Happiness in Slavery

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Slave labor looks quite SSC when explained by Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss
"Freedom is Slavery"
Slogan of the Party (partial), Nineteen Eighty-Four

"I have found
You can find

Happiness in slavery"

Character A is in servitude to character B, but doesn't want freedom, and is Not Brainwashed. There are three types of this:

  1. A is appreciated and rewarded by B and stays loyal because of this, however they still either cannot leave or cannot imagine leaving. Can overlap with Property of Love.
  2. A is treated like dirt by B, but is still loyal, due to a debt of gratitude, masochism, hope for reciprocation on B's part (e.g. The Igor, The Renfield, Love Martyr, Mad Love), suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, or simply doesn't know any better.
  3. A belongs to a species whose Hat is Happiness in Slavery, or they both belong to a culture with a Fantastic Caste System or it's inherent in their psyche, needing to have a Master, one way or another no matter what.

Compare Subordinate Excuse, which is similar, but without the slavery. If the masters are vampires, the willing subordinates are often Vampire Vannabes. Also note that this can technically be applied to any Mon series where the mons are intelligent (leading to the occasional brutal Deconstruction).

Compare Freedom From Choice.

Examples of Happiness in Slavery include:

Anime / Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Nana in Elfen Lied.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Itsuki's Mad Love for Sensui is a rare combination of both kinds of this trope. (In other words: Sensui is so insane we don't know if he loves him back or not.)
    • More specifically, some of Sensui's (seven!) personalities probably do love Itsuki back, but others likely don't care at all, and the jury's still out on the main 'Shinobu' personality.
      • One of personalities is female. And Itsuki himself tells us she writes 'the most beautiful poetry I've ever heard'. If you add this to the fact that all of his personalities have a purpose, then you can figure out what hers is.
      • Her primary purpose appears to have been doing all the freaking out and regretting over the horrible evil the rest of him has been getting up to since he snapped.
    • Of course, Itsuki's not so much enslaved as an enthusiastic minion—and in the manga, at least, he predicted something like this way back when they first met and he realized how badly beautiful little Shinobu's Knight Templar mind was going to break when reality hit him—and that was why he convinced him to let him stick around, because he fuckin' loves 'that sort of thing'.
      • His comparison to illustrate 'that kind of thing' is to a little girl who believes babies come from storks growing up to be in pornos. It's kind of unclear who's actually holding the leash here, even if Sensui is technically making all the decisions and Isuki is helping him.
    • Yoshihiro Togashi puts some really sick material into his Shonen manga. When he realized he could get away with this as long as he kept the official genre conventional, he wrote Hunter X Hunter.
  • Ebichu in Oruchuban Ebichu
  • A strange example is in Tramps Like Us: Takeshi agrees to become Sumire's "pet," but has mixed feelings about his status to her; while being her pet means free food and housing and allows him to be by her side, it also means that she won't be able to think of him as a man, much less a romantic possibility.
  • Sort of played straight by Wormmon in Digimon Adventure 02. He serves Ken out of a feeling of obligation as Ken's Digimon partner and a hope that he can make Ken good somehow. This is despite some truly terrible treatment he had to endure. When Wormmon eventually sacrifices himself to protect Ken, it's enough to set him on the course for a Heel Face Turn.
  • Saito in Zero no Tsukaima. Despite all the treatment he gets, he still loves Louise, and she loves him too. Not that she'll admit it. There are also moments where Saito does have some control over her in the later seasons.
  • Haji from Blood+ does weird things with this trope. For at least the first 2/3 of the show, he embodies this perfectly: a servant that is completely and utterly loyal to his master, arguably because as a chevalier he's biologically hardwired that way. Then it turns out that chevaliers can betray their masters and abandon them without remorse; Haji is simply that devoted to Saya.
  • Fencer Of Minerva deals with a deposed princess who becomes the slave of a man attempting to usurp her uncle's kingdom. The whole series is an excuse for BDSM softcore Porn with Plot.
  • The Law of Ueki: Due to her love for Robert Haydn, Rinko is almost slavishly devoted to him. However, soon after meeting the protagonist of the series and realizing how little Robert actually cares for her, she decides to join said protagonist's True Companions.
  • DearS, perhaps a little further than usual with this trope. The hat that all the DearS wear is exactly this - they're a slave race, content to do whatever their master tells them.
    • In this case it has to do with the fact that they have to be loved and trusted or at the least appreciated by another race in order to survive If that doesn't work and they stop being trusted and loved they kill off the master race and find a new one.
  • In Trigun, Legato Bluesummers is this way towards Knives. Despite Knives essentially crippling him, beating him up, and calling him "trash," Legato remains in complete bliss as long as he serves under Knives. Most definitely the Type 2 kind.
    • Knives does treat Legato (at least in the manga where he has a backstory) better than anyone else Legato ever knew—that is, he turned up and killed all the people Legato hated most while they were engaged in raping him to death, and then decided not to kill the kid and let him come with him, and even asks him his name. (The kid doesn't have one yet.) And then evidently gives him some clothes and eventually puts him in charge of minions, and at least implicitly approves of and values his creepy superpowers, and trusts him to run things while he, Knives, is in the Gunsmoke version of a bacta tank.... The bar is low, but Knives clears it by a mile.
      • Which is in itself horrible.
      • The bacta tank thing doesn't work out so well, either, because Legato is so jealous of Vash his orders involve trying to kill him, and when Knives finds out he is pissed. It marks a downturn in both their relationship (such as it exists) and Legato's sanity and status.
  • In Full Metal Panic!: TSR, the Creepy Twins Xia Yu Fan and Xia Yu Lan are this towards Gauron. Because they feel so indebted to him for taking them in, they are shown to be willing to undertake a suicide mission that he orders. Of course, it's possible that it's not just gratitude, and there are hints that they have feelings of love that contribute to them being so loyal to him.
  • In Hellsing, Seras Victoria is offered her freedom by Alucard, but refuses to leave her vampire master.
    • Alucard himself doesn't seem terribly bothered calling Integra "master" either, in fact, he greatly enjoy his servitude to Integra, in the manga he even says that he has a beloved master [Integra] just for him and servant [Seras] that only loves him.
  • In Angel Sanctuary the cherubim Katan is honored to serve inorganic angel Rosiel.
  • Averted, Subverted, and Deconstructed in Shitsurakuen. The female students who are enslaved as per school policy are hopeless and miserable. The only reason they don't resist is because the past situation was even worse. Played straight with Sora's personal harem who are quite happy to escape the abuse and work to fight against it.
  • Gilbert's devotion to Oz in Pandora Hearts verges on this. Also, Echo. Subverted, once you get her talking about her "beloved master"...
  • The Angeloids of Sora no Otoshimono are artificial beings made with this trope in mind, but they're not truly happy serving a Complete Monster of a master, which Ikaros observes when she and Nymph talk about smiling. Tomoki becomes Ikaros' master, although he and his friends are trying to dissuade her from this behavior (unless he plans to peep, in which case she helps him), and Nymph laments how she is without a master, but later finds that she likes having her own desires and stops thinking about it. Astraea didn't have this problem, in part due to her lack of intelligence. That is, until she was ordered to kill Nymph.
  • The eponymous protagonists' servants in the ero-comedy Mouse. One of them, who always stays by his side (and helps him out during his "night life", along with two other girls, and assisted by his harem/ninja maid army), when asked about what she thinks of her life as a slave, tells him that she considers herself as happy and safe as she could be, and wonders how many "free" people can't say the same. To be fair, Mouse is a pretty nice and meek master (at least until alcohol is served to him by accident), so he's in constant danger of being assaulted, not them.
  • The furniture in Umineko no Naku Koro ni's greatest pleasure is to serve. Possibly the clearest example of this is when Ange smashes the Stakes to pieces by denying their existence, angry at their inability to kill the classmates that are bullying her. Whilst all of them are clearly terrified, it's also stated that 'Getting slammed against the floor when someone is pissed off is also a chair's important duty!! If that alone can absorb their master's bad mood even for an instant, there can be no greater honor for furniture.'. Of course, they got better.
  • Hana in Seikon no Qwaser. First she is quite reluctant when she is bullied by a Badass Lolita into becoming her BDSM slave. But then she quickly accepts and embraces her position and becomes fanatically loyal to her.
  • Bakugan, in some respects. Sure, they fight to save their homeworld, but at the end of the day, Drago would rather live in crampy, tiny little ball form with Dan than on his homeworld. To their credit, a few of the Bakugan decide to stay back on New Vestroia instead.
  • Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler carries both methods of this trope. Though Nagi doesn't treat him badly because she loves him, Athena did treat him somewhat like a slave. Hayate's fanatical loyalty keeps him happy to serve both of them as long as they're willing to keep him around.
  • Played seriously in Gundam Unicorn, Marida (aka Puru 12) was conditioned from birth to serve a master. Even the ordeal of prostitution was seen to her as another order by master. It gets to the point where after Suboera Zinnerman of the Sleeves rescues her and gives her something vaguely resembling a normal life, she can only think of him as another 'master'. Needless to say, he's a bit put out by this.
  • In Otome Youkai Zakuro, initially subverted with Byakuroku who hates the fact that she's treated as just a tool of Big Bad Omodaka, but eventually played straight when Byakuroku realizes that having lost her purpose in life after her sister (who she devoted her life to protecting) already died, her freedom ultimately has no point, and so she offers herself as his Property of Love, which he accepts, allowing her to survive with him in the end after he avails of a Last Second Chance.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura Yue and Cerberus straddle instances A and C of this trope. On the one hand, it is revealed that neither one of them can live for very long without a master to supply them with at least some power to support their existence; but on the other hand, their transition into genuinely caring about Sakura and developing true loyalty to her of their own choice is a major plot point --especially where Yue is concerned.
  • Himari was technically born in slavery to the Amakawa family, but she doesn't mind. In fact, given how many times she's tried to seduce her master, she'd probably be thrilled if Yuuto ordered her to his bed.
  • Back when she was a slave to the World Nobles, Koala from One Piece had to fake this trope and put on a smile at all times so as to not get killed. Crying was also forbidden. This scarred the poor little girl enough to make her remain a Stepford Smiler even after being freed, until Fisher Tiger changed her slave mark into a sun mark, and told her it was OK to cry.
  • Steel Angel Kurumi: Titular character Kurumi is devoted to her 'Master' Nakahito ever since she was first awakened, even telling him that he's her Master and she'll happily do anything he wants.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • This Wonder Woman comic.
    • It was a recurring theme under William Marston-Moulton.
      • Well, the message was more or less that if someone wants to be submitted then there's nothing wrong with it.
  • Adam Susan of V for Vendetta proudly declares himself a slave to the Fate computer.
  • Despite all he does to them, the people of Apokolips fanatically worship Darkseid. From his lowest of Lowlies to his highest Elites, all would gladly lay down their lives for the Lord of Apokolips. Darkseid's goal is to make everyone in existence follow suit by harnessing the Anti-Life Equation.
    • When Orion deposed Darkseid in Kingdom Come, he was forced to become a tyrant much like his father because the lowlies simply couldn't handle freedom. Even the ultimate agent of freedom, Mr Miracle, was having a hard time getting them to grasp the concept.

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • Shinji and Warhammer 40 K: Rei trusts her life to "pilot Ikari" (Shinji). Literally...her whole life: she identifies him, directly, as the definition of the word "happiness".
    • To his utter horror, more and more of Shinji's followers have taken this ideology regarding him, that anything he desires is good to seek, period, because of who is desiring it.
  • In a sadly deleted Danny Phantom fic 'Behind the Eyes' Danny was this for Vlad. Poor Woobie.
  • Celebrian is a textbook case of this.
  • In Travels Through Azeroth and Outland, the peons are an example of this.
  • Pokegirls is made out of this. They want, they need a Master, both for their biological imperative, the fear of the Feralty and to mantain order and peace (or at least cordiality) between them. Equal the "free" ones posses superior Pokegirls who act more or less in the same way as a human master. The thing is, they need a good master and not a Dick who sees her as disposable canon fodder and who can have good raport with their peculiar mindset. Fulfilling that, they would happily follow any order and gladly sacrifice their life to protect them.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Jodie Foster's underage prostitute character Iris in Taxi Driver.
  • This is the main premise of Secretary.
  • The major twist in Manderlay is that, after abolition, the plantation slaves held to Mam's Law on their own, even after her death (i.e. the length of the movie and obviously after), rather than take their chances in the outside world. The other twist is that Mam didn't write Mam's Law; her head slave did.
  • Cypher from The Matrix is perfectly willing to accept slavery, so long as he's not aware of it.
    • For good reason. Which would you prefer, living in a Crapsack World where you live in a cave, the only thing to eat is slimy mucus, and robots are trying their hardest to kill you? Or would you prefer chilling in your living room, eating steak? That's what I thought.
    • And the horrible horrible parties! Don't forget the horrible parties and the horrific music!
    • Plus Zion seems to be filled with people like Neo and Morpheus who can't answer a simple question straight but have to talk in obtuse riddles.
  • Chewbacca with his "life debt" to Han Solo in Star Wars. It helps that Han mostly treats him as a partner.
    • Given the difference in lifspan between a Wookie and a human, such a life-debt is probably at most a minor inconvenience.
      • It's also implied that Solo doesn't abuse it, looking at it more as a friendly working relationship. For players not familiar with the EU, the KotOR2's Wookiee reaction to life debts is incredibly jarring.
        • Ironically, he is far more amenable to it the more he's treated like a slave, by the then-eventually Sith Lord player-character.
    • And for that matter, the expanded universe shows an unexpected amount of alien races really WERE happier with the Empire than the Republic. And the remnants of the Empire, Ysanne Isard especially, use this to their advantage quite a bit.
    • Don't forget the Droids: "We don't serve any of their kind around here."
      • The novelization takes this scene a bit further. The bartender says "I only stock for organics, not (very distastefully) mechanicals." C-3P0 assures Luke "That's okay Master. I don't require lubrication at the moment anyway."
        • Of course, even the Droids have their limits. Restraining bolts force the issue of loyalty, and memory wipes are at most a step away from Mind Rape.
    • The two native races of Utapau are a Type C example—the short, humble Utai willingly submit themselves to the rule of the tall, long-lived, near human Pau'ans. There is no animosity between them, and the arrangement suits both species pretty well; the Utai are naturally hardy and well-suited for a work-heavy lifestyle, while the Pau'ans are highly intelligent and have great leadership skills. In all likelihood, they'd probably be much worse off without each other, and they trust each other so much that the Utai even allow themselves to be represented in government by a Pau'an.
  • A variation: Scud in Blade II is actually working for the enemy the entire time, stating that their victory is inevitable, and when the time comes, "I'd rather be a pet than cattle."
  • In the relatively pro-slavery 1940 movie Santa Fe Trail, slaves are freed by a gang of evil abolitionists, and when the troops arrive to take them back to their owners, they thank them, saying that if this is freedom they don't want any of it.
  • Heavily subverted in Gods and Generals; a female house slave is shown to be loyal to the family that own her, and they in return treat her very well (for a slave). By the end of the film, she decides she wants to be free anyway, and not because of any mistreatment by her masters... the basic point being that even the best possible scenario for a slave's life still pretty much sucks.
  • In CSA the Confederate States of America, Confederate propaganda attempts to paint the slaves in this light. It's pretty obvious that the trope isn't applying in their reality, however.
  • Mammy in Gone with the Wind. There are a few other slaves who fit this trope as well.
  • Lukey in The Horse Soldiers was completely loyal and faithful to her owner Miss Hannah.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy has two types of this. Type A which corresponds to Bartimaeus and Ptolemy. Ptolemy being the master who proves to Bartimaeus that they're equals and later lets himself die to save him. Also Nathaniel and Bart, after constant sparing and proclaiming their hatred for each other, at the end of the trilogy...though neither of them would say it outright. The care coming from Nat, unknowingly, doing what Ptolemy did by letting him go when he was going to die.
    • And then there's the Type B in the prequel The Ring of Solomom with Khaba and Ammet. It's a mystery why Ammet even likes Khaba let alone 'loves' him. He's called 'Khaba the Cruel' for a reason.
  • Debatably played straight in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the Oompa-Loompas, who gladly do all of the physical labor in Willie Wonka's famous chocolate factory in exchange for housing and all of the cocoa beans and chocolate they can eat. On the other hand, not only are cocoa beans their absolute most favorite food, their homeland is explicitly described as a terrible place where they try and fail to avoid being eaten by the dozens by a variety of giant predators by living in the trees, and living off a diet that primarily consists of mashed caterpillars, bark and beetles.
    • It's worse than that. Not only do they do hard physical labour (which is at least intended to be safe) but get his products tested on them before they have any idea what the products do. This book is chock full of Unfortunate Implications about immigrants who can't be protected by any laws because they are completely beholden to the person who brought them into the country illegally.
  • Haidee from The Count of Monte Cristo is completely in love with her master the Count. Apart from the obvious problems modern readers have with slavery, some of the Count's comments about her before her love is revealed make him seem like a monster.
    • Near the end it's made clear that the Count apparently never took advantage of her, being still too tied with his feelings to his lost love, and only made the comments to appear like an eccentric foreigner and to avoid inconvenient questions of why a man of his status doesn't get involved with women; yes, keeping a sex slave was a more acceptable explanation than abstinence, apparently.
    • A female sex slave was more acceptable than the assumption of homosexuality or impotence. Unless a man was a priest (though, they did sometimes have mistresses), a widower within a certain time frame, or medically incapable, it was expected during that time period that they were involved with some woman or women. If not, people wondered why and wouldn't buy 'yeah, I'm just not interested in anyone at this point in time'.
  • Sam in Uncle Tom's Cabin makes this Older Than Radio. Note that, despite the modern use of his name, Uncle Tom does not fit this trope—he's a faithful servant and can find happiness in the worst of places, but his dearest hope is to be free one day.
  • According to Victor Hugo in his novel The Man Who Laughs, the British fit this trope for accepting to be ruled by a king again after the death of Cromwell. (Hugo's real targets are the French, for refusing to fight to preserve the Second Republic and accepting the rule of Napoleon III. He really hated Napoleon III.)
  • Jules Verne's Mysterious Island has Neb, a former southern slave who is totally devoted to the man who freed him, although Verne explicitly states that he is more like a loyal butler than a slave.
  • Firs, the old footman and former serf of the Ranevskaya family in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, continues to work for the family after the abolition of serfdom and even denounces the emancipation as the worst evil that could have possibly befallen Russia's serfs. More generally, it is itself practically a trope of late nineteenth century Russian literature to depict the serfs as having been better off before emancipation. Chekhov again features wonderful examples in his short story "Peasants."
    • Considering how much life has always sucked for the Russian poor, right up to the present day, it can be argued that "freedom" (especially the kind where the State says you're free, but...) does not offer much practical benefit.
  • All of Scarlett's house slaves come back to work for her after the war in Gone with the Wind (OK, so that's only four of more than a hundred - the cotton pickers chose a better life, poverty and hiding for the most part, instead).
  • Lucky in Waiting for Godot. Probably.
  • Most of the dragons in the Temeraire series, especially in Europe. Even after Temeraire visits China, realizes there's another way to live besides being under the control of humans, and becomes intent upon crusading for dragon-lib he still adores his position and his captain.
    • A more extreme example could be found in Levitas. Rather than being cared for like many of his comrade dragons, he's neglected and abused by Captain Rankin but still remains lovingly loyal. His death is the biggest Tear Jerker of the first book and Temeraire later brings it up in support of his ideas.
  • Arguably justified with the alien Tasch-Ter-Man in the German SF series Perry Rhodan. They're naturally eager to take orders from others because having to make their own decisions uses up some of their limited lifetime supply of a particular hormone and running out of it kills them.
  • Played horribly straight with Gottfried in Gravity's Rainbow, who is so happy as a Nazi commander's sex slave that he volunteers to pilot the suicide rocket 00000 and crashes it into a full cinema, killing hundreds and, by extent, the reader as well.
  • Countless characters appearing in erotic fiction...
  • In the Apprentice Adept series, many Proton serfs will try to extend their tenure by entering The Great Game, despite the fact that they're basically virtual slaves (their sole right is to terminate their own serf contract and leave the planet with nothing) who live at the sufferance of their "employer" Citizens (who are only barred from killing a serf without cause or permanently injuring them) and a serf's contract payout would let them live out their lives comfortably elsewhere in the galaxy. The prize at the end is full Citizenship, but many just hope to get to the later rounds, which offer tenure extensions.
  • Harry Turtledove wrote a short story about a primitive alien society that oppressed one tribe for some ancient crime committed by one member, binding them with many arbitrary rules. But when humans arrive and attempt to free them, the tribe's members refuse. It turns out having to keep all those complicated rules selects for greater intelligence; the tribe is smarter than humans and content with its lot, given the consequences.
  • Diana Wynne Jones uses this a lot in her books, so often it's notable when a main character isn't ignorantly letting him or herself be exploited by someone they care for deeply, whether it be by family, lovers or friends.
    • Needs to be pointed out that these characters are generally not ecstatically happy before they notice they're being exploited and when they do they tend to break free. A particular subversion to this trope is The Homeward Bounders. Joris, one of the main characters, is a slave, an obsessed fan boy who cannot shut up about how awesome and God-like his master is, and is really concerned about behaving like a proper slave. He could model for this trope until he has a meltdown and reveals that he hates being a slave, and I mean really fragging hates it, not because anyone is mean to him but just because it sucks. And then he finds out his owners are just waiting 'til he's old enough to legally be freed. So it works out okay.
    • Of course, there's a reason he's a fanboy. His master is a really cool guy.
  • While the Draka series is full of first-generation, newly-caught serfs who deeply resent their slavery (having been born free), many serfs born into and raised in serfdom actually enjoy the security of their lives. Some "new-caughts" like Solange in Under the Yoke also completely break down mentally, becoming co-dependent wrecks. Of course, given that the Draka ruthlessly exterminate any serf who shows signs of open rebellion, the ability to resign oneself to slavery is an evolutionary survival characteristic in the serf gene pool. Later on, the Draka perfect human genetic engineering and simply rewire their serfs' brains so that they all love slavery and can't psychologically function as free individuals.
  • In The Wheel of Time series, gai'shain are an example of this. Or rather a subversion, as they see the servitude as an obligation (the technical term is toh) to their captors and know that they will be released after a year and a day. Refusing to accept their role would just dishonor them, obligating them to serve even longer.
    • Damane, channelers who are leashed by the a'dam, are also often like this. The Seanchan treat them like dogs, and believe that it's a just and necessary thing for the good of the world. The vast majority of damane believe it, too.
    • The Seanchan also keep many non-damane slaves. Some are chattel, but there are also slaves who serve in honored positions (somewhat like the real-life Roman examples below). It is possible for a slave belonging to the royal family to give a free nobleman orders. Naturally, this type of highly-privileged slavery produces some fairly contented slaves, although there are also some who prefer freedom.
  • In Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series, main character Gordianus has an Egyptian slave named Bethesda who is more than happy to serve as his mistress until he decides to free her and marry her.
  • In David Eddings' The Tamuli, an entire race (the Atans) is enslaved. It's described as standardized and really mostly inconsequential slavery - the Atans are the Tamul infantry, and they're pretty damn good at it. The explanation for the slavery: the Atans kept trying to kill each other, and about the only time the Tamuls ever exercise their "mastery" of the Atans is to order them to stop fighting amongst themselves. And the Atans? They like it that way, seeing as how they're a Proud Warrior Race.
    • Seeing as the Atans consider themselves honour-bound to kill anyone who insults them by, among other things, letting his shadow touch them, their self-imposed slavery might just be the only thing keeping the Atans from exterminating either themselves or every other race, whichever happened first. Quite possibly the Proudest and dumbest Warrior Race in all of literature...
    • Well, the Orks of Warhammer 40,000, who have been known to kill each other in arguments over whose shadow is longer, are about as bad.
      • But then, Orks aren't so much a Proud Warrior Race as they are a "me like choppin' stuff" race, so...
    • An interesting variation shows up with the Nadraks in the Belgariad. Nadrak women are defined as property—but they take great pride in the prices they are able to command (especially since they get to keep a portion of it), and retain the right to choose when, if, and with whom they have sex (a right they usually back up with a pair of very sharp knives). Considering the way women are treated in other parts of the world, the arrangement isn't all that bad.
      • Originally this was going to be closer to the trope, according to the Rivan Codex, but then Eddings actually started writing. The instant he created a female Nadrak character, the entire dynamic changed for what even he admits is the better.
  • Mord-Sith to any Lord Rahl, from the Sword of Truth series. They still stick around even after Richard freed them (deciding that someone who would do that is worth following), and some were happier than most after he gave them more... freedom.
    • YMMV on whether or not the process of magic and training that is done to captive children to create Mord-Sith counts as brainwashing or not.
  • Discworld:
    • Golems, have a mixed attitude to this. They continue to bring buckets of water from a well until everything is flooded if no one tells them to stop (arguably they do this as an act of rebellion: they aren't expected to think, and so they don't). Feet of Clay revolved around a group of golems creating a golem king to lead them to freedom - then selling him, because a golem must have a master. Those that are freed continue to work all the time, except for periodic times when they gather and do nothing, because they're not tools. One golem upon death elected to remain in the eternal desert rather than travel it to another destination as most people do, considering an empty plain with nothing to do and no orders to follow freedom.
    • Also deconstructed by the slaves of Discworld's Ancient-Greece-like nation of Ephebe, where a slave has much better living and working conditions than a poor free man. In fact, the only reason Ephebean slaves want to buy their freedom is so they can have to option of owning slaves of their own.
    • Used again in Discworld (but rather more seriously) in Interesting Times, with the worryingly obedient people of the Agatean Empire (the China/Japan analogue). The masters don't need whips; they have something worse.
    • Discworld Igors are an odd... something... of this trope. They are at their happiest when they have a properly insane "Marthter" to serve (and occasionally shower with spittle when attempting to pronounce words with lots of sibilants), yet have absolutely no compunction about legging it out the back door with the glassware to seek alternative employment a minute or two before the pitchfork-and-torch-bearing mob breaks down the front door. An Igor must serve, but who they serve seems to be largely irrelevant.
    • Gaspode the Wonder Dog is torn between his street-mutt independence and a nagging doggy compulsion to serve a master. He is well aware of this inborn streak of servility in canines, to the point of using it (and his gift of human speech) as a weapon against hostile dogs: "SIT!"
    • Sergeant Angua (a werewolf) compares her relationship with her commanding officer and boyfriend Captain Carrot to that between a dog and her master, and not in a negative sense. Make of that what you will - but remember that Carrot doesn't share this view.
    • Vimes is an odd example of this, too. Everyone seems to consider Vimes to be a servant/slave to someone or something, but nobody can agree on what. Vimes considers himself to be a servant of the law, and wouldn't have it any other way. Many others consider him to be a slave to Vetinari; in several books he's called "Vetinari's terrier" and parallels are outright drawn between Angua's situation and Vimes's; Angua even says, "It's all right. Sooner or later, we're all someone's dog." He wavers back and forth on whether the description is accurate, but regardless of whether it is or not, his own stubborn bloody-mindedness won't let him change his actual behavior.
    • Leonard da Quirm has been kept prisoner by Vetinari for years and has only been allowed out on three occasions since that was revealed, with the third arguably being a delay of locking him up until he finished another project. As far as he's concerned, his prison is a comfortable, well-equipped, rent-free workshop where he can dabble in whatever matter comes to mind without being disturbed by anyone other than the Patrician.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Daenerys abolishes slavery in the cities she'd conquered, and is shocked to find many of the ex-slaves trying to sell themselves back to the trader ships for sale elsewhere. It's explained that most of them are skilled or educated and would be treated well, while the city is now full of starving people and at risk of becoming a Wretched Hive. The Unsullied also have difficulty with the idea of not serving anyone and keep working for her, although they do appreciate the benefits of semi-freedom. Like being allowed to have their own names.
    • Wildling "marriage" has shades of this. Wildling men "steal" their blushing brides from wherever they were living before (typically their parents' household or home village), but at least one wildling woman puts this forward as a good thing, because only a man bold and clever enough to do so would be worthy of her. When a southland "kneeler" points out that such a man might turn out to be abusive, she says that if that turned out to be the case, she'd simply stab him in his sleep. Beyond the Wall, she says, mothers teach their daughters that a man can have an unhappy wife, or a knife, but not both.
  • Tedla, of Carolyn Ives Gilman's Halfway Human, recognizes its[1] enslavement as cruel and unjust, but is unsure that it wants to be free—the prospect of being responsible for its own self and decisions (something Tedla has never known) is very scary.
  • Taxxons in Animorphs. They allowed the Yeerks to enslave them, basically made a deal with them, in the hope that the Yeerks could suppress their Horror Hunger. It didn't work.
  • House Elves in the Harry Potter series. They are magically obligated to obey their masters in all things, even to the poing of harming themselves. Some are well treated by their masters, others are horribly abused. Still it appears that the vast majority of elves find the idea of being freed distasteful. Even Dobby, who wants his freedom, still wants to work and will only accept enough pay to prove that he's free.
    • Their apparent inability to leave a master even if they want to as in Dobby's case is the only indication of them being magically obligated to serve their masters. BUT house elves seem INCAPABLE of existing without a master because of how much most house elves prefer their master. Species don't just exist like that. There are symbiotes and parasites but not slaves who will simply take the abuse from their masters without leaving not to mention the weird rules they follow. I mean they require a possession of their master given to them? Combined with the fact that only richer families seem to possess them and regular humans certainly don't have them it comes across as if some rich and influential wizards enslaved them in the past for their own personal use.
  • Crops up in The Legacy Trilogy written by William H. Keith (under the pen name Ian Douglas). Humanity discovers a Lost Colony of the Ahn/Ah'nu who were once Ancient Astronauts and who still have a population of human slaves. The humans are all rather docile and react badly when test groups are brought back to Earth and given independence. Turns out there have been several thousand years of selective breeding going on since all the slaves with the intelligence and independence to escape have done so and live on their own colonies away from the very centralized Ahn.
  • While Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell's Stephen Black is not a slave per se, he is a servant. When the gentleman with the thistle-down hair begins his plan to free him, Stephen isn't very happy at all.
    • You'd probably be very hard pressed to find a butler who's happy to have his life stolen away from him and replaced by a world populated by cruel and capricious Fae.
      • And yet by the end of the book he refers to his time in England as captivity and goes off to rule a nation of Faeries (they get better), of course the gentleman did have 10 years to influence him, and all the enchantments didn't help.
    • In summary, Stephen did not like being a servant, but did like his master and understandably considered the 'freedom' offered by the Gentleman worse.
  • In The Egyptian, Sinuhe's slave Kaptah says he can't leave his master because he considers Sinuhe to be too naive and idealistic to survive on his own. It helps that Sinuhe treats him fairly well by the standards of the time the book is set in.
  • This is considered unusual, but not unheard of, whenever someone in the Animorphs series finds out about the Yeerks. The Taxxons in particular deliberately joined up en masse in the hopes that being controlled would help restrain their Horror Hunger. (It didn't work—they're still compelled to eat anything edible in sight, including the intestines of their former allies. Depressing, not to mention disgusting, but you can see why they tried.)
  • Joel Chandler Harris, the original author of the "Uncle Remus" stories, romanticized plantation life in the stories, with Remus portrayed as a stereotypical (for the time) "happy slave." But then, these were Harris' subjective memories of his own childhood, so Uncle Remus' characterization is forgivable. Besides, it's Brer Rabbit and the other animal characters that everyone remembers.
  • Subverted in Herman Melville's Benito Cereno. Captain Delano thinks that the slaves are content, but in fact they have revolted and taken over the ship. If not for his own prejudices this would be obvious to him.
  • In Alastair Reynolds' The Prefect, some of the Demarchist space colonies in the Glitter Belt are "Voluntary Tyrannies," where the citizens freely give up many rights and freedoms for protection and guidance. The inhabitants feel freer when they don't have to think for themselves. Perhaps justified, in that these arrangements are indeed voluntary; they were founded by a small minority of people who think this way, and people who disagree are supposed to be free to leave. Subverted, in that the only one we actually see much of has Gone Horribly Wrong, which is a persistent problem with the Tyrannies. The people in this particular habitat aren't so happy any more, but can't escape.
  • Virtually all victims of the White Court vampires in The Dresden Files end up this way. Thomas and his girlfriend/primary food source Justine are the most prominent example, with the tragic twist that their love becomes physically harmful to Thomas.
    • And Butcher never lets it become very sexy, or when it starts to, he usually yanks aside the curtain and makes sure everybody gets to see the nasty underlying reality at a key moment.
    • Victims of the Red Court also tend to stick around vampires by choice. In the case of the Reds, it is because their saliva is a narcotic that is effective within moments of contact and also highly addictive.
    • Speaking of Jim Butcher, the Codex Alera contains a device called a "discipline collar," which binds someone to the will of a specific master. Obeying orders provides sexual pleasure, and disobeying them provides horrendous pain. Nobody in the series can resist the control for longer than a few minutes unless they've got two collars from different masters, and one character who spent several years collared remarks that after a while you start to only scream on the inside, even begging for orders to obey. This is portrayed as significantly less sexy than many writers would portray it.
      • Jim Butcher writes that way, even when magic is flying and vampires are loose and furies are being bound, reality is never very far away. See his treatment of the lovely Lara Raith at the end of Turn Coat, which is almost a slap in the face at the whole 'sexy vampire' trope. Jim Butcher often writes fantasy-come-true as a nightmare in disguise.
      • However, Bob the skull seems to be pretty happy being enslaved to Dresden. (Considering his previous masters have not only treated him worse, but that his master's personality atomatically will warp Bob's own personality, so serving an evil master turns him into someone he really doesn't want to be.) And the Little Folk basically declare themselves Dresden's personal army and houskeepers after he frees them, refering to him as "Lord". (And even though he does pay them in pizza, he never bothers to make them aware how simple it would be for them to acquire the stuff themselves.) This is largely explained as fairies and abstract spirits being unable to think outside a system of feudal obedience, and having little to no concept of morality in the human sense in general. Still, it is interesting that Dresden also isn't squicked by this subservience, and will bribe Bob with temporary freedom or threaten him with the loss of entertainment privileges without any twinge of conscience.
  • In Duumvirate, good (as in competence, not as in morality) masters have their servants get to this state quickly.
  • The androids in Argo have no rights but are (mostly) programmed without any more than a rough resemblance of emotions, so they don't mind being used as slaves at all.
  • Poul Anderson's character Dominic Flandry at some point rescues an alien who becomes his slave. When a new tax (or some such) makes it inconvenient for Flandry to own a slave, Chives reluctantly accepts manumission but remains his valet.
  • The capped in The Tripods series because they are under mind control. When that breaks down they are less happy...
  • Holker in Belisarius Series is this to Belisarius. Justified in that Belisarius was from a civilization where slaves had at least some rights and Holker expected to be sold in a place where slaves had none. Also justified in that Belisarius wanted him as an honored scribe instead of the beast-of-burden he had been intended as, gave him a cause to serve, and promised him freedom.
    • Similarly the Kushans captured at the Battle of Anatha are rather amenable to Belisarius' service partly because they were treated as slaves before anyway and partly because they sort of consider it fair play now that they have surrendered.
      • Arguably "slavery" is in this case simply a euphemism for a defection. Kushans showed only fought in what amounted to self-defense on the Malwan side but took a real interest when serving Belisarius and were more interested still when offered the chance to enlist with an allied Kushan warlord and establish a kingdom of their own.
    • Rana Sanga has a Pathan Scary Competant Tracker who when captured by Sanga in a duel requested that he be Sanga's slave instead of being sold, because he considered that if he had to be a slave he wanted to be a slave to a Badass. Pathan are like that you know.
  • The idea is discussed in My Name Is Red.
  • Demetrius, the valet of the Roman noble Marcellus in The Robe is a downplayed version. He is not happy being a slave as such but given slavery he prefers Marcellus as a master. When he beats up another Roman noble for harassing a woman, he says goodbye to Marcellus and flees. Demetrius refuses manumission but not because he doesn't want it but because that would make his master look like an accessory.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Observer, in the later seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Despite his omnipotence and his ability to do practically anything with his mind, he remains Pearl's subservient and browbeaten lackey. (His fear of her and total lack of self-esteem apparently keeps him from seeking his own fortune elsewhere.)
    • How can you mention Observer and not TV's Frank, who puts the D and M in BDSM?
  • Several slave characters on Rome. Many of the central characters have a body slave who is completely loyal to them in every way, and would probably stick around even if given their freedom. Servilia's body slave kills herself when her mistress does, Atia is constantly crying in Merula's arms, and Posca never seems to long for freedom while he's Caesar's slave. He is also seen weeping bitterly when his master dies. Even after being freed, he stays around, serving Antony for as long as he can. One could also argue that Eirene fits the trope, since even after Pullo frees her and kills her fiancé she agrees to marry him, presumably because she feels she has little other choice. She does however grow to love him later. Another slave who doesn't seem too bothered by her place in life is Gaia, although she gets to boss the other slaves around, so she functions more as a slave master than a slave.
    • This is actually Truth in Television to some extent. Roman house slaves were better fed, clothed and housed than lower-class free persons, and generally could expect freedom and a middle-class income if they managed to outlive their masters. This was played to in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum when Pseudolus, who desparately wanted his freedom, recants, for at least a few seconds when he sings:
      • "Now, not so fast!
      • "I didn't think--
      • "The way I am,
      • "I have a roof, three meals a day,
      • "And I don't have to pay a thing.
      • "I'm just a slave and everything's free.
      • "If I were free, then nothing would be free!
      • "And if I'm beaten now and then, what does it matter?"
    • When his young master whispers the word "Free" one more time, he remembers what he so desperately wants, and hilarity ensues.
      • It's a good century later than the date of the series, but the Emperor Claudius's freed slaves were effectively his Cabinet secretaries and were able to amass colossal fortunes.
  • An episode of History Bites set in the Roman Empire had a "channel" where a stand-up comedian (Ron Pardo) mentioned in his set that he was a recently-freed slave and sarcastically thanked his former master.
  • The Ood in Doctor Who seem a race of these at first. Then it turns out it's due to alien lobotomy in a factory, and when some of the Ood get their consciousness back, they are very angry.
    • And that was only written because RTD noticed the Unfortunate Implications in the Doctor just accepting a race of slaves at face value so quickly...
    • Chip, Cassandra's lackey in "New Earth", is a perfect example of this though.
    • Apparently there were actual magic-workers on Gallifrey in the days before they were Time Lords, according mostly to supplementary materials that don't quite count. There was war between science and the magical regime, and the dubiously canon 'genetic looms' on which Time Lords are made because they can't breed are necessary because of the old dictator's dying curse. "The Shakespeare Code" tried to spin it as magic really being a special kind of applied science, but basically, a lot of the science is magic.
    • The TARDIS. It's a self-aware, sentient, intelligent being, and yet the Doctor has the power to make it go away to die a slow, lonely death. (The Parting of the Ways) And apparently the other TARDISes were allowed even less self-determination, considering the Doctor's TARDIS' occasional habit of going where and when it thinks the Doctor should be instead of where and when he programmed it to go is seen as a malfunction due to its old age, even by the Doctor. Of course, the TARDIS' submission to this treatment might be seen as a very subtle, very long-ranging chessmaster plan where the ship only lets the pilot do whatever suits it anyway, but that still doesn't change that the Doctor didn't know this until his Eleventh incarnation and that he never seemed to see anything inherently wrong with the system. The Hypocrite. And yet, the TARDIS loves him.
      • Debatable as whenever the TARDIS seems truly lost, the Doctor suffers a major Heroic Blue Screen of Death. Many episodes show that he's almost totally incapbable of functioning in a normal setting and the prospect of a regular existance (in chronological order!) is something that utterly terrifies him. He's become as much as slave to the TARDIS as she is to him.

TARDIS: Then you stole me... And I stole you.

  • Geoffrey in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, despite often being treated little better than a slave by the other characters, has said several times he likes his job and is proud of doing it well.

"I have known freedom. Didn't like the health plan."

    • Of course, he occasionally shows dissent, like the time Will tricked him into believing he'd won the lottery and the very first thing he does is quit with a huge show of jumping around in ecstasy.
  • On The Shield, the relationships Vic Mackey has with his subordinates within the Strike Team often ventures into this trope's territory. Shane, Ronnie, and Lem are shown to be weak-willed individuals with low self-esteem at best and crippling need for a fatherly figure to tell them what to do at worst, allowing them to better serve Vic as his minions.
  • The slave in the second Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode (actually TV movie).
  • Kryten from Red Dwarf. Although Lister helps him "Break his programming" to some extent, by the sixth series, he still shows love for housework.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager had Janeway's recreation of Leonardo da Vinci removed from the holodeck and "employed" by an alien tyrant who gave him the freedom to work on whatever he desired, on the understanding that his creations would be turned over to the tyrant. When Janeway arrives to rescue Leonardo, he responds that "if this is a cage, it is a cage of gold!" Justified: to an artist of the Italian Renaissance, employment with a patron who gives you unlimited resources and freedom to create would have been hitting the jackpot.
    • Meanwhile, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Vic Fontaine was a self-aware hologram who was programmed to enjoy his life, sing and make people's life better. Unlike The Doctor any many other self-aware holograms, he doesn't give a crap about any rights he might have because he's fine with the way things are, "living" the high-life in 1960's Las Vegas that's as real as he is (they also leave his program running 26 hours a day, unless he wants to turn off, which can't be overridden). Whether this is morally right or not isn't commented in on the show itself, but it's a hot topic among fans. (The ones who don't hate Vic's guts, anyway)
  • Dorota, Blair's nanny/maid/sidekick on Gossip Girl.
  • In a Season 3 episode of Gilligan's Island Gilligan rescues a native girl from drowning and she becomes his slave out of gratitude and she is way too happy about it. For example, when Mr. Howell wins her services from Gilligan she immediately drops to her knees and bows to him without a second thought. Throw in the fact that the native girl is played by a very attractive actress and you start to wonder...
  • I Dream of Jeannie features a willing slave entity to whom liberation means the freedom not to be a literal genie, but to serve of her master as she sees fit.
  • In an early episode of Mash Hawkeye frees a young Korean girl who was basically sold to an Army officer who was passing through the 4077th, with the intention of freeing her to go back home. However she felt this would bring shame to her family and that she was Hawkeye's property now.
  • "Number Seven" in series 3 of Being Human (UK) left his job and family to become a live-in blood donor for vampires, complete with leather bondage suit.
  • Lauren in Lost Girl is never actually called a slave, although she does refer to herself as the Ash's "property." She generally seems quite happy with her lot in life, although she is sometimes commanded to do things she doesn't want to. It should be noted that, because of her medical expertise, and the fact that she is the slave to the leader of the light fae, she actually enjoys a great deal of prestige and influence within the fae community. Nevertheless, she clearly is a slave, and clearly is reasonably happy with that fact. Although it seems that she is likely to be substantially less happy under the new Ash. The Ash in season 1 also never openly referred to Lauren as a slave, the one in season 2 however refers to Lauren as "chattel" and his property, both of which infuriate Bo.
    • Possibly being deconstructed in late season 2 when we find out that she actually joined the Ash to keep her girlfriend alive and to have a chance at curing the girlfriend's mysterious ailment, and it's later revealed that the Ash ordered her cursed to obtain Lauren as his slave in the first place. She also later admits to Bo that the five years she spent as slave have been rather bleak for her; and considering how reserved she is, that probably means horrible.
    • Most Fae think that Kenzi also falls into this category since they consider her to be Bo's property. It does not cross their minds that Bo considers Kenzi to be an equal.


Religion[edit | hide]

  • According to The Bible, after the Israelites had been taken out of Egypt by Moses, when they feared they were going to starve to death in the wilderness, "And the children of Israel said unto [Moses and Aaron], Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger." They were slaves back in Egypt, who had to make bricks even when they weren't given straw with which to make bricks (Exodus 5:7), yet at least they were fed.
    • The Bible contains instructions for freeing some slaves after seven years. Naturally, there is the case where the slave wants to remain, and the procedure for this is also described - if the slave wishes, just pierce the ear, and he remains with you for life. (Given the ambiguous nature of ancient slavery, this may occasionally have happened, though the Bible doesn't record any specific examples. See Real Life below.)


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The "Slave Mentality" disadvantage in GURPS is this, to the point of the character needing to make a self-control roll to do anything of their own initiative, up to and including eating.
  • The Truul in Gurps Aliens were genetically engineered to have a Slave Mentality by extinct Aliens. No one can figure out how to remove this trait or even if they should so nicer societies treat them as minors for want of a better solution and more nasty ones treat them as, well, slaves.
  • Warhammer 40,000 actually has one straight type A example among the brutal aversions: the Chapter Serfs of the Space Marine chapters. Chapter Serfs are an integral part of a Chapter, filling all roles that don't involve infantry combat, and they do so far better than their counterparts outside the Space Marines. They are treated accordingly by their masters, and their lifestyle is superior to that of all but the richest people in the Imperium.
    • Although in some Chapters, such as the Space Wolves, the Serfs are expected to assist their masters in ground combat, if an enemy powerful enough to break into their fortress monastery assaults their homeworld.
      • This is true to a degree in all chapters. Space Marine ships are primarily crewed by chapter serfs so they regularly see combat there are well.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Sill of the Rance Series. She openly loves him while Rance is Tsundere towards her. Everyone Can See It and says that Sill is Rance's favorite woman, but he denies it every time the issue is brought up.
  • Slave Maker is all about this trope. Besides just getting your slave fit, smart and sexually trained, treating them nicely has them grow to enjoy their captivity and even fall in love with you.
  • Princess Yoyo's relationship with Palpaleos in Bahamut Lagoon is an example of the first type, to the degree that after Yoyo is rescued from his captivity, he defects to the rebellion to be with her.
  • Taro, Adell's little brother from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories has no objections when the demon princess Rozalin labels him her "slave," and is stuck with the title of "Rozy's Slave" for the entirety of the game. Then again, she is pretty cute.
  • In Arcanum, Gar, a mostly human man who looks like an orc sold himself into slavery, so he would no longer be a burden to his parents. He was bought by H.T. Parnell (a P.T. Barnum type) and lives at his sideshow as "Gar, the World's Smartest Orc." Gar is resigned to his lot in life, though, as due to the world's prejudice against orcs, he doesn't really see any chance for improvement.
    • And if you go through the quest to obtain his freedom, and then release him from your own command (either immediately, or by removing him from the group), he returns to Parnell's. Admittedly this is part of the game's programming (every party member will eventually return to where you found them, if removed from the group), but it's interesting nonetheless.
  • The Shapers in Geneforge think the serviles are like this as a species. Small rebellions are dismissed as "acting out." Large rebellions are countered by mass slaughter.
    • To be fair, some individual serviles are perfectly content to be slaves. As are many servant minds and some of the more fanatic humans the Shapers employ.
      • In the first game, the three main factions of Serviles are the ones that want to take their freedom through revolution (and you don't really blame them). The sect that wants to be free but more or less 'earn' it. The last sect worships your people as gods and in bad endings end up as cannon fodder willingly for their worship.
  • Clover, a potential slave you can purchase in Fallout 3. It's explicitly lampshaded, when her former owner notes that she 'loves whoever is holding her leash.'
  • Glottis of Grim Fandango is a Spirit of the Land, who has "one purpose" - to drive, or be a mechanic, and will die if he does not fulfill it. He's perfectly fine with his induced obsession, though.
  • The Doog of Star Control 3, who, once bought away from the Ploxis at an inflated price, will continue to work for nothing and give you all their resources (evidenced by the 'higher production' and their statements of you being a good master). As their name implies, they are uplifted canines and predisposed towards a pack-like mentality, seeing their owners as the alphas. From the same game, the K'tang Kattori may also qualify, simply because though they believe themselves leaders of the Hegemonic Crux, they're too dumb to realise every other race in the Crux knows how to push their buttons to get them to do exactly what they want.The player character can do this as well, but pushing the buttons to make them angry and attack you leads to much funnier rants.
  • In the sequel to Mass Effect, you have a minor sidequest to convince a corporation to purchase an indentured servant's "contract." The slave and her "agent" both agree that, while not preferable to freedom, her tenure of slavery would grant an end to her debt and provide a sterling reference on her resume.
    • In fairness, the "indentured servitude" is not necessarily slavery - she still has rights under the terms of the contract (such as sufficient food, accomodation, sapient rights etc), and Ilium, the anarcho-capitalist paradise, will break its "no rules" rule to enforce them.
  • It's implied in Dragon Age II that this is what elven slaves are like in the Tevinter Imperium via brainwashing. One character explains that a slave would not generally think to run simply because they do not know any better. Subverted HARD with Fenris unless you choose to give him back to Danarius, who erases his memory of Hawke and everything else to return him to an obediant state.
    • One girl who you liberate from slavers asks you if you're her master now. If you take her on, she'll become a housekeeper at your estate. (You can also tell her that she has to "do anything you want," but the game doesn't let you take that to its logical conclusion.)
    • Fenris' sister also plays this straight going so far as to betray Fenris in exchange for an apprenticeship under Danarius. If she is allowed to live, she tells Fenris that freedom without power was no blessing at all and that Fenris got the better end of the deal with the power his lyrium tattoos gave him.
  • In the first Knights of the Old Republic, Zaalbar pledges life-debt to you. If you're a REAL bastard you can kill his dad, and force him to kill his best friend - only the latter will send him into a suicidal rage. HK-47 also doesn't mind being your property - you keep him properly maintained, and your penchant for attracting trouble lets him indulge his Ax Crazy programming and he is utterly delighted to find out you're the one who built him in the first place!
    • The second game takes this to Squicktastic levels, especially with Visas Marr, whose greeting line is "My life for yours." Most of the party has been blackmailed, bullied, broken, or conned into coming along. The only thing holding the mess together is the low-level Mind Rape that Exile (and/or Kreia) has on them. Still, even after finding this out, none of them really minds it. Whether this is because they come to follow Exile on their own accord and their own reasons (as Disciple suggests), or their minds and wills are too ensnared by the Exile's Force Bonds for them to be able to leave is entirely up to interpretation.
      • This was further Lampshaded in the magnificent Brotherhood of Shadow mod for the first game. Channa Mae was so enthralled with Revan that she turned her back on everything, even her own concept of self, to become Revan's aide/assassin/secret apprentice. Even after discovering all this, she does not regret her time as Shadow. A parallel is Solomon who gave up his identity and sense of self to avenge to loss of his Padawan, Channa Mae. The Brotherhood itself also took its pride in destroying all sense of self, acting only as an extension of the will of the Sith King, of which their grandmaster was the last.
  • World of Warcraft, perhaps unsurprisingly. In the Monster Guide, the entry for the succubus stated how its not uncommon for a warlock's succubus to fall madly in love with their master. This however, can also be disadvantageous, as they subsequently become insanely jealous when their master deals with someone of the opposite gender.
  • Planescape: Torment has a few interesting takes on this. At least three of the joinable party members: Ignus, Dak'kon and Morte are revealed to effectively be 'slaves' of The Nameless One and are unwilling to leave: Ignus is Ax Crazy and can only remember him as 'his old master' despite how much the two have changed over time. Dak'kon is bound by a sworn life-debt he cannot repay because The Nameless One is immortal, and the fact that the latter does not know of it does nothing to alleviate said debt. Dak'kon literally cannot disobey any order given to him, no matter how unspeakably full of Video Game Cruelty Potential. Finally, there's Morte: No matter how badly he has been treated by some of The Nameless One's prior incarnations—and he's been treated pretty badly—it's nothing compared to the alternative, namely, the massive guilt he'd incur were he ever to leave: The Nameless One's condition is implied to be his fault because he gave him false information while he was still alive. Even more screwed up when you consider that Avellone himself has said that "there is no evidence for this other than Morte's suspicion." Planescape canon is that petitioners can never remember anything from life; it's very possible that Morte is completely wrong. He was in Hell for a horrible crime he could not remember committing and would never feel closure for and then met a psychologically abusive man with the Mark of Torment mentioned below. Now that's an epic guilt-trap.
    • This, of course, comes in addition to the fact that the Mark of Torment essentially forces slavery on the tormented souls that get attracted to The Nameless One.
  • In Loved, you play as a small, catlike creature that is given commands by your 'master' that is akin to type B. Disobeying the commands makes the environment more colorful, but makes the landscape and enemies harder to understand and have less detail, making a metaphor that doing what you want provides happiness, but sacrifices the well-defined borders of your cage. Your master also becomes upset, asking why you disobeyed them, when they loved you. On the other hand, obeying their commands gives better detail and understanding to your environment, but your environment has absolutely no color, and your master still treats you like a pet, but treats you well, veering more to type A.
  • The Minions of Overlord will gladly sacrifice themselves for you as long as you lead their race to world domination.
  • Togainu no Chi: Kau to Arbitro.
  • It could be argued that the Pikmin have this kind of relationship with Captain Olimar and Louie. While it was more of a case of mutual co-operation for survival in the first game, the two Hocotatians are using the little plant people solely for capitalistic recovery (and, later, gain) in the second. In spite of that, there's never any sort of dissension within the Pikmin ranks, and, if 'Ai no Uta' is anything to go by, they're perfectly willing give their lives for their master(s). Of course, being on the bottom of the food chain of their planet's ecosystem gives reason to believe that they're likely happy for any help they can get...
  • In Destroy All Humans!, you get the ability to brainwash people into being your loyal and loving servants.
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has Monkey eventually developing this sort of relationship with Trip, going as far as to request that she keep his slave headband active even when she offers to turn it off.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • When Jillian in Erfworld is confronted about being under Wanda's control, she responds, "You don't understand. How could you?" When pressed for an explanation of what there is to "understand," she blurts out, "I... like it."
    • This appears to be the default attutide of anyone who isn't a ruler, caster, or warlord in Erfworld. In the text updates, Parson gets Squicked by the flirting of the cute Archons when he realizes they don't even understand the concept of a 'volunteer'. Every unit under his command would do anything he asks, including have sex with him (which a female caster seems to consider SOP for male warlords with archons). Justified since the world is governed by the rules of a Tabletop Game, where units always obey your orders. But here Parson walks among those 'units', who have feelings and personality, but still blindly follow orders and like it...
    • The whole thing is unclear. Thge archons confronting Jullian definitely don't think it's normal to like being mind controlled, and the caster Parson was talking to about the whole rape thing seemed to be witholding her disapproval—good thing too, since it turned out the idea squicked Parson out. And while Parson comments that the archons seem to have no will of their own, this is only a paragraph after the archons mention that Charlie usually left them to their own discretion when dealing with clients. Note Jaclyn, who had a habit of telling her clients about active spells, despite the fact that "they haven't paid for spell security."
  • In Amazoness!, the Amazons' female slaves seem to enjoy their captivity and Belandi is even outright rebellious against Pantariste. Then again, this is set during a time where they wouldn't be treated much better in a non-Amazonian free area.
  • DDG has Zip heading down the Stockholm Syndrome route at breakneck speed. Compare Netta's declaration of slave ownership with Zip's reaction in this strip.
  • The Jägerkin from Girl Genius would certainly seem to qualify in their adoration of and devotion to their Heterodyne masters. So much so that they refer to one who has forsworn his loyalty to the House of Heterodyne as "no longer a Jäger." Possibly justified since the Jägers were created by the Heterodynes (from willing volunteers). The Jägers (and most constructs in the series) seem to be some form of Type 3, as they needed (in a context that is not fully known) to serve Baron Wulfenbach in the interim between Heterodynes.
    • The people of Mechanicsburg likely count too. Being minions is in the bloodline, and as Carson says, "People here are desperate for a new Heterodyne. Any new Heterodyne."
    • The Geisterdamen also qualify; they're hardwired to obey the Other's voice, and spent twenty years in her absence tirelessly working to bring her back.
  • In Freefall, Florence and Helix enter into a discussion while Florence repairs some part of the ship before it first takes off. Florence relates a story of a feudal Japanese servant whose master beat him and treated him severely, and another feudal lord saw how dedicated the servant was, offering him a place in his manor, where he would be treated fairly. The servant declined, stating that he found his life harsh, but it was necessary, and proved how strong a person he was.
    • Also Florence herself, to some extent. She gets angry when Sam calls her a slave, but admits that she can't own property, vote, or travel without her owner's consent. Since her owner essentially treats her as a kid sister, and is lightyears away for the duration of the comic, it's not a huge deal for her. She does try to get the Ecosystems Unlimited corporation to realize the full extent of the sentience of their creations though, but has had little success.
      • It does bear mentioning that this is the same Sam who insists that, whatever logic Ecosystems Unlimited and it's employees can come up with, Florence is a person and deserves to be treated as such. He's been known to use his power of authority as her captain to order her to have more freedon and independence, or teach her to circumvent bad orders that curtail said freedom.

Sam: Never ask for permission. Always arrange things so that you automatically have permission unless someone actively takes steps to stop you.

    • And of course the robots. Many would argue vigorously against anyone who would claim that they're anything but property.
    • Gets an interesting application when the governor inadvertently gives Florence an order she wants to obey. She gets the normal reward-response from her system for obeying the order, plus an additional rush because she just really, really wanted to do that anyway. She mentions that in uplifted chimps (a previous iteration of the same project that produced Florence), the same phenomenon resulted in addiction problems.
  • Terinu eventually finds out that his race, the Ferin, were uplifted to be the servants cum power sources for the Varn Dominion, and as such were designed to find service pleasurable.
    • To a lesser extent this trope is also found among the Vulpine, where the "Commoner" class have no say in government and are not permitted to own land. Subverted slightly in that Commoners aren't bound to a Farm Lord, and have the option of gaining social status by joining the military and/or marrying up.
  • Twokinds has Kathrin, and, to a lesser extent, Flora. Granted, Kathrin has a wonderful life by slave standards, and Flora spent her childhood enslaved to kind people, but still.
    • Made worse because early on it was made clear the writer had wanted the comic to be anti-slavery (the comic was about how racism was wrong), and the fans seem to have forgotten about this.
    • Perhaps he shouldn't have introduced a sympathetic slaver character then, who treats his female slaves (minus Kathrin due to personal sentiments) as sex objects. Or played it for laughs.
  • Liriel from Drowtales after entering Ariel's service. As Ariel is not nearly authoritarian enough to keep her in line, she's more of a freeloader than a slave. Not to mention that she's really the result of a Fusion Dance between the Val'Sharess and her slave, and once Diva'ratrika gains control she seems to stopped being considered a slave at all.
    • There's also Vaelia. Ariel released her when she saved her life, but this didn't prevent her from continuing to protect Ariel and follow her orders, and calling her "Lady-child." Since Ariel saved her from the gladiator pit, she considers her life to be Ariel's property, no matter what, large due to wanting to atone for the mistakes of her past.
  • The majority of the cast of Collar 6.
  • Domain Tnemrot - At the end of chapter one, Dae is about to make another escape attempt, but decides he prefers being Mia's battler. However, this isn't really slavery, since aside from the fights he's more of a surrogate father/older brother.
  • The Kingfisher: The progenitors' oldest children are usually comfortable in servitude.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In Tales of MU, Two, the liberated golem girl, has to be protected from this trope by her friends.
  • One of the nicer Family Unfriendly Aesops of internet hypnofetish art. (While this may seem like a breach of the "Not Brainwashed" clause, most of the actual brainwashing is simply to get them into this trope).
    • One example in particular (which will not be linked to) had Character A attempt to hypnotise Character B, not into becoming a slave, but into hypnotising and enslaving Character A. Or So I Heard. From someone who heard it from someone.
  • The Erotic Mind Control Story Archive contains stories where the sex slaves are made to be happy and enjoy their new lot in life. Mind-blowing orgasms have a lot to do with this. And a lot of them play as happy endings when the enslaved 'victims' still have enough awareness and free will to still accept the changes to them.
  • Kurai from Land Games.
  • Chakona Space gives us Leanna, a very unhappy ex-sex slave commenting how wonderful it might have been to have lived on one of the worlds filled with type 1's.
    • Interestingly, after being freed, shi is still stuck in type 3 territory, thanks to slave conditioning. Fortunately she found a "master" who hates slavery.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Transformers: Young, proud Starscream corrects a tactical mistake Megatron makes. He gets punched in the wing. He insists that he can't possibly be to blame for some other seeker's screw-up on the last scouting trip. He gets locked in the brig. He disobeys direct orders to fall back so that he can complete a mission successfully. Doesn't matter, Megatron hates insubordination. He nearly scratches out his optics when Megatron compliments precious, perfect Soundwave. Take this pattern and repeat it for 9 million years and what you get is a vindictive, backstabbing soldier who says that only fools fall for Megatron's Evil Overlord brainwashing, yet admits with a straight face that he wouldn't see the point in living if he wasn't Megatron's Dragon.

Skyfire: Are you... happier being a warrior than a scientist, Starscream?
Starscream: Oh, yes. It's far more exciting...

  • Stimpy of Ren and Stimpy.
  • The main cast of Thomas the Tank Engine would find much common ground with the golems of the Discworld in their devotion to being 'Really Useful'; they were created with a clearly defined purpose in life and wouldn't really know what to do with free will if they had any. Being consistently treated with respect and kindness and only being reproved when they are genuinely at fault probably helps.
  • Sort of... if you count "Wage Slavery." In the first episode of Futurama, Fry spends almost the whole episode fleeing from Leela who is trying to force him to be a delivery boy. At the end of the episode, when Leela finally gives up and removes her own career chip, he is happy to get a job as a delivery boy!. Also in the same episode, Leela's own boss likes the job he has to do, whether he likes it or not!
    • Being a space package delivery boy is a bit up from delivering pizza...
  • Parodied on The Boondocks with Uncle Ruckus' warped re-telling of the story of Catcher Freeman, who was a slave in the American South.
  • On ReBoot, Megabyte infected many of Mainframe's citizens to serve as his soldiers in his attempts to take over Mainframe and invade the Super Computer. When Megabyte was defeated and his slaves freed, it turns out that some of the binomes enjoyed being under Megabyte's control since they relished causing havoc and terrorizing other Mainframers. These "Neo Virals" are very bitter because of Megabyte's defeat, and when their boss returns to Mainframe they eagerly surrender themselves to his control.
  • During an episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Supe's tosses a beaten and broken Darkseid at the mercy of the oppressed residents of Apokolips. Expecting them to be happy to be free, they instead pick Darkseid up, carrying him off to recover. Darkseid's response?

Darkseid: I am many things, Kal-El, but here, I am God.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Historically, various defenders of slavery argued that the slaves like their status just fine, making this at the very least Older Than Radio.
  • There were several instances in Antiquity where people would choose slavery; some educated Greeks would sell themselves into slavery in the hope of becoming tutors in the household of important Roman officials (gaining a patron, versus starving in Greece). It's important to note was that slaves in Rome had a comparatively large number of human rights compared to other points in history. Some free men would also become gladiators (who were, again, slaves) because of the benefits—it got you women and you could make a fortune with product endorsements (yes, ancient Roman athletes did that).
    • Doctors in ancient Rome were often former slaves, whose "owners" had paid for their medical training. (Any resemblance to the plot of Northern Exposure is presumably a coincidence.)
    • Many close bonds were formed between masters and their slaves. Often, slaves in wealthy households were very well cared for and lived far better than free lower class citizens. It was not uncommon for a Roman patrician's dying wish to be for their slave's freedom.
  • A similar example is that of some Roman non-citizens, who would voluntarily become slaves, since after they are freed, they would be granted a portion of a citizen's rights as freedmen and their children would automatically become full citizens. All this only refers to the house slaves.
  • Then there were those who found themselves a master and pretended to be their slaves while they were really free. Make of that what you will.
  • Islamic military slaves, be they Ghulams, Mamluks or Janissaries, were highly respected and feared, well paid professional forces that were certainly far better off than the majority of people at the time. And if they were not kept happy, they would kill their supposed master, or switch allegiances to someone who promised more money. The most famous example of the dangers of unhappy but highly militarized slaves would be the formation of the Mamluk rule in Egypt (after which slaves were still bought and trained as Mamluks). A similar situation existed with the women in the harem (some of which were slaves, others not) of the Ottoman Sultan, as it was both a highly sought after position, allowed you to be very well off and you could wield a great deal of influence, especially if you had a son that was either older or well favored by his father or the military.
    • In many Muslim countries practically the whole government consisted of slaves of the Sultan at times, since they wanted to avoid dependence to hereditary aristocracy. In this culture there was nothing strange about slaves ruling over entire cities and provinecs, and routinely bossing over free people of lower status. All this ofcourse only applied to the elite slaves picked from among the bulk for their intelligence and unusual skills - the position of an average slave was much poorer.
  • Many types of domesticated animals, if set loose, will try to find their way back home even if it's a factory farm or some other borderline abusive place. Gerald Durrell, after experiencing a massive return of animals he was trying to let go, remarked that it'd be nice if those "twee individuals" could see this.
  • As discussed in the "TV" section above, quite a few slaves in ancient Rome might have felt this way. A notable example was Tiro, slave to Cicero. He was his master's right hand and the reason any of Cicero's speeches have been preserved until this very day. Tiro invented a form of short-hand writing, taking notes in court or in the senate and transcribing the speech later. He survived his release (and the suicide of his master shortly after) for many years and died at around 90.
  • Acceptance by console gamers of the limits of video game consoles, particularly the limited selection of games outside the latest mainstream releases and the lack of Game Mods.

Notes

  1. Tedla is neuter