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Scarpia Ultimatum
Tosca: What is your price?
Scarpia: They say that I am venal, but it is not for money that I will sell myself to beautiful women. I want other recompense if I am to betray my oath of office...
Tosca: [running toward the window] I'll jump out first!
Scarpia: I hold your Mario in pawn!
Tosca: Oh, wretch! Oh, ghastly bargain...
Scarpia: Tosca, you are too beautiful and too loving. I yield to you. And at a paltry price; You ask me for a life. I ask of you an instant.
Puccini, Tosca

A villain has the hero in his clutches. The only person pleading for the hero is his wife/girlfriend. So the villain says, "I'll release him only if you have sex with me." And now the heroine has to choose whether her love for her husband's well-being overrides her sexual loyalty. Typically, she (or sometimes even he) will agree to the ultimatum, but before the two of them do the deed, a Third Option will present itself, and the sacrifice won't be needed after all. Except if it is used as a premise for an erotic story.

The G-rated version of this is "if you marry me" instead of "if you sleep with me" although the one tends to imply the other. In certain contexts this is even more sinister, as marriage is somewhat more permanent than a one-night stand.

When the wife/sweetheart/sister/daughter/etc. makes the offer, see Please, I Will Do Anything!.

If the man is a complete Jerkass, he may shun the wife or girlfriend afterwards, believing her Defiled Forever whatever her intentions.

Although treated as rape in most jurisdictions (due to it being essentially a form of Sexual Extortion), it is frequently treated as less serious than this in film.

See also Sexual Extortion, Casting Couch, Questionable Consent, I Have You Now, My Pretty and I Have Your Wife. Contrast Lysistrata Gambit, a threat to withhold sex until some demand is met.

And yes, the trope name sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the manga and OVA versions of Area 88, Ryoko tries to sell Yamato Airlines stock to raise money to buy out Shin's contract with a mercenary air force unit. Kanzaki, the former friend who tricked Shin into enlisting in the first place, demands a night with her as part of the deal.
  • Daisuke Torakura, the Asshole Victim from a Detective Conan case, got to marry the prettiest girl from a village near his Big Fancy House via this, threatening to ruin her father's business and throw the family into destitution.
  • In Mai-Otome, Tomoe does this to an imprisoned Shizuru by lying that Natsuki has also been captured and insinuating that she will help free both of them if Shizuru submits to her advances. However, Shizuru received a smuggled letter from Natsuki before going through with it, so she knew this was a lie and ended up using the event as an opportunity to steal Tomoe's key to her cell. Whether this was before or after the act was left ambiguous — we only see Tomoe passed out in the bed, dressed up as a baby, while an either topless or naked Shizuru is holding the key.
  • Happens in the manwha Masca in which the demon lord refuses to lift the spell that will kill the protagonist's beloved mentor/potential love interest unless she sleeps with him.
  • In Ooku: The Inner Chambers, the young noble born (and exceedingly comely) Abbot Arikoto is summoned to Edo, granted the use of a guest house by a member of Shogun Iemitsu's staff, and provided with several concubines for entertainment in the hope of catching him violating his priestly vows and forcing him to become the Shogun's bedtoy. When it becomes clear that he plans nothing more than chaste parlor games Kasuga steps the pressure up by having her muscle start killing Arikoto's traveling companions and the prostitutes before his eyes until he caves.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Parodied twice:
    • In an early story, Ataru was worried because Lum had apparently disappeared. Since Shutaro seemed smug on seeing him alone, Ataru began daydreaming with Shutaro blackmailing Lum in leaving Ataru for him, in exchange for landing Ataru in a fist-rate college. Then Ataru yelled "And with that garbage you talked Lum into it, didn't you? Give back her now!" loudly to an angry and puzzled Shutaro genuinely had no idea of what Ataru was talking about.
    • In another story, Tomobiki's principal got knocked out while several students were cleaning his office. Onsen Mark suspected of them and started to imagine possible motives to each one of them. Lum's alleged motive was the principal had threatened her with getting Ataru expelled out of school, unless she slept with him. Everyone — including Lum — said that story was stupid and ridiculous.

    Comicbooks 
  • In Empowered, Empowered is offered the chance to save Ninjetta and Thug Boy if she gives the villain a blowjob. She chooses to kick his ass.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • In Casablanca, there's a scene with a young Bulgarian couple trying to buy passage to Lisbon from Captain Renault. He wants either an enormous sum of money or sex with wifey. In the end, Rick helps them raise the money by letting them win at roulette.
    Renault: I'll forgive you this time. But I'll be in tomorrow night with a breathtaking blonde, and it will make me very happy if she loses.
    • In contrast to most examples of this trope, Captain Renault apparently always does keep his word, and is willing to take the money if they do happen to have it.
  • A rather loose variation is implied in Forrest Gump.
    Hancock: Your mama sure does care about your schooling, son!
  • The 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad has a slightly coded version: the Princess learns that her blinded love will recover his sight the moment the villain "takes her in his arms".
  • The titular Villain Protagonist of the Nazi film Jud Süss does this to the Love Interest of one of the film's "heroes," after which his victim drowns herself. This act ultimately leads to his undoing.
  • In The Ten Commandments, Dathan promises not to have Joshua executed if Lilia agrees to be his sex slave and let everyone believe it's of her own free will. As big a Jerkass as Dathan was, he actually upheld his end of the bargain.
  • In the 300 film version, a plot is added where Queen Gorgo is blackmailed into sleeping with The Mole in order to gain his support in convincing the Senate to send the army to reinforce Leonidas. The Mole brutalizes her, and accuses her of adultery in front of the Spartan Senate to turn them against Queen Gorgo. She gets the last laugh by stabbing him, while delivering a ruthless Ironic Echo of the words he said before he raped her. The knife also slits his purse, revealing the Persian gold he was paid to turn traitor, and rallying the Senate behind Leonidas. But, surprisingly, not in time to save him.
  • Roman Emperor Commodus in Gladiator performs one of these against his own sister Lucilla near the end. He tries to come on to her earlier in the film, but when she is exposed for conspiring against him with his political enemies Maximus and Senator Gracchus, he decides to give her a "merciful" fate. She has to become his consort, and Commodus takes away her son and threatens to kill the boy if she refuses or takes her own life to spite him. His demand even includes Lucilla having to carry his child so he can establish an eternal dynasty of "pure-blooded" Emperors.
  • Done in Slumdog Millionaire, though somewhat strangely. Salim is pointing a gun at Jamal, threatening to kill him, and Latika agrees to sleep with Salim to preempt Jamal's further attempts to protect her. There was no spoken ultimatum, but all things considered, there might as well have been.
  • Indecent Proposal serves up a variation of this. After a married couple blow their life savings in Vegas, a wealthy businessman offers them a million dollars if the wife will spend one night with him. The couple make a mutual decision to accept his offer.
    • The same basic setup is played for laughs in Honeymoon in Vegas.
    • And parodied in Kingpin, in which three guys are involved, one of whom is Amish, and another is Proposal co-star Woody Harrelson. It turns out to be All Just a Dream.
    • Also parodied in an episode of Mad About You, when guest star Robert Redford (the businessman in the original movie) makes the same proposal to Jamie. Instead of angst and fear, though, they casually and quickly accept.
  • In the Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Otilia helps her friend Gabita terminate her pregnancy in Ceauşescu-era Romania, when abortion was strictly forbidden. The illegal abortionist they locate, Mr. Bebe, eventually makes it clear that he expects both women to have sex with him as part of his payment. (In partial defense, he had a point that if they were caught, his punishment would have been far more severe than theirs.)
  • This happens in the remake of The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, who play a couple (literal 'couple') of cat-burglars. The guy had been stuck in a Mexican jail (NOT nice) for a while, and suddenly got released. However, now a crooked cop wants him to pull One Last Job, and the plot starts rolling... anyway, towards the end, the cop betrays them (of course) and in the process reveals that the female half of the couple actually slept with him in order to get her hubby out of prison. He's not happy, but it does work out in the end... which makes it a rare example where it actually went through — albeit 'offscreen.'
  • In Cape Fear, Max Cady confronts Bowden's wife Peggy on the houseboat and explains how he can legally get away with raping her by describing it as one of these if she reports it. For the record, he is incorrect and it does still count as rape.
    Cady: You proposition me. You instead of (daughter) Nancy. And I'll agree never to see you again, all right? Unless, of course, you want it. And that's how you give your consent.
    Peggy: That's not consent, it's blackmail!
    Cady: Reasons don't make any difference, you look that up. And as far as blackmail is concerned, you only think I'm going after Nancy. You're just playing it safe. And your husband, he's gonna appreciate your noble gesture, but he ain't never gonna forget it! So, all in all...I don't think you're gonna say too much about this, are you?
    • Of course this was never his real intent. Propositioning the wife was just a diversion so he could rape the daughter.
  • In Back to the Future: Part III, Mad Dog drops this one on Doc Brown and Clara. The point is for Clara to dance with Mad Dog to get him to leave Doc alone, but it's as close to lewd as one can get in a gingham dress. Shortly afterward he suggests she have sex with him to cover Doc's debt.
  • In the Director's Cut of Amadeus Salieri will recommend a job for the financially desperate Mozart only if his wife agrees to sleep with him.
    • This one counts as a subversion, as she reluctantly accepts, but then Salieri immediately calls his servants and orders them to kick her out. Either he changed his mind or he just wanted to humiliate her.
    • In the original play, it's also a subversion but for a different reason: in her agreement to his terms, the wife reveals some cringeworthy details of her sex life with obscene manchild Mozart and Salieri is so offended/Squicked by her wording that he throws her out.
  • Played for laughs in History of the World Part I. King Louis XVI offers this choice to an attractive young courtesan. If she doesn't have sex with him, he will kill her father as a political prisoner.
    King Louis: It's up to you: hump or death? Come on, tick, tock. Hump, death, hump, death, hump, death ...
    Courtesan: Okay, okay! Hump!
  • A version of this happens in the film Gloomy Sunday. Rejection turns some guys into jerks.
  • The Claim employs the Indecent Proposal variation: a world-weary prospector offers a desperate pioneer a lucrative gold claim in exchange for the pioneer's wife and infant daughter (in this case sex with wifey is more implied than stated outright). He accepts, and goes on to build a prosperous mining town, but his past comes back to haunt him when said wife and now-grown daughter return looking for financial support after the prospector died.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Elizabeth agrees to go with Sao Feng in order to save the crew of the Black Pearl, considering he had already been eying her in the opening Singapore sequence and later forced a kiss on her when she was on his ship.
  • Used in the movie Blindness; read the example in Literature below.
  • In The Sword Of Doom, Ryunosuke Tsukue will only accept Hama's request throw a match with her husband Bunnojo Utsugi(whose family will face ruin if he loses) if she sleeps with him. She reluctantly accepts, but then Bunnojo finds out about her attempt to rig the match, divorces her, and swears to kill Ryunosuke if it kills him. He doesn't succeed.
  • Played with in Black Robe, where a woman agrees to have sex with the villain guarding her, and then she bashes the guard's head in, so that the good guys can escape. And it's all shown very explicitly.
  • A variant in Robin Hood: Men in Tights: Marian promises to marry Rottingham if he will spare Robin. The Sheriff has Robin standing at the gallows anyway, just for insurance.
    • Inverted at the end when Rottingham is run through. Latrine has a magic pill that will save his lifenote ...but she'll only give it to him if he promises to marry her.
  • In Fortress, Karen agrees on one given by Poe, so he will release John from the mindwipe.
  • Subverted in The Poughkeepsie Tapes: He offers the English woman the chance to live if she lets him rape her. She agrees, but he immediately says he's not that stupid, and that neither of them would want her alive to see what he planned to do to her.
  • Happens in The Princess Bride in the form of a And Now You Must Marry Me.
  • In The Sword and the Sorcerer, Cromwell desires Alana and threatens to kill her brother Mikah unless she submits to marriage.
  • In Breaking The Waves, Jan urges Bess to find and have sex with other men and tell him the details as it will be as if they are together and will keep him alive. Despite her unwillingness and inner turmoil to be with other men, she perseveres as she believes it is keeping Jan alive.
  • We're the Millers: The corrupt Mexican cop is looking for a "favor" in exchange for letting the RV full of marijuana pass. David starts to pressure Rose, but no, the cop doesn't roll that way. Part of that has to do with how people view strippers. David figures that, since Rose has no problems with showing her naked body to a bunch of random guys, she would have no problems sleeping with them as well. In fact, this is the reason why Rose is on this trip in the first place, as her boss has demanded that all strippers in his "establishment" have sex with their clients, and she quit on the spot.
  • Horrible Bosses: Boss #2 is a nymphomaniac. This would be awesome if she wasn't invasive, obsessive-compulsive, and a man in a woman's body. And blackmailing her employee to have sex with her with exclusive blackmail. Before his wedding. Lampshaded by his friends; yes it is awesome that your buxom boss willingly wants to have sex with you, no it is not awesome that she is threatening your marriage with Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male.

    Literature 
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Olaf threatens to drop Sunny from a tower if Violet doesn't go through with his wedding scheme.
  • The novel Bread and Wine plays this straight. A wanted criminal is hiding at his wife's house when the police come by. He hides on the roof while the police search the home. When they're about to search the roof, his wife pleads for them to stop. They are willing to do so only if she sleeps with them, which she does.
  • In the steampunk/urban faerie novel The Iron Dragon's Daughter, the protagonist goes to see a she-ogre and witch to learn about sex magic and discovers she has shrunk her ogre husband down into a grotesque homunculus that she keeps in a jar, in a situation that ultimately began because of this. She bribed two police officers who were tracking him down for a crime (she comments it might have been eating someone's dog, but doesn't remember) with her body, figuring that, in their usual crude fashion, he'd roar with laughter about it once they left and would be watching and playing with himself all the while she was coupling with the police. His disgusted reaction was the first step that saw him dwindle into the horrible little thing she now keeps in her jar.
  • Approximately one-half inverted in the novel Outlander (Cross Stitch in the UK) — it's for a man, and the villain compelling it would much rather it be rape, as he's a sexual sadist.
  • In The Hunger Games, this is more or less how Finnick began his career as a Capitol Casanova. Eventually, he decided that it would be less painful just to go with it and pretend that it was his idea.
  • In one of the Anita Blake novels, the villain says he will stop torturing the two teenage hostages if Jason (the group's pet werewolf) has sex with his two female minions. Subverted in that Jason does agree, and seems to be enjoying it, until the minions start rotting.
  • Played with in Bujold's short story "Labyrinth", when 'Admiral' Miles Naismith is obliged to have sex with an eight foot tall (he is a physically fragile four-foot-nine hunchback), fanged, clawed Super Soldier in the hopes of keeping her from killing... herself.
  • In The Kite Runner, the Russian guard will let the truck carrying Afghan refugees into Pakistan only if he can have sex with one of the women. Baba, the main character's father, stands up for the couple.
  • Implied in Emma Bull's Bone Dance, although the victim is in fact the protagonist, zie isn't in a romantic relationship with the character whose well-being was at stake (who's female), and the perpetrator didn't have any specific designs on the victim. He's just opportunistic. And it's only implied: you could read it as just a savage beating.
  • A scene in Dave Barry's surprisingly dirty novel Big Trouble featured a woman who offers herself to an armed thug if he will spare her daughter. She is never forced to go through with it.
  • There's a version in I, Jedi where Corran Horn has a month to heal from a fight before Leona Tavira comes to sleep with him. She's the head of a pirate force called the Invids, and has his wife. He's in disguise as a newly-joined pilot who happens to be quite attractive, and who had bested her previous lover dramatically enough that she'd had him executed. If he disagreed, she would kill him. If he agreed, he'd be closer to her and able to find out about the organization and where Mirax was being kept. Initially he decides to go through with it — he'd do anything to save Mirax — but after some reflection he realizes that pride has something to do with it and takes a third option.
  • In the novel Blindness by José Saramago, a gang of blind inmates led by the only man with a gun takes over the quarantined abandoned asylum, threatening the other residents, and stealing and hoarding all the food supplies. Eventually they demand payment in valuables, and then in women. The women volunteer to go, as a group, in order to save the lives of all the other people living there.
  • In "L'Ingénu" by Voltaire, the title character is sent to prison without reason and his lover, Miss Saint Yves, decides to free him. She pleads her case before a bishop who agrees in exchange for... well, you know. She does it, and gets her man back, but dies soon after without having told the truth.
  • Ivanhoe features two examples of this — de Bracy threatening to kill Rowena's father and boyfriend if she doesn't marry him (and adjust that attitude), and Brian de Bois-Guilbert going from trying to rape Rebecca to letting her be executed for witchcraft unless she agrees to marry him after he saves her. Both men meet in the hallway at one point to lament over their utter failure with this trope. Women these days! They just won't cooperate like they're supposed to!
  • Although Dracula can put women in a trance before he bites them, the third time he bites (and metaphorically rapes) Mina, he leaves her completely aware and instead threatens to kill her unconscious husband lying next to her if she resists or screams for help. For the Evulz?
  • In the backstory of the Tide Lords novels, Arkady was given a choice of this type by the Duke of Lebec to save her father from prison. Unfortunately, while the Duke kept his word, Arkady's father died of natural causes before the release order reached the prison. Unusually, there was explicitly no sex involved in this example. The Duke was gay in a violently homophobic culture, so he needed a wife to act as The Beard.
  • In the short story Free Lunch Phoebe and her mother are trying to survive in a postapocalyptic society. A restaurant employee coerces Phoebe into having sex with him in exchange for food, and she starts to offer sex as payment for food every time they meet someone. When her mother finds out, she berates Phoebe and is ashamed of her, even though the food Phoebe got this way was all that was keeping them alive.
  • In Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Sammy is in a gay club when it is raided by the police. A fed offers to get him off the hook if Sammy will have sex with him. Sammy agrees.
  • In Wen Spencer's Tinker, Jonnie offers, to Tinker, to treat Windwolf on these terms. Windwolf threatens to castrate him.
  • How the railroad at the centre of Atlas Shrugged came to be built. When Nat Taggart needed funding, only one wealthy man was willing to lend him money for his scheme, and then only if his wife was pledged as security. Both Taggarts accepted, the railroad was a success, and so his wife never had to sleep with the businessman.
  • In the second book of Alexandra Adornetto's Halo Jake gives Beth the chance to leave Hades and save Xavier in exchange for her virginity. As a Christian angel, this obviously doesn't go down well with her but she agrees to it initially. Luckily, she's saved just in time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Female example: In The Way We Live Now, the evil American woman pulls one of these on Paul. She will reveal the fact that he has previously slept with her to his fiancee if he doesn't give her one last night. And there is no Third Option. Then again, it's hard to feel sorry for him when all he needs is to decide to not trick a woman into marriage on false premises.
  • On an episode of 24, Teri Bauer offers herself to a thug in order to prevent him from raping Kim. She then uses the opportunity to steal his cell phone and call for help.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined): In the beginning of Season 3, Ellen Tigh sleeps with a Cylon to get her husband out of jail. He's released, but it was only a test. Now that it's established she'd do anything for him, the real condition to release him is to have her agreeing to spying on him while he catches up with the rebels. But as soon as her husband believes his rebel friends that she must be spying on him, he kills her after saying he would rather still be tortured in prison that having her spying on him. So not only did she agree to be raped for nothing, it got her killed by the very man she agreed to be raped for in the first place. It gets even worse than that however. Ellen is later revealed to be Cavil's mother figure, and she created him in the image of her father. And we find out that Ellen and Tigh are both Cylons. Cavil knew all of this at the time. Can't be more Greek tragedy that that.
  • On Farscape, there is a variation where Aeryn tells Crais he can have anything he wants if he saves John from certain death. He immediately jumps to the obvious.
    Crais: Aeryn Sun — are you offering yourself?
    Aeryn: You take what you want Crais and I won't stop you.
    • Also averted in that, while Crais does eventually save John, he claims his living ship Talyn made the decision. Which he did not need to say, since as a ship Talyn could not communicate with anyone but Crais, and therefore Crais could have slept with Aeryn without anyone besides him (and Aeryn) being the wiser. Later he tried to begin a normal relationship with Aeryn.
  • Parodied in the Saturday Night Live sketch "The Hangman". The condemned man's wife is a little too eager to screw the Hangman, but he wants the man's grandmother.
    • Another SNL sketch (spoofing Indecent Proposal, above) has Bill Clinton withholding aid for Russia unless he gets a night with Yeltsin's wife. The deal went through, but Congress reduced the package from billions of dollars to $50.
  • In the Inspector Morse episode "Death is Now My Neighbour", one of the female characters agrees to sleep with an Oxford Don when he promises to give her husband the job of Master of the College if she does. Afterwards, he laughs at her and tells her that since her husband slept with his wife years ago, he never had any intention of letting him be Master.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer's musical episode, the villain is a demon that can force anyone to sing and dance. He causes several impromptu performances, which cause the victims to dance faster and faster until they combust. During the inevitable major confrontation, he simply forces anyone who attacks him to dance away. When they realize kleptomaniac teenager Dawn must have stolen his summoning amulet, he threatens to force everyone in Sunnydale to dance until they burn, unless she returns with him to his dimension to "be his queen," as she consented to do by activating the amulet. However, Dawn told the truth when she said she didn't summon him. Xander thought a singing demon would be amusing. The demon looks Xander up and down and tells them to forget it.
    Dawn (singing): What I mean, I'm fifteen... so this "queen" thing's illegal!
    • Earlier, in season four, it was played for laughs between Spike and Harmony.
      Spike: Anything, will you?
      Harmony: Oh, you mean will I have sex with you? Sure!
  • This sort-of happens on Robin Hood, except it's Marian that's providing the ultimatum. Thinking that Robin is dead, she tells Guy that she will "willingly" marry him in exchange for King Richard's life. Guy decides to have his cake and eat it too, and tells the Sheriff that he will help assassinate the King and then: "I will take (Marian) by force."
  • A version appears, and is then averted, in the third season of Gossip Girl. Chuck's uncle Jack has taken Chuck's hotel and offers Blair that he will return it in exchange for a night with her. After she initially refuses he sends her a dress and a note saying: "One last chance to save your man." The whole thing turns into an aversion of the trope, since Blair does indeed go to Jack to have sex with him in return for Chuck getting his beloved hotel back... only to find out that Chuck was in on it the whole time and even bought the dress Jack sent her. And Chuck was single when the episode ended?
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "First Contact" (4x15), Riker is being held prisoner in an alien hospital. He was sent to the planet surgically altered to look like the native species, but they're getting close to discovering that he's not one of them. One of the female orderlies at the hospital offers to help him escape, but only if he'd sleep with her, as she's never slept with an alien before. It's never shown on screen whether he agrees to sleep with her, but she eventually helps him escape, leaving the audience to presume.
  • In Hispania, Nerea discovers her fiancé Paulo is going to be crucified, so she goes to ask Praetor Galba and tells him Paulo is her brother, asking him to free him. Galba decides to take the chance to finally have sex with her — which he hasn't been able to do due to several circumstances — but before he gets her naked, Nerea blurts out that his wife Claudia and general Marco are conspiring to kill him. Paulo gets sent to the jail again.
  • In the Supernatural episode "The Monster at the End of This Book," Lilith offers to refrain from bringing forth the Apocalypse if Sam Winchester will have sex with her and let her kill him and his brother afterward. Sam takes the opportunity to try to kill her.
  • In War and Remembrance, in a variation Natalie offers herself as a last resort to a Nazi camp guard. The guard just laughs and points out that Natalie is not even in a position to bargain with that, but that he just doesn't feel like it.
  • Completely turned on its head in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in which a flight attendant is accused of murdering a judge. The detectives learn that her abusive husband is in prison, the judge is part of the parole board, and the wife had been having sex of this kind with him for a long time. The twist comes when they ask the wife why on earth she was trying to get the judge to let her abuser out of jail, and she reveals that she was sleeping with him so that he would keep her husband IN jail and killed him when, after she'd done what he wanted, he called the parole board and told them to let the husband go anyway.
  • In Game of Thrones, Robb must gain access to a strategic bridge guarded by Lord Frey, who has more children than he knows what to do with. The only way to gain safe passage is for Catelyn to betroth two of her five children to his offspring, amongst other concessions.
    • This sort of alliance-by-Arranged Marriage is common in the world of Game of Thrones. Lady Catelyn's sister Lysa is married to Jon Arryn to secure their father's aid in Robert's Rebellion.
  • In the episode following their marriage in Lois and Clark, H.G. Wells prevents Lois and Clark from consummating the marriage because in one of their past lives, a past version of Tempus had a curse put on their souls, causing Lois to die following their marriage. They time travel back to where Clark (whose soul is human) is a character similar to Robin Hood (known as "The Fox")(Spanish: Zorro) and Lois is Lady Loisette. After The Fox is captured by Lord Tempus, Loisette agrees to marry Tempus and pledges "her honor" to be true to him in the marriage, provided he let the Fox escape. After returning to their time, where Lois is now set to marry contemporary Tempus, they have to travel back to the old West to correct the situation, since the curse would not be placed on them during that era of history.
  • In Last Resort, the island's local warlord kidnaps three sailors, one of whom is female. When he is enraged that the Captain hasn't come to negotiate for them, he threatens to murder one of the three but Cortez offers herself to him to calm him down. It doesn't keep. The very next morning, he gets his blood up again and kills one of the sailors anyway.
  • Mentioned in "The 4 Georges" song in Horrible Histories (as this was done by George I in Real Life). What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?:
    Ladies would bow before me
    They would do anything for me
    Or I'd have their husbands killed.

    Music 
  • Bob Dylan's "Seven Curses," in which a judge offers to not hang a girl's father in return for sex. Then he hangs the father anyway.
  • Judy Collins sings "Anathea," with much the same plot. (It likely derives from a Hungarian song and may share ancestry with Child Ballad 95 "The Maid Freed From the Gallows.")
  • "Hangman, Hangman" by Great Big Sea; his brother brings money, his sister brings... herself (and "warms [the hangman's] soul"), but the hangman goes back on his word and executes the prisoner.
    • "Gallows Pole" is a cover of the Led Zeppelin arrangement of a traditional song called "The Maid Freed From the Gallows." It's discussed at the other wiki.

    Opera and Theater 
  • The Trope Namer is Scarpia, the chief of police in Puccini's opera Tosca. Scarpia offers to arrange a mock execution of Cavaradossi (Tosca's lover, who has been jailed for treason) by firing squad, and allow Cavaradossi and Tosca to safely flee the country, if Tosca will have sex with Scarpia. Tosca agrees but murders Scarpia before he can rape her. Unknown to Tosca, Scarpia had secretly gone back on his word, and Cavaradossi is actually executed by a real firing squad. In despair, and cornered by guards who had just discovered Scarpia's body, Tosca throws herself from the tower.
  • Angelo, the villain of Measure for Measure tries to extort sex from a condemned prisoner's sister, a nun in training. Isabella makes it quite clear that she doesn't intend to give in; besides, after she persuades Angelo's ex-fiancee Marianna to sex Angelo up, Angelo proceeds to order her brother's execution anyway, confirming her initial suspicion that she couldn't trust a man who would propose such a deal. She also was initially sure her brother would never want her to do such a thing and was understandably angry when he tried to persuade her to go ahead with it (like the sister in all previous versions of the story before Shakespeare got a hold of it).
  • Also used in Il Trovatore, by Count Di Luna. Who wants female lead Leonora to marry him in exchange for the freedom of Gypsy troubadour Manrico (who is his long-lost brother, but the count has no idea.) This being opera, it ends in tears and one huge Ironic Hell.
    • Actually, a subversion. It's Leonora who offers herself to the Count.
  • Toward the end of Hedda Gabler, Judge Brack very ambiguously blackmails Hedda into this, which is odd, because she seemed attracted to him. She shoots herself, not because she doesn't want to sleep with him, but because she doesn't want to be forced to do anything.
  • In Jean Racine's tragedy Britannicus, Nero falls in love with Junie. He has absolute power over her and her lover, Britannicus. Nero tells Junie to break up with Britannicus and to make it convincing enough that Britannicus does not become jealous of Nero. Otherwise, Nero will have Britannicus killed. Junie does, but the lovers see each other without Nero watching, and Junie explains why she was so cold. It still ends horribly for everyone concerned.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 2004, Kane offered to stop his torment of Matt Hardy if Hardy's girlfriend (both on and off-screen) Lita would sleep with him. This led to a terrible "pregnancy" angle, Lita's heel turn after it was revealed that she had cheated on Hardy in Real Life with Adam "Edge" Copeland, after five years of the fans loving her, and her retirement in 2006.
  • WWE even pulled a lesbian version of this: Dawn Marie agreed to break off her engagment to Torrie Wilson's father, Al, if Torrie met her in a hotel room, (hinting that Torrie was Dawn Marie's intended target all along). Torrie agreed. (At the Armageddon 2002 PPV, Torrie met Dawn in a hotel room and Dawn stripped herself and Torrie down to bras and panties and they kissed a bit. As if the differences between the brunette Heel Dawn and the blonde Face Torrie weren't obvious enough, when Torrie showed up and opened the door, Dawn was lit in such a way as to make her appear genuinely evil, as if she was going to take away Torrie's soul.) Dawn Marie "married" Al, anyway.In a kind of "to hell with this" decision, they later had Dawn "kill" Al via sex. Not only was this inducted into WrestleCrap, it "won" the "Gooker of the Year" Award for the worst thing in wrestling that year..

    Radio 
  • Subverted in That Mitchell and Webb Sound, where the husband tries to persuade his wife to sleep with the moustache-twirling villain so he won't be killed... she, of course, vehemently disagrees, as it will dishonour her, but at the same time makes no secret of the fact that after he's gone she'll think nothing of getting hitched to the villain.

    Videogames 
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko's first girlfriend, Michelle, is being threatened with prison by the UL Paper Company manager unless she maintains a relationship with Niko. For most players, this will include sexual encounters.
  • In Dante's Inferno, Satan does this to Beatrice.
    • Also Dante himself, in one of his many crimes during the Crusades. A female prisoner offers to sleep with him in exchange for setting her brother free. Unfortunately, she lied. It wasn't her brother, it was her HUSBAND. He murders Dante's father and Beatrice in revenge... after killing Dante.
  • Rather weird subversion happens in Dragon Age: Origins if the player character is female and romancing Alistair. Without going into too much detail, the Warden or Alistair will die automatically if either kills the last boss. And they are the only ones who can do it (in fact, it's part of the reason only they can). One of your party, Morrigan, offers you a way out: a ritual that happens to involve a Grey Warden getting Morrigan pregnant, something that the player character obviously can't if female. Which leaves Alistair (or Loghain, who's an Optional Party Member) who happens to hate Morrigan. And it's up to the Warden to convince her boyfriend to impregnate Morrigan. Although not exactly a villain, the sex bit is necessary to keep the death part from happening, and not something she demands as payment so much as offer it as an alternate solution.
  • In the third God of War, this is technically what Aphrodite pulls on Kratos, refusing to help him unless he has sex with her. (You can refuse - although let's be frank, it's hard to say "no" to Aphrodite here - but it's sort of a But Thou Must situation; Kratos can't progress any further in the game unless you say yes.

    Visual Novels 
  • The heroes of Enchanted In The Moonlight try pulling such an ultimatum on the protagonist. Her innate power means that not only can an ayakashi become more powerful by drinking her blood, if she were to have a child with an ayakashi, the child would be exceptionally powerful as well. The five main ayakashi offer to have one of their number serve as her protector against the multitude of ayakashi that are out to kill her for her power... if in return, she agrees to bear her protector's child.

    Webcomics 
  • Although he's not precisely a villain, Jasper apparently pulls this in The Zombie Hunters: it's part of the deal Maureen makes to get him to keep searching for her friends, even after the 3-day cutoff after they disappear.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Nos. 21 and 24 from The Venture Bros. fantasize about this trope when they discuss striking out on their own as supervillains. No. 24 imagines what it would be like to fly into the bedroom of his arch-nemesis' girlfriend and announce "I'll spare his life, but only for you... sugar pants."
    • "And dude, you will be having sex! SEX!"
  • The Family Guy episode "Peterotica" has a cutaway gag of Peter housing a "rat farm" in his basement. When the rat couple are unable to pay him rent due to lack of crops, Peter suggests they pay him another way, leering at Mrs. Rat. She begins to weep and unbutton her blouse.
    • In the episode in which Death comes for Peter, Lois mistakenly assumes he wants to use this trope.
    Death: What are you doing? I just wanted another fruit cup! Very nice though.

G-Rated Examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Candy Candy, Neil Legan attempts to get Candy to marry him through this, even involving the sub-leader of the clan that had adopted Candy some time before. He fails: the real leader of the family (Candy's old friend/other prospect love interest Albert) shows up and thwarts this.
  • In Fist of the North Star Shin agrees to spare Kenshiro if his fiance Yuria will love him. This is G-rated because although she does follow Shin, she never actually loves him, nor does Shin ever attempt to force Yuria to love him, hoping to make her willingly change her mind.
  • In Hana no Ko Lunlun, the beautiful Margot from the Germany arc is an Impoverished Patrician, and a filthy rich Dirty Old Man tries to force her into marriage — to the point of running after her through a garden when she has an Heroic BSOD and tries to leave his presence. Lunlun witnesses this, hears their sides of the story, and resolves it by challenging the old man to a Medieval-style duel and using her magical flower pin to transform herself into a literal Knight in Shining Armor.

    Comicbooks 
  • This used to happen frequently in Silver Age Marvel Comics, especially to Susan Storm, the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four. In their first encounter, Namor wrecked the FF, then offered to spare them if Sue would marry him and become Queen of Atlantis. She accepted, but Namor became enraged when he saw her reluctance, and stormed off. Variations on this also occurred with Kang the Conqueror and Mole Man (boy, Sue was a hot commodity on the supervillain marriage market!).
    • Rehashed in the Ultimate Marvel version, where she kisses Namor in exchange for him not destroying them and the city.
  • In X-Men, Kitty promised to stay with Caliban forever in exchange for helping her teammates, but he later released her from that vow after realizing she didn't love him.
    • Also happened to Angel when Callisto from the Morlocks group decided that she needed a future mate. The TV series used the same set-up but with Cyclops instead — and the bonus of having his girlfriend Jean hypnotised and used as a hostage.
  • New Mutants has a surprisingly G-rated version given the participants — Amara (Magma) and Mephisto. The specific terms are that he'll let them out of Hell in exchange for "one date, no strings".

    Film 
  • Beetlejuice. And Beetlejuice makes it very clear that one implies the other (it is a Tim Burton film, after all).
  • Rare male version: In The Matrix Reloaded, Persephone refuses to help the rebels unless Neo gives her a passionate kiss, as he would to Trinity. Trinity is not amused. She does this again in the Enter the Matrix videogame with the main character, whether you chose Ghost or Niobe.

    Literature 
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Violet is being forced to marry Olaf (in a play so no one will object to her being so young) because he has her sister Sunny and will kill her if she doesn't. Although Olaf is specifically marrying her for the money and doesn't seem to have sex in mind primarily, there are still several disturbing innuendos: Olaf utters the quite Squicky line after being foiled, "You may not be my wife, but you are still my daughter, and —"; he decides that he'll let her live even after he has the fortune and makes quite a few comments on how pretty she is; he has a knife to her THIGH under the table in the next book; and don't forget the lines, "Violet imagined sleeping beside Count Olaf, and waking up each morning to look at this terrible man," and Olaf saying, "Now if you'll excuse us, me and my bride will be off to have our wedding night...." Now that's just... wrong. Handler must have known what that would imply to his older readers.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: Erik threatens to blow up the Opera House and everyone in it if Christine doesn't marry him. She tries to kill herself, and it's not until her fiancé Raoul is dying in Erik's Drowning Pit that she vows to be Erik's "living wife" if he spares Raoul. Unusually, it's Erik himself who introduces the third option by deciding I Want My Beloved to Be Happy.
    • However, in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical and movie version, the phantom imposes the ultimatum himself.
  • In C. S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy, Prince Rabadash, finding his suit refused, attempts to blackmail Queen Susan into marrying him by holding her brother King Edmund and their entourage hostage. Fortunately, they get wind of the plan before it can be set in motion, and manage to escape.
  • Holes: The origin story for Kissin' Kate Barlow. The sheriff threatens to hang Sam, a black man, for kissing Miss Katherine Barlow. When Katherine protests, the sheriff says that if she'll kiss him, too, he'll only run Sam out of town. She refuses and tries to run away with Sam, but they're caught and in the process Sam is shot and killed. Afterwards, Katherine shoots the sheriff, then puts on bright red lipstick and kisses him. When she turns to outlawry, her calling card is kissing the men she kills.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens in iCarly, where somebody steals Carly's internet domain. He would be content with just a kiss from her.

    Theatre 
  • In The Musical version of The Phantom of the Opera, he even has a wedding dress for the occasion, and the Death Trap scene is changed to him trapping Raoul in his Punjab lasso and threatening to hang him.
    "His life is now the prize that you must earn. So, do you end your days with me, or do you send him to his grave?"

    Videogames 
  • Comes into play in Final Fantasy VI. The party needs an airship and Setzer will only allow them to use his in exchange for Celes' hand in marriage. Celes manages to cheat her way out of the agreement and gets the airship anyway.
    • Specifically, the style and audacity she uses to cheat him he finds so amusing that he pledges his life to their cause because the group's adventures are... well, crazy.

    Visual Novels 
  • The truth behind Krauss and Natsuhi's marriage in Umineko: When They Cry, as Krauss's father Kinzou forced Natsuhi into it as a reconciliation of her family's debts to him.

    Western Animation 


Sadistic ChoiceDirty Social TricksSexual Extortion
Red Sky, Take WarningIndex of Gothic Horror TropesSecret Underground Passage
Romanticized AbuseSexual Harassment and Rape TropesSerial Rapist
Scarecrow SolutionPlotsScary Surprise Party
Scare 'Em StraightThreatening TropesSee You in Hell
Save the PrincessI Have Your IndexShe Will Come for Me
Safe WordAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Screw Yourself

alternative title(s): The Scarpia Ultimatum; Sexual Blackmail; Sex For Mercy
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