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.
Live Action TV
- 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.
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 flabberghasted at Jerry giving her a taste of her own medicine, however, a fellow comedian praises Jerry, and even compares him to Rosa Parks.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- In the Saints Row universe, Luchador Masks are considered such Serious Business that a true Luchador would consider being publicly unmasked to be a Fate Worse Than Death. Killbane, one of the antagonists in Saints Row The Third was once part of a tag-team with Angel de la Muerte, but got sick of his partner being more popular than him and unmasked him, causing Angel to retire from the ring and become 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.