Do You Want to Haggle?

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Man: Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?
Woman: Ummm... I guess so, yeah.
Man: Would you sleep with me for a dollar?
Woman: What!? What kind of a girl do you think I am!?

Man: We've established what kind of girl you are; now we're just haggling over price.
Old Joke, reportedly used by Oscar Wilde

Haggling: Where two characters, a buyer and seller, attempt to strike a bargain, and keep working towards a value that costs neither their opponent or themselves too much. Usually at breakneck Motor Mouth pace.

A common subversion is when a character, frequently a Cloudcuckoolander, drives the price up when buying, or driving it down when selling. Another has the party that holds all the power responding to any attempt to haggle by keeping her offer exactly the same, or even worsening it.

Examples of Do You Want to Haggle? include:


Anime & Manga

  • In Hunter X Hunter, Leolio is an expert haggler and provides a couple of example, including one where he is so successful that the crowd burst in applause when the deal is sealed.

Fan Works

Shizune: [Shopping is War. Take no Prisoners.]


  • Trope Namer comes from a Running Gag in Monty Python's Life of Brian, where at first, an ex-leper tries to beg Brian for money, then where he tries to buy a fake mustache from a merchant who refuses to take the high price and insists on haggling. Both the beggar and the merchant use the line "Do you want to haggle?"
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Sparrow and Barbossa both haggle over the percentage of the booty that Jack owes Barbossa if he gets the Black Pearl back. They settle on 25%, but it's the offer of a new hat, a really big one, that seals the deal for Barbossa.
    • Subverted in the second film. Jack tries to do this to Davey Jones. At one point, he uses Will's situation to appeal to Jones' softer side. It failed spectacularly.
  • In The Mummy 1999, Evelyn bargained with Rick's jailer to stop Rick's execution by hanging in exchange for a portion of the artifacts or value of the artifacts found at Hamunaptra. The two argued over the deal while Rick slowly suffocated as the rope didn't break his neck, but the jailer ends up with a lower than his previous deal.

Evelyn: If you spare his life, I'll give you ten percent.
Jailer: Fifty percent.
Evelyn: Twenty.
Jailer: Forty.
Evelyn: Thirty.
Jailer: *With finality* Twenty five.
Evelyn: *Triumphantly* Ah! Deal.
Jailer: *Realizing his mistake* Dammit... Cut him down!

  • In the 2010 remake of True Grit, Mattie haggles with a merchant over what compensation she is owed for his inability to protect her father's horse, as well as attempting to sell back some ponies her father had bought from him before being murdered. He is so traumatized by the experience that he cuts himself short when she later tries to buy a horse from him, and we later learn from a stable hand that her name is forbidden to be spoken in his household.
  • In Stardust, where a dealer purchases captured lightning. He haggles with the owner, who kept sticking his amount to "two hundred".


  • Happens several times in The Wheel of Time. Mat in particular notes that a the best time to take a deal is when both parties walk away from it thinking that they came out ahead.
  • A number of times in Over the Wine Dark Sea. As the characters are ancient merchants it is natural.
  • Several times in Ephraim Kishon's travel stories.

Kishon: "How much? Wieviel? Combien?"
Greek Ferryman: "Cinquecento!" [1]
Kishon (self-conscious): "Ha ha ha! Six thousand lire, not one peso more!"
Ferryman: "OK."

  • In the Serpentwar Saga, Roo plays a Xanatos Gambit Get Rich Quick Scheme which basically consists of attempting to corner the export of wheat to cities about to get hit by locusts. Then a captain from one of these cities shows up in port. Conversation paraphrased:

Roo: I'm selling wheat, a royal a bushel.
Captain: Two royals for three bushels.
Roo: A royal and a common a bushel.
Captain: Wait. You're asking for more?
Roo: *shrug* Locusts.

  • In The Bible Abraham haggles with God for the life of his nephew. He starts by bidding for the life of the city of Sodom on the grounds that God should not destroy the righteous with the wicked, but keeps going lower, recognizing that Sodom did not have all that many righteous people in it. Finally all he got out of the deal was Lot who was no great shakes in the righteousness department anyway.

Live Action TV

  • One episode of That '70s Show had Leo and Kelso haggling over the sale price of an El Camino. In a rare flash of intelligence (you know, compared to usual) Kelso realizes that he's driving the price the wrong way. Then as Kelso asks for $500, Leo says no. Then asks for $500. They agree, shake hands, and both walk away thinking that the other man is a sucker.
  • In the backwards episode of Seinfeld, Kramer and Newman! haggle about... birthday wishes.
  • In Last of the Summer Wine woe betide anyone that tries to haggle with Auntie Wainwright, the price (and number of items bought) can only increase.
  • The crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity, before stealing or smuggling something, almost always has a fence and a price lined up. Unfortunately, the fence generally decides to renegotiate, which causes Jayne or Zoë to draw their guns, only for Mal to stand them down and put on his haggling smirk. In the episode Serenity, originally planned as the pilot, they realize a fence is preparing to betray them when she declines to haggle and just accepts the initial offer.

Mal: I do believe that woman is planning to shoot me again...
Jayne: If she meant to pay you, she'd have haggled you down some.

    • In the episode "Safe" the haggling session appears to be pre-arranged from both sides, given that Mal already knows the price they eventually settled on and the buyer apparently having pre-prepared a purse with the appropriate amount.
  • In the Friends episode "The One with the Ring", Phoebe tries this when she goes ring shopping with Chandler (for Monica):

Chandler: Oh my God that’s it, that’s the ring! How much is it?
Phoebe: Chandler, I-I will handle this! (To the jeweler) How much is it?
Jeweler:: 8,600.
Phoebe: We will give you $10.
Jeweler:: Are you interested in this ring?!
Chandler: Yes! Yes, but I can only pay $8,000.
Jeweler:: Okay, I can let it go at eight.
Phoebe: We stand firm at $10.
Jeweler:: (to Chandler) How would you like to pay?
Chandler: Uh, credit card. Oh no! No-no, but I left my credit card with Joey. (to Phoebe) Okay, I’ll go get it. You guard the ring.
Phoebe: Okay. (to the jeweler) Listen, I’m sorry about before. Do you have anything her for $10?
Jeweler:: Uh yes, I have these two rather beautiful $5 bills.
Phoebe: I’ll give you $1 for them.

  • On 30 Rock, Jack likes to haggle so much that he does it for fun. When Josh wants to negotiate his contract, he asks for a 15 percent raise. Jack counters with a dollar. When Josh makes some more demands, Jack counters with 75 cents.
  • Subverted in Bottom, Eddie tries to sell a hand carved wooden leg to a pawnshop for money to place on a betting horse, he tries to haggle with Harry the pawn broker with mixed results:

Harry: Must be worth at least two and a half grand, I'll give you one pound fifty for it.
Eddie: Um, let`s haggle.
Harry: Alright a quid.
Eddie: No, let`s haggle upwards.
Harry: ALRIGHT, Fifty pence.
Eddie: Blimey, they don`t call you "Harry the Bastard" for nothing, do they?

  • In The Wire, Omar does this with Proposition Joe when Omar attempts to sell drugs to Proposition Joe that Omar stole from Prop Joe in the first place. When Omar asks for 20 cents on the dollar, Prop Joe offers 10 cents on the dollar, prompting Omar to counter with 30 cents on the dollar if Prop Joe tries to haggle any more.
    • And then, of course, there are repeated scenes where the cops and district attorneys haggle for information or plea bargains.
    • In an earlier scene, Nick Sobotka haggles Proposition Joe into getting Cheese to not only cancel his brother's debt but pay him the difference in Blue Book price of the Camaro that Cheese destroyed. He only gets away with it because he knows someone from Prop Joe's drug supplier.

Joe: If not for Sergei here, ya'll would be some cadaverous motherfuckers.

  • Green Acres: In one episode, Mr. Haney asks Lisa to haggle down the price of an item. She misunderstands the concept, and instead of starting at a low price and moving up, Lisa starts low and goes lower until Haney agrees.
  • Contestants in Reality Shows like The Apprentice show wildly differing skill at this. One technique they all seem to try is "I really need this, and I can't find it anywhere else, and I have to have it in the next 30 minutes!" - oddly enough, this never seems to lead to the seller going "Really? Well, in THAT case... the price just doubled."
  • The History Channel's very popular show about a Las Vegas pawn shop, Pawn Stars, basically has almost everything the store buys purchased on the basis of lots of haggling. In some cases when the seller or the buyer sticking to a close price, the other party is shown agonizing whether to give in over the difference.


  • Ranma ½: To get back at Ranma for accidentally destroying an expensive concert ticket, Nabiki dedicates an entire day to making him miserable. At the end of the chapter, Nabiki manipulates him into thinking she took off all her clothes. Her family happens to come home at the same time and they both know he'll get in trouble if they're caught in such a situation. After he urges her to put some clothes on, they start haggling over her price for getting dressed.

Nabiki: Fifty dollars.
Ranma: Too much! Twenty dollars!
Nabiki: Forty-five dollars.
Ranma: Robber! Thirty dollars!
Nabiki: Done! A pleasure doing business with you.

Newspaper Comics

Stand-up Comedy

  • Bill Maher, in one of his specials, talking about Islam's "72 Virgins in Heaven" trope:

"72 virgins. It's very suspicious to me. It's a clue. It tells you we're dealing with people from a bartering culture. Because nobody starts with that number. Someone went, '100 virgins!' '50!' '85!' '69!' '79!' '71!' '73' '72!' 'Done!' That's how you got 72."

Video Games

  • This is what roughly 50% of the game play of Freshly-Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland consists of. For some players, the urge to look up a guide is hard to resist.
  • Quest for Glory uses this in games 2 and 3, which take place in fantasy versions of Arabia and Africa respectively. Generally, it's best to get the price right in one go, as failures will cause the vendor to raise their minimum. The sole exception to this is the meat merchant in 3, who is such an Extreme Doormat that you buy his wares at 1 gold coin a pop and he'll still kiss your butt and call you "Master".
    • Also worth mentioning is the bead maker, an elderly woman who barely speaks your language and thus is completely immune to any attempts at haggling.
  • Angband and Trade Wars both supported a back-and-forth version where the player would have to suggest a price, the merchant would counter with a higher one, and negotiations went from there. Suggesting too low of a price could get you kicked out of the shop forever.
  • You can haggle with the shopkeeper in Star Fox Adventures, but if you go too low too many times, he'll stop haggling and refuse to pay less than the original price.
  • Several times in Marco Polo.
  • In Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale you can do this if a customer thinks your prices are too high (or you're offerng to little if they're selling), however you get more experience points if you get the price they want on the first try.
  • The Game of the Ages - It takes an extended haggling session to get your Magic Armor of Magic cheap enough to buy. But that's nothing compared to your drawn-out struggle to sell a mouldy life-preserver. You eventually do - for one coin.

Web Comics

Western Animation

Leela: OK, the sticker says 55,000 but we'll only go as high as say-
Amy: 60,000!
[Leela sighs.]
Victor:Oh, I will have to ask my manager.
[He walks into Malfunctioning Eddie's office.]
Leela: Amy, you don't go up from the sticker price!
Amy: I thought it was an auction.
{{[[[Funny Background Event]] Through the office window, we see Victor say something to Eddie. Eddie smiles and they both dance. Victor comes back out again}}.]
Victor: He is not too happy.
Amy: I'm sorry. 80,000?
[Eddie's head explodes.]

  • In an episode of Family Guy, Peter offers completely random prices with no rhyme or reason. As Brian explains to the salesman, "He doesn't know how to haggle."
  • On Rugrats, haggling is shown to be one of Drew Pickle's favorite childhood games. (When he was the age of the main characters, mind you.) His brother, Stu, understandably hated it and refused to play with him.
  • Parodied in Squirrel Boy, where instead of haggling for less, Rodney haggles for more, such as paying a guy five dollars instead of the two required for admission into a fair.
  • In an episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? A vital clue gets parachuted into India, which a shopkeeper picks up and puts up for sale. Ivy offers him 50 rupees for it, but Zack reminds her that in this culture, he'd be insulted if you didn't haggle.

Zack (in Hindi): I am a good customer.
Shopkeeper (in Hindi): How good?
(time passes)
Zack: Hey, Ivy!
Ivy: Hold on! A dhurrie rug, a coffeepot, five silk scarves, and ten pounds of coffee? You didn't haggle, Zack, you bought everything he had!
Zack: Hey, at least I got the box.

Real Life

  • In many nations it is required that you haggle when you are shopping for items. People from countries like the United States (where haggling is normally only done for big-ticket items like cars or houses) are often at a loss on how to haggle (or are annoyed or confused or just plain ignorant on how to properly haggle). In countries with highly different currency values, they may also be at a loss to how much an item is genuinely worth. Of course this can be a paradoxical advantage as not wanting the item in question, and having no interest in haggling for its own sake, is a very strong bargaining position for a buyer.
  • Diplomacy is essentially high-class haggling with the possibility of massive destruction being the ultimate bargaining chip.


  • On Neopets, you can haggle the price when buying from NPC shops. You can generally get a better price at a user-owned shop though, so most of the time it's not really worth it.
  1. Italian for "five hundred"