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Fat Tony: Gentlemen, we must determine which of our fellow inmates has become the rodentis incarcenarium.

Louie: You heard the boss. Find the rat.

Johnny Tightlips: I found the rat and he's right here.

Frankie the Squealer: I ain't the rat! I'm the pigeon!

Legs: I thought you was The Mole.

Johnny Tightlips: No, you're thinking of that guy who was the canary. But we can all agree. We work in a business with a very rich lexicon.

Mobsters: Rich lexicon. Yes, very rich.
The Simpsons, "The Seven-Beer Snitch"

This is the character in Cop Shows, Detective Dramas, and Espionage Thrillers that everyone despises. Even the cops who make use of his services hate him. He is beneath the level of more dignified, "honest" crooks. He is a low level version of the Knowledge Broker; perhaps even the minion of one. But where a Knowledge Broker is high status and has an arbitrarily greater reputation, this character is just a stoolie. (This difference is sort of like the difference between a courtesan and a street-walker... they are both prostitutes, but one is considered "high class".)

The Informant lives in a miserable fashion selling information. But he is needed so he is tolerated. Sometimes a sort of patronizing affection is granted him. In such a case he is likely to be a Lovable Coward as well as a Lovable Traitor . Probably there are those who will not find him lovable...

A subtrope of Knowledge Broker. Mysterious Informant is a Sister Trope to, and The Stool Pigeon is a Sub-Trope of, The Informant.

Not to be confused with 2009 Matt Damon film The Informant!, which is actually about a Stool Pigeon, kind of.


Examples


Comic Books


Film

  • Juan Martinez in Running Scared. He's a second generation stoolie.
  • The informant in The French Connection is portrayed more seemingly realistically than the norm described in the trope description at the top of this page, perhaps because the film is based somewhat closely on a true story.
  • Clarence Darlington in Lakeview Terrace is a small time drug dealer and Dirty Cop Abel Turner's informant.
  • In Guy Ritchie movie Rock N Rolla, the London underworld is puzzled by he identity of an informant whose testimony has been putting away multiple well connected gangsters. At the very end f the film it's revealed to be The Don himself, Lenny. Lenny's men quickly and ruthlessly turn on him, especially since some of them, including The Dragon have gone to prison based on that testimony.


Literature

  • Nick the Nose from Donald Sobel's Two Minute Mysteries series.
  • David in China Mieville's Perdido Street Station sells out Isaac to the militia as part of his work as a paid informant.
  • In Discworld, Lord Vetinari gets intel from the city's beggars, mostly by way of unfounded rumors that he pays for information. And the City Watch under Commander Vimes gets information from similar sources, as well as some of the pettier of petty criminals, who have an almost jocular relationship with the lawmen.


Live Action TV

  • In Miami Vice, Crockett and Tubbs regularly called upon Izzy "The Snitch" Moreno and Neville "Noogie" Lamont to get information on whatever big plot was going down. The two cops treated the latter like some unpleasant form of fungus, while the former was treated like a favored pet.
  • In Plain Sight, by its very nature, often deals with Informants who are now on the run from their former employers.
  • While very few of the Informants were ever actually shown, the detectives on Law and Order often had regular informants they relied on. Detective Rey Curtis often referred to an entire network of confidential informants he had from his days as a vice cop.
  • In the episode of Fantasy Island with the two old actors who used to star in a cop show together, their characters had an informant they used to rough up when they wanted information. When they get stuck in a real-life version of the show, the informant shows up with a massive grudge against them for the way they used to treat him.
  • Alexei in JAG a Lovable Rogue that works for "the highest bidder", but develops a crush on Mac(doesn't everyone?}.
  • Merl from Angel.
  • Bubbles was a frequent informant on The Wire.


Music


Video Games

  • Ziggy in the adventure game TheDagger of Amon Rah. Unfortunately, his dangerous career got the better of him in the end.
  • Ugarte in Quest for Glory II and V.
  • The second Time Splitters game has a Prohibition-Era level where you have to protect a snitch.
  • The Cohdopian embassy in Ace Attorney has a slight problem with their employees wanting to snitch and then winding up dead.


Western Animation

  • Aaahh Real Monsters: Zimbo, see The Stool Pigeon.
  • In the Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island", Race Bannon's "old friend" Jade questions an unnamed informant, who pulls the old "more money might help me remember" trick until Jade gets tired of him and pulls a gun.
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