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Dominance Through Furniture

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Gil Eavis: Have you ever used another human being as a footstool, Mr Wambsgams?
Tom Wambsgams: Uh, Senator, I use a variety of target-oriented incentives to enhance optimal performance...

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. Also compare Cruelty by Feet, which is very similar thematically.


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    Anime & Manga 

    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 the 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!
  • Done quite dramatically in Young Avengers when the Mother parasite hijacks Hulkling's shapeshifting powers to force him into the shape of a throne for it to sit on. It's not a smooth transformation either, his body being stretched into tendrils molded into a chair shape.
  • Wonder Woman (2011): Hades has his father chained up with a hole through his stomach as his throne. Because they're in the afterlife and his father was not mortal to begin with he is conscious and in agony. Hades torments him in a detached way, offering him wine that pours straight from his mouth out the hole in his abdomen.
  • The Dead Boy Detectives: Both Charles and Edwin have flashbacks to being used as human footrests for bullies at St. Hilarion's.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Central Shadow Realm stories like Shadow Realm: Fifteen, crime lord Dark Ruler Ha Des is notorious for his furniture. Everything in the room either was alive or is alive. Ha Des uses it as an intimidation tactic; sitting in a chair that was a fellow monster at one point sends the message that if you screw up you could be the chair next to it in short order.

    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 

  • 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 Modern Faerie Tales, the Unseelie Queen orders an unfortunate to act as her dinner table just because she can and she's in a bad mood—and being the Unseelie Queen, she's going to do something really nasty if he spills anything, which he will because he's not that strong and he's terrified of her. Roiben, a knight traded into her service, offers himself in the poor guy's place.
  • 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.
  • 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 early 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?
  • CSI: NY: In season one's "Hush," Danny & Aiden go undercover as a couple looking to learn about BDSM techniques. The seminar they attend features a woman hanging upside down as a chandelier and a man posed as an end table. They ask the leaders how long they have to stay like that and one replies, "until I tell them they can stop."
  • 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.
  • Rome. Julius Caesar (and after he grows up, Octavian) are shown standing on the back of a legionnaire in order to mount a horse. No-one thinks this is improper in the slightest.
  • Squid Game: As a sign of how obscenely rich and powerful they are, the VIPs who visit the game's island use live human beings as footrests and pillows, most of them naked except for a coating of body paint. Most notably, VIP 4 is seen resting his head on a woman's enormous breasts.
  • 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.
  • Westworld: In Season 4, Charlotte forces three people to group together as a makeshift chair while she's talking to William.

    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.
  • Disgaea: Etna has been known to use her Prinny servants as seats, particularly in her introductory scene in the second game. Of course, it's one of the nicer things she does, as she also uses them for knife-throwing targets, punching bags, and makeshift bombs.

  • In a Subnormality comic, an average joe goes to multiple job interviews but keeps getting turned down. These constant failures wear him down and his posture gets worse with each new interview until he's finally so slumped over that the last manager uses him as a footrest.

    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 a footrest while she watches TV.
    • In "The Odd Couple", Vicky uses Timmy as a table in the title card and used him as a footrest later on in the episode.
    • In "Certifiable Super Sitter", Vicky uses Mr. Turner as a couch, Foop as a footrest, and Sammy Sweetsparkle as a cup holder.
  • F is for Family: After Nguyen-Nguyen was charged with killing her husband Chet, she quickly asserted dominance over the other prisoners, with the Thanksgiving Episode in Season 5 showing her using an inmate as a footrest while another fed her dinner.
  • 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 the Gravity Falls episode "Weirdmageddon Part 2: Escape From Reality", 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: Ninth 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.
  • The Loud House: In the episode Sound of Silence, Lori uses Lincoln as an ottoman.
  • 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 (or her maid, depending on which source you consult) 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 Shapur I of Persia, Roman emperor Valerian (199-260 or 264) is said to have been used as a footstool by the Persian emperor.
  • Practically an Invoked Trope in BDSM where a dominant may require their submissive to serve them as a seat, carpet, footrest or any other similar ways.


Video Example(s):


Great Catherine

When a British officer ignores the advances of the Empress Catherine the Great, she orders to tie him up and tickles him with her bare foot. Then, as a condition for getting him untied, she orders him to kiss her foot.

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