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Cool and Unusual Punishment

Ford: If we're lucky, it's just the Vogons come to throw us in to space.
Arthur: And if we're unlucky?
Ford: The captain might want to read us some of his poetry first...

There comes a time in every adventure show when the hero must face torture. But beating and whipping is really dull for any self-respecting criminal mastermind. And more importantly, really dull for the audience, unless it's done so gruesomely that the Media Watchdogs complain.

Besides, why beat the hero when you can torture him with the most horrible thing in the universe... six hours of opera (Scare Chord)! Or six hours of laxative commercials, or six hours of the Ice Capades. Basically anything so bad that the Suckiness Is Painful. It would make anyone confess.

A variant is for the villain to do torture that is so ridiculous it would never work, but everyone acts as if it would.

And it's always fun when one character has such offbeat tastes that he or she enjoys the experience.

Typically, the form of punishment may be introduced as being harmless, only to be quickly revealed to be the opposite.

This is used most often in shows for kids, where showing the application of real torture methods would get the parents up in arms — especially when they find that they can't sleep afterward. Better to employ something ridiculous.

The Punishment is when this happens to give the sufferer super powers. ...why do people do this?

When the Cool And Unusual Punishment is loud music or annoying sounds, the trope is Loud of War. See also Tickle Torture.

May serve as a Take That. For when someone merely threatens to do something like this, see Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon. Compare Cruel Mercy and Mundane Afterlife. Contrast Poke the Poodle. Not to be confused with Unishment, when its the character who wants the punishment rather than the audience. When this involves sending somebody to a city, see Place Worse Than Death. Frequently follows the stock phrase "We Have Ways of Making You Talk!". Contrast Unishment.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • In Ah! My Goddess, Gadgeteer Genius Skuld accidentally botches one of Urd's potions, but she's too afraid to admit it because of Urd's "terrible punishment". Even when Skuld's beloved big sister Belldandy suffers hilarious side-effects from the potion, she still can't come forward. The cruel, horrible punishment?
    Urd: Good, good! Now make a robot that does nothing but go around in circles!
    Skuld: Noooo! Don't make me create robots that don't do anything useful! Pleeeeeease!
    • A later episode has Urd go further by forcing Skuld to look at a whole table full of useless machines just moving around after the latter committed a graver offense. Needless to say Skuld was wailing at the whole "spectacle".
    • In one episode, Sayoko tries to extract Belldandy's secret from Keiichi by letting snails crawl on his chest and smashing toy cars with a hammer. These are obviously ineffective, but she must have had some reason to believe they'd work.
      • Snails tend to be general Squick in anime (it's used in other anime too, usually with negative connotations). As for smashing the toy cars, she probably figured a car lover like Keiichi would react at the destruction of even their likenesses.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, the nation-tans try to punish France's April Fools' Day antics, but find that he's Too Kinky to Torture and would actually like a lot of the stuff they were coming up with. In the end, they successfully make him positively miserable by forcing him to praise everything English (yes, even England's food). The funniest thing? The one who suggested said punishment was Sweden, of all people.
    • Russia gets a chain letter, courtesy of Poland. And if he doesn't send it, his capital will become Warsaw.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball: When Emperor Pilaf captures the heroes, he tries to force Bulma to turn over the Dragon Balls by bringing her before him in shackles and...blowing her a kiss, in the assumption that she'll be utterly disgraced. Instead, Bulma is just confused and tells him that she expected other kinds of treatment... and Pilaf reacts with shock and disgust.
    • Also played straight much later, with Dabura, king of hell. When he ends up in the afterlife, king Enma sends him into Heaven instead. He breaks almost instantly, and all following cameos feature him espousing a love of peace, friendship, and flowers.
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World: Played straight by Jinnai with a feather duster on Ifurita.
  • In Heat Guy J there is a city-state called Magnagalia. Unlike Judoh, where the main plot takes place, Magnagalia has no capital punishment. Instead, criminals (usually murderers) convicted and sentenced to 100 years or more are genetically and surgically altered such that their head becomes that of an animal, so that when they look in the mirror they see this beast staring back at them. It's played seriously, but it's kind of hard to see it that way when so many of them get heads of really cool animals like big cats and wolves. Some of them even have superpowers.
    • Another example done seriously occurs between Clair and a patron of his casino who can't pay off his gambling debt. Clair seems to have worked out a deal with this man that if he can write suitably impressive poetry, he'll let the man go—but the man's poetry is terrible. Could be considered a deconstruction of this trope given how much the show lingers on the victim's terror and the implication that to Clair this kind of thing is normal.
  • Hell Girl is built around inflicting these to people. Forcing a Jerk Ass math teacher sent to Hell to recount Pi for all eternity is one of the milder examples.
    • After season 1 was over, there was a strange increase in cool-yet-lethal jokes Enma would play on her victims. You practically could get chocked on carbon dioxide because "whoops, wrong ingredients; I synthesized CO2 instead of oxygen for you. Well, sucks to be you".
  • Seen a few times in Keroro Gunsou. In one chapter of the manga, Keroro's penalty for submitting a late invasion progress report is being ordered to eat a bowl of shaved ice with his ears.
  • In Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer, this is the method of Icchan's punishments towards Ogata, whenever the latter gives the wrong answer to a question (things like, say, eating spaghetti through his nose, or shoving a live octopus down his pants).
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • Evangeline punished her Robot Girl servant by "winding her up" as a Running Gag. While it's played for comedy, some recently revealed subtext makes this seem slightly more unpleasant. See the page for details.
    • The punishment inflicted by Nagi to Evangeline herself: "damning" her to school.
    • The punishment for mages who break The Masquerade — being turned into an ermine for anywhere from six months to a few years.
  • Melty Blood: In the manga, Akiha's punishment for Kohaku attempting to take over the Tohno mansion (and wiping out the Tohno family's fortune in the process of mass-producing her Mech-Hisui army) is to invite everyone to a beach party - and Kohaku isn't allowed to change out of her heavy kimono and apron. She collapses approximately halfway through the day.
  • Umehito Nekozawa of Ouran High School Host Club is subjected to "evil beam" torture when he fails to act princely enough and returns to his old ways. The "evil beam" is but a wee flashlight, but it's torture to him. He has extreme photophobia (or better said, light sensitivity), thus the full-body hoods. It's played for laughs.
  • Pokémon:
    • One of the banned (outside of Japan) episodes featured Team Rocket torturing the Safari Warden, which quickly turned into an example of this. They made him listen to Meowth's singing, and the ultimate torture was a tickling machine. (During this, they had a gun!)
    • Butch and Cassidy tortured Professor Oak in one episode by scratching a pane of glass with a nail. It worked.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, Inui's Gargle Blaster juice is used as a punishment of sorts when his teammates screw up with training — it's too gross for anyone to stomach, except Fuji. And not even Fuji is immune to every single one of his concoctions.
  • Happens in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei when Abiru's father is (falsely) suspected of abusing his daughter. Nozomu follows him around as he goes shopping, and has an Imagine Spot (along with the store clerks that are warned about him) about every single thing he tries to buy used as a method of abuse (including bicycle pumps, erasers and manga.) Even the most straight-forward one (a frying pan) gets an unusual use in the anime, showing his father sliding across the floor and bonking her in the back of the knees with it.
  • Slayers
    • Xellos. Near-omnipotent in magical power due to being blessed by his master beyond any other mazoku (or demon), Xellos has proved himself capable of wiping out a flight of dragons by merely waving his finger. However, as a mazoku who feeds on negative emotions, he has a slight vulnerability to the positive ones. This was used at one point by Amelia, who together with Gourry and Zelgadis, led a joint "life is wonderful!" speech which left the powerful mazoku twitching in a corner, complaining about psychological warfare.
    • Much earlier, the sorcerer Zolf started hurling insults at a bound, gagged, and helpless Lina. All things considered, it was a lot more effective than real torture would be. And she still managed to burn him back pretty good.
  • Toradora!: As punishment for being a hypocrite, flirting shamelessly with Ryuuji and calling her out on her height, Taiga makes Ami impersonate 150 people and films everything. Imagining Michael Jackson as a tour guide on a bus was fun when the show was first made, but now that he's dead...
  • In the original manga of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Pharaoh would challenge do-badders to a Shadow Game (which were more like Saw-style life-or-death games) which often came with an unusual consequence for losing: a "Penalty Game", which would involve a tailor-made eternal torture, ranging from a greedy person having hallucinations of nothing but money, to a television network director getting his eyes mosaic censored. Technically, though, those penalty games were only inflicted upon those who cheated during the game�and they always did.
    • Yugi winds up on the receiving end of one of these when a punk rocker in an early manga chapter forces him to sell tickets to one of his concerts. When Yugi can't bring himself to do it, he's punished by having to listen to the guy's horrible singing voice.
  • In the second episode of the 1995 Final Fantasy OAV (Legend of the Crystals, based on the 5th game), Rouge captures Linaly, Valkus, and Prettz. She decides to subject them to "most horrible" tortures; they turn out to be pretty silly. While a Tickle Torture machine did give Prettz fits for a while, he breaks free (he'd met Rouge before and lacked any respect for her) and makes his way to rescue Linaly. Her torture? Eating prunes.
  • When Death the Kid in Soul Eater is captured, physical torture proves to be worthless and he instead amuses himself by seeing the frustration of his captors. Their response? starting doodling on his face asymmetrically or poking just one side of his body. The extreme OCD neat freak Kid can't take it.
  • Dirty Pair Flash: After one of their accidental atrocities (Yuri didn't mean to blow up that space station), the Lovely Angels are ordered to send each one of the 300,000 survivors a handwritten apology.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, a mightily pissed off Kurama subjects Elder Toguro to the horror of Janenju ("Tree of Depravity", "the Sinning Tree" in the English dub). The Janenju is a predatory demon plant that lures in its prey with hallucinations and then feeds on them until they die. But because Elder Toguro has endless regenerative abilities, he cannot die, and will thus spend eternity in a nightmare from which he will never awake. And the hallucination the tree used to lure him in? A battle with Kurama that he will never win. Ever.

     Comic Books  
  • Preacher: A rare hero-on-villain example occurs; Jesse uses his Compelling Voice to force Hoover to count three million grains of sand on a beach. (He originally told him to count every grain, although Hoover pointed out that was implausible.) The trope ends up being a subversion, however—Hoover takes the better part of a year to finish because the sand keeps blowing away, he grows emaciated and utterly insane from being unable to stop.
    • Because he's a real hero, though, Jesse sets things right when he realizes how horrible the idea was in practice—in the Voice of God, he says, "Well, hell. If it was that bad, just forget it." The incident wiped from his memory, Hoover happily leaves, restored to full mental health and beyond...
      Hoover: "Hello, birds! Hello, sky! Hello, people passing by!"
  • The comic The Tick and its various spin-offs used this one repeatedly, but most notably so when Heather, girlfriend of "Crime Cannibal" (aka. Keith), was kidnapped and tortured.
    Heather: "Keith. Thank god. They made me watch Beastmaster II over and over. And Dolph Lundgren was next."
    Keith: "You monster!" [tosses criminal through the TV set.]
  • In the Star Trek: New Frontier miniseries Turnaround, Zak Kebron spends the course of two issues showing Romulan Centurion Lucius his family's vacation slides. Lucius takes it for an interrogation technique (and breaks rather quickly), but Kebron claims that he's just "being sociable." By the time Captain Calhoun comes for him, Lucius wishes he'd simply let Kebron crush his head earlier.
    Lucius: Is torture an option here?
  • In Deadpool #9, not only is Deathtrap intending to kill Deadpool by crushing him with a giant teddy bear that will fall on him at a rate determined by how much Deadpool talks, but also Deadpool fears this when Deathtrap presses play on a tape player and Deadpool says, "If you have a Raffi tape in there, someone's gonna bleed."
    "Interesting. Teddy's approaching ramming speed."
  • The titular character in Léonard le Génie is a master of this, often punishing his assistant in painful but hilarious ways for such slights as sleeping late, being clumsy, or insulting his master. Yes, Leonardo is a Bad Boss, what clued you in?
  • The pointy haired boss in Dilbert punished Wally's lack of performance, by forcing Wally to watch him eat!
    • There have been several times in which Phil, Prince of Insufficient Light has "darned" someone to "Heck", sentencing them to no change in their situation whatsoever. But then for most Dilbert characters, that's certainly a horrible thing to do.
    • In an infamous strip, Wally suggests wearing an "uncomfortable hat" as compensation for working from home one day a week. The pointy haired boss approves, but adds that it "has to be really uncomfortable". The last panel shows a purple-faced Wally with out-of-place glasses sporting a C-CLAMP as hat.
      Wally: The joke's on him! It isn't that uncomfortable.
  • In Tank Vixens, Üdda von Schteppenslammer tortures some of the vixens by forcing them to watch Barney.
  • In Marvel Adventures: Superheroes, Iron Man finds out why "Kree Karaoke" is considered an extreme sport: if the judges don't like you, they hit a gong and drop you into the "Kitten Cacophony" pit, deafening you for some time.
  • From Marvel Comics, the D-List villain Mathemaniac can neutralize opponents by causing them to accurately perceive how vast space really is.
    • Probably inspired by the Total Perspective Vortex described below.
    • The Phoenix did it too. To Mastermind.
  • In one issue of Captain America, the enormously obese Miami drug lord Ulysses X. Lugman, aka the Slug, punished an underling who had messed up at a yacht party by dunking him in a Jacuzzi that his other henchmen had filled with actual slugs. (The guy got off easy; when Lugman gets really angry at someone, he's been known to asphyxiate him in the folds of his flesh.)
  • In Astonishing X-Men, we have the telepath Emma Frost:
    Emma Frost: You feel no pain. You will go straight to a hospital. Remember nothing of this place. And every time you hear the words "parsley", "intractable", and "longitude", you will vomit uncontrollably for 48 hours.
    Cyclops: Nice work, X-Men... My girlfriend is very weird.
  • Those who read Mortadelo y Filemón (a Spanish comic book that parodies spy films such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) will see this trope being done at least once per story, either to make them accept to be guinea pigs to Bacterio's inventions, to make them do things that they would not do save under duress or due to botching up their mission. Examples include: being forced to watch ALL of Chuck Norris' TV films; being forced to see a whole season of a TV series that has been written by their boss; being forced to eat something that is not normally eaten (books, bowling balls...); being forced to hear a particularly horrible song so many times that they go mad; being forced to see the State of the Country Address several hundreds of times (hilariously played with in the El ordenador... ¡Qué horror!)... and so many more that makes you laugh with how inventive Ibáñez gets in each comic book.
  • An issue of Incredible Hercules had Phobos showing Pluto his worst fear: care bears and My Little Ponies... then he threatened to bring on the children's rock band. Pluto cracked.
  • In Empowered volume 1: When the Caged Demonwolf mocks Thugboy for being pussy-whipped, Thugboy gets revenge by making the Demonwolf watch Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood all night long.
  • Dori Seda wrote a story about hell. John Belushi has to make Adolf Hitler, Marquis de Sade and Albert Fisk laugh. John Wayne is married to Oscar Wilde. And Moe Howard is forced to watch My Dinner With Andre forever.
  • Judge Dredd: During the reign of the mad Chief Judge Cal, two Judges ordered to keep Dredd captive let him get away, and fear that Cal will do something horrible and possibly lethal to them as punishment. When Cal shows up, though, the two Judges have donned baggy women's dresses, and claim that they were ordered to do it as punishment by Judge Fish, Cal's most trusted Judge and friend, as well as an actual goldfish whose sapience and capacity for authority and law doesn't exist outside of Cal's insane mind. Cal decides that it would look bad for command integrity if he were to gainsay Fish's decisions, so he lets them off the hook.
  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers had a story arc with them moving to the country with three women. When Fat Freddy takes the female side in a square-off, his two friends grab him and 'persuade' him to change his position. The women can only hear his cries of anguish until they capitulate - and we see Freddy has been tied up while his friends eat all their food just out of reach.
  • In the German Lindenstrasse comic, when the character (apparently in the comic, the series is more like reality TV) gets forced to make an election ad praising Helmut Kohl, she imagines binding him to a chair and not giving him any food for at least 3.5 hours or so.
  • Superlópez: In Los Alienígenas, captured alien spy Xonxa boasts that her shape-shifting species is virtually unkillable:
    Xonxa: Our bodies are like rubber! My people only die of old age or boredom.
    Superlópez: Funny you should mention that: we happen to have this big collection of Manolo Escobar films...

     Fan Fic 
  • In The Lion King Adventures, as opposed to execution or imprisonment, tickling is used as a punishment in the Pride Lands. Zazu falls foul of this in The Royal Challenge.
    Nala: How come the Pride Lands don't kill people as a punishment? Why do they tickle you instead?
    Mufasa: Do you know how unpleasant it would be to kill people every time they broke a rule? Tickling is a far more suitable punishment. It takes a lot longer, for a start. And it lasts for however long you want it to. Unless, of course, I sentence someone to death by tickling.
  • "An Unusual Punishment" featured the cast of Digimon being forced to read very bad Digimon fanfiction....
    • There are probably a lot of "characters-MST3K-fanfic-of-themselves" fics you could apply this to, depending on which of them actually explain why the characters are sitting around mocking fanfic.
  • "It's For A Good Cause, I Swear!" Sasuke's torture of choice when using Tsukyomi on Orochimaru in the Forest of Death? Seventy-two hours of being dragged around to go shopping by Sakura and Ino.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts fanfic Those Lacking Spines, Vexen is tortured with the LazyTown cake song, and his cake phobia afterward becomes a Running Gag. His torturers first try "It's a Small World After All", but he's half-Disney, so the song has no effect.
  • In One Thing Leads to Another, Beast Boy offers Raven a back massage after their first date and she says that if his hands will stray, she will send him to "another dimension - one where there are no females to give back massages to and no video games, and the only thing on TV is constant reruns of Barney the Dinosaur". He acts properly scared.
  • In Chapter 18 of the ''Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic'' fanfic Yet Another Kotor Parody, Saul Karath tortures RGN, Carth, and Bastila by reading them awful poetry.
  • In chapter 10 of ''Friends In High Places'' Dennis Sterling, a retired Imperial Navy intelligence officer, recommends the use of an old Yoko Ono recording as an aid to interrogation. "I must confess," Dennis continued, "that I've found a roll of duct tape, a high quality audio headset, and one of her early recordings to be quite useful when questioning a prisoner."
  • From An Entry With A Bang:
    "Repeating what I am about to tell you will result in sanctions including but not limited to removal of rank, discharge from the Global Defense Initiative, and a very, very, very long time in a very, very, very dark hole. Understood?"
    Dansel nodded. Yes. It must be Tuesday then. On Wednesdays they threaten me with reading bad fanfiction about my life.
  • In the FusionFall fic Haywire Ben Tennyson's evil genetic double Albedo (who hates humanity and is a misogynist to boot) is the only one that can save Ben's life; naturally, he won't cooperate unless they capitulate to his ridiculous demands despite being offered generous payment and not being turned over to the Space Police. To make him compliant, Professor Utonium gets... creative by hosting an insanely cutesy tea party in Albedo's cell with Bubbles, Dee Dee and Sarah while the girls play movies of an annoying My Little Pony Expy as they shove sugary foods down Albedo's throat and paint his fingernails. It's almost too much for Albedo to take, but he resists... until Utonium brings in Number Three. Dexter even calls it "cruel and unusual punishment" as he compliments his adoptive father on raising the bar for said punishment.
    Kevin Levin: Dude, that is harsh.
    Utonium: He had his chance.
  • In The Official Fanfiction University Of Middle-Earth, one punishment involved having to write lines in "Urple" ink, Urple being a colour described as a combination of pink and purple in the worst possible way. It's very hard to write when looking at the ink is painful. Or listening to Bombadil poetry for a whole day.
  • An absolutely hilarious example in the Tamers Forever Series:
    Takato: IF YOU DARE FINISH THAT SENTENCE I'LL...
    Chaos: What? What will you do?
    Takato: I'LL...I'LL TAKE A PILL OF PROZAC!
    Chaos: You wouldn't dare!
    Takato: OH, YES I WOULD!
    Chaos' silence was enough of an answer, he had won that one.
    Ruki: 'ut at what price...Prozac, Takato? That's just sick...
    Takato: Shut up and let me enjoy this victory...
    Chaos: while it lasts...
    Takato: I thought SOMEONE was supposed to shut up!
  • This scene, from the Bleach fic Uninvited Guests:
    Gin: Hmmmm... what's that? Looks like a pimple.
    Yumichika: NOOOOOOOO!
    Gin: Oh, geez, are those split ends? Man, your hair is so dry and stringy. It looks awful.
    Yumichika: LIAR! LIAR AND MURDERER!
    Gin: No, I'm serious. It's like straw or something, it's so dry and desiccated. Although i suppose it helps to take attention away from how bulbous and huge your nose is.
    Yumichika: You... you monster...
    Gin: I'm surprised you can see that i'm a monster, what with how puffy your eyes are.
    Yumichika: No... please... please stop...
  • Referenced in the Neon Genesis Evangelion/Ghost Rider crossover Burning Vengeance with this exchange:
    Yui Ikari: Not that I'm complaining, but how did you convince a literal sex demon to get me a wardrobe this tasteful?
    Mephisto II: As I keep saying, I'm the King of Hell, damnit! When I give someone a direct order which isn't all that often, really they obey it or risk a brutal punishment.
    Yui: But how the hell do you punish a sex demon who's into every single fetish at once?
    Mephisto II: Two words: Enforced. Abstinence.
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Quirrell, during a brief stay in Azkaban, manages to break the Auror watching him by humming.
    And this horrible, horrible humming is impossible to ignore. It is similar to a known lullaby, but it departs from that pattern unpredictably. It sets up expectations and then violates them, never in any constant pattern that would permit the humming to fade into the background. The listener's brain cannot prevent itself from expecting the anti-musical phrases to complete, nor prevent itself from noticing the surprises.
  • In A Bad Week at the Wizengamot Fudge was kicked out of office by the EMU and Sirius became Interim Minister. One of his proclamations concerned the introduction of a "Truth in Government and Media Initiative." Part of the punishment for second offenders among the media was being forced to spend three months writing an "advice to the lovelorn" column called "Dear Hecate," while third offenders' punishment included a hundred hours of enforced viewing of the Jerry Springer Show.
  • This MLP:FIM comic has Diamond Tiara being toutured by Nightmare Moon. By being forced to eat mashed alfalfa.
  • In Escape the Hokage's Hat, Jiraiya makes Homura and Koharu perform a 100 D rank missions, and if anyone interferes they have to start all over again. Aside for the fact the two are really old and these missions include digging for potatoes and retrieving a very aggressive cat nearly daily, they don't get payed.
  • In Broken Bow 3, Apollo gets back at Armani by making him read Twilight. Armani averts this by tricking Artemis to read it... all while evilly cackling internally.
  • In Rocking the Boat Voldemort noticed Bellatrix Lestrange looking expectant during a punishment session and promptly announced that her punishment would be to not torture or kill anybody outside of missions for a month, cause no collateral damage during missions and heal and release the prisoners every morning.
  • In Shadow Snark, the titular characters small harmless stick.
    Pinky: my one weakness!
  • In the Once Upon a Time fanfic "Siren," Emma successfully makes Hook stop pressuring her to sing a song with the threat: "Hook, if you don't back off and get moving right the hell now, the only song you're gonna get from me is '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.' And I will sing it off key, and so help me, I will deliberately miscount."
  • Earth and Sky: In the penultimate chapter, Celestia finally has the Flim-Flam Brothers brought into custody for all the chaos they've caused, and proceeds to break down crying, sincerely ashamed of what subjects of hers have done. Compared to seeing their beloved ruler in tears, Flim and Flam gladly accept a sentence of twenty years' hard labor.
  • In Empire James and Lily Potter's magical self-updating will bequeaths to Dumbledore a bag of "Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans But Lemon Drop."
  • In Hand Delivered Letter Peeves was throwing rocks at the first years and the Bloody Baron announced that his punishment was to spend the next month with Moaning Myrtle.
  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
  • Several examples in Diaries of a Madman, though Celestia awarding Nav a garish suit of armour and dressing it up as a reward is probably the largest example.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Thousand Year Door Redux, Vladimir, who is being held hostage by Count Bleck, questions why he's telling his minions to simply "restrain" Stan, Francesca and Andy:
    Vladimir: Restrain them? Seriously, Bleck, that's the first time I've ever heard a dark wizard tell his goons to do anything to the good guys other than 'kill them'. Maybe you're just not cut out for this.
    Bleck: Think I'm not being evil enough? Maybe I want to take them alive and then torture them� Maybe sting them with scorpions? Shock them with electricity? Force them to watch game shows?
    • Actually, he's being sarcastic, and the real reason is far more complicated:he wants them as witnesses when he puts his true plan in motion.
  • In Naruto: life is a Game, Itachi traps Hidan's mind in a world full of loudly singing Nyan cats for seventy-two hours.
  • The Twilight Child reveals what Pinkie did to her friends after they tried to eat the MMMM (which in this fic also includes Applejack). She takes them to one of the nicer restaurants in Ponyville and buys them a cake. A very large cake, one for each of them. Every time one of them starts feeling like they're full, Pinkie smiles at them.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Sweet threatens the dirt-loving geologist Mole with soap if he doesn't leave Milo alone.
  • At the end of Toy Story 2, Stinky Pete the Prospector ends up being stuffed into a child's backpack full of damaged Barbie dolls (freaking out because he'd valued his mint-in-box condition). It's revealed sometime after that film's events (in an extra that was on the web site but sadly is gone and not on the DVD), Pete comes to enjoy his new life because it means he's being played with— the true purpose of toys.
    • And in Toy Story 3, Barbie tortures Ken by ripping his clothes until he talks. It works.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph wants some information from Sour Bill, a jawbreaker. But when he won't talk, Ralph licks him. After he still refuses to talk, Ralph puts him in his mouth and sucks on him for a bit. That gets Sour Bill to tell Ralph what he knows. Granted the threat is basically being slowly eaten alive, so we'll excuse him for being terrified.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Full Metal Jacket, the gunnery Sgt. finds a jelly donut in "Private Pyle's" footlocker. One would think he'd sentence him to extra PE, but instead he forces "Pyle" to eat the donut and watch his teammates be subjected to grueling exercises. They weren't very happy with him. Later (after many such group punishments, though) he gets tied down to his bunk and beaten with bars of soap in socks by the entire platoon.
    • It's rather brilliant in retrospect, making him an outcast out of the otherwise rather tight platoon.
  • In The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Adam threatens to sing after being locked out of the bus. He carries through with the threat but is unsuccessful and spends the night outside.
  • In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, the method Dreyfus used to torture the professor's daughter was by scratching a chalkboard with a huge metal gauntlet.
    • This also happens, likely as a parody, in one episode of TaleSpin
    • And in a "Marvel What-The" parody, with Wolverine putting his claws to good use against the Punisher.
  • When the titular character of Ace Ventura attempts to interrogate the bad guy not really the bad guy, he pulls out a sharp knife and a fork, rubs them together menacingly... and promptly proceeds to scratch them together on an empty plate in an extremely annoying way which, almost understandably, causes the victim to grimace in pain. When that fails to break his will, Ventura proceeds to lean over the victim, and pushes his own eye in its socket in a rather disgusting way, making the bad guy shout out "Uggh, stop it! My brother used to do it to me!" This finally gets him to spill the beans on the Evil Plan.
  • The "Fistful of Yen" sequence in The Kentucky Fried Movie includes a CIA agent who responds defiantly to the villain's every threat- but turns yellow when he learns what'll happen to him. "Take him to Detroit!" In the Spanish dub, he's taken to Madrid instead.
    • The line is translated in the German dub as "Wir schicken dich zur strafe nach Zürich!"English translation 
  • In the incredibly bizarre Mexican Santa Claus, Satan threatens to force Pitch to eat ice cream should he fail in his mission against Santa.
  • The Addams Family Values. The Harmony Hut.
  • In Spaceballs, Dark Helmet uses Princess Vespa to force her father to give the combination to his planet's air shield. He threatens to use a plastic surgeon to restore her old nose.
  • Top Secret!. Nick Rivers is being interrogated.
    Colonel: He won't break. We've tried everything! ...Do you want me to bring out the Leroy Neiman paintings?
    General: No. We cannot risk violating the Geneva Convention.
  • In Dogma, in punishment for defying God, Bartleby and Loki are forced to live for all eternity in Wisconsin. It was going to be New Jersey, but God wasn't going to be that horrible.
    • Additionally, in one of the deleted scenes, Azrael mentions that one of Hell's punishments is watching Mrs. Doubtfire several times in a row.
  • Woody Allen used this trope, a lot. Examples include:
    • Take the Money and Run: Being locked inside "The Box" with an insurance salesman.
    • Bananas: Being forced to listen to Naughty Marietta.
    • Zelig: Leonard's parents often locked him in a closet as punishment. When they were really angry, they got in the closet with him.
    • Sleeper: Apparently, the worst criminals were forced to watch Howard Cosell as an extreme form of punishment.
  • In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, in addition to sending him to London Tower, King Richard punishes the treacherous Prince John by naming all of the toilets in England after him.
  • In the John Candy movie Delirious, Candy's character uses Reality Warper powers to remove Robert Wagner from his immediate vicinity (rather than killing him)... by sending him to Cleveland. He later returns:
    Candy: But I sent you to Cleveland!
    Wagner: I know. I should kill you for that alone.
  • In Dude Wheres My Car, the Jesse and Chester are arrested and brought to the police station for interrogation. Once in the interrogation room, in order to coerce them into talking, the detectives bring in a mannequin and begin beating it. This proves unbearable to Jesse and Chester.
    "Leave him alone, he doesn't know anything!"
    • Near the end of the movie, the alien protectors of the Continuum Transfunctioner plan to punish the (other alien) thieves by banishing them to Hoboken, NJ (though they never get the chance).
    • Actually, only one of them is upset by the mannequin beating. The other one thinks the cops are nuts. He's right.
  • This is how the plot gets rolling in the first The Mighty Ducks movie. Jerkass lawyer Gordon Bombay is arrested for drunk driving - but because he's been such a jerk to so many in the legal profession, including the judge that hands him his sentence, he's forced to coach the titular peewee hockey team as his community service.
  • J-Men Forever (1979). A Nazi torturer threatens to make American agent Spy Swatter (a Gag Dubed Spy Smasher) "listen to Donna Summer all winter, until you fall."
  • In One, Two, Three, the communist who married the daughter of Coca Cola's CEO is being tortured in East Germany... by being forced to listen to "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini" on repeat for hours on end. He writhes in pain. (He's finally driven over the edge when they start playing the record on an off-center hole.)
  • From The Last Boy Scout:
    Milo: Just once, I would like to hear you scream in pain.
    Joe Hallenbeck: Play some rap music.
  • At the beginning of Super Troopers, Ramathorn and Rabbit pull over a car of young stoners high on marijuana and 'shrooms. As punishment, Ramathorn wants to watch them while they smoke a whole plastic bag of reefer. We are never shown if they end up doing that, as Mac chooses this moment to drive by at high speed on an impounded car. After they catch up with Mac, they come up with a different punishment: Mac pretends to shoot the other cops (he's dressed in civvies) then takes their cruiser for a ride, along with the scared trio of stoners.
  • Hook has the Boo Box. Which may be full of scorpions. Or just one.
  • The Knights Who Say "Ni" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would torment people with their Catch Phrase ("Ni!") until they caved in to their demands.
  • Mouth to Mouth: The punishment for stealing wine is chewing and swallowing six chillies. It's more painful than it sounds.
  • In Casper's Spooky Christmas, Casper's failure to scare anyone results in Kibosh, the King of Ghosts revoking the Ghostly Trio's Scare Licenses and banishing them and Casper to Kriss, Massachusetts, the "most Christmassy place on Earth". Why? Because the Trio hates Christmas! (Casper doesn't get off scot free, however. If he can't scare someone by Christmas Day, the punishment will be far worse...)
  • In Men of Honor when Carl Brashear arrives at the Diving and Salvage School he sees a soldier standing on a pedestal with his pants around his ankles, banging a cooking pot with a wooden spoon and shouting "I! Stole! A Pot! I! Stole! A Pot! I! Stole! A Pot!" over and over.
  • Saving Mr. Banks - P.L. Travers acts punished in this way through most of the movie.
    "What horrors do you have in store for my beautiful characters today?"
  • One word: Barbarella. Excessive Machine. Hey, Durand Durand wants to kill Barbarella that way, so it is a punishment. Now stop insisting "I want to change places with her!"
    • If there is something like a "spy porn" genre, torturing the heroine (or the villainess (or both)) with multiple orgasms until she dies (or blows the secret (or both)) must be a staple thereof. Example: A softcore James Bond parody where the Big Bad tortures his Mookess who had a High Heel-Face Turn using a giant python. (Of course nothing is actually shown.)
  • In Idiocracy, Joe is sentenced to a single night of rehabilitation for failing to save the world. This seems to be a fairly mild punishment, until he finds out that 'rehabilitation' is essentially a public execution by means of insanely oversized monster trucks sporting flamethrowers, giant drills and other nasty weaponry.
  • Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the Hashi, a torture chamber to which Splinter sends the Turtles for misbehaving. Punishments to which the Turtles have been subjected include knitting, playing ping pong while balancing on a board, doing handstands on a wooden chair, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But what gets them to spill the beans about what they were doing above ground is a description of the cheese ingredients on a supposedly ultra-rare cheese pizza.

    Jokes 
  • A writer dies and St. Peter gives him his choice between heaven and hell. He's shown hell and all the writers are chained to desks and being whipped to write faster. He says no, and asks to see heaven. In heaven all the writers are, again, chained to desks and being whipped to write faster. Frustrated, he asks St. Peter what the difference is. "Oh, in heaven you get published!"

    Literature 
  • The Divine Comedy — particularly the Inferno, but to a lesser extent also the Purgatorio — was filled with punishments specially tailored to the sins of the sufferer.
    • In the case of Purgatorio the repentant sinners are often practicing the virtue opposed to their sin (thus, the Envious have their eyes sewn up so they can't see and covet, while the Gluttons have to starve themselves and run around a lot, in much the same way that repentant gluttons do in Real Life.)
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Prufrock Preparatory School revels in this trope. Punishments for breaking the school's rules include removing your rights to forks, spoons, glasses and knives at the cafeteria. And if you miss one of the vice-principal's violin concerts, you are required to buy him a bag of candy and sit in his office watching him eat it all. It's hinted at being more depressing than it sounds, since the vice-principal is such a jerk.
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe features the Total Perspective Vortex, which shows you how large the universe truly is, and how very very small you are.
    • Subverted by Zaphod's vision that yeah, he really IS the most important and cool guy in the universe. And then reverted when it's revealed that he was in an artificial reality, built just for him, so naturally he was the most important person in it.
    • And, as indicated by the page quote, Vogons use their own poetry as torture. Vogon poetry is sufficiently awful to elicit screams of pain, and could legitimately be regarded as torture. However, Arthur Dent doesn't seem to be particularly bothered by listening to it, which perhaps has to do with the fact that his own planet had the worst poet in the universe (at least until the Vogons demolished it).
  • In Douglas Adams' The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Norse god Odin punishes Thor by making him count all the stones in Wales.
  • The newspaper columnist Dave Barry used this trope in a number of columns. Typical example:
    Judge: I sentence you to two hours of modern dance.
    Defendant: No! Not modern dance!
    Judge: Be quiet or I'll throw in the performance artist who protests apartheid with a tub full of rigatoni.
    • In another column he suggested using some of the "overly affectionate turtles" on them.
      • Another has him suggest what would be the most effective punishment of unruly juvenile delinquents: listening to their parents sing. Hey, it worked with Billy Joel's kids.
  • A Russell Baker column suggested what he really considered painful and condign punishments for the Watergate conspirators — such as sentencing them to ten years of high school. ("You can't do this to me, Sirica!")
  • For altering the ending of Jane Eyre, Thursday Next is sentenced to wear gingham for twenty years and must read the ten most boring books ever written before she dies.
  • In Daniel Pinkwater's book The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, the villain tortures people by forcing them to watch German comedy. Naturally, the character he kidnaps actually likes German comedy.
    • It is also mentioned that the same villain once tortured another character by suspending them in a vat of egg foo yung.
  • The Canterbury Tales: In The Wife of Bath's Tale, a knight is to be executed for raping a woman, but the queen decides to spice things up a little bit. If he wants to live, he has a year and a day to...discover the one thing women really want more than anything else. ... ... On Second Thought... (In case you're wondering, the answer is "power over their husbands". This was the Middle Ages.)
    • In "The Summoner's Tale", a cruel friar is extracting money from a poor man and his family. As revenge, the poor man promises to give him what he has hidden underneath him to divide among the friars. He ends up farting into the friar's hand...and then, because the deal had been made, he has to fart in the faces of all the friars, proving that tasteless humor is Older Than They Think.
  • At one point in the Discworld book Men at Arms, Sergeant Colon is afraid to report to Lord Vetinari, fearing that Lord Vetinari will be sarcastic about Colon's performance on the job. He might even be satirical.
    • Elsewhere in the same book, when talking dog Gaspode was reluctant to help Carrot locate Angua, Carrot threatened to "turn the matter over to Corporal Nobbs," a fellow officer with little in the way of moral objections whose own humanity has been repeatedly questioned. Gaspode's bitter reply: "That's what I like—incentive."
    • A strange Running Gag is that Vetinari's mood can be determined by his tone: Friendly, curious, amused, condescending, sarcastic, and if he is ironic...if Vetinari is being ironic then you probably died days ago, you just haven't noticed yet. And woe betide you if he ever gives anyone a choice. Never let him give you a choice!
      Vetinari: If you don't want to take my offer, you have only to walk through that door and you will never hear from me again.
      Moist: Excuse me, I'd just like to check something.
      ...There was nothing beyond, and that included a floor.
    • In Faust Eric, we find that under new management, the demons of Hell have switched from their largely unsuccessful physical tortures of the damned to psychological torture...in the form of boring people's souls out of their minds (with vacation pictures and readings from dry, dull textbooks). Under Astfgl's kingship of Hell, a very specific boredom has been perfected—the expensive boredom that goes on during vacations when you should be having fun.
      • Which turned out to be so tortuous that the demons basically went "Screw This!" and overthrew him. Sure, the old ways weren't really tortuous anymore, but it's what they're used to, and they enjoyed it.
    • And then there's Moist von Lipwig's cry of cruel and unusual punishment in Going Postal: being given a job. Subverted when Vetinari quite reasonably points out to him that while the job offer is certainly unusual, it is not very cruel. On the other hand in the dungeon there are a whole range of punishments which are very unusual and extremely cruel if Moist would like to try them for purposes of comparison...
    • In the Raising Steam, Lord Vetinari's latest form of physical persuasion is described graphically. It's called The Kitten Torture. Yes, it involves kittens. And yes, it is the cunning, devious, and wholly persuasive, product of a completely unwarped mind. (And there's a reason why it goes on this trope rather than one involving animal cruelty and unbelievable sadism).
      • For the curious: The Kitten Torture is presided over by Cedric; not the smartest, but dutiful and very fond of kittens, with which the streets of Ankh-Morpork were overflowing. The victim is locked in an iron maiden, just large enough to sit in, along with a large number of kittens. Every time one of the kittens was distressed and made its distress known, Cedric would open the maiden and give the victim a good cudgeling, in proportion to the distress of the kitten. It's absurd, but it works; visitors are amazed by the atmosphere of happiness, where purring resonated through the dungeon.
    • Mention is made of an Eldritch Abomination of the Dungeon Dimensions, known as "Tshup Aklathep, the Infernal Star Toad with a Million Young". It kills its victims by forcing them to look at pictures of its children until their brains implode. "I suppose after you've said 'Yes, he's got your eyes' for the thousandth time you're about ready to commit suicide in any case."
    • Witches are good at this, banking on their reputation as The Dreaded. One witch was robbed, and decided to do nothing about it but smile in a slightly puzzled manner whenever she saw the thief. He eventually fled the continent. And Granny Weatherwax won't actually turn you into a frog, but she'll make you think you are a frog, which is much worse.
  • In Good Omens, Crowley the demon describes a hamster cage as "Like something the Spanish Inquistion would use if they had access to plastics and a moulding press."
  • In Harry Potter, when Hermione finds the Weasley Twins testing out their home-made joke candies on younger students, this exchange follows:
    Hermione: If you don't stop doing it, I'm going to...
    Fred: (in an I'd-like-to-see-you-try-it-voice) Put us in detention?
    George: (smirking) Make us write lines?
    Hermione: No, but I will write to your mother.
    • This scares the Twins so badly that they immediately comply, an action that has never been seen before or since.
    • Molly Weasley killed Bellatrix Lestrange in a straight wizard duel. This is only one of her Crowning Moments of Awesome. Besides, who isn't scared of their own mother?note 
    • In the second volume, Ron and Harry are sentenced to cleaning the trophy room without magic and responding to Gilderoy Lockhart's fan mail, respectively. The latter involves Harry having to listen to Lockhart's self-important advice on being a celebrity, which makes it even more tedious.
      • Ron's wouldn't be SO bad if...1. Filch weren't an evil, evil man, and 2. Ron didn't have a disease where he vomits up slugs. And have an attack while cleaning.
      • Harry even tells Ron he'd rather trade punishments with him, given the amount of practice cleaning by hand he'd been given by the Dursleys.
    • In the first volume, Harry, Hermione, Neville and Draco are sentenced to searching for a dead unicorn in the Forbidden Forest.
    • In Goblet of Fire, Draco Malfoy is caught trying to hex Harry from behind, and Imposter Professor Moody transforms Draco into a white ferret and proceeds to bounce him around the room while lecturing him. When The genuine Professor McGonagall catches him, Moody grudgingly admits that he was told something about not using Transfiguration as punishment, but he "forgot."
    • In Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George use their pranking prowess to make Umbridge suffer.
  • In The Butterfly Kid, the protagonist is hooked up to an alien torture machine. The "torture" begins with "a deep perverted urge to refrain from sexual intercourse with three of the most improbable creatures I'd ever been forced to imagine", followed by a Donald Duck marathon, and gets "worse" from there.
  • In Neal Stephenson's Anathem, one of the Avout's nastier punishments is being forced to learn a certain number of chapters of "The Book" and pass a quiz on it prior to being allowed back into society. Each chapter is designed to be steadily less rational - Chapter 1 for instance is a set of nursery rhymes and nonsense poetry that doesn't quite rhyme. Chapter 4 is four pages of the digits of Pi. Chapter 6 is designed to take several months. There are 12 chapters in total. Only three people have learned the whole thing, and all of them wound up rather insane.
  • In the In Death series, Dallas' idea of ultimate torment is...a hair and body treatment from Mavis' friend Trina. This from a woman who regularly works herself to exhaustion, gets shot at, beaten up, blown up, etc.
  • In Mark Leyner's Et Tu, Babe the protagonist gets high on Abraham Lincoln's morning breath, and is arrested for 'Theft of a Federally Protected Biospecimen'. Some of the sentences for this crime are execution by underwater speargunning, nasal septumectomy, and punitive confiscation. The protagonist makes a plea to get the latter, and while the sentence is carried out, he is restrained in a van and forced to watch the wooden narrative scenes from porn movies. This last is stated as having later been ruled cruel and unusual.
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl gives us the Trunchbull. One of her punishments for a misbehaving child is to force him to eat a (very large) chocolate cake. In front of the whole school. In both the book and the film he finishes it all to immense applause (in the book, the applause is spontaneous; in the film, Matilda starts it). Then Trunchbull smashes the platter over his head. Which, in the book, is described as having no effect on the boy, as he's too stuffed from the cake to feel it. In the film, he just stands there and belches, making the kids laugh and angering Trunchbull even more.
    • Eating a whole cake would make most people sick, so Trunchbull was probably hoping he'd vomit in front of the entire school so she could make him walk around in vomit-covered clothes all day.
    • This is practically Trunchbull's M.O., since the more out-there her punishments of students are, the less likely parents are going to believe the children trying to tell them.
    • Matilda herself inflicts cool and unusual punishments on her Abusive Parents and the Trunchbull. Like causing Mr. Wormwood to accidentally bleach his hair, then superglue his hat to his head, or spilling a glass of water with a newt in it onto the Trunchbull's dress. And the punishment on the Trunchbull at the end of the book is to make the "ghost" of her murdered brother write on the blackboard.
  • The SERRAted Edge novel Chrome Circle has racer-mage Tannim captured by unseelie fey, and in order to keep their mind readers from learning anything, he concentrates on the music and lyrics of They Might Be Giants. He drives several mind readers insane, and theorizes he may have started a rash of accordion thefts by convincing them of the magical nature of the instrument.
    • Part of the reason they go insane is because they think Tannim is thinking about alchemical terms (and they can't figure out what the terms mean because he really isn't).
  • In one of the Night Watch books, Anton describes how Geser, head of the Night Watch (the "good guys"), punishes members for slacking off by having them do something they would think is enjoyable, but ends up being boring. For instance, one Watch member punished is a teenage girl, and her punishment is having to be a normal teenager and be around other teenagers, which she quickly finds annoying. This punishment has a bit of a darker edge, in that Others are frequently mentioned to no longer identify with Muggles.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons novel "Descent Into the Depths of the Earth" has the relatively benign action of being tied back-to-back with another person... well, benign if that character isn't Polk the Teamster, a loudmouth who is described as not having stopped talking for the entire two hours they were sitting there; most of the speech was admonishing the hero about how badly he mishandled the previous fight: not because they were captured, but because he wasn't fighting awesomely enough.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, the lead character is forced to sit with his eyes peeled open while watching films about Nazis and violence to pay for his crimes of murder, rape, torture, statutory rape, and drug-taking via milk, all the while making him uncontrollably vomit and playing his favourite music, making him unable to ever involve himself in violence or listen to classical music without reliving this.
  • From The Horse and His Boy, Lasaraleen's, "Here. All of you. And you, doorkeeper. No one is to be let out of the house today. And anyone I catch talking about this young lady will be first beaten to death and then buried alive and after that be kept on bread and water six weeks. There."
    • Aslan's punishment to Prince Rabadash. First, he's turned into a donkey, and then told that he has one chance to become human again, and that's to show up at the Temple of Tash during his country's largest festival, letting the entire country may know that their ruler was an ass. Then, if he ever strays too far from the palace ever again, he'll turn into a donkey forever. This prevents him from ever taking military action against other countries, and makes it so that he'll never be able to escape the ridicule that he gets from having been a donkey.
  • In the Percy Jackson interpretation of the Greek underworld, torments in the Fields of Punishment range from classic forms of torture to being forced to listen to opera music. To be fair, Greek Mythology had some pretty weird punishments, too; see the "Mythology" folder below.
  • A Babylon 5 novel reveals that a standard punishment at the Psi Corps academy is for a miscreant to have to stand still in the courtyard all day and remain silent except for giving a detailed description of their infraction if anyone asks.
  • In The Addams Family novel by Jack Sharkey, Gomez had a rather interesting punishment for Pugsley and Wednesday's apparent misdeed — forced attendance of a fifteen-cartoon Kiddie Matinee with ice cream and "golden cake with pink icing" to follow, along with a stack of comic books on their bedside tables. Morticia considered that last part excessively cruel punishment:
    "Oh, Gomez!" Morticia cried, clutching his arm. "Isn't that going a little too far...? You wouldn't make them —" she gave a shudder of revulsion "— read the comic books?"
    Some of the sternness went out of his face. "Well," he said in a softer tone, "perhaps that is a bit excessive." Then he stiffened his expression and said, "But if you don't eat every last bite of that cake and ice cream, you will be made to listen to...the Bonnie Baker recording of 'The Good Ship Lollipop'!"
  • Trapped on Draconica: How Gothon rewards Zarracka for failing twice over. throwing her, tied up, into a pit with a giant monster. The monster in question was a herbivore and thus harmless. All it did was scare her shitless, make her beg for her life, and ruin her dress with its slobber. It works beautiful because Zarracka's ego is bigger than his empire.
  • In the book that Full Metal Jacket was based off of, the drill sergeant's punishments were much worse. At one point, he had a squad pee in the same toilet, and then shoved Private Pyle's head in there while standing on his back until he passed out. Also he would quiz people privately and if they answered a question "wrong", they got a beating. If they reversed their answer, it would be much worse.
  • According to 1066 and All That, the Order of the Bath "was an extreme form of torture in the Middle Ages," and the most sickening practice in Oliver Cromwell's Crommonwealth was the Serjeant-Majors' viva-voce examinations of little boys:
    "For this purpose the unfortunate children were dressed in their most uncomfortable satins and placed on a stool. The Serjeant-Major would then ask such difficult questions as 'How's your Father?' or 'Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?' and those who could not answer were given a cruel medicine called Pride's Purge."
  • 1634: The Baltic War: during a discussion, Colonel Wood says that he'd rather have a colonoscopy than participate in another argument over machine guns. The down-timer Torstensson asks for an explanation. After he gets one, he ponders using it as a punishment in the army.
  • At the end of Emily The Strange The Lost Days, after Raven successfully completed a physical feat, thus winning a complex card game, Raven calls upon birds to poop on Attikol, Umlaut, and many others of the traveling show employees.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Auction Kings, Cindy has done this to Jon via Using a toe-pulling device on Jon's fingers to find out if he left a case unlocked. Don't mess with Cindy.
  • Reese in Malcolm in the Middle discovered that he was a natural chef. When he sabotages a cooking contest he would've won easily with his natural skill, his parents punish him by banning him from the kitchen for a month, and it works!
  • Salem in Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a warlock who was turned into a cat by the Witch's Council as punishment for trying to Take Over the World.
    • And in the animated adaptation (as well as at least one comic series), Sabrina's aunts have their apparent age reduced to roughly 22-24 for gross magical misconduct. Somehow this is a dreadful punishment for witches.
      • According to The Other Wiki they are de-aged into teenagers, and (because they aren't legal adults in the mortal world) are forced to attend high school and share a house with their "legal guardian" Uncle Quigley—despite actually being hundreds of years old.
  • The entire premise of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The main characters are forced to watch crappy movies as part of an experiment; the villain is hoping to discover a film so bad it drives them insane, at which point he will turn it into a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
    • Pearl Forrester gives the crew the especially hellishly god-awful film Hobgoblins as a punishment for jumping on her rent-to-own sofas.
    • Pearl came oh-so-close to succeeding with Invasion of the Neptune Men, which nearly drove Mike and the bots insane. Their spirits were lifted by a visit from Krankor.
    • The original baddest of the bad, "Manos" The Hands of Fate, a film so terrible that Dr. Forrester apologized for showing it to them.
    • Pearl at one point threatens Mike Nelson with "a John Agar film festival" as punishment for one of Mike and the 'bots transgressions, though the threat is not carried out.
  • Doctor Who
    • In the beginning of the Key to Time arc, the White Guardian gives us this gem:
      Doctor: And what happens to me if I refuse?
      White Guardian: Nothing.
      Doctor: What, nothing happens?
      White Guardian: Yes, nothing at all. Ever.
    • In the episode "A Good Man Goes to War", a Sontaran was forced to restore his honor by serving duties as a nurse, prolonging life, rather than allowing them to die in the glory of battle. In the same episode the losing commander is explicitly told by The Doctor to order his troops not to retreat, but "run away". He will be known as Colonel Run-away from that day on.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Confess, or the Spanish Inquisition will poke you with soft cushions. And if that fails... "Cardinal Fang! Fetch... the comfy chair!" This might be considered a subversion, since the people tortured in this way are just confused, and do not react as if being tortured. Unlike...
    • Doug Piranha from the Piranha brothers sketch was so scary that grown men would pull their own heads off rather than endure this:
      Vercotti: He used... Sarcasm. He knew all the tricks; dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and... Satire. He was vicious.
  • In one episode of The Weird Al Show, a sadistic kid's show host threatens his sidekick with a "Pauly Shore marathon" if he doesn't win a coveted award. He doesn't win (but nor does the other guy he's aiming to beat). The last shot of the episode is his sidekick, bound and gagged to a chair, as the host snarls, "Which do you want to see first? Encino Man or Jury Duty?"
  • Scrubs
    • Dr. Cox and Jordan punish the doctor responsible for Dr. Cox's failed vasectomy by strapping him to a chair while an a cappella group continuously sings the baritone part to the "Chili's Baby Back Ribs" Jingle over and over. The torture is so horrendous that thirty minutes into the singing, the doctor starts eating his own face.
      Doctor: When do they say "ribs?"
      Dr. Cox: Never. They never say "ribs."
    • It seems Dr Cox is the distributor of cool and unusual punishments; at one point he made Keith check the countertop's heartbeat for two hours.
    • A bizarre one: To get back at Elliot for dating Keith, JD in one of his yandere moments demands to be part of their sexual fantasies.
    • The Janitor also gets a few of these because he hates JD. One episode has the Janitor paint stars and stripes on JD and hang him from a flagpole, telling him to "act like a flag" for a while. Another episode has him punishing JD for his pride by recruiting everyone in the hospital, including JD's friends, to pelt JD with balls.
  • In Power Rangers in Space, Elgar once fouled up and let the Rangers get an important diskette; Astronema punished him by making him "play with Muffy". (Exactly who "Muffy" is isn't clear; presumably its a monster of some sort that's very rough with anyone who plays with it.)
  • In Power Rangers S.P.D., a villain who wouldn't give up any information under threats, promises of a reduced sentence or even The Chick's hit single "Me" crumbled under the Cloudcuckoolander's stream-of-consciousness rambling.
    • Their was also a subversion in a different episode with Piggy. Gruumm had left Piggy in a disgusting filthy pit for half an hour to convince him to help him defeat the rangers. The subversion isn't that it was a punishment, both of them saw it as a taste of a reward.
  • Used in an episode of Mork and Mindy, where Mork gets captured by Amazon-esque aliens who torture him with massages and the dreaded bubble bath!.
    • Were these the ones commanded by Raquel Welch? Whose character complained about her skimpy silver toned costume, 'Who could look good in this?'
  • One of the earliest sketches from A Bit of Fry and Laurie was one that featured Hugh Laurie enthusiastically showing the most boring holiday pictures you can think of and describing each one while Stephen Fry made sarcastic comments that appeared to be falling on deaf ears.
    Laurie: And this is one of me on the toilet half an hour later. I used a self-timer for that one. Because the whole new Minolta range have got self-timers.
    Fry: Self-timers? Oh, well, then I must leave at once.
    Laurie: I discovered this marvelous little man in Hadia who developed film the traditional Cretan way. Nikos his name was, or Costas. Could have been Andreas.
    Fry: Oh, but I must find out. Which? Which was his name?
    Laurie: This is him on the toilet.
    Fry: GO AWAY! (hugs himself and cries)
    Laurie: Right. Well, you touch my daughter again and it'll be a slide show. You understand?
    (Fry nods weakly)
  • "Damn Bundys" from Married... with Children: When Al goes to hell because of a pact he made with Satan, the latter punishes Al to eat "Weenie Tots" (Which Al loves) for the rest of eternity cause they will force Al to spend eternity in the bathroom (and we all know how bad this is for Al.) When Satan notices that this has not had the effect he wanted, he proclaims "For the rest of eternity you'll never see your family again" causing Al to fall on his knees saying "This is heaven." However, Satan finally manages to come up with a Cool and Unusual Punishment: For Al to continue his normal life for all eternity.
  • This occurred at the end of every "Judge Trudy" skit on The Amanda Show, when Trudy would rule in favor of the child plaintiff and sentence the hapless adult defendant to something odd, which the bailiff would immediately carry out.
  • House:
    • When a girl comes in with neck pain in "Kids", instead of firing Chase for being Vogler's Mole, House decides to be creative:
      House: You, sir, will research all the causes in the universe of neck pain.
      Chase: The list is, like, two miles long!
      House: Start with the letter A.
    • When Ron Livingston's global altruist character in "TB or not TB" orders a press conference on the unfairness of Africa's lack of Western medical care, House breaks into his hospital room and increases the heat, turns off the TV, knocks his supplies on the floor and flushes his cell phone down the toilet to simulate the third world environment he "obviously wants".
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place, during the episode "Dancing With Angels" Max (who has been turned into a little girl) refuses to tell his parents where Alex, Harper and Justin have sneaked off to. His punishment? Being entered into a beauty pageant for 7-12 year-old girls.
  • In Yes, Prime Minister, Prime Minister Hacker manages to get a slimy Foreign Office Mole who has been meddling with his attempts to work with Israel in accordance with the Foreign Office's pro-Palestinian leanings a cushy promotion as ambassador to an important friendly nation. Unfortunately, the embassy is in Tel Aviv...
  • This is how Michael Kyle would usually punish his kids every time they get out of line in My Wife and Kids.
  • In Kamen Rider Decade, Natsumi will respond to anything Tsukasa does to annoy her - and I mean anything - by hitting him with the Laughing Pressure Point, a thumb-jab to the neck that causes him to laugh uncontrollably for the next several minutes. She even hit Tetsuya with it in one episode where she couldn't use it on Tsukasa.
  • Will and Grace
    • Karen throws a wild party and trashes Will's apartment. Her punishment? Will denies Karen her afternoon martini (a.k.a. "dessert")—and makes her look at Grace's endless honeymoon photos.
      Karen: (to Will) I HATE YOU!
      Grace: Roll one—my luggage!
    • In another episode, Karen and Jack are coming up with some type of revenge against the English Lorraine Finster for stealing Karen's husband. Jack's idea? Make her watch the American version of anything British.
  • Some of the bad guys in Medium ended up being punished this way, especially Jeremy and his girlfriend from An Everlasting Love, stuck together as ghosts for all eternity, the lone thing that bound them together (kidnapping and killing young women) gone and the Gold Digger wife from Will The Real Fred Rovick Please Stand Up? who ends up being conned out of her inheritance - for which she had murdered her 91-year-old husband - by the guy she used to corrupt one of the jurors.
  • Parodied by the MythBusters. One of the selected myths for the third viewer special was whether bamboo could grow through a person's body. The setup sequence in the blueprint room featured Adam pretending to be tied to a chair while Jamie said "I can keep singing all day".
  • On The West Wing, C.J. once accidentally arranged for a photo op wherein the president would pose with a goat. Leo was not happy.
    Leo: If he's wearing a hat, or that thing's wearing a Bartlet button — I'm hiding snakes in your car.
    C.J.: Come on, don't say that, not even to joke!
    Leo: You're never gonna know where they are...
    C.J.: Leo!
    Leo: ...or if you got 'em all out. Gonna lay their eggs right in your glove compartment.
  • The Drew Carey Show
    • You know what happened to the last guy who played a game of "I'm not touching the Devil"? He wound up wiping a fly's mouth for all eternity.
    • In another episode, Mimi blasted the Van Halen song "Panama" over and over for several days to attempt to drive Drew out of his house.
  • On Top Gear, when the presenters are making a long journey in second-hand cars (bought under a narrow budget according to certain criteria; e.g. two-wheel drive and not modified for off-roading), the producers send along an emergency backup car which is either 1. hateful to all three of them, 2. entirely inappropriate for the setting, or both. If a car breaks down and the presenter cannot get it going again, his punishment is to use the backup car for the rest of the journey.
    • In the Botswana special, the backup was an old-model VW Beetle.
    • In the Vietnam special, it was a motorbike painted in a bright and gaudy American flag livery and blasting Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA", with the radio controls disabled.
      • Ironically if you listen to the lyrics, "Born in the USA" is a protest song about a man who gets sent to Vietnam, loses his best friend, and can't find work after coming back home as a disgruntled veteran. If the Vietnamese understood the song, they might even like it. Unfortunately, most of them don't speak English.
    • In a Season 13 episode involving a long drive in France and a race on Val Thorens's ice-driving track, it was a Morris Marina—a car which, inexplicably, usually winds up crushed under a piano whenever it appears on the show. The presenters blame a nearby piano moving service, Careless Airways.
      • Adding insult to injury, this was a rare instance where the backup car was required (as James's selection died.) Heaping a metric ton of insult to injury, it proved to be the car that won the challenge. (One guess what happened after they walked away from it at the ice-track finish line. They blamed Careless Airways' French affiliate.)
    • The one where they went to America, although they had no idea it was going to be punishment. As a joke on the stereotypes of USA Southerners (which aren't true... right?) they paint some joke things on each other's car. Hammond's (painted by May) says "Man-love rules OK", Clarkson's (painted by Hammond) says "Country and western is rubbish", and May's (painted by Clarkson) says "Hillary for President". They laugh at how idiotic they feel, and stop at a petrol station to fill up. The owner is like 'Are you serious?' and they're like 'It's just a joke, we're sorry if you're offended'... and she subsequently calls her friends and they have a mob of people chasing after the 3 guys and the camera crew. The rest we see of that is a mobile phone recording of them absolutely shitting themselves and trying to rub the words off their cars. Completely unexpected but a cool and unusual punishment for thinking that Southerners aren't like their stereotype.
    • Subverted in the hunt for the "source of the Nile" when the backup car, a Ford Scorpio, failed to make it to the destination because the men in white coats dropped it in a river the presenters had crossed in their self-made car ferry.
  • Glee: Sue is upset with Will:
    Sue: I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And on some dark, cold night I will steal away into your home, and punch you in the face.
    • Sue also punished her moles failures by revoking their tanning privileges. It causes Santana to burst into tears.
    • Everything Sue does, really...
    • When Will has finally had enough of Sue he gets her to fall in love with him, mends all the damaged caused by their rivalry, and then dumps he just because he can.
  • Castle.
    Rick Castle: There has to be a way to get it out of him. We could force him to watch Paris Hilton videos.
    Kate Beckett: You want to be brought up on charges?
  • In the Suite Life On Deck episode "Model Behavior", Moseby punishes Zack, Marcus, and Woody for throwing a party without his authorization and encouraging a group of teen models to stay out past curfew by making them don snorkeling gear and fish the floaties they threw overboard out of the ocean.
  • In the Hannah Montana episode "Ready, Set, Don't Drive", Miley gets arrested for driving with an invalid license. She got her license as Hannah Montana because she didn't want to wait two weeks for a retest. Why, you ask? She couldn't handle the embarrassment of showing up to Amber's big party when Amber had her license and she didn't. Does Robbie Ray ground her? Passe! Take away her allowance? Old hat! Instead, he drives her to the big party, and announces over a bullhorn that Miley didn't get her license.
  • Night Gallery: a hippie finds he's gone to Hell. He's cool with it and can't wait to see the groovy fire and brimstone and demons...then is horrified to find his custom-made Hell is spending eternity with an old couple, watching their nonstop vacation slide show and listening to a mile-high stack of Lawrence Welk records. This set-up is also the old couple's custom-made Heaven.
  • Reba has Jake gripe to Cheyenne about having Kyra babysit him because he's stuck watching "The Wiggles" with his niece under Kyra's care. Kyra's response? "Keep complaining. I got Barney tapes here." And when Reba wrecked her son-in-law's car, he got her back for it by telling their neighbor of Reba's temporary blind condition after Reba had an eye surgery, knowing fully well that said neighbor would rush to Reba's aid despite Reba's dislike of the neighbor.
  • Police, Camera, Action! is not averse to this trope in the Re Tool series presented by Gethin Jones since December 2008. All participants in the show learn the consequences of their driving misdemeanors in some shocking way. But Values Dissonance comes into play here.
  • During one episode of Yes Dear, Greg got threatened with one of these by his boss: "Warner, if you keep talking, you're going to come to work in a thong and a beefeater hat." That got Greg quiet.
  • Fail to accomplish what you're tasked to do, and Luke will punish you with his water gun. Better have some spare clothes with you if he's supervising your work.
  • In the fourth series of Blackadder, Edmund and Baldrick are at one point captured by the Germans and sentenced to a "fate worse than death". Since said fate apparently consists of spending the rest of the war at a German convent school teaching home economics, Blackadder is pretty miffed when he gets rescued and promptly sent back to the front.
  • Supernatural: In "The Man Who Would Be King," it is shown that after Crowley took over Hell, he made an endless line consisting of millions of people the standard punishment. No agonizing torture like what Dean experienced during his time there, and instead of Fire and Brimstone Hell we get what looks like a long hallway that contains a line that requires people who reach the front to go all the way to the back of the line again. According to Crowley, the traditional torture had the drawback of causing Hell to be filled with masochists. But waiting in line? No one likes that.
    Castiel: And what happens when they reach the front?
    Crowley: Nothing. They go right back to the end again. That's efficiency.
  • While not technically a punishment, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had a 21st century astronaut that got accidentally abducted by aliens and when they couldn't return him home, made him a small reality where he could live out the rest of his days in the company of pseudo-humans based around a book as an attempt at apologizing for screwing him. Unfortunately, they based the reality off such a godawful book that the astronaut writes in his logbook "I hold no malice toward my benefactors. They could not possibly know the hell they have put me through, for it was such a badly written book, filled with endless cliché and shallow characters. I shall welcome death when it comes."
    • Of course, this leads to the minor logical problem of why the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens never noticed that the technology level described in the 1930's novel clearly wasn't the same as the 21st century spacecraft they were dealing with, not to mention that if they could understand the language written down in the paperback novel, why didn't they simply ask the astronaut what his home planet was like?
  • The Cosby Show: After Vanessa comes home drunk, her parents make her participate in the same drinking game again, even watching her younger sister have to take a shot. (What they don't tell her is that they're using tea.)
  • In Friends, there was one episode in which Joey forces Chandler to wear blue lipstick as punishment for lying to him. There was also an earlier episode where Joey makes Chandler stay in a wooden box for six hours as punishment for kissing Joey's girlfriend (his reasons were threefold). In another episode, Rachel tells Ross to drink a glass of fat to make up for him insulting her (although she stops him when she sees that he was actually going to do it). Ross was harsh to Phoebe, who thought her dead mother's spirit was inside of a cat, so Rachel made Ross apologize to the cat. And yep, all of those make sense in context.
  • A lot of Whose Line Is It Anyway? sketches feature some form of this, particularly "World's Worst". For example, in one "Hoedown", Colin claims he hates the Backstreet Boys so much that he punished them by making them wear copies of his loud Hawaiian shirt.
  • On episode of Lizzie Mcguire, Matt pretends to have an Imaginary Friend so his parents would buy him what ever he wanted. They punish him by making him wash a number of imaginary animals while the rest of the family watches.
  • Mel during one episode of Melissa And Joey tells her niece and nephew under her care: "Stay out of trouble, or I'll come to your school and kiss you at lunch."
  • During an episode of Home Improvement, Tim gets himself and his wife lost while driving but stubbornly refuses to ask for directions. To make Tim change his mind, his wife threatens to get up each morning and cut out the sports section of the newspapers they get if he continues to refuse to stop and ask for directions. It works.
  • On Seinfeld, this was part of the premise for Jerry's NBC pilot. After hitting Jerry's car, a man has no insurance or ability to pay for the damages, so a judge sentences him to be Jerry's butler. The network executives like this ridiculous premise much more than "a show about nothing."
  • On an episode of ''Roseanne", Darlene wants D.J. punished for messing up her room. Roseanne and Dan decide to let Darlene name the punishment, and she decides to make D.J. wear a suit and tie to school the next day, which he hates.
    Roseanne: Of course, I would have made him wear a dress. (Darlene gapes) Too late!
  • JAG: After Harm and Mic get into a fight that inadvertently breaks Bud's jaw (he stepped in between their simultaneous punches), Admiral Chegwidden offers them "non-judicial punishment". He takes them to an empty building, opens the door, and tells them they are not to leave until they inflict damage and pain on each other equal to what they inflicted on Bud. The next day in court, they both look like they went 10 rounds with the heavyweight champ.
  • On Heroes, Mohinder knows his mortal nemesis Sylar has absorbed the power of super-hearing. His hearing is so keen he can hear other people's breathing and heartbeats, and in fact suffered terrible headaches from the noise. So when Mohinder goes to torture Sylar, what does he do? He strikes a tuning fork and holds it up next to Sylar's ear in all of its shrill, discordant glory and lets Sylar scream for mercy.
  • Parodied on the VHS cover synopsis for A Muppet Family Christmas: "Don't miss it or they'll send you a fruitcake!"
  • A Cool and Unusual Punishment was used as the final punchline for a Season Four episode of The Muppet Show (the episode guest-starring Liza Minnelli). When Statler and Waldorf and caught trying to "bump off" the Muppets, they're taken away. It's only after the credits, during their traditional "last laugh", that we see their fate: they're locked in the theater box (complete with bars) and forced to watch the Muppet Show.
    Statler: How long are we here for?
    Waldorf: 20 years.
    Statler: If I'd known that judge was giving us the Box, I'd have asked for the Chair!
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch was a History Channel-style documentary about an allied attack on the Germans in WWII. Eventually, a former POW talks about how his friend went insane in prison, after being taken into a round room and told to go sit in the corner.
  • During the second to last episode of Season 2 of The Mole, three of the four contestants have to spend one night in a creepy room. One room is a glass box filled with cockroaches and harsh light, the second is a completely dark room with a python slithering around, and the last(and worst) is a completely normal room where the song "Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho plays over and over in different iterations(sometimes very slowly, sometimes speeded up, sometimes backwards, etc.)
  • On The Nanny, Maxwell grounds Brighton for trying to sneak past Fran to go to the mall in New Jersey. He then says that Brighton isn't allowed to go to his play premiere, which Brighton didn't want to go to anyway. Brighton is okay with that, until Fran convinces Maxwell to be "lenient" and let him go to the play.
  • Danger 5. The leader of the team is captured by Italian sailors and forced to drink endless cups of coffee.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it turns out that S.H.I.E.L.D. is fond of passive-aggressively dealing with their less dangerous prisoners.
    Quinn: I've been locked in a cell smaller than my shoe closet! I was forbidden from eating with a fork, which would be okay if I was fed anything other than meatloaf!
  • The 60s Series/Batman show had one of these every other episode when the Dynamic Dunderheads would be captured and put in a Rube Goldbergesque deathtrap.

    Mythology 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Classical Mythology was rife with brutal physical torture, but also featured several bizarre and less obviously torturous punishments. A few potent examples include...:
    • Tantalus, whose punishment for killing a boy his son and serving him as a meal to the GODS was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Thus was born the word tantalize.
    • Sisyphus was a sly and crafty king who was cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.
    • Atlas, who Zeus condemned to hold the sky on his shoulders. (This is usually misinterpreted as the Earth.)
    • Medusa was already a little too pretty for Athena's liking, but the last straw was when she had the sheer gall of getting raped inside one of Athena's temples, and by a God at that (Poseidon, if you're curious). Most wise Athena must have been in a blaming-the-victim mood that day because she turned her into, well, the Medusa (or, it could be that she had no authority to punish her uncle). (That was the version given by Ovid in The Metamorphoses. Most earlier versions aren't clear on the "rape" part, a term that has an ambiguous meaning in Greek myths, and in this case would have more to do with Athena's consent, not Medusa's.)
      • In another version, Aphrodite turned Medusa into a monster for the crime of being prettier than the Goddess of Love and Beauty.
    • Athena is also on record for turning Arachne into a spider. There are various versions of just exactly why:
      • Arachne was punished for hubris. She proclaimed that she was a better weaver than Athena. When you're dealing with the Greek pantheon, it's really not wise to make those kinds of boasts.
      • In another version, Arachne challenged Athena to a weaving contest, and while Athena admitted that Arachne's weaving was technically flawless, the image that Arachne wove was one of the gods and goddesses acting like idiots and making fools of themselves. So the punishment was for, on top of everything else, not showing proper respect to the gods. Athena was generally one of the more level-headed deities in the myths, but apparently one can push even her too far.
      • Still a third version has Arachne hanging herself after seeing how much better Athena was. Athena saw her bloated, hanging body, and took pity on her, restoring her to life as a spider, a creature with a bloated body that hangs from a thread and weaves it to live.
    • Echo, a nymph with a bad habit of gossiping, was stripped of her voice by Hera when the goddess realized that Echo was distracting her from searching for her wayward husband, Zeus. Later, after seeing how utterly miserable Echo had become, Hera had a slight change of heart, and returned Echo's voice to her, changing it so that she could only repeat whatever she heard. Things got worse when she fell in love with Narcissus, and Eros tried and failed to make him fall in love with her: Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, and broke Echo's heart when he proclaimed his love for his own reflection in stereo. Heartbroken, Echo pined away until all that was left of her was her voice, while Narcissus stared at his own reflection until he starved to death, whereupon the first of the eponymous flowers sprang up at the site of his death.
      • Some versions of the story have his ashes being scattered at the spot where the first such flowers shortly started growing.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • The Far Side: many and varied, from variations on Hell ("this is your room, Maestro" [room filled with thirty banjo players]) to the mysterious object known only as "Mr Thingy".
  • In The Boondocks, this is combined with a Take That when Granddad punishes Riley in one strip by making him go see Catwoman.
  • Grand Avenue: Video rental store policy: "WARNING: Stiff penalty if video not rewound!" That penalty being that upon your next visit, they make you watch twenty minutes of an "Ernest" movie.
  • Non Sequitur: "Dog heaven is where the bad squirrels go." A similar joke was once made about the "paradise" for suicide bombers being a form of hell for young women.
  • In one Beetle Bailey strip, there was this exchange:
    Sarge: Your fingernails are dirty.
    Beetle: Oh dear, I must have forgot my manicure appointment.
    Sarge (annoyed): I have a cure for wise guys...
    • He then made Beetle give free manicures to the whole camp.
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin is imagining himself in his Spaceman Spiff persona where he's abducted by a tribe of enemy aliens, who decided to put him through the "torture" of having his hair washed. Another has the aliens put Spiff through the wringer...by taking him to a mundane living room and talking about wholesome principles.

    Radio 
  • In Old Harry's Game, while many punishments of the damned are quite gruesome and sadistic, a couple are like this. In one instance, the protagonists are tortured by having demons act out dialogue from Jeffrey Archer novels. Another instance involved Thomas, the Butt Monkey and a reprehensible person in life being stripped and painted like a zebra and sentenced to be eaten by crocodiles. However, the actual punishment was that the crocodiles would come up to him and open their jaws, but do nothing- thereby torturing him with the anxiety of waiting for the punishment to begin.
    • Mention should also be made of "The Pit of Eternally Pregnant Popes"
    • "This is Satan at his most cruel, I think. Except for that time he made you strip naked and fry that extremely fatty baby."
  • The radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy first introduced Vogon poetry being used by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz to torture Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect after he caught them hitchhiking. For the audience's sake only short bits of it are heard between the screaming and the Guide's explanation.
  • Bleak Expectations: The villain Mr Benevolent has his nemesis Pip Bin at his mercy, and rather than kill him, decides to do this. It starts off low-key (serving him red wine with overdone fish, flicking him with a wet towel) then moves on to more insidious acts (giving him the latest novels, then spoiling the endings)
    Mr Benevolent: By the way, the first Mrs Rochester still lives in the attic.
    Pip Bin: I WAS ENJOYING THAT!
    • Then we see the cruellest punishment imaginable. Cheeseboarding. This involves force-feeding Pip truly ridiculous amounts of cheese without so much as a cracker, or even some chutney, until he begins to go mad.

     Tabletop Games  
  • In the Paranoia adventure "Clones in Space," an alien race with a highly developed aesthetic sense uses torture methods based on poor taste (Waylon Jennings records, Three Stooges videos, etc.) The Game Master is advised to actually procure the media and subject the players to it, all the while groaning and feigning agony at his/her own exposure to it.
  • Played with in Warhammer40000. There's a tale told about a group of Orks that ventured into the Eye of Terror and landed on a Khorne-Controlled world. Every day they are forced to fight to the death against enemies they can never beat, only to be raised the next day to repeat the cycle. What would be living hell for anyone else is basically an Orky Valhalla.

    Theater 

    Theme Parks 
  • In the finale of the former Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast attraction at Universal Studios, King Goobot, having gained control of the ride vehicles, forces them to do the chicken dance, which he deems "a fate beyond your worst nightmare!".

     Video Games  
  • In Sam and Max: The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball, our heroes interrogate card shark Leonard Steakcharmer by torturing him with... "Yo mama" jokes. Seems Steakcharmer is rather sentimental about his late mother. Each of the personal hells in "What's New, Beelzebub?" qualifies as this trope too.
  • At one point in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Gumshoe informs Phoenix that the chief of police, Damon Gant, punishes cops who break regulations by sitting them down and playing the pipe organ at them for hours on end.
    Phoenix: Well that's not so bad, music does sooth the soul.
    Gumshoe: After listening to it the officer can't hear anything except for the ringing in his own ears.
    Phoenix: So it's an instrument of torture...literally.
  • In Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, Parn, leader of the Dandelion Gang, "enslaves" Safy's little sister Tina with vague threats that sound terrible until you find out what he really means. Tina blows it out of proportion with her Genkiness.
    Parn: You better not try to run, or I'll do those horrible things to you again. You got that!?
    Tina: No! Please, anything but that! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Please, forgive me!
    Saphy: What did he do to you, Tina!? Tell me! I'm prepared for the worst!
    Tina: He... He takes huge bugs and puts them on my face... I-I was so scared... I thought I would die.
    Saphy: ..Is that all?
  • In Disgaea, Laharl is physically injured by both optimism and women with sexy bodies. One of his enemies takes advantage of this, attacking with Succubi who constantly spout phrases like "world peace" and "eternal love". His attack power is cut in half in that level.
    • Sinful human souls in Disgaea must atone for their sins either by doing good deeds for free in Celestia, or through torturous, unending labor (which typically involves, among other things, being used as a living hand-grenade by your assigned boss) for minimum wage in the Netherworld. The cool and unusual part? For either job, you have to do it in the body of an explosive demon penguin, dood. Furthermore, since Netherworld Prinnies absolutely need the money to earn reincarnation, the one thing a Prinny fears more than anything: Getting their salary cut. This actually becomes a plot point in Disgaea Infinite.
  • In Animal Crossing, you get chewed out by Resetti the mole if you reset the game without saving. His rants are quite amusing, and some players keep resetting just to see everything he says.
    • Sadly (Or thankfuly) You could not do this on the DS Lite. But thanks to the DSi's power button functioning as a soft reset, players can do this over and over and over and over and over and over and over
  • in Chibi-Robo, When Chibi plugs in to recharge, if the player mashes buttons in an effort to rush through Telly's save dialog (and on a heavy "15 minute" day this can be as many as 3-5 recharges), then when Chibi goes to unplug he gets harmlessly whacked with a pan or can top dropped from above, further delaying the game. Telly (a FLYING television) denies it, of course, stating he has no idea where it came from, but counts the number of times it has happened.
  • In Retro Game Challenge, you the player have been sent back in time to the 1980's. Your only way back? Beat the Game Master's classic gaming challenges, facing the horror of being forced to play mockups of old NES games, now with less Guide Dang It, Fake Difficulty and overall better game quality than on average!
  • In Evil Genius, one of the possible tortures your minions can inflict on your enemies is forcing them to watch as the minion does Michael Jackson dance moves.
  • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Empress Sanaki threatens to punish Sephiran/Lehran by drowning him in a pool of rancid butter.
  • In Persona 3, during the hot springs scene. If you don't succeed in the stealth minigame, Mitsuru will "execute" the male cast members. It is never explained what this means (as everyone agrees to never speak of it again).
    • It's implied that "execution" is being frozen alive by her Persona's (Ice) power, and if you ask Mitsuru about it the following week, she says that she does indeed remember the "execution" and asks if you would like another.
    • There's also this bit much earlier in the game, when Junpei is tormenting Yukari with her fear of ghosts.
      Yukari: Oh my god, Stupei! I can't sleep like this!
      Junpei: I'd be happy to sleep with you, if it helps…
      Yukari: *sigh* Maybe I should call the police, or better yet, Mitsuru-senpai.
      Junpei: Please… Anything but that!
    • Tanaka threatens the protagonist with these during his Social Link conversations to keep him from revealing his secrets. Punishments include ringing his doorbell every night at midnight and putting his picture on a dating site for former convicts.
  • Zelda CDI: "After you've scrubbed all the floors in Hyrule, then we can talk about mercy!"
    • Prime example of Memetic Mutation: taken to hilarious lengths by YouTube user FriendlyWarlord in his video The King Tries To Watch Rock TV as the king doles out a string of inane punishments to his subjects for disturbing his TV watching.
      King Harkinian: "Link, go into the pit! If you don't hear from me in a month, you will DIE. Zelda, Duke Onkled is under attack by the evil forces of Ganon. If you don't scrub Duke Onkled in a month, send Link."
      Zelda: "But father, wha..."
      Gwonam: "Your majesty!"
      King Harkinian: "Enough! Squadalah, after you've scrubbed all the floors in Hyrule, scrub all the floors in the pit! Then we can scrub your face."
      Gwonam: "Your majesty, there is no time! All the floors in Hyrule is enough."
      King Harkinian: "If you don't scrub all the floors in a month, scrub Zelda."
      Gwonam: "Your majesty..."
      King Harkinian: "If you squadalah in a month, you will DIE!"
      Mayor Kravindish: "This is illegal, you know."
      King Harkinian: "Take him away! If you don't hear from me in the pit, you must DIE."
      Zelda: "You've got to be kidding..."
      King Harkinian: "If you don't die in a month, you will DIE."
      Zelda: "But father, wh-"
      King Harkinian: "Link, take the instructions into the pit! If you don't squadalah in a month, you will DIE!"
      Link: "Huh??"
    • An even better (and NSFW) example: The King's Unreasonable Demands.
  • Higurashi Daybreak: The tickling machine.
  • Runescape: Traditional methods of torture aren't working on the zombie pirate decapitated head in "A Clockwork Syringe". It's time to bust out the dreaded "Twiblik Night Special". After much ceremony, you open the box and reveal...wigs, make-up, and women's clothing. O...kay? After being mercilessly dressed up in wigs, eye shadow, and lipstick, the distressed zombie finally tells you the location of the villains' secret island hideout.
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS plans to kill Wheatley after burning him for a year, freezing him for a year, and then subjecting him to screaming robots for a decade.
  • Stay Tooned plays this trope for laughs in a torture chamber with a suspended TV (actually being the start of a minigame).
    • "Electrocution?" "No, even worse, GAME SHOWS!"
  • In the Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance sidestory "External Gazer", Solidus enacts the sinister plan of harnessing VR missions to affect reality, and subjects Snake to torture... by forcing him to play as Raiden.

    Webcomics 

     Web Original  
  • From Naruto The Abridged Series episode 23, Itachi uses his Mangekyo Sharingan to make Kakashi go through 72 hours of Caramelldansen.
  • Apparently, the headmistress of Whateley Academy has done this. Some rule-breaking devisers (read: teenaged Mad Scientist geeks) were sentenced to... fresh air. They had to do clean-up outside. This was considered to be almost as bad as making rulebreakers do menial work in Hawthorne cottage.
    • The Academy is numerous square miles of pathways, forested areas, and the like, and the grounds are occupied by several hundred superpowered students, some of whom can't control the chaos they create. Add in oversight which prevents those geeks from using their tools, or the fact that it's a New Hampshire winter...
    • Also from the Whateley Universe, we have Anvil, who made a few rather careless errors: A. He decided to roll the fat kid for laughs, and B. he broke the cardinal rule that 'What happens in the sims stays in the sims'. Revenge, while largely a Noodle Incident, included a pie toss with Anvil as the target - and several of those pies had a Mad Scientist's concoctions in them...
  • Abusive administrators and faculty are on the receiving end of psychological warfare in The Saga of Tuck.
  • The Homestar Runner Halloween 'toon "Doomy Tales of the Macabre" consists of Strong Sad's imagined revenge on all the people who didn't invite him to their Halloween party, in increasingly odd ways.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: agents who break the rules are forced to watch the dreaded No-Drool Videos. The exact content is unknown, but it has been said to involve the Librarian of Discworld, who is a 300-pound orangutan, and Yaoi Fangirls are shown the adventures of a lesbian Parody Sue (the lesbian sex in itself isn't the problem so much as the Sue being there}. Also, agents are not allowed to physically harm canon characters, so revenge upon a canon character for attacking an agent has on at least one occasion consisted of forcing him to participate in MS Ting a Bad Slash Fic starring himself. The PPC also has a department dedicated to this, appropriately called the Department of Cool and Unusual Punishment.
  • SMOSH's "A Very Hairy Situation with Billy Mays" has the villains torturing Anthony with watching The Hills
  • Youtube personalities Neil Cicierega, Ryan Murphy and Kevin James have a video called The Questioning, in which two cops sweat out a young thug by explaining the entire plot of the Animorphs series at great length.
  • In one of the Arfenhouse installments, Satan says that all they do in Hell is play DDR.
  • In numerous Sonic Shorts on Newgrounds, Doctor Robotnik's favoured method of torturing Sonic the Hedgehog has been with music, dance and getting naked.
    Robot: "His eyes have melted."
    [Robotnik grins at camera]
  • A number of reviews on That Guy with the Glasses have been portrayed as horrific punishments:
    • When The Nostalgia Critic wants to punish The Nostalgia Chick for reviewing non-girly stuff like Transformers: The Movie and Armageddon (and also for chloroforming him), he forces her to review the Bratz movie.
      • Subverted when he explains he only did it so she could be proud of sitting though the worst girly movie ever. They hug then mutually chloroform each other at the end.
    • Film Brain (acting under orders from Dr Linksano) forces Linkara to review The Spirit. Despite it ostensibly being torture, he joins in himself.
      • Linkara was also forced to endure some of his own fan-fiction being read by Bennett the Sage.
    • Spoony goes through a lot of this. After reviewing the board game "Nightmare", the Gatecleaner banished him to the "Blagole" to play Pumpkinhead's video game. Later on he criticises Captain America and is sentenced by the GateKeither to undergo a Gender Bender and review "Party Mania".
      • And now that he has failed in his task to review all of Nightmare's sequels in a year, the Gatecleaner seems to be setting up some more of this sort of thing for him.
    • In Kickassia, Paw suggests playing really loud Michael Bolton music to flush The Nostalgia Critic out of the government house. Everyone else agrees that no one should be submitted to that kind of torture (except Jew Wario).
  • This 5 Second Movie
  • In the Bonus Stage episode "Morbid", Joel goes to hell (for the first of many times), and may choose from one of three punishments: watching Time Squad for 24/7, watching Shrek II for 24/7, or eating Satan's mom's spaghetti which is so bad that "even Hitler couldn't handle it."
  • When The Agony Booth's Mr. Mendo forwards a bunch of his hate mail to The Film Renegado's site, Renegado forces him to watch Atletico San Pancho. And, when that doesn't work, he starts playing Menudo!
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    Mai Valentine: Marik, you bastard, what have you done?
    Melvin: I have doomed you to exist in your own worst nightmare: A world where everybody's breasts are bigger than yours!
    Mai Valentine: Even Tristan's?
    Tristan Taylor: (With an impossibly huge rack) My brizzeasts are off the hizzle fo' shizzle!
  • Big O The Abridged Series:
    Priest:[To Norman] My son, you have murdered your fellow man out of lust and envy. For this, you must recite three Hail Marys. But you have also broken numbers 1, 78, and 116 of the Bro Code. For this, you must suffer the grieves of all punishments...Loss of Permanent Shotgun Status!
    Norman: May God have mercy on my soul, for no bro will.
  • On the intro segment of the 29th episode of the EVE Online-based podcast Warp Drive Active, one of the hosts (Urban Mongral) and the owner of the site where the podcasts are stored are 'convicted' (in a mock-court scene) of 'Aggravated Negligence in Uploading a Podcast' (the 28th episode cut out at 58 minutes of "over two hours" in the first release). The sentence for "this most heinous crime"? "I sentence you to playing two weeks Hello Kitty Online Beta." Cue the Big "NO!".
  • A porn series has two guys fighting each other MMA-style. The winner has sex with a hot porn star. The loser gets "punished" with sex by a lesser alternative (mostly a less cute actress, but sometimes downright Fan Disservice) - but it becomes a real punishment if he can't... "get his due", leading the winner to go for another round instead.
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, "To Kill a Firebird", Princess Celestia gets annoyed when Fluttershy is late for a tea party. She punishes all the other guests by describing, in excruciating detail, every prior tea party she's ever attended. All "ten... hundred... thousand... million" of them.
  • A story on Not Always Learning has a librarian shooting rubber bands at students who use cell phones in the library.
    • The main website, Not Always Right, also has some gems:
      • One mom's reaction to learning that her son is (according to his young sister) smoking "broccoli"? Order some tasty-smelling takeout, to torture him when the munchies hit.
      • Another mom gets called by a charity who received a pledge for $100... from her nine-year-old son, without anyone's knowledge or permission. While the charity rep is embarrassed that they didn't verify the age of their donor before taking the pledge, Mom decides that if he made the pledge, he'll just have to pay it himself.
  • In The Legend of Neil, Ganon either will punish Wizzrobe by hitting him, or by turning the fog machines on. Guess which one he hates more:
    Ganon: Wizzrobe, I'm beginning to sense some insolence from you. Don't make me turn the fog machines on again.
    Wizzrobe: No, no, please, sir! I can't find anything when the fog machines are—
    Ganon: FOG MACHINES! (Room starts filling up with fog much to Wizzrobe's chagrin) Yes... fog equals POWER!
  • From Play 4 Real: "US Government Leak Reveals CIA Uses Yoshi’s New Island Music to Torture Prisoners". The (satirical) story claims prisoners were being forced to play the game by being promised increased food rations, but they figured out that they could turn the volume down, so the CIA started blaring the music through the complex, which caused prisoners to reveal information that they weren't even trying to get. Mention is also made of the Wii U being meant to be sold by Nintendo as a torture device, although they cancelled the plans after they found out that the Ouya did the same thing for cheaper.
  • Growing Around has some examples. Justified, as it is set in a universe where kids rule adults:
    • In the Pilot Episode, as a punishment for leaving her roller-skate lying around, Sally forces Linda to sniff the roller-skate, but the teacher arrives before the latter can do it. Sally also reveals that she has punished Linda for scheduling during dinner by forcing her to run around the street in a monkey costume, while Timmy threatens to feed Linda a mud pie for the roller-skate.
    • In ''Movie Mayhem'', Robert fears the punishment for sneaking into a film intended just for children. In a Shout-Out to Toy Story, he imagines this:
    [We enter Robert's thoughts. Robert is forced into one of Sally's tea parties, with Robert completely dressed for the part.]
    Sally: [To Robert] And would you like some crumpets, Mrs. Nesbitt?
  • GEOWeasel has a Hell that looks like a red-tinged beach ruled by a Satan in swimming trunks. However…
    Satan: All the websites we have are porn sites!
    Weas: How is that bad?
    Satan: We only have dialup!
    Weas: NOOOOOOOO!
  • brewstew: The narrator still has his working NES. He plans to give it to his kids and force them to play through Old School Nintendo the minute they decide to start stirring trouble.

     Western Animation  
  • "This time, we didn't forget the gravy."
  • Woody Woodpecker has an example: In the end of the short Ace in the Hole after Woody ejects himself and the general who is chasing him a plane, all but completely crippling the general of the military airport Woody was working for at the time from the fall, he is forced to tediously shave all of the hair off of a very, very long line of horses, one by one.
  • Invader Zim, "A Room With a Moose." Zim cackles over his latest diabolical plan, which will force Dib and his classmates into a pocket dimension consisting of only a room... a room... with a moose! When Dib doesn't see what's so horrible about that, the camera focuses on the moose, chewing on some walnuts... and Dib screams in terror. We never see why.
    • The episode "FBI Warning of Doom" features this blink-and-you'll-miss-it explanation of what happens to those who perform copyright infringement: "They will hunt you down like the dirty monkey you are and force you to wear a moose skin and ride a greased piggy while singing folk tunes. They're forcing me to ride the piggy as I write this. The Piggy is Smelly!!"
  • A bit from an episode of Count Duckula, where the punishment is the only one available, may well be a Homage to Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    Captain: "Men! Tie 'em to the yardarm!"
    Mister Mate: "We ain't got a yardarm, cap'n, I ate it last week."
    Captain: "Well what 'ave we got?"
    Mister Mate: "We've got a comfy sofa..."
    Captain: "I can't say, 'tie 'em to the comfy sofa!'"
    Mister Mate: "It's all that's left, cap'n."
    Captain: "Oh, all right. Tie 'em to the... comfy sofa!"
    • In one episode, Duckula threatens Nanny and Igor to accompany him on a carnival ride by threatening to start singing.
  • Related: In the The Fairly OddParents, Timmy comes into contact with the Yugopotamians, "sadistic" aliens who become recurring characters; at one point, he must brave their "horrifying trials" to save the Earth. These include skipping through a field of flowers, hugging a teddy bear, and "eating the dreaded chocolate".
    • Later in the episode, when they start to forget his "impressive feats" and renege on what he blackmailed them into doing, he leans around a doorway and menacingly eats a flower, immediately terrifying them back into compliance.
    • Another episode had Timmy freeing the town mascot, Chompy the Goat, from captivity and Vicky getting blamed for it. She is locked in a stockade and given 'an extremely bad hair day until she talks' in the form of a balloon being rubbed against her hair to make it puffy.
    • In Channel Chasers, Timmy's mom mentioned that she punished him by making him eat chocolate.
  • In the Animaniacs feature-length Wakko's Wish, the Warner kids are sent through The Cave of Your Worst Nightmares, which contains horrors they endured in episodes of the TV show: "Baloney" the Dinosaur, a filthy gas station bathroom, and Jerry Lewis look-alike Mr. Director.
    • In the episode where they end up in Hell Hades, the Devil prepares to throw them in a room containing "unspeakable torment": listening to "whiny protest songs from The Sixties" for all eternity. The Warners scream in terror and throw the Devil in the room.
  • One torture session on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: While Buzz is going through a Faked Rip Van Winkle, Zurg has his three comrades captive. Booster, The Big Guy, is in a cell with bouncy walls that all his strength can't break. X-R, the versatile robot, has his extendable limbs in shackles, extending them out as far as they will go, so he can't really do anything. And Mira, who can phase through solid matter simply by concentrating, is in a cell rigged to burst into a cacaphony of light and sound whenever she tries to use her powers. The perfect torture... except, well, Booster is having a ball bouncing around in his cage, and the shackles work better for X-R than any chiropractor could have. As for Mira? Well, okay, maybe it's a little annoying, but it's hardly torture. Zurg starts yelling at the underlings who cooked up this cockamamie scheme.
  • The Snorch on Aaahh!!! Real Monsters deals these out to students who break the rules or otherwise get on the bad side of The Gromble, including being forced to walk through a field of flowers or listen to opera.
  • On Drawn Together, when Captain Hero and Spanky Ham are caught cheating in an Indian casino, the owners, after torturing them (spoofing the film "Casino") threaten that if the two ever return, they will "show them just how bad an Indian burn can be". They then perform a simple Indian burn in the air while laughing maniacally, while Hero and Spanky scream in fright.
    • In another episode, when Pikachu knock-off/Japanese stereotype Ling-Ling refuses to give into an extortionist's demands, he threatens to send his accomplice over to Ling-Ling's house and have him walk around without taking off his shoes.
  • In an episode of Sushi Pack, the leader of the Legion of Low Tide threatens one of his minions to break off a friendship with a member of the Pack under penalty of the worst punishment there is — ridicule. The other members procede to tease her until she begs them to stop.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation U.N.C.O.O.L." had a part where Numbuh 2 asks one of the nerds what he's done with the other operatives- we then see those operatives strapped to a chair forced to watch a Doctor Who-like show called "Dr. Spacetime and The Continuums" with the nerds.
    • This, along with the opening credits of the episode "Operation: A.M.I.S.H.", seems to imply that the creators don't really like the show.
  • In the origin episode of Freakazoid!, the villain (voiced by Ricardo Montalban in a spoof of his role as Khan in Star Trek) tries to coerce Dexter and Roddy McStew by revealing that he has kidnapped Dexter's family and is threatening to show them a videotape of "The Best of Marty Ingels", to which a horrified Roddy responds, "What kind of sadistic creature are you!?"
    • And the episode "Hotrods from Heck", one of the titular hot rods blows himself up rather then endure 7 hours of Tony Danza.
    • In another ep, Freakazoid reprimands a speeder by giving him a ticket...to The Jerry Springer Show. After seeing the speeder's horrified reaction, he decides to just give him a warning. Man, they used this trope a lot.
  • In one episode of Sonic Sat AM, "Spyhog", Snively tortures Antoine by offending his refined tastes in food: using too much batter for a crepe suzette, and using margarine for escargot.
  • An episode of Duckman features the titular detective strapping his partner Cornfed into A Clockwork Orange-type forced-viewing setup, and airing a slide show.
  • The Futurama episode "Amazon Women in the Mood" brings us "Death By Snu Snu".
    Fry: (sombre expression) I never thought I'd die this way...(suddenly smiles)...but I'd always really hoped.
    • In "Hell is Other Robots", Bender is subject to many such punishments for his sins in Robot Hell. These include his hard drive being used as a turn table by the Beastie Boys for illegally copying their music or being turned into a giant cigar for his smoking habit. But the worst part for Bender is the up-tempo singing and dancing.
    • In "Space Pilot 3000", Fry learns that anyone who refuses the job assignment programmed into their career chip gets fired. From a cannon. Into the sun.
  • In TaleSpin, Don Carnage's favorite tool for torturing people was a clawed glove... which he would use to scratch a chalkboard.
    • This, in turn, is a reference to a scene in The Return of the Pink Panther. The former Chief Inspector Dreyfuss straps his victim to a chair in... the schoolroom... stuffs cotton in his ears, and utilizes the aforementioned clawed gauntlet. In what is obviously an intentional audio gaffe, the victim of the torture is heard screaming but the sound of the claw on the chalkboard is not.
      • This eventually became a Your Head A Splode killing method in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
  • In Disney's The Wild the antagonists are a herd of wildebeests... with near-flawless dance moves.
  • In Spongebob Square Pants, Spongebob is dragged through a field of giant clams, cheese graters, and finally, Educational Television!
  • In Dragon Hunters episode 32, an old man is interrogated by threatening him with book spoilers.
  • South Park:
    • When the Feds workers are trying to force information out of the boys in "Starvin' Marvin in Space" they do so by... having one worker rub his hand against a balloon to make a noise that is apparently hard on the ears. Cartman eventually cracks.
    • Barbara Streisand's singing is so torturous to the boys it causes one of them to tell her where he hid a small artifact he took from Kyle. Guess which one it is.
    • In "Cartman's Incredible Gift", Cartman is captured by the "left-hand killer" and forced to watch slides of vacation photos.
    • Saddam Hussein actually likes Hell. So how does Satan get rid of him? He asks God to let him into Heaven. The residents are so nice it's a Fate Worse than Death for him.
  • In The Simpsons, when Homer sells his soul for a donut, the Devil (Flanders) agrees to Marge's insistence of a trial to determine who owns his soul, but he must remain in Hell until the trial begins. Homer's punishment while he waits is to be forced to eat donuts without rest. He promptly eats and eats and his torturer remarks that nobody has ever lasted so long.
    • In a very early (first season) episode, Ms. Krabapple punished Bart for acting out on the bus by making him sing in front of everyone. (Bart asked if he could choose the song, but she refused, saying it would be "John Henry Was a Steel Drivin' Man".) This turns out to be an Unishment, because Bart can actually sing it pretty well.
    • Bart finishes a campfire horror story with the line "...and that's how much college is going to cost for Maggie." Homer's rightfully horrified.
    • From the episode where Bart tries to steal a video game, does show that Homer's not very good at coming up with punishments himself:
      "I've figured out the boy's punishment. First, he's grounded. No leaving the house, not even for school. Second, no egg nog. In fact, no nog, period. And third, absolutely no stealing for three months."
    • Most of Principal Skinner's Vietnam memories are legitimately horrifying, but one of them actually does fit this trope:
      Skinner: I spent the next three years in a POW camp, forced to subsist on a thin stew of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right.
  • The World of David the Gnome: In the wedding episode, the trolls try to crash said wedding, but the gnomes escape. One of the more dim-witted trolls, Pat, then falls into a pit trap and refuses to tell the gnomes who was behind the party-crashing. David then declares that Pat has decided to stay behind and get an education, to which the other gnomes agree and start listing off the subjects he'll learn, good manners included. Pat starts pleading for mercy and that he'd "rather die" after Lisa mentions he'll graduate with flying colors. After she says she'll teach him to wash with rose-scented soap, he's ready to talk.
  • Looney Tunes, "Early To Bet". The gamble-holic cat is subjected to a Wheel o' Punishment chock full of these sorts of things whenever he loses to the dog. "No! Not that! Not the Geshundteit!" Eventually, the dog refuses to play with him, because he's afraid the cat will get hurt.
    • Before "Early To Bet" was "It's Hummer Time", where the punishments are just randomly meted out to the cat when it upsets the dog while trying to pursue a hummingbird. "No! NOT HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"
  • In the Kim Possible movie So the Drama we get a look at one of Drakken's proposed master plans. Which has one of his mooks subjected to a set that looks an awful lot like the "It's a Small World" ride. He decides it's too much.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, when a thief is arrested for trying to steal Hank's car, the very creative judge sentences the thief to three months of living in a car. (The judge tells him that if he sends him to jail, they'll just teach him how to be a better car thief. Hank actually admires the judge for having common sense.)
  • In a Mickey Mouseworks cartoon, Mickey and Minnie find themselves in a place called Topsy Turvy Town where everyone does the opposite. They are arrested (long story) and put in prison, where they find that their "punishment" is rest and relaxation on a beach.
  • Prior to the formation of Gorillaz, Murdoc and 2D had a horribly twisted Meet Cute when Murdoc ram-raided the keyboard shop 2D worked at, hit 2D with the car, and put him into a coma. Instead of jail, Murdoc was sentenced to thirty thousand hours (a total of about three years) of community service, plus ten hours a week of watching the unconscious 2D. Semi-logical, but if you needed proof that theirs is a Crapsack World, remember this is Murdoc Niccals we're talking about.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Codename: Kids Next Door crossover has Mandy inflicting one of the most horrifying tortures known to man on Numbuh 1...making him watch Fred Fredburger act weird and spout non sequiturs. For hours. He's screaming "MAKE IT STOP!" by the end.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In the episode "The Old Switcharooms" Dexter's father makes him and Dee Dee stay in each other's rooms as punishment for running into him (causing his bowling trophy to break). Later Dad confines Dexter to the doghouse, leaving him to worry about the fate of his lab.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, Spunky is sent to the pound for not having his collar (after another, tougher dog took it off him). Rocko goes to rescue Spunky, and is mistaken for a dog. The other dogs in the pound tell Rocko about the conditions they are forced to endure, one of which is being subjected to repeats of a syrupy cartoon called "Marvin the Happy Cat". (one of the dogs even pleads, "Somebody neuter me!" as the show starts up again). This inspires Rocko to run for the position of dog catcher of O-town.
  • American Dad!!: in the episode "In Country... Club", Roger wants the code to the Pay-per-view channel. When Stan won't give it to him, Roger kidnaps Stan during a Vietnam War reenactment and tortures him by reading the first draft of the Sex and the City film. This was after he had already subjected him to a genuinely brutal beatdown.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode "The Former Life of Brian," Dylan, Brian's human son who is older than Brian, makes Meg watch the 178 hours of Monty Python that weren't funny or memorable.
    • Another episode ends with Cleveland and Quagmire tied up in the basement of a building, forced to watch the DirectTV Help Channel on a continuous loop.
  • In an episode of Recess entitled "The Box", the character T.J. is forced to stand in a box painted on the ground. Everyone else is told to ignore him or be punished likewise. He goes Partially insane by the end of recess until he realizes it's just a line painted on the ground.
  • One Total Drama episode featured the contestants being tortured in various off-kilter ways, including eating ice cream until you get brain freeze.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Megavolt tried to think up some way to torture his prisoners, one of them was "Make them watch Game Shows".
    • One of Quackerjack's sinister toys is the Mr. History doll, who just sprouts random historic facts with the intention of boring you to death.
    Quackerjack: Get ready for the Industrial Revolution!
  • In the Mega Man cartoon, the episode "Electic Nightmare" had Roll strapped to a chair, where she received... a bad facial.
  • In Transformers Prime Starscream punishes Knockout for his failure, by putting a huge scratch in his finish.
  • In the 80's My Little Pony movie, evil witch Hydia tortures her daughters Reeka and Draggle into confessing why the Smooze was stopped by forcing them to eat ice cream. Under normal circumstances, the witches ate sandwiches made with live bats and other disgusting things.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when a batshit crazy Alicorn-Amulet-Powered Trixie shows up for revenge, she does everything from manipulating age to removing Pinkie Pie's mouth. Then she puts Rarity in a horrible dress, which literally reduces her to tears.
    • Another earlier example in The Last Roundup: When Applejack started working at a cherry farm and won't tell the others why she won't return, they decide to send Pinkie Pie in to ramble on and on about random topics until Applejack finally caves in.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Toadwart warns Tummi that if he doesn't do what he says, he'll resort to the deluxe torture plan.
    Toadwart: Your be forced to listen to a medley of popular folk tunes sung by Gad and Zook.
  • In Winx Club, the inmates of Light Rock are subjected to cute animals, happy music and nice environment non-stop until they reform. Only the Trix resisted more than a couple months (instead becoming more evil as revenge), but when the guards recaptured them they were terrified of returning there.
  • In one rather memorable episode of Challenge Of The Super Friends, the Legion of Doom stole a powerful matter transmuting device, but in the process, most of them abandoned Cheetah, Sinestro, and Black Manta in order to escape with it, leaving them to be captured by the heroes. As you might expect, those three were very angry at their teammates when they escaped, and decided to teach them a lesson by commandeering the device and using it to play billiards, with them as the balls.
  • In the Jetlag Productions version of Snow White, the Queen has a temper tantrum upon learning Snow White is still alive after a third attempt to kill her. She shatters all her mirrors, but when she throws a hand mirror towards her Magic Mirror, she's horrified when the hand mirror simply goes into it and disappears. The voice in the mirror starts mocking her for her petty jealousy and then sucks her in, stating she will never again see her own face. The Queen is last seen banging on the other side of the glass before disappearing.
  • In DuckTales, when Glomgold gets caught framing Scrooge, the judge orders him to always keep a portrait of the world's richest duck in his house. Thus, Glomgold has to put up with Scrooge grinning down at him constantly.
    • Scrooge once recounted how a police officer was sentenced to 30 days wearing skirts for arresting him for wearing a skirt simply because he was wearing a kilt. (Scrooge lucked out: the judge was also a guy who wore a kilt; he wasn't amused.)
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man the Trapster attacks a school play of Spider-Man, traps Flash Thompson who he thought was Spider-Man, then is subdued by the real Spider-Man and forced to listen to Flash's horrible singing till the police arrive.
  • This precious gem from the first Aloysius Pig episode of Garfield and Friends:
    "You clean your room first, then maybe you can be in charge. Bossing people around. I don't know where you'd get that!"
  • The 1964 Tom and Jerry cartoon "Much Ado About Mousing" had Jerry under the protection of an unnamed bulldog. Rather than beating up Tom (as Spike did in the Golden Age cartoons), this dog would roll Tom up into a bowling ball and send him hurtling through garbage cans into water. This happens to Tom at least three times in the cartoon.
  • In a "Bullwinkle's Corner" segment of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bullwinkle does the "Queen of Hearts" poem, where he's the king, Rocky is the queen, and Boris is the knave who steals the tarts Rocky made. They were turnip tarts, so when Boris promises he'll steal no more, Bullwinkle says, "You don't get off that easy. You stole them, friend, you eat 'em!" With that, he shoves a turnip tart into Boris' mouth, and Boris looks sick.
    • Boris and Natasha did this a lot too. In one episode, Natasha made Bullwinkle talk by having Boris tie him up and then eating a huge sundae in front of him. (It was torture for Boris too, given his reaction.)

     Real Life  
  • The Russians' execution of the first Impersonator of Dmitriy. They shot and burned him, put the ashes in a canister, put the canister in a cannon, and shot the canister towards Poland.
  • After Napoleon Bonaparte had been defeated in the Battle of Laon, the victors exiled him to the island of Elba. They gave him sovereignty of the island and its inhabitants. They couldn't match Napoleon's cool, though, given that he escaped while they were distracted. It was a meaningless island with barely working infrastructure. A few months under Napoleon's governorship, and the island was running like clockwork. It was at this point he got bored again and thought about taking back France.
  • Two words: Rick Roll.
  • There was a judge known for his unusual sentencing, among the examples:
    • Forcing a man to stand on a street corner with a pig, holding a sign that says "This is not a police officer" after evading arrest and calling a cop a pig.
      • Michael Cicconetti from Painsville, OH. Other highlights: sentencing a woman who abandoned kittens in a forest to spend a night in the woods alone with no food and only the clothes on her back, sentencing a man who stole from a Salvation Army kettle to spend 24 hours homeless, and man who stole pornography was sentenced to standing outside the shop blindfolded and holding a sign saying "See no evil".
    • Similarly, a Denver man who got caught using a dummy to sneak into the high occupancy vehicle lane on the highway was sentenced to stand by the road with a sign saying "The HOV Lane Is Not For Dummies."
    • Another set of youths had to read classic lit., and write book reports.
    • Sounds like Ted Poe, who now represents TX-2 in Congress. He loved doing that kind of thing.
  • According to this article, police officers in Bangkok may be punished for minor infractions by being forced to wear a Hello Kitty armband.
  • Rumors have circulated that when Saddam Hussein was detained by the US military, he was forced to watch the scenes from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut showing him as Satan's gay lover. Over and over again.
  • Antanas Mockus, mayor of Bogota, Columbia, hired 420 mimes to curb traffic violations by ridiculing jaywalkers and reckless drivers, and encouraging other pedestrians to do the same. And it worked.
  • Courts in Singapore are big on punishing criminals by embarrassing them. For example, they often sentence someone to community service, picking up trash while wearing a sign on a his chest describing the crime he comitted. Considering Singapore's draconian laws against littering, picking up enough trash to fill the quote might...take a while. Not to mention that corporal punishment for some crimes is legal there (and the subject of controversy).
  • Ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? That's one huge example of this trope. Montgomery C. Meigs was asked to find a new place to bury the Civil War dead. What did he do? He chose the house and property of the man he felt was responsible, Confederate General and Virginian Robert E. Lee. (We should note there was no shortage of bad blood between Meigs and Lee, as each regarded the other as a traitor: Meigs, a Georgian who remained loyal to the Union, saw Lee as a traitor for rebelling against his homeland, the United States, while Lee, a Virginian first and foremost, saw Meigs as a traitor for abandoning his homeland, the State of Georgia.) It gets even better though, when Meigs' son was killed in battle he buried him in Mrs. Lee's flower bed. Oh the delicious irony.
  • The small town of Mason, Texas had a problem with the influx of prisoners to its tiny jail. The sheriff's solution? Deter re-offenders by painting the inside of the jail pink and forcing the prisoners to wear pink jumpsuits and making them eat bologna sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Apparently, it worked.)
    • Sheriff Joe Arpaio did the same thing in Arizona.
  • In Ohio, if one is convicted of a DUI, they're required to place bright yellow license plates on their vehicle in order to drive. Not only is it embarrassing - and a reminder every time the offender looks at their car—but it's a proverbial red flag to other drivers: they know to be more cautious around that vehicle.
    • Gallagher used to have a joke like that, saying that drivers should carry toy guns that shoot suction cup darts for when they see another driver being a jerk; and that when a car gets four darts, the other drivers can pull him over and each take a tire.
  • In Valley Falls, NY, a vandal who tore down and burned an American flag belonging to the local VFW post for refusing to serve him beer at their bar without ID was given a choice: either the VFW could call the cops and press vandalism charges (probably worth a couple weeks jail, since such a politically charged crime is guaranteed to earn its maximum allowable sentence), or he could accept being duct-taped to the flagpole for six hours while wearing a humiliating sign, or he could fight a veteran in a one-on-one battle. Needless to say, he picked Door #2.
  • You also have some of the more minor ones that drive people insane. One shown by the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats is a flickering light. Lock someone in a room with it and most people will go insane, especially if it is at a slow random pace, like Chinese water torture. The playing of a kiddy song over and over was just plain cruel. An especially interesting one as well is not allowing someone to go into deep sleep, so even though they slip out of consciousness, when you wake them up to interrupt them they don't feel like they've slept at all. Although after a few days they start hallucinating and go batshit insane but it's better than some of the other ways.
    • The No Sleep one was used on Cercei Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire to make her confess her sins. It worked.
  • Two old men in Britain were convicted of making the lives of everyone nearby a misery with their endless feuding. The judge ordered them to be handcuffed together for 12 hours per day. They became fast friends, since the alternative was unthinkable.
  • An episode of Nickelodeon magazine had an article about a female judge whose punishment for teens blasting rap music in public places was to put them in a room and force them to listen to Beethoven for several hours.
    • Hear a story once, where people were playing loud rap music in a dorm. It was keeping people in the next room awake, so what did they do? If you guessed blasted classical music through the walls back to them, then you're today's winner!
  • There was a instructor in ROTC, a Captain, who would have a cadet stand at attention in the back of the room if he caught him nodding off. If the cadet STILL managed to nod off while at attention, the instructor would have them hold a chair over their head.
    • This is akin to proper military behavior. If someone is nodding off during a briefing it was perfectly understandable to get up from your seat and stand in the back.
    • It only ever gets more creative when you get into the real military, where they're allowed to humiliate you on a grand scale in front of dozens if not hundreds of your peers. Picture things on the level of fraternity hazing, only its not hazing because it's punishment rather than a membership requirement.
      • Take for example, "The Dying Cockroach," in which the soldier being punished was forced to lie on their back while kicking and flailing their arms and yelling "I'm a dying cockroach!" until the punisher saw fit to let it end.
      • Another example: Leave your weapon unattended? Do a series of Iron Mikes to 'buy' it back. Fall asleep in a class session? Stand at the back of the room, holding a canteen, looking through the loop that holds the lid on (playing sniper it's called.) Get caught watching the TV in the mess-hall? You get put on your elbows and toes to 'watch TV', and occasionally change channels. Caught doing something in the chow line you aren't supposed to? Stand outside the line reciting EXACTLY what you did so that other recruits don't repeat the mistake. It's safe to say that since the days of a Drill Sergeant beating the snot out of you ended, it just encouraged them to get creative in the HOW they punish you and your whole unit.
      • There is also MASH, which stands for Make A Sailor Hurt. They're not allowed to beat you, but they are allowed to make you exercise until you wish they were beating you.
    • Called "Beasting" in the British Army, and every bit as horrible as the word implies.
    • The royal Military Academy at Sandhurst has a punishment called "Show-clean". this involves cleaning and polishing every issue item in your locker, arranging every item within the locker on the correct shelf or hook as per regulation, and then taking the whole thing to the guardhouse on a hand-truck for inspection. If a single item is out of place or showing even a speck of dirt, everything gets tipped out on the ground regardless of weather, and the hapless cadet officer is instructed to truck it all back to his quarters and do it all over again. And again. And again. Until the duty NCO is satisfied. As NCO instructors at Sandhurst are largely drawn from the Brigade of Guards, who have VERY high standards of presentation, this process may take some time.
    • In Britain, a deathwish driver from Lincolnshire was forced to see the consequences of his driving by going to the accident and emergency department at the local hospital. Needless to say, this was An Aesop in itself on how not to drive.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger has gone on record as threatening his political opponents with having them watch his Red Sonja movie.
  • On the last season of Celebrity Big Brother UK after he failed a task, Jonas Erik Altberg (Basshunter) and Lady Sovereign were forced to be stuck in a room listening to Jonas' song All I Ever Wanted on repeat for hours.
  • Famous case from the 1980s: a notorious slumlord was sentenced to live in one of his own buildings. Yup, Joe Pesci's The Super was based on a true story.
  • A Malaysian political aide tweeted defamatory comments about his friend's employer. They responded by suing him, and he was forced to apologize 100 times on Twitter.
  • Man prefers jail over arguing with wife. Long story short, dude was sentenced to house arrest, pleaded to be put in jail. They denied the request, and sent him back to house arrest, thinking that arguing with the wife was more than enough punishment.
  • A small example, but as punishment for stealing soap in the Mohave county the thief is forced to wash themselves with said soap until it is completely used up.
  • The German author Hans Fallada remembers in his biographical work Damals bei uns daheim how he and his brother snuck into the storage room and ate part of a Baumkuchen intended for a family celebration. The punishment: for quite a long while, they got (pieces of) the rest of the cake as school meals, until they couldn't stand the confectionary any more.
  • The procedures for electing a new pope essentially come down to locking the cardinals into a room until they make a decision, and if that doesn't work, start restricting their food supply. Historically, this has included such things as removing the roof.
  • A few instances of men having sex with goats in rural areas have been punished by forcing the suitor to pay a bride-price to the owner and formally get married to the subject of their affections.
  • A documentary said that detainees in Guantanamo Bay were tortured by forcing them to listen to Sesame Street songs.
    • Listening to anything at the duration and volumes reported would cause sleep deprivation and other problems, though; the Sesame Street songs may have been good choices (they were certainly good choices if making people take the technique less seriously was the intention) but even a song you want to listen to isn't one you want forcibly played to you all night at unreasonable decibel levels.
  • Davao City, Philippines vice mayor Rodrigo Duterte — who was infamous for Flipping the Bird while defending his daughter, the mayor of same city, who punched a sheriff in 2011 — had a swindler eat the fake land titles the latter presented to informal settlers he duped.
  • It has been repeatedly suggested that the US government should interrogate terrorists by forcing them to watch/listen to Barney The Dinosaur.
  • One kid in the Netherlands thought it would be funny to hack his older brother's Facebook profile. The brother did think about doing the same to him in retaliation, but decided to take a somewhat more creative tack. He turned his brother's room into a little girl's room, complete with My Little Pony light switch, Justin Bieber posters, a set of girl's rollerblades, Twilight novels and a vibrator. He even replaced the carpet and the furniture! When Disproportionate Retribution meets Cool and Unusual Punishment the results can be simply epic. Then, a year later, he tilted his brother's room 90 degrees, while admitting that the brother hadn't even done anything bad this time.
  • In the beginning of the Vietnam War, they used to run through the muddy creek beds at Parris Island. That is, until an instructor left seven recruits there until after the tide came in.
  • After the warship Cheonan was sunk, South Korea blamed the North and counter-attacked... with Pop Music. It pissed off the "Dear Leader" enough that he vowed to destroy any speakers set up along the border.
  • One of your mangaka missed a deadline? Confuse her readers by flipping a page of her story in retaliation!
  • According to the AA, Thames Valley police have allowed primary schools to borrow their radar guns for use in classes. Children are allowed to stand at the school gate and point the gun at passing cars to measure their speed. Drivers caught speeding in this manner have been given two choices, either face prosecution as normal, since the gun records enough evidence, or attend the primary school to explain to a group of preteens why they were speeding. Most prefer to be prosecuted, even though it costs an average of £600 (US$1,000) in fines and insurance premiums.
  • A family court in Argentina sentenced two divorcees who were using their children to put one over on each other to read The Little Prince to their children 'so that [the parents] learn to treat their children like persons'.

Cold-Blooded TortureA Tortured IndexCorporal Punishment
Comically Missing the PointOlder Than FeudalismCool Horse
We Have ReservesVillain BallCruel Mercy
Butterfly Of TransformationImageSource/Web ComicsCute Bookworm
Conveniently Timed GuardAction Adventure TropesCuffs Off, Rub Wrists
Confusion FuJust for PunLes Cops Sportif

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