Here are a few variants:
- Torture: Cold-Blooded Torture, the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, Room 101, Robotic Torture Device and Electric Torture.
- Psychological warfare: Tickle Torture, Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?, Interrogation by Vandalism, a potent Death Glare, Forced to Watch, paying them off and really good sex. Forcing them to watch someone else suffer is a particularly cruel form.
- Phlebotinum and powers: An Agony Beam, Telepathy, the Jedi Mind Trick, Charm Person, Mind Control, infecting them with The Virus, using an illusionary world via Lotus-Eater Machine, etc.
- Oddball: Of course, it could always be something that seems harmless at first but somehow nonetheless gets the job done: Maximum Fun Chamber, Happy Fun Ball and Anything but That!.
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
- In Code Geass R2, Suzaku prepares to interrogates Kallen with her biggest object of loathing bar the Britannian Empire, Refrain. He has a crisis of conscience and ultimately doesn't go through with it, but she does not take it well regardless.
- Subverted in Baccano!! 1934 — Alice in Jails. When Mad Scientist and Manipulative Bastard Huey Laforet is arrested and delivered to the FBI, he naturally expects that they're going to either interrogate, torture, or experiment on him for his incredibly valuable alchemical knowledge that he is withholding from them. Instead, Victor Talbot just has him sent to Alcatraz without so much as a trial, knowing exactly what happens to the interrogating party in those situations.
Victor: You'd have them brainwashed in three days flat. First you'd whisper your promises into their ears, getting them interested, and before they knew it they'd be eating your of your goddamn hand. One of those scientists'd say, 'Hey, this Huey fella, I think he's a really swell guy. We should talk to him and see what sort of information he might share with us'. And you can bet your ass by that point his brain'd already be dribbling out his ears. Then oh, look, a strap on your straightjacket came loose, and oh, the next day they walk in and find out everyone in the lab is dead, and oh, Huey fucking Laforet is nowhere to be fucking seen! Oh no oh what ever shall we fucking do Mr. Talbot please do something even though you told us this exact thing was going to happen and we ignored you like the fucking idiots we are...
- Astérix the Gaul, with a bit more Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness than usual:
Crismus Bonus: You refused to talk, druid, but perhaps your friend will prove more loquacious under torture tomorrow! (He leaves.) Aut Caesar, aut nihil! (I)
(Asterix and Getafix laugh heartily)
Asterix: I'll be loquacious all right! I'll loquace like no one ever loquaced before! (I)
- Lampshaded very well in an early issue of the New Avengers. The heroes needed information quickly and got into a local prison in order to get it from the inmates. Spider-Woman, backed up by Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and others, told the inmates that they were going to talk, and she had ways to make them do so. She then held up a bag of donuts and said whoever helped them would get a donut, and whoever didn't could have whatever the prison cafeteria was serving. Prisoner: "I'll tell you anything you want. Gimme a donut."
- Said exactly in You Obey, where it is lampshaded briefly.
- Appears as part of a game in the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Insontis. McCoy's roleplay character, Dr. Darkness, tells Captain Sunshine's (kid!Kirk's) captive sidekick (Spock) that "it will be much easier if you tell me what I want to know" while handling fake torture tools.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Lives Of A Bengal Lancer (1935): The line originated in this movie, though it was actually, "We have ways of making men talk", and is commonly misquoted.
- In the 1937 Laurence Olivier film Fire Over England, a Spanish count assures captured English spy Michael Ingoldby: "You English fool, you'll tell everything you know. We understand persuasion."
- The anti-nazi film Hangmen Also Die directed and written by Germans Fritz Lang & Bertolt Brecht respectively has "We have means of making you talk!''
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (even in the right accent):
Marion: I'll tell you everything!
Toht: Yes, I know you will. (Raises the red hot poker closer to Marion's eyes)
- The terrorist's torture expert in True Lies.
- James Bond:
Bond: Do you expect me to talk?Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!
- Subverted in Goldfinger, as Goldfinger activates a laser cutter on Bond.
- Stated by M in Quantum of Solace, though she doesn't get the chance to follow through: "You will eventually tell us everything about the people you work with, and the longer it takes, the more painful we'll make it."
- Robot Holocaust: The Dark One wants to know the secret of Jorn's invention, so Jorn is kidnapped and tortured & The Dragon Valeria threatens to do the same to Deeja. Jorn still doesn't budge.
- Darth Vader and his interrogation droid in Star Wars.
Darth Vader: And now, your Highness, we will discuss the location of your hidden Rebel base.
- In Yellow Blue Tibia, taking place in 1986 Russia, a police officer attempts to intimidate the protagonist Konstantin Skvorecky this way, by constantly threatening to remove his balls while flicking a tape recorder on and off. The protagonist isn't the least-bit impressed by this "one note attempt to intimidate" and when the police officer accidentally records the threats, is very amused.
- In Animorphs, there are allusions to this with Visser Three in his attempts to glean information from Aftran, a prominent member of the Yeerk Peace Movement. She's rescued by Cassie before anything happens, fortunately.
- Subverted by The Stainless Steel Rat in Harry Harrison's sci-fi spoofs. Captured by the humourless Grey Men, Jim diGriz responds to this line by cheerfully offering to tell everything he knows straight away without the need for torture, as he quite reasonably tells his captors there is nothing that cannot be extracted from an interrogee by a suitably motivated and equipped interrogator. As his cracking under torture is merely a matter of time, he's prepared to speak up now, spare everybody the inconvenience and aggravation, and then we can all have an early night. How about it? The Grey Men then proceed to torture him anyway, because it's in the script and they can't deviate from it. And because they can.
- The Pandion Knights in The Elenium encourage rumors of the various ways of making you talk that they have. The intended result is that people will talk without the knights having to do any actual torturing.
- The few times this line is used in Hogan's Heroes, Hogan immediately lampshades it by saying somebody's been watching too much American movies.
- The line is used, then subverted, in a Muppet Show sketch where a Muppet character says this line to a prisoner who goes soon into an overwhelming stream of babble that gets her free while throttling the interrogators. The Muppet desperately threatens, "We have ways of making you stop talking!"
- Stated clearly if implicitly by Number Two in the opening sequence of The Prisoner, and paraphrased at least once by the same character in the show itself. True to their word, every single method listed in the trope description above is used at least once. None of them work.
Number Two: We want information.
Number Six: You won't get it!
Number Two: By hook or by crook... we will.
- In the "A Scandal in Belgravia" episode of Sherlock, Mycroft does this to Irene Adler but phrases it rather more politely. "You have a passcode to open this. I deeply regret to say, we have people who can extract it from you."
- The Hannah Montana episode "Bye Bye Ball" parodies this: Jackson, who had been going through Sanity Slippage over the disappearance of his prized signed baseball, speaks this line in a German accent right before stuffing Oliver into his repulsive closet.
- In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Sam and Dean decide to leave Crowley alone to think realizing they are unable to torture the King of Hell.
- Ilsa from ''The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" did this to Maddie to get her to tell her and Mr. Moseby where London and Todd are hiding.
Mr.Moseby: Maddie have you seen London and Todd?
Maddie: No, haven't seen them, not sighting, see ya!
Ilsa: Candy girl, we have ways of making you talk!
Maddie: There's nothing to say
Llsa: Here Blitzkrieg.
Maddie: Ok, ok they're on the roof!
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
Jaro: No one despises the Cardassians more than I, Major... but we did learn a few things from them. Like how to encourage people to talk.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: "Cardinal Biggles...get...THE SOFT CUSHIONS!"
- In The Consul, the Secret Police Agent says this to Magda:
"We have strange ways to make people talk. Oh, not at all the way you may think. All we have to do is to quicken the beat of your heart."
- In Drowtales, Sillice does this to Chrys. Particularly disturbing when you recall that technically Chrys is Sillice's niece.
- Errant Story: Sarine threatens Jon with unnamed methods of extracting information from him about Meji and their travels.
- Girl Genius: Othar defies this trope, only to have Klaus snark that he wishes he could make Othar not talk. Klaus also subverts this by explaining he intends to perform destructive experiments on Othar.
- The Hairmeister from Kingdom Of Magic will sometimes say, if Thidney bothers him too much, "Ve haff vays to make you talk... I just vish ve haff vays to make you SHUT UP!"
- In Tales of Monkey Island, though not spoken by Guybrush, the player can choose the line "I have ways of making you talk!" to frighten Bugeye in Chapter 3. The result is:
Guybrush: Tell me where I can find the Tongue of the Manatee or it's time for Tibetan Tickle Torture.
- Referenced in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. South America's continent bonus is "We Have Ways," and it allows the player to complete all autopsies of dead aliens and interrogations of live ones instantly.
- Used as a Kick the Dog moment for Rolff Stone-Fist on your first visit to Windhelm in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. A thoroughly racist Jerkass who hates Dark Elves, he accuses Suvaris Atheron, one such Dunmer, of being an Imperial spy, and threatens to "pay her a visit" later, stating "we have ways of finding out what you really are."
- Uttered to the word by Walton Simons in Deus Ex when interrogating a prisoner at the Unatco HQ. Wasn't a bluff either.
- When asked how they got Danger Mouse to be their producer, Murdoc responded word-for-word in a Gorillaz interview.
"We haff vays of making you vork!"
- Spoofed in the opening scene of Archer:
Russian Agent: ...and it may be old cliche, but... *holds up electrified jump cables* ve have vays of making you talk.
Archer: ...What, your little go-kart battery?
Russian Agent: Golf-cart!
Archer: Whatever! And would you pick an accent and stick with it?
- In South Park while playing "Americans vs Bosnians", Cartman pins Kenny down and gives the stock phrase. And then he farts on him.
- Gargamel says this to Clumsy in The Smurfs episode "The Chief Record Smurf" after Clumsy is given photographic memory and is able to perfectly recall Papa Smurf's invisibility formula.
- The Daffy Duck cartoon "Plane Daffy": Hatta Mari gets an American carrier pigeon to blab out many military secrets after slipping him a Mickey.
- Parodied in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog when Scratch and Grounder capture someone they believe knows Sonic and Scratch threatens her with this exact sentence only for Grounder to ask "what ways?" which leads to Scratch's frustration, a dope slap and the response "stupid" which makes Grounder finally understand and say "yeah we have stupid ways of making you talk". Not.
- And of course there's the pun about the German clock maker.
"Ve hav vays of making you tock!"
- There is a legend of two policemen who interrogated a gullible suspect by putting a colander on his head, wiring it to a copy machine, and copying the message HE'S LYING when they thought he was. The man thought it was a real polygraph and confessed. This originated from David Simon's book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets which depicted a year's work in the Baltimore City PD homicide division, later adapted into the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street.
- Larry Niven played with this during an awards dinner that was running long — interrogating his lobster: "Now, wretched bottom-feeder, you will tell us of your troop movements!" He was afterwards nicknamed "Speaker-to-Seafood". The other half of the joke is a reference to the Kzin Ambassador, Speaker-to-Animals, who has a large role in the Ring World series.
- World War II Luftwaffe interrogator Hans-Joachim Scharff became famous for being extremely successful and getting useful information out of Allied airmen who were taken prisoner by Germans. His method was borne out of his actual character: he was a genuinely nice guy who really cared about the well-being of the captives in his charge and did what he could to accommodate their wishes and needs while making small talk. (He supposedly arranged for an Allied pilot to take a joyride alone in a German fighter!). Prisoners of war would end up unintentionally letting slip important information during ordinary conversations, which Scharff and others would pick up and incorporate into their body of knowledge.
- There's a story about the Al Qaeda operative who was defeated by cookies. A new interrogator noticed that the uncooperative prisoner wasn't eating what he'd been given, because he was diabetic and couldn't have sugar. When they provided sugar-free cookies, he started talking.