Cold-Blooded Torture

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Xkcd 633 - blockbuster mining - they said if I were captured I should take my own life - but I would just as soon take yours 2185.png

"If you were not my father, O ever-living Tisroc", said Rabadash, grinding his teeth, "I should say that was the word of a coward."

"And if you were not my son, O most inflammable Rabadash", replied his father, "your life would be short and your death slow when you had said it."

Torture. Sure, some characters gloat until their victims are rescued. But some gloat and torture at once. And others just get to doing it.

Often shown only by implication, or in its aftereffects (which can be nasty even if the victim survives), for obvious reasons, but a conveniently horrific way to show someone for a Complete Monster.

In ascending order of reason nastiness, the typical reasons: for information, for punishment, and for pleasure. The punishment may, indeed, be for another character to have to watch or see the results. But others are possible. A Mad Scientist may torture to learn about the victim. Human Sacrifice may call for a particular and gruesome death, and if mere death is too good for some criminal (or alleged criminal), he may be tortured to death. If the person wants to break the victim, this may be a way to force him to say that Two Plus Torture Makes Five, or somehow get the the victim to join them.

May be a Fate Worse Than Death, calling for a Mercy Kill or I Cannot Self-Terminate when the hero comes upon the victim—the victim is likely to plead for death even if the hero can save him, but the hero is (obviously) prone to override the plea and drag him out of there, if he can. Recovery is likely to be improbably complete.

Note that torturing someone to death, while plenty bad on its own, is sometimes the less gruesome fate. Torturers who deliberately keep their victims alive as long as possible are particularly horrific.

Though they have competition from those who are sent to kill and do not do so cleanly.

Heroes torture, sometimes, when they are in a great rush and dire need, and there, the effects tend to be rather unrealistic; in Real Life, torture leaves physical scars and mental trauma, and tends to have poor results in terms of getting reliable and accurate information. If the bad guys don't like getting their hands dirty, they are likely to employ a Torture Technician or Robotic Torture Device to do this for them.

One motive for Better to Die Than Be Killed is to avoid this.

Compare No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. A "light" sci-fi and fantasy equivalent is the Agony Beam. Except when it's not. Sometimes, however, it's not so bad.

See also Electric Torture, Mind Rape, Room 101 and We Have Ways of Making You Talk

No real life examples, please; All The Tropes is not intended to be a place that squicks its readers. Also, too much of a chance of flamebait.


Examples of Cold-Blooded Torture include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Used in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. It cemented the fact that the character performing it was a Complete Monster and it wasn't pretty.
    • Ironically, the arc that actually showed the torture made the character performing it far more sympathetic with a well-done Start of Darkness showing how, basically, the universe hates her. Shinji Ikari has nothing on Shion Sonozaki.
      • Wait, Shion? I thought we were talking about Miyo!
        • Really, they both count, but the former was first and the torture itself was arguably nastier. The latter shot people and had a Gory Discretion Shot killing that was already shown in graphic detail about five times beforehand, whereas the former psychologically tortured her twin sister, along with stabbing Satoko about thirty times before finally killing her.
    • Talking about Miyo, what about the people at the orphanage? The anime censored it, the manga on the other hand..
  • This trope occurs in Elfen Lied quite often, whether it's from the Ax Crazy diclonius or the clearly more inhuman humans.
  • While just about every DragonBall Z villain is cruel and sadistic, Frieza takes the cake when it comes to being the worst, goring Krillin (and then flailing his limp body around to cause him even more pain) and brutally strangling and beating Vegeta before he kills him.
  • Berserk's villains, being Complete Monsters in a Dung Ages medievalesque Crapsack World, do this a lot, and it gets nasty. Griffith in particular suffers a nasty year-long torture as punishment for having sex with the King's daughter, and Bishop Mozgus crosses the Moral Event Horizon when he has some refugees put through this. Let's not even get into what Emperor Ganishka gets up to.
    • Or what Griffith himself does to the Band of the Hawk.
      • Especially what he does to Casca. Not only does he rape her right in front of the man she loves (which is traumatic enough already), but because she has the Brand of Sacrifice and is as close as anyone can possibly get to a member of the Godhand (which is closer than Guts himself was able to get to him in the Guardians of Desire arc because of the pain his own Brand was causing him), she is in utterly excruciating agony all the while he's doing this to her. And it's made all the worse by the effect of this horrible act on Guts himself, who is pinned down and completely at his mercy, a situation that is all too familiar to his first traumatic experience, which he's only told Casca about -- and the possibility that Griffith may have gleaned this from either or both of them with his newfound powers as a Godhand and is deliberately using this to torture them both.
    • But you can't forget about Guts himself. After being broken and turned into a near-soulless husk of pure rage by the horrible events of the Eclipse, he starts sending the pain right back. Knowing that what would definitely kill normal humans only hurts the Apostles, he pulls absolutely no punches. Particularly, the Baron, whom he riddles with crossbow bolts after rendering him crippled and helpless, and the Count, whom he stabs dozens of times in the face until his knife breaks off.

Guts: Amazing! No wonder you're higher than us humans -- you don't know how to fucking die!

  • In Deadman Wonderland, Genkaku does this to Nagi to try to get him to revert back to being Ax Crazy and so that he'll join the Undertakers. It's shown to have been done mostly in the form of drugs and Mind Rape.
  • In the first episode of Samurai Champloo, Mugen and Jin are captured by a corrupt magistrate who has them tortured with various methods over a period of several hours for their (at best very indirect) responsibility for his equally nasty son's death.
    • A later episode has a government agent captured by criminals and tortured for an extended period, but essentially tells his captors nothing.
  • Any Malomyotismon joke you have becomes a Funny Aneurysm Moment when you hear what he said when the dubbers weren't in control. He was not asking Arukenimon if she was afraid, he asked her if the torture hurt, and he pledged to give her a "million years of Hell." He then said very calmly how he would "evaporate that pitiful love Mummymon felt." Evaporation followed. He then declares he will crucify the Digidestined upon the same cross as his minions. Yikes. According to this version, the children were not yelling jobs, but expelling darkness from them. There was a reason this version has never been given to American kids.
  • Uchiha Itachi from Naruto has a power that serves as one of these. Tsukiyomi may appear to be a second-long Mind Rape to those outside, but those experiencing it they're suffering a near-eternity of endless physical and emotional torture. It's enough to leave them catatonic and Itachi doesn't even try to extract information with it; he just wants them out of the way.
    • Jasshinism encourages its priests to drag out the suffering of their victims as long as possible before killing them. Experiencing the pain of his dying victim has an almost narcotic effect on Hidan; only when extremely angered or pressed for time will he make their deaths clean.
  • In Nightmare Inspector, Chitose who is now the current Hiruko the Baku, was tortured for much of his backstory, for the entertainment of a mysterious group of people.
  • Poor, poor Czeslaw Meyer. No wonder the kid's a little paranoid; he's gone through probably the single worst example of Who Wants to Live Forever? this side of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.
  • Now and Then, Here and There...just, NATHAT. Abelia doing so to Shu is notable in that she's an adult and he's a young boy. You don't see that in media everyday.
  • Blade of the Immortal has Hyakurin's torture which included being beaten, stabbed, poked with red-hot spikes, having her fingernails ripped off and her arm broken and being raped almost continuously for up to several days. She later learns that she is pregnant and she doesn't even know which of her attackers was the father.
  • Bleach: In his released form, Szayel has the ability to create a small voodoo doll that has his enemy's likeness. Any damage done to the dolls' internal organs, accessed by taking the doll apart (which doesn't happen to the original) removing the organs and then crushing them, is done to the original, debilitating them from the inside. The doll's exterior has some effect on the victim as well, as seen when Ishida felt Szayel scratch and flick his doll's face. Szayel uses the voodoo dolls to sadistically torture Ishida and Renji. He tries to do the same to Mayuri who fakes that he's in pain, having replaced his organs with dummies before encountering Szayel.
  • In Sakura Gari Katsuragi tortures Masataka because he's Yandere for Souma who is in love with Masataka. He does so by drugging Masataka after inviting him to his house for tea, tying him up, and then raping him. He follows that by whipping him, beating him up, and sticking a household object up Masataka's anus right after raping him. He then orders Masataka to give up on Souma and submerges his hand in boiling hot tea and Masataka retaliates by throwing the tea in Katsuragi's eyes, which allows him to escape.
    • Also, almost every lover of either sex Souma takes in the Saiki household has been through this at the hands of Sakurako, his Yandere sister. Who not only tortures them, but also takes pictures of it for her amusement. The most notorious victims are Masataka (whom she ties up and feeds forcefully, while telling him to go away), Terashima (whose drawing hand she crushes, right before tossing him down a flight of stairs), and a young and pretty maid whom she got Bound and Gagged and savagely beat up, causing her to lose Souma's baby that she was pregnant with.)
  • Ashley does this to Shusei in episode 10 of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru via sticking long thin needles in a Voodoo Doll of Shusei which makes Shusei bleed and scream in agony.
  • Oto x Maho features Kanata breaking Jou's arm, just to confiscate some pictures. Based on the class's reaction to the torture, Kanata performing this kind of torture is quite common.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In "Kick-Ass" Dave is tortured through testicular elecrocution, which means that they connected his balls to a car battery, mainly for Red Mist's pleasure, because he knew dave knew nothing.
  • The Crime Doctor in The DCU Infinite Crisis miniseries Villains United.
  • Chang Tzu in The DCU Outsiders tortured Captain Boomerang to force him to move at superspeed and let him get a reading (leaving him unable to stand) and started to vivisect the Black Queen (without, needless to say, anesthesia.)
  • Even Ray Palmer (Yes, The Atom) gets in on the action in Cry for Justice. See the quote in that page for the details of how he tortured one villain.
  • The Punisher commonly uses this to extract information he needs, though he recognizes that it doesn't always take. He also tries not to drag it out, since he prefers his revenge cold.
    • One memorable storyline has Frank fighting European sex slavers. The evil they deal in makes him snap, with one book beginning with him reading up on human anatomy and ending with one of the ringleaders being left to talk or die, as his intestines are hanging above looped around a tree.
  • Batman villain Roman Sionis - better known as Black Mask. It seems to be his hobby.
  • The Reaver Cleaver from Preacher (Comic Book) liked to chop off bits of his victims and send them to loved ones before killing them. His last victim survived, albeit without a face. Or a scrotum.
  • Like in the film mentioned below, V from V for Vendetta starves and tortures his sidekick Evey for an indeterminate amount of time in order to 'free' her, even if it meant driving her insane. It would be quite the What the Hell, Hero? moment if V were meant to be a hero in the comic.
  • "I love hit men. No matter what you do to them, you don't feel bad. Fact is, the worse you do, the better it gets."
    • "And when his eyes go dead, the hell I send him to must seem like heaven after what I've done to him."
    • Hell, what about what Marv does to Kevin? Okay, Kevin was a cannibalistic serial killer, but still... brrr. Becomes A Fate Worse Than Death.
      • For most people, yes, but it didn't seem to bother Kevin much. He never screamed, just stared at Marv the whole time.
    • Cardinal Roark might have gotten it worse than Kevin, we don't know for sure what happened, but judging from Marv's narration he had the most "fun" with him.

Marv: Keven was damn frustrating but Roark's a pure joy. ... I stare the bastard in the face and I laugh as he screams to God for mercy and I laugh harder when he squeals like a stuck pig and when he whimpers like a baby I'm laughing so hard I cry. He spurts and gurgles and life is good.

    • Marv also tortures and dismembers a cop, partially for information but mainly to avenge Lucille.
  • An unspeakably horrible example occurs in A History of Violence. Tom, the main character, robbed a murdered a group of New York gangsters when they were teenagers, partly as payback for the murder of the friend's brother. The friend is found out later, though, and we see him in a room with a hitman holding a hatchet. Tom has to make a run for it and change his name. Twenty years later, they catch up to him...and he learns that his friend is still alive. When you see what he looks like, you'll wish you hadn't.
    • In a subversion of standard hero practice, when the friend begs for a Mercy Kill from Tom, he complies.
  • Dick Grayson inflicts horrible torture and mutilation on Carrie in the finale of The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
  • Hilariously subverted in Asterix: in the first tome, the Romans tie Getafix to a table and tickle his foot for hours, and Getafix doesn't even break a laugh. Later, they threaten to torture Asterix to force Getafix to prepare his magical potion: both Asterix and Getafix say that there is no way they are going to do it, but as soon as he starts to be tied to the table, Asterix starts to ask for mercy and Getafix decides to do what the Romans say. Of course, this is all a way for the Gauls to play the Romans like fools.
  • It seems that to be a practitioner of The Dark Side in the Star Wars universe, you have to love torture. (Indeed, according to at least one RPG sourcebook, to become a Sith Lord you had to have endured unimaginable pains.) Palpatine, Count Dooku, Aleema and Satal Keto, and Asajj Ventress are some of the most sadistic examples. Sometimes it was done for information, sometimes for punishment, and often for pleasure.
  • The Red Skull from the Marvel Universe loves torturing people. His second-in-command Crossbones probably enjoys torturing people even more.
  • Batman regularly walks into Arkham Asylum and breaks peoples' bones; not because they know something, oh no, because they might know something. (Depending on the Writer. As always in comics.)


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • A fanfiction where the entire premise is Bakura The Thief King torturing Seth (the ancient version of Seto Kaiba in the hopes of getting the Pharaoh to give him the Millennium Items in exchange for his safe return. Failing that, he continues to torture Seth just because he's a psychopath and considers it fun.
  • Time and Again, one of the most popular Naruto fics out there (almost 4000 reviews at time of writing) ends with Naruto being captured by Orochimaru, who is convinced Naruto deliberately went back in time and accidentally took Orochimaru. The sequel picks up where Time and Again left off and starts by covering Naruto's two years of torture and starvation as Orochimaru tries to learn how Naruto did it, when it was a complete accident.
  • Kara Fang
  • The notorious Agony in Pink... and yes, its sequels.
  • Operation: There Is No Operation introduces Operative Numbuh V8, the Kids Next Door Organization's Interrogation and Vegeatology specialist, whose calm, scientific approach to force-feeding people with veggies utterly creeps out his fellow operatives.

"Impatient this time, sir? Usually I get at least a couple days. We haven't even gotten through the steamed stage yet."

  • The Firefly fanfic Forward has this happening twice in the first "episode" - to River and Jayne when they are captured by Niska, and by Mal and Zoe to one of Niska's mooks, in order to find where Niska took River and Jayne.
  • Dumbledores Army and The Year of Darkness features this—on characters as young as eleven years old. Darker and Edgier, in spades.
    • Note that this actually happened in canon. (Offscreen, though; the fic takes place at the same time as book seven, but follows different characters.)
  • One of the loyal mooks serving the Villain Protagonist in the Mass Effect fanfic The Council Era is subjected to this by the Manaban Emperor, a vicious religious zealot who seeks to kill the Villain Protagonist for his destroying of a site that is sacred to the manaba.
  • In the infamous Kimagure Orange Road Revenge Fic Revenge Road, Hikaru, after killing Madoka, stabs Kyosuke in the throat so that he can do nothing but feel pain, then slices him to pieces while telling him all her grievances with each slash.
  • Cupcakes. The whole plot of the story is that Pinkie Pie tortures Rainbow Dash. And it shows all of it in Graphic detail.
  • The plot of the Dragon's Lair fanfic "Princess Daphne's Ordeal", complete with Foot Focus.
  • At the climax of the first arc of Jewel of Darkness, Midnight captures Robin and attaches him to a harness that apparently injects chemicals of some sort into his body, causing intense pain. The point of this is to mentally break Robin, in order to dissolve the Titans.
  • The Adventures Of Blinky Bill fanfic Scars Are Forever has a Complete Monster OC named Jeromy doing this to Shifty Dingo. It involves chains, matches, a switchblade and Shifty's tail. Do the math.
  • Queen of All Oni: Evil Sorcerer and Smug Snake Lung captures Jade's astral self and tortures her via bright lights, which burn away at the shadows composing her astral form (including making her eye lids dissolve at one point) with the promise that he'll stop if she submits and agrees to serve him... which she refuses to do. So, the torture continues, driving Jade to the brink of insanity, and probably would have killed her if Left and Right hadn't saved her.
  • Revealed in the Twist Ending of the Spyro Madness Saga. At first, we were lead to believe that Ember died after laying the egg that Spyro fathered. The truth, however, is that Ember was kidnapped right after she gave birth. The kidnapper was her father, Terrador, who wanted her to suffer for the crime of being a descendent of Malefor from her mother. Terrador had her locked up for a year and beat her daily to within an inch of her life. When Ember is finally discovered, she's badly scarred with tattered wings and her entire left horn is gone.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Experimenting Fear, the nameless scientist has no problem using Nando, a 10-year-old kid, for an experiment which involves forcing the test subject to face whatever their worst fear is. What happens? Nando's ears are blasted with high-pitched sound frequencies, then his eardrums are shattered by the scientist firing a gun right next to his head.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Act of Valor: CIA agent Lisa Morales is severely tortured, culminating with holes drilled through her hands and feet.
  • The Battle of Algiers.
  • The notorious Guinea Pig film series, released in Japan from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, are nothing but graphic depiction of hardcore torture, often without even the pretense of a story. The most (in)famous one, Flowers Of Flesh And Blood, depicts a woman being slowly dismembered by a psychopath.
  • In The Princess Bride, Westley is subjected to this at one point by Count Rugen, the six-fingered man of Inigo Montoya's past, who considers himself a "scholar of pain."
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark on the captive heroine. She is willing to confess when she sees the instruments, but he wants to torture.
    • Later wryly subverted when Toht has Marion at his mercy again. He whips out an ominous-looking assemblage of rods and chains, she gasps in shock...and he snaps it together to form a coat-hanger, drapes his leather greatcoat on it, and asks her with a polite smile what she knows.
  • In Star Wars, Darth Vader tortures Leia to get information; later, in The Empire Strikes Back, he tortures Han and the other captives to lure Luke to him. (Scream Discretion Shot comes into play.)

"They didn't even ask any questions."

    • In the case of the former, the door shuts before we ever see any of the actual torture. However, the radio adaptation stays with the scene: Vader uses hallucinogenic drugs to make Leia believe she is suffering great pain. While she is physically safe, the emotional and psychologcial effects are played disturbingly straight.
      • The novelization had a line suggesting her screams were loud enough to be heard in the hallway outside.
      • The Novelization of Return of the Jedi made a passing reference to Leia's torture on the first Death Star. Evidently it included "fire knives" and "electrojabbers." Not so harmless, I'd say.
    • And of course, Jabba the Hutt used torture to amuse himself. He even had droids tortured, and put a droid that loved the pain of others as much as he did in charge of it.
      • A droid from a line that had, decades earlier, been given then-illegal interrogator droids' motivators by mistake.
  • In V for Vendetta, the source of V's resilience and strength was the gruesome medical experiments performed on him.
    • Evey gets her courage to go back to "regular" society after she is tortured.
  • Seen in the movie Transsiberian. Kolzak is a thug connected to a Russian drug-dealer, looking for information on one of their smugglers who stole a bunch of drugs and money from them. Near the climax of the film, he tortures the girlfriend of the drug-runner, but she legitimately doesn't know where her boyfriend is. The scene and the after effects are particularly gruesome.
  • Takashi Miike hearts this trope.
  • In Terry Gilliam's Brazil the dark world of the future features white-collar Torture Technicians who have government offices and waiting room and secretaries who transcribe their victims' screams. The major driving force of the plot is when a misidentified man is tortured to death by mistake. In the end the hero is tortured into insanity by the government torture technician, who just so happened to be his best friend.

"It's not my fault Buttle's heart condition didn't show up in Tuttle's file!"

  • Michael Madsen cutting off that cop's ear in Reservoir Dogs.
  • Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction promises to "get medieval" on Zed with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch in revenge for raping him.
  • Bryan Mills in Taken tortures a particularly nasty guy who is part of the slave ring that has his daughter by hammering two long, blunt and rusty nails into his thighs, connecting them to a fusebox and then running current through them by turning on the light. And once he's gotten the info he's gotten from him, he leaves the guy in the room with the light still on. The UK version is better.
  • In Perfume, the captured Villain Protagonist is tortured to extract a confession, and then sentenced to be publicly broken in the process of his execution.
  • In Flash Gordon, Klytus and Kala inflict this on Princess Aura—while her father watches, sipping a cocktail.
  • In The Recruit, there's a scene where Colin Farrell's character, who is training to be a CIA covert agent, is kidnapped along with his Love Interest fellow recruit (or so he believes), and after keeping and beating him for days the torturers approach him with this electric device that makes him completely shit himself—it's the fact that he's portrayed up to this point as a really tough, brave character who won't be broken that makes his reaction so scary. A Scream Discretion Shot follows. What kind of makes this whole scene a Tear Jerker too is that he only breaks when he's told that they have the Love Interest and she's been tortured—they prove this by throwing her pants at him to show she pissed herself in fear for God's sake -- but it turns out that the whole thing is a set-up where the CIA kidnapped him for training purposes and the whole recruit class has been observing him while he's been captive, including the Love Interest.
    • Possibly made worse by the fact that the purpose of the torture was to show the recruits that when captured and tortured, it doesn't matter how strong your will is, or how smart you are, or even what you know: You. Will. Break. It wasn't designed to teach them how to resist torture, it was designed to show them what resistance would get them. And then they're told to resist anyway.
  • Dr. Szell, the twisted Nazi concentration-camp dentist, puts the protagonist of Marathon Man through one of the most nightmarish torture sessions ever filmed. "Is it safe?"
  • In Casino Royale, the Big Bad uses a knotted rope, a bottomless chair, and some very strategic blows to persuade James Bond to reveal some very vital information.
    • Specifically, that he has an itchy scrotum.
    • The opening sequence of Die Another Day counts too. We see Bond repeatedly getting his head shoved into a bucket of ice water, stung with scorpions, and beaten, all for the guards' amusement. When the sequence concludes and the movie begins, the caption tells us that Bond has endured this treatment for over a year.
  • Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth seems a bit too fond of torturing rebels his soldiers capture, to the point at which he describes the "bond" developed between himself and the victim after various instruments (pliers, hammers, knives, etc) are used. He then orders the doctor to heal a captured rebel who was nearly tortured to death. Thankfully the doctor is kind enough to euthanize the poor guy.
  • Closet Land is one long torture session. The film - which was intended to dramatize the real-life fate of many Third-World dissidents - remains the most harrowing movie This Troper has ever seen.
  • The Guns of Navarone
    • The heroes meet a pair of locals, one of whom was held by the Nazis for a while and tortured. She was so traumatized that she refuses to show anyone the scars from the experience. But that's because there are no scars; she broke under just the threat of torture and has been acting as The Mole for the Nazis. After finding out, her close friend kills her with complete lack of emotion in a very disconcerting scene.
    • In the film, an SS officer tortures an injured Major Franklin to try to make the others talk.
  • Law Abiding Citizen has a nice discretion shot for the torture scene, but it's described in a... cringe-worthy way.
    • 'I took his fingers with bolt cutters, his toes with tin snips, his balls with a hacksaw, and his penis with a box cutter. How's that for specifics?'
  • In The Way of the Gun, Parker and Longbaugh torture Obecks the captured bodyguard on a makeshift rack.
  • Gavin Hood's Rendition features a full complement of contemporary methods of "enhanced interrogation techniques" including water-boarding and electricity, performed on a suspected terrorist.
  • Buckaroo Banzai.
    • Lord Whorfin hooks up Buckaroo to the Shock Tower and uses electricity to try to force him to tell Whorfin how to make his Overthruster work.
    • Lord Whorfin's henchmen uses the "smeared with honey and covered with ants" bit on Penny Priddy, then kill her with a poisonous slug.
  • Unthinkable features an interrogator, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who specializes in this sort of "questioning."
  • This is the usual MO of the Convenience Store Killer in Cornered.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Moriarty sticks a hook in Holmes' shoulder, hangs him by it and, after singing along with some Schubert, proceeds to swing Holmes around on it, tugging on him and twisting around the arm to which the violated shoulder is attached; his motivation for doing this seems to be half to get information and half just to prove that Holmes is his bitch.
  • The main characters in American Dreamer are captured by drug dealers, and when hung upside down, their captor explains just the kind of pain all the blood rushing to the head will do.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Micah E. F. Martin's short story The Canticle, most of the cast are members of an inquisitorial sect. Naturally, this comes up often.
  • In the Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey, the protagonist, Phedre, is a true masochist and craves and enjoys pain, so normal BDSM torture occurs quite often. However, there is one scene in which Melisande tortures Phedre for sheer pleasure, and after a brief part of the scene is shown, we're treated to a literary Scream Discretion Shot.
  • Dan Abnett has used this in various Warhammer 40,000 novels.
    • In Xenos, Eisenhorn is captured and tortured by a Chaos cult. They demonstrate the techniques with their threats, including the promise he will never smile again—and the damage to his nerves is so extensive that he never will.
    • In Malleus, Eisenhorn is going to be "questioned"—he knows he will not survive. His friends stage a rescue.
    • In Brothers of the Snake, the Town with a Dark Secret had lured Space Marines to capture and sacrifice one of them. They are found after the Marine has nearly been tortured to death.
    • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only In Death, the discovered Blood Pact camp holds many prisoners who have been gruesomely tortured; Mkoll Mercy Kills them. Until he recognizes Gaunt from an old scar.
    • In First & Only, Heldane tortures Rawne. We see it exclusively from the eyes of the rescue team, who hear his screams.
    • In Honour Guard, Pater Sin tortures Yael to death as a sacrifice to his Chaos cult.
    • In Necropolis, the Backstory between Gaunt and Kowle is that Gaunt had him transferred from the front after Kowle had a trooper flogged to death for improper uniform.
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, after the villain sends magically animated paintings after him to kill him, the hero tracks them down and tortures one in the front of the other to get information. Produces ghastly guilt; after defeating the villain, the hero tells them they can leave safely if they don't bother him again.
  • In Spider Robinson's Very Bad Deaths, Alan is a wealthy hypersadist. Alan's repertoire includes drugs to enhance pain, drugs to prevent his victims from passing out, a perfect painkiller that lets him break every bone in someone's body then allows them to contemplate the excruciating pain they're about to experience. He boasts at one point that he kept someone dying horribly for 22 days.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Vor Game, General Metzov's Backstory included torturing a prisoner to death.
    • In Mirror Dance, Baron Ryoval tortures Mark in Revenge for what Miles did to him—not knowing, or caring, that it is Mark rather than Miles.
    • In Borders of Infinity, the Cetagandan prison camp that Miles has infiltrated is full of subtle and not-so-subtle tortures designed to break the prisoners' will, and every one of these tortures abides by the letter to interplanetary treaties on how to treat prisoners of war.
      • Access to trained medical personnel? Some of the prisoners are med-techs. They have no equipment, but they're medtechs.
      • Sufficient lighting? It's on all the time.
      • No solitary confinement? No individual cells at all.
      • And so on.
    • Konstantin Bothari, appearing in Shards of Honor, Barrayar and The Warrior's Apprentice, is a mentally ill soldier with a troubled past, and used as a torturer/rapist by a sadistic admiral. Cordelia (as a prisoner of war) observes that "there are two victims in this room".
      • In The Warrior's Apprentice, Miles orders Bothari (then his bodyguard) to interrogate a prisoner, inadvertently causing Bothari to lose control and torture the prisoner to death.
  • Invoked in G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday

Now listen to me. I like you. The consequence is that it would annoy me for just about two and a half minutes if I heard that you had died in torments. Well, if you ever tell the police or any human soul about us, I shall have that two and a half minutes of discomfort. On your discomfort I will not dwell. Good day. Mind the step.

  • In Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, Col. Jack Randall tortures Jamie Fraser, shattering his hand and raping him. Earlier in the story, Randall had whipped Jamie twice in a week, so that he almost died. Reinforcing repeatedly that he is a Complete Monster. (His manner is disturbingly professional throughout, and his attentions, even when they aren't explicitly violent, are damn creepy. Jamie never physically recovers complete use of his hand, and keeps the scars through the entire series.)
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's "If This Goes On—"..., Johnny is captured and tortured by the authorities of the Corrupt Church. Later, when he is offered a position as assassin (to ensure he knows how serious his commitment must be), they point out that he has at least one useful qualification for it—they know that if the enemy catches him and puts him to the Question, he won't crack.
    • Later in the novella, we learn that La Résistance has a ready source of suicide agents: men whose wives have been tortured by the secret police.
  • In Robin Hobb's Royal Assassin, Fitz is subjected to torture. There are also suggestions that the Fool may have been tortured earlier in the same book.
    • And then, at the end of the second series starring Fitz, (the Fool is physically and psychologically broken by a particularly horrific and extended series of torture, which included being flayed alive. Poor Fool).
  • Talia was tortured in Arrows Fall by Mercedes Lackey. (Spoilered for gory details) Talia is raped repeatedly, burned, branded by Hulda's magic, and has her feet crushed. She was portrayed with fairly realistic mental and emotional symptoms after she is finally rescued, and needs the help of another Mind Healer to block the emotional pain.
    • Notable, because Talia is one of the few raped women this troper has ever seen who wasn't immediately cured by True Love. Bonus points to Lackey for that.
  • Derry is tortured by Wencit and Rhydon in High Deryni. In The King's Justice, after Duncan is captured at Dorna, Loris and Gorony keep him drugged with merasha (the side effects are themselves very unpleasant) and torture him for hours, including multiple whippings and pulling out all his nails.
  • In the Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, Stephen Maturin is tortured by French officers in Mahon. Details are sparse: his fingernails were pulled out, and thumbscrews and the rack were used, but not only did he not break, even to revealing his nationality, he steals important papers while he is being rescued.
  • In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter:
    • The Cruciatus Curse. Repeated attacks drove Neville's parents insane, as revealed in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, then shown in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
    • The Cruciatus Curse has been used on about half of the main characters in the series, Harry and Hermione probably being the most notable (with thanks to Voldemort and Bellatrix, respectively). Also, during the peak of Voldemort's reign, Hogwarts students were actually being forced by the Carrows to perform this curse on one another. Yeeps.
      • Notably, the Cruciatus Curse, a supreme form of torture such that no character has ever been shown withstanding it, seems to be definitively cold-blooded; it works best when the caster is in control, or who delights in the pain caused, whereas casting it out of spite or righteous anger is far less effective.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge magically forces Harry to carve the words "I must not tell lies" onto the back of his hand through writing the line with a magic quill that cuts the line into his skin as he writes, pulling his blood out through the wounds and depositing it on the paper. By the end of the book, he's had to write "I must not tell lies" so many times that his hand is permanently scarred with it.
    • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows has Bellatrix torturing Hermione with a combination of the Cruciatus Curse and a knife for information. She seems rather fond of this—as Dumbledore says, she "plays with her food before she eats it". The film managed to make this even worse by having Bellatrix carve the word "mudblood" into Hermione's arm with her knife.
  • In JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, when Pippin looks into the palantir, Sauron gives orders for him to be brought to Mordor rather than perform the on-the-spot Mind Probe that he could have done. Gandalf explains that Sauron wished to deal with Pippin himself—slowly. Brrrrrr...
    • He also tortured Thrain (Thorin's father) while he had him prisoner in the Backstory to The Hobbit, and Gollum in the Backstory to The Lord of the Rings (the latter was how Sauron and his minions learned that the Ring was loose in Middle-Earth). And that's the named victims.
    • He also tortured Celebrimbor (the chief maker of the Rings of Power) to death in an attempt to get him to tell where the Rings were. Then he used Celebrimbor's body as a flag when he invaded Eregion.
  • In JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Maedhros is tortured when Morgoth captures him. Enough that he begs for death when Fingon tries to rescue him and looks like he won't succeed.
    • While Hurin Thalion isn't physically harmed, he's still horrifically tortured.
    • And in the "Lay of Leithian" when Sauron captures Beren, Finrod, and their ten followers, he has them "chained in chains that eat the flesh." And then has a demonic wolf eat them, one by one...
  • In Very Bad Deaths, Alan, a serial torturer/killer has a repertoire including drugs to enhance pain, drugs to prevent his victims from passing out, a perfect painkiller that lets him break every bone in someone's body then allows them to contemplate the excruciating pain they're about to experience.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story The Crooked Man a soldier had been betrayed to the enemy by his rival in love and suffered horrific tortures.
  • Parodied in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where a Vogon captian tortures Arthur and Ford with bad poetry
    • It makes more sense when you realize that in the Hitchhiker's universe, Vogon poetry is capable of inflicting actual pain and suffering on its listeners. Vogons themselves are apparently immune to the effects.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's Talking to Dragons, one fire-witch tortured people to power her magic.
  • Patrick Bateman from American Psycho is a master of this trope, creating some of the most sickening and gruesome tortures ever put to print. He even keeps his victims alive longer just so they can experience more pain.
  • JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood has Phury—who, owing to a fucked-up mental state, enjoys taking a hammer and chisels to his enemies' joints and carving interesting shapes on their faces.
  • The First Law trilogy features Deadpan Snarker Sand dan Glokta, an Inquisitor who does his job frequently and well. Since he was tortured horrifically for two years before taking up his current job and lives in constant pain, he really doesn't care about the agony he inflicts on others. He chops off, smashes and burns sensitive body parts several times in each book. Generally, this is done for information, but at other times he gets innocents to confess to crimes they never committed, after being ordered explicitly to do so. He also ends up torturing Arch Lector Sult for the amusement of both himself and Salem Rews, though the man certainly deserved it.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Ragnar's Claw, the enslaved convicts are kept in line with the lash or inquisitors' interrogation machines.
    • In Wolfblade, Ragnor passes by where a prisoner is being questioned and feels rather queasy about it. When he realizes that the other Space Wolves, who have been on Terra longer, feel no misgivings at all about it, he is uneasy about the whole affair.
  • Invoked in CS Lewis's The Horse And His Boy.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has the character of the Tickler, one of Gregor Clegane's merry band of psychopaths. He's first seen torturing civilians for information, and it's implied that he does very little else.
    • There is also Ramsay Bolton, who likes to torture pretty much any living being, especially if said living being is a female. He also enjoys torturing the second Reek.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 (noticing a theme yet?) Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, practiced extensively by the Dark Eldar and by de Valtos. When they raid de Valtos's estate, they find Solena Vergen's corpse and Taryn Honan, still alive and asking for death; they had outlived their usefulness.
    • In Dead Sky Black Sun, the captured Space Marines are handed over to torturers.
    • In The Killing Ground, the Grey Knight, Leodegarius, clearly disbelieves in Uriel's protests of innocence and burns him to secure his compliance with the ordeals to test him for Chaos taint. (Once they pass the first ordeal, a mind probe, Leodegarius is far more conciliatory.)
  • In George Orwell's novel 1984, prolonged Cold-Blooded Torture of prisoners is standard practice at the Ministry of Love.
  • In the first book of the Warchild Series, Big Bad Falcone tortures Jos at the climax. Because he is also the man who raped and abused Jos as a child, this scene is undoubtedly a source of Nightmare Fuel for both the protagonist.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, the Word Bearers use this to make a sacrifice. Then, when one of them is captured, Inquisitor Stele uses it on him, culminating in a Mind Rape.
  • In Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, when Kvothe finds the massacre, he hears the killers talk; Lord Haliax rebukes Cinder for not killing cleanly.
  • The Executioner. Being turned into a "turkey" is the fate of several people who anger The Mafia, usually leaving the protagonist Mack Bolan to inflict the Mercy Kill. Such torture is inflicted by specialists such as Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate "Fat Sal", who tortured undercover Federal agent Georgette Chebleu. While Bolan is not into torture himself, he does blow Sal's kneecaps off on this occasion before executing him.
  • At one point in Altered Carbon Takeshi Kovacs is captured and loaded into a VR torture program. This allows his captors to torture him in the body of a woman, which is more vulnerable to their techniques, as well as torture him to death before starting again in a fresh virtual body. Also, the accelerated time in VR means that they can subject him to several days of torture in only a few minutes.
  • Torture of various forms crops up a several times in the sequel Broken Angels. The most notable are:
    • The company goon whose cortical stack Kovacs captures. He sets him up in a bare-bones VR to interrogate him, but doesn't have the time or inclination to bother with the normal torture. So he just threatens to leave the guy there. In the VR that's just an empty room on an endless gray plane, with nothing to do whatsoever. And the hardware for the VR is a low power unit in a random location running on a high time ratio. So by the time the guy would be found (if ever) he would have spent the equivalent of several hundred years in an empty room with nothing to do and no way to even kill himself. Kovacs is confident that the goon would be utterly insane before the end. Naturally the guy cracks and tells Kovaks what he wants to know.
    • One character is subjected to the Wedge punishment for traitors; a machine designed to slowly torture them to death over the course of an entire day. While the machine is busy flaying skin, breaking bones and cracking teeth for the enjoyment of the watching crowd, it's also carefully administering drugs and medical attention to ensure that the subject is alive and conscious for as much of the ordeal as possible.
  • In the book Messiah by Boris Starling, the police are chasing a serial killer who believes himself to be Christ and is gathering apostles by murdering people by the names of James, Peter, Thomas, etc, based on how the apostle with the matching name is said to have died. One gruesome murder consists of the victim being flayed alive - while kept upside down in order to stay conscious for as long as possible.
  • In Oath of Gold, the third novel of The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, the paladin buys the freedom of the lost king by enduring days of torture at the hands of priests of Liart, the god of torment.
  • In The Sword of Truth, this is the function of the Mord-Sith. Virtually all villains in the series demonstrate a fondness for torture, although at one point the "good guys" have an enemy soldier tortured to death after he gives them the information.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess of Mars, the Green Martians are fond of this. In Sola's Backstory, they tortured her mother in an attempt to learn who her father had been.
    • In A Fighting Man of Mars, Tan Hadron is threatened with this twice.
  • The Cable Street Particulars are ... particular in this regard in Terry Pratchett's Night Watch. When a building full of their victims is found, Vimes goes to each cell to give what help he can. He also has a knife with him, for the same reason. Think about that.
  • In Susan Matthews' novel Exchange of Hostages, a doctor is drafted into service as an official torturer of the state. He is totally squicked to discover that he enjoys it - a lot.
  • Walter Moers's book Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures has General Tictoc, the love of his life—a pimped-out Iron Maiden—and Rala, the main character's love interest.
  • In The Dresden Files book Turn Coat, the skinwalker tortures Thomas by peeling strips of skin off and waiting for them to grow back. Once he's so low on vamp energy that he's about to die, it feeds him someone, who, given his current state, he's pretty much guaranteed to kill. Then it starts the process over. By the time Harry gets him back, Thomas is so completely broken that he's stopped caring about much of anything.
    • Harry undergoes a milder version himself in Dead Beat at the hands of Cassius, who wanted revenge for Harry's Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique last time they met. It's mentioned three books later that he still has scars from having his stomach beaten with a chain for who knows how long.
      • Yeah, the knife cutting into his abdominal wall had nothing to do with that.
    • This trope barely covers what Mab did to the traitorous winter knight, from Summer Knight until Harry killed in Changes, which was roughly 6 years later
    • Heavily implied that Lily was tortured by Maeve and Lloyd for an unknown amount of time for the amusement of the Winter Court
  • The Yuuzhan Vong torture all the time, but as they attach spiritual significance to pain in all its forms, they're generally not "Cold-blooded" about it. (In fact, it's implied that they see torturing someone to death as being more merciful than straight-up killing them, as it gives them the chance to connect with the gods before they die. Yes, this civilization is massively screwed up. However did you guess?)
  • In the Dale Brown novels, David Luger was tortured by his Soviet captors as part of his brainwashing. Wings of Fire has some redshirts tortured to death by the Libyans. Executive Intent has Wayne Macomber being badly beaten by GRU agents.
  • Considering that it's the story of a professional torturer, there is surprisingly little of this trope in Book of the New Sun. (The narrator actually mentions that it isn't a book for people who enjoy reading about such things.) We do see a few torture-executions and one very horrible device, the Revolutionary: a Mind Rape device whose victims become literally their own worst enemy, to the point where they will tear off their own eyelids because they hate themselves so much.
  • If it wasn't already obvious that Colonel Williams from Tranquilium was an antihero, there is a brief, but graphic description of how he had his men torture a key Soviet spy literally to death over a long period of time, drawing out enough information out of him to take down a huge part of the Soviet intelligence network in Tranquilium. Ofcourse, the Soviets try this on Gleb too, but it's rather subtler as they were trying to break his spirit and recruit him.
  • Elric's torturer Doctor Jest gets his hands on some spies early in the series. It's a toss-up which is worse: the Doctor's gleeful professionalism, Elric's bored demeanor, or author Michael Moorcock's discrete yet horrifying references to the proceedings...
    • Happens to Corum and the hands of Glandyth in one of his other series.
  • In the Farsala Trilogy, Garren orders this done to Kavi. What makes it particularly horrifying is that, as far as torture goes, it's relatively tame, but relentless.
  • Richard Marcinko is funny about this. On the one hand he sees torture as a necessary evil in obtaining information when lives are on the line. On the other hand, he despises those who go beyond the call of duty and enjoy it. In his post 9/11 novel he has a female soldier absolutely butcher a terrorist to death, however he taped the orders to do whatever it takes from the President and uses it as blackmail.
  • Cree Bega, The Dragon in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, is fond of doing this. He and his Mwellrets eagerly torture the seer Ryer Ord Star, stripping, beating, cutting, and (possibly) raping her. He later tells her friend Ahren all about it.
  • In Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, how the Alpha Legion tries to secure Malya's compliance.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story A Witch Shall Be Born Salome subjects her sister to this after usurping her throne, starting with rape; when physical pain no longer hurts her, she opts to demonstrate her Revenge by Proxy.
  • In Perry Rhodan, the Empire of Arkon has been known to combine this with capital punishment in the form of the so-called "infinite" death penalty, which involves the condemned being repeatedly executed and promptly revived again for another round until the reanimation attempts finally fail for good. During some of the Empire's more decadent periods, this has been used as a form of public entertainment.
  • In People Of The Book, Reuben aka Renato, a converted Jew, is tortured to death for "Judaizing", trying to convert a Christian woman into a Jew.
  • In Philip Kerr's The Second Angel, Prevezer is forced to do this to Gates and Dallas by Rimmer, under threat of death. Even though it doesn't go into explicit detail as to exactly what's happening to Dallas and Gates inside the Simworld, this troper got the distinct feeling that he was better off not knowing.
  • In Blood of the Mantis, the Ants torture Sperra. Particularly cold-blooded in that they found her side innocent and show no remorse.
    • The Empire does it throughout the series.
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Court Of The Air, Molly suffers this to control the Hexamachine through her.
    • In The Rise of the Iron Moon, Molly and Coppertracks are subjected to this for scientific purposes.
  • In Death: David Palmer from Midnight In Death has done this to his victims and so...clinically.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The Vigilantes have inflicted this on some villains, like John Chai from Vendetta and Karl Woodley from The Jury. It's okay, because those villains were such Complete Monsters that they had it coming to them!
  • Animorphs has a book where Tobias is captured by a sadistic human-controller named Taylor and tortured with an Agony Beam.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere an Autumn Tale, Catarina did this to Lucian, laming him.
  • The torture in later chapters of Count and Countess is calculated, methodical, and occasionally hard to read.
  • Dark Future's Church Of Joseph engages in this in order to spill blood to hasten the coming of the Dark Ones. Seth deliberately pushes resettlers from their vehicles in Route 666, has Josephites flagellate themselves to death and Jesuit commandos crucified and kept alive with occasional doses of water in Krokodil Tears, in order that their deaths are prolonged to make them better food for the Dark Ones.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Black Jack agreed that Wessner can kill Freckles however he pleases, but object to watching.

We agreed to take out these trees and leave him for you to dispose of whatever way you please, provided you shut him up eternally on this deal. But I'll not see a tied man tormented by a fellow that he can lick up the ground with, loose, and that's flat. It raises my gorge to think what he'll get when we're gone, but you needn't think you're free to begin before.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Farscape came up with some doozies!
    • Scorpius had lots of fun with the Aurora Chair—not to mention the mind-control probes he'd use to make his prisoners torture themselves, resulting in a charming scene where he made Grunchlk bite off two of his own fingers.
    • In the Shadow Depository storyline, Natira, the owner of the bank, was so good at this that part of her own body is dedicated exclusively to poking her victim's eyes out, making her even creepier than the Borg Queen.
    • Of course, the really nighmarish one one took place in "A Clockwork Nebari" and featured our hero getting his eyeballs pulled out. They even showed that one in the trailer. Jesus fuck.
    • Rygel slowly carving a Charrid soldier up with his own knife—not for answers, but for fun. True, he got answers, but still...
    • Under considerable stress and Sanity Slippage, Talyn starts torturing Crais via their neural link, resulting in hideous sores growing on Crais's body as he screams at Crichton to put him out of his misery.
  • Jack Bauer. Over and over and over again.
    • To the point where CTU torture innocent people, even have hired torturers on their pay roll.
    • In addition, Audrey Raines was tortured by the Chinese government for months until her mind completely broke down. This would be the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique had someone mentioned that Audrey went through this for some reason other than the Chinese believing this would be a trump card against Jack Bauer at some point.
  • Adelai Niska is shown to be a rather twisted individual early on when he shows Serenity's crew the tortured body of his nephew during "The Train Job", but in the Firefly episode "War Stories", he gets his hands on Mal and Wash and puts them to the torture in revenge for what happened in that episode. He opens up with Electric Torture on them, but when Zoe gets Wash out of there, Niska gets extra nasty with Mal, first cutting off his ear to give to Zoe and then using a rather nasty little device on Mal that ends up killing him...and then Niska brings Mal back to life just so he can torture him some more. His reason for doing this is because he strongly believes in the works of Shan Yu, which hold that only when you put someone through hell will you finally meet the real man. Meeting the real Malcolm Reynolds proves to be a very painful experience for him.
    • Whilst the Shan Yu thing was part of it, Niska's other reason was in regards to reputation—brutally torturing Mal would let others in the 'Verse know the consequences of crossing him like Mal did.
      • "You know what is reputation? Is people talking, is gossip..."
    • Jubal Early, from the Firefly episode "Objects in Space". Tying up Kaylee in the engine room and threatening to rape her for interfering with his plans was bad enough, but then we hear from River during her Hannibal Lecture that he once tortured his neighbor's dog to death, which lays bare his true nature as a Psycho for Hire and Complete Monster in general.
    • The Reavers (psychotic cannibalistic zombie-like barbarians) not only kill their victims in the most horrible and prolonged manner possible (remember, you are VERY lucky if you are already dead by the time they start their meal) but also apply torture as a recruiting solution - they force some of the prisoners witness the unthinkable sufferings their comrades are put to until they completely snap and embrace the Reavers' ways. The bastards then leave these mishaps as a surprise gift for the rescue team...
    • The cruel medical experimentation performed on River at the Academy, described partially in horrifying detail by Simon in "Ariel", could also qualify.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command, part 2", Picard is captured by Cardassians. They use drugs to extract information, but later Madred tortures him just for the sake of it.
    • And beyond that, Picard later reveals to Counselor Troi that, just for a moment, Madred had successfully broken his mind.
    • And when in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Romulans discover that Bashir cannot be mind-probed, they torture him for information.
    • The original series has an episode where the inmates of an insane asylum get loose and take particular pleasure in using a very nasty device that simply activates the pain receivers in the brain, resulting in an increasing sensation of pain the longer it's kept on with no evidence afterward, and theoretically nothing to stop the pain until you die from it. The fact that the Federation was shown to use such a device even in those early, ridiculously idealistic days of the franchise is quite chilling.
      • The device wasn't intended to produce pain; it was an electronic tranquilizer, in fact, until the escaped inmates reset or rewired it for torture.
    • The agony booth in the Mirror Universe was developed by Phlox, who is a master of torture in his universe, as well as a doctor, in order to cause the subject continuous pain via nerve stimulation. It also continually switched nerve clusters in order to prevent the victim from getting accustomed to the pain. In one Expanded Universe novel, the mirror-Chekov was killed by being left in the agony booth by Tiberius (mirror-Kirk) set on high (right after the "Mirror, Mirror" episode).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow kills Warren in a very gruesome way in Season 6 following her transformation from meek geek to Big Bad of Season 6. She first impales him with the bullet that he shot Buffy with, then rips his skin off before burning him alive.
    • He gets even with her in the Season 8 comics, when he slowly lobotomizes her -- but she is rescued and able to heal herself.
    • Angelus (and by extension Angel) is implied to be good at this too. While torturing Giles also mentions how chainsaws are liable to make torture that much more fun. A pissed off Angel notes that he knows enough about blood transfusions to keep a person alive no matter what parts he cuts off.
    • Another example from Angelus was the psychological torture he inflicted on Drusilla before he turned her that drove her crazy.
    • Spike hired a vampiric Torture Technician to get the location of the Gem of Amara from Angel. It mostly involved red hot pokers.
    • Faith tortures Wesley in Angel while laying out the primary torture groups (she was using Sharp). Needless to say, this makes their later cooperation in defeating a Big Bad... a tad awkward.
    • In the spin-off, Wolfram and Hart has a special hell dimension where they keep people who have really ticked them off. The victim is brutally tortured by a giant demon before having their heart torn out before growing a new one. And the worst part? During all of this, their mind is purposefully programmed to believe they have a perfect suburban life so they have no ability to deal with the torture each time it occurs.
    • And early in Season 2 Buffy dangles a cross on a chain down a vampire's throat for information. Bad enough even if it wouldn't burn.
  • In the first season of Roswell, Agent Pierce tortures Max to get him to reveal the location of the second alien orb. Max withstands the torture, but gives in when Pierce threatens to kill his girlfriend Liz. He then threatens Max with live dissection to get Max to show him how the orbs work.
  • Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood, is unable to stay dead, always reviving after some time that varies depending on how injured he is, and this is repeatedly used against him. For example:
    • In the episode "Exit Wounds", his nemesis Captain John Hart takes him back to 27 A.D. in Cardiff where Jack's long-lost brother Gray buries him alive as punishment for not saving him from an attack when they were children. He is eventually dug up by Torchwood in 1901, having repeatedly suffocated and revived for 1874 years.
    • In the third series, Children of Earth, an attempt to kill Jack with a bomb in his stomach fails, so after his body reassembles itself and he revives, he is sealed in concrete until Ianto comes with a fork truck to break him out by dropping the concrete block off a cliff.
    • Then there's the end of Doctor Who's third new season. He's captured by a very, very gleeful Master. A gleeful homicidal and practical Master. And probably spends the next year being tortured and killed in every possibly concievable way.
      • When Torchwood picks up in a new series chronologically after this, he tells Gwen, "I have died...so many times."
    • In "Countrycide", Jack claims that he himself has experience doing this.
    • In Torchwood: Miracle Day we get a flashback of Jack being chained in a basement and killed repeatedly.
  • In the Doctor Who serial Underworld, Herrick is tortured to get the truth out of him.
  • An episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit has the much loathed Stuckey taking out his frustrations on Elliot's chest with a knife...Ouchies. Of course, any permanent damage isn't very likely.
  • In the Stargate universe most of the Big Bads go with a patented Agony Beam and Mind Rape to get information and their jollies. However, by far the most Magnificent Bastard of the series, Ba'al, wasn't satisfied with something so menial. While holding Jack O'Neil captive he tortured him to death dozens of times using everything from daggers to acid. And then, when Jack dies, he has him popped in a Sarcophagus so he can be revived to go through it all over again. The combination of torture and the mental decay from repeated resurrections drove him to demand death before he could give in.
    • The Goa'uld Marduk's own people killed him (or tried to) by locking him in a healing sarcophagus with a dangerous, flesh eating predator. He was eaten alive while the sarcophagus continuously regenerated him...
  • A positively chilling example is described in the Babylon 5 episode "Ceremonies of light and dark", as the Special-Operations-turned-Nightwatch guy recollects taking seven days to kill a Minbari. He literally cut his victim to pieces, starting from the digits and extremities and tying off the body part to be removed next, so as to avoid his victim dying from blood loss. He ends his story with "It was beautiful, you should have seen it." And then he starts singing Dem Bones in Creepy Monotone...
    • Also, Emperor Cartagia of the Centauri tortured G'Kar to the brink of death several times, mostly as an amusing diversion.
    • No mention of The Inquisitor? For shame!
    • What about the episode where Sheridan is imprisoned? Made even more chilling by the fact that it uses a methodology based on real torture techniques.
  • In Lost, when Ill Girl Rich Bitch Shannon almost dies of asthma and Sawyer has her medicine, Sayid tortures him for information by jamming reeds under Sawyer's fingernails. He follows that by threatening to stab Sawyer in the eye before Jack stops him.
    • Actually, torture as a whole is very important in Sayid's backstory. He was a Torture Technician for the Iraqi Republican Guard, after all.
  • Used by Mahone on Wyatt in Prison Break. Keep in mind that Wyatt is a very scary Complete Monster who killed Mahones son. Consider it payback time. Mahone shoves a needle into Wyatt's finger. Oh, and he's also connected to a defibrillator that will give him a wake-up call when he starts to fall unconcious due to the pain. The effects are spectacular, as the normally completely stoic Wyatt is screaming and wheezing from the crippling pain.
  • In The X-Files, alien abductees are tortured and "tested" by their alien abductors. Duane Barry, a deranged former FBI encountered in Season 2 reports that he had his teeth drilled with lasers (while awake) and implants inserted into his nose and gums. Women who get taken aboard get their ova removed—Scully is one, though she does not remember much. The pinnacle comes when Mulder himself is abducted in Season 8. Shots of him show he is strapped naked to a stone chair and forced to endure painful procedures, like open heart surgery while still awake and with no anethesia. Like Duane Barry, he has his teeth drilled, and his mouth held open by hooks inserted into his cheeks.
    • It's worse than that - look again. He's not strapped to the chair, he has metal anchor rods drilled right through his wrists and ankles.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, Chalky White is effectively The Don of Atlantic City's black underworld. One night, a group of out of state gangsters attempt to kill him, but not being familiar with him, get his driver instead. To try to find out who was behind this, Chalky and some of the Dirty Cops he works with bring in one of the leaders of the local KKK group. Before he starts going to work, Chalky shows the man a group of large, vaguely menacing tools, and explains that they belonged to his father, a self-taught carpenter who was lynched after doing some work for a white man. Sometime later, Chalky exits the room and confidently says that the Klan wasn't involved in the murder. When asked why he's so sure, he responds "There comes a point when you know a man is telling you the truth. We passed that point 10 minutes ago". To drive things home, he unwraps the bundle that holds the tools, revealing a severed finger with a Klan ring still on it. Chalky then absently wonders whether the man will want the ring back, or if it will be adding insult to injury.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Dark Eldar, a faction in Warhammer 40,000 revolves its entire culture and survival around extreme torture. And they enjoy it, too.
    • As mentioned in other Warhammer 40,000 examples on this page, this is also standard procedure for both Inquisitors and their many enemies.
    • The Night Lords legion of Chaos Space Marines make this their hat, along with being The Dreaded.
  • Devils in Dungeons & Dragons harness their power by torturing the souls of the damned:

To devils, these souls are all the same — clay to be sculpted...even as it screams.

    • Pain devils are specifically designed to function as torturers, but the worst by far is Alloces, the Butcher of Nessus. A unique devil who was a gruesome torturer even when he was an angel, Alloces' reasons for torture have shifted over the countless years he's been doing it. First it was simply inflicting pain and suffering for the enjoyment of it, which shifted into turning the infliction of pain into an art form, which changed into a study of the nature of life and the resiliance and malleability of flesh (he was experimenting on other angels at the time, mind), to experimenting on torturing souls and other devils to see what he could make out of them.
    • Fourth Edition even has an entire god devoted to this—Torog, God of Jailers, Torturers and the Underdark.
  • Subverted in the Paranoia adventure CLONES IN SPACE. The aliens' idea of torture is... alien, revolving mostly around things which offend their developed aesthetic sense, like listening to Waylon Jennings. After while of this, the players should get into the spirit and start shouting "Do your worst, commie alien scum! We'll NEVER betray The Computer, etc."


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game): Dark Corners of the Earth, Jack is tortured with jumper cables by a doctor working for the FBI. It says a lot about the horrors he's seen that it takes several high-powered shocks and threatening to send him back to the asylum for him to agree to return to Innsmouth.
  • In Donkey Kong Country 2, Kaptain K. Rool is seen beating Donkey Kong before you fight him aboard the Flying Krock.
  • In the Halo universe, there is a torture device known as Cupid's Knife. It makes the victim feel pain whenever they think any negative thoughts about the user, forcing them to love their torturer, hence the name.
    • "The Knife is gonna hurt you. A lot. Only way to stop the pain is to surrender, to break, to love..."
  • Used in the first game of the Mega Man Battle Network series.

Colorman: Now, now, I'll delete you soon enough... Heheh! But first I'll watch you squirm a little!

  • In the Knights of the Old Republic the Sith use Force Lightning or just common electricity, at different times, to extract information, convert Jedi to the Dark Side, punish apprentices for faults and as a part of a question-and-answer game.
    • In fairness, said "question and answer game" is conducted by someone unhinged even by Sith standards.
  • Fate/stay night, Unlimited Blade Works route, Caster capture Shirou's Servant, Saber by force, then tortured her. And knowing Caster from Fate route, you know she is not a nice person.
    • The background of Avenger reveals that in life he was a completely ordinary human who was made The Scapegoat for all the evils in the world by his village. They tortured him endlessly for years, carving curses into his skin, cutting off parts, and committing every sin imaginable on his flesh. They continued this until his death, and he only died because of old age.
      • Made even worse by the fact that the people torturing him included his friends and family, who had all agreed he was the source of evil.
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. In the first mission you find the person your supposed to be rescuing being tortured. With his legs in a shallow bathtub and a car battery with jumper cables being pressed onto his chest. Apparently they had already gotten everything they wanted out of him, and was just torturing him out of spite (so much so that one comments on seeing smoke coming from his head).
    • In the final level of Chaos Theory, guards in a certain area carry LTL ammo and, if hit, Fisher will black out, only to wake up mid-interrogation. After blacking out again, Fisher awakens to one of the guards preparing to torture him whilst expressing joy at the concept; after escaping, however, Lambert tells Fisher he's only been gone a few minutes, which suggests it wasn't exactly a last resort.
  • "Beat this filth until it speaks..."
    • A torture chamber can be found in the Scarlet Monastery; their head interrogator really seems to enjoy his job.
    • Arthas uses this to some degree to break particularly strong individuals to heel. He seems to transcend purely physical torture, though, even going so far as tearing at the enemy's very soul.
      • Something his minions learned: one Death Knight tortured an enemy by threatening to destroy the man's soul, beginning the process until he broke...and then finishing it out of spite.
    • The Pit of Saron seems only explainable as a form of this. Captured warriors forced to work endlessly in a quarry, stripped down to only their tabards despite the bone-freezing chill of Northrend? The only explanation this troper can find is that Arthas simply wants to make them suffer before turning them.
    • And it's not just the bad guys who do it; the Kirin Tor have you torture a Well-Intentioned Extremist they have captured until he talks. And naturally he knows all the details and blurts them out after repeated applications of excruciating pain, because Torture Always Works.
  • There's a good deal of this in EVE Chronicles. This, for example.
  • Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days opens with the duo being sliced like deli meat by a Chinese gangster with a box-cutter. A later level shows the results of this and has them running a naked and bloody marathon through Shanghai.
    • Xiu, Lynch's Chinese girlfriend, is disemboweled and highly implied to have been raped.
  • The 2005 Punisher game lets you punch out, choke, threaten with guns and smash faces, and that's the boring stuff. Angle grinders, drills, car crushers, eels and rhinos, open fires, wood chippers, furnaces, sharks, table saws and electric chairs are just a sampling of what to expect.
  • While we can only speculate on the specifics, it can be assumed that one Kron Harga, slaver, was loathsome enough to not warrant a swift and efficient (or ironic) execution via Omega's resident badass vigilante, Archangel. Injuries include, but were most likely not limited to: bullets in every extremity and major organ, massive head trauma possibly delivered through the butt-end of a rifle, before finally being in very close proximity to a container filled with explosives when said container suddenly detonated.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Colonel Volgin dispenses with elaborate, drawn-out methods of causing pain, preferring instead to beat on prisoners with his own two fists (that happen to be charged with 10 million volts of electricity). He doesn't really care if this produces information or not, as long as he gets his kicks.
    • Vamp from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty qualify as well. You must save Otacon's step-sister from the flooded base. You must take her back to the Control Center in the first part of the Big Shell. However, the normal bridge was destroyed earlier, so you must take a floating path, complete with mines and guards. This trope comes out when she's grabbed by Vamp. You shoot the bad guy and rush to Emma, only to discover that while she was grabbed, Vamp knifed her in the back repeateadly. And that bastard's not even dead yet!
    • Solidus Snake is a great bastard, too. He captures Raiden, who is naked , and strangles him with an electrified metallic tentacle . He repeats that later in the game.
  • Nifilhema of Lusternia spends her time birthing new and exciting torture techniques: she favours cutting and piercing tools, as she relishes blood. Though she generally practises on angel, she'll consent to torture her followers and even herself. Incidentally, any angels tortured by her are so traumatized that they become demons themselves.
  • The Penguin from Batman: Arkham City, in more ways than one.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Though we don't see it on-screen in Order of the Stick, Redcloak tortures O-Chul for months in order to get information that he knows the paladin does not have, leading to massive scarring. He continues merely as a pretense to convince his boss Xykon that they should stay in the city. It doesn't work out for him.
    • And now it has been shown on-screen that Tarquin (Elan's father and General-in-chief of the Empire of Blood) is definitely not above torturing women until they agree to marry him...*shudder*
  • In Sluggy Freelance villains have tried this on Torg a couple times. They just never seem to get it quite right.
    • Bun-Bun tries it after a fashion in this strip.
  • In Goblins Goblinslayer does "experiments" on monsters. It becomes clear however, that he does it mostly for pleasure, with the majority of information learned being new methods of causing pain in each race. But seeing as they're "evil monsters", all the "good" races think it's just.
    • Perhaps the most chilling example was the Yuan-ti Goblinslayer kept as a "pet". He used her to satisfy all of his carnal and sadistic urges at the same time.
    • Knight Templar Kore is an exceptionally brutal torturer. After capturing Chief, he began to torture him so that his screams of pain would draw the other goblins back, first using holy magic to heal him from the near fatal injury he'd caused capturing him. Kore brutally mauled the goblin's body with his axe, including severing an ear and hand. And the injuries he caused killed him soon after the torture stopped.
  • The Asperpedia Four are put through this as their death sentence in Sonichu. Alec, the creator of Asperchu, gets the ten-button electric chair for not portraying Chris-Chan's characters "correctly", Sean, the creator of Moon-Pals, gets shot to death by three characters presumably for portraying them as stoners. Mao, the host of Asperpedia, gets ripped apart using psychic powers. Evan, the creator of Simonchu and whom Chris-Chan had shamelessly and imfamously stolen a character from, gets brutally drilled apart by a small child and then finished by the child and her father. This is from a webcomic that is supposedly meant for children.
  • Bob and George: Here and here.
  • Wapsi Square: The golem girls are victims of this in the backstory
  • When a particularly vile character in Pibgorn learns that the title character can talk and feel pain, obviously this is the method used to explore that topic further.
  • Exterminatus Now: First, the team will have Lothar cut your balls off. Then, you'll talk. And no, they didn't get that the wrong way around.
  • Black Mage of Eight Bit Theater is of the Type 3 variety. While he mostly just enjoys killing, he sometimes takes his time, like with his blind brother. Note: Said brother wasn't blind at first.
  • In Minion Comics, Spencer and Dingus are allowed to pick their torture, with options ranging from "The Spiky Thing" to "The Shocker" to a George Lopez comedy special.
  • Remus's Ryan Davidson has been on the receiving end of this from Williams.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, The Church of the Memory of Cardia and the Clergy of Mardük are fond of using cold-blooded torture on their captives.
  • Kor from M.C.A. Hogarth's The Admonishments of Kherishdar is tortured by the Emperor as part of his training to become Shame. His role is to provide Correction to deviants in Kherishdar's society, and he is only permitted to use tortures that have been inflicted on himself. Suffice it to say he's one of the most effective Shames in history.
  • In the Whateley Universe, mutant Phase is tortured by Mad Scientist Emil Hammond. Who is apparently working for Phase's family to learn about what makes mutants manifest.
    • What's scary is how Emil Hammond always refers to Phase as 'it', and clearly is just doing this to learn more about Phase. The height would be 'what happens if Phase is in the middle of an object when he goes from light to solid.'
    • "Apparently working" nothing. His family actually comes in at one point to see how things are going. When Phase calls for them to help, they ignore him at first and then quickly leave.
  • J.R. Rizzolo of Survival of the Fittest is apparently rather fond of this, seeing how he viciously tortures Cara Scholte and Laeil Burbank (the former by cutting up the helpless Cara's face, breaking her fingers, and then mutilating her right hand with a morning star before finally pushing her off a nearby cliff, the latter by cutting out her left eye and crushing it. And you get to read about both of them in graphic detail.
  • The Torture Game, a delightful little web game that lets you brutally torture some poor guy with: Ropes, guns, a flesh-stripping razorblade, a chainsaw, huge spikes that shoot out of the walls, and paint. It could either be seen as a great stress-reliever. Or perhaps both.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Re Boot had Megabyte tear off Phong's head, stick in a jar, and torture that for information. Painful electroshock ripping the portal command codes right out of Phong's memory. When this takes too long Megabtye tells Herr Doctor to use other methods, involving saws. Thankfully Matrix interrupts Herr Doctor before he gets started with that. Despite all the pain Phong was defiant throughout all of the torture, never giving in to Megabyte.
  • Parodied in Megas XLR. Coop gets captured by the Glorft. Gorath's torture techniques? Eating a Philly Cheese Steak slowly in front of Coop. And smashing Mega Slushes. This would be considered Cool and Unusual Punishment, but since it's Coop... Humorously, it's just as much torture for Gorath, who can barely stomach the Philly Cheese Steak.