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Dominance Through Furniture

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Nzinga Mbande shows us how it's done.

There are many, many ways of illustrating a character's dominance over a setting or a person, from Cool Crowns to impressive thrones, from pimped-out regalia to magnificent palaces. However, for a thorough demonstration of just how much power one has, one of the bluntest methods is to use another living being as a piece of furniture.

In one common form, a servant, lackey or victim is forced to kneel on the floor while their master props their feet up on them like an ottoman. Another popular variant features the victim being made to play the role of a chair and support the weight of their tormentor - with dire consequences if they collapse. Others still may involve the victim being used as stairs, footstools, or even carpets.

Needless to say, this is a technique used almost exclusively by villains and Nominal Heroes of a distinctly sadistic bent, and is often used as an Establishing Character Moment to that end.


May be combined with Too Important to Walk.

Compare and contrast Human Doorstop, the lighter, comedic variant of this trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Overlord: After Ainz frees his subordinate Shalltear from her brainwashing, she demands to be punished for betraying him. After another of his subordinates, Demiurge, makes him a macabre throne made of human bones, a disgusted Ainz instead decides to punish Shalltear by making her his seat for the time being. Instead of being a punishment, however, Shalltear becomes very, very aroused by being sat on by her beloved Ainz. In fact, it makes Shalltear so happy that an extremely jealous Albedo excuses herself from the room and can be heard yelling and breaking things in frustration.
    • Ainz's skeletal soldiers also often get used this way, such as in his epic entrance with the lizardmen, in which an entire group of skeletal soldiers lay themselves and their shields against a gigantic stone block thrown into a frozen river, forming themselves into stairs for Ainz and his entourage to ascend.

    Comic Books 
  • In the 2000 AD comic Hope Under Fire, a sorcerous Mafia boss is able to steal the demon Cade from the protagonist, using her to slaughter most of his rivals and make himself The Don of the city. As a result, his next scene features the boss reading a newspaper while using surviving enemy as an ottoman; for good measure, he also warns the poor man that if he keeps trembling, he'll happily use the man as a toilet instead!

    Films — Animation 
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: The Big Bad One-Eye has his harem form his throne. In the original cut, he gets his comeuppance when the women decide to sit on him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 300: Xerxes is introduced being carried in a massive sedan chair by an army of slaves, who then form themselves into stairs for him to descend to the ground.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: The Goblin King is introduced sitting on his throne with half a dozen lesser goblins being used as an impromptu ottoman chair. Later when Thorin's Company is captured, he gets up and several more pile in to act as stairs. You can actually hear their bones crunching whenever he steps on the poor sods.

  • Cold Days: At Harry's birthday party in Arctis Tor, the Winter Lady, Maeve, sits on a young man to watch Harry fight. Her mother, the Winter Queen, prefers the traditional ice throne, which also serves to highlight the differences between the two Queens of Winter.
    The Sidhe shoved the young man to his hands and knees, and Maeve's slight weight settled across his broad back.
  • Everworld takes this to a horrifying extreme in "Realm of the Reaper": the Norse goddess Hel has taken to using the victims she's ensnared as the road leading into her domain, essentially burying people up to their necks so their heads serve as the paving stones; as a result, they are left to be repeatedly trodden on and tripped over by any unfortunate guests invited into Niflheim until the victims finally die and decay into skulls that are - at a distance - identical to real paving stones. For good measure, Hel has a thing for keeping the freshest examples closest to her domain, likely so she can enjoy the screams.
  • Moby-Dick: Upon meeting the man, Ishmael is surprised when his new companion Queequeg arranges a nearby drunk to serve as a suitable chair to sit on. Queequeg explains that this is common in his tribe, wherein suitably fluffy men and women are actually cultivated to serve as mobile furniture for high-ranking members.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Graendal of the Quirky Miniboss Squad spends her free time using mind-control to amass a harem of servants who also act as living furniture. Her preference is for men or women who are both attractive and politically important.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Black Mirror episode "USS Callister", programmer Robert Daly regularly takes out his frustrations on doppelgangers of his co-workers in a virtual reality game of his own design; in one case, he throttles clone Walton half to death, then forces him to kneel on the floor while Daly props his boots on top of him - and Walton's reaction indicates that he's done this before. In the process, Daly illustrates both his power over the virtual setting and the fact that his shy exterior is just a mask for a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • Blackadder: In "Dish and Dishonesty", Sir Talbot Buxomly states that he uses his servants as tables to eat off of.
    Sir Talbot: Why should I spend money on furniture when I have perfectly good men standing idle?
  • In The Drew Carey Show, when Kate worked as Mrs. Lauder's personal assistant, the former was often used by the latter as a desk when she needed to write a quick memo. When Kate finds another job, she sings a happy-sounding quitting song, but when that job falls through, she begs Mrs. Louder for her job back by lying about an "impersonator" going around pulling pranks. Mrs. Lauder rehires Kate, and immediately puts her to work as a footstool.
  • Succession: One of Mean Boss Tom's tactics to assert his authority at ATN (a reflection of how little pull he has with the family) is making "human furniture" or "footstooling" his employees (putting his feet up on their backs). He does so to Jonah and tries to encourage Greg to join in. All the "normal" people in the room are horrified when it comes out that Tom does this in the Senate hearing.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Tzimisce clan of Vampire: The Masquerade take this to a disturbingly literal extent: because of their clan-unique Discipline of Vicissitude and their utter contempt for humanity, they enjoy making innocent human beings into furniture for their homes — including chairs. Worse still, many of these objects are still sentient even after all the mutilation they've been subjected to. One particular Tzimisce brags that he's created a fainting couch that still cries when you sit on it!

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake: Scarlet is introduced using one of her Mooks to rest her feet on. When she gets up, said Mook follows after her, ready to take up the role again wherever she goes.
  • LISA: The Painful RPG has one NPC, a crossdresser, who lives in a house where all the furniture is people; tables, chairs, and even, disturbingly enough, a toilet.

    Western Animation 
  • Duck Dodgers: After breaking his chair outside of the warranty's limitations in "Corporate Pigfall", Dodgers is shown using the cadet as a chair and his mouth as either a cup holder or a trash can...and still expects him to get him another soda and make fajitas.
  • The Fairly OddParents: In "A Bad Case of Diary-Uh!", Vicky exploits her position of babysitter to force Timmy to drop to his knees and act as footrest while she watches TV.
  • In the Futurama episode "A Pharaoh to Remember", Bender as Pharaoh of an Egypt-like alien civilization uses the enslaved Fry and Leela in this manner.
  • In Gravity Falls, "Weirdmageddon part 2", the newly-incarnated Bill Cipher caps off his reign by building a gigantic throne from the bodies of everyone he's petrified since Weirdmageddon began. During his speech to the Henchmaniacs, the body of Lazy Susan slips out of place and returns to normal just long enough to wonder where she is - before Bill pushes her back into place and re-petrifies her.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: In "Swampy Seconds", Catfish Booray shows off his control over the animals of the swamp by making them form a chair for him to sit on. Randy points out that this can't be very comfortable.
  • Total Drama: In "Walk Like an Egyptian", Chris dresses like a pharaoh and starts treating his interns as slaves, with one of his demands being that one of them bends down and acts as a throne for him to sit on. The chosen intern is later attacked by flesh-eating scarabs, prompting Chris to repurpose the skeleton as a footrest.
  • The Transformers: In Triple Takeover, Blitzwing gets the better of several Autobots and has Constructicon Hook fashion their mangled bodies into a throne.

    Real Life 
  • When Nzinga Mbande of the pre-colonial Angolan kingdom of Ndongo was sent to negotiate with the Portuguese, she saw that there were chairs for the Portuguese officials and only a mat for her. This was common practice among the Portuguese, meant to imply a subordinate status for black Africans. Nzinga responded by having one of the soldiers acting as her bodyguard get on his hands and knees so she could sit on his back, subtly demonstrating that she held more authority over her people than the Portuguese officials had either at home or abroad.
  • After he was taken captive by Shakur I of Persia, Roman emperor Valerian (199-260 or 264) is said to have been used as a footstool by the Persian emperor.


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