Tickle Torture

"This tickle torture isn't funny!"
Luigi being subjected to this, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show

So, we have a Card-Carrying Villain who is going to inflict a horrible torture on his victims. Cutting off fingers and other violent methods won't work in a g-rated show; what can be a substitute for that? Tickling, of course! This is usually done with a feather on the soles of the feet, despite not being the most effective method in Real Life. It is often led up to by the tickler saying "We Have Ways of Making You Talk".

See also Friendly Tickle Torture, for the, well, friendly variant.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Happens in the Ah! My Goddess manga, as part of a contest.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo invokes this with startling and unexpected frequency between the various characters in the show, which comes as no surprise given the anime's sense of humor. Often zigzags into this trope's more "friendlier" counterpart.
  • Digimon
  • Dragon Ball
    • Goku gets tickled by Caterpy (no, not that Caterpie) in his first round of the Otherworld Tournament.
    • Goku performs this on Hasky to get her to hand over the dragon balls she tried to steal from him.
    • He is not so lucky in Dragon Ball GT when he is tickled out of the ring during the Junior Division by a nerd. (Thanks in part to a distraction by Vegeta.)
    • He was also tickle tortured by an old hag in hell after she attempted to cook him.
  • In Fairy Tail Jellal suffers this when Ultear worries that he'll break his cover while hiding from the government. However, she tickles her ally Meredy, who has a Psychic Link with Jellal, in order to get him. This causes Jellal to pass out before winning a tournament for Fairy Tail.
  • In Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, Rouge orders this done to Pritz with a dramatic buildup that makes you wonder whether she's a villain or just crazy.
  • Galaxy Angel Rune has the angels subjected when an ai of Hot Spring Asteroid wants to know their problems.
  • In "Memory Gallery" on The Galaxy Railways, this is one of the ways in which the SDF convinces the memory thief to give back Bruce's memory.
  • The "Is Lupin Burning... ?!" episode of Lupin III (Green Jacket): Occurs to Fujiko in one of the most famous scenes of the episode.
  • In Maburaho, Elizabeth does this to Yuna. You can't see what's happening, though, and she does it in such a dramatic and over-the-top fashion that Kazuki assumes it's actual torture.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Asuna got the tickle treatment in the nude from Fate who could make water turn into a bunch of arms. It's later revealed that the only thing stopping him from ripping her to pieces was Asuna's magic-cancelling ability.
    • Later on, most of class 3-A does this to Chao.
  • Gingka of Metal Fight Beyblade gets this treatment during a "training course" orchestrated by Merci.
  • In Nabari no Ou, Raikou and Kouichi do this to some poor Alya Academy student for fun.
  • At least 3 times in Nagasarete Airantou. Once on Mikoto from some bats summoned by Rin. Again on Ikuto when he was placed in a trap by Chikage. And lastly on Suzu, when she refused to do studying and was subjected to this by Ikuto.
  • Jiraiya interrogates some mooks from the Rain Village using this method. When that fails, he threatens them with turning them into frogs.
  • Pokémon
    • The Team Rocket trio, among other things, use a tickling machine on the Safari Zone Warden to try and get him to reveal the location of a Dratini.
    • Ash has his Bulbasaur tickle Misty's Psyduck into submission in the episode Who Gets to Keep Togepi?, and this was long before Tickle became an actual attack.
    • Meowth tickles Ash into letting go of a torch that holds "The Flame of Moltres" during the first episode of the Indigo League Arc.
    • A Mincinno in episode 13 of Best Wishes uses Tickle no less than three times, tickling Bianca's Pignite and Ash's Oshawott into submission. Pikachu manages to resist it, however.
  • Happens to Sasami in the second OVA and an episode of the Pretty Sammy TV series.
    • Happens to Sammy (a.k.a. - Sasami) again in Magical Project S via a tickling hand by Mrs. Third of the Lovely Madams.
  • Evoked with Fanservice in the 1st episode of the Queen's Blade OVA, Utsukushiki Toushi-tachi, when Echidna uses her pet snake, Kenta to "play" with Elina's "lady-parts..."
    • When Nanael is trapped by Melona and Airi she is subjected to this in their cage.
  • In Samurai Pizza Cats, when entering a Kung Fu Tournament, Polly Esther goes up against a fighter named "Smiling Jack" the Chiropractor. Smiling Jack easily defeats Polly by tickling her until she rolls out of bounds.
  • In episode 27 of SD Gundam Force, this is how the Zako Soldiers get the Zakurello Gate to change its destination mid-transport. "Do what we say, or you'll get..." "TICKLE TORTURE!"
  • Discussed in Spice and Wolf where Lawrence tells a young shepherd that he heard that in a city in the easy, they use sheep for torture. They rub some salt on the bound criminal's feet and then lead the sheep to him. Then The sheep would continue to lick his feet with fervour.
  • Sengoku Otome When the Saigoku Three show up and finish their introduction, Nobunaga easily defeats them and ties them up. To find out where the Dismantled MacGuffin is, Hideyoshi does this to each of them. They return the favor later in the episode.
  • Ika Musume discovers this in a chapter of the manga (which was adapted into an anime sub-episode), and goes on a tickling spree with everyone she meets. Naturally, she decides to use it to make Chizuru die of laughter. Chizuru being who she is, though, means annihilation ensues. (Presumably, the episodes are not in chronological order, as a couple of earlier episodes show her tickling Eiko both as revenge and to convince her to become her servant, and on the four alien-obsessed scientists to find out why they wanted a strand of Chizuru's hair.)
  • In I'm Gonna Be an Angel!, Noelle is subjected to this by several tiny robots after a series of weird, non-lethal experiments by Alien Robots.
  • Used in To Love-Ru by a Man-Eating Plant. Since it's To Love Ru, it's purely for Fanservice.
  • In Yumeiro Pâtissière, Kashino is tied up and tickled by his sister when he refuses to be follow his family's tradition as a patissier.

    Comic Books 
  • Astérix: Getafix also suffers from this, only he's actually unaffected and "playing along". Complete with "Torture me instead!"

    Fan Fic 

    Films — Animated 
  • The climax of Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure involves this. King Koo Koo is normally short, but inflates when he laughs at the misfortune of others. So he sets a tentacled sea monster on our heroes and many of the supporting characters and orders it to tickle all of them at the same time...
  • A relatively-dark example in The Fearless Four: Fred gets sent to a high-tech chamber where he's fiercely tickled all over by a pair of robotic arms wearing cartoonish gloves. The dark part? Those gloves are covering up a nasty pair of sharpened metal claws, and the operator threatens him that if he ever gets sent back, he won't be laughing.
  • Baloo tickles King Louie in The Jungle Book

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the screwball comedy Ball of Fire, some mild-mannered professors do this to extract information from a gangster's Mook. It works.
  • In George of the Jungle, George is subjected to this twice. Once when he is fighting a lion while trying to save his love interest and again when he is briefly held down by two villains in a fight.
  • In the Laurel and Hardy feature Way Out West, the dance-hall villainess gets the deed to a gold mine from Stanley with a ruthless full-body search that leaves him helpless with shrieking laughter for several minutes afterward.
  • Grimmace and Hamburglar become victims of this in the second Ronald McDonald animated movie.
  • Played for Drama in Psycho IV: The Beginning. Norman's mother would pretend she was giving him Friendly Tickle Torture at first, but as soon as he would laugh, she'd use it as an excuse to abuse him. Sometimes, it was also an excuse for her to touch his body.
  • This happened a couple of times on The Three Stooges:
    • In the short "Self-Made Maids," the Stooges tie up the father of the girls they want to marry. When he refuses to give his consent, Shemp tells Moe to "do his stuff." Moe then takes off the father's shoe and..you can guess what happens next.
    • In the short "Space Ship Sappy" the Stooges are on a spaceship and land on the planet Sunev (which is Venus spelt backwards). As they explore the planet, the stooges are captured by tall amazon women who plan on making a meal out of them. But they first decide to tickle the Stooges half to death before trying to eat them.
  • Employed in Dasepo Sonyo, when two of the boys are trying to figure out why the girls have become virginal.

  • Inverted for Gallows Humor in A Song of Ice and Fire, which has a Torture Technician known only as "The Tickler" who "tickles" captured villagers to gather information about Lord Beric Dondarrion's outlaw band.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets introduces the spell "Rictusempra," a Tickling Charm which is used only once on Malfoy. Other sources however claim that Rictusempra is also a stunning spell.
  • The faceless monsters known as night-gaunts in the works of H.P. Lovecraft (such as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath) will explicitly inflict this on victims they've grabbed and are carrying off. While flying.
  • Played deadly seriously (literally so) in the short story "The Screaming Laugh" by Cornell Woolrich.
  • Where's Wally?: in the medieval setting of the book Where's Wally Now, one of the things one can find is a man in stocks being tickle tortured.
  • In The Dragon's Familiar by Jeffrey Cohen, Tickle Torture is one of the most frequently used torture techniques used by demons to punish their slave boys for bad behaviour (justified since the torture is only meant to punish, not maim or kill.

    Live Action Television 
  • In All That, Detective Dan has the cops do this to his daughter (Amanda Bynes) when he suspects her as a robber. Then he does it to himself to show them how to crack a criminal correctly.
  • An episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys had a screaming man in Tartarus subjected to having his foot tickled with a feather. It's a short moment of full-blown camp in an otherwise dramatic scene.
    Hades: [The torture is] no crueler than he was in his previous life. Believe me, he deserves it.
    Torturer: Tickle, tickle, how does it feel?
  • Johnny and the Sprites had the feared "tickle troll." "A tickle troll, a tickle troll! He'll try to make you laugh, that's his only goal! A tickle troll, a tickle troll! Just one tickle, and you lose control!"
  • An episode of Life With Derek did this, when Derek had to babysit.
  • Happens in the first episode of Maid Marian and Her Merry Men.
  • An episode of Monster Squad (the 1976 live-action kids' series, starring Fred Grandy and Henry Polic II) had a villain who used giant feathers in an attempt to tickle Our Heroes to their doom. It was as silly as it sounds.
  • On The Office, Darryl further educates Michael on the ways of the street by explaining that gangs often duel using a technique called Fluffy Fingers, where members of each gang tickle one another to the point of capitulation.
  • Power Rangers Megaforce once had a monster named "Nojoke" who tried to suck anyone who laughs into a pod he had. One way of doing this was his special attack called "Tickle Wind," which binds his victims and tickles them until they get sucked into the pod.
  • On NewsRadio, Matthew manages to win a no-holds-barred fight with Joe by tickling him until he taps out.

  • Take caution Googling "Tickle Torture," for fear that you'll come across a generous amount of websites listing this trope as a fetish.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Call of Cthulhu. Nightgaunts can grab people and tickle them, rendering them helpless so the nightgaunt can carry them away.

    Video Games 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Nahyuta says that Phoenix will go to "tickle hell" for 500 million years after death for basically having the audacity to annoy him.
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, the Dollmaker attempts to do this against Alice during the final boss fight with his Giant Hands of Doom, but she's not laughing due to being hell-bent on killing him.
  • The Joker briefly does this in an attempt to make Batman give in to the Titan transformation right before the final battle of Batman: Arkham Asylum.
  • The children's game Dracula's Secret requires using two sources of tickle torture - a feather, and a spider.
  • A heroic example happens in Donkey Kong 64 during Tiny Kong's turn facing the Final Boss, (King) Krusha K. Rool. It involves entering one of his boots that has a hole in them and shooting feathers at his toes.
  • The Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker had some censorship issues with the scene of Dr. Strangelove interrogating Big Boss. This led the already existent torture scene of the game to change tones through new dialogues and switching the color of the tools to justify the use of "Laughing Rods" instead of "Shock Rods", giving the method a less harmful twist that toned down the scene for a less severe rating approval.
  • In just one of many blatant examples of Fanservice in Rumble Roses, one ringside weapon is a long stick with a cartoony hand on one end that is used to tickle an opponent. It doesn't hurt them, but causes their humiliation meter to rapidly shoot up.
  • In The Sims Medieval Pirates & Nobles Expansion Pack, this is one of the methods a Spy can use to gather information from a Sim tied to an interrogation chair.
  • In Sly 2: Band of Thieves, THE MURRAY captures General Clawfoot so Bentley can get info on the Contessa's castle from him... With a feather.
    Bentley: "Talk, you scoundrel!"
  • In Sonic Rush Adventure, Captain Whisker threatens to subject Marine the Raccoon to this when she mouths off at him.
  • In Space Ace, one of the death scenes involve Ace and Kimberly falling off of a maze and into a pit filled with pink balls called "Tickle Plants." This is reinforced by Ace and Kimberly's hysterical laughing upon falling into the pit.
  • In the "What If? Mode" of Spider-Man during the 1st boss fight with Venom in the Back Alley. When Venom uses his "lick attack" on Spider-Man, Spidey with start giggling and lampshades this trope.
  • In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, if you don't give in to Yaridovich's Hostage for MacGuffin demands, he tickles the town's mayor mercilessly until you give in. (The more you resist his demands, the number of Flowers you get from him afterward is reduced to merely one. Keep it up long enough, and all you get is a single coin.)
  • A quest in World of Warcraft's Northern Barrens has you interrogating a Quilboar. You can break him instantly if you either feed or tickle him as opposed to punching or kicking him. You also get a status buff, "Saintly" for interrogating him through non-violent means.
    Haha - <snort> ha - heee! <snort> Haha no stop haha <SNORT> <wheeze> Hee hee! Battlemaster Tortusk never prepared us for this!
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: depending on what decisions you make, at one point you can use this to extract information from a computer.note 

    Web Original 
  • One episode of Arby 'n' the Chief has Arbiter doing this to Chief so that he can play Halo: Reach's Beta release.
  • The best example of this is undoubtedly Cor and his huge variety of short stories and vignettes which together explore every variation of this trope possible.
  • In Silver Quill's review to Rainbow Falls, he is not too happy with Toon Critic stealing his continuity joke, so he has a group of griffins take him away and tells them to give him "the treatment." Even though we don't see anything, we can tell what's going on when Toon Critic says that he is "not here for feathers," and then we hear him laughing and begging for mercy.
  • How Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Should Have Ended: "Super-tickle!" That is, Superman tickling Bruce Wayne.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears had an actual session of Tickle Torture. Duke Igthorn had tried to get Granny to reveal the recipe for gummy berry juice, but she gave him a false one instead. During the actual torture, she does eventually give him the real recipe, but leaves out the last vital step to complete it.
  • The Adventures of Letterman (a regular animated segment in the live-action television series The Electric Company (1971)): The 1973 segment "In a Pickle" had the segment's antagonist, the Spellbinder, goes to a pickle factory and turns a "pickle" into "tickle," unleashing a feather onto the factory's CEO, Mr. Dill. Letterman sees that the CEO is being tickled to death and rescues him by turning "tickle" back into "pickle" ... but not before turning the tables and sending the feather onto Spellbinder. Spellbinder is tickled for an extended amount of time before finally getting away, exhausted from laughter; he finally admits defeat by saying, "Goodbye folks!"
  • Used on two separate occasions by Robotnik to attempt to gain information in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Played for laughs in the Arthur episode "Buster's Dino Dilemma". Buster had kept the dinosaur fossil (a footprint) he had dug up during a field trip, instead of turning it in so it could be displayed at the museum as the class had been ordered. In a Dream Sequence, he is found out because Arthur was put through this.
  • In the kiddie show, The Backyardigans episode "International Super Spy", this is Lady in Pink's (played by Uniqua) torture.
  • An episode of Blinky Bill has Blinky training a crocodile friend of his to be tough, part of which involves tickling. His rationale is that "tough crocs aren't ticklish".
  • Something similar to this happened in Bobby's World. He thought he would be able to use his new found Martial Arts skills to bully his classmates, and is tickle-tortured in a fantasy sequence.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
    • In an episode Muriel is on the receiving end of this trope when Dr. Le Quack interrogates her to tell him where her valuables are while under the ruse of being a psychologist trying to help her get her memory back after a blow to the head gave her amnesia.
    • A later episode sees Muriel hanging by her wrists in a dungeon, along with Eustace and Courage himself. A mischievous henchman briefly tickles her under the arms.
  • Happens to Gwizdo in an episode of Dragon Hunters.
  • In Eek! The Cat segment Horrible thunder lizards episode Everything about Babes, one of Thunderlizards Squad during encounter with Thugosaur, pulled one Thougosaur cloak over his head and than tickled him on his ribs with feather. The scene is quite humiliating.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In one episode, Timmy Turner is tickled twice by a race of cute alien bunnies that have taken over Yugopotamia. They've also mentioned that they've done this to the Yugopotamians as well, but being the kind of alien race that they are, it only made them fear them rather than affect them directly.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
  • A Goofy short titled Tiger Trouble has Goofy subdued by the tiger he's hunting for, who then proceeds to rip the sole from Goofy's boot and lick his bare foot, tickling him immensely. Given that (a) the tiger was obviously planning on having Goofy for lunch and (b) big cats have a habit of licking the skin from their prey before chowing down, it borders on Fridge Horror.
  • This is how Harry rescues Trike from a possessive octopus named Soggy in "Can You Hear a Drip?" on Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs by arms extended from a submarine.
  • In a third season episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, the Monkey King tickle tortures Tohru to make him confess where Jackie and the others went. He then dresses Tohru in a mouse costume and traps him in a continually moving hamster wheel on the roof of their shop.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Jimmy is tried by the Horn Fairies (Miseryville versions of the Tooth Fairy), he expects this is the worst punishment they will come up with. He's wrong.
  • Johnny Test introduced a one-shot villain named "The Tickler", who is the brother of reoccurring villain, Wacko. Tickler lives up to his name by not only capturing and tickling Susan and Mary Test (for the majority of the episode as well,) but he also tickles Johnny on their first encounter. He eventually is subjected to his own tickling when Johnny tricks him into tickling Albert, who revealed that he is NOT ticklish due to his old age.
  • A Little Bill episode sees the title character dreaming that he is trapped on a distant planet with a special lava-like substance that does this to anyone trying to cross it. He sees Captain Brainstorm, his hero, in the clutches of this tickling substance, and manages to rescue him.
  • In Lucky Luke episode Alibi, a young blonde girls name Gladis was kidnapped by Outlaws who wanted her to sign document. When she refused, they tickled her with feather on her bare shoulders.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: In "These Boots were Made for Walking (On Your Face)" the gang searching for K'nuckles kidnap Flapjack and attempt to force him to tell them were Kn'uckles is by tickling him.
  • An episode in The Mouse And The Monster has the titular characters Chesbro and Mo (the mouse and monster, respectively) being test subjects for some scientists. Mo is subject to tickling, though the actual torture part is subverted as he actually enjoys it.
  • While not exactly torture, Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot has nerve endings installed onto her body in one episode that gives her physical feelings of ticklishness and pain. While she actually enjoys being tickled throughout the episode, it still causes problems for her, but they do pay off in the end against a villain that feeds on mental pain.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "It's About Time", Spike does this briefly to Twilight Sparkle.
    • Also used by Trixie on Applejack in "Magic Duel" to make her give in to her demands. Trixie unintentionally does this to Rainbow Dash at the end of the episode, trying and failing to do an Agony Beam.
    • Spike ends up on the receiving end of this courtesy of the CMC in the episode "Just For Sidekicks".
  • In the Muppet Babies episode "The Frog Who Knew Too Much", Kermit is subjected to this by a machine in a fantasy in an attempt to find out what secret he's keeping from the others.
  • In "The Golden Pyramid Problem" on Peg + Cat, the dragon threatens Peg + Cat with this, but is unable to because they're protected by a magic cylinder. Peg then uses this on him to get him to reveal what he did with the pyramids.
  • In one episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, Savio tickles Private in order to delay him and the Penguins from him eating a baby Fossa.
  • Olive Oyl gets tickled on two separate occasions in the Popeye cartoon.
  • A fox gets tickled as punishment in two scenes in an episode of the Redwall series. While toned down from the actual torture from the book, the animated series still manages to make this disturbing in the second scene by making the fox try to hold himself up on a rope suspended high above the ground while being tickled. Eventually it turns away from him and his laughter is cut off by a loud thud.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "No Pain No Gain", Rocko gets on a rowing machine at the gym (that has a TV screen), and mistakenly gets the Deliverance scene. On the screen, Rocko runs into hillbillies, one of whom says "Now we gonna make you squeal, piggy!", and produces a pig and proceeds to tickle it with a feather. The pig enjoys it, but Rocko is scared off and abandons the rowing machine.
  • Rugrats has a few scenes of this nature, one in particular when the babies and imitating a Crime-flick. Angelica has Chuckie tied up and has Phil tickle his feet.
  • Used in The Secret World of Benjamin Bear episode: "A Tickle Too Far"
  • This happens in The Simpsons episode "Dangerous Curves" where during a flashback, a very young Bart and Lisa do this to Grandpa to get him to tell them where the cookies are.
  • In the Space Goofs episode "Scout's Night Out", Gorgious is subject to this after being captured by boy scouts.
  • In an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, Spongebob uses a tickle belt on Man-Ray when he is training him to be good. During training, Man-Ray tends to beat up Patrick, leading Patrick to torture Man-Ray with the belt.
    • In "Planet of the Jellyfish", Sandy straps SpongeBob to a table and tickles him in order to find out if he is really a "jelly-clone".
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "Jack and the Smackback", Jack defeats a giant Sumo wrestler this way. (Jack's face gaining the biggest smile that likely ever was on it in the whole series.)
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode where Bowser was a vampire had him perform this on Luigi who provides the page quote.
  • In the TaleSpin episode "Polly Wants a Treasure", Don Karnage has his flunkies do this to Kit Cloudkicker.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Used by recurring villain Don Tortelli to try to force his captives to talk (which never included the Turtles themselves but their human allies). It's interesting to note that he seemed to prefer tickling male captives, even focusing more on them when he had a woman at his mercy as well. If it was a conscious choice on the writers' part to avoid making him come across as sexual, it didn't work. It should be noted that in the show itself, Tickle Torture is treated as Cold-Blooded Torture.
    "Where do you want it, blondie? Under the arm? The soles of your feet?"
    • All of the mob apparently does this, as one episode Burne Thompson and Vernon get captured by some of Tortelli's goons who enact this on them, only for them to get abducted by a rival mob who proceed to enact the same thing on them. Then by the end of the episode the two are abducted by aliens who all look like Elvis, and proceed to put them through this as well just for the heck of it.
  • Used twice in The Triplets. In the episode "Oliver Twist", Oliver is tortured this way by Sikes for information about a stolen clock. In "Robinson Crusoe", the three protagonists themselves are tickled by a group of natives before being rescued by Robinson.
  • In the VeggieTales adaptation of the story of Esther, the worst punishment possible was to be banished to the Island of Perpetual Tickling.
  • In an episode of Xiaolin Showdown Jack Spicer has Clay, Kimiko, and Rai strapped down to a large "tickle bot". You can guess what happens from there.
  • Bob's Burgers - the kids want to go see their mom's band at a high school reunion, but their babysitter won't let them. They find out she's extremely ticklish and try using this to threaten her, but she freaks out and punches Tina.
  • In Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline it is used effectively by the Rigor Mortis Quartet in the episode On Borrowed Time.
  • Dr. Screwball Jones' plan in "The Boy Wander" from Wander over Yonder is forcing everyone to be happy through this method with a tickle machine.