"Does any kid still do this anymore?
Does any kid still do this anymore?
Does any kid still do this anymore?"A character is given a line to write over and over and over again as punishment. In the classic version, the character is a child in school, and the line is of the form "I will/must not (do X) in class." Coming up with methods to evade, enliven or simplify this punishment is commonly attempted. These include getting a computer program or magical spell (in Wizarding School) to write the lines automatically, taping multiple pens together so you can write multiple lines at a time (which does not work in Real Life), drawing a vertical line down the page to reduce each sentence by one word (by creating a non-serif 'I' for the phrase 'I must'), farming the lines out to underlings or altering your handwriting so that 'I must not' starts to look like 'I must'. These may be used successfully by a High School Hustler. Other characters trying this will most likely be caught out and have to redo the work properly. Using this as a discipline has fallen out of favor as many teachers have complained that it has a negative impact on students as it turns writing (something which makes up a bulk of the school curriculum) into a punishment. A variation on this trope is occasionally seen, in which the repeated line is to be spoken (in a deadpan mutter) instead of written. Has no relation to Madness Mantra or Room Full of Crazy.
— The Simpsons, "Bonfire of the Manatees"
open/close all folders
- A McDonald's commercial from 1987 features the Hamburglar stealing hamburgers from Ronald's class. At the end, he is caught and is forced to write "Don't take burgers rubble rubble".
- In a commercial for the SNES Super Set features a math teacher showing how the SNES gives you four games in one while the Sega Genesis gives you none. At the end, a dumb student who likes Sega is forced to write the Nintendo slogan "The best play here."
- Monty Python's Life of Brian features a scene where Brian is caught by a Roman centurion while he's writing ROMANES EUNT DOMUS on the wall of the amphitheatre. The centurion couldn't care less what the actual message is, he just wants to tell Brian off for his poor Latin grammar ("The people called Romanes, they go the house?") and deliver a strict Latin lesson. Brian is then told to write the corrected message (ROMANI ITE DOMUM, "Romans, go home!") 100 times on the wall before sunrise (which is seen by his fellow rebels as a far more courageous protest than the minor act of graffiti expected of him). But then a less eccentric patrol sees him admiring his work, paint in hand, and Reality Ensues.
- The Mighty Ducks: The entire Ducks team is detained for quacking at the principal.
- Cyclops in X-Men Origins: Wolverine is sentenced to this after refusing to take off his sunglasses in class.
- The Shining: Suffering from boredom and writer's block, Jack types "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" repeatedly just so he can give himself the illusion of progress, but eventually it turns into a Madness Mantra.
- Harry Potter:
- Draco Malfoy expects this punishment for breaking curfew in the first book, but instead has to go with Harry and Neville to help Hagrid locate a wounded unicorn... in the Forbidden Forest... at night... while whatever attacked the unicorn is still wandering around in there. (Keep in mind he's eleven years old, and much more sheltered than Harry is.)
- The infamous detentions with Professor Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix. Harry is forced to write with a quill that doesn't use ink, but as you write, the words are etched onto your hand, and the writing appears on the paper in your own blood. He still has the "I must not tell lies" scar in the last two books. And the wound proper doesn't appear the first time: for Harry to receive the scars, he had to write the line several times, every night of the week, on several occasions.
- More benignly and amusingly, one of Harry's classmates is set conventional lines by Professor Flitwick. After misaiming a spell, flinging Flitwick around the room, he must write out "I am a wizard, not a baboon brandishing a stick."
- After becoming a prefect, Ron fantasizes about catching Gregory Goyle (one of Malfoy's mate) for something, so that he can make him write lines, which he figures would kill him since he's so stupid. He'd have him write "I must not look like a baboon's backside."
- In Gordon Korman's book The War With Mr. Wizzle, the new Pointy-Haired Boss of an assistant principal introduces lines as a standardized universal punishment (as his job is to modernise the school, the irony of this is immediately lampshaded). The students retaliate by picking a handful to write everybody's lines for them, giving the other students time to sabotage Wizzle's computer, make an Invented Individual, and so on. (The kids who get picked to do lines soon begin to resent the ones who got assigned to the fun stuff, but they prevail anyway.) By contrast, the Headmaster, Mr. Sturgeon, whose power the students respect, disapproves of lines and prefers to impose lengthy essays as punishment.
- One of the protagonists of Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones is assigned lines. He tries to invent a spell that will animate a pen to write them for him; it works, sort of, but the pen doesn't remember which order the words are supposed to go in, so he has to rewrite them by hand. Also, if he's discovered by the wrong people, he'll be burnt as a witch.
- Sethra Lavode punishes one of her followers this way in Yendi. The character had been involved in some really evil plotting, but was too valuable to The Empire to kill. Sethra exiles her to a timeless desert "pocket dimension", and has her write "I will not interfere with the Dragon Council" 17 x 17 x 17 x 17note times in the sand. (17 is a sacred number in their culture.)
- In Frindle, to make the students stop referring to pens as "frindles", the teacher makes them stay after school and write "I am writing this with a pen" one hundred times. The students make a game of seeing how many times they can get away with changing the sentence to "I am writing this with a frindle" without the teacher noticing.
- George and Harold from the Captain Underpants series have been punished this way so many times that they keep a set of poles in their backpacks they put several chalksticks into to write multiple lines at once.
- In the autobiographical Homesick: My Own Story, Jean Fritz says she would write fifty "I"'s, fifty "will"'s, etc so she wouldn't have to think about what she was writing, because she wasn't really promising not to talk in class.
- Parodied (unsuprisingly) in the Discworld book The Last Continent. The Bursar recalls a fellow student wizard who invented a machine to write lines for him, however preparing the machine and winding it up took far longer than it would to write the lines (this is a sign of Progress). Nevertheless, other students would queue up and pay to use it.
- Harry and the Wrinklies, about a boy adopted by a retirement home full of well-meaning ex-cons, has an amusing occurrence: Harry is unfairly given lines as a punishment, so the resident forger tells him to just do half a dozen and he'll print off the rest.
- In Naamah's Curse, Moirin's penance, set for her by the Patriarch of Riva who is holding her prisoner, is that she must scrub the floor of the cathedral, on her hands and knees, with a very small scrub brush and a bucket of lye. For each floor tile, she must recite the line "Yeshua the Anointed, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." It's a very large cathedral.
- In the 1956 young-adult novel Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams, Danny's teacher, in an effort to get him to stop daydreaming about space travel, makes him write "Space flight is a hundred years away" over and over. Before he can begin the assignment, the spaceship his friend Professor Bullfinch has secretly invented is accidentally lauched, with Danny and friends aboard. They make it back to Earth and Danny presents the assignment to his teacher, having finished it during the voyage. She humbly says she'll keep it as a souvenir.
- A variant in some older British school stories is that the offender is made to copy out lines of poetry. This crops in, among others, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Stalky & Co. (In the latter, Sadist Teacher Mr. King gets a rare Pet the Dog moment when he reads out Virgil's The Aeneid to a student who's been sentenced to write out several hundred lines of that work. Really it's just an excuse for keeping the lad company and taking his mind off the upcoming ordeal: the detention means he will miss games practice and thus get caned.)
- Mentioned in Jennings. In the first book, when Temple is giving a comically exaggerated impression of Mr Wilkins to scare the New Meat, he says that he had to write out "The angles at the base of an isoceles triangle are jolly nearly equal" 150 million times. Darbishire takes this literally and tries to work out how long it would take, eventually arriving at a figure of just over 47 years.
- Space Cadet. One of the cadets resents being pulled up over his lack of table manners, and when told to eat his pie with a fork instead of his hands, insists on getting the order in writing as per regulations. The senior cadet does so without complaint, then gives him another written order telling him to report to his commanding officer. He gets a roasting, and an explanation of why such petty matters are necessary, and an order to write out two thousand times, "I will eat my pie with my fork."
Live Action TV
- In Our Miss Brooks, it happens at the end of "Spare That Rod". Walter Denton, Stretch Snodgrass, and teachers Mr. Boynton and Miss Brooks, are forced to stay until 7:00 in the evening, writing out "Our principal is the best principal that any school ever had."
- Italian Comedic Sociopathy series Caméra Café has Paolo ending up this way because he screwed with the girls in the office.The result is this trope, but on a paper sheet lying on the floor. An enormous one, at that. It covers the whole corridor.
- In Warehouse 13, Artie makes Claudia fill a blackboard with "I will not disobey Artie" after she almost destroys the Warehouse by using a magnetic coat to change a lightbulb.
- In one episode of So Weird, Annie and Jack get trapped in a magical version of detention by an artifact until they can learn to get along with each other. One of the assignments is to fill a blackboard with lines. A blackboard that covers every inch of the courtroom. They're understandably sore after it's over.
- Tootie is given this assignment in an episode of The Facts of Life. She tries to get away with writing the sentence only once and putting ditto marks (") under each word for the rest of them. Needless to say, it doesn't fly.
- Kamen Rider Fourze has the students in Sunday Detention writing the kanji "reflection" a thousand times. Gentaro, on the other hand, needs to do his with a calligraphy brush.
- On The Cosby Show, Dr. Huxtable gets it from one of his kid's teachers, and when he starts, the teacher tells him to not write big as she's onto that one. Cliff instead writes in teeny tiny letters.
- In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), the Acheri demon has filled the chalkboard in the one room schoolhouse with the line “I will not kill” written over and over again. She does not seem to have learned her lesson.
- One episode of The Weakest Link had Anne Robinson order a teacher who had been voted off by the other contestants to write on the blackboard many times, "I AM the Weakest Link!" Goodbye!
- Played for Laughs during the MythBusters "The Simpsons" special. While Jamie, in the foreground, explained why they wouldn't be using cherry bombs for the in-shop tests, Adam was in the background writing "I will not set off cherry bombs in the shop" on a blackboard.
- The poster sent to fans who joined the fan club for the Imagination Movers depicted the four movers, Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty against a blackboard on which they had written several times "I will think big! I will reach high! I will work hard! I will have fun!", which was essentially a variation of their Catch Phrase, "Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun."
- Happens constantly to Jason in FoxTrot. He tried to automate it with a C++ program twice; once by printing out the lines with the computer to tape it to the blackboard, and once by writing the program directly in chalk. Miss O'Malley didn't accept either attempt.
- Jason has even written lines in advance, such as "I will not throw paper airplanes during assembly" the day before the actual assembly, explaining he had a doctor's appointment after school and couldn't stay late.
- The Far Side had a caveman writing "I will not act primitive in class."
- Also, a young Doctor Frankenstein writing "I will not play in God's domain."
- Happened once to Iggy in Heathcliff, after what appeared to be a disastrous show-and-tell day at school: "I will not bring Heathcliff to school anymore."
- In Damn Yankees, Applegate punishes Lola for her conscientious failure to seduce Joe by asking her to repeat "Never feel sorry for anybody" one hundred times. She repeats the line, but with no show of penitence.
- At the end of the second act of Mary, Mary, after one of Mary's stupid remarks drives her ex-husband out of his own apartment into the winter night, Mary starts repeating "I must keep my big mouth shut" to herself "mechanically, like a child writing 'lines' as a punishment" (as the stage directions put it).
- Revolution X has this in its Attract Mode, with the Big Bad Helga standing in front of the board. All the lines are things one must do to progress.
- A key gameplay mechanic in Skool Daze (and its sequel Back To Skool) - get caught misbehaving and you are given lines; earn too many and it's game over.
- In this strip of The Whiteboard, after Roger pushes a button labeled "For the love of God do NOT push this button" that gets Doc plastered with thrown creme pies, he's forced to repeatedly write "I will not push the button again" on a blackboard.
- The Simpsons:
- Bart writing lines on the blackboard in the opening credits of each episode, with the actual lines differing from episode to episode. Including the movie in which the line to write is "I will not illegally download this movie".
- In the episode "Lisa's Date with Density," when the music teacher, Mr. Largo, makes Lisa write lines after class, Nelson suggests saving time by using the music staff chalk holder to write five lines at once.
- Another Lisa example: In "Grift of the Magi", when Springfield Elementary is bought out by a toy company, the new teachers make Lisa write "I will not do math in class" after class when they catch her writing Venn Diagrams instead of pitching new toy ideas.
- When Bart was punished at the end of an episode for stealing the teacher's books (he was Taking the Heat for Lisa, who was in a rebel phase because a vocational test said she'd be a housewife), he wrote that he'd not expose the teachers' ignorance.
- In "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie", Mrs. Krabappel makes Marge write "I will try to raise a better child". When Marge questions the value in doing this, Mrs. Krabappel simply tells her, "Just do it!"
- In the introduction to "The Parent Rap," Bart writes "Nobody reads these anymore," and for "Bonfire of the Manatees," "Does any kid still do this anymore?" as a reference to the increasing rarity of these as the show progresses, as well as becoming a Discredited Trope in general.
- Bart even gooses Principal Skinner into doing this, who then complains about how it's making his hand lock up. Bart then replies that he's been doing that so long that the bones in his hand and wrist "sound like a cement mixer" (complete with unnerving sound effects).
- Skinner was also goaded in the episode where Bart learned about his allergy to peanuts. (Or as Comic Book Guy described it, his kryptonite) His line: A baby beat me up.
- In "Marge Vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays", Bart begs Mrs. Krabappel to let him stay after school and write something on the chalkboard 1000 times so he doesn't have to go home and listen to a Roofi song that Maggie is addicted to. He even tells her that he should be punished for giving the gerbil coffee. Mrs. Krabappel tells him, "We all got tired of that chalkboard years ago. Now go home!" Around this time, the amount of chalkboard gags was reduced.
- For the 500th episode, it's actually Milhouse writing the lines. The phrase: "Bart's earned a day off".
- When a therapist tried to make Homer stop strangling Bart, Homer was turned into Bart's punching bag. Bart forced Homer to write a claim that he's an adult afraid of his own son.
- When Mrs. Krabappel's actress, Marcia Wallace passed away, the character was retired. The episode, "Four Regrettings and a Funeral", which was dedicated to Wallace's memory, begins with Bart writing sadly a single line that says, "We'll really miss you Mrs. K."
- In "The Kids Are All Fight", Lisa is writing lines, "I will not pay my sister to do my punishment" while Bart watches.
- A parody of The Simpsons intro on Histeria!! has Loud Kiddington writing "I do not need a megaphone!"
- Ms. Barch of Daria will often assign lines to male students because, well, they're male.
- Doug imagines doing this until he's an old man, then his teacher orders him to do it again.
- After Doug flips the script on Roger after the latter got the former and the rest of the class kicked out of the news in the same episode, Roger has to do this as punishment as well.
- The pilot episode of Invader Zim has Miss Bitters ordering Dib to write that Zim is not an alien.
- The first ChalkZone episode has Rudy writing "Cartoons are not funny" over and over on the blackboard, until his piece of chalk breaks. The next stick he grabs is the magic chalk, and you know the rest.
- The Fairly OddParents special Channel Chasers has the inevitable Simpsons parody in which Timmy writes on the blackboard, "This is the sincerest form of flattery."
- Tex Avery's "Ventriloquist Cat" opens with the title feline writing "I hate dogs" over and over again on an alley fence, until he realizes he's just written it on Spike the bulldog.
- One Winx Club episode had Griffin, headmistress of a school for witches, temporarily neutralize the Trix by trapping them in a pocket dimension they would be able to leave only after passing several tests and writing various lines on a living blackboard. With one of them being very skilled in illusions and very knowledgeable about the subjects, it kept them busy for barely five minutes, much for the blackboard's chagrin.
- Phineas and Ferb: During Sensitivity Training, Major Monogram was forced to write "Animals are people too".
- In the CatDog episode "Back to School," Cat writes "I will not start food fights" in a chalkboard for the food fight incident.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode, "Crime After Crime", Mr. Herriman makes up new rules so that no one will suspect his carrot addiction, one of which involves not standing on rugs. Wilt stands on a rug upon hearing this new rule, and throughout the episode, tries to decide on how to punish himself. One of these punishments involves writing "I will not stand on rugs" on the chalkboard repeatedly.
- In an episode of Hey Arnold!, the title character is forced by Principal Wartz to write "Mooning is not funny" on both a sheet of paper and on the blackboard.
- An episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter and the other students in detention writing "I Am A Criminal", with some writing it pretty wrong. Then Dexter decides to use the chalk to devise an escape plan in Morse code.
- Whateley Universe: In their eponymous story, The Three Little Witches have to copy out the Whateley Code of Mystic Ethics twenty times, and as the Code of Ethics is five pages long, it's a hundred pages.
- Adam Clarkson was told to write a hundred lines. If he didn't finish by the end of the day, that number would double. After over half a year, it had reached 10^19 lines, and he was told that if he didn't finish them that day, it would be squared. That was in 1998. It's now much, much more than a googolplex.
- By October 16, 2007 the number became larger than 10^10^1000. (The next major checkpoint, 10^10^10000, will only be achieved on August 24, 2089.)
- Cadets at the United States Military Academy (and several other military schools in the US) perform a variation of the trope when they get in trouble. Instead of writing lines, they march back and forth in a courtyard on the campus. Presumably part of the deal is they have to maintain proper marching form while doing so, which can be exhausting.