Corporal Punishment

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Corporal Punishment is the practice of disciplining someone by deliberately inflicting physical pain - this can range generally from children getting a swat on the backside from their parents, all the way to the opposite extreme of Cold-Blooded Torture. Note that it only counts as corporal punishment if it's legitimately inflicted -- Police Brutality and the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique are illegal, and thus don't qualify. A Dope Slap from one friend to another might count as an "informal" version, though, if you consider one's peers to be a legitimate authority.

Subtropes include:

Depending on the situation, corporal punishment can be played for comedy, horror, drama, or Rule 34. Most likely to be seen in military or school settings.

Examples of Corporal Punishment include:

Anime and Manga

  • Gundam is extremely fond of having people beat on their subordinates. Sometimes it's to knock some sense into them, but just as often it's just punishment for misdeeds.
  • Gurren Lagann uses it at least once: Adiane beats up on an already injured Viral (with her scorpion tail) for his failure against the heroes.
  • In Saiyuki Gaiden, Kenren is given a punishment that pretty much comes down to locking him in a cell and anyone who wants to can come and have a go at him. It doesn't help that he has pissed a lot of people off.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, while Tezuka prefers to punish unruly members via assigning laps (or other forced physical effort methods, in the case of Oishi punishing Momo and Kaidoh when they were first years), Sanada from Rikkaidai resorts to slapping his teamates around. So far he has slapped Jackal, Marui, and Kirihara for different transgressions. Subverted twice later: Kirihara keeps Sanada from slapping Yanagi via blocking the blow with his racket and vowing to win, and later Sanada actually asks his teammates to slap him.
    • In the manga, Kirihara hangs a lampshade on Yanagi's seemingly always-closed eyes. Yanagi slaps him for being rude.
    • In the anime, Ryoma gets a slap to the face from Tezuka for being arrogant and rude during the Senbatsu arc. In the same arc, Kevin Smith gets slapped by his coach for talking back to him.


  • Full Metal Jacket has Gunnery Sgt. Hartman generally abusing his Marine recruits during the first part of the movie.
  • In Barry Lyndon, Barry participates in a gauntlet
  • Starship Troopers has Johnny Rico getting A Taste of the Lash as "Administrative Punishment" for his carelessness resulting in the death of a fellow recruit. Fleet Sergeant Zim gives him a rolled up wad of leather to bite down on, telling him that it will help him cope with the pain.
  • Dead Poets Society features corporal punishment as a means of disciplining at least one student.
  • If.... has a lengthy scene in which Mick (Malcolm McDowell) and his friends are caned by the prefects. Afterwards they have to shake the prefect by the hand and thank him - a common tradition in public schools, apparently.


  • Starship Troopers uses A Taste of the Lash as actual judicial punishment assigned by a court martial, and also discusses the fact that any corporal punishment (from a Dope Slap to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to summary execution) is legal as long as the punisher can demonstrate that it was necessary and reasonable.
    • Corporal punishment also exists in the civilian justice system in the novel. Minor crimes, such as drunk driving, are usually punished with the accused being publically lashed behind the courthouse immediately after being found guilty. Major crimes such as kidnapping or murder are punishable by immediate execution (usually by hanging). It's also mentioned that teachers and headmasters at schools have the authority to use corporal punishment on students who break school rules.
  • Harry Potter features it more than once.
    • In the early books, a minor character is constantly petitioning for permission to string troublemakers up with chains and other similarly pleasant things. It's mostly played for laughs.
    • Umbridge uses this when she is named Headmaster in Order of the Phoenix. Particularly nasty is the "blood quill", which carves whatever the user writes into their hand as they write it.
    • It's implied to get rather worse at Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows, where Neville is basically covered in scars from the school year.
    • Aunt Marge is also a big fan.
  • Matilda has the headmistress employ corporal punishment at any chance she can get. She even once spun a girl around and threw her by her pigtails, a la the hammer throw.
  • Rudyard Kipling seems to be an advocate. In The Jungle Book, both Baloo and Bagheera occasionally smack the young Mowgli for disobedience (and almost getting them killed), while in Just So Stories this is seen as the cure for the Elephant's Child's 'satiable curiosity.
  • Not directly featured in the book Cryer's Cross, but excessive whipping at a (defunct at the time the book takes place) school is the entire reason people are disappearing. It created the ghosts entombed in the desk, which are getting into the heads of the kids who sit there and making them bury themselves alive at the site of the school.
  • In The Wheel of Time series, this is known as Mortification of the Flesh, and is a possible penance for initiates of the White Tower, although hard labour is far more common. Since honour is a big deal in the setting, it is considered preferable to Mortification of the Spirit, i.e. public humiliation.

Live-Action TV

"We've had a lot of trouble recently with boys taking out library books without library cards. Your son was caught. I administered a beating, during which he died. But you'll be glad to know the ringleader was caught."

  • Parodied (and turned into a sexual innuendo) in the Ripping Yarns pilot "Tomkinson's Schooldays", where schoolboys periodically have to beat their headmaster. It's still played as something unpleasant for them and enjoyable for him.
  • Leave It to Beaver: Ward Cleaver is portrayed as an ideal parent that never laid a hand on his sons, but he often recalled how his father was a strict disciplinarian who had often spanked him with a razor strap. Possibly that's the reason he was opposed to such methods himself.