"
  • James Garner in The Great Escape.
    • Truth in Television. Garner served in the US 24th Infantry Division in the Korean War, where he was wounded twice. He described himself as the unit "scrounger".
  • Crapgame from Kelly's Heroes. Crapgame is a more of a middleman, though.
  • Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption.
  • Célestin Poux in A Very Long Engagement, famed throughout the rank and file for pulling various stunts in order to keep the troops supplied with food.
  • Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street is this (if he's not really Santa Claus). He apparently knows where to get anything - even specific and expensive medical equipment.


  • The droid in the X Wing Series had a special personality program that he reverted to when told to "scrounge up something." It was something to behold.
  • Gunner Jurgen from the Ciaphas Cain stories might fit. He's shown a great deal of skill at finding or 'acquiring' things that Cain needs, even before he knows he needs them.
  • Obergefreiter Joseph Porta, from the novels by Sven Hassel.
  • Pete "Dracula" Szábo from the Worldwar series is described as "the best scrounger I've seen, and I saw some real pros during WWI", by his field-promoted lieutenant. Said Lt. often benefits from this, since "keeping the Lt. happy is a legitimate business expense for a scrounger".
  • Milo from Catch-22. No matter what you want, he will get it for you, as long as you pay the price.
  • Nobby Nobbs from Discworld is a petty thief and police officer who is known as the person to ask when you need anything important or if its missing. If he wasn't the one to steal it, he knows and/or is usually related to the person who did.
  • Stanislaus "Kat" Katczinsky from All Quiet on the Western Front, whose ability to find decent food and shelter is treated as something of a sixth sense. Notably, it's a sign of how bad things have gotten when he can't rustle up anything.
  • The Finn from Neuromancer, and William Gibson's other stories, is pretty much defined by this trope. He is never even seen leaving his apartment, but somehow has it crammed to the ceiling with useful computer parts and cyber technology and useful information to sell the various antiheroes in the Sprawl world. When asked where he got a piece of equipment or how he learned a valuable piece of information, his reply (at least twice) is, "You know how many times I've been asked that? You know how many times I'd be dead if I answered?"

Live Action TV

  • Sam Axe in Burn Notice.
    • Unless what's needed is a weapon. For those, ask Fiona.
      • Barry the Money Launderer on the same show.
      • The mother occasionally finds stuff too, mostly old memories related, sometimes other things. Micheal Weston isnt too bad at finding stuff either.
  • Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly from M*A*S*H was definitely The Scrounger, and a Knowledge Broker in that he seemed to know everyone important in the Army (supply officers and secretaries, that is, people who actually did stuff and could lay their hands on stuff, instead of the high military brass). Radar is not a Mr. Fixit, however.
    • His successor, Sergeant Maxwell Q. Klinger was able to wheel and deal with the best of them, explicitly calling himself a "scrounger".
  • The genius engineer Seamus Zelazny Harper from Andromeda is both a Mr. Fixit and The Scrounger, as he grew up on Earth, a hellhole of a planet where the remaining population was enslaved by the genetically-enhanced Nietzscheans and preyed on by raiding troups of the man-eating Magog. Consequently, Harper grew up as a thief, loyal only to people who treat him well, trying to survive at all costs and willing to swindle and steal equipment at gun-point if the crew needs it.
  • To some extent, Private Walker from Dad's Army. He's able to get supplies and occasional off-the-ration meat on the black market. Captain Mainwaring usually turns a blind eye to the illegality because Walker's acquisitions are so useful to the Home Guard regiment.
  • Ash the "fixer" from Hustle
  • Templeton 'Faceman' Peck from The A-Team.
  • Between them, if you gave them enough time and resources Garak and Quark could probably come up with anything you need on Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
    • Nog too. Lampshaded in "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River".


  • In The Bible in the Book of Proverbs the ideal of a Virtuous Woman is described. Among the qualities described are that she is tireless, good at business, keeps a tight ship at home, knows her way about the Bazaar, and is very good at being The Scrounger.

Tabletop Games

  • This conversation from GURPS Traveller 3e Ground Forces is too funny not to share.

Lt. Dylan: Explain it to me again, Sergeant, and do it slowly.
Sgt. Dollar: Certainly, sir. We are 450 units short on Mk52 Medikits, Individual, but the 6,943rd Separate Evac has that many, so I'm going to make a trade with the 2nd Highpoint Lancers.
Lt. Dylan: Call me slow, Sergeant, but why are you trading with the Lancers if the medicos have what we need?
Sgt. Dollar: That's simple, sir; they don't want the M-348A2 stabilizers, but they do want several bottles of Glisten vodka and some real limes. The Lancers just got several cases.
Lt. Dylan: (starting to visibly lose it) And why do we, an [infantry] unit, have stabilizers for [heavy grav tank] main guns?
Sgt. Dollar: (shamelessly) Beats me, sir. They were already buried under the parade ground when we got here.

  • Weird Wars setting for Savage Worlds has this exact Edge available, complete with the system as to what and how much exactly a Scrounger can appropriate per session. Correctly identifying Scroungers of neighbor friendly squads and keeping them away from your position is a subgame.
  • Only War has multiple rules for this. Officially, the Departmento Munitorum is considered blessed by the Emperor and knows what it does. Unofficially, logistics on such a scale and such discrepancy of standards would be an impenetrable mess even if the tangled bureaucracy and secrecy wouldn't get underfoot. Therefore, soldiers get by. Then there are illegal items. Ultimately, attempts to procure illegal and contraband items are handled as just another Acquisition test (i.e. adjusted by the status of the Guardsman, situation on the front, etc), but adjusted with fixed bonus and/or result of a Commerce skill test vs. the partner (for barter). And there's with a chance that the superiors who would object noticed it - even if the regiment's officers are okay with this, the Commissars and Departmento Munitorum officials probably aren't.

Real Life

  • Xiel Federmann described as "The Santa Claus of the Haganah" provided munitions and supplies by all sorts of rather convoluted means.
  • The Finnish Army had to depend on these types to remain in the field during the Winter War.
  • Benjamin Franklin. This was a large part of his job in France.
  • In 1943, OSS agent John Caskey arrived in Turkey with $5000 to finance the supply of Greek partisans. Upon asking the US Ambassador how to convert this into gold he was told to go see Earle Taylor who went into the bazaar and somehow came up with the coins even though it was a weekend and the moneychangers were all resting. Somehow the gold was obtained (for a twenty-percent fee as Earle apparently believed in making patriotism pay ). No one was quite sure how he got the gold that quickly.
  • Downplayed example of this combined with Gadgeteer Genius. Later naval historian, David Howarth was a shore-base contact with the infilt/extract section of the resistance during World War II from the British side of the ocean. At one time a smuggler captain complained that his compass was not working. Howarth knowing about magnetism (the smuggler was apparently used to navigating by landmark), shifted the compass to a section of the craft where there was less iron. And put in an extra compass as a redundancy. He therefore got a weird reputation as a magic compass wizard.