Screw the Money, I Have Rules

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Toldja Tagon had a soul.
"I do'nae trust any dollar I hav'nae earned."
Scrooge McDuck, DuckTales (1987)

For some people, money isn't an issue. Maybe a hero's morals and convictions are so strong that he can never be bought out, not even for all the money and riches in the world. Maybe someone is so committed to a goal he'll spend all the money he has to in order to reach it. Or perhaps there are some people who just don't need the money; the warm fuzzy feeling after doing a good deed is reward enough. Whatever the reason, wealth comes second to personal values.

Note that this does not necessarily mean "wealth comes second to good personal values." This is a very common trope for Knight Templar types, and outright Chaotic Evil villains can enact it too.

Compare Keep the Reward, Honor Before Reason, What You Are in the Dark, Doing It for the Art. The Last DJ is a specific character type who is likely to do this, although he may pay for it, especially in missed opportunities.

Contrast Screw the Rules, I Have Money and Only in It For the Money.

Examples of Screw the Money, I Have Rules include:

Anime and Manga

  • Despite being ridiculously poverty-stricken, Makino Tsukushi, the heroine of Hana Yori Dango refuses to take a bribe from Domyoji (either to hang out with him or to take back her challenge to him depending on the continuity), and is unimpressed by the fat stacks of cash he throws around to get his way. This is a large part of what endears her to him in the first place, being among the two or three people who openly defy him.
  • Mugen of Samurai Champloo is a nastier version of this trope- which is why he's Chaotic Neutral. Mugen's too much of a free spirit and lover of violence to be loyal to either the law or the Yakuza, and so if the Villain of the Week tries to hire him, Mugen won't stay loyal for very long.
  • Schzartzwald of The Big O is a villainous example of this: when offered ridiculously generous severance pay from the Paradigm Corporation in exchange for his silence on the topic of the show's Ontological Mystery, he gleefully burns the cheque. He then follows suit with the guests at his party.
  • What Nao and Akiyama do this in Liar Game. In fact, Nao's reason for continuing to participate in the game is to save everyone in the game.
  • Rurouni Kenshin did this. A greedy money grubber tried to bribe him, but his bodyguard pointed out that Kenshin was never interested in money. Later on, even the bodyguard, who took the job more for the eventual fights than for the money, would no longer respect the money grubber.
    • Satou Hajime also made it very clear to one unfortunate rich guy that a bribe won't save you if he has you in his crosshairs.

"You can tame a dog with food. You can tame a man with money. But you can NEVER tame a Wolf of Mibu!"

    • Hitman for hire Kurogaza (Black Hat) made his debut not allowing one of his targets to buy his way out.
  • Hideo Ozu of Hand Maid Mai provides an infuriating example when he turns down 10 million yen in exchange for old videos he shot of his aspiring-actress childhood friend, Mai. But rather than keeping the videos, he simply gives them away for free to Mai's producer, who had told him that the videos[1] could get in the way of Mai's acting career. And when it turns out that the producer and director intend to profit from the videos by integrating them into their new movie, he gets indignant about the videos that were "taken" from him.

Comic Books

  • In Ultimate Marvel Silver Sable fails to capture Spider-Man. She refuses to admit failure, drop the job, and go away. "My reputation is everything to me. We'll finish the job for you. Comped. No charge."
    • This trope appears quite often in Ultimate Spider-Man. Probably played straightest when Spider-Man intervenes to save Boomarang, a C-grade bank robber from being terminated with extreme prejudice by The Punisher and the villain gratefully offers him $20,000 to get him away from the cops. Poor student Peter is clearly tempted for a moment before webbing the villain up beside the Punisher for the cops to collect.
  • It also appears in one case of Spider-Man where Silver Sable and Captain America are involved. Spider-Man is offered a million in cash and flatly turns it down. (It helped that the one offering was the Red Skull.) Though afterwards, Silver Sable and Captain America appreciate that Spider-Man did so.
  • Batman. Though in his case, money really isn't an issue.
  • Scrooge McDuck, as created by Carl Barks. It's true that he is the richest duck in the world, but he earned his money by being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies, and he made it square.
  • Papa Smurf in The Smurfs comic book story "The Finance Smurf" refuses to go along with the title character's suggestion of charging his little Smurfs for his services, even as impoverished as he became when he has to pay off his little Smurfs for taking care of him when he was sick during the time the Smurf Village monetary system was in place. Eventually every Smurf decides to go Screw The Money to Finance Smurf when they realize that their old ways of cooperation and sharing were better.
  • Do not try to bribe Tintin into working with you. Even if you have him in a prison cell, sentenced to die the next day, he will kick you through the door just to show you what he thinks of you and your offers.

Fan Works


Kaiba: Screw the money, I have rules! (beat) Wait, let me try that again.



  • In Flubber, the Big Bad offers to make Robin Williams' Absent-Minded Professor character and his fiancee, the college president, very rich if they would sell him the formula to the titular substance. The reply: "If we were interested in being rich, we wouldn't have become teachers."
  • In Rambo, a group of aid workers attempt to hire Rambo to take them into a warzone, but Rambo refuses, believing that the workers will get themselves killed. The woman talks to him and somehow convinces him that he should let them try anyway.
  • In John Sayles's movie Matewan (based on a true story), the eponymous West Virginia coal town in the '20s is striking against the evil coal corporation, and the mayor is offered a bribe to side with the corporation. "This town ain't for sale, mister."
  • How Jonathan Shields practically bankrupted his studio in The Bad and The Beautiful. He wouldn't even release a picture that could save it because he thought it wasn't good enough.
  • In the 1987 film The Untouchables, a public official working for Al Capone tries to bribe Eliot Ness to put a stop to his liquor raids. Ness literally throws the money back in the man's face.
  • Inverted and played straight in Star Wars.
    • Han Solo is perfectly willing to let the princess buy the farm until Luke reminds him that said Princess would pay handsomely for being rescued. After that, Solo pretty much does everything pro bono. To be fair to Han Solo, not only is the risk factor for the job being offered somewhere between 'suicidal' and 'only your Plot Armor will save you now', but the person asking him for help already owes him money for a prior job, can't pay him, and is the entire reason Han's life is already at severe risk in the first place.
    • The Imperial Stormtroopers are an evil example. Many Expanded Universe sources say they could not be bribed. (Blackmailing and threatening doesn't work either.) The Retcon that made them Spaarti clones as replacements for the more expensive Kaminoan Clones which took ten times longer to grow may have explained this; inferior models may have had less free will and more Undying Loyalty (at the cost of less competence).
  • In Titanic, Cal tries to bribe one of the officers to let him on a lifeboat. The officer's response: "Your money won't save you any more than it would me."
  • Set up to look this way in Tropic Thunder when Les Grossman attempts to bribe Rick Peck into abandoning his friend and client, but it seems that in the nick of time Rick took a third option and saved the day using the bribe money.
  • Evil version in Layer Cake. The Serbian drug lords hunt down some British crooks who stole $2 million worth of ecstacy tablets from them. In the end, they're happy to simply kill the crooks. Their vengeance was about honor, not the money. In fact, when they think that the tablets were seized by the police, they don't make any effort to force the protagonist to pay them back. In the end, it's shown that they're producing so much ecstacy that the lost shipment is a mere pittance, so they care enough to kill anyone connected with the theft, but not really about the money.
  • Doc Emmett Brown in Back to The Future refuses to use the time machine to get rich in the second movie.
  • In The Departed Frank and William are having a conversation about William's father. Frank tells William that his father (William Sr.) would and could have killed Frank and all of his associates to keep his son from working for Frank. Afterwards, William asks Frank if his father had ever worked for him. Frank says no, adding, "He didn't want money, you can't make a deal with a man like that."
  • The rookie cop in Training Day pisses off his Broken Pedestal mentor precisely because he won't flout the rules for money.
  • Charles Simms in Scent of a Woman turns down a scholarship to Harvard rather than rat out his friends. Doubly impressive in that the boys he's covering for are grade A assholes, and there's no way he can afford college without the scholarship. As Lt.Col. Slade puts it, "that's character."
  • Chazz Darvey in Airheads. In spite of all the effort he went through to get a record contract for him and his band, when Chazz learns that Jimmy Wing is signing them without hearing their music, he promptly wipes his ass with the contract. Later, the entire band gets one after Wing talks Chazz into the contract when they learn that the contract is contingent on lip-syncing in public. They proceed to smash up the place and incite a riot.
  • In the film version of Dick Tracy, Big Bad Big Boy is smart enough to know that killing Tracy would likely lead back to him, so he attempts to bribe Tracy with thousands of dollars. Tracy throws it in his face. In the novelization, the other gangsters call such a plan foolish, as they know Tracey can't be bought.
  • In The Dark Knight, The Joker seeks to create chaos and doesn't respect people who commit crimes only for money. As such, he burns a pyramid of money with a money-seeking crook on top of it. A sort of Screw The Money They're Just Another Kind Of Rules, one might say.
  • Played with by Angel Eyes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly who takes everyone's money, while sticking to his own personal code. Oddly that just makes him seem more inhuman.


  • Double Subversion in Belisarius Series. While he is in India as an ambassador (in this case it mainly means covert operative) he is given a massive hoard of treasure supposedly for saving the Malwa Emperor's life but which he knew perfectly well was a lure to get him to change sides. Rather than feel upset at the implied insult to his honor, he takes it as a compliment to his acting ability (as part of his cover, he had been trolling for bribes the entire time). For extra irony value he then uses the money to fund an anti-Malwa insurgency before returning home.
  • Hogfather: Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Anyone who tries to bribe him will be met with a stern rejection, and possibly a few broken fingers if he's in a bad mood.
    • The unimpeachable Carrot plays back and forth with this trope in Feet of Clay. Suspicion for recent crimes falls on a golem named Dorfl, and its owner tries to get rid of it (Dorfl, that is) by giving it to Carrot. Carrot reminds him that attempting to bribe a Watch officer is a crime ... and then offers to buy the golem. Dorfl's owner then tries to demand a high price for it (golems are valuable, after all), and Carrot offers ... a dollar. As usual, Carrot gets what he wants. Finally he does yet another turnaround by giving the golem to itself, thus setting off a chain reaction that leads to the most peaceful civil rights movement in history, as the golems insist on simply working up the money to buy their fellows out of servitude.
  • Various times in The Dresden Files. Various baddies, including Magnificent Bastard Gentleman Johnny Marcone, attempt to bribe Harry with ridiculous amounts of money (in Marcone's case, it was less a bribe and more a job offer; a legit, legal one at that), none of which are ever able to tempt him from his path.
    • Marcone is notable in that he knows Dresden is never going to take the money (and in an odd way respects him for it), but he keeps offering it anyway.
  • In Fleet of Worlds, we have Sigmund. He is extremely wealthy and hence cannot be bribed. As a mere accountant, he undertook an investigation into a Space Mafia gang which nearly costs him his life. After this, he joins the ARM (Earth's military) and goes after the enemies of Earth with such zealousness (due to his natural extreme intelligence and paranoia) that the Puppeteers (a species of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens) consider him a significant threat to their plans. Ironically A Puppeteer, Nessus, saves his life, seeing in him a potent ally
  • Played with in The Curse of Chalion. Caz, the protagonist, enters a negotiation on behalf of his princess with a ruthless, cunning ruler of another country. Said ruler tries repeatedly to bribe Caz into accepting terms that would disadvantage his princess, and Caz refuses. The ruler asks him why. Caz's answer? "I have been given a plot of six by eight, to be mine in perpetuity, and I find it suits my needs." Caz has a tumor which he's certain will kill him, and bribes are worthless to a dead man. That's not his real reason - he's loyal to the princess - but it's one the ruler will accept.
  • A classic and rather well-known example:

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." ~ Matthew 4:9-10 NKJV

    • And in Acts of the Apostles, Simon Magus offers Peter a fortune in exchange for an ordination. Peter's reply? "May your money perish with you, for you have thought that the gift of God can be bought with money!"
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe: In one of the later X-Wing novels, Borsk Fey'ia goes to Booster Terrik seeking his assistance in procuring a Bothan corpse to fill in for a Rogue Squadron pilot who was listed as MIA. After clobbering Fey'ia, Terrik responds thus:

"I won't say I can't be bought, but I certainly can't be bought by the likes of you."

  • In one of the Judge Dee novels, a criminal assumes the Judge can be paid off to look the other way. Instead, Dee spends every bit of the bribe money on a plan to take that criminal down. (How else was he supposed to fund the plan?)
  • Early on in First Lensman, Virgil Samms is offered an obscene amount of money ($26 million and stock options estimated to rise to $50 billion in 10 years, and note that this was in 1950 dollars) to help grease the wheels for a company looking to forge a galaxy-wide monopoly. He refuses without batting an eye. Granted, this is an E. E. "Doc" Smith character.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac on several occasions alienates himself rich and influent people who were ready to fund him (even the cardinal of Richelieu) because of his ethics.
  • Time Scout's Malcolm Moore prefers to starve on his principles than earn well on Time Tours's payroll.

Live-Action TV

  • In Firefly, Mal refuses to take the money for the job when he discovers he's being paid to steal medicine from a village of dying miners.
    • Villainous example from the same episode: When the villain's right-hand man comes by to make the pickup, Mal tries to talk him into returning the money. The man refuses, finishing his statement with words to the effect of "...and the last thing you'll see will be my blade." Mal kicks him into the engine intake and makes the same deal with his much-more pliable successor.
    • In Serenity, this trope was only avoided by the Operative trying to appeal to Mal's morality from the beginning; as the Operative is quick to point out, if he had offered money, this would have been Mal's response.
      • In other words, had he been offered money, Mal would have said Screw the Money, I Have Rules, but when his morality was appealed to, he replied Screw The Rules I Want Money. Mal hates The Man.
  • The Doctor Who serial "Ghost Light":

Josiah: I'm afflicted with an enemy. A vile and base creature pitted against me. It's waiting for me now. [He holds out a bank draft.] I believe that you can assist me in defeating it.
The Doctor: I'm not interested in money. [Beat] How much?
Josiah: Five thousand pounds to rid me of the evil brute.
The Doctor: [Whistles] Now that's what I call Victorian value! But I'm still not interested in money.


Jackie: How was life for you?
Pete: I got rich.
Jackie: That doesn't matter to me. How rich?
Pete: Very rich.
Jackie: That doesn't matter to me. How very?

  • A common subversion is to have the character express this sentiment... and then immediately take the first monetary offer that comes his way. For example, an episode of Family Matters has one of the Winslow sons effectively say this to some big daddy offering to give his daughter to him... only to then immediately grovel to him when big daddy gives his monetary offer.
  • In one Law and Order episode, " Jeopardy," the prosecutors discover that the presiding judge on a mass murder case was bribed by the defendant's rich family to ensure an acquittal. When they haul the crooked judge in for questioning, the District Attorney (who happens to also be a close friend) comes down personally to berate him for betraying his oath of office. When the judge whines that the defendant would have got off anyway because "They have so much money," the thoroughly disgusted DA remarks that shouldn't have mattered.
  • Dr. House cost the hospital one hundred million dollars because he refused to kiss the ass of a billionaire donor who wanted House to publicly praise a new drug produced by his company.
    • Given that accepting this particular kind of "drug money" would have been considered unethical under those circumstances, you could also go "Screw the Money, I'm doing what's right!" At the least it's conflict of interests, at the most House could have been permanently unable to practice medicine for that. If House didn't have unshakable research that backed the drug, there was a BIG risk of legal repercussions. (The Vioxx and Bextra lawsuits of the last decade also were examples in real life.)
  • Dr. Cox in Scrubs despises Kelso because he puts money above patients with no concern (apart from being a very evil man). We later learn that Kelso has to make those decisions and that it's not always so easy for him, but that doesn't change Cox's opinion.
    • Kelso makes it clear that for him, everyone else in the hospital is free to do what's for the good of the patients because he's doing everything he must to keep the place running, whether he likes it or not. He doesn't expect anyone else to do what he does, and even takes it upon himself to be hated so that they can feel solidarity as a Band of Brothers. When Kelso retires and Cox becomes Chief of Medicine, the latter learns all of this first hand and the two become friends.

Kelso: Dr. Reid, I'm sucking up to that man because that's my job. Now get out there and do your job.

  • Even the ultra-avaricious Sergeant Bilko of The Phil Silvers Show has been shown to have his limits. In one episode, 'Elvin Pelvin' (a thinly disguised Elvis clone) joins Bilko's regiment, and Bilko spends most of the episode trying to secretly record him singing. Eventually Bilko manages to get a recording of Elvin singing...and the songs turns out to be a song he wrote praising Bilko for all his kindness. Upset at his hypocrisy, Bilko destroys the record.
  • The stick-up man Omar Little on The Wire lives by a moral code based on honor rather than accumulating wealth. For example, he once stole a large amount of money from a hated rival and then burned it on the spot rather than keeping it.
    • Even as a kid he had this. When he and his brother rob an innocent man, he questions the reason for it. Then at gunpoint demands they give the man his money back.
  • In the "Beverly Hills Assault" episode of The A-Team, Hannibal Smith confronts the head of Intermode (that episode's Big Bad) in his office. When said Corrupt Corporate Executive offers to hire the A-Team to do his dirty work, Hannibal says that he wouldn't take Intermode's money, but that he'd gladly tear them apart for free.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael Westen refuses money from both Carla and Strickler for doing what they wanted because it would turn him into a mercenary. Also, his grateful clients often offer him large cash rewards, but he usually takes signficiantly less than they offer, especially if his clients need the money more than he does.
    • When arguing with his mother, upset that she had to blackmail an asset, Michael gets upset.

Michael: Do you think I do this for the money?! ... People need me.

  • In Sherlock, Mycroft Holmes offers John money to spy on the eponymous character. John, despite having just met Sherlock, refuses. This leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when he tells Sherlock about it later.

Sherlock: Did he offer you money to spy on me?
John: ...Yes.
Sherlock: Did you take it?
John: No.
Sherlock: Pity, we could have split the fee. Think it through next time.

  • One episode of Married... with Children featured Bud dating Al's boss. She bought Al's approval but couldn't use the money to order Bud around.
    • Another episode featured Kelly being engaged to a rich man. It all ended when Al and Peg learned he's a polygamist. The man's sister was interested in Bud but no money would make Bud overlook the fact she's ugly.
  • Gilmore Girls plays it straight Logan and the entire Huntzberger Clan for that matter. Richard sometimes crosses into this realm, but Emily's treatment of her maids is a good example of this.
  • A variant of this is Jack Hodgins on Bones. He's a multimillionaire, yet doesn't think it puts him above the rules.
  • Downton Abbey has two examples in series two. First, Branson turns down Robert's offer of a bribe to abandon Sybil. Then, Ethel refuses to give her baby to Major Bryant's wealthy parents because she believes that a mother's love is more valuable than the privileged life they could give him.
  • In Red Band Society, upon learning about her daughter's status regarding a transplant, Kara's mother tried to convince a medical assistant to the board to place Kara higher on the list, even offering to pay out of pocket like asking if they accept credit cards. However, the assistant explains that such discussion isn't that easy since the only way it would work if Kara is put in some program to get her clean. In other words, even if they were often a mansion, it still wouldn't convince since they got rules of their own.

Professional Wrestling

  • In the case of WWE wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, it was more a case of "Screw the money, I have rules to break," as he rebelled violently against WWE chairman Vince McMahon's attempts to mold him into a "corporate champion."
  • Back in the '80s, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase offered Hulk Hogan an obscene amount of money to simply hand over the WWF Championship instead of defending it against him. Hulk refused, naturally (otherwise, this wouldn't be an example), so DiBiase instead used the money to hire Andre the Giant to get it for him. After Andre won the belt (thanks to referee Dave Hebner's Evil Twin, Earl), he tried to hand it over to DiBiase, only for WWF President Jack Tunney to make an appearance and declare that, not only would the WWF title not change hands that way, but for his deplorable conduct in even trying, Andre would be stripped of the title on the spot. In this case, Screw The Money, The WWF Has Rules.
  • Stephanie McMahon tried to make an offer to John Cena in exchange of joining the Authority, he'll be given protection and wealth he could he. Cena rejected the offer considering how the Authority treats those who rebel against them.


  • Bobby Strong from the musical Urinetown refuses the bribe of the main villain, Mr. Cladwell, saying that the only bribe he'll accept is freedom for the people.


  • Many games cause the player to invoke this (even if your character has a different view on the matter), by simply showering you with money. It gets worse in that any time you're asked to give away a substantial amount (for "charity" or otherwise), you'll typically end up with a more valuable reward. Frequently, you have no use for the cash in the first place; there's no penalty for losing it, because there's nothing to buy, or because it's easy enough to get more.
  • Subverted in Dragon Age wherein you can almost always demand/request a reward for your services without repercussion. Meanwhile, giving charitable donations doesn't get you any kind of reward whatsoever, it just means you lose money. On the other hand, even when you are offered the chance to make a questionable moral decision, money isn't usually part of the reward.
  • In the Mass Effect games, this is Paragon Shepard in a nutshell, which can further go into Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right, but anyway... This is most easily seen in Noveria, where you have to reject several offers that would've gotten you a bit of money because they're not right.
    • Inverted with Zaeed's mission, the reward for Paragon is considerably a lot more than if Shepard helps Zaeed in his quest for revenge. This is because your mission is to rescue an industrial plant and its workers, which is mutually exclusive to helping Zaeed who tries blowing it up in the process of his revenge. While Zaeed will pay you for helping fulfil his personal vendetta, the plant's owner will pay you double for saving their property.
  • At the end of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Flora, the heiress to Fiction 500, prefers to leave the treasure untouched in her family's manor house. To do otherwise would have resulted in the immediate cessation of "life" for her Ridiculously Human Robot servants, and she was too fond of them to see that happen.
  • In The Reconstruction, there are a few quests where Dehl turns down payment afterwards.
  • Steven Heck in Alpha Protocol with Mike Thorton, in spite of being violent and psychotic, he is honorable, if you get him to like you then he tells you about how he turned down a 5 million dollar bribe(and cut off the guy's fingers and set him on fire) he only takes the bribe if you piss him off.


  • They explore the concept with Haley of The Order of the Stick in this comic. They agree that it doesn't quite suit the character.
  • The page image comes from Schlock Mercenary when Tagon turns down an offer for an extract and rescue mission, even after his employer is willing to multiply his standard salary by 20 to get the job done. It's subverted after the company psych officer asks Tagon if this means he's grown a conscience, only to discover that Tagon said no because he hated the guy he was hired to rescue.

Captain Tagon: Well... Petey wanted to hire us to rescue Xinchub. He offered me an awful lot of money, but I realized we'd all rather just kill the fat man, or maybe clone him, and kill him twice. I can't believe I let Petey talk me into it at first. I'll see Xinchub rot on a pike before I accept money to help him.
Reverend Theo: So... You're motivated by hatred here.
Captain Tagon: Yeah, that sounds right.
Reverend Theo: False alarm, everybody. If anyone needs me, I'll be praying for our immortal souls in my cabin.

    • That said, he'd probably have a company-wide revolt on his hands if he'd taken the job. While Tagon enjoys earning lots of money, his first priority for the company has always been "live to spend said money".
    • It's also played with in the Mallcop Command arc, with the Toughs' employer setting impossible restrictions on the equipment and force-levels the company can use to do their job, then complaining about the (minor) havoc they cause doing their job, before attempting to extort money out of himself to stop Tagon from (he believes) attacking him in response to a scolding. This culminates in Tagon refusing the money of favour of his company's freedom to do their job, and then immediately subverted when he sells "unlimited Shout at the Captain Rights" for another 20%.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Mike volunteers as a chaperone for a date for the privilege to punch anyone stepping over the line in the face. The boy attempts to bribe him with $50 to get lost. The results are predictable.

Western Animation

  • Played with in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Terrible Trio," which features a group of rich punks who have turned to crime out of boredom. When Batman takes down their leader, Warren, he tries to offer Batman a hefty bribe to let him go. Of course, Batman doesn't even listen, since besides the fact that he would never let a criminal buy his way out of justice, he is already plenty rich in his own right in his secret identity as Bruce Wayne. Though Bruce Timm, producer and creator of the DCAU, has listed "The Terrible Trio" as one of the worst episodes of the series, the final scene is quite memorable: after Batman has refused his bribe, the criminal claims it won't matter since has every judge in Gotham "in [his] pocket" and will get "the best justice money can buy." There is then a quick cut to the thief being escorted into his jail cell, meeting his "roommate," and staring stupefied at the squalor around him. The episode might not be "Over the Edge," but that closing shot gets me every time.
  • On The Simpsons, Mr. Burns enlists Lisa to help him regain his lost wealth. She inspires him to build a recycling plant, but on discovering that he uses it to kill vast amounts of sea life, she rejects her share of the money. Which is twelve million dollars.
    • In "Grade School Confidential", Double Subverted on Bart. After agreeing to keep the secret that Principal Seymour Skinner and Edna Krabappel were dating in exchange of his records being switched with Millhouse, the load becomes too much for Bart. Bart finally reaches his breaking point when Martin, a nerd, starts to pick on him for doing the teachers’ favors.
    • “Homer Goes to College” – Mr. Burns tries to convince the nuclear plant inspectors to take his money, even leaving briefly. When Burns returned, the money still there and the inspectors didn’t bother, even one of them assume of bribery. This forced Burns to know that money doesn’t always buy anything as the inspectors proved one thing that unlike Mayor Quimby… Screw the Money, Nuclear Plant Inspectors Have Rules.
    • "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" - Fat Tony learned that not even Rex Banner would accept bribery, especially to allow alcohol in the newly dry-law in Springfield, despite the offer.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Tombstone offers Spidey a lot of money to do some of his dirty work and, mostly, to look the other way when instructed. Spider-Man refuses, of course... until a certain black suit gets on him.
  • Stinky on Hey Arnold! turns down a million dollars because the company wants him to look stupid on television.
  • In one Code Lyoko episode, Yumi's dad is laid off of work, and Ulrich gets the idea of using the factory's Return to the Past function to predict a lottery ticket's winning number and then give it to him as a gift. Jeremie blows his top when he finds out (as do Yumi and Odd), not only because this perverts the purpose of Franz Hopper's device, but because it has been established that the time hops are gradually strengthening Xana and shouldn't be used on a whim. Even worse for Ulrich, Yumi's dad gives the ticket back because he can't accept such a valuable gift. By the end of the episode, Ulrich wises up and donates it to charity.
  • Doughnut Sheriff from the The Amazing World of Gumball might not be competent, but he isn't terribly corrupt. One time these 2 traits combined resulted him in not even realizing someone was attempting to bribe him.

Doughnut Sheriff: Alright. Most of that stuff looks pretty illegal.
Van Shopkeeper: I think you'll find all the right paperwork in here.
Doughnut Sheriff: There's no paper work here it's just thousands of dollars! We're taking you down town.


Real Life

  • Corsair. In the world of power suppliers where every manufacturer tries to inflate the specifications of their products, Corsair asked the independent organization to downgrade the rating of two of their products because they felt that, while the particular samples had achieved "Gold" ratings, they believed most of the units they had designed would only achieve "Silver."
  • Moral crusader Eliot Ness earned his men the nickname "The Untouchables" by his vehement refusal of a large bribe from Al Capone.
    • Though Ness had almost nothing to do with the actual case that convicted Capone.
  • There's an urban legend/joke about Abraham Lincoln that when he was a lawyer, somebody came to him once with an unethical request. Lincoln kept saying no as the guy offered him more and more money, and finally grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him out into the street. His partner said, "You could have just told him no. Why did you have to do that?" and he answered, "Because he was getting very close to my price."
  • News anchor Cenk Uygur was offered by MSNBC as part of his part time show, a smaller role in the news network, with double pay even after he beat Fox News ratings in the young demographic category. In no certain words did he tell MSNBC that he was not going to shut up about his anti-establishment message and left.
  • Most of the world's major religions have some variant of this as a commandment to their followers. Of course, whether a specific person of that faith actually practices it kinda depends on the person...
  • This is the ethos of much of alternative culture, from music to film.
  • Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield offered $300,000 to Occupy Wall Street. Linnea Palmer Paton's response was “Right now we have a system where the wealthy design, create, build and have control over what happens. And I think it’s very important that the wealthy do not have that power.” Read more.
  • This sometimes poignantly comes into play during end-of-life care in hospitals. People have been known to beg, plead, and offer large sums of cash to hospital workers if they will save them or their dying relative, not completely realizing that when a doctor says "There's nothing that can be done" it literally means just that. Even more tragically is the steady parade of really sleazy people (spiritualists, faith healers, unethical medical providers) who will gladly take as much money as you are willing to give to offer up some false hope or reassurances. This is usually especially true with people who have been very wealthy for their entire lives; if all your life you have never been denied anything, it can be hard to comprehend that there is something in life that money just can't buy.
  • This Ugandan [dead link] doctor grew up as and orphan, which gave him the knowledge about the plate his patients face. As a result, he decided to follow the Hippocratic Oath regardless of what his patients are able to afford. Fundamentally, when it comes to healthcare and poor, for some: Screw the Money, Doctors Have Rules.
  • This Minnesota man, who works at a Dairy Queen, refused to take the payment from a customer after he caught her pocketing a 20 dollar bill that a blind customer accidently dropped. He gave the would-be thief a choice: give the blind man his money back or leave. When the woman still refused, the employee gave a portion of his money to the blind man.
  • The Protestant Reformation was formed after Martin Luther learned about the system allowing the rich to pay a fee for their sins, sparing their souls to eternal damnation. He felt the practice was a disgrace to the church, and Luther later protested with his 95 Theses and the rest was history.
    • Which led to simony, or the practice of accepting money to perform sacraments, eventually being declared heretical by the Catholic Church.
  • Rapper 50 Cent claimed in an interview that he was offered $500,000 to campaign for him in hopes of gaining African-American votes. "They wanted to pay me $500,000 as part of the campaign to just make an appearance. I was like: ‘Nah that’s not good money. I’m not going to do that. That’s not worth it.’” Watch the whole interview here.

There are some people money can't buy. For everyone else, there's Tropercard. ...Wait, let me try that again...

  1. (which as far as we know, are not pornographic or scandalous in any way)