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Electric Torture

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15,000 volts worth of answers.

"They say, 'Whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.' But when it comes to torture devices, that's pretty much never true. The picana electrica delivers shocks at only 1/1,000 of an amp. It's completely non-lethal, but at 15,000 volts, it's so painful, you wish it was."
Michael Westen in Burn Notice, via voice over as the device is about to be used on him

Real torture techniques are messy, uncomfortable to watch, and difficult to simulate for TV. Such graphic violence would risk an undesirably restrictive MPAA rating or outright rejection by a network's standards. More of an immediate problem, a key character with broken limbs or open wounds would simply not be able to physically continue in the plot without a considerable healing period, which there may be no room for on the timeline. Including a physically broken character in the plot would simply be an ongoing downer, defusing any joy the writer intended to create.

Instead, most torture sessions in TV, movies and video games takes the form of an electroshock treatment, some form of direct neural stimulation, or the ever popular Agony Beam. In any case, the point is to have the actor shake around as if in terrible pain without actually causing any physical damage. If the producers are particularly interested in realism, a pair of burns will be left where the electrodes were attached. Depending on medium and genre, this may include visible electric arcs. Sometimes parodied, but far more often played straight.

It's almost guaranteed that a variation on this conversation will take place:

The hero never dies or experiences serious physical injury/mutilation, and in most cases will not even show any marks, though usually requires a shoulder to help walk for another scene or so, as he is too weak to walk on his own. The hero will soon regain his strength entirely. A villain given a taste of his own medicine might die or become horribly mutilated, though.

This trope appears to be weakening in recent years after the appearance of "torture horror" films such as the Hostel series breaking into the mainstream, though this genre began back in the 1970s with films like Mark of the Devil and Salň, or the 120 Days of Sodom.

When applied properly, this method also has the added bonus of not leaving any physical evidence of torture on the bodies of the "guests". Electric torture has some side benefits to interrogators as well, as it tends to mess with brain circuitry, leading to feelings of disorientation and short term memory loss in addition to pain, which increases confusion and makes subjects more malleable. It also tends to be convenient, as it doesn't require a ton of effort on the interrogators' part and rarely requires extensive cleanup beyond the occasional loss of bowel control.

A favorite of the Psycho Electro, and a variant of Agony Beam. See also Magical Defibrillator (for the flip side of electroshocking humans), Shock Collar, Electroconvulsive Therapy Is Torture and Harmless Electrocution. May be part of a Robotic Torture Device, and one possible misuse of a Static Stun Gun. Contrast with Electric Instant Gratification.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played for Laughs in Bleach. Mayuri Kurotsuchi decides to bring a bunch of previously defeated enemies Back from the Dead, secretly implanting with punishment devices to cause electric shocks directly into their brains. Said "minions" (Cirucci, Charlotte, Dordoni and Luppi) are... hard to handle and they really don't trust him. So this trope happens. Several times.
  • During Goku's fight against Jackie Chun in Dragon Ball, Jackie Chun uses a finishing move that shocks the opponent with 20,000 volts of electricity (according to Yamcha). Goku eventually became willing to give in, but then he saw the full moon...
  • Parodied in the third episode of Excel♡Saga; a group of soldiers subject Excel to being shocked with electrodes, only to find it arouses her. In confusion, they shock another soldier, who displays the standard cartoon reaction.
  • In Fairy Tail, Erza receives this when she's being interrogated by Kyouka of the Dark Guild Tartaros.
  • In Freezing, after objecting to (and launching an investigation into) unethical experimentation by the world government Chevalier, Elizabeth Mably is arrested, stripped to her underwear, and has electrodes attached to her head and breasts, with the sessions of electrocution lasting for over 20 minutes at a time (the downside of Super-Strength; the Chevalier know this won't kill her) It's played straight as an arrow, complete with the minion/Big Bad conversation ("But Sir, if we do any more than this, she might receive permanent brain damage..." "I don't care"), but manages to be genuinely horrifying courtesy of showing things like Elizabeth drooling and losing bladder control, and her eyes rolling up into her head.
  • Ginji of Get Backers has been known to interrogate random mooks by slowing raising the charge ("750, 1000, 1500...").
  • Killua of Hunter × Hunter had been subjected to this so many times in his youth that he developed an affinity to electricity, which he used when creating his Hatsu techniques.
  • Slaves in the Magical World of Negima! Magister Negi Magi are equipped with collars that allow their owners to perform electric torture on them with but a few words, though these are supposed to only be used when the slave attempts to escape.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, the Demon sisters try this on Panty and Stocking. However, because they're angels, it doesn't work, and Stocking even finds it pleasurable.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the special Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns, Giovanni does this to Mewtwo to try and get it to submit to his ownership. Eventually it frees itself rather...disturbingly.
    • In the Pokémon Adventures manga, there is one scene when Red is held down by several Magneton so that Lt. Surge's Electabuzz could use Thunder on him several times before his body is dumped into the ocean. That may be a hint as to how Pokemon were used in wars in their world...
    • Used by Grings Kodai in Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions on Zorua to get his mother to obey him. Added Kick the Dog points for doing it to a baby.
      • Harmless Electrocution is subverted in this case. Not only is the pain from the shock agonizing, everyone it's used on takes a while to recover (thankfully they're all Pokemon, who seem to heal much quicker than humans anyway) and he kills Zoroark with it, though she's revived by Celebi.
    • In Pokémon: The Original Series, for his battle for his eighth Indigo League badge, Ash finds himself facing off against Team Rocket, since the real gym leader (the same Giovanni from above) was away on "business", and assigned the trio as his substitutes. Team Rocket traps Ash in a platform that electrocutes him whenever his Pokémon take damage during the battle; however, this plan backfires because James also rigged Jessie's own platform to do the same to her, because he never thought Ash would actually turn the tables on them this time.
  • In Samurai Gun, the forces of the Shogunate develop an electric chair for interrogations.
  • In Shugo Chara!, Chairman Hoshina acts this way towards Ikuto, telling the scientists to push him further even though the X energy in Ikuto's violin is causing him harm.
  • Ayeka subjects Ryoko to some form of Electric Torture in the second episode of the Tenchi Muyo! OVA after she is captured while being hung upside down, but it only tickles her and seems to have no effect. This changes when Ayeka jabs her with the hilt of Tenchi's sword and causes a much more painful electric reaction (although it can be assumed that it is much more than electricity doing the damage) due to Ryoko being unable to touch the sword.
    • Note: In the actual Japanese dialog for this, Ryouko shouts "I'm coming!" to irk Ayeka, but the subtitles in later releases of the OVA do not reflect this, cleaning it up to "That tickles!"
  • This gets used plenty of times across Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the manga version of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Jonouchi is tortured by gang members (the leader of which just happens to be a former friend) with stun guns. Later on, Yugi defeats the entire gang using a knocked-out member (holding a stun gun), the weather, and a couple of well-placed threats.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: A Mephisto-like character introduces Kaiser to a method of playing Duel Monsters that involves Electric Torture, which Kaiser inflicts on his own brother post his Freak Out.
    • Yusei is the undisputed king of this trope when regarding Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: While in prison he's subjected to this twice (one of them stripped down to nothing but his boxers), three if you count the excruciating experience of being literally branded a criminal, and again when he gets his D-wheel back from security in the form of hundreds and hundreds of cattle prods. The Arcadia Movement might also have routinely done this to children in their attempts to raise a psychic army (it's how Misty's brother died, anyway).
    • Yuya, the protagonist of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V also suffers from this. Roger puts a chip in Yuya's helmet that sends electrical shocks to his head as he duels in an attempt to bring out his vicious side. To point this into context, Yuya is only 14 years old.
    • Yusaku from Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS can definitely give Yusei a run for his money in this department. Ten years prior to the start of the series, Yusaku was one of six children who were kidnapped and locked up, being forced to duel with VR equipment. If they lost, they would receive intense electric shocks that would knock them back. The losers would also be starved. This torture lasted for six months and left Yusaku with a whole range of mental illnesses including PTSD. Even therapy couldn't help him. To make things even worse, Yusaku was only six during the Lost Incident/Hanoi Project and didn't even know how much time had passed until after he was freed.
  • A particular YuYu Hakusho villain specifically blends electricity with his personal power and then uses it to slowly torture Yusuke, with the eventual intended effect of killing him, but not before he has to watch Keiko die first.
    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, Siphon endures a form of this while on a deathtrap power-nullifying platform.
  • Happens (in an unexpected and fairly graphic sequence) to Lightfoot in G.I. Joe Special Missions #13.
  • In Hellblazer #8, John Constantine has a nightmare, based on his time in Ravenscar Asylum, in which two staffers prepare to torture him with live wires.
  • The Punisher does this in The Punisher MAX story arc "Long Cold Dark". The Punisher is already nasty-talented at inflicting pain on others. When Barracuda kidnaps Frank's daughter, who he didn't know existed, The Punisher goes Papa Wolf on the man and hooks up Barracuda's danglies to a car battery. For an hour.
  • The Star Wars comic Han Solo And The Hollow Moon of Khorya depicts a torture scene very similar to The Empire Strikes Back. Han's strapped to a device while an officer asks questions. The electric part seems implied by the officer ("Raise the power! Hit him again!") when Han doesn't talk. Han is seen screaming, but it ends just after because the guy Han was temporarily flying with spilled everything before they even got him strapped down.
  • Variable voltage harnesses from various Transformers: Generation 1 comics serve as a restraining and torture devices for both Decepticons and Autobots. IDW's continuity introduced Kaon, a member of the Decepticon Justice Division who uses this method. Hell, he even turns into an electric chair.
  • Wonder Girl Cassandra Sandsmark had a lasso at one point which was designed to channel her Shock and Awe powers to deliver painful jolts to those it's wrapped around. She eventually realized the device was warping her personality to make her more cruel and cold because it tapped into her rage to access her powers.

    Fan Works 
  • Ren is subject to this at the hands of Sugou and Yamato in Blazing Revolution.
  • Dunny of Company 0051 decides to stick his video games card into the Master Chief's neck slot and see what happens. The result? It hurts.
  • In Cupcakes (Sergeant Sprinkles), this is one of the many tortures Pinkie visits on Rainbow Dash.
  • In Dangan-Pinguino, poor Chisa is subjected to multiple sessions of these, courtesy of N. Tropy and his tuning fork. Thankfully, most of the greater details are spared, but from what little has been shown, it...wasn't pretty at all.
  • Tortured Truth, a Danny Phantom fanfiction by Darth Frodo, has Danny getting subjected to this by his parents after they learn that he is half-ghost.
  • In Egypt on Anur Khufos, after Undyyne discovers the pharaoh's Thep Khufan agent Ilais inside her hovercraft, she orders her Transylian partner Nimdok to briefly do this to Ilais when she doesn't cooperate.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the Psyche Master uses psychic-electric torture on his victims. In the novel, Empath is subjected to this when he dares to give the Psyche Master a piece of his mind about what the Psyche Master calls Papa Smurf. In "Hefty, The Luckiest Smurf", the Psyche Master subjects Hefty to this form of torture in order to reveal to Smurfette that Empath is now the new Psyche Master.
  • Evangelion 303: Asuka's punishment for Shinji, in the incredibly unlikely circumstance that he cheats on her, "involves electricity and testicles".
  • In a fan fiction that rewrites Fairy Tail's 372nd chapter, Erza brutally tortures Kyouka as payback for the torture she put Erza through, as mentioned back in the Anime And Manga section of this page. During it, Erza uses her Lightning Empress Armor's spear as a torture device and therefore electrocutes Kyouka with it. Towards the end of the fan fiction, she electrocuted Kyouka so brutally her eyeballs popped out, still hanging by the optic nerves. Then Erza grabbed the eyes by the optic nerves and ripped them out of her face! Yikes!
  • In Flashpoint 2: Advent Solaris, Mephiles uses electric torture twice; the first time using a chaos emerald to "give" Barry back his powers (though in reality he's actually poisoning him), and the second time he uses lightning from his fingertips to electrocute Team Dark during his second major encounter with them.
  • In the Turning Red fanfic The Great Red Panda Rescue, Mei is kidnapped and tortured with a shock collar.
  • Happens to Greg in the CSI fic “Hell’s Crossroads” when he pushes the hostage takers to take him instead of Morgan so she won’t get hurt more.
  • Loved and Lost: While imprisoned in Canterlot's medical wing, Princess Cadance is electrocuted for the sadistic pleasure of her cousin Prince Jewelius with a machine that is connected to her horn by a jumper cable.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Wily inflicts this on Ice Man early on, and in Episode 13, Bass does this to Mega Man by way of the Torment Generator.
  • In Out of the Dead Land, Zola electroshocks Bucky's left (metal) arm during Natasha and Tony's rescue of him so badly that he passes out and Tony is forced to disable his entire arm to stop the torture. Bucky's mental rundown of how the electric pulses are precisely spaced out to give his body just enough time to heal just enough of the worst damage to be able to survive the next shock qualifies as pure Nightmare Fuel.
  • In Pages Of Harmony, Twilight does this very briefly to Rainbow Dash, but just as a test to make sure she could administer the electrical manipulation to her brain properly. Done in a much more blatant sense with Applejack to condition her into fearing telling the truth, so much so that she only is driven to speak in questions, as she no longer knows truth from lies.
  • In the dark My Hero Academia fanfic Pulse and Void, Yamada Hizashi aka Present Mic is captured by a villain with an energy siphoning quirk. One of the ways he’s kept from using his Super-Scream is a Shock Collar welded around his neck. By the time Aizawa, a few other pro heroes, Bakugo and Midoriya find nim, his throat and neck are blistered and severely burned from the repeated shocks he’s received. (Dark artwork warning)
  • In what is possibly one of the most terror-inducing moments in the Tamers Forever Series, a swarm of Kurisarimon do this to Takato while he is being beaten to death.
    • Takato, Rika, Henry, Terriermon, and Renamon are also on the receiving end of Azulongmon's Wind Electricity technique.
  • In Teen Wolf fanfiction, most of the Derek/Kate fic have or at least mention this, as the fic is usually about Kate torturing him/Derek having flashbacks to Kate's torture.
  • In This Bites!, this is what Eneru effectively delivers to Cross for refusing to acknowledge Eneru's godhood, repeatedly hitting him with lightning blasts of increasing intensity. The only reason it doesn't kill him by the time he looses consciousness is because Conis grabs him to ground the electricity somewhat. Even then, Cross is left with intense scarring over his limbs and parts of the rest of his body, and has PTSD around lightning for awhile as well.
  • The main reason that Celesia keeps Lulamoon around in Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure seems to be so she can shoot lightings at her.
  • In Weight of the World, Atlas subjects Canada to this using an electrified baton. She electrocutes him until he has blackened burns on his body.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the movie version of Nineteen Eighty-Four made in 1984, Julia is shown at the end moving in a way that implies she's suffering nerve damage from electric torture.
  • The ABCs of Death: In the "H" segment, Frau Scheisse takes the opportunity to electrocute Bertie several times while she is attempting to force him into her Death Trap.
  • ABCs of Death 2: During the attempt to cure the man's gayness in "J is for Jesus", the fundamentalists take jumper leads connected to a car battery and apply them to his genitals.
  • Used on the hero in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension:
    Lord John Whorfin: More power to him.
  • Played with in The Artist, as the movie begins with an audience watching George Valentin's newest movie, where Valentin's character is being subjected to some sort of electric torture.
  • The corrupt Interpol agents attempt to use this on Flint in Assassination Games to get him to reveal the location of the money he stole.
  • In The Baby, Alba tortures Baby with a cattle prod as punishment for trying to walk or talk.
  • One of many torture methods used by the French troops in The Battle of Algiers.
  • Employed in Black Mama, White Mama by a crime lord to a prostitute, to exert information about where his girlfriend has gone with his money. As is typical for the movie, the girl is rendered topless first and the electrodes are attached to her breasts, just below the nipples. Somewhat surprisingly, the bad guy believes the woman when she says she doesn't know anything, stops the torture, and starts treating her in an Affably Evil way instead.
  • In Blooded, the Real Animal League uses a taser to torture Lucas in an attempt to force him to read out their prepared statement.
  • In the film Braddock: Missing in Action III, a sadistic Viet Cong does this to Col. James Braddock (Chuck Norris) while Braddock's son watches. But, this being Chuck Norris...
  • In Cash on Demand, Colonel Hepburn tells Fordyce that his wife has electrodes attached to her head, and hints at the agony she will suffer if Fordyce fails to follow his instructions.
  • Cat's Eye: In "Quitters,Inc.", the punishment for a first slip is a loved one being placed barefoot in a room with mesh floor that is electrified enough to give them a nasty shock but not to seriously injure them. The quitter is forced to watch them dance about in agony.
  • In the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar is tortured by electric shock to get him to admit he can talk. One of the men there is apparently sickened by the display and leaves. The Big Bad shows he has an order for Caesar's execution, so just pump up the wattage and electrocute him! In the mean time, the other man went to a control room and disconnects the power. Caesar is smart enough to fake being tortured to death, then later escapes.
  • Criminal (2016): What Xavier uses on Bill.
  • Subverted in Delta Farce. Sgt. Killgore thinks he will be subjected to this by the Mexican bandit army that captured him. Instead they force him to sing a duet of "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher with the Big Bad's incredibly fat and incredibly gay cousin Reuben.
  • The opening credits of Die Another Day imply that the North Koreans also used electric torture on James Bond during his period of captivity, in addition to regular beatings, poisoning with scorpions, and Water Torture.
  • The Evil That Men Do opens with Dr. Clement Molloch, a doctor who advises South American dictatorships on how to torture people, demonstrating to a roomful of army officers the use of electric torture on a dissident journalist. A later scene lists the extensive injuries inflicted on the victim from such torture, including shattered teeth from being clenched too hard.
  • In the first Flash Gordon serial, one of the cliffhangers sees Flash suspended by his wrists in a sparking, arcing electric apparatus.
  • The botched execution by electric chair of Eduard Delacroix in The Green Mile: Percy Wetmore, who insisted on being in charge of Del's execution and a sadistic asshole to the core, deliberately neglected to wet the sponge on his head which acted as a conductor, resulting in a prolonged and agonizing Cruel and Unusual Death in which Del was literally cooked alive. There's a reason the book in which this scene takes place is called "The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix".
  • Guyana: Crime of the Century: One of the children who were caught stealing food to escape Johnsontown is punished by being tortured with a taser. For extra cruelty, the punisher aims at his testicles.
  • In The Hanoi Hilton, Gregory is electrocuted with wires attached to his nipples. The same thing happens to the other POWS offscreen.
  • A Haunting at Silver Falls: In the sequel, Jack makes some use out of an electro-shock therapy headband in order to torture Larry.
  • In Hisss, the Big Bad captured the mate of a Nagini to ransom him for a cure to his cancer. He keeps the snake mate in a glass cage where he electrocuting it for no other than he's a Jerkass. This ends in a Karmic Death for him in the end when the Nagini throws him inside the cage to be electrocuted to death.
  • In Hoboken Hollow, Junior, Lois, Clayton and Eldon use electric cattle prods to maintain among the slaves on the ranch, and for their own sick amusement.
  • Parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where the electrical torture causes a Big Blackout and causes popcorn to come out of the tortured.
  • In My Country: One of the methods that the white Apartheid-era police used on suspects was electrocuting them.
  • I Spit on Your Grave 2 has protagonist Katie being both recipient and perpetrator of this torture, involving the use of a cattle prod applied to the genitals. When it happens to her, it's prior to being raped by the guy using the cattle prod. When she catches up to him and takes vengeance, she makes very extensive use of that thing on him before hooking him up to a generator and frying him alive.
  • Used quite effectively (and somewhat humorously) in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, as the electricity is applied to a very sensitive area and another character uses the opportunity to goad the torturer on the homo-erotic subtext.
  • In Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, the titular hero suffers this fate while in a Japanese prison, with live electrodes clipped to his nipples.
  • In Lethal Weapon, Riggs is tortured by a Torture Technician played by Al Leong, who is trying to find out what he knows about the bad guys' heroin shipments.
  • Played for Drama and Black Comedy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). Uncle Rudi is torturing Napoleon Solo, causing the normally urbane secret agent to show he's Not So Stoic. Then the Zee Rust torture device breaks down temporarily, so Rudi uses the opportunity to fill in Solo on his Freudian Excuse, then announce that he might as well revert to the use of pliers. Solo starts to Freak Out only for Illya Kuryakin to turn up and rescue him. Rudi gets strapped into his own machine and eagerly agrees to tell all. Solo and Kuryakin step outside to debate what to do about him, knowing their superiors will let him off and may even make use of his skills. Meanwhile in a Funny Background Event, Rudi's machine has started working again. When the heroes realize Rudi has been simultaneously fried and incinerated, neither are particularly upset.
  • Done as part of therapy in The Marriage Chronicles where Ethel gets abducted in the middle of the night and subjected to it to force them into admitted that their marriage had things they could work on.
  • In Mermaid Down, Dr. Beyer uses a taser to subdue the mermaid on several occasions.
  • The 1978 political thriller Power Play has a woman tortured with battery wires attached to her nipples; after checking his men didn't leave any marks the secret police chief then has her "shot while trying to escape". This motivates the protagonist (the woman was the daughter of a friend) to agree to plan a coup against the government.
  • Toward the end of The President's Analyst, Dr. Schaefer is captured by the phone company, who intend to extract information about the President for their ends. They have him trapped in a phone booth and subject him to some kind of high-tech pain-inflicting technology.
  • The torture device in The Princess Bride isn't technically electric — although it may qualify as "some form of direct neural stimulation" — but the sequence checks all the boxes, including electrode-analogues, actor thrashing around in pain, and "increase the intensity" moment. And then Westley dies. Well, mostly dies.
  • The Puppet Masters. The Old Man interrogates an alien Puppeteer Parasite using electric shocks. The problem is that his own son is the host, so he's torturing him as well.
  • John Rambo in Rambo: First Blood Part II is such a badass that he took enough electricity to make the lightbulbs of an entire Viet Cong camp flicker and still kick commie ass soon afterwards.
  • Used by Jigsaw in Saw to shock Adam and Lawrence a few times. The chains around their shackles are wired up to conduct current.
  • Showdown in Little Tokyo. After capturing the heroes, Yoshida orders Kenner and Murata to be tortured to death by electrocution. They try to piss him off by initially laughing it off until they increase the voltage to truly unbearable levels.
  • In Side Effects, Dr Jonathan Banks becomes suspicious about the mental state of a woman who committed a crime while on medication for depression. While she is in the secure hospital, he takes her to see an electro-convulsive therapy session, and tells her that it is a very effective treatment for depression, "but who knows what it will do if there's nothing wrong with you?"
  • Jamal is hooked to a car battery to "loosen his tongue" in Slumdog Millionaire. The treatment knocks him out instantly.
  • In Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love, Barry and Suzie sneak into the staff-only area of a special-needs school, where they witness a child being "disciplined" with electric shocks, as well as other kids straitjacketed, strapped to their chairs, or locked in a room with no toys. After seeing this, they decide to homeschool their autistic son instead of visiting any other schools.
  • Sith Lords love to do this to their victims in the Star Wars universe.
    • Expanded Universe information on how the Force works turns this into a subversion; Force Lightning is not actual electricity, per se, more like a visual manifestation of using The Dark Side to inflict terrible pain on someone you feel extreme hate for.
    • The thing Han Solo is being tortured with in The Empire Strikes Back is a scan grid. It might be a bit more clear in the Expanded Universe, but it jolts him with painful electric shocks. This is why Boba Fett is concerned he'd die; as he worries that the shocks would stop Han's heart before they had a chance to freeze him.
  • The Costa-Gavras film State of Siege (based on CIA activities in Latin America) has a very explicit scene of Brazilian police torturing a suspect by electrocution.
  • Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance: The vengeful father and factory owner uses electricity as his signature weapon. Cha Yeong-mi, the main character's girlfriend, has electrodes clamped on her earlobes and gets electroshocked to death.
  • Memorably applied by Bryan (played by Liam Neeson) in Taken on an Albanian gangster who kidnaps young women and sells them as sex slaves. He stabs two long-blunt-and-rusty nails into the gangster's legs, connects the nails to a fuse box, and turns on the light, coolly telling him that unlike third world countries (which they used to outsource this kind of thing to), the power in Paris "will stay on till they turn it off from lack of payment on the bill." When the gangster gives up information on the person he sold Bryan's daughter to, Bryan leaves the room, with the power on.
    Bryan: I believe you. But it's not gonna save you.
  • In Tango and Cash, the prison inmates dip the two undercover-cop protagonists in an electrified water trough.
  • They/Them (2022): The camp uses electroshocks for aversion therapy, making a gay teen watch images of attractive scantily clad people, both male and female, electrocuting him as he views the former to stop his attraction toward them. One of Molly's friends died from this, and she says they've killed multiple teens using it.
  • Three Kings does electric torture when one character is held and tortured by the Iraqi Republican Guard. It's done in a somewhat more gritty way as, among other things, you can hear his teeth cracking as he clenches them in pain when the current is passing through. Similarly, the soldiers rescue a man who has been tortured this way-He is tied to a wire bed frame and electric clamps are connected to it. The torturer notes that when Iraq was fighting Iran, American "specialists" came to teach them this technique.
  • During The Teaser to Timber Falls, Clyde is shown torturing the male captive with a pair of jumper leads hooked up to a battery.
  • TRON:
    • Inverted. The MCP tortures Sark by 'depriving him of cycles'. In this case, he RUNS on electricity, so this requires the opposite action to get the desired effect.
    • Also played straight, when the MCP captures Clu 1.0, threatens him with total de-resolution if he fails to tell the MCP who his User is, then brutally tortures the Program to death.
    • Dumont the I/O Tower Guardian is also given this treatment when he was captured by Sark and brought on board his Carrier.
    Dumont: What do you want? I'm "busy".
    Sark: Busy dying, you worn-out excuse for a program?
  • In the Serbian film Underground, Nazis take Blacky to an abandoned clinical asylum and use the electroshock treatment equipment to torture him about partisan activity. Unfortunately for them, Blacky is an electrician by trade and has become utterly impervious to electric shocks. After maxing out the juice to no effect, a Nazi finally touches an electrode to see if it's working and blows himself across the room. The movie is a surreal Black Comedy.
  • At the start of Vigilante Diaries, the Mexican Cartel is holding the Vigilante prisoner and torturing him with a car battery and and jumper leads.
  • An early round of the deadly game in Would You Rather involves delivering a debilitating electric shock to either yourself, or the person sitting next to you.

  • The book Nineteen Eighty-Four had such a device used on the protagonist, though it was not even close to the worst torture he was subjected to.
  • In The Accident Man, Yuri employs an electric belt on Carver, one that in real life has been used in the American prison system for the purpose of punishment and subdual, and has been condemned by Amnesty International.
  • American Psycho: Patrick Bateman kills a woman this way.
  • John Galt goes through this at the end of Atlas Shrugged. Not only does he stoically endure the torture, but he's able to professionally troubleshoot the torture device, while still tied down, when it breaks after being turned up too high.
  • In The Brotherhood of the Conch novel Shadowland, Anand and Nisha find themselves trapped in the city of Coal, where anyone not part of the upper class is made to wear a collar that shocks them if they make any vocal noises, to prevent them from plotting a rebellion.
  • Sugar Lebowski of BZRK attempts an amateur version of this on Nijinsky, using jumper leads wired into her mains power. It hurts like hell, but only until Reality Ensues and the repeated power surges blow out the electricity in the area, and Nijinsky manages to distract her and escape.
  • Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal sees the French Action Service resort to electric torture on Viktor Kowalski, with the ex-Foreign Legionnaire dying after he breaks and finishes confessing. One set of electrodes is attached to the penis.
  • A brain-electrodes variant shows up in Duumvirate that can also cause pleasure.
  • In The Hunger Games series' third book Mockingjay, it is revealed that Johanna Mason was soaked in water and electrocuted.
  • In Indecent Exposure, the whole of a South African police force unit are subjected to this by BOSS to provide aversion therapy for their regrettable tendency to rape black women in custody. Electroshock therapy works only too well. they are averted from having sexual interest in any woman, black or white, and turn Camp Gay. Embarrassing as this is also illegal in South Africa.
  • Heinz, one of the interrogators in Stephen King's short story "In the Deathroom", has custom-built a device that draws power from a car battery and transfers it to a large steel stylus; he claims to the story's protagonist that he has used it to deliver shocks to prisoners' hands, feet, and other more delicate places. Evidence in the story indicates that he killed a friend of the protagonist by jabbing him in the temple with the stylus — the shock triggered a lethal epileptic fit.
  • In Jackdaws, the Nazi interrogator (who is not in any way comical) tortures one of the women by sticking an electric probe up her vagina. She gets her comeuppance, however, by doing the same thing to him, simply in a different location.
  • James Bond:
    • In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond is tortured by Russians using an electric current through his penis... naturally, this is left out of the film.
    • Similar to the Regeneration Trilogy example below, James Bond gets electroshock therapy in The Man with the Golden Gun as a deprogramming method (he had just attempted to kill M, having been brainwashed). Ultimately subverted by the addition of sodium pentothal, which allowed Bond to sleep through the process. Bond implies that this was added only fairly recently.
  • Daniel Keys Moran's The Last Dancer has a standard part of the plot being wireheads who have a circuit installed in the pleasure center of their brain, which is apparently highly addictive, but which requires an electrical connection to work. Sedon tortures D'van (aka William Devane) by installing the same thing into the pain center of his brain. The really nasty thing is that Sedon uses a battery pack to power it, and when Denice escapes with D'van and Sedon, for several hours Sedon doesn't mention to Denice that the battery pack is still supplying agony to D'van...
  • A Lullaby Sinister has a particularly graphic use of this trope, complete with screams, urination and liquifying eyeballs.
  • James Follett's Mirage features Robbie torturing Katra with electricity to her death while Lucky watches on. A wire is attached to her nipple, and a spark plug wrench is pushed inside her.
  • In On a Pale Horse, the hero's girlfriend Luna is tortured by being stripped to her waist, and her nipples being touched by active electrodes. Her captors even start out with just giving a mild shock to her breasts to show what is in store for her. She refuses, so they give her more intense shocks.
  • Nurse Ratched uses electroshock therapy to this effect in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as a means to cow patients on her ward into submission. Mind you, as in Real Life, the patients receive anesthesia beforehand (although Chief Bromden and Randle McMurphy both refuse to take the "knockout pills"). Nonetheless, Bromden describes the procedure as something you definitely don't want done to you, because anyone who receives it is Not Himself afterward. As a side note, the author Ken Kesey actually underwent electroshock therapy as research for the novel, and he'd previously worked as a night orderly in a psychiatric hospital, so Cuckoo's Nest shows his work about what psychiatry was like at the time he wrote it. Things change, though — nowadays in democratic countries, electroshock therapy (currently called electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT) is mainly practiced as a last resort, usually under anesthesia and with informed consent. Moreover, even at the time when the book was written, the treatment wasn't always cruel. Certainly, some patients were involuntarily subjected to it to control them (which is of course how Nurse Ratched applies it, being Nurse Ratched and all), but as with today, others underwent it willingly because they just wanted to get better. And as the novel acknowledges, doctors were starting to use anesthesia during electroshock sessions even back then.
  • In The Orphan Master's Son, North Korean interrogators use an electric torture device to wipe out their victims' personalities, turning them into Empty Shells.
  • In John Grisham's The Partner, Patrick Lanigan steals $90 million and flees to South America. He is eventually found by a shady private investigation firm, who strap electrodes to his body and shock him to get him to reveal the location of the money. It fails because Patrick has entrusted the money to an accomplice, and he honestly does not know where it is at this point.
  • The Machine, Count Rugen's creation in The Princess Bride, features suction cup electrodes attached to almost every inch of the victim's skin, even on the tongue and inside the ears. Its result is rather singular; the Machine quite literally sucks away years of the victim's life. Prince Humperdinck, true to villain form, turns the machine up to the highest setting in order to kill Westley, but he turns out to be Only Mostly Dead.
  • In Project Tau, this is a standard form of punishment for Tau and Kata. It starts off as mildly painful, then escalates through the book to the point where Kata is electrocuted to the point of unconsciousness more than once.
  • In The Quest of the Unaligned, Gaithim uses lightning magic to torture Crown Prince Alaric and show off his new hoshek powers.
  • In John Varley’s Red Lightning the narrator gets wordlessly threatened with this. He wakes up bound to a chair and with his scrotum connected to a box with a dial and that is plugged into an ordinary wall outlet. The device is never switched on.
  • In The Regeneration Trilogy, soldiers with PTSD symptoms are subject to electroshock therapy. Although it's called psychotherapy, it's described as no less cruel than torture, since Yealland essentially shocks them until he gets the reaction he wants—going as far as shocking a man's face to make him stop smiling.
  • In Sourcery a magical version of this is Ipslore the Red's go-to method of persuading his nine-year-old son Coin to do his bidding.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The use of Electric Judgment by the Jedi...sort of. While presumably capable of torture, it's actual application is intended to be akin to a taser: a quick burst of power intended to incapacitate or knock out the target rather than torture and kill. And that most Jedi frown on its use, while all Sith consider it .
    • Happens in Galaxy of Fear: Clones. Some mind-scanning droids are modified so their electrical scans will be almost as effective at taking information from the minds of people who aren't hardened against this sort of thing as torture droids, and as a bonus it will be even more painful.
  • Dennis Jones' Warsaw Concerto has a scene with Vlasov overseeing the electro torture interrogation of a woman. A wire is fed down her throat to her stomach which ends in electro conductive beads. She dies from the torture.
  • In the Xandri Corelel series, this is sometimes used on children with behavioral problems. Xandri was lucky enough to avoid it, but she wonders if it might have been used on her if she had been less compliant.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 employs several variations on the trope, including a fictional drug that gives the subject the sensation of being on fire, sensory deprivation, and, in a pinch, sticking the subject's feet in a bucket of water and shocking him with a defibrillator. In one case Jack Bauer is actually rendered clinically dead, and his torturers ironically have to restart his heart.
  • In The 100, Raven tortures Lincoln using this method, though in this case it's a protagonist doing the torturing.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., when Coulson is taken by Centipede in A Magical Place he is tortured with a cattleprod to force him to cooperate. The torture doesn't work, but Break Them by Talking does.
  • The midpoint of Alias's second season featured Jack Bristow being specifically tortured with electricity. He didn't break, but it was implied that he would have died had the Big Bad been allowed to jolt him one more time.
    • In the first season, his daughter was interrogated with good old-fashioned electro-shock therapy equipment when she'd gone undercover in a Bedlam House in Ruritania.
    • Syd also gets shocked when the NSA arrest her and take her to a secret prison facility in the third season.
    • Julien Sark had his way with Vaughn in season 3 as they volleyed insults back and forth.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Several episodes feature Narn "Paingivers", which directly stimulate pain centers, producing much the same on-screen effect as standard electric torture.
    • "Comes the Inquisitor" featured electrified bracelets which could be (and were... a lot) activated at the press of a button on the eponymous inquisitor's cane.
    • In "The Summoning", the Centauri Emperor had G'Kar tortured with an "electric whip" that delivered an increased charge each time, with a guaranteed fatal shock on the 40th blow, simply because he wanted to hear G'Kar scream. He does, on the 39th lash.
  • Number Three's torture of Baltar in the Battlestar Galactica (2003) episode "A Measure of Salvation", made even more uncomfortable for the viewer by the perverse sexual overtones. This may or may not be Truth in Television; some people like that kind of thing... He's strapped to a table enduring painful shocks and later, an agony device to the ear. He gets through it by disconnecting his mind from his body.
  • Batwoman (2019): In "A Secret Kept from All the Rest", Alice and Hush want to decipher the journal of Lucius Fox, so are kidnapping codebreakers and torturing them with an ECT machine dialed up to deadly levels. Unsurprisingly, this is not very effective at getting results, giving the difficulty of expecting a codebreaker to work under these conditions—all they end up doing is kill their victims.
    Hush: Arkham's power bills are gonna be through the roof, but just between me, you, and... well, science, I'm not sure how much more you can take.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • When Oz is captured by the Initiative in "New Moon Rising", he's Strapped to an Operating Table and shot with taser guns to make him transform into his werewolf self, so the change can be studied by their scientists.
    • The behavior-modification chips implanted in Spike (and presumably other demons) by the Initiative.
    • Also the collars used on human "cows" by the Pyleans in Angel.
  • Burn Notice has this used on Michael in the season 6 Fall opener. The gang tries to steal a plane from a drug smuggler, but Michael and his new friend are left behind and captured by the person they were stealing the plane from. The cocaine smuggler ties the two up and bring out a picana electrica. Michael, through voiceover, notes that it produces only one milliamp of current, so it won't kill you, but the fact that it produces 15,000 volts of electricity will make you wish it did. Cue a shot of Michael yelling in pain.
  • CSI: NY: In "Blood Out", the team investigates a particularly brutal murder. Before being cut in half with a chainsaw, the Victim of the Week was tortured by having his pectoral muscles attached to a car battery by jumper leads.
  • Dark Matter (2015): In episode 4, One and Three are tied to a chair with metal cables while One is interrogated with the help of a shock prod. Three is not happy to be catching the shocks meant for One, and even less so when One later comes up with the idea of using repeated shocks to melt the cables so they can escape.
  • The "Blinking Electrocution" game on Distraction. The contestants have to answer questions while strapped to electric chairs, and are shocked every time they blink.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Dalek": The Doctor is the torturer, and the evil Dalek is the victim. Effective as it's the first time in the new series you see the Doctor acting actively "cruel" to another creature, showing just how seriously he takes the situation.
    • "The Long Game": After being captured by the Editor, the Doctor and Rose are subjected to this as he wants to know who they are. The sight of Rose being shocked is what leads the Doctor to spill.
    • The Tenth Doctor does this to himself in "Human Nature". The Visual Dictionary specifies that, with the Chameleon Arch's settings, high-voltage electrical current rewrites the Doctor's biology — causing two hearts to meld into one, for just one example.
    • "The End of Time": The Master's botched resurrection leaves him with the ability to fling lightning bolts. Most memorably, he uses it on the true Big Bad near the end while getting revenge on him.
  • Farscape's Aurora Chair, which Scorpius uses to view memories of his victims while simultaneously putting them in agonizing pain. The Sci-Fi channel website summary of it describes it as a "mental search engine", explaining the pain as, due to the way that memories are organized, requiring the activation of "every last neural pathway, one by one" — ouch. This also leads to an awesome subversion of Save the Villain and a Bond One-Liner from Aeryn Sun, after strapping Crais into the chair:
    Aeryn: I will give you your life.
    Aeryn: I will make you watch your life.
    • Fortunately, despite the pain, giving Crais a chance to review his life, where he came from, the decisions he made, and their consequences started his Heel–Face Turn.
    • The Aurora Chair is more of a subversion, as it isn't actually torture: it's a Mental Picture Projector which the victim is almost incapable of consciously resisting. It just happens to be excruciatingly painful, and its users can't be bothered to do anything to mitigate that.
    • Also, Nebari jailers give their prisoners restraint collars that can be used as torture devices: by pressing a button (usually attached to the interrogator's forehead) the collar inflicts crippling pain on it's wearer. There are two distinct types of collars: one, as seen in "Durka Returns" is a very basic Electric Torture device with no obvious method. The other, seen in "A Clockwork Nebari", injects acid onto the skin and into the veins- making it potentially lethal. However, both make a loud and extremely annoying beeping when activated.
  • The sadistic Adelai Niska from Firefly tortures Mal and Wash with this. He had tortured two other anonymous victims in this and a previous episode. With those disposable characters, he had used whips and knives, leaving obvious and permanently disabling damage.
  • In an episode of The Flash (1990), Barry Allen is transported ten years into the future where his brother's killer Nicolas Pike runs Central City. He uses an electric chair in the old STAR Labs to give whoever opposes him an electric lobotomy. However, when Nicolas has Barry strapped up to the chair and given a full measure of the chair's powers, it briefly restores Barry's superspeed, allowing him to escape.
  • The Flash (2014) has another cattleprod example when Dr Stein is taken prisoner by General Eiling in Fallout. And because of the Firestorm link, Ronnie gets to feel it too.
  • Forever: Inflicted on Henry by Iona Payne's stalker in "The Ecstasy of Agony."
  • The Handmaid's Tale: The Aunts' shock batons are used for this purpose. Season 2 reveals they are also used by the overseers in the Colonies.
  • At the end of "Wahine'inoloa", in the third season of the reimagined Hawaii Five-0, Doris McGarrett is shown torturing a hit man she thought she had killed years earlier with a battery and jumper cables.
  • Elle Bishop of Heroes — does this to pretty much everyone she meets, even those she likes, particularly Sandra Bennett and then Sylar — though, he literally asked for it.
    • Noah turns the tables on her in season 2, when he straps her into a chair with her feet in a doggie bath, so that anytime she tries to shock him, she ends up zapping herself instead.
      Noah: Stings like a bitch, doesn't it?
  • Highlander had an episode in which villain Kalas discovered a Watcher trailing him. He captured the Watcher, strapped him down to a table shirtless and barefoot, and kept zapping his feet with electricity until he talked.
  • JAG: Clayton Webb, while on an undercover CIA mission in Paraguay together with Mac, is subjected to this particular kind of torture in the season eight episode "A Tangled Webb". Mac is also about to treated the same, but then Harm arrives and saves them.
  • KinnPorsche: One of the ways Vegas tortures Pete after he is caught in the minor family compound.
  • Legend of the Seeker has the Mord-Sith, whose Agiels cause intense pain and flashing light when they touch someone. Using it enough can kill them, but it doesn't leave any sort of mark when they're done.
  • This happens to Sayid in the first season of Lost, at the hands of Danielle Rousseau, who believes him to be one of the evil "others". Sayid manages to escape after convincing Rousseau that he is not one of them.
  • In Married... with Children, Peg and Al are competing with Steve and Marcie on a TV game show which gives prizes to the couple who torture each other worse. One of the tortures is electrocution.
  • In The Mentalist episode Ball of Fire, Jane is kidnapped by the daughter of a murderer he caught, who has since died in prison. The daughter has some pretty strong feelings about this that she communicates to Jane via cattleprod.
  • NTSF:SD:SUV::: Spoofed when Alphonse is captured after he's been brainwashed to assassinate a public figure. The boss of the NTSF notes that in a few days time he'll be "nursed back to normal". Cut to a vidcam of Alphonse being painfully tortured with electroshock therapy.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Human Operators", Ship punishes the man by making him go into "the rack", a contraption set between two pillars where he's zapped by electric current. However the man is the one who has to repair this same device when it breaks down, giving him an opportunity for escape.
  • In the episode “The World Is Changing” from The Pretender, Jarod is recaptured by the Centre and subjected to electroshock torture by Mr. Lyle.
  • Saturday Night Live alluded to this in an early 2009 commercial parody. One of the items offered at Guantanamo Bay's going-out-of-business sale was C-C-C-CAR BATTERIES!!!
  • Electroshock collars were used in one of the universes jumped to in Sliders to prevent people from lying.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1 has done this repeatedly. Daniel was tortured in this way in "Evolution" after recovering an Ancient healing device. The whole team besides Teal'c was tortured this way via metal cages in "New Ground". Pain induction is one of the stated powers of the Goa'uld hand device, used in more episodes than would be reasonable to note here. Daniel alone gets zapped by it enough times that in later seasons he jokes he's starting to get used to it.
      • Also the Zat guns did this with one shot (second shot kills). In their first season of use, that is. Later this was quietly shifted to a much-less-interesting phasers-on-stun effect.
    • Also used in Stargate Universe when Kiva tortures Rush by tasering him until he reveals his identity.
  • Star Trek TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror": "agonizer" devices.
    • This can also be assumed to be what is happening in "the booth" in that same episode.
  • Supernatural. In "Family Matters", Samuel Campbell captures the Alpha Vampire and tortures him for information. The Alpha is not impressed.
    Alpha: Ouch. Stop. That hurts.
    Samuel: This is Club Med compared to what we have planned for you. I got all the time in the world.
    Alpha: Well, that makes two of us.
  • In Teen Wolf, this happens to be Kate Argent's favorite form of torture (unless you're Derek, and then it's a mix of electrical, Mind Rape and "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization torture). Seen in "The Tell", when she attacks Derek with a cattle prod, containing "900,000 volts" (she laughs at this) and in "Formality" where she now has Derek chained up, shirtless, and hooked up to some sort of electrical torture device that sends volts through the wires, that are connected to Derek on his stomach. Oh, and she has Derek for at least 2 days.
    • Chris Argent notes that his family has detailed information on how electricity affects werewolves. A certain voltage prevents them from shifting, a higher voltage takes away their regeneration, and so on. It makes him question how such scientific accuracy was obtained.
    • At the end of "Anchors", the question of where is Derek (and Peter) is answered when they are shown chained (shirtless, of course) to a metal chain link fence and being electrocuted. It continues in the following episode.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019):
    • In "Run Boy Run", Cha-Cha and Hazel torture a tow truck guy with electric shocks to find Five's location. It ends up killing him.
    • In "The Seven Stages", after Vanya is captured by the 1960s FBI under the belief that she's a Soviet spy, they use electroshocks to force her to talk. It ends up triggering her psychokinetic powers, killing several FBI agents, and nearly causing the nuclear apocalypse.

  • Nox Arcana: The short, but extremely disturbing track "Shock Treatment" contains the sound of crackling electricity the whole time and the victim's screams becoming louder and more agonized as it progresses.

  • Subverted in Metallica — Sparky enjoys being strapped into the electric chair, but he doesn't die from being electrocuted.
    Sparky: Hehehehe! That was fucking cool!
  • In Data East's The Simpsons, the flashers include pictures of the Simpsons family undergoing electroshock group therapy.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Atsushi Onita the likely the innovator of the "electrified barbed wire" match, via his FMW promotion. Later, when Kodo Fuyuki took over, he had a metal cage electrified for the purpose of torturing FMW's first son Masato Tanaka, but his naturally backfired on him.
  • A trademark of The Undertaker is making a lightning bolt strike the ring, to intimidate an opponent. To show he was Eviler than Thou, Undertaker's brother Kane had lightning strike opponents directly when Paul Bearer gave him the same power.
  • The origin of Goldust's odd speaking patterns are electrocution from Stevie Richards.
  • On the September 1, 2003, edition of WWE Raw, Kane tied up Shane McMahon to the ringpost. He then dosed Shane in water and applied a set of jumper cables to Shane's "nether regions". The other end of the cables were hooked up to a car battery.note 
  • Matt Hardy's father in law, Senior Benjamin, is known for using a taser on Matt's enemies, although attempting to use it on Matt's brother Jeff backfired.

  • In The Burkiss Way's parody of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, there is this dialogue after "Winston Smoth" is caught by the Thought Police.
    O'Brien: Would you like one of these to smoke?
    Smoth: [politely refuses] No, thank you.
    O'Brien: Well, would you like one of these to smoke?
    Smoth: No, thank you.
    O'Brien: [losing patience] Look, we've got to put the electrodes somewhere!

    Video Games 
  • In Akatsuki Blitzkampf, Akatsuki and Mukakumo's throw moves involve grabbing the rival, either holding him/her in place with both hands (Akatsuki) or in a Neck Lift (Murakumo) and forcibly electrocuting them for some seconds before letting go. Again, it's intended less to extract info and more to knock the opponent out.
  • In American McGee's Alice, Alice will enter a lab where the March Hare and the Dormouse are undergoing medical torture. The March Hare is being alternately electrocuted and Dunked in a dunk tank, while the Dormouse has a constant electric current running through him as he is operated on. There's not a damn thing you can do for them.
  • Double H in Beyond Good & Evil is trapped in an Electric Torture machine when you first meet him. Even the heroine Jade is visibly squicked about his situation.
  • This is used to more realistic effect in BioShock in an audio diary of one of Fontaine's smuggler mooks. He says that it can't be any worse than what Fontaine would do to him. You can find this person's now-charred corpse strapped into a Diesel Punk Electric Torture device.
  • Call of Duty:
    • In Call of Duty: Black Ops, you are being tortured this way, especially at the start of the game.
    • Implied in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Soap locks himself and Ghost in a garage with their target's assistant, while Ghost is seen doing... something involving a car battery and jump leads.
  • You have the option of doing this in Dishonored. While inside The Golden Cat, you may come across a man who is blindfolded willingly strapped into a non-lethal electric chair, and you can shock him over and over, which he finds delightful. But eventually you can keep going, and say that you'll only stop if he gives you information about your current mission.
  • In Dungeon Keeper 2, an electric chair is one of the items that can appear in your torture chamber.
  • Squall is subjected to electric torture in early Disc 2 of Final Fantasy VIII. More so, if you refuse to feign cooperation.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: A magical variant is applied to Vanille by Orphan, to force Fang's hand and make her transform into Ragnarok. It's used, much more brutally on Fang a scene later (to the point that she needs to be revived after each blast) when she fails to finish the transformation. It's combined with being held high in the air by the wrists for extra nastiness.
  • Lilac suffers this after she is captured by Lord Brevon in Freedom Planet. It is nasty enough to the point where she is badly wounded by the time she is finally rescued.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, this is one of the methods Trevor can use to torture Mr. K for information about a suspected terrorist.
  • In Hitman: Contracts, 47 finds one of his targets in the aftermath of one of these. The proper way to assassinate him is to let the machine run until it finally kills him.
  • Happens twice in Kingdom Hearts II; first, when Sora is Forced to Watch and Goofy being tortured by Sark as a demonstration towards his role as "a Heartless Commander" after the teenager's snarky comment. Later on, all three of them get paralyzed from an electric shock while trying to steal a statue from Hades.
  • All of the torture featured in Knights of the Old Republic employs electroshock. Many of them involve the Sith and their Force Lightning, but there's a prominent scene in which it's delivered by muggles via more conventional "force cages".
  • In the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC for Mass Effect 2, Feron, Liara's friend and partner who was one of the people who got Shepard's body back from the Shadow Broker, is strapped to a specially-built torture chair that basically amounts to this. The only way to get him out of there without cooking his brain is to shut down the power at central processing, which means taking the Shadow Broker down.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo there's a section of a level where a mook in a club pushes an animatrionic-doll into a wall and another onto a table to demonstrate that nearly everything, except for the floor, is electrified.
  • This is a recurring event in Metal Gear, starting with the Playstation game. It is possible to be killed in this scene; to survive, the player must repeatedly press a button to keep Snake's health bar up.
    • The third game, Snake Eater, also has Naked Snake tortured with electricity, but meanwhile, the Big Bad is also (literally) beating the piss out of him. It's incredibly uncomfortable to watch, because not only is the pain so severe that it makes the tough-as-nails agent piss himself, but the sight actually arouses Volgin... and Ocelot as well. In fact, it's actually implied that this event is what led to Ocelot becoming a world-renowned expert on torture.
    • Cunningham also (very briefly) does this to Big Boss by whipping him with a stun baton (twice), as well as placing his artificial leg directly into Big Boss's groin between the two shocks in the very beginning of Portable Ops. Peace Walker also has this happening to Big Boss.
  • The intro to Mortal Kombat 11 has Raiden subjecting Shinnok to this, in stark contrast to his prior personality. Given how Raiden had extracted Shinnok's taint from the Jinsei at the end of the previous game after narrowly losing Earthrealm to the fallen Elder God, he had his reasons for doing this. This does not kill Shinnok, given killing him is outside Raiden's power, but the thunder god does eventually still the blather coming from his head... by cutting it off as warning to his Netherrealm minions.
  • In Mother 3, Fassad's method of choice for punishing Salsa for disobeying him... or whatever excuse he had. Guess he really enjoyed shocking the monkey.
    • It does have the side effect of healing whatever status anomalies he might have at the time when he uses it during battle though. Fassad probably knows this, as he seems to be about fifty times more likely to shock the monkey when he's inflicted with one of these statuses.
  • Pikachu of all people is subjected to this in the story mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, as a means of extracting electricity from him. It qualifies due to being particularly involuntary and especially painful.
  • This happens several times throughout the Ratchet & Clank series. One noticeable moment is when the Unknown Thief captures Clank and electrocutes him as part of her warning video for Ratchet to leave Bogon, lest the same thing happen to him. Another is when Vox fries one of his own bots with electricity to demonstrate the power of the Deadlocked collars.
  • In Return to Castle Wolfenstein Agent Zero is shocked to extract information by an SS scientist in the titular castle. He expires before they can get anything out of him.
  • Done at the start of Scaler. To a twelve year old boy. Unfortunately, this backfires on the villains, in the form of causing Bobby to turn into a lizard before becoming Trapped in Another World.
  • Occurs in the first two Shadow Hearts games, just to fulfill a villain's perverse fantasies (much more blatantly in the second).
    • In the first one, it's done to Alice, and giving the proper responses (the first one every time) opens a sidequest (and saves her from being shocked).
    • In Covenant, you choose who gets the torture, and the responses you give determine the contents of a later treasure chest.
  • In Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri when you seized the last base of another faction there would be a brief video showing a writhing figure screaming in agony as he or she was electrocuted. Given you had already beaten them was the torture really necessary? Yes, Mwa ha ha ha.
    • It should be noted that faction leaders are never killed, just kept alive for interrogation. If you defeat an enemy faction early in the game, they will be kept in your stronghold for several hundred years.
    • If you lose the game by having your last base taken, your character is shown in the same eternal state as well.
  • Done to Bruce Morgenholt in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Sam arrives too late to do anything, and finds him suspended above a bathtub having endured a very long torture. Players will hear his screams before they get to him.
  • In Spycraft: The Great Game the player is given the option of subjecting a captured female spy to Electro Torture in order to extract information from her.
  • In the backstory for Star Control II, thousands of years ago, many of the Ur-Quan voluntarily wore "Excruciators" for months or years to prevent them from being mind-controlled by the Dnyarri (as the one doing the mind control also feels the pain and has to break the link). The experience left most quite insane.
  • Similarly, in Star Wars: The Old Republic, Sith Inquisitors carry out torture with Force Lightning. Only this time, players can do it too.
    • Darth Baras in the Sith Warrior storyline does this to a Republic agent, though the agent proves to be resistant to torture.
  • In Street Fighter IV, this is done by very-evolved psychic Rose, of all people. One of her ultra-specials, Illusion Spark, traps the opponent's arm in her scarf. She then proceeds to shock said opponent, apparently stopping only when she feels like it. To be sure, this is a more benign version — at least in that it's a fight rather than a torture session and she intends to knock the opponent out, not to extract information from them. Still, this move basically gives us a mini-session of Electric Torture mid-fight...
  • Tales of Destiny has portable versions of this forced onto the party when they are made to cooperate with Leon. However, the heroes are mostly good subordinates and so Leon resorts to punishing snarks directed at him (or, Rutee).
  • In WET, Rubi is captured due to some subterfuge. She is suspended with her feet in a tub of water connected to a car battery charger, but the interrogator loses interest and orders her killed after about 30 seconds. Naturally, she quickly makes her escape and turns the tables on the torturer. She's badass like that.
  • the white chamber has the protagonist watch a tape... Of herself, strapped to a table, and electrically tortured (with nobody around, mind you). This is where it gets weird. Seconds after the tape starts playing, in a flash, she finds herself on that same table, the same happening to her. You CAN die here, but the time limit is so incredibly generous and the puzzle rather simple, the only real way to die is to let the time limit run out.


    Web Original 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall comments on this in a review of the Teen Titans animated series episode "Aftershock" (which he makes fun of but still claims is "great"), where Beast Boy lays out how Terra's the one giving Slade control over her own life, at which Linkara adds, "You chose to be electrocuted when you resisted!"
  • Evil Flippy uses this on his good counterpart in Happy Tree Friends episode "Autopsy Turvy", though the latter manages to escape before long.
  • The standard villain torture technique in I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC, since it would be hard to show action figures in pain.
  • While outright torture isn't, itself, the focus of the Night Terrors episode "The Man in the Chair" — a Darker Projects audio production — when it becomes clear that the eponymous man can be given an electric shock any time his captors don't like the way the conversation is going, it also becomes clear that it's not going to end well for the poor guy.
  • In Pokémon Apokélypse, this is inflicted on Brock with a Magnemite.
  • Happens to Phase in the Whateley Universe, only the the electrodes are inserted.

    Western Animation 
  • From Adventure Time, how Lemongrab tortures his prisoners in "You Made Me!"
  • In the opening scene of the first episode of Archer, Archer is undergoing an "Electric Torture by the KGB" training scenario, but doesn't take it seriously. At the end of season two, he gets captured by the KGB and is interrogated in the same fashion. Except they take it very, very seriously. The camera pans outside of the building and you can hear his screams of agony.
    Archer: Kinda wishing I'd taken my training more seriously. Which is, uh, pretty rare for me.
  • In the episode "Deep Cover for Batman" from Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Red Hood, the good counterpart to the Joker, is strapped to a chair and shocked to try to reveal his plan. His response?
    "It tickles."
  • In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Emperor Zurg tries to do this to XR. It doesn't work out to well, seeing as how XR regards the voltage flowing through him as the eqivalant of a pleasant massage.
  • Danny Phantom: Valerie uses a nasty looking taser weapon on Danny after she finally captures him. Meanwhile, Vlad has Danielle Strapped to an Operating Table...
  • Justice League:
    • In "The Savage Time", J'onn is tortured by a Nazi interrogator with such methods, although all that's seen is a shot out of the outside of the building as he begins to scream while the lights flicker.
    • In "Question Authority", the Question is captured after attempting to assassinate Lex Luthor and put through electroshock torture.
    • In "Destroyer", Darkseid launches an electrical attack on Superman called "The Agony Matrix" that uses electricity to activate all the pain receptors in every nerve cell in his body, literally putting him in as much pain as physically possible.
  • In the series finale of Gravity Falls, Bill Cipher uses this method against Stanford Pines to get him to reveal the secret to break out of the "weirdness bubble" that's keeping him and his World of Chaos contained to the city limits of Gravity Falls.
  • Inspector Gadget (2015): In one episode Talon uses Hamster-Wheel Power to drive a snow-melting machine. The 'hamster' is a yeti, forced to run by means of a collar giving him electrical shocks should he slow down.
  • In two episodes of Jackie Chan Adventures, Tchang Zu, the Demon Sorcerer of Thunder, uses his magical lightning to torture the spirit of his recently disembodied brother Shendu who left him and their siblings imprisoned in the Netherworld centuries ago.
  • Little Audrey is sentenced to an electric chair constructed from electric eels for her misdeeds in "Sea-preme Court." (Fortunately for her, it was All Just a Dream.)
  • Duncan from Little Elvis Jones and the Truckstoppers has a shock watch, which inflicts a brief version of this on him in order for his boss to let off some steam. Yes, his boss is a colossal dick, how did you guess?
  • In Metalocalypse, Dr. Rockso the Rock & Roll Clown is put into the same device Han Solo is in on the above illustration.
    Offdensen: [clearly faking surprise] Oh my gosh what is happening why are you torturing this man stop at once.
    Rockzo: Thank you! Thank you! You're an angel.
    Offdensen: Yes, yes, it'll be all right. There there... Give him one more.
  • The Simpsons
    • One of the earliest episodes, "There's No Disgrace Like Home", the family goes to Dr. Marvin Monroe for counseling, where Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa eventually take their frustrations out on each other by repeatedly shocking each other. Maggie is the only one to not be shocked... but she has plenty of fun pushing the buttons, not realizing that her family is hooked to the electrodes.
    • Mayor Quimby gets this by accident in "This Little Wiggy" when making an announcement on live television. He was demonstrating what would be done to criminals, pretending to be executed with an electric chair, not realizing that it was actually on until he was strapped in and Police Chief Wiggum flipped the switch.
  • The Iraqis in South Park torture Santa Claus with two electrodes on the testicles.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "The Gungan General": Anakin and Obi-Wan get this from Hondo Ohnaka after attempting to escape from his base.
    • "Cargo of Doom": A Jedi is subjected to this trope courtesy of Cad Bane. The "more power" conversation occurs, and the Jedi dies.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Rebel Resolve", Kanan gets subjected to this by the Inquisitor, since he's immune to mind-probes from interrogation droids.
  • In The Venture Bros., The Monarch and his henchmen use Electric Torture on Dr. Venture's robot to try to learn Dr. Venture's location. It's pointless, since they can't understand him well enough to know if he's answering them, but that doesn't stop them.
    Henchman 24: Do I connect the positive side first, or...
    The Monarch: Who cares? He's not a Mitsubishi Galant.
  • Played for Laughs in the Wander over Yonder episode "My Fair Hatey". During the "Ask Her A Question" number, Wander straps Lord Hater into an electric chair and repeatedly shocks him in an effort to teach him to talk about something other than himself.

    Real Life 
  • Used widely in South America during the 60s-80s.
    • The "Cadeira do Dragão" (Dragon's Chair) was an electric chair used as a torture device and part of the plethora of torture devices used by the Brazilian military dictatorship in the 60s-70s.
    • The picana, described in the Burn Notice example above, was an electric cattle prod that Argentine torturers used on their victims during the Military Dictatorship ("Dirty War") (1976-1983). Oftentimes, people were raped with the picana.
    • The parrilla (named for a kind of grill) was an infamous interrogation tool routinely used by the Chilean secret police during Pinochet's dictatorship (1973-1990). It was a metal frame prisoners were strapped onto naked, while the questioners applied electrodes to whatever body part they thought appropriate. The torturers usually considered the penis and vagina particularly appropriate (even developing a wet-steel-wool electrode for better electrical contact on female victims).
  • Doing this in general, especially to the genitals, is a favored technique of the torturers working in Middle Eastern Secret Police forces in general. The Arab security services are mostly pretty savvy about intelligence gathering, and they use torture more as a punishment/warning for opposition to the regime than any actual attempt to get information. This is part of the reason for the 2010-11 revolutions in the region.
    • Syria used electric shocks after the Yom Kippur War on captured Israelis, though it hardly ever earned them any good intelligence.
    • Egypt has used this technique to varying degrees since the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser's security services were particularly fond of this method (portrayed chillingly in the 1975 film The Karnak Café, produced under Sadat's less shock-happy regime), but the technique continued through the Mubarak years, and in time the "State Security Investigation Service" became almost as notorious for it as Nasser's goons. Although there are no confirmed reports of it occurring under the present Sisi regime, popular consensus is that "Homeland Security" (which is what they're calling the former State Security these days) is back to its dirty tricks.
  • The Middle Eastern fondness for electrifying dissidents' nether regions is commonly thought to be inherited from the French police and army, who used this generously on Muslims during the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62). It was called "Gégène". The leader of the French far-right party is (in)famous for having used this with enthusiasm.
  • The Bureau of State Sec under apartheid in South Africa also used this on political prisoners in detention. Some were killed or permanently disabled due to the amount of electricity used on them.
  • The Judge Rotenberg Center is perhaps infamous for its use of electric shocks on the autistic people there as a form of aversive punishment. One former resident of the center describes how the staff would shock them for the smallest sign of movement, for screaming when shocked, or often for no reason at all.
    • In March 2020, the FDA banned the use of electroshock devices for aversive punishment due to their severe side effects. Unfortunately, the JRC, not to be outdone, took the matter to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled in the JRC's favor and overturned the ban the very next year.
    • During a certain time, electric torture was the favourite "punishment method" of many behaviorist treatments and experiments. For example the early ABA experiments by Ivar Lovaas used an electrified floor, the famous "learned helplessness" experiments were about dealing electric shocks to wolves, and electric torture was used to "treat" drug addictions, mental illnesses, things that were thought to be mental illnesses at the time (like being LGBTQA+) and alcoholism. When reading about behaviorist experiments, it seems like behaviorists were among the biggest sadists among all psychologists; and it is little wonder that behaviorism is widely discredited among the psychiatric community these days.
  • Early electroshock therapy, the predecessor of modern-day electroconvulsive therapy, was sadly a very torturous experience. Anesthesia was rarely used, and even if it was, the shocks were so overwhelming that they caused serious pain anyway, and often permanent brain damage. Medical hospitals were also frequently found to have used electroshock therapy as a punishment for out-of-control patients, and the procedure was often done without the patient's consent, which made many instances quite literal examples of torture. This is why it was eventually deemed "medical torture" by international health care laws, which led to the later invention of the much more beneficial ECT.
  • Jon Burge, a Chicago Police Department commander in the 1970s-1990s, was revealed to have used this technique (among others) to extract confessions from innocent Black men for most of his career. He was later charged with and convicted of lying about it.
  • The (in)famous psychological experiment on Just Following Orders designed by Stanley Milgram had the test subjects falsely think they were delivering electric shocks to another test subject. You know, to see how far they would go because they were told to. That's a form of torture for the people on the giving end of the electrical panel, and indeed the Milgram experiment became a linchpin in the formation of a concrete set of ethics in science. For what it's worth, later replications adjusted to fit modern ethical standards got similar results to the original experiment.
  • Stinging electrical shocks are sometimes used in the handling or restraint of large animals, albeit at power settings designed to discourage rather than incapacitate.


Video Example(s):


Lilac's Torture

After taking her prisoner, Brevon uses Lilac to interrogate Torque by subjecting her to painful electric torture to make Torque give him answers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ElectricTorture

Media sources: