Don't you know about Stockholm Syndrome? You're starting to identify with your captors. Reese:
My captors?! These guys saved my life, man! Malcolm:
Only because they decided not to kill you! Reese:
is a Real Life
phenomenon in which kidnap victims can develop loyalty, sympathy, or affection (sometimes even sexual attraction) for a captor. Especially if said captor provided them with a Pet the Dog
moment that the captive, under extreme stress, exaggerates as a genuine sign of affection.
This can develop in kidnapping victims, political prisoners, and prisoners of war, or in hostage situations when there is a long standoff with police (like the ever popular bank robbery situation). Or in very unhealthy marriages
. It has even been known to happen in prisons between prisoners and wardens. It's named after a robbery that took place in Stockholm - employees at a bank were held hostage for six days, and some of them ended up defending the robbers afterwards.
In stories, any time a captive comes to love their captor, the Stockholm Syndrome trope is in play. Many of these stories feel forced, starting with captivity and jumping straight to the love. The most realistic depictions of Stockholm Syndrome in this manner of story include not only the kindnesses, but also the extended time needed, and a clear isolation from outside influences.
Where a villain intentionally attempts to induce Stockholm Syndrome, it is most likely one of the subtropes such as More Than Mind Control
. If played for Fetish Fuel
, it becomes Romanticized Abuse
The reverse situation, Lima Syndrome
, is considerably rarer but occasionally shows up. In any story featuring The Svengali
, expect at least one of the two to make a showing.
If left untreated in Comedy, may result in the captor shivering in the corner, mumbling "Take it away! Take it away!"
For more about this syndrome in Real Life, see Analysis
See also: Being Tortured Makes You Evil
, Blank Slate
, Conditioned to Accept Horror
, More Than Mind Control
, Rousseau Was Right
, Nurture Over Nature
and Then Let Me Be Evil
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Anime and Manga
- In canon Bleach Orihime is taken captive by Aizen, but Ulquiorra is given the assignment to take care of her. It is a very popular view in fanon that she has Stockholm Syndrome for Ulquiorra, and in some cases, even Aizen. At the least, she does show some compassion towards Ulquiorra as he's dying.
- Berwald/Sweden and Tino/Finland's relationship of Axis Powers Hetalia may qualify for this trope, as Finland wasn't exactly the most willing partner at first (read: was downright terrified of Sweden), and despite warming up to Sweden and acknowledging he's not a bad guy, he still denies that they're married. Amusingly, Stockholm is the capital of Sweden... and in a subversion, Sweden is actually portrayed as a Gentle Giant-type nation-tan in the strips, instead of your typical captor.
- Considering how their relationship is shown in the comics, if Tino has Stockholm Syndrome, then Berwald in parallel has Lima Syndrome. He might have started thinking of Finland as a mere companion for his journey, then became genuinely fond and protective of him.
- There are some fans that treat Norway having this for Denmark and/or Sweden. Denmark being an overprotective Yandere or Sweden for being an atoning Love Martyr after the soured historical unions he had with Norway.
- Russia/Lithuania is often portrayed as this in fanfic, with Lithuania growing fond of Russia after years of being forced to stay with him (and most likely physically and/or mentally abused in the process). Also happens in Russia/Latvia, Russia/Prussia aka East Germany and more than one AU Russia/America or Russia/Canada fanwork. Estonia and Russia's sisters seems to be mostly free due to his lack of screentime and the girls's familiar bonds to Russia, but it can be seen from time to time.
- There are a number of England/Japan fics that are all about pirate!England abducting/kidnapping an unwilling Japan at swordpoint as his "possession" or "treasure", being pretty much a domineering, possessive bastard to Japan's wimpified self (as quoted from one such fic: "Listen to me Kiku...you may struggle, you may rebel, you may try and fight back, but know this: I always get what I want in the end. And what I want, is you. I will break you down if I have to, love, so consider yourself warned."), and Japan of course falling in love with him nonetheless. There's even a pretty famous England/Japan MAD titled "Beautiful Dreamer" that's a visual version of this kind of fic, with more than one commenter pointing out its Unfortunate Implications.
- This is a "foundation" for some Japan/Taiwan, Japan/China, Japan/Hong Kong, China/Taiwan, China/Hong Kong and Japan/Thailand Darker and Edgier fanwork, specially in the times of Imperial Japan or Imperial/Red China. The aggressor/Bastard Boyfriend controls, abuses (in many different ways, but preferably sexual), manipulates, etc. his "captive" of either gender, breaking them mentally and emotionally and making them their love/sex slaves. That is, when the "captive" isn't shown as being head-over-heels in love with the aggressor since the beginning — specially common in Japan/Taiwan works, where she's openly crushing on Imperial Japan, who is portrayed as a Relationship Sue Knight in Shining Armor for her. Japan/Korea works are most likely excepted since Japan is almost always shown as a monster to Korea right from the start, and considering the Japanese occupation from Korea... huh.
- Also a possible interpretation of anything involving The Ottoman Empire/past!Turkey. Specially in regards to Egypt, young Greece (either as a child or a teenager), teen Romania or teen Hungary.
- Especially creepy in some Turkey/Greece works where it's clear that Bastard-ized!Turkey's abuse of Greece was a Break the Cutie experience for Greece, leaving him bitter and emotionally damaged... and the authors try to justify Greece continuing to stay with Turkey in spite of this by showing him to be cold or dickish toward everyone else and Turkey being the only one he shows his sweet side to... even though this is the exact opposite of the way Greece behaves in canon, and makes him come across as having been emotionally brainwashed into Taking A Level In Jerkass and believing the person responsible for all his emotional griefs and ruin to be the one he can be the happiest with.
- In fanfiction, Hong Kong almost always has Stockholm Syndrome for England. Then again, England usually has Lima Syndrome and acts like a substitute father/older brother for Hong Kong.
- And what about Italy/Germany? Okay, they're allies for most of the series, but their first encounter was Germany taking Italy prisoner during WWI. And Italy was completely okay with it, more than usual.
- Ohgi and Viletta in Code Geass. This one is a highly unusual example: Viletta is normally an ambitious, cut-throat, Japan-hating Purist, but getting shot by Shirley caused her to develop Easy Amnesia. Ohgi found her and, not knowing who she was (other than Britannian), took care of her and treated her kindly. As a result, "Chigusa" (as she started calling herself) fell in love with him. When Viletta regains her memory, she shoots Ohgi in the gut, saying that the idea of being an Eleven's lover makes her want to vomit. In the second season, she's seen visibly struggling with the conflict between her old attitude and her feelings for Ohgi as an individual. They end up getting together, but not before committing a few acts which set the Broken Base fandom up in arms.
- In Okane Ga Nai, Kanou buys Ayase as a slave to work his debt off, even though he's fully aware that rape is not something you do to the one you love (except in fiction). Ayase is understandably terrified of Kanou at first and views him as the one ruining his life, but becomes touched by Kanou's small moments of kindness and even defends him to his brother "because he's kind." Keep in mind that even after Kanou allows Ayase to do such things as going to school, he still pretty much controls every aspect of Ayase's life and continues to rape him just to remind him that he belongs to him and will not give him up to anyone else. If that isn't Stockholm Syndrome, then nothing is.
- Komari from Gokujou Drops has to endure quite a bit of sexual abuse from all the girls at her dorm. This is especially the case with Yukio, who also adds an immense emotional element to this. Of course, this leads Komari to fall head over heels with Yukio over time. It seems to be mutual, but since Yukio has the habit of crushing Komari's feelings over and over, it's hard to tell for sure.
- In Loveless, this could describe Ritsuka's undying devotion to his psychotic, murderous elder brother Seimei.
- Saito Hiraga from Zero no Tsukaima has the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome ever. The poor boy is unwillingly transported to another world, and once there, is bound in a master/familiar contract. He is then treated worse than a dog, forced to sleep on hay, regularly beaten for the slightest bit of pervertedness, and just generally treated like dirt. This is all done by his master Louise, who he comes to love. In his defence, he does get treated better as time passes by, but still... oh, and there are also the hints that the familiar contract may involve subtle brainwashing too.
- Somewhat deconstructed in the novels, though. It's confirmed that Saito's mind was being altered, repressing his feelings of homesickness and every bad thought he could conceivably have about Louise. When the contract fails and the sort-of brainwashing fades, Saito has a Heroic BSOD and immediately starts wishing to come back home and a crack immediately forms between him and Louise. That takes a long time to heal and it may never completely heal.
- Michael Garret from GUN×SWORD was at first kidnapped by The Claw against his will, but then he became enarmored on The Claw's methods and came to trust him and become one of his followers. He even inflicts the Lima Syndrome on The Claw's second-in-command Fasalina.
- Rather violent Boys Love version: Riki from Ai no Kusabi develops this towards Iason, after witnessing the lengths the other goes to screw with laws and keep him around.
- This might be what causes Hatchin to bond with Michiko in Michiko to Hatchin. Then again, she still treats her better than her Abusive Parents.
- Jonah Matsuka's relationship with Keith Anyan in Toward the Terra is characterized to some extent by Stockholm Syndrome, as Keith alternates systematically between kindness and cruelty which leaves Matsuka conflicted but nevertheless loyally devoted to him. Interestingly, the series implies that this is intentional on Keith's part, as a means of inspiring Matsuka to protect him during the war against the Mu and setting Matsuka up to fulfill Keith's death wish by killing him in self-defense when the war is over. This does not work out quite as planned.
- Flay from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, after being captured by Big Bad Rau. She begins to think of him as a substitute for her recently-killed father George, and it doesn't help that their voices are *very* similar.
- Dearka also counts. He was a war prisoner, well treated, even when some of the crew would like to kill him. Finally, he is released, because the Archangel is no longer part of the Earth Alliance. Just after this, he jumps into his cockpit to protect the Archangel. At least he started to like them, at most he had a crush on Miriallia (probably if you consider the nice names he uses on her).
- In the beginning of Black Lagoon, Rock worries he might be developing Stockholm Syndrome as he begins to sympathize more with his kidnappers (the Lagoon crew) than his employer, who is ostensibly looking for him. He probably is, and the fact his employer is willing to write him off as dead rather than lift a finger to help him pretty much cements it. By the time the crisis is resolved and his employers say they'll take him back now, it's pretty well set and he tells them to shove it, he's sticking with the pirates (but keeping his white shirt and tie).
- Gohan from Dragon Ball essentially gets kidnapped by Piccolo who thinks that teaching him to fight will save the world. Eventually, he comes to like Piccolo about as much as his own father. On the other side, Piccolo comes to genuinely care for Gohan and becomes one of the heroes as a result.
- Also Mr. Satan who ends up becoming a slave for Buu (who has no real concept of what's going on). While Satan is at first trying to kill Buu (and becomes his slave to try to find a way to actually kill him after his first plan's don't work) he realizes that Buu is a Man Child with no understanding of how terrifying and violent he is because Bibidi and Babadi always told him to kill and destroy (the former even saying it was a game). Satan ends up becoming a friend to Buu and almost ends the whole thing there and then by asking him not to kill again but a pair of bandits put a stop to that
- Averted with Vegeta, Raditz and Nappa and Freeza, their boss/overlord and killer of the rest of their species. While Radtiz survived by chance (he was off world) Vegeta (and by extension Nappa) were specifically saved from the destruction of the Planet Vegeta by Freeza who saw potential in Vegeta. While the truth about his world's destruction was kept from Vegeta he still saw Freeza as a Bad Boss who got in the way of his own goals and planned to kill him
- Jazz is entirely about the protagonist falling into a Stockholm Syndrome relationship, which eventually fixes some of his other psychological issues.
- Guy on guy version: the feddie mechanic Heckle to the guerrilla Festo in Fang of the Sun Dougram.
- Implied in Franken Fran; when Veronica is introduced, she terrorized Fran and even kills one of her subjects. Then Fran catches her and starts conducting horrible experiments offscreen. By the next chapter, she's Fran's doting little sis.
- The manga of Nana references the idea of kidnap victims coming to love their kidnappers in chapter 72. Several character relationships are cast in this light, if mostly metaphorically.
- In Tiger & Bunny, Kriem ended up falling for Jake Martinez after he kidnapped her for ransom, largely because he was the first person to not shun her for being a NEXT.
- Subverted in Tsukigasa. Kuroe was known to have joined a robber syndicate after they saved his life and so everyone assumes he became a criminal by choice due to this. In truth he never actually approves of them and only acts as their doctor and when he finds out their next target is Azuma, he steals some very important maps, runs off, kills the men who come after him, and gives all the information to his samurai friend so he can catch the rest of them. His gratitude really did have its limits.
- In Pokémon Special, Gigi, White's prized Tepig actress, happily decides to go off with N. This right after he kidnapped both her and her handler, then dropped her to be strangled by a Servine. This made her realize that she indeed has potential as a fighter and she ended up quite proud of herself. White is understandably upset.
- It turns out Gigi decided to go off with the guy who pretty much just dumped her in the rain when she was specifically raised to travel with a trainer. White had ended up taking her in. Yeah...
- Blue and Silver were kidnapped as children and were one of three pairs of Children trained by The Mask of Ice to be the trainer equivalents of tyke bombs. While Silver and Blue actively oppose him the other four are working for him, appearing to show this trope. When Silver faces Will and Karen he thinks it's because they have grown attached to the man who kidnapped them but Will subverts it when he reveals that the others went to him of their own free will, and only Silver and Blue were kidnapped.
- When she was a child, Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena became a willing victim of all the world's anger in order to save her ailing brother. When her brother developed an evil side out of sheer grief over being unable to save her, she decided to stick with him and indulge in his whims, and even to become his sex slave just to make him happy. She additionally allowed the whole world to continue hurting her with her anger, just to save her brother from feeling that pain. Eventually, she realizes that this is not the life she wants to lead, and she simply tells her brother to go deal with his issues alone.
- Played for Laughs in Mahou Sensei Negima! when Takane gets this about involuntary Clothing Damage, to the point where she gets eventually stops getting offended when the main character causes it to happen, and actually gets offended when he beats her without stripping her.
- In Scrapped Princess, Chris abducts Winia in hopes of luring Pacifica and the others to him. Winia eventually ends up falling in love with Chris.
- In Di[e]ce, Akikage flat-out stole Sion and Gara away from their families when they were children, and raised them to play in death games (which included traumatizing them into accepting that if they don't play, war will occur in place of the death games and kill off tons of people, including everyone they care about). Sion came to trust and admire him, and see him as a substitute guardian. Gara is more hostile towards him, but tells Sion that he'd rather live with Akikage than with his abusive parents.
- Orochimaru from Naruto is so good at inducing this that it would probably be easier to list his followers who don't have Stockholm Syndrome for him.
- Scrooge McDuck's and Glittering Goldie's relationship has elements of this in the Disney comics.
- Harley Quinn claims this to the doctors at Arkham in defense of her actions, but her miniseries shows her going crazy and falling in love with The Joker long before ever meeting him.
- In Incorruptible, Max Damage abducts a girl and puts her in Jailbait's costume to lay a false trail for enemies who might be tracking her. Before too much longer she was calling herself "the new Jailbait."
- In one series of Dilbert strips in 2013, Dilbert is kidnapped by the Elbonians and put in a forced labor camp; he actually likes it much better than his regular job, and the Elbonians are much better off with him there (making this Lima Syndrome as well).
- Just about every single Joker/OC fanfic in The Dark Knight section involves the Joker kidnapping some random woman and that woman ends up falling in love with him. Admittedly, he also deliberately pulled it off in canon...
- The Heroes Dark Fic Unmade results in two-way Stockholm Syndrome from a Locked in a Freezer scenario.
- The Danny Phantom fanfic Checkmate focuses on a two-way, non-romantic example of this between Vlad and Danny, the latter having been heavily abused by the former and even approaching a Face-Heel Turn—until he realizes that the Dungeon Master placed him in this situation for the purpose of winning Vlad over from hardcore villainy a la Lima Syndrome.
- In the penultimate chapter of Group of Weirdos: Ocarina of Time, Gate reveals that he's started to bond with Ganondorf. Of course, Gate's a Cloudcuckoolander, so that might not be true.
- It's not romantic affection, but Scootaloo comes out of the "good" ending of Pattycakes viewing Fluttershy as a kind of mentor and Parental Substitute. Given that Fluttershy had hit her on the head and forced her to run a gauntlet of tests dotted with the risk of arbitrary Mind Rape, either it's Stockholm syndrome, or Scoots had a really crappy home life. (I mean, say what you will about your parents - no matter how bad they were, at least they never tried to totally destroy your mind.)
- In Strings Korra slowly starts to develop this after being kidnapped by Tarrlok as a hostage and forced to marry him as Tarrlok makes an effort to make their Happy Marriage Charade more genuine. Tarrlok himself slowly begins to love Korra a la Lima Syndrome.
- In Prison Island Break it is clear that Shadow is obsessed with the Prison Doctor, Amy Rose, repeatedly telling her he loves her, that she is a good person, and that he will rape her for her own good. However as the fic goes on his affection becomes slightly less creepy. This is a sharp contrast to the Psychiatrist Blaze, whom he also threatens to rape, but much more savagely.
- In the Emergency! fic "Lost and Found" John Gage has signs of this. John is abducted and held captive for 18 months by a firefighter-obsessed madman who tortures and rapes him. John eventually becomes a willing participant in the guy's sex games because the torture is too much to bear, and he's treated kindly and nicely when he complies. He knew he was being raped and used, but he knew that "playing nice" and willingly complying felt good and the torture hurt so much. After snapping, killing the guy, and escaping, he struggles with the good feelings and erotic dreams he has, amongst his hatred and fear. A psychiatrist eventually lays out for Roy (John won't go) how the guy was John's only human contact, and how the good and evil acts are seperated in the victim's mind and the good ones clung to like a lifeline. The love isn't normal or healthy but it is strong. The information persuades John to see the doctor himself.
- Invoked in Tangled In Time, Ganondorf kidnapped Link, but he treats Link as his own son and deliberately isolated him so Link would too much of an emotional attachment to fight him when he grows up. This is justified on Link's part as Ganondorf kidnapped as an infant so he doesn't remember his biological parents nor knows any differently.
Films — Animation
- Not an intentional example on the part of the filmmakers but Lightning McQueen in Cars. Lost, confused, not allowed to speak to a lawyer or try to call anyone, locked up and forced into heavy labor until he ends up screaming for help from a passing pair of minivans before his view of Radiator Springs and its inhabitants does an abrupt 180.
- Despite how it looks to some, Beauty and the Beast is an aversion. Belle agrees to stay with Beast to save her father, but she doesn't obey his orders, later decides her promise isn't worth how dangerous he is and tries to leave, and even after Beast saves her she isn't putting up with his behavior. It's only after he starts being nice and considerate, but like a person instead of her captor, that she warms up to him. Yet even then, she still misses her father, and leaves when Beast finally lets her.
Films — Live-Action
- Older Than Feudalism: It's suggested in Homer's Iliad that Helen of Troy, after being kidnapped by Paris in an act that triggered the Trojan War, got pretty comfortable in Troy after a while. It's never explicitly stated, but there is one scene in which a Greek soldier actually considers killing Helen, believing her to be one of the enemy now.
- Discussed Trope in The Orphan Master's Son, where Kim Jong Il hopes to foster this in an American girl that his minions kidnapped.
- The ending of 1984. The last four words of the book show how thoroughly Winston has been brainwashed by Miniluv: "He loved Big Brother".
- Central to the concept of the Dick Francis thriller novel The Danger, the author's clearly extensive research providing a more nuanced portrayal than usual of the syndrome.
- In the first Artemis Fowl book, Holly develops enough of an attachment to her captors (the title character and his associates) to object to her allies' plans to bio-bomb Fowl Manor after her rescue. Although her objections are partly due to Artemis being Just a Kid and his servant Juliet being a relative innocent, her friends dismiss it as "just Stockholm Syndrome... you'll get over it."
- The Kim Newman short story "Who Dares Wins" refers to Stockholm Syndrome, but since the captors are vampires, they have faster and more reliable methods to get the hostages on their side.
- An unintentional example, as the term didn't even exist at the time, is The Sheik. The heroine is abused and raped by the Sheik until she falls in love with him.
- Done intentionally in John Ringo's "Council Wars" series. The lead villain, known as Paul, sets up a harem where he keeps kidnapped young women, for the express purpose of breaking them and inducing Stockholm Syndrome. The repeated rapes and hopeless nature of life in the harem inevitably take their toll on the captives. This is even explained during a short story at the end of "Emerald Sea". It is partially averted in the character of Megan, Paul's latest victim. Despite falling in love with him, she ends up killing him partway through "Against the Tide", in a particularly brutal and grisly manner.
- In The Silmarillion, Elrond and Elros's (reciprocated) love for Maglor, who took part in the slaughter of their people (twice) and took them captive, could be interpreted that way. Then again, most annals say they were 5 at the most when captured.
- Kobo Abe's The Woman in the Dunes. An entomologist plans to spend the night at the sand-pit of a widow. She and other villagers hold him in. He tries to escape and fails, and gradually develops a very sexual relationship with the woman. Years later, the man has a chance out of the pit, but he cannot bring himself to leave.
- The Wheel of Time has the damane. Women channelers (a.k.a. sorceresses) are captured by the Seanchan Empire, collared with a device that doesn't allow them to do any kind of channeling (and even anything) without their handler allowing it. It's a Fate Worse Than Death for the women channelers raised in cultures where they are allowed to roam free and are even admired and feared. But some captured do develop an attachment to it (attachment meaning completely assuming whatever identity the handler wants them to have, resisting capture, and being terrified and traumatized if set free). Although that is more a case of actively breaking the spirit of the captured women and turning them into obedient puppets, more like pets or tools than human beings. Fate Worse Than Death indeed. This trope is averted rather horribly with Rand's capture by the hands of Elaida's Tower embassy. There is not exactely identification or sympathy with his captors/tormenters on his part.
- Winnie from Tuck Everlasting was kidnapped by the Tucks, but grew to love them all the same. To be fair, they never intended to harm her and were very kind – they just needed to explain the situation to her properly, and were more than willing to take her home once they had done so. Could also be a case of Lima Syndrome for the Tucks, though they never saw her as a hostage in the first place.
- In The Phantom of the Opera, decades before the Stockholm bank robbery occurred, Christine falls in love with Erik after he kidnaps her, drugs her, and locks her in his house for 2 weeks — all this after 3 months of him acting as her Mailer Daemon and gradually growing more verbally abusive and aggressive. Raoul is saddened but not the least bit surprised that she loves a man she's (understandably) terrified of, and Christine comes to her senses long enough to tell Raoul to take her away from Erik once and for all No Matter How Much I Beg.
- In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Professor Arronax gradually becomes more impressed with Nemo during his stay onboard the Nautilus. Ned Land is the only one who seems to remember that they are prisoners, not guests. It's only when Nemo launches another attack on British vessels that Arronax remembers this too.
- The Reynard Cycle: Though she doesn't exactly love him in the traditional sense, this trope explains how the Countess Persephone and Duke Nobel ended up in what would generally be considered a fairly healthy marriage. A captive of war, her original quarters in the palace were essentially a Gilded Cage. By The Baron of Maleperduys, she actually has to be reminded that he was the man who (indirectly) killed her father.
- A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Bolton, invoks this trope via Cold-Blooded Torture, Flaw Exploitation and a host of other manipulation techniques. He tortures his captives into such utter submission that they're terrified of displeasing him and absurdly grateful when he shows favor to them.
- Theon also has some of this for the Starks. He's technically a hostage, but he's been raised by the family from a young age, so he sometimes feels that they're closer to a family than his blood relatives.
- Vorkosigan Saga: After Cordelia gets back to Beta after being captured by the Barrayarans during the Betan/Barrayaran war, her commanding officers and family believe that her feelings for Aral Vorkosigan are the result of Stockholm Syndrome, an assumption helped along considerably by the fact that some groups of Barrayaran soldiers did make a practice of raping and torturing their POWs. Since Cordelia can't provide an honest account of all of her experiences while she was a prisoner without revealing a whole lot of messy Barrayaran political secrets that would cause whole worlds of trouble - and thus can't convincingly explain the assortment of injuries she came back with, which her fellow Betans assume came from torture - it's not hard to understand their reasoning.
- Averted in one short story by J. R. R. Tolkien. During the Second Age, when the Númenórean empire is just being founded, a Númenórean colonist is captured by local tribesmen and forced to marry one of them. She tells her husband that her people will be back for revenge and that she is very glad of that.
- Referenced in Dr Franklins Island by Ann Halam. The victims of the titular Mad Scientist try to stop this from happening to them, but end up still treating him "with this crazy kidnap-victim respect". Not that this stops them from killing him.
- Parodied in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom discusses his plan to start a band of robbers and kidnap people for ransom:
"...Only you don’t kill the women. You shut up the women, but you don’t kill them. They’re always beautiful and rich, and awfully scared...Well, the women get to loving you, and after they’ve been in the cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and after that you couldn’t get them to leave. If you drove them out they’d turn right around and come back. It’s so in all the books."
- In Things Fall Apart, the young prisoner Ikemefuna is taken in by Okonkwo and eventually comes to see him as a father. Okonkwo succumbs to Lima Syndrome and comes to see Ikemefuna as another son. It all ends in tears when the village elders demand that Ikemefuna be killed. Okonkwo goes along with the executioners and personally cuts down Ikemefuna when he begs him for help because he is too afraid to show weakness. Even worse, Ikemefuna believed he was being sent back home and was looking forward to introducing Okonkwo to his family. Okonkwo drinks himself into a stupor afterwards.
- In the fourth Protector of the Small, soldiers kidnap some refugee children and take them to Blayce the Gallan, who will kill them and use their souls to animate killing devices. The Protector of the Small is able to stop him and his soldiers, but finds one of the girls crying over a soldier she'd killed.
"Loey, what's the matter?"
"Him. He was - he was good to me. He took care of me all the way here, he was nice, and I killed him."
"He couldn't have been that nice. He was bringing you here to die."
"I know I ought to think of that, Lady Kel. But he was nice when I was scared. How can I feel good about killing him?"
- Rebel Force: Uprising features Luke Skywalker captured by Soresh, who has developed a method for destroying someone's memories and reprogramming them to become his loyal emotionless assassins, via injected serums and loads of Cold-Blooded Torture. Naturally, he starts using them on Luke, who is there for two weeks. He has Luke tortured at all times that Soresh is not in the cell with him, so that when Soresh visits the pain stops; sometimes Soresh gives Luke water or a piece of fruit, too, deliberately trying to invoke this trope. It works initially, but Soresh failed to account for The Force.
- In Redeeming Love, Angel was raped at the age of eight by a man named Duke and spent ten years as his Sex Slave; she confesses later that for a time she thought herself in love with him.
- Averted in Room. Ma has no love for the man who imprisoned her for years, and is upset when a journalist implies that she somehow collaborated with her captor.
- Discussed in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Lemony Narrator explains the phenomenon of Stockholm syndrome—then immediately goes on to say that it doesn't apply in his story. When the Baudelaire kids are held hostage, they hate their abductors, and he mentions that in Real Life this reaction is more common and rational than Stockholm syndrome.
- In Poul Anderson's Year of the Ransom, when Wanda admires something about her time-traveling conquistador kidnapper, she immediately warns herself about this.
Live Action TV
- The band Muse has a song called "Stockholm Syndrome" on their third album, Absolution.
- The band Yo La Tengo also has a song of the same name on their album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.
- So does blink-182, on their album of the same name.
- Michael Jackson's short film Ghosts has his character Maestro confronted by an angry mob when it's revealed that he's been secretly entertaining kids in his creepy mansion. He turns out to have magical powers, and he proceeds to terrify the crowd with them; when they try to flee, he traps them and declares they're his guests. He summons a crowd of ghouls to assist them, and what follows alternates between entertaining the crowd and terrifying it, particularly when he magically possesses the mob leader, a mayor. When all is said and done, the mayor is the only person who still wants Maestro gone from the town.
- "Black Widow's Eyes", from the album Endless Wire, was written in response to the Beslan school massacre. It was inspired by one hostage's comments on the haunting beauty of one female terrorist's eyes. Said Pete Townshend on the subject: "We sometimes fall in love when we do not want to, and when we do not expect to."
- Soldier by Bitter Ruin seems to be about a very Stockholm-y relationship in which the narrators describe how they've given up on attempting to escape, and just want to be a good soldier for their captor.
- "Adopduction" by Les Savy Fav is about a dream in which the protagonist undergoes this process over years of captivity.
- "The Hook" by Stephen Malkmus begins "at age 19 I was kidnapped by Turkish pirates". The next verse begins "by 25 I was respected as an equal" and the third "by 31 I was the Captain of a Galleon".
- "I'm Not Mary Ann" by Ego Likeness
- One Direction has a song of the same name on their album "FOUR".
- There was an example of this in Dungeons & Dragons cosmology that is the stuff of legend, literally. The short version: The archmage Iggwilv summoned the demon lord Graz'zt and held him prisoner; eventually, they became lovers (Iggwilv bearing his child, Iuz, who would grow up to become a notorious tyrant and acted as her advisor as she forged her empire. She never released him from his bonds, however, and eventually, it sank in that she was never going to. What made this even more humiliating - for Graz'zt - is that when they finally did come to blows, she came closer to killing him than anyone had (or has since). The fight was a knock-out draw, with his material form destroyed (leaving him unable to leave his home plane for a century) and her left half dead and powerless. Her empire crumbled, and little was seen of her for decades.
- In the first Metal Gear Solid game, Otacon is attracted to Sniper Wolf. Snake directly tells him he's probably suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
- It's not outside the realm of possibility that Stockholm Syndrome turned into genuine affection, or even skipped the Swedish bit. Otacon explicitly states that Sniper Wolf was the first person in a long time who felt he was worth treating decently, and given how his life's gone up to the point that he tells Snake that, it's not unfeasible that Otacon might interpret a waitress actually bringing him his order as a gesture of undying love.
- Word of God claimed at one point that the feeling was mutual, and that Otacon and Wolf had at least been friends for a while before FOXHOUND's revolt.
- An inverted instance occurs between Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 4. MGS has Meryl tricking, pummeling, and stripping Johnny, taking her captor's uniform as a disguise, but by MGS4 they're on the same side and end up marrying by the prologue. In other words, a twist of this and Lima Syndrome has the captor falling for his hostage-turned-captor.
- Golden Sun: The Lost Age. The villains from the original Golden Sun were killed at the end, yet their hostages continued the mission, and the heroes of the original eventually join up—leading to a Not Brainwashed scene at the end with the Wise One. Justified that the original mission is saving the world anyway (even though Saturos and Menardi are more concerned about their town than Weyard, the world's saved is still the side effect).
- Technically, their parents lives were on the line as well.
- S.W.A.T. 2 allows the player to engage in Stockholm-generating tactics in the terrorist campaign as a way of temporarily delaying S.W.A.T. and potentially adding to their personnel pool.
- Appears in Liberal Crime Squad, as a game mechanic. You can abduct people, and attempt to indoctrinate them in myriad ways (torture, propoganda, psychadelic drugs), but one of the most effective ways is to treat them poorly until they're sufficiently "broken", and then treat them nicely.
- In World of Warcraft, two Orcs who have been rescued from imprisonment from Dunholde Keep insist on keeping their balls and chains, which they have given names to. Another NPC dubs it "Durnholde Syndrome".
- "Durnholde Syndrome" appears again in the Searing Gorge, when you have to free Dark Iron slaves in the last raid of the dig, some of them will scream for their slavers to save them from this [Race] trying to free them and will attack you.
- In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Princess Nyna's entire family is slaughtered by Grust/Dohlr, but a well known knight from Grust, Camus, protects her from the same fate. Her narration of the events that followed strongly resemble Stockholm Syndrome. She admits that she first hated him because he was part of the group that killed her family (although not directly responsible) and then during their small time together when she was his country's captive as a political prisoner, she develops very strong romantic feelings for him.
- He reciprocates her feelings and did put his knighthood on the line to take her to an allied kingdom before she could be executed. This causes him to lose a lot of influence in his kingdom, but he stubbornly refused to abandon his king, even when Nyna begs him to side with the League.
- In Mass Effect 1, if Shepard has the Colonist background, you can get a mission to help Talitha, a woman who was taken in the slave raid that killed your parents. Asking her how she escaped makes Shepard realize that the poor woman is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
- Despite discussing the trope and claiming the contrary, Doc develops such a fierce loyalty to his captor Wash in Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction that he ends up saving his life in the final battle.
- There is a Hardly Working sketch where Dan takes Sarah hostage and ties her up in a conference room chair, at which point she immediately lapses into Stockholm Syndrome.
Dan: Wait, what?
Sarah: I love you.
Dan: What do you mean? Why?
Sarah: Stockholm Syndrome.
Dan: OK, but I literally just kidnapped you.
Sarah: Yeah I guess it kicked in there pretty fast, didn't it? [shrugs] Maybe some people are just more suseptible to it. [runs her finger along Dan's arm]
Dan: Thanks, I guess.
- Then Pat comes in and decides to take Sarah hostage at gunpoint, saying he'll get a "handsome ransom":
Sarah: [turned on] Ooh, a "handsome ransom". I love it when you rhyme.
Dan: What? You said you loved me.
Sarah: I'm sorry, Dan, but ever since Pat threatened to splatter my brains across the wall, I just... I feel like I can be more myself with him.
Dan: What about us?
- Princess Peach from Sonic For Hire has this.
- Cracked accuses Beauty and the Beast of this in 23 Romantic Movies Revised for Honesty and 5 Romantic Movie Gestures That Were Actually Dick Moves.
- Sun Tzu advises invoking this trope on POW as a matter of standard policy. Because it works often enough to be worth the effort. That's one reason why, to this day, POW are still treated very nicely, at least in Geneva-compliant countries.
- As the diary excerpt from a Gitmo detainee linked below demonstrates, encouraging and taking advantage of Stockholm Syndrome is a huge part of effective long-term interrogation strategies.
- The Trope Namer is a bank robbery/hostage incident that occurred in Stockholm in 1973. The hostages, among other things, berated the police for endangering them by trying to stop the robbers by force, raised money for the robbers' defense lawyers, and even wrote the robbers letters while they were in jail.
- A historical example: Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, financed much of his campaign against England by taking English knights hostage and ransoming them back. He treated them so well that many would lose the will to fight against him when they were released.
- The American Revolution. George Washington ordered that all prisoners of war were to be treated humanely. As a result many Hessian prisoners taken by the American rebels were surprised at how well they were treated and did not try to escape. Some defected to the American cause, and after the war ended, and they were released, many chose to remain in America and become citizens. The fact that there was still cheap land and relative social mobility for many of the second sons and lower classes selling themselves as mercenaries didn't hurt either.
- Many commentators suggested that this the reason why Jaycee Lee Dugard did not try to escape, even after her kidnappers Phillip and Nancy Garrido allowed her more freedom in their house, until her rescue in 2009, along with her two daughters (ages 15 and 11) fathered by Phillip. A letter that she wrote to her captors that was read during the sentencing phase of their trial, however - read by her mother, because she was unwilling to appear in the court room in person - seemed to completely rebuke this theory. Jaycee clearly hated their guts, wishing them "many sleepless nights" and saying "There is no God in the universe that would condone your actions."
- Mary McElroy, a rather extreme case of this trope. She openly pleaded for her kidnappers not to be executed and became increasingly mentally unstable after her release from captivity. Going as far as taking her own life a few years later, leaving behind a note saying: "My four kidnappers are probably the four people on earth who don't consider me an utter fool. You have your death penalty now - so - please - give them a chance. Mary."
- Which is especially odd because unlike some other cases where this happens to this degree of severity, McElroy was only kidnapped for about a day, and during the trial had some difficult even recognizing who her kidnappers were. Her note also makes no sense, of her four kidnappers only 3 had been found and tried, and none of them were given the death penalty, and in fact one had been released by the time of her suicide.
- In BDSM culture there's a mental state called "subspace". Basically, subspace is a temporary state of Stockholm Syndrome where the submissive partner is extremely susceptible to any suggestion on the part of the dominant partner.
- There are multiple historical accounts of white women who were kidnapped by Native Americans during raids on settlements subsequently resisting being taken back when their menfolk came to rescue them.
- Conscription. The recruits are taken to boot camp and isolated from the rest of the world from one to three months - no telephones, radio, newspapers or internet allowed. They are continuously harassed, mocked, denigrated and bullied by their drill instructors. Most of the boys break and develop a genuine love on army and their fatherland and become obedient soldiers. Some endure and develop an everlasting hatred on their country, government - and society.
- People in abusive relationships will often develop paradoxical attachments to their abusers, believing that their actions are provoking the abuse and that they deserve it, or that the abuse is just another way of expressing affection, or that the abuser is the only one capable of loving them. The abuser will constantly reinforce these beliefs and will attempt to isolate the victim from anyone who might point out the fallacy of this reasoning. "The cycle of abuse" often begins with an abusive parent-child relationship, where the victim never learns to distinguish affection from abuse because they always occur together. Because the victim has no frame of reference for healthy relationships, they are more likely to end up with an abusive partner as an adult and are less likely to be able to raise their own children to recognize and respond to abuse...setting the next generation up to follow the same path.
- For the same reason is Stockholm Syndrome a great tool for pimps and human traffickers. Their tactics vary from one individual to another, but many lure their victims into a life of forced prostitution van sexual slavery by making their victims completely dependent on them. Though they do not give a hoot about their victims, many pimps seduce impressionable, uncertain or simply curious girls by giving them attention and presents to win their affection. When the pimp has secured the victims love, he will gradually increase the emotional and physical abuse. This will cause the victim to 'walk on her tip-toes', consciously and unconsciously avoiding behaviour that will incur her 'lover's' wrath, thus incurring Stockholm Syndrome. From that point forward the victim is emotionally completely dependant on the pimp, who will then drop all pretence and start exploiting his victim via forced prostitution and introduce her to a living hell. There are cases where girls as young as twelve went from typical schoolgirls to victims of repeated gang rapes within a few weeks. Yet despite their misery, their emotional dependence on their pimp makes it is an important factor in making it frustratingly difficult for parents, police or social workers to rescue the poor girls.
- Other pimps do not even bother with winning their victim's trust, but simply start with massive amounts of physical abuse (including gang rapes) to break a victim, followed by using blackmail, threats against the victim or her family and above all continuously interjecting himself in her life so she (has the illusion that she) cannot escape or evade him. The hopelessness and the victim will be sufficient to trigger Stockholm Syndrome as a coping mechanism.
- As one social worker has said (paraphrased): "[These girls] are not born whores, they were made whores."
- The book "Loving to Survive" suggests Stockholm Syndrome as an explanation for why women in patriarchal countries still fall in love with men, despite this being irrational as men are very likely to hurt them. This phenomenon is related to the one described above; girls are taught to expect men to be abusive.
- Patricia Hearst was captured by the Symbionese Liberation Army and then joined them in committing other crimes. Her defense team claimed she was purposely brainwashed beyond the point of being responsible for her own actions, while prosecutors alleged it was a genuine case of Stockholm Syndrome and she was still fit to stand trial. Most of the researchers who have since analysed the case believe she was in fact brainwashed, which contributed to President Carter's decision to commute her prison term, and President Clinton's decision to grant her a full pardon.
- This excerpt from the diary of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a longterm prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, described his falling prey to Stockholm Syndrome and hating himself for it at the same time.
- An obvious Aversion was the case of Ariel Castro of Ohio, who kidnapped three women and held them hostage for over a decade. He claimed that this was true of them to the police and in court, but it was clear to everyone that it was Blatant Lies, which only caused him to be condemned even more by the media.
- Many studies into religions have revealed that followers show the very same psychological signs to people suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.