->"''Men are not punished for their sins, but by them.''"
-->-- '''[[http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kin_Hubbard Kin Hubbard]]'''

In some cases (in fiction, and one would imagine in real life as well), a person will commit a crime, and then get caught. As they wait in fear to find out what their punishment is, the hero will reveal that no punishment could possibly be worse than simply being allowed to live with the consequences of the crime itself, so there will be no further punishment.

The villain may [[InvokedTrope raise this issue himself]], arguing that he's being punished enough already and should be spared anything further. Depending on [[SlidingScaleOfAntagonistVileness the character]] and the circumstances, this may come off as genuine regret [[GoAndSinNoMore deserving of mercy]], a [[BlatantLies cynical ploy]] to [[KarmaHoudini evade justice]], or somewhere in between.

In particularly literal cases of the trope, the offense is punished by forcing the perpetrator to continue doing it long past the point where it is pleasurable or desirable.

Sometimes overlaps with RadishCure, where [[ForbiddenFruit a person shows desire for something forbidden]], and then has it forced on them. Also compare BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor, IronicHell, and SelfInflictedHell.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', this occurs in the final second-season episode. However, it's a very odd example because Lelouch had been planning this for some time and Suzaku had willingly agreed to it.
-->'''Lelouch:''' The punishment for what you've done shall be this, then. You will live on, always wearing that mask serving as a knight for justice and truth. You will no longer live your life as Suzaku Kururugi. You shall sacrifice the ordinary pleasures of your life for the benefit of the world. For eternity...\\
'''Suzaku:''' This Geass, I do solemnly accept.
* In ''Manga/TouhouBougetsushou'' it's revealed that being impure is a crime in [[SpaceElves Lunarian]] society. What exactly does it mean to be impure? It means to be mortal. According to UsefulNotes/{{Shinto}} belief, impurity is the product and source of all evil and misfortune, and the greatest source and product of impurity is death. Ergo, Earthlings are only mortal because the Earth is permeated with death and impurity, and [[ImmortalsFearDeath the Lunarians are only immortal because they migrated to the Moon, which has never been touched by death]]. So, if living and dying here on Earth is the crime of us Earthlings, what is the punishment? Naturally, our punishment is to spend our entire impure lives living here on this impure Earth until the day we finally die.
* Katejina Loos of ''Anime/MobileSuitVictoryGundam'' steadily went off the deep end of villainy throughout the latter half of the series and was responsible for the deaths of more than a few reoccurring characters. While most of the other antagonists were killed, Katejina survives the series, albeit now as a blind homeless woman with amnesia and brain damage. And it's later implied that she ''does'' remember some of her crimes. The writers felt the only punishment fitting for Katejina's actions would be for her to live with the guilt of her atrocities, because apparently death would be too lenient.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* This is the fate of [[spoiler:Lyta Hall]] in ''ComicBook/TheSandman'': Her actions during the last two books -- [[spoiler:siccing The Kindly Ones on Morpheus and thus destroying Dream of the Endless]] -- causes immense damage, but they also [[spoiler:caused the 'death' of Daniel Hall]] and therefore made it AllForNothing. In light of this, she is simply allowed to leave at the end.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* There was a ''ComicStrip/TomTheDancingBug'' comic in which someone tried to get out of paying their taxes by offering to sleep with an IRS agent. Their punishment was to sleep with an IRS agent.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Often used in fetish fiction: The punishment for a man trying on women's clothing is... being forced to wear women's clothing.
** For a more specific example, there's an OriginalFlavor ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'' fanfic ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8445452/1/What-Lurks-in-the-Labyrinth What Lurks in the Labyrinth]]'', where the main villain is unmasked and then forced to wear his costume at a cheesy tourist attraction.
** This is used as an actual punishment for two villains in ''The New Scooby-Doo Movies'' episode "The Haunted Horseman of Hagglethorn Hall" (TheOneWith [[Music/TheMonkees Davy Jones]]).
* In ''FanFic/QueenOfShadows'', this is how Hiruzen chooses to punish Hishu for his role in [[spoiler:Jade's escape attempt and subsequent near-death]]. Seeing how riddled with guilt he is, Hiruzen decides that that alone is fitting torment.
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12069854/1/Sort-the-Dragon Sort the Dragon]]'', Snape assures his students that should they ignore his warnings not to antagonize Harry Potter, he will not punish them, as Harry's response will be punishment enough.

[[folder:Film -- Live Action]]
* In ''Film/{{Striptease}}'', Shad wants to sue a dairy company by pretending he found a cockroach in his yogurt. His lawyer, Mordecai, keeps the evidence in his refrigerator, only to find after he's come back from meeting with the company and getting a settlement offer that his temporary secretary, Rachel, has eaten the yogurt. She worriedly asks if Mordecai is going to fire her, but Mordecai has something far worse in mind -- "I'm going to tell you exactly [[IAteWhat what you ate]]."

* There is an old joke that states that God's punishment for bigamy is [[AwfulWeddedLife having two wives]] (or two [[ObnoxiousInLaws mothers-in-law]]).

* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', two of the Lannister hostages try to escape from King's Landing by hiring on as oarsman. Tyrion Lannister suggests keeping them on the oars for a few years as punishment, but eventually decides against it as they can't afford to lose the hostages.
* In Creator/TheodoreSturgeon's short story "Vengeance Is", two men rape an academic's wife and he begs her to give in to them. He does so because he knows that she's the [[TyphoidMary carrier]] for a venereal disease that will soon cause them a painful death.
* In ''Literature/CodexAlera'', Fidelias's eventual punishment for [[spoiler:being a spy and pretending to be Valiar Marcus is to have to keep living as Valiar Marcus. An interesting case, in that this is as much a matter of pragmatism (making use of Fidelias's skills) and redemption (as [[BecomingTheMask Fidelias has grown during his time serving Octavian into a loyal and remorseful vassal]]) as punishment]].
* At the end of Creator/IsaacAsimov's story "The Dead Past", the government agents tracking down the protagonists for the crime of illegally building [[{{Chronoscope}} a time viewer]] arrive too late to stop them from [[CantStopTheSignal spreading the secret]]. After explaining to the protagonists that they've just abolished privacy (since the viewer can be set to see any place at any time from a century ago to a split-second ago), the agents rescind the arrest and leave them to live with the consequences.
** Of course, the agents might be ''running for their lives'', given that they admit to having caught the protagonists by using the time viewer as a surveillance device. And within a few weeks, the whole world is going to be turning their home time-viewers on ''them.'' And prior to that exposure, the biggest thing the government did was [[EnforcedTechnologyLevels ban "unregulated" research]].
* In Creator/CSLewis' ''Literature/TheGreatDivorce'', Hell's residents are very directly to blame for the Grey Town being as miserable as it is. By itself, it's just kinda drab, but the residents' sins that they refuse to give up causes strife and makes everyone unhappy.
** This is also seen in ''Literature/TheScrewtapeLetters'', where the Enemy ({{God}}) and the angels essentially tell the devils that if they ever understood love, the doors to heaven would be thrown wide open to them. Of course, [[EvilCannotComprehendGood the devils are so divorced from good]] that they don't get it and instead think of love as some sort of WeaksauceWeakness of God's, and so keep on suffering. Getting put in their 'Try to comprehend good' department is one of the worst jobs a devil could get.
* In the Creator/CarlHiaasen novel ''Literature/{{Striptease}}'', Shad wants to sue a dairy company by pretending he found a cockroach in his yogurt. His lawyer, Mordecai, keeps the evidence in his refrigerator, only to find after he's come back from meeting with the company and getting a settlement offer that his temporary secretary, Rachel, has eaten the yogurt. She worriedly asks if Mordecai is going to fire her, but Mordecai has something far worse in mind -- "I'm going to tell you exactly [[IAteWhat what you ate]]."
* ''Literature/TheRailwaySeries'': In "The Sad Story of Henry", Henry stalls in a tunnel (thus temporarily stranding his passengers) because he doesn't want to risk rain water spoiling his paint. He is punished for this by being bricked up and ''made'' to stay in the tunnel. For [[LaserGuidedKarma bonus points]], his stay actually causes his paint to be ruined far beyond what the rain would have done, thanks to soot and dirt from the tunnel roof.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** In no less than ''three'' storylines, the punishment for people seeking immortality was to become immortal. "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood" and "The Five Doctors" were both subversions of this trope, because [[FateWorseThanDeath extra punishments]] were added on, but in the other example, "Mawdryn Undead", the punishment for seeking immortality was nothing more than immortality itself.
** Additionally, when the War Doctor is planning to use The Moment to destroy the Time Lords and Daleks, he tells her that he has no intention to survive. The Moment, realizing he has a conscience, then decrees that surviving and living with the guilt of genocide will be his punishment.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'', Elaine eats a slice of cake from her boss J. Peterman's minifridge. Turns out the cake was a piece of wedding cake from a British royal wedding in 1936 and that it cost $29,000. When he finds out, she's afraid he'll punish her somehow. His response:
-->'''Peterman:''' Elaine, I have a question for you. Is the item still... with you?\\
'''Elaine:''' Um, as far as I know.\\
'''Peterman:''' Do you know what happens to a butter-based frosting after six decades in a poorly ventilated English basement?\\
'''Elaine:''' [[IAteWhat Uh, I guess I hadn't]]--\\
'''Peterman:''' Well, I have a feeling that what you are about to go through is punishment enough. Dismissed.
* In one episode of ''Series/RedDwarf'', Rimmer is put on trial for causing the deaths of the original crew. Kryten, as his defence lawyer, sums up his argument as "He's only guilty of being Arnold J. Rimmer. That is his crime, it is also his punishment."
* In ''Series/That70sShow'', Eric is preparing to go to Africa to become a teacher; at the same time, his parents finally find out about the regular marijuana use that he and his friends engage in. This leads to this comment from Red, "Well, this is the worst thing that you have ever done! Eric, I am gonna make you... I am going to... well, I can't think of anything worse than sending you to Africa. You're going to Africa!"
* In ''Series/TheWire'', a violent bully repeatedly accosts and robs Bubbles until finally Bubbles poisons a drug vial, figuring said bully will take it too and wind up dead. Instead a dear friend who is [[LikeASonToMe like a son]] to Bubbles gets ahold of it and dies from the poison. Bubbles immediately confesses to the police, and an InterruptedSuicide soon ensues where Bubbles tries to hang himself in the interview room. After saving Bubbles' life, Sergeant Landsman lets him off the hook, reasoning that the death was an accident and no punishment will be worse than having to live with the guilt. It's meant more as a [[PetTheDog benevolent decision]] by Landsman than as an actual punishment, however.
* On one episode of ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'', a man told Al that Peg was running around with his husband. He responded "Well, he's got what he deserved!" When reminded that what he got was Al's wife, he said "Let the punishment fit the crime!"
* In an episode of ''Series/EightSimpleRules'', Bridget tried to get her parents to agree with this when, after getting a job at a clothing store, she racked up a huge bill for clothes, then paid it off with the emergency credit card given to her by her parents. It didn't work -- she was still made to do work around the house to pay off the debt.
* In ''Series/TheFollowing'', teenage Ryan Hardy hunted down the drug addict who gunned his dad down robbing a convenience store, and forced him at gunpoint to OD on the drugs he bought with the money.
* On ''Series/{{Newhart}}'', the town's church bell is damaged. George, whose grandfather built the bell, lobbies to be the one to repair it, only for someone else to sweet-talk his way into doing the job instead. George defiantly sneaks into the bell tower to perform the repairs in secret. The town councilmen catch him in the act and enact a punishment for defying a council order. The sentence is community service, but since the bell is the only thing in the community that requires service, he's allowed to proceed.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode [[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS3E3TheSurvivors "The Survivors"]], the ''Enterprise'' crew encounter an alien entity posing as an elderly human man who committed genocide against a warlike species after they killed his human wife during an attempted conquest of the couple's colony. Picard decides the only thing they can do is to leave the immortal energy being alone. The ''Enterprise'' has no way to pass sentence on him, but he's already mad with grief over his wife's death and filled with remorse for his crime. His self-imposed isolation is its own sentence.
* ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}'' After [[spoiler:Artie]] kills [[spoiler:Leena]] under the influence of the astrolabe, this is what the Regents decide, although it's only really [[spoiler:Artie]] who wants to be punished; the others understand that it wasn't really his fault.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' pilot "The Cage", the Talosians finally decide that humans are untameable and release their captives. When Captain Pike objects to their lack of remorse for their actions, one of them points out that the failed attempt has quashed their final glimmer of hope ("Your unsuitability has condemned the Talosian race to eventual death. Is this not sufficient?").
* In an episode of ''Series/TheCosbyShow'', Vanessa gets involved in her first drinking game while at a party with friends, and wakes up the next morning with her first hangover. Clair says there will be no need to punish her, because what she's going through is bad enough...but they make her go to school that day, just the same.
* At the end of season 2 of ''Series/BurnNotice'', Michael has created enough trouble for the people who burned him that he finally gets a meeting with Management, where he demands that they stop interfering with his life. Management agrees - because at this point, the cops are looking for Michael and keeping him off of law enforcement's radar is expensive.

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* Many branches of Christianity teach that God's main punishment of sin is the ENJOYMENT of the sin committed. So many of our sins are easier to stop on day 1. This extends to Hell -- sinners are punished by giving them exactly what they want: separation from God, and everything that comes with it. Also part of a theological theory that unites the traditional FireAndBrimstoneHell with a SelfInflictedHell; if one can physically "burn" with [[SevenDeadlySins hatred and lust and pride]] here in this life, what's to keep anyone from ''spiritually'' "burning" with all the same evils in the hereafter?
* Several Christian faiths believe this is the case. The only reason God gives commandments is because He knows those courses of action inevitably lead to misery and destruction whether the law's enforcers ever catch up with you or not, and these inevitable consequences of your actions ''are'' the punishment. This is the meaning behind the famous Bible quote "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." Old Testament law merely fast-tracked some of these consequences in an effort to deter people from proceeding further down this road to ruin.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The FantasticNuke, as ''[[TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms Shadowdale]]'' put it:
-->'''Elminster:''' Spells of this sort are directly forbidden, although it is difficult to punish transgressors as they are usually dead before the spell reaches this stage!

* ''Theatre/AFunnyThingHappenedOnTheWayToTheForum'': "Suicide's illegal! The penalty is death!"
* Likewise in ''Theatre/TheMikado'', Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner explains why he refuses to be his own victim: "In the first place, self-decapitation is an extremely difficult, not to say dangerous, thing to attempt; and, in the second, it's suicide, and suicide is a capital offence."

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the backstory of ''Franchise/MortalKombat'', it's stated that the ElderGods punished Shang Tsung for [[YourSoulIsMine taking a soul]] with [[ThePunishment a curse which not only forces him to kill his enemies, but to take their souls as well]]. Only in this way would he hold off his grim fate: [[RapidAging to age rapidly]] and die prematurely. Unfortunately, this kinda backfires on them [[spoiler:when Shang Tsung absorbed Great Kung Lao's soul after the latter was deafeated by Goro, he also gained knowledge of Shinnok's whereabouts and gave to them Quan Chi in exchange for resurrecting Sindel. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Smooth move there, Elder Gods.]]]]
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', after finding Jacob's father in his loyalty mission and learning that he's ran a colony of spacecraft wreck survivors as his own personal fiefdom that's now falling apart, you have the Paragon option of radioing in an Alliance vessel to arrest him and bring him to face justice or the Renegade option of LeaveBehindAPistol. [[TakeAThirdOption A third option]] is to simply leave him where he is and [[DoWithHimAsYouWill let him deal with the mess he created]].
* Invoked in the ''VideoGame/{{Ultima}}'' series with the Armageddon spell. Players are warned that this [[SchmuckBait would destroy almost all living creatures]], but stops just short of telling players it [[UnwinnableByDesign makes the game unwinnable.]] [[spoiler:Subverted in ''VideoGame/UltimaIX'', where Armageddon is used to destroy the Guardian.]]
* A long-standing joke in the ''VideoGame/NetHack'' community is that the [=DevTeam=]'s "automatic and savage punishment" for pudding farming (exploiting an AsteroidsMonster for RandomDrops and corpses to sacrifice) is called "pudding farming". That said, after years of letting the strategy stand, the release of version 3.6.0 came with changes that {{nerf}}ed it into oblivion, implying that the [=DevTeam=] changed their mind at some point.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' episode "Larry-Boy and the Fib From Outer Space!" has a mild version. Junior's lies cause the Fib to grow giant. It grabs him and begins terrorizing the town. In the end, his parents decide the entire incident is punishment enough for lying.
* After ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' and Shego are released from Dr. Drakken's [[MindControlDevice mind control chips]] at the end of the episode "The Twin Factor", Kim decides not to bother capturing Drakken -- he'll be punished "ten times worse" when Shego gets her hands on him.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheBuzzOnMaggie'', Maggie went to see a PG-13 movie her parents forbade her from seeing and it ended up scaring her so much she was left traumatised. After Maggie confessed to her parents they decided her trauma was more than enough punishment.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' tried this once as an excuse to get out of being punished. It didn't work - he was still grounded.
* ''Literature/{{Franklin}}'' had an interesting subversion -- after Bear and Franklin got poison ivy rashes from taking an unapproved shortcut, they weren't punished, but they grounded ''themselves''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS3E8JustForSidekicks "Just for Sidekicks"]], Spike offers to petsit for the mane six -- solely because he wants to be paid -- and then neglects to actually look after the pets. This results in Spike getting put through the wringer and losing all the gems he was paid with. At the climax, as Angel tries to return to his owner, Spike apologizes for his neglect, prompting Angel to relent. Angel helps Spike evade the mane six and escape further punishment.
** [[DarkMagicalGirl Starlight Glimmer]] gets this invoked upon her when she pulls a HeelFaceTurn in the Season Five finale. Twilight Sparkle and the rest of the Mane Six don't punish her for all the trouble she caused throughout the season; instead, they just give her another chance at being Twilight Sparkle's pupil so she can learn about Friendship. This ends up [[CruelMercy eating at]] Starlight Glimmer in many ways, as throughout the following season, she continually struggles with her guilt and being very haunted [[BeAllMySinsRemembered by her evil past]].

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Creator/AmbroseBierce's definition of bigamy in ''Literature/TheDevilsDictionary'': "A mistake in taste, for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called 'trigamy.'"
* An Internet message board administrator once joked about the change in moderation policy to a much more laissez-faire one consisting of only deleting obvious trolling and spam as "Under the old system if you posted something ridiculous and/or offensive, the punishment was we'd delete your post. Under the new system the punishment is we ''don't'' delete your post." and made the point that leaving such posts up would also bring ridicule and ostracization to those who posted them rather than allowing for cover with them being deleted.
* After UsefulNotes/RichardNixon was forced to resign because of his corruption during the Watergate scandal everyone expected him to be put on trial. However, his successor, UsefulNotes/GeraldFord, simply pardoned Nixon for "any crimes he may have committed during his presidency", because he felt that "he had been punished enough." It was a controversial decision, which effectively cost Ford his own re-election, but the line of thinking did make sense. At that point, Nixon had been on TV for two years trying to deny the undeniable, ruined his entire reputation and would always be followed by the shame of being the first US president to resign to avoid Congress impeaching him. A simple imprisonment wouldn't be that much worse as a punishment and it would have kept the Watergate affair in the news for years to come. This would have been worse for the USA and its reputation abroad than it would have been for Nixon, though others contend it set a bad precedent for leaving people unpunished who had committed major crimes.
* Emacs and Vi are text editors primarily used for programming, and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Editor_war the rivalry between them]] is SeriousBusiness. It is said by the founder of the Church of Emacs that "Using a free version of Vi is not a sin but a penance," i.e., if you want to subject yourself to something ''so terrible'', go right ahead.