Basically, There Is No Kill Like Overkill applied
Bob commits a crime.
The jury convict him of this crime and thus
must determine an appropriate sentence.
The Judge decides to sentence to Bob 400+ years of prison or 11 life sentences, essentially rotting in a cell. Bob got Longer-Than-Life Sentence
Such sentences are set sentences of a ridiculously huge amount of years (typically three digits) that, while theoretically has an end, can never be fully served by any ordinary person and could also include life terms in cases where such sentences are consecutive and/or the time before being eligible for parole is ludicrously long.
Sometimes it is not explained what the sentenced person did, just that they have X amount of years left that go beyond normal human life expectancy.
The reasons for such sentences are the desire for the judge to ensure a criminal never leave prison alive or insuring for the eventuality of an acquittal.
Such sentences can be enabled by the ability of consecutive sentencing or the fact that the upper limits to prison terms are very high or even nonexistant in the concerned jurisdiction.
This trope can be used by an author as a manner to indicate that a judge is a Hanging Judge
or a jurisdiction is ruthless toward criminals, and could also show to the readers and/or other characters this criminal is truly hardcore and dangerous.
See also The Old Convict
and Disproportionate Retribution
Anime and Manga
- All three protagonists of the cyberpunk anime Cyber City Oedo 808 are cons serving astronomical sentences on a prison satellite, to the tune of 300 years or more. For duty served, they get a few years of that sentence taken off, though if they screw up a job or piss off Hasegawa, the warden, time gets added to their sentences — if he doesn't just pop their collars, that is.
- Taken to its logical conclusion in Soul Eater when the witches' Kangaroo Court sentences Free (who's functionally immortal, Nigh Invulnerable and was already serving an indefinite sentence when he was introduced and broken out of their jail) to multiple death sentences. Of course, he gets off lightly compared to Death the Kid (the son of the Grim Reaper himself) who they sentence to a million death penalties.
- The Daltons are serving a 4200-years hard labor sentence in the beginning of La Ballade des Daltons before escaping.
- In another Lucky Luke comic, an escaped convict lampshades this when his hostage tells him that if he turns back now, he'll get a lighter sentecne. The convict responds with "I can't see much of a difference between being sentenced to 236 or 295 years in prison".
- In Le Grain de la folie Achille Talon expects being sentenced to 745 years (with mitigating circumstances) for breaking in Surrender's base.
- In Malcolm X the main character's friend, Shorty, faints because he think he will be victim of this trope.
- In Sky High, there's a passing mention that Baron Battle had received a quadruple life sentence, with no chance of parole until after the third.
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Justice", Rimmer gets sentenced to ten thousand years imprisonment. Subverted as he is expected to be able to serve his sentence and be released at the end since he is a hologram. Of course as always Status Quo Is God and the Reset Button is hit by the episode end.
- In Oz, Chris Keller is sentenced to 88 years with parole accessible in 50 before being sentenced to death, sentence overturned eventually.
- Subverted with Omar White: while he is sentenced to 75 years, he's up for parole in 20.
- The titular Megamind was sentenced to 88 consecutive life sentences for his crimes against humanity and Metro City. Largely meaningless, since he's able to waltz out the front door of his Cardboard Prison, and back into his functional laboratory cum lair.
- At the end of the Looney Tunes short "Baby Buggy Bunny", after Baby Face Finster has been jailed, Bugs Bunny shows up and gives him this classic line;
- Adventure Time: In the episode Too Young, The Earl of Lemongrab succeeds the throne from Princess Bubblegum after she was turned into a child. He's a tyrant who routinely gives these kinds of sentences to the candy citizens throughout the episode at the drop of a hat, and when Finn and Bubblegum pull a prank on him his line when sending them to the dungeon has become a meme by itself.
- Darron Anderson, in Oklahoma, was sentenced to 11,250 years for burglary, robbery and rape after appealing.note
- Bobbie Joe Long was sentenced to 28 life sentences, 99 years sentence and one death sentence by Florida for his murders and rapes.
- James Earl Ray got a 99-years sentence for murdering Martin Luther King.
- Jamal Zougal was sentenced to 50,000 years for the 2004 Madrid train bombings. note
- Ronald DeFeo, Jr., perpetrator of the so-called Amityville killings, was sentenced to six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life, hence a minimum of 150 years.