Cool and Unusual Punishment

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Coolandunusualpunishment1 3735.jpg

Ford: If we're lucky, it's just the Vogons come to throw us in to space.
Arthur: And if we're unlucky?

Ford: If we're unlucky, the captain might read us some of his poetry first...

There comes a time in every adventure show when the hero must face torture. But beating and whipping is really dull for any self-respecting criminal mastermind. And more importantly, really dull for the audience, unless it's done so gruesomely that the Media Watchdogs complain.

Besides, why beat the hero when you can torture him with the most horrible thing in the universe... six hours of opera (Scare Chord)! Or six hours of laxative commercials, or six hours of the Ice Capades. Basically anything so bad that the Suckiness Is Painful. It would make anyone confess.

A variant is for the villain to do torture that is so ridiculous it would never work, but everyone acts as if it would.

Occasionally, one character is immune due to having weird tastes and, thus, actually enjoying the "punishment".

Typically, the form of punishment may be introduced as being harmless, only to be quickly revealed to be the opposite.

This is used most often in shows for kids, where showing the application of real torture methods would get the parents up in arms—especially when they find that they can't sleep afterward. Better to employ something ridiculous.

The Punishment is when this happens to give the sufferer super powers. ...why do people do this?

When the Cool and Unusual Punishment is loud music or annoying sounds, the trope is Loud of War. See also Tickle Torture.

May serve as a Take That. For when someone merely threatens to do something like this, see Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon. Compare Cruel Mercy and Mundane Afterlife. Contrast Poke the Poodle. When this involves sending somebody to a city, see Place Worse Than Death. Frequently follows the stock phrase "We Have Ways of Making You Talk!". Contrast Unishment.

Examples of Cool and Unusual Punishment include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Slayers
    • Xellos. Near-omnipotent in magical power due to being blessed by his master beyond any other mazoku (or demon), Xellos has proved himself capable of wiping out an entire flight of dragons by merely waving his finger. However, as a mazoku who feeds on negative emotions, he has a slight vulnerability to the positive ones. This was used at one point by Amelia, who together with Gourry and Zelgadis, led a joint "life is wonderful!" speech which left the powerful mazoku twitching in a corner, complaining about psychological warfare.
    • Much earlier, the sorcerer Zolf started hurling insults at a bound, gagged, and helpless Lina. All things considered, it was a lot more effective than real torture would be. And she still managed to burn him back pretty good.
  • Pokémon:
    • One of the banned (outside of Japan) episodes featured Team Rocket torturing the Safari Warden, which quickly turned into an example of this. They made him listen to Meowth's singing, and the ultimate torture was a tickling machine. (To note, during this, they had a gun!)
    • Butch and Cassidy tortured Professor Oak in one episode by scratching a pane of glass with a nail. It worked.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima
    • Evangeline punished her Robot Girl servant by "winding her up" as a Running Gag. While it's played for comedy, some recently revealed subtext makes this seem slightly more unpleasant. See the page for details.
    • The punishment inflicted by Nagi to Evangeline herself: "damning" her to school.
    • The punishment for mages who break The Masquerade—being turned into an ermine for anywhere from six months to a few years.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball: When Emperor Pilaf captures the heroes, he tries to force Bulma to turn over the Dragon Balls by bringing her before him in shackles and...blowing her a kiss, in the assumption that she'll be utterly disgraced. Instead, Bulma is just confused and tells him that she expected other kinds of treatment... and Pilaf reacts with shock and disgust.
    • Also played straight much later, with Dabura, king of hell. When he ends up in the afterlife, king Enma sends him into Heaven instead. He breaks almost instantly, and all following cameos feature him espousing a love of peace, friendship, and flowers.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, Inui's Gargle Blaster juice is used as a punishment of sorts when his teammates screw up with training—it's too gross for anyone to stomach, except Fuji. And not even Fuji is immune to every single one of his concoctions.
  • El Hazard the Magnificent World: Played straight by Jinnai with a feather duster on Ifurita.
  • Umehito Nekozawa of Ouran High School Host Club is subjected to "evil beam" torture when he fails to act princely enough and returns to his old ways. The "evil beam" is but a wee flashlight, but it's torture to him. Note that he has extreme photophobia (or better said, light sensitivity), thus the full-body hoods. It's played for laughs.

He becomes physically ill when exposed to bright light, to the point that going into sunlight for a few minutes can lead to days of bedrest. Which makes his rescue of his adored baby sister Kirimi, in broad daylight, all the more meaningful.

Urd: Good, good! Now make a robot that does nothing but go around in circles!
Skuld: Noooo! Don't make me create robots that don't do anything useful! Pleeeeeease!

    • A later episode has Urd go further by forcing Skuld to look at a whole table full of useless machines just moving around after the latter committed a graver offense. Needless to say Skuld was wailing at the whole "spectacle".
    • In one episode, Sayoko tries to extract Belldandy's secret from Keiichi by letting snails crawl on his chest and smashing toy cars with a hammer. These are obviously ineffective, but she must have had some reason to believe they'd work.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, the nation-tans try to punish France's April Fools' Day antics, but find that he's Too Kinky to Torture and would actually like a lot of the stuff they were coming up with. In the end, they successfully make him positively miserable by forcing him to praise everything English (yes, even England's food). The funniest thing? The one who suggested said punishment was Sweden, of all people.
    • Russia gets a chain letter, courtesy of Poland. And if he doesn't send it, his capital will become Warsaw.
  • Toradora!: As punishment for being a hypocrite, flirting shamelessly with Ryuuji and calling her out on her height, Taiga makes Ami impersonate 150 people and films everything. Imagining Michael Jackson as a tour guide on a bus was fun when the show was first made, but now that he's dead...
  • A metafictional example: In place of the usual anti-piracy warning, the home video releases of Excel Saga warn that "This video is the property of ACROSS. Unauthorized showings or duplicates may subject you to the vengeance of Il Pallazo. This will involve feathers, cod liver oil, and a very depraved walrus."
  • One Piece; Sanji was taught how to cook - and how to fight, and pretty much everything else - by his mentor Zeff. If he botched and ruined a meal, Zeff would make him eat it. This harsh conditioning not only made Sanji a great cook, but made him regard wasting food as an atrocity.
  • In Heat Guy J there is a city-state called Magnagalia. Unlike Judoh, where the main plot takes place, Magnagalia has no capital punishment. Instead, criminals (usually murderers) convicted and sentenced to 100 years or more are genetically and surgically altered such that their head becomes that of an animal, so that when they look in the mirror they see this beast staring back at them. They are also "conditioned" (read: tortured).
  • In the original manga of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Pharaoh would challenge do-badders to a Shadow Game (which were more like Saw-style life-or-death games) which often came with an unusual consequence for losing: a "Penalty Game", which would involve a tailor-made eternal torture, ranging from a greedy person having hallucinations of nothing but money, to a television network director getting his eyes mosaic censored.
  • Hell Girl is pretty much built around inflicting these to people. Forcing a Jerkass math teacher sent to Hell to recount Pi for all eternity is one of the milder examples.
    • After the first season was over, there was a strange increase in cool-yet-lethal jokes Enma would play on her victims. You practically could get chocked on carbon dioxide because "whoops, wrong ingredients; I synthesized CO2 instead of oxygen for you. Well, Sucks To Be You ".
  • Seen a few times in Keroro Gunsou. In one chapter of the manga, Keroro's penalty for submitting a late invasion progress report is being ordered to eat a bowl of shaved ice with his ears.
  • Melty Blood: In the manga, Akiha's punishment for Kohaku attempting to take over the Tohno mansion (and wiping out the Tohno family's fortune in the process of mass-producing her Mech-Hisui army) is to invite everyone to a beach party - and Kohaku isn't allowed to change out of her heavy kimono and apron. She collapses approximately halfway through the day.
  • In Girls und Panzer, Oarai High School has the Anglerfish dance. The movements look silly, the lyrics sound silly even when not translated, and the Anglerfish costumes are especially silly-looking. All that, while riding down a public street on a flat-bed vehicle with a loudspeaker system providing the song, is a recipe for maximum embarrassment. It's said that doing so will become an Internet meme the unfortunate girl will never live down; one girl is certain she'll never be able to get married afterward.
  • In a bizarre scene from Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san, apprentice magician Rinko summons the demon Moloch, and offers him curry as the required tribute; Moloch is insulted by this, and decides to turn poor Rinko into a cow. To make it worse, he and Azazel sing "Old Mac Donald" to mock her while it happens. Fortunately for Rinko, Akutabe intervenes and convinces Moloch to eat the curry, turning Rinko back to normal and causing both demons to flee. Still, it is implied that he later disciplined Rinko himself in a more conventional manner for being careless.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Preacher (Comic Book): A rare hero-on-villain example occurs; Jesse uses his Compelling Voice to force Hoover to count three million grains of sand on a beach. (He originally told him to count every grain, although Hoover pointed out that was implausible.) The trope ends up being a subversion, however—Hoover takes the better part of a year to finish because the sand keeps blowing away, he grows emaciated and utterly insane from being unable to stop.
    • Because he's a real hero, though, Jesse sets things right when he realizes how horrible the idea was in practice—in the Voice of God, he says, "Well, hell. If it was that bad, just forget it." The incident totally wiped from his memory, Hoover happily leaves, restored to full mental health and beyond...

Hoover: "Hello, birds! Hello, sky! Hello, people passing by!"

  • The comic The Tick (animation) and its various spin-offs used this one repeatedly, but most notably so when Heather, girlfriend of "Crime Cannibal" (aka. Keith), was kidnapped and tortured.

Heather: "Keith. Thank god. They made me watch Beastmaster II over and over. And Dolph Lundgren was next."
Keith: "You monster!" [tosses criminal through the TV set.]

  • In the Star Trek: New Frontier miniseries Turnaround, Zak Kebron spends the course of two issues showing Romulan Centurion Lucius his family's vacation slides. Lucius takes it for an interrogation technique (and breaks rather quickly), but Kebron claims that he's just "being sociable." By the time Captain Calhoun comes for him, Lucius wishes he'd simply let Kebron crush his head earlier.
  • In Deadpool #9, not only is Deathtrap intending to kill Deadpool by crushing him with a giant teddy bear that will fall on him at a rate determined by how much Deadpool talks, but also Deadpool fears this when Deathtrap presses play on a tape player and Deadpool says, "If you have a Raffi tape in there, someone's gonna bleed."

"Interesting. Teddy's approaching ramming speed."

  • The titular character in Leonard Le Genie is a master of this, often punishing his assistant in painful but hilarious ways for such slights as sleeping late, being clumsy, or insulting his master. Yes, Leonardo is a Bad Boss, what clued you in?
  • The pointy haired boss in Dilbert punished Wally's lack of performance, by forcing Wally to watch him eat!
    • There have been several times in which Phil, Prince of Insufficient Light has "darned" someone to "Heck", sentencing them to no change in their situation whatsoever. But then for most Dilbert characters, that's certainly a horrible thing to do.
    • In an infamous strip, Wally suggests wearing an "uncomfortable hat" as compensation for working from home one day a week. The pointy haired boss approves, but adds that it "has to be really uncomfortable". The last panel shows a purple-faced Wally with out-of-place glasses sporting a C-CLAMP as hat.

Wally: The joke's on him! It isn't that uncomfortable.

  • In Tank Vixens, Üdda von Schteppenslammer tortures some of the vixens by forcing them to watch Barney.
  • In Marvel Adventures: Superheroes, Iron Man finds out why "Kree Karaoke" is considered an extreme sport: if the judges don't like you, they hit a gong and drop you into the "Kitten Cacophony" pit, deafening you for some time.
  • From Marvel Comics, the D-List villain Mathemaniac can neutralize opponents by causing them to accurately perceive how vast space really is.
    • Probably inspired by the Total Perspective Vortex described below.
    • The Phoenix did it too. To Mastermind.
  • In Astonishing X-Men, we have the telepath Emma Frost:

Emma Frost: You feel no pain. You will go straight to a hospital. Remember nothing of this place. And every time you hear the words "parsley", "intractable", and "longitude", you will vomit uncontrollably for 48 hours.
Cyclops: Nice work, X-Men... My girlfriend is very weird.

  • Those who read Mortadelo Y Filemon (a Spanish comic book that parodies spy films such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) will see this trope being done at least once per story, either to make them accept to be guinea pigs to Bacterio's inventions, to make them do things that they would not do save under duress or due to botching up their mission. Examples include: being forced to watch ALL of Chuck Norris' TV films; being forced to see a whole season of a TV series that has been written by their boss; being forced to eat something that is not normally eaten (books, bowling balls...); being forced to hear a particularly horrible song so many times that they go mad; being forced to see the State of the Country Address several hundreds of times (hilariously played with in the El ordenador... ¡Qué horror!)... and so many more that makes you laugh with how inventive Ibáñez gets in each comic book.
  • An issue of Incredible Hercules had Phobos showing Pluto his worst fear: care bears and My Little Ponies... then he threatened to bring on the children's rock band. Pluto cracked.
  • In Empowered volume 1: When the Caged Demonwolf mocks Thugboy for being pussy-whipped, Thugboy gets revenge by making the Demonwolf watch Divine Secrets of the Yada-Yada Sisterhood all night long.
  • Dori Seda wrote a story about hell. John Belushi has to make Adolf Hitler, Marquis de Sade and Albert Fisk laugh. John Wayne is married to Oscar Wilde. And Moe Howard is forced to watch My Dinner with Andre forever.


Fan Fic[edit | hide]

  • "An Unusual Punishment" featured the cast of Digimon being forced to read very bad Digimon fanfiction....
    • There are probably a lot of "characters-Mystery Science Theater 3000-fanfic-of-themselves" fics you could apply this to, depending on which of them actually explain why the characters are sitting around mocking fanfic.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts fanfic Those Lacking Spines, Vexen is tortured with the LazyTown cake song, and his cake phobia afterward becomes a Running Gag. His torturers first try "It's a Small World After All", but he's half-Disney, so the song has no effect.
  • In One Thing Leads to Another, Beast Boy offers Raven a back massage after their first date and she says that if his hands will stray, she will send him to "another dimension - one where there are no females to give back massages to and no video games, and the only thing on TV is constant reruns of Barney the Dinosaur". He acts properly scared.
  • In Chapter 18 of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic fanfic Yet Another Kotor Parody, Saul Karath tortures RGN, Carth, and Bastila by reading them awful poetry.
  • In chapter 10 of Friends In High Places Dennis Sterling, a retired Imperial Navy intelligence officer, recommends the use of an old Yoko Ono recording as an aid to interrogation. "I must confess," Dennis continued, "that I've found a roll of duct tape, a high quality audio headset, and one of her early recordings to be quite useful when questioning a prisoner."
  • From An Entry With a Bang:

“Repeating what I am about to tell you will result in sanctions including but not limited to removal of rank, discharge from the Global Defense Initiative, and a very, very, very long time in a very, very, very dark hole. Understood?”
Dansel nodded. “Yes. It must be Tuesday then. On Wednesdays they threaten me with reading bad fanfiction about my life.”

  • In the Fusion Fall fic Haywire Ben Tennyson's evil genetic double Albedo (who hates humanity and is a misogynist to boot) is the only one that can save Ben's life; naturally, he won't cooperate unless they capitulate to his ridiculous demands despite being offered generous payment and not being turned over to the Space Police. To make him compliant, Professor Utonium gets... creative by hosting an insanely cutesy tea party in Albedo's cell with Bubbles, Dee Dee and Sarah while the girls play movies of an annoying My Little Pony Expy as they shove sugary foods down Albedo's throat and paint his fingernails. It's almost too much for Albedo to take, but he resists... until Utonium brings in Number Three. Dexter even calls it "cruel and unusual punishment" as he compliments his adoptive father on raising the bar for said punishment.

Kevin Levin: Dude, that is harsh.
Utonium: He had his chance.

  • In The Official Fanfiction University of Middle-Earth, one punishment involved having to write lines in "Urple" ink, Urple being a colour described as a combination of pink and purple in the worst possible way. It's very hard to write when looking at the ink is painful. Or listening to Bombadil poetry for a whole day.
  • An absolutely hilarious example in the Tamers Forever Series:

Takato: IF YOU DARE FINISH THAT SENTENCE I'LL…
Chaos: What? What will you do?
Takato: I'LL…I'LL TAKE A PILL OF PROZAC!
Chaos: You wouldn't dare!
Takato: OH, YES I WOULD!
Chaos' silence was enough of an answer, he had won that one.
Ruki: But at what price…Prozac, Takato? That's just sick…
Takato: Shut up and let me enjoy this victory…
Chaos: while it lasts…
Takato: I thought SOMEONE was supposed to shut up!

Gin: Hmmmm... what's that? Looks like a pimple.
Yumichika: NOOOOOOOO!
Gin: Oh, geez, are those split ends? Man, your hair is so dry and stringy. It looks awful.
Yumichika: LIAR! LIAR AND MURDERER!
Gin: No, i'm serious. It's like straw or something, it's so dry and desiccated. Although i suppose it helps to take attention away from how bulbous and huge your nose is.
Yumichika: You... you monster...
Gin: I'm surprised you can see that i'm a monster, what with how puffy your eyes are.
Yumichika: No... please... please stop...

Yui Ikari: "Not that I'm complaining, but how did you convince a literal sex demon to get me a wardrobe this tasteful?"
Mephisto II: "As I keep saying, I'm the King of Hell, damnit! When I give someone a direct order – which isn't all that often, really – they obey it or risk a brutal punishment."
Yui: "But how the hell do you punish a sex demon who's into every single fetish at once?"
Mephisto II: "Two words: Enforced. Abstinence."

And this horrible, horrible humming is impossible to ignore. It is similar to a known lullaby, but it departs from that pattern unpredictably. It sets up expectations and then violates them, never in any constant pattern that would permit the humming to fade into the background. The listener's brain cannot prevent itself from expecting the anti-musical phrases to complete, nor prevent itself from noticing the surprises.

  • In the Deviant ART piece seen here (warning, NSFW), an arrogant shoplifter finds out the hard way the consequences of stealing from a magical toy store.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Full Metal Jacket, the gunnery sgt. finds a jelly donut in "Private Pyle's" footlocker. One would think he'd sentence him to extra PE, but instead he forces "Pyle" to eat the donut and watch his teammates be subjected to grueling exercises. They weren't very happy with him. Later (after many such group punishments, though) he gets tied down to his bunk and beaten with bars of soap in socks by the entire platoon.
  • In The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Adam threatens to sing after being locked out of the bus. He carries through with the threat but is unsuccessful and spends the night outside.
  • In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, the method Dreyfus used to torture the professor's daughter was by scratching a chalkboard.
    • With a huge metal gauntlet.
  • When the titular character of Ace Ventura attempts to interrogate the bad guy not really the bad guy, he pulls out a sharp knife and a fork, rubs them together menacingly... and promptly proceeds to scratch them together on an empty plate in an extremely annoying way which, almost understandably, causes the victim to grimace in pain. When that fails to break his will, Ventura proceeds to lean over the victim, and pushes his own eye in its socket in a rather disgusting way, making the bad guy shout out "Uggh, stop it! My brother used to do it to me!" This finally gets him to spill the beans on the Evil Plan.
    • ...of which the man has no part of.
  • The "Fistful of Yen" sequence in The Kentucky Fried Movie includes a CIA agent who responds defiantly to the villain's every threat- but turns yellow when he learns what'll happen to him. "Take him to Detroit!"
    • No! No, not Detroit! No! No, please! Anything but that! No! No!
    • In the Spanish version, he's taken to Madrid instead.
  • In the incredibly bizarre Mexican Santa Claus, Satan threatens to force Pitch to eat ice cream should he fail in his mission against Santa.
    • "And instead of red hot coals, you will eat chocolate ice cream!"
  • The Addams Family Values. The Harmony Hut.
    • Speaking of The Addams Family Values, Wednesday tells a ghost story which mentions a ghost punishing campers for their disbelief in him: "And when they woke up the next morning...all their old noses had grown back." The superficial girls scream in terror.
  • In Spaceballs, Dark Helmet uses Princess Vespa to force her father to give the combination to his planet's air shield. He threatens to use a plastic surgeon to restore her old nose.
    • Did you see her old nose?!
  • Top Secret. Nick Rivers is being interrogated.

Colonel: He won't break. We've tried everything! ...Do you want me to bring out the Leroy Neiman paintings?
General: No. We cannot risk violating the Geneva Convention.

  • In Dogma, in punishment for defying God, Bartleby and Loki are forced to live for all eternity in Wisconsin.
    • It was going to be New Jersey, but God wasn't going to be that horrible.
  • Woody Allen used this trope, a lot. Examples include:
    • Take the Money and Run: Being locked inside "The Box" with an insurance salesman.
    • Bananas: Being forced to listen to Naughty Marietta.
    • Zelig: Leonard's parents often locked him in a closet as punishment. When they were really angry, they got in the closet with him.
    • Sleeper: Apparently, the worst criminals were forced to watch Howard Cosell as an extreme form of punishment.
  • In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, in addition to sending him to London Tower, King Richard punishes the treacherous Prince John by naming all of the toilets in England after him.
  • In the John Candy movie Delirious, Candy's character uses Reality Warper powers to remove Robert Wagner from his immediate vicinity (rather than killing him)... by sending him to Cleveland. He later returns:

Candy: But I sent you to Cleveland!
Wagner: I know. I should kill you for that alone.

  • In Dude, Where's My Car?, the Jesse and Chester are arrested and brought to the police station for interrogation. Once in the interrogation room, in order to coerce them into talking, the detectives bring in a mannequin and begin beating it. This proves unbearable to Jesse and Chester.

"Leave him alone, he doesn't know anything!"

    • Near the end of the movie, the alien protectors of the Continuum Transfunctioner plan to punish the (other alien) thieves by banishing them to Hoboken, NJ (though they never get the chance).
    • Actually, only one of them is upset by the mannequin beating. The other one thinks the cops are nuts. He's right.
  • This is basically how the plot gets rolling in the first The Mighty Ducks movie. Jerkass lawyer Gordon Bombay is arrested for drunk driving - but because he's been such a jerk to so many in the legal profession, including the judge that hands him his sentence, he's forced to coach the titular peewee hockey team as his community service.
  • J-Men Forever! (1979). In a combination of this trope and Incredibly Lame Pun, a Nazi torturer threatens to make American agent Spy Swatter (a Gag Dubed Spy Smasher) "listen to Donna Summer all winter, until you fall."
  • In One, Two, Three, the communist who married the daughter of Coca Cola's CEO is being tortured in East Germany... by being forced to listen to "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini" on repeat for hours on end. He writhes in pain. (He's finally driven over the edge when they start playing the record on an off-center hole.)
  • From The Last Boy Scout:

Milo: Just once, I would like to hear you scream in pain.
Joe Hallenbeck: Play some rap music.

  • At the beginning of Super Troopers, Ramathorn and Rabbit pull over a car of young stoners high on marijuana and 'shrooms. As punishment, Ramathorn wants to watch them while they smoke a whole plastic bag of reefer. We are never shown if they end up doing that, as Mac chooses this moment to drive by at high speed on an impounded car. After they catch up with Mac, they come up with a different punishment: Mac pretends to shoot the other cops (he's dressed in civvies) then takes their cruiser for a ride, along with the scared trio of stoners.
  • Hook has the Boo Box. Which may be full of scorpions. Or just one.
  • The Knights Who Say "Ni" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would torment people with their Catch Phrase ("Ni!") until they caved in to their demands.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Divine Comedy—particularly the Inferno, but to a lesser extent also the Purgatorio—was filled with punishments specially tailored to the sins of the sufferer.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Prufrock Preparatory School revels in this trope. Punishments for breaking the school's rules include most of time removing your rights to forks, spoons, glasses and knives at the cafeteria. When you think of it, this threat seems more efficient than simply giving detentions, since it's a boarding school. And let's mention that, if you miss one of the vice-principal's violin concerts, you are entitled to buy him a bag of candy and sitting in his office, watching him eating them all. It's hinted at being more depressing than it sounds, since the vice-principal is such a jerk.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features the Total Perspective Vortex, which shows you how large the universe truly is, and how very very small you are.
    • Subverted by Zaphod's vision that yeah, he really IS the most important and cool guy in the universe. And then re-verted when it's revealed that he was in an artificial reality, built just for him, so naturally he was the most important person in it.
    • And, as indicated by the page quote, Vogons use their own poetry as torture. Vogon poetry is sufficiently awful to elicit screams of pain, and could legitimately be regarded as torture. However, Arthur Dent doesn't seem to be particularly bothered by listening to it, which perhaps has to do with the fact that his own planet had the worst poetry in the universe (at least until the Vogons demolished it).
  • In Douglas Adams' The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Norse god Odin punishes Thor by making him count all the stones in Wales.
  • The newspaper columnist Dave Barry used this trope in a number of columns. Typical example:

Judge: "I sentence you to two hours of modern dance."
Defendant: "No! Not modern dance!"
Judge: "Be quiet or I'll throw in the performance artist who protests apartheid with a tub full of rigatoni."

    • In another column he suggested using some of the "overly affectionate turtles" on them.
      • Another has him suggest what would be the most effective punishment of unruly juvenile delinquents: listening to their parents sing. Hey, it worked with Billy Joel's kids.
  • Keith Laumer's Affectionate Parody of Space Opera, the Retief series used things like this a lot, with aliens with incredible (to humans) abilities thinking the same of things humans can do (I.E.: look at gaudy colors, stoop over, drink water...).
  • For altering the ending of Jane Eyre, Thursday Next is sentenced to wear gingham for twenty years and must read the ten most boring books ever written before she dies.
  • In Daniel Pinkwater's book The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, the villain tortures people by forcing them to watch German comedy. Naturally, the character he kidnaps actually likes German comedy.
    • It is also mentioned that the same villain once tortured another character by suspending them in a vat of egg foo young.
  • The Canterbury Tales: In The Wife of Bath's Tale, a knight is to be executed for raping a woman, but the queen decides to spice things up a little bit. If he wants to live, he has a year and a day to...discover the one thing women really want more than anything else. ... ... On Second Thought... (In case you're wondering, the answer is "power over their husbands". This was the Middle Ages.)
    • In "The Summoner's Tale", a cruel friar is extracting money from a poor man and his family. As revenge, the poor man promises to give him what he has hidden underneath him to divide among the friars. He ends up farting into the friar's hand...and then, because the deal had been made, he has to fart in the faces of all the friars, proving that tasteless humor is Older Than They Think.
  • At one point in the Discworld book Men At Arms, Sergeant Colon is afraid to report to Lord Vetinari, fearing that Lord Vetinari will be sarcastic about Colon's performance on the job. He might even be satirical.
    • Elsewhere in the same book, when talking dog Gaspode was reluctant to help Carrot locate Angua, Carrot threatened to "turn the matter over to Corporal Nobbs," a fellow officer with little in the way of moral objections whose own humanity has been repeatedly questioned. Gaspode's bitter reply: "That's what I like--incentive."
    • A strange Running Gag is that Vetinari's mood can be determined by his tone: Friendly, curious, amused, condescending, sarcastic, and if he is ironic...if Vetinari is being ironic then you probably died days ago, you just haven't noticed yet. And woe betide you if he ever gives anyone a choice. Never let him give you a choice!

Vetinari: "If you don't want to take my offer, you have only to walk through that door and you will never hear from me again."
Moist: "Excuse me, I'd just like to check something."
...There was nothing beyond, and that included a floor.

    • In Faust Eric, we find that under new management, the demons of Hell have switched from their largely unsuccessful physical tortures of the damned to psychological torture...in the form of boring people's souls out of their minds (with vacation pictures and readings from dry, dull textbooks). Under Astfgl's kingship of Hell, a very specific boredom has been perfected—the expensive boredom that goes on during vacations when you should be having fun.
    • And then there's Moist von Lipwig's cry of cruel and unusual punishment in Going Postal: being given a job. Subverted when Vetinari quite reasonably points out to him that while the job offer is certainly unusual, it is not very cruel. On the other hand in the dungeon there are a whole range of punishments which are very unusual and extremely cruel if Moist would like to try them for purposes of comparison...
    • Mention is made of an Eldritch Abomination of the Dungeon Dimensions, known as "Tshup Aklathep, the Infernal Star Toad with a Million Young". It kills its victims by forcing them to look at pictures of its children until their brains implode. "I suppose after you've said 'Yes, he's got your eyes' for the thousandth time you're about ready to commit suicide in any case."
  • In Good Omens, Crowley the demon describes a hamster cage as "Like something the Spanish Inquistion would use if they had access to plastics and a moulding press."
  • In Harry Potter, when Hermione finds the Weasley Twins testing out their home-made joke candies on younger students, Hermione demands that they stop. They taunt her by saying "Or what? You'll put us in detention?" Hermione coldly responds with "No. I'll write your mother." This scares the Twins so badly that they immediately comply, an action that has never been seen before or since.
    • Molly Weasley killed Bellatrix Lestrange in a straight wizard duel. This is only one of her Crowning Moments of Awesome. Besides, who isn't scared of their own mother?[1]
    • In the second volume, Ron and Harry are sentenced to cleaning the trophy room without magic and responding to Gilderoy Lockhart's fan mail, respectively. The latter involves Harry having to listen to Lockhart's self-important advice on being a celebrity, which makes it even more tedious.
      • Ron's wouldn't be SO bad if...1. Filch weren't an evil, evil man, and 2. Ron didn't have a disease where he vomits up slugs. And have an attack while cleaning.
    • In the first volume, Harry, Hermione, Neville and Draco are sentenced to searching for a dead unicorn in the Forbidden Forest.
    • In Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George use their pranking prowess to make Umbridge suffer.
  • In Neal Stephenson's Anathem, one of the Avout's nastier punishments is being forced to learn a certain number of chapters of "The Book" and pass a quiz on it prior to being allowed back into society. Each chapter is designed to be steadily less rational - Chapter 1 for instance is a set of nursery rhymes and nonsense poetry that doesn't quite rhyme. Chapter 4 is four pages of the digits of Pi. Only three people have learned the whole thing, and all of them wound up rather insane.
  • In the In Death series, Dallas' idea of ultimate torment is...a hair and body treatment from Mavis' friend Trina. This from a woman who regularly works herself to exhaustion, gets shot at, beaten up, blown up, etc.
  • In Mark Leyner's Et Tu, Babe the protagonist gets high on Abraham Lincoln's morning breath, and is arrested for 'Theft of a Federally Protected Biospecimen'. Some of the sentences for this crime are execution by underwater speargunning, nasal septumectomy, and punitive confiscation. The protagonist makes a plea to get the latter, and while the sentence is carried out, he is restrained in a van and forced to watch the wooden narrative scenes from porn movies. This last is stated as having later been ruled cruel and unusual.
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl gives us the Trunchbull. One of her punishments for a misbehaving child is to force him to eat an entire (very large) chocolate cake. In front of the whole school. In both the book and the film he finishes it all to immense applause (in the book, the applause is spontaneous; in the film, Matilda starts it). Then Trunchbull smashes the platter over his head. Which, in the book, is described as having no effect on the boy, as he's too stuffed from the cake to feel it.
    • Eating a whole cake would make most people sick, so Trunchbull was probably hoping he'd vomit in front of the entire school so she could make him walk around in vomit-covered clothes all day.
  • The SERRAted Edge novel Chrome Circle has racer-mage Tannim captured by unseelie fey, and in order to keep their mind readers from learning anything, he concentrates on the music and lyrics of They Might Be Giants. He drives several mind readers insane, and theorizes he may have started a rash of accordion thefts by convincing them of the magical nature of the instrument.
    • Part of the reason they go insane is because they think Tannim is thinking about alchemical terms (and they can't figure out what the terms mean because he really isn't).
  • In one of the Night Watch books, Anton describes how Geser, head of the Night Watch (the "good guys"), punishes members for slacking off by having them do something they would think is enjoyable, but ends up being boring. For instance, one Watch member punished is a teenage girl, and her punishment is having to be a normal teenager and be around other teenagers, which she quickly finds annoying. This punishment has a bit of a darker edge, in that Others are frequently mentioned to no longer identify with Muggles.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons novel "Descent Into the Depths of the Earth" has the relatively benign action of being tied back-to-back with another person... well, benign if that character isn't Polk the Teamster, a loudmouth who is described as not having stopped talking for the entire two hours they were sitting there; most of the speech was admonishing the hero about how badly he mishandled the previous fight: not because they were captured, but because he wasn't fighting awesomely enough.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, the lead character is forced to sit with his eyes peeled open while watching films about Nazis and violence to pay for his crimes of murder, rape, torture, statutory rape, and drug-taking via milk.
    • Also, the Ludvico Technique involves an intravenous injection that causes severe vomiting. When his newfound pacifism turns him into a punching bag, the State reverts it all and he commits another crime. He considers going straight on his own, naturally. Thank you, Wikipedia. The entire thing is kind of pointless, because had he gone straight on his own, this entire thing could have been avoided. I consider myself to be a hardened 20th century world history student, and even I find something amiss here. Yuck.
  • From The Horse and His Boy, Lasaraleen's, "Here. All of you. And you, doorkeeper. No one is to be let out of the house today. And anyone I catch talking about this young lady will be first beaten to death and then buried alive and after that be kept on bread and water six weeks. There."
    • Aslan's punishment to Prince Rabadash. First, he's turned into a donkey, and then told that he has one chance to become human again, and that's to show up at the Temple of Tash during his country's largest festival, letting the entire country know that their ruler was an ass. Then, if he ever strays too far from the palace ever again, he'll turn into a donkey forever. This prevents him from ever taking military action against other countries, and makes it so that he'll never be able to escape the ridicule that he gets from having been a donkey.
  • In the Percy Jackson interpretation of the Greek underworld, torments in the Fields of Punishment range from classic forms of torture to being forced to listen to opera music. To be fair, Greek Mythology had some pretty weird punishments, too; see the "Mythology" folder below.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Salem in Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a warlock who was turned into a cat by the Witch's Council as punishment for trying to Take Over the World.
    • And in the animated adaptation (as well as at least one comic series), Sabrina's aunts have their apparent age reduced to roughly 22-24 for gross magical misconduct. Somehow this is a dreadful punishment for witches.
      • According to The Other Wiki they are de-aged into teenagers, and (because they aren't legal adults in the mortal world) are forced to attend high school and share a house with their "legal guardian" Uncle Quigley—despite actually being hundreds of years old.
  • Arguably the entire premise of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The main characters are forced to watch crappy movies as part of an experiment; the villain is hoping to discover a film so bad it drives them insane, at which point he will turn it into a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Also used (or at least threatened) within at least two episodes, late in the series' run; Pearl Forrester threatens Mike Nelson with "a John Agar film festival" as punishment for one of Mike and the 'bots transgressions, while another episode has her giving the crew the especially hellishly god-awful film Hobgoblins as a punishment for jumping on her rent-to-own sofas.
    • Pearl came oh-so-close to succeeding with Invasion of the Neptune Men, which nearly drove Mike and the bots insane. Their spirits were lifted by a visit from Krankor.
    • And how can anyone forget the original baddest of the bad, Manos, the Hands of Fate, a film so terrible that Dr. Forrester apologized for showing it to them.
  • There have been many examples, but in the Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes to War", a Sontaran was forced to restore his honor by serving duties as a nurse, prolonging life, rather than allowing them to die in the glory of battle.
    • In the beginning of the Key to Time arc, the White Guardian gives us this gem:

Doctor: And what happens to me if I refuse?
White Guardian: Nothing.
Doctor: What, nothing happens?
White Guardian: Yes, nothing at all. Ever.

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Confess, or the Spanish Inquisition will poke you with soft cushions. And if that fails... "Cardinal Fang! Fetch... the comfy chair!" This might be considered a subversion, since the people tortured in this way are just confused, and do not react as if being tortured. Unlike...
    • Doug Piranha from the Piranha brothers sketch was so scary that grown men would pull their own heads off rather than endure this:

Vercotti: He used... Sarcasm. He knew all the tricks; dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... Satire. He was vicious.

  • In one episode of The Weird Al Show, a sadistic kid's show host threatens his sidekick with a "Pauly Shore marathon" if he doesn't win a coveted award. He doesn't win (but nor does the other guy he's aiming to beat). The last shot of the episode is his sidekick, bound and gagged to a chair, as the host snarls, "Which do you want to see first? Encino Man or Jury Duty?"
  • In Scrubs, Dr. Cox and Jordan punish the doctor responsible for Dr. Cox's failed vasectomy by strapping him to a chair while an acappella group continuously sings the baritone part to the "Chili's Baby Back Ribs" Jingle over and over. The torture is so horrendous that thirty minutes into the singing, the doctor starts eating his own face.

Doctor: When do they say 'ribs?'
Dr. Cox: Never. They never say 'ribs.'

    • It seems Dr Cox is the distributer of cool and unusual punishments; at one point he made Keith check the countertop's heartbeat for two hours.
    • A bizarre one: To get back at Elliot for dating Keith, JD in one of his Yandere moments demands to be part of their sexual fantasies.
  • In Power Rangers SPD, a villain who wouldn't give up any information under threats, promises of a reduced sentence or even The Chick's hit single "Me" crumbled under the Cloudcuckoolander's stream-of-consciousness rambling.
    • Their was also a subversion in a different episode with Piggy. Gruumm had left Piggy in a disgusting filthy pit for half an hour to convince him to help him defeat the rangers. The subversion isn't that it was a punishment, both of them saw it as a taste of a reward.
  • Used in an episode of Mork and Mindy, where Mork gets captured by Amazon-esque aliens who torture him with massages and the dreaded bubble bath!.
    • Were these the ones commanded by Raquel Welch? Whose character complained about her skimpy silver toned costume, 'Who could look good in this?'
  • One of the earliest (and arguably most memorable) sketches from A Bit of Fry and Laurie was one that featured Hugh Laurie enthusiastically showing the most boring holiday pictures you can think of and describing each one while Stephen Fry made sarcastic comments that appeared to be falling on deaf ears.

Laurie: And this is one of me on the toilet half an hour later. I used a self-timer for that one. Because the whole new Minolta range have got self-timers.
Fry: Self-timers? Oh, well, then I must leave at once.
Laurie: I discovered this marvelous little man in Hadia who developed film the traditional Cretan way. Nikos his name was, or Costas. Could have been Andreas.
Fry: Oh, but I must find out. Which? Which was his name?
Laurie: This is him on the toilet.
Fry: GO AWAY! (hugs himself and cries)
Laurie: Right. Well, you touch my daughter again and it'll be a slide show. You understand?
(Fry nods weakly)

  • "Damn Bundys" from Married... with Children: When Al goes to hell because of a pact he made with Satan, the latter punishes Al to eat "Weenie Tots" (Which Al loves) for the rest of eternity cause they will force Al to spend eternity in the bathroom (and we all know how bad this is for Al.) When Satan notices that this has not the effect he wanted, he proclaims "For the rest of eternity you'll never see your family again" causing Al to fall on his knees saying "This is heaven." However, Satan finally manages to come up with a Cool and Unusual Punishment: For Al to continue his normal life for all eternity.
  • This occurred at the end of every "Judge Trudy" skit on The Amanda Show, when Trudy would rule in favor of the child plaintiff and sentence the hapless adult defendant to something odd, which the bailiff would immediately carry out.
  • House:
    • When a girl comes in with neck pain in "Kids", instead of firing Chase for being Vogler's Mole, House decides to be creative:

House: You, sir, will research all the causes in the universe of neck pain.
Chase: The list is, like, two miles long!
House: Start with the letter A.

    • When Ron Livingston's global altruist character in "TB or not TB" orders a press conference on the unfairness of Africa's lack of Western medical care, House breaks into his hospital room and increases the heat, turns off the TV, knocks his supplies on the floor and flushes his cell phone down the toilet to simulate the third world environment he "obviously wants".
  • In Yes, Prime Minister, Prime Minister Hacker manages to get a slimy Foreign Office Mole who has been meddling with his attempts to work with Israel in accordance with the Foreign Office's pro-Palestinian leanings a cushy promotion as ambassador to an important friendly nation. Unfortunately, the embassy is in Tel Aviv...
  • This is how Michael Kyle would usually punish his kids every time they get out of line in My Wife and Kids.
  • In Kamen Rider Decade, Natsumi will respond to anything Tsukasa does to annoy her - and I mean anything - by hitting him with the Laughing Pressure Point, a thumb-jab to the neck that causes him to laugh uncontrollably for the next several minutes. She even hit Tetsuya with it in one episode where she couldn't use it on Tsukasa.
  • In an episode of Will and Grace, Karen throws a wild party and trashes Will's apartment. Her punishment? Will denies Karen her afternoon martini (a.k.a. "dessert")--and makes her look at Grace's endless honeymoon photos.

Karen: (to Will) I HATE YOU!
Grace: Roll one--my luggage!

    • In another, Karen and Jack are coming up with some type of revenge against the English Lorraine Finster for stealing Karen's husband. Jack's idea? Make her watch the American version of anything British.
  • Some of the bad guys in Medium ended up being punished this way, especially Jeremy and his girlfriend from An Everlasting Love, stuck together as ghosts for all eternity, the lone thing that bound them together (kidnapping and killing young women) gone and the Gold Digger wife from Will The Real Fred Rovick Please Stand Up? who ends up being conned out of her inheritance - for which she had murdered her 91-year-old husband - by the guy she used to corrupt one of the jurors.
  • Parodied by the MythBusters. One of the selected myths for the third viewer special was whether bamboo could grow through a person's body. The setup sequence in the blueprint room featured Adam pretending to be tied to a chair while Jamie said "I can keep singing all day".
  • On The West Wing, C.J. once accidentally arranged for a photo op wherein the president would pose with a goat. Leo was not happy.

Leo: If he's wearing a hat, or that thing's wearing a Bartlet button -- I'm hiding snakes in your car.
C.J.: Come on, don't say that, not even to joke!
Leo: You're never gonna know where they are...
C.J.: Leo!
Leo: ...or if you got 'em all out. Gonna lay their eggs right in your glove compartment.

  • The Drew Carey Show
    • You know what happened to the last guy who played a game of "I'm not touching the Devil"? He wound up wiping a fly's mouth for all eternity.
    • In another episode, Mimi blasted the Van Halen song "Panama" over and over for several days to attempt to drive Drew out of his house.
  • On Top Gear, when the presenters are making a long journey in second-hand cars (bought under a narrow budget according to certain criteria; e.g. two-wheel drive and not modified for off-roading), the producers send along an emergency backup car which is either 1. hateful to all three of them, 2. entirely inappropriate for the setting, or both. If a car breaks down and the presenter cannot get it going again, his punishment is to use the backup car for the rest of the journey.
    • In the Botswana special, the backup was an old-model VW Beetle.
    • In the Vietnam special, it was a motorbike painted in a bright and gaudy American flag livery and blasting Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA", with the radio controls disabled.
      • If you listen to the lyrics, "Born in the USA" is anti-American sentiment from a disgruntled blue collar worker against the capitalist system. This is Vietnam and they don't understand English, but if they did and listened to the song, they might even like it.
    • In a Season 13 episode involving a long drive in France and a race on Val Thorens's ice-driving track, it was a Morris Marina—a car which, inexplicably, usually winds up crushed under a piano whenever it appears on the show. The presenters blame a nearby piano moving service, Careless Airways.
      • Adding insult to injury, this was a rare instance where the backup car was required (as James's selection died.) Heaping a metric ton of insult to injury, it proved to be the car that won the challenge. (One guess what happened after they walked away from it at the ice-track finish line. They blamed Careless Airways' French affiliate.)
    • Don't forget the one where they went to America, although they had no idea it was going to be punishment. As a joke on the stereotypes of USA Southerners (which aren't true... right?) they paint some joke things on each other's car. Hammond's (painted by May) says "Man-love rules OK", Clarkson's (painted by Hammond) says "Country and western is rubbish", and May's (painted by Clarkson) says "Hillary for President". They laugh at how idiotic they feel, and stop at a petrol station to fill up. The owner is like 'What the hell, are you serious?' and they're like 'It's just a joke, we're sorry if you're offended'... and she subsequently calls her friends and they have a mob of people chasing after the 3 guys and the camera crew. The rest we see of that is a mobile phone recording of them absolutely shitting themselves and trying to rub the words off their cars. Completely unexpected but a cool and unusual punishment for thinking that Southerners aren't like their stereotype.
    • They were upset about the Country and Western being rubbish.
    • The woman gave them exactly what they wanted. They went to the Deep South looking to get a rise out of the locals in search of good TV. What they didn't bargain on was getting that, in spades, complete with truckloads of rednecks willing to give them the beatdown they literally were asking for.
    • Yes, because violence and bodily harm is an acceptable response to someone else's opinions painted on his own vehicle.
  • Glee: Sue is upset with Will:

Sue: I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And on some dark, cold night I will steal away into your home, and punch you in the face.

    • Sue also punished her moles failures by revoking their tanning privileges. It causes Santana to burst into tears.
    • Basically everything Sue does, really...
    • And when Will has finally had enough of Sue he gets her to fall in love with him, mends all the damaged caused by their rivalry, and then dumps he just because he can.
  • Castle.

Rick Castle: "There has to be a way to get it out of him. We could force him to watch Paris Hilton videos.
Kate Beckett: "You want to be brought up on charges?"

  • In the Suite Life On Deck episode "Model Behavior", Moseby punishes Zack, Marcus, and Woody for throwing a party without his authorization and encouraging a group of teen models to stay out past curfew by making them don snorkeling gear and fish the floaties they threw overboard out of the ocean.
  • In the Hannah Montana episode "Ready, Set, Don't Drive", Miley gets arrested for driving with an invalid license. She got her license as Hannah Montana because she didn't want to wait two weeks for a retest. Why, you ask? She couldn't handle the embarrassment of showing up to Amber's big party when Amber had her license and she didn't. Does Robbie Ray ground her? Passe! Take away her allowance? Old hat! Instead, he drives her to the big party, and announces over a bullhorn that Miley didn't get her license.
  • Night Gallery: a hippie finds he's gone to Hell. He's cool with it and can't wait to see the groovy fire and brimstone and demons...then is horrified to find his custom-made Hell is spending eternity with an old couple, watching their nonstop vacation slide show and listening to a mile-high stack of Lawrence Welk records. This set-up is also the old couple's custom-made Heaven.
  • Reba has Jake gripe to Cheyenne about having Kyra babysit him because he's stuck watching "The Wiggles" with his niece under Kyra's care. Kyra's response? "Keep complaining. I got Barney tapes here." And when Reba wrecked her son-in-law's car, he got her back for it by telling their neighbor of Reba's temporary blind condition after Reba had an eye surgery, knowing fully well that said neighbor would rush to Reba's aid despite Reba's dislike of the neighbor.
  • Police, Camera, Action! is not averse to this trope in the Retool series presented by Gethin Jones since December 2008. All participants in the show learn the consequences of their driving misdemeanors in some shocking way. But Values Dissonance comes into play here.
  • During one episode of Yes, Dear, Greg got threatened with one of these by his boss: "Warner, if you keep talking, you're going to come to work in a thong and a beefeater hat." That got Greg quiet.
  • Fail to accomplish what you're tasked to do, and Luke will punish you with his water gun. Better have some spare clothes with you if he's supervising your work.
  • In the fourth series of Blackadder, Edmund and Baldrick are at one point captured by the Germans and sentenced to a "fate worse than death". Since said fate apparently consists of spending the rest of the war at a German convent school teaching home economics, Blackadder is pretty miffed when he gets rescued and promptly sent back to the front.
  • In an episode of Bones, Booth only gets a rapper to cooperate with an investigation by promising to put him in jail for a month and charge him with murder. The rapper is ecstatic, while Bones is completely dumbfounded, unable to comprehend the term "street cred".
  • Supernatural: In "The Man Who Would Be King," it is shown that after Crowley took over Hell, he made an endless line consisting of millions of people the standard punishment. No agonizing torture like what Dean experienced during his time there, and instead of Fire and Brimstone Hell we get what looks like a long hallway that contains a line that requires people who reach the front to go all the way to the back of the line again.
  • While not deliberately a punishment, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had a 21st century astronaut that got accidentally abducted by aliens and when they couldn't return him home, made him a small reality where he could live out the rest of his days in the company of pseudo-humans based around a book as an attempt at apologizing for screwing him. Unfortunately, they based the reality off a godawful book that the astronaut writes in his logbook "I hold no malice toward my benefactors. They could not possibly know the hell they have put me through, for it was such a badly written book, filled with endless cliché and shallow characters. I shall welcome death when it comes."
  • The Cosby Show: After Vanessa comes home drunk, her parents make her participate in the same drinking game again, even watching her younger sister have to take a shot. (What they don't tell her is that they're using tea.)
  • In Friends, there was one episode in which Joey forces Chandler to wear blue lipstick as punishment for lying to him. There was also an earlier episode where Joey makes Chandler stay in a wooden box for six hours as punishment for cheating on his girlfriend. In another episode, Rachel tells Ross to drink a glass of fat to make up for him insulting her (although she stops him when she sees that he was actually going to do it). And yep, all of those make sense.
  • A lot of Whose Line Is It Anyway sketches feature some form of this, particularly "World's Worst". For example, in one "Hoedown", Colin claims he hates the Backstreet Boys so much that he punished them by making them wear copies of his loud Hawaiian shirt.
  • On episode of Lizzie McGuire, Matt pretends to have an Imaginary Friend so his parents would buy him what ever he wanted. They punish him by making him wash a number of imaginary animals while the rest of the family watches.
  • Mel during one episode of Melissa and Joey tells her niece and nephew under her care: "Stay out of trouble, or I'll come to your school and kiss you at lunch."
  • During an episode of Home Improvement, Tim gets himself and his wife lost while driving but stubbornly refuses to ask for directions. To make Tim change his mind, his wife threatens to get up each morning and cut out the sports section of the newspapers they get if he continues to refuse to stop and ask for directions. It works.
  • On Seinfeld, this was part of the premise for Jerry's NBC pilot. After hitting Jerry's car, a man has no insurance or ability to pay for the damages, so a judge sentences a man to be Jerry's butler. The network executives like this ridiculous premise much more than "a show about nothing."
  • On an episode of Roseanne", Darlene wants D.J. punished for messing up her room. Roseanne and Dan decide to let Darlene name the punishment, and she decides to make D.J. wear a suit and tie to school the next day, which of course he hates.

Roseanne: Of course, I would have made him wear a dress. (Darlene gapes) Too late!

  • After Harm and Mic get into a fight that inadvertently breaks Bud's jaw (he stepped in between their simultaneous punches), Admiral Chegwidden offers them "non-judicial punishment". He takes them to an empty building, opens the door, and tells them they are not to leave until they inflict damage and pain on each other equal to what they inflicted on Bud. The next day in court, they both look like they went 10 rounds with the heavyweight champ.

Mythology[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Feudalism: Classical Mythology was rife with brutal physical torture, but also featured several bizarre and less obviously torturous punishments. A few potent examples include...:
    • Tantalus, whose punishment for killing a boy his son and serving him as a meal to the GODS was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Thus was born the word tantalize.
    • Sisyphus was a sly and crafty king who was cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.
    • Atlas, who Zeus condemned to hold the sky on his shoulders. (This is usually misinterpreted as the Earth.)
    • Medusa was already a little too pretty for Athena's liking, but the last straw was when she had the sheer gall of getting raped inside one of Athena's temples, and by a God at that (Poseidon, if you're curious). "Most wise" Athena must have been in a blaming-the-victim mood that day because she turned her into, well, the Medusa (or, it could be that she had no authority to punish her uncle).
    • Athena is also on record for turning Arachne into a spider. There are various versions of just exactly why:
      • Arachne was punished for hubris. She proclaimed that she was a better weaver than Athena. When you're dealing with the Greek pantheon, it's really not wise to make those kinds of boasts. Even if they're true.
      • In another version, Arachne challenged Athena to a weaving contest, and while Athena admitted that Arachne's weaving was technically flawless, the image that Arachne wove was one of the gods and goddesses acting like idiots and making fools of themselves. So the punishment was for, on top of everything else, not showing proper respect to the gods. Athena was generally one of the more level-headed deities in the myths, but apparently one can push even her too far.
    • Echo, a nymph with a bad habit of gossiping, was stripped of her voice by Hera when the goddess realized that Echo was distracting her from searching for her wayward husband, Zeus. Later, after seeing how utterly miserable Echo had become, Hera had a slight change of heart, and returned Echo's voice to her, changing it so that she could only repeat whatever she heard. Things got worse when she fell in love with Narcissus, and Eros tried and failed to make him fall in love with her: Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, and broke Echo's heart when he proclaimed his love for his own reflection in stereo. Heartbroken, Echo pined away until all that was left of her was her voice, while Narcissus stared at his own reflection until he starved to death, whereupon the first of the eponymous flowers sprung up at the site of his death.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Non Sequitur: "Dog heaven is where the bad squirrels go." A similar joke was once made about the "paradise" for suicide bombers being a form of hell for young women.
  • The Far Side: many and varied, from variations on Hell ("this is your room, Maestro" [room filled with thirty banjo players]) to the mysterious object known only as "Mr Thingy".
  • Grand Avenue: Video rental store policy: "WARNING: Stiff penalty if video not rewound!" That penalty being that upon your next visit, they make you watch twenty minutes of an "Ernest" movie.
  • In Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Phoebe made the mistake of telling her dad that she was now immune to punishment; she couldn't be sent to her room because, thanks to unicorn magic gone awry, her room was temporarily missing, as in nonexistent. He suggested he'd make her disentangle the wad of cables under his computer desk. Wide-eyed in horror, Phoebe promised to be good.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • In Old Harrys Game, while many punishments of the damned are quite gruesome and sadistic, a couple are like this. In one instance, the protagonists are tortured by having demons act out dialogue from Jeffrey Archer novels. Another instance involved Thomas, the Butt Monkey and a reprehensible person in life being stripped and painted like a zebra and sentenced to be eaten by crocodiles. However, the actual punishment was that the crocodiles would come up to him and open their jaws, but do nothing- thereby torturing him with the anxiety of waiting for the punishment to begin.
    • Mention should also be made of "The Pit of Eternally Pregnant Popes"


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In the Paranoia adventure "Clones in Space," an alien race with a highly developed aesthetic sense uses torture methods based on poor taste (Waylon Jennings records, Three Stooges videos, etc.) The Game Master is advised to actually procure the media and subject the players to it, all the while groaning and feigning agony at his/her own exposure to it.

Theater[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Sam and Max: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball, our heroes interrogate card shark Leonard Steakcharmer by torturing him with... "Yo mama" jokes. Seems Steakcharmer is rather sentimental about his late mother. Each of the personal hells in "What's New, Beelzebub?" qualifies as this trope too.
  • At one point in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Gumshoe informs Phoenix that the chief of police, Damon Gant, punishes cops who break regulations by sitting them down and playing the pipe organ at them for hours on end.
    • Considering how loud this Pipe Organ was supposed to be (that Gumshoe could hear it in his office that's several floors down and that hearing it can cause hearing problems), this may be less Cool and Unusual Punishment than an actual torture with risk of permanent hearing loss.
      • The upshot of this is that phoenix was completely clueless about just how loud that organ was.

Phoenix: Well that's not so bad, music does sooth the soul.
Gumshoe: After listening to it the officer can't hear anything except for the ringing in his own ears.
Phoenix: So it's an instrument of torture...literally.

      • Pipe organs do tend to permeate through a building to the point that you can hear a proper church organ (floor to ceiling [dead link]) outside of the walls quite clearly. Volume aside (a possibility to be sure), it's possible that it just resonates well.
  • In Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, Parn, leader of the Dandelion Gang, "enslaves" Safy's little sister Tina with vague threats that sound terrible until you find out what he really means. Tina blows it out of proportion with her Genkiness.

Parn: You better not try to run, or I'll do those horrible things to you again. You got that!?
Tina: No! Please, anything but that! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Please, forgive me!
Saphy: What did he do to you, Tina!? Tell me! I'm prepared for the worst!
Tina: He... He takes huge bugs and puts them on my face... I-I was so scared... I thought I would die.
Saphy: ..Is that all?

  • In Disgaea, Laharl is physically injured by both optimism and women with sexy bodies. One of his enemies takes advantage of this, attacking with Succubi who constantly spout phrases like "world peace" and "eternal love". His attack power is cut in half in that level.
    • Sinful human souls in Disgaea must atone for their sins either by doing good deeds for free in Celestia, or through torturous, unending labor (which typically involves, among other things, being used as a living hand-grenade by your assigned boss) for minimum wage in the Netherworld. The cool and unusual part? For either job, you have to do it in the body of an explosive demon penguin, dood.
  • In Animal Crossing, you get chewed out by Resetti the mole if you reset the game without saving. His rants are quite amusing, and some players keep resetting just to see everything he says.
    • Sadly (Or thankfuly) You could not do this on the DS Lite. But thanks to the D Si's power button functioning as a soft reset, players can do this over and over and over and over and over and over and over
  • In Retro Game Challenge, you the player have been sent back in time to the 1980's. Your only way back? Beat the Game Master's classic gaming challenges! The horror, I'm being forced to play mockups of old nes games!
  • In Evil Genius, one of the possible tortures your minions can inflict on your enemies is forcing them to watch as the minion does Michael Jackson dance moves.
  • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Empress Sanaki threatens to punish Sephiran/Lehran by drowning him in a pool of rancid butter.
  • In Persona 3, during the hot springs scene. If you don't succeed in the stealth minigame, Mitsuru will "execute" the male cast members. It is never explained what this means (as everyone agrees to never speak of it again).
    • It's implied that "execution" is being frozen alive by her Persona's (Ice) power, and if you ask Mitsuru about it the following week, she says that she does indeed remember the "execution" and asks if you would like another.
    • There's also this bit much earlier in the game, when Junpei is tormenting Yukari with her fear of ghosts.

Yukari: Oh my god, Stupei! I can’t sleep like this!
Junpei: I'd be happy to sleep with you, if it helps...
Yukari: *sigh* Maybe I should call the police, or better yet, Mitsuru-senpai.
Junpei: Please... Anything but that!

King Harkinian: "Link, go into the pit! If you don't hear from me in a month, you will DIE. Zelda, Duke Onkled is under attack by the evil forces of Ganon. If you don't scrub Duke Onkled in a month, send Link."
Zelda: "But father, wha..."
Gwonam: "Your majesty!"
King Harkinian: "Enough! Squadalah, after you've scrubbed all the floors in Hyrule, scrub all the floors in the pit! Then we can scrub your face."
Gwonam: "Your majesty, there is no time! All the floors in Hyrule is enough."
King Harkinian: "If you don't scrub all the floors in a month, scrub Zelda."
Gwonam: "Your majesty..."
King Harkinian: "If you squadalah in a month, you will DIE!"
Mayor Kravindish: "This is illegal, you know."
King Harkinian: "Take him away! If you don't hear from me in the pit, you must DIE."
Zelda: "You've got to be kidding..."
King Harkinian: "If you don't die in a month, you will DIE."
Zelda: "But father, wh-"
King Harkinian: "Link, take the instructions into the pit! If you don't squadalah in a month, you will DIE!"
Link: "Huh??"

  • Higurashi Daybreak: The tickling machine.
  • RuneScape: Traditional methods of torture aren't working on the zombie pirate decapitated head in "A Clockwork Syringe". It's time to bust out the dreaded "Twiblik Night Special". After much ceremony, you open the box and reveal...wigs, make-up, and women's clothing. O...kay? After being mercilessly dressed up in wigs, eye shadow, and lipstick, the distressed zombie finally tells you the location of the villains' secret island hideout.
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS plans to kill Wheatley after burning him for a year, freezing him for a year, and then subjecting him to screaming robots for a decade.
  • In the Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance sidestory "External Gazer", Solidus enacts the sinister plan of harnessing VR missions to affect reality, and subjects Snake to torture... by forcing him to play as Raiden.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • From Naruto the Abridged Series episode 23, Itachi uses his Mangekyo Sharingan to make Kakashi go through 72 hours of Caramelldansen.
  • Apparently, the headmistress of Whateley Academy has done this. Some rule-breaking devisers (read: teenaged Mad Scientist geeks) were sentenced to... fresh air. They had to do clean-up outside. This was considered to be almost as bad as making rulebreakers do menial work in Hawthorne cottage.
    • The Academy is numerous square miles of pathways, forested areas, and the like, and the grounds are occupied by several hundred superpowered students, some of whom can't control the chaos they create. Add in oversight which prevents those geeks from using their tools, or the fact that it's a New Hampshire winter...
  • Abusive administrators and faculty are on the receiving end of psychological warfare in The Saga of Tuck.
  • The Homestar Runner Halloween 'toon "Doomy Tales of the Macabre" consists of Strong Sad's imagined revenge on all the people who didn't invite him to their Halloween party, in increasingly odd ways.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: agents who break the rules are forced to watch the dreaded No-Drool Videos. The exact content is unknown, but it has been said to involve the Librarian of Discworld, who is a 300-pound orangutan, and Yaoi Fangirls are shown the adventures of a lesbian Parody Sue (the lesbian sex in itself isn't the problem so much as the Sue being there). Also, agents are not allowed to physically harm canon characters, so revenge upon a canon character for attacking an agent has on at least one occasion consisted of forcing him to participate in MSTing a Bad Slash Fic starring himself. The PPC also has an entire department dedicated to this, appropriately called the Department of Cool and Unusual Punishment.
  • Smosh's "A Very Hairy Situation with Billy Mays" has the villains torturing Anthony with watching The Hills
  • Youtube personalities Neil Cicierega, Ryan Murphy and Kevin James have a video called The Questioning, in which two cops sweat out a young thug by explaining the entire plot of the Animorphs series at great length.
  • In one of the Arfenhouse installments, Satan says that all they do in Hell is play DDR.
  • In numerous Sonic Shorts on Newgrounds, Doctor Robotnik's favoured method of torturing Sonic the Hedgehog has been with music, dance and getting naked.

Robot: "His eyes have melted."
[Robotnik grins at camera]

Mai Valentine: Marik, you bastard, what have you done?
Melvin: I have doomed you to exist in your own worst nightmare: A world where everybody's breasts are bigger than yours!
Mai Valentine: Even Tristan's?
Melvin: Especially Tristan's!
Tristan Taylor: (With an impossibly huge rack) My brizzeasts are off the hizzle fo' shizzle!

  • On the intro segment of the 29th episode of the EVE Online-based podcast Warp Drive Active, one of the hosts (Urban Mongral) and the owner of the site where the podcasts are stored are 'convicted' (in a mock-court scene) of 'Aggravated Negligence in Uploading a Podcast' (the 28th episode cut out at 58 minutes of "over two hours" in the first release). The sentence for "this most heinous crime"? "I sentence you to playing two weeks Hello Kitty Online Beta." Cue the Big No.

(PINK) colors.

  • A porn series has two guys fighting each other MMA-style. The winner has sex with a hot porn star. The loser gets "punished" with sex by a lesser alternative (mostly a less cute actress, but sometimes downright Fan Disservice) - but it becomes a real punishment if he can't... "get his due", leading the winner to go for another round instead.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Woody Woodpecker has an example: In the end of the short Ace in the Hole after Woody ejects himself and the general who is chasing him a plane, all but completely crippling the general of the military airport Woody was working for at the time from the fall, he is forced to tediously shave all of the hair off of a very, very long line of horses, one by one.
  • Invader Zim, "A Room With a Moose." Zim cackles over his latest diabolical plan, which will force Dib and his classmates into a pocket dimension consisting of only a room... a room... with a moose! When Dib doesn't see what's so horrible about that, the camera focuses on the moose, chewing on some walnuts... and Dib screams in terror. We never see why.
    • The whole point is that the thought of being in a room with a moose, chewing walnuts terrifies Dib. We see exactly why. And it's for that reason that it's a brilliant example of this trope.
    • The episode "FBI Warning of Doom" features this blink-and-you'll-miss-it explanation of what happens to those who perform copyright infringement: "They will hunt you down like the dirty monkey you are and force you to wear a moose skin and ride a greased piggy while singing folk tunes. They're forcing me to ride the piggy as I write this. The Piggy is Smelly!!"
  • A bit from an episode of Count Duckula, where the punishment is the only one available, may well be a Homage to Monty Python's Flying Circus:

Captain: "Men! Tie 'em to the yardarm!"
Mister Mate: "We ain't got a yardarm, cap'n, I ate it last week."
Captain: "Well what 'ave we got?"
Mister Mate: "We've got a comfy sofa..."
Captain: "I can't say, 'tie 'em to the comfy sofa!'"
Mister Mate: "It's all that's left, cap'n."
Captain: "Oh, all right. Tie 'em to the... comfy sofa!"

  • Related: In the The Fairly OddParents, Timmy comes into contact with the Yugopotamians, "sadistic" aliens who become recurring characters; at one point, he must brave their "horrifying trials" to save the Earth. These include skipping through a field of flowers, hugging a teddy bear, and "eating the dreaded chocolate"...
    • Later in the episode, when they start to forget his "impressive feats" and renege on what he blackmailed them into doing, he leans around a doorway and menacingly eats a flower, immediately terrifying them back into compliance.
      • The thing is, those things actually are toxic to the Yugopotamians, so Timmy doing them easily makes them think he's some kind of mighty warrior.
      • It's also subverted in a later episode, when Timmy blithely accepts a challenge from a Yugopotamian, expecting more chocolate-eating and suchlike. He's unpleasantly surprised that he accepted a gladiatorial death match.
        • ... which he then wins by firing pillows at his opponent and choosing an unnaturally cheerful day-care center as his combat arena.
    • Another episode had Timmy freeing the town mascot, Chompy the Goat, from captivity and Vicky getting blamed for it. She is locked in a stockade and given 'an extremely bad hair day until she talks' in the form of a balloon being rubbed against her hair to make it puffy.
    • In Channel Chasers, Timmy's mom mentioned that she punished him by making him eat chocolate.
  • In the Animaniacs feature-length Wakkos Wish, the Warner kids are sent through The Cave of Your Worst Nightmares, which contains horrors they endured in episodes of the TV show: "Baloney" the Dinosaur, a filthy gas station bathroom, and Jerry Jerry Lewis look-alike Mr. Director.
    • In the episode where they end up in Hell Hades, the Devil prepares to throw them in a room containing "unspeakable torment": listening to "whiny protest songs from The Sixties" for all eternity". The Warners scream in terror and throw the Devil in the room.
  • One torture session on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: While Buzz is going through a Faked Rip Van Winkle, Zurg has his three comrades captive. Booster, The Big Guy, is in a cell with bouncy walls that all his strength can't break. X-R, the versatile robot, has his extendable limbs in shackles, extending them out as far as they will go, so he can't really do anything. And Mira, who can phase through solid matter simply by concentrating, is in a cell rigged to burst into a cacaphony of light and sound whenever she tries to use her powers. The perfect torture... except, well, Booster is having a ball bouncing around in his cage, and the shackles work for X-R better than any chiropractor could have. As for Mira? Well, okay, maybe it's a little annoying, but it's hardly torture. Zurg starts yelling at the underlings who cooked up this cockamamie scheme.
  • The Snorch on AAAHH! Real Monsters deals these out to students who break the rules or otherwise get on the bad side of The Gromble, including being forced to walk through a field of flowers or listen to Opera.
  • One Total Drama Island episode featured the contestants being tortured in various off-kilter ways, including eating ice cream until you get brain freeze.
  • On Drawn Together, when Captain Hero and Spanky Ham are caught cheating in an Indian casino, the owners, after torturing them (spoofing the film "Casino") threaten that if the two ever return, they will "show them just how bad an Indian burn can be". They then perform a simple Indian burn in the air while laughing maniacally, while Hero and Spanky scream in fright.
    • In another episode, when Pikachu knock-off/Japanese stereotype Ling-Ling refuses to give into an extortionist's demands, he threatens to send his accomplice over to Ling Ling's house and have him walk around without taking off his shoes.
  • In an episode of Sushi Pack, the leader of the Legion of Low Tide threatens one of his minions to break off a friendship with a member of the Pack under penalty of the worst punishment there is—ridicule. The other members procede to tease her until she begs them to stop.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation U.N.C.O.O.L." had a part where Numbuh 2 asks one of the nerds what he's done with the other operatives- we then see those operatives strapped to a chair forced to watch a Doctor Who-like show called "Dr. Spacetime and The Continuums" with the nerds.
    • This, along with the opening credits of the episode "Operation: A.M.I.S.H.", seems to imply that the creators don't really like the show.
  • In the origin episode of Freakazoid!!, the villain (voiced by Ricardo Montalban in a spoof of his role as Khan in Star Trek) tries to coerce Dexter and Roddy McStew by revealing that he has kidnapped Dexter's family and is threatening to show them a videotape of "The Best of Marty Ingels", to which a horrified Roddy responds, "What kind of sadistic creature are you!?"
    • And the episode "Hotrods from Heck", one of the titular hot rods blows himself up rather then endure 7 hours of Tony Danza.
    • In another ep, Freakazoid reprimands a speeder by giving him a ticket...to The Jerry Springer Show. After seeing the speeder's horrified reaction, he decides to just give him a warning. Man, they used this trope a lot.
  • In one episode of Sonic the Hedgehog, "Spyhog", Snively tortures Antoine by offending his refined tastes in food: using too much batter for a crepe suzette, and using margarine for escargot.
  • An episode of Duckman features the titular detective strapping his partner Cornfed into A Clockwork Orange-type forced-viewing setup, and airing a slide show.
  • Futurama: Four words. Death By Snu Snu.
    • Fry put it best: "(sombre expression) I never thought I'd die this way...(sudden huge grin)...but secretly, I'd always really hoped."
    • In the Futurama episode "Hell is Other Robots", Bender is subject to many such punishments for his sins in Robot Hell. These include his hard drive being used as a turn table by the Beastie Boys for illegally copying their music or being turned into a giant cigar for his smoking habit.
    • Anyone who refuses the job assignment programmed into their career chip gets fired. From a cannon. Into the sun.
  • In Tale Spin, Don Carnage's favorite tool for torturing people was a clawed glove... which he would use to scratch a chalkboard.
    • This, in turn, is a reference to a scene in The Return of the Pink Panther. The former Chief Inspector Dreyfuss straps his victim to a chair in... the schoolroom... stuffs cotton in his ears, and utilizes the aforementioned clawed gauntlet. In what is obviously an intentional audio gaffe, the victim of the torture is heard screaming but the sound of the claw on the chalkboard is not.
      • This eventually became a Your Head Asplode killing method in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
  • In Disney's The Wild the antagonists are a herd of wildebeests... with near-flawless dance moves.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob is dragged through a field of flesh eating clams, cheese graters, and finally, Educational Television!
  • In the Dragon Hunters episode 32, an old man is interrogated by threatening him with book spoilers.
  • Government workers in the "Starvin' Marvin in Space" episode of South Park force information out of the boys... by having one worker rub his hand against a balloon to make a noise that is apparently hard on the ears.
    • In an early episode of South Park the boys were kidnapped by Barbara Streisand who tortured them with her singing until Cartman told her where he hid a small artifact he took from Kyle.
    • There's also the episode where Cartman (pretending to be a psychic detective) is captured by the "left-hand killer" and forced to watch slides of vacation photos.
    • Saddam Hussein actually likes Hell. So how does Satan get rid of him? He asks God to let him into Heaven. The residents are so nice it's a Fate Worse Than Death for him.
  • In the ninth episode Bonus Stage, the first time in the series Joel dies, Satan gives him a choice of Time Squad 24/7, Shrek 2 24/7 or his mom's spaghetti.
  • In The Simpsons, when Homer sells his soul for a doughnut, the Devil (Flanders) agrees to Marge's insistence of a trial to determine who owns his soul, but he must remain in Hell until the trial begins. Homer's punishment while he waits is to be forced to eat doughnuts without rest. He promptly eats and eats and his torturer remarks that nobody has ever lasted so long.
    • Bart finishes a campfire horror story with the line "...and that's how much college is going to cost for Maggie." Homer's rightfully horrified.
    • From the episode where Bart tries to steal a video game, does show that Homer's not very good at coming up with punishments himself:

"I've figured out the boy's punishment. First, he's grounded. No leaving the house, not even for school. Second, no egg nog. In fact, no nog, period. And third, absolutely no stealing for three months."

    • Most of Principal Skinner's Vietnam memories are legitimately horrifying, but one of them actually does fit this trope:

Skinner: I spent the next three years in a POW camp, forced to subsist on a thin stew of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right.

  • Looney Tunes, "Early To Bet". The gamble-holic cat is subjected to a Wheel o' Punishment chock full of these sorts of things whenever he loses to the dog. "No! Not that! Not the Geshundteit!"
    • Before "Early To Bet" was "It's Hummer Time", where the punishments are just randomly meted out to the cat when it upsets the dog while trying to pursue a hummingbird. "No! NOT HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"
  • In the Kim Possible movie So the Drama we get a look at one of Draken's proposed master plans. Which has one of his mooks subjected to a set that looks an awful lot like the "it's a Small World ride. He decides it's too much.
  • In a Mickey Mouse Works cartoon, Mickey and Minnie find themselves in a place called Topsy Turvy Town where everyone does the opposite. They are arrested (long story) and put in prison, where they find that their "punishment" is rest and relaxation on a beach.
    • Scrooge once recounted how a police officer was sentenced to 30 days wearing skirts for arresting him for wearing a skirt simply because he was wearing a kilt.
  • Prior to the formation of Gorillaz, Murdoc and 2D had a horribly twisted Meet Cute when Murdoc ram-raided the keyboard shop 2D worked at, hit 2D with the car, and put him into a coma. Instead of jail, Murdoc was sentenced to thirty thousand hours (a total of about three years) of community service, plus ten hours a week of watching the unconscious 2D. Semi-logical, but if you needed proof that theirs is a Crapsack World, remember this is Murdoc Niccals we're talking about.
  • The Billy and Mandy and Kids Next Door crossover has Mandy inflicting one of the most horrifying tortures known to man on Number One...making him watch Fred Fredburger act wierd and spout non sequiturs. For hours. He's screaming "MAKE IT STOP!" by the end.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In the episode "The Old Switcharooms" Dexter's father makes him and Dee Dee stay in each other's rooms as punishment for running into him (causing his bowling trophy to break). Later Dad confines Dexter to the Doghouse, leaving him to worry about the fate of his lab.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, Spunky is sent to the pound for not having his collar. (After another, tougher dog took it off him. Rocko goes to rescue Spunky, and is mistaken for a dog. The other dogs in the pound tell Rocko about the conditions they are forced to endure, one of which is being subjected to repeats of a syrupy cartoon called "Marvin the Happy Cat". (One of the dogs even pleads, "Somebody neuter me!" as the show starts up again.) This inspires Rocko to run for the position of dog-catcher of O-town.
  • American Dad!: in the episode "In Country... Club", Roger wants the code to the Pay-per-view channel. When Stan won't give it to him, Roger kidnaps Stan during an Vietnam War reenactment and tortures him by reading the first draft of the Sex and the City film.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode "The Former Life of Brian," Dylan, Brian's human son who is older than Brian, makes Meg watch the 178 hours of Monty Python that weren't funny or memorable.
    • Another episode ends with Cleveland and Quagmire tied up in the basement of a building, forced to watch the DirectTV Help Channel on a continuous loop.
  • In an episode of Recess entitled The Box, the character T.J. is forced to stand in a Box painted on the ground. Everyone else is told to ignore him or be punished likewise. He goes Partially insane by the end of recess until he realizes it's just line painted on the ground
  • In Atlantis the Lost Empire, Sweet threatens the dirt-loving geologist Mole with soap if he doesn't leave Milo alone.
  • David the Gnome: In the wedding episode, the trolls try to crash said wedding, but the gnomes escape. One of the more dim-witted trolls, Pat, then falls into a pit trap and refuses to tell the gnomes who was behind the party-crashing. David then declares that Pat has decided to stay behind and get an education, to which the other gnomes agree and start listing off the subjects he'll learn, good manners included. Pat starts pleading for mercy and that he'd "rather die" after Lisa mentions he'll graduate with flying colors. After she says she'll teach him to wash with rose-scented soap, he's ready to talk.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Megavolt tried to think up some way to torture his prisoners, one of them was "Make them watch Game Shows".
  • At the end of |Toy Story 2, Stinky Pete the Prospector actually ends up being stuffed into a child's backpack full of damaged Barbie dolls. It is then revealed that somewhere after that film's events, we actually find out that Stinky Pete actually liked being damaged since he actually spent almost his entire life in a cardboard box.
    • And in Toy Story 3, Barbie tortures ken by ripping his clothes until he talks. It worked.
  • In the Mega Man cartoon, the episode "Electic Nightmare" had Roll strapped to a chair, where she received... a bad facial.
  • In Transformers Prime Starscream punishes Knock Out for his failure, by putting a huge scratch in his finish.
  • In the 80's My Little Pony movie, evil witch Hydia tortures her daughters Reeka and Draggle into confessing why the Smooze was stopped by forcing them to eat ice cream. Mind you, under normal circumstances, the witches ate sandwiches made with live bats and other disgusting things.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Toadwart warns Tummi that if he doesn't do what he says, he'll resort to the deluxe torture plan.

Toadwart: Your be forced to listen to a medley of popular folk tunes sung by Gad and Zook.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The Russians' execution of the first Impersonator of Dmitriy. They shot and burned him, put the ashes in a canister, put the canister in a cannon, and shot the cannon towards Poland.
  • After Napoleon Bonaparte had been defeated in the Battle of Laon, the victors exiled him to the island of Elba. They gave him sovereignty of the island and its inhabitants. They couldn't match Napoleon's cool, though, given the fact he managed to escape while they were distracted.
    • To be clear, it was a meaningless island with barely working infastructure. A few months under Napoleon's governorship, and the island was running like clockwork. It was at this point he got bored again and thought about taking back France.
  • It has been said that US military interrogators have tried to humiliate captured terrorists into talking by, among other things, wrapping them in an Israeli flag, smearing them with (fake) menstrual blood, having a hot female soldier give them a lap dance, and constantly blasting "Enter Sandman" at them at full volume. Although, mind you, a lot of these punishments are designed not to be painful per se, but as insults to their religion and exposing them to religiously unclean things. Also, very very few people would relish the thought of being smeared with menstrual blood.
  • Two words: Rick Roll.
  • There was a judge known for his unusual sentencing, among the examples:
    • Forcing a man to stand on a street corner with a pig, holding a sign that says "This is not a police officer" after evading arrest and calling a cop a pig.
      • Michael Cicconetti from Painsville, OH. Other highlights: sentencing a woman who abandoned kittens in a forest to spend a night in the woods alone with no food and only the clothes on her back, sentencing a man who stole from a Salvation Army kettle to spend 24 hours homeless, and man who stole pornography was sentenced to standing outside the shop blindfolded and holding a sign saying "See no evil".
    • Similarly, a Denver man who got caught using a dummy to sneak into the high occupancy vehicle lane on the highway was sentenced to stand by the road with a sign saying "The HOV Lane Is Not For Dummies."
    • Another set of youths had to read classic lit., and write book reports.
    • Sounds like Ted Poe, who now represents TX-2 in Congress. He loved doing that kind of thing.
  • According to this article, police officers in Bangkok may be punished for minor infractions by being forced to wear a Hello Kitty armband.
  • Rumors have circulated that when Saddam Hussein was being detained by the US military, he was being forced to watch the scenes from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut showing him as Satan's gay lover. Over and over again.
  • Antanas Mockus, mayor of Bogota, Columbia, hired 420 mimes to curb traffic violations by ridiculing jaywalkers and reckless drivers, and encouraging other pedestrians to do the same. And it worked.
  • Ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? That's one huge example of this trope. Montgomery C. Meigs was asked to find a new place to bury the Civil War dead. What did he do? He chose the house and property of the man he felt was responsible, General Lee. It gets even better though, when Meigs' son was killed in battle he buried him in Mrs. Lee's flower bed. Oh the delicious irony.
  • The small town of Mason, Texas had a problem with the influx of prisoners to its tiny jail. The sheriff's solution? Deter re-offenders by painting the inside of the jail pink and forcing the prisoners to wear pink jumpsuits and making them eat bologna sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Apparently, it worked.)
    • Sheriff Joe Arpaio did the same thing in Arizona.
  • In Ohio, if one is convicted of a DUI, they're required to place bright yellow license plates on their vehicle in order to drive. Not only is it embarrassing - and a reminder every time the offender looks at their car—but it's a proverbial red flag to other drivers: they know to be more cautious around that vehicle.
    • Gallagher used to have a joke like that, saying that drivers should carry toy guns that shoot suction cup darts for when they see another driver being a jerk; and that when a car gets four darts, the other drivers can pull him over and each take a tire.
  • In Valley Falls, NY, a vandal who tore down and burned an American flag belonging to the local VFW post was given a choice: either the VFW could call the cops and press vandalism charges (probably worth a couple weeks jail, since such a politically charged crime is pretty much guaranteed to earn its maximum allowable sentence), or he could accept being duct-taped to the flagpole for six hours while wearing a humiliating sign, or he could fight a veteran in a one-on-one battle. Needless to say, he picked Door #2.
  • You also have some of the more minor ones that drive people insane. One shown by the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats is pretty much a flickering light. Lock someone in a room with it and most people will go insane, especially if it is at a slow random pace, like Chinese water torture. The playing of a kiddy song over and over was just plain cruel. An especially interesting one as well is not allowing someone to go into deep sleep, so even though they slip out of consciousness, when you wake them up to interrupt them they don't feel like they've slept at all. Although after a few days they start hallucinating and go batshit insane but it's better than some of the other ways.
  • Two old men in Britain were convicted of making the lives of everyone nearby a misery with their endless feuding. The judge ordered them to be handcuffed together for 12 hours per day. They became fast friends, since the alternative was unthinkable.
  • An episode of Nickelodeon magazine had an article about a female judge whose punishment for teens blasting rap music in public places was to put them in a room and force them to listen to Beethoven for several hours.
    • Hear a story once, where people were playing loud rap music in a dorm. It was keeping people in the next room awake, so what did they do? If you guessed blasted classical music through the walls back to them, then you're today's winner!
  • There was a instructor in ROTC, a Captain, who would have a cadet stand at attention in the back of the room if he caught him nodding off. If the cadet STILL managed to nod off while at attention, the instructor would have them hold a chair over their head.
    • This is akin to proper military behavior. If someone is nodding off during a briefing it was perfectly understandable to get up from your seat and stand in the back.
    • It only ever gets more creative when you get into the real military, where they're allowed to humiliate you on a grand scale in front of dozens if not hundreds of your peers. Picture things on the level of fraternity hazing, only its not hazing because it's punishment rather than a membership requirement.
      • Take for example, "The Dying Cockroach," in which the soldier being punished was forced to lie on their back while kicking and flailing their arms and yelling "I'm a dying cockroach!" until the punisher saw fit to let it end.
      • Another example comes from this tropers personal experience. Leave your weapon unattended? Do a series of Iron Mikes to 'buy' it back. Fall asleep in a class session? Stand at the back of the room, holding a canteen, looking through the loop that holds the lid on (playing sniper it's called.) Get caught watching the TV in the mess-hall? You get put on your elbows and toes to 'watch TV', and occasionally change channels. Caught doing something in the chow line you aren't supposed to? Stand outside the line reciting EXACTLY what you did so that other recruits don't repeat the mistake. It's safe to say that since the days of a Drill Sergeant beating the snot out of you ended, it just encouraged them to get creative in the HOW they punish you and your whole unit.
    • In Britain, a deathwish driver from Lincolnshire was forced to see the consequences of his driving by going to his local A & E. Needless to say, this was An Aesop in itself on how not to drive.
  • Most companies who run MMORPGs have a simple solution to deal with players who cheat or exploit glitches, like botting, hacking, sharking, illegal downloading, exploiting glitches, or spamming - banning their accounts. However, some have thought up unique ways to punish cheaters:
    • As of August 2015, EverQuest II unveiled a unique solution: the "prison server" of Drundar. as explained here, characters transferred to Drundar are isolated from characters belonging to rule-abiding players, and customer support is inaccessible there; players can use those characters to cheat all they want, because they're only cheating against other cheaters. (This doesn't ban the account, however; Daybreak Games maintains that, for now, this is an experiment.)
    • Titanfall has taken inspiration from Daybreak Games by creating a prison server of their own. Cheaters banished there can still use whatever hacked or sharked downloads they used, as their only opponents are other cheaters.
    • Marvel vs. Capcom 3 also does something similar. In this game, if you disconnect before your fight is over, then you can avoid having a loss on your record. However, the devs thought of that too, and if your in-fight disconnect numbers got suspicious, you were sent to a special server that was entirely populated with people who did the same thing. If you try to weasel out of a loss, then they send you to a place where everyone else weasels you out of your wins.
    • One famous example in Guild Wars 2 happened when a player was not just cheating, he was blatantly cheating. (As in, respawing all over the place where most player’s couldn’t and attacking with weapons he clearly wouldn’t have access too.) The devs shanghaied control of his character, unequipped all of his gear, then made the character climb to the top of the highest point of the game’s Hub Level and had him leap off in a very public suicide. (And they taped it for the whole game community to see.) Then they perma-banned the player and deleted his characters.
    • Grand Theft Auto online:
      • One time, some wise guys found a glitch that let them import overpowered cars into the game. When Rockstar Games found out, they put in a program that made these ill-gotten cars self-destruct when the player got in automatically killing him. For one day, the game world was lit up like the Fourth of July.
      • Grand Theft Auto also has a "prison server" like the ones mentioned above for bad sports. What makes them notable is that they also put everyone in said server in a dunce cap.
    • When Gears of War 2 started, some players found a way to unlock every Achievement at once. Didn’t last long. When the devs found out, every player who exploited the glitch found they had lost those achievements and had gained a new one – worth no Gs at all – called Cheater For Life.
    • Similarly, in both versions of Drakensang there were several Gotchas for people using a cracked version. In the first one, one city guard would not show up at her appointed place, trying to rescue a group member from jail landed the whole group in there (without a way out), and later in the game the characters would slow down more and more if a crack was detected. In the second one, instead of the group's healer being able to heal a group member who had been disabled in a fight, for someone using a crack, only a paid healer would be able to heal those characters. Unfortunately, occasionally, people who needed to use a virtual machine professionally were also detected as running a crack...
    • H1Z1 had something novel. After issuing over 24,000 bans to players who were exploiting purchased hacks and cheats, Daybreak's CEO made a statement saying banned plays would be unbanned if they apologized publicly via YouTube and emailed him a link of it. While that seems like getting off easy (especially seeing as Daybreak had lost $500K in revenue) one could say that going on YouTube and admitting you were a thief is punishment enough.
    • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a glitch lets a player make a lot of in-game currency by selling hides and pearls. An update didn't remove the glitch, but it did ensure that anyone who exploited it would eventually encounter a special NPC, a rather unfriendly tax man demanding it be paid back. That's right, they force cheaters to deal with the IRS.
  • Also, some video game companies thought up creative ways to punish players who pirated copies of their hottest games (this is sometimes preferable to simply making the game not work if its copy protection is broken, as making it harder to tell when the game's been successfully cracked means it takes longer the break the copy protectionnote ):
    • Completing the game with an illegal copy of Skullgirls will not yield an ending, but a message that says, "What is the square root of a fish? Now I'm sad." Many thieves who saw this fell for the true punishment, and went online or on Twitter to ask what it meant; it was a ruse to get them to admit they had pirated it!
    • In Crysis, if you try to play a pirated copy, your gun shoots chickens that do no damage at all, and also slow the game down, making the game unwinnable unless you can somehow use your fists through the entire game.
    • The developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum realized the game would be a prime target, so they fixed it so that pirated copies had a serious Nerf on Batman's gliding ability, making it impossible to reach some key areas and frustrating the owners to no end.
    • Pirated copies of Serious Sam 3 included a extra enemy that was literally invincible, an undead red scorpion man. Players on the forums pleading for tips on how to beat this thing (proving they had a pirated copy) sure made fools of themselves.
    • Know those scenes in The Sims 4 where your toon goes to the shower or toilet and his/her nudity is blurred out? Do it in an illegal version, and the blur never goes away. Ever.
    • Mirror's Edge may be all about fighting "the system", but the developers did not want players to actually do it. Anyone with a pirated copy would never make the first jump; trying would make Faith hesitate from fear, and if the player persisted, fall to her death.
    • Spyro: Year of the Dragon gives the owner of the pirated copy fair warning first; a fairy tells Spyro that the game may be pirated, and warns him not to proceed. If the player does anyway, if he reaches the Final Boss, the game shuts down right before the battle, deleting the save file.
    • Banjo-Kazooie had something similar. If you have an illegal copy, Grunty (who tends to troll the player a lot as it is) will eventually pop up and cackle, "Now I will erase your game pack, because you had the need to hack!" And this is a warning, because she doesn't do it until you actually try save the game. (Cruel, maybe, but she is evil.)
    • Game Dev Tycoon has one of the best ways to punish pirates, bar none. This game is all about designing and marketing video games. Play an illegal version of the game, and you'll go bankrupt when the game you design is pirated too much!
    • Five Nights at Freddy's has a feature that, if you use a pirated copy, upon opening it Golden Freddy pops up out of nowhere to startle you.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger has gone on record as threatening his political opponents with having them watch his Red Sonja movie.
  • On the last season of Celebrity Big Brother UK after he failed a task, Jonas Erik Altberg (Basshunter) and Lady Sovereign were forced to be stuck in a room listening to Jonas' song All I Ever Wanted on repeat for hours.
  • Famous case from the 1980s: a notorious slumlord was sentenced to live in one of his own buildings. Yup, Joe Pesci's The Super was based on a true story.
  • A Malaysian political aide tweeted defamatory comments about his friend's employer. They responded by suing him, and he was forced to apologize 100 times on Twitter.
  • Man prefers jail over arguing with wife. Long story short, dude was sentenced to house arrest, pleaded to be put in jail. They denied the request, and sent him back to house arrest, thinking that arguing with the wife was more than enough punishment.
  • A small example, but as punishment for stealing soap in the Mohave county the thief is forced to wash themselves with said soap until it is completely used up.
  • Teen girl forced into Renaissance sword battle as punishment by her father.
  • When his daughter made a rude post complaining about having to do chores at home on facebook her father decided to reprimand her by calling her out on it and shooting her laptop. Naturally he filmed himself doing so and posted the video on his daughter's facebook wall.
  • The German author Hans Fallada remembers in his biographical work Damals bei uns daheim how he and his brother snuck into the storage room and ate part of a Baumkuchen intended for a family celebration. The punishment: for quite a long while, they got (pieces of) the rest of the cake as school meals, until they couldn't stand the confectionary any more.
  • The procedures for electing a new pope essentially come down to locking everyone into a room until they make a decision, and if that doesn't work, start restricting their food supply. Historically, this has included such things as removing the roof.
  • A few instances of men doing certain things with goats in rural areas have been punished by forcing the suitor to pay a bride-price to the owner and formally get married to the subject of their affections.
  • A documentary said that detainees in Guantanamo Bay were tortured by forcing them to listen to Sesame Street songs.
  • When this Singaporean man learn he was going to be sent to a Reformative Training Centre, he opted to allow to be canned and jailed rather deal with the harsh regime of the center. Judicial Corporal Punishment is still legal in Singapore but those given this and/or jail time is lenient to those who behave themselves rather RTC, which could last for 3 years without such release. To the guy, who happened to be a student, he rather deal with the pain and humiliation of canned in public rather than dealt with the harsh regime at a RTC since he would be allowed to returns to his studies.
  • These two teenage boys in Arizona were forced to hold hands in the courtyard as other classmates watch on, some laugh. Why were they ordered to do so? They had a fight and a choice of this or suspension… They chose the former.
  • A Floridian couple punished their child by making him hold a sign in a corner of the road in Miami.
  • This package thief in Washington kept stealing from a couple, who had enough. They decided to set-up a bait package filled with dog feces and a camera.
  1. JK Rowling has pointed out that Molly is the only "good" character to outright kill anyone in the entire series. She's not an auror, doesn't have a license to kill, and when the rest of the Order of the Phoenix is throwing down with Disarming spells, she goes straight for the unforgivablest of unforgivables...