Carr: These here spoons, you keep with ya. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box. No one will sit in the bunks with dirty pants on. Any man with dirty pants on sittin' on the bunks spends a night in the box. Any man loud-talkin' spends a night in the box. You got questions, you come to me. I'm Carr, the floor-walker. I'm responsible for order in here. Any man don't keep order spends a night in —
Luke: — the box.
Carr: [to Luke]
I hope you ain't gonna be a hard case.
Our protagonist is in a Chain Gang
prison and has violated one of the Corrupt Hick
sheriff's rules. So they send him to the Punishment Box (more commonly, "The Box.") The Box is a small metal shed in the middle of the compound, exposed to sun. They put you in and you are tortured by sweating it out in 120-plus degree heat, basically frying you alive. Unless it's a cold night, in which case you have to keep from freezing to death.
Various forms of this have been an unfortunate Truth in Television
(see The Other Wiki
for a few examples), which is probably where the trope originates from.
Although the box could be made of cardboard, especially in comedic examples, this is not to be confused with Cardboard Prison
Anime & Manga
Film - Animated
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, a particular incident similar to this is Played for Laughs. A strip shows Sealand ignoring his "Papa" Sweden and watching TV. Sweden gets a big cardboard box, writes "England" on it, (for some reason) and then sneaks up behind Sealand, and throws the box over him and shakes it with him inside, calling it a "Dambolis" with Sealand saying "Please stop it!". It's even funnier because the strip is presented as a step-by-step of how to make a Dambolis (it will take 3 minutes, it claims).
- In Kill la Kill, Gamagoori briefly mentions that Honnouji Academy has a "time out chamber" which students can be sent to for months at a time. This being Honnouji, it's not surprising.
Film - Live Action
- In Chicken Run, Ginger is put on a coal bin every time she's caught trying to escape. Like many other scenes in the film, this is an homage to The Great Escape.
- Toy Story 3 has Sunnyside's sandbox used for this purpose.
- In Despicable Me, orphans who disobey Miss Hattie get put in the (cardboard) Box of Shame.
- 'The box' in Cool Hand Luke is probably the Trope Codifier here.
- In The Great Escape, it was The Cooler and it was reserved for attempted escapees. The fact that Steve McQueen's character had been in it so many times, and had survived, led to him being termed The Cooler King.
- In Hook, pirates who have failed are put into the "Boo Box", a chest which is also inhabited by several scorpions.
- In Matilda, the sadistic headmistress is fond of (among other things) using the "Chokey," a closet lined with massive spikes and blades, thus like an iron maiden in which there is just barely enough room to stand.
- The Japanese prison camp in The Bridge on the River Kwai has a metal punishment box that stands outside in the sun. Prisoners don't get any water.
- In Stir Crazy, Gene Wilder asks for an extra day in The Box when they come to get him out. He's just Too Kinky to Torture.
- Das Experiment, based on the infamous Stanford prison experiment, recycled in Germany.
- The hot box used in Django Unchained on the plantation owned by the sadistic Calvin Candy.
- The hot box, an old truck, in Von Ryan's Express.
- Also called the hot box in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard. It's basically a tiny shack where prisoners bake in the desert heat for days at a time — and sometimes the guards "accidentally" forget to give them food and water.
- Discussed in Shock Corridor, where the hero is threatened by the warden to receive this treatment.
- In the Ozploitation movie Turkey Shoot the main protagonist is put in a cage out in the sun where he's forced to hold up a heavy weight.
- In Life prisoners are punished with time in "The Hole," which is an outhouse sized shed with no light or plumbing out in the sun in the South.
- Parodied in Muppets Most Wanted where Tina Fey's character opens the slot of one during a musical number, and the guy inside sings.
- In Take the Money and Run Virgil escapes from prison but is recaptured and sent to a labor camp. When that fails to break him, they lock him in a sweatbox with an insurance salesman.
Live Action TV:
- Horatio Hornblower: In Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Hornblower, while being held prisoner in Spain, is placed into a small hole in the ground covered by a grate. The hole has neither room to stand upright or lie down, forcing the prisoner to crouch uncomfortably while exposed to the elements.
- In Dragon and Slave by Timothy Zahn, there are sheds that do this.
- Matilda has "Chokey", which is more or less a non-lethal Iron Maiden.
- In The Talisman, during the part of the book that takes place in the Sunlight Gardener Home, rulebreakers are sometimes locked in a refrigerator-shaped container simply called "The Box".
- In Captive of Gor, Elinor is locked into a slave box for eighteen days to break her spirit after repeated minor offenses.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Paradise", a group of colonists who crash-landed on a planet 10 years ago use the Box as punishment for any transgression. Like stealing a candle.
- Kung Fu: Caine finds himself in a two-man Box, and teaches the other man in the box to meditate so as to avoid the torturous aspects of being in the box. The guards & other prisoners are amazed that they're able to leave under their own power instead of being carried out.
- The Incredible Hulk episode "The Slam:" David gets put in one. Strangely enough, he doesn't Hulk Out. Another prisoner in the box next door tells him how to survive: find a rock to suck on, put your head in the least exposed place possible, and don't move around.
- My Name Is Earl: Earl goes to prison to cover up the fact that Joy really did the crime in question. The prison there has a 2 person "Hot Box;" there's a chain link fence between the two sides of the box, but there's also a hole in the fence big enough to put your arm through.
- In the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", Jayne's former partner is kept prisoner in solitary confinement, in a small (looks to be maybe 5 foot by 5 foot) box on stilts in the middle of a swamp. It's said he was held there for four freaking years. It's a wonder he could stand and walk as nobody could survive a hot box for that long.
- The X-Files episode "Trevor" starts with a guy being punished by going into a small shed. The kicker, this was before a major tornado was about to hit. Of course, not only the guy survives, he somehow becomes an Intangible Man and murders the warden who put him in the shed.
- The heroes are subjected to this punishment in The Time Tunnel episode "Devil's Island" when they arrive on the eponymous French Penal Colony and are mistaken for prisoners.
- In Seven Days, Frank's background includes several days in such a box while being a captive (a form of interrogation). He never cracked that way, but the project recovered him from a madhouse.
- Hornblower, "The Duchess and the Devil": Midshipman Archie Kennedy tells Horatio that when he attempted to escape from Spanish prison, he was put in a small hole in the ground covered by a grate. The oubliette had neither room to stand upright or lie down, and he couldn't walk for a month after the punishment. The exposition was a Chekhov's Gun, as Horatio was held there too, facing rain, cold, hot sun and rats.
- In the The A-Team episode "Bad Time on the Border", Hannibal Smith is kept for some time in a box of corrugated scrap metal in the heat of the middle of the day.
- Profit. It's the central object at the heart of the show. More specifically, it's a box emblazoned with the Gracen & Gracen logo. As a child, Jim Profit practically lived in it thanks to his abusive parents. A television set, visible from a small hole cut in the box, was his only way of learning about the outside world. Even as an adult, he still has that box...
- In Orange Is The New Black, SHU is depicted as such. Both times Piper is put in the SHU, she's depicted as desperate and even slightly crazy from the isolation. As if that's not enough, the food is even more disgusting and inedible than the usual prison fare.
- In "The One With Chandler In a Box" from Friends, after Chandler kisses Joey's girlfriend behind his back and says he'd do anything to get Joey to forgive him, Joey concocts a punishment of putting Chandler in a large boxnote . Chandler then spends Thanksgiving dinner inside the box (and Matthew Perry really did stay inside the box for his scenes).
Rachel: So now, what exactly is the point of the box?
Chandler: The meaning of the box is threefold: One, it gives me the time to think about what I did; two, it proves how much I care about my friendship with Joey; and three...it hurts!
- Life: During a college professor's annual "study" recreating the Stanford Prison Experiment, a small box is used for putting "prisoners" in solitary confinement, though the heat/cold portion of the torture is skipped.
- Done in the MAD parody of Kung Fu (referenced above).
- In Welcome to Night Vale, Cecil expresses fear, or maybe just mild annoyance, about the possibility of having to attend "another HR re-training session in the dark box."
- Alpha Centauri has the "punishment sphere", which make the oppressed masses too frightened to ever riot no matter what. For some reason, constructing this city improvement is not on the list of atrocities that will turn the other civilizations against you.
- League of Legends' Thresh, a sadistic jailer-turned-undead Torture Technician, has his ultimate ability named "The Box" in reference to one of these.
- In The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, some servbots sometimes can start not to obey you; when it happens Tron sends them to the punishment chamber (a minigame that basically is about applying Video Game Cruelty Potential on the servbot).
- Referenced in the Fallout Tactics intro cinematic.
: There are three simple rules to follow with Brotherhood equipment: If you damage your weapon, you will spend a week in the box. If you damage your armor, you will spend a week in the box. If you lose
either, I'll kill you myself
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has a reference to it:
(Tristan says something stupid)
Joey: Do you want to go back in the box?
Tristan: Please don't make me go in there!