Classy Cat Burglar

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"You're Beauty and the Beast in one luscious Christmas gift pack."
The Penguin to Catwoman, Batman Returns

Walking, talking, purring class. She doesn't steal; she liberates. She doesn't lie; she fibs. She steals from the rich and keeps it all for herself, but at least she is easy on the eyes.

The hero is often at a loss whether to stop her or throw her down on the floor and make out with her. This dilemma is usually short, as she uses the distraction to escape/knock him out.

Bonus points if she has a cat theme, is named "Catherine" or "Felicia," or makes bad feline puns.

She often may wear a Spy Catsuit.

Either way, Classy Cat Burglars are sophisticated and highly skilled. They target only the finest items (and best-protected) for "liberation", and pride themselves on leaving little or no clue on how they accomplished their burglaries. A fair number of them are independently wealthy and couldn't care less about the money; they just want a good challenge. (Genre Savvy detectives understand that a well-guarded, priceless item is the best bait in the world for these sleek critters). The actual term "cat burglar" comes from the notion that such a person is quiet as a cat (one that never claws its way up the drapes, gets into fights with the dog and tears your refrigerator to bits).

Like her spear counterpart the Gentleman Thief, this felonious feline usually regards the police with a certain amount of disdain and condescension, and frequently leaves behind "calling cards" announcing who performed the crime. With a Worthy Opponent, she may have a less adversarial relationship, verging at times on friendship (and if the opponent is of the opposite gender, fraught with UST).

Compare Phantom Thief. If the hero is very, very (un?)lucky, may result in Dating Catwoman.

Examples of Classy Cat Burglar include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Psiren in the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist. Additionally, she has to pull down a zipper on her suit to reveal her transmutation circle just above her chest.
    • Note that her actions are praised by the locals as the place that the episode takes place in is doomed and all the publicity is revitalizing the town.
  • Fujiko Miine in Lupin III, Lupin's female compatriot and sometime rival.
  • Train Heartnet from the anime Black Cat is an assassin and a rare male example of a criminal with a cat theme. The series title is his alias and he shamelessly sports a fluttering black cloak and a bell on a red string as a necklace.
    • Wouldn't that, y'know, ring? A lot? While he's trying to be stealthy?
      • He gets the bell after he quits being an assassin. And he didn't steal things; he erased people.
      • Not if it didn't have a clapper inside, or whatever that little ball in a jingle bell is called. After all, if that's missing, then no sound will issue from the bell. Of course, if he does have that little detail NOT missing, then it's just another mystery yet-to-be-Hand-waved.
      • Or, you know, he could just be that awesome, as Mr. Popo once demonstrated.
      • Actually one of the few things the anime did better than the manga... it explains it by stating that he wears it so he can't be stealthy, because Eve doesn't trust him. He was trying to kill her at the start of the anime, after all; wearing the bell (at her request) is his way of saying 'I'm never going to try to hurt you again'. In the manga, which has a different progression of events, the bell is just there to look catlike.
        • Though she did try to force it on him while he was still bedridden in episode 7. She got the idea from An Aesop: "If you put a bell on the neck of a bad cat, you'll always know where he is." (You do fell sorry for him before he throws the bell out the window...)
      • Also an odd sort of Truth in Television. Many cat owners put bells on their cats to keep them from catching birds. This rarely works.
    • Also Rinslet, who doesn't have a cat theme but definitely fits all of the main requirements.
  • Wedy in Death Note.
  • Blue ("Green" in the US) from Pokémon Special.
  • Chiko in The Daughter of Twenty Faces is one of these in training. She tends to sometimes cross into action girl territory, though.
  • Another male example would be Phantom Dark, of D.N.Angel. No cat theme, but he fits pretty much everything else.
  • The Kisugi sisters from Cat's Eye are the very embodiment of this trope.
  • The Major pretends to be one of these in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode Cash Eye, in homage to the above Cat's Eye, leaving a similar calling card. The faked heist itself is pure Ocean's Eleven.
  • Nami of One Piece would probably qualify, though she has no cat theme beyond her Badass Nickname and Word of God stating that the animal she most resembles is a cat.
  • Meimi's mother, Eimi, from the series Kaitou Saint Tail used to be a thief named Fallen Angel who fit this trope rather well. Her daughter, on the other hand, is more the Robin Hood type.
  • Subverted in Detective Conan. The very efficient thief and Master of Disguise Masami Hirota is quite Tall, Dark and Bishoujo, but aside of having a rather pleasant facade and beautiful long legs, she wasn't that fanservicy. As a further subversion, Masami (or better said, Akemi Miyano) didn't act on her own will, but as a member of the infamous Dark Organization. And they killed her when she either failed them (manga) or after forcing her into commiting one last robbery (anime).


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Catwoman is perhaps the ultimate incarnation of this trope.
  • Felicia Hardy, Marvel's Black Cat, also plays up this theme... Purrrrr...
  • Maggie the Cat from Jon Sable Freelance.
  • The Fox from Wanted.
    • Actually a Subversion, in that while she APPEARS classy, her personality is very trashy and uncouth.
  • The Blonde, star of series of erotic comics by Italian artist Franco Saudelli.
  • In Adèle Blanc-Sec: Le Mystère des profondeurs, Georgette Chevillard, who wears a skin-tight black costume that shows off her matronly bulginess, parodies this trope.
  • Kitsune in Usagi Yojimbo. Also her apprentice Kiyoko (who happens to be a cat).
  • The Mink from Squadron Supreme.


Film-Animation[edit | hide]


Film-Live Action[edit | hide]

  • Danielle (Brigitte Auber) in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, complete with cat theme.
    • A decade later, Hitchcock directed Marnie, which is told from the point of view of the Classy Cat Burglar (Tippi Hedren).
  • Virginia "Gin" Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in Entrapment.
  • Maggie Cheung turns into one for a night in Irma Vep.
    • Which is based off of a french silent film serial called Les Vampyres. The Character of Irma Vep may be the Ur Example.
  • Subverted in When Brendan Met Trudy. Trudy is attractive, initially mysterious and seems a capable enough thief, but she is also extremely uncouth, working class and definitely in it for the money.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Although she is also a Barbarian Hero (ine), Conina from Sourcery is a good example of it.
  • Keira the Thief in the Dragaera novels; she's one of the most talented thieves in the Jhereg crime syndicate, to the point where any unsolved burglaries are usually attributed to her, and she's polite and classy when speaking to others. She also has no need of wealth, as she is the immortal sorceress Sethra Lavode, who took up the guise in order to gain intelligence on the syndicate and kept it up when she discovered that committing the thefts without using her powers gave her the first real challenge she'd had in tens of thousands of years.
  • Sandra Paris, a.k.a. the White Queen, Nick's sometimes rival in the Nick Velvet short stories of Edward D. Hoch.
  • Kat from Heist Society by Ally Carter is actually named after this trope. The author was inspired by the phrase and decided to write a book about a burglar that was actually a "Kat." Kat mainly steals expensive paintings that are under high security. She also has that moment where all the male characters get distracted from their heist because she looks so drop dead gorgeous.
    • Though her cousin, Gabrielle, probably plays this trope straighter than Kat.
  • Kitai in the second book of the Codex Alera.
  • In Death: Magdalana is presented as this in Innocent In Death. However, it gets subverted when it's revealed that she is a thief and not as classy as she pretends to be, with Roarke pretty much saying so to her face. * In Void Moon Cassie fits this role, but is a slightly more realistic version of this character in that she doesn't pull impossible heists, instead focusing on much smaller targets. She and her partner robbed high rolllers at a casino before being caught and having her partner killed.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Gwen Raiden in Angel gets bonus points for pure class and a shocking personality.
  • Amanda from Highlander the Series and Highlander the Raven.
  • Bela from Supernatural Season 3.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In a slight subversion, The Unicorn from the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp" becomes a lot less classy when she's exposed.
    • Played straight with Lady Christina de Souza in Planet of the Dead, whose class derives from the fact that she is an English aristocrat.
    • River Song (Alex Kingston) wears a black bodysuit when she breaks into the museum in "The Pandorica Opens."
  • Vala Mal Doran of Stargate SG-1 was something of a failed cat burgular. In addition to failing to steal the Prometheus and a Goa'uld Naquadah bomb, she fails to seduce Daniel Jackson. Repeatedly. And Lt. Col. Mitchell. And Teal'c. But mostly Daniel.
    • I don't know, even getting to the point of possibly stealing a gigantic well-defended armed and heavily populated ship single-handedly is pretty damn cool. If she'd chosen anyone besides Daniel to tie up she probably would have made it. Plus, as she points out, the Goa'uld Naquadah bomb was inside alien technology she'd never seen before and...well...she rushed it. And she did eventually seduce Daniel, and discovered he was resisting before because he thought she wasn't as interested in him as he was in her. Plus, you know, she's played by Claudia Black so you can't criticize her 'cause she's gorgeous.
  • Subverted in Firefly, when Saffron tries this act on Mal. It fails.
  • The "Taffy" imprint in the Dollhouse episode "Gray Hour," first in Echo and then in Sierra (who helps rescue Echo after she gets mindwiped by cell phone).
  • Yves Adele Harlow from The Lone Gunmen.
  • Max from Dark Angel fits this role when she tries to steal from Logan. In what has to be a Shout-Out to Catwoman, she goes after a statue of Bast and even explains its significance.
  • Parker from Leverage stole the Hope Diamond and put it back cause she was bored. She's not entirely classy, though.
  • Marian from Robin Hood dresses up as the Night Watchman in order to steal from the rich and give to the poor, years before Robin himself was doing it.
  • Abby in the 2011 series of Charlie's Angels.
  • The Castle ep "Eye of the Beholder" gives us a "reformed" one in Serena Kaye (note the nominal resemblance to Selina Kyle).
  • Katherine "Kat" Hillard of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was more of a Mind Controlled Mole than thief when she first appeared, but besides transforming into a cat and a cat monster, she was pretty classy.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • Lady Lilian Hawthorne, a.k.a. "Janus", from the Doctor Who audio adventure The Veiled Leopard.


== Theater ==:

  • The short-lived musical Drat! The Cat! is about a debutante who becomes a cat burglar for the thrill.
  • Averted with "Macavity the Mystery Cat" in Cats. His introduction provides the page quote for Gentleman Thief but on stage he is just a rambunctuous bully.


Video Games[edit | hide]

"Mind if I steal your heart? ♥"


Webcomics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]


...wait... "tears your refrigerator to bits"?