Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique / Literature


  • In David Eddings' The Elenium series, the Pandion knight order has a reputation for taking this to extremes when they want information. Their reputation is so bad that many captives will share every secret they've ever had over a single look. Which is exactly what the Pandions wanted, having apparently decided early on that true torture's too messy and unreliable compared to the fear a few well-distributed and colorful rumors could instill.
  • At one point in Warhammer 40,000, Haegr of the Space Wolves threatens to rip off a cultist's arms and eat them if he doesn't spill his guts. Unlike in most cases, it actually works with a space marine, since they can literally smell a lie.
  • Harry Potter:
    • According to Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Aurors during the first war were given permission to, and did, enact this trope. Given the Ministry's standard for due diligence and investigative competence, it is likely that a great many innocent people were tortured (such as Sirius himself, who was later sent to prison for life without trial). Retired Badass Alastor Moody was noted as having never done this in spite of being authorized to do so to make it clear that he's a good guy.
    • Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Particularly disturbing about this example is the light-hearted calmness with which she conducts these interrogations, to say nothing of the fact that they are practiced on children. And yet, the authorities don't punish her for anything until she collaborates with Voldemort.
    • Also, in the seventh book, the hired-by-Voldemort teachers have sanction to use torture on the students. In the same book, after it became apparent that one of the items that Mundungus Fletcher stole from the Black residence was Slytherin's Locket, Harry had Dobby and Kreacher abduct Mundungus Fletcher and they interrogated him pretty... emphatically (a frying pan was involved), to get the name of the person whom he sold the locket to. They later ended up scalding him after his description matched that of Dolores Umbridge, although that was more by accident due to shock than an actual interrogation technique.
  • In Honor Harrington, this is sometimes mentioned as the fate of any do-badders captured by the 'heroic' Star Kingdom of Manticore, often ending with summary execution.
    • At one point, a man is hired to legally murder the protagonist's boyfriend through a duel. He does so, and her friends track him down, and torture him until he tells them exactly what they want to hear (who hired him, mainly). They then set him up to die horribly in a duel with the protagonist (it is noted that the confession they got wouldn't hold up in court, but it does snap Honor out of her Heroic B.S.O.D.). He was planning to duel with (and kill) Honor anyway; she just provoked him into challenging her instead of the other way around.
  • In The Elric Saga, the Melnibonaens had refined torture to the point it was considered an art form, and it was apparently possible to earn a doctorate in it
  • Captain Azarcon admits to using this technique to get what he needs from pirates and war criminals. Even Jos once shoots a pirate in the chest in an attempt to make his buddies talk.
  • Worsel the Velantian and Nadreck of Palain VII of the Lensman universe go to town on captured Overlords of Delgon with the Delgonians' own torture devices. There are extenuating circumstances in Worsel's case - the Delgonians at one point used to systematically torture members of Worsel's race to death not only to get off on the suffering but also in order to drink their life-essence as they died, and had been doing so for thousands of years. When the tables are turned, nobody begrudges the Velantians their revenge. Nadreck on the other hand is a (literally) frigid-blooded entity who makes Mr Spock and Lt.Cmdr Data look like over-excited emo-woobies by comparison, and is so far removed from humanity both biologically and psychologically that he has NO concept whatsoever of suffering or mercy - all he cares about is getting the information he needs with the minimum of effort.
    • Earlier in the same universe, the psychopathic Herkimer Herkimer III captures Jill Samms and threatens to torture her for information by (among other things) planting flesh-eating creatures on her body. Subverted when the Lensmen get back in touch with her, locate her, and tell her to save herself the agony by giving him the information, because he's basically got less than a minute to live. One of her rescuers is very much in love with her (and she with him), and Herkimer's end is quite messy as a result.
  • Jack Ryan:
    • In Without Remorse, John Clark is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against a criminal group so he captures someone who is part of the group, shoved him in a boat, and drove back to his island home, leased from the Navy and stocked with all kinds of surplus gear. Like a pressurization chamber!! For the next ten hours, he uses it to put his captive at around 100 feet simulated depth, and to raise it when the man didn't answer his questions properly. By the time Clark had finished, every joint in the man's body was crippled, the insides of his eyes had burst, most of his muscles were (for all intents and purposes) one giant bruise, and he had the next best thing to a stroke. When finished, he drove the man back to the mainland and left him on the beach for the police to find: Blind, incoherent, and crippled, spending the next month in agony before finally dying.
    • Clark applies a slightly less brutal version in The Sum of All Fears to wring a confession out of two Arab terrorists who set off a nuclear bomb in Denver. There is a deadline involved - namely the threat of all-out nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR, and the technique used is finger breaking. Also subverted, in that the terrorists lie.
  • In Black Sunday, Kabakov wants a freighter captain to tell him whom he dealt with, and he refuses. So Kabakov tells the captain, "I'm going outside for a smoke." Kabakov turns to his assistant, and says "Mochevsky, I suspect the captain would like some refreshments. Call me when he has finished eating his testicles."
  • Utilized by Agent Stanley B. Goode to extract information from Dr. Wiley in The Tumbleweed Dossier.
  • Novak, the Anti-Hero of the zombie noir Undead on Arrival pretty much assaults everyone he's questioning. The trope is averted, since if you go back and look, everyone he strong-arms lies to him.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Used by Rose to interrogate Strigoi. She repeatedly wounds them with enchanted silver stakes, the only thing that really causes them lasting pain. The pain only stops when they spill the beans. Those with interesting information get to live, the rest are staked.
    • Used by Dimitri and Rose to interrogate Sonya Karp during her Strigoi faze. The method fails to produce any answers, as Sonya figures out that they are not going to kill her. She is their only lead in the mystery they are investigating.
  • In The Crowner John Mysteries, extracting confessions by torture is allowed by the law and the Sheriff never hesitates to use it (at least against those who do not have powerful connections). John himself believes that torture if barbaric and that a confession obtained through torture holds no veracity. However, he is not above allow his assistant Gwyn extract information through physical force (such as thrusting a squire's head into a frozen horse trough) if he thinks the situation warrants it.
  • In Banco, Papillon and his friends are beaten to a pulp by the police who are trying to get a confession to the pawnshop theft. The beatings go on for hours without a confession before the police decide to have them Locked in a Freezer, resulting in the Accidental Murder of Big Leon.
  • Aftermath: Life Debt: Sinjir specializes in this due to his days as an Imperial loyalty officer. He hates doing it now though.

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