->'''Commissar Ciaphas Cain:''' I know these ones a bit too well.[...] Hochen, Nordstrom, Milsen, Jarvik, and the inevitable Gunner Erhlsen. Tell me Erhlsen, are you planning to make latrine orderly a full-time career?\\
'''Erhlsen:''' We serve the Emperor as our talents direct.
-->-- ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' "Sector Thirteen"

Maybe Bob's not very good at doing his job. Perhaps he always shows up late, misbehaves, or just isn't reliable when it comes to getting things done. Or maybe his superiors just hate him. Whatever the reason, Bob gets punished by getting stuck with the nasty, boring, and utterly thankless tasks.

Common examples of the sorts of tasks used for a Punishment Detail include:
* Something related to sanitation and toilet functions, or anything else that involves unpleasant odors and getting extremely dirty.
* Boring, repetitive tasks, like manually copying the exact same letter hundreds of times.
* Something extremely demeaning, like assigning a highly-trained professional to menial tasks normally left to unskilled workers.
* The task itself is completely pointless make-work, like digging a bunch of holes and then filling them back up again.
* The job is in a dangerous or otherwise extremely undesirable environment such as preforming traffic direction in a busy intersection.

What unifies the concept is the idea that just having to perform the task is a form of punishment.

Frequently TruthInTelevision.

A common subversion is to have the person being punished [[{{Unishment}} actually wind up enjoying the work]], and maybe even doing the job well enough to earn some amount of respect from their superiors.

If nobody has been misbehaving lately, a lot of these duties will end up falling on the NewMeat instead, or will just be rotated around the group so everyone is equally miserable.

PeelingPotatoes and ToothbrushFloorScrubbing are subtropes about a specific type of Punishment Detail. Closely related to ReassignedToAntarctica, which is about being moved to an undesirable location as a form of punishment. If the unpleasant task comes along with a promotion, the character might have been KickedUpstairs.

See also WritingLines.



[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' fanfic ''FanFic/CuttingLoose'' a fairly common means of dealing with most levels of misbehavior among the ninja corps is to assign those ninjas the nastiest, most unpleasant jobs possible, like sewer-cleaning.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic ''Fanfic/AddressUnknown'', pegasus mailponies see mail delivery on the ground as the ultimate humiliation, an announcement that they've screwed up badly in the air. It works out in Derpy's favour, though, as it allows her to prove she really is good at her job.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'': "Thanks to your new friend Ping, you men will spend this evening cleaning up [[PunctuatedForEmphasis every. single. grain. of. rice.]]" Of course, this wasn't just assigned randomly; the men had just gotten in a massive FoodFight and needed to clean it up anyway.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/TheLastCastle'', Irwin is ordered by the Warden to move a massive pile of rocks from one end of the prison yard to the other. When that doesn't break his will, Irwin is subsequently told to move all the rocks back to their original position.
* In ''Film/PoliceAcademy2TheirFirstAssignment'' Mahoney and his partner are assigned to the inside of the Lincoln Tunnel (or some other traffic tunnel), ostensibly in case there are any civilians who need help but actually as punishment, being forced to breathe the traffic fumes and such.
* Will Stockdale in ''Film/NoTimeForSergeants'' is assigned to latrine detail, but he takes to the job and gets them ship-shape.
* ''Film/{{SWAT}}'': After Jim Street's partner Gamble gets them thrown off the SWAT team, they get punished by being put to work in the gun cage, maintaining the other SWAT units' equipment. Gamble quits rather than accepting it, but Street stays in the cage for six months, until Hondo handpicks him for a new SWAT unit he's forming.
* ''Film/{{Mitchell}}''. Mitchell won't stop his investigation into Deaney, so DaChief has him doing a 24/7 stakeout of a mobster. No relief, no backup.

* In ''Literature/BooksAndBraun'' secret agent Eliza Braun gets sent to work in the archive as a punishment. As is to be expected, that only serves as plothook for further adventures.
* In the ''Literature/CodexAlera'' series Tavi gets assigned with measuring and evaluating all the latrines after calling his immediate superior out for selling the legion's supplies on the black market.
* Tyrion Lannister from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' gets put in charge of managing the sewers in Casterly Rock, since he's horribly unpopular. In something of a subversion, Tyrion goes on to make the sewers incredibly more efficient than they used to be.
* ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' is fond of handing these out instead of harsher punishments (to reenforce the illusion of a TheMenFirst attitude), particularly to soldiers who've watched his back (or at least he likes to give them the impression he does to encourage them). After a particularly messy BarBrawl that ends with three dead, he manages to make all but the killers get floggings and latrine duty... ''and they thank him for it.''
** He occasionally wonders if his aide Jurgen's faith leads him to believe every order, including latrine duty, is passed down from the Golden Throne itself. Then again, Cain has noted that the GodEmperor has a peculiar sense of humor...
** Cain isn't the only one handing out punishment duties. One argument in ''Death or Glory'' results in three members of a militia team being assigned to double sentry duty by the corporal in charge.
* ''Literature/CHERUBSeries'' - Performing menial (though always necessary) cleaning jobs on [[SpySchool Campus]] is among the most common way of punishing [[TeenSuperSpy CHERUB agents]] for misconduct. An exaggerated example gets thrown at Lauren for knocking out an instructor with a spade, she has to clean out a huge ditch ''by herself''. After a few days of it most of the other [=CHERUBs=] on campus at the time help her finish it, and the director lets it slide at it's felt she's suffered enough.
* In ''Discworld/LordsAndLadies'' Soon-To-Be-Queen Magrat makes two attempts at threatening Shawn Ogg with punishment detail. The first time she threatens to have him clean the privies, and he responds with a blank "But I ''do'' clean the privies". The second time she goes for a more general "all the dirty jobs", and when he comes up with much the same answer adds "I shall see to it there are dirtier ones".
* In ''[[Literature/ProtectorOfTheSmall Lady Knight]]'', Kel assigns people to latrine duty when they cause trouble. The rest of the time, unpleasant tasks are divided equally among the camp's inhabitants (including [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure its commander]]), except for those who have a talent that makes them more useful elsewhere. Kel even threatens to list a particularly unpleasant specimen of humanity as having a talent for cleaning latrines if he doesn't shape up.
* When the narrator of Marcus Rowland's ''Literature/{{Temps}}'' story "Playing Safe" completely screws up his mission to discredit a paranorm who is protesting the EU's paranormal safety legislation, he gets reassigned to investigating CropCircles ... and told it's no good turning up after the event, he needs to camp out in fields until he sees one happen.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the first episode of ''Series/YoungBlades'', the Musketeers get assigned to dungeon cleaning duty as punishment for fighting.
* In ''Series/RedDwarf'', the punishment of choice was repainting the ship's hull. Bear in mind that you have to wear a spacesuit, and a safety tether, and said hull is 6 miles long.
* In the first episode of ''Series/{{Reaper}}'', Sam's boss decides to punish him the for the damaging the store by assigning him to the Gardening Department (where he has to pile forty pound sacks of dirt all day). Fortunately, the Devil arranges it so that his love interest is there to keep him company.
* On ''Series/{{Community}}'', the study group are forced to wash down the school's newly acquired space simulator as punishment for creating -- and permanently voting into use -- an offensive school flag.
* ''Series/CommonLaw'' has the main characters offered their choice of these when they violate the terms of the prior inquiry. Either they can go their return to their separate and far less prestigious positions, or they can stick together and end up on pawn shop duty. They TakeAThirdOption.
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'': In "Boot", Meg Austin, while undercover as a Marine private, is assigned sanitary duty.
* The Minister of Culture in season 2 of ''Series/SlingsAndArrows'' was the Minister of Health until she spoke out against her own party, and clearly would still rather be -- her reaction to Richard coming to her with a grant proposal for the New Burbage theater festival is to point out that the money he's asking for is enough to buy an entire MRI machine.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Subverted to humorous effect. After Jon Snow defeats adversarial Thorne in the election for Lord Commander, the Watch has a meeting where Jon assigns new tasks to everyone. One of these is the job of digging a new set of latrines, and after Jon announces this must be done and how important job that is, he gives a [[MeaningfulLook significant look]] at Thorne, who fully expects to be given this terrible duty. Instead, Jon assigns the latrine duty to some random Watchman named Brian, and promotes Thorne to First Ranger.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' and ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' have scrubbing the warp plasma conduits or exhaust ports.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'': After the Starfleet PlayerCharacter kills Ambassador B'Vat and outs him to the Klingon Empire as the AxCrazy nutjob he is[[note]]He was trying to get the Klingons and Federation into a ForeverWar ''on purpose'' because he thought Klingon society would self-destruct without an enemy to fight.[[/note]], his protege, Captain Ja'rod of the IKS ''Kang'', ends up on tribble extermination duty just for being associated with him.
* ''VideoGame/TheSims2'': The Military career track has references to this, including a chance card where the player's active Sim can impose the punishment detail themselves: make the recruits march in their underwear, or replace their rifles with baguettes? There's also a parody SoundOff in the Recruit description: I don't know but I've been told, scrubbing latrines gets mighty old!
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies'', the culprit of case 3, once caught, suggests getting bathroom detail instead of imprisonment as part of his VillainousBreakdown.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' has [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20040116 "grease trap duty"]] (on an airship).
* In ''Webcomic/CodeNameHunter'', to punish him for breaking into a superior's office and snooping around, Hunter is pulled off front-line duty and given a four-week reassignment to Maintenance.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'': Being assigned to Operation Rusty's Blanket was a punishment for Brock Samson.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' have to clean a latrine with toothbrushes (several times) as punishment for being creative in "Phineas and Ferb get Busted."
* ''WesternAnimation/OggyAndTheCockroaches'': When Oggy is once mistakenly enrolled, the [[ButtMonkey angry drill sergeant]] [[MimeAndMusicOnlyCartoon yells at him, pointing at the latrines]] and hands him a toothbrush. [[ImpossibleTaskInstantlyAccomplished Seconds later, the WC are squeaky-clean.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AngelaAnaconda'': Angela is always being assigned to clap erasers after school by her teacher (mostly because said teacher doesn't like her). She has actually [[CharlesAtlasSuperpower developed a special talent for eraser-clapping!]]
* This tends to happen to Donald a lot when he's seen in ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales1987'', seeing as he messes up a lot while in the Navy.
* ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyBravo'' once, while serving a temporary prison sentence, is ordered to break rocks, which [[{{Unishment}} he's fine with.]] Then, glue them back into bigger rocks, which he [[PokeThePoodle finds kind of annoying.]] Then [[RunningGag break them apart again,]] which breaks him mentally.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* A very common practice in many military organizations. Expect to see the people in question doing various menial labor such as painting parking space stripes, doing yardwork, etc. Sometimes they will also be used for "make-work" jobs with no real purpose, such as painting rocks.
** In some cases these tasks will go to the NewMeat instead of people on Punishment Detail.
** KP, or Kitchen Patrol, is a common form of military punishment in media (classically taking the form of PeelingPotatoes). In America, it's not nearly as common as it once was since it's contracted out to civilians (who steal less and do a better job).
** The Russian Army has always considered KP a reward rather than a punishment. Sure, PeelingPotatoes is boring and monotonous, but so is, say, tank tread maintenance. KP is far less physically demanding, is done in a nice warm kitchen rather than a snowdrift somewhere and gives you ample opportunity to beg or steal a wide variety of edible goodies.
** More often than not, the punishment is not the detail itself. The detail, while miserable, is usually something that has to be done. The frequency that one ends up on said details is the punishment. If you find yourself burning shit once a week, that's normal. If you find yourself burning shit twice a day, that's a pretty good indication that you've pissed off someone up top.
** As a matter of fact, one of the first American airmen to receive the Medal of Honor, Sergeant Maynard "Snuffy" Smith, happened to be serving a punitive KP detail when he was supposed to be receiving the Medal of Honor from the Secretary of War. His bravery in tending to the wounds of several injured crewmates while defending a burning bomber from repeated German attacks notwithstanding, Smith was [[MildlyMilitary not a model soldier by any measure]], and would go on to be possibly the only Medal of Honor recipient to later receive a ''demotion'' due to his being a habitual screw-up.
* A possible form of a sentence of community service.
* Clean-up duties are often used in this fashion just about everywhere.
* Having to work dorm guard duty or some similar job that is typically on a rotating watch (the main purpose being to keep unauthorized people, usually members of the opposite gender, out of the dorms). Someone has to do this at night, and someone has to do this on the weekends. One's daytime duties do not necessarily decrease just because you had guard duty from midnight to 2 a.m.
** Guard duty may be punish''ing'' but is not punish''ment'' in and of itself. Having to pull guard duty every night including weekends especially when there are other able bodied personnel available? '''That's''' punishment.
* Members of the United States Secret Service, an elite unit whose duties including protecting important individuals, are subject to this. Regular assignment to individuals whose personality often makes them difficult to be around is regarded as a punishment detail.