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Agony Beam

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"It's called the Agony Matrix. Direct neuro-stimulation of pain receptors... All of them. Imagine the worst pain you have ever felt in your life times a thousand. Now imagine that pain continuing forever.
...Oh, that's right. You don't have to imagine."
Darkseid, Justice League, "Destroyer"

There's a special place in the heart of Science Fiction and Fantasy geeks for the Agony Beam, usually because it's carved that chunk out of our collective heart and crawled into the resultant cavity. Despite being an old-school staple that's used to the brink of cliche and back, it still sees widespread use and continues to serve a useful purpose: causing PG-rated pain on victims, much like an evil version of The Paralyzer.

Along with its big brother the Death Ray, the Agony Beam is a staple in the armoury/spellbook of every Evil Overlord and Evil Sorcerer worth their salt. It is the Swiss Army Knife of a villain's arsenal: at low levels it enforces obedience when defiant prisoners are ordered to Kneel Before Zod, it serves as punishment for incompetent minions in place of more lethal measures, and prolonged use or higher settings work as a (bloodless) torture method, and when in excessive use or high power settings it can drive one mad or outright kill the victim. Usually it's depicted as a beam that emanates either from a gemmed ring, a staff, a ray gun, or even a miniature lightning storm. This last one works wonderfully as part of the lightshow when the villain gets Drunk on the Dark Side. When the victim is a major character, the Agony Beam is usually accompanied by Evil Gloating.

As mentioned earlier, the Agony Beam is rated PG. This is because, like the Death Ray, it's very "clean", leaves no scars, and is much less squicky than comparable torture tropes while being just as effective. Like Electric Torture, the lack of physical injury means the hero will be able to continue in the plot once it's over. That said, authors can cause such unbearable levels of agony that it can break the victim's mind. All things considered, even at low settings the Agony Beam is the moral equivalent of a Dog-Kicking Ray, a fact usually reinforced by the wielder getting off on using it. It's not going to be just rated G because... well... it'd be a pretty dark prospect for little kids.

When turned on a hero, they will demonstrate their mettle by not bending knee until it's at least two settings higher than necessary. Of course, at one point you can expect the villain to have their weapon turned against them (usually thanks to mirrors and/or silver trays) and do much less well.

Closely related to Electric Torture. The "Increase the intensity!" sample conversation there applies for this too. May be part of a Robotic Torture Device's arsenal. If used in a device attached to keep someone compliant, it becomes a Shock Collar. Can be a cause of I'm Having Soul Pains.

Contrast with Electric Instant Gratification.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Mazinger Z and Mazinkaiser, the villainous Baron Ashura often uses this, in the form of a staff that shoots a blast of (usually) non-lethal electricity. Dr. Hell also uses an identical staff to punish Ashura when they screw up (or a device on his belt also shoots one).
  • The manga and anime Naruto brings us Tsukuyomi, a Genjutsu that is instantly cast and lets you experience 72 hours in a couple of seconds, all while under the complete control of the user. Naturally, torture is one of the more common uses for it. Both victims in the first part of Naruto were out for a couple of weeks and needed the best medic the Narutoverse has to heal them. In the second part, the Big Bad wants to use it to control the entire world, albeit not to torture but to create the ideal dream world.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Freed Justine writes magic runes that inflict a variety of effects, including "Pain" and "Suffering" runes.
    • Kyouka can magnify her target's senses with her Enchantment Curse via "Pain Amplification" so that no matter how tough they are, they will be screaming in agony. When she goes all-out with it to hit multiple targets, she can even fire it off in the form of sparking green energy reminiscent of Force Lightning.
    • Mary's magic involves infecting her targets with viruses causing immense pain. She notes she could make it a One-Hit Kill by targeting the brain specifically, but admits she prefers targeting "less" vital organs like the stomach to draw out their suffering and pain for her amusement.
  • One Piece gives a somewhat odd example of this with Bartholomew Kuma. He has the powers of the Nikyu-Nikyu no Mi/Paw-Paw Fruit, which places animal paw pads on his hands that give him the power to repulse nigh anything. This includes such abstract concepts as pain. As in he can press his pads against a person in agony, repulse all the pain out of him and form it into a globe-like paw-shaped bubble. Break the bubble and you experience all the extracted pain at once.

    Comic Books 
  • Ultron, of The Avengers fame is incredibly fond of his encephalo-ray, which is a Mind Probe with added pain. It doesn't need to hurt, Ultron just likes hurting people.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Parody Fic Captain Proton and the Planet of Lesbians, Queen Sapphia has a Battle Bra that shoots Captain Proton with an agony beam and Constance Goodheart with Electric Instant Gratification.
  • In Ghost in the Shell, Tom describes that after his escape attempt in Animorphs #1: The Invasion, the Yeerks punished him and the other hosts by making every one of their nerves feel excruciating pain.
  • The Slave King often uses this in The Great Slave King on anyone who has particularly displeased him.
  • Frostbite has a Breen captain use a derivation of a Klingon painstick on Commander Tess Phohl. Dalsh Ruul says he can finely control exactly how much it hurts, and can also activate pleasure centers to create emotional whiplash.
  • Hyrule Warriors: Heroes Through Time: Cia has quite the habit of using magical lightning on Volga and Wizzro whenever they talk back to her.
  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. Mad Scientist Dr. Zarkendorf puts our heroes in his Pain Amplification Chamber. "From all six facets, concentrated waves of neuronic energy will bombard every nerve-ending!" They escape just before it activates using the power of The Farce.
  • The torture brand that Omen put on Cyrus in Skylanders Academy: New Horizon allows him to inflict terrible pain on Cyrus at will. Cyrus describes it as such:
    Do you remember, when you were a kid, and you had this… unnatural fear of the doctor's syringes? Do you remember how much it hurt? To have that little metal needle poke through your skin? How loud you screamed when it was just buried in you skin, not really doing anything at all except hurting you? I want you, to take that feeling, that surgically exact pain that you felt in one tiny spot on your arm, and I want you to picture that feeling spread across your whole body. Not a single inch left untouched. A perfect blanket of minuscule needles piercing your skin for minutes on end.
  • Marc Maddhouse's Powered Armor in Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash carries a weapon called the Neutron Shatter. It kills off any cell nuclei it hits and sets off every pain sensor in the targeted area, turning it an unhealthy shade of gray in the process. Callista's reaction to getting struck by it shows that it is not a pleasant experience.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the movie adaptation of The Crow (1994), Eric defeats the Big Bad with this trope by Agony Beaming his fiancée's experience of being gang raped, beaten and dying from her injuries over 30 hours later into the Big Bad, rendering the Big Bad incapacitated and vulnerable to the final death-dealing blow.
  • Emperor Ming in the 1980s Flash Gordon movie used this on Flash several times. Ming had a much less impressive-looking version back in the 1940 serial.
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians gives us the Tickle Ray. If the Agony Beam is PG torture, the Tickle Ray is G torture.
  • In Spaceballs, Dark Helmet punishes an insubordinate mook by using his Schwarz ring to produce an agony beam that is directed at a particularly sensitive part of the mook's body. The anticipation of him doing this again becomes a Running Gag among the other Spaceballs.
  • Star Wars: Force Lightning (first seen being used by Emperor Palpatine on Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi) is a very effective means of torture, which made it a favored technique for the Sith and despite its appearance may well have been the only thing George Lucas intended it to be; its use as a viable combat technique that even light-side force wielders had access to was introduced later on and by different writers because it just looked so freaking cool. One nonlethal variant called "Electric Judgement" was used by Jedi Master Plo Koon which apparently functioned more like a taser, though anyone who's been on the receiving end of a taser can tell you that it's a pretty unpleasant experience.
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II's Leviathan likes to shoot people with an agony beam.
  • In Fortress (1992), when prisoners arrive at the Fortress (a giant underground prison), the last part of the processing involves the prisoners being forced to swallow a device called an "intestinator", which acts as an Agony Beam if they break the rules. For more severe infractions, it explodes.
  • Ghostbusters:
    • Ghostbusters: "Are you a god?" "" "THEN DIIIEEE!" :zaaaaaaaaaaap: Clearly Gozer was pulling her punches here; since it mostly just knocked them down, almost blowing them off the roof of the apartment complex. According to the novelization, the proton packs absorbed most of the energy and nearly overloaded as a result.
    • The second film has Vigo disabling the team with a paralyzing (and painful) dose of negative slime, which he could dial up to a full Agony Beam. The slime lost its effect when New Year's struck and the slime heard the jubilant singing outside.
  • Inverted in Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy: villain Duran Duran tortures the heroine by hooking her into a device that plays her sexual responses like organ pipes, the goal being to orgasm her to death. Barbarella being Barbarella, it doesn't work.
  • In The Princess Bride, Count Rugen's "machine" isn't so much a beam as it is a life-sucky thingy, but since it causes intense pain to the victims at various settings, it qualifies as the trope.
  • Another "life-sucky thingy" is whatever the MCP uses to de-rez (kill) errant programs in TRON. First, we see it used on Clu, then we see Dumont and other elderly (presumably user-interface) programs being put through the same torture.
  • Kalgan of Space Mutiny has a device he uses to torture the heroine that he claims is modeled on "ancient" dentistry equipment. He shoots a laser at one of her teeth. Doesn't seem to bother her very much, and the laser actually makes the same noise as a dentist's drill.
  • Genesis II. The mutants have devices that inflict pain by touch. The devices can be set to deliver various levels of pain, from mild correction up to incapacitation.
  • Played for Laughs in Back to the Future, where Marty, posing as an evil alien, invokes this trope using a Walkman and a Van Halen tape. Surprisingly, the victim didn't notice the headset over his ears, but it's safe to assume he was distracted by the yellow-suited figure threatening to melt his brain.
  • Barb Wire: Colonel Pryzer interrogates an unnamed woman by hooking her up to a device that causes pain to a body part when he touches a matching body part on a screen. When she finally cracks and shares what she knows, Pryzer runs his hand along the entire screen, which is so painful that it kills her.

  • In the Lone Wolf series, psychic attacks — including those used by the hero, like Mindblast and Psi-surge — are explicitly causing pain any time their effects are described in detail. Kai Lords mostly use them in combat to weaken, disarm or hurt enemies. Villains like the Darklords, of course, have no such qualms and are known to unleash such powers on minions who've disappointed them.

  • The Torturer's Lens from the Alcatraz Series.
  • Particularly effective one in Animorphs that also had an opposite number feature built into the device. The idea was, that while pain was a good form of torture, a better method was to cause pain, then overwhelming happiness, then quickly turn it back to pain to break the victim faster. Rachel considered its use on Tobias one of the worst things that was done in the war.
    • Another book described how the Yeerk Dracon Beams were descended from Andalite Shredder weapons but were altered to cause as much pain as possible. Shredder weapons set to full power vaporize targets almost instantly and painlessly. Dracon Beams set to full vaporize victims slowly enough that they can feel their molecules explode.
  • Creature Court has a rare heroic use, when Velody, having just become head of the titular backstabbing, dysfunctional Court, who only respect shows of power, uses her animor like this against Livilla. She's still horrified by herself and utterly relieved when it's over, but notes that it's better than Ashiol's option: straight-up gutting people.
  • In Destiny's Forge (set in Niven's Known Space but written by Paul Chafe), the Patriarch's Telepath projects a void beam: a loss of sensation so horrible you'll beat your brains out on the ground just so you can FEEL SOMETHING.
  • In Wintersmith, it's shown that very skilled Discworld witches like Granny Weatherwax can take the pain of an ailing patient out of their body and transfer it to somewhere else. I Shall Wear Midnight shows that, if push comes to shove, that somewhere else could be someone else.
  • Dune:
    • In Dune, the Reverend Mother tests Paul Atreides's humanity with a box that directly stimulates the pain receptors in Paul's hand. She also holds a poisoned needle that will kill him if he withdraws the hand from the box. The logic is that a lesser creature will simply react to the pain and die from the poison, while an intelligent one will be able to override the instinct and save itself. Paul does not know this until he is told to withdraw his hand from the box, however, and what he thinks is happening to his hand is described in gory, most definitely not PG-rated detail. The miniseries adaptation shows us (either as an illusion to make it even more of a test, or that's just what Paul thinks is happening, like in the book is left up to the viewer) his hand being Stripped to the Bone.
    • "Pain amplifiers" are mentioned in passing, that presumably make conventional torture that bit more effective with no greater risk of death.
  • The Cruciatus Curse in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter is a torture spell, designated as one of the three "Unforgivable Curses" that result in a lifetime sentence in Azkaban for the casternote . Its sole function is to cause excruciating pain for its target, and can only be successfully cast if the caster genuinely wants the target to suffer. It's specifically stated that "righteous anger" doesn't fuel it, only actual malice will. When Harry actually tries to use it in anger in Book 5, it doesn't work properly because he doesn't have enough drive to seriously harm or kill anyone; this changes in Book 7, as Amycus Carrow finds out by spitting in the face of Professor MacGonagall.
  • Jade Eyes uses this combined with drugs on Ward in the second book of the Hurog duology, to make sure the torture leaves no marks. Ward doesn't quite break, but it's a close-run thing.
    • The slavery curse on Oreg seems to work this way as well, leaving him writhing in agony on the ground when he disobeys an accidental order and unable to move, speak or even scream when he moves too far from Ward. Ward is horrified.
  • A contemporary use in The Killer Ascendant. John Rain has to rescue his friend Dox who is being held prisoner on a yacht, so he borrows a man-portable version of the Active Denial System. Dox doesn't mind being subjected to agonizing pain by his rescuers, as one of the guards was just about to castrate him.
  • Inverted — but oddly horribly — in Larry Niven's Known Space stories with the tasp. The tasp doesn't stimulate pain; it stimulates pleasure, simultaneously being just as incapacitating as pain and threatening a victim with permanent addiction. In The Ringworld Engineers, Louis reveals to Chmee that someone once hit him with a tasp. Later, this caused Louis to become a "wirehead", addicted to a wire plugged into his head to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's novel Line of Delirium starts with the main character being killed by an algopistol, a weapon that causes all nerves in his body to simultaneously transmit extreme pain signals to the brain. Normally, the person dies of shock. It is unclear if the main character died from shock or from bleeding out, as his thrashing caused him to cut his body on some super-thin webbing. He gets better.
    • The algopistol is specifically referred to as a weapon for losers.
  • In the Logan's Run novel, the Sandmen carried a Gun that fired a "Homer", which homed in on the target and, on impact, stimulated every pain nerve in the body before killing the victim. It was the primary deterrent against Runners: If you turn yourself in for Deep Sleep on Lastday, you'll be put to death by pleasurable gas, but if you Run, you'll suffer the Homer.
  • A form of this is used on Winston in the Ministry of Love, among many other tortures, in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: The pain curse, Dolor. It has a Necessary Drawback in that it can only inflict pain the caster has experienced, and it's hardly ever used in combat, but it's a favorite of mages who wish to Kick the Dog: Sadist Teacher Darius Grenville is notorious for using it on students who stand up to him despite the school having banned teachers from using it on students. Unfortunately for Darius, main character Oliver Horn has the Ghost Memory of his mother's Rasputinian Death at Darius and his coconspirators' hands to fall back on when casting it: he only stops when Darius begs for death.
  • In Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space universe, this is a preferred method of torturing a Conjoiner; since Conjoiners can use their neural implants to block all physical pain, the only way to guarantee that they'll feel pain is by directly communicating it to their brains.
  • In Rogue Sorcerer, Sorcerers are shown commanding demons to wrack their enemies with terrible pain.
  • In Speaker for the Dead, the field that surrounds the small colony on Lusitania, preventing anyone from trying to climb over the fence (most colonists are forbidden from interacting with the native Pequeninos). It's later revealed that the Pequeninos can chew a certain herb that temporarily makes them immune to the pain (or rather, they still sense the pain but perceive it as happening to someone else). When Miro attempts to follow suit, he finds out that the herb doesn't work on humans and nearly dies. While the colonists do shut off the power to the field (which is treason as far as the Starways Congress is concerned), Miro still suffers a stroke and ends up unable to speak properly.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell features a whip-like device called a 'bioclast', used on slaves by an evil mine supervisor. Its effect is described by the protagonist/narrator as feeling "like the flesh had been sliced to the bone and boiling acid poured into the wound".
  • The agony booth and the agonizer are a feature of Star Trek's "Mirror Universe" first introduced in the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror." In the Diane Duane novel Dark Mirror, the crew of the Enterprise-D confront their mirror universe counterparts. In the mirror universe, Troi's role as "ship's counselor" involves her using the agony booth a lot and the crew's agonizers take the place of combadges. It's even pointed out how the "old" agonizers were inefficient, brute instruments while the modern version is specifically designed to attack the wearer's most sensitive nerves.
    • In the Shatnerverse, the mirror Kirk explains how he eliminated his universe's Pavel Chekov after he found out that he had plotted to assassinate him. He threw him into an agony booth, set it to medium intensity, as a "showcase of [his] leniency". He described it thusly: "Think of a dull toothache throughout your body, in every part. Bearable, but most uncomfortable. And then I kept Pavel in it. It took thirteen days for him to die." (Preserver, 2000)
  • Star Wars Legends has a lot of examples of this. In addition to the Force Lightning featured at the top of the page, there are neuronic whips, the nerve disruptor which was a quite literal agony beam, and the scan grid used by Darth Vader on Han Solo and later improved by Imperial Director Ysanne Izard.
    • There's also the charric, which was the Chiss' equivalent of a blaster. Due to the way they worked, charrics couldn't use a stun setting like blasters and the designers had to settle for a setting that caused intense pain.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, "painrials" are an inversion invented by the Magitek engineer Navani Kholin: on contact with someone who's in pain, they absorb the pain so the person doesn't feel it. Played straight in Oathbringer when someone tries to assassinate Navani and learns the hard way that her personal, much-used painrial has a reverse switch.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, Shann's first test is being trapped in the memory of a bully using an agony whip on him. Despite the pain of the first blow, he manages to dispel it by remembering it was a decade ago and the man is dead now.
  • Peona's power from Super Minion. She can create glowing, spectral weapons that cause pain on contact. It backfires on Tofu by causing human.exe to stop working without actually incapacitating him.
  • The Agiel in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series is a magical stick used by the Mord-Sith to inflict pain on anyone it touches. The Agiel also hurts the Mord-Sith if it's the same one she was 'trained' with, but they're conditioned to withstand the pain. It is fatal, however, if it touches anywhere near the heart. There's also Wizard's Pain.
    • Mord-Sith even use the Agiel during sex. Mistress Denna, the main torturer in the first book, tells the protagonist she has never had intercourse without it.
    • In the Legend of the Seeker TV series based on the books, Darken Rahl has also conditioned himself to withstand the pain of an Agiel. In one scene, he makes out with Denna while touching her with one.
      • In the book, wizards also tend to be conditioned for such pain - Empathic Healing makes a high pain threshold necessary (there are also pain spells that work by touch). As for making out... a Mord-Sith "marriage" ceremony is basically a french kiss with an Agiel between the two mouths.
  • In the Bizarro Universe Transformers: Shattered Glass, the Autobots have the Agonizing Rehabilitation Chambers, (inspired by both the healing CR Chambers from Beast Wars and the agony booths from Star Trek's Mirror Universe ) which Optimus uses to dole out punishment to anyone he's not happy with.
  • Jane from The Twilight Saga had an ability which allows her to cause someone pain merely by looking at them.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Functional Magic of the One Power can create this effect, which the Dreaded Torture Technician Semirhage absolutely loves, since it can create pain that would be deadly if caused by physical trauma. She also inverts this by using the same effect to overwhelm people with pleasure, which she notes as being even harder to counter with Heroic Willpower; one of her victims actually dies from trying to resist it.
  • In Niven's A World Out of Time, there is Mirelly-Lyra Zeelashisthar's silver cane, which can inflict crippling emotional pain. It was designed by a world-conquering State as a conditioning tool for recalcitrant slaves. A highly effective one, too; the protagonist is so traumatized by the experience that just looking at Mirelly terrifies him.
    It wasn’t physical, this agony. It was sorrow and helpless rage and guilt. He wanted to die.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: The only pieces of functional Magitek that survived from The Beforetimes are painrods, which inflict incapacitating agony with a touch. They're the exclusive possession of the Warder Magic Knights.
  • In This Alien Shore, Guild members interrogate a criminal by using an illegal torture technique that involves directly stimulating his neural circuits. Even fractions of a second of agony are enough to break him.
  • In Journey to the West, the Goddess of Mercy Guanyin gives Xuansang a cursed circlet to put on Son Wukong's head that never comes off. If Xuansang says the correct phrase, it constricts and gives the Sage Equal To Heaven such a headache he'll do whatever Xuansang says to get it to stop.
  • Isaac Asimov's The Stars, Like Dust: The neuronic whip is an energy weapon that causes the pain nerves of its victims to be "universally and maximally stimulated". When one character is hit in the foot with one, the resulting sensation is compared to stepping into a bath of boiling lead, or that foot having a granite block dropped on it, or it being bitten off by a shark.
  • Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky: The neuronic whip has several degrees of power, but Dr Arvardan gets to experience the highest levels, which cause every nerve in the body to react in pain, overstimulating him into unconsciousness.
  • Isaac Asimov and Janet Asimov's Norby Finds a Villain: One of the Psychic Powers developed by the Master Cult is the ability to cause pain at a distance. In a false future, each Master controls an entire planet, wielding their ability to inflict pain as a punishment for the smallest infraction.
  • The Brotherhood of the Conch: In Shadowland, police officers in the city of Coal carry blue tubes that have no physical effects, but cause people to collapse in pain.
  • The Brothers' War: Ashnod's Magitek staff fires waves of energy which disrupt the target's nervous system, wracking them with pain. At higher intensities, it can kill outright.
  • Shatter the Sky: Faris has the power to remake the pain from any old wound a person has suffered and so torture them by inflicting this once again.
  • Sweet & Bitter Magic: In the fight with Marlena, she uses a spell that causes pain to torture Wren.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • Narn "Pain-givers", seen in action in the attempt on G'Kar's life by the agent of a recently deceased rival.
    • The Inquisitor's cane, used in "Comes the Inquisitor", sure qualifies.
  • Blake's 7: In "Aftermath", weapons inventor Hal Mellanby uses "vitashock" rifles against barbarians trying to break into the entry hatch of his underground base — the idea being aversion therapy so they'll associate the hatch with pain and stay away, avoiding the need to kill them. However, the barbarians aren't stupid; they work out what's happening and sneak up on their firing position during the night.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Used/threatened in "Genesis of the Daleks" by Davros against the Doctor/Harry and Sarah Jane.
    • Sutekh's eyes function as this in "Pyramids of Mars".
    • In "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor is tortured to get him to confess with this.
    • ...and then, there's the Mind Probe ("What? No NOT the mind PROBE!") from "The Five Doctors".
    • Used in "Vengeance on Varos", which leads to the odd spectacle of a shirtless Jason Connery being tortured by having a torch shined on his chest.
    • In "Dalek", Henry van Statten's body scanner has this effect on the Doctor (with a direct visual Call-Back to the torture scene in "Vengeance on Varos"). It's not clear if the pain is a standard side effect or due to van Statten mishandling the Imported Alien Phlebotinum.
    • The Master uses this on the Doctor in "The End of Time". And beautifully so.
    • The Teselecta in "Let's Kill Hitler" punished historical criminals by intercepting them at the end of their lives to "give them hell." The beam was used on River Song, but the Doctor intervened so it is unclear whether the ultimate function would have included death as well as pain.
  • The imprinting chairs in Dollhouse can be used to generate this effect, as Bennett shows rather graphically to Echo.
  • In the miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune, the box used by the Reverend Mother to torture Paul appears to be transparent and shows his hand searing from the heat. It's actually just a hologram meant to amplify the psychological effect.
  • Subverted in Farscape: the Scarran's natural agony beam is one of solid heat. Not only can it kill, but the camera tends to linger on shots of the victim's skin bubbling and burning as they die- case in point, Prince Clavor and Diagnosan Tocot.
    • Which shows the power the Ancients have when the Scarran Emperor Staleek tries to mind-probe "Einstein", only for the latter to No-Sell the beam with a literal Hand Wave.
    • At some point Rygel decides to torture a captured Charrid with his own instrument. He mentions he knows Charrid torture instruments well, including that they contain a pain amplifier.
  • Gene Roddenberry's TV movie Genesis II featured the evil mutant Tyranians using "stims" — short rods which could be adjusted to induce either pain or pleasure on contact. Unsurprisingly, hero Dylan Hunt (the one that one was named for) didn't fall to the ground until the highest pain setting was used. Then they gave him a pleasure dose: carrot after stick.
  • In Haven, Jordan McKee's Trouble is that if she makes skin contact with someone, that person experiences agonizing pain until she lets go. She has no control over it and hates it. Nathan Wuornos is immune because he has Feel No Pain.
  • In the Henry Danger episode "Tears of the Jolly Beetle", Captain Mann asks to be shot with one he has to test that he was cured and is invulnerable again.
  • Kingdom Adventure: Zordock has this ability: he fires beams at minions who annoy him, and while the beams don't do any visible damage, they do seem to cause at least moderate pain.
  • Mission: Impossible: Barney is subjected to one that plays on the pain centres of his brain in "The Golden Serpent (Part 1)".
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 spoofed this with Dr. Forrester's DEEEEEEEEP HUUUUUUUURTING, which he used to keep Joel/Mike and the bots in line. The exact nature of Deep Hurting changed from episode to episode; sometimes the Hurting seemed to be actual physical pain caused by a device, but sometimes it was simply the fact that our heroes had to sit through yet another awful movie.
    • In The Movie, Dr. Forrester demands that Mike and the 'Bots bow to him. Then he turns and pulls a lever when they don't immediately obey. Whatever happens next, it appears to hurt the 'Bots, too.
    • Also in episode #611, "Last of the Wild Horses", Tom and Gypsy are thrust into the Mirror Universe where Mike and Crow torment Frank and Dr. F. Crow screws something up, but has failed to keep the batteries in his personal agonizer charged and the Agony Booth is on the fritz — again!
    • The "Brain Guys" were able to inflict pain using their minds to force Pearl and Professor Bobo to fight to the death. For some reason, it did not seem to work on Mike or the Bots.
  • The Outpost: The Red Kinj gives its host the ability to inflict intense pain on anyone within a close radius.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the Goa'uld "hand device" has this as a standard feature. The area it affects is notably red for a while afterward. Naturally, they love to use it at every opportunity and SG-1 have been zapped so often they should all have a permanent sunburn. Especially Daniel, who in one later season episode quips, "I think I'm starting to get used to that," after it happens once again. It can kill, though, with prolonged use — this just doesn't happen, to the heroes, very often.
    • At first, one shot of the Zat gun was an Agony Beam, but it eventually became "phasers on stun."
    • The Goa'uld have another Agony Beam that looks like a cattle prod. When it's used, an orange light comes out of the victim's eyes and mouth, and presumably nose and ears (but that's harder to see). O'Neill gets this one used on him a lot.
      • In an alternate universe, the US is under martial law after revealing the existence of the stargate has caused mass rioting, so the Secret Service is now using the "cattle prod" as a standard tool.
  • Star Trek's Mirror Universe had a device called the "Agonizer," and the "Agony Booths."
    • Interestingly, the Agony Booth didn't exactly make the Cold-Blooded Torture any less disturbing to watch. When Star Trek: Enterprise revisited the Mirror Universe in the "In A Mirror, Darkly" prequel episodes, showing among other things the invention of the booth's first prototype and its earliest usage, a lot of the filming crew got seriously upset while shooting the scene in which Mirror Tucker pleads his innocence while Mirror Archer tries to torture a confession out of him using the booth.
    • The booths are sufficiently bad one bad-movie recap website took its name from them.
    • The mirror universe returns in Star Trek: Discovery, and Lorca is put in an agony booth for days in punishment for something his mirror counterpart did. Or so we think at the time. He gets major points for ordering the crew, posing as their mirror selves, to not risk blowing their cover by helping him (and he gets more points for simply being able to speak while in the booth; few are that tough!)
    • One thing about the agony booth - it's not very highly special-effect-ed, even in later decades. Bringing home the Nightmare Fuel is purely up to the actor's performance. When done well, again, the production crew will be disturbed by it!
    • Star Trek Online features a version of the mirror universe where the Terran Empire never fell. Agonizer/Agony Booth technology is integrated into phasers, so you can set them to torture your enemy instead of stunning or killing. (It seems pointless and impractical For the Evulz-ness, but if you need an enemy alive and awake for on-the-spot interrogation or to enter a code or some such, extreme pain would be a way to stop them from attacking/fleeing but not render them unable to do what you need them to do.)
    • In a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe episode Mirror-Bashir uses a handheld agonizer on the Intendant. Being Too Kinky to Torture, she purrs "If you want to teach me a lesson, you'll have to turn that up a bit."
    • In "Dagger of the Mind", there is a Mind Rape machine that looks like a sun lamp shining on a hair-salon chair. And Kirk isn't even strapped in. He could just stand up and walk off, but apparently it's so intense that he only sits there writhing in pain as a sort of post-hypnotic suggestion is used on him.
    • The Eymorgs' pain bracelets in "Spock's Brain". The unbelievable acting done in this episode would be spoofed many times, most notably in The Wonder Years.
    • In "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" the Instrument of Obedience, a subcutaneous implant placed in a person's head, can inflict horrible, even lethal, pain on them when they violate any rule set down by the Oracle.
    • The pain implants used by the mercenaries on Picard and Riker in the two-part episode Gambit.
    • Also, the pain implants used by the Cardassian interrogator on Picard in "Chain of Command". The writer, Frank Abatemarco, consulted Amnesty International on the psychology of torturers and their victims, and the actor Patrick Stewart studied tapes from AI in preparing for the scenes. Notably, this one has no sound or light effect to tell the audience when to flinch, just really good acting.
    • Klingon Pain Sticks, from several TNG episodes. It turns out that as cruel as Klingons can be, they actually need their pain (quote from Star Trek V notwithstanding) from time to time, particularly for important warrior rites. That's right, it's not a device to torture enemies, but something Klingons voluntarily submit to it to prove their toughness in rituals.
    • TOS Klingons used an agonizer as well in " Day of the Dove", and in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" collars of obedience were collars used to keep the thralls of Triskelion in place.
    • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Allegiance" also had a green ray effect that did this. Certainly a good example of how simple the effects need to be.
    • In "Power Play", the heroes use a plasma beam to inflict pain on three crewmembers who have been possessed by aliens - not as a means of torture, but to get the aliens to leave.
    • Then there was the energy field the space jellyfish in "Encounter at Farpoint" subjects Groppler Zorn to, though the sounds he was making made it sound more like he was in a tickle ray.
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Future's End", Henry Starling kidnaps the Emergency Medical Hologram so he can torture him for information. Starling reprograms the Doctor so that, using a remote control, Starling can cause the Doctor to feel as though he is on fire.
    • The Varon-T Disruptor from "The Most Toys". Only 5 were made, and they're illegal galaxy-wide. 'Cause not only does the disruptor disintegrate a victim, it disintegrates them slowly. Molecule by molecule. Leaving the victim to feel unbelievable agony before dying.
  • Angels of Supernatural have this power, though it's explained that when they make a human double over in agony, it's specifically because the angel is messing with the human's internal workings (breaking their bones, removing their lungs, giving them stage 4 stomach cancer) in a nasty way.
  • The Thundermans: Max once invented a "Helium Pain Blaster", which not only tortures the target, but also forces them to speak in Helium Speech.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "The Man Who Made Volcanoes", Wonder Woman endures the prolonged laser blast of a weapon designed to cause volcanic eruptions.
  • Enlisted pitted the squad in a battle exercise against a robotic spider piloted by an officer wielding an energy weapon that causes those struck to lose control of their bowels. They wind up soiled but ultimately victorious.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): The sul'dam (the Seanchan women in control of enslaved channelers called damane) can cause them pain using their gauntlet, which is used for breaking them. Further, damane attempting to remove the a'dam collars that control them or harming sul'dam causes them great pain too.

  • The music video for Powerman 5000's When Worlds Collide has a pastiche of Ming with two agony beam rings, the hero manages to overpower his beams with his own energy blast, disintegrating him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost: One sourcebook mentions a realm in Arcadia which is essentially built around Zeerust. Those changelings taken to this realm have metal bands implanted in their heads that can cause incredible pain if they screw up or go into an area they're not supposed to; the bands can also give sensations of pleasure if they do their jobs properly. To escape, they need to either cut the bands out or resist the pain long enough to get across the boundary between the realm and the Hedge. The trickiest part is that the pain switches to especially-intense pleasure right before they reach the Hedge.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: There are several lines of spells that do this.
    • The Nybor's line of spells (going from "Gentle Reminder" to "Wrathful Castigation") being particular favorites. 3.x also has an Always Chaotic Evil version named "Wrack".
    • The big daddy of all these spells would have to be "Eternity of Torture", which fills the target with unbearable agony unto them being unable to do anything besides writhe in pain. And it makes them immortal. So they can suffer forever.
    • The not-so-subtly named "Power Word: Pain".
    • Not to mention "Love's Agony" from the Book of Vile Darkness. To add to the torture, it doesn't even harm the person it hits, instead harming the person they care for most, making it a spell reserved almost exclusively for being pointlessly cruel.
  • Nicol Bolas of Magic: The Gathering can cause horrific levels of mental and physical agony at the same time with but the slightest caress. And not only was he born with this power, it's his most infamous ability.
  • Godforsaken: Cambions can fire ruby rays from their fingers that inflict torturous pain in their targets.
  • GURPS: Magic has "Pain" and the much worse "Agonize" (turns every sensation into extreme pain). Ultratech has Sonic Nauseators (pain and loss of bowel control) as well as the Neural Disruptors. Any Affliction with the "Agony" Enhancement does exactly this.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Drukhari a number of weapons designed specifically to cause as much suffering in their unfortunate victims as possible, the most common of which is the Agoniser. These energised whips latch onto the target's nervous system to directly stimulate their pain sensors, instantly incapacitating or killing the unfortunate victim. In the 8th Edition rules, this is represented by the Agoniser always having a 50% chance of wounding a non-vehicle enemy. The race also has a literal Agony Beam, the Stinger Pods fitted to the mobile torture devices known as Talos Pain Engines, which siphon and store the pain of their victims so that it can be unleashed as a beam of pure agony during battle.
    • Fabius Bile, one of the settings most infamous Mad Scientists, wields a skull topped cane, known as the 'Rod of Torment'. This horrific device is capable of amplifying the pain it causes to its victim so that even those that suffer even the slightest cut will be incapacitated with agony. How this is represented in the game varies depending on the edition with some forcing a model to be removed from the battlefield after suffering a single wound while the 8th Edition rules have the Rod inflicting a random number of wounds against non-vehicles.

    Video Games 
  • In Corpse Party after the True End of Chapter 4 of "Blood Covered," Ayumi gets to see from one of the ghost children, Yuki Kanno, just what happened. She and three other children were tied up and brought to the basement of Heavenly Host Elementary School by the principal's son and Yuki is blindfolded, but she hears every last gory sound. The first victim, Ryou Yoshizawa, is stabbed to death and has his tongue cut out. The second child, Tokiko Tsuji, is stabbed in the mouth so much that her head just about comes off! When it's finally Yuki's turn, the blindfold comes off and it turns out the man is cowering in the corner. The real killer is Sachiko Shinozaki holding a pair of scissors and she stabs them into Yuki's eye until there's nothing but soup. Ayumi got to feel each and every last sensation of fear and pain in those moments.
  • The Fermi Paradox: One event has a civilization invent one of these, and how widespread it becomes depends on the player, with potential outcomes resulting in it either being used only for the worst of the worst, or it being used for every single little infraction. However, there is a third option if the player is willing to spend some of their Synthesis, resulting in the device only working on those who consent to it, meaning it is only ever used for extremely kinky activities.
  • World of Warcraft has at least two spells whose names imply that they do this. Priests have Shadow Word: Pain and Warlocks have Curse of Agony. Both of these spells inflict continuous shadow-elemental damage over a period of time and can kill their targets.
    • Priest's Mind Flay and Mind Sear probably also count (maybe Warlock's Drain Soul too). All are channeled spells that project a beam that rends the target's mind or souls, dealing shadow damage.
    • A quest in the Borean Tundra has you use one on a captured mage. The tooltip states that it 'inflicts incredible pain to the target, but does no permanent damage'. After the quest, you can get more of these, free of charge, just for fun.
    • Several mobs in the game have a "Pain Spike" ability, which inflicts instant damage on a target, but that damage wears off over time.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Exdeath uses the crystals to blast the heroes with Agony Beams in Final Fantasy V, but when Exdeath attacks Krile for trying to pull a Big Damn Heroes, her grandpa Galuf breaks it (and the crystal) through sheer willpower. What follows is an epic boss battle and Heroic Sacrifice in which Galuf manages to drive Exdeath off despite fighting at zero hit points the whole time.
    • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II's Emperor Mateus has one of these as part of his EX Burst. Perform it perfectly, and he performs Entice, suspending the enemy in zero gravity as he continually blasts them with arc lighting from his hand, Emperor Palpatine style.
  • At one point in Lost Odyssey, the Big Bad seems to do this to you—he gets tired of fighting you and uses a spell called "Pain Surge," dealing max damage to everyone in your party. Judging by the following cutscene, it also sends you into a coma.
  • The Shivering Isles expansion to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a quest where you use this. Getting true answers from some people requires several uses.
  • Star Control II has the Excruciator, a device designed to directly stimulate the pain receptors of an Ur-Quan's brain. Unusual in that it was developed by the Ur-Quan, not for punishment or torture, but to protect against mind control by another species which had enslaved them, and was forced to break their control whenever their victims experienced extreme pain.
    • Before the Excruciator, they were forced to do things like poisoning themselves (as their hero Kzer-Za did in order to inform the rest of his race about their masters' weakness) and mutilating themselves. Causing pain without lasting damage is probably better.
  • In Rise of Legends, this is an ability for one of the Vinci hero units, which can be used to immobilize and damage a single target.
  • Mundus can unleash these in Devil May Cry. He uses them to execute failed minions, like Griffon, and occasionally builds them into his creations, like Trish.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Uldred and his fellow Abominations torture mages with this until they agree to become Abominations themselves.
  • Is Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, there's nerve stapling, and its direct application, the Punishment Sphere which consists in injecting pain directly into the nervous system through implants. It is a fate so horrifying to be sentenced to that if you build one in a city, there won't be any riots there anymore. The downside is halving the research rate in that city. The faction leaders also have some reserved for their rivals, when they capture any.
    It is not uncommon to see patients undergo permanent psychological trauma in the presence of the Sphere, before the nerve stapler has even been strapped into position. Its effect on the general consciousness of the culture is profound: husbands have seen wives go inside, and mothers their children. Dr. Xynan left the surface of the sphere semitranslucent for a reason. You can hear them in there; you can see them. It is a thing of terrible beauty.
    — Baron Klim, The Music of the Spheres
    • It also works on the Progenitors in the Alien Crossfire expansion, which means their nervous system is, at least, remotely similar to that of humans.
  • This is the schtick that Saul Karath uses against you in Knights of the Old Republic. The Jerkass ups the ante by torturing your love interest if you give him an answer he doesn't want to hear. It's especially brutal if you're playing female considering the long, nasty history between Carth and Saul.
  • Wild 9 puts you in control of one of these. The Agony Beam doubles as a sort of electro-lasso and allows you to throw your enemies off cliffs, slam them into solid objects, shove them through shredders, drop them into jet engines...the list goes on and on and on.
  • Postal 2 gives you one in the form of the "Shock Rocket" stun gun which, when applied to a subject, causes them to twitch involuntarily and smoke, and then drop to the ground, still twitching, losing bladder control, and whimpering pleas like "Just finish it!" or "I can't feel my legs!" Combine the max-ammo cheat (which bumps the charge capacity up to 999, with usage consuming about 5 units per second) with the fact that the game already runs on Video Game Cruelty Potential, and you can pretty easily see the kinds of horrible (or awesome, depending on your perspective) places this can go.
    • With the AWP expansion pack, you can also get a modified Shock Rocket called simply "The Puker." It induces immediate and incapacitating vomiting with even a split second's application to a subject of your choice.
  • In the Mass Effect series, the recurring power 'Neural Shock' overwhelms an organic target's nervous system with pain, immobilizing them and causing significant damage. In 3, Mordin zaps an STG agent with it to convince him to break protocol.
  • A favorite of many Sith in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Sith Inquisitor in particular specializes in using Force Lightning to its fullest extent and gets multiple prompts to shock people for any reason.
  • Subverted in Rise of the Reds. The American Microwave Tank is supposed to be this, but its operators generally just crank it up to a lethal setting.
  • The Signature Move of the Dark Oppressor from Nexus Clash is Agony Curse, which is a fire-and-forget version of this trope that lingers long after the Oppressor stops paying attention to the victim. Not that most victims live very long after being cursed, since as the 'support' character for demonkind, the Oppressor is usually doing this to soften up targets for its allies.
  • The Tower Defense game Canterlot Siege has Trixie, who fires a continuous beam of red energy to attack.
  • Marisa as the Extra Boss of Yousei Daisensou ~ Touhou Sangetsusei shoots "demotivation rays", wide rays that rather than kill Cirno outright like everything else in the game, they drain her motivation, the game's health point equivalent, and must be avoided as much as possible.
  • Dark Oppressors in the Nexus War series have Agony Curse, which cripples the victim from the inside out with all-consuming pain, making them take more damage from everything and lose most of their effectiveness in combat. There are ways to cure it, but they're so obscure that the only options are waiting it out while not doing anything for quite some time or death.
  • In Xenosaga, Wilhelm whips this out within seconds of Shion telling him to go to hell.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Alice Alisceon's brutal execution caused her to rise as an undead Tortured Monster with an agony aura, dealing armor-piercing damage every turn to everyone near her.


    Web Original 
  • In Mortasheen, there is a creature called Bifrons who has this power. The creator actually said about this "I don't know how I came to design a mutant possum with torture-beam eyeballs"
  • In Worm one of the villains creates a bomb with this effect.
    • This has the unintended side effect of supercharging Taylor's pain tolerance, as she relates to the cape healing her more than ten chapters later.
    • It's sequel Ward, has Aroa, who can fire lightning that induces pain and makes the victim want more of it.
  • John Lant from Phaeton.
  • In Twig, the rebellion against the Academy of Evil makes use of special bullets which cause this effect, fragmenting in the wound and inducing massive agony, in order to drive Academy warbeasts mad with pain.
  • In Effulgence, Stella invents an Agony Beam (even referred to as such) for the purposes of entertaining her boyfriend and producing wishcoins. Eventually the use of same becomes standard throughout the peal of Bells. Also, Brilliance had one installed for use on him, for less friendly purposes, although it eventually gets used for friendly purposes.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-469, the sound-eating "Many-Winged Angel" has feathers that inject a neurotoxin that triggers all the pain receptors in a victim, causing them to scream in agony and feed the SCP. The neurotoxin also contains stimulants that keep the victim from passing out so they can scream for even longer and provide it with more nourishment.
    • SCP-865, otherwise known as "The Gentleman's Lash". It's a handgun that inflicts psychological damage on the target, leaving them with pain equivalent to that of a gunshot to the appropriate area, but no wounds and no memory of being shot, instead, the target will rationalize the pain as the result of a non-existent incident. This is a case where the Agony beam, though nonlethal, is by no means harmless - shots to the spine leave a target paralyzed, and a point-blank headshot annihilates the target's higher brain functions. It turns out that it also removes traumatic memories from the user, using those to fuel its effect.
    • SCP-1007-RU, the "Nietzsche Virus". A virus that floods every cell of the infected's body with unimaginable agony while altering their pain receptors to progressively increase their tolerance for the next stage. The victims are left to suffer pain beyond human comprehension that cannot be reduced in any way, shape, or form for 36 hours at a time with theoretically no upper limit. The Foundation Overseer Council votes to authorize its use as an interrogation method and approves human testing for up to stage nine.
  • Played for Laughs in a TikTok skit where a man and his fiance are at the hospital to deliver their child. The doctor informs them of a new device that can transfer the pain of childbirth over to the father, which he consents to. The doctor starts the machine at twenty percent, and the mother is slightly relieved, but the father says that he doesn't feel anything different. He has the doctor turn the machine up to forty percent, and still nothing. Suddenly, the father's phone rings. On the other end of the line, his best friend groans, "Oh, man, I feel like I'm passing a kidney stone the size of a watermelon!" The father urges the friend to go to a doctor to see what's up and advises the doctor in the hospital to turn the machine up to sixty percent. At that, his friend cries out, "Oh, God, it's getting worse!", through a barely-stifled howl of pain. The father's about to respond to him but stops. A look of mortified realization creeps across his face, as he glances back to his wife, and after a moment to put two and two together, he says, "Turn it to a hundred, doc."

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Capsaicin, the chemical which makes hot peppers "hot", produces its effect by persistently activating an ion channel (TRPV1) which is directly involved in the perception of pain and scalding heat. That is, it's literally chemical pain.
    • And that's nothing compared to its big brother, resiniferatoxin, which is thousands of times more powerful than capsaicin. Eat 10g of this stuff? You'll go into shock and die.
  • There's a real-life weapon being tested as we speak called the Active Denial System. It uses millimeter wave radio energy to heat the surface layer of the skin, causing intense, incapacitating pain with no lasting injury. It's intended for use as a humane crowd control device (especially compared to the alternatives: tear gas, bullets, flamethrowers...).
    • There also seems to be a possibility that this system may come into actual use soon. Though the system appears to have taken on a more user-friendly acronym (Assault Intervention Device or AID), its function remains marginally unchanged.
    • Serious controversy has been raised over the question of what happens when people are too tightly packed to move, or rendered immobile by injury (Both are likely scenarios in riots and firefights), especially since the long-term effects are largely unknown, but probably not good.
      • It has been demonstrated to cause burns in skin and if the eye were exposed the cornea would quickly cook causing blindness.
    • All demonstrations shown so far, the pain has failed to incapacitate; it's hard to resist, but not impossible for a determined person. The same is also true of pepper spray and tear gas.
    • One occasional myth that does pop up is that metal objects worn by a target can heat up faster and cause more serious contact burns. Metal items are reflective in the microwave spectrum and sheet metal could be used as a shield.
  • The Long Range Acoustic Device AKA the Sonic Cannon is a sound-based weapon that serves a similar purpose. This is the device that was first widely publicized when it was used to avert a pirate attack. You just can't make this stuff up! (In practice, it "fires" a blast of sound that, without proper protection, screws up the body's balance mechanism and inflicts some pretty serious pain.) What is interesting is that the sound is perfectly directional. The device can be set to fire out at a specific angle from the speakers. For example, if the device projected at a cone of 30 degrees, only anyone inside that cone would be affected. Anyone standing behind it would hear the device working, but the sound level they hear is only slightly louder than normal speaking volume. Anyone standing even 1 degree outside of the cone would hear the same level, but if they move even one degree into the cone, then the pain begins. Like the AID above, the use of the LRAD is highly controversial since the long-term side effects of exposure aren't known and police forces have been caught using it against peaceful demonstrations after they claimed they would not deploy it.
    • To its credit, the device is designed with a less-intense setting, making it a stronger, more precise version of a bullhorn that lets you give, say, an advancing mob, fair warning to turn around before they get the full blast.
    • The U.S. Army also uses extremely loud rock music to drive out terrorists in hiding.
      • And Rick Astley music
      • And music designed to annoy, humiliate, enrage, or frustrate the listener, such as music discussing drugs or promiscuous sex towards strongly religious targets. Barney music (and other children's music) and music from the South Park movie are also both confirmed to have been used in the field. This can result in an Attack Backfire if they use music the target is a fan of (in one notable instance, an interrigation subject began to sing along with the heavy-metal music They were using).
  • Then there's pepper spray, which, when dispensed from riot-control guns (also used to ward off bears) count as something between Agony Beams and paralyzers, having a slightly shorter effective range but better takedown statistics than handguns.
  • Skunks spray victims and predators in an attempt to escape, causing either irritation or even agony. Skunk spray can be let out as either a gaseous mist or a liquid stream. The mist is very potent and can be smelled from half a mile away. The stench can cause great disgust from a mere 50 ft, and the smell clings to its victim with greater intensity depending on how long it takes for the victim to wash it off. It clings with even greater intensity to fabric or animal fur. The liquid stream, however, is twice as strong and potent, and can be smelled from over a mile away. Being sprayed by the liquid stream can put the victim in intense agony and literally stun them, especially if it is near the face (which can cause temporary blindness).
    • The active components in Skunk spray have been released to the public in recent years as a toothpaste-like gel. Already, some police services use the potent smelling gel to keep people and animals out of abandoned buildings. It's proven almost 100% effective.
  • Another US DARPA project, the Pulsed Energy Projectile, used a "low" power pulsed laser beam to vaporize a small portion of the target's surface, causing a small explosion capable of knocking the target down. One side effect noticed in testing was that the EMP generated by the plasma that the laser impact produced stimulated pain receptors, and work was underway to amplify this effect.
    • Happily, like the ADS system above, the US DoD is keen to distance itself from accusations of torture and devices that might facilitate it, so these projects aren't likely to be released into use any time soon.
    • Less happily, this effect is something that could be replicated by any real-life laser weapon set to low-power single pulse output (the PEP was effectively a low-power version of a Pulsed Impulse Kill Laser project, which did exactly what it says on the tin). In the future, "phasers on stun" won't leave someone quietly snoozing, but burnt and screaming. Lovely.note 
  • A taser can be used to deliberately inflict pain, when operated in "drive stun" mode.
  • There is also a specialized LED device that projects a beam of light that rapidly pulses random colors. Looking at the light for too long messes up your brain since your eyes can't effectively focus on the colors and then you're incapacitated from a number of nasty side effects, like cluster headaches, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, irritability, and visual impairment. The Secret Service has contemplated using this to protect the President. For example, if the motorcade is traveling down a street, and the SS are tipped off that an assailant will strike from a specific direction, all they have to do is point the device in that direction, and EVERYONE over 5 miles will be blinded, friend or foe alike. It's designed to be inconvenient rather than outright painful. The lights aren't so bright as to intentionally cause blindness. It's just that everything suddenly turns completely green.
    • The device, called a "dazzler", is in active use in situations where it benefits to briefly delay someone. They're sometimes used at checkpoints to discourage suicide dashes, and some prisons use them against uncooperative inmates or to quell prison riots (the idea is to startle them just long enough for the guards to reach and subdue the prisoner(s)).
  • While not in a beam form, the stings of many small insects (as well as platypuses) are made specifically for causing pain. The most painful on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index goes to the Bullet Ant, named for its sting being as painful as getting shot by a bullet.
    • The worst example is probably the Irukandji Jellyfish, a relative of the Box Jellyfish. While their stings don't kill unless you don't get help (Box Jellyfish stings are more dangerous, though not by much), they cause such a drastic assault on one's pain nerves that even people in a medically induced coma still scream in pain.
    • Coyote Peterson has deliberately stung himself with several insects including the bullet ant, but he claims that their are four things he has experienced that were even worse that the bullet ant. Being stung by a giant Asian hornet is the fourth worst, followed by being stung by an executioner wasp, followed by being bitten by giant desert centipede (which was so painful that he had to tell his crew to cut the camera and use a venom extractor), but the worst pain of all he has experienced was accidentally getting bitten by a gila monster (which is even worse than platypus venom, though doesn't last as long).
  • The Gympie Gympie, aka the suicide plant, with pain level generally agreed to be on par with Bullet Ant above, but made worse by the following facts. Bullet Ants' sting lasts for about 24 hours and subside. Gympie sting can last for years as it embeds silicone thorns that can't be broken down by the body. The neurotoxin itself is stable, and specimen picked a century ago can still deliver the sting. The generally accepted treatment for Gympie sting is to spray the affected area with diluted Hydrochloric Acid to neutralize the toxin and wax the area to remove as much thorns as possible. Insidiously, the toxin itself doesn't actually damage your body, just stimulates the pain receptors, like a true Agony Beam.
  • The venom from the claws of a male platypus. Doesn't kill you. Turns your pain receptors up to 11. Ouch. Oh, and no pain reliever out there to date works on the pain from platypus venom. OUCH!
  • Neuralgia and Neuropathy are essentially your own body inflicting this on you. While you have no actual damage to the body parts (typically the hands and/or feet) your nerves still send pain signals to your brain. Some are worse than others; Trigeminal Neuralgia is believed to be the very worst of them, and for extra agony beam points has been described by sufferers as similar to being struck by lightning right in the face for a prolonged period of time.
  • Another one of the most painful things that a human can possibly experience is cluster headaches, which feel like being stabbed on one side of the head around the eye, only way, way worse. People who experience them often commit suicide, and the only drugs that seem to be really effective at treating them are illegal hallucinogens.


Video Example(s):


"Did you find the words?"

"Arise". With the first of his mother's murderers disarmed and at his mercy, Oliver Horn explains to Darius Grenville that he's about to experience ALL the pain he and the other conspirators inflicted on her, one pain curse at a time, and it's not going to stop until Darius finds "the right words". Oliver gets through 57 of 128 curses before Darius finds them: "End it." Oliver's eyes go empty, and he severs the man's head with his athame.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ToThePain

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