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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. 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 
  • In 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 anime-only character Lyra who acted as his 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • One Spirou and Fantasio 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 [[Can't You Read the Sign? all prices are marked on a sheet of paper stapled to the poles holding up his awning).
  • Superman: Red Son: After their failed rebellion, the Batmen undergo brainwashing to become lowly maintenance workers.
  • In the dystopian Feudal Future world of Lazarus, 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.
  • At the end of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe 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.
  • After events unfold in Kingdom Come, 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.

    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: Darla Dimple having outed herself as causing 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. As she leaves, however, the poster falls down on her and wraps her up.
  • 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 the end credits for Ugly Dolls, 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.
  • 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.
  • In The King and I after their attempts to usurp the king are exposed, Kralahome and Master Little are shown shoveling elephant dung.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • At the end of Troop Beverly Hills, not only does 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!
  • Big Fat Liar: Marty Wolf having been outed as a liar, he is fired from his position as a Hollywood producer and relegated to becoming a humiliated birthday clown — and gets rewarded with a Groin Attack for his troubles.
  • At the end of Paddington, the evil taxidermist is forced to work in the petting zoo cleaning up dung.
  • 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.
  • In the end of G-Force, Speckles is put to work removing all the chips that turned household appliances into Homicide Machines as penance for putting the chips in in the first place.
  • Referenced in Miracle on 34th Street: the wife of the lawyer prosecuting Kris Kringle sourly remarks, "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."
  • 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 a guy who tried to rape George's wife Lorraine in high school.
  • The villains of Night at the Museum have to work as janitors for what they did.
  • 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.

  • 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.
    • A downplayed example in Adventures of Dunno, 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 (a retelling of The Adventures of Pinocchio), 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.
  • 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.
  • Artemis Fowl: 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.
  • 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.

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

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • 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 
  • In the Shaka Zulu vs. Julius Caesar episode of Epic Rap Battles of History, the closing line of the rap has Caesar suggesting that Shaka and his armies be enslaved and forced 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 
  • 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.
  • Taking place after the events of Frozen, the short film Frozen Fever showcases that Prince Charmless Hans, having been sent back to the Southern Isles in disgrace for his attempted takeover of Arendelle, ended up becoming his family palace's horse manure shoveler (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 into it instead. Her sneezing causing snow to appear, she launches a gigantic snowball through the horn all the way to the Isles, where it hits Hans and knocks him into the pile of manure, much to the amusement of the horses.
  • 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.
  • Valmont from Jackie Chan Adventures 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 The Simpsons episode "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.
  • 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 Numbuh 5 and she 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.

    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).


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