Bug: My father? Very strict. It didn't matter that I was the youngest, when I would act up, he gave me his belt. Dick: You wore the same size? Bug: No, as punishment he would put me over his knee and give me a whooping. Dick: He gave a "whoopin" and a belt? Bug: With a belt. Dick: And then he gave you the belt? Bug: Um... yeah.
Li'l Jimmy's done it now. His dad is angry, and this is a crime worthy of far more than a Time Out. And Daddy's getting out the belt. This ain't gonna be pretty.
Truth in Television. Corporal Punishment has been around since practically the beginning of time. More and more parents are considering it barbaric these days, but it still goes on. Values Dissonance tends not to be called out, (like other forms of punishment/abuse) because of how common an occurrence this trope was in Real Life for anyone born before the last couple of decades, and how common it is in certain cultures. Heck, many parents still use spanking today, despite many sources going against it.
Of course, in the comedic version, the father takes his belt off, raises his arm to apply some pain, and his pants immediately fall down for want of a belt to hold them up.
Sometimes this trope is inverted when the father, after realizing he has been unfair with his son, hands his son the belt at the last minute and tells him to spank him.
"You're not too big to turn over my knee" is a common variation. A variation of this trope in a Southern US setting is "Do you want me to cut a switch"?
A common and rather peculiar feature of this trope is that the son or sometimes daughter who is threatened with the belt is often high school or even college-aged, but no one on the show seems to find it odd that they are still being spanked as if they were children. A possible explanation is that young kids may make up a large part of the shows' viewers and hence may find this sort of punishment relateable.
Related in spirit to Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!, but different in application.
It is often treated like an explicit child abuse or an older form of discipline in period pieces. Can be coupled with (and the result of) Calling the Old Man Out.
See also Corporal Punishment, A Taste of the Lash.
Granddad: Riley, your granddad is from a very small town. Do you know what the name of the town is? Riley: Whuppin Riley's Narrow Behind. Granddad: And you're making me what? Riley: Homesick.
Although he also uses his belt as a bonus weapon against pimps and hustlers.
Nick Fury does this to a corrupt military general in an issue of Punisher Max.
To explain why, the general had put together a cell of middle eastern terrorists and sent them on a plane, which they were to hijack. The plane was then blown up by the Russians, killing the US funded terrorists and the innocent people aboard. Don't worry, he and his associates get a better punishment for it later.
Any issue of The Beano in days gone by would have included at least two instances of this.
Donald Duck in the comics doesn't have a belt, but he'd often chase his nephews with a stick.
Used to, anyway. This is practically nonexistent in the modern strips, and these days the boys aren't in need of this kind of treatment anyway, being usually more competent and mature than their uncle.
In Dennis The Menace (US), Dennis once protests to his mother about always being sent to time-out every time he misbehaves. She reminds him that she could spank him instead and he quickly decides to go with the time-out.
In Link's New Look, what's the thing that YoungLink fears the most in the world? A spanking from Princess Zelda. Apparently a Falcon Punch to the face is nothing compared to getting spanked by her.
John Gage got it a lot as a kid in the slightly AU Emergency! fic "Remembrances of Things Past". To the point where he has a major panic attack in the locker room when Roy, who's a bit angry at him about something, quickly pulls his belt off as he's changing. Roy has to reassure John he isn't going to hit him with it.
Films — Live-Action
Pootie Tang has a magic +5 belt of whoopass which is the Source Of His Power.
In Good Will Hunting, Will describes how his father would add a layer of psychological torment by making him choose what he would be beaten with. He always chose a wrench, the worst of the three options, "Because fuck him, that's why."
Treated humorously in John Waters' black comedy Female Trouble. Dawn Davenport, played by Divine, threatens to whip her daughter Taffy with a car aerial for jumping rope.
Spoofed in Troll 2, where the dad fumbles with his belt while yelling at his son for ruining their food... and tightens it to deal with the hunger pains.
In The Godfather Carlo threatening and attacking Connie with a belt after she confronts him about his affairs is the thing that drives Sonny over the edge, on purpose of course, so that Sonny is lured to his death at the tollbooth.
In Get On The Bus, Flip tells a story about the time he tried out for his school's track team against his mother's wishes. She showed up at the tryouts with a belt so thick nobody could actually wear it, and, well... let's just say Flip hates wearing belts to this day.
In Rock N Rolla, in a flashback, we briefly see Lenny Cole getting ready to take his belt to his rebellious son, the future rock'n'rolla Johnny Quid.
In Bastard out of Carolina, Bone's stepfather Glen frequently whips her savagely with a belt. When her uncles find out about this they give Glen a beating with his own belt.
In Talk Radio, Barry Champlain takes a call from a listener who tells him, "My kids give me any trouble, I take off m'belt. They see the belt, that's it." Barry proceeds to berate him for hitting his kids.
The Headmaster, form masters and prefects of Greyfriars school can all dispense corporal punishment and do with (to a modern reader, at least) incredible frequency and little regret. A poor or obnoxious student, like the notorious Billy Bunter, can expect 'six' for offences as minor as 'lounging'. "Yaroooooh!", indeed.
In Richard Wright's Black Boy, Richard offends his visiting uncle without understanding why. He had offended his uncle when, after being woken up in the middle of the night because his uncle wanted to know what time it was, his perfectly civil response is somehow perceived as insolent. The uncle declares that he'll give Richard (who is around 11) the beating of a lifetime. The uncle makes a big show of ripping a branch off a hickory tree in the yard to whip him. Only to discover that Richard, in the meantime, has snatched up two razor blades between his fingers, one on each fist, and told his uncle that he'd fight him off. After a standoff, the uncle looks very weary, and gives up while sighing. Then the uncle tells everybody in Richard's life that the boy is a menace and is not to be given any help whatsoever in anything...including school.
Miss Trunchbull threatens to punish Matilda with the buckle end of her belt.
Subverted in the short story The Pudding Like a Night on the Sea from The Stories Julian Tells. Julian's father warns him and his little brother to not, under any circumstances, eat the pudding he's just made for her mother when she gets home. Of course, Julian dares his brother into eating it. The father snarls, "There's going to be some beating and some whipping!" What happens next? You guessed it. Their punishment is to make a new pudding, and they have to beat the eggs and whip the cream.
Happens to Menolly in the Dragonriders of Pern. When she starts improvising, her sexist father, who is ashamed that a mere daughter has the skills of a Harper, ominously dismisses the class she's teaching and signals to her to lift up her tunic (not what it sounds like, but unpleasant in a totally different way) before belting her savagely. Even Menolly's mother, who's not a great help to the girl at the best of times, is shocked by the injuries inflicted on her unfavourite daughter.
The Bible has a verse or two about physical punishment, for example Proverbs 23:13-14: "Withhold not discipline from the child, for if you strike and punish him with the rod, he will not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." Elsewhere, though, it warns fathers not to drive their children to anger.
The Halachic codex Shulkhan ‘Arukh subverts this by saying that if you must hit your child to discipline him, use nothing worse than a shoelace.
Discworld: Verence II of Lancre was beaten by his grandfather with a belt often when a child. Since said grandfather was a retired court jester, it was a belt with bells on, which made it more painful.
Nimbalo The Slayer's father in the Redwall book Taggerung frequently did this, until he finally stood up to the scumbag and ran off. Despite this, Nimbalo's still heartbroken when he discovers that his father was murdered by the vermin they're chasing with his own battle axe.
In Me and My Little Brain, part of The Great Brain series, John finally gets fed up with his adopted brother attacking him in mute silence, so he takes his little brother behind the woodshed and delivers an intense spanking. He expects to be whipped even worse by his parents for it, but the discipline breaks through the trauma his little brother had earlier experienced and caused him to open up to humanity again.
Purple Hibiscus: Kambili (a girl) pushes her deranged father over the edge and he beats her. She nearly dies.
Inverted in an allegorical story where the much-loved father of a naughty boy forces the boy to beat him for the boy's misdeeds instead of the other way around. The boy cries throughout the process since he does love his father and hates hurting him. This helps the boy realise that by misbehaving, he's hurting his father as much as a beating hurts and causes the boy to try to behave better.
Live Action TV
In the 1950s sitcom "Make Room for Daddy" with Danny Thomas, the three children were frequently threatened with belt spankings. In one the father warns the oldest daughter, who is snootily correcting his grammar, that he will dangle his belt over her "double negative" if she doesn't shut up. In an inversion of this trope, he hands his belt to his son Rusty, who has resigned himself to a whipping and, admitting he was in the wrong, tells Rusty to spank him.
Don Ramon threatened to do this to La Chilindrina in El Chavo del ocho. It was usually followed with a snarky comment from her. For example, there was one occasion where he asked her if she knew what'd happen if he took off his belt and she told him his pants would fall down. He unwittingly proves her right.
On Are You Being Served? Again, Mavis often says that her father will "give her the strap" if she gets caught doing something.
On Desperate Housewives Lynette once threatens to spank her rambunctious sons with an assortment of spanking implements, including a belt which she describes as "a classic" before cracking it. She ends up not spanking them, but in a later episode Bree turns one of boys over her knee, leading to a rift with Lynette.
On one episode of What's Happening!!, Raj went to a party instead of watching Dee like he was supposed to. As punishment, his mother asked him for belt. When Raj replied he wasn't wearing one, Rerun offered his, prompting:
James usually to youngest son Michael (to get him off his soapbox).
Played with in one episode where Michael would rather take the belt than apologize for what he said to his teacher. James was reluctant to hit him too.
Done between adults in The Sopranos when Tony uses his belt to hit his corrupt congressman lackey for sleeping with his mistress. Even though he had (apparently) okayed it earlier.
In at least one episode of The Andy Griffith Show, specifically, "Mr. Mc Beevee." Opie is accused of stealing a quarter, and refuses to concede that Mr. Mc Beevee (a telephone lineman, who gave the coin to Opie) is imaginary, and Andy makes an implied threat that if Opie doesn't bend, he could face a whipping. The incident is averted when Andy decides he needs to believe his son.
In The Dukesof Hazzard cousins Bo and Luke, despite being in their twenties, were sometimes threatened with strappings by Uncle Jesse.
Little House on the Prairie: Set in an era where whippings as parental punishment were common. Although a few episodes featured abusive parents mercilessly whipping their children (including one where orphans James and Cassandra Cooper ultimately come to live with the Ingalls), two episodes included incidences where whippings are depicted as proper fatherly discipline. When Nels Olesen grabs a belt to punish his spoiled daughter, Nellie (usually, after Nellie committed a particularly humiliating prank on Laura), the whippings are not depicted onscreen, but Nellie's screaming can be heard off-screen as she is being lashed .
A sketch from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In had the mother (Ruth Buzzi) tell the father (Dave Madden) that their son (Henry Gibson) was misbehaving and to punish him. Dad takes Junior into the next room and sounds of spanking are heard. When they come out, Mom coddles Junior and says Dad was so mean to hit him. Outraged, Dad takes his belt off and takes Mom into the next room for a spanking while Junior tries told the laughter in.
Subverted in Malcolm in the Middle. Lois calmly asserts that she will spank Malcolm if he does not remain grounded and stay on his cot, who was objecting as they were having to sleep in cots in a school gym (the neighboorhood was evacuated because of a chemical spill) and the punishment was not really appliable. When Malcolm disobeys her, she puts him over her knee, everybody else in the gym watching...And she gives him a light tap. The purpose of the "spanking" was not to punish him with pain, but with embarrassment.
A flashback scene in Roswell shows a young Michael running away from his foster father, who can be seen in the background with his belt in his hands.
In Married... with Children, Bud often offers to fetch Al's belt when Kelly is in trouble. Al however never actually punishes either of the kids in this manner.
By The Sword Divided: In the first episode, Sir Martin canes his daughter Lucinda for refusing to meet Lord Edward, her arranged husband-to-be. Much later in the series, having fallen in love with him, Lucinda tells Edward about her punishment and says that she deserved much worse.
It's implied that Jack Arnold was about to do this to Kevin in the pilot episode of The Wonder Years for getting called to the principal's office. Kevin reflected that his dad had never spanked him before, but he had seen him do it to Wayne and he recognized that look. The punishment was quickly forgotten however when they got home to find out that Winnie Cooper's older brother was killed in Vietnam.
A common match type is a "whipping" match, or a "(whip/belt/other weapon of the promoter's choice) on a pole," where the objective is for one wrestler to whip his opponent into bloody and bruised submission. Various adjustments to the rules apply.
In 1987, when Ken Patera was released from prison (he had served time on a vandalism charge), he turned against former ally Bobby "the Brain" Heenan and renounced his former rule-breaking ways, sealing the deal when Patera whipped Heenan before tying the belt around his neck and whipping him across the screen. A week later, Heenan's minions got revenge by ganging up on Patera and whipping him until he lost consciousness.
Cited by many Black stand-up comedians. Sinbad even had a routine wherein his mother turned into a superhero for the express purpose of catching him and giving him a whupping. It was for talking back to her (which you did not do with your parents back in the day) during lawn cutting day, and then turning around while she was reprimanding him. She beat him so bad, it was Monday when he woke up.
Bill Cosby referred to this in many of his stand-up routines, including his mother's threat to "knock the black off of him". One routine he specifically cited it - "We had never seen 'The Belt'. But we had heard about it."
Here's one from a comedian named Russell Peters. "Somebody's gonna get a hurt real bad," indeed.
"Look, I know all comics come on stage and say you need to beat your kids, but as a father, let me just say publicly that maybe we should stop beating our kids... publicly."
Pretty common with a lot of ethnic groups, especially Irish. Denis Leary:
"Hey, my dad used to beat the shit out of me, and looking back I'm glad he did. And I'm looking forward to beating the shit out my kids. Aren't you?"
(Leary's routines from after he became a father make it clear his kids have got him totally wrapped around their fingers.)
Rex Navarette would fondly recall the usage of his mother's toe on him in Church.
Steve Geyer recalled how his mother would tell him to bring her something to spank him with. At first, he would bring "a belt with a buckle on it", but eventually wised up and started bringing her sheets of notebook paper (don't laugh, he still has paper cut scars back there). Then she moved on to Hot Wheels tracks.
Steve: And then, one day, I thought to myself, "Steve, get a clue, she's spanking you... with your own toys?!" Yeah, glad I never got that wood-burning set I wanted, though.
One black comic mentioned that her mom once spanked her with a wet towel for lack of anything better. "My ass said 'Motel 6' for a week."
It also happens with redneck stand-up comics. Jeff Foxworthy stated that getting a "time out" in his family meant that "our dad would take time out of his busy day to blister our butts!"
Bill Engvall, who states that there's nothing like "the sound of a belt clearing belt loops".
Russell Peters did a routine about the time he tried to defy this trope. He'd gone over to a friend's house and seen how he talked back to his parents. When asked, the boy told him that they couldn't touch him because of child services. The comedian then imitates the boy upon returning home (responding to being nagged about chores with "fuck you dad"). His father, naturally, is less than impressed, and demands he front up for punishment. The comedian then tells his father that if he touches him he'll call child services. His dad's response? "Let me get you the phone." The father points out that there's a 23 minute gap between the call being made and someone arriving at the house, and that in that time, "somebody gonna get a hurt real bad."
Christian comedian Mark Lowry said that when you heard the sound of his dad's belt flying through belt loops "you knew JUDGEMENT had come!!
Double Subverted by Louis C.K. in a routine where he rants about how ridiculous corporal punishment is. "Kids are the only people it's okay to hit! They're the most defenseless, and they're the only people it's okay to hit!."
In EarthBound, after Pokey and his brother Picky arrive late at home, his father takes them both upstairs and a repeating smacking sound is heard. Afterward, when Ness talks to him, he says "I was really scolded by my father. Aa, my butt hurts." The American localization replaced the smacking sound with something more comical (though, from context, it's still obviously a hit) and Pokey replies with "My dad really got after me. He said I get no dessert for the rest of the decade..."
In the old school learning adventure game Peppers Adventures In Time, Pepper meets a young Ben Franklin and chats with him. However, at one point his father calls from upstairs for Ben to bring the candle wick that he'd (forgotten to) pick up at the general store. If you don't give him the bit of string you have in your inventory, Ben eventually goes upstairs to face the music and a smacking sound ensues.
In Halo 3, Sgt. Johnson will occasionally yell out in the middle of combat "Don't make me take off my belt!"
A caller on Chatterbox in Grand Theft Auto III mentions that he was disciplined as such by his nanny when he was a boy. Now he's seeking a nanny because "Freddie's been a very naughty boy". About a minute later, it's revealed that the caller himself is Freddie and he now gets sexual satisfaction from spanking.
Princess Raeka has a moment of this to Itchyknee-san in Samurai Princess during their battle in the tower.
Lurking Dragon's Rejuve Universe is all about this trope. To wit, humanity finds some alien technology that allows them to be immortal by "rejuvenating" their bodies.But because aliens were asexual beings, machines doing it can't handle human puberty, so the people have to be sent to childhood. Guess what happens to criminals? Yeah, that's right. They get turned into children and given to strict "spanko" parents that spank them on the slightest provocation, then again and again, for decades of punishment (because everybody is practically immortal, years mean nothing to them). You can find more explanations on this page as well as original stories here (Warning, NSFW link)
In the New Grounds unlockable game "The Last Piece of Cake", a father gets into a fight to the death with his son over the last piece of cake. One of his random taunts is "Don't make me take my belt off".
Typically happens at the end of an episode of Moral Orel. This eventually developed into a Running Gag of Clay's pants falling down because he forgot to put his belt back on after the beating.
In "Bart the Genius", Homer can be briefly seen loosening his belt at his meeting with Principal Skinner about Bart's bad behavior. No damage is done.
In "Pranksta Rap", Bart returns home from sneaking out to a rap concert his parents didn't want him to go to. He looks in the window and sees them angry that he disobeyed them, with Homer taking off his belt and saying Bart's going to be like "N.W.A.: Not Without Asswelts". This prompts Bart to fake his own kidnapping.