"All my plans, my hopes and dreams. Ruined — ruuuuiiiiiined!"
It's the end of the episode/Story Arc
/series, and the villain's plans have fallen through. Now it's just a matter of dealing with the villain.
Sometimes you want the villain to escape
or have the villain realize that his evil ways are wrong and become a good guy
, but not this time, usually because it would make for an unsatisfying ending or would just take up too much time. But there's a problem... you can't kill him off. Maybe the censors won't allow it
. Maybe he's just not evil enough
or what he did isn't deserving of death. Or maybe you just aren't feeling up to bloodshed.
The answer? The Humiliation Conga!
Everything the villain has built up, piece by piece, comes crashing down in front of him. The lovebirds he kept apart
pass by him arm-in-arm, the hotel he spent millions building catches fire and burns down, his former Yes-Man steps on his foot
, the bum he spat on now has a Rolex (probably the exact model he
coveted) and asks him to light his cigar, and the dog he kicked
is now laughing at him
). People Come to Gawk
at How the Mighty Have Fallen
, and when one starts to laugh, everyone joins in
. And here come the cops; turns out the mic was on when he declared his foul intentions
In the end, the villain realizes he's in very, very dire straits. He's still alive, natch, but that's not all for the good.
The Humiliation Conga is very popular on kid's shows or a show with a general audience, as it's a way to ensure the villain is good and defeated without getting unduly violent. Compare with Cherry Tapping
in Video Games
. Heroes may knowingly tailor one as part of a Cruel Mercy
punishment for the villain.
Worth note is this isn't always that the villain can't die or doesn't deserve to, often times they could be killed but it just wouldn't be a fitting end for them. As some proponents of Cruel Mercy
would say, sometimes death would just be the easy way out and is too good for the villain in question. The audience may be left feeling such a villain didn't get nearly what they deserved. Thus a well crafted Humiliation Conga
offers a satisfying alternative. The villain is defeated, but they didn't get the quick and easy death. And naturally this makes sense, the more we hate the bad guy, the more we want to see him suffer. (Then again, sometimes the villain is
killed at the tail end of his Humiliation Conga, apparently on the reasoning that his degradation won't be complete until he's a rotting corpse.)
Occasionally, a Humiliation Conga may be quite literal, as the protagonists may find it hard to prevent themselves literally dancing with glee at the villain's downfall. If sex or overly affectionate people are involved, it becomes Sexual Karma
Because of the nature of this trope, a full Spoiler Warning
is probably called for.
May also result in a Villainous Breakdown
from the villain. Often the main component of a Break the Haughty
subplot. But beware - done too gratuitously or drawn out too long, it might actually make people feel sorry for the trounced villain
, or worse, effectively make the protagonists of the story the new bad guys
When it's a single, very humiliating event rather than a series of humiliating events, that's Humble Pie
. Compare Trauma Conga Line