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A Taste of Their Own Medicine
aka: A Taste Of His Own Medicine

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"Tell this to the workers when they ask where their leader went. We, the soldiers of The National Liberation Front of America, in the name of the workers and all the oppressed of this imperialist country, have struck a fatal blow to the fascist police state. What better revolutionary example than to let their president perish in the inhuman dungeon of his own imperialist prison?"
— Message from the National Liberation Front of America, Escape from New York

A specific form of Revenge, where a person receives the same bad treatment that they showed/were going to show to others. While it may be the original victim who delivers the punishment, it can just as easily be a relative or even a complete stranger.

Superficially, this might look like Beat Them at Their Own Game, but they are motivated by different factors and have a different meaning to the plot:

  • Beat Them at Their Own Game is a survival technique. The person who successfully does it has proven that he can do whatever the other person did just as well.
  • A Taste Of Their Own Medicine is a type of Revenge. The person who successfully does it has demonstrated why the other person should follow The Golden Rule.

The two tropes occasionally overlap, but, in general, try to list an example as one or the other. If you're not sure which it is, ask yourself whether the primary motivator is survival or revenge.

Contrast Hoist by Their Own Petard, which is where a character's bad actions lead directly to their downfall, with no second-party intervention. Often a form of Pay Evil unto Evil. An Ironic Hell is the extreme version of this, where the sinners are punished with being the victim of (or making them horrified with) whatever crime they've done before. Can overlap with Laser-Guided Karma (or even go as far as Karmic Death) if the character's fate is similar to that of his victims. See also Who's Laughing Now?, which sometimes results from applying this trope, and Original Position Fallacy, which often involves a character advocating for poor treatment of others, only to change their mind when the same conditions are applied to them. Please note that Selective Enforcement and Hypocrite can pop up if the sinner makes a big show out of it.

Example subpages:

Other examples

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    Asian Animation 
  • Doby & Disy: Said word-for-word by one of the characters in a Christmas Episode in Season 2, when the group discovers Caesar rigged a cage in front of his house to capture Santa and make off with his presents, with said cage capturing Panda (since he, Doby, and Disy are Subbing for Santa). The group decides to give Caesar his gift and punish him at the same time by trapping him in the same cage, using the gift as bait to lure him.

    Comic Books 
  • The Adventures of the X-Men ends with the Dweller in Darkness, the resident Cthulhu expy who had just attempted to cause everyone in all of reality to succumb to fear with a Class Z Apocalypse How so he could feed on them, has his plans utterly foiled when Jean Grey uses her telepathic powers to encourage all living things to meet their end without fear. As the Dweller realizes this, he falls into despair... and it just so happens that his minion, D'Spayre, feeds on that particular emotion...
  • One Silver Age comic sees Superman traveling to the Fifth Dimension and using his powers to prank Mr. Mxyzptlk the same way Mxy normally pranks him, while Mxy (who's running for mayor of his hometown) desperately tries to send Supes back home.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: When Atomia escapes from transformation island and tries attacking Paradise Island Queen Hippolyta calls on Aphrodite for help with the unrepentant cruel woman, who had forced people through machines which altered them physically and mentally to become her near mindless slaves. Aphrodite then makes it clear that just because she's friends with and supportive of a Perfect Pacifist People she's still an Olympian through and through when she permanently welds Atomia into a personality altering device that will force her to be kind for the rest of her life.
  • X-Men: In X-Men #112, Magneto, who had previously been transformed into a baby by a scheme gone wrong, gives the X-Men a taste of the same (even though none of the captured X-Men were involved in his infantilization). He locks them into chairs that not only inhibit their powers but also disrupt their neurological functioning so that physically they're at the level of toddlers but they retain adult intelligence. He then leaves them to the care of Nanny, an android with a sickeningly sweet personality to care for them as if they were babies. ("Oh Beast, you've such marvelous silky fur. You are a joy to brush. I've an idea. Would you like bows for your hair? I'll see if I can find some.") His intention is that they will live out the rest of their lives in that state, and it is implied that they are trapped that way for several days if not weeks before escaping.

    Comic Strips 
  • When Lucy from Peanuts dons one of Charlie Brown's shirts in a February 1959 Sunday strip, everyone has a big ol' belly laugh at her mocking impression of him. But when Charlie Brown himself sees what she's doing, he turns the tables on her with a single line, causing everyone to start laughing at her expense instead.
    Charlie Brown: [mimicking Lucy] Well, hello, there, Charlie Brown, you blockhead.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Batman Begins:
    • Batman quips 'Taste of your own medicine, Doctor?' as he gives Scarecrow a dose of the same fear-inducing toxin that Scarecrow had previously used to attack both Batman and Rachel.
    • In a villainous example, the League of Shadows burns down Wayne Manor towards the end of the film, in retaliation for Bruce blowing up their headquarters after he betrayed them. The League's leader comments "Justice is balance. You burned my home and left me for dead; consider us even."
  • In The Body (2012), Jaime poisons Álex with the same toxin the latter killed Mayka with.
  • Cat's Eye: In "The Ledge" segment, a crime boss with a fondness for gambling knows that his wife is having an affair with another man. He kidnaps the man and makes him an offer: if he successfully navigates the very tiny ledge outside his penthouse apartment, he gets his wife and a briefcase full of money; if not, he'll be framed for drug possession. The protagonist wins the bet after several close calls, only for the boss to give him the money and his wife's head. This enrages him so much that after taking out his guard, he makes the boss the same offer to navigate the ledge in exchange for his life. He's not so lucky and falls to his death pretty quickly.
  • In Dredd, Ma-Ma has three rival drug-dealers killed at the start of the film by dosing them with Slo-Mo (a Fantastic Drug which makes the user experience everything in slow-motion) before throwing them from the top of the Peach Trees complex. When Dredd has her cornered at the end of the film, he decides to execute her throwing her through the window of her penthouse on Peach Trees' top floor... and when he finds her stash of Slo-Mo, he forces her to take a dose so she can experience the fall exactly the same way her victims did.
  • In Ever After, when Danielle de Barbarac's father dies, her step mother, the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, demotes her to servant, forces her to sleep on the floor next to a chimney, which earns her the moniker "Cinderella," and beats her when she undermines her authority. Later, after she humiliates Danielle at the Royal Ball, she sells her into slavery to pay off a debt. At the end, the Baroness is stripped of her title by the Queen, and sentenced to be shipped off to an American colony. Danielle, who made up with the prince and married him, speaks up for the Baroness, and asks the queen to show her the same level of compassion that the Baroness showed her. Cut to the Baroness and her wicked daughter working in a laundry.
  • The ending of The Heiress, in which Catherine inflicts the same amount of cruelty upon Morris as he inflicted upon her. First he left her on the night of their wedding, then years later when they meet again she did the same with him as a form of revenge.
  • In Lucky Number Slevin, the mobster known as "The Boss" orders a hit on Yitzchok the Fairy, the son of a rival mobster known as "The Rabbi", because he suspects the Rabbi of ordering a hit on his own son. At the end of the film, Slevin murders both the Boss and the Rabbi by suffocating them with plastic bags, the same way they killed his father.
  • In The Philadelphia Story, Tracy pretends not to know that Mike and Liz are reporters and grills them about their personal lives, just as they were planning to do to her.
  • During the climax of the first Scream movie, Sidney escapes and hides from the ghost face killers, Billy and Stu and uses their own phone call games to taunt them that the police are on their way. They don't take it well. She then proceeds to stab the killer while wearing their own Ghostface costume.
    Sidney: (Using the voice changer) We're going to play a little game. It's called...
    Sidney: (normal voice) ...guess who just phoned the police and reported your sorry motherfucking ass!
  • The final scene of The Stepford Wives remake shows the no-longer-enslaved titular ladies dealing with their husbands this way.
  • Trading Places revolves around Billy Ray Valentine, a Black two bit Con Man from the ghetto, and Lois Winthorpe III, a classist, racist yuppie who has Valentine arrested after they accidentally bump into one another. The Duke brothers, wanting to settle a $1.00 bet over Nature vs. Nurture, have them unwillingly and unknowingly swap lives, turning Valentine into a wealthy commodities broker, while they have Winthorpe's assets frozen, leaving destitute and living with Ophelia, a street walker that decided to take him on. Valentine overhears about their experiment and bet, and how the Dukes agree not to rehire Winthorpe after he drunkenly invaded the Christmas party, and they'll get rid of Valentine shortly after he, unknowingly, helps them corner the frozen orange juice market through insider trading because they don't want some one like him in the company. With this information, he teams up with Winthorpe, Opehelia, and Coleman, Winthorpe's butler, to take down the Duke brothers, and while they get rich on the frozen orange juice futures, the Dukes lose everything, which leads to this exchange:
    Randolph Duke: How could you do this to us after everything we've done for you?
    Valentine: Oh see, I made Louis a bet here. Louis bet me that we couldn't both get rich and put you on the poor house at the same time. He didn't think we can do it. I won.
    Winthorpe: I lost. One dollar.

  • Burglar Bill: Bill learns how it feels to have someone break into your house and steal from you. Likewise, Betty learns how it feels to have someone take something precious from you.
  • In the Mortal Engines series, towards the end of Infernal Devices Tom attempts to rescue Fishcake from Brighton during an attack by the Green Storm, but Hester flies their airship away and leaves Fishcake to fend for himself. Fishcake spends most of A Darkling Plain brooding over ways to get revenge on them for leaving him behind, but when he reunites with them at Erdene Tezh, he settles on hijacking their airship and leaving them stranded.
  • In The Tin Woodsman of Oz the protagonists are captured by a giantess Evil Sorceress named Mrs. Yoop who uses her transformation magic to turn Polychrom into a canary, the Tin Woodman into a tin owl, the Scarecrow into a stuffed brown bear, and Woot the Wanderer into a green monkey. Eventually, the entourage is rescued, and Ozma is able to reverse the spell on everyone except Woot; the Green Monkey spell is irreversible and can only be transferred to someone else. Mrs. Yoop had earlier expressed great confidence in the fact that any transformation she creates will be permanent, but even after Ozma is able to undo the first three, the Princess reveals that the sorceress must have been entirely certain that the green monkey enchantment could not be broken even before she attempted it. Solving two problems at once, Ozma decides to punish Yoop by transferring the spell to her.

  • Takeaki Wada's Vocaloid song "Chururira Chururira Daddadda!" features a girl who wants to be the last person standing in her class, so she systematically picks off her classmates one by one by getting them into trouble for various acts of misconduct. When she finds that she really has no more classmates to tattle on, she decides to turn on the teacher and get them in trouble too. The manga anthology that came with Diary of Underage Observation, the Concept Album that features this song, later reveals that she was herself ratted on by a power hungry girl much like her, who recorded her admitting to her selfish tattling. In the end, she is thrown out and made to look like all of the classmates she mocked.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Classical Mythology:
    • Theseus encountered a bandit called Sinis who killed travellers by bending two pine trees and tying his victims between them. Theseus killed Sinis by binding him between his own pine trees. When he met another robber called Sciron who forced travellers to wash his feet and then kicked them over a cliff to be eaten by a monstrous turtle, Theseus fed him to his own turtle. Finally, he met a robber named Procrustes. Procrustes would invite weary travelers to spend the night but would always claim the bed was either too long or too short for his guest. If the bed was too short he would cut the traveller's limbs until they fit. If the bed was too long he would stretch his victim's limbs till they fit. And if the bed was just the right size he would secretly swap it for his other bed in order to cut or stretch the victim anyway. Theseus cut off his feet and head with his own saw.
    • King Diomedes of Thrace fed his mares with human flesh; Heracles wrestled him into the mares' manger.
  • The Bible: Happens to the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35. The servant was forgiven by his master to whom he owed a debt, but has one of his colleagues thrown in jail for failing to repay a small debt. His master, outraged, throws him in jail, reasoning that if the servant can't show mercy to others, he deserves no mercy himself.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • A frequent tactic used by face wrestlers when getting the upper hand on heels ... using the same cheating tactics to wear down and/or defeat the Monster Heels and others, such as using a signature weapon or illegal move.
  • Gorilla Monsoon: One of his signature lines — "Turnabout is fair play" — was used when a face used a bad guy's weapon or cheating tactic against him.
  • At a 2007 Real Quality Wrestling show, Cheerleader Melissa accidentally severed the tendons in Sweet Saraya's leg on a pop can that had been left on the floor, nearly taking it off her leg. Five years later in another country, Melissa was SHIMMER's Champion, till Saraya decided to put an end to her reign, by targeting her knee
  • Dramatic Dream Team: Akira Tozawa got so fed up with Danshoku Dino, he tried to out gay him...he failed but Dino was thrown off his game for a little bit.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In one episode of Sesame Street, David teases Big Bird about having an imaginary friend (the episode aired before Snuffy was revealed to be real). Then David gets a call from a friend that Big Bird has never seen before, and Big Bird accuses David of making him up. After spending the entire episode trying to convince Big Bird that his friend is real, David realises that this must be how Big Bird feels when people refuse to believe him about Snuffy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Subverted in in the case of Chaos cultists, especially the Slaaneshi ones: while they are among the most skilled torturers in the galaxy, it's not so much torture they get off on as it is sensation of any kind, including pain and defeat.
    • Similarly, defeating a Khornate in battle is giving them exactly what they want, Nurglites consider receiving diseases a gift (which is why they work so hard to spread them around), and Tzeentchians serve a god of backstabbers.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Oblivion, Malacath the Daedra Prince asks you to free some ogres that have been enslaved by a minor noble named Drad and are being used to mine ore. When the ogres are freed, they take control of Drad's estate by force and make him grow crops for them.
    • In Night Falls on Sentinel, an in-universe short story in the series, the assassin Jomic describes his signature Pressure Point technique to a potential client. The 'client' in question is actually a knight with a warrant for Jomic's arrest, who subdues Jomic and then decides to use his own pressure points in order to torture him.
  • In-Universe, this is Sebastian Castellanos' opinion about the fate of the Axe-Crazy serial killer, torturer and Mad Scientist Ruvik in The Evil Within, who winds up as a Brain in a Jar trapped within his own mindscape-manipulating STEM machine, after brutally torturing and killing hundreds of others by connecting them to the same device. This helps him resist Ruvik's attempts to invoke sympathy for his past and his plight.
  • Fallen London: Each main quest of the overarching game (Ambition) ends with a Master of the Bazaar getting their ass handed to them for exploiting London:
    • Nemesis: Mister Cups is either financially ruined and scarred or sent to hell because they murdered your beloved, as well as six others, for the purpose of writing their revenge stories - he got one hell of a revenge story, alright.
    • Light Fingers: Mister Fires uses his sweatshop labor wealth to commission the creation of a monster which can force people to randomly fall in love with one another. In one ending, you exploit and steal his magnum opus, just as he exploited and stole from London for decades. In another, he ends up falling in love with the thing and can't bear to end it when it leads a revolution against him.
    • Bag A Legend: Mister Veils put a bounty on himself so he'd have free reign to terrorize and hunt down the citizens of London. You blow him up into his component parts and hunt their weakened selves one by one.
    • Heart's Desire: Mister Pages and the other Masters created a poker game called The Marvelous with extremely high stakes to con players into giving up everything, including supernatural elements within their souls. In all endings, Mister Pages is beaten by a monkey. Again. In one ending, you let the monkey win, which then cons the Masters and uses the prize to ensure the game can never be played again, destroying the Masters' entertainment.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, The Legion attacks the NCR outpost at Searchlight by opening up an old radioactive waste dump within the town, turning Searchlight into an irradiated wasteland. In one quest you can undertake for the NCR, you have the option of destroying a Legion outpost at Cottonwood Cove by finding a toxic waste transport vehicle on a cliff overlooking the cove and making it dump its cargo into the outpost below. If you choose this option, the quest-giver compliments you on your sense of irony.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Selena decides to act overly flirtatious towards Laslow in their B Support to teach him a lesson about how his own flirting makes women uncomfortable (and thus dislike him).
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic IV, the necromancer Gauldoth is wrongfully accused of being a child-murderer by the citizens of Vitross, and a town guard named Mardor tries to have him Burned at the Stake. Gauldoth flees from Vitross, but returns several months later with an army which he uses to besiege and capture the town. He makes sure Mardor is captured alive during the siege, and has him burned to death.
  • During the Duel of Wits in Kings Quest (2015), your opponent will try and trick you into drinking a goblet of hypnotic potion which will allow him to make your first move for you and forcing you to play at disadvantage for the rest of the game. However, it's possible to trick him into drinking the potion, choosing his first move and putting him on the back foot instead (though it isn't required to win the duel).
  • Garrus from the Mass Effect series enjoys finding ironic ways to inflict this trope on criminals if the situation presents itself. His ways include sabotaging an environment suit worn by a saboteur and setting it to suffocate him, giving a drug dealer a lethal overdose of their own product, and offing a serial killer with a specialist knowledge of viruses with an infection (the target was a Quarian). Subverted towards Saleon, a doctor who ran an illegal organ-cloning business; Garrus had a plan to kill him by harvesting his organs, but settles for simply shooting him when they finally meet.
  • Killbane in Saints Row: The Third is a Masked Luchador who was once part of a tag-team with Angel de la Muerte, but got sick of his partner being more popular than him and publicly unmasked him; Luchadors see losing their masks as a Fate Worse than Death, and Angel immediately retired from the ring and ended up a recluse. When The Boss and Angel take on Killbane during the Murderbrawl event, you're given the option of taking his mask after he's been defeated.

    Visual Novels 
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney gives us this in the tutorial case, no less. Phoenix Wright, having acquired shades of Jade-Colored Glasses after getting disbarred for being tricked into presenting forged evidence, decides to return the favor to the one responsible: Kristoph Gavin. The result? Phoenix's new protege, Apollo Justice, unknowingly ends up getting Kristoph convicted of murder by, you guessed it, presenting forged evidence.

  • In Drowtales, Ariel's Ax-Crazy half-sister Kalki attacks her and cuts off her arm. When Ariel finally corners Kalki, having just been told that her shapeshifting powers allow her Appendage Assimilation from any victim related to her, she promptly decides to get her arm back by stealing Kalki's.
  • Goblins:
    • When Thaco was a prisoner of Dellyn Goblinslayer, Dellyn cut off one of Thaco's ears, and had it framed and displayed as a trophy on the walls of his quarters. When Thaco defeats Dellyn in a duel and has him at his mercy, he cuts off Dellyn's ear...then throws it away in a display of both Cruel Mercy and But for Me, It Was Tuesday.
    • An Alternate Universe version of Dellyn tortured and killed Forgath and Kin, only to be captured by their comrade, Minmax. Minmax used a crystal ball to teach himself Dellyn's torture techniques, and used them to torture Dellyn to death.
  • Subverted in The Order of the Stick by Belkar and Miko, after Belkar trolls Miko by getting a restraining order which prevents her from using her Detect Evil ability against him. Miko attempts to retaliate by getting a restraining order to prevent Belkar from hurting her horse...which Belkar ignores because, unlike Miko, he only cares about the law when he can exploit it to his benefit.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the prologue, Michael Madsen is shown being an arrogant Deadpan Snarker to his boss over the phone. Later, when Michael acts rudely to finding out the ferry he's riding is not going to be making its return trip due to sudden governmental travel restrictions, the waitress sent to deal with him chews him out by being an arrogant Deadpan Snarker.

    Web Original 
  • Cobra Kai: Yasmine gets a huge kick out of cyber-bullying (especially with regards to Aisha's build relative to her own). But the shoe winds up on the other foot when Aisha unleashes a frontal wedgie on her and the clip goes viral.
  • In both Dragon Ball Z Abridged and canon, Piccolo has Goku distract Raditz while he charges up his Makankosappo/Special Beam Cannon, and later Goku has Piccolo distract Freeza while he charges up a Spirit Bomb. The difference is that the abridged series plays it up as this trope, complete with both singing Mahna Mahna while charging up.
    Piccolo: Did you just... hold a grudge?
  • In Mystery Skulls Animated, Lewis' revenge for his death at the hands of Arthur (possession of the murderer notwithstanding) is putting him through the exact same circumstances as he originally died. He recreates the cave where the fatal incident occurred, and forces Arthur to retrace his steps so he can fall to his death. Unfortunately, it gets a little more 1:1 than Lewis would like — neither of them realized what they were doing when they went through with it until it was too late, and he experiences the exact same immediate guilt over his actions that Arthur did.
  • Noob: La Croisée des Destins: Ash regularly seems to show genuine support to Gaea's enterprise, only to be asked to be paid for that support later. Gaea has been shown doing similar things to her guildmates and other acquaintances to get in-game currency from them in previous installments of the franchise.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): A Taste Of His Own Medicine


Scarecrow's Fear Toxin

After being badly affected by Scarecrow's fear toxin, Batman turns it back on the so called "master of fear".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ATasteOfTheirOwnMedicine

Media sources: