"I'd like to dance with you tonight because we both want to, Jareth—no creepy coercive trickery or impaired consent. Does that work for you?"The line between acceptable and unacceptable is often drawn at consent. However human emotions and relationships are complex and multifaceted meaning consent can sometimes be questionable. How consensual was it, really? There are two basic ways of portraying this, although they often blend into each other.
- Type A: Sure, there was consent… but how free was it, really?
- Type B, popularly known as Dub Con (dubious consent): The plot would have you think consent was granted—but was it, really?
Examples, Type A and mixed.
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Anime & Manga
- At least in the anime adaptation of Another, Mei is told that she has the option of refusing to become non-existent to everyone in her class. However, she's also told that if she does refuse any deaths that occur that year will be her fault.
- This is played deliberately in Revolutionary Girl Utena several times, mostly for the purposes of Fan Disservice.
- The paramount example is the relationship between Akio and Anthy since the audience is led to believe at first that it's consensual and both parties seem happy with the relationship, but it's only after one scene in particular where Akio rapes Anthy when she hesitates to come to him does it become clear that it's really not, and in fact is almost literallynote a case study for Domestic Abuse.
- This is also present in the infamous episode 33, where Akio takes Utena's virginity leading to an extremely uncomfortable and awkward scene where they're never fully shown having sex (we only see Utena from the shoulders up, babbling and later moaning, but the results are rather obvious by the time it's all done.
- And yet again with most of Akio's relationships due to the vast age differences between the parties, meaning that even with consent, most of them would be considered rape in real life.
- And in The Movie, Akio has a Freak Out! when he realizes that Anthy—who'd he'd thought was unconscious—was awake for at least part of while he was raping her after slipping her drugs in her drink. Anthy tries to calm him down and tell him that she's okay with it, but he stabs her in the chest before throwing himself out the window.
- The light novel also has Touga having sex with Miki, with extremely dubious consent present throughout the entire scene.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has a non-sexual example. Kyubey only contracts children who agree to become magical girls. However, he does not tell them (all of) what being a magical girl entails, he uses emotional abuse to browbeat them into agreeing, and he often propositions girls who will die if they don't contract (such as a crash victim who is bleeding out on the highway).
- Goodnight Punpun uses this for Fan Disservice. Punpun's and Aiko's sexual scenes are uncomfortable for multiple reasons, including them both being deeply troubled individuals with Dark And Troubled Pasts. Punpun is obsessed with Aiko and their romance is depicted as unhealthy.
- Bokura no Hentai has this occur between Marika and Tamura. Marika has a crush on Tamura. He has emotional trauma due to being sexually abused when he was younger and has a somewhat hypersexual nature as a result, and his only consensual sexual experiences have been unpleasant. One scene has Tamura coming onto Marika in a predatory manner and he touches her. They're both barely teenagers, if that, and Marika had limited sexual knowledge at the time. It's left vague how consensual it was but it causes a rift in their friendship for a while and sparks an awakening in Marika's sexuality. A later chapter has the two attempting to have sex but nothing occurs when Marika becomes frightened and stops it.
- In the first issue of the New52 Catwoman relaunch, Selina and Bruce are shown going at it, but Bruce at first seems pretty reluctant, adding a layer of squick that was most likely not intended. In the words of Linkara: "Because it's not rape if he consents eventually, right?" Adding to that, the Cosmic Retcon of Flash Point means that the two are no longer aware of each other's true identities, which only adds to this.
- This was the cause of major backlash when the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws showed Starfire as amnesiac and unable to remember individual humans' faces, which made the fact that she then slept with Roy Harper pretty iffy. Two later attempts at an Author's Saving Throw both failed for similar reasons: First it was shown that this was an act, but it still means that Roy didn't come out looking good since he slept with her even while thinking that she was amnesiac. And then it was further clarified that Roy believed that if he left, then she'd forget him, which adds a whole other level of Squick, as it's essentially putting a very lonely person (in this case Roy) in the position where the only way to keep one of their two friends is to never leave them. It probably wouldn't have gone well if Roy had wanted to end the relationship but retain a friendship.
- Word of God confirms that the reason Terra of Teen Titans was shown in a sexual relationship with the villain Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, was to shock readers and emphasize how evil she was by showing that she was a slut. This falls flat when one remembers that Terra is 16 at the time while Slade is significantly older, and Terra honestly seems to think he loves her, meaning that rather than showing how evil she is it instead comes off as her being a young, confused girl who's being played by anote rapist who wants to murder her teammates. The cartoon version of this storyline, aside from being significantly sanitized for younger audiences, actually addresses this trope by showing their version of Terra as a confused, lonely girl who clearly is manipulated into evil actions, and just how freely she's committing those acts is actually discussed and used as a point of drama.
- The infamous issue #200 of The Avengers, in which Ms. Marvel is written out of the book by being kidnapped, brainwashed, and raped, and then happily waltzing off with the guy who did it to her. That's not what was intended, of course, but somehow it slipped Jim Shooter's mind that the guy using a mind control machine on her meant her consent was nothing of the kind. The next time Carol appeared as written by Chris Claremont was an issue-long What the Hell, Hero? she directed at the Avengers for standing by while the guy who did that to her explained exactly what he had done.
- Not even sexual but let's just say that the God(dess) of Stories incarnation of Loki is very bad at this whole consent thing, for example it's one thing assuming that your best friend trusts you and would be okay with you trying to save her. But if she's also willing to tell you their life story… she sure as Hel would like to have a warning before you use that story to turn her into magical jewellery to accomplish that goal.
- Although it's usually danced around, X-23 is indeed a victim of this, when she's first introduced to the comics as a prostitute in NYX. Her age is never stated, but later books suggest she was no older than 15-16, meaning that she was very much unable to provide consent under New York law. Even ignoring her age, there is her mental and emotional state to consider: However Zebra Daddy got his hooks into her, by the time he did she was an emotionally broken girl who was forced to leave her only family, suffered severe physical and emotional abuse all her life, and has been violently conditioned for subservience and obedience to the point she honestly doesn't understand how to make choices for herself. Laura would later confide in others that at the time Daddy found her, she didn't even comprehend that her body was her own. By no stretch of the imagination would she be considered mentally or emotionally capable of providing informed consent, even were she to have sex with someone her own age.
- In A Different Medius, Azurai's marriage to Iratu is definitely an example, the former making a sarcastic remark, and the latter thinking it's a proposal. Iratu also jokingly "threatens" to eat Azurai if he doesn't go through with it. Azurai can't tell whether it's a joke, and doesn't care to find out.
- In An Anthem for Sheltered Bays the 15-year old Eren enters a romantic and sexual relationship with Levi but Eren depends on Levi for virtually everything since he can't get back home, forced to become human and Levi would not allow him to leave anyways. To Levi's credit, he actually does realize this and is repentant for it.
- Angel of the Bat: Times of Heresy's 15th chapter is rife with this without ever making it further than second base. Cassandra's girlfriend Sadie initiates the couple's first real sexual contact (undressing Cassandra and playing with her breasts) while constantly asking if Cassandra is comfortable, which she always replies yes to. The mucking comes when one remembers that Cassandra has had no sexual experience and very little education, suggesting she's not entirely aware of what she's getting herself into. Further complicated by the fact that Sadie has been lied to about Cassie's background and thinks she has had a standard childhood and education and just can't speak English well due to being raised overseas. Sadie does at least stop as soon as she hears Cassie say "no", though Cassandra said it too quietly to be heard the first time, necessatating saying it twice.
- In Advanced Theory, Sora makes a fake confession to Riku to get back at him for being a jerk to Sora's friends. Which backfires because Riku accepts the confession and admits to having feelings for Sora. In Riku's excitement he pressures Sora to have sex with him because Sora was afraid of hurting Riku's feelings with the truth. While Sora never calls it rape, he admits to feeling tainted by the experience. To Riku's credit, he picks up on this and makes sure to check for Sora's consent.
- In My Mirror, Sword and Shield Suzaku returns Lelouch's feelings, but as his future adoptive father points out Suzaku is in no position to refuse. As Emperor, Lelouch could execute him if he felt like it and is Suzaku's boss. And Suzaku depends on Lelouch's patronage for protection and shelter while his time machine is fixed.
- Scar Tissue has Asuka, who is still traumatized from the events before and after Third Impact and who copes with her loneliness by repeatedly having sex with Shinji. Although he never resists or tries to get help, it's clear that Shinji is too bogged down by guilt and fear to refuse. Asuka herself later compares it to rape.
- TRON: Endgame Scenario: Jet was a condemned prisoner at the time, and Mercury tracked him down to try and see if he was truly on her side (working for Ma3a like he claimed), or not. She first threatened to kill him, but changed tactics, hoping to get him lowering his guard. Things went too far, partly because of the difference between human sex and Program energy melds, and Mercury realized what she had actually done far too late. Jet treats the whole matter as a misunderstanding and forgives her (having an explicitly consensual encounter with her later), but Mercury is less inclined to forgive herself, especially given that Jet is a (very reluctant) deity over her people.
- In the Ruggero Deodato movie Jungle Holocaust, this gets a sort of inversion: the protagonist, as he sinks deeper and deeper into savagery, rapes a native cannibal woman in a fit of rage in one scene after she tries to run away from him while he's employing her to help guide him through the jungle. As reviewer Nathan Shumate notes, however, her cannibal tribe is demonstrated throughout the film to be rather callous and amoral about sexuality and human life, so due to some serious Deliberate Values Dissonance, the woman doesn't exactly treat his raping her as being raped, but rather as his staking a legitimate claim to her the way any man in her tribe might (and as some are indicated to have tried to do elsewhere in the movie). As her tribe has basically raised her to see herself as belonging to anyone forceful enough to take her, she treats the protagonist as her new master from then on, and doesn't try to run away again.
- The Matrix: As Cypher specifically complains, the whole "red pill vs. blue pill" choice was dishonest. If the situation was explained in full, many people, like him, would reject the "real world".
- In Never Let Me Go, the protagonists and others are getting exploited in the most brutal way, and they have all been conditioned to unquestioningly accept the system.
- Observe and Report plays this for very black comedy. Ronnie and Brandi's date ends with the drunken Brandi seemingly passed out, with puke on her pillow and Ronnie pumping away on top of her. This looks like a straight case of date rape, but when Ronnie starts to slow down, she mutters, "What are you stopping for?" Given the fact that she Really Gets Around, Brandi might very well have been up for it, but the fact that she's that drunk still makes her consent questionable.
- The Survivalist: Kathryn and her daughter Milja are desperate for food and shelter. The Survivalist has a bed and a shotgun. So Milja sleeps with him. The Survivalist is not used to company, so the gun is probably to protect himself from her possible threat, and not to force her compliance, but if Milja didn't sleep with him, then she and Kathryn would have been sleeping outside.
- Under the Skin: The man who takes the alien in after he finds her on the bus has sex with her, and he thinks she is a traumatized/mentally challenged human woman, which would make it debatable whether she could give informed consent. While she seems fine with this, it also doesn't look like she knows what sex even is exactly, pushing him off her after he apparently ejaculates to examine herself. Thus it seems doubtful that she actually knew what was going on. So from either of their perspectives it's problematic.
- Indecent Proposal. A billionaire offers a couple one million dollars for one night with the wife, who has already turned down his advances earlier in the film. At this point, the couple is broke, having blown all their money on a venture to Las Vegas to try and make money (which they initially did before foolishly deciding to return to the casino and make even more, rather than quitting while they were ahead). After much discussion, they decide to go ahead with it. The billionaire takes the wife to his yacht, but sensing her discomfort with the arrangement, offers to flip a coin and release her from the deal if she wins. However, he wins, and… cue Sexy Discretion Shot. It's obvious that at no time does she want to sleep with this guy but does so only out of desperation and some twisted sense of obligation. And even worse, later in the film, it turns out that the coin in question was rigged, meaning that the billionaire would have won no matter what, and making his actions look really sleazy in hindsight.
- Son of the Mask: Tim has sex with Tanya while under the Mask's influence, which she didn't realize (he crawled into bed in the dark). It's quite likely she wouldn't have if his appearance was clear to her. This leads to the conception of her son too, and so there's the implication that he may be a child by rape.
- In A Brother's Price, which is in many ways a Romance Novel with gender roles reversed, not-yet-16-year-old Jerin Whistler is seduced by Princess Ren, who feels him up despite his inarticulate protests and stated desire to remain pure. She takes his arousal as more important than what he's saying; he even wonders how much force he can use to get away from a princess without getting in trouble, but soon rationalizes that this might be his only chance to be intimate with someone who's not a Brindle and participates happily. He says no and she backs off while he's still a Technical Virgin. When his sister learns about this she is initially furious with Ren for raping her brother but cools a little as he tries to explain.
"I don't hate you. Truly, it is easier to know you gave in to passion. It hurt to think you had been taken against your will in our very kitchen. I'm still angry with her. Making advances on you is akin to dangling candy before a child."
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Daenerys is part of an Arranged Marriage with barbarian warlord Khal Drogo. On their wedding night, Drogo seeks her consent and she does verbally give it, but it's still problematic for a few reasons. She's 13, and he's his 20s. It's not clear that he would have accepted a "no" had she given one. And even if he would have, her brother and (abusive) guardian since infancy, Viserys, makes it very clear that Daenerys would face terrible consequences for failing to please Drogo. After their wedding night, Drogo—who hails from a culture in which Marital Rape License is the standard—does not bother even going through the motions of seeking consent, and does rape her several times.
- In the Backstory, Lysa Tully's bedding of Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish has elements of this, as both times she slept with him, he was either passed out drunk or drugged, near-death, and hallucinating because of a nasty, feverish wound, and at least once believed that he was actually with Lysa's sister, Catelyn. It's unclear how aware Lysa was of just how out-of-it he was on these occasions, but it's clear it left him pretty traumatized.
- While Jon Snow was attracted to Ygritte, he intended to stay true to his Vow of Celibacy. She blackmails him into having sex with her. He does, and he becomes pretty enthusiastic over time, but this doesn't negate or justify the blackmail, and it comes off a little like "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization.
- The fans of The Dresden Files are nigh-obsessed with the consent issues in the series and nailing down which were intended by the author and which were accidental.
- Anything involving The Fair Folk is almost certainly intended (the Winter Court in particular). There are only two hard-and-fast rules when dealing with fairies: any contract, verbal or otherwise, is 100% binding (and if you do not uphold your end, the other party is within their rights to come down on you like a ton of bricks, fatally if they should so desire), and there is no such thing as the spirit of the agreement, only the letter, (and if you can get away with it, you can be pretty flexible with the letter as well). The conditions under which the agreements are made are completely immaterial, and many of the less benevolent fairies like to actively exploit people who are between a rock and a hard place like this.
- Lampshaded in Proven Guilty, when (in response to Molly explicitly trying to seduce him) Harry rejects her on the grounds that she's underage and recently had a very traumatic experience (being kidnapped and tortured by the Fae). Molly insisted that neither of these were relevant, but later concedes he was right to stop her.note
- Harry refuses to take advantage of Sarissa in Cold Days, since he points out that even if she's fine with it, the power discrepancy in their positions creates potential problems.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Duke arrives at his hotel room to find Gonzo accompanied by Lucy, a very young woman who Gonzo met at the airport, gave some LSD, and then probably had sex with. Duke is concerned that when Lucy comes down, she will consider herself to have been drugged and raped.
- Fifty Shades of Grey: Ana is told that being Christian's sub is up to her, and that she can negotiate the terms of their contract if she wishes. When she sends him an e-mail, joking that she wants their deal to be off (before she even signed the contract), Grey goes to her apartment, ties her to the bed, and rapes her until she changes her mind. Whenever she tries to renegotiate anything of the contract, he tries to talk her out of it.
- Rampant throughout The Hunger Games, where District teenagers have the option to 'choose' the Games (by stepping in for another or increasing their chances in the lottery), but for those in the poorer Districts it is by no means a free choice.
- In Heart In Hand, The first time Darryl and Alex have sex, Darryl is intoxicated, and felt that he had the obligation to fulfill the "bet" even though he really didn't want to. It's addressed in-universe in that Alex feels guilty about it afterwards and Darryl himself still feels unsure about whether it was consensual, long after the deed is done.
- Lords of the Underworld: Legion makes a deal with Lucifer: if she can seduce Aeron within a given period of time, she'll be able to keep the beautiful human body Lucifer gives her to do it with. However, Aeron does not love Legion romantically,note and only agrees to sleep with her because he knows she'll be sent back to Hell if he doesn't. The fact that this isn't truly consensual is often brought up.
- The Lunacy Of Duke Venomania is constructed around this—the women in the titular duke's harem are happy to be there, thrilled to be having sex with him, and don't miss their families or friends or lovers one bit. This is because he has the power to instantly brainwash any woman that he fancies. Including a lesbian, who eventually dies from the strain on her sexuality. When he's killed at the end, all of the women run out of the mansion as fast they can. A less magic related case is Mikulia, who isn't brainwashed into the harem but has the emotional and mental maturity of a small child.
- Nonsexual example in A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man. Technically Brett did consent to the procedure, but he was under the impression that it would cure his Melanoma and the condition that made him sunburn easily. Spending a year Strapped to an Operating Table, being genetically spliced with moth DNA, was never something he was informed of.
- Played with in the Slave World novels, with the slave hunters using psychological profiling to find people who will (after being given the right medical treatment) love the fact that they are getting exploited and only consider the fact that it's non-consensual to be an extra turn on.
- In the Eyes of Crow books, Marek is turned into a Sex Slave by an Illion woman. Since her culture believes women cannot rape men, she threatens to kill his son if he does not share her bed.
- In Elminster: The Making of a Mage, while he's a thief, Elminster and his partner Farl hide a prostitute (unconscious at the time) in the bedroom of a cross-dressing baker from the wrath of her clients (whom they just robbed), stroking both of them so they'll have sex after waking up—just for laughs apparently. The pair end up happily married, yes, but what the hell hero?
- In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Miriamele gives in to Aspitis when he comes to her bunk but she is vulnerable, drunk, and possibly drugged at the time.
- In The Time of Contempt of the The Witcher series, Ciri is trapped with the Rats after being rescued from a gang that was going to gang-rape her. Mistle rescues her from being raped by one of their members, Kayleigh, only for Mistle to then do the same thing. Ciri doesn't resist either time but is obviously terrified. Later, Stockholm Syndrome sets in.
- Victoria has Azania's Lady Land conquered, burned and wiped off the face of the earth by its arch-enemy the Northern Confederation, a far-right state that literally keeps its women in the kitchen. The survivors of the lesbian Amazon Brigade are put through reeducation camps, which supposedly make traditional, domestic "real women" of them without any coercion whatsoever... And those who resist conversion are sold as slaves. Still, the Confederation commander sincerely praises the beauty of it as the re-educated women become "blushing war brides" for his soldiers, and honestly appears completely oblivious to any suggestion that their consent might not have been freely given.
- In A Court Of Thorns And Roses Lucien feels obligated to perform a rite in Tamlin's place that involves sex with another person. In his case, with Ianthe, whose pursuits he's been trying to dodge for months. While he insists that he chose of his own free will to perform the rite, his body language and how he talks about it suggest that he didn't want to do it and hated the experience, and participated only because he felt he had to.
- In Vicky Peterwald: Target, Vicky is kidnapped by assassins after the bounty placed on her by her Evil Stepmother. She escapes by seducing one of them and killing him in the act, but describes it as rape later on grounds of her desperation to escape.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): In the episode "Six of One", Colonel Tigh orders Tory to seduce Baltar in order to find out more information regarding the last Cylon model based on the latter's experiences in the Temple of Five. Tory agrees to do so, but it's shown that she isn't happy at all. Later, when she does seduce Baltar, she cries while they're having sex. Baltar misinterprets this (because he knows that she's a Cylon) as thinking she's insecure and tells her that she does have feelings, and this apparently makes her feel better.
- Holly J sleeps with Declan. It isn't discussed until a few weeks later when she said she felt really uncomfortable with him pressuring her, saying that was why she did it in the first place because she didn't want to sleep with him at the time.
- Katie and Drew have sex at a party while Drew is visibly wasted and Katie is completely sober. This happens minutes after Drew tells Dallas that he wanted to lose his virginity to Bianca, and be sober for it. This is made even more alarming by the fact that Drew seemed to be only vaguely aware of his surroundings at the party, and doesn't even remember having slept with Katie when he wakes up the morning after. One can only wonder how aware he was when he was actually in the bedroom with her.
- The Actives of the Dollhouse all technically volunteered to allow their bodies to be imprinted with artificially designed personalities to be rented out for five years, with signed contracts to prove it. However, the volunteers range from an otherwise mentally sound veteran looking for a cure for his PTSD in exchange for work at the Dollhouse, to convicts promised a shortened prison sentence or newly accused criminals facing jail, to a paranoid schizophrenic who was actually being drugged by a jealous stalker to induce her mental illness. The circumstances meant that the people had little choice but to consent and that some of them might not be considered mentally fit to consent at all, making the voluntary nature of the Actives dubious. Even more than that, the very concept of giving a consent to literally everything for five years in advance with no possibility of retraction seems highly questionable in itself, looking suspiciously like indentured slavery.
- Oh Glee and Quinn's pregnancy arc. It was already implied that Quinn's sexual encounter with Puck might not have been what she wanted, since she told him she only did so "because she was drunk and feeling fat that day". But then a flashback at the end of Season One reveals that she explicitly told Puck that she didn't want to have sex, but he turned her around by telling her that all her friends in the chastity club have had sex with him, she'll be forgotten by all of them in three years anyway, and then he lies about having protection. Not to mention the scene implies he's deliberately getting her drunk on wine coolers . And to top it off, it's all Played for Laughs.
- One episode of House had Cameron get high and booty call Chase. He briefly asks whether this is right and Cameron admonishes him not to be a good guy. When they discuss this later there is no talk of consent. But Cameron does get mad at the patient-of-the-week for telling her that this kind of thing will make you happy, when "self-destructive" would be more accurate.
- Invoked in an episode of Judging Amy, when Amy has a massive freakout on her wedding day and calls it off because she realizes her fiance is a "really nice, really well-meaning bully" who's always pressuring her into things she inevitably ends up enjoying and being glad she was coerced, but the point is that he's coercing her at all, not really letting her choose.
- In an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Logan and Rogers (the forensic examiner) are discussing whether a woman Logan was attracted to was raped and killed by her abusive ex-husband, who had been stalking her. Rogers says she could find no evidence of rape, but then (very sadly) adds that there's no way to distinguish between consensual and forced consensual. In other words, the woman may have "consented" to sex with her ex simply to avoid a worse beating.
- Frequently discussed on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit whenever a teenager below the age of consent is in a relationship with someone older, particularly when that is a teacher or an authority figure. However, the discussion is usually undermined by revelations that one person in the relationship is manipulating or exploiting the other in some way, making one party seem naive and the other villainous. In fact, the teenagers are the guilty party just as often as the older partners.
- In Lost, Locke gives a kidney to his father, believing it was his own idea. However, his father has manipulated and maneuvered him from the start, and drops him like garbage as soon as he got what he needed.
- In an episode of Night Gallery, a wealthy blind woman pays a desperate man for his eyes. He needs the money to satisfy his bookie.
- In the episode "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" (S09, Ep01), an angel gets permission to possess Sam by posing as his brother and asking to let him in and let him help, but Sam thought he was saying yes to his brother and did not know what the help entailed.
- Angelic possession in general can be considered a form of this, as angels require humans' permission to possess them, but it's clear that the vessels are not always fully informed about what exactly the possession entails, and it's not clear exactly what sort of liberties possessees anticipate angels will take with their bodies. In a season five episode, Castiel considers having sex (although ultimately doesn't), but makes no mention whatsoever of his vessel Jimmy's opinion on the matter. Apparently Castiel's interpretation of Jimmy's permission is that he has been given complete autonomy to do whatever he pleases while within Jimmy's body, but Jimmy is a married man and it's not known if he would agree to his body being used for sex. Although Castiel spent what appears to be a couple of days discussing the possibility of being a vessel with Jimmy before permission was given - it may be that he spelled out his possession would give him the right to do anything while in control. Angels can also torture people (quite horrifically) until they give consent, so that also raises questions.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night, Dukat reveals that Kira's mother was his "lover" but given that Kira Meru was essentially abducted and forced into prostitution for the Cardassians and that her children were starving and in need of medicine and Dukat offered to provide for them, Questionable Consent is probably the nicest way to put it.
- In The Walking Dead, this applies to Negan's harem of wives. He claims to despise rape, but this still comes into play. Women have to give consent to become a wife, but once they do it is unclear if they can still turn down sex, or if Negan thinks wives no longer need to give consent. The reasons they become a wife also apply, as it can be to escape the truly horrific conditions they'd live in otherwise (basically slavery), one does so to save her husband's life, and another did so as it was the only way to get medication for her diabetes, which she needs to live. Ultimately, none of them seem happy with their circumstances, and it is decidedly unclear just how willing they really are.
Religion and Mythology
- A lot of Double Standard: Rape, Divine on Mortal could probably be qualified this way. For example, the myth of Europa makes it clear that Zeus didn't just hold her down and rape her—after carrying her away to Crete, he had nymphs adorn her with fancy clothes and such before they slept together. Then again, it's not like she agreed to be carried off to Crete in the first place; was she cool with this, or just afraid to tell an amorous god "no?"
- The Odyssey: Odysseus' extramarital relations with Circe and Calypso have shades of this. He became Circe's bed-mate because that was one of the conditions she demanded in exchange for helping him get back home. He became Calypso's partner because he was stranded on her island, and saying no to a deity is usually a pretty bad idea. In his heart he was always devoted to his wife Penelope.
- The ending of Half-Life presents the player with a choice of entering employment of a mysterious being of questionable intentions (and ending up in stasis for 20 years) or certain death.
- In Mass Effect 2, on Illium, "indentured servitude" (which Shepard calls slavery) is an accepted form of employment, particularly for those who accrue large debts. A mini-quest involves a young quarian who is forced to sell herself into indentured servitude/slavery as the only way to escape her debts. Synthetic Insights refuses to hire her with that contract because they view it as immoral, but her contract holder seems to genuinely care for her and wants the quarian to land on her feet.
- The Feros colonists would also count. They signed a contract which contained a clause that would allow a company to experiment on them in exchange for medical treatment. Unlike the former quest, where no moral opinions on the matter are stated to be superior, the game strongly suggests that this is exploitation, using the colonists against their will. If Shepard takes care of it, it turns out to actually be completely pointless; the (Asari) executive responsible was lashing out at all aliens in a mad rage after her daughters were caught in the crossfire of the first game's finale, and will fix the loophole she exploited after realizing this.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- Morrigan's ritual falls into a very, very grey (no pun intended) area. Nobody involved in it is thrilled about being there—even a male Warden romancing Morrigan can express his doubts, and vice versa—and the premise, "You/Alistair/Loghain will die unless you/Alistair/Loghain sleep(s) with me", makes consent… well, questionable. Morrigan isn't the one responsible for the dying part—she's offering an out, in fact—and she simply leaves if the ritual is refused, but the whole situation is definitely uncomfortable. Dummied Out content that can be restored with mods on PC has it play out quite differently in the context of a romance, more like a traditional Pre-Climax Climax.
- Mages apparently cannot be possessed unless they allow the demon/spirit to do it. However, said entity can force the issue by torturing the mage until they "consent". This is shown in gory detail in the Circle Tower when the Uldred abomination electrocutes a luckless mage until he agrees to become an abomination. In Stone Prisoner and in Redcliff we see demons get "consent" by manipulating a child.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, David Sarif (who is otherwise an Honest Corporate Executive and Benevolent Boss) took advantage of a clause in Adam Jensen's employment contract to augment him above and beyond what was needed to save Adam's life, turning him into a cyborg Super Soldier. Adam didn't really need to have both arms and his legs replaced with augments, and he certainly didn't need the prototype, military grade, ball bearing bomb implanted in his chest. David may have honestly thought he was doing Adam a favor since he has a very idealistic view of augmentation. Adam technically consented to all of this beforehand in his contract, but "[He] never asked for this."
- In Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, Iris dated Phoenix while masquerading as her twin sister, Dahlia. In this case, consent is questionable because 1) he'd only met Dahlia once before the masquerade began, 2) Dahlia actively manipulated Iris into doing it, and 3) he'd never even met Iris before, much less known that Dahlia had a twin. Once the truth is revealed, he has no problem with considering Iris to be, for all intents and purposes, the girl he was dating.
- The first story arc of Collar 6 is about Mistress Sixx trying and, for the most part, failing to find a balance between forcing Laura and Ginger to do what she wants and "forcing" them to do what they want, too.
- Present in Drowtales with the issue of tainting, aka intentionally merging a drow's aura with a "harmless" nether being, which is presented as being like a vaccine to prevent further demonic possession. In the Sharen clan almost everyone is tainted after a war 15 years ago resulted in heavy casualties among their untainted troops, and theoretically anyone could refuse to get tainted, as Vy'chriel, one such Sharen, did, but the pressure to be tainted is so heavy that it's hinted that Vy'chriel's sister Yami'ni did not want to be tainted but caved in under the pressure. And then cue the revelation that almost all but a select few Sharen have been unknowingly given intentionally faulty seeds that will kill them within 50 years as part of a Xanatos Gambit and it falls fully into this trope. There's also the fact that the headmistress of the local Wizarding School, who's also a Sharen and in fact the one responsible for said faulty seeds, not to mention a Manipulative Bitch par none, encourages tainting at the school, and again, while it's theoretically possible to refuse, one isn't allowed to participate in summoning classes, which are a mark of status, and this trope is directly discussed in a council meeting when the topic is broached.
- Girl Genius had "one rule" Dr. Beetle agreed on as a vassal of Baron Wulfenbach, very reasonable, but very no-nonsense overlord of the whole Europe.
Examples, Type B only
Anime & Manga
- At one point in Haruhi Suzumiya, Mikuru's future self gives Kyon permission to kiss her unconscious younger self. Even he wonders if that is ethical.
- In Transformers fanfic Are You There Primus? It's Me Starscream, he needs to persuade an OC to stop hating him and design weapons for the Decepticon cause. So he induces some good old Stockholm Syndrome. The consent is hideously dubious seeing as she's being held captive on the Nemesis, and it's practically Laser-Guided Karma that he goes on to fall prey to Lima Syndrome.
- Downton Abbey: In the first season, a devilishly handsome Turkish ambassador and house guest sneaks into Mary's room in the middle of the night and pressures her into having sex against her protests. When she threatens to scream or ring the bell, he gently reminds her that she wouldn't since the mere presence of a man in her room (innocent or not, bidden or not) would destroy her reputation and marital prospects. While she does eventually give in, and later claims that he was her lover, there really isn't much consent in the original scene.
- In the 2017 revival of Twin Peaks, Janey-E has sex with Cooper believing him to be her husband. Unfortunately, due to weird interdimensional shit, Cooper is an Empty Shell who can barely think or reason, something Janey-E weirdly doesn't seem to realize.
- Dragon-aligned characters in The Secret World are, after a kidnapping by a mute monk and an infodump by an ex-professor, brought up to a hotel room and receive oral sex from a woman, regardless of gender and without your character saying a word. Not only does the orgasm lead to a flashback to someone else's memories of a Filth attack in London, which isn't terribly sexy, it's also uncomfortably rapey. Given that the Dragon's philosophy, that may even be the point.
- Katawa Shoujo:
- In Hanako Ikezawa's route: After Hanako and Hisao have very awkward first-time sex, it occurs to him that while she didn't say "no", she didn't say "yes" either. Between that and her very meek personality, he fears that she may have just gone along with it because she was afraid to say no, and gets the idea that that he might have raped her because he misinterpreted her feelings. However, it's a subversion. Hanako later explains that she wanted to have sex with him—although she didn't manage to express it properly because of her anxiety—and what they did was actually consensual the whole time. Furthermore, if you rewatch that scene, Hisao asks her permission before each activity he initiates, and she gives him some kind of implicit or nonverbal consent each time.
- The discarded beta version is much worse. One of the H-scenes involves Hisao having sex with Hanako while she is drugged on medication. It instantly leads to a Bad Ending where Hanako gets upset and Hisao accidentally trips backwards, breaking his neck.
- This trope is discussed in Megatokyo where Kimiko, the voice actress for a character in an eroge light novel, brings up that the situation in the novel she's voicing comes off as being emotionally manipulative and taking advantage of a girl who's not in a right state of mind. Her concerns are pretty much dismissed as being part of the industry and what the audience wants from the game.
- This idea is the most common criticism of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" song and video, brought up here as well as among reviewers like Todd in the Shadows. In this case the "line" in question appears to be the line of consent.
- In The Princess Diaries II, The Nostalgia Critic almost kisses Hyper twice, but as he and Doug (on the commentary) point out repeatedly, he was only going to because of Stockholm Syndrome.
- In the Adventure Time episode "Breezy", Finn has been spending the entire episode making out with different princesses, in an attempt to kick-start his deadened emotions after some depressing events.note When he kisses Lumpy Space Princess she declares that she doesn't want to play in the "paddling pool", but go to the "deep end", and says very aggressively "Don't be scared Finn, Lumpy's on lifeguard duty". Cut to the two of them in separate sleeping bags, with Finn pulling the bag up over him to cover himself and referring to the incident going in "the Vault", where he hides his more disturbing memories.