->"''I fear you speak upon the rack''
->''Where men enforced do speak anything.''"
-->-- '''Creator/WilliamShakespeare's''' ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice''

Our Hero has been captured. He's being asked questions, and has folded under ColdBloodedTorture or TruthSerum. And then they ask what the plans are for something he doesn't know. Of course, they will believe he is somehow resisting, hiding that vital knowledge. So, the cruelty intensifies.

Harshly ironic, since our hero is suffering a great deal because his captors refuse to believe that he doesn't know anything. No, they are certain that if they just push him a bit further, he will crack and give them what they want.

Occasionally subverted, as the captor realizes the individual does not know anything and ceases the torture. But, if the captor is Evil or an AntiHero, the more frequent DoubleSubversion may come into play, where the captor keeps going [[KickTheDog even though the individual doesn't know anything]]. This may be a case of ForTheEvulz.

It should be noted that a problem with upping the torture is, if it works, the captured will tell his captors ''anything'' to make the torture stop, regardless of whether or not it's actually ''true''. And some really, really inventive and plausible stories come out of them. A person who has nothing to spill, will desperately try and ''find'' something, or make it up. This is why all evidence suggests TortureAlwaysWorks is ''not'' TruthInTelevision. TortureFirstAskQuestionsLater is when the torturer forgot to even ''ask'' anything.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* In ''Manga/AhMyGoddess'', Urd, while in Lord of Terror mode, briefly tries to torture Keichii for information about the Ultimate Destruction Program. She quickly learns that all he knows about it is the fact that it exists.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' has a variation, where L imprisons and interrogates Misa on completely accurate suspicions that she is the second Kira... unaware that, through a trick of the Note, all of her pertinent memories have been erased. This goes on for a ''month'' before the team convinces him to try something else.
** Referenced in a bit of BlackComedy later, Misa boasts that even if she's captured and tortured, she won't give up any information. L replies "Yes, I can attest to that."
* Near the end of ''Anime/LastExile'', [[spoiler:Alex Rowe is given a TruthSerum by Delphine in order to obtain the information that she needs. It turns out that Alex never entrusted himself with the last piece of the poem, [[XanatosGambit predicting the possibility of being captured and interrogated.]]]]
* ''Anime/NowAndThenHereAndThere'': This happens to Shu during the first few episodes. Worse, [[spoiler:Abelia is quite aware from the beginning that he doesn't know anything but is forced to keep torturing him, on King Hamdo's orders.]]
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'', Erza is captured and brutally interrogated (including AgonyBeam) by Kyouka about Jellal's whereabouts. Although she would never betray him, she honestly has no idea where he is.

* In a ''ComicBook/VForVendetta'' bonus comic from the TPB, two [[SecretPolice Finger men]] do a prolonged interrogation of a suspect, then force him to walk around the ledge on the high rise building, which is virtually certain to lead to his death. After forcing the suspect outside, one asks the other if he really thinks the suspect actually has any connection to V. The second says no, but that he and his wife are having some killer fights at home and he needs to take it out on ''someone''.
* In ''ComicBook/SupremePower'', Nighthawk interrogates a pimp at knifepoint about a recent string of disappearances. And by "knifepoint", we of course mean "the tip of the blade is touching the guy's eye"; before any questions are asked, the pimp desperately asks what happens if he really doesn't know anything. Nighthawk says he'll think he's holding out on him, gouge his eye out, and ultimately apologize profusely when it's obvious that he really doesn't know. The pimp turned out to have a tip after all, as luck would have it.
* ''ComicBook/LesTuniquesBleues'': One story has the general staff call Blutch and Chesterfield, explain the battleplan to them, then send them out on a recon mission where they'll get captured (unbeknownst to the pair). Where Blutch immediately begins telling the rebels what they want to know, their commanding officer is suspicious and has Chesterfield interrogated instead. Chesterfield endures an unbelievable amount of torture until he finally cracks and gives a plan that has nothing to do with the one the generals had him memorize... and of course, turns to have been their ''real'' plan.
* A strange variant once happened to ComicBook/{{Diabolik}}, when the Grey Ravens tried to get from him the hiding place of the Crown Jewels of Benglait they believed he had just stolen (Diabolik had in fact successfully broken in the place they were supposed to be held, only to find out they had been secretly moved in another place after the Grey Ravens tried and failed to steal them): Diabolik could ''not'' give them the jewels he had not stolen, but knowing they wouldn't believe him he didn't tell them, and took the torture for a while before 'breaking'... And luring them in a deathly trap.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/WhiteDevilOfTheMoon'', two people are needlessly tortured for the same incident.
** [[spoiler: Nanoha's sister Miyuki was being interrogated on her sister's powers. Unfortunately for both Beryl and Miyuki, albeit in different ways, all of Nanoha's explanations of her magic went straight over her head. Of course, the torture was probably going to happen [[DisproportionateRetribution because Miyuki nicked Beryl's face during an escape attempt.]]]]
** [[spoiler: Nephrite was accused of bringing Miyuki to Beryl for an assassination attempt, and Beryl was trying to wring evidence of his duplicity from him. Unfortunately for him, he was completely loyal. He just didn't expect his hostage to be a BadassNormal.]]

* ''Film/MarathonMan'': What the Nazi dentist played by Sir Creator/LaurenceOlivier does to Creator/DustinHoffman ("Is it safe?"). The actual scene is brief, and the torture rendered mostly by implication; but it is still arguably the most chilling example of this trope in cinematic history.
* The Film/JamesBond franchise has been known to do this on occasion, most notably in the opening theme of ''Film/DieAnotherDay''. During that theme, Bond is put through a who's who of torture methods, and it's later revealed that [[ProperlyParanoid he was intentionally given an incomplete briefing by MI6 for his mission, just in case he was captured.]] They do trade someone important for his return though, which he never expected to happen, and calls them out on.
* A version of this is the focus of ''Film/SlumdogMillionaire'', where Jamal is tortured to find out how he cheated at WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire. At his repeated insistence, the two cops eventually acknowledge that he might be telling the truth about not cheating a few hours in. After they ''stop'' torturing him and interrogate him somewhat more civilly, Jamal tells them, in the form of flashbacks to his life story, exactly how he was able to get each answer right.
* In ''Film/ToEndAllWars'', Yanker is viciously beaten with a shovel after one goes missing and he admits to taking it to keep everyone else from getting killed. It isn't till after he's paralyzed that the commander discovers that there was just a miscount and none of the shovels are missing after all.
* This is the whole point of the film ''Film/{{Rendition}}''; they bagged the wrong El-Ibrahimi. They're torturing an innocent man. It's also based on a true story.
* ''Film/IchiTheKiller'': A horrific torture scene occurs when the sadomasochistic Yakuza Kakihara is led to believe that a Yakuza from another gang is responsible for the disappearance of his boss. The man is completely innocent, but the gruesome damage is done by the time they realize it.
* Mentioned in ''Film/DrStrangelove.'' When GeneralRipper is realizing he's about to be arrested for treason and tortured for the recall codes, he suddenly asks Mandrake if he's ever been tortured as a war prisoner. Mandrake explains that he was captured and tortured by the Japanese during World War II. When asked if he talked, he explains they didn't seem to want any information. [[spoiler: Ripper kills himself shortly afterward.]] It's all funnier than it sounds.
* In ''Film/FiveFingers'', a piano player travels to Morocco for a performance and charity event, but gets kidnapped and brutally tortured by terrorists (and yes, he starts [[{{Fingore}} losing fingers]]) who insist that he's an undercover CIA agent.

* ''Literature/TheTerrorizers'': Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm novel. Secret agent/assassin Matt Helm is captured by the enemy, who torture him to find out vital information. Unfortunately he has amnesia, so he can't tell them anything. They think he's faking and continue the torment.
** In another novel Matt Helm is busy being interrogated with a soldering iron and is busy cursing the fact that his interrogator is a stupid amateur. Because if his captor were a ''professional'' Helm could just spill his guts right away (as he has permission to do when necessary) but an amateur won't believe that he's actually 'cracked' without a big dramatic show of resistance first and would just keep going no matter what he said.
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/{{Friday}}''. The title character voluntarily spills her guts to her interrogators, which is standard policy for her organization as a highly trained courier is far more important than any piece of information they may be carrying at one time. As her boss knows anyone will eventually crack, he deliberately withholds information about anything important. After questioning her under TruthSerum and getting the same story, they decide she's been hypnotically conditioned to tell false information, and ruthlessly torture and rape her. The interrogators end up respecting their victim as the only person they couldn't crack under torture. (She thinks ''they'' are complete idiots.)
* The climax of ''Literature/FoucaultsPendulum'' involves a group interrogating the hero about a plan. Not only does the hero not know the plan, it doesn't even exist.
* In the third and fourth ''Literature/TennisShoeAdventure'' books, Garth is captured by the current BigBad (King Jacob) who wants the location of a fabled treasure. Garth was looking for the treasure, but never found it. King Jacob doesn't believe this, so he goes after Garth's family, finally kidnapping one of his nieces. Her torture, [[spoiler: apparent death and subsequent recovery]] and a HeroicBSOD follow. Eventually, King Jacob realizes that Garth ''doesn't'' know, and leaves.
* ''[[Literature/{{Flashman}} Flashman and the Mountain of Light]]'': An ironic variant in the Sikh high command captured Flashman and, DirtyCoward that he is, he told them everything before they even showed him the torture instruments. Which convinced them, since they believed his ''[[FakeUltimateHero reputation]]'', that he was ''concealing'' information of great importance, because no one as heroic as the great Flashman would spill the secrets so readily unless giving out ''false'' information was worth seeming like a coward. One of the Sikhs had tears of admiration in his eyes as he told Flashman they were going to torture him until he gave them the "truth."
* In a ''Franchise/StarWars'' short story, Corran Horn helps a group of rebel sympathizers escape an Imperial Prefect, while simultaneously framing the man for rebel sympathies and murder. Horn's thick-skulled Imperial liaison (when he was still working for [=CorSec=]) takes the overseer away for an interrogation session, with the innocent man mentally remarking how bitterly hilarious it is that he will be tortured endlessly for information that he doesn't have.
* ''Literature/EthanOfAthos'': Ethan is captured and questioned by the Cetagandans about the location of Terrance Cee, first using a truth serum, and then upping the ante to more and more painful methods. Since this is the first Ethan's ever heard of Terrance, he tells them he doesn't know who they're talking about, right from the beginning.
* In ''Literature/ThePrincessBride'', Humperdinck and Rugen torture Westley for weeks about for the name of the Guilder official who commissioned the abduction of Princess Buttercup. Not only would Westley not know this information as he was not the kidnapper, the information didn't exist at all, as Guilder wasn't involved. And Humperdinck knew this, as ''he'' was the one who had ordered the kidnapping.
* Subverted (or maybe zig-zagged) in Sartre's short story "The Wall." The protagonist / narrator is told that he will be shot at dawn if he does not give up the location of Ramon Gris. He knows where Gris is, but gives them the wrong information, saying he's in the cemetary. He does it more to be a smart ass and make fools of his captors than anything. [[spoiler:They don't kill him, because they actually find Gris in the cemetary. The protagonist didn't know Gris had gone there.]]
* The [[Creator/EdmondHamilton Star Kings duology]] has the main character subjected to a MindProbe to get details about a superweapon. Twice. The first time, it fails because he is not the man the villain was looking for (they switched bodies). The second time, the aliens probing him are actually aware he's not the right person - but they do know he had to use the weapon, so they probe him for details of its workings. They even resort to a MindMeld when a normal probing fails to show any details. Since all the hero knows is which buttons to push, all it does is revealing the location of their fleet.
* ''LightNovel/ASongOfIceAndFire''. Queen Regent Cersei Lannister has a singer tortured to make him 'confess' that he slept with Margaret Tyrell, her rival for power. His eventual confession accuses so many people of sleeping with Margaery that Cersai has to 'encourage' him to remove the more politically useful ones. Ironically, when the case against Margaery collapses [[spoiler:because one of the other people accused of sleeping with Margaery seems to be confessing this, but he's [[HoistByHisOwnPetard actually confessing he slept with Cersei]]]], the singer is the only one to stick to his story while being tortured again by the [[ChurchMilitant Faith]] -- it's implied that the torture has driven him insane.
* The Mediaeval Italian poem [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infelix_ego Infelix Ego]] (Unhappy Me) by Girolamo Savonarola in 1498 is a prayer by a priest asking forgiveness from God for making a false confession of hearsay under torture. It swept Italy at the time and got a gorgeous musical setting- not least because the implication, that he was innocent after all, was so subversive.
* Mark Smeaton in ''Literature/WolfHall''. Cromwell knows he didn't ''really'' sleep with Anne Boleyn, but, well, he doesn't like his face. (And he was part of the masque that insulted the memory of his recently deceased master. That too.)
* ''Literature/{{Wilt}}'': Under low-level police torture designed to get him to crack and confess to murdering his wife, Henry Wilt realises his only way out is to confess, but make it sound so wildly ridiculous and unbelievable that it would be laughed out of court.[[note]]Perhaps the Cambodian in "Real life" below had a similar notion...[[/note]] He therefore comes up with a plausible story about getting rid of her corpse at the local meat pie factory.
* In Dennis Jones' ''Warsaw Concerto'' a woman is subjected to three days of interrogation under Main/ElectricTorture by the KGB, who fear that she intended to reveal details of a coup. [[spoiler: She dies from her torture.]]

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** The Tickler asks Gendry the same questions as the other prisoners ("Is there gold in the village? Where is the Brotherhood?") even though he is not from the village and has never heard of the Brotherhood.
** Theon tells lies, half-truths, and then the truth to appease his tormentors, but they soon admit they are just torturing him because they enjoy it.
* In ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'', the MirrorUniverse two-parter "In A Mirror Darkly" introduced the first agony booth prototype as a general disciplinary measure. At one point, when the paranoid mutineer Archer is convinced that Tucker has sabotaged the ship, he puts him in the booth and ignores Tucker's protests of innocence, growling "Break him!" before marching off to the bridge in a huff. Only later does it occur to Archer that Tucker is far too competent an engineer to go leaving obvious clues to his being a saboteur, and by that time Captain Forrest is well on his way to retaking control of the ship. Later yet, Tucker chews out T'Pol, telling her "I spent ''four hours'' in the booth!" [[spoiler: It turns out he ''did'' sabotage the ship; but she's the actual saboteur because she was controlling him through a mind meld.]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'': Picard refuses to give up the Minos Korva defense plans under truth serum. How? Because he has no idea what they are. His captor, Gul Madred, works it out eventually...and keeps going, switching his focus to simply breaking Picard for its own sake, via "[[TwoPlusTortureMakesFive How many lights do you see]]?"
* ''Series/TwentyFour'' had at least two victims, a CTU analyst and the Secretary of Defense's son, who the good guys torture to no avail.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'': Sayid tortures Sawyer because he and Jack think he stole Shannon's inhalers. Only after shoving sticks of bamboo up under his finger nails for a few agonizing minutes does Sayid learn that [[spoiler: Sawyer never had the inhalers in the first place, and was being so stubborn just so he could get a kiss from Kate.]]
* On ''Series/RookieBlue'' Sam is tortured by a criminal who wants to know who killed the criminal's family and why the cops covered it up. Sam knew the guy's family was dead but had no knowledge of the rest. The criminal realizes that Sam probably knows nothing but decides to continue just to make sure.
* In ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'''s season 4 episode "On The Head Of A Pin", the angels have captured Lilith's [[TheDragon dragon]] Alistair and force Dean to use his knowledge of torture from his time spent in Hell for information about how the demons are killing angels. Alistair proves TooKinkyToTorture, however, and merely plays along because he's amused by the emotional trauma reliving his time in Hell is causing Dean. Dean's brother Sam is finally able to force Alistair to talk using his PsychicPowers, only to have him reveal... Nothing. Turns out, the demons weren't behind the murders after all -They were committed by a rogue angel intent on freeing Lucifer from Hell. An odd case in that it was the interrogator and not the victim who was suffering, but it still ended up being for nothing.
* ''Series/{{Yeralash}}'' has an episode about a boy first tortured and then shot for refusing to answer a single question [[spoiler:how much is 7*8.]]
* The ''Series/TrueBlood'' episode "Authority Always Wins", Bill and Eric are tortured by the Vampire Authority and ordered to reveal the plans, location, etc of the Sanguistion Movement. Bill says he has no idea what that is. Eric snarks that he tries to stay out of politics as much as possible. They are eventually convinced because they realize that Sanguistion members are fanatics who would not deny their involvement.
* In ''Series/{{Roswell}}'', towards the end of the first season Max is being held by evil government people who torture him into telling them various things. But then they want him to show them how to use some device that he has no clue how to work (or he'd have already used it), and start to cut him open when he doesn't.
* In the ''Series/{{Haven}}'' episode "301", Audrey Parker and an old woman are kidnapped and brutally interrogated by a menacing, silhouetted man about the Colorado Kid case from 27 years ago. Audrey's memories from that time period have been erased, and the old woman simply can't remember that far back.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* The ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' source book ''Book of Vile Darkness'' provides rules for torture, which provides a bonus on Intimidate checks made during interrogation. If the victim successfully resists or doesn't know any relevant information, he gets a bonus on Bluff checks to lie to the torturer. What's more, since the torturer is likely to believe TortureAlwaysWorks, they get a ''penalty'' to resist the Bluff checks. Unfortunately for the victim, the book notes that the torturer's likely to continue the process even once they get the information they're looking for.
* The Dark Eldar of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' both get off on torture and need to inflict pain to live, so most of their slaves and prisoners can and will be tortured ForTheEvulz.

[[folder: Theme Parks ]]
* In the pre-show for ''WesternAnimation/ShrekFourD'', Lord Farquaad interrogates the guests themselves as to Shrek's whereabouts, even though from the perspective of the story, they don't know anything.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', Shepard and his/her squad come across a prisoner being brutally beaten by a guard while on a mission to pick up a convict from a prison ship. (Shepard has the option of convincing or intimidating the guard to stand down.) It isn't made clear whether the guards are looking for information or not, but speaking with another prisoner strongly implies the guards are just torturing him as punishment for 'offing' another prisoner, knowing full well he doesn't have anything to tell them. It's the ''CowboyCop'' who points out that it's just meaningless cruelty.
-->'''Garrus Vakarian''': ''You don't even get good information that way. After a point, victims admit to anything to make the pain stop.''
* Midway through ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', Seifer subjects Squall to ElectricTorture, demanding to know the "true purpose" of [=SeeD=], the mercenary organization which trained both of them. Squall not only doesn't know, he has no earthly idea what Seifer is even talking about, making his only options "make something up" or "try to get the interrogator to kill him."

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' does this, although actual torture isn't shown (though mentioned). Instead, [[DragonWithAnAgenda Redcloak]] tells [[MemeticBadass O-Chul]] that innocent people will be [[DeaderThanDead fed to the Snarl]] if he doesn't give up everything he knows about Girard's Gate. (And a control group will be thrown off the other side of the tower, to die normally. ForScience!). Seeing that he remains silent, Redcloak has to concede that he really doesn't know anything. Also PlayedWith: he admits to [[MookLieutenant Jirix]] that he ''knew'' the torture wouldn't work, but was just using it to stall for time with [[BigBad Xykon]]. He seems honestly surprised about the SadisticChoice's results, though.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode "Party of One", Spike honestly has no idea what Pinkie wants to know during his interrogation, so simply tells her what she wants to hear. Ironically, he might have known or guessed about the surprise party Pinkie's friends are holding, so if she'd merely asked him what her friends were doing that afternoon, he might have been able to tell her, and avoid all of the [[EnhancedInterrogationTechniques unpleasantness]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' the nerd accidentally nukes Canada (ItMakesSenseInContext) and is water-boarded until the government official makes him say he's working for Pakistan.
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsRebels'': In [[Recap/StarWarsRebelsS1E12RebelResolve "Rebel Resolve"]], [[spoiler:Kanan, who was captured at the end of the previous episode, is tortured by Tarkin and the Grand Inquisitor for information on Fulcrum and the larger rebel network. He doesn't break, but he can't tell them anything anyway because Hera has been deliberately keeping him and the rest of the crew in the dark just in case something like this happened. The Grand Inquisitor actually does mention that this is a possibility.]]
* Arcee's backstory in ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' involved her being captured by Airachnid, who brutally tortured her in order to gain attack coordinates. When that failed, Airachnid threatened to kill Arcee's partner Tailgate unless Arcee gave her the coordinates. Unfortunately for Arcee, she genuinely didn't know the coordinates, leading to the loss of her partner when Airachnid refused to believe her.

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* There's one story about a man tortured by the Khmer Rouge who told interrogators that he was UsefulNotes/ThePope, a {{hermaphrodite}}, and an American spy. As some have said, presumably the interrogators were feeling bored that day.
* Up until the Nineteenth Century, people in Europe were often accused of witchcraft. The vast majority of the accused, believe it or not, were not witches. This did not stop the interrogators from torturing them in an attempt to gain a confession of witchcraft. In the event that the accused made no confessions, they were deemed to be obstinate and the level of torture was escalated until they either did confess or expired.
** It's a pretty fair bet that in this case, they weren't just looking for an admission that yes, you were practicing dark magic; they were after a recantation, too. [[ShootTheShaggyDog After which they'd probably kill you anyway, although in a much less harsh fashion than burning,]] in order to [[FromACertainPointOfView safeguard your soul]] from future temptations.
** Not to mention that, if you were convicted, all your worldly possessions and wealth would become the property of the witch hunters, so there wasn't a lot of incentive to find you not guilty...
*** This was ironically enough one of the reasons why many Catholic clergymen turned ''against'' the {{Witch Hunt}}s, as they often gave final confessions to accused 'witches' who tearfully admitted that they'd lied, even knowing they faced a horrible death, just to end the torture. Unfortunately the mostly-secular witch hunters ignored this with a "Just goes to show you, those bloody priests don't know how to handle these witches."
*** In some cases, such torturing [[LogicBomb resulted in government and judicial officials being accused--which caused the whole system to break down]].
** This is still done today in {{Witch Hunt}}s throughout the Third World, except when they go straight from accusation to the 'incredibly brutal execution' phase. Oh, and they very often kill most of your relatives too, just in case the witchcraft is InTheBlood.
*** There is again a profit motive, the victims are often poor people (e.g. old single women) killed when the family is too poor to afford their keep. It's a way to provide moral justification for putting your elders out in the snow, in the absence of snow. Shamans who claim to be able to cure witches do so by taking them in and paying for their keep until things get better and the person is 'cured' (rituals are involved, as well as paying for their keep).
* In ancient Rome slaves were always tortured if any testimony of theirs was needed for a trial. So even if they merely witnessed a crime they would also have the truth tortured out of them. The amount of torture was usually consistent no matter what answers they gave, which was an attempt to avoid this trope actually. They didn't want slaves to falsely incriminate themselves, so they tortured them all the same amount.