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Torture for Fun and Information

[Gene is beating up a crook]
Alex Drake: Is that strictly necessary?
Gene Hunt: No, but it's bloody good fun though!
Ashes to Ashes, season 3 episode 2

A subtrope of Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique and Perp Sweating, Torture For Fun And Information is torture used for extracting information, in the manner of Jack Bauer, but played for laughs or audacious absurdity. When using Torture For Fun And Information, the interrogator isn't simply causing pain to a victim to get information - they're doing it creatively, and probably having far too much fun in the process. Most of the time, they already have the information, they just want to let off some steam while verifying it. While this is more likely to be in the repertoire of a Magnificent Bastard, a sufficiently dark Anti-Hero might be able to get away with it.

Simply put, it's the difference between beating a man senseless with a pool cue, and stripping his clothes off, having your friends hold him down on the table, and striking the eight-ball right into his sensitive regions. It's all in the audience's reaction: "oh god, that's horrible" to "oh god, that's horrible - and kind of hilarious".

If there's any method to the madness at all — that is, the cop isn't just genuinely Ax-Crazy — it might be to make the suspect so terrified of how unhinged and unpredictable he is that they'd rather give up the information than find out.

May involve Interrogation by Vandalism, High-Altitude Interrogation, or False Roulette. Compare Cool and Unusual Punishment, which is what happens after you're charged. See also Torture First, Ask Questions Later, for when the torturer flat-out forgets to ask anything. Compare and contrast Torture Technician, who may be just as sadistic but is usually more chillingly professional about it, and Exalted Torturer, where the torture may or may not be Played for Laughs, but the torturer is portrayed as a hero.


Examples:

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     Film  
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader straps Han Solo to some crazy machine and closes in on him while the camera swings outside and we hear him screaming in agony. Later he's dragged into the cell, collapses, and remarks "They didn't even ask me any questions."
    • Fridge Brilliance: Vader knew that Luke would psychically sense the agony of his friend and try to save him.
  • In the 2004 Punisher movie, the Punisher strings a man up by his ankles and explains that a blowtorch will kill nerves so quickly that the victim doesn't feel pain so much as a sense of numbness. He then lights his blowtorch behind the victim so he can't see, directs it at a raw piece of meat, and drags a Popsicle along the man's back. The victim almost instantly gives up everything he knows, totally convinced he can smell his flesh burning even as it's numbed by the intense heat. In this case, the Punisher used intense mental anguish rather than physical agony, but the pain was just as real and probably more severe. This is directly taken from the comic book.
  • In The Mask, Big Bad Tyrell shows up at the hideout of a rival mob boss, Niko (for whom he is ostensibly The Dragon at this point). Niko has his mooks hold Tyrell down, and places a golf tee in his mouth. Three guesses what happens next, and the first two don't count.
  • A Fish Called Wanda. We really shouldn't laugh when Kevin Kline sticks fries/chips up Michael Palin's nose and eats his fish. We really, really shouldn't. * snickers*
  • Dragnet (1987 Movie): Joe Friday goes to get coffee so that Pep can use this on Emil Muntz. This works at first, but when Emil tries to clam up again, Pep comments that "some donuts would go real nice with this coffee".
    Pep Streebeck: Well, Emil, I guess it's just you and... me and... your balls... and this drawer.
  • L.A. Confidential: First, when Bud White plays False Roulette with a murder suspect to find out where he's stashed a rape victim. Second, when Bud dangles Ellis Loew out a ten-story window to scare him into giving up information and Ed Exley watches bemusedly.
  • This happens in Bon Cop, Bad Cop - although the pair aren't above torturing suspects for no apparent reason, too.
  • In Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Dog tortures two drug dealers into telling him the location of their stash by pelting golf balls at one while using the other's mouth as a tee.

     Literature  

  • Sam Vimes puts so much diabolical glee into pretending to do this in Night Watch that it probably cycles right back around.
  • Taylor, the Sub-Visser who tortures Tobias in Animorphs, gets so wrapped up in the "Fun" part that she actually kind of sucks at the "Information" part. She was trying to force Tobias to demorph, which takes concentration and focus. The question of whether or not Tobias would have cracked and done what she wanted if she had just given him a second or two to think is an interesting one that, luckily, Tobias never has to find out the answer to.
    • At one point, when she's moved on to asking him questions, he actually breaks down and tells her something. (Possibly. He's delirious at that point, and the narration is first-person). As far as he can tell, she doesn't even hear him, let alone stop to ask him any further questions.

     Live Action TV  

  • Life On Mars kicks off Gene Hunt's fine tradition of extracting confessions using some of the most ridiculous means possible in episode 1.04, where Gene and Sam lock a suspect inside a meat locker until he confesses:
    Gene: My friend is going to ask you some questions. Personally, I hope you don't answer them because I want you to die in here and end up inside a pork pie.
    • Episode 2.02, where he punishes Dickie Fingers for accusing Harry Woolf of being a corrupt officer by smashing Dickie's fingers with a telephone receiver.
    • Episode 2.05 has the Camberwick Green scene, which really must be seen to be fully appreciated.
    • Also a Spin-Off book that was supposedly written by Gene Hunt himself about modern policing in the 70's, there is a chapter about how to perform this, with diagrams, and covered in blood.
    • In the American version, the 125's interrogation room is also the lost and found — because the surrounding walls happen to be thick enough to largely block out the sound of anything that might be happening on the inside.
  • Ashes to Ashes: Aside from the incident involving the pool cue, there have been other examples:
    • In episode 1.02, which was also the pool cue incident episode, there's also Gene throwing Mr. Bonds a 60-something war veteran down the stairs because Bonds thinks his son is innocent and threatens to hit Gene with a baseball bat. Ray contributes by spraying soda water into Mr. Bonds' face when he calls Alex a cow and continues to refuse to cooperate.
    • In episode 2.03, Gene not only eats fish and chips in front of a vegan on a hunger strike, but sticks a suspect's head down a urinal and flushes.
    • Episode 2.04: Threatens to pour a chemical cocktail down a photographer's throat.
    • Episode 2.06: Four Words Gene and the crane.
      • To wit, a corrupt businessman's thugs have come after both Gene and Alex, beating Gene with a baseball bat in an alley and intending to do the same to Alex if she hadn't hidden. One does not hurt women around Gene Hunt, especially women for whom he has feelings. Gene goes to find Riley, the businessman, handcuffs him to the inside of a car, and picks the car up with a forklift-crane, interrogating him about the murders they're investigating. Every time Riley denies all knowledge, Gene lowers the car nearer to the crusher. Just in time, Alex, Ray and Chris get to him with new evidence that proves Riley's innocence.
    • In episode 3.04, Gene chases a suspect through the Blue Peter garden.
      • Also in 3.04, he takes possession of DCI Wilson's nine-iron and commences whacking things off Wilson's desk unless Wilson comes clean about Louise Gardiner and the Staffords.
    • This even extends to the American version, where the 125's questioning room is the Lost and Found - because it has really thick walls and all kinds of fun tools to play with. According to DVD commentary, Harvey Keitel, who plays Hunt, once lifted a hammer off some guy working on the set and asked if he could use it in a scene.
  • In The Remake of Hawaii Five-0, McGarrett seems to have taken lessons from the Gene Genie himself when it comes to inventive interrogation:
    • In "Pilot," McGarrett threatens to deport Sang Min's family to war-ravaged Rwanda.
    • In "Malama Ka Aina," McGarrett and Danno convince an associate of the Samoan mob that they're leaving him in a shark cage with vicious man-eating sharks and chum, when in actuality, the sharks are harmless and the chum is just water. Steve and Danno crack open beers and watch the guy freak out.
    • In "Lanakila," McGarrett threatens a corrupt prison guard with a trip to the cell block:
      McGarrett: Billy, so help me God, you answer incorrectly one more time, I gonna put those scrubs on you myself and then drop you in general population. How long do you think you'll last there?
    • In "Nalowale," McGarrett and Danno witness a suspect drug a girl's drink in a club. Danno tells the suspect to drink it, if he "didn't do anything to it", and if he doesn't drink it, Danno will break his teeth and make him drink it. He drinks it, and passes out. McGarrett wakes him up in an interrogation room with an air horn.
    • In "Mana'o," Danno ties a suspect to the hood of his car, then proceeds to drive around the streets of Honolulu like a madman to get information out of him.
      McGarrett: Just for the record, if I pulled something like this, you would be reading me the riot act on proper police procedure.
      Danno: No. I'd probably just arrest you.
      McGarrett: Compared to this, hanging a guy off a roof and throwing a guy in a shark tank is pretty tame.
      Danno: You know what? I disagree. Shark cage is way worse.
      McGarrett: Whatever. You're wrong. I'm just saying, to be clear, next time I get a free pass, okay?
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Near the end of season two, Angelus captures Giles and tries to torture the knowledge of a ritual out of him. At first, he is hopeful that Giles resists: "I wanna torture you! I used to love it, and it's been a long time. I mean, the last time I tortured somebody, they didn't even have chainsaws." Giles quips back: "You must..perform...the ritual..in a tutu." Angelus snarls. "All right, I'm getting the chainsaws!" He isn't kidding. It's so strange, it's just crazy funny.
    • Angelus wasn't kidding, but he never actually got to use the chainsaws. They didn't want Giles to bleed out before giving up the information.
    • In "Real Me" Buffy strides into Spike's crypt and immediately starts beating him for information on the location of Harmony's lair. After Spike tells her she punches him one more time.
    Spike: I was telling you the truth!
    Buffy: (cheerfully) I know.
  • Aaron Echolls of Veronica Mars is introduced, in his very first episode, beating his son with a belt, and is eventually revealed to be the killer of Lilly Kane, so you don't want to admire anything about him. But in "Hot Dogs", we find out that Trina, Aaron's daughter, is being abused by her boyfriend. In a scene that has quite a bit of Fridge Horror to it, but is undeniably kind of hilarious, Aaron kicks the daylights out of the kid, singing along with the tune of "That's Amore".
  • In Wire in the Blood, Tony, of all people pulls one. In "Synchronicity", he convinces a suspect that porridge and jam from the canteen in a plastic bag is actually human brain tissue, and makes the kid vomit. Clearly, the kid's not their sniper, doesn't even own a gun.
  • In the NCIS episode "Terminal Leave", Gibbs interrogates a terrorist by forcing him to watch Ducky do an autopsy. All the while, Ducky is explaining it to the terrorist in a step-by-step fashion, as well as saying that's what he'll do to the terrorist after he's dead.
    • Then there's the hilarious and mildly narmy scene that involves Gibbs jabbing at the suspect with a lit cigarette and shrieking that he deserves it. Thankfully, the Director stops him before he goes too far . . . only to find out that the Director is in on it.
  • In Community episode The Science of Illusion Annie slams Jeff's head down onto a table in an attempt to at what first appears to be Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, but given the context of the show (and the general cuteness of her character), it comes off more as the Torture For Fun And Information (at least to the audience).
    • Of course, the fact that her partner, Shirley, threatens him with a pizza slicer immediately afterwords probably helps with the comedy factor.
  • In the Firefly episode "War Stories", Wash and Mal are kidnapped and brutally tortured by Niska. It becomes funny when Mal, in order to keep Wash from passing out, starts arguing with him about Wash's wife Zoe and implying that their relationship has been more than platonic. He's lying, of course, but it keeps Wash alert. The best part is when the conversation gets so heated, Wash seems to forget he's tied up in a torture chamber, much to the torturer's bemusement.
    Wash: He's crazy
    Zoe: Niska?
    Wash: No... MAL!

     Video Games  

  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Flint Paper!!!
  • In Modern Warfare 3, Captain Price's utterly insane method of interrogating Somalian warlord Waraabe is for he and his buddies to put on gas masks, open up a container of Waraabe's own nerve gas, and offer to give him their spare mask if he talks. And then once he does, Price simply shoots him in the face. He did promise that he wouldn't let the gas kill him.
  • In The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, you will obtain a Torture Room on the Gesellschaft if any of your servbots become TOO lazy. It's essentially a minigame where you have to completely empty their Sloth gauge by forcing them to run around a track, while pulling various traps on them.

     Webcomics  

     Western Animation  

  • The season 3 finale of The Boondocks opened with agent Jack Flowers (a parody of Jack Bauer) interrogating a terrorist with a series of Groin Attacks before breaking him (and them) when he puts on a big steel boot (with studs over the toes), walks out the door, down the hall, and takes a running start... Later it's pretty much confirmed that Jack Flowers is essentially just the guy you go to when you want somebody's nuts to die.
  • Archer's style in the episode Placebo Effect. Highlights include conducting an interrogation in the style of a game show, with "wrong answers" receiving a shotgun blast to the kneecap, and chaining down a mook in order to perform an Ass Shove with a fragmentation grenade.


Torture First, Ask Questions LaterA Tortured IndexTorture Porn
Rats In A BoxPerp SweatingTruth Serum
Throw the Book at ThemImageSource/Web ComicsWas It Really Worth It?

alternative title(s): Gene Hunt Interrogation Technique
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