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
, and Comically Small Bribe
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 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.
- Ephialtes in 300 makes a few demands of Xerxes when betraying the Spartans, the last of which is a uniform. However, for him it's symbolically the most important: being born deformed, he can't be part of an uniformed army (the Spartans' tactics requiring each man to be of similar heights and builds so their shields overlap. Ephialtes can't lift his above waist level).
- Xerxes' herald asks the Spartans for a token gift of 'water' and 'earth' to avoid annihilation. Of course despite its trivial size, it is an enormous symbolic gesture.
- "Earth and water" in this case would translate to fertile Spartan territory. Xerxes was demanding a share of their land in exchange for not wiping them out. It would have no doubt been rejected if it was too small. Not at all symbolic really, just oddly worded.
- 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 thank 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!"
- 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...)
- 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.
- 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.
- Similarly, an episode of Justice League had Lex Luthor make a team of several other villains to take on the Justice League. Batman was captured by them, but managed to bribe a one of the villains ... by getting him permission to have some classical music in his jail cell.
- And in another episode Batman asks Circe what her price is to lift her spell from Wonderwoman. Circe's demand is "soul-shattering" - Batman must sing the blues for her.
- In one episode of The Simpsons, The Mafia is after Krusty because he didn't pay his debts to them. In the end, it turns out that the amount of money in question is just 48 dollars which he pays in hand.