The Con

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Con plot reveals the anatomy of a confidence scheme, usually from the criminal perspective. Less action-oriented than The Caper; while having some action, the main focus is on how The Mark becomes the victim of his own desires.

May contain an A-Team Montage or Avengers Assemble sequence. Commonly uses a Big Store setting at some point. See The Tale and Short Con for descriptions of particular schemes, which may be a Plot Tailored to the Party.

The book The Big Con, by David Maurer, is recommended to the casual reader. An anthropological study of the Con Man circa 1935-1940, it served as partial inspiration for the original Mission: Impossible TV series.

See also Impossible Mission, The Infiltration, One Born Every Minute. While usually a standard of The Caper, occasionally there will be a Caper Crew running or utilizing The Con.

Components of The Con:

Examples of The Con include:



Live Action TV

  • Mission: Impossible is, of course, the Trope Codifier.
  • Hustle is an entire series of this.
    • Followed up by The Real Hustle, a "consumer" show detailing what to look out for and how to avoid falling for The Con.
  • Leverage, the Trans-Atlantic Equivalent of Hustle follows the same general idea, although they do The Caper fairly often. They are also generally using their powers for good and usually don't keep the money they steal.
  • FX the Series was similar, about a special effects crew tricking criminals into situations where they revealed information about their crimes.
  • Hawaii Five 0 features one episode where a gang of criminals pulls a |Mission Impossible-style con on a businessman by imitating members of the main cast and having the required perfect replica of the real office in an abandoned building.
  • Several Sawyer-centric episodes of Lost, especially "The Long Con."
  • MacGyver episode "Jenny's Chance'".
  • Shawn Spencer is a con man extraordinare. Fortunately, he only uses his powers for good. And the occasional pick-up line.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael Westen often gets something he needs out of criminals by pretending to be someone they would associate with for a full episode. In other words, he runs The Con...For Justice!
  • Several episodes of The Rockford Files involve elaborate cons to recover stolen money or avenge a wrong.
  • This (and being a Gentleman Thief) was Neal Caffrey's MO before Peter Burke caught him. Since then, he's often run The Con on criminals for the FBI. Burke himself gets in on the act sometimes.
  • In the episode Mail Call of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye and Trapper trick Frank Burns to invest in the non-existing company Pioneer Aviation.


  • Many episodes of The Lives of Harry Lime.
  • From the opposite side, several episodes of Dragnet—most episodes where Friday and his partner are in the Bunco department that don't involve forgery involve cons.