Stockholm Syndrome

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Malcolm: Don't you know about Stockholm Syndrome? You're starting to identify with your captors.
Reese: My captors?! These guys saved my life, man!
Malcolm: Only because they decided not to kill you!
Reese: Same thing.

Stockholm Syndrome is a Real Life phenomenon in which kidnap victims can develop loyalty, sympathy, or affection (sometimes even sexual attraction) for a captor. Especially if said captor provided them with a Pet the Dog moment that the captive, under extreme stress, exaggerates as a genuine sign of affection.

This can develop in kidnapping victims, political prisoners, and prisoners of war, or in hostage situations when there is a long standoff with police (like the ever popular bank robbery situation). Or in very unhealthy marriages. It has even been known to happen in prisons. It's named after a robbery that took place in Stockholm—employees at a bank were held hostage for six days, and some of them ended up defending the robbers afterwards.

For more about this syndrome in Real Life, see Analysis.

In stories, any time a victim comes to love a captor, the Stockholm Syndrome trope is in play. A Career Killer who is In Love with the Mark, for example.

The results of Locked in a Room, Locked in a Freezer, and Colliding Criminal Conspiracies could be two-way Stockholm Syndrome.

Where a villain intentionally attempts to induce Stockholm Syndrome, it is most likely one of the subtropes such as More Than Mind Control. In the romantic version, Victim Falls For Rapist. If played for Fetish Fuel, it becomes Romanticized Abuse.

The reverse situation, Lima Syndrome, is considerably rarer but occasionally shows up, and sometimes overlaps with this Trope. In any story featuring The Svengali, expect at least one of the two to make a showing.

If left untreated in Comedy, may result in the captor shivering in the corner, mumbling "Take it away! Take it away!".


Examples of Stockholm Syndrome include:

Anime and Manga

  • In canon Bleach Orihime is taken captive by Aizen, but Ulquiorra is given the assignment to take care of her. It is a very popular view in fanon that she has Stockholm Syndrome for Ulquiorra, and in some cases, even Aizen.
  • In a more cynical view of Vandread this could be the explanation why the male cast becomes so protective of their female captors.
  • A possible explanation for Sakura putting up with Dokuro-chan in Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan
  • Berwald/Sweden and Tino/Finland's relationship of Axis Powers Hetalia may qualify for this trope, as Finland wasn't exactly the most willing partner at first (read: was downright terrified of Sweden), and despite warming up to Sweden and acknowledging he's not a bad guy, he still denies that they're married. Amusingly, Stockholm is the capital of Sweden... and in a subversion, Sweden is actually portrayed as a Gentle Giant-type nation-tan in the strips, instead of your typical captor.
    • Considering how their relationship is shown in the comics, if Tino has Stockholm Syndrome, then Berwald has Lima Syndrome in prallel to hiim. He might have started thinking of Finland as a mere companion for his journey, then became genuinely fond and protective of him.
    • Russia/Lithuania is often portrayed as this in fanfic, with Lithuania growing fond of Russia after years of being forced to stay with him (and most likely physically and/or mentally abused in the process). Also happens in Russia/Latvia, Russia/Prussia aka East Germany and more than one AU Russia/America or Russia/Canada fanwork. Estonia and Russia's sisters seems to be mostly free due to his lack of screentime and the girls's familiar bonds to Russia, but it can be seen from time to time.
    • There are a number of England/Japan fics that are all about pirate!England abducting/kidnapping an unwilling Japan at swordpoint as his "possession" or "treasure", being pretty much a domineering, possessive bastard to Japan's wimpified self (as quoted from one such fic: "Listen to me may struggle, you may rebel, you may try and fight back, but know this: I always get what I want in the end. And what I want, is you. I will break you down if I have to, love, so consider yourself warned."), and Japan of course falling in love with him nonetheless. There's even a pretty famous England/Japan MAD titled "Beautiful Dreamer" that's a visual version of this kind of fic, with more than one commenter pointing out its Unfortunate Implications.
    • This is a "foundation" for some Japan/Taiwan, Japan/China, Japan/Hong Kong, China/Taiwan, China/Hong Kong and Japan/Thailand Darker and Edgier fanwork, specially in the times of Imperial Japan or Imperial/RedChina. The aggressor/BastardBoyfriend controls, abuses (in many different ways, but preferably sexual), manipulates, etc. his "captive" of either gender, breaking them mentally and emotionally and making them their love/sex slaves. That is, when the "captive" isn't shown as being head-over-heels in love with the aggressor since the beginning -- specially common in Japan/Taiwan works, where she's openly crushing on Imperial Japan, who is portrayed as a Relationship Sue Knight in Shining Armor for her. Japan/Korea works are most likely excepted since Japan is almost always shown as a Complete Monster to Korea right from the start, and considering the Japanese occupation from Korea... huh.
    • Also a possible interpretation of anything involving The Ottoman Empire/past!Turkey. Specially in regards to Egypt, young Greece (either as a child or a teenager), teen Romania or teen Hungary.
      • Especially creepy in some Turkey/Greece works where it's clear that Bastard-ized!Turkey's abuse of Greece was a Break the Cutie experience for Greece, leaving him bitter and emotionally damaged... and the authors try to justify Greece continuing to stay with Turkey in spite of this by showing him to be cold or dickish toward everyone else and Turkey being the only one he shows his sweet side to... even though this is the exact opposite of the way Greece behaves in canon, and makes him come across as having been emotionally brainwashed into Taking A Level In Jerkass and believing the person responsible for all his emotional griefs and ruin to be the one he can be the happiest with.
    • In fanfiction, Hong Kong almost always has Stockholm Syndrome for England. Then again, England usually has Lima Syndrome and acts like a substitute father/older brother for Hong Kong.
    • And what about Italy/Germany? Okay, they're allies for most of the series, but their first encounter was Germany taking Italy prisoner during WWI. And Italy was completely okay with it, more than usual.
  • Ohgi and Viletta in Code Geass. This one is a highly unusual example: Viletta is normally an ambitious, cut-throat, Japan-hating Purist, but getting shot by Shirley caused her to develop Easy Amnesia. Ohgi found her and, not knowing who she was (other than Britannian), took care of her and treated her kindly. As a result, "Chigusa" (as she started calling herself) fell in love with him. When Viletta regains her memory, she shoots Ohgi in the gut, saying that the idea of being an Eleven's lover makes her want to vomit. In the second season, she's seen visibly struggling with the conflict between her old attitude and her feelings for Ohgi as an individual. They end up getting together, but not before committing a few acts which set the Broken Base fandom up in arms.
  • In Okane ga Nai, Kanou buys Ayase as a to work his debt off, even though he's fully aware that rape is not something you do to the one you love (except in fiction). Ayase is understandably terrified of Kanou at first and views him as the one ruining his life, but becomes touched by Kanou's small moments of kindness and even defends him to his brother "because he's kind." Keep in mind that even after Kanou allows Ayase to do such things as going to school, he still pretty much controls every aspect of Ayase's life and continues to rape him just to remind him that he belongs to him and will not give him up to anyone else. If that isn't Stockholm Syndrome, then nothing is.
  • Komari from Gokujou Drops has to endure quite a bit of sexual abuse from all the girls at her dorm. This is especially the case with Yukio, who also adds an immense emotional element to this. Of course, this leads Komari to fall head over heels with Yukio over time. It seems to be mutual, but since Yukio has the habit of crushing Komari's feelings over and over, it's hard to tell for sure.
  • In Loveless, this could describe Ritsuka's undying devotion to his psychotic, murderous elder brother Seimei.
  • Saito Hiraga from The Familiar of Zero has the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome ever. The poor boy is unwillingly transported to another world, and once there, is bound in a master/familiar contract. He is then treated worse than a dog, forced to sleep on hay, regularly beaten for the slightest bit of pervertedness, and just generally treated like dirt. This is all done by his master Louise, who he comes to love. In his defence, he does get treated better as time passes by, but still... oh, and there are also the hints that the familiar contract may involve subtle brainwashing too.
    • Somwhat deconstructed in the novels, though. When the contract fails and the sort-of brainwashing fades, Saitou has an Heroic BSOD and immediately starts wishing to come back home.
  • Michael Garret from Gun X Sword was at first kidnapped by The Claw against his will, but then he became enarmored on The Claw's methods and came to trust him and become one of his followers. He even inflicts the Lima Syndrome on The Claw's second-in-command Fasalina.
  • Rather violent Boys Love version: Riki from Ai no Kusabi develops this towards Iason, after witnessing the lengths the other goes to screw with laws and keep him around.
  • This might be what causes Hatchin to bond with Michiko in Michiko to Hatchin. Then again, she still treats her better than her Abusive Parents.
  • Hei and Suou in Darker than Black.
  • Jonah Matsuka's relationship with Keith Anyan in Toward the Terra is characterized to some extent by Stockholm Syndrome, as Keith alternates systematically between kindness and cruelty which leaves Matsuka conflicted but nevertheless loyally devoted to him. Interestingly, the series implies that this is intentional on Keith's part, as a means of inspiring Matsuka to protect him during the war against the Mu and setting Matsuka up to fulfill Keith's death wish by killing him in self-defense when the war is over. This does not work out quite as planned.
  • Flay from Gundam Seed, after being captured by Big Bad Rau. She begins to think of him as a substitute for her recently-killed father George, and it doesn't help that their voices are *very* similar.
    • Dearka also counts. He was a war prisoner, well treated, even when some of the crew would like to kill him. Finally, he is released, because the Archangel is no longer part of the Earth Alliance. Just after this, he jumps into his cockpit to protect the Archangel. At least he started to like them, at most he had a crush on Miriallia (probably if you consider the nice names he uses on her).
  • In the beginning of Black Lagoon, Rock worries he might be developing Stockholm Syndrome as he begins to sympathize more with his kidnappers (the Lagoon crew) than his employer, who is ostensibly looking for him. He probably is, and the fact his employer is willing to write him off as dead rather than lift a finger to help him pretty much cements it. By the time the crisis is resolved and his employers say they'll take him back now, it's pretty well set and he tells them to shove it, he's sticking with the pirates (but keeping his white shirt and tie).
  • Gohan from Dragon Ball essentially gets kidnapped by Piccolo who thinks that teaching him to fight will save the world. Eventually, he comes to like Piccolo about as much as his own father.
  • Jazz is entirely about the protagonist falling into a Stockholm Syndrome relationship, which eventually fixes some of his other psychological issues.
  • Guy on guy version: the feddie mechanic Heckle to the guerrilla Festo in Fang of the Sun Dougram.
  • Implied in Franken Fran; when Veronica is introduced, she terrorized Fran and even kills one of her subjects. Then Fran catches her and starts conducting horrible experiments offscreen. By the next chapter, she's Fran's dotting little sis.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, Kriem ended up falling for Jake Martinez after he kidnapped her for ransom, largely because he was the first person to not shun her for being a NEXT.
  • Subverted in Tsukigasa. Kuroe was known to have joined a robber syndicate after they saved his life and so everyone assumes he became a criminal by choice due to this. In truth he never actually approves of them and only acts as their doctor and when he finds out their next target is Azuma, he steals some very important maps, runs off, kills the men who come after him, and gives all the information to his Samurai friend so he can catch the rest of them. His gratitude really did have its limits.
  • In Pokémon Special, Gigi, White's prized Tepig actress, happily decides to go off with N. This right after he kidnapped both her and her handler, then dropped her to be strangled by a Servine. This made her realize that she indeed has potential as a fighter and she ended up quite proud of herself. White is understandably upset.
    • It's more White's lack of approval that pushes her to stay with N than sympathy for him. When she realized her new skills, she turned happily to her handler, but White was scared and thought only about escape. Gigi was upset, when White tried to jump with her out of Ferris Wheel and may have taken this as a signal she will never be let to fulfill her dreams.
  • May be a case with Ace and his crewmates in One Piece. They get abducted onto Whitebeard’s ship. None of them is treated badly and old man wants just to enlarge his “family”, but it’s suggested they are not so free to leave as they should be. Ace accepts and becomes Whitebeard’s “son”, but before that makes at least 100 attempts to murder him.
  • When she was a child, Anthy in Shoujo Kakumei Utena became a willing victim of all the world's anger in order to save her ailing brother. When her brother developed an evil side out of sheer grief over being unable to save her, she decided to stick with him and indulge in his whims, and even to become his sex slave just to make him happy. She additionally allowed the whole world to continue hurting her with her anger, just to save her brother from feeling that pain. Eventually, she realizes that this is not the life she wants to lead, and she simply tells her brother to go deal with his issues alone.
  • Played for Laughs in Mahou Sensei Negima when Takane gets this about involuntary Clothing Damage, to the point where she gets eventually stops getting offended when the main character causes it to happen, and actually gets offended when he beats her without stripping her.

Comic Books

  • Scrooge McDuck's and Glittering Goldie's relationship has elements of this in the Disney comics.
  • Harley Quinn, claims this to the doctors at Arkam in defense of her actions, but her miniseries shows her going crazy and falling in love with The Joker long before ever meeting him.
  • In Incorruptible, Max Damage abducts a girl and puts her in Jailbait's costume to lay a false trail for enemies who might be tracking her. Before too much longer she was calling herself "the new Jailbait."

Fairy Tales

  • Beauty and The Beast, seems to be argued about considerably. Some claim that it was an example of this trope considering how abusive The Beast was (kidnapping her, throwing her in a dungeon, cutting her off from her family, starving her, screaming at her to intimidate her into submission, etc). Others say it was averted at least in the Disney version, because the rather headstrong Belle makes The Beast change and teaches him that he can't expect to be loved if he doesn't change his abusive ways.
    • The thing is that the Disney version as arguably a better example of Lima Syndrome (which is the exact opposite), as the Beast learns to sympathize with his prisoner before she ever comes to care for him. In fact she doesn't give a damn about him until he learns to treat her better.
    • It's not just Disney. Here's a quote from an article by Terri Windling, regarding the original version (written by Madame de Villeneuve in the 18th century.): "He is a genuine monster, eventually reclaimed by civility, magic, and love -- and it is only then that Beauty can truly love him." Later versions usually focused on getting the heroine to see past appearances, and made the Beast entirely harmless.
    • accuses Beauty and the Beast of this in 23 Romantic Movies Revised for Honesty and 5 Romantic Movie Gestures That Were Actually Dick Moves.

Fan Works

  • Just about every single Joker/OC fanfic in The Dark Knight section involves the Joker kidnapping some random woman and that woman ends up falling in love with him.
  • The Heroes Dark Fic Unmade results in two-way Stockholm Syndrome from a Locked in a Freezer scenario.
  • The Danny Phantom fanfic Checkmate focuses on a two-way, non-romantic example of this between Vlad and Danny, the latter having been heavily abused by the former and even approaching a Face Heel Turn—until he realizes that the Dungeon Master placed him in this situation for the purpose of winning Vlad over from hardcore villainy a la Lima Syndrome.
  • In the penultimate chapter of Group of Weirdoes: Ocarina of Time, Gate reveals that he's started to bond with Ganondorf. Of course, Gate's a Cloudcuckoolander, so that might not be true.
  • It's not romantic affection, but Scootaloo comes out of the "good" ending of Pattycakes viewing Fluttershy as a kind of mentor and Parental Substitute. Given that Fluttershy had hit her on the head and forced her to run a gauntlet of tests dotted with the risk of arbitrary Mind Rape, either it's Stockholm syndrome, or Scoots had a really crappy home life. (I mean, say what you will about your parents - no matter how bad they were, at least they never tried to totally destroy your mind.)
  • Played for laughs in the DeviantArt deviation seen here. Queen Hani orders pizza in order to capture and enslave the delivery boy, who quickly decides it could not be worse than the job he has.


  • Ori in We Are the Strange, according to the prologue.
  • Not an intentional example on the part of the filmmakers but Lightning McQueen in Cars. Lost, confused, not allowed to speak to a lawyer or try to call anyone, locked up and forced into heavy labor until he ends up screaming for help from a passing pair of minivans before his view of Radiator Falls and its inhabitants does an abrupt 180.
  • The Getaway: a possible explanation for the behaviour of Fran... though hardly enough to excuse her behaviour: she has sex with Rudy , the man who kidnapped her and his husband while the latter is locked in the adiacent bathroom and forced to listen, which drives him to commit suicide.
  • Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough, maybe. Bond is doubting this by the end and as it turns out, it's a reversal - Elektra actually seduced her captor, and he's still working for her.
    • And in Never Say Never Again, Bond undergoes a hostage situation at the beginning. He liberates the woman bound to a bed, but doesn't remember Stockholm Syndrome, and she kills him. Fortunately it was just a training scenario.
  • In the movie Saw, the character of Amanda.
    • This is apparently Jigsaw's preferred method of recruitment as his apprentices are either a survivor of one of his traps (Amanda) or someone he blackmailed who became a willing apprentice (Hoffman)
  • Alfred Hitchcock film version of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Note that it wasn't deliberate, they were handcuffed together when he got a chance to escape and had to take her with him. By the time they got free, she'd started to believe he was innocent.
  • In the movie The Chase, Kristy Swanson's character falls in love with her captor (played by Charlie Sheen) -- in fact, she even rescues him from the police in the end, so that he can escape to Mexico.
    • This is a subversion, because she falls for him based not on anything he did or said, but basically to rebel against her parents.
  • In the controversial Spanish movie Atame! (English: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!), an actress falls in love with her stalker kidnapper (played by Antonio Banderas).
    • Most stalkers do not look like Antonio Banderas. If they did the stalker would quickly become the stalkee.
    • The English-language remake, which came out a year later, was retitled Beauty and The Beast.
  • The TV Christmas movie Holiday In Handcuffs has this happen, with the kidnapper in question being Melissa Joan Hart.
  • Subverted in Die Hard when the news report is discussing Stockholm Syndrome and suggesting the hostages are entering the first stages the camera pans to the hostages watching a corpse being dragged past them and are terrified of rather than identifying with their captors.
    • Interestingly, the psychiatrist, the author of a book on the subject, refers to it as Helsinki Syndrome, suggesting that he either Did Not Do the Research or is ripping off Stockholm Syndrome. Amusingly, the male newsreader tries to clarify to the viewers that he's referring to "Helsinki, Sweden," and is quickly corrected - Helsinki is in Finland.
  • Three Ten to Yuma plays with this trope. The captive is stage coach robber Ben Wade, who is never really a prisoner in the movie. He demonstrates the capability to escape any time he wishes, but sticks around because of an interest in Dan Evans which developed before he was even taken 'captive'. Wade is a badass cynic who grows increasingly fascinated with Evan's Determinator idealism which is uniquely motivated by his own cynical perspective. In the end he helps Evans deliver him to the train, despite having an entire town gunning for him. Of course, he had already escaped Yuma prison several times.
  • King Kong (2005): Ann Darrow and her captor Kong. Yeah... I call them as I see them.
  • Captain Hook in Hook deliberately tries to induce Stockholm Syndrome in Peter (Pan) Banning's children, in part by posing as the good, caring, attentive father that Peter wasn't. It works on his son Jack, but not his daughter Maggie, and even Jack gets set straight when he realizes his father does loves him and that Hook is a murdering asshole.
  • Played extremely darkly in The Poughkeepsie Tapes with the character of Cheryl Dempsey. Nightmare Fuel indeed.
  • Lampshaded by Ronnie about Ashley's feelings towards Turner in Disturbia.

"Where do you get this stuff?"
"I read...a lot..."

  • The movie John Q. had this. Because of the title character's sympathetic ordeal (Trying to get his son a much-needed heart transplant), beating up a man who was abusing his girlfriend in the middle of the situation and letting the sickest people go without hesitation, everyone was laughing and joking with him near the end, even the guy he beat up. Even the people he let go only had nice things to say about him.
  • In Dog Day Afternoon, the bank employees clearly sympathize with the robbers/kidnappers by the end.
  • Lampshaded and subverted in Tucker and Dale Versus Evil. Naomi believes that Allison is falling in love with her hillbilly captors due to Stockholm Syndrome, and Allison is slowly falling for Dale. The twist is that Tucker and Dale aren't her captors—they rescued her when she almost drowned. And Allison is interested in Dale because he's a Nice Guy.
  • Buffalo '66 depicts a man kidnapping Christina Ricci in order to fool his parents into thinking he has a girlfriend. She warms up to him quickly, which may invoke this trope. Then again, he proves to be mostly harmless almost immediately and she is more or less free to go once his parents meet her so she may just have genuinely liked him.
  • The woman John Wayne was trying to rescue in The Searchers.
    • It gets a little confusing, because at first she says "These are my people" - but then, when her stepbrother sneaks into the Comanche camp to rescue her, she is happy to see him and wants to leave immediately. Of course, that could be because the Wayne character now wants to kill her (believe her to have become "defiled" by Indians), and her stepbrother (who is one-eighth Indian himself) has sworn to protect her.
  • In Contagion, Dr. Orantes is eventually kidnapped by one of her colleagues who takes her to his village so that they will be among the first to get the virus vaccine. The vaccine is developed three months later, after which we see Orantes happily working as a schoolteacher for the village children and willingly cooperates with the kidnappers in the exchange for the vaccine. Later on in the airport, she is informed that the vaccine given was actually a placebo. The last we see of her is her running away from the airport, presumably to warn the villagers.
  • A non-romantic example in The Magdalene Sisters. Margaret finds the laundry's back gate left open and walks out, even stopping a man on the road for a lift. However she decides not to get back in and returns to the laundry. Viewers have debated over whether or not this is loyalty to the other women (she was taking care of the unstable Crispina) or fear of the outside world.
  • Played for laughs in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. None of the historic figures seemed to mind being abducted by two nutty teenagers. They all eventually see it as the "excellent adventure" through time that it is.
  • Given the story Westley relates to Buttercup in The Princess Bride, his relationship with the Dread Pirate Roberts (or rather, the man he assumed was him) was both this and Lima Syndrome. Roberts spared Westley, keeping him around (often reminding him of his threat to kill him, but never making good on it) and in the meantime, Westley was able to learn swordplay, wrestling, and anything else the pirate crew would teach him. Eventually, Roberts, who had clearly taken a liking to him, revealed the secret behind his title to him, and later Passed the Torch to Westley.
  • As Indy tells Mutt in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, he was "technically" (well actually, more than technically) kidnapped by Pancho Villa's men as a teenager before joining their revolutionary army. The incident was described in only slightly more detail in the pilot episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, but was later told in complete detail in book form.


  • Older Than Feudalism: It's suggested in Homer's Iliad that Helen of Troy, after being kidnapped by Paris in an act that triggered the Trojan War, got pretty comfortable in Troy after a while. It's never explicitly stated, but there is one scene in which a Greek soldier actually considers killing Helen, believing her to be one of the enemy now.
  • The ending of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The last four words of the book show how thoroughly Winston has been brainwashed by Miniluv: "He loved Big Brother".
  • The Bourne Identity - the book. The movie didn't display any cases of Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Central to the concept of the Dick Francis thriller novel The Danger, the author's clearly extensive research providing a more nuanced portrayal than usual of the syndrome.
  • In the first Artemis Fowl book, Holly develops enough of an attachment to her captors (the title character and his associates) to object to her allies' plans to bio-bomb Fowl Manor after her rescue. Although her objections are partly due to Artemis being Just a Kid and his servant Juliet being a relative innocent, her friends dismiss it as "just Stockholm Syndrome... you'll get over it."
  • The Kim Newman short story Who Dares Wins refers to Stockholm Syndrome, but since the captors are vampires, they have faster and more reliable methods to get the hostages on their side.
  • An unintentional example, as the term didn't even exist at the time, is The Sheik. The heroine is abused and raped by the Sheik until she falls in love with him.
  • Done intentionally in John Ringo's "The Council War" series. The lead villain, known as Paul, sets up a harem where he keeps kidnapped young women, for the express purpose of breaking them and inducing Stockholm Syndrome. The repeated rapes and hopeless nature of life in the harem inevitably take their toll on the captives. This is even explained during a short story at the end of "Emerald Sea". It is partially averted in the character of Megan, Paul's latest victim. Despite falling in love with him, she ends up killing him partway through "Against the Tide", in a particularly brutal and grisly manner.
  • In The Silmarillion, Elrond and Elros's (reciprocated) love for Maglor, who took part in the slaughter of their people (twice) and took them captive, could be interpreted that way. Then again, most annals say they were 5 at the most when captured.
  • Kobo Abe's The Woman in the Dunes. An entomologist plans to spend the night at the sand-pit of a widow. She and other villagers hold him in. He tries to escape and fails, and gradually develops a very sexual relationship with the woman. Years later, the man has a chance out of the pit, but he cannot bring himself to leave.
  • The Wheel of Time has the damane. Women channelers (a.k.a. sorceresses) are captured by the Seanchan Empire, collared with a device that doesn't allow them to do any kind of channeling (and even anything) without their handler allowing it. It's a Fate Worse Than Death for the women channelers raised in cultures where they are allowed to roam free and are even admired and feared. But some captured do develop an attachment to it (attachment meaning completely assuming whatever identity the handler wants them to have, resisting capture, and being terrified and traumatized if set free). Although that is more a case of actively breaking the spirit of the captured women and turning them into obedient puppets, more like pets or tools than human beings. Fate Worse Than Death indeed. This trope is averted rather horribly with Rand's capture by the hands of Elaida's Tower embassy. There is not exactely identification or sympathy with his captors/tormenters on his part.
  • Winnie from Tuck Everlasting was kidnapped by the Tucks, but grew to love them all the same. To be fair, they never intended to harm her and were very kind – they just needed to explain the situation to her properly, and were more than willing to take her home once they had done so. Could also be a case of Lima Syndrome for the Tucks, though they never saw her as a hostage in the first place.
  • Tobias and his torturer Taylor in Animorphs.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, decades before the Stockholm bank robbery occurred, Christine falls in love with Erik after he kidnaps her, drugs her, and locks her in his house for 2 weeks—all this after 3 months of him acting as her Mailer Daemon and gradually growing more verbally abusive and aggressive. Raoul is saddened but not the least bit surprised that she loves a man she's (understandably) terrified of, and Christine comes to her senses long enough to tell Raoul to take her away from Erik once and for all No Matter How Much I Beg.
  • The hostages in Bel Canto develop this
  • Jacen Solo develops this with Vergere in Traitor.
  • In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Professor Arronax gradually becomes more impressed with Nemo during his stay onboard the Nautilus. Ned Land is the only one who seems to remember that they are prisoners, not guests. It's only when Nemo launches another attack on British vessels that Arronax remembers this too.
  • Theon from A Dance With Dragons and, to some degree, Sansa in A Feast for Crows.
  • The Vorkosigan Saga: After Cordelia gets back to Beta after being captured by the Barrayarans during the Betan/Barrayaran war, her commanding officers and family believe she has this, and she is totally unable to convince them otherwise. It's not that hard to see why they think so, since she has various scars which appear to be the result of torture (and one which actually is).
  • Princess Irulan in Dune shows this to Paul.
  • Averted in one short story by J. R. R. Tolkien. During the second age, when the Numenorean empire is just being founded, a numenorean colonist is captured by local tribesmen and forced to marry one of them. She tells her husband that her people will be back for revenge and that she is very glad of that.
  • Referenced in Dr. Franklin's Island by Ann Halam. The victims of the titular Mad Scientist try to stop this from happening to them, but end up still treating him "with this crazy kidnap-victim respect".
  • Bella Swan in Twilight thinks Edward is great because he wants to kill her, but refrains from it.
  • Parodied in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom discusses his plan to start a band of robbers and kidnap people for ransom:

"...Only you don’t kill the women. You shut up the women, but you don’t kill them. They’re always beautiful and rich, and awfully scared...Well, the women get to loving you, and after they’ve been in the cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and after that you couldn’t get them to leave. If you drove them out they’d turn right around and come back. It’s so in all the books."

  • In Things Fall Apart, the young prisoner Ikemefuna is taken in by Okonkwo and eventually comes to see him as a father. Okonkwo succumbs to Lima Syndrome and comes to see Ikemefuna as another son. It all ends in tears when the village elders demand that Ikemefuna be killed. Okonkwo goes along with the executioners and personally cuts down Ikemefuna when he begs him for help because he is too afraid to show weakness. Even worse, Ikemefuna believed he was being sent back home and was looking forward to introducing Okonkwo to his family. Okonkwo drinks himself into a stupor afterwards.

Live-Action TV

  • Daenerys from Game of Thrones, based on the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire. She was basically raped the first few weeks or months of her marriage to a beast of a man whom she feared. However after awhile she embraces everything about his culture and comes to love and care for him and his people. Even when he threatens to murder, rape and pillage the people who tried to assassinate her, she seems aroused. That's textbook Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Lizzie Sutton on Lincoln Heights develops a friendship with one of her kidnappers (much to the horror of her family) after she is rescued. She hated her other kidnapper because he was "mean" to her.
  • An episode of Numb3rs had a kidnapped heiress in a Patty-Hearst-like situation join up with the kidnappers' cause. Subverted in that it turned out she had been the mastermind all along and planned her own kidnapping.
  • This was also a plot in an episode of Sledge Hammer!.
  • Kim Bauer starts to develop this far too rapidly in the first season of 24.
    • This is misrepresenting it a bit - she teams up with the only person around who feels remorse about his role in the kidnapping, and it does take her a few hours to really trust him.
  • Malcolm in the Middle. Reese lets a bunch of thugs into his house for a "party," where they end up running what is strongly implied to be some kind of meth lab. For the whole weekend. Naturally, Reese ends up admiring them, as seen in the quote above.
  • NCIS did this twice in as many seasons. The first time involved a main character and a Magnificent Bastard and merely prevented the main character from stabbing him with a scalpel. The second time had the villain-of-the-week kidnap a woman and lock her in a room to be his wife every time he moved, and when the team rescued the latest one, she bashed her rescuer's head in with a plant.
    • Regarding the first instance, it was just raised as a possibility why Kate didn't stab Ari when she had the chance. Kate replies that she couldn't have suffered from Stockholm Syndrome in the short time she was kept hostage. DiNozzo replies that it might have been like love at first sight.
    • Another episode had Kate coming to work and finding Tony doing his fingernails.

Kate: Most people tend to their personal hygiene at home.
Tony: This bothers you?
Kate: No, what bothers me is that it doesn't bother me anymore.
Tony: Hm... I'm an acquired taste."
McGee: Actually, it's more like the Stockholm Syndrome.

  • An element of this came into play for House in Last Resort, when he bonds with the guy holding him and others hostage and ends up giving the gun back, mistakenly believing that the guy will be noble enough not to test the drugs on 13 anymore. Oops.
    • A first season episode includes the following dialogue:

Cameron: [House's] crazy ideas are usually right. We've been here long enough to--
Foreman: We've been here long enough to have Stockholm Syndrome.

  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The McPoyles take the gang hostage and Sweet Dee worries about someone developing Stockholm Syndrome, then begins to show signs of it herself. The guys in the gang misunderstand the concept and begin complaining about fever-like symptoms.
  • A particularly dark example occurs in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent where a teenaged girl develops Stockholm Syndrome towards the Serbian gangster who kidnapped her family as a result of her father's poor business dealings and, along with his crew, repeatedly gang-raped her. It's treated a bit more realistically than some of the examples on this thread, with the girl having been held captive several days, and the syndrome itself treated as a clear psychological issue based on trauma and PTSD rather than her simply falling in love with the guy.
    • Another episode had a prison warden hiring a hitman to 'escape' with the warden's wife and kill her. The man decided not to go through with the killing and kept the wife around. After a few years, she barely even remembered her old life.
  • CSI explored this trope with the character of Tammy Felton in the episodes "Face Lift" and "And Then There Were None".
  • ''Battlestar Galactica. Leoben appears to be trying to evoke this in Kara Thrace by keeping her imprisoned in his mock home on New Caprica, despite Kara's repeated attempts to subvert this trope by stabbing him to death, and by introducing a girl he claims is their daughter.
    • Arguably, Felix Gaeta and Sweet Eight, who seemed to be a rare sympathetic presence - with a friend's face, no less - during the brutal Cylon occupation of New Caprica.
  • Heroes featured villainess Elle Bishop forcibly electrifying Peter, locked in a cell for four months, presumably every day. "You'll get used to it, and then you'll start to like it." It didn't work.
  • Oft-mentioned but rarely used on Criminal Minds.
    • In the season four episode "Bloodlines," a woman kidnapped when she was a small girl marries into the family who kidnapped her and goes on to kidnap other girls to marry her son.
    • Arguably, Audrey Henson in "The Crossing." By the time she was in the picture, however, it had turned into battered spouse syndrome.
    • Probably also explains, to some extent, why Reid keeps insisting that Tobias Hankel "saved his life" despite the fact that his life wouldn't have needed saving if Hankel hadn't been busy beating him to death. (Although the multiple personalities make this slightly more complicated). Reid seems to empathize with any unsub who is suffering from a severe mental illness. His mother's fight with Schizophrenia and his fears about his own mental health probably fuel this.
  • Arguably, Marian had this toward Guy of Gisborne in the BBC's Robin Hood.
  • Horrifically depicted in an episode of Flashpoint when a teenage girl kidnapped eight years earlier ends up with Stockholm Syndrome to the point where she tries to keep the police from rescuing her and the abductor's latest victim.
  • In the mini series Kill Point, Chloe, one of the hostages in a bank robbery, develops feelings for the bank robbers' leader to the point that she wishes to go with him when he escapes.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Suddenly Human" a human boy was raised in an alien culture after his adoptive father led an attack on the research post, killing his birth parents and taking him.
  • In the Highlander the Series episode "Revelations 6:8", Methos tells Cassandra that she had Stockholm Syndrome when she was his slave. She denies having loved him but he points out that she expected him to protect her.
  • Played extremely for laughs when Fran and her mother are hostages in a bank robbery on The Nanny, because once they get to know the bank robber, they consider him (correctly, to all appearances) to be too nice a guy to ever actually shoot any of his hostages.
  • Forms a key part of the plot in Homeland as CIA agent Carrie Mathison tries to determine whether Sergeant Nicholas Brody has undergone a Face Heel Turn while being held by Al Qaeda. Explored how it might have occurred via Flashbacks.
  • Combined with Lima Syndrome in an episode of New Tricks: Hannah Taylor was kidnapped by a young man with a grudge against her mother, a then-alcoholic doctor who he blamed for his mother's death. After Paul talked with Hannah for a while, he came to his senses and decided to release her and go on the run, not even bothering to collect the ransom he'd asked for. But Hannah, who hated her mother as much as Paul did, chose to come with him. 13 years later they're Happily Married with a child.


  • The band Muse has a song called "Stockholm Syndrome" on their third album, Absolution.
  • The band Yo La Tengo also has a song of the same name on their album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.
  • So does Blink 182, on their album of the same name.
  • Michael Jackson's short film Ghosts has his character Maestro confronted by an angry mob when it's revealed that he's been secretly entertaining kids in his creepy mansion. He turns out to have magical powers, and he proceeds to terrify the crowd with them; when they try to flee, he traps them and declares they're his guests. He summons a crowd of ghouls to assist them, and what follows alternates between entertaining the crowd and terrifying it, particularly when he magically possesses the mob leader, a mayor. When all is said and done, the mayor is the only person who still wants Maestro gone from the town.
  • "Black Widow's Eyes", from the album Endless Wire, was written in response to the Beslan school massacre. It was inspired by one hostage's comments on the haunting beauty of one female terrorist's eyes. Said Pete Townshend on the subject: "We sometimes fall in love when we do not want to, and when we do not expect to."
  • "Soldier" by Bitter Ruin seems to be about a very Stockholm-y relationship in which the narrators describe how they've given up on attempting to escape, and just want to be a good soldier for their captor.

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

  • When the name of your game is Slave Maker, you can bet this is gonna happen, as nearly all the trainable slaves didn't come in willingly. To be fair, the game is more about having sexy fun than being at all realistic about the mental conditions of a person sold into slavery and you still have to work to make them see you as more than just a slave master.
  • In the first Metal Gear Solid game, Otacon is attracted to Sniper Wolf. Snake directly tells him he's probably suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
    • It's not outside the realm of possibility that Stockholm Syndrome turned into genuine affection, or even skipped the Swedish bit. Otacon explicitly states that Sniper Wolf was the first person in a long time who felt he was worth treating decently, and given how his life's gone up to the point that he tells Snake that, it's not unfeasible that Otacon might interpret a waitress actually bringing him his order as a gesture of undying love.
    • Also, Meryl and Johnny. She beat him up and stole his uniform in the first Metal Gear Solid, but they get married at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age. The villains from the original Golden Sun were killed at the end, yet their hostages continued the mission, and the heroes of the original eventually join up—leading to a Not Brainwashed scene at the end with the Wise One. Justified that the original mission is saving the world anyway (even though Saturos and Menardi are more concerned about their town than Weyard, the world's saved is still the side effect).
    • Technically, their parents lives were on the line as well
  • S.W.A.T. 2 allows the player to engage in Stockholm-generating tactics in the terrorist campaign as a way of temporarily delaying S.W.A.T. and potentially adding to their personnel pool.
  • In Liberal Crime Squad, you can abduct conservatives and make them loyal to your liberal cause.
  • In World of Warcraft, two Orcs who have been rescued from imprisonment from Dunholde Keep insist on keeping their balls and chains, which they have given names to. Another NPC dubs it "Durnholde Syndrome".
  • In Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon, Princess Nyna's entire family is slaughtered by Gust/Doluna, but a well known knight from Gust, Camus, protects her from the same fate. Her narration of the events that followed strongly resemble Stockholm Syndrome. She admits that she first hated him because he was part of the group that killed her family (although not directly responsible) and then during their small time together when she was his country's captive as a political prisoner, she develops very strong romantic feelings for him.
    • He reciprocates her feelings and did put his knighthood on the line to take her to an allied kingdom before she could be executed. This causes him to lose a lot of influence in his kingdom, but he stubbornly refused to abandon his king, even when Nyna begs him to side with the League.
  • In Mass Effect, if Shepard has the Colonist background, you can get a mission to help Talitha, a woman who was taken in the slave raid that killed your parents. Asking her how she escaped makes Shepard realize that the poor woman is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

Web Comics

  • Zip and Netta from DDG seem to be engaged in a two way Stockholm Syndrome at the moment. Whether Netta really does care about Zip or just sees "her" as anything more than a ratings earner is up for debate, but Zip is definitely developing an attachment to her employer/owner.
  • In the web comic Marilith, the titular assassin's apprentice, a young Japanese girl named Kimiko, started out as a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome before she managed to drag her captor into Lima Syndrome as well (in the prequel Krakow 2.0), after Marilith kidnapped the girl to ransom her back to her wealthy father. Her affections were somewhat nuanced by the fact that she's a Japanese schoolgirl, mind...
  • In Casey and Andy, land pirates kidnap the King of Sweden, who is usually residing on the title characters' couch. At first Casey and Andy enjoy finally having their couch for themselves. But then the king reappears and helps the land pirates to steal the couch.

Andy: Looks like the King of Sweden has joined his captors.
Casey: Stockholm Syndrome. Now that's ironic.

Web Original

  • Despite discussing the trope and claiming the contrary, Doc develops such a fierce loyalty to his captor Wash in Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction that he ends up saving his life in the final battle.
  • From SCP Foundation, the story of SCP-2922, "Notes from the Underground". A crack team of agents is sent to a dimension referred to as "Corbenic" on a mission to capture and detain a rogue agent, whom their superiors claim is a traitor. They run into complications quickly. When passing by a place called the Marble Hall, a female agent (identified as S12-06) is captured by the inhabitants, the others describing to mission control a rather violent and horrific abduction where "a bunch of humans in royal clothes piled on her like wild animals and dragged her kicking and screaming into the Marble Hall, tearing her apart with their bare hands." Seeing as it has already been determined that death is not permanent here, their superiors order them to make a rescue attempt. While they are trying to figure out exactly how (the Marble Hall has hundreds, possibly thousands of inhabitants, and is ruled by an entity of godlike power called the Elephant King), the superior gets a call from S12-06. She tells them not to bother because she wants to stay, claiming she is Not Brainwashed (but admits she is drunk) and claims the endless party within is "freakin' awesome" going so far as to tell him the others are invited. Of course, seeing as she also cusses him out, it's likely this overlaps with Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal, as someone in the Marble Hall might have told her that "Corbenic" is the afterlife, and that she and her team have literally been murdered in order to be sent here.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Futurama, when some hostages are in danger of being executed, Bender hastily exclaims, "I think I'm coming down with Stockholm Syndrome... handsome." Of course, he's just trying to manipulate his captor.
    • There's also "A Clockwork Origin," in which Leela and Amy are kidnapped by two robot cavemen, for one day, and both miss them afterwards.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer developed Stockholm Syndrome, much to his kidnappers' annoyance.

Captor: "He has developed Stockholm Syndrome. He has come to identify with his captors."

  • In an episode of Family Guy, Meg developed Stockholm Syndrome, much to her kidnappers' horror.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes has Jez getting kidnapped by a King Kong-esque creature. A scene later, however, she's seen going to the movies with him.
  • Played for Laughs in the French cartoon Zig and Sharko, which revolves around Zig repeatedly kidnapping a mermaid called Marina. Marina's surprising lack of distress when this happens is eventually explained when it is revealed that she has a crush on Zig.
  • Played surprisingly seriously in one episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, where teen star actress Jennifer Nocturne is revealed to suffer from this (with Gwen Tennyson explicitly mentioning the trope). This cause her to fall in love with Fallen Hero Carl Nesmith/Captain Nemesis, who had kidnapped her in a previous episode, and help him escape. She goes as far as becoming his accomplice, severely injuring Ben in order to save him, and even keeping following him after he committed several murders. She ends up injuring herself in the process, causing Nesmith to surrender so she can get medical assistance.
  • In Rick and Morty, Birdperson's daughter was raised from birth by the staff at a Galactic Federation Prison, as her father is wanted as a terrorist and her mother was an undercover Federation agent (long story). When rescued by her father she has a hard time adjusting to freedom, even trying to break into the prison at least once.

Real Life

  • Sun Tzu advises invoking this trope on POW as a matter of standard policy. Because it works often enough to be worth the effort. That's why, to this day, POW are still treated very nicely, at least in Geneva-compliant countries.
  • The Trope Namer is a bank robbery/hostage incident that occurred in Stockholm in 1973. The hostages, among other things, berated the police for endangering them by trying to stop the robbers by force, raised money for the robbers' defense lawyers, and even wrote the robbers letter while they were in jail.
  • A historical example: Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, financed much of his campaign against England by taking English knights hostage and ransoming them back. He treated them so well that many would lose the will to fight against him when they were released.
  • The American Revolution. George Washington ordered that all prisoners of war were to be treated humanely. As a result many Hessian prisoners taken by the American rebels were surprised at how well they were treated and did not try to escape. Some defected to the American cause, and after the war ended, and they were released, many chose to remain in America and become citizens.
  • A less famous example where a man managed to convince several people that he was an MI6 agent on the run for his life, asking them to repeatedly give him money (culminating in about several million dollars) and asking a woman to run away with him under the premise that they were going to elope. That guy then threatened her when she was asked by real federal agents to bring him down. He got caught anyway.
  • The sad case of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who ended up spending more of her life with her kidnapper than with her parents. In 2009 she had been rescued and is along with two teenage daughters she had by him. It has been speculated that the reason she didn't escape years later when she was allowed more freedom around the house was because of Stockholm Syndrome; Dugard herself vehemently denies it.
  • Mary McElroy, a rather extreme case of this trope. She openly pleaded for her kidnappers not to be executed and became increasingly mentally unstable after her release from captivity. Going as far as taking her own life a few years later, leaving behind a note saying: "My four kidnappers are probably the four people on earth who don't consider me an utter fool. You have your death penalty now - so - please - give them a chance. Mary."
    • Which is especially odd because unlike some other cases where this happens to this degree of severity, McElroy was only kidnapped for about a day, and during the trial had some difficult even recognizing who her kidnappers were. Her note also makes no sense, of her four kidnappers only 3 had been found and tried, and none of them were given the death penalty, and in fact one had been released by the time of her suicide.
  • There are historical accounts of white females developing Stockholm's when captured by Native Americans. They were treated so well within their new society (some even made full wives of the warriors who took them) that when their husbands and menfolk came to rescue them, they would wake up the next morning to find the women had all escaped back to the Indians.
  • Conscription. The recruits are taken to boot camp and isolated from the rest of the world from one to three months - no telephones, radio, newspapers or internet allowed. They are continuously harassed, mocked, denigrated and bullied by their drill instructors. Most of the boys break and develop a genuine love on army and their fatherland and become obedient soldiers. Some endure and develop an everlasting hatred on their country, government - and society.
  • People in abusive situations will often end up attached to their abusers, or else they might end up believing that they deserve the abuse and that their assailants' abuse is just a way of showing love and concern. It's especially horrifying if the abuser is the victim's parent, because as well as inspiring Stockhom syndrome in the victim, the abuser is also more likely to have a good reputation that increases the chances of a Type B Abuse Mistake.
  • North Korea's reaction to Kim Jong-Il's death is said to be this. Mind you, this was a man who starved his own people while he and his family ate like kings. Though those reactions may not be entirely genuine, given what happened to those who didn't act sad enough.