"Miss Hudson? I hope you understand that this is only the beginning. In a way I feel sorry for you because from now on I'm going to do everything I can to break you down, do you understand? Doctor Fleming made one mistake and you're it. You're the weak link, Miss Hudson. Now you surprised me today because you were strong. But there's always tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and sooner or later you're gonna talk to me. Until you do you're gonna be questioned, you're gonna be followed, and you're gonna be hounded. And Doctor Fleming can't do anything about it. You're on your own, Miss Hudson, and I'm gonna get to him through you. That's a promise."Instead of physically or psychologically torturing a suspect, the protagonist simply irritates the perp into making a crucial mistake. Can be done while Perp Sweating, or on the stand, as with The Perry Mason Method.
- Agent Romanoff tries to do this to Loki in Calculator, a Thor fic. Had it not been for the fact that Loki honestly didn't know, it might have worked. She says, over and over, in the exact same tone:
Natasha: Now, where is the alleged robot?
- Smoothly done by Captain Carrot on Moist von Lipwig in Making Money, proving himself to be the more Genre Savvy of the two in regards to Police Procedural.
Moist: Look, I know how this sort of thing goes. You keep me talking in the hope that I'll suddenly forget where I am and say something stupid and incriminating, right?
Carrot: Thank you for that, sir.
Moist: Thank me for what?
Carrot: For telling me you know how this sort of thing goes, sir.
- The Police Procedural apparently isn't a popular form of entertainment on Discworld yet.
- Detritus attempts less subtly to apply this to suspects, primarily by asking "Did you do it?" for hours on end. The "correct" answer is something along the lines of "Yes! Yes! I did it! Now please tell me what it is I did!"
- "Did you do it?" is merely the first of his probing questions. He usually followed it up with the persistent 'Are you sure it wasn't you wot did it?" and then the crafty "It was you wot done it, wasn't it?"
- On the other hand, Drumknott managed to stump Detritus by simply answering "No", which is apparently not what the suspect is supposed to say.
- Binder puts on this hat in The Dresden Files. Murphy sees it coming, but she, Harry, and Rawlins play along and convince Binder that he's pulled the wool over them.
- The Cornell Woolrich novel Phantom Lady includes a sequence in which the girlfriend of the imprisoned protagonist, believing a certain bartender has information that will clear his name, spends several days stalking the bartender. She goes to his place of employment, spends his entire shift nursing one drink and staring at him, follows him home and stands below his window, and generally cultivates an appearance of creepy, unsleeping inescapability — without actually saying or doing much of anything. The barman begins cracking under the strain, and just when the girl is ready to call her Friend on the Force to interrogate him in earnest, he becomes so terrified of her that he dashes into traffic and is killed.
- Angel does this to his demon perps.
- In an episode of JAG, Bud irritates a Navy officer into revealing his homicidal views on incompetent members of the armed forces by making a large number of deliberate mistakes whilst cross-examining him.
- Columbo was the king of this. Without letting on that he suspects the perp, he'd have long, seemingly innocuous conversations with the murderer about holes in the murderer's coverup, while the murderer got more and more exasperated as they tried to get off the topic. Just as Columbo seemed about to leave, he'd turn around and add "Just one more thing," throwing an already exasperated perp off-balance.
- The quote at the top is from the pilot, where he has mixed in the above with more than a bit of bullying after the murderer becomes wise to his Obfuscating Stupidity. He confuses and harasses his accomplice instead, since she's the "weak link" while the killer is a more calculating sociopath.
- This is also the main M.O of Monk, although Monk usually does this unintentionally. The most extreme example wasn't carried out by Monk at all. In "Mr. Monk and the Actor", the actor preparing to play Monk in a movie gets a little too Method about the part, and due to a misunderstanding believes that the suspect in Monk's current case killed Monk's wife, Trudy. When the police come to apprehend the murderer, they find the actor advancing on the terrified man with a gun and demanding to know why he did it. The real Monk arrives on the scene and tries to calm the actor:
- Monk: Listen, he didn't kill Trudy. He killed a woman named Michelle and a pawnbroker named Orlov—
Leverett: Yes, that's true — I killed a woman and an old man — I didn't kill Trudy, who the hell is Trudy?
- Quite popular in the various CSI franchises when they've got just enough evidence to know who the Bad Guy is but not enough to take him to court.
- The audience knows it works when the Bad Guy asks for a lawyer.
- The Doctor sometimes uses this technique on Doctor Who.
- Used all the time in Law & Order to break down a perp without saying a word. Particularly memorable was a suspect that was gladly given cup after cup of coffee/water while waiting for an interrogation...for 4 hours. He repeatedly asked to go to the bathroom, but was told that it was broken and the line for the other one was far too long. When the detectives (who were watching behind the one-way mirror) finally got around to questioning him, he was more than glad to give any information they requested because he had to pee.
- Lampshaded in one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit when the Perp is particularly Genre Savvy. He comes this close to drinking before he realized what's going on.
- This gets inverted in an episode of Elementary. Sherlock realizes that a suspect is way too calm for someone who has been drinking liquids for hours and has not gone to the bathroom in all that time. The suspect was stabbed by the man he killed earlier in the day and his body required all that water to replenish the blood he lost.
- Detective Goren from Law & Order: Criminal Intent is rather fond of this technique (seeming to prefer it to gathering actual evidence). Him being an expert in human behavior, he always knows exactly how to anger his suspect into confessing and/or implicating their partner.
- In contrast to the hardball Perp Sweating techniques used by Gibbs and Ziva in NCIS, Tony favors the "annoy them into submission" method. Even Gibbs admits that it's bizarre but effective. SO effective, in fact, that he managed to annoy the head of Mossad (Israeli covert operations) into admitting that BOTH of the "rogue" Mossad agents that had threatened NCIS personnel were actually following his orders to encounter them. This resulted in Ziva getting very angry. At the time, Tony was the one being interrogated—he was so annoying that he turned the situation around!
- Parodied in a recurring sketch on The Fast Show, in which police try this on a suspect to no avail, only for a George Smiley-like master interrogator to show up and casually ask the perp the question out of hand and have him reply without thinking.
- Duckman did this once after Cornfed cleared him of King Chicken's plot to frame him. After calling King Chicken to the stand, Duckman proceeds to "interrogate" him by rambling senselessly until an annoyed King Chicken finally confesses just to shut him up.
- In one episode of The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob is accused of rigging the election, based on getting so many votes as a convicted felon while the other convicted felon running got so few. After Lionel Hutz' intense interrogation fails, the kids badger Bob with accusations that only a Rush Limbaugh Expy could pull off such an elaborate fraud, until he snaps, says it was him, and pulls out a very detailed account of his scheme. He wrote books on how he pulled off electoral fraud.
- They offered the perp a cigarette if he wanted one...
- Note that in real life, this sort of thing and the techniques mentioned on this page may well get someone to 'confess', when really they have nothing to do with the case. As such, the legality (or at least the utility) of exasperating a suspect is very questionable.