Spelunky Wiki

Shopkeepers are extremely intolerant old men who own the various shops that can be found in the dungeon.

The Spelunker can buy various items from them, provided they have enough money. If you're feeling brave, it is also possible to rob a shop by either murdering the shopkeeper or by simply snatching the items and running out of the front door, although a successful heist is difficult to pull off.
Shopkeepers are merciless enemies and have zero tolerance for provocation. Every shopkeeper carries a shotgun, and will not hesitate to use it as soon as you put a foot wrong in their store.

If disarmed, they can pick up a shotgun off the floor or right out of the Spelunker's hands. They cannot be killed by a Man-Eating Plant. In fact, if a man-eating plant eats a dead shopkeeper, the shopkeeper will emerge alive.

Shopkeepers go by many different names, including: Akhmed, Ali, Andy, Bob, Brom, Dong, Duke, Earl, Elbert, Guert, Hamish, Herbie, Ivan, Jimbo, Kao, Lemmy, Lou, Ollie, Pancho, Rudy, Slash, Smithy, Spoony, Tarn, Terry, Tony, Tor, Wang, and Willy.

Unarmed aggro Shopkeepers are also the main enemy in the Stars Room.

Short-term consequences of raiding a shop

Harmless, elderly peddler of honest wares...

Shopkeepers run fast, jump high, and will kill you instantly with their shotgun blasts. They will attempt to kill you if any of the following happen:

  • You light a bomb in their shop (or bring a lit bomb in). However, shooting a bomb arrow into a shop will not anger the shopkeeper, until he's dead.
  • A boulder from an Idol trap rolls into their shop, destroying any of the blocks considered to be part of the shop.
  • You hit them with any item. This includes maidens, idols, and merchandise.
  • You hit them with any weapon. Your whip will NOT harm them, (same as a Yeti) but will provoke them.
  • They break out of the jaws of a man-eating plant.
  • You use any item from their shop before paying for it (even if you don't leave the store).
  • The walls or floor of their shop are destroyed by a bomb or mattock (digging tool). This includes the two tiles directly behind the shopkeeper.
  • You grab an object in the shop and run out with it or throw it outside the shop without paying.
  • You trap them in the back corner of their shop with a movable block.
  • (Kissing Booths only) You hit the damsel inside the shop with your whip or any other weapon.
  • (Kissing Booths only) You pick up the damsel inside the shop and throw her outside the shop, or put her down and she runs out.
  • (Kissing Booths only) The damsel is thrown out of the shop by a monkey.
  • (Dice House only) You throw a die outside the shop (even after betting).
  • (Dice House only) You hit the shopkeeper with a die while throwing it.
  • (Dice House only) You throw the same die twice in one bet.
  • (Dice House only) You pick up a dice and run.

Shopkeeper AI

The following is a description of the Shopkeeper AI written by Derek Yu himself. It can be found on page 52 of his book Spelunky:

  • Every now and then, turn toward the player.
  • Every now and then, fire my shotgun at the player if they are close enough and I have the shotgun.
  • If the player is below me, and not too far away from me horizontally, do nothing.
  • Otherwise, if there’s an obstacle directly in front of me, jump.
  • Otherwise, if the player is above me, jump.

Long-term consequences of raiding a shop

...Boomstick-wielding avatar of rough frontier justice.

There are two separate things that the game keeps track of:

  • Whether you've ever murdered a shopkeeper during this game[1]
After you've killed a shopkeeper, all shopkeepers within shops will have aggro, for the rest of the game.
  • What your "wanted level" is[2] (akin to Grand Theft Auto and other games)
If you're wanted when a new game level is randomly generated, then an extra angry shopkeeper spawns near the exit of that level.
Your "wanted level" goes up by two or three points when you do something to that makes a shopkeeper shout at you (three points if you're already wanted, two points if you're not already wanted).[3] Actions that make a shopkeeper shout at you include most of the items listed above, but does not include attacking them directly. This is not a bug - it prevents your wanted level rising due to killing shopkeepers waiting at the exit of a level.
Your "wanted level" decreases by one for each game level that you finish.

Methods of killing shopkeepers

  • Bombs, either sticky or unsticky, will instantly kill shopkeepers. More bomb-related strategy tips are below.
  • Boulder will crush them. (Note that the frozen region may allow a shopkeeper to survive an offscreen collision with a boulder.)
  • You can crush them with a pushable block.
  • A single shotgun blast from point-blank will kill them.
  • Addendum to above: a trick to get into position that takes skill, but works. Pick up an item; unless it's a gambling den, wait for the shopkeeper to go near you. Either throw the item or attack the shopkeeper and jump at the same time, you should land on him, then take his shotgun and blast him. If timed correctly you should have him dead.
  • The Webcannon immobilizes them, allowing you to kill them by jumping repeatedly on them.
  • You can accumulate bullets in the frozen region to hit them enough to kill at the edge of the screen, if you have a pistol or shotgun and a clear path to hit them without them being loaded by the game.
  • Moving a dead Bomb frog, or shooting a bomb arrow into a shop is not considered a terrorist activity, and is a relatively safe method of bombing a shopkeeper. Be careful to avoid the explosion.
  • Like anything else, shopkeepers will die instantly if they fall on spikes or in lava .
  • In area 3, any actively moving shopkeeper is likely to plummet to his doom.
  • The teleporter is a risky way to instantly kill the shopkeeper. If successful, the shopkeeper and his shotgun will disappear, and your "wanted level" will be unchanged.
    • In fact, a teleporter used correctly is by far the safest way to kill a shopkeeper. Go into the shopkeeper's store, pick up an item and draw the shopkeeper into the middle of his shop. Go to one side, positioned so that if you teleport past the shopkeeper you won't be killed. Teleport horizontally towards the shopkeeper. If you fail, return to where you started. Repeat until he dies. If a shopkeeper has a teleporter, I will frequently buy it (so I don't trigger aggro when leaving the store with it) and kill him with it. This strategy is excellent for robbing the Black Market level. Note: This will not work for gambling shops or the Ankh store.
  • A nearby ceiling trap in area 4 can be lured in to crush them.
  • Buy a pistol, then walk to the edge of the shop, and shoot him five times. Pick up his shotgun. You bought a shotgun for the price of a pistol and your reputation.
    • The pistol need not be purchased first. You can fire it without buying it.
  • One of the safest ways to rob a shop (unless it's a gambling den) is to grab one item, move yourself to the last block of the shop (the doorway), jump, and throw the item while still in midair (around the climax of your jump). Make sure you have room to jump before attempting this step. The shopkeeper will run to kill you...and get stomped by you when you land while he runs by. Quickly grab his shotgun, and blast the shopkeeper in the face. He dies, while you can reap the rewards of the shop. This method is foolproof, unless you throw the item too soon or too late (almost touching the ground), which would still cause the shoppy to kill you. Keep in mind, though, that you are branded as a thief, because of throwing the item out, and that shopkeeper(s) will be waiting for you at the exit of the next few levels.

Killing shopkeepers "on guard"

Assuming you were smart enough to pick up his shotgun after killing the shopkeeper, an easy way to kill shopkeepers "on guard" (shopkeepers waiting for you in their shops) is to simply stand outside their doorway and shoot them repeatedly until they die. You could even stand in their doorway and they still wouldn't notice you, although it is risky as they could step a bit closer to you on accident, thus detecting you and shooting you in the face. Note: This will not work for gambling dens, but, if you have a shotgun, it should work for kissing parlors (unless you're really unlucky). (It will result in the death of the damsel, though.)

Stealing without raising your wanted level

This method is considered bug exploitation to some; others think it's a valid tactic.

  • Acquire a skull, pot, or pistol. (Other methods of injuring the shopkeeper can work, but these methods insure that he drops his gun and is not instantly killed.)
  • Move the shopkeeper's items out of the way, to the back of his shop (where the shopkeeper spawns). Be careful not to accidentally throw them at the shopkeeper.
  • Shoot your projectile of choice at the shopkeeper, causing him to bounce into the air and drop his shotgun.
  • Grab the shotgun and run in the opposite direction.
  • Run in the opposite direction, ideally leaving the shopkeeper somewhere he can harmlessly rest in the frozen region.
  • Don't shoot the shopkeeper unless your life depends on it.
  • Return to the shop and collect the loot.

No official "crimes" have been committed against the shopkeeper in this scenario, so no further shopkeepers will be waiting at later exits. Once the shopkeeper abandons his shop, his items become public domain.

If the shopkeeper eventually dies, whether you are directly responsible or not, the death will trigger shopkeeper hatred for the remainder of your game. Alternately, you can push a movable block into their store, just far enough to trap and anger them, then grab the loot. The probability of this even being doable is incredibly low, but if it's possible, it's infallible-- unless you push it too far, in which case they'll shoot through the block and kill you!

Alternatively, one can simply whip jump the shop keeper and time it so that you land on its head, though this may require practice. Make sure you grab his shotgun immediately afterwards!

Ye Old Whip Robbery in Action

Bomb Strategy

Strategically placed sticky bombs can sometimes kill a shopkeeper chasing you. A thin shop floor might allow a sticky bomb to work effectively from beneath the shop. Sticky Bombs will not aggro the shopkeeper until they explode, whereas normal bombs will do 1 damage if they bounce into the shopkeeper before exploding; this might cause the shopkeeper to spring dangerously to action.

Throwing non-sticky bombs from just outside the shop a few moments before the bomb explodes is also an excellent way to raid a shop with just your basic equipment. If timed correctly, the explosion will occur roughly in the center of the shop, which the shop keeper will run into. To survive this attack though, it is critical to jump moments after throwing the bomb, to avoid the incoming shotgun blast. This method requires some practice, but is extremely reliable and safe.

A riskier but faster method to kill a non-hostile shopkeeper with only a bomb is to empty your hands, lure the shopkeeper to a place where you can jump on him, then jump and toss a bomb just before you land on top of him. Since jumping on a shopkeeper makes them drop their shotgun, this will give you a very brief window to grab it and blast the shopkeeper before they can recover. Just make sure to get away from the bomb blast, and it's usually wise to shoot the shopkeeper a few extra times just to make sure.

Non-sticky bombs can also be very useful tool for safely dealing with the shopkeepers that spawn in the end of levels. Sticky bombs may also be useful, as if you can hit them with one it will be permanently stuck to them, thus allowing you to run away, then the bomb will explode safely.

Another strategy to note is using the Bomb Arrow from the Bow to insta-kill the shopkeeper. If you stand outside of the shop, charge your bow to max, and fire a bomb arrow, the shopkeeper will be enraged that you have put a lit bomb into his shop, and will run towards you...and the bomb flying towards him. Before he even gets off his original tile, the bomb arrow will hit him, and will explode, killing him. This method is fairly safe, and the bomb arrow combo does not use a bomb in your inventory (possible bug?).

If you have a webcannon, you could, instead, fire a web just inside the entrance to the shop, throw a bomb into the web, and get to safe ground. (2 squares above or below the shopkeeper should do.) The web will trap the shoppy with the bomb. This method makes it less likely for the shoppy to become enraged if something goes wrong, but leaves you at greater risk from the bullets.

Other tips

Hostile shopkeepers are either alert to your presence, or waiting for you to show up. When not alert, shopkeepers will inch back and forth with their shotgun ready. It seems that when you are closer to a non-alert shopkeeper, he will inch slowly in your direction. Nearby explosion of bombs, weapons fire, or close proximity to the player will cause them to become alert. If you can dispatch shopkeepers without making them alert, the danger in doing so is significantly less.

When alert, shopkeepers do not stop moving. They will jump as best they can to reach you and they will fire their shotguns when the player is in a acceptable line-of-fire.

Hostile, alert shopkeepers seem very unpredictable which can make them a challenge to fight. Be aware of when they fire their shotgun. It operates the same as when you fire a shotgun, so there is a short delay before he can fire again. Use this to your advantage.

When a shopkeeper jumps, he will continue a predictable trajectory. Use this to estimate where he will land. This will allow you to escape more easily, or place a well-timed jump on his head.

Getting a lucky jump on them will disarm them for a moment, allowing you to grab their shotgun and finish them off.

Be careful when attempting to jump on shopkeepers' heads, as if you don't land directly on him, he will throw you. This often leads to the player being stunned and then subsequently shotgunned by the shopkeeper.

Should a shopkeeper happen to throw right into a wall, sometimes you will get "crushed" in the wall and die. Other times, you will take 1 heart of damage, but still be partially stuck in the wall, making in look like you are walking into said wall. However, you are still unable to move into the wall further

Shopkeepers stuck in webs cannot move or jump, but can still turn around to fire behind them: Don't think it's safe to approach them from behind!

Killing a shopkeeper before the Black Market will prevent you from buying the Ankh, which is a critical item for reaching the City of Gold : but if you can survive the seven shopkeepers that appear in the level, you can get an enormous stock of items that may be worth the risk.

There's a relatively easy way to rob a store on Area 2, and even steal the shopkeeper's shotgun, without angering the shopkeeper or raising your wanted level. Stun a Man-eating Plant, take it up and bring it in the shop. There, drop it on the ground facing the shopkeeper, and get out of the shop. Wait for the shopkeeper to get eaten, he will drop his shotgun. Quickly reap all the loot and get out of the shop. The shopkeeper will still run after you if you stay close, but not get angry. He possibly just want to take his shotgun back. The plant needs to have at least 2HP for this to work, or it dies while swallowing the shopkeeper. On the next level, no shopkeeper will be angry at you. Be careful not to hit the shopkeeper with the stunned Man-eating Plant though, which would of course anger him.

The Man-eating Plant trick has an odd consequence in the Black Market; when the plant first swallows the shopkeeper, *all* of the for-sale items that are not in the Frozen Area will lose their "for-sale" state - they will no longer have dollar signs over them, and you may pick them up without the remaining shopkeepers demanding money or reacting at all. Note that if any of the for-sale items are in the Frozen Area, they will remain "for-sale". The non-frozen area around the screen is just large enough to cover every shop in the Black Market, so if you can stand in the middle of the level when a plant eats a shopkeeper, you could loot the entire Market and get away scot free, so long as you keep the swallowed shopkeeper away from his shotgun. Do not EVER let a shopkeeper run wild in the black market, as this could cause the shopkeeper to accidentaly shoot another shopkeeper,therefore making that one enraged, therefore letting him run loose in the market, therefore making him accidentaly shoot ANOTHER shopkeeper, making him go wild, etc. etc.

It is wise not to try and steal on a dark level (although it is rare), because if you let him loose (i.e. you bomb his floor and he jumps out), he can easily jump out of nowhere and shoot you right before you leave.