"People think it's open season on kids right now."
Nothing better to whip up some outrage in your story than making the bad guy a child molester. More cynical works about this trope will often note that getting people whipped up into a mob-frenzy — over any subject, but particularly one as emotive and genuinely shocking as this — can be a very good way to distract and manipulate them.
open/close all folders
- Though it was only revealed retroactively, the seduction of Gwen Stacy by Norman Osborn may qualify. While there was no hunt on him for that reason, it did stir up the hate for him.
- Used as a part of the setting in The Filth; Feely is claimed to be a pedophile, which has him almost torn apart in the streets.
- One story arc of Batman and the Outsiders has Arsenal and Co. teaming up with John Walsh to hunt down a massive organized paedophile/child prostitution/slavery operation. The arc began with one of the female team members admitting to have been a captive of this gang during her teenage years.
- Hard Candy starts off with a naive teenage girl having coffee with an older guy she met on the internet, but it's eventually revealed that she already had strong suspicions that he was a serial pedophile/murderer and had specifically targeted him. She purposely baits him to get into his house so she can find evidence of his crimes, then torture him, ruin his life, and coerce him to kill himself.
- A short version is done in Pay It Forward. Haley Joel Osment's character decides to run away from home. He's shown at a sleazy bus station counting loose change for a ticket. A man approaches him, talking rather creepily and reaching out to touch him. Then Kevin Spacey's character appears, drags the guy into the bathroom and beats the shit out of him.
- The original A Nightmare on Elm Street was vague about the subject, but The Remake gives Freddy a clear element of paedophilia, and thus this trope plays into the parents hunting him down.
- Little Children involves a convicted sex offender being released from prison and moving into a neighbourhood. This is soon followed by one of the other locals spreading warning posters, vandalizing his house and directly assaulting him.
- O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill kills the man responsible for the death of her parents at age eleven. Because he was a paedophile, she managed to get into his bedroom alone with him for the killing.
- The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Goth Opera features an in-text sort-of example from just before paedophilia became the media go-to moral panic; in it, the Doctor encounters a Christian evangelist leading a mob in hunt of 'Satanists' (actually vampires) who he claims molest and kill children in their ceremonies; the Doctor comments that most sexual molestation actually occurs at the hands of someone the child knows, such as a family member or friend. Later, the evangelist is forced as a result of mental control to admit that he actually molests his own daughter.
- This is a recurring theme in the works of former Whitehouse member Peter Sotos.
- Acid Row has the premise of a social worker is visiting the house of a convicted sex offender in a lower-class neighborhood when a child comes up missing. The actual offender is harmless and ineffectual, his father is the dangerous one, and an innocent neighbor is more or less torn apart by the mob.
- In Batman: The Ultimate Evil, Bruce Wayne discovers that his mother had investigated child molesters and child pornography as a social worker. The book revolves around him going after the same group his mother had found out about, who are now organizing sex tourism to a thinly veiled Thailand stand-in.
Live Action TV
- Occasionally discussed on This Is Wonderland.
- In Desperate Housewives, Lynette causes the neighborhood to riot over a suspected pedophile, causing his invalid sister to die of a heart attack. At the end, he informs her that he had never acted on his tendencies because of his sister, and he was now "free" to do that. He may also have been screwing with Lynette's head for revenge. The ending is rather ambiguous about it.
- In the first episode of Blake's 7, the titular hero Blake is slandered by the Federation, who accuse him of child molestation, in order to subvert any revolutionary support he might acquire.
- Criminal Minds has this occur in the episode "A Shade of Gray" where, after prodding by the local sheriff, the team arrests a local known pedophile for the murder of the six year old victim. They later find out the sheriff planted evidence leading them to the man to cover up that the boy was killed by his ten year old brother to spare the parents some pain.
- Subverted (via some parodying of the Double Standard) in an episode of The George Lopez Show; George's wife works the neighborhood into a frenzy over a convicted sex offender living in the neighborhood. When a neighborhood mob shows up on the offender's doorstep, they find out "he's" a "she" - a former teacher who had sex with an underage student, and had served time for it. The crowd (with the now-doubly indignant exception of the wife) disperses with basically an "Oh. Carry on, then."
- Saturday Night Live:
- Played straight in skit in which a computer instructor leads a seminar about MySpace. One member of the class was a concerned mother and the rest were obvious pedophiles.
- In another skit, an adult goes trick-or-treating "as" a sex offender, bringing with him the papers for his neighbors to sign as part of his "costume". He, of course, insists that he's doing this for the realism while dancing around the question of whether or not he is an actual sex offender.
- In an episode of Being Human, Mitchell mistakes one of his unlabeled discs of "vampire porn" for a Laurel and Hardy movie, and lends it out to one of the neighborhood boys. The result is a massive pedo hunt, complete with (misspelled) graffiti, eggings, angry mobs and being spat in the face.
- The Daily Show mocked one of these Paedo Hunt specials by pointing out how, in the "dramatic re-enactments," the online predator was typing with one hand.
- In the series In the Heat of the Night an older male school teacher (with one count of a past sexual offense, as was found out) was accused of molestation by a child, and despite the lack of evidence, and partially thanks to an overzealous-for-sensationalism reporter, it quickly got out of control as people harassed him and shot at his house. Eventually the guy was driven to the point of killing himself. It was found out that his previous sex offender charge was a trumped-up issue from him mooning someone as a teenage prank, and in the end the child had only accused him to cover up the molestation actually done by his father. Tragic stuff.
- CSI episode "Harvest" used this trope. A 12-year old girl is reported missing and later found dead. There seems to be evidence implicating a convicted paedophile in the region. In reality, the girl's family were covering up her death, and they used an internet watchdog site that lists the locations of such people to look up the closest one to implicate.
- In Dexter the titular Serial-Killer Killer makes an exception to his "only kill killers" rule in order to kill a paedophile who is targeting his step-daughter, Astor.
- A more literal application of the trope happens in one episode of Without a Trace. A young looking woman poses as underage bait, a fledging, wheelchair bound unofficial cop (an accident prevented him from getting a badge), and a cameraman (who was later revealed to have been raped during a home invasion when he was 12) set up a sting operation to catch paedophiles, a la To Catch a Predator. Unlike the Chris Hanson manned operation, this version is more vigilante based and not exactly full proof to prevent people from escaping, which one guy managed to do. The cop goes after him, and gives him a "Reason You Suck" Speech, which drove the pedophile to shoot himself with the cop's gun. To make things even better, when the cameraman realized the cop was about to tell the police about what happened, he tried to kill him to shut up, though was unsuccessful. By episode's end, the cop survived the assault but by killing the cameraman.
- Insane Clown Posse has a song, "To Catch a Predator," concerning a man who uses the show's methods to lure pedophiles to his house, whereupon he kills him. As the chorus puts it:
I'm probably gonna burn for this
There's no lesson to learn from this
There's nothing I'mma earn
But it sure is fun! (To Catch a Predator)
- In the Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip song, "Thou Shalt Always Kill", one of the commandments is:
Thou shalt not think that any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a paedophile. Some people are just nice.
- The Peter Paul And Mary song "Talkin' Candy Bar Blues" is about a man caught up in a hunt after innocently offering a child a candy bar.
- The in-game internet in Grand Theft Auto IV includes a Schmuck Bait website titled "Little Lacy Surprise Pageant." Visiting it immediately grants the player a 5-star wanted level.
- Satirized by the Paedofinder General character in Monkey Dust. Remember: "Under the basic principles of English law, every man is innocent until speculated guilty!"
- South Park:
- The kids accused their parents of being pedophiles to have them taken away, leading to the town being nothing but the kids.
- Averted in the episode "Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy," where upon learning that Ike's female kindergarten teacher is having sexual relations with him, many of the townspeople simply congratulate him on "scoring".