• Good Samaritan;
  • morality;
  • social change;
  • the individual

Modernization often involves changes in behaviour norms, values, and moral reasoning; China is by no means an exception. The present study focuses on a rare type of extreme immoral cases in which the Good Samaritan is extorted by the very person being helped. A particular effort is made to unpack why most extortionists of the Good Samaritan are elderly people. Despite its rare occurrence, cases of extorting Good Samaritans have seriously negative impacts on social trust, compassion, and the principle of reciprocity. Yet, a close analysis of the cases and public opinions reveals the complexity of the seemingly straight immoral behaviour, especially the tension between two moral systems and the challenge of dealing with strangers, which in turn reflect the changing moral landscape in contemporary Chinese society.