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Defeat Means Menial Labor

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"You’ll be my slave in Mycenae. A Trojan priestess scrubbing my floors."
Agamemnon to Briseis, Troy

The villain is defeated, and the next time they are seen, if they are seen, as a form of Irony, they are performing menial tasks, sometimes (though not always) on their (no longer) own premises, such as where they work or live, often as a janitor or cleaning up animal dung, and almost always with a look of utter humiliation on their faces. Often may come during the end credits.

A subtrope to Cool and Unusual Punishment and Bad Job, Worse Uniform, the latter which the villain may be forced to wear to add insult to injury. Also may be a form of Humiliation Conga, as the laborer may suffer further humiliation of some sort while laboring. See also Prisoner's Work and Working on the Chain Gang, where the hard labor is part of a criminal punishment.

As this usually happens as an ending trope, beware of unmarked Spoilers.



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     Anime & Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • One of the more corrupt military officials, Yorki, goes from a governor of a mine town he was overtaxing to working as a commoner after Ed's defeats him. Though his fate depends on which version your watching.
      • In the '03 anime, he ends up homeless and taken in by Isvahlins until he see Scar and reports him in the hope he'll regain his position and shot dead by the Homunculos to spark discord for the Big Bad's plans.
      • In the manga and Brotherhood anime, he becomes a reluctant ally to the protagonists despite his wrong doings. And in the end, ends up working at a circus as a clown.
    • In '03 anime, this also extend to the anime-only character Lyra, who acts as Yorki's enforcer. After Ed defeats her, she's seen again working as a maid under Dante, though legitimately turned over a new leaf. Unfortunately Dante manipulates and steals her body later on.
  • Kill la Kill: As punishment for losing to Ryuko, a ton of characters are demoted to no-stars, which also varies directly with socioeconomic status. No star, no service.
  • One Piece:
    • Spandam is seen as the head of CP9 ruling over Enis Lobby. After the CP9 is defeated and Enis Lobby is bombed by a Buster Call due to his incompetence. He's seen later working for the CP-0... under his former subordinate, Rob Lucci, who's head of that organization.
    • Magellan is a more sympathetic example. Unlike most in the series, he's not evil and took his job as warden of Impel Down very seriously. Wanting to make sure the most dangerous criminals of the prison are locked up tight so the outside world can feel safer. So that put him at odds against Luffy who broke in to save his brother Ace. When Luffy causes a jailbreak on his way out, half of the prisoners escaped and Magellan was likewise beaten by the Blackbeard Pirates. He nearly took his life for his failure though Sengoku, Fleet Marine Admiral at the time, stopped him. A cover story later showed that he was demoted to Vice-Warden presumably for said breakout. But hey not too bad of a rank down and the one who took his position, the former vice-warden Hannaybal, was someone who Magellan had planned to give the job to in the future anyway.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Kingdom Come: At the end, the defeated members of Lex Luthor's alliance are put to work in a hospital for victims of the final battle. They are forced to wear collars to keep them compliant, and the worse they acted in the course of the story, the dirtier the work. Lex himself is forced to do the most humiliating task... cleaning bedpans.
    • Superman: Red Son: After their failed rebellion, the Batmen undergo brainwashing to become lowly maintenance workers.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: At the end of Donald Duck and Reginella's Wedding, Donald forces the villain Bingo and his army to melt their weapons and make hoes and other agricultural tools out of them and turn into farmers at gunpoint. The punishment is quite ironic, as Bingo and his army had turned themselves into bandits because they were too lazy to work.
  • Lazarus: In the dystopian Feudal Future, governments and society as we know them today have collapsed, and the future is run by a handful of super rich Families who operate like the royalty of their own empires. The main characters in the story are the Carlyle Family, and the first volume introduces them, including the ambitious, disloyal, Smug Snake that is Jonah Carlyle, and Jonah's menacing right hand man and enforcer, Mase. Jonah is exposed as a traitor to the family by the end of volume one, (not that anybody from the Carlyle family was surprised by this) and even though Mase is cleared of any involvement he is nonetheless later seen working as a common janitor.
  • Douwe Dabbert: At the end of the Story Within a Story in Het schip van ijs, the Evil Chancellor that served as the story's Big Bad is fired from his position, and degraded to performing manual labor at the Tsar's palace.
  • Spirou and Fantasio: One story pits them against an East Asian dictator with "TO THE POLE!" (as in, tied to a pole in front of a firing squad) as his catchphrase. At the end of the story, they hear someone yell "ON THE POLE!", to find the dictator is now an itinerant vegetable salesman (informing a customer that all prices are marked on a sheet of paper stapled to the poles holding up his awning).

    Comic Strips 
  • Nodwick: After the recurring antagonists are finally defeated, Ildomir the wizard ends up shoveling dung in the Krutzing Hollow stables.

    Film — Animation 
  • Cats Don't Dance: After Darla Dimple outs herself as having caused the flood to prevent the animals from gaining stardom, her career literally goes through the floor, and, as seen in the end credits, she is relegated to a lowly janitor, posting a "The End" sign up on the wall and giving a Death Glare at the camera.
  • Frozen (2013): The short film Frozen Fever showcases that Hans, having been sent back to the Southern Isles in disgrace for his attempted takeover of Arendelle, is shown shoveling horse poop (and forced to do it in the same clothes he wore during his visit to Arendelle, even). When a sickly Queen Elsa attempts to blow the birthday horn for her sister Anna on the latter's birthday, she accidentally sneezes a giant snowball into it instead, launching all the way to the Isles, where it knocks Hans into a wagon full of Road Apples much to the amusement of the horses. The Frozen Ever After attraction revealed that even the population in his home country found it funny when he was knocked into the wagon.
  • Igor: At the end, Dr. Schadenfreude becomes a pickle salesman while Jaclyn (In her true form) becomes a pretzel saleswoman as a punishment for their scheme.
  • In The King and I after their attempts to usurp the king are exposed, Kralahome and Master Little are shown shoveling elephant dung.
  • Osmosis Jones: Having nearly killed Frank and all cells therein by being an Obstructive Bureaucrat, mayor Phlegmming is relegated to a custodial job in the large intestine. This job doesn't last long, as he manages to eject himself from Frank's body by pressing the flatulence button.
  • In Robin Hood, the last scene shows Prince John, the Sheriff, and Sir Hiss Working on the Chain Gang splitting blocks of stone, complete with striped prison uniforms.
  • Uglydolls: In the end credits, Lou, having been thrown in the washing machine as part of his being subject to a Heel–Face Door-Slam, is now messy and less perfect than ever as he is relegated to working as a janitor where he is seen cleaning up the mess while being watched by a robotic dog.
  • Two alternate endings of Rugrats in Paris have Madame LaBouche work as a costumed park employee working in one of the rides and as an employee of a perfume-manufacturing company, respectively.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future ends with a Close-Enough Timeline in which the villain Biff Tannen, who was George McFly's cruel supervisor in the original timeline, ends up waxing and detailing cars for a living, with George being one of the customers he has to please. Try not to think too hard about why the family would hire the guy who tried to rape George's wife Lorraine in high school.
  • Big Fat Liar: Marty Wolf having been outed as a liar and plagiarist, he is fired from his position as a Hollywood producer and relegated to becoming a humiliated birthday clown — and the birthday boy happens to the son of same wrestler whose car he accidentally wrecked and pissed off earlier, and the kid gives Wolf a flying Groin Attack for his troubles.
  • Edge of Tomorrow: Major Cage is busted to private and reassigned to be an infantry grunt when he refuses a direct lawful order and then tries to blackmail the general to get out of it.
  • Employee of the Month (2006): At the end, after it's discovered that Vince the rival employee has been giving away free products to customers for years by not passing the products through the register's scanner with his overtly-acrobatic method of moving the items around, he ends the film fired from the store, arrested for fraud and as part of his parole he is in a comparatively crappier job as a probation employee in a comparatively crappier store on the other side of town.
  • In Ever After, Danielle's stepmother and mean stepsister are sentenced to work as maids in the royal palace. When they try to claim they're too important for manual labor the head maid shoves them both into the laundry.
  • G-Force: In the end, Speckles is put to work removing all the chips that turned household appliances into Homicide Machines as penance for putting the chips there in in the first place.
  • A Little Princess: At the end of the 1995 version, Miss Minchin no longer runs the school, but is working as a chimney sweep, with the boy she mistreated earlier in the movie as her new boss.
  • In The Love Bug, before the big climactic race, the Big Bad Peter Thorndyke makes a bet with Tang Wu on the outcome of the race: if he wins, Thorndyke can have Herbie the VW Bug. But if Jim Douglas, owner of Herbie, wins, Wu can have Thorndyke's dealership of European imported cars. Only at the halfway mark in the race do they reveal this to Douglas and Herbie, Thorndyke sadistically gleefully and Wu solemnly, certain that Thorndyke will win for sure. The race ends with Thorndyke and Herbie neck-and-neck until Herbie breaks in half, and one of the halves (the back half, no less) manages to pull ahead and win. As per the terms of the wager, Thorndyke loses his dealership to Wu, but still works there — as a lowly mechanic, as does his henchman Havershaw.
  • Maid to Order (1987): When the spoiled rich girl Jessie Montgomery is arrested and taken to jail, her long-suffering father wishes he'd never had her. Her fairy godmother grants his wish, causing him to forget her. Jessie is forced to take a job as a maid to survive.
  • In Mike Bassett: England Manager, Jerkass journalist Tommo Thompson is so sure of Mike's failure to manage the England football team that he makes a bet; if they win a match against Argentina, he'll immediately quit his job and get a new one as a refuse collector. Sure enough, England win the match, and one of the scenes near the end shows him emptying the bins outside Mike's house.
  • Miracle on 34th Street: Referenced. The wife of the lawyer prosecuting Kris Kringle sourly remarks that "sometimes I wish I'd married a butcher or a plumber." The lawyer replies "Well, if I'm unsuccessful in this case, dear, you just may get your wish."
  • Night at the Museum: At the end, the villains are reduced to working as museum janitors.
  • Paddington: At the end , the evil taxidermist is forced to work in the petting zoo cleaning up dung.
  • Rags: At the end of the film, when Charlie gets his big break and becomes a signed artist with Majesty Records as well as the legal owner of his dead mother's restaurant, his stepfamily, who forced him into unpaid labor, get their karma. While Lloyd is rewarded for taking his side at the end and standing up to Arthur and Andrew, becoming a backup dancer, Arthur and Andrew themselves are punished by being given Charlie's gross and tedious chores.
  • Richie Rich ends with the villain, Van Dough, doing community service by mowing the lawn of the Richs' estate after he and his plans to kill the Rich family in order to take over Rich Industries are foiled.
  • Troop Beverly Hills: At the end, not only do Velda's Red Feathers lose the Wilderness Girls race to the titular team, but she loses more than that: first, she loses her temper at having lost, and then, as punishment for her behavior, she loses her job with the Wilderness Girls. In the end, she is seen working as a lowly cashier at K-Mart — something she threatened Annie with, right down to the very line that she would have made Annie say.
    Velda: Attention, K-Mart shoppers. Blue light special, aisle 13. (beeeep) Cookies!
  • Valley of the Fangs: The farmhouse battle between the heroes and a legion of bandit mooks is interrupted by the Imperial army, where at which point the outnumbered bandits are forced to surrender. One scene later, the bandits are shown rebuilding the farmhouse as punishment.

  • Artemis Fowl:
    • In the first novel, Briar Cudgeon is demoted and made to work as a recycler after sending a troll to kill Artemis and endangering Holly's life.
    • In The Opal Deception, after her plan to start an interspecies war between humans and faeries is stopped, Opal Koboi flees in an escape pod which crashes into a farm. She has just enough magic left to mesmer the farmer into believing that she's her daughter, but not enough to get out of doing chores, which results in several unpleasant weeks spent digging potatoes and feeding pigs until LEPRetrieval track her down and arrest her, by which time she's almost glad to see them.
  • The Bridge: The protagonist is evicted from his "soft class" apartment and forced to live in a "rough class" apartment near a noisy railway line because his psychiatrist is not satisfied with the outcome of their sessions.
  • The Caves of Steel: In the underground city of New York, every person has a classification that determines their socioeconomic status. The higher your rating, the better your food, lodging, privileges etc. In the Back Story, Lije Bailey's father was a nuclear physicist with a very high rating. He was blamed for a deadly accident at a nuclear power plant and was declassified, so he and his family were forced to live in barracks and eat yeast mush.
  • Dinotopia: The third book, Journey to Chandara, ends with Lee Crabb being sentenced to work at a monastery of Acrocanthosaurus monks. He is terrified he's going to be dinner, but Emperor Khan clarifies he's going to be making dinner... as long as he doesn't irritate the monks too much.
  • His Dark Materials: Iorek Byrnison was stripped from his claims to the crown of Svalbard and his armor and was exiled after he was set up for the murder of Hjalmur Hjalmurson who had been drugged by Iofur Raknison, helped by Marisa Coulter, who wanted to have an ally who would accept her bases.
  • Lord of the Rings: In The Two Towers The Rohirrim put their Dunlander captives to work repairing the fortress of Helm's Deep after they lost the battle over it, which amazes them, as Saruman had told them that the Rohirrim would burn their captives alive. Having experienced war firsthand, Tolkien made sure to show his heroes treating POWs with decency.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: Waleran Bigod spends the entire novel scheming against the heroes in order to acquire as much power as possible. When he fails and the good guys disgrace him as part of their ultimate victory, he ends up essentially demoted to the role of a novice monk, doing manual labor under the supervisor of Prior Phillip.
  • The Seventh Tower: Chosen who misbehave are given "deluminants", marks of dishonor. A Chosen who receives seven deluminants is demoted to a lower caste.
  • This is a popular outcome in Soviet children's literature, since labor was one of the chief concepts in Soviet culture and ideology, so such an ending allowed an elegant setup for a villain's Heel–Face Turn.
    • Adventures of Dunno has a downplayed example, where Niggardfield becomes a simple worker at the spaghetti factory that used to belong to him, but he enjoys it very much because he really is good with spaghetti production.
    • In The Adventures of Petrushka, by Margarita Fadeyeva and Anatoly Smirnov, the Clone Army of the evil king is given various menial tasks such as cleaning streets. The original evil king gets a Heel–Face Brainwashing and a job at an information stand.
    • Discussed in The Golden Key Or The Adventures Of Buratino, where Duremar, formerly one of the Big Bad Duumvirate, says he's going to ask for some menial job at Buratino's puppet theatre, because his leech-selling business is failing.
    • In While The Clock Chimes, the Spoiled Brat princess ends up as a kitchenmaid in Aunt Beer Mug's tavern.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • After Elayne and Nynaeve defeat Moghedien, one of The Dreaded Forsaken from the Age of Legends, they stick a magical Restraining Bolt on her, put her to work as a servant, and plumb her for long-lost magical knowledge. In a variant, they hide her identity from the rest of their organization, which would probably execute her on the spot if they learned.
    • In the Aes Sedai Magical Society, the ultimate punishment for a leader who betrays the organization is to be De-Powered and put to menial labour. The reasoning is that an exile or martyr might become an Icon of Rebellion, but the person scrubbing the hallways and changing the bedsheets never would.
  • In World War Z, the narrator discovers Grover Carlson, the White House Chief of Staff for the last pre-war administration, collecting dung for a bioconversion plant in Amarillo, Texas. Although not quite a villain, he is a cynical and unrepentant representative of a government that regarded protecting private property and its own re-election prospects as more important than taking a potential global catastrophe seriously. While this is fairly understandable — every government has to prioritise — they also pushed a vaccine they knew was ineffective and continued to ignore the threat even when the evidence became overwhelming. Carlson also appears to be something of an anti-semite.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lucifer (2016): Early in Season 6, it's revealed that Michael — Lucifer's Evil Twin and Big Bad of Season 5 — has since his defeat been demoted to serving as Hell's janitor.
  • Seinfeld: Discussed in "The Virgin". Jerry is pitching a sitcom where the basic premise is that an uninsured motorist causes an accident and the judge orders him to become a butler for the victim to pay off the damages.
  • Twin Peaks: Catherine Martell blackmails Josie to work as a maid for her and Pete.
  • 2 Broke Girls is about how socialite Caroline Channing loses her fortune after her father is arrested for financial fraud and is forced to work as a waitress at a Greasy Spoon, trying to reinvent herself by running a cupcake business with fellow waitress Max. In the first season, she was also moonlighting as a babysitter for the same high society girls she used to be friends with.

  • Coldplay: Used, probably metaphorically, in the song "Viva La Vida."
    "Now in the morning I sleep alone/sweep the streets I used to own."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In the Forgotten Realms, some nations sentence criminals to slavery as a punishment. If a criminal did something particularly heinous, the sentence is sold to the nation of Thay, which is particularly harsh on its slaves.

    Video Games 
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts ends with Gruntilda sent to work in L.O.G's game factory after being defeated by the titular duo.
  • Dishonored: Once Thaddeus Campbell, High Overseer of the Abbey of the Everyman and an ally of Lord Regent Hiram Burrows, is marked with the Heretic's Brand, he is deprived from his rank and made an outcast,banned from receiving any help. He dies from The Plague while cursing Corvo, the man who marked him.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, if you capture Grand Duchess Florianne alive after her attempted rebellion, one of the possible judgments you can render is to make her the court jester. And force her to do it wearing flat shoes.
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard: Wallace Wellesley goes from CEO of a game company to working in a lowly game store after he's defeated. For an extra kick in the teeth, surrounded by the Matt Hazard game he was trying destroy Matt in.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: One Side Quest involves rescuing a group of ogres from enslavement on a country estate. If the Player Character visits the estate afterwards, they find the former owners of the estate hoeing the fields under the ogres' supervision.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games: Duke Onkled, The Mole working for Ganon, is sentenced by King Harkinian to scrub all the floors in Hyrule for betraying him.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games : In Oracle of Seasons, if you defeat the Moblin King twice (by throwing a bomb into a huge stockpile of explosives), he and his minions can be found in a human village crafting bombs.
  • Neverwinter Nights: In the "Hordes of the Underdark" expansion, one of the options for thwarting Archdevil Mephistopheles' invasion of Toril is to bind him to your will with the power of his True Name... then force him to spend the rest of his immortal existence working as a chambermaid in an inn.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Doopliss proved a demented and cunning villain... for one arc. In later arcs, he's a punching bag for Beldam after joining the Shadow Sirens, and at the end of the game, he's put his shape-shifting powers to use by taking on acting with Flurrie.
  • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon: Near the end, Faba, one of the more evil members of the Aether Foundation, is shown in a cutscene as he pulls a large crate across Lusamine's mansion as another Aether Foundation employee tells him to move faster.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: After being humiliated by Ratchet and Clank in the first game, Fake Ultimate Hero Captain Qwark comes up with a scheme to impersonate the CEO of Mega-Corp, manufacture a crisis he can pin on them and the Unknown Thief, and rebuild his reputation in another galaxy. After his plan is foiled, the ending shows Qwark working as a test subject in a Mega-Corp experiment involving a particularly unpleasant machine called the "Crotchetizer".
  • Shovel Knight: The ending shows one of the bosses, King Knight, scrubbing the floors in Pridemoor Keep, as the rightful king he deposed retakes the throne.
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero: Due to his heinous crimes, Techno Baron is sentenced to a billion hours of community service.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger: At the end of the second game, Boss Cass is sent back to jail and forced to deliver food to his fellow prisoners. His closing remark is how humiliating his new job is.

  • Code Name: Hunter: After two failed attempts to eliminate agents Hunter and Gypsy, Wynnifred awakes chained inside a magic circle in the 8 April 2009 strip, where she is stripped of her magic powers. Her mentor then presents an iron collar and chain, implying Wynnifred will be sold like livestock on the slave market.
  • Freefall: After the Corrupt Corporate Executive Kornada is convicted of a money-grubbing scheme that would have killed a half-billion sapient AIs and jeopardized an entire planetary colony, he's sentenced to work as a Burger Fool for at least 1000 days. This is actually the lenient option, proposed by the AIs as a conciliatory gesture, and he soon learns that the alternative is to work in a chlorine trifluoride plant.
    Mayor: It is hoped that by living as so many of our more vulnerable citizens do that you will develop empathy with the workers and understand that they are real people, not numbers to manipulate for maximum profit.
    Prosecutor: Time only counts if he gets an "Above Average" on his shift? You've given him a life sentence!
  • In One-Punch Man, minor villain Hammerhead is seeking to get a law passed that will allow slackers like himself to get paid for not actually doing any work. After nearly getting killed by "Speed-O'-Sound" Sonic and Saitama (as well as having his Powered Armor destroyed), Hammerhead wisely gives up. He can later be seen filling out a job application and then working as a doorman a bit after that.

    Web Video 
  • Epic Rap Battles of History: In the Shaka Zulu vs. Julius Caesar episode, the closing line of the rap has Caesar threatening to enslave Shaka and his armies and force them to become farmers:
    There's no use in murdering you and your heathen...
    You can grow my wheat for me after you're beaten!

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Nurse Claiborne's second appearance has her running a nursery home for aged Rainbow Monkey dolls (it's a weird show, don't think about it too hard), which Numbuh 3 reluctantly administers her Rainbow Monkey to. However, when she and Numbuh 5 come to visit, they find out Nurse Claiborne was shredding them up to use as ingredients for cereal pieces. After the two girls stop her, they force Claiborne to re-sew Numbuh 3's doll and do the same to the others she shredded.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Valmont is initially one of the main antagonists, a mob boss who founded the Dark Hand crime syndicate. After suffering multiple defeats and humiliations from Jackie and his friends throughout the series, his final appearance is as the driver of a bus the J-Team helps rescue from falling off a bridge. Jackie recognizes him, saying his name briefly, before Valmont tries to hide his face and runs off.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Magical Movie Night, Juniper Montage goes from being a backstage assistant to her filmmaker uncle to working as one of the ushers in the mall's movie theater after she's found out to have been sabotaging the "Daring Do" movie as well as stealing props.
  • The Simpsons: In "Simpsons Safari", President Munti is overthrown, and the Simpsons' tour guide ends up being the new president of Tanzania. Marge wonders what might've happened to President Munti, only for him to dejectedly say he doesn't want to talk about it as he hands out goods as the flight attendant. The whole family laughs at his expense.
  • Wander over Yonder: In "The Bounty", one of the bounty hunters manages to capture Wander and Sylvia and gets rewarded as a commander by Lord Hater while Peepers is demoted and stuck scrubbing toilets. Then it's revealed that this is a Daydream Surprise by Peepers thinking what'll happen if he gave up on trying to capture the duo himself before the bounty hunters, giving him his second wind. And ironically helping Wander and Sylvia get away in his zeal. Whoops.

    Real Life 
  • Lambert Simnel became the figurehead of a Yorkist rebellion against King Henry VII of England in 1487. When the rebellion was crushed, Henry offered Simnel a pardon, and employed him as a spit-turner in the royal kitchens (and later as a falconer).
  • Until 1870, attainded British peers convicted of treason were subjected to corruption of blood, stripping them from their peerage. The Titles Deprivation Act 1917 allowed the crown to suspend from their peerage those peers who were serving for the Central Powers (due to migrations and family links, it happened sometimes Germans and Austrians ended up holding British titles); however, their descendants could claim them back.
  • In France, nobles convicted of infamous crimes were stripped from their nobility, but they or their descendants could claim it back, if allowed by the king.