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!
. How could you? The United Supermarket Corporation
because of you! How do you sleep at night, knowing what you've done!?
This trope comes in 4 varieties:
- Writers believe this is as wrong as they are showing it. In this case, the "felony" part is from the writer, so this overlaps with Values Dissonance. Strawman Politicals and Digital Piracy Is Evil are the most common forms of this. A prime source of Narm.
- 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.
- Writers use Values Dissonance for dramatic effect. This is common in Dystopias, police states, histories, and cults. But it can also be used to make organizations look like this when they aren't, like with Straw Dystopias. But thanks to Values Dissonance, this is often about real cultures from the past or present.
- Writers invoke Values Dissonance for Comedic Effect. A lot of the well-written animated shows, even dating back decades, would do this. And Sitcoms will do this as well. Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking or Selective Enforcement is often invoked here.
Since laws all over the world are rife with Values Dissonance
, things that are misdemeanors or not even illegal in one country but treated as serious crimes in others can seem like this.
- Easily Forgiven: Genuinely terrible crimes are shrugged off
- Kick the Dog: An action that helps characterize a morally neutral or ambiguous character as bad.
- Moral Event Horizon: A crime committed really is horrific and unforgivable.
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- The advertisements where the cow hunts down (and presumably kills) a man who decided he'd prefer eating dead chicken over eating dead cow. Also leads to Fridge Logic; do the cows want to be eaten?
- 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 Screamed Big "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 Shout Advanced 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:
- TV spot for Polaner All Fruit preserves has three people asking "please pass the All Fruit" in a posh British accent followed by an American Southerner asking "Wouldja please pass the jelleh?"
- One commercial for Kraft Meltdowns featured a principal losing his temper and screaming over the PA system, all because somebody parked in his parking space.
Anime & Manga
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind features the third kind: "Show no mercy to the insolent!"
- The Team Rocket trio, 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?
- 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.
- Howard X. Miller in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX... crushed a poor, innocent flower! How could you!
- 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.
- A Certain Magical Index:
- Misaka 10032's reaction to Last Order stealing 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. On the other hand, it's a case of Deliberate Values Dissonance here: all Misaka sisters are part of a Hive Mind and thus behave exactly the same, with the experiences of one affecting the experiences of all, so if one Misaka behaves differently, the entire Hive Mind is at danger of being affected which could very quickly put them into a dangerous situation.
- At one point in the manga, Mikoto complains about the measures taken to prevent people like her from reading manga in the stores without buying it (which, obviously, reduces profit for the authors). Seeing how Mikoto is a manga character, the author immediately punishes her by a seemingly random falling object knocking her out cold. Uiharu and Saten immediately start panicking and babbling to no one in particular about buying the manga and its accessories.
- In Tiger & Bunny, Keith Goodman would like everyone to know that ruining birthday parties is a terrible, terrible atrocity.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyouko Sakura: "Don't waste food... Or I'll kill you." Later on we find out she has a very plausible Freudian Excuse to not want to waste food.
- Ranma ˝: Pantyhose Taro's grudge with Happosai. His legitimate (potential) grudge (his curse) is a Red Herring to this.
- 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.
- In Pandora Hearts, the Will of the Abyss made the Chain Albus explode because he had interrupted her while she was talking. Nevermind that Albus was trying to protect her from his contractor, who was about to stab her.
- When Calvin attempts to take on the mantle of Batboy in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, this happens:
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.
Films — Live-Action
- 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.
- The Sandlot - type 4 - "YOU PLAY BALL LIKE A GIRL!"
- 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.
- Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird: Despite The Sleaze Brothers' real crime through the film was attempting to kidnap Big Bird to put into their circus, they ultimately get punished by officer John Candy for "Stealing an apple from a kid's lunch box."
- 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 MST3K 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.
- Apparently, according to Ron Fox from Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, people with brown skin who smoke marijuana on an airplane are automatically terrorists (It Makes Sense in Context).
- In The Dilemma, the one "big secret" that Ronny has kept from Nick for years is that he dated Geneva... during college... before Nick and Geneva ever even met. In the crucial scene, the anger is directed toward Ronny, not Geneva, whom Nick is married to.
- In Brubaker a man who had two felony convictions is arrested for Drunk and Disorderly, and when he wakes up, the toilet in the cell is broken. Everyone in the cell blames him, so he's charged with "Destruction of City Property worth over $50," a felony, which makes him "an habitual criminal" for which he's sentenced to life imprisonment. As he points out to the warden, "I got life for a toilet."
- Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The other "bad" kids are Spoiled Brat Veruca Salt, gluttonous Augustus Gloop, and TV-obsessed Mike Teavee. Violet's flaw is chewing gum at all hours, little more than rudeness and Pride with regard to her holding a record for chewing, but she winds up getting just as nasty a case of Laser-Guided Karma as the other three when chewing a still-in-the-testing-phase piece of gum turns her into a giant blueberry! Since the Turn of the Millennium, adaptations tweak the character to make her more obnoxious (and thus more deserving of her fate) — in the 2005 film and 2013 stage musical she's a Competition Freak, as well as a Small Name, Big Ego starlet in the musical.
- In Les Misérables Jean Valjean got 5 years in jail for breaking into a shop to steal a loaf of bread, 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.
- A short story by a local writer in Singapore is about killer hamburgers attacking the protagonist because he switched his favorite food from burgers to fried chicken. It's supposed to be a horror story.
- 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 infamous tunnel disaster scene in Atlas Shrugged does this by claiming that every passenger on the train died justifiably due to their beliefs.
- 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 very Serious Business, because if a sudden catastrophe happens, it is much more likely to disrupt a unit without a commanding officer.
- 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 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.
- 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, who by logic knew that 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 has him killed.
- 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.
- 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.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus did the fourth kind quite a few times, satirizing the way British culture used to encourage the first kind. The page quote comes from their restaurant sketch, combining this with My Greatest Failure.
- 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 getting Jerry for something (even if the punishment is just a small fine).
- 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.
- 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 going to be "enforce" with him being killed, no less). 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.
- In an episode of the Narmtastic show Seventh Heaven, a Totally Radical wigger calls Lucy a bitch. For the rest of the episode, using the B-word is likened to raping someone. But, since this is Seventh Heaven we're talking about, it turns out that the bully was just hiding behind a Jerkass Façade to fit in with the cool kids. Cue the Anvilicious Aesop about not giving in to peer pressure.
- 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 for his repeated escape attempts. It may have been a Shout-Out to the Les Misérables example above.
- 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:
- On 30 Rock, Kenneth becomes addicted to caffeine and starts acting... out of the ordinary.
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 features a girl whose angelic voice moved God Himself... but her life is marred by a tragic addiction to chewing gum. Even earthly human society seemed to consider this a terrible moral failing. Perhaps Roald Dahl could have written for that show! It's supposed to be a "anything can be bad if taken to extremes" moral, but it falls on its face pretty badly. And once you consider that Monica has a caffeine addiction that's always played for laughs, it's quite hypocritical of the writers to play an addiction to chewing gum for drama.
- 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.
- 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 didn't think that it was a problem, since they were only dating for a month at the time and were not yet exclusive.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- When Mayor Wilkins is making a speech right before Ascending.
: Oh. God. [beat]
going to go through the whole speech, isn't he?
- More straightfowardly, the characters in Buffy had a tendency to get incredibly lecture-y whenever one of them had a little too much to drink.
- In Angel:
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!
- In Saturday Night Live's parody of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Olbermann's "special comment" was on a co-op board refusing to make an exception to its "no pets" policy for his cat, Miss Precious Perfect:
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 drugs were her birth control pills.
- 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!"
- 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.
- 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 the 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?"
- 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.
- The League of Gentlemen: Pop disowns his son Richie because he allowed a couple of kids to rob his newsstand. Of nine Maverick bars.
- Wizards of Waverly Place: Stevie incites an insurrection in order to overturn the Council's "one wizard per family" rule. Irresponsible rabble-rousing, or much-needed social reform? You be the judge.
- In Psych, there is mention of a program meant to replace cops with robots. Apparently it didn't work out, as a robot ended up strangling a jaywalker. This may just be a reference to RoboCop.
- A Crowning Moment of Funny from the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" when Sheppard Book and Mal are discussing Mal's new wife.
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.
- Doctor Who: "The Happiness Patrol" features a Type 3. On Terra Alpha, being a 'Killjoy' (i.e. being unhappy) is punishible by death.
- Leverage features a Type 3 when Nate is sent to prison. He finds that the warden is making backdoor deals to send innocent men to prison to increase his population and thus profits as it is a for profit prison. Cue jailbreak with new mark thrown in for free.
- 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.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic:
- "Don't Download This Song" mocks type 1 of the Digital Piracy Is Evil message (making it a type 4).
Cuz you start out stealing songs,
Then you're robbing liquor stores,
And selling crack, and running over schoolkids with your car!
- Also by Weird Al, the narrators of "Young, Dumb and Ugly" treat their ''own'' actions like this.
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 ...
- They Might Be Giants, "Why Did You Grow a Beard?"
Why did you grow a beard?
Why did you grow a beard?
I can't leave you alone for five minutes
What the Christ? What the Devil?
- "Crime Spree" by MC Frontalot. Front acts like a criminal mastermind, even though his crimes are petty at best.
- Arlo Guthrie's song "Alices Restaurant" has a Type 4 example, where the singer and a friend of his get put in jail for littering. This actually works out to his benefit later.
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".
- The offences listed in "You Can Get Arrested For That" by Greg Champion consist mainlo of things like buying an Olivia Newton John record and not eating all your vegetables.
- It's never more blatant than when the audience boos a Foreign Wrestling Heel simply 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.
- Even more blatant. Muhammad Hassan. His gimmick was of an Arab-American who loved America, but hated the way he was treated after 9/11. Sample quote: "I am an Arab-American, I grew up right here in America. I went to the same schools, I ate the same food, and there was never any animosity between us. But since 9/11, you people tend to generalize or stereotype people like me. We are singled out. We are humiliated. We demand the same rights that any American has!" What happened? Wrestling fans, who are not known for their tolerance of non-whites, automatically made him the villain, and UPN pressured WWE to end his career, all due to his character's race.
- 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 "temporary 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.
- Bleak Expectations: Among the numerous ridiculous laws of Victorian England, it's illegal for a grown man to cry. It's also treason to like anything French.
- In Vow of Honor, the PCs are discount paladins sworn to uphold the Tenets of Honor, which empower them on a superhuman scale. Breaking these Tenets is as easy as...saying a swear word. Or getting sick. Or being late for a meeting. Or arguing with someone.
- Part of the Lawful Stupid trope applied to paladins comes from the Killer GM enforcing this, just to force the paladin to break his code.
- 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 "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" from 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.
- Starship has Junior, whose motivation is to procure one million spacebucks. Why? To buy weed.
- Bangai-O's Excuse Plot revolves around the protagonists punishing a gang that smuggles fruit. Bangai-O Spirits doesn't even bother with the Excuse Plot, making new players wonder why destroyed enemies leave behind fruit pickups.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- Guards 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. When you are the arch-mage of the Mages Guild, and you take a fork from a table, you are expelled from the guild and everybody tries to kill you.
- In the AAR blog Living in Oblivion, the main character is arrested for stealing a bouquet of flowers. Admittedly, he committed the theft right in front of the Count of Cheydinhal, the flowers were in memory of the Count's dead wife and said protagonist only got a day in jail for the whole experience. Didn't prevent him from being invited into the Thieves' Guild for his daring heist, though.
- 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.
- Fallout 3:
- In the 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 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.
- 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".
- In Ultima VIII Pagan, any crime committed in the main city will cause the local law-enforcing sorcerer to be summoned, who will promptly (and graphically) blow you to smithereens, without any means for self-defense or escape. Crimes may range from murder, assault or theft right down to being rude to said sorcerer.
- 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 ) 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.
- 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.
- 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?!"
- Mass Effect 3:
- 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 $5 bounty.
- In all of the Grand Theft Auto games, you can murder people on the street and no one would notice. But God help you if you so much as scratch a police car...
- While we're at it, the most of the series come off as the ultimate inversion of this trope. You can do whatever you want. Just whatever. Stealing cars, commit mass murder on a public lane, cause damage of cataclysmic proportions on a main highway, Kill the entire police department, shoot down multiple helicopters, enter a militar zone, hijack a jet, ride the aforementioned vehicle above the goddamned city and vandalize a graffiti. If a cop somehow manages to arrest you, you WILL be punished. Just hope you like 6 hours of your life and less than 1000$ as a fine. This whole thing seems to be just an egregious case of GameplayAndStorySegregation, though.
- 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.
- In Saints Row: The Third, police will try to kill you for streaking.
- Interestingly this only applies when actively engaged in the streaking mini-game. Walking around with no clothes on does not draw any attention by itself.
- In Elite Dangerous, one of the regular public service station announcements is "Loitering is a crime, punishable by death. Please ensure you have authorization before entering the docking bay.". They're not kidding about the death thing.
- Breaking any of the school rules in Dangan Ronpa warrants a gruesome death from Monokuma. All infractions are treated equally. Given that Monokuma is the sociopathic main villain who is keeping the students locked up and forcing them to kill each other, breaking the rules is only seen as wrong by him. Because it ruins his fun. Everyone else in the series only sees breaking the rules as bad because it hurts them.
- According to this video by Israeli animator Leigh Lahav, in the fangirl community, giving an unwanted spoiler is punishable by death.
- Episode 4 of Chobits Abridged has this. Loitering is so heinous, the police pull and cock their guns just to be sure.
- The Best Page In The Universe: Maddox's most recent article (yes, I know) about, among other things, the dubious villainy on display in Quantum Of Solace. "It's like the producers are challenging you to give less of a shit."
- 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 A Game Of Gods, when the group is in Halloweentown, listening to Jack's speech on Christmas getting bombarded by the questioning mob, Narumi fires a gun at nothing just to get their attention. Needless to say, Jorge is displeased with this as to give him a What the Hell, Hero? line.
- The Nostalgia Critic:
- Jen of Cake Wrecks writes out phonetic spitting sounds ("ptooey") at the mere mention of the dreaded cupcake cake.
- LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!
- In Mega Man Dies At The End, Bomberman (not Bomb Man) is a psychopath with a fondness for Stuff Blowing Up, yet people seem most upset at the fact that he uses the metric system.
- 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.
- The The Music Video Show has an example in episode 8 when Fall Out Boy is about to be burned alive.
"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.
- 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 worst one, but whether he's right or not is left to the audience's appreciation.
- Fish slapping, from the Veggie Tales 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.
- Fillmore once inflicted this on the school mini-golf team. They (somewhat understandably) refuse to let him join them since he was a juvenile delinquent. How did this pre-Heel-Face Turn Fillmore react? By challenging to a game with their trophies and other memorabilia as the stakes, mercilessly beating them and breaking their spirits...yikes...
- 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:
- One episode 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:
- 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.
- 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. Though the Tattletale Strangler was probably arrested for strangling people who tattled on him (hence the nickname), he was just caught for 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.
- South Park:
- 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!
- South Park uses Type 4 a lot, like when Stan was exiled from the town for refusing to vote on the school mascot election between Turd Sandwich and Giant Douche.
- 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 murder a large group of the population, convinced women to have abortions for his own profit and, having arranged to have 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 mentions 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 one point declares, "I'm gonna catch this sonofabitch if it's the last thing I DO!!"
- Codename: Kids Next Door:
- Almost all the villains 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 features a hardware store owner who wants 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) die, which also brought The Nasty Burger along with them in a horrendous explosion, which was caused by an exploded pack of hot sauce, which 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.
- The Simpsons:
- 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 a 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 the 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.
- The 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
- Inverted: One episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? has the culprit going through the whole You Meddling Kids speech for something that wasn't even technically illegal.
- 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.
- The show 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.
- Coop from Megas XLR typically does the fourth version in his Once an Episode speeches to the Monster of the Week. Ironically, HE normally did that along with at least one of the others he accused them of himself.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- 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.
- Xiaolin Showdown plays this for comedic effect in a few episodes, but one incident with normally calm, soft-spoken, steady Clay stands out:
- 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. The tellers says that will probably only get her a fine, so she shoots him. 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.
- Used in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- 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.
- In Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko was once chased out by his friends because he likes rainbows.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King": Killing a man because he recommended you to relax, which wound up making you late? That's this trope alright; it's even lampshaded:
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.