Vengeful Vending Machine

Janeway: Coffee. Black.
Replicator: Make it yourself!

You put your change in a vending machine, you expect to get your candy, prize, or whatever you paid for. This trope is when the machine doesn't do that, or inflicts harm on you. This comes in several varieties: The machine refuses to accept your money, the machine gets jammed, and the buyer might get the candy, the hard way, the machine ruins your drink, if you get it, you tamper with the machine, and you pay for it (i.e. it hurts and embarrasses you), it doesn't take your money, it shows how much of a dummy you are, or it just hates you. Percussive Maintenance is usually involved. Will often lead to Enmity with an Object.

Coffee machines and Matter Replicators do count, and machines gaining sentience and attacking people is the Exaggerated Trope. My Car Hates Me is a sister trope. People usually apply Percussive Maintenance when they encounter an uncooperative vending machine. No Snack For You, Your Television Hates You and Mocking Music are related.


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  • An old Irn-Bru advert ended with a guy whacking a vending machine in frustration (possibly because it's sold out). It whacks him back.
  • This "Got Milk?" commercial.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh features Tomo trying to get a coffee drink from a vending machine, only for it to pour the drink but fail to dispense the cup. She's suitably outraged when the next person to step up gets two cups.
  • Nichijou has Sasahara get similar treatment when his vending machine dispenses the drink then the cup. Being a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Sasahara merely admires the vending machine's gall.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Touma puts in a 2000 yen bill into a vending machine to get a drink. When that doesn't work, Misaka comes and charges it with electricity, causing him to receive 2000 yen worth of drinks in return.
    • Mikoto hates that particular vending machine and spin-kicks it into giving her drinks ever since it ate her 10000 yen bill.
    • Index puts money in a vending machine, but it uses a touch screen instead of buttons. Since she is Hopeless With Tech, she can't figure out how it works, until Hyouka Kazakiri patiently shows her how.
  • In Trigun: Badlands Rumble, Wolfwood is found nearly dying of dehydration because a water vending machine refused to accept his crumpled bills.

    Comic Books 
  • A Hellboy omake strip showed him dealing with one of these, but the ending reveals that a tiny imp was behind it, not the machine itself.
  • Luke Cage, Power Man, had a Running Gag feud with the coffee machine at the local police station based on its supposedly hostile behavior.
    • And the soda machine at his old office. Clearly, Luke had no luck with crazy vending machines.
  • Garfield: The Soda Pop Quickie from the old cartoon.
  • In one Sabrina the Teenage Witch oneshot, Aunt Hilda gets cheated by a vending machine and kicks it in frustration. The machine retaliates by punching her, and Sabrina remarks that they're making vending machines that can fight back.

    Fan Fic 
  • There's a Ciaphas Cain fanfic where the commissariat's recaf machine is given the nickname "Little Horus" (think "Little Judas"). Eventually the protagonist shoots it, and the replacement works a lot better.

    Films — Animated 
  • Over the Hedge features RJ struggling with the chip machine at the beginning of the movie.
  • Mentioned in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, in Dr. Doofenshmirtz's getting-to-know-you duet with his alternate-dimension counterpart:
    Doof-2: Do you collect coins?
    Doof-1: Yeah! Just in case -
    Both: - vending machines become the dominant race!
  • In My Little Pony Equestria Girls Twilight's first encounter with a vending machine in the human world goes this way, not because the machine is broken, she just doesn't know how to use one and nearly ends up bucking it in frustration.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in Terminator 2: Judgment Day: A security guard orders a cup of coffee from a machine, and is pleased to have gotten a Full House, based on the cards printed on the cup (two Aces, two Jokers, and a "Wild Card"). But while he's waiting, the T-1000 forms behind him and kills him as soon as he gets his drink.
  • Silent Movie. The three protagonists encounter a Coca Cola vending machine that fires out cans of soda like grenades. They later use it as a weapon against the villains.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, Col. Guano has to shoot a Coca-Cola vending machine to get change for a crucial phone call to the President. He gets Coke squirted in his face.
  • In the live-action Transformers film, the power of the Cube animates a soda machine, which sprouts limbs and goes berserk.
  • Maximum Overdrive
  • In the other Stephen King movie The Tommyknockers, some guy tries to retrieve a soda can from a vending machine, which is possessed or powered by the Alien technology and have a greenish glow. His hand gets stuck in there and the whole thing blows up, killing him.
  • At the beginning of The X-Files: Fight the Future, Mulder goes to buy something to drink from a machine. He puts money in, pushes a button, then next one, then all of them, then whacks the machine and then jiggles it angrily. He then notices that the machine is not plugged in and finds out that a bomb, the very bomb he and the rest of the FBI agents are looking for, is inside the machine.
  • The "guy crushed by a vending machine" story is brought up in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, and nearly happens to Buck.
  • The bowling ball polisher in Gutterballs is a dick.
    Anybody who wears a shirt like that has got to be a fag
  • In Here Comes The Boom, Scott tries to buy a snack from a vending machine, but it gets stuck. He rams the vending machine causing several snacks to fall out. A student sees him do this and he tosses him one of the extra snacks telling him to keep quiet.

  • Eve Dallas in the In Death series has a generally antagonistic relationship with most technology, and where vending machines are concerned the feeling seems to be entirely mutual. They tend to malfunction whenever she attempts to use one. It's so bad that she habitually has someone else put her money in for her and press the button whenever she wants to buy something from one.
  • Nexus magazine #2, short story "Firepoint Five". The main computer of a starship has a tendency to malfunction. One example of its problems is was preparing Lieutenant Simms' breakfast. It scrambled his fried eggs, and his sausage came out burned - and was supposed to be bacon. His toast was buttered (he hated buttered toast) and the coffee nozzle missed his cup - but didn't miss his lap.
  • In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur Dent, sick of getting bad tea from the Nutri-Matic machine, gives it a lengthy lecture on the nature and history of good tea. The machine hijacks the starship's entire computing power to work on the problem, leaving the ship defenceless against a missile attack. Arthur gets his tea in the end, though.
  • In a short story by Axel Hacke. He is talking to his sentient fridge named Bosch about this trope. Some American soldiers who were crushed by vending machines are mentioned. Bosch thinks it's the soldiers' fault, since they shook up the machines. The narrator gets angry and mentions the many times he got nothing for his money.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here presents a "chilling excerpt from a nineteenth-century New York factory worker's diary" describing the horrors of vending-machine food. Among the complaints:
    The machine for some reason is constructed in such a way that it drops these items from a great height, causing the contents, already brittle with age, to shatter into thousands of pieces. Also half the time it just eats your money, and forget about getting a refund...

    Live Action TV 
  • Red Dwarf:
    • "Future Echoes": A vending machine has a lisp malfunction, which has been reported. When Lister orders breakfast and black coffee, he gets him a pair of boots. When the machine tries just for the coffee, he produces a bucket. However, he was being really nice and trying to be helpful.
    • In "Only The Good", Rimmer cheats a vending machine out of its money by attaching it to a string and yanking it out after receiving what he ordered from it. It vows revenge, and later in the episode, the machine blasts a can at Rimmer in anger, knocking him over.
    • Rimmer was in charge of vending machines aboard the Red Dwarf. When they hold a funeral for Rimmer's hologram and say their eulogies in "Stoke Me a Clipper", Lister mentions that with him when you ordered coke, it would never happen for you to get soup or orange juice on his shift. Except it happened all the time, but Lister was trying to say something nice.
    • "Queeg": No food machines work. However, this time it's not the machines being malicious, but it was their new computer Queeg who claims the crew have spent their credit. They have to start working, and real hard. When Lister has dinner, all he got was only burnt toast and one pea.
    • In a Season 10 episode, a vending machine becomes romantically obsessed with Lister.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", the Tribbles start getting into everything on The Enterprise, including the food dispensers in the cafeteria. Kirk's attempt to get a chicken sandwich and coffee gets him two Tribbles, one of them in a cup.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "Contagion": Picard orders tea from the replicator, only for it to produce a flower in a tea cup.
    • "Cost of Living": Lwaxana Troi orders tea, but the replicator produces sausages.
    • "Evolution": Dr. Crusher sees that a replicator is producing a glass of drink and the liquid is overflowing but the replicator won't stop (due to a computer malfunction). It only stops when Crusher tells the computer to deactivate the replicator. Also, a deleted scene from that episode has a sickbay nurse get electrocuted from a malfunctioning replicator.
    • "A Fistful of Datas": Bugs in Data's programming cause various malfunctions aboard the Enterprise. One of them is that replicators only produce cat's supplements, meals for Data's cat Spot.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: When the crew accidentally triggered a Cardassian riot failsafe in the station's computers, one of its defensive measures was to have the ops replicator produce a turret to attack the crew.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • "The Haunting of Deck Twelve": Janeway orders coffee from the replicator, only first it replicates the coffee without the cup and then replicates the cup.
    • Janeway attempts to have Chakotay over to her quarters for dinner, and achieves the unique distinction of burning the roast, which her only involvement in making was to issue a verbal order to the replicator.
    • "Q2": As quoted above, Q's son magicks the replicators so that it sasses Janeway when she asks for a coffee.
  • Brass on CSI once helped a witness's mother get a soda from the lab's vending machine, which had taken her for $2. He rattled its controls in the right way to get it to cough up the stuck can for her.
  • In 30 Rock, Pete Hornburger once spends an entire episode with his hand trapped in a vending machine.
  • ER pulls this gag at least once a season.
  • In the Austrian police procedural parody Kottan Ermittelt, one character has a long-running feud with the police department's coffee maker.
  • In Sledgehammer, when the soda dispenser in the police HQ goes on the fritz, takes money and fails to dispense soda. The member of the public involved, who must be from out of town, complains to the nearest policeman, Lieut. Hammer. Who obliges by un-holstering the Amigo, at which sign everyone runs for cover and Captain Trunk begins to bellow "No, Ham...". The dispenser gives in after several direct hits from Hammer's unfeasibly large weapon.
    • In a different episode, Hammer does the same thing to a bank ATM that has swallowed his card and refused to give cash.
  • On Scrubs, Turk gets his hand caught in a vending machine.
    I paid for my Rolos! I'm getting my Rolos!

  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent, sick of getting something vaguely resembling bad tea from the Nutri-Matic machine, gives it a lengthy lecture on the nature and history of proper tea. The machine, being unable to fathom why the heck anyone wants mere dried leaves in boiling water, hijacks the starship's entire computing power to work on the problem, leaving the ship defenceless against a missile attack. Arthur gets his tea in the end, though.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Comic Dan Cummins noted those vending machines that dispense pricy electronics and questioned whether this is a problem they have, too:
    "I get mad when a candy machine takes my dollar. If the iPod machine takes a couple hundred of my dollars, I'm not getting mad; I am getting my iPod... Along with every other iPod that machine has to offer."

    Tabletop Games 
  • The campus vending machines in GURPS: I.O.U. will dispense almost anything a character might need: from a cold soda to a flamethrower. However, they don't always give you what you ask for.

    Video Game 
  • Early in Deus Ex, you overhear Gunther Hermann grumbling to Anna Navarre. The vending machines gives him the wrong soda so often he believes there is a conspiracy against him. In the sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War, it turns out he was right, the maintenance man was screwing with him.
  • Monkey Island:
    • There are grog machines featured in four out of the five Monkey Island games. Two of them act like this.
    • In The Secret Of Monkey Island, you can put as many pieces of eight as you want in it, but it won't work. A single bottle of root beer later falls out of it when LeChuck punches Guybrush into the machine.
    • In Escape from Monkey Island, the machine still doesn't dispense any grog, but if you kick it enough, some empty cans eventually tumble out.
  • Vending Machine Champ by [adult swim] Games combines this trope with Punch-Out!!.
  • Mike Shadow: I paid for it! has you buying upgrades to beat the crap out of an uncooperative vending machine.
  • When you reach New Haven in Borderlands, you can find Dr. Zed's Claptrap assistant running around all over the place. He stops at the medical vending machine and pounds on it, frustrated that it isn't working. The vending machine works just fine for the player.
  • Early in Half Life Opposing Force, Shepard encounters a fat security guard named Otis with his hand stuck in a vending machine. The guard curses, going like "Stupid machines!" and asks the player for a quarter. It's possible to operate the machine with the Use key, and this makes a candy bar pop out. However, the guard does nothing if you do.
  • Greeters in Oddworld are the result of an experiment in creating self-promoting vending machines, which was deemed a failure because they kept electrocuting their customers. The Magog Cartel decided to exploit their psychotic tendencies and had them redesigned as security guards for their factories.
  • Used as part of a puzzle in The Feeble Files. Feeble tries to buy an item from a vending machine, which takes his money and refuses to dispense. Do this three times and he'll kick the vending machine in frustration, then feel guilty about it, which opens access to the confession booth area.
  • Inverted in Pokémon when you occasionally get a bonus drink.
  • The University expansion pack of The Sims 3 comes with vending machines. Slamming into one can cause it to fall on you, causing death by Blunt Force Trauma.
  • Zork: Grand Inquisitor has the candy vending machine at GUE Tech. Not only does it eat your money and never actually dispense candy, one of the buttons is broken- and it's the one you need to use to open an important locker. The drinks dispenser might also count, as while it does give you the drinks, it doesn't provide cups, again wasting your money on a beverage that just goes down the drain.

    Web Original 
  • Well, here's a fairly typical (and wordless, so it'd work for international audiences) example. A guy versus a coffee vending machine.
  • The somewhat obscure webcomic The Kenny Chronicles has one strip where the protagonist really needs some caffeine but a vending machine instead gives him something caffeine-free. Which the author notes was an inversion of something that happened to him in real life (he ordered Sprite and got VAULT).
  • SCP-261 is a vending machine which can dispence a variety of strange items(most of which are edible). Whatever you do, do not put counterfiet yen into its coin slot. It will give you cyanide-laced gummi candies shaped like human hands Flipping the Bird.
    • In a more humorous tone, when someone tried to slip in an "I. O. U. 500 Yen" note, it responded with an empty popcorn bag containing the note "I. O. U. 41 popcorn kernels".
    • Hitting the coin return produced a zero-value coin, then a note telling the user to stop when this was repeated. Using the zero-value coin produced a lunch utterly devoid of taste, nutrition, texture, or really anything else. The test-subject who ate it said it didn't fill her up at all.
    • On a slightly darker note, trying the coin-on-a-string trick on it got it to deploy a live grenade, with actual casualties.
  • From Things Of Interest, the story "The Vending Machine Murders", where all the vending machines in the world turn murderous. And then the Earth gets attacked by a giant vending machine from space.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the Clip Show episode "So It's Come to This", Homer, who just woke up from a coma, walks to a vending machine. The chocolate bar he tries to buy gets stuck and he tries using Percussive Maintenance on it, causing it to tip over him, and starts forcefeeding him chocolate until he passes out, sending him back into a coma.
    • In "Marge on the Lam", Homer puts his arm inside a vending machine to get a free "invisible cola" (actually a Crystal Buzz Cola). When he reaches into it Carl warns him, telling him that someone lost an arm doing that once. (We see the inside of the machine where there's a skeleton arm from the last guy who tried to get a free soda, still holding onto a can of Fresca.) Homer eventually grabs the soda, but his arm gets stuck and Lenny and Carl run off screaming. Then, Homer gets his other arm stuck inside a candy vending machine. (In a scene cut from syndication, he imagines himself at Maggie's wedding with his arms still stuck to the vending machines.) Just as the rescue workers are about cut off Homer's arms, it turns out this could've been avoided if he let go of the can in the first place. The firemen write a note up for Marge to prove that the incident wasn't some wild excuse to avoid going to the ballet (with said note mentioning that while they were wasting their time with Homer, a lumber mill burned down).
    • In "The Trouble With Trillions", Homer keeps trying to use Burns's (stolen) trillion dollar bill in the vending machine. This time, much to everyone's relief, the machine keeps spitting it back.
    Mr Burns: There's soda on the plane!!
    • "'Tis the Fifteenth Season" had Homer at a Secret Santa exchange at work where, after receiving a DVD player from Carl and being asked by Lenny where ''his'' present was, he says to Lenny, "Your present is right in the other room." He then goes offscreen to the other room and is clearly heard saying "C'mon, machine, take my dollar! ... Fine, we'll play it your way!" He then tackles the machine (still offscreen) and returns with a tube of Certs breath mints.
    • When Bart attacks the school vending machines, they retaliate by firing their contents at him ("I'm gonna cap a pop in yo ass!")
    • A Funny Background Event in "A Streetcar Named Marge" has Homer beating the crap out of an uncooporative vending machine.
    • In "You Only Move Twice", Homer struggles to get a vending machine to accept his incredibly beat up dollar bill.
  • An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures had Hamton get frustrated over such a vending machine.
  • In the animated special of Garfield: His 9 Lives, Garfield attempts to use a vending machine aboard his spaceship to order lunch, in the form of a cup of coffee and some pie, during his ninth and final life. The machine drops the pie, pours coffee on it, and then crushes it with the coffee mug.
  • VeggieTales: Larry has gotten his candy stuck. In a vending machine.
  • Futurama:
    • "My Three Suns": A machine selling "Refreshing Crack" gets stuck, and the customer whines "Don't hold out on me, Man!"
    • "Mother's Day": All the machines rebel against humanity, including a coffee machine that sprays its contents at Fry and a vending machine that shoots cans at people.
      "I got a big, big thirst for human blood!"
    • "The Bots and The Bees": Bev, the new beverage vending machine at the office, hates Bender and insults him at every occasion. Soon the two start fighting, which then leads to lovemaking, which leads to Bev having a baby.
    • In the episode "Ghost in the Machines", one of Bender's methods in his attempt to kill Fry involved possessing a vending machine that serves pineapples and has them launch at Fry when he tries to make a purchase.
  • In the episode "Rock Bottom" in SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob is waiting for the bus so he can go home. He gets hungry and runs across the street to the vending machine to buy a candy bar. The machine itself works properly, but the bus showed up and drove off everytime he tried to put a dollar into the machine or to reach for the candy bar after it was dispensed. Keeping his eyes on the bus, he slowly moves to grab the candy bar, with the bus revving the engines everytime he gently touches the bar. He tries to run back across the street to catch the bus, but it drives off. A random stranger walks up to machine and just takes the candy bar.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Practical Joker". After the Enterprise passes through a mysterious energy field the ship's computer starts playing practical jokes on the crew. When Mr. Scott tries to obtain a sandwich from the food synthesiser it sprays food all over him, including a custard pie in the face.
  • In Seven Little Monsters, Four tries his hardest to get a sheriff's badge from a prize machine, only for it to keep giving him princess crowns.
  • A Happy Tree Friends episode has Nutty try to buy a candy bar from a vending machine, but it gets stuck. He manages to somehow rip his own arm off pulling on the stuck candy bar, before the machine falls on him and finishes him off gruesomely.
  • Phineas and Ferb: The bit from the movie is called back in an episode when Doofenshmirtz gets hit by an Inator that causes his greatest fear to materialize... enter the vending machines...
  • One Beavis and Butt-Head episode features the pair trying to buy a bag of pork rinds from a vending machine, only for it to get stuck. The rest of the episode revolves around them trying to get it out. Butthead eventually wanders off to get change for a dollar he managed to panhandle up, but ends up spending the whole thing on a ton of expired nachos at the Maxi-Mart, and promptly forgets about Beavis who is left still standing around the machine.
  • In a Ben 10 short episode, Ben tries to get a candy bar from a vending machine, only for it to fall against the glass. Ever the Determinator, Ben decides to go Grey Matter to get the candy bar. The only problem is when the Omnitrix times out, leaving Ben's ENTIRE BODY trapped in the machine.
  • In The Oblongs, plumbing issues leave the entire city save the Oblongs' house without water. In order to cut down on bathroom lines, a hundred-dollar cash slot is installed on the door. When Bob's boss tries to use it and his bill is rejected, another character quips "the great equalizer".
  • Inspector Gadget once had a villainous Master of Disguise called Presto Change-O. At one point during his episode, Gadget thinks he's found the foe disguised as a vending machine he was running around disguised as Gadget. Naturally, this goes about as well as expected, with Gadget getting his Finger Key stuck in the keyhole and his foot stuck in the slot.
  • The "Prom Night Special" episode of Celebrity Deathmatch has Johnny Gomez announce that there will be two hours detention after the evenings matches for anyone caught tipping over vending machines in the arena lounge, with a cutaway to two teenagers doing exactly that, with one getting crushed to death for his troubles
  • One episode of Biker Mice from Mars has Greasepit ending up in a fight with a vending machine; the machine keeps firing it's goods at him, and he returns fire with a machinegun.
  • In Regular Show, Gene, who is an actual vending machine and manager of a rival park, wreaks havoc on the park of the main characters in a prank war.
  • There is an episode of Sealab 2021 in which Murphy gets stuck under a vending machine for a long time. Over the course of the episode, the machine spits out soda cans that hit him in the face, knocking his teeth out in the process.
  • A series flashback in the The Amazing World of Gumball about the Wattersons learning things the hard way shows Gumball getting stuck entirely inside a vending machine while trying to grab some candy without paying, a fireman cutting him out with a buzzsaw, then just paying for one regularly the next time.
  • In the "Indie Movie" episode of American Dad!, Snot attempts to buy a bag of off-brand Cheeto knockoff's called Cheeso's, the same his now deceased absent father used to buy him. When it gets stuck, he has an emotional breakdown in a parody of heavy handed symbolism prevalent in indie films.

    Real Life 
  • Modern vending machines all have messages warning you against tipping the machine or reaching up into it in order to free the things that are stuck there. That doesn't stop people from trying, and getting hurt in the process.
  • There's a Darwin Award (or urban legend) about a guy who tried to get a free drink by cramming his arm into the machine's slot. His efforts brought the machine crashing down on him.
  • Vending machines that dispensed soda/pop in cups, rather than cans or bottles, used to be fairly common. They were notorious for malfunctioning, for example by giving you only ice or having an AWOL cup.
  • People (usually young men) really do get themselves killed trying to shake a free drink or snack out of vending machines on a fairly regular basis. The things are a lot more top-heavy than the average person expects, so it's not hard to tip one over on yourself.
  • As far as the more benign definition in the summary goes, sometimes your purchased item gets stuck in the machine (this isn't a design flaw as the "correct" way to fix the problem is to buy another product). In most cases, nothing a good, strong shove won't fix.
  • The US military loses a couple of service members to this trope every year. And dozens of injuries as well.