"Ah, there's no justice like angry mob justice."
The standard equipment for any angry mob on a Witch Hunt
. The mob may be going after a witch
, an evil wizard
, a vampire
, a Mad Scientist
, a "perverted" person
, or any other unpopular local figure. If the mob is after the villain, he most probably ends up being shamed by the mob
. If they're coming after the good guys for one reason or another (like if our heroes are hiding a Reluctant Monster
), their best defense is Shaming the Mob
or an obstacle that will force them to go one by one, raising the question of Who Will Bell the Cat?
Related to the less focused, but more destructive, Powder Keg Crowd
. Malicious Slander
may have stirred them up; good luck finding out who, if anyone, is responsible for the rumors (though there may be a Rabble Rouser
A common parody is to ask the mob where they got their equipment on such short notice (often revealing it as something ridiculous), or for angry mobs to be judged by the quality of such equipment.
Featured and parodied so many times, it's a definite Undead Horse Trope
. See also Kill It with Fire
and Burn the Witch!
for its inspiration. Internet Backdraft
is what happens when you take the sentiment behind this and apply it on the Internet. When you've got pitchforks but not torches, see Prongs of Poseidon
. If torches and pitchforks are featured in a musical, then an Angry Mob Song
is pretty much guaranteed.
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Anime & Manga
- In Mai-Otome, about a thousand Windbloom refugees form an angry mob to track down Queen Mashiro for allowing their kingdom to fall under control of the Big Bad. Since they are unable to find her, they settle for one of her court maids who, unfortunately for them, is willing to keep the queen's whereabouts a secret to the very end.
- In one ghost's dream in Bizenghast, Vincent is accused of witchcraft and nearly hung by an angry mob wielding these.
- In the Black Jack Sealed Chapter "Witch Trial", Black Jack defends a woman from an angry mob accusing her of witchcraft, while trying to operate on her deformed infant son to give him a more normal appearance.
- Amon : Apocalypse of Devilman has this archetype of people who try to hunt down "Devil Man's girlfriend" and end up killing Miki Makimura and her underaged brother. Devil Man finds them carrying pitches, forks, and Miki's severed head. The rest is predictable.
- The angry mob trying to kill Remina in Hellstar Remina. Many pitchforks, knives, fire axes and the occasional gun.
- Parodied in The Far Side several times; in one, the mob is storming the castle, and one man looks down at his torch, which has gone out, to regret buying it from a discount "Torches And Pitchforks Store".
- Parodied again in Sam & Max: Freelance Police, "The Tell-Tale Tail", when a group of torch-bearing Scotsmen arrive at the castle where Max is attempting to reanimate his severed tail (don't ask):
Sam: It's an irate mob of torch-bearing villagers out to destroy anything different, abnormal or misunderstood!
Scot: Irate? We're not irate! We're here in town for the annual torch maker's convention!
- Then they make things worse by choosing a particularly inopportune time to try and sell their wares.
- Prickly City: Winslow, disguised as Senator Kevin the Lost Bunny of the Apocylpse, returns to Prickly City to meet with his constitents. A crowd comes to meet him, with torches and pitchforks.
- Dilbert had a series of strips has Dogbert taking over Elbonia. In the final strip, Dilbert sees the people marching on the castle with pitchforks and other tools and he and Dogbert panic and flee; the last panel has one Elbonian turning to another and asking "Did anyone remember to tell the King about the harvest festival today?"
- Happens in Steampunk Swimsuit #1 when Dr. Frankensteam's auto-tailor runs amok and starts stripping the clothes off people at the beach. Lampshaded when the Monster asks "Where did they get those torches and pitchforks!?!"
- As shown here, Nightcrawler of the X-Men has this as part of his origin story. This is also the metaphorical response many Marvel inhabitants have towards mutants in general.
- Wolfsbane of the New Mutants got another literal torch-bearing mob after her when her powers manifested, though they'd swapped out the pitchforks for shotguns.
- Bizarro strip for October 27, 2012. Frankenstein's Monster is trapped by a group of peasants wielding these implements, but they burst into derisive laughter when they saw he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts.
Film - Animated
- In the opening scene of Shrek, the ogre is obviously used to angry mobs coming to drive him out of his hut, as he easily scares one of them off, even prompting them at one point, "This is the part where you run away." He later hangs a lampshade on it when speaking to Donkey.
Shrek: I'm an ogre! You know, 'Grab your torch and pitchfork!' Doesn't that bother you?
- Also lampshaded in the sequel, when Shrek and Fiona step out of their carriage in Far Far Away and are revealed to be ogres. Shrek sees some pitchforks in the crowd and gets nervous, commenting "Let's go before they light the torches."
- By Shrek Forever After, it is apparently a regular occurrence for citizens to ask for signatures on their pitchforks.
- Lampshaded in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, wherein a garden fete stall changes its sign from "Gardening Supplies" to "Angry Mob Supplies". The stall holder cries out:
Stall Holder: Mob Supplies! Get your Angry Mob Supplies here!
- In the Disney film Pocahontas near the end (during the song 'Savages! Savages!') the invaders pick up torches and pitchforks and decide to attack the natives.
- Laird gathers the pig peasants and convinces them the heroine, Daria, is to blame for their problems because "She's different" in The Princess and the Pea. The very gullible crowd actually believes him and try to kill her.
- In the Disney Beauty and the Beast. There was even a song called "The Mob Song"—"We do not like what we don't understand/As a matter of fact it scares us."
- Three Parts Dead: The protagonist is a necromancer. Her hometown is not so found of black magic.
- Both parodied a few times and played straight in Discworld. For example, in Carpe Jugulum, Nanny Ogg gets several of her sons to organize an angry mob to go after Count Magpyr and his family, who have moved into Lancre Castle with the intent of taking over the country. The Count is not impressed, and simply steps out to criticize their "angry mob" form (like using large, unwieldy scythes instead of sickles) before siccing his personal army on the mob. But at the climax, a mob takes on the Count — much to the approval of the witches, as you have to kill your own monsters. (They had brought their children, which would teach the children that monsters could be killed.)
- Maskerade features a brief discussion of angry mob etiquette when a mob goes after the Phantom (apparently, it's torches when chasing monsters, and lanterns when chasing smugglers).
- Igors working for mad scientists/lords/whatevers have the uncanny ability to have all of their possessions and body parts packed and be halfway out of the village before the peasants can finish distributing these essentials.
- Otto von Chriek of The Truth cites this as the reason for his "comical vampire" act—if he's weird but amusing, they're less likely to kill him. He also mentions having lost a friend to such a mob.
- An illustration in The Art of Discworld shows "The Mob"; the crowd of not-necessarily-antagonistic people who treat any interesting event in Ankh-Morpork as a form of street theatre. Two of them are, in fact, holding a torch and a pitchfork - but this being the Morporkian melting pot they are a vampire and an Igor.
- Played more or less straight in the seventh book of A Series of Unfortunate Events, with a village of puritanical fanatics whose punishment for breaking any of their village laws (which prohibit mechanical devices, books which break the rules, and harming the local crows) is burning at the stake.
- Esther Friesner's Majyk By Accident has a town that stages these regularly to get around an inconvenient law against dealing with witches. Trying to kill the witch isn't illegal, after all, and if the witch turns out to be too powerful and has to be appeased with trade goods, that's not the mob's fault. And if they find useful herbal remedies of completely unknown origin placed near her cottage, well, it must be their lucky day.
- In the first book of The Sword of Truth series, a wizard's house is surrounded by the trope mob. Well, the wizard first points out they call him a witch - which is reserved for females, while males are warlocks. Then, he asks them what do they think a warlock can do. Then, after they list increasingly preposterous strengths that they believe him to have, he says that they must be very brave if they go against someone with such powers with... well... you know. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Russian embassy in Tehran is destroyed by an angry mob in the climax of The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar. The mob was organized by Persian religious authorities when an eunuch - a slave and a part of the ruler's Sharia-guaranteed inviolable property - tries to escape to Russia thanks to a clause in a peace treaty signed by the main character. Though they don't really tell all that to the mob; the main character just so happens to be a widely-accepted scapegoat for most everything that goes bad in the country, which to be fair is not entirely divorced from truth, what with his attempts to extract sizable war reparations and all.
- In The Witch of Blackbird Pond several of the townspeople who mob together to bring Hannah Tupper to "justice" sport torches.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Scarlet Citadel", the Succession Crisis brought about a Powder Keg Crowd, but the actual man chosen brings about this. Conan's return puts the cherry on top.
- In Death: This trope is mentioned a few times. Survivor In Death has Eve encouraging Nadine to spin the story of the Swisher family's murders so that the murderers will look like the kind of monsters people chase with "torches and pitchforks". Considering that the murderers killed men, women, and children without a qualm, that assessment is not too far off. New York To Dallas has Commander Whitney tell the prison director to hand over files or he will have a media conference where he will give graphic details of Isaac McQueen's murdering, torturing and raping, and that the prison staff will be lucky if people don't go after them with "torches and pitchforks". Isaac escaped this prison, and the prison staff actually tried to cover it up and withhold this information, so they would deserve this sort of treatment.
- Moiraine in the Wheel of Time talks down one of these mobs, after she saved their village from trollocs, healed their wounded. It helps that the mayor is on her side and has a lot of authority in the town.
- Whitecloaks like to incite these against Aes Sedai.
- A town later on sees one of these rampaging through the streets. Up until they meet the heroes coming the other way, who mow a path.
- In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs The Junior Super Patriots, the amassed crayfish have the mood; all they need is tiny pitchforks and torches to fit the trope exactly.
Live Action TV
- Wielded by the mobs in Medieval Madness
- The audience in Monster Bash is a mob waving torches and pitchforks... along with weed-whackers, hedge trimmers, and other unconventional implements.
- This effect is incorporated into Promethean: The Created, which is "Frankenstein's Monster: The RPG." Humans recognize, on some visceral level, that Prometheans shouldn't be, and suffer "Disquiet" in their presence that eventually turns to violence.
- Some Clockstoppers in Genius: The Transgression are able to manipulate people into forming angry mobs against hapless Geniuses.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The AD&D 2nd Edition Ravenloft-setting book Van Richten's Guide to the Created has rules for how and why a torch-and-pitchfork angry mob can kill "the created," mostly Frankenstein's monster-esque flesh golems, when they're normally immune to damage from non-magical weapons. Part of it's damage from fire, and part of it's from the potent symbolic darkness in an act of mob mentality, which appeals to the Dark Powers of Ravenloft, empowering the mob as a result.
- 1st Edition adventure I6 Ravenloft. One random encounter inside Strahd's castle was with a group of angry villagers brandishing torches and pitchforks.
- 1st Edition adventure I10 Ravenloft 2: The House on Gryphon Hill. At some point a group of concerned citizens from Mordentshire will gather together and start hunting the PCs. Strahd's transposed creatures have tricked them into thinking that the PCs are behind the evil events afflicting the town.
- 2E Acute Paranoia supplement adventure "Outland-ISH". After the inhabitants of ISH sector get tired of the nosy Troubleshooters investigating them, they will come after the Troubleshooters with pitchforks.
- XP supplement The Traitor Manual. Part of the ceremonial garb worn by Frankenstein Destroyers when they hunt and destroy a luckless bot.
- Call of Cthulhu. Worlds of Cthulhu magazine #3, adventure "Malevolence". After a boy disappears, the force of villagers sent to find him has both torches and pitchforks.
- These occasionally show up in Warhammer 40K, mostly in the hive cities. Often led by the completely insane Redemptionist priests (whose unofficial credo is "Burn them all and let the Emperor sort them out"), when they're not being riled up by the local sorcerer of Tzeentch to distract the authorities from the daemon being summoned three levels lower or the genestealer infestation provoking unrest so as to pave the way for the Hive Fleet. Or all three at once.
- Cubicle 7's Victoriana game supplement Faces in the Smoke Volume One - The Secret Masters. In the Back Story of the Hexenjagers it's noted that "a single witch hunter might rouse an entire village to hunt down a rogue witch with torches and pitchforks".
- In The Music Man, after Charlie shouts to the citizens of River City that they've been conned by Harold Hill, torch-wielding mobs run around the town hunting for him. They ultimately succeed in arresting him, but the talk of Tar and Feathers prove to be just talk—and it all turns out well in the end.
- Wicked has an entire song (albeit it the shortest in the show) about this: "The March of Witch Hunters."
- In ''Don Giovanni a mob chases the title character after he attempts to kidnap Zerlina from her wedding. They catch his servant Leporello instead and almost kill him before he convinces them of who he is.
- There is a company in America called "Accountrements" (famous for products like Devil Ducky, Nunzilla, and historical action figures) who sell an "Angry Mob Playset," complete with little plastic figures of angry villagers armed with torches, pitchforks, guns, and whatever else an angry villager could find. And this is practically a kids' toy...
- In Resident Evil 4, Leon finds himself facing Torches And Pitchforks as wielded by "Los Ganados", the infected townsfolk.
- Mildly subverted in ToeJam & Earl, as one of the grouped earthling enemies is a horde of irate geeks (or "Nerd Herd").
- In Legacy of Kain, when Kain teleports into the future after killing the William the Just, he is confronted by angry mobsters with torches and pitchforks, led by Moebius, who are bent on killing all vampires.
- In The Simpsons Game, Marge's superpower is a megaphone that lets her incite non-police civilians into an angry mob, and the sic them on everything from the police, to busting down walls. Depending on the person you convert, you get torches, pitchforks, clubs, pipes and other things.
- In Command & Conquer: Generals, the GLA can summon angry mobs. This being the War On Terror, the mobs are armed with Molotov Cocktails and guns rather than torches and pitchforks. They can later get AK-47s.
- In the third installment of the Anno Domini series, the population can go nuts for three reasons;
- either when being roused by a revolutionary,
- when the taxes get too high,
- or when your tiny island(s) run out of vital resources, such as clothing, basic nutrition, alcohol, tobacco, or chocolates.
- Then they will get out their torches, pitchforks and placards (with nothing written on them) and rampage through your towns, to lapidate statues of yourself, and to burn down all buildings they encounter, including vital public institutions, firms, and their own houses. While the Fire Brigade never intervenes. After the crisis is settled, they start revolting, because vital public institutions, firms, and their own houses(!) are amiss all of a sudden. The higher your population is in the public order, the more they are prone to revolt. While Citizens, Merchants and Aristocrats are the most aggressive, the Pioneers and Settlers are almost always content.
- Parodied in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, when Hemlock McGee and the angry mob approach Guybrush and De Singe with torches and pitchforks to summon Guybrush to court. And he has thought there would be ice cream cake, too.
- In The Battle For Wesnoth, peasants (with only pitchforks, no torches) are the cheapest human unit and thus useful for a Zerg Rush. If they survive enough fights, they can be promoted to soldier units — I guess It Gets Easier.
- In Liberal Crime Squad, this is what you fight against if you decide to raid the radio/cable news station.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you get to lead an angry torch-wielding mob to a vampire's lair in the sidequest "Laid to Rest"... then the mob (of about five people) chickens out and asks you to go in first.
- In the adventure game Waxworks, when you take on the London level. Theres a manhunt out for Jack the Ripper who happens to be your twin brother in this decade. You have to transverse the streets dodging an angry mob wielding torches and pitchforks. If they catch you, its instant death and game over.
- In Team Fortress 2, apparently this is still common behavior in Rottenburg, Germany (nearby Stuttgart). For generations, they've been chasing out witches, mad scientists, and the resident family of mad doctors, the Humboldts. Unfortunately for them, the most recent in the Humboldt lineage, The Medic, is a mad scientist and doctor with a knowledge of black magic...and he has a nasty horde of robots on the tail of himself and his team.
- Heroes of Might and Magic II has a mission in the Archibald (the... not-so-good brother) campaign where you are tasked to put down a peasant rebellion against King Archibald roused by agents of Roland (his brother). The accompanying video is, of course, peasants waving torches and pitchforks while burning an effigy of Archibald.
- At the beginning of Haunted Legends 5: The Stone Guest an angry mob of torch-wielding citizens who blame the local scientist Don Leporello for the disappearance of several orphans burn a straw dummy with a photo of his face attached, deliberately encouraging the fire to spread to the outside of his home.
- Behold Ubersoft. First they get them then they make the boss proud.
- Sam Starfall of Freefall considers it a badge of pride to be chased by a mob such as this. Sadly, the sci-fi setting makes actual Torches And Pitchforks hard to come by, so he mostly has to make due with an ordinary 'Angry Mob'.
- Averted in Kevin & Kell after hearing about Fenton's mother being◊ a vampire bat.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, when the normally Apathetic Citizens of Generictown suddenly get the notion that Molly the Peanut Butter Monster is dangerous (when it was actually Galatea to blame), they quickly form an angry mob consisting of four people, with pitchforks and tiki-torches, kindly provided by Herb's Garden Supply.
- The Whiteboard: Bruno has this exchange with Red just after Doc Nickle had blew up his own fridge earlier...
- Sluggy Freelance: The protagonists are facing an angry mob like this in their own house.
- In this Penny Arcade strip, PS3 fanboys show up at Tycho and Gabe's place with the aforementioned implements.
- Precocious: Homeowners' association at it again Though surprisingly that specific one is directed at Bud's parents rather than the kids.
- In Endstone, coming after Kyri, blaming her for everything. Things went downhill... for the Powder Keg Crowd, that is.
- In Sinfest,
- In Nodwick, causing economic distress makes this a danger.
- In Schlock Mercenary, do not reveal that the teen idols are holograms. It annoys the audience.
- In El Goonish Shive, in explaining the story behind the Star Wars special editions, the fan reaction is portrayed as this.
- In Rhapsodies Brian uses this as part of a forced metaphor.
- Seen in Irregular Webcomic!, wielded by several angry mobs in the Fantasy theme, usually after the heroes have (more or less) accidentally burnt down their village. First seen here, also here, and here.