Malcolm: 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: Same thing.
Stockholm Syndrome 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 unhealthymarriages. 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.
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.
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, possessivebastard 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 SueKnight 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.
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 an 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-commandFasalina.
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.
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.
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).
Also Hercule 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 Freiza, 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 Freiza who saw potential in Vegeta. While the truth about his world's destruction was kept from Vegeta he still saw Freiza 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Films — Live-Action
This happens in a few pornographic movies. (Lima Syndrome too, occasionally.)
In Never Say Never Again, Bond undergoes a hostage situation at the beginning. He liberates the woman bound to a bed, but doesn't remember that she might be suffering Stockholm Syndrome, and she kills him. Fortunately it was just a training scenario.
The TV Christmas movie Holiday In Handcuffs has this happen, with the kidnapper in question being Melissa Joan Hart.
Subverted in Die Hard when the news report is discussing Stockholm Syndrome and suggesting the hostages are entering the first stages the camera pans to the hostages watching a corpse being dragged past them and are terrified of rather than identifying with their captors.
Interestingly, the psychiatrist, the author of a book on the subject, refers to it as Helsinki Syndrome, suggesting that he either got his facts wrong or is ripping off Stockholm Syndrome (if the former case, it's a Take That to clueless pundits). Amusingly, the male newsreader tries to clarify to the viewers that he's referring to "Helsinki, Sweden," and is quickly corrected - Helsinki is in Finland.
Three Ten To Yuma plays with this trope. The captive is stage coach robber Ben Wade, who is never really a prisoner in the movie. He demonstrates the capability to escape any time he wishes, but sticks around because of an interest in Dan Evans which developed before he was even taken 'captive'. Wade is a badass cynic who grows increasingly fascinated with Evan's Determinator idealism which is uniquely motivated by his own cynical perspective. In the end he helps Evans deliver him to the train, despite having an entire town gunning for him. Of course, he had already escaped Yuma prison several times.
King Kong (2005): Ann Darrow and her captor Kong. Though usually Stockholm Syndrome doesn't last as long after the captivity has ended.
Captain Hook in Hook deliberately tries to induce Stockholm Syndrome in Peter (Pan) Banning's children, in part by posing as the good, caring, attentive father that Peter wasn't. It works on his son Jack, but not his daughter Maggie, and even Jack gets set straight when he realizes his father does loves him and that Hook is a murdering asshole.
"Where do you get this stuff?" "I read...a lot..."
The movie John Q.. had this. Because of the title character's sympathetic ordeal (Trying to get his son a much-needed heart transplant), beating up a man who was abusing his girlfriend in the middle of the situation and letting the sickest people go without hesitation, everyone was laughing and joking with him near the end, even the guy he beat up. Even the people he let go only had nice things to say about him.
In Dog Day Afternoon, the bank employees clearly sympathize with the robbers/kidnappers by the end.
Lampshaded and subverted in Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. Naomi believes that Allison is falling in love with her hillbilly captors due to Stockholm Syndrome, and Allison is slowly falling for Dale. The twist is that Tucker and Dale aren't her captors — they rescued her when she almost drowned. And Allison is interested in Dale because he's a Nice Guy.
Buffalo '66 depicts a man kidnapping Christina Ricci in order to fool his parents into thinking he has a girlfriend. She warms up to him quickly, which may invoke this trope. Then again, he proves to be mostly harmless almost immediately and she is more or less free to go once his parents meet her so she may just have genuinely liked him.
The woman John Wayne was trying to rescue in The Searchers. It gets a little confusing, because at first she says "These are my people" - but then, when her stepbrother sneaks into the Comanche camp to rescue her, she is happy to see him and wants to leave immediately. Of course, that could be because the Wayne character now wants to kill her (believe her to have become "defiled" by Indians), and her stepbrother (who is one-eighth Indian himself) has sworn to protect her.
In Contagion, Dr. Orantes is eventually kidnapped by one of her colleagues who takes her to his village so that they will be among the first to get the virus vaccine. The vaccine is developed three months later, after which we see Orantes happily working as a schoolteacher for the village children and willingly cooperates with the kidnappers in the exchange for the vaccine. Later on in the airport, she is informed that the vaccine given was actually a placebo. The last we see of her is her running away from the airport, presumably to warn the villagers.
A non-romantic example in The Magdalene Sisters. Margaret finds the laundry's back gate left open and walks out, even stopping a man on the road for a lift. However she decides not to get back in and returns to the laundry. Viewers have debated over whether or not this is loyalty to the other women (she was taking care of the unstable Crispina) or fear of the outside world.
In 12 Monkeys, someone suggests to Kathryn Railly that she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome after she puts James Cole's multiple killings in context by saying that the victims were thugs who had tried to kill them both.
Given Westley's story to Buttercup in The Princess Bride, his relationship with the Dread Pirate Roberts (or rather, the man he assumed was him) was both this and Lima Syndrome. Roberts spared Westley, keeping him around (often reminding him of his threat to kill him, but never making good on it) and in the meantime, Westley was able to learn swordplay, fighting, and anything else the pirate crew would teach him. Eventually, Roberts, who had clearly taken a liking to him, revealed the secret behind his title to him, and later Passed the Torch to Westley.
In The Smurfs 2, Grouchy claims Smurfette's bonding with the Naughties is "a classic case of Smurfholm Syndrome".
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.
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.
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 she has this, and she is totally unable to convince them otherwise. It's not that hard to see why they think so, since she has various scars which appear to be the result of torture (and one which actually is).
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.
"...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 Lady Knight, 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.
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.
Live Action TV
Daenerys from, Game of Thrones, based on the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire. She was basically raped the first few weeks or months of her marriage to a beast of a man whom she feared. However after awhile she embraces everything about his culture and comes to love and care for him and his people. Even when he threatens to murder, rape and pillage from the people who tried to assassinate her, she seems aroused. That's textbook Stockholm Syndrome.
Lizzie Sutton on Lincoln Heights develops a friendship with one of her kidnappers (much to the horror of her family) after she is rescued. She hated her other kidnapper because he was "mean" to her.
An episode of NUMB3RS had a kidnapped heiress in a Patty-Hearst-like situation join up with the kidnappers' cause. Subverted in that it turned out she had been the mastermind all along and planned her own kidnapping.
Malcolm in the Middle. Reese lets a bunch of thugs into his house for a "party," where they end up running what is strongly implied to be some kind of meth lab. For the whole weekend. Naturally, Reese ends up admiring them, as seen in the quote above.
NCIS did this twice in as many seasons. The first time involved a main character and a Magnificent Bastard and merely prevented the main character from stabbing him with a scalpel. The second time had the villain-of-the-week kidnap a woman and lock her in a room to be his wife every time he moved, and when the team rescued the latest one, she bashed her rescuer's head in with a plant.
Regarding the first instance, it was just raised as a possibility why Kate didn't stab Ari when she had the chance. Kate replies that she couldn't have suffered from Stockholm Syndrome in the short time she was kept hostage. DiNozzo replies that it might have been like love at first sight.
Another episode had Kate coming to work and finding Tony doing his fingernails.
Kate: Most people tend to their personal hygiene at home. Tony: This bothers you? Kate: No, what bothers me is that it doesn't bother me anymore. Tony: Hm... I'm an acquired taste." McGee: Actually, it's more like the Stockholm Syndrome.
An element of this came into play in Last Resort, when he bonds with the guy holding him and others hostage and ends up giving the gun back, mistakenly believing that the guy will be noble enough not to test the drugs on 13 anymore. Oops.
A first season episode includes the following dialogue:
Cameron: [House's] crazy ideas are usually right. We've been here long enough to— Foreman: We've been here long enough to have Stockholm Syndrome.
In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The McPoyles take the gang hostage and Sweet Dee worries about someone developing Stockholm Syndrome, then begins to show signs of it herself. The guys in the gang misunderstand the concept and begin complaining about fever-like symptoms.
A particularly dark example occurs in an episode where a teenaged girl develops Stockholm Syndrome towards the Serbian gangster who kidnapped her family as a result of her father's poor business dealings and, along with his crew, repeatedly gang-raped her. It's treated a bit more realistically than some of the examples on this thread, with the girl having been held captive several days, and the syndrome itself treated as a clear psychological issue based on trauma and PTSD rather than her simply falling in love with the guy.
Another episode had a prison warden hiring a hitman to 'escape' with the warden's wife and kill her. The man decided not to go through with the killing and kept the wife around. After a few years, she barely even remembered her old life.
Heroes featured villainess Elle Bishop forcibly electrifying Peter, locked in a cell for four months, presumably every day. "You'll get used to it, and then you'll start to like it." It didn't work, but Peter pretended that it did.
Horrifically depicted in an episode when a teenage girl kidnapped eight years earlier ends up with Stockholm Syndrome to the point where she tries to keep the police from rescuing her and the abductor's latest victim.
Inducing a mild form Stockholm is also a favored tactic of Sergeant Greg Parker, though in his case he attempts to build a connection so that he can calm down the subject and talk them down. It doesn't always work.
In the mini series Kill Point, Chloe, one of the hostages in a bank robbery, develops feelings for the bank robbers' leader to the point that she wishes to go with him when he escapes.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Suddenly Human" a human boy was raised in an alien culture after his adoptive father led an attack on the research post, killing his birth parents and taking him.
In the Highlander: The Series episode "Revelations 6:8", Methos tells Cassandra that she had Stockholm Syndrome when she was his slave. She denies having loved him but he points out that she expected him to protect her.
Forms a key part of the plot in Homeland as CIA agent Carrie Mathison tries to determine whether Sergeant Nicholas Brody has undergone a Face-Heel Turn while being held by Al Qaeda. Explored how it might have occurred via Flashbacks.
Combined with Lima Syndrome in an episode of New Tricks: Hannah Taylor was kidnapped by a young man with a grudge against her mother, a then-alcoholic doctor who he blamed for his mother's death. After Paul talked with Hannah for a while, he came to his senses and decided to release her and go on the run, not even bothering to collect the ransom he'd asked for. But Hannah, who hated her mother as much as Paul did, chose to come with him. 13 years later they're Happily Married with a child.
It is explicitly mentioned twice on JAG: first in season 6 "Valor" where it is used in its straight meaning and in season 9 "A Tangled Web: Part 2" where it’s used jokingly.
Subverted early in Breaking Bad. Walter and his drug dealer captive start to bond, but it turns out the dealer was just trying to earn Walter's trust so he could stab him.
Subverted in the Elementary episode "Child Predator", where the first victim of a serial kidnapper/killer is found after many years. His parents quickly lawyer him up and get the DA to offer an immunity deal for any crimes the kid helped the serial killer commit. However, after the serial killer is cornered by the cops and offs himself, Holmes realizes that the kid was the one in control almost from day one, being a sociopathic genius and master manipulator (he managed to trick Holmes). Thanks to the immunity deal, he's free and clear (until Holmes manages to find a loophole in the wording of the deal).
This was the subject of a 1970s TV-movie called Sweet Hostage, with Martin Sheen as the abductor and Linda Blair as his victim.
Played for laughs in an episode of M*A*S*H, as Klinger willingly lets himself be taken as a hostage in place of Winchester whom the kidnapper was all too happy to let go. The reason is that the hostage-taker is trying to get back home... to Ohio. By the end, Kinger has to prop the wounded man up to try and keep the attempt going.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "The High Ground," Capt. Picard is kidnapped by terrorists and brought to Dr. Crusher who was kidnapped earlier. As they are conversing, Crusher admits that she's been talking to the leader and beginning to understand his point of view, and Picard reminds her of the psychological implications of being a hostage, which obviously refers to stockholm syndrome.
This is how Morgana brainwashes Guinevere in ''Merlin. Morgana kidnaps her, traps her in a tower, torments her with visions of her family and friends taunting her, and throws in an occasional Pet the Dog moment. Gwen holds out longer than expected, but eventually succumbs to the brainwashing.
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.
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".
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 howhis 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.
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.
Zip and Netta from DDG seem to be engaged in a two way Stockholm Syndrome at the moment. Whether Netta really does care about Zip or just sees "her" as anything more than a ratings earner is up for debate, but Zip is definitely developing an attachment to her employer/owner.
In the webcomic Marilith, the titular assassin's apprentice, a young Japanese girl named Kimiko, started out as a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome before she managed to drag her captor into Lima Syndrome as well (in the prequel Krakow 2.0), after Marilith kidnapped the girl to ransom her back to her wealthy father. Her affections were somewhat nuanced by the fact that she's a Japanese schoolgirl, mind...
In an episode when some hostages are in danger of being executed, Bender hastily exclaims, "I think I'm coming down with Stockholm Syndrome... handsome." Of course, he's just trying to manipulate his captor.
There's also "A Clockwork Origin," in which Leela and Amy are kidnapped by two robot cavemen, for one day, and both miss them afterwards.
An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes has Jez getting kidnapped by a King Kong-esque creature. A scene later, however, she's seen going to the movies with him.
In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer gets kidnapped in Brazil, and developed Stockholm Syndrome, much to his kidnappers' annoyance. He even ends up making a scrapbook of the experience. He also inflicts a bit of Lima Syndrome on his kidnappers, as they're shown to actually be getting along pretty well by the time Homer's family comes with the ransom money.
Captor: "He has developed Stockholm Syndrome. He has come to identify with his captors."
Played for Laughs in the French cartoon Zig And Sharko, which revolves around Zig repeatedly kidnapping a mermaid called Marina. Marina's surprising lack of distress when this happens is eventually explained when it is revealed that she has a crush on Zig.
Subverted – on purpose – in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode “Green With Envy”. Krang’s Evil Plan this time was to slip a love potion into the Turtle’s pizza to make them fight each other due to jealousy. As weird as that idea plan might have been, it actually worked better than most of his plans (all the Turtles except Donatello fell in love with Irma) but Rocksteady fouled it up (big surprise) by eating the pizza himself, and falling head over heels in love with April, then kidnapping her in order to force her to marry him. Of course, April did not like it in the least, but she quickly got the idea to pretend she reciprocated the affection and told him she wanted to “freshen up” before she married him, asking him to get her compact and lipstick that she had dropped. (The “compact” was actually her communicator that she used to keep in contact with the Turtles. And he fell for it; she quickly used it to call for help. The episode was played mostly for humor, of course, but notable as this was one of the few times April actually had a good idea to help them save her behind.)
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 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."
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.
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.