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Denied Food as Punishment

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Remember: You're never too old to be sent to bed without supper.

"Fine! Then go ahead and STAAAAAAAAAARVE!!!!! [to his servants] If she doesn't eat with me, then she doesn't eat at all!"

So a character has apparently said and/or done something to anger an authority figure. What's the best course of action to take? Why, punish them by depriving them of either breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three meals together, of course! Likely to involve the following variations:

  • The character is not allowed any food at all and, in extreme cases, may also be denied anything to drink.
  • The character is allowed to eat but is given less food than everyone else. At the extreme end, this can involve them being given barely enough to keep them alive.
  • The character is allowed to eat and is given a normal-sized portion, but is denied a food which they particularly like and/or which is commonly regarded as a treat.

At one time this was a fairly common punishment for disobedient children in Real Life. These days it's generally considered abusive to actually starve your kids, although the third type above is still reasonably acceptable (being sent to bed without dessert is a common threat to misbehaving children even today, especially of the "no dessert until you eat your vegetables" variety).

Withholding food is also used by villains to punish prisoners who are uncooperative when the prisoners don't go for I'm Not Hungry first. (The exact opposite punishment is Force Feeding.) And, of course, servants may be threatened with this by their masters in order to keep them in line.

In a few instances, either the character will try to sneak some food when they think no one is looking, or another character will try to sneak them food. Of course, if the character who imposed the punishment is smart, they are likely to take steps to prevent this.

One of the earliest examples of this trope is the Greek myth of Tantalos, making this Older Than Feudalism. After feeling jilted by the gods, Tantalus invited them over for a meal at his palace, where he fed his own children to them as revenge. Disgusted, the gods sent him to eternal punishment in the underworld. He would stand in a pool of water with a grape vine overhead — but whenever he tried to drink or eat, the water and grapes would move beyond his reach, making him suffer eternal of thirst and hunger (hence, the word "tantalize").

Compare Bathroom Control, when a character is punished by not being allowed to go to the bathroom. Also compare the Lysistrata Gambit, which is the denial of something else that people hunger for.

Contrast: Prisoner's Last Meal, where food is typically given to a condemned person, prior to their execution.

May overlap with Enemy Eats Your Lunch if the punishment involves the character having to watch what would have been their share being eaten by others. Also see Lost Food Grievance for when a character reacts poorly to this. Greens Precede Sweets, which may overlap with the third variation, is for when a character is told they will not be allowed dessert unless they finish their vegetables. If the character's food is destroyed, discarded or otherwise ruined in their presence as further punishment, that becomes They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Soul Eater: Medusa raised Crona into an obedient minion by demanding they kill rabbits, locking them in a dark room without food when they refused. This continues over and over until they finally agree to it. Inverted later, when Medusa not only feeds Crona lavishly but gives them Your Favorite... as a way to make them snap and kill her as a part of her Thanatos Gambit.
  • In Toriko, the three Great Gourmet Prisons hold the most ruthless and destructive criminals sentenced for life and beasts deemed too dangerous for the human world. Honey Prison is divided up into eight levels of food-themed torture. Inmates of the third level and beyond it are denied any food. Beyond the fourth level, they no longer receive water. This trope is to be expected for such an utterly food-obsessed show.
  • The Familiar of Zero: Louise punished her familiar Saito like this whenever he roused her temper, which was often, and also threatened to take away his meals as a way to prevent him from disobeying her orders.
  • Angel Beats!: The failure of Operation High Tension Syndrome results in this, and the starvation period is a week, even the strongest of SSS died, but they should be fine.
  • One Piece:
    • The Navy (and Koby, who had just been accepted as a recruit), salute Luffy and Zoro as they sail off. One of them decides, "As punishment, no dinner for a week!" because they allowed pirates to escape.
    • Earlier, Zoro agreed to the terms Helmeppo set that he would starve for a month to protect a little girl.
  • Subverted in Naruto, in which Kakashi holds a "bell test" for the three members of his team, with the one who doesn't get a bell being tied to the stump, denied lunch, and sent back to the academy. The trick is to work together in spite of the circumstances, but none of the three realize this, and Naruto tries to cheat but gets tied to the stump for trying this. Kakashi then tells them that he'll give them another chance if Sakura and Sasuke don't feed Naruto, but when they do, he reveals that this test shows that the rules are less important than teamwork, and passes all three.
  • Madame St. Paul, Picolet Chardin III's instructor in Ranma ˝, forbids Ranma from eating "ungracefully" —that is, using her hands. The Chardin Family school of Martial Arts Dining thinks it demeaning to a) use your hands to eat, and b) to be seen eating, hence why they use their chameleon-like tongues to eat food in the blink of an eye. If Ranma can't do that, then he isn't allowed to eat anything until she learns. Then Ranma undergoes a severe training regimen and turns down Akane's offers for food on the grounds that it would be admitting defeat. He nearly starves to death.
  • In Gakuen Alice, no-star students (who are generally misbehaved) are given a measly portion of food, where 3-star students are treated to an extravagant feast.
  • In Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette Madame Thenardier, whenever Cosette did not perform her duties as a scullery maid well, or because she was angry, punished the little girl by denying her food. In one episode Cosette even faints from lack of food.
  • In Future Diary Yuno had control-freak parents who measured everything she did from how many hours she got to sleep to how many calories she had a day. They also kept her in a cage and starved her in an effort to raise her to be a model person. All of this causes her to ultimately snap on them, lock them in the same cage, and starve them to death.
  • Taken to a new level in Speed Grapher, where Kagura Tennozou goes to school with empty lunch boxes thanks to her abusive mother Shinsen, and collapses of hunger at least once.
  • Austria of Hetalia: Axis Powers was a very strict father figure towards Chibitalia, and one of the punishments for his mess-ups was this.
  • Occurs in Kaze to Ki no Uta after a teacher discovers students having a fight and making a mess in a room.
  • In Yumeria, Tomokazu is denied dinner after making Mone cry, even though he apologized.
  • In Nichijou, Nano often threatens this to the professor, a very young child who created her, due to her experiments or attempts to blame their talking cat, Sakamoto. It doesn't work very well, however, as Nano either forgets about the punishment or simply forgives her.
  • In Sekirei, Miya often threatens to do this to Seo, especially if he refuses to help the main characters. She will also sometimes use this threat on Matsu when the latter is getting a little too friendly with Minato, and by extension, Minato, even though he's completely innocent in those cases.
  • In episode 10 of Season 2's Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Miu does technically feed Kenichi when Renka shows up at the dojo. However, she gives him a very tiny fish compared to the giant ones the other characters received, and when he asks for seconds on rice, Miu gives him exactly one grain of rice. Renka offering to feed him her share of food only serves to frustrate Miu, while Kenichi's masters giggle at his misfortune with the two ladies.
  • In Bleach, Kukaku gives Ichigo and Ganju this punishment in episode 24.
  • A slight variation of this trope occurs in episode 6 of Engaged to the Unidentified. After Mashiro teases her future sister-in-law Kobeni about her brother (and Kobeni's fiance) Hakuya, the latter decides that dinner that night would consist of all the foods the former hates, such as natto, or sticky beans. Since Kobeni is the only person in their house that can cook, Mashiro immediately apologizes to her.
  • In A Bride's Story, Seleke denies her son Rostem dinner until he finishes his chores, which would take until quite late. His aunt Amir sneaks him some food and helps him with the chores, saying she'll only do it this once. When Rostem slacks off again, Amir sticks firmly by "only once" and Seleke panics at the thought of the kid starving.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds this is implied to have happened to Kosuke Kiryu/Kalin Kessler.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Cheerful Child Atra turns out to have been an orphan who worked in a brothel (she's not even 10 at this point) as a chore-girl. They denied her food and bullied her to the point she ran away and risked death before finding someone else to take her in.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Kaneki's father died when he was only four, leaving only books to remember him by. His mother, whom he repeatedly refers to as kind and a wonderful person, beat him as a child before working herself to death to support herself, her sister, and her son when Kaneki was ten. After his mother's death, he was sent to live with his aunt, who became verbally and emotionally abusive towards him because of her jealousy over him getting better grades than her son, including giving him less and less food and then excluding him from family meals entirely. She then gave him a meager amount of money to buy his own food.
  • His and Her Circumstances: Soichiro Arima had a mother who beat him badly on an almost daily basis and if she wasn't, it was because she left him alone for days on end as he slowly starved, locked in a house with barely any food.
  • In Takopi's Original Sin, Azuma's mother often bribes him with fluffy pancakes he can eat if he gets a perfect score on his tests. He's never gotten the chance to because he typically gets a point or two off, causing his mom to take them away at dinnertime and berate him for his failure. The practice has conditioned him into desperately craving affection from others, and believing that he needs to do everything they ask in order to maintain it. When stress from being a Secret-Keeper for Marina's death causes his grades to drop, his mom seems to understand what she's doing and gives him the pancakes as consolation... before revealing she thought it was a stunt for attention, and if he's not going to try to do better anymore, she won't try for him either. He's then "rewarded" with the inverse: he can eat ill-prepared pancakes any time he wants.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Flying Island: The Sky Adventure episode 53, Weslie is willing to accept any punishment the Cloud People are about to give him for letting the giant waterspout flood into the transferring hall. Paddi thinks the Cloud People will punish Weslie by refusing him dinner, but Sparky assures Paddi it will be worse than that. Paddi's idea of "worse" is that they will also refuse to give Weslie midnight supper.
    Sparky: Is food all you care about?

    Comic Books 
  • In one Batman flashback to before the death of the Waynes, they send Bruce to bed without supper for reading a comic book. Alfred secretly brings a tray of food to the boy ... just slightly ahead of Thomas Wayne, who was doing the same thing.
  • Inverted in a MAD parody of The Shining. Dinny's father chases him down with an axe at the climax, telling him that he's been a naughty boy. Dinny asks him why he doesn't send him to bed without supper like other fathers do, and the father points out that with the fact that frozen food is the only thing to eat at the hotel, that would be a reward.
  • In Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602, this is a punishment Doom uses to train his prisoners out of bad behavior.
  • Robin (1993): Jack sends Tim to his room denying him dinner after Tim's girlfriend's guardian called and claimed he tried to have sex with his girlfriend. Not only did this not happen, but Jack had previously and continued to brag about the Drake men's female conquests even when it obviously made Tim uncomfortable and had no bearing on Tim's actual actions.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot:
    • Roger gets this when blamed for messing up Andy's computer (it was actually Jason and Paige's fault). Note that Roger messes up the computer all the time; this time it was a rather spectacular accident (Diet Coke spilled into the keyboard, then an attempt to clean it up using a hairdryer).
    • Roger also was implied to have suffered this trope in another strip, where the kids got pancakes whereas he didn't (or, well, any breakfast). That time, however, he definitely deserved it. (Let's just say he picked a very poor gift for Valentine's Day for Andy, and that was her way of communicating it.)
  • Garfield:
    • It backfires when Jon threatens to send Garfield to bed without dinner because he won't eat. Garfield happily jumps into bed because the food doesn't taste good.
    • At one point, Jon tells Garfield that he can kiss his dinner good-night if he throws another snowball at him. So Garfield just throws the snowball at Jon and actually kisses his food bowl good-night.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: It's happened to Calvin a few times. On one such occasion (where he was punished for saying the food "smells like bat barf") he simply picked up the phone and ordered a pizza instead.
  • U.S. Acres: A worm boy named Willy is denied dessert for refusing to eat his dinner. He doesn't consider it too much of a punishment because his parents were having dirt for dinner and a mud pie for dessert.
  • In an early For Better or for Worse strip, Elly sends Michael to his room without any dinner after he sticks his tongue out at her.

    Fan Works 
  • Anger Management:
    • As punishment for beating up Lynn, Lincoln has to not snack between meals.
    • Lynn's punishment for stealing Bun-Bun involves not eating dessert.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon gets no lunch from his parents when he's grounded for fighting at school. The SOS Brigade gives him food anyway, with Haruhi specifically cooking for him.
  • Celebony's "A Hero". The Dursleys move beyond denying Harry occasional meals to literally starving him.
  • In Gensokyo 20XX, Yukari does mention their captors sometimes "forgot" to feed them.
    • Again, in chapter 57 of Gensokyo 20XX, because of what Suika did, which was hurling food onto the floor and into the wall, Koishi said, "Great, now we're not going to get food tomorrow." and it turns out she was right, they didn't get any food next day afterwards.
  • In Every Good Fairytale, Professor Moriarty restrains his own plasmavore agent (plasmavores being vampire-like creatures from Doctor Who who live by feeding off of blood) when she grows slightly rebellious. He has her locked in a cell and kept away from all living contact, thereby denying her her food source in order to punish her and weaken her into obedience once more. Subverted when he makes this offer to a captive Sherlock Holmes: no more food and water (and no more torture), and Holmes will be allowed to die in peace. Holmes doesn't accept because of what Moriarty wants out of him for that Cruel Mercy.
  • Mr. Jameson, an abusive dad starves Max for being late while coming home from school in Bringing Me To Life.
  • Crimson and Noire: Played for Laughs. In chapter 41, When Plagg is being too lazy to teach Marinette about the other kwami of the other box, she threatens to trash the camembert cheesecake she's making him and make a passion fruit cake for Crimson instead, at which Plagg immediately starts telling her about the other kwamis.
  • In Flam Gush the servants who believe the Malicious Slander about Lina Inverse try to do this to her while she's recovering from wounds and magical exhaustion. It poses a big problem until Gourry yells at them.
  • In Vapors, when Aiko Uzumaki is held captive she is denied food not as punishment, but to prevent her chakra levels from restoring themselves, which would help her escape.
  • A young Satsuki in a one-shot prequel fiction Losing Her Smile was supposedly denied dinner. Ragyo, her wicked-to-begin-with mother, locks Satsuki in a limo overnight; even going as far as kicking the young girl which resulted in Satsuki coughing out what she ate earlier on the day Ragyo was free again.
  • In Warriors Redux, cats that either repeatedly eat before feeding the elders and queens, break Border Laws, or shirk their duties must give up meals as punishment. This is an especially potent punishment for Clan cats as they're frequently at risk of starvation.
  • Leave for Mendeleiev: After Plagg scolds him for creating Copycat by falsely claiming to be dating Ladybug and rubbing this fake relationship in Theo's face, Adrien transforms back into Chat Noir before Plagg can finish eating his cheese. He then threatens the third variation by telling Plagg that if he doesn't stop complaining about what he did, he'll make him eat nothing but mushrooms for a whole month.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Antz, Azteca is denied her rations for a day after standing up to the foreman on behalf of her new co-worker, Weaver.
  • Beauty and the Beast: "If she doesn't eat with me, then she doesn't eat at all!" However, Beast doesn't really bother to enforce it and Belle gets her dinner from the servants right when she feels a bit hungry.
  • In Tom and Jerry: The Movie, Robin is being raised by her evil aunt while her father's away in Tibet. Said Aunt verbally abuses her (she refuses to call her by name, simply calling her "Orphan," and yes, to her face), threw her mother's locket out the window, and is generally only looking after her so she can have access to the fortune Robin is entitled to. It's also implied she locks Robin in her room, and despite the huge amounts of food shown in the kitchen at one point, Robin is never given any.
  • In The Jungle Book 2, Mowgli's foster father punishes him this way when he nearly leads the children out of the village and into the jungle. Shanti tries to sneak him some fruit the same night.
  • In Mumfie's Quest, when the Secretary of Night has Mumfie imprisoned, he orders this punishment for him, but Mumfie escapes almost right away.
  • In The Lion King (2019), Scar does this to Sarabi and the other lionesses when she refuses to marry him. He declares that until she gives in, the hyenas will eat first, knowing that the greedy hyenas will leave barely anything for the lionesses.
  • Sleeping Beauty: Prince Phillip offers extra oats and carrots to Samson for investigating a voice singing in the woods. In Samson's exuberance to follow his orders, Phillip falls off Samson and winds up in a pond.
    Phillip: No carrots.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Annie (1982): Miss Hannigan threatens if the orphans skip corners when cleaning the orphanage there will be no lunch. She tries to entice them by saying it's not going to be hot mush today...then revealing it'll be cold mush. In the novelization, Annie is also sent to bed without dinner when she's brought back to the orphanage after running away.
  • Annie (1999): After Miss Hannigan catches the orphans in her office singing "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile".
    Kate: What about our dinner?
    Miss Hannigan: What about it?
    Kate: You didn't give us any.
    Miss Hannigan: 'Cause I knew you was gonna be bad, so I punished you ahead of time. Now scatter!
  • Home Alone: Kevin gets angry at his brother Buzz for eating all the cheese pizzas and shoves him into some drinks which spill over, creating a mess in the kitchen. Chaos thus ensues among the family, and everyone directs their anger towards Kevin. As a result, Kevin's mother makes him sleep in the attic (Kevin is scared of the attic) without dinner.
  • In The Worst Witch TV film adaptation, Miss Cackle sends Mildred straight to bed without supper after wrecking the broomstick display. She isn't sadistic, though; in fact, earlier in the film when Mildred is sent to her office, she doesn't act nasty at all.
  • In Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, the pastor punishes two of his children by denying food to the whole family - that is, the other children, the mother, and himself.
  • Ken Watanabe in Letters from Iwo Jima does this as an intervention - the culprits were being whipped at the time.
  • In the Laurel and Hardy short Any Old Port. Oliver told Stan at a diner that he can't have a meal because he has got to fight that night at a boxing ring. Oliver tells the waiter "One order, please". And Stan whines that he can't have the meal and Oliver tells him "I'm the manager and you're the fighter!"
  • In Nanny McPhee, Cedric Brown sends his children to bed without dinner after they scare away Nanny Whetstone, the last of a long line of 17 nannies he had hired, by making her think that they had eaten the baby. It doesn't work — the kids simply sneak down to the kitchen for a raid.
  • In The Saint (1997), as punishment for Simon's refusing to answer to the religiously-themed name arbitrarily given to him by the priests at his orphanage (even when whipped), not only was he not given dinner, every other boy in the orphanage wasn't given dinner as well. Simon waited until the priests left, picked the lock to the pantry, and then the boys helped themselves.
  • In The Sixth Sense, Cole is sent away from the table after barely touching his dinner. He would not confess to his mother that he took her brooch. He was telling the truth though, it was a ghost that kept stealing it.
  • In The King's Speech, Bertie mentions that his first nanny favoured his brother over him. While she dressed and treated his brother well, she would pinch Bertie before presenting him to their parents, then deny him food to "punish" him for crying. According to some sources, this is an example of Historical Villain Upgrade; among other things, Bertie was anorexic.
  • In A Few Good Men, it is mentioned at one point that Lt. Kendrick had placed a misbehaving Marine Private on "barracks restriction" where he was confined to his barracks and given nothing but water and vitamin supplements for a week.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy suggests that she be sent to bed without supper for letting Toto go into Miss Gulch's garden rather than have Toto be put down.
  • The Night of the Hunter - Harry Palmer, recently a widower after murdering his bride, has meals given to him by sympathetic townsfolk (who think she's run off on him) - which he withholds from his stepchildren to get them to tell where their late father's stolen money is hidden.
  • In Sister Act, Dolores is disgusted by the bowl of gruel she is given as her first meal in the convent. The Reverend Mother responds by denying her any meals for a few days, and she resorts to stealing a tomato from the garden.
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse: Spoofed. At the dinner table, Dawn tells her sister she hates her; Mom orders Dawn to apologize. Dawn refuses. Mom retaliates by giving everyone but Dawn delicious chocolate cake for dessert, and telling Dawn she cannot leave the table until she tells her sister she loves her. Several hours later, Mom comes wearily back into the dining room and tells Dawn to go to bed.
  • In Chaplin's The Circus, the acrobat Merna is denied dinner by her stepfather as he wasn't satisfied with her performance in the arena.
  • Tommy in The Window tells his parents about a murder he witnessed but they don't believe him and deny him lunch and dinner so that he would eventually come to his senses and drop the nonsense.
  • Lampshaded in Threads, a BBC docudrama depicting a nuclear war and its aftermath. At one point, the narrator says:
    Money has had no value since the attack. The only viable form of currency is food, given as a reward for work or withheld as punishment.
  • Reform School Girls: As a punishment for Jenny's first infraction, Edna says she is going to remove one privilege from her. Just as Jenny is sitting down to dinner, Edna announces that the privilege she is removing is dinner and sends her back to the dorm. Claudie later manages to smuggle her some bread.
  • In Madeline, when Madeline and most of the other girls refuse to eat their chicken because Madeline had seen it alive earlier and considered it a pet, Miss Clavel sends them all straight to bed. Later that night, though, she relents and lets them have some food after she catches them trying to steal snacks from the kitchen. She probably wouldn't have punished them so harshly to begin with, but she had just received the news that the boarding school was going to be closed, and she wanted the girls out of the room so she could privately cry.
  • Subverted in Mommie Dearest. Christina isn't denied breakfast, it's just that her only choice is the nearly-rare meat she refused to eat at last night's dinner.
  • Boot Camp: After Ben and Sophie escape, Dr. Hail punishes all of the inmates by denying them breakfast for 3 months.
  • A Tale of Two Sisters: In the flashback, Eun-ju denied Su-yeon lunch after Su-mi refused to talk to her.
  • Willie from Where's Willie? is sent to bed without supper as punishment for hacking the traffic lights and causing a massive traffic jam.
  • Robin Hood: The Rebellion: When the Sheriff sends for Brimstone to locate Marian, he issues this instruction:
    Tell Brimstone that if he kills Lady Marian, he won't be fed for a week.
  • In The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, William of Pembroke keeps Robert locked up for three days without food and water to weaken him before their trial by combat.

  • Oliver Twist: In this case, the part about not getting enough food is not intended as a punishment, it's just the way the orphanarium is run. The actual punishment is that Oliver is sold into what amounts to slavery (at least, that's the Workhouse Master's intent; it doesn't work out quite that badly for him).
    Oliver: Please sir. May I have some more?
    Workhouse Master: MORE?!?!?
  • Charlotte's Web: Avery — brother of the main human protagonist Fern Arable — tries to knock down the webs Charlotte created and kill the spider. His mother gets wind of this and immediately sends him to bed without supper as punishment.
  • In Five Years To Freedom, the US prisoners of war are at times fed little more than rice and rock salt. Rowe, the protagonist of the story, mentions some of his friends dying from malnutrition.
  • In the beginning of Law Of The Wolf Tower, the first book in The Claidi Journals series by Tanith Lee, Claidi works at a place called House as a servant for Lady Jade Leaf, who punishes Claidi and her fellow maids in this way even for the most minuscule things.
  • Where the Wild Things Are: Subverted, when Max "returns" home he finds his dinner waiting for him in his room. "And it was still warm."
  • The students at Lowood in Jane Eyre are denied their meals if they should break the school rules. For a while, they are given meager portions of food as well before the school changes for the better.
    • Before that, Jane herself was locked in a specific bedroom of her house that she hates without food when she stood up to her bullying cousin.
  • This is actually one of the lesser punishments at the eponymous school in Princess Academy, and it's the one that the girls agree to leave in place as an option during their negotiation for better conditions.
  • In Changes For Samantha, a book from the American Girls Collection, Samantha's friend Nellie is regularly punished by the cold headmistress and given little to no food during her stay at Coldrock House, an Orphanage of Fear.
  • Often done to Cinderella in various versions of the fairy-tale, before she goes off with the prince to live in his castle. Sometimes she is merely threatened with it if she does not finish her work.
    • Another retelling of Cinderella is a book called Just Ella, in which Ella's stepmother deprives her of her meals. In the beginning at least, and she doesn't actually marry the prince considering how he turned out to be Prince Charmless.
    • In Ella Enchanted, after Ella talks back to her teacher Sewing Mistress, the lady punishes Ella by making her skip both dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. Made even worse by the fact that Hattie, who is traveling with Ella in the coach to finishing school, commands Ella to not eat; by the time they actually get to the school, Ella hasn't eaten for days. Areida smuggles her a bit of bread, thus cementing their friendship.
  • In many versions of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack's mother sends him to bed without supper as punishment for trading the cow for nothing but beans. A case of a punishment that fits the crime, as they were already nearly starving in poverty and the cow was all they had left to sell for food money.
  • In The Poky Little Puppy, the puppies are denied dessert (rice pudding, chocolate custard, and ultimately strawberry shortcake) for digging holes under their backyard fence.
  • A Little Princess:
    • In one scene, the teacher bans both Sara and the girl she uses as a slave from having any meals the following day after they let the other girls into their bedroom (they are forbidden from doing so).
    • During her time as a servant, Sara was ordered to go days without food. Frequently too.
    "I will attend to you tomorrow. You shall have neither breakfast, dinner, nor supper!"
    "I have not had either dinner or supper today, Miss Minchin," said Sara, rather faintly.
    "Then all the better. You will have something to remember."
  • In one of the Adventures of the Wishing Chair stories, Mollie and Peter are both sent to bed without dinner by their mother after they vandalize the titular chair.
  • In Harry Potter, for most of his childhood with the Dursleys, Harry received this punishment. It's noted in Deathly Hallows that this was often to the point of near starvation.
    Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go—cupboard—stay—no meals," before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy.
  • In Mount Vernon Love Story, Martha Washington halfheartedly tries this, sending her son to bed without dinner after he pulls a prank that has the entire neighborhood searching for him — but still leaving him an elaborate tray of bread, jam, and milk, just in case he gets too hungry. It's still a great concession for her, as she mostly lets him run wild, since his two older siblings have already died, and his younger sister is sickly. For his part, George (yes, that one) comes up to his room and asks Jacky to go ahead and punish himself, since his mother won't. Being George Washington, it works.
  • In The Hardy Boys novel The House on the Cliff, the smugglers who are holding the boys' dad hostage are also starving him in a vain attempt to get him to go along with their plan.
  • In Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, the children's grandmother tries to invoke this when Sammy disobeys her, but Dicey points out that going to bed without dinner wouldn't be much of a punishment because he already knows what it's like to go hungry, due to having lived on the run and a tiny food budget for months prior.
  • In Escape from Furnace: Lockdown, the teenage inmates are denied access to the dining hall as punishment for rioting.
  • In Louisa May Alcott's short story The Children's Joke, the children and parents reverse roles for a day, and the son sends his father away from the table without his breakfast as a punishment for being late; it's implied that the father has punished his son in this way many times, but having it done to him makes him realize that it's a harsher consequence than he realized. His mother (the children's grandmother) slips him a muffin later, implying that she also mitigates the children's punishments in this way.
  • Sometimes done with hares in the Redwall series, usually for having eaten too much food in the first place. This rarely ends well. Also seen sometimes with slaves in the series.
    • This actually nearly got a character killed in Triss. After the hare in question (who had already been in trouble twice for eating food that belonged to other people) eats a trifle that the Dibbuns were supposed to get as a prize for winning a contest, the abbot makes him clean the abbey from top to bottom, with only lettuce and water for food. The hare then loads up a haversack full to bursting with food and leaves. He then gets caught by the villains and has to be rescued.
  • In his autobiography A Child Called "It", Dave Peltzer claims his mother did this to him persistently, as arbitrary punishment for the slightest disobedience of her control-freak insanity.
  • In All-of-a-Kind Family, Sarah refuses to eat her rice soup at lunch and as a result is denied anything else to eat for the rest of the day until she gives in and eats the soup.
  • In Malevil, this is the favorite punishment of the evil priest Fulbert, especially as he tricked the town into letting him watch the food supplies after the Apocalypse.
  • In Anne of Green Gables, Marilla thinks this idea is ridiculous. Even while forcing Anne to stay in her room for misbehavior, she still brings her meals. This is one of the first signs that Marilla has the potential to be a truly good foster parent.
    • In Rainbow Valley, Una Meridith does this to herself. This results in her fainting in church, forcing her father to finally see that something is dreadfully wrong with his kids.
  • In the book Emily of New Moon, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the titular Emily is punished this way on occasion by her Aunt Elizabeth.
  • This was done to Danglars in The Count of Monte Cristo as a way to force him to return the money he embezzled, and as punishment for his role in the fate of Louis Dantès, who died poor and starving. Specifically, Danglars is held captive by some of Edmond's old pirate friends who tell him that any food and drink he wants must be paid for. When he asks for meat and wine, they tell him that they're charging ten thousand francs for a single plate. Danglars holds out as long as he can, but ultimately gives in; this cycle continues until he's nearly dead and destitute. The pirates figure he's been punished enough, especially since he's given them every last dime, and let him go to never be heard from again.
  • In the book Dragondrums the generally jovial and kind Masterharper Robinton denies the dying Lord Holder Meron pain medication because the man refuses to name an heir and would gladly leave the land up for grabs from his many male heirs. Robinton justifies refusing the healer near Meron because he said Robinton could do "nothing to him." And that is what Robinton gives the man.
    • Earlier in the same book, one of the apprentices mouths off to Menolly, a journeyman harper, who calmly reminds him that the official punishment for such an affront is three days' water rations.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • If a cat is assigned to hunt and eats his catch rather than sharing it with the kits and elders of the Clan first, he can't take anything off the fresh-kill pile for supper.
    • There was also the abusive foster-mother, Lizardstripe, who hated Brokenkit and is said to have deprived him of milk as punishment for even being born.
  • In Abomination by Robert Swindells, Martha (whose family are members of a strict religious movement) arrives home from school late after helping her new friend, Scott, who was being bullied. Even though she has a good reason for being late, her father still punishes her by sending her to her room without dinner. Later, he comes to "correct her" before locking her in her room to keep her from stealing food in the night.
  • Very much Played for Drama in Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt. Beatrice is locked into her room for a week by her Evil Uncle. She's not given any food during this time and is near starvation when her aunt comes home and is allowed to give her some soup.
  • Enid Blyton's many stories for children sometimes use this: authority figures like parents sometimes routinely deny a misbehaving child their dinner, sometimes combining this with locking them in their bedroom for the day or night. In the fourth The Famous Five novel, "Five Go to Smuggler's Top", the Five are staying with a friend at the eerie eponymous old mansion (Timmy the dog in hiding, as he was forbidden from Smuggler's Top), and the unpleasant deaf servant Block punishes George by locking her in her room and serving her only bread and water, which she throws back in his face defiantly. He is literally deaf to any objections to the way he punishes her (except that it turns out he isn't really deaf but pretends to be in order to overhear things not meant for him to hear). It is up to George's cousins to smuggle food in to her through the window, and much of consequence in the later parts of the plot flows from this.
  • In Inheritance of Inheritance Cycle, Nasuada suspects that Galbatotrix, the Big Bad, might do this to her after she killed her jailer. Instead, he does something so much more horrifying that she likely couldn't eat food even if she was given it.
    • In Eragon, the titular character is forced to do this to himself after he's captured and imprisoned. When he first awakens, he finds himself in a pleasantly dimwitted haze and vaguely realizes that he's been drugged. Eragon eventually discovers that the substance used to stupefy him is hidden in his food and water, and has to go without until he can escape.
  • Tris of Divergent mentions how sometimes her parents would withhold food from her as punishment.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, Nikita mentions at some point that her mother would train her by withholding food from her until she'd manage to perform the task given to her perfectly.
  • In Catch-22, this is the result of failing to go along with the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade.
  • In Captive of the Red Vixen After a failed escape attempt, Lord Rolas is brought back to his cell and informed that his Auto-Kitchen will now only provide "Prison Loaf"
    Red Vixen: [It] contains every bit of protein, vitamins, and nutrients that a healthy adult needs for one day, and tastes like wet cardboard, or so I'm told.
    Narration: As it turned out, the Red Vixen had been wrong about the prison loaf. Comparing it to wet cardboard was really a deep insult to the disposable packaging industry.
  • In the first Wings of Fire book, Queen Scarlet tortured Gill, a SeaWing, by keeping him away from water for months on end. When he's let loose in a gladiator battle against Tsunami, he's dehydrated, emaciated, and mentally unstable. Tsunami ends up easily beating him and is forced to kill him.
  • In the Cold War thriller An H Bomb For Alice the protagonist is held prisoner in a secret Soviet base in the Australian desert. He's fed only limited rations and assumes this trope is in play, but is informed that it's so that if he escapes he won't have the energy to hike through the miles of desert surrounding them.
  • In The Cold Moons it's shown that one of the punishments for misconduct in Cilgwyn is to deny a badger food. If the crimes are bad enough, they can be punished without food for several days in a row.
  • Stray: In the Commune, individual cats are expected to find food for everyone twice a week. If a cat eats while "on the prowl" they're punished depending on Tom-Cat's mood. It's usually three-days starvation, but he's also been known to kill cats who eat early.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: In the temple, access to food is trickled down from the high-ranking blue-robed priests to their grey-robed attendants, making denial of food a frequent disciplinary measure towards attendants who don't do their work properly. Upon becoming the equivalent of a blue-robe herself, Myne accidentally does this to one of her attendants by skipping lunch to have more time to read the temple's books, then heading home. This wasn't a problem for her two other attendants because they are both watching Myne for temple higher-ups, and said higher-ups are feeding them properly.
  • In Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers, the church warden hopes to make the brothers learn their ABC books quicker this way.
  • In The Magician's Nephew, the first book in the Narnia series, Polly gets this treatment when she first returns home from her world-hopping adventure with Digory: she's given supper "with all the nice parts taken out," then sent to her room for two hours' punishment. The narrator lampshades the trope as "something that was done quite frequently in those days."
  • In the third Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm, this is the not-so-magical cure the titular character uses in "The Pet Forgetter Cure." Rebecca Rolfe has a terrible habit of adopting lots of animals but failing to give them the care they need, so Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle conveniently "forgets" to feed her and leaves her locked outside of her farmhouse one night, forcing Rebecca to brave the elements for an evening. She realizes that her pets are going through the same shabby treatment and, humbled, begins to be more responsible with them.
  • Discussed in Starship Troopers. During training, Captain Frankel hands a recruit a summary punishment that includes meals being limited to bread and water. Frankel does mention that the recruit will get as much bread and water as he'd like (since the harsh training requires lots of calories). However, the recruit escalates the situation, leading to a much harsher punishment being meted.
  • This is discussed in the parenting book Using Your Values to Raise Your Child to be an Adult You Admire (written by Harriet Heath and illustrated by Anna Dewdney, author/illustrator of the Llama Llama books) in a chapter regarding basic needs and how they affect learning. It's explained that parents have many choices in using needs to encourage their children to grow and change and that they can choose which they will use and how they will satisfy them. Three cases are then presented - that the parent may choose to not satisfy a need by saying "You're late. No supper for you." They might choose to postpone satisfaction until their child behaves as expected, i.e. "If you don't clean up your room, you can't have Mattie over to play." In the third scenario, it's explained that the parent could choose to satisfy their child's needs, thus freeing them to move on with the tasks of learning and growing. In this case, a toddler who spills milk is told by their father: "When we spill milk, we need to clean it up," who then hands his toddler a sponge and takes one himself. By doing so, he thus satisfies both his child's curiosity about how to accomplish clean-up and the child's need to feel competent.
  • Who Wet My Pants: When no one admits to wetting Reuben's pants (because they were all innocent), he says, "No one gets donuts until I get answers!".
  • Angela Nicely: In “Healthy Holiday!”, the spa owner Miss Bullock punishes Angela for stealing food with no breakfast.
  • In Wuthering Heights, we learn that Heathcliff and Cathy would sometimes skip church as children, for which Cathy would be denied a meal as punishment, while Heathcliff would be flogged.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In NCIS, McGee's father did this to McGee himself. However, his nice mother would sneak a grilled ham and cheese sandwich to his room.
  • Sheridan in Babylon 5 was uncooperative with the interrogator. As a result, he was denied intravenous nourishment.
  • House: Dr. House's father would make him go without food if he was ever a tiny bit late for a meal when he was a kid, which is just one example of House's father's abusive parenting. No wonder he's so messed up.
  • Inverted in Battlestar Galactica, when Baltar offers Gina food, assuring her he's not going to take it away at the last second. Gina, a raped and tortured Cylon prisoner, had been refusing to eat in an effort to kill herself. Baltar realises he's got across to her when she reaches over and takes a piece of food from the plate.
  • This is a frequent trope found in reality shows, especially residential ones such as Big Brother.
  • This happens in an episode of ROY.
  • Trope taken to the extreme in I, Claudius (BBC historical series). Mother Antonia punishes daughter Livilla this way in an early episode. In a later one, grown-up Livilla poisons her husband. Antonia finds out and locks her in a room to starve to death. Those fun-loving Romans!
  • A different version appears in My Wife and Kids where after the children eat a pie Michael was saving for himself. They are forced to eat nothing but pie, and their mother sneaks them celery.
  • An episode of Jo Frost Extreme Parenting has the titular nanny tell a mother to use this punishment when her daughter refuses to eat her dinner.
  • Red Dwarf: Arnold Rimmer revealed in "Better Than Life" that this led to his near starvation and eventual divorce from his parents when he was a teenager. Note that this wasn't even because he'd been bad — his father just couldn't accept his total unsuitability for the Space Corps and would punish him for not being able to answer astronavigation questions.
  • Apparently this was among the torture techniques employed in Roman Times until Professor Bobo burned it down.
  • The adult leader of a child street gang in Survivors uses this tactic to keep "his" kids more productive.
  • In Oz, Alvarez is in solitary confinement after blinding a guard; the prison chaplain is shocked to discover the other guards have been withholding food and water from him, forcing Alvarez to drink his own urine.
  • Nehrus, a gluttonous Goa'uld scientist comes to Earth claiming to help the Tau'ri in Stargate SG-1. When he's revealed to be a traitor (not only to the heroes but to the Goa'uld as well, since he's become a follower of the Ori), he is locked up in Area 51. He asks Landry what will get him to cooperate. Landry calmly says "hunger".
  • On The Sopranos episode "Sentimental Education", A.J. keeps complaining about the breakfast Tony prepares until Tony takes it from him and dumps it down the garbage disposal, smilingly informing him "Now you got nothing."
  • In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Philip finds out that Will and Carlton were working as strippers, and as soon as they got home, this is what he has to say to them:
    Philip: No dates! No charge cards! No television! No emails! No phone calls! NO FOOD!
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Piper is denied any cafeteria service after inadvertently insulting the food in front of Red (who takes pride in how she runs the kitchen), and later explicitly states that she intends to starve Piper to death, even going so far as to have a vending machine unplugged while her fiance is visiting. She later does the same to Alex, as punishment for openly offering Piper food.
    • Later, Red is also being starved out after control of the kitchen is handed over to someone else.
    • In season 4 Bianca makes herself extra smelly to avoid getting pat down by the guards for contraband so as punishment they make her stand on the cafeteria table and don't allow her to leave until she physically can't stand. Since she's not allowed to leave the table she is forced to pee herself and is not allowed any food. If anyone offers her food, like when Piper offered her a granola bar, they are to join her.
  • The Barrier: Near the end of the series, a group of children secretly detained for the purpose of scientific research are moved from a camp out of town to a basement in the headquarters of Madrid's police force. The children aren't allowed to speak to adults other than the nurses caring for them, but one of them ends up having a very short conversation with a policeman through a bathroom air vent. The boy is caught and is forbidden from eating the following meal with the other children as long as he doesn't repeat what the policeman told him, both for breaking the rule against not talking to another adult and a mild form of Food Interrogation.

  • Johnny Cash — "I Got Stripes"
    On a Monday, my Momma came to see me
    On a Tuesday, they caught me with a file
    On a Wednesday, I'm down in solitary
    On a Thursday, I start on bread and water for a while
  • Pink Floyd:
    If you don't eat yer meat, ya canna have any puddin'!
    How can ya have any puddin' if you don't eat yer meat?!
  • Lords of the Underground — "Sleep for Dinner (Remix)"
    I could remember one day when my teacher caught me cheatin’
    (Oooohhh) For dinner I had a beatin’
    She said I couldn’t eat but, yo, that wasn’t what made me crazy
    Seemed like every time I couldn’t eat she’s serving something tasty
    I’d be like, “Mom…” (Hell no!) “Just a piece of bread”
    (Boy, you better leave me alone and take your ass to bed!)
    I couldn’t even go up my nose and pick a winner
    I had sleep for dinner

    Myths & Religion 
  • Phineas from Jason And The Argonauts, who Zeus punished by having his harpies defile his food.
  • Played with in a story from The Metamorphoses—namely, the case of Erysichthon, a Flat-Earth Atheist who chopped down a tree sacred to Ceres, the harvest goddess. Ceres thus summoned Hunger to haunt Erysichthon endlessly—though he was still able to eat, he was denied the ability to feel full, and so began wolfing down food non-stop in a desperate attempt to fill the void. After selling everything he had (including his own mother, though thankfully Poseidon steps in to save her) for money to purchase things to eat, Erysichthon ended up devouring himself in a bit of Laser-Guided Karma.

    Puppet Shows 
  • On the Mine-itis episode of Sesame Street. Brian Williams (who suddenly had Mine-Itis) takes Oscar's reward away.
    Leela: Oscar, If you know the cure for Mine-itis, You can get your stuff back.
    Oscar: Oh, no! Not that! Anything but that! [looks at Brian Williams eating his sundae ice cream] Oh no! Now he is eating my ice cream!

  • In Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, this is part of Petruchio's psychological campaign against Katherine, the titular shrew. Whenever his servants bring her a meal, he finds some ridiculous reason to say it's not good enough for her, then throws it away, eventually leaving her with nothing to eat. Exactly how serious the trope is played depends heavily on the production; at least one has ended with a starved, shattered Kate becoming a Broken Bird, while others (including the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton film version) have Kate catch on to what's happening and only pretend to go along with the scheme.
  • In Maurice Ravel's opera L'enfant et les sortiléges, when the little boy of the title refuses to do his homework, his mother gives him only dry bread for lunch and no sugar in his tea.
  • At one point in My Fair Lady, Higgins warns Eliza that if she doesn't pronounce her vowels correctly by the end of the day, then she'll have no lunch, no dinner, and no chocolates. It's little wonder that in Eliza's next song, "Just You Wait," she fantasizes about having Higgins executed by a firing squad.

    Video Games 
  • In Grand Theft Auto III, radio host and Deadpan Snarker Lazlo talks to Bob from Pine Creek, who treats his young son Johnny like dirt, including using this trope.
    Bob: If he left so much as one hair on the soap, it was off to bed with no dinner. And you know what? He only went to bed hungry 20, maybe 30 times. He learned!
  • In a skit toward the end of Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd notes that his adoptive father, Dirk, taught him a Dwarven Vow each day, and quizzed him at dinnertime, not allowing him to eat if he got it wrong. Regal correctly notes that Lloyd's desire for food strengthened his memory, but Colette wonders if dwarven food has special memory-enhancing ingredients.
  • In the second Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, due to Team Skull sabotaging the player team's mission to get Perfect Apples from Apple Woods for their guild leader Wigglytuff, along with Chatot refusing to hear you out on what happened, both the player and their partner are denied dinner that night. Fortunately, a few friends of the player and partner compiled parts of their dinners together so that the two got a meal the next morning.
  • Inverted in Banjo-Tooie. Mrs. Bottles ends up forcing Bottles to eat a heavily burnt meal after he was late for dinner, and Mrs. Bottles is implied to not believe Bottle's sound alibi of having just been resurrected from the dead until meeting Klungo and King Jingaling.
  • Throughout the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Space Pirate scan data reveals ration reductions are a common punishment among their ranks.
  • A minor sidequest in Dragon Age: Origins has the Warden-to-be encounter a man imprisoned in a cage at Ostagar. He was caught trying to desert, and in addition to locking him up, the guards have denied him food. The player character has the option to charm or purchase food from the guard on duty so the man doesn't have to die with an empty stomach.
  • Mentioned by various citizens and the Overwatch Voice in Half-Life 2. Every citizen is given some ration packets, and how many they can get per day depends on their compliance with the Combine. Even then, those rations aren't even tasty, which is why joining Civil Protection and the higher ranks is one of the gimmicks that would guarantee better food and living conditions.
    Female Citizen: I don't know about you, but I'm ready to join Civil Protection just to get a decent meal.
    Overwatch: Attention, residents: Miscount detected in your block. Cooperation with your Civil Protection team permits full ration reward.
  • As a comical Running Gag in Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, Lydie and Sue regularly deny, or at least threaten to deny their father, "dummy daddy" Roger, food as punishment for his outrageous behavior or statements.
    Sue: Gaaah! I'm mad now! I'm vetoing your dinner tonight! No dessert for you, either!
    Roger: No! I'm sorry! I can't subsist on just dry bread! Sue! Sue!
  • Plot point in What Remains of Edith Finch, where we learn in a flashback that Molly Finch as a 10-year-old was sent up to her room without any supper. This presumably caused her to die of food poisoning as she started eating things in her room like toothpaste and holly berries. The exact circumstances of her death are left ambiguous.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Parodied: since Elliot lied to his parents about sleeping over at Tedd's house, (never mind that he snuck into a government facility and created a female duplicate of himself) they initially decide not to give him any dessert that night but then downgrade it to only giving him one brownie as dessert. Said female duplicate did not exist until after said lie, so she's not punished for it and can have however many brownies she pleases. (Three strips later we see Elliot's mom offering him another brownie. The Dunkels are really not disciplinarians.)
    • Nanase's mother denies Nanase dessert after the poor girl explodes—they were already eating dinner, so she couldn't very well tell Nanase to vomit up what she'd already ate. Her sister sneaks her some cookies.
  • The Order of the Stick: Team Evil feed the captive O-Chul "a small bowl of watery gruel". Luckily, the Monster in the Darkness shares his stew.

    Web Videos 
  • The OA: The show's antagonist threatens this multiple times. Since only he has the code to unlock his captive's cell doors, even if one were to escape and kill him somehow, the rest would all just starve to death locked in their cells.
  • During The Cinema Snob's review of Home Sweet Home, there's a scene where a father tries to make his daughter eat the peas in her Thanksgiving dinner by telling her "No peas, no dessert." In response, a furious Snob recalls how, when he was a child, he got very sick because his daycare instructor forced him to eat green beans; as a result, he does not have a high opinion of parents who force their children to eat foods they clearly dislike.
  • In Cinder's backstory on RWBY, her mother/enslaver routinely deprived her of food for imagined slights or just because, leaving her in a constant state of hunger while surrounded by food. As an adult, she's become defined by her bottomless hunger for power, and pursues the Maiden powers as though she were physically starving for them.
    Cinder: You think holding power means you'll have it forever, but it just makes the rest of us hungrier! And I refuse to starve.

    Western Animation 

  • American Dad!: The episode "Morning Mimosa" had Francine decide to neglect Steve when the latter cusses her out and just when Steve reaches the end of his rope, he ends up learning how to be more independent and does this to Francine when he makes pancakes.
  • Animaniacs: The Buttons and Mindy shorts always end with Buttons the Dog denied a "treat" by his owners after the harrowing task of keeping their daughter, Mindy, safe. The reasons why tend to vary. Averted at the end of Wakko's Wish.
  • In an episode of Arthur, Buster steals a toy robot from a store and then gets caught when he tries to return it. His punishment is that he is allowed to have dinner, but no dessert. As a Big Eater with a Sweet Tooth, this punishment really hits home.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the episode "Appa's Lost Days," this is one of the punishments used by the cruel animal trainer in an attempt to break Appa into a circus performer. Since Appa is an airbender who can suck food into his cage, this doesn't work so well.
  • Beetlejuice: In "Out of My Mind," Lydia is sent to her room without dinner when Beetlejuice secretly replaces Delia's spaghetti dish with live worms (violating a promise he made to not prank Lydia's parents) and Delia thinks they're Lydia's.
  • Big City Greens: In one episode, Cricket Green is frustrated when he gets served broccoli and Gramma forces him to eat which he doesn't want much to the point Cricket yells that he is not a Green. Afterwards, Gramma serves desserts to her family except Cricket.
  • The Casagrandes: The episode "Snack Pact" reveals that Rosa gets super jealous when her family enjoys someone else's cooking. Apparently, she once stopped cooking for Carlos for a month as punishment for him buying a churro from a new bakery.
    Carlos: I had to survive on frozen waffles.
  • Chowder: An episode had Mung Daal do this to the title character when he destroys a dish with his fire breath (that he got earlier in the episode). Subverted when Mung decides to give Chowder food anyway, only Chowder ran away just before entered his room.
  • Darkwing Duck: In one episode, Honker was grounded for supposedly lying. In addition to saying he wasn't allowed to go outside to play or watch television, Herb also began to say no food or water before Binky made him realize what he was saying.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • In "Send in the Clones", Magica De Spell uses a magic spell to disguise Big Time, Burger, and Babyface as Scrooge's nephews as part of her plan to steal Scrooge's #1 dime. Amidst the chaos and confusion, the real Dewey and Louie capture Burger while Big Time and Babyface capture the real Huey. When Magica undoes her spell and Burger is back to his normal self, he refuses to tell Scrooge, Dewey, and Louie where the real Huey is, saying there's nothing they can do to make him talk. Scrooge tells him "No supper", and Burger spills the beans on the real Huey's whereabouts.
    • An example of the lighter version occurs in "A DuckTales Valentine". Scrooge punishes the nephews and Webby for sneaking along against orders with a month with no dessert.
  • Family Guy: Lois once ate Meg's lunch and sent her to school with an empty lunch box purely because she's an Abusive Parent who doesn't like her.
  • Invoked in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Bloo tries to get sent to bed without supper on purpose after finding out that Frankie is making "it", an indescribable dish he describes as "vomit". And because Bloo is a moderate Jerkass, he Can't Get in Trouble for Nuthin' and somehow manages to get everyone in the entire house except himself sent to their room without supper (though most of it was Mr. Herriman doing it to cover up his carrot addiction). So Frankie takes particular delight in dumping the entire bowl of "it" onto Bloo's plate since he's the only one left who hasn't "gotten in trouble". And then she brings him more during the credits to punish him for all the things he did to try getting in trouble, meaning he did get punished... by being fed something that constantly makes him puke.
  • Garfield and Friends: Happened many times; because Garfield's favorite thing in the world is food, Jon will use that to his advantage to control Garfield's behavior.
    • In "Fair Exchange", Jon punishes Garfield for gluing Odie's head to the table by sending him to bed without his pre-bedtime-post-midnight-snack-meal (he already gave him his supper, post-supper, and post-post supper snacks). Though Garfield being Garfield overreacts by throwing a fit then storming off to bed still hungry.
    • In "Hansel and Garfield", Jon threatens to never feed Garfield again should he mistreat Nermal.
    • In "Sales Resistance", Jon threatened to never feed Garfield lasagna again for the rest of his life (in those exact words) should Garfield spend his money to buy another useless, overpriced item again from a conniving salesman.
    • In "Bouncing Baby Blues", after a baby crawled into the load of groceries Garfield took home, Jon forced Garfield to look after the baby until the mother arrived or else "No chocolate layer cake for a year."
    • In "The Multiple Choice Cartoon", John punishes Garfield for catapulting Odie into the woods by forcing him to go retrieve Odie or else (as the audience chooses) either "A: No food for a day, B: No food for a week, or C: No food until the next time Haley's Comet cruises the galaxy". The audience chooses (like all the other answers) "C". Garfield doesn't remember his punishment too well, since while looking for Odie he wanted to give up and go back eating cheeseburgers with Pigeon Suit thinking Jon will feed him regardless.
    • In "Well-Fed Feline", after finding out that Garfield has eaten his entire seven-layer lasagna cake and tried to mail Nermal to Abu Dhabi, he threatens not to feed Garfield again until Arbor Day. This gets the attention of an animal activist, who mistakes Jon for a terrible pet owner and threatens to arrest him unless he feeds Garfield.
  • Hey Arnold! did this to the one character that didn't deserve it at all — Helga. One wonders how she even manages to survive by eating cereal for dinner and a complete lunch of "An individual package of crackers, moist towelettes, and shaving cream", not to mention that her mom forgets to either buy food or leaves the grocery bags on the roof of the car. But in the Thanksgiving episode, this trope is invoked on her when she declares that she has nothing to be thankful for while at the table.
    Big Bob: All right then, little lady. You can just park your keister upstairs until you think of something you're thankful for!
  • King of the Hill:
    • In the episode "Westie Side Story", Hank and Kahn are discussing ways to punish their children for misbehaving, they both disapprove of spanking, but they both use the "bed without dessert" trick, which according to Kahn, never fails.
    • In another episode, Peggy accuses Bobby of breaking her lawn gnome (it was actually Hank) and as punishment, she sends him to his room and has Hank send him his dinner, but with no dessert. Hank does sneak Bobby a pudding cup though.
  • A Robot Chicken sketch based on Disney's Beauty and the Beast has Beast confine Belle to her bedroom without dinner when she refuses to eat dinner with him. Belle then orders takeout and calls the cops on Beast.
  • Rugrats (1991):
  • The Simpsons:
    • This happens to Bart in "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie", when Marge decides he needs to be disciplined more, although Homer ruins it by sneaking him some pizza. In fact, Bart immediately calls Marge's bluff when she declares the punishment, and later the lesson is just about to sink in when Homer shows up.
    • Also happened in "Bart Vs. Thanksgiving" when he is sent to his room without Thanksgiving dinner for destroying Lisa's centerpiece. He sneaks out and gets a meal at the homeless shelter.
    • Also, while technically it's a beverage and not food, in the episode where Bart attempts to shoplift a video game, Homer proposes as one of his punishments: "No eggnog. In fact, no nog period."
    • And, they parody this when trying to spare Homer's feelings about his voice acting as Poochie:
      Homer: So it was pretty okay, huh?
      [awkward pause]
      Bart: Mom, can we go to bed without dinner?
      Marge: Yes we can. [all rush out of the room; three doors bang shut]
    • In "Make Room for Lisa", Bart and Lisa take turns picking the family activity Homer will take them to. When Bart reveals that he traded his turn for Lisa's dessert, resulting in Homer having to go to a boring place, Homer punishes him by denying dessert. Bart then offers to trade his next activity choice for Lisa's dessert. To Homer's dismay, Lisa agrees.
  • South Park: In the episode "Grounded Vindaloop", Stephen refuses to let Butters eat dinner with him and Linda (or have any meals) as part of his grounding for all of the trouble he caused earlier in the episode.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Happened to Spirit and Little Creek — "No food or water, three days."
  • Stanley: In "Kangaroo-Clean Up", Stanley has to clean his room or his parents will take away his dessert.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: When Ludo's minions fail to obtain Star's wand when she loses it after giving Marco an out-of-control beard, he takes away all of their milkshake privileges, which is what leads to Toffee convincing them to turn on him.
  • Exaggerated for Laughs on Steven Universe, in another example of the Gems forgetting some things about humans:
    Pearl: Steven, you are in very big trouble, and we have no choice but to punish you.
    Garnet: No dinner for 1,000 years.//
(Pearl then steps in, saying they would never starve him, and switches the punishment to no TV. For 1000 years.)
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures parodying Tales from the Crypt, one cartoon has Hamton's mother punish him this way when she finds out he lost his father's prized bottle cap collection in a bet with Plucky.

    Real Life 
  • People in concentration camps were starved (and overworked) to the point of looking like skeletons.
    • However, the reasons sometimes varied. While in e.g. GULAGs and Nazi concentration camps this was played straight, in the British concentration camps (from The Second Boer War — some of the earliest concentration camps), where mainly Boer civilians were kept, many starved to death because most of the time there simply wasn't enough foodstuff to go around — or rather, the foodstuff existed somewhere in-theatre, but logistical problems (as well as simple British negligence and carelessness) kept it from arriving on time and in the correct quantities. Later concentration camps exploited this misfortune.
    • In GULAGs specifically, this was a Morton's Fork situation. The rations were brutally low to begin with but increased with your productivity. However, the amount of productivity you needed kept increasing as well, and the rewards could not possibly replace the calories you burned earning it, leaving every prisoner in a vicious cycle. The situation was somewhat alleviated by food packages sent by prisoner's families, and occasionally outright theft (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich shows a good example of both).
  • Prisoners in general often had their rations diminished for misbehavior. While not as widely used nowadays because of health concerns, it still happens in places.
    • A common form of punishment in prisons is "food loaf restriction". The meal the prisoner would be served is mixed up in a blender and baked into a loaf. It has the same nutritional value as a meal but doesn't taste very good. It can also be served without forks, spoons, or other potentially stabby items. Dessert is a privilege to be earned. Incidentally, guards and prisoners eat the same thing, only guards can go back for seconds if they want.
  • This used to be a fairly common punishment for misbehaving military personnel, regardless of country. Nowadays, the most common punishments are forfeiture of pay, extra duty, and restriction of privileges.
    • Provisions for bread and water rations are still on the books in the U.S. Navy, though there are so many prerequisites to actually inflict such a punishment (health clearance, constant monitoring by medical personnel to ensure such a diet doesn't do lasting harm, constant monitoring to ensure the punished doesn't sneak himself food, etc.) that it is almost never used, as it is far easier to just demote the punished or strip them of pay.
  • It used to be that if a Papal Conclave took too long to decide on a new Pope, Cardinal-Electors would be put on a diet of bread and water until the white smoke blew. This regulation is still technically on the books, but no conclave has dragged on long enough to trigger that provision in a very long time.
    • This is somewhat surprising, as past elections have dragged on well after food actually was denied. The longest-ever election, November 1268-September 1271 (that's right, it took them almost three whole years) was only ended after the people of Viterbo (where the election was held) decided to remove the roof of the palace where the cardinals were meeting. The Pope elected as a result decided that in the future, papal elections would be held as "conclaves"—i.e. in near-total isolation behind locked doors—and that food would begin to be restricted starting on the fourth day of the conclave.
  • Sending a misbehaving child to bed without supper was a popular disciplinary action for many parents. Nowadays, denying a child dessert or a treat is a little more common, though.
    • This is frequently joked about, with the punchline being that this wasn't much of a punishment because the joke-teller's mother was a terrible cook.
    • Or another family member will take pity on the child and covertly sneak food into their bedroom—the child being already aware that this might happen prevents it from being an especially effective punishment.
    • Or that kids have so much in their rooms nowadays (computer, phone, tv), to punish them you send them to the parents' room (though depending on whether or not the parents' room also has a television, this could backfire as the kid could just switch it on and turn down the volume enough that nobody would hear it).
  • Horrifyingly, Rep. Cynthia Davis of Missouri suggested that cutting lunch programmes for children in schools that performed below standards would be a great way to "motivate" kids to do better.
  • The judge in Texas who sentenced a woman to spend the first few days of her animal cruelty prison sentence on a bread and water diet as a reminder of how she'd starved the horses. (after the initial round of news articles, it also showed up on Animal Planet's Animal Cops Houston.)
  • In Applied Behavior Analysis, also known as ABA therapy, autistic children who do not conform to the rules of the session (read: autistic people who stim, or who cannot speak) will be punished by withholding food and drink until they comply, in a similar manner to the dog/animal training example below.
  • In North Korea, from what little intel can be gathered from defectors, this is quite pervasive. Those in prison camps are so starved that the inmates must regularly break rules and otherwise steal and hunt for food to survive. However, breaking rules in the camp means you don't even get the normal rations. The general philosophy in the camps is "break enough rules that you get enough food to live, but if you ever get caught you die".
  • Animal charities warn against doing this to train dogs, since it doesn't work and frequently makes them untrainable. Feed them treats for good behaviour instead.
  • Usually averted with slave owners, as if they did not feed their slaves the slaves could not work as well; this is discussed in The Ten Commandments (1956), in which Moses' slaves are fed and rested for a day, thus making them much more productive.
  • The concept of Hunger Striking inverts this trope. It was popularized by Gandhi, though it existed long before his time, and involves someone withholding food from themselves in order to punish someone else. It's typically used by protesters to pressure someone in power since having someone die from starvation makes whoever they were striking against look pretty bad. When undertaken by prisoners, said prisoners may be punished via force-feeding, which can range from mildly unpleasant to outright cruelty, depending on the method used.


Video Example(s):


The Saint

As a boy, when Simon refused to answer to the religiously themed name given to him by the priests at his orphanage even after being whipped, they declared that not only would he not be fed until he acknowledged his name, none of the other boys would be fed either. Simon held out until the priests left, then picked the lock to the pantry.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeniedFoodAsPunishment

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