Forced to Watch

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Viddy well, little brother! Viddy well!" [1]

Alex, A Clockwork Orange, just before he and his droogs proceed to rape Mr. Alexander's wife.

After capturing the hero, the villain will threaten him with Cold-Blooded Torture unless he reveals where he's hidden the MacGuffin, etc. Of course, being a good hero, he dares him to do his worst, not only can he take it, but will do so with a smile! The villain will then calmly rotate the chair they're strapped into and show them a friend or loved one in deep trouble instead.

Oh Crap.

This "deep trouble" can be just about anything. A camera feed showing a hit squad offing allies or friends one by one, the Love Interest in a slowly moving Death Trap or being outright tortured. If the villain has the means, they might force the hero into Watching Troy Burn or the Redshirt Army being massacred by the villain's Gas Mask Mooks.

The possibilities are nauseatingly endless, but the one constant is that they are Forced To Watch, often with the offer that they can make it stop if they just give in. Sometimes the act isn't meant to make someone talk, but to Kick the Dog in a truly heinous way, Mind Raping them by taking whatever they love and destroying it before their very eyes. More cynically, this is a way for the writers to make sure that the heroes remain absolutely sympathetic; caving under torture would make them "weak," but caving to a loved one's torture makes them heroic.

In family-friendly works it can be a way of softening a torture scene: rather than getting out the knives, simply threatening the hero's loved ones can carry story without rousing the censors. It can even be a moment of comedy if the subject of the threat is absurd or the punishment is ridiculous.

In more adult works the hero's head may be strapped to prevent them from looking away. In more extreme works their eyes may be taped open, or their eyelids removed. An anesthetic or blow to the head may leave the hero too dazed to look away. Other times, like a car wreck, the hero just won't be able to look away. For bonus points, a hero trying to look away will have the villain grab them by the chin and force them to face forward while screaming that they look on.

The hero may find they Ain't Too Proud to Beg and might plead "Please, I Will Do Anything!."

We might discover this dark scene in fragments as a Troubled Backstory Flashback.

Morally dubious heroes may also force a victim to watch. It can mark where the Well-Intentioned Extremist just crossed the Moral Event Horizon.

The villain is Tempting Fate by attempting this form of torture with Determinators, Plucky Girls and Badass antiheroes, as the consequences will not be pretty if they do not succeed in breaking them. Especially if the hero manages to bust loose from their imprisonment—in which case the villain is going to be facing torture and/or death soon enough.

See also We Have Ways of Making You Talk.

Examples of Forced to Watch include:

Anime and Manga

  • Berserk does this to Guts in supremely heinous fashion during the end of the Eclipse when he forced to watch his lover Casca be brutally raped to the point of insanity by his best friend turned Big Bad Griffith, who has become a demon god named Femto. He tries to reach her by chiseling off his own arm which was trapped in the jaws of a demon, only to be dogpiled by more demons before he can and is forced to watch the rape as a demon claws out his right eye.
    • It's made even more heinous in that Casca was forced to look at Guts in the middle of her rape by Femto when he began to rape her from behind. Not only is Casca being degraded more and worse by the minute, but she has to look at Guts while it happens, and it's heartbreaking to see Casca beg Guts not to look at her during her last sane moments, even though he's just as forced to look on while he's still trying to get to her.
    • Earlier, in volume two of the manga, Vargas, the kind but deformed and revenge-driven fugitive, recounts how he was forced to watch as the Count ate his wife and children. This alluded to Guts's own experience with Griffith.
    • And Guts forced Theresa, the Count's twelve-year-old daughter, to watch as he stabbed the mutilated but still living Count dozens of times. He actually dragged the Count over to her so she'd have a front row seat.
  • The Hentai, Rei-Lan: Orchid Emblem has Doug being forced to watch his girlfriend, Rei-lan, lose her virginity to Tojo, the crime boss, just before Doug is murdered by him.
  • Though it only gets to implying such before he gives in, Rideback, the main character's brother is forced to give false confession by threatening to rape his sister in front of him.
  • In Naruto Itachi has twice used his Mind Rape abilities to make Sasuke watch as Itachi murders their entire family over and over and over again.
    • It also has a Kick the Dog example where Naruto is forced to watch Pain stab Hinata for standing up to him in Naruto's defense.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, the maddened Shion decides to lock Mion up and torture all of her friends where she can hear (but not see) it before finally killing her.
  • Kyo's brother Sojo threatens Kyo with this (more exactly, with ravishing his girlfriend Misao) in Black Bird.
  • Elfen Lied: During Lucy's childhood, some cruel kids forced her to watch as they beat a puppy to death that she had started caring for. They did not survive the consequences.
  • Seras Victoria from Hellsing has a rather dark and disturbing backstory, which seems to have happened when she was very young. It consists of her father being murdered by burglars, her mother hiding her in a cupboard to protect her, and her mother's subsequent murder by the same burglars. Seras tries to exact revenge by stabbing one of the guys in the eye with a fork. She gets shot for her trouble and one of the perpetrators proceed to rape her mother's corpse, due to it being "still warm". In full view of Seras who lies on the ground bleeding profusely.
  • In Bleach, Nnoitra orders his subordinate Tesla to beat Ichigo to death and grabs Orihime (who's in love with Ichigo) and forces her to watch. He even says "I want you to watch while the guy who came to save you gets torn apart." Thankfully, Kenpachi pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment before Tesla can kill Ichigo.
  • In Tantei Gakuen Q, while she and Ryu investigate a girl's vanishment in a Boarding School, Megumi is caught and kidnapped by a mysterious masked man. She finds herself Bound and Gagged and is forced to watch as said masked man kills the also kidnapped Student Council President by smashing a bottle in his head. Few later, Ryu and other kids find a video featuring this as well as how the masked man threateningly approaches poor Megu and the scene goes to black, implying he's killed her too. In a subversion, he has not, and Megu is released unharmed but very shaken by what she was forced to see.
  • In Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest, Inugami arrives to Haguro's house in search of hints about where he and his goons are keeping and continuously gang-raping Aoshika-sensei. He only finds a goon there and said goon forces him watch a video where she's yet again being raped... by Haguro himself.
  • Averted in Rurouni Kenshin. Because Enishi did not force Kenshin to watch as he "killed" his love interest Kaoru even though he knew what affect it would have on Kenshin, this set off Aoshi's suspicion that Kaoru was not dead at all.
  • In the climax of the 'Saint Beasts' arc in Yu Yu Hakusho Suzaku has a giant screen showing the footage of Botan and Keiko being hunted down by his bug-zombies. At first this serves mostly as a distraction, but as Yusuke increasingly gets the worse end of the fight and things get tighter and tighter for Keiko, it gets closer to torture, culminating in Yusuke on the ground, beaten past moving, while the zombies close in on Keiko. (Botan is not in real danger, as her real form is a spirit the zombies can't touch.)
    • Ultimately Yusuke produces Heroic Willpower and sacrifices his life force to break Suzaku and his whistle. Kuwabara has to give him Spirit CPR to stop him from dying.
    • When Yusuke wakes up, Kuwabara and Kurama team up in dickishness and pretend for about a minute and a half that he was too late to save her. People tend to either underestimate how normal Kurama is in favor of Draco in Leather Pants, or underestimate how mean he is because he's The Smart Guy and wears pink. This incident showcases both. Also the only time he wears a pony tail.
  • Happens in Deadman Wonderland to Ganta.
  • Played for Laughs in Kamen no Maid Guy, when Kogarashi punishes a Psycho Lesbian who has installed a hidden camera in his (female) master's bathroom. Kogarashi paralyses her with a Brown Note and forces her to watch an overweight 40-year old man take a bath in the nude, with closeups as he starts washing his 'private parts'.
  • In the Ghost in The Shell Stand Alone Complex episode "A Perfect Day for a Jungle Cruise," they discover that the person who's been skinning women alive would first connect vision system to theirs in a way that they couldn't turn off, so they would be forced to watch through his eyes as he worked.

Comic Books

  • Black Mask is fond of this technique as a torture tool; he drove Catwoman's sister insane by torturing her husband to death and forcing her to watch and eat the bits he cut off.
  • In X-Men, Mojo does this to Professor Xavier at one point, using metal wires that force his eyes open while making him grin in Mojo's image.
  • In the Elseworlds story JLA: The Nail, The Joker uses his newly bestowed energy powers to capture Robin and Batgirl, and then make Batman watch while he rips them apart.
  • The most painful moment in the "Avengers Under Siege" storyline: Mr. Hyde forces a captive Captain America to watch as he brutally beats the Avengers' elderly butler, Jarvis.
  • Barracuda attempts to exact the ultimate revenge on The Punisher by torturing Frank's illegitimate baby daughter in front of him before torturing Frank himself to death and even gloats about his intent to a tied-up Punisher. It backfires spectacularly.
  • Typically a key part of the creation of a new revenant in any given episode in The Crow series. It's especially bad when fans of the first movie read the first comic, and realize just how loose an adaptation it was.
  • Done to the audience in Alan Moore opus From Hell. An entire issue is spent on the grisly details of one of the killings and subsequent mutilations.

Fan Works

  • One Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic involves Envy employing this method on Edward, as he and Sloth engage in some kinky and graphic 'bonding', which proves to be a fairly effective way of squicking out poor Ed especially since this fic is set in the first anime continuity, where Sloth is actually a resurrected version of Ed's mom Trisha. And to add insult to injury, Envy transforms into his and Ed's father, Hohenheim!
  • The Galaxy Rangers fic Chrysalis has all four of the Rangers captured by Queen of the Crowns. She gladly sends Niko, Doc, and Shane to her torture chambers. But she puts Zachary in a well-appointed prison and trots him out to a balcony overlooking the chambers.

Queen: You won't pay, Captain, but your subordinates will.


  • In A Clockwork Orange Alex is cured of his violent and sexual urges by being forced (with his eyes held open by a device strapped to his head) to watch violent movies while being injected with a drug that makes him horribly sick. The ending result? A complete and total aversion to the above mentioned acts.
    • Earlier, Alex does this to Mr. Alexander, as mentioned with the above quote.
  • Law Abiding Citizen: Clyde removes the eyelids of the man who killed his wife and daughter and puts a giant mirror above the operating table he's been strapped to, forcing him to watch as he is tortured and dismembered. Kind of an interesting version as you might think that seeing it isn't the worst part.
  • Princess Leia was forced to watch the destruction of Alderaan in Star Wars: A New Hope. It is also the core of the Emperor's plan in Return of the Jedi: park Luke in front of a window with a view of the slaughter of the Alliance fleet, and indulge in some good old fashioned Evil Gloating until he's ready to cross the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Nearly literal namedrop: In Marv's short of Sin City, his friend and parole officer Lucille was kidnapped by the cannibal Kevin, who then ate her hand. When Marv finds her, the poor woman breaks down and cries "he made me watch!"
  • Mal does this to the Operative in Serenity - torture in this case being watching a heartbroken Alliance researcher tell and show of the atrocity on Miranda - the Alliance's greatest crime - right before the speaker is attacked, raped and ultimately eaten by Reavers. The feed goes on.
    • A case of Fridge Horror hits. When the Serenity crew watched it, they quickly turned if off, it was so horrible. When Mal shows the Operative, the Operative's chained down, and Mal walks away as it begins. The Operative likely had no choice but to witness the whole thing... and the Reavers were unlikely to turn it off, so the record lasts as long as the power and storage space allowed.
      • The Fridge Horror doesn't end there. Remember that bit about this same recording being broadcast to pretty much the entire known universe?
    • It also tortures him in a different way. It destroys his entire view that the Alliance is truly making the universe a better place, which is the entire reason he was doing horrible things for them.
  • The killer does this to his first victim in Die Watching, setting a TV monitor next to the chair she is tied to so that she can watch him kill her.
  • RoboCop 2: Hob demonstrates that in spite of everything he's not a Complete Monster when he turns away as Kain mercilessly butchers a traitor to his cause. Kain demonstrates that he is a Complete Monster by forcing the maybe-15-years-old-tops Hob to watch anyway.
  • In The Final, the outcasts chain their victims to the floor and set up a torture chair in the front of the room, torturing and mutilating them one by one as their friends watch.
  • In The Wizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch of the West has Dorothy and her friends cornered at the climax of the movie, she gloats, "The last to go will see the first three go before her. And her mangy little dog, too!"
  • The Man Called Flintstone. The Green Goose tortures Barney Rubble on the rack to make Fred Flintstone talk. Subverted when Fred doesn't crack and tell the Green Goose what he wants to know, but ignores Barney's suffering. Watch it here, starting at 4:30.
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Professor Fassbender refuses to help Dreyfus create a Weapon of Mass Destruction, so Dreyfus "tortures" Fassbender's daughter by dragging his steel-clawed gauntlet on a chalkboard. Starting at 6:15.
  • In the new Star Trek movie, Nero makes Spock watch as he destroys his home planet.
  • In The Dark Knight, The Joker makes Harvey Dent listen to Rachel's last words as part of his plan to break him.
    • This goes two ways: He sets up a speaker phone between the two of them, and knows that Batman will only be able to rescue one of them.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Judge Doom does an offhand version of this when he has Eddie Valiant, Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit captive.

Weasel: [talking about Eddie Valiant] Shall I "repose" of him right now, Boss?
Doom: Let him watch his toon friends get Dipped. Then shoot him.

Chance: Open your eyes!

  • In For a Few Dollars More, El Indio, the Big Bad, in one of his first Kick the Dog moments of the movie, forces a guy who took money to place him behind bars to watch as the family that he started with that money (his wife and his little boy) are taken outside and shot to death, while also making him listen to the pocket watch that Indio always carries.
  • Invoked in The Green Hornet. "He took my favorite toy, and he ripped the head off. Right in front of me."
  • Bryan Mills threatens to invoke this in Taken when confronting a corrupt French agent about the whereabouts of his kidnapped daughter. After the agent attempts to intimidate him into dropping the case, Bryan shoots the agent's wife in the arm, assures him that he only winged her, and orders him to help, or "the last thing you'll see before I make your children orphans is the bullet I put between her eyes." The agent complies.
  • In Underworld Rise of the Lycans, after Sonja is tried and found guilty of high treason mainly due to her being impregnated by her lover, the werewolf Lucian, with a child who would be half vampire, half werewolf, her punishment consisted of having her chained to a pillar and Lucian chained to the floor face-to-face, where she was forced to watch Lucian get whipped. Then, it all gets worse when Lucian was then forced to watch her get burned to death by exposure to the sun.
  • A rather chilling example in Strange Days: a rapist blindfolds his victim, then hooks her up to the memory-recording device he's using at that moment... forcing her to experience her own rape and subsequent murder as though she were in his body. So not only is it happening to her, she's forced to get off on it the way he is.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Freddy forces Alice to watch as he sucks the life out of Sheila, his first victim after the death of Kristen Parker.
  • In The Avengers, Loki threatens to have Clint, who's under Loki's control, ambiguously rape, torture, and finally kill Natasha, and then release him from the mind control to allow him to see what he did before killing him. A bit of variation, however, as it's Natasha who he is threatening.
  • Red Eye: Inverted. When Rippner faces Lisa in their final confrontation, Rippner tells Lisa that he is going to make her father watch what he's going to do to her (instead of the hero/heroine watching a loved one get harmed). Whatever he was planning on doing, it is averted in the end.


  • Alex Rider is tied down and forced to watch as Razim kills Jack in Scorpia Rising.
  • In a somewhat indirect example, Captain Red Wegener from a Coast Guard ship investigating the rape and murder of a family aboard a ship in the Tom Clancy book Clear And Present Danger realizes that the suspects they have for the crime forced the owner of the ship to watch as they raped his wife and daughter before they killed him.
  • Labyrinths of Echo by Max Frei. In one of sequels, the hero happened to witness things too overwhelmingly weird, even for a Cosmic Plaything like him. He closes his eyes, but oops—he's still forced to see it all. Eyelids do nothing.
  • In The Silmarillion, Morgoth captures Húrin and forces him to watch his homeland overrun by the Easterlings and his son and daughter subjected to a terrible curse and eventually Driven to Suicide. All through Morgoth's chosen lens, which hid all that was good and showed Húrin only bad things. Húrin never asked for mercy, for himself or for any of his kin.
  • King Jacob of The Tennis Shoes Adventures tries to get Garth to reveal the location of a treasure by forcing him to watch as Garth's niece, Melody, is killed. too bad he doesn't know. (While Garth has a Heroic BSOD, Mel gets better.)
  • Dexter's "yodeling potato", having your limbs removed and your tongue cut out. In front of a mirror. Starting at the fingers/hands/feet and working up slowly. Additionally, the eyelids and lips are removed.
  • The Stephen King short story "Quitters, Inc." (published in the collection Night Shift) about the ultimate anti-smoking program (adapted into a segment of the film Cat's Eye). Three little words: "the rabbit room."
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, Bane kills a man's two sons and forces him to watch. Justified in that Bane then used the father's anguish to fuel his dark side powers.
  • In The Witcher saga, this is done by a Psycho for Hire Bounty Hunter. He makes Ciri watch as he cuts off the heads of her killed friends to collect the bounty on them.
  • In the book of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, things play out differently from the film. The witch does this because she can't physically harm Dorothy thanks to the protective charms of the slippers and the North Witch's protection spell. Didn't stop the Witch with a Capital B from trying to get Dorothy's cooperation by torturing the Lion, threatening Toto, and leaving Nick (the Tin Man) and Scarecrow as ruined heaps at the bottom of a nearby ravine. Baum had his moments...
  • In Neverwhere, in order to get information out of Door, the bad guys decide that instead of torturing her, they'll torture Richard instead while she watches.
  • In The Sword-Edged Blonde, this is part of Eddie's Backstory: when he was sixteen, he and his girlfriend were attacked by bandits, who held him down and made him watch as they raped and killed her. Even worse, it was kind of his fault the bandits attacked them in the first place.
  • Turned sideways in Neil Gaiman's The Problem of Susan, where Susan is eaten first, but her (conscious) severed head is left behind so she can watch further horrors unfold regarding her siblings and what Aslan and the White Witch do.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Bellatrix Lestrange, unable to torture Harry because he's carrying a delicate MacGuffin of the Death Eaters, tells her colleagues to torture his love interest and local Cute Witch Ginny Weasley in front of him instead. She later tortures Harry's good friend Neville Longbottom in front of Harry as well, but is interrupted a moment before he gives in.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, also known as the Cirque Du Freak series, the second-to-last book gives us this between Steve and Darren. "I dare you to do this." Different in that Steve is essentially doing it For the Evulz at this point, and if Darren also does it, it'd keep Steve from actually realizing and becoming truly evil, and if Darren doesn't, Stevewould go absolutely batshit crazy. Ultimately it's Steve killing Darren's godson and son-of-best-friend Shancus, that is Steve's crossing the Moral Event Horizon and he dares Darren to do it as well. And Darren almost does kill the kid he's holding, Steve's son Darius. What keeps him from doing it? Steve telling his boy to tell Darren his mom's name. His mom's name? Annie Shan, Darren's sister. Woah.
  • In the Rizzoli and Isles novel The Apprentice, the cops are investigating the murder of a wealthy doctor and the disappearance of his wife. When they find the husband's body tied to a chair propped up in the middle of the bedroom, the cops are horrified to realize that the killer forced the helpless man to watch as he raped and murdered his wife before slashing his throat.
  • In The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, Cree Bega forces Woobie Ahren Elessedil to watch as The Morgawr devours the minds and Life Energy of an entire crew of men. He later threatens to make Ahren watch as they torture his friend, Ryer Ord Star as well.
  • According to Herodotus one Median prince was actually forced to eat his son by his king. Later he supposedly ended up commanding a large part of the same monarchs army at a critical battle with Cyrus the Great. Figure out what happened next.
  • In The Sword of Truth series it is mentioned that part of the Mord-Sith training involves them being forced to watch their mothers tortured to death. The protagonist is threatened in the first book that if he won't help the Big Bad, he'll be forced to see his love tortured for a very long time (not killed - the Big Bad wanted a heir from her). A few more examples are present throughout the series.
  • In Mistborn, an Inquisitor mentions casually to Vin that when he tortured her brother, he died before spilling the secret they were after. Thus, this time, he was going to use a different tactic: torturing her friend Sazed instead. (He doesn't get the chance.)
  • This turns out to be behind the plot of The Carpet makers by Andreas Eschbach: the previous Emperor puts a defeated rival king on life support and forces him to watch how all life on his home planet gets killed off, to be replaced by carpets.
  • In the beginning of Shogun by James Clavell, the Japanese are surprised to learn that the main character (who is the leader of a group of shipwrecked European sailors) isn't vulnerable to personal humiliation, and even more surprised to learn that he is vulnerable to this trope.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion reveals that he'd been forced to watch his beloved new wife gang raped. And then forced to participate himself. When he was thirteen. And the whole thing was orchestrated by his father.
  • In Dune: House Harkonnen, a teenaged Guerney Halleck is forced to watch as his sister, who has just spent a year as a Sex Slave for Harkonnen soldiers, is brutally gang-raped before Rabban finally strangles her.
  • In Grunts by Mary Gentle, the Physical God Big Bad managed to take over the body of perhaps the only completely decent person in the entire novel. He kept her mind locked down and unconscious while he corrupted and conquered the world. Then, in his moment of greatest triumph, he allowed her consciousness (but not control), so forcing her to see Ultimate Evil in her body ruling the world. And then he "snuffed out her soul."
  • Frank Yerby's The Voyage Unplanned reveals that French Resistance member Simone Levy held firm against interrogation when the SS tortured a young boy to death while repeatedly asking her, "What's the matter, miss? Don't you like children?" Years later when Simone was living in Israel, a terrorist blew up a school bus, and her son was one of the dead. She was naturally in a state of shock, but another woman at the scene thought Simone should be doing more to help the wounded ... and by chance used the same words the Nazis had. Simone went home and killed herself.

Live-Action TV

  • Battlestar Galactica has an unplanned bonus to Boomer impersonating identical humanoid robot Athena. Helo, Athena's husband, comes into the bathroom where Boomer has just Bound and Gagged Athena in a bathroom stall, and mentions that since "she" is going on a mission they should take the opportunity to say an intimate goodbye. Of course, Athena chooses that moment to become drowsily awake enough to watch.
  • Doctor Who has many examples. One is found in Genesis of the Daleks. The Doctor has to tell Davros how every Dalek war was lost or Sarah Jane and Harry will be tortured.
    • In the New Series, the Master also does this to the Doctor, forcing him to watch Earth literally get decimated while helpless to stop him. Why? For the Evulz, of course!
    • Let's just say that most villains find that this is the most effective way to break the Doctor. In Season 1, the Doctor was forced to reveal who he really was when Rose was getting tortured in front of him. In Season 4 Davros once again tried to break the Doctor first by making him watch the TARDIS (with Donna in it) get destroyed and then was seconds close to forcing the Doctor watch as the Daleks destroyed reality itself with a reality bomb.
    • And the Weeping Angles, where not watching them can mean you being sent into the past to have the rest of your life already lived out.
  • In Firefly the crew stumbles upon a derelict ship plundered by vicious space cannibals called Reavers. All the passengers on the ship but one man were brutally tortured and murdered. It turns out later that the Reavers intentionally left that one alive and forced him to watch their atrocities until he snapped and became one of them.
  • On Star Trek: The Next Generation Ensign Ro told a story about when she was a little girl, the Cardassians made her come into a room and watch her father being tortured to death.
  • Spung[who?] do not question Andromedans.[who?] Humans are far more vulnerable to this trope.
  • Jerks like this are common on Criminal Minds:
    • In "True Night", the UnSub's backstory was that a street gang forced him to watch as they murdered (and implied rape) his pregnant girlfriend, whom he'd just proposed to. No wonder he snapped.
    • It was part of Karl "The Fox" Arnold's modus operandi: he targeted dysfunctional families and forced the father to watch as he killed the other members before finally killing him.
    • Tim Curry's character in the two-parter "Our Darkest Hour"/"The Longest Night" would always leave behind a witness after raping, beating and killing their loved ones. It turned out that his mother, a prostitute, used to make him watch while she worked. It's implied she also offered him up to her clients.
    • In "Revelations", the UnSub (Tobias Hankel) watches his potential victims through their webcams, then records and posts their murders online. He also kidnaps Reid and forces him to choose one of the victims to be murdered. When Reid instead chooses one to save, Tobias goes and kills a different one (and their spouse), leaving Reid tied up and forced to watch it happen on the laptop in front of him. Cue Reid's guilt. The next time we see him, he's staring catatonic. Garcia also had to watch all of the videos repeatedly, unable to track Tobias.
    • In "100", The Reaper (using a stolen cell phone) forces Hotch to listen to his wife being shot dead. The entire team hears it, too.
    • The same thing happened to the team when Prentiss was being beat up by a cult that had her and Reid. She used the fact that the team was listening to get a message to them.
    • Kind of a weird one in the episode "Proof" when the UnSub kidnapped and tortured his niece, burning her hands off with acid. In the final scene of the episode, her father as some sort of self-punishment for not noticing that his brother was seriously screwed up, forced himself to watch the video of his daughter being tortured.
    • In the episode "Children of the Dark" the two UnSubs would force the kids to watch as the first UnSub beat the parents to death. Then the second UnSub would inject them with poison.
  • The entire point of the MTV Game Show Trashed. Don't get enough questions right, and you get to see your prized possessions go up in smoke (sometimes literally).
  • Downfall is similar to Trashed.
  • The "Bonus Round" on Distraction: Get a question wrong, watch your brand new car get vandalized or one of your prizes get destroyed.
  • A Sunset Beach storyline involved an evil twin imprisoning his good brother... and forcing him to watch through a two-way mirror as he made love to the man's fiancee.
  • A third Ozian example. In Tin Man, Cain was locked in a Steampunk stasis chamber for eight years while a holographic recording of his family's torture was set on repeat playback.
  • The Space Cases first season finale contained a textbook exmaple, where Warlord Shank demands information about the Crysta from Harlan after some of the gang have been captured and tied up. When Shank brings out his Agony Beam, Harlan, of course, defiantly tells him that torture won't make him talk. Shank calmly asks, "Who said anything about torturing you?" before turning it in the direction of the unconscious Catalina. Good thing he also didn't say anything about giving him truthful information.
  • Sylar does this in Volume 4 of Heroes; he tortures one of the soldiers sent to kidnap him, then immobilizes him while torturing two innocent bystanders. Well, one innocent bystander and one villain wannabe, but he didn't know that yet. . .
  • On 24, Jake orders Qurac soldiers to kill a terrorist's son on a webcam feed in order to break him. It was staged.

Video Games

  • Knights of the Old Republic: Admiral Saul Karath eventually manages to capture the heroes and starts grilling the Player Character for information. He already expects that his Cold-Blooded Torture isn't going to work very well if he simply uses the painful electrocution on the PC themselves. However, he has both your potential love interests in similar torture chambers...
  • In Evil Genius, you defeat one of the superagents by mangling her teddy bear.
  • In The Darkness, the eponymous Eldritch Abomination does this to Jackie by using it's Combat Tentacles to hold him back while Paulie Francetti executes his girlfriend Jenny. THEN it lets go and scares off the villains. And then it cruelly mocks Jackie.
  • One bit of Flavor Text in Alpha Centauri notes that the one man tough enough to endure The Punishment Sphere broke pretty quickly when they threatened to put his wife in.
  • While he doesn't get to see how it happened, Cormag from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is forced by Valter to have a long and good look at his murdered brother Glen's mangled corpse. What Valter didn't say, though, was that he was the one who killed Glen.

Web Comics

  • Arguably, this happened to The Blonde Marvel when she didn't want to pay for Madame de Sade's broken window.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Hereti-Corp tries torturing Gwynn to make Torg give up information on Dr. Steve and Oasis, until Torg points out that they hadn't asked him any questions yet.
  • Parodied in Aoi House when Elle finds out two heterosexual men have joined their club. As they really can't lose two more members without getting closed by the university, she is determined to fix the minor problem with Alex and Sandy.
  • Redcloak of The Order of the Stick attempts this, threatening to throw groups of prisoners into a rift in front of O-Chul, unless O-Chul gives him information. O-Chul simply doesn't have the information Redcloak is after, and tells him that if he's going to kill the prisoners, then do it quick and be done with it. Redcload is astounded at how vile humans are.

Western Animation

  • Basically the entire premise behind Robot Chicken, the show opens as a dead chicken is brought back to life, then watches a bank of monitors with his head locked in place and eyes forced open. One of the monitors is blank as the show begins and zooms in upon it, supposedly this is what the chicken is going to be forced to see, and we will see it.
  • In Teen Titans Slade uses the threat of this to make Robin do a Face Heel Turn.

Slade: If you join me, if you swear to serve me, if you never speak to your friends again, I will allow them to live. But if you disobey even the smallest request ... I will annihilate them, Robin. And I'll make you watch.

Living Laser: New York is gonna burn. And I'm gonna make you watch.

  • In an American Dad episode Roger goes on a campaign to ruin the life of a man named Sidney who Roger believes stole from him. This vendetta includes destroying Sidney's garden and raping his favorite sycamore tree. Later, Roger sends Sidney a letter that says, "Your sycamore had saplings. I made them watch."
    • In an episode where Stan puts his mind in the body of a horse, he (in the horse body) keeps getting poked in the face by a little kid despite Roger warning him not to. To the kid's shock, horse-Stan threatens to go to the child's house and kick his mother to death while he watched.
  • Freakazoid! had a mild version of this played for laughs. The villain, Gutieriz, wants a code that will give him super powers. When the hero and his mentor refuse to give it to him (the hero doesn't even know the code), he reveals he has the hero's family captured as well. The method of torture used on the family? The best of Marty Ingles.
    • "What kind of sadistic creature are you!?!"
  • In this SpongeBob SquarePants episode Mr Krabs is forced to watch spongebob and squid ward destroy his stuff when they said stuff doesn't talk.
  • In the first animated movie bridging the original Batman TAS and Superman TAS, "World's Finest," Joker decided to get revenge on Lex Luthor by destroying everything Lex Corps built in Metropolis with one of Luthor's own weapons and making him watch.
  • In The Simpsons, after Mr. Burns accidentally walks into a tree, he orders its acorns killed while the tree watches.
  • One episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender has an Earth Kingdom general try to force Aang into the Avatar State by making him watch as he slowly bends Katara underground, presumably to suffocate. It works.
    • In a self-inflicted variety, after Katara hogties Azula and revives Zuko in the finale, Azula starts snarling, writhing and sobbing loudly as the culmination of her Villianous Breakdown. Katara can't bear to watch, while Zuko forces himself to watch.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "To Heck and Back," Heffer is confronted with his gluttony in Heck, and forced to watch Rocko dying inside his guts (after Rocko fell in while trying to retrieve a chicken bone that had gotten caught in Heffer's throat.)
  • In the final episode of Justice League Unlimited, Darkseid tells Superman that this is his plan. He talks about how he is going to destroy the planet and kill everyone on it, and only after Superman has seen it, will he kill him.
  • A Family Guy episode has Peter doing the really old cartoon gag where the steam coming off a freshly baked pie forms beckoning fingers and tries to go up Peter's nose, which is supposed to draw Peter into eating the pie. When Peter refuses, the steam somehow starts ripping off Peter's clothes so it can rape him. We then see the steam is also holding Quagmire's eyes open, forcing him to watch.
  • In Samurai Jack, Aku forces the emperor watch him destroy the emperor's country.

Real Life

  • One of the most notorious killings in the Soviet Union during Josef Stalin's purge of 1937-38 was that of the widow of Nestor Lakoba, a Communist leader in Abkhazia who had recently been murdered by poisoning. After the secret police arrested her, they ordered her each day to sign a statement implicating Lakoba for treason; each day she refused and was beaten as punishment. In a last-ditch attempt to elicit a confession, her captors arrested her 14-year-son and tortured him in her presence, yet she still held firm; she eventually died under torture, and the son was shot shortly afterward.
  • After the 1941 assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Gestapo raided several safe houses where the assassins had hid, including the home of the Moravec family in Žižkov. While the apartment was being searched Mrs. Moravec was allowed to use the toilet, where she killed herself with cyanide. Mr. Moravec, who did not know of his wife's involvement with the resistance, was taken to Gestapo headquarters along with his son Ata, who did. After torturing him for a day, the Nazis got Ata drunk and showed him his mother's severed head in a fish tank, after which he told the Gestapo everything he knew.
  • According to Victor Suvorov, one of the interrogation techniques Soviet Spetsnatz was trained to use involved demonstrating to a captive with important information what they're going to do to him to make him talk. On a random captured person. And it usually included slicing them apart, piece by piece. And more.
  • If family members weren't available to watch the gruesome torture of their loved ones - in which they were not merely forced to watch but forced to applaud - at the hands of Saddam Hussein's goons, then a video recording of the torture would be dropped at their front door the next day, along with a bill for the knives and bullets expended.
  1. "viddy" = "see" in Burgess' Nadsat language