Manager: I want to apologize, humbly, deeply, and sincerely about the fork. Man: Oh please, it's only a tiny bit... I couldn't see it. Manager: Ah you're good kind fine people, for saying that, but I can see it... to me it's like a mountain, a vast bowl of pus!
This trope is when somebody does something wrong, but it's a mild wrong, like a white lie, a low misdemeanor (as in a $20 fine), or something that at most gets a "Hey! Not cool!" from your friends, and then the show treats it as crossing the Moral Event Horizon, or at least coming dangerously close.
That lollipop you shoplifted? Those 50 cents it cost will land you about 50 years in prison! You scumbag. How could you? The United Supermarket Corporation will starve because of you! How do you sleep at night, knowing what you've done!?
This trope comes in 4 varieties:
Writers think this isn't that bad, but exaggerate for effect. So this isn't moral dissonance, it's just Anvilicious. Even if the thing is wrong, presenting it as something magnitudes worse usually makes it a Clueless Aesop. Can't Get Away with Nuthin' uses this a lot.
The advertisements where the cow hunts down (and presumably kills) a man who decided he'd prefer eating dead chicken over eating dead cow.
GameFly commercials. Various gamers having epic level temper tantrums over a bad game they purchased, complete with screaming, destruction of personal property, and chucking televisions off their roofs. They have also done commercials about the horrible trade-in rates used game stores tend to give (resulting in the same level of carnage), which makes a little more sense.
Subway has a line of commercials best paraphrased as "Fast food will ruin your life." Someone ordering a fairly normal fast food meal is told things like they'll instantly get fat, be abandoned by their significant other, and need therapy.
A carpet cleaning service, Stanley Steemer, has a commercial where two of their employees see a rolled-up carpet set up for trash collection. Both react as if it were a corpse, complete with one racing out to its side, cradling it tenderly, sobbing "I could have saved this one!", and ending with a Skyward ScreamedBig "NO!".
A commercial for the sweetener Truvia shows a woman committing a particular act. After she completes this act, the shame and self-loathing on her face is glaring. Her SO walks up and looks down at her with a look of absolute disgust. The heinous act this woman committed? Eating a tiny piece of cheesecake, which could have led to her getting fat. Yay eating disorders!
In a similar vein to the GameFly commercials mentioned above, there was once an ad campaign for a Shout laundry spray. The ad consisted of a woman tossing her washing machine and dryer out a second-story window, while screaming to the heavens, "I HATE SET-IN STAINS!" Her neighbor manages to one-up her by throwing the aforementioned appliances through the roof.
A Woolite detergent commercial directed by Rob Zombie portrays some of the less favorable outcomes of a wash cycle (stretching, shrinking and fading) in the style of cold-blooded torture.
One credit card commercial showed people streaming through a checkout counter with astounding speed, swiping their cards with mechanical precision. Then one guy pauses for a moment to pull out cash. The line comes to a halt, and every single person there gives him a very nasty look for not being a credit-card-using speed demon.
We have HARD WATER!!!
Johnny Turbo fights tooth and nail against the evil Feka corporation for trying to make a profit with a competing product.
Oak milk. One ad has a somewhat odd fellow walking through a near-deserted fairground at night rambling about a state of "hungrythirsty" before declaring:
The Team Rocket trio of the Pokémon anime, in certain situations. Go after a group of WILD Remoraid to send to HQ? Ten thousand volts and a one way ticket to the stratosphere.
The Pokémon universe seems to have a rule: Use any method but a Poké Ball to catch Pokémon, and expect Laser-Guided Karma to get you. When Jessie snaked a Yanma right out from under the kid who was battling it (using a Poké Ball), not only did Jessie not get a comeuppance, the Yanma evolved into Yanmega in its first battle. All their blastoffs involving catching Pokémon also involve them either stealing other people's Pokémon or using a machine to grab them en masse. You'd think Team Rocket would have made the association by now.
Meowth mentioned once when they were trying to steal a migrating school of WILD Magikarp that Pokéballs cost money and they have none. Though it's more like they prefer snagging pokémon with traps because it's more evil that way. otherwise how could they afford all those mechs? [[Fridge Brilliance: Meowth has the Pick Up ability (starting with the Hoenn region when abilities were introduced), which he can use to find items on the ground and sell for a profit.]]
The Yanma example was more of a breach in unspoken Trainer etiquette than actual stealing. It's a given that barging in and hijacking somebody's attempt at catching a Pokémon is rude, but you're not technically breaking any rules because the Pokémon is still considered wild until it's in a Poké Ball.
Early in season 1, Ash made the mistake of voicing his opinions on thinking that perfume is stupid. He made the mistake of doing so in Erika's shop, and in front of Erika. Having pressed Erika's Berserk Button via gravely insulting what she does for a living, she responds by not only kicking him out of her shop, but banning him from stepping foot in her gym.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu: There's a horse-headed pervert walking the streets. Does he flash his victims, grope them, molest them? No, he gives them ponytails (though that itself can be construed as sexual battery). Sousuke suggests that they torture him. And then he actually gets arrested and is told that he'll be doing a long time in jail.
Elsee from The World God Only Knows once used her demonic powers to skip class to bake a cake, and commented that she's a bad demon for doing so.
To Aru Majutsu no Index, Misaka 10032's reaction to Last Order taking her visor is to chase after her with an assault rifle.
Earlier in the same episode, three of the Sisters (10032, 10039 and 13577) react to the discovery that Misaka 19090 has been dieting and reading a women's magazine by chasing her down like red-eyed demons. We never find out what happened.
In one part of the manga Mikoto complains about the measures taken to prevent people like her from reading manga in the stores without buying it. Her reading the mangas in the store instead of buying would mean less profit for a manga author. Seeing how Mikoto is in a manga with an author she is immediately soundly punished by a seemingly random falling object. Uiharu and Saten immediately start panicking and spew out words into nowhere of buying the manga and its accessories to soothe the wrath of the angered author while Mikoto lies knocked out...
In Tiger & Bunny, Keith Goodman would like everyone to know that ruining birthday parties is a terrible, terrible atrocity.
In Samurai Flamenco, superhero wannabe Masayoshi fights such crimes as littering, jaywalking or violation of the municipal code. It's partly because he can't take on anything more dangerous, partly because those crimes are often ignored by the police.
Cromartie High School has a sequence in which the boys are swapping stories of how "bad" they are. Most of them are also in this category, but Kamiyama's story is the one that leaves everyone shocked; when made to work on a "most dominos toppled" world record project, he placed a bit of adhesive on the second-to-last domino.
Guess what hyper-fundamentalist comic company fits the first kind. If you said Chick Tracts, then you get a gold star. This follows Bible teachings that breaking one law is as bad as breaking them all (James 2:10) and thus all people have sinned and deserve death (Romans 3:23, 6:23).
It's even inverted many times in the tracts themselves: When normal people convert to Christianity they are disowned by their families, fired from their jobs and abandoned by their spouses and friends, for no other reason than embracing the Christian faith. Although granted, this can be reality in some parts of the world, and Jesus predicted that this would happen (Matthew 10:35-37).
The Scarecrow Year One comic features a supposedly "horrific" crime spree by Scarecrow which includes killing one innocent person who had double-crossed him (his erstwhile mentor and fellow professor who refused to speak up for him when it would have saved his job because he didn't want to jeopardize his tenure), killing the grandmother who had wanted to murder him when he was born, and trying to kill the father who abandoned him and his mother. On the side, he also kills his mother's abusive husband. When Scarecrow subsequently holds a gun on his own infant half-sister it comes across as more than a little abrupt, considering that up until that point he came off more as a a very angry nerd on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge than an ice cold killer. There's a few brief mentions of his murders-for-hire (a callback to his original origin story), which are the reason Batman and Robin are after him in the beginning, but these are sidelined in favor of the aforementioned rampage.
Granted, any instance of "killing people" is pretty heinous but, compared to some of the things Scarecrow has done in other stories like No Man's Land and Knightfall, Year One is nothing.
In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the "Vegan Police" treat vegans who don't adhere to a vegan diet as criminals. Since veganism gives you superpowers, it seems reasonable to take it seriously.
While she was callous to them, all of Ramona's ex-boyfriends unite to destroy all her subsequent boyfriends and ruin her romantic life.
Max Und Moritz by Wilhelm Busch: Killing her chickens was mean, but the widow reacts in a way you could think they had killed her children.
A type 4 example appears in The Flash, in a flashback to the exploits of 1930s Knight Templar the Clipper. At one point he rescues a family from a burglar and then starts handing out punishments for their "crimes"—right on down to the boy who accidentally broke another child's toy. The punishment is to have all of his toys set on fire.
Boy: Even Pooky?
The Clipper: Of course Pooky! Pooky is the stigmata of your evil!
Calvin had arrested three old ladies for "illegal poodle ownership", bagged four bull dogs saying that they broke the fire hydrant law of America, and turned in ten shocked people who had "illegally thrown candy wrappers into a trash can".
Type Three in What Hath Joined Together: After defending Twilight Sparkle from a furious noble's assault and taking his share of injury from the ordeal, Flash Sentry's gesture of respect for the princess is to give a gentlecoltish kiss on her hoof. For this Equestrian society, his action is several orders above that permitted by his social standing, and only thanks to Celestia's intervention was Flash merely verbally disciplined rather than dismissed outright.
The Big Lebowski, Walter pulls a gun on a fellow bowler for stepping over the line in a league match and refusing to take the penalty. "MARK IT ZERO!"
In Date Night, Tina Fey and Steve Carell take a reservation from two people who never show up. No matter how immoral the criminal they are facing, or how ridiculous the rest of their story is, every other character reacts to the reservation part with a shocked "Who DOES That?!"
Averted in My Cousin Vinny. The city slicker students think the small-town police are going berserk just because the kids accidentally shoplifted some tuna. Turns out they're actually the main suspects for murdering the convenience-store clerk.
Airplane II: The Sequel plays this for laughs by having various characters on the lunar shuttle react deadpan to being told they're off course with a malfunctioning computer, but they go berserk when told they are out of coffee.
In Canadian Bacon, a group of American Sheriff's Deputies gripe about things they don't like about Canada while watching a Canadian hockey game. When one of them says Canadian beer sucks, the entire stadium goes quiet, then erupts into a gigantic melee. The cops even start beating on him when they find out what he said.
This is even funnier when you remember that actor John Candy (who says the line) is Canadian.
You've Got Mail: While Kathleen and Joe are having a tiff at a dinner party (shortly after small-bookstore owner Kathleen finds out Joe is the part of the corporate Fox Books hierarchy), he nonchantantly scoops some caviar off a dessert plate onto his own. Kathleen is offended by that ("That caviar is a GARNISH!"), prompting Joe to look her in the eye and wordlessly put more caviar on his plate.
In the educational short Cheating (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000), the short's main character is caught cheating on a test. The teacher fails him for it... followed by being kicked out as student president and being ostracized by his peers. It's lampshaded during the host segments of MST 3 K when Crow T. Robot copies Gypsy's paper, everyone catches him doing so... and Tom Servo demands Crow's death.
Undercover Brother. When Undercover Brother smashes a bag of chips, a Mook guard says that he just bought them! Undercover Brother apologizes.
Violet Beauregarde in original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel. The other "bad" kids were spoiled brat Veruca Salt, gluttonous Augustus Gloop, and Mike Teavee who has become violent from watching too much television. Violet's flaw was chewing gum too much. In the most recent movie, it was changed into being overly competitive (she had a record for the most time chewing the same piece of gum).
In Les Misérables Jean Valjean got 5 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread (and breaking a window), and another 14 following escape attempts.
In Les Malheurs de Sophie every story is either a type 1 or a type 3. Sophie is forced to wear a necklace of the parts of a bee she dissected until they fall off, because obviously that is one of the biggest crimes that a six year old kid can commit.
Type 3 is relatively common in Historical Fiction, and justifiably so: the authorities really did hang people for minor offenses such as petty theft. The punishment for stealing a spool of thread in England in 1660 was greater than it was for raping a baby. It was getting to be quite deliberate once they'd gotten the colonies up and running. Australia Needs Women!
See The Scarlet Letter. It's a Victorian novel written about fictional Puritans. Most people forget that it's an historical novel, though, as the present becomes almost as far removed from the book's publication, as the book is from the time of its setting, and think of it as a strictly factual account of Puritan life.
The Book of Lord Shang advocates punishing minor offences severely, the idea being that the punishments will deter people from committing small crimes and thus keep them off the slippery slope towards major offences.
Dave Barry, in his 1987 year-in-review column, recounts a Reagan administration official's shocking admission:
[June] 8—In the most dramatic Iran-contra testimony to date, Fawn Hall, played by Farrah Fawcett, testifies that, as Justice Department investigators closed in, she and Oliver North stayed late in their White House basement office and "colorized" a number of classic black-and-white films.
In Oliver Twist, Oliver's famous request for a second pitiful helping of porridge is treated like a high crime by the miserly workhouse staff. "He asked for more?"
For an epic example of Type Four, look no further than Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The Baron sneaks up behind the beautiful Belinda and snips off a lock of hair - and this divides the entire court down the middle and results in an all-out war of the sexes (fought with fans and scornful glances). To top it all off, it's Based on a True Story.
The Return of the Home Run Kid by Matt Christopher runs into this problem not on its own merits, but when considered in light of its predecessor. The focus of the story is the main character's baseball training under a fellow who was kicked out of the major leagues for betting against his own team, and said fellow teaches dishonorable tricks like pretending to have been hit by a pitch. Fairly bad, sure? But in the previous book, The Kid Who Only Hit Homers, our hero used magic to ensure that he never struck out, and this was treated as entirely proper. Anyone who considered that poor sportsmanship probably wasn't still reading the books, and anyone who accepted it would have a hard time telling how physical cheating is worse than magical cheating.
Alex And The Ironic Gentleman has the heroine spending most of the book repeatedly running away from the same implacable pursuers — a bunch of little old ladies who want vengeance because she stepped over the velvet ropes in a museum.
The novel The Last Catholic in America has a scene in which the main character is despairing over his imminent damnation for stealing a dollar after being told by a nun that a dollar is about the amount that would qualify for a mortal sin. The priest he confesses this to disagrees.
If you're reading a novel, short story, fluff piece or fanfic set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, you've got about a 2-in-3 chance of this happening, normally type 4 but sometimes type 3. Crowning highlights: a Guardsman is ordered to defend an outpost, but facing an overwhelming attack he pulls back and cleverly defeats them, only to be executed for not staying put and allowing the base to be overrun because those were his orders; a Space Marine stranded on a Death World is severely chastised for picking up an alien weapon and using it after his own weapons are out of ammo; any time the Eldar get pissy over the Imperium "selfishly" wanting to save a world housing tens of billions of humans they were willing to sacrifice to save a couple thousand (or less) Eldar.
Subverted in Starship Troopers. An officer tells some officer candidates a story from the Napoleonic era: a junior navy officer during ship battle picks up his heavily wounded commander and carries him to a safe place. During that time all other officers on the ship are killed, so the young guy winds up a commanding officer on the ship - and, because he left his post, he stands trial and is cashiered (and is lucky not to be hanged). It seems a gross injustice for the candidates - but the officer explains that the punishment was completely justified: for an officer to have left his post without an order is really a very Serious Business, because if a sudden catastrophe happens, it is much more likely to disrupt a unit without a commanding officer.
The story is true. The ship was the frigate Chesapeake, the wounded commanding officer the man who said "Don't give up the ship", and the Third Lieutenant was court-martialed and cashiered for leaving the deck. During his absence, the British boarded, and ultimately captured the vessel.
The story is partially true. It's an oversimplification of the actual events. See here for a lengthy, detailed discussion. Short version: Cox was cashiered for something like what's described in the story, but was eventually (a century and a half later) exonerated and restored posthumously to his rank.
In a Richard Scarry book called Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You Book (covers proper etiquette) a mom absolutely freaks because her kid dared to ask why he had to do something as a bad example.
Harry Potter worries this will happen to him when he blows up (as in inflates until she floats away) his aunt in The Prisoner Of Azkaban. As Fudge puts it, "We don't throw people in Azkaban for blowing up their aunts." While it's definitely not portrayed as a good thing, the fact that he didn't do it on purpose means they cut him some slack, and they were more worried about protecting him from Sirius Black at that point than anything minor.
Jeeves and Wooster: Tuppy Glossop once tricked Bertie into falling into a pool, and Bertie's been nursing the desire for vengeance ever since. (A bit of Hypocritical Humor when you recall that this is the guy who pushed Tuppy's cousin Oswald into a lake.)
I am not a vindictive man, but I felt, as anybody would have felt in my place, that if fellows like young Tuppy are allowed to get away with it the whole fabric of Society and Civilization must inevitably crumble.
In his very first appearance, Bertie is forced to face a judge who treats his having pinched a policeman's helmet while drunk the night before as an unforgivable sin and acts as if he's going to pass down a death sentence... before fining Bertie five pounds.
Since Mommie Dearest is about growing up with an abusive mother, a lot of the things that set Joan off come off this way, including the infamous wire hanger scene from the film adaptation.
Ordinarily breaking someone's glasses is expensive and kind of a dick move. In Alas, Babylon, it's treated as a first class disaster that threatens a community because it's after a nuclear war, they belong to the town's only physician, they're his only pair, and he's Blind Without 'Em. This is treated as on a par with the criminals also beating him unconscious and stealing his car and medical supplies.
Rather justified in this case - if they lack the materials and know-how to make him a new pair, then his ability to treat patients has been at the least severely cut back, and as the only doctor in a post-apocalyptic situation, otherwise minor illnesses and injuries could end up far more serious.
In Thud!!, Sam Vimes is steadfastly unwilling to ever be home late for his daily book reading with his son, and in one scene his guards end up manipulating traffic just to give him a clear route home. Vimes does this to avoid a slippery slope, however; "If you start breaking the rules for good reasons, you'll soon start breaking them for bad reasons."
In Marlfox, in the C-Plot Lantur is trying to Mind Rape her mother Queen Silth by gradually making her believe the ghost of her dead husband (Whom she murdered years ago) is out for her blood. The Queen becomes more and more paranoid and insane. She berates her rat guards for "Not protecting her" and then asks a random guard if he had seen the ghost. Whom by logic knew if he said yes, she would ask him to describe it. So he says no. The Queen replies "Of course you didn't" berating the guard for not doing his job well enough. And immediately executes him.
The Cascadia system in the Vattas War series features felony discourtesy. Seriously, their system is otherwise so lax that you could nearly get away with murder, but you'd damn well better formally apologize to your victim. After one character is convicted of an already serious crime, the punishment for it is never revealed because he backtalks the judge and is sentenced to death. Oddly, it's not really presented as a dystopia; the system is weird, but it works for the Cascadians. Also, the Cascadians are well aware that their social norms are weird by most standards and cut foreigners a lot of slack. The death sentence mentioned earlier was said captain's third count of felony contempt of court. That day. He had already committed a capital crime and been let off with a warning twice.
Live Action TV
The Addams Family uses type 4 on multiple occasions. Many times, the "offense" really isn't offensive at all (reading fairy tales, wanting to join the scouts, playing with puppies, looking like a normal adorable baby)... it's just that, to the Addams' strange beliefs and values, these are actually sickening and wrong.
In the Seinfeld episode The Package, Jerry is interrogated by Newman for mail fraud... and let's just say Newman relishes in the thought of catching and fining Jerry, even if there wasn't much actual fraud going on. He still gets fined, though.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Captain Sisko hunts down a traitor from his own chain of command. Traitor as in joining the Maquis, a group that attempts to harm only war-mongering Cardassians as policy. Said traitor believes that Sisko is blowing everything out of proportion, and references Les Misérables a lot. It's left up to the viewers to decide whether Sisko is truly upholding Federation values as he states, or is just secretly pissed that someone would dare "leave paradise" (The Federation), as the traitor claims.
Both deploy chemical weapons against civilians, take from that what you will. (Though the chemical weapons were meant to force populations to permanently evacuate the planets they were living on; they weren't immediately fatal.)
And subverted in that the chemical weapons the Maquis used were completely harmless to humans, and the weapons that Sisko used were completely harmless to Cardassians. You could argue that inflicting the same fate on both sides and forcing each other to essentially swap planets was a deliberate attempt to foment mutual understanding. Though personally, I just think Sisko was pissed.
This is played for laughs in all of its Values Dissonance glory in the episode "Bar Association"; Rom is tired of his brother Quark's cutting the pay of his employees using a recurring slump in business as an excuse and forms a Union, several of the Ferengi employees are so disturbed at the mere thought that they feel faint and Rom can barely bring himself to say the word.
Quark was even exiled from Ferengi society for a time for the unforgivable sin of...breaking a contract to sell his remains when he thought he was dying. This was played as the responsible enforcer acting out a grudge, and against Ferengi norms.
Then there's Quark's mother, who liked to wear clothing! Ferengi who saw her in clothing invariably reacted the same way a human would who accidentally walked in on someone who was undressing.
An interesting subversion in an episode of Cold Case: The victim was in prison for seven years for stealing a pair of shoes. He only got six months for the actual theft. The rest were added on from his repeated escape attempts.
M* A* S* H ended up like this. The protagonists in the book and movie weren't really moral, and the show never quite dropped those aspects, which clashed with the increasing Writer on Board.
Marvin in Weeds claims to have once brought back the wrong order from 7-11 for U-turn. He now has an artificial patella.
The opening sequence of Dexter is a borderline case, as the montage shows us the protagonist accomplishing mundane acts of his morning routine (shaving, cooking eggs and bacon, lacing his shoes) in a way suggesting his psychopathic nature.
In one of the DVD commentaries it is explicitly stated that the title sequence is set up to show the violence in everyday life.
How I Met Your Mother: Ted flashbacks to a date he had with a girl who had "the Crazy Eyes". As she and Ted are about to cross the street, a car screeches to a halt in front of them. The driver is apologetic, and Ted gestures that it's okay, but his date grabs a post and starts beating the car with it shouting "WATCH! WHERE! YOU'RE! GOING!"
When Barney discovered that Ted has an ex who was once a porn star.
Barney: You dumped a PORN STAR?! Friendship over. FRIENDSHIP! OVER!
On 30 Rock, Kenneth becomes addicted to caffeine and starts acting... out of the ordinary.
Tracy: So you had a little bender!
Kenneth: It's not just the coffee. I also went to a PG-13 movie. I bought a pair of sunglasses. I tried a Jewish doughnut! I'd always been told that New York was the 21st century city of Sodom, and looks what's happened... I've become one of them! I've been sodomized!
A non-comedic example occurs in an episode of Touched by an Angel which featured a girl whose angelic voice moved God Himself... but her life was marred by a tragic addiction to chewing gum. Even earthly human society seemed to consider this a terrible moral failing. Perhaps Roald Dahl wrote for that show!
and Monica's addiction is always played for laughs, so it is quite hypocritical of the writers to play addiction to chewing gum for drama
Played for laughs in Castle: when Demming, Beckett's new love interest, is suspected by the others of being a dirty cop planted into their recent investigation to sabotage it from within, they voice their suspicions of him from a distance. However, whereas the cops comment on things such as his suspicious reasons for requesting to be part of the case and his too-good-to-be-true dedication to the case, Castle's reasons for suspecting him — based largely on his insecurity over suddenly having a competitor for Beckett's attention — stem from his suspicion that "he probably goes to yoga classes just to pick up women" and "he probably subscribes to The New Yorker without even reading it".
There's also the episode "Hedgefund Homeboys" where Castle tells his daughter Alexis to tell him if she's ever in trouble or does anything wrong after he works on a case involving a bunch of teenagers and a shooting. She later comes to him in tears and reveals that she once jumped a turn stile at the train station late one night, inciting this trope with complete honesty. Castle responds with relief and amusement but Alexis grounds herself for her heinous actions.
Alternately, Alexis is Genre Savvy and is only pretending to play this straight in order to assure Castle that, although no one's perfect, she's not getting into any serious trouble and he can stop worrying.
Another time Castle and Beckett find out that Ryan's fiance slept with another man while she was already dating Ryan. They fear that this information will destroy the relationship and angst over whether to tell him. When they finally tell him, he reveals that he already knew and did not think that it was a problem since they were only dating for a month at the time and were not yet exclusive.
Angel: I'm not perfect, Faith. Even with a soul, I've done things I wished a thousand times I could take back.
Angelus: Yeah, like those Manilow concerts, you son of a bitch!
Charmed reconstructed this in the episode "Morality Bites". The sisters use their powers to punish a man who lets his dog pee in their garden and Phoebe then sees a premonition of her own death in the future and the sisters travel there to find out that Phoebe used her powers to kill a man, got caught and was being burned at the stake while modern day witch trials were going on. When the sisters come back to their time, they discover that the man they punished at the start of the episode is the same man who was leading the witch trials in the future. Phoebe then suggests that them using their powers to punish the man starts them off using them for personal gain.
A later episode involving parallel worlds does it again when their world becomes "too good" so any act that can be seen as criminal in anyway is punished to the highest degree.
Piper: But this is just a little thing.
Phoebe: Once you break the small rules, it's only a matter of time before the big rules follow.
Olbermann: And there it was. All perfectly legal. Like the 1942 internment of more than 100,000 Japanese-American citizens or the forced relocation of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears or the monstrous injustice of our nation's Jim Crow laws. It was all perfectly legal and EVERY BIT AS WRONG if not, indeed, MORE SO!! Mr. Lieberstein, you speak of considerations of the rights of others! How DARE you, sir?! How DARE you?! Where, sir, in any of this, were the rights of Miss Precious Perfect considered? DAMN YOU, Mr. Lieberstein!! DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!
The Colbert Report: Played for Laughs in a series of segments called Nailed 'Em where Colbert viciously attacks people who have got in trouble for doing something completely innocent. One segment features a high school student who was almost expelled because she was caught using drugs on school grounds. Said drug was her birth control pills.
Colbert is playing a Catholic conservative Strawman Political. Birth control pills would probably be worse in his character's opinion than some other drugs.
He also once presented us with the story of a girl who got taken from school by the cops because she had the audacity to bring pills to school. The pills? Ibuprofen.
Both contestants and fans of The Amazing Race are guilty of this. It's understandable for a team to overreact when they're Yielded or U-Turned (though calling a team "Dirty Pirate Hookers" was probably going too far), but there are those who are willing to vilify a team simply for copying another team's flight arrangements or, even worse, having a "bad attitude".
In an episode of The Nanny, a man that mugs Fran agrees to do community service and walks. Angered, Fran shouts out, "Meanwhile, I eat a couple of Bing cherries at the A&P, and I'm wrestled to the ground like Squeaky Fromme!"
iCarly has done this a few times, Freddie being the victim most often. The most notable example is the iMeet Fred episode, where Freddie says that he doesn't think Fred's videos are all that funny, and Fred announces he's not going to make videos anymore. Freddie then suffers a Humiliation Conga courtesy of everyone at school, and his aunt. And later, Sam beats him with a tennis racket. And then throws him out of a treehouse and jumps on him.
Another notable example is in iEnrage Gibby, when Freddie trips on Gibby's girlfriend Tasha, causing Gibby to think he tried to kiss her. Gibby then becomes a borderline Faux Affably Evil to Freddie and Tasha.
Sue seems to think everything the Glee Club does is heinous. When they performed "Push It" at the school assembly (admittedly, with school-inappropriate choreography), Sue's "first reaction was that all the children should be put into foster care."
Jesse's reaction to Rachel's triplecasting him in "Bad Reputation."
Parodied in an episode of The IT Crowd with an anti-piracy PSA which compared pirating films to stealing a handbag, stealing a baby, and shooting a policeman, stealing his helmet, pooping in it, sending it to his grieving wife, and stealing it again.
Abed's methods of teaching the study group to respect and fear him in Community episode Contemporary American Poultry. This involves cutting up a backpack, releasing a monkey from a cage, putting gum in hair, unplugging a TV, and feeding chicken fingers to a guy.
In "Basic Lupine Urology", a spoof of Law & Order, a ruined science experiment is treated with all the seriousness of a homicide. By contrast, Star-Burns is revealed to be stealing, selling drugs and running a meth lab from the trunk of his car, all of which are dismissed as irrelevant to the investigation.
In "Economics of Marine Biology", the Dean goes to absurd lengths to convince a rich kid to enroll at Greendale: he retools all the classes around the kid's interests, transforms much of the campus into a wild party, and hires prostitutes for entertainment. But what convinces the Dean he's gone too far? When he forbids Living Prop Magnitude from saying his Catch Phrase "Pop Pop!" because the rich kid wants that to be his catch phrase now. After Magnitude stays up all night, struggling and suffering to come up with a new catch phrase, the Dean actually says, "My God, what have we done?"
In one Red Dwarf episode, Lister confesses his darkest secret to Kryten: once, many years ago, he went into a wine bar.
On a couple of episodes of Sports Night, Bobbi Bernstein substitutes for Casey as anchor, which Dan has a problem with, since she claims he slept with her in Spain, and then never called. He swears not only has he never slept with her, he never even knew her back then, he's never been to Spain, and he wouldn't treat a woman like that. Whoever he tells this story to has the same response; "Oh, Dan. You never called?"
Averted when he finds out that he had been to Spain and slept with Bobbi, he was just so drunk on the trip he forgot about it. Bobbi was also going by Roberta at the time and he didn't connect Bobbi with the name.
The Slammer uses Type 4. When Sammy Sparkle admits that he is not really an entertainer, but is actually just a wannabe, Grimble is so horrified that he faints.
Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, a Lifetime Movie of the Week, plays Type 1 painfully straight. A teenage boy drinking Red Bull and looking at softcore internet porn is treated like a meth addiction, with the popular kids scorning him for it and him even trying to commit suicide.
Shepherd Book: If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very special level of Hell. A level they reserve for child molesters... and people who talk at the theater.
Friends: Joey has little interest in a second date with one of Phoebe's friends because she took fries from Joey's plate (complete with horrified slo-mo and evil musical strings from Joey's retelling of the story). Turns into Hypocritical Humor when Joey eats her food while she's in the bathroom.
A minor example played for laughs in Band of Brothers: Webster is berating himself after getting shot. Not for getting shot, which he couldn't have avoided, but for in the heat of the moment shouting out "They got me!", which he finds horribly cliched.
Arthéon from Noob considers getting his previous avatar permanently banned for Real Money Trade was this. The feeling is understandable considering that his old guild went on to be the best of the game while he ended up becoming the leader of the worse one, but whether he's right or not is left to the audience's appreciation.
The video to John Waite's "Missing You" uses type 3 because this is about his girlfriend suddenly leaving him for no reason. At one point, he breaks a phone booth phone out of anger and heartbreak.
We got a reputation round these parts, We only leave a ten per cent tip - Sometimes we don't return our shopping carts, Stay out of our way and don't you give us no lip 'Cos we're young - dumb and ug-ly ...
You see, Group W is where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the US Army and burn women, kids, houses and villages after committing your special crime ...
Furthermore, the mother-rapers, father-stabbers, and father-rapers on the group W bench all move away from him in disgust when he admits he was in for littering.
Trouble on my Mind by Pusha T ft. Tyler, The Creator is about wanting to cause trouble yet has lyrics such as "Let's hit a couple bars and give some bitches wet willies." The music video features the two throwing eggs at random passerby, doing wheelies in a Rascal and trashing a hotel room.
Psychostick thrives on this, with songs like "I Hate Doing Laundry" and "Don't Eat My Food".
In The Simpsons Pinball Party, the player activates Couch Multiball by getting three balls onto a couch figure on the upper playfield. When they do so, this exchange occurs:
Chief Wiggum: You're under arrest! Homer: For what? Chief Wiggum: Hoarding pinballs!
This being a form of show business where Popularity Power counts for so much, it's really not surprising when this trope shows up in wrestling.
It's never more blatant than when the audience boos a Foreign Wrestling Heelsimply for being foreign. The heel might not even have had the chance to commit any misdeed yet, or at worst has simply declared his native country to be the greatest in the world (something that Americans are saying all the time, and they hardly ever seem to get scolded for it). A good example was French-Canadian wrestler Sylvan Grenier, who in the summer of 2006 became Quebec's "Ambassador to the World" and was forever talking up how great the province of Quebec was. He was certainly annoying, and perhaps a bit Faux Affably Evil, but the American crowds treated everything he said or did as negatively as if it came from King Booker or Mr. Kennedy (two of the biggest heels on SmackDown! at the time), even if it was morally neutral or an honest mistake. Sylvan was eventually given some Kick the Dog characteristics to retroactively justify all this hatred, but the principle still applies.
Also often used when a Heel ends up in charge of a promotion/show. A typical reaction: "You didn't say 'mister' when addressing me. Tonight you're going to defend your championship against the five most violent people in the entire industry, in a row, no breaks." Then when the Face inevitably wins anyway, "Even though you survived the gauntlet, I'm still stripping you of your title, because you didn't win the last match in the time limit I just now put in."
In one episode of The Navy Lark, Able Seaman Goldstein is accidentally promoted to Admiral. he decides to take his "temproary flagship", HMS Troutbridge, to his homeland of Wales to act out the role of the local boy made good. In the process, he drives the crew crazy with a daily schedule of tours, cruises for friends and family and other activities. In the end, Cmdr. Murray and CPO Pertwee let slip to Goldstein's mother that Troutbridge uses oil-burning boilers. Wales is known for its coal industry. It's all that Goldstein can do to keep his mother from disowning him and urging the citizenry of Swansea to lynch him as a traitor to Wales.
In The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Jimmy's crimes, by increasing severity of the sentences he is handed by the Kangaroo Court, are: indirect murder of a friend (the man who killed him in the ring is unknown to the court because he's the prosecutor); breach of the peace; seducing a girl (i.e. a prostitute); singing a subversive song; and not paying for two rounds of whiskey and a broken bar-rail. For this last offense, which the court declares to be the most heinous crime in the world, Jimmy is sentenced to die in the electric chair. It may even be worse than premeditated murder (a crime which the prosecutor bewails using exactly the same words), because one accused of that might have money to bribe the judge. To show how heinous this is in comparison, a Wanted Poster for all three judges is projected while they pass sentence on Jimmy.
In Zombie Prom, Miss Strict notices that Jonny Warner's jacket is missing an "h". Jonny explains that he's spelling his name without it now, Miss Strict tells him it's not wise to defile a good Christian name and tells him to put it back in. When he (calmly) tells her he kind of wants to keep the "h" out, she immediately decides that he is a hooligan ("With an "h"!") and the other students are in awe of the "Rebel Without An "H"!", as they see it.
In The Book of Mormon, Elder Price sings about the worst sin he's ever committed, one that's left him haunted by guilt for his entire life: when he was five, he blamed his brother for taking a donut that he actually ate himself. He also thinks that deciding to walk out on his mission in Uganda makes him worse than Hitler. Hitler himself, Genghis Khan, Jeffrey Dahmer and Johnny Cochran are all appalled by Elder Price's rulebreaking.
Guards in The Elder Scrolls games will call you "criminal scum" and pursue you to the ends of Tamriel, regardless of whether you've committed 5 or 5000 gold worth of crimes. This is generally a common trope in video games, due to simple-minded AI.
Not so any longer in Skyrim, in which you can convince guards you're not worth it if your bounty is low enough/speech is high enough.
Further averted in that the guards don't follow you very far and the different holds don't seem to have any sort of extradition agreements or anything like that with each other.
Other example of AI simple-mindedness: you do something bad (stealing is most common example, but also offensive behaviour, etc. etc.), you are attacked. In other words, people try to kill you.
In Skyrim (not related to the guards example, just this trope) the quest started by a drinking contest with Sam Guevenne (who is actually the Daedric Prince Sanguine), you get so drunk that you spend the next few days wandering Skyrim in a great orgy of debauchery and wake up in a temple that you vandalized. The reason that this trope applies is that in retracing your steps, the temple's priest sends you to a town where you learn that you committed a horrible crime: you sold a farmer's prize-winning goat to a giant.
In Arena if you do literally anything unlawful the guard will appear out of nowhere. They'll arrest you right? No, whether it's mugging a guy or failing to pick a lock the guards will try to kill you mercilessly.
Averted in Daggerfall in which Justice is played straight, it's probably the most realistic justice system in the series, when you commit a crime you'll go to trial and can either plead guilty (Get a lighter sentence) but if you plead not guilty and get convicted you get extra jail time. Regardless your reputation will plummet, if plummeting too much people will treat you worse over time, and guards will harass you just for walking around on account of "Criminal conspiracy" though if you're a member of the Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood they sometimes will threaten the Judge to let you go free.
Also in Skyrim, rob a guy you get a small bounty, kill a chicken and the entire town is out for your blood.
In the Fallout 3 addon "Broken Steel", there's a radio in the Jefferson Memorial. When you shut it down, all the Brotherhood of Steel soldiers inside it will try to kill you, even if you turn it on again. However, if they don't see you turning it off, they won't bother a second.
Fallout 3 and New Vegas are based off the same engine as the above The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It makes sense that the local citizenry react the same way; although this does get rather irritating when you're going to, say, go activate Trudy's radio so you can fix it, you turn an inch too far or stop an inch too short, accidentally hit "steal glass mug" instead... And now have the entire bar trying to shoot you in the damn head as you're yelling at the screen "MY HAND SLIPPED, IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!"
Related to this, everyone who sees you even look at something as seemingly insignificant as a coffee cup or pencil that doesn't belong to you (even if you don't actually select it) loudly makes it clear they're ready to throw down in an instant over it. People in this universe are paranoid about their random junk.
If you pickpocket someone and get caught, they will just say "That doesn't belong to you!" and take it back (often with compensation). But if you take a bent tin can off the bar table, everyone wants you dead except your followers, who will always help you. So you can take Star Paladin Cross (good as good can be) into Megaton, steal some junk off a table, and she will gladly help you gun down all the not-exactly evil citizens.
People will only become upset if you put an item in your inventory. Using the "grab" command (very rarely if ever needed in the game, many gamers never realize it exists) allows you to pick up items and carry them around without putting them in your inventory. Simply take any item out of view of others before pocketing it. This works everywhere. You can even take items off of store shelves in plain view of the shopkeeper, take them into a closet or behind a wall, and then pocket them with zero consequences.
In Fallout 1, in Junktown a Doctor name Doc Morbid (Seriously) is questionable in his ethics, he won't think twice about removing one of your eyes if you tick him off, and he has a butcher lab in his basement which he sells human meat to a trader saying it's Gecko Meat. Seems enough of a psychopath to kill right? Well it turns out despite all that he is still a good Doctor regardless, and the only Doctor in the city. So people will be pretty pissed if you kill him.
In the Hitman series (especially in the first two games), guards will generally attack you with deadly force the moment your cover is blown. Now, this may be justified for your more murderous activities, but in Hitman 2, guards everywhere passionately hate runners. Run by a guard too closely? Expect to get shot in the head two seconds later, no questions asked.
Likewise, you're in a party posing as guest, you go to the back room or kitchen without permission, you get shot on sight. Those are some trigger-happy guards.
Possibly justified. Agent 47's target at the party (a Russian general) is quite paranoid by that point as a few of his colleagues have already been terminated. The whole reason he's even at the party is an attempt to gain asylum from the attending German ambassador and be protected from whoever has been killing his pals. I'd put the guards on a strict "shoot first" order too.
Thankfully, this kind of behavior is mitigated in the fourth game. If guards find you somewhere you are not supposed to be, they will generally shoo you out of the area, following you back out to make sure you do so. However, if you remain in the area in sight of them, or press further into the area after they have asked you to leave, they will ramp up their urgency, pulling out weapons to make clear that they will not accept non-compliance, and eventually firing them at you if you resist.
Early in Final Fantasy VII, Reno, a guy who wants to kill the main character and kidnap Aeris, orders his troops to go after Cloud... telling them "Don't step in the flowers".
It's likely that Reno was just being a sarcastic jerk. He was stepping in the flowers at the time, and Aeris had earlier talked about protecting them.
In Goldeneye Rogue Agent, you can get unlocks by earning "rogue bonuses" which are awarded for particularly "evil" actions. Said actions are things like headshots, taking human shields, shooting Exploding Barrels, hacking enemy turrets, etc... all things that are present in many other FPS and which an experienced player will already be doing by this point. Apparently we were evil all this time, who knew?
The dwarven justice system in Dwarf Fortress has values skewed along this trope's lines. Heinous crimes such as smashing nearly-valueless furniture or failing to manufacture the specific pointless trinket demanded by one of the fort's nobles can net a dwarf a month in prison (which is often a death sentence because feeding prisoners is a low-priority tasknote Though a well-designed prison can bypass those issues and make jail time a passing inconvenience rather than something more severe) or a "beating" by an officer of the fortress guard. The fortress guard assigned to deliver the beating will use whatever weapon he's carrying to full effect in the course of the beating, so if you've given your fortress guard battleaxes expect a fountain of blood and severed limbs to ensue. Conversely, outright murder is usually punished by a sentence of around 200 days in prison.
A lot of the "incidents" behind the Excuse Plots of Touhou fall into this trope, as apparently things like an unusual number of ghosts appearing, people having lots of parties, and lots of flowers blooming warrant going out and beating the crap out of whomever is responsible. This is mostly justified though, as the denizens of Gensoukyou are varying degrees of batshit insane and will use any excuse for a fight.
Interestingly, a number of "incidents" could be considered in the same category - "meteorological" - and could have also demonstrated either a failure of the Great Border or an ecological threat, both of which are terribly serious issues for a Pocket Dimension with a undefined degree of filtration from the Outside World. The red mist, delayed Spring, an incorrect gibbous moon, a delayed Autumn, earthquakes, geysers, more red mist.
Reimu: A youkai was just sitting there minding its own business. And it was enjoying a book, too! I tried to exterminate it with a surprise attack...
The characters mostly don't consider these things heinous (Reimu kind of acts like she does, but she's a jerk); things have been set up so that reacting to something strange by going out and beating the shit out of everyone you meet is not only largely harmless but actually works towards preserving Gensoukyou.
Some time before the start of Disgaea 2, Etna abandoned Larharl and set out to become an Overlord stronger than him, because he committed the heinous crime of... eating her favorite pudding.
In Disgaea 3, Almaz will have you know that he would never indulge in such perverse, vile temptations as... wearing matching outfits on dates with his crush, or getting her to make him a sandwich.
Some of the Pokémon games for Game Boy included Professor Oak's voice appearing out of nowhere to admonish the main character before he or she did something stupid and dangerous such as riding a bike indoors or trying to use a fishing rod on land.
And it still continues today:
Juniper's words echoed... [Player]! There's a time and place for everything! But not now.
In the Red, Blue, and Green games, one town has a cop blocking the door to a house. He states that the house has been robbed, and that only Team Rocket could have committed such a heinous crime. Granted, robbery is a crime, and depending on how much they stole, it could be an actual felony, but the officer makes it sound like they burned down an orphanage.
The sex scene in 6 Days A Sacrifice was a combination of types 1 and 3 for Yahtzee, which he freely admitted in Quovak's Let's Play of the series. Yahtzee intended it to be a sign that the protagonist and his fellow prisoner were at the end of their ropes and opting to let go of those metaphorical ropes entirely; the audience saw a romance scene between a neurotic woman and a guy with nearly every bone in his body broken, and promptly asked, "Yahtzee, what the hell?!"
In Mass Effect 3, the Illusive Man's reaction to seeing Shepard after (s)he storms the Cerberus base.
The Illusive Man: Shepard. You're in my chair.
In the Citadel DLC after locking him/her in an air-tight tank to suffocate, attempting to steal the Normandy and stealing his/her identity, what is it that Shepard's clone does that really pisses Shepard off? Messing with his/her hamster.
Bounties can be like this in Red Dead Redemption. If your horse accidentally knocks someone down in front of witnesses, vigilantes will shoot you dead to collect that $5 bounty.
In all of the Grand Theft Auto games, you can murder people on the street and no one would notice. But God help you if you so much as scratch a police car...
Also, in Grand Theft Auto V you're in a huge police chase? Decide to give up and bring yourself to justice? No dice, the police once they catch up to you immediately shoot you in the face until you die.
Type 4 crops up in episode 4 of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, "The Bogey Man", where Miss Flitt and her stuffy aunt treat golf as a soul-scarring, life-destroying vice akin to alcoholism, and distribute tracts showing a man going mad with frustration as he struggles in vain to master the game. Which turn out to be part of the solution to a puzzle.
Type 4 from Skin Horse: Sweetheart's idea of a "rampage" is spilling coffee next to a "no littering" sign. The Chimeric Anti-Defamation League hears about it and tries to revoke her membership. You know things are bad when Unity is the voice of sanity—her reaction is, "Who called you, and how could they tell it was a rampage?"
In a User Friendly arc, Erwin the computer dreams of being Mercy Killed for having an incurable case of Windows NT, and going to Purgatory. When his List of Transgressions is recited, installing NT turns out to have been a greater sin than nearly starting a border war in Africa.
In an Eerie Cuties arc, the evil spirit of a mirror steals Nina's body to unleash her evil on the world. However, seeing as it's Nina she's in, all she can manage are lame practical jokes. And one accidental murder, but that was retconned.
Edmund Finney's Quest quadruply does not subvert this here. (The "fake bomb threat" was part of a Four Yorkshiremen argument and was neither a fake bomb threat nor a real one.)
There was a TV advertisement in Poland: the man asks his wife if she wants Earl Grey, since the kids are asleep. After some Memetic Mutation, Polish Internet was full of pictures of a man in jail for drinking Earl Grey in presence of children.
Inverted in the fifth episode of the Irish comedy series I Am Fighter:
Barry 'The Blender' Henderson: This here's a picture of Thomas 'The Tanker' Smythe driving a tractor at the age of three, which you might think is completely illegal. But when you're on the fucking outskirts of Limavady, anything goes. Know what I'm saying? Keep it on the DL.
In Midnight Screenings, Brad and co. liked seeing Prometheus, and got some Fan Hater flack for enjoying the movie. They then made a follow up to mock the complainers, but nitpicking irrelevant parts of the movies.
"You guys do kind of deserve it after you butchered a Michael Jackson song...and getting John Mayer to do the (guitar) solo."
Welcome to Night Vale: Cecil is so enraged that the local barber had the temerity to cut Carlos's hair that he basically arranges for the poor dude to be run out of town to wander delirious in the desert.
Fish slapping, from the VeggieTales film Jonah. Justified in that it's all a story being told by the modern day Pirates, and saying what the real Assyrians (i.e., routine torture and execution of captured prisoners, cutting off and tallying the right ears of slain enemies, being executed for falling to maintain the daily quota of said ears, etc) did would be inappropriate for their young audience.
Fillmore!, a police-procedural-type show set in a school, is the undisputed master of this, both for the title character and the show in general. Fillmore himself is treated, by many people in the show, like an unstable/possibly violent ex-convict for his past crimes. What are those crimes, you ask? Directly ripped from the opening sequence: Chalk boosting, locker rigging, a comic book poker ring, cutting class, milk counterfeiting (non dairy creamer), and backtalkery. For this sordid past he has many The Atoner moments. This is before we even get into the scooter jacking ring, tartar sauce smuggling, and the time Fillmore's pet was almost killed by a boy in return for the answer sheet to a particularly hard test. Another episode features a psychotic, monotone, genius IQ boy who had to locked up in total isolation because the spray paint tagging he was doing all over the school were so traumatizing they could make people physically ill.
In Adventure Time, the earl of Lemongrab has some... er, interesting concepts when it comes to punishing those who do wrong. Making a mess? Thirty days in the dungeon. Asking questions? Thirty-TWO days in the dungeon. Refusing to clean up mess, or asking who exactly Lemongrab is talking to? Three hours dungeon. Harmless prank? Seven years dungeon, no trials. Assuring Lemongrab that the prank was harmless? Twelve years dungeon. Elaborate, painful prank involving spicy food? ONE MILLION YEARS DUNGEON!!! (Lemongrab isn't evil—he's just young, angry, and a bit of an idiot.)
Princess Bubblegum and Finn decide to play a harmless prank on the earl of Lemongrab— they leave a sign beside his bed that says "YOU REALLY SMELL LIKE DOG BUNS." How does the earl react? He clenches his fists, starts shaking, and opens up his mouth wide to scream loudly in sheer outrage for several seconds. And how does he attempt to punish those responsible? Round up EVERYONE in the castle, to sentence them to seven years in the dungeon, no trials!
Marceline writes a heart-breaking, soul-crushing, tear-jerking ballad which questions if her dad even loves her because.... he ate her fries.
A bit Harsher in Hindsight, as in "Memory of a Memory" we see Marceline's dad ate her fries while they were scavenging for food in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and Marceline was still human (well, half-demon) while her father had always been a demon, so dying of starvation was a real possibility for her.
Tiny Toon Adventures had Plucky and Hampton steal a candy bar, and go through inner torment before they give it back.
Also, one beer shared between three people will turn all of them into stereotypical wino bums, who will then steal a car to go joyriding before dying in the inevitable crash.
SpongeBob SquarePants does the fourth kind quite a lot. In one example they steal a balloon and fully intended to give it back. It pops. Torment ensues. Eventually, they give in and turn themselves in to the police, and get thrown in prison. Then they learn it is Free Balloon Day, and stay in prison for all of three seconds before being let free.
Also, Squidward was once sentenced to ten years in prison for stealing a wallet and running (he wasn't driving) a stop sign.
Spongebob's cousin, Squidward (again), and the Tattletale Strangler all have gotten sent to jail for the unspeakable crime of littering.
In "The Algae's Always Greener", Spongebob is ashamed of himself for accidentally giving a customer a large soda when they ordered a medium. "I've soiled the good Krusty Krab name! Soiled it, soiled it, soiled it, soiled it..."
In "Little Yellow Book", Squidward commits the horrible crime of reading Spongebob's diary and as a result, he's alienated by the entire town, his house gets foreclosed, and he gets arrested—actually, scratch that, the police chain him in the middle of the town and everybody throws tomatoes at him.
There's a reason why the fans consider him the show's biggest woobie.
Type 4 is used in the The Mighty B! episode "Toot Toot", which is about Bessie farting during a meeting and getting kicked out of the Honeybees for it. It sends her into a Heroic BSOD, and the other Honeybees are suffering without her. However, just as Bessie was about to burn her manual, she realizes that farting is a natural function, and that there is a badge called the "Toot-Toot" Badge, which is rewarded for those who go through farting in public with dignity.
In the episode "Christian Rock Hard", after the boys download a song, armed police show up in a helicopter. They are taken to the station and shown how the artists they stole from are "suffering", such as how they can't buy a private island or get new features for their private jets.
Another notable example occurs in "Butt Out," when their parents act as if smoking is "the worst thing" Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman have ever done, never bothering to comment upon the fact that they've just burned their school to the ground!
Eric Cartman repeatedly insulted his friends, abused them (often brutally) and betrayed them just for the sheer joy of it. He also made at least two attempts to genocide a large group of the population, convinced women to have abortions for his own profit and, having arranged a couple murdered (one of which was his father), made them into a chili and fed it to their son. But eating the skin of all the fried chicken was the last drop that finally prompted his friends to ignore him. Kyle even calls out that Cartman did a lot worse before.
In "Toilet Paper", the boys' TPing of a teacher's house results in a full-scale police investigation, complete with Perp Sweating. Kyle, who participated reluctantly, becomes wracked with guilt, seeing flashbacks of the event in his nightmares.
That being said, the family in question reacts to it appropriately: moderate annoyance. The police officer openly admits he's taking it so seriously because he has nothing better to do.
In "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce", Mr. Mackey calls the police when he discovers someone has taken a dump in the urinal. He becomes completely obsessed with finding the culprit, at at one point declares, "I'm gonna catch this sonofabitch if it's the last thing I DO!!"
Almost all the villains in Code Name Kids Next Door are built on this. Simple things most kids don't like doing such as homework, washing dishes, and eating vegetables are blown to world-destroying proportions.
One episode featured a hardware store owner who wanted to eliminate two aviators who bought their plane parts from him. Why? Because they kept smudging his counter with chili. Disproportionate Retribution much?
Danny Phantom, with the episode "The Ultimate Enemy." Danny cheats on a test, and what are the consequences? Not a detention, or a lecture, or auto-failing the test. Rather, circumstances make everyone he truly cared for (plus his English teacher) died, which also brought The Nasty Burger along with them in a horrendous explosion wich was caused by an exploded pack of hot sauce wich caused the boiler to leak which eventually caused said explosion which also took his family, his friends, and his english teacher along with it, and Danny's ghost half separating to became an Omnicidal Maniac with no humanity or morals whatsoever.
On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy thinks up several horrible punishments of what Lucius will do to him when he finds out what he's done. He laughs them off. When Samy tells him that he'll take away his TV privileges, he reacts with horror.
In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer is banned from the bar for loosening the lid on a salt shaker, in the aftermath of pranks which involved setting Moe's clothing on fire and loading his cash register with a live cobra.
In another episode he has to take care of an endangered caterpillar, and almost kills it by mistake. He is sentenced to 200 hours of community service for "attempted insecticide" and "aggravated buggery." Made especially ridiculous because, as Homer put it, God clearly wanted it to die. (The species is sexually attracted tofire, for example.)
Another episode, "The Boys of Bummer", involves Bart failing to catch a fly ball in a championship baseball game when Springfield was one out away from winning in the bottom of the ninth, causing Shelbyville to win, and the entire town relentlessly boos Bart horribly (except his family). They sing a song on the radio about how horrible he is. They throw lots of food at him. And when Bart is about to jump off a water tower, they tell Bart they're not mad anymore, and when he falls off and ends up in the hospital, they continue to yell at him even though he almost died. This made even worse when you realize that it was Bart that single-handedly got them to the championship. Which means despite all of the good work he did it was quickly subverted because of that one mess up.
Principal Skinner talks about the horrible thing he did in the Vietnam War. He stole cupcakes.
One episode has Mayor Quimby ordering the police to do this to fill the new but largely empty prison they'd just built.
And on Fridays the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!
Yes he likes German BEEEEEEER!
In season 2 of The Boondocks, Grandad, Riley, Huey, and Jasmine all sneak into a movie without paying for it and are treated to a warning about movie piracy that insists that pirating movies makes you the most horrible, evil, violent person on earth. The boys all ignore it but by the time the completely over-the-top announcement is over, Jasmine is bawling her little eyes out and begging for them to take her out of the theater out of guilt.
This is based off a series of strips in the comic (which is in turn based off a series of PSA's about movie piracy) where they show various people's over-the-top tearjerking plights thanks to movie piracy - one of which is bootlegger who can't sell his pirated movies anymore.
In Futurama, Zoidberg accidentally destroys the Professor's model ship and decides to frame Fry in order to avoid blame. He later becomes wracked with grief and self-loathing after Fry has to pay for the damages to the amount of ten dollars.
Justified, as to Zoidberg, ten dollars is a VERY large amount. He's too poor to realize that Fry simply rummaged his pockets to pay off his debt.
The Powerpuff Girls: When the Mayor gets called out for Holding Out for a Hero to the girls, he jumps into a Hot Air Balloon with Miss Bellum and starts to punch criminals with an extendable glove from the air. It starts by hitting a genuine mugger, but then starts hitting people he only thinks are commiting a crime.
Also, that episode where Buttercup was exiled from Townsville because she refused to take a bath (though to be fair, she had recently fought a monster that seemed to be made of raw sewage).
Looney Tunes short "Daffy Doodles" begins with this ominous bit of narration:
In a large eastern city, a demon is on the loose. The people are terrified. The police baffled. With diabolical cleverness, the monster strikes without warning... and draws moustaches on all the ads.
One episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold features Black Lightning acting like this in a dream sequence, during which he shoots lightning at people for the heinous acts of... putting sprinkles in coffee, not cleaning up after their dogs, driving an SUV, wearing white after Labor Day, and making "Smell That Pig IV". At one point he attacks Batman because he doesn't like his costume.
Recess liked to revisit the unwritten code of honor kids must live by on the playground. Everything from how a scuffle is conducted to weird superstitions is treated as deadly serious, and God help you if you don't automatically know all the rules; if you're really lucky, you'll have friends who not only do know the rule you broke, but how to restore your honor as well.
The word "whomp" is treated a so bad a swear that SWAT teams are brought in and the kids are out in court.
In the episode where the kids protest the tearing down of an old jungle gym by staying on it endlessly, Prickly decides to initiate "Plan P", which Ms. Grotke calls "extreme". The plan: calling the kids' parents.
In the infamous Arthur episode "Arthur's Big Hit" Arthur hits D.W. in the arm after she destroys his model airplane. The punch is considered an abominable offense, while D.W. gets off scot-free for her thoughtless destruction of his treasured possession.
This also initially happens in a later episode, "Arthur's Family Feud", in which Arthur and D.W. get into a minor tussle which accidentally ends up causing a souffle that their dad just baked to get ruined. Dad gets so pissed off that he ends up initially throwing the book at them until Mom calms him down.
Twice in Read it and Weep, as not only does the plot revolve around non-egghead Rainbow Dash being into reading, she also gets the hospital's staff on her case because they thought she had broken in to steal a patient's slippers.
In an early episode of Family Guy the FBI burst into Peter's living room and shoot the VCR when he attempts to tape Monday Night Football with the expressly-written consent of ABC, but not the NFL.
One Dudley Do-Right episode involves having the titular character be discharged from the Mounted Police for doing the unthinkable...eating his peas...with a KNIFE!
Inverted for comedic effect in a Robot Chicken sketch: After Paris Hilton is arrested, Nicole Richie decides to break her "best friend/meal ticket" out of jail, in a parody of Prison Break. To get herself arrested, she robs a bank ("They might just fine you for that."), and kills a teller. The guard throwing her in jail proclaims:
Stupid celebrity! Armed robbery AND murder? You'll be locked up for forty-five days.
Pepper in Iron Man: Armored Adventures believes removing a friend from her My Face account is more heinous than ripping their spleen out of them.
In Tripping the Rift, Chode was sentenced to death for littering on a Neat Freak planet. Also as he was being arrested, a person who accidentally missed hitting the trash can with his trash was instantly vaporized.
In the episode "Wanted: Wade!" of Garfield and Friends, Wade pulls a tag off of a couch, then sees that the tag says that it's against the law to remove it. This causes him to run frantically around and have a dream where the police are after him for ripping off the couch tag. In that dream, tearing a tag off a pillow is so bad a crime it even gets two hardened robbers of banks and gas stations to grab the bars of the cell and want out when Wade admits his "crime" to them. Later, Wade sees a police car on the farm and gets him into his panic. When Orson tries to convince Wade he won't go to jail for it, a voice tells them and Roy "We know you're in there, come out with your hands up! We have you surrounded!", and Roy, Wade and Orson run for it.
Taz-Mania: In The Origin of the Beginning of the Incredible Taz-Man, Mr Thickley attempts to persuade Taz to make the mailman his arch-enemy for the heinous crime of delivering junk mail to Taz's family.
Batman: Give it up, Fugate. Hill committed no crime against you. Clock King: He did worse. He made me late!
In the Goof Troop episode, "Axed by Addition," Pete does this to himself. Among genuinely abusive and/or totalitarian actions he regrets doing to PJ, he also lists the heinous crimes of making him use "the manly deodorant" and a handkerchief. His overdramatic delivery of the latter suggests he finds it more reprehensible than everything else he mentions, which includes sending him to obedience school for not cleaning his room.
In "Phineas and Ferb", Candace is thrown out of the museum for yelling. She meets another kid, who was thrown out of the same museum for stealing a pterodactyl. He's impressed by how hardcore she is.