So, there's this really cool organization, and you've known for years that you want to be part of it. You've asked the leader really nicely. You've passed their tests, you've won or bought the respect of all the members, maybe you've even accompanied them on a few adventures. Now, you're finally going to get in. You'll have access to all the secret weapons, knowledge, and connections that they've been concealing from you. You're going to be one of the gang.
But first, you're going to be initiated.
This will be in one of several basic forms:
- Rather pleasant and jolly, in front of all your family and friends.
- Solemn and dignified.
- Disgustingly humiliating.
- Disturbingly horrific.
Rituals, as social scientists will tell you, are tools for dealing with the "liminal state:" the area between one standardized role and another. You were one person before you joined the group; you'll be a different one once you're inside the group. The initiation will mark the place where your status officially changes.
Trope-wise, initiation ceremonies are a well of both comedy and drama since they show, perhaps for the first time, what the group is really all about — usually at a point where it's too late for the initiate to back out. What if the High Holy Order of Sacred Wisdom makes initiates tread grapes in their underwear while singing "Happy Birthday"? What if Taffy's Tattlers require a blood sacrifice?
See also Rite of Passage, a catalog of initiation ceremonies into adulthood. If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten is a trope used exclusively by evil groups for initiates to prove their evilness (or that they aren't heroes in disguise). Gangs may use the Gang Initiation Fight as their ceremony.
- Finding Nemo: When Gill invites Nemo to join the Tank Gang, Nemo must first swim through the "Ring of Fire" (a stream of bubbles over a fake volcano). Initially scary, but ultimately pleasant.
- The "Ritual of Opening" in The Red Tent. At a girl's first period, the girl is bathed, dressed up, and ritually body-painted, and there is a party involving consumption of large volumes of alcohol and sweets, plus music and dancing. After sunset, the girl is taken outside and stripped naked, so she can masturbate with a fertility doll until she orgasms while all her female relatives cheer her on. The scene is described as nothing but enjoyable and deeply spiritual, and marks her as a fully-fledged member of the society of women.
- The Lost Fleet series features a line-crossing ceremony similar to the Real Life one for crossing the International Date Line, which takes place as the protagonist's ship enters the gravitational influence of Sol. It could have become the humiliating version, but Captain Desjani lays down the law about that early on and the whole event remains in good fun throughout.
- In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, Alex remembers his: he was formally inducted in the Cloak Society when ten years old. This included Phantom's marking him, so she could find him in the Gloom.
- In order to join the Midnight Society from Are You Afraid of the Dark?, an initiate must tell a sufficiently scary story, then receive approval to join from all the current members. The vote to allow a new member must be unanimous, or the member is rejected.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, being initiated into a clergy is a memorable moment. Axikasha Keiran experiences this first-hand when she joins the Clergy of Hephaestus with the blessing of none other than the clergy's patron deity himself, Hephaestus the God of Smithing:
Axikhasa Keiran: Pawn or not, I won't sit by and let the world drown in darkness. I accept my responsibilities as your cleric, Hephaestus. I pledge myself to you and the people.
Hephaestus: Go forth with all the strength of the Forge behind you, my High Cleric, and do not forget who you are. You are a worthy champion of the Light, a protector of those in need, a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of War and Chaos.
- In The Ghost of Ochs, completing one's class-change certification exam ends with a short ceremony in the archbishop's audience chamber, where the student of honor receives an official seal and an appropriate battle-ready outfit. They are usually joined by their professor and/or anyone else who had previously completed the same exam.
- Assassin's Creed (2016): The first scene is Aguilar's initiation into the Spanish sect of the Assassin Brotherhood. It is a quiet and solemn affair where Aguilar affirms his intention to preserve humanity's free will regardless of the sacrifice this might require. The fingore is kinda horrific but it is a blink-and-you-miss-it moment. In contrast, Cal's initiation is quite pleasant. His deceased mom conducts the ceremony through an Animus hologram, his dad is also present and so are many of his ancestors. Instead of a theme of sacrifice, this one is much more about unity.
- Unsurprisingly, given the film's title, one occurs in The Initiation. The scene with the girls holding candles that appears on all of the posters is part of the official initiation ceremony into the sorority. However, most of the film takes place during the prank that the pledges have to pull at the end of pledge week. The prank probably falls into the humiliating category (although it turns horrific).
- Sisters of Death begins with a dignified, pseudo-mystic ceremony to gain admittance to the sorority. The whole thing then turns tragic due to a Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon.
- In Warrior Cats, apprentices are assigned mentors at six months by the leader, with the entire Clan watching. Becoming a warrior requires an assessment of skills, an oath to defend the Clan with one's life if necessary, and a vigil. The new warrior must guard the camp alone all night, and is not allowed to speak until dawn, except to raise the alarm in case of attack.
- In Zootopia, a young Nick Wilde attends his first meeting of the Junior Ranger Scouts and is asked if he is "ready for initiation?" The lights go out and after Nick recites the Junior Ranger Scout oath, the event takes a dark turn when his trustworthiness is challenged because he's a fox. The other scouts knock him to ground and muzzle him causing Nick to flee from the building barely holding back tears.
- Animal House
"Thank you, sir! May I have another?"
- The Discworld novel Going Postal:
- Moist von Lipwig has to undergo "The Postman's Walk" before the other postmen will accept him as the new Postmaster. Also overlaps a little with Horrific, as it involves navigating hazards like carelessly-laid gardening tools and a razor-sharp mail slot with a hood over his head, followed by the postman's natural enemy: Angry Guard Dogs.
- He also remembers joining a group in out in the cabbage farms called the Men of the Furrow, where the initiation involved being blindfolded, told to shake hands with "the Old Master", and handed a goat's hoof. If you didn't need to change your underwear, you'd won.
- "A Look at Organized Crime" by Woody Allen describes initiation into The Mafia:
A proposed member is blindfolded and led into a dark room. Pieces of Cranshaw melon are placed in his pockets, and he is required to hop around on one foot and cry out, "Toodles! Toodles!" Next, his lower lip is pulled out and snapped back by all the members of the board, or commissione; some may even wish to do it twice. Following this, some oats are put on his head. If he complains, he is disqualified. If, however, he says "Good, I like oats on my head," he is welcomed into the brotherhood. This is done by kissing him on the cheek and shaking his hand.
- A crewmember in one of the Honor Harrington muses on the fact that crossing the Hyper wall for the first time tends to bring about the same kind of ceremonies as crossing the international date line on old earth. Since she is from another star system and has thus already done this, she gets to be on the bridge rather than with her friends being shoved into a zero-g module blindfolded and in their skivvies and told to complete various disgusting but ultimately harmless tasks.
- In the twelveth Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note novel The Valentine Knows, the test for entering Phantom X's "elite team" includes asking the person in question to perform embarrassing acts to prove their loyalty. This mainly involves running around the train station naked. In Sunahara's case, this involves asking him to post Aya's Valentine note to him in the train station by his own hand.note
- Subverted in Anne of the Island when Gilbert is invited to join a fraternity. For his hazing he was told to spend a day walking around the business district in an apron and sunbonnet. However, this backfires as he takes it in good grace and humor instead of fear and embarrassment.
- In Ashes to Ashes (2008), Alex is initiated into CID by having her rear stamped with their official stamp. This is Truth in Television for that period, by the way.
- Family Matters: In the Season 6 episode "Beta Chi Guy," Eddie is invited to join a prestigious fraternity ... but must humiliate Urkel by breaking off the friendship forever as a condition of joining. Eddie — seeing two hot, HOT, SMOKIN' WHITE NOVA HOT girls in the room when told the terms of acceptance — agrees!!! Laura finds out, is pissed and tells Eddie that his friendship with Urkel is more important than some stupid fraternity with a bunch of jerks. Eddie wises up and in the end quits the fraternity.
- Family Ties: In the Season 5 episode "My Brother's Keeper," Alex gets his awkward friend, Skippy, an interview with his fraternity, one of the most prestigious. It looks like Skippy is sure to be accepted and finally have the friends he long looked for, but then Alex learns that Skippy is going to be subjected to a humiliating joke and hasn't got a prayer of being actually initiated ... they just want a Butt-Monkey to subject to progressively more humiliating (and possibly illegal) jokes, thinking Skippy is too stupid to realize these guys aren't his friends. Alex is so disgusted that he quits the fraternity and tells the guys to take a hike. (And yes, as the fraternity president found out, Skippy was much smarter than they realized, as he tells them he sees them for who they are.)
- Kind of something similar happened in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where Will and Carlton are trying to join an all-black fraternity and were made to perform a number of pledges... only Carlton was never even going to be a pledge, despite being given the worst hazing, because he was considered not black enough. Will, who got in, angrily quits and Carlton gives the pledge master a massive "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how the pledge master is a Boomerang Bigot who assumes Carlton got it easy for being rich and calling him out on tripping Carlton up at any opportunity. It's so effective that the pledge master was kicked from the fraternity!
- An episode of JAG, titled "Crossing the Line", centered around a female aviator filing sexual harassment charges after going through a "Line-Crossing ceremony" (see Real Life below). For contrast, another female aviator going through the same thing at the same time thought it was all great fun.
- In a Saturday Night Live sketch, Mary Katherine Gallagher is told that to join a gang of bad girls at her school, she has to drink water from the girls' room toilet. It was no big deal, she'd done it before.
- On A Different World there were two different episodes about the main characters rushing fraternities/sororities. The first one featured Dwayne and Ron trying to rush Kappa Lambda Nu and in the process testing their friendship. Dwayne ends up quitting although Ron sticks with it. A few seasons later, Ron is the pledge master and enjoys messing with the pledges. Meanwhile, Whitley gets criticized for being too hard on her pledges.
- Euphoria: "The Next Episode" has McKay at the receiving end of a hazing ritual that has frat members hold him face-down to the floor and call him "McGay" several times, just as he is about to have sex with Cassie. It falls into the "humiliating" aspect of the trope.
- Most of the story in Spellcasting 201 is trying to get through pledge week with the Hu Delta Phart fraternity. In addition to the daily flogging of the pledges with a rubber chicken, each pledge has to do a task every day to prove their worthiness. The tasks given to most of the pledges are fairly simple (and amusing to watch), but the ones assigned to the player get increasingly dangerous as the week goes on (Mainly because the Pledgemaster doesn't like you).
- The way to become a member of a hobgoblin tribe in The Order of the Stick involves dancing, uncomfortable piercings, beatings, and doing the same things over again but slower, while singing. Or, you can kill their leader.
- The Omega fraternity in Talesof Gnosis College has one that features both nudity and humiliation. And that's before things spin out of control.
- These were parodied in The Simpsons during the initiation for the Stonecutters. First, there was "Crossing the Desert" (where a blindfolded Homer was struck repeatedly in the behind with wooden paddles) and then, "The Unblinking Eye"...
Homer: Hey, did you ever notice that Crossing the Desert is a lot like The Unblinking Eye? And it's exactly like The Wreck of the Hesperus.
Homer: I think I have to do it again... my blindfold came off.
- And then the final trial: "The Paddling of the Swollen Ass... with Paddles!"
- Ten times as funny when Number One is played by Sir Patrick Stewart.
- There was also a five-story plunge, which was really only supposed to be a laugh when the new initiate fell about two feet, but Homer of course went through five stories, breaking through the floor each time.
- And then the final trial: "The Paddling of the Swollen Ass... with Paddles!"
- Parodied in Undergrads, where there is no hazing ritual and wanted Rocko to contribute something of value to Alpha Alpha. Rocko refuses to believe and so hazes himself. He nearly fails to become if it wasnt for the fact Gimpy sent his friends to investigate fraternities and helps make Alpha Alpha's party a success and gets Rocko into the frat.
- The show Phantom Investigators had an episode with an abandoned fraternity, where the two remaining members did all sorts of humiliating things in order to be accepted, such as drinking tea brewed with their own sweat socks... yuck.
- Done in Jimmy Neutron where the title character was attending college and tried getting into a secret club. He was disappointed at first when the initiation ceremony turned out to be just swearing allegiance. Until the president of said club explained that he would then have to streak through the science lab, which he does. It was actually a ploy for the principle to see Jimmy and get him expelled.
- Line-crossing ceremonies are conducted in a fair number of navies when one crosses the Equator, Arctic Circle, International Date Line, or whatever for the first time. Historically a bit brutal, but they've been reined in recently after several reports of things going, to use the naval term, overboard.
- A tamer version is done on cruise ships.
- A fictional one is depicted in the Larry Bond novel Dangerous Ground.
- Happens in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles where it's still going even in the distant future in human controlled submarines.
- Russian submariners have one when you first must drink a whole emergency lantern of seawater (that's about a liter BTW), and then kiss a sledgehammer suspended from the ceiling. It's usually calm under the surface... theoretically. So broken teeth and torn lips aren't really uncommon.
- The Royal Navy version involves batter, a tank of water and a mixture involving chilli sauce. In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip watched one of these. Her Majesty did not take part. Prince Philip, though, having been a sailor in the Second World War, did. There's one shown on the second series of the documentary series Warship.
- A big part of the Line Crossing ceremony is that the sailors who have crossed the Equator initiate the sailors who have not. So what do you do when you are in a brand new navy and nobody has done it yet? In the case of the first US Navy Line Crossing, the crew of a Royal Navy warship that just so happened to be in the same part of the ocean turned up to help.
- Check out the gimmicks from this 1930 "Fraternal Supply Catalog."
- The Rite of the Covenant in Last Exile is mentioned without detail throughout the series, until it shown happening to Dio, who, though a bit creepy at first, has become quite endeared to the audience by this point. The rite is essentially Mind Rape.
- The ritual to join the evil cult dedicated to Slan in the Conviction Arc in Berserk involves having sex with various members of the cult, kissing a snake that is supposed to be the penis of the Great Goat Head, and eating of a brew that turns out to contain the remains of human sacrifices.
- Once Were Warriors has a young Maori gangster getting his ass kicked in the worst way possible. Afterwards? "Congratulations man, you're now one of us!". In criminal gangs, this is known as being "beat in" or "jumped in", and it is not uncommon for prospective initiates to die after such beatings.
- The Anne Hathaway movie Havoc involves two wealthy Los Angeles teenagers who get involved with a drug gang and undergo a "sex-in" initiation ritual that ends horrifically for the main character's friend.
- The horror film "Starry Eyes" combines this trope with Casting Couch.
- In Flash Gordon (1980) the Treemen of Arboria are initiated by placing a hand in a tree stump. Within the stump lives a beast whose sting brings madness and lingering death.
Princess Aura: "Mmm, I just love initiations."
- In A Man Called Horse, John is initiated into a tribe of Sioux Indians by standing still for an entire day, then being dangled from the ceiling by hooks dug into his chest.
- In Tamora Pierce's Tortall books, aspiring knights (usually teenagers) and kings have to spend a night in the Chamber of the Ordeal, which is a room inhabited by some kind of godlike spirit that gives you very realistic hallucinations of your worst fears. As one character describes it, it's "like a cutter of gemstones. It finds your flaws and hammers them." With people who aren't ready for hardcore introspection, it can permanently damage or kill them. In one special case, a guy who likes to beat and rape women is forced to feel the physical effects of every assault he ever committed. Our main characters see more typical things, like their loved ones being slaughtered because they're too incompetent to protect them. Oh, and they're also not allowed to scream or make any sound at all.
- In the Belisarius Series, getting your first battle scar is an initiation rite for Axumite warriors.
- In the novel Stinger, by Robert R. McCammon, a group of boys initiate the only girl into their circle by chewing tobacco and spitting it into a cup. She drinks it.
- In Akata Witch, the ceremony for becoming a Leopard (a person with magical powers) is extremely painful. It also crosses over with the "Humiliating" category.
- While the Clans of Warrior Cats simply test their apprentices' hunting skills, make them swear an oath and spend a night in silent vigil,note their predecessors around the lake made their soon-to-be-adults go down into a cave system and find their way out. What's so horrific about that? "The tunnels" are a pitch-dark maze, prone to cave-ins, that flood every time it rains, which means some of them never made it out. And by never, we mean never.
- In Angel, when Angel joins the Circle of the Black Thorn, he has to leap through a flaming doorway (he's a vampire) and feed off of Drogyn, a friend of his. Afterwards, the members have a friendly cocktail party.
- Bonanza: From the final season, "The Initiation" involves a non-horrifying initiation ritual — having a piece of ice touched to one's chest while blindfolded, but being told initially that it was a hot branding iron — that ends horrifyingly. A young boy, a friend of Jamie's and the son of one of the Cartwrights' friends, pledged to join the club (its president was played by Ron Howard) dies of a heart attack just as the ice is being touched to his skin, and the rest of the episode has the Cartwrights trying to stop a lynch mob from getting revenge on the club's president.
- In Lost Girl every Fae must undergo a test which is a fight to the death against one or more opponents. If you live, you get to choose whether you get initiated into the Light Fae or Dark Fae factions.
- When Kenzi infiltrates a sorority she comes to belief that the final initiation is going to be some sort of Human Sacrifice with her the likely victim. Turns out it's just a surprise party for the new members and the sorority is actually treats their pledges quite nicely.
- Going insane is a fairly common side effect of the revelations given to a candidate in a Millennium Group initiation ceremony. Recurring character Laura Means completely loses her shit... and to Patti Smith, no less.
- In House of Anubis Patricia's fake initiation ceremony for Nina included both having to steal from their house father, to sneaking into the forbidden (and rumored to be haunted) attic at midnight, with the goals of getting Nina scared, humiliated, and into trouble. In the end she even locked Nina up there.
- Of course, Nina passed with flying colors (but was indeed terrified.)
- The Klingon in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "bachelor party" is a horrific introduction into marriage where the groom is accompanied by three groomsmen for four days of Macho Masochism. There is plenty of compensation though. On the wedding night the bride and groom get to gleefully beat each other to a pulp (after ritually fighting off the groomsmen, of course)! (Though it must be said that this is virtually indistinguishable from regular Klingon foreplay.)
- In Doctor Who it is explained, after many decades apparently, that 8-year-olds on Gallifrey must go to look into the heart of the Singularity that gives their people their power. Some turn and run and keep running (like The Doctor) while others go mad (like The Master).
- No matter what the intent is, if the pledgee ends up as the Body of the Week on a CSI episode, then things went horribly wrong.
- Ditto for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
- The initiation rite known as "The Blooding" for Clan MechWarriors in BattleTech involves a cadet in his/her BattleMechs dueling with live weapons, against active duty warriors, with their initial rank depending on how many (usually a maximum of three, if they fail to defeat even one they are demoted to a civilian caste) they defeat. These battles usually end with the Cadet's Mech disabled (achieving three kills is a rare occurrence and the Trial goes until the Cadet is unable to fight on) and in many cases the cadet and/or the opponent(s) dies, and no one cares.
- The various Vampire covenants in White Wolf's Vampire: The Requiem have initiation ceremonies that are both solemn and horrific. Since the ritual involves the applicant, well, dying and then feeding off of his first human, y'know...
- In Vampire: The Masquerade, the Baali bloodline initated its childer by draining them, then throwing them in a pit of human hearts. The dying human was expected to find the one heart with Vitae in it and drink it, completing the Embrace themselves. In the same game, the Sabbat were notorious for knocking would-be childer out with a shovel, Embracing them, and burying them alive to dig their own way out... but in a subversion, that's not the initiation rite, it's just a quick way to break a subject's humanity. The actual initiation is much more solemn (and only given if the "shovelhead" survives whatever siege they needed cannon fodder for).
- The Sabbat version can get even worse: occasionally they'll bury your dead relatives over you, forcing you to dig through their corpses.
- The Via Hyron Baali would embrace their childer, not by the organ pit methodoloy of the 'normal' Baali, but by force-feeding them blood-fed insects.
- Initiation into the Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000. Initiation into the more formal Chaos Legions and the Grey Knights goes beyond horrific.
- Especially so in the former case because you've already been initiated as a Space Marine.
- In the original Saints Row, the Playa is initiated into the 3rd Street Saints by being "jumped in" (see Real Life below), which also doubles as a tutorial for melee combat.
- In the Sword of the Stars backstory, Liir who become Black Swimmers go through a twofold initiation of horrid. First, a funeral arranged by their friends and family, as becoming a Black Swimmer means abandoning whoever you were before. The actual initiation involves the recruit being held down and 'drowned' in liquid oxygen by their peers until they stop struggling and abandon all hope, which prepares them for an existence of being able to kill other beings — this being basically the worst sort of insanity to the pacifistic Liir, who nonetheless recognize that some of them must be able to kill for the species to survive.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, becoming a Grey Warden involves drinking a mixture including the blood of darkspawn and of an Archdemon. Most people who do this do not survive. They're arguably the lucky ones, as the Taint kills all Wardens sooner or later.
- Mages of the Circle of Magi must undergo the Harrowing in order to become a full Mage, which basically tests their ability to resist demonic possession by throwing them unprepared right into the Fade. If they fail and get possessed, they get killed by Templars. And if they don't want to go through the Harrowing, they get made Tranquil, which many mages consider a Fate Worse than Death.
- And all Dalish Elves must be tattooed all over their faces to be considered adults. Screaming, crying, or otherwise expressing pain during the process is considered a sign that you're a wimp. To add insult to injury, it's revealed in Dragon Age: Inquisition that vallaslin is actually a Slave Brand that the nobles of the Elven empire used on their slaves, who were lower class Elves.
- The story of the original Ao Oni has Takuro and his Gang of Bullies forcing new students Hiroshi and Kazuya to visit the manor with them as part of a 'welcoming ceremony' to their new school. While they just intended to scare them, things start going wrong when they all find themselves locked inside...
- Becoming a member of the Templar Order in Diablo III involves being chained to a wall and beaten and starved for three days, then whipped. The inquisitors who carry out this Cold-Blooded Torture tell the initiate that he is reliving his transgressions and everything that brought him tainted joy (since according to Kormac, your Templar follower, every Templar was once a convicted criminal) and that the whip removes the joy and his sin, leaving him "pure", then he is thoroughly indoctrinated into forgetting his former life so he can have a single-minded focus on his mission. The player characters all express disgust at the idea upon hearing the tale from Kormac, the Wizard in particular telling Kormac that the inquisitors treated him worse than an animal. As it turns out, the Templars don't really give a blessed damn about the guilt or innocence of an initiate, and will readily pile false sins upon an innocent if it means recruiting a good warrior into the Order, as happened to both Kormac and Jondar.
- During an escort mission in Dying Light, it's revealed that Rais' men are forced to eat human eyes as part of their induction into the group.
- Being recruited into The Scarlet Chorus in Tyranny is intentionally made as dehumanizing as possible to make sure those who come out on top are suitable material for the Chorus: First, you have to be captured by the Chorus (whether as a prisoner of war or as anyone taken during a Chorus slave raid). The Chorus strips you of your weapons, armour and everything you own, throw you in a ring together with whoever you got captured with (commonly your friends, family or your comrades-in-arms). Then, a selection of old weapons are thrown in the ring, and the rules are that you're not allowed out of the ring alive until you've killed someone else in there with you. Logically, only half of the recruits survive to graduate into Chorus members, and those who do killed someone they knew in order to survive.
- The Society of the Purple Rose, in the Arkn: Legacy setting, has a wide variety of initiation rituals, all horrifying in their own ways. At best, the initiate is blindfolded and taken through a ceremony that ends with them imprinting on the cult's siren-like "God-Emperor" like a baby duckling, and at worst, they're hunted for sport, The Most Dangerous Game style, and "miraculously" saved when they've lost all resistance. The one that is used for a particular initiate is based entirely on how willing, or unwilling, they are to submit.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, joining the Death-worshipping Totenkopfs is a horrific experience, not only because the initiate has been prepared for the joining beforehand by breaking their spirit utterly in the worst possible moment for the initiate until they're so hopeless and lost that joining the cult seems like the only option. The ritual involves sacrifices and blood oaths, and the initiate swears to carry out atrocities in order to let everyone and everything feel Death's embrace in the end. An even more horrific version comes when the Master of the Totenkopfs turns someone, often a prominent Totenkopf but sometimes an outsider whose dark aura shows promise, into his Blessed.
- In Transformers Animated, joining the Decepticons involves being branded (literally) with their sigil; it's apparently very painful.
- In the Batman Beyond episode "Joyride", a gang of Jokerz takes a new member to a mineshaft containing a skeleton dressed in the remains of a purple suit and boutonniere, implying that it is the corpse of the original Joker.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season 5 premiere, there is a town of "Equal Ponies" who had their distinguishing marks and talents removed as a condition of joining the community. As demonstrated when this was forcibly done to the Mane Six, this is an excruciating process, and the resulting Creative Sterility is as horrific as it sounds.
- Some high school and college hazings have a nasty habit of turning into sexual assault, such as this Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Nevada) high school football incident.
- If this Rolling Stone story on Dartmouth hazing is to be believed, it's less sexual assault and more Nausea Fuel. (One word: vomlet.)
- Criminal gang initiations usually involve the prospective member having to fight or endure a vicious beating by other members of the gang ("beat in" or "jumped in"), being required to have sex with multiple members of the gang ("sex in"), or committing some form of violent crime for the gang, up to and including raping or murdering an innocent victim. Prison gangs in particular have a "blood in, blood out" system — in order to join, one has to kill someone, and the only way to leave is in a bodybag.
- In order to become a made man in the American Mafia, the inductee has to be a male of full Italian descent (though this restriction has been loosened over time, some Mafia families are more restrictive of whom they want to bring in than others). An associate of a crime family who was in the police force or attended a police academy cannot become a made member of the Mafia. Before being inducted, a potential made man is required to carry out a contract killing. Traditionally, this was done in order to prove loyalty to the Mafia, but in modern times this also serves to show that one is not an undercover cop; any murder committed for personal reasons "do not count". Committing one's first contract killing is referred to as "making your bones", and a potential inductee who does it earns his "button" in the Mafia - meaning that he is on track to becoming an official member. However, earning one's "button" did not always involve killing; good "earners," or experienced associates who have not necessarily murdered for the Mafia but are good in earning money, have in the past earned their "button" due to their other valuable contributions beyond contract killing. Until the 1980s, one only had to be involved in a murder (such as driving the getaway car) or be a major earner for the family in order to fulfill the requirements. It was not until the Donnie Brasco fiasco, which revealed that undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone was on the verge of being made into the Bonanno crime family, that a rule was made that potential inductees must actually perform a killing. Plus, doing a contract hit shows that the prospective member won't have any moral qualms killing someone when ordered to do so.
- While it has never actually been conclusively proven whether or not a certain former British Prime Minister had to stick his manhood in the mouth of a dead pig before he was allowed to join the infamous Bullingdon Club, but by all accounts that's the sort of thing they would do. The story about having to light a £50 note on fire in front of a homeless person is fairly well confirmed, however.
- Every couple of years, a story about a college fraternity (or occasionally even sorority) hazing causing severe injury or death comes up in the news. Usually it involves alcohol, such as the 2017 case of a pledge drunkenly falling down the stairs and left dying for 12 hours before the frat brothers called 911. Every once in a while, however, the pledge just gets plain beaten to death.
- Many initiatory religions and occult groups involve a staged murder and rebirth of the initiate. Often, the initiate is even part of a mock burial. (Often, initiation ceremonies reenact the murder and resurrection of the mythical founder of the group, for example Hiram Abiff.)
- Spotted hyenas do this when a new male wants to join the clan. They viciously bite the new male until they are sure it is completely submissive and knows its place as the lowest member of the clan. If the new male fights back it will be killed. Hyenas born into the clan do not have to go through this because their position in the hierarchy is determined at birth.
- Played for laughs in at least one of Keith Laumer's Retief short stories, "Ballots and Bandits". To join an alien organization Interstellar Diplomat Retief must perform various tasks that the aliens find almost impossible.
- Hold his breath for very quick count of ten.
- Smell various inoffensive odors.
- "I believe what you have there is the authentic smell of sanctity."
- His alien companion nearly gives in, but takes heart from Retief's example.
- Jump over an obstacle less than a six inches tall for the final test.
- After jumping he grandstands by turning and jumping it again, to a standing ovation.
- When Mallory and Jessi join The Baby-Sitters Club, Kristy makes them swear on the club notebook with an oath that Dawn suspects she's made up on the spot. Mary Anne cries. Dawn and Claudia both think it's ridiculous, but that doesn't stop Dawn from wondering why she didn't get an initiation ceremony. (Answer: Kristy is massively jealous of her friendship with Mary Anne.)
- The Legend of Dick and Dom: a fight with jam-soaked sticks while standing in a trough of custard; followed by a promise to kick yourself up the bum every day before breakfast; then a kiss on both cheeks from a guy who dribbles so much, a man with a sponge follows him around. Congratulations! You are initiated into the Loopy Tribe!
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: graduating village idiots receive a diploma, a handful of mud and a kick on the head.
- In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Randy decides to pledge a college fraternity (even though he's not actually a student). Part of the initiation involves paddling a la Animal House, but Randy convinces the frat brothers to paddle each other instead of the new pledges. Hilarity Ensues.
- Family Guy: Apparently, if you want to become a Supreme Court Justice, you have to stick a cherry in between your buttcheeks, run through a set of cones, and drop the cherry in a beer.
- Judge Souter even drinks the beer when he finishes the obstacle course!
- On the Ren & Stimpy show, you, the viewer, can gain the trust of the two by putting your hand on the TV screen and reciting the secret oath: "I do hereby promise only to watch the Ren and Stimpy show, to make underleg noises during the good scenes, and to wear unwashed Lederhosen every single day of the rest of my life!"
- In Teen Titans, apparently the initiation for the H.I.V.E. academy is eating a unicycle and carrying a female student's books while wearing a pink tutu.
- The end of episode gag implies that the Titans have some form of initiation too. It apparently involves a rubber chicken and another tutu.
- At the end of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "One Bad Apple", the Cutie Mark Crusaders make amends with Apple Bloom's cousin Babs Seed, and even swear her in as a member of their club. The ceremony is fairly mundane, but it involves Scootaloo playing an overly-dramatic bongo solo and Sweetie Belle reciting a Long List of synonyms for "friend", most of which she mispronounces: "We, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, elect Babs Seed to join us as a sister, friend, confidant, ally, bosom buddy, gal pal, compadre, chum of chums, home girl, amiga..."
- In The Brothers Grunt, all initiates into the Brotherhood of the Grunt go through an initiation rite presided over by the Poobah. Initiates are anointed with the Salve of Roid to protect them from sins of the flesh, the Water of Brut to protect them from embarassing situations and social faux pas, and the Tablet of Retsin to keep their breath fresh. Finally, the Poobah rubs each initiate's head with a duck, and if the duck flies away, it signifies that the Chosen One has been found.
- In Finland, once a novice skydiver gets his licence, he or she is assumed to provide a case of beer at the club and make an impromptu speech. Suddenly without notice someone of the regulars will pour a bucket of icy water over his or her head, and member of an opposite sex will hug him/her. He or she is then welcomed into the community.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, the class president Takashi Yamazaki makes Syaoran do After-School Cleaning Duty.
- Multiple types in K, which features a system of seven Super Empowering Kings and their clans of followers:
- The Red Clan's initiation involves the Red King engulfing his hand in fire, and the prospective member shaking his hand. If you don't get burnt, you're in. No guarantees of safety, or survival, for that matter.
- The Blue Clan's initiation takes the form of a Knighting, with the new member kneeling before the Blue King in front of all of the troops, swearing an oath, and having the King tap them on either shoulder with the sword that will be theirs as a "Guardian of Blue Justice". When the Blue King gives them the sword, they receive their Blue aura and powers with it.
- The Green Clan is rather peculiar - one doesn't need to be a real Clansman to get their powers, they just need to download the Jungle game/social network app to their phones. By completing missions, they gain points and move up ranks, named after the letters of JUNGLE - E-rank, then L-rank, etc. to the highest, J-rank. Only J-rank members get to meet the King and become true Clansmen.
- The Gold and Grey Clans are shown to be rather formal, but their initiations are not shown. The Silver and Colorless clans are small and rather informal (as much as Kuroh would rather have had a more formal way of dedicating himself to the Silver King).
- Black Moon Chronicles: Wismerhill goes through two different and very elaborate ones, first when he becomes a high priest of the Black Moon by crawling through a cave system to undergo several trials, and second when he becomes the leader of the Lords of Negation, Haazheel Thorn's most elite soldiers. Both instances involve him dying and being resurrected as well.
- To join BloodClan in Blood! Rusty AU, you must prove yourself by fighting another BloodClan cat.
- The Black-White College in Desolate Era has an informal initiation ritual propagated by the disciples. When someone new joins the College, they are invited to the Dao Debate Palace for a friendly competition based upon their comprehension of the Daos and using the magical techniques they've mastered. However, the true goal is to thoroughly beat and publicly embarrass the new arrivals. The senior disciples say that the purpose is to temper the new disciples pride and show that that they are have entered a bigger world and are no longer the genius-of-geniuses that they were in their previous homes. Part of the real reason, however, is that the senior disciples were embarrassed in this way when they arrived, and now it's their turn to embarrass someone else.
- Getting initiated into The Unit involves a Training "Accident" scenario. One case involved a Man on Fire.
- According to one of the Expanded Universe novels of Babylon 5, a medical school had a hazing practice where first year students were required to research a non-topic and write a paper on their results with the same level of rigor that one would expect from a research paper that one is trying to publish in a real medical journal. A group of students decided to research telepathy, actually found some telepaths, and from there ended up setting in motion the creation of PsiCorps.
- Wiseguy. When Vinnie Terranova becomes a "made man" in The Mafia, the older Mafiosi insist that he undergo the correct ritual, only to get into an argument during the ceremony over what the correct ritual is. "I've done this a hundred times!" "Then you're done it wrong a hundred times!"
- One of the memories that Link can recover in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is of the ceremony in which Princess Zelda had officially sworn him in as her appointed knight, as the chosen wielder of the Master Sword. Only Link, Zelda and the four Champions were present for this, and the awkwardness of Zelda's resentment of Link's statusnote was palpable in the air.
- The Max and Dave Fleischer cartoon Bimbo's Initiation plays with several of these, ending happily with Bimbo dancing with a proto-Betty Boop.
Wanna be a member? Wanna be a member?
- According to The Ren & Stimpy Show, joining their fan club requires prospects to swear a solemn oath to, among other things, watch every single episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, "make underleg noises at the good parts", and wear unwashed lederhosen every single day for the rest of one's life (the other details vary from episode to episode).
- The initiation into the Israeli Paratroop Corps involves "ascending to Jerusalem"-that is doing a forced march up the Temple Mount to the spot where they receive their berets.
- The Kirkkojärvi March of the Finnish Army Reserve Officers' Academy: an all-day platoon-wise forced march competition in the cross country, with various combat-related tasks, in full combat gear. The finish line is traditionally on top of a local skiing hill. The Kirkkojärvi March, Kirkkis colloquially, falls on both the "solemn and dignified" and "disturbingly horrifying" categories. The length of the march is usually 25 to 35 km, and it is run in close formation with full combat gear. Usually there are five combat-related action points along the route. The reserve officer cadets consider it as a honour to be able to participate and the sign of a true Finnish reserve officer; even if one completes the course but does not participate, he is looked upon amongst his peers. As it is a competition, everyone will do their best. It is not uncommon that exhausted, dehydrated or heat stricken cadets are taken to hospital after the march.
- Basic training for any branch of the armed forces probably covers all four bases; a long period of extreme physical and mental exhaustion with occasional bouts of ritual humiliation by your instructors if you screw up, relieved by the odd moment of comedy as you and everyone else in the same predicament bands together to make the best of it, with a solemn and dignified ceremony at the end when you join your unit.
- The US Army has two initiations similar to the Kirkkojärvi March above, the "prop blast" (for paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne) and the "spur ride" (for Cavalry soldiers). Both consist of grueling physical tasks, combat-related tasks, and answering questions about unit history in front of a board of senior officers (though the board can quickly devolve into humiliation of the participants). The prop blast ceremony was banned briefly in the late 1990s when it became apparent the ceremonies had crossed the line from hazing into out-right abuse. It is, however, coming back quietly under heavy supervision in both the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne Divisions.
- Joining the Order of the Arrow, a Boy Scouts subgroup, involves taking the Ordeal - a day spent performing manual labor with minimal food, not being allowed to speak unless the OA members in charge permit it. A feast takes place at the day's end.
- In India, the uppanayannam or threading ceremony was held for boys in the uppermost Brahmin caste, when they begin their education. It is a formal ritual where the boy is taught his first ever mantra, has his head shaved and sash tied around his torso, pledges to live a life of poverty while a student note , leaves his parents house permanently and is consigned to be under the care and tutelage of a guru in his ashram.