A Taste Of Their Own Medicine
A specific form of Revenge
, where a person receives the same bad treatment that they showed/were going to show to others. While it may
be the original victim who delivers the punishment, it can just as easily be a relative
or even a complete stranger
Superficially, this might look like Beat Them at Their Own Game
, but they are motivated by different factors and have a different meaning to the plot:
- Beat Them at Their Own Game is a survival technique. The person who successfully does it has proven that he can do whatever the other person did just as well.
- A Taste Of Their Own Medicine is a type of Revenge. The person who successfully does it has demonstrated why the other person should follow The Golden Rule.
The two tropes occasionally overlap, but, in general, try to list an example as one or the other. If you're not sure which it is, ask yourself whether the primary motivator is survival or revenge.
Contrast Hoist By Their Own Petard
, which is where a character's bad actions lead directly
to their downfall, with no second-party intervention. Often a form of Pay Evil unto Evil
. Can overlap with Laser-Guided Karma
if the character's fate is similar to that of his victims. See also Who's Laughing Now?
, which sometimes results from applying this trope.
- Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie: During his fight with Chun Li, Vega makes the mistake of cutting her cheek then taunting her by licking the blood off his claw. Bad decision. She pays him back... with interest. First, by hitting him square in the face by throwing the couch at him, followed by repeatedly kicking his face with her Spinning Bird Kick, then pushes him back down on the floor by stepping on his chest, so she could plant her barefoot on his cheek and perform a full pirouette on his face! And, yes, it's as awesome as it sounds (seen at 5:07-6:03).
- One Silver Age comic sees Superman travelling to the Fifth Dimension and using his powers to prank Mr. Mxyzptlk the same way Mxy normally pranks him, while Mxy (who's running for mayor of his hometown) desperately tries to send Supes back home.
- In The Philadelphia Story, Tracy pretends not to know that Mike and Liz are reporters and grills them about their personal lives, just as they were planning to do to her.
- Batman Begins:
- Batman quips 'Taste of your own medicine, Doctor?' as he gives Scarecrow a dose of the same fear-inducing toxin that Scarecrow had previously used to attack both Batman and Rachel.
- In a villainous example, the League of Shadows burns down Wayne Manor towards the end of the film, in retaliation for Bruce blowing up their headquarters after he betrayed them. One of the League members involved comments "Justice is balance. You burned my home and left me for dead; consider us even."
- In Dredd, Ma-Ma has three rival drug-dealers killed at the start of the film by dosing them with Slo-Mo (a drug which makes the user experience everything in Slow Motion) before throwing them from the top of the Peach Trees complex; when Dredd has her cornered at the end of the film, he decides to execute her by dosing her with Slo-Mo and throwing her through the window of her penthouse on Peach Trees' top floor.
- In Lucky Number Slevin, the mobster known as 'The Boss' orders a hit on Yitzchok the Fairy, the son of a rival mobster known as 'The Rabbi', because he suspects the Rabbi of ordering a hit on his own son. At the end of the film, Slevin murders both The Boss and The Rabbi by suffocating them with plastic bags, the same way they killed his father.
Live Action TV
- In the Mortal Engines series, towards the end of Infernal Devices Tom attempts to rescue Fishcake from Brighton during an attack by the Green Storm, but Hester flies their airship away and leaves Fishcake to fend for himself. Fishcake spends most of A Darkling Plain brooding over ways to get revenge on them for leaving him behind, but eventually settles for hijacking their only means of transport and leaving them stranded at Erdene Tezh.
Mythology And Religion
- Lampshaded on an episode of Seinfeld, in which after Kramer's Girl of the Week distracts Jerry while putting on a set for a reporter by laughing really obnoxiously, then heckling him, Jerry goes down to her office and heckles her back, hurting her feelings. Kramer is flabbergasted at Jerry giving her a taste of her own medicine, however, a fellow comedian praises Jerry, and even compares him to Rosa Parks.
- There's also the scene where he tells a telemarketer they've called at a bad time and asks for their home phone number so he can call back and continue the conversation when he feels like it.
- In Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Illustrious Client, Baron Gruner is left horribly disfigured after one of his former mistresses, Kitty Winter, attacks him with vitriol. The Granada Television adaptation portrays this as a revenge attack for an earlier incident in which the Baron had himself used vitriol to attack Kitty, leaving nasty scars on her neck and chest.
- Season 2 of Hannibal provides a horrifying example. After tormenting, murdering, and publicly displaying countless victims, Hannibal gets a taste of his own medicine in Mukozuke. Matthew Brown tortures and nearly kills Hannibal, and had Brown succeeded, Hannibal's corpse would have been on public display. Hannibal is narrowly rescued by Jack and Alana, neither of whom realize that he is a serial killer like his tormentor.
- In Greek mythology, Theseus encountered a bandit called Sinis who killed travellers by bending two pine trees and tying his victims between hem. Theseus killed Sinis by binding him between his own pine trees. When he met another robber called Sciron who forced travellers to wash his feet and then kicked them over a cliff to be eaten by as monstrous turtle, Theseus fed him to his own turtle. Finally, he met a robber named Procrustes. Procrustes would invite weary travellers to spend the night but would always claim the bed was either too long or too short for his guest. If the bed was too short he would cut the travellers limbs until they fit. If the bed was too long he would stretch his victims limbs till they fit. And if the bed was just the right size he would secretly swap it for his other bed in order to cut or stretch the victim anyway. Theseus cut off his feet and head with his own saw.
- Happens to the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35. The servant has one of his colleagues thrown in jail for failing to repay a small debt. His master, outraged, throws him in jail, reasoning that if the servant can't show mercy to others, he deserves no mercy himself.
- Used regularly by Looney Tunes protagonists such as Bugs Bunny. Perhaps most directly in "Rabbit Fire", after Elmer Fudd spends the whole short hunting Bugs and Daffy Duck, a new poster reveals it is "Elmer Season", with a very worried Elmer evading the two, now with hunting garb and rifles.
- In one episode of Family Guy, Peter's nemesis James Woods steals Peter's ID and assumes his identity, using it to assume Peter's place in the family and make Peter homeless. Peter gets revenge by using a forged ID to assume Woods' identity, then makes a completely tasteless film that ruins his acting career.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic IV the necromancer Gauldoth is wrongfully accused of being a child-murderer by the citizens of Vitross, and a town guard named Mardor tries to have him Burned at the Stake. Gauldoth flees from Vitross, but returns several months later with an army which he uses to besiege and capture the town. He makes sure Mardor is captured alive during the siege, and has him burned to death.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, The Legion attacks the NCR outpost at Searchlight by opening up an old radioactive waste dump within the town, turning Searchlight into an irradiated wasteland. In one quest you can undertake for the NCR, you have the option of destroying a Legion outpost at Cottonwood Cove by finding a toxic waste transport vehicle on a cliff overlooking the cove and making it dump its cargo into the outpost below. If you choose this option, the quest-giver compliments you on your sense of irony.
- Killbane in Saints Row: The Third is a Masked Luchador who was once part of a tag-team with Angel de la Muerte, but got sick of his partner being more popular than him and publicly unmasked him; Luchadors see losing their masks as a Fate Worse than Death, and Angel immediately retired from the ring and ended up a recluse. When The Boss and Angel take on Killbane during the Murderbrawl event, you're given the option of taking his mask after he's been defeated.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- In Oblivion, Malacath the Daedra Prince asks you to free some ogres that have been enslaved by a minor noble named Drad and are being used to mine ore. When the ogres are freed, they take control of Drad's estate by force and make him grow crops for them.
- In Night Falls on Sentinel, an in-universe short story in the series, the assassin Jomic describes his signature Pressure Point technique to a potential client. The 'client' in question is actually a knight with a warrant for Jomic's arrest, who subdues Jomic and then decides to use his own pressure points in order to torture him.
- Garrus from the Mass Effect series enjoys finding ironic ways to inflict this trope on criminals if the situation presents itself; such as sabotaging an environment suit worn by a saboteur and setting it to suffocate him, giving a drug dealer a lethal overdose of their own product, and offing a serial killer with a specialist knowledge of viruses by coughing on them. Subverted towards Saleon, a doctor who ran an illegal organ-cloning business; Garrus had a plan to kill him by harvesting his organs, but settles for simply shooting him when they finally meet.
- When Thaco was a prisoner of Dellyn Goblinslayer, Dellyn cut off one of Thaco's ears, and had it framed and displayed as a trophy on the walls of his quarters. When Thaco defeats Dellyn in a duel and has him at his mercy, he cuts off Dellyn's ear.. then throws it away in a display of both Cruel Mercy and But for Me, It Was Tuesday.
- An Alternate Universe version of Dellyn tortured and killed Forgath and Kin, only to be captured by their comrade, Minmax. Minmax used a crystal ball to teach himself Dellyn's torture techniques, and used them to torture Dellyn to death.