Someone with authority or power (or think they have) uses it to command or force people to do mundane or simple tasks for him/her.
Usually the person ordered may eagerly oblige, having expected a more serious and/or dangerous task or being threatened if refused, though possibly with initial disbelief.
Alternatively, it could be a mundane reward or offer from performing a service, especially if the people needing it are poor or even extravagantly rich.
The reasons for the mundane needs are:
If there is a series of demands, you can expect the last one
to be this.
When the boss sends people to do important things, then sends one to do something mundane, that's You, Get Me Coffee
Compare Mundane Wish
, Mundane Utility
, Comically Small Bribe
, and Disappointed By The Motive
Anime and Manga
- In 3×3 Eyes, Haan's requested payment from Yakumo for teaching him beast magics is ... to introduce him to a Japanese girl.
- Early on in Samurai Champloo, Mugen is approached by a Yakuza leader after outclassing every thug in town. The Yakuza boss gives him a job offer, promising Mugen anything he wants if it means he will sign up. Mugen's request? Cooked crabs.
- In StrikerS Sound Stage X, Jail Scaglietti's only request in exchange for vital information regarding the current incident is enough Belkan Red Wine for one so that he and the imprisoned cyborgs could honor the death anniversary of Due.
- In XXX Holic, an internet-addicted woman asks Yuko for help to break her addiction. Yuko then cleaves her computer in half with a baseball bat. For her services, she demands... her child's perfectly ordinary booster seat. Yuko explains later that since she charges exactly what her services are worth. So, all Yuko did was break the woman's computer - she can buy a new one at any time. If she had used magic to break her addiction instead of an object lesson, she would have to charge much more for her services.
- When Faith in A Jump To The Left tells Xander that she's been sent by the Mayor to keep him occupied for the night (with the implication that she's to have sex with him), Xander informs her that they could have accomplished that with a large pizza and a new release from Blockbuster.
- In Trolling the League, Cheetah thinks Naruto wants to have sex with her in exchange for turning her human again. Instead, he just wants her to wear a t-shirt claiming he "sucked the pussy right out of her".
- In the German movie Der Räuber Hotzenplotz (1962), Petrusilius Zwackelmann is a sorcerer who can theoretically do anything with his powers, but the one thing he can't do is peel potatoes, so he forces a captured boy he bought from Räuber Hotzenplotz to do it for him.
- The voted-out politician in RoboCop (1987) holds the city council hostage, demanding three things: "I want a recount. And then I want my old job back." Which would make the recount superfluous. And, of course, he also wants the new 6000 SUX that has reclining leather seats, goes very fast and gets really shitty gas mileage.
- Sneakers: at the end of the movie the protagonists are making demands of a group of NSA agents before giving back the "black box". The demands so far have included a Winnebago RV and a multi-nation vacation trip.
Carl: The young lady with the Uzi, is she single?
Martin: Carl. This is the brass ring. You gotta think bigger thoughts.
Carl: I just want her telephone number.
- Several Hume Lake films, such as We Like Sheep and Xenoviv, had a bonus Gainax Ending where one of the characters turned evil and killed everyone with an army of robots. After killing them all and piling their bodies into a huge stack, he'd climb to the top and yell "I'm the king of the world! Somebody bring me a pecan pie!"
- Infamously in Austin Powers, time-traveling villain Dr. Evil plans to hold the world ransom in exchange for "one million dollars!" However, he is then advised to up the amount to 100 billion dollars, because he was unaware that inflation had increased since the 60s.
- Inverted in the second film, where he returns to the 60s and demands 100 billion dollars, only to be informed that amount of money doesn't exist yet.
- Porter launches a one-man war against the Mob in Pay Back in order to recover the $70,000 his mafia-connected partner stole from him. Not in-and-of-itself a small demand. However, as the damage he is doing starts to add up and he finds himself dealing with multiple hits put out on him by more than one criminal syndicate, people start to become sure that Porter must be going after more than a mere $70,000. As one of the mob bosses exclaims when he finds out "What do you mean it's only seventy? Seventy thousand?! Hell, my suits are worth more than that!"
- Subverted in The Dark Knight; After the Joker is denied his phone call at the police station, he delivers a Hannibal Lecture to the cop watching him in order to provoke him into a fight, manages to defeat him and get his hands on a weapon, marches out into the station with the cop held hostage, and when asked what he wants says "I just want my phone call". The subversion is the call triggers a bomb.
- Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants: after shrinking Jerome Horwitz Elementary School and the people inside to hold them hostage from his Humongous Mecha, Professor Poopypants makes his first demand for a pencil from the reporter reporting on the incident.
- In Reamde, the middleman Wallace 'tasks' Peter with getting him a drink as a test: will Peter accept a junior role from him. Dodge happens to be watching and explains what Wallace is doing and why to Zula.
- In the children's book Big Max by Kin Platt, the King of Pooka Pooka offers Big Max a room full of diamonds, a room full of emeralds, or a room full of gold for finding Jumbo, his prize elephant. But when Big Max does find Jumbo (he was at his birthday party), all he asks for is a slice of the cake. (No wonder the illustration of Big Max's apartment doesn't have any furniture...)
- The Dresden Files:
- Near the end of Skin Game Harry asks the mercenary Goodman Grey how much he owes him. Harry had hired him to go along with Nicodemus' plan to rob Hades (for which Nicodemus was going to pay him 2 million dollars plus any loot Grey could grab from the vault they were hitting to which Nicodemus estimated could be about $20 million) then betray him, and they got into a fight with three fallen angels possessing dangerous entities and nearly been killed, before riding him miles through Chicago, so Harry is expecting the price to be something truly formidable. He charges him one US dollar. That's still more than he can give right then.
- In Cold Days, when he calls up Donar Vadderung (AKA Odin) for advice and some information, Vadderung says he'll give it to Harry in return for one favor (which is standard) and... a nickel, in reference to Lucy.
- Earlier, in White Night, Harry makes several demands of Lara Raith after saving her from a horde of monsters and exposing treachery within the ranks of her court, among other things. The first few demands are serious (she will stop her subordinates from systematically murdering practitioners of magic, and release a number of The Fair Folk she has imprisoned) — and then he asks for mouthwash, because he has "a funny taste in [his] mouth" from kissing her earlier as part of a spell. Her response is apoplectic.
- In Small Favor, Harry cashes in his favor from the Winter Court when faced with an incredibly power fae who easily dispatched a Fallen angel "like an uppity pixie". Harry's request? A cake donut with white frosting and sprinkles. Not only does the fae deliver the donut, it's warm and accompanied by coffee.
- Happens some times on the Discworld:
- In Guards! Guards!, after the Night Watch saves the... after the Night Watch is honored for saving the day, the city's Patrician, Lord Vetinari, asks them to name their reward. The guardsmen put their heads together and request a five-dollar pay raise, a replacement tea kettle, and perhaps a dart board.
- In Men at Arms, after Carrot learns of his royal heritage, he requests a private audience with Vetinari. Initially all Carrot asks for is a replacement dart board, but then it's subverted when he goes on to describe his ambitious plans for the expansion of the Watch. Since this is still less than he was expected to be asked for, and is of course good for the city, Vetinari agrees.
- In an episode of NYPD Blue a suspect promises to confess his crime (a rather grisly murder) for two 2-liter bottles of Coke. It has to be Coke though: not Pepsi, not RC, not Diet Coke.
- In one episode of Once Upon a Time, Rumplestiltskin gives Snow White the potion she's looking for and only takes a strand of her hair for payment. She has no idea why, but gives it to him. It turns out he needed it, along with a strand of Prince Charming's hair that he gets in a later episode, for a True Love spell.
- The New Statesman has a case of the demander simply being too stupid to understand what he ought to be asking; Piers Fletcher-Dervish has finally been given some actual power, and demands a bribe from Alan in exchange for information that has the potential to substantially increase Alan's (already considerable) wealth. After dramatically declaring that he wants his share of the dirty money floating around, he demands "One. Pound. Fifty... Cash!" Alan manages to keep a straight face as he "reluctantly" hands over the bribe, and Piers promptly grabs it as if he were afraid Alan was going to snatch it back.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade, a vampire who is owed a favor by another vampire will usually hold onto this debt for decades, using it only in the most dire circumstances. Occasionally, however, the vampire will let his debtor settle the accounts by doing some relatively minor task. In this case, the Comically Small Demand is actually an Insultingly Small Demand: essentially, the creditor is saying to the debtor, "You are so insignificant and worthless that this is all I think you're capable of doing for me, and it isn't even worth the effort to hold onto the favor for the future."
- In an episode of the Sam And Max cartoon the duo bust a terrorist group holding a TV studio hostage. The Terrorist's demands? To make the programming nothing but figure skating.
- On SpongeBob SquarePants, Barnacle Boy is tired of Mermaid Man treating him like a child, so he becomes a supervillain and forms a Legion of Doom. They eventually defeat Mermaid Man, and Barnacle Boy makes his demands. Instead of world domination (as Man-Ray suggested) or making Mermaid Man eat dirt (as the Dirty Bubble suggested), Barnacle Boy simply demands to be called Barnacle Man and to eat an adult-sized Krabby Patty, after which he reverts back to being a superhero.
- In one episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Superman needs the Parasite (still incarcerated after their first encounter) to drain the memories of a comatose criminal to find the location of a bomb. Parasite had one demand in exchange for his cooperation; cable TV in his jail cell.
- In a Justice League episode Batman asks Circe what her price is to lift her spell from Wonder Woman. Circe's demand is "soul-shattering" - Batman must sing a song for her in a night club, in front of an audience.
- In one episode of The Simpsons, The Mafia is after Krusty because he didn't pay his debts to them, with Fat Tony personally hunting him down with his men and later calling a world-wide search. In the end, it turns out that the amount of money in question is just 48 dollars which he pays in hand.
- In Family Guy, Death comes to collect Peter, but sprains his ankle, so Peter is forced to take over Death's job while Lois nurses him back to health. Lois takes the opportunity to ask Death to spare her husband; Death agrees, but says "you've got to do something for me." Lois hesitantly begins unbuttoning her shirt, only for Death to clarify that he only wants her to get him a fruit cup from the kitchen.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Pigeon Pete says he'll only help the turtles if they give him "a lot of bread", by which he means literal bread.