Most depictions of Hell involve some form of eternal punishment for the damned souls who are sent there. In Ironic Hell, they get a more personal service. Each sinner gets a punishment that is an ironic reminder of the sins of which he or she is guilty. A glutton might be force-fed something unpleasant for eternity (a common version is that they're fed something they enjoyed — ceaselessly, becoming wholly sick of it, for eternity), or might be prevented from eating ever again.
Many examples of Ironic Hell are references to Dante's Inferno (Canticle 1 of The Divine Comedy), which depicts Hell in this way. It was published in 1314; however, the basic idea goes back even further. The Greek myths that involve Tartarus often utilize this trope.
Your Lit professor would probably call this "Contrapasso", Italian for "counter-suffering", which means "the punishment fits the crime."
- Dragon Ball:
- In Dragon Ball Z, when Goku returned to the land of the dead during the Buu Saga, he asked King Yemma if Dabura (aka King of the Demon Realm) had shown up. King Yemma smugly told Goku that since Dabura was a demon, he'd fit in well in hell; thus Dabura was sent to eternally suffer in peaceful paradise: heaven! A filler episode showed that this actually prompted a HeelFace Turn, turning him into an outright Love Freak.
- Frieza's personal hell in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F qualifies, being a Sugar Bowl filled with fairies frolicking and stuffed animals playing music while the omnicidal tyrant is forced to do nothing but watch the festivities while trapped in a cocoon for all eternity.
- The Big Bad of Fullmetal Alchemist has a little speech about how all of the sacrifices are being punished in ironic ways for their hubristic attempts at human transmutation, essentially going to an ironic hell while still alive. The Elric brothers, who tried to bring back their mother, are both punished with loss: Ed, the eldest, had to deal with almost losing his brother, while Al is soul-bound to a suit of armour, unable to feel physical sensations and condemned to spend hours alone while everyone else sleeps. Izumi Curtis, who tried to bring back her lost child, suffered severe internal injuries that caused lasting debility and rendered her infertile. Roy, though, subverts it: while his blindness is supposedly some sort of commentary on his being a visionary, at least according to said Big Bad, 1) he didn't even attempt human transmutation and only received the punishment because the bad guys basically hurled him bodily at the Gate of Truth, and 2) his closest ally and Implied Love Interest is literally named Hawkeye and was able to minimize its impact until he was able to have it reversed. Later on, Truth gives Father his own ironic hell by forcing him to become a cog of the very machine he wanted to escape.
- Galaxy Angel has an episode with the Gold Digger stuck as a housewife, The Ojou as an apartment manager, The Gunslinger working a till, The Stoic running a failing business, and The Pollyanna riding unicorns in Ironic Heaven. Bonus points for the off-key recorder.
- Several of the banishments in Hell Girl as well as some of the torments shown as Ai ferries her victims through the gates of Hell are ironic. For example, a banishment during season three has a victim being chased through a city by a 'Kaiju' sized Ai and then shrunk to the size of a bug in the boat to Hell. This victim had previously said that he would "become a big man and throw (his) weight around." Or "The Two Prisoners", where the victim — a man who abandoned a girl he got pregnant — is shown both being drowned in amniotic fluid as a giant unborn baby watches and undergoing his own inhuman pregnancy.
- For that matter, Ai's own servitude as the Hell Girl is also an ironic hell; as punishment for killing her village in an act of vengeance, and condemning her family to fall into the pits of hell if she does not pay their ransom, she's doomed to take vengeance on other people's behalf and, in doing so, condemning both her clients and targets to fall into the pits of hell.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable has its Big Bad Yoshikage Kira, a hand fetishist, dragged to hell by an army of ghostly hands. And since he wants to live in peace so badly, he's dragged off to a place where he can't!
- The Big Bad of Vento Aureo got hit with this too: Diavolo lived his entire life completely paranoid towards the fact that the world might be out to get him. After getting hit with Gold Experience Requiem's ability of returning everything to zero (including your death), that's exactly what happens! To rub salt in the wound, he had precognitive abilities before getting hit with GER's ability. Now, he's forced to die repeatedly with no means of predicting how or when his next death will occur. It doesn't take long for him to go insane from fear and paranoia.
- After the events of the Marineford War arc in One Piece, Sanji, the ship's cook and a raging skirt-chaser, is stranded in the Kamabakka Kingdoms: an island nation of superhumanly tough, strong and fast extremely flamboyant and very gonky Drag Queens who all think Sanji is extremely sexy and keep trying to alternatively hit on him or force him into drag as well. For an added layer of irony, they started pursuing him when he mistook one of themnote for an actual girl and started up his usual girl-chasing routine. Although he came out of the experience all the stronger — having learned powerful new techniques, gaining even greater levels of Super Strength and Super Speed, and learning special new recipes — the events deeply scarred him; forever afterwards, anytime he brings up the island, he refers to it as "Hell".
- The paintings of Hieronymus Bosch contain some of the most vivid depictions of Ironic Hell.
- In the Garth Ennis comic The Chronicles of Wormwood, the protagonists make a visit to heaven. They meet an Islamic martyr who had gone to heaven and actually received his 72 virgins. So for eternity, he now must feed and clean up 72 babies left in his charge.
- Dylan Dog gave us Ash and Dust, a devil kicked out of hell and an angel kicked out of heaven, and their punishments: Ash will forever wander through the world being able to do only good and being loved for it, while Dust will wander the world being able to do only evil and being hated for it, with Dust being unable to understand evil to boot due his nature (Ash, being a devil and thus a former angel to begin with, doesn't have this problem). Since their exile started, Ash started doing good to people who suffer because they want to commit murder, mutilation and other sins but can't actually get on with it, while Dust mainly does evil to serial killers, that he gets jailed, and monsters, that he keeps as a collection (and is hunting Ash so he'll help him understand evil. He succeeds and will regret it forevermore).
- In Fantastic Four, Reed traps himself and Dr Doom in a pocket dimension consisting of a White Void Room containing nothing but reminders of Victors greatest mistakes to serve as this for Victor (and possibly for Reed as well). Note that he pulled Doom out of actual Hell for this, because it wasnt bad enough. Victor can withstand perpetual torture, but eternity with the man he hates more than anything and his own failure will really hurt.
- Used in The Far Side, when it's shown that hell for dogs is to work as mailmen. And that Charlie Parker has to listen to Kenny G. for all eternity. And skiers get cooped up in stifling hot tubs and have to read ski magazines. And a maestro gets introduced to a room full of banjo players... It comes up a lot.
- Subverted in Hack/Slash, specifically the crossover with Chucky the Killer Doll. Strawman Religious Laura Lochs puts Chris, Lisa, and Skottie Young in her own Hell House, though the punishments just seem randomly chosen and have nothing to do with the characters.
Recording: You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It is an abomination! If a man lies with a man as a woman, both have committed an abomination, and both shall be put to death.Skottie Young: (while getting whipped) Ow! Goddammit! I'm not even fucking gay!
- Shortly afterward done much straighter with Six Sixx's fate after failing the Neflords.
- House of M: After "M-day", the Scarlet Witch removed the powers of nearly the entire mutant race, her father included. Magneto's ironic hell is to live... as a normal human being.
- I Hate Fairyland: Gerture is killed just before she's able to complete her quest and go home for the second time and sent to Fairyland Hell. The Devil there tries to put her through a personal Hell by seemingly going back home to her parents only for them to turn into monsters. Gert catches on what's happening and calls out the Devil for it. Impressed by Gertrude's strong will, the devil changes up things by sending her to the one place she can't stand: Fairyland...at the start of her quest when she got there... in an eternal endless loop. Don't worry, she's freed when Council of Fairyland need her for a bigger problem.
- In "I Have What You Need", a story from the Vertigo Comics anthology Time Warp, a candy-maker has a secret recipe that lets people relive the happiest ten minutes of their lives. A sadistic gangster, Elias Yanyo, threatens the candy-man to give him a sample so he can relieve murdering his wife, threatening some other customers in the process. Then the candy-man reveals that Yanyo is already in a time loop, and has been for the last twenty years. While the other customers lived through the incident and found happiness, the candy-man was shot in the ensuing scuffle and died a few days later. Since he's the only one who can turn the time-loops on and off, Yanyo has condemned himself to relive the same ten minutes over and over for all eternity.
- This is what the Big Bad is shown in Johnny Dynamite: Underworld by Collins and Beatty. Singers have to sing all the time. Alcoholics have to drink but they never get drunk. He is promised a place at the devil's right hand if he does get killed. It doesn't work out so good for him.
- In Lori Lovecraft: Back to the Garden, musician Elston Gunn (a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Bob Dylan) is trapped in Hell when he chases his Lost Lenore and the Necronomicon through a closing portal. In Hell, his punishment is to play a packed concert to screaming fans. Who only want to hear his old songs. Forever.
- Scott McCloud's three-part improvisational comic Meadow of the Damned (1, 2, 3) features a variety of people whose afterlife is a pleasant meadow, with a variety of small, eternal annoyances; the minor demon in charge of their case assures them that yes, this is Hell. It turns out that Hell has much worse torments, but those are reserved for people who were much more... effective sinners.
- Decidedly surreal version in Nextwave, in which the punishment for telling your kids to get a proper job is — to be used as a bucket by giant weasels dressed as cheerleaders. No, we don't know what Warren Ellis was taking either.
- In Secret Six, Catman's abusive father is repeatedly eaten by his wife, who is in the form of a lion, then brought back to be killed and eaten again. It should be noted, this is also his mother's Heaven.
- W.I.T.C.H. has the Tower of Mist, Kandrakar's prison, that, from the two known cells, seems to be based on this concept: the power-hungry Phobos was stuck in a cell that sucked away his power, and Cedric, a book-loving Consummate Liar capable of changing his form at will, was locked in his human form (not the true one) and stuck in a room filled with books that only contain fiction and lies. Cedric actually appreciated the joke, and play along by welcoming the loathed warden as a friend the one time he visited.
- Calvin and Hobbes: After dozens of nights after having to read Hamster Huey over and over again, Calvin's dad muses:
Dad: Architects should be forced to live in the buildings they design, and children's book authors should be forced to read their stories aloud every single night of their rotten lives.
- The Loud House fanfiction Syngenesophobia has, aside from the general punishments of being grounded, limitations on their internet and TV use, and being forced to visit Aunt Ruth every weekend, each of the guilty sisters also gets a personal punishment based on their likes and hobbies. note Lynn Sr. even threatens to whip them with his belt if they try to sidestep their punishments (though it's clear that regrets doing this to them).
- In fact, later on, he tones down his daughters' punishments.
- In the Good Omens fanfic Its Own Place, the angel Aziraphale's personal Hell turns out to be Heaven. The real kicker is that he doesn't even realize he's actually on Hell's torture roster because its version of Heaven is exactly as he remembers it, and he expected to be lonely and miserable there After the End (because Crowley isn't th--er, because Heaven is mind-numbingly boring compared to Earth), which makes this overlap with Self-Inflicted Hell.
- The short Evangelion story The Case of Lorenz Kihl starts off from the last moments before Instrumentality where Kihl finds himself facing a metaphorical inquest of sorts where he justifies his plans to force human evolution the way he did and thus he only has to head towards the city which represents the final goal he has longed for. The twist is that the very qualities he has in such rich quantities prevent him from ever being able to enter Instrumentality, leaving him alone forever.
- When My Immortal had its author's account hacked, the hacker uploaded a chapter where Enoby died after being shot by the Snap-possessed James/Samoro. She was promptly sent to hell... and decked out in preppy clothes.
- A sporking of said fanfic made two endings. The second featured Egogy ending up in hell, condemned to spend eternity as arch-prep Justin Bieber's girlfriend.
- The Darker and Edgier Redwall fanfic It Makes Me Happy That I'm Not Them inflicts these on a few of the Big Bad characters, as well as the OC lead. We hear mention of Gabool being trapped among constantly-ringing bells, similar to the hallucinations which drove him insane in canon, and the Narcissist Ublaz being rendered "furless". The punishment of the canon character we see onscreen is rather less intense; Swartt Sixclaw, who was, among other things, an abusive husband and father, is effectively forced to become a Stepford Smiler.
"Swartt Sixclaw, the best father. Absolutely the best."
His family beamed at him.
"How is that?" Keinruf asked. "Surely there isn't somebeast else who's - "
"Oh, no. They can't be, I'm sad to say. I have to be the best. Absolutely the best."
Keinruf raised his brow.
"It's his sins, you see," Bluefen said. "Rather, his punishment for them. He has to be good to us. Not just good - the best."
- In the Pony POV Series, it's revealed that Dark World is this for Dark World!Discord. He gets to reign over the world for all eternity, his defeats always get undone, and the consequences of his actions are always erased...always, for eternity. It eventually got to the point where trying to save his daughter from death is the only reason he even tries to achieve anything. Ironically, by the time we this is revealed, he's actually had a Heel Realization, but the mastermind of the loops won't let him act on it until Rancor throws things so far out of whack she can't overwrite it.
- Fluttercruel, after becoming a full Draconequus and being banished from the mortal plane, is eventually punished for all her crimes by being forced to live a mortal life as one of her own victims. This finalizes the Heel Realization she began just prior to her banishment.
- A Loose Canon alternate universe shows the Nameless Filly who killed Cupid being stopped from murdering him due to ponies praying for his protection that day, meaning Turris (the God of Defense) was keeping a close eye on him that day. Turris came to his nephew's aid and his unbreakable defense ultimately causes the Concept Killing Spear to snap, after which he used the broken half against itself to Ret-Gone it from existence, the resulting blast kills the Nameless Filly. In Hell, the Nameless Filly is condemned to a "Groundhog Day" Loop where she returns to before her attempt on Cupid, but can never actually succeed in her goal, doomed to try and fail for all eternity unless she actually lets love have a place in her heart. Given her actions would've erased countless innocent people from existence for a petty grudge, its a fitting fate.
- In Rites of Ascension, Twilight Sparkles neglectful, shallow, elitist, racist, and borderline abusive social-climber of a mother Twilight Velvet hits Celestias Berserk Button of tribalism with a giant mallet. The end result of the use of the mud pony slur? Newly-minted Grand Mage Twilight Sparkle giving Twilight Velvet her old job as Ponyville Librarian... and her old assignment of weekly friendship reports.
- In Best Hell Ever, thanks to Discord playing a prank, Twilight ends up in the Ironic Hell for sloth, organizing the books in a library which has every book ever written, will be written, was never written, and will never be written. Naturally, she absolutely loves it, and after she actually manages to sort all the books, she starts reading them. In the sequel, after being sent home when the mistake was discovered, she recruits Starlight to help her return and encounters several other hells, like an Obstructive Bureaucrat (or just completely inept due to sloth) who tried to get recruited into the infernal bureaucracy only to get trapped in filling out the paperwork for the position, a punishment still being set up where a greedy pony has all the wealth they could ever want but have nothing to buy with it since the stores are always a minute away from opening, and one where gluttonous ponies are forced to constantly give food away without being able to have a bite themselves. She also suggests making an envious pony president of the fan club of the person she's jealous of when she stumbles into a meeting where a demon is chewing out another for not being able to come up with a punishment for envy, a keg party with pretty mares that where the kegs have holes in the bottom and the mares have none for Lust (see the joke section of this page for more details), a pony prideful for his accomplishments in life now gets graded for literally everything, and a sailor who swore gets a literal Narrative Profanity Filter (which he seems to consider worse than having to be immersed in acid for eternity).
- A Peaceful Afterlife makes the hell of Hazbin Hotel into this for Yoshikage Kira. He's a person who generally wants to live a peaceful, unbothered life, while Hazbin Hotel's take on Hell is the worst, most chaotic urban hellhole imaginable. The irony is not lost on Kira, who thus actually has a motivation to take Charlie up on her offer of reforming him.
- Directly referenced in Sonic X: Dark Chaos. Venus the Seedrian prayed to Maledict for the power to defend the Seedrians from Tsali. He answered by giving her nearly divine power... and cursing her to slowly transform into a robot so she's just like Tsali.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
- In life, Jovian and Jacqueline brutally tortured Felucia, both physically and sexually, to the point of madness for days on end while holding her captive. Upon their deaths at the end of Act IV, they're sent to Hell, where the also-dead Felucia eagerly seizes the chance to torture them back. To add to the irony, as shown in a flashback in Act IV chapter 31, Felucia had earlier sworn to Jovian and Jacqueline that when they died, Felucia would be waiting for them in Hell to pay them back, which Jovian and Jacqueline smugly laughed off.
- Similarly, one of the last crimes Kuyou committed in life was murder Kenzo Shikazan, an old friend of Dark and Felucia, on Hokuto's orders. Kuyou is killed by Tsukune during the events of Act III, and Hokuto soon follows in Act IV. During the final chapter, they're shown in Hell, where Kenzo and his gang eagerly participate in torturing them for their sins.
- In the Polish Quake I fanfiction story "Jak KraQsa mara senna zmogla", those who had grown too addicted to playing Quake are forced to spend eternity in Hell killing each other in a neverending deathmatch game (with actual pain). The only reprieve is available through winning a match, which grants the victor a minute or so of peace in an empty room.
- In this Invader Zim fanfic, Gaz wakes up in a world where Dib doesn't exist. Without him around to bother her, she's free to eat her pizza and play her video games in total isolation, leading her to declare she's in paradise... then all the rest of the food she tries to eat turns out to taste like pizza too, and the games start becoming ridiculously easy to beat. It's not long before the sheer monotony of all this starts to make both pizza and video games unbearable to Gaz, and she finds herself going stir crazy. It turns out that Zim stuck her in a virtual simulation in order to torment her for hitting him.
- In an exceptionally well-drawn Death Note Doujin depicting an alternate ending, rather than The Nothing After Death, the punishment for Death Note users that cannot go to heaven or hell is to be transported to the Shinigami Realm, where they will experience each and every death they inflicted on others before being completely erased from existence. Light has to face all the 124,925 deaths, including his more creative ones, that he executed on foes. Once Light hears this, he laughs it off. He then tells Ryuk he plans to make most of the time by finding the Shinigami King and try to barter or even fight him to get his curse removed before continuing his plan to reshape the world in a grander scale. Ryuk is suitably awed and impressed.
- In A Song of Fire, Ice, and Hearts, Cersei meets Roxas and comes to the conclusion that he is the son of her First Love Ventus with another woman. Since it's revealed that Cersei was quite the Clingy Jealous Girl in regards to Ventus in her youth, she starts to believe that the Gods are punishing her for all of her evil deeds.
- In A Crazed Gleam, Starlight Glimmer's final fate, courtesy of a vengeful Discord, is to be transported to a timeline where the changelings took over Equestria because of her and turned into a love generator for them to use as a living battery, with her mental faculties intact the entire time. For extra points, the world she's trapped in is one where everyone is happy, a valued member of the community, and contributes equally to society...just not the way she envisioned it.
- In An American Christmas Carol (not to be confused with An American Carol), there's this exchange between Ben Slade and Jack Latham's ghost:
Latham: Hell's not what you think it is, Ben. Fire, sulfur, devils with pitchforks, none of that.
Slade: Thank God.
Latham: It's worse. It's living in all your past, all the time, forever. There's a politician who sits in a room with all his speeches blaring at the same time—no earplugs, either. And a king who has to keep staring at the faces of men he sent to war.
- Avengers: Infinity War reveals this to be the fate of Red Skull after he was teleported away in Captain America: The First Avenger. The Tesseract punished him for his crimes by transporting him to Vormir and giving him knowledge of how to get the Soul Stone. He knows what he has to do and hed happily pay the price... but he cant. The price for the stone is the life of a loved one. Red Skull doesnt have any loved ones. So hes been spent the last seventy-so years alone and miserable on Vormir, knowing that his lifes goal is sitting right in front of him, but also that it is forever unattainable to him and its all his own fault. Needless to say, hes a hollow shell of his former self when Thanos and Gamora meet him.
- The film Between Two Worlds posits that everyone goes to the same place when they die, and whether it's hell or heaven depends on whether they're the kind of person that would be happy living a pleasant, wholesome existence. Except for people who committed suicide, who are doomed to staff the cruise ship that carries the rest.
- Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey featured this when the boys accidentally wind up in hell and locked in a maze-like corridor featuring their worst fears. (For Bill: It was getting kissed by old granny. Ted: Being chased by the Easter Bunny for stealing his brother's Easter basket as a child. For Both: Having to deal with a Military General pushing them to the brink (which was a reference from the first film)). Luckily, challenging Death bails them out.
- Cast Away contains a fairly subtle example. The first act of the film establishes that, as a dedicated Fed Ex employee, Chuck is completely obsessed with punctuality and time, though it's suggested that he actually enjoys this. After he's marooned on the island, he has nothing but time.
- Cruel and Unusual: In the afterlife murderers are forced to continually relive their crime so they come to terms with it. Some of them have already been doing this for decades without success.
- Daughter, a short film by Eduardo Rodriguez. To say anything about the film plotwise would be a major spoiler because nothing happens for the whole film besides scare chords and hysterical breathing but the most terrifying moment of the film arguably comes at the very end, when you realize the doomed mother isn't alone and there are literally millions of people in sealed rooms suffering ironic punishments based on their life crimes just like she is.
- In Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Frank Cotton, who had an affair with his brother's wife, and tried to molest his niece, was trapped in a Hell where he was in a room of women writhing under bedsheets, moaning for him; but he knows that if he took any sheet off, he'd get flayed (again). This is how his niece gets away from him.
- One of (at least) two possible explanations for the events of Jacob's Ladder is that "If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth."
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: For Jack Sparrow, the Black Pearl has always represented the freedom to go anywhere and do as he pleases. In the Doldrums of Davy Jones' Locker, he has his ship, but there's no sea to sail it on and nowhere to go. Nothing but perfectly flat, white desert in every direction. Even worse, Jack Sparrow has built up a legend as "the one and only" Jack Sparrow, so the only company he has are various versions of himself. Though he could just be hallucinating from his isolation.
- Salvage has Claire Parker seemingly reliving her death over and over again at the hands of Duke Desmond. In actuality, Duke is the one in Hell, reliving Claire's death over and over again from her perspective.
- Scrooge (1970) has a sequence where, after falling into his own grave, Scrooge ends up in Hell and is taken to a freezing cold office just like the one he made Bob Cratchit work in.
- The Sinners of Hell: Prof. Yajima, who took water from a dying fellow soldier during World War II gets a torment similar to that of Tantalus—forever back in the war, dying of thirst, crawling to a puddle that evaporates as he approaches it.
- The Spanish movie Sin noticias de Dios features a hell where everything takes on a reddish hue, but apart from that, the main punishment is your social standing being inverted. One of the characters is a notorious mobster who has been consigned to spend his life in Hell as a waitress. Oh, and the national language of Hell is English.
- Star Wars features this with Darth Vader. He betrayed the Jedi to learn how to prevent death. His death is prevented, in the most painful way imaginable.
- Also Rule of Symbolism: As Anakin Skywalker, his greatest flaw was his impulsiveness. His emotions pretty much dictated his actions and almost always led to tragedy. As Darth Vader, he is more machine than man. Punishment for letting his emotions run wild is to be turned into an emotionless robot.
- Possibly worse: he still has emotions, it's just that the dominant one is self-hatred. He even gets an almost Ravenloft-worthy effect where he can use the Dark Side to temporarily recover his ability to breathe unaided — but the momentary pulse of joy he feels as a result disrupts his concentration far enough that his condition immediately reasserts itself. Yet more reasons to be glad you're not Darth Vader.
- A comic panel had him "at peace" in the chamber on the Executor. Instead of peace he sees Padme The Lost Lenore and is shown that he only has his grief when he's alone.
- Also Rule of Symbolism: As Anakin Skywalker, his greatest flaw was his impulsiveness. His emotions pretty much dictated his actions and almost always led to tragedy. As Darth Vader, he is more machine than man. Punishment for letting his emotions run wild is to be turned into an emotionless robot.
- Lotso's eventual fate in Toy Story 3 can be interpreted as this. On top of being by far the darkest villain to appear in the Toy Story films, Lotso is a Straw Nihilist whose life view is that all toys are just trash in the end because children don't really love them. He ends up being tied to the front of a dump truck forever due to a Cloudcuckoolander truck driver finding him and taking a shining to him because he had a similar-looking bear when he was a kid.
- The female lead of Triangle receives a Fate Worse than Death, where she is stuck in a presumably endless time loop (or purgatory, depending on your interpretation) in which she murders her friends and accidentally kills her son over and over again.
- One example of a combined Ironic Hell and Self-Inflicted Hell is in What Dreams May Come, clearly based on Dante. The protagonist's wife committed suicide, and reflecting the selfish nature of the act, she is essentially trapped in a state of depression, unable to connect with others. Perhaps even more ironic, for the protagonist, he would rather be trapped in her Hell than his heaven without her. His doing so, however, makes her hell...not. Freeing both.
- Wristcutters: A Love Story takes place in the afterlife for suicides. It's just a slightly more drab copy of Earth, and people's lives are just slightly worse than the ones they left behind- the ones that were bad enough to drive them to suicide in the first place. No one is willing to so much as contemplate suicide again for fear that they'd end up in another world that just a tiny step worse.
- There's a joke: Joe lived a wild life, so he wasn't surprised to die and go to hell. He finds himself in a nightclub with no exit. The music is lousy, but he notices all the other patrons have a bottle of booze and a blonde gal for company. He comments on how great this looks, and the guy at the next table says 'Don't be so happy; the bottle has a hole in it, and the blonde doesn't!'
- A similar joke (which has multiple variations) has a guy go to the afterlife and witness other men being manacled to hideous women for all eternity. When it's his turn, he finds that he's being manacled to a beautiful blonde instead. The punchline is that it's punishment for her, not him.
- Another joke (which can feature Real Life figures for parody): a man dies, goes to Hell and gets to choose between three different punishments. The last room he sees is a man having sex with a beautiful woman. He says that he wants that one, naturally, so Satan turns toward the coital couple and says, "(Woman's name), your replacement is here!"
- Another one has Bill Gates asked to choose between Fluffy Cloud Heaven and A Hell of a Time. He takes the latter, but two weeks later he's in Fire and Brimstone Hell. "That was Hell 1.0. This is Hell 95." (Or: "This is the real Hell. That was just the demo version.")
- Or "the screen saver". Bill Gates really attracts this kind of thing.
- Another variant featured a politician, with the initial form being campaigning, and the actual hell being the results of the vote.
- Lawyers have a variant with the punchline "That was our summer program."
- The oldest version seems to be tourism vs immigration.
- Military recruiters. "Now, you're in."
- Undergrads vs grad students. Undergrads vs med students. Undergrads vs law students. Grad students vs post-docs. New MD vs residents. Etcetera.
- Another joke: A priest that firmly believed Sex Is Evil had a disciple. The priest died and sometime later, the disciple died too. At the afterlife, the disciple saw the Priest with a gorgeous woman at his lap.
Master he cried - I see that God appreciated your sacrifices on earth, and now you will be rewarded with paradises pleasures!
- Another old joke: An avid fisherman dies and goes to the great fishing hole in the sky, where his guide informs him that he's required to catch any fish that jumps. But after catching several dozen identical trout, the fisherman gets tired and remarks, "You know, this isn't quite what I expected from heaven." The guide replies, "Who said this was heaven?"
- In American Psycho it's implied that Patrick Bateman, rather than being a Karma Houdini like he thinks, is actually stuck in something like this. If he really is a murderer he'll likely never be caught, but it doesn't matter because his life is already punishment. He's surrounded by people he hates, but doesn't know how to live away from them; he can't get anyone to stop him, because nobody hears what he says or pretend not to because they're too scared of him; killing people isn't fun or interesting to him anymore because everyone is so interchangeable to him that it doesn't matter. Not to mention it's strongly implied that Patrick wants to be caught, simply to break up the horrific monotony of his life. Notably, the story ends with Patrick looking at a sign that says "This is not an exit"...
- In Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet, Bad Kitty has a dream in which she learns that kitty hell is puppy heaven. Bad kitties that don't qualify for Pussycat Paradise are cast down into Puppydog Paradise because they're always looking for more cats to chase there.
- In I.L. Peretz's short story Bontsha the Silent, a court in Heaven argues about the disposition of a dead man's soul. The defending angel praises his unending meekness, describing how he was subjected to great injustice and never complained. The prosecuting angel declines to make a case, so Bontsha is admitted to Heaven and told he may have anything he asks for. Of course, Bontsha is far too meek to ask for much of anything...
- In A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley's ghost is doomed to wander the earth carrying the chain of cash boxes, ledgers, etc. that he "forged in life, link by link and yard by yard".
- An example found in poetry that refers to a real-life person, the first verse of Vachel Lindsay's The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race (it's exactly what it sounds like) contains the line, "Listen to the yell of Leopold's ghost, / Burning in hell for his hand-maimed host. / Hear how the demons cackle and yell / Cutting his hands off down in hell." Leopold II, King of Belgium, was the colonizer of the Congo whose occupation and forced labor amounted to a genocide of the natives of that area, the death toll generally estimated (exact figures will likely never be known) to be somewhere around ten million people. Among his laws was that his soldiers had to present a (black) human hand for every bullet they fired as proof of an "enemy" killed.note Because it can take more than one bullet to kill a man, somehow it evolved that chopping off a bystander's hand to save one's own skin was preferable to wasting a bullet.
- The Count of Monte Cristo: This is what the titular Count enacted on the men who wronged him. The coworker who betrayed him so he could have his coveted promotion, and who used said position to amass a fortune was to be left bankrupt, the man who betrayed him because he coveted his fiancée had said wife and their son taught to despise him, and the prosecutor who sent him to Château d'If because he knew something that would ruin his reputation had all his past misdeeds dragged out for all of Paris to see.
- A humorous example from the Discworld books is the punishment given to the villain Mr. Pin near the end of The Truth. When he and his (somewhat more sympathetic) partner, Mr. Tulip, are trapped in a burning cellar, he kills Mr. Tulip to use his body as a stepping-stone to escape - "I wasn't born to fry!" - and for good measure steals the potato that Mr. Tulip wears as a talisman, believing it will guarantee him reincarnation instead of eternal punishment. When he meets his own death, Mr. Pin is reincarnated - as a potato, of a variety noted as being good for frying. (Meanwhile, the antique-loving Mr. Tulip is also reincarnated, thanks to his "potato of the mind", as a woodworm, living an idyllic life in an antique desk.)
- Eric also played with this one. Hell has recently come under new management, so the traditional punishments get scrapped in favor of mind-numbing eternal boredom. The Sisyphus stand-in has to read a book on the correct manner of rolling rocks up hills, for example. A book consisting of at least 10,000 tomes. Even the demon carrying out the punishment feels sorry for him; in fact, the majority of demons eventually conspire to have the current ruler of Hell Kicked Upstairs into a powerless job because they're sick of inflicting the new punishments.
- Ironically, the lost souls couldn't feel any pain in hell as they had no bodies, leading to a friendly rapport being developed with the demons.
- In Maskerade, a rat catcher is killed and discovers that he is due to be reincarnated - as a rat. He doesn't even believe in reincarnation, but it's made clear that reincarnation believes in him.
- Eric also played with this one. Hell has recently come under new management, so the traditional punishments get scrapped in favor of mind-numbing eternal boredom. The Sisyphus stand-in has to read a book on the correct manner of rolling rocks up hills, for example. A book consisting of at least 10,000 tomes. Even the demon carrying out the punishment feels sorry for him; in fact, the majority of demons eventually conspire to have the current ruler of Hell Kicked Upstairs into a powerless job because they're sick of inflicting the new punishments.
- The Divine Comedy:
- The damned in Inferno are all punished by tortures that have the same effect their sins have on their souls. A partial list:
- The lustful, who were unable to control their sexual urges, are now unable to control anything as they are whirled about in a violent wind.
- The gluttonous, who degraded themselves for their appetites, are trapped in putrid mud representing the garbage they produced in life.
- Murderers, who spilled their neighbors' blood while alive, are forever submerged in the (boiling) blood of the Phlegethon.
- Suicides are transformed into trees. Having voluntarily rejected the body and life that God gave them, they no longer have humanoid form and never will, even when all other souls are resurrected (instead, their bodies will just hang on their tree forms).
- Flatterers are immersed in excrement, representing all the degraded and base flatteries they told on Earth.
- Simoniacs, who perverted the meaning of the church by selling holy things for mortal money (the sin is named after Simon the Magus, who offered the apostles money if they would teach him the 'magic' that they did), are punished in an inversion of baptism — stuck upside-down in holes resembling baptismal fonts with flames burning at their feet (instead of water being poured over one's head in baptism).
- Sorcerers and fortunetellers, who attempted to use fraudulent means to see the future, have their heads turned backwards so they cannot see what's in front of them.
- Corrupt politicians are immersed in boiling pitch, representing the 'sticky fingers' and dark secrets of their corruption.
- Hypocrites wear gilded lead robes (that look like a monk's habit, for extra irony points). These look nice and shiny on the outside but are in reality dull and heavy, like the hypocrites' own falsity.
- Those who caused strife and division around them are themselves divided — by being hacked up by a demon.
- Falsifiers, who gained from alterations of various sorts, are afflicted by diseases that make them unrecognizable.
- Some of the penitent in Purgatorio suffer through trials that parallel their sins:
- The wrathful are plunged into perfect darkness, making them as blind as their anger had made them.
- The avaricious lie flat on their faces and stare at the Earth all day as punishment for being obsessed with the earthly treasure of wealth.
"Just as we did not lift our eyes on high but set our sight on earthly things instead, so justice here impels our eyes toward earth."
- The damned in Inferno are all punished by tortures that have the same effect their sins have on their souls. A partial list:
- The Danish series Djævlens Lærling ("The Devil's Apprentice") has a completely ironic Hell. People who stepped on others to succeed in life are buried in the ground up to the neck; their heads are cobblestones. Suicides are forced to dig their own graves and get buried alive, before the grave robbers come to dig them up, repeat, etc.
- The Doctor Who Expanded Universe book "Festival of Death" has the villain wipe out a species in order to understand their "circular reincarnation" (their consciousnesses being sent back to their births upon death), so that he can do the same thing and save his parents from a shuttle crash. He succeeds...at the reincarnation part. What he can't do is influence history; he's just a passenger. Meaning that he gets to watch his parents die, and his own chain of poor life decisions, without being able to do anything about it. And since he is only a passenger he can't even stop himself from going back again due to the circular nature of it so he has to witness the death of his parents and all his mistakes FOR ALL ETERNITY.
- In Fablehaven, the Big Bad's punishment is to be made into an immortal Barrier Maiden that essentially keeps the gates of Hell shut. Since the Big Bad's goal was to essentially literally to unleash Hell, they can never complete their goal without taking their own life, and thus cannot rule over Hell as they wanted.
- In Harry Potter, Dark Lord Voldemort's greatest fear was death, so he made himself immortal by tearing his soul into seven pieces. Usually, when wizards die, they can choose to continue their existence as ghosts or to move on to "The Next Great Adventure", but because he desecrated his immortal soul, when all his Soul Jars were destroyed and he died, he had no choice but to suffer in limbo for all eternity.
- Invoked explicitly by a devil in "Her Majesty's Wizard". The main character is having doubts that he truly is in a world where God and Satan literally and directly assist people in carrying out their goals, so in his dreams, a devil shows him what Hell is like. A hedonist is tormented with constant sensations (fire and hot needles, probably not what he had in mind), a man who disclaimed any responsibility for their actions (and was diminished by each evil action) has parts of himself constantly drawn out of him, a man who could not make up his mind is frozen between two alternatives, a man who constantly sneered at others is threatened with being buried by the whole stinking mass of his life's insults, a materialist who said that he only believed in what he could touch and feel is surrounded by things which vanish slightly before he can touch them, and all of them completely alone, without any human contact, forever.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron will live on as a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows but unable to grow or take shape again and Saruman after his death isn't allowed to enter the Halls of Mandos (the afterlife) but will wander the Void as a restless and impotent spirit. Since both of them desired power above all else, they had every last bit of it stripped away from them.
- The entry on Osama bin Laden in The Onion Book of Known Knowledge describes the terrorist's punishment as being the only mail clerk at the still-standing Twin Towers, with the elevators always out of order, forced to deliver bulky objects like filing cabinets, couches, and television sets. Jumping off the tower to try and kill himself only increases his workload.
- Tom Holt's Only Human showed us someone who ended up in hell as a result of being a jerk to authors (complaining that their newer stuff wasn't as good as their old stuff, to every author) being forced to read a book that may well be The Colour Of Magic over and over again for the rest of eternity. No matter how good Terry Pratchett is, that's gotta suck.
- Referenced in Twilight: Edward believes he is dead, and at first believes it to be Heaven since Bella's there...then comments that she smells the same, so it might be Hell.
- Paul Jennings had a short story named Unhappily Ever After which shows several people being punished for the way they acted in life by suffering the fates they made others suffer.
- On American Horror Story: Coven, Delphine LaLaurie, a notorious serial killer and torturer, is forced to watch her Arch-Enemy Marie Laveau torture her and her children for all eternity. It doubles as an Ironic Hell for Marie as well, as she herself is being forced to torture them, thus destroying her sense of moral superiority.
- For the "Seven Wonders", one of the tests is to go to Hell and back, and so all of the girls pay temporary visits to their own ironic Hells. Madison is forced to star in an awful network TV adaptation of The Sound of Music (and she didn't even play Maria!), Queenie must work the counter in a fast-food restaurant that she regards as the worst period of her life, Zoe must watch Kyle break up with her over and over, Misty is sent back to middle school to repeatedly vivisect and revive a frog, and Cordelia is constantly told by her mother Fiona that she's worthless. Misty is the only one who fails the test, and her "temporary" trip to Hell becomes eternity.
- Finally, Fiona's Hell is being forced to spend eternity in a loveless marriage with the Axeman, living in a smelly shack that's a far cry from the luxury she enjoyed in life.
- Rowan Atkinson has a skit in which he appears as the Devil introducing people to Hell. Among the newcomers are the French and the Germans, who are placed together, and the adulterers, who are instructed to line up behind "that small guillotine".
- "Atheists? Right over here, please. *smirking* You're feeling a right bunch of nitwits, aren't you?"
- In the fifth season of Eureka, Beverley Barlow traps Senator Wen in what remains of the computer simulation she had trapped the Astraeus crew in. All that was left was a single room, with no one else.
- Game of Thrones: The notorious sadist and psychopath Gregor Clegane is being kept alive by Mad Doctor Qyburn.
- The Good Place:
- The Bad Place is made out of part this part classic torture. One character who has been there had to plan a baby shower for people she didn't know, getting electrified every time she forgot someone's name and everything happened to jazz music in the background.
- "The Good Place" turns out to be fake, it's actually a new attempt at a different type of torture in the Bad Place by Michael, which forces Eleanor, Jason, Tahani, and Chidi into things they consider nightmarish; Eleanor is surrounded by people better than her and guilt-ridden all the time, Chidi is forced to make immoral and unethical choices left and right, Tahani is always being bested, and Jason is left completely lost on how to deal with it.
- Since Mindy St. Clair was a bad person in life who managed to put one extremely good thing in motion shortly before she died, both the Good and Bad Place didn't know what to do with her. So they made her the sole resident of The Medium Place, featuring good things with some Bad Place modifications. She always has her favorite beer on tap, but it's always warm. She was provided a jukebox with all of her favorite songs, but they're all performed by The Eagles (and live versions only). And the only movies she can watch are Cannonball Run II and The Making of Cannonball Run II.
"Welcome to eternal mediocrity!"
- In Lucifer, Lucifer needs to get a formula to cure Chloe, unfortunate since the only person who knows it died and went to Hell. When he "dies for a short time," he finds the man reliving the incident where he chose to save his briefcase (containing his doctoral dissertation) rather than the driver, from a car accident. When he tells the guy that helping him "might" improve the situation, the guy gives up the formula, but of course, nothing changes for the man. Really unfortunate is that, since Luci no longer rules, he is treated like anyone else there and starts reliving the time where he was forced to kill his brother Uriel, with a soul-destroying blade. He needs to get rescued by his mother.
- In Married... with Children, after Buck, the dog died, he wanted to be reincarnated as an eagle, but all the cats he got killed during his life, and ate at the judgement's waiting room, had the judge, a cat, decided that the best punishment for him was to be reincarnated as the Bundy's new puppy, Lucky.
- In the episode where Al sells his soul in order for him to take the Chicago Bears to the Superbowl, but not play in the game itself, Al dies, and is taken to hell. However Al enjoys it since he's told he'll be fed a steady diet of Wieny-Tots, his favorite snack, and the kicker is that he'll have to spend eternity away from his family. However, the Devil, has the rest of the Bundys and the D'Arcies die as punishment for Al.
- Millennium. In "The Curse Of Frank Black", Frank Black encounters the ghost of a man who committed suicide, sent to give him a message from The Devil. The man was a chain smoker, and mentions that hell isn't fire and brimstone and demons torturing you. "It's worse. It is so much worse. It is for me at least. Imagine having to suck on this (indicates his cigarette) for all of eternity."
- Night Gallery
- The short skit "Hell's Bells" has a hippie-type (memorably played by John Astin) arrive in Hell, eager to experience the flames. The Devil instead seals him in a room which is sort of a horrific cross between a 50's malt shop and a backwoods country store circa 1910. As he departs, the Devil idly comments that there is a room just like it up in Heaven.
- The story "Certain Shadows on the Wall" has a man resent having to constantly tend to his ill sister, including having to read Dickens to her. He eventually murders her by giving her a dose of lethal tablets. Soon afterwards, her shadow appears on a wall of the house. His surviving sisters realize what he did and [literally] give him a taste of his own medicine. The final scene shows that his shadow has joined his sister's on the wall, with him having to read her Dickens for eternity.
- In Once Upon a Time, the Underworld arc of season 5 shows Regina's even more evil mother, Cora, getting an Ironic Hell: she was exceedingly prideful and envious in life, having grown up poor as a miller's daughter and done her evil acts to ensure that she and her daughter would always live in power and luxury. So what is she doing in the Underworld? Hauling flour sacks again.
- A Saturday Night Live skit featured Simon & Garfunkel making a deal with the devil in order to become successful. The sketch then jumps ahead to Satan meeting an aged Paul Simon (played by Simon himself) in an elevator to collect his debt. The elevator speaker is playing a muzak version of "Mrs. Robinson." This is where Satan leaves Paul Simon for all eternity.
- Seinfeld: At the beginning of Season 7, George Costanza, in the midst of a personal crisis, proposes to ex-girlfriend Susan...and then promptly spends the rest of the season trying to get out of it. When Susan dies in a freak accident involving envelope glue, George feels nothing but relief and callously tries to move on as if nothing was different. Come the beginning of Season 8, Susan's parents decide to make him the head of a philanthropic organization funded by Susan's share of the extensive family fortune. And they tailor its operation around his schedule, so he'll always be able to be present. The icing on the cake is the implication that Susan's parents, who never liked George, did this to him deliberately, so that he could spend every minute of his free time for the rest of his days presiding over the giving away of the money that could have been his.
- Grand Finale of The Shield: Vic's new "job" is actually a three-year probation as a pencil-pushing office drone. Instead of being out on the streets in the thick of the action, as the Strike Team often was, hes stuck at a desk, indoors (where temperatures and lights are strictly regulated), in a suit and tie. Hes not allowed to possess, let alone use, a weapon of any kind. If he wants to avoid going to prison (for all of the crimes he confessed to in front of his new supervisor), he has to obey the terms of the immunity deal to the letter, without any mistakes. Oh, and (1) his wife has taken the kids and run, on the order that he not be told anything about their new location, (2) his mistress vows he'll have nothing to do with her kid, and (3) his new co-workers do this for a living and dont care anything about him. Oh, and should Vic manage to make it for the three years, the Feds will simply cut him loose with his record known and no law enforcement agency will touch such an infamously corrupt cop. Simply put: no fame, no action, no authority, no breaks, no loopholes; only loneliness and his agreement.
- VH1's short-lived Genre Anthology series Strange Frequency features a story about two Metal-heads who die in a car crash. They go to Hell, expecting it to be incredibly metal, as it's described in Black Sabbath songs. Instead, they are forced to spend eternity in a '70s Disco. However, one of the two is revived, giving him a second chance at life.
- Tales from the Crypt: The Season 6 episode, aptly titled "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" features Catherine O'Hara as a high powered female lawyer (who used her lawyering skills to keep greedy corporations wealthy to the detriment of ordinary people) arrested for a minor offense in a small backwards town. She's placed on trial and the lawyer assigned to defend her is a badly dressed nebbish whom she looks down on and despises. The nebbish loses the female lawyer's case but "wins" the chance to escape from the Mysterious Sealed Town in the Middle of Nowhere — by sitting in an electric chair and getting fried to death. (Mentioning that when he was a living lawyer, he was far more sleazy and unethical than she was.) The female lawyer then has to take the place of the nebbish, adopting his clothing, hairstyle and horribly crappy job as a public defender. (At least until she too is presumably allowed to die.)
- The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "A Nice Place to Visit" uses this trope. Rocky, an armed robber, is shot and killed by a policeman; upon recovering awareness, he is accompanied by a "guardian angel," Pip, who gives him anything he asks for. Money, women, success at gambling are all his for the taking. After a while, Rocky grows bored of "Heaven"'s perfection and the lack of any challenge in his afterlife, and asks to be sent to "the other place," whereby Pip responds that "this is the other place."
- A non-literal example occurs in "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain" where an older man, Harmon Gordon, is married to a much younger wife, Flora, who leads a selfish and youthful lifestyle that he is unable to keep up with and Flora stays married to him purely for financial support for her lavish way of life. Harmon ends up drinking a serum that takes 25 years off, appearing as a young man. However, he continues to regress until he's a toddler. Flora is then told she must raise Harmon now or she'll lose her extravagant lifestyle. Flora is punished by now becoming the older partner and forced to care for and financially support a younger person. By the time Harmon reaches maturity, Flora will be an old woman, getting her just desserts.
- From The Twilight Zone (1985):
- "The Misfortune Cookie" features a cruel food critic and a Chinese restaurant whose fortunes turn out to come true. After receiving the fortune "You're Going To Die", he storms out and finds himself surrounded by Chinese restaurants, but perpetually hungry. Eventually, he receives another fortune: "You're Dead".
- In "Kentucky Rye", a man dies in a drunk-driving accident that he caused, and ends up in a deserted bar where all the bottles are empty.
- And in "Take My Life... Please!", a self-centered comedian who knowingly stole material from a young, starving colleague winds up in a hell where he is forced to recount all the horrible things he has ever done, to an audience that will only laugh at his flaws and crimes, not his jokes (and sometimes quite the opposite).
- Tantalus, who fed the gods his own chopped-up son for dinner, was chained to a rock and cursed with unending hunger and thirst; a bunch of grapes hung just above his head, and he stood in waist-deep water, but whenever he tried to reach for these, they would move out of his grasp. From this, we get the word "tantalizing."
- Sisyphus was the trickiest Greek, so much so that several times he managed to trick the incarnation of death and/or the gods of the Underworld to avoid dying. When finally taken off to the Underworld for good, he was given a task he couldn't trick or think his way out of: to roll a heavy boulder uphill every day. And at the end of every single day, when he'd finally managed to do it, the boulder would roll back downhill and he'd have to start all over again. The gods might as well have just said: "Okay smart guy, try thinking your way out of this one!" In case you're wondering why Sisyphus doesn't just stop trying to do the impossible, it's stated that his hubris prevents him from admitting defeat.
- Another version of this myth states that if Sisyphus could manage to push the boulder all the way to the top of the hill, he would be freed from Hades's domain, but the boulder always slips and rolls back down just before the top.
- The famous absurdist Albert Camus wrote an essay on the topic and came to the conclusion that while at first, it might seem like an eternal punishment, from an absurdist perspective, Sisyphus should be happy because he has a clear purpose and direction. Since he always has a goal, he is thriving on the hope and anticipation of achieving it. For example, one is happier anticipating when they're going on vacation than when the day actually arrives.
- One short story from Percy Jackson and the Olympians gives an alternate reason why Sisyphus doesn't give up—he's tied to the area by an invisible leash that stops him when he tries to leave. When Thalia offers to roll the boulder for him so Percy can get information out of him for the current quest, she later notes that, near the end, she was confident that she could get it to stay, and was even tempted to try again when it slipped, certain that she could get it with another try.
- In The Bible itself, Lazarus, a beggar, begs a rich man to help him and give him something to eat, and the rich man refuses him. When the rich man dies, he is in Hell and begs Abraham for water and he is then refused.
- A religious parable of unknown origin has the protagonist shown a vision of Hell in which everyone is eternally seated at a table filled with delicious-smelling food. However, none of them can eat a bite because they can't bend their elbows (or, in another version, their forks are far too long to reach their mouths). The protagonist then sees a vision of Heaven where the same banquet and same anatomical (or cutlery) restrictions apply, but everyone is feasting happily. Why? Because unlike the people in Hell who think only of themselves, the people in Heaven feed each other. (Depending on your sensibilities, this is either heartwarming or a Golden Moment.)
- The David Boze Show ran a parody of the song "My Dingaling" about a suicide bomber who strapped a bomb to his... dingaling the end of the song has him lamenting his situation in the afterlife, where apparently it hasn't grown back. "This was the worst idea! 72 virgins and no dingaling, how's that supposed to work? That's not supposed to work at all!"
- One sketch in /John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, plays with the above mentioned theory that Sisyphus is actually happy; he has a well defined purpose that he thinks is achievable but because he's happy and gets a bit fitter attempting it everyday it's actually an Ironic Hell for the person who has to get up earlier that Sisyphus every morning to make the task a little bit harder.
- The radio series Old Harry's Game loves this trope, ranging from the Estate Agents Pit ("well, not so much a pit as a bijou basement property with unrealized potential") to the Enclosure of Eternally Pregnant Popes. Satan considers his own position to be an Ironic Punishment and a particularly unfair one at that.
- Kindly shrouds in Anathema were people who dedicated their lives to helping others. They have to spend their unlife murdering massive amounts of men, women, and children. In fact, the Balance selected them to become a shroud because they value human life so highly.
- In the Soul Yards of In Nomine, the demons of Hell divvy up new arrivals based on whose Word they most fulfilled in life. (With some cheating and stealing, of course; this is Hell.) So war criminals go to the battlefields of Gehenna, media drones to the mindlessness of Perdition, and those who obsessed over technology become experimental subjects in the labs of Tartarus, for example.
- The Ravenloft campaign setting takes place largely inside a series of Tailor Made Ironic Hells (called "domains" with the condemned being a "darklord"); the Powers That Be of the setting seem to take delight in this. For instance, a bloodthirsty conqueror is trapped in a world where he finds every attempt to expand thwarted. A wizard-king who committed unspeakable crimes in order to live forever so he could master all magic did indeed achieve lichdom... but can't learn any new spells. A wererat who murdered her grandfather and intensely distrusts her family also suffers from monophobia, preferring to keep even enemies around rather than being alone, etc. etc. The best part is that the domains wouldn't suck so much if the darklords simply acknowledged that they were bad people who did bad things and that their misery is their own damn fault. But most of them just can't work up the strength of character needed to do that — and if they could, they probably wouldn't have become darklords in the first place.
- An interesting case would be Lord Soth: the Dark Powers apparently just gave up on him and ejected him. Why? He had become so apathetic that his torments just didn't matter to him anymore (also because the third-party licensor couldn't use him). Prior to this, however, his fate was a refinement of the Ironic Hell he was already enduring on Krynn, where he was cursed to spend most of his unliving existence in a castle haunted by his dead wife and full of ghosts reciting his sins for all eternity. In Ravenloft, because Soth was also something of a perfectionist, the furniture and room sizes kept subtly shifting and the litany of his sins was full of minor continuity errors.
- The most iconic Darklord is probably Strahd. In life, he was jealous of his younger brother Sergei, and desired Sergei's betrothed, Tatianna. After selling his soul and murdering his brother, Strahd now spends his unlife chasing the reincarnations of Tatianna, who always are just out of reach. As an added bonus, Strand is cursed to always feel like Tatianna's deaths were because he made a mistake, and he might succeed next time. He never does. A twisted theory states that this punishment isn't Strahd's, but Tatianna's. What sin did she commit to deserve such a fate, I wonder...
- The Vistani, the local Magical Romani, have the power to invoke curses, which often take this form. Some times, it works out quite well, like Jack Karn, the jackalwere that hates humans, but will suffer horribly if he ever mistreats them. However, most times, the curse has some terrible side effect that cause pain and suffering to everyone around the intended victim, such as Jacqueline Montarri, who cut the head of a respected Vistana, and now has to use the heads of her victims while searching for her original, which just incentivizes her to kill more people. Vistani aren't that good judges of character, so they sometimes end up cursing people with something they'll enjoy. immensely.
- Attempted (and utterly failed) in one legendary Warhammer 40,000 story. The Great Ork Boss Tuska thought it would be a fun field trip for him and his Boyz to invade the Eye of Terror (For those not familiar with Warhammer lore, The Warp is basically the Christian Hell as envisioned by Lovecraft.) The WAAAAGH! slaughtered everything the Warp could throw at them until they landed on a sentient planet that spawned creatures that were more than a match for the Orks. A Daemon Prince of Khorne came upon the surviving Orks and slaughtered them all with a gesture. With his final breath, Tuska dragged himself over to the Prince, reached between the Daemon's legs with his power klaw and "made a gesture of his own." Khorne was so impressed with the Orks' mindless battle-lust that he resurrected them all, only so they could be slaughtered again. And again. And again. Forever. Unfortunately for him, Khorne really should have done his homework on the Orks beforehand — they're an entire race of Ax-Crazy barbarians whose only joy in life is fighting. To be restored to life every dawn, battle-ready and fully healed, and set against an enemy who they can never defeat and will never stop fighting would be a Fate Worse than Death for any other race, but for the Orks, it's a blessing beyond their wildest dreams. Instead of trapping them in an Ironic Hell, Khorne accidentally invented Ork Valhalla.
- Nagash, the god of death in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar is fond of inflicting this on the poor souls that serve in his Nighthaunt Legion. Of course, this is Nagash, so his idea of a crime bad enough to warrant such a punishment ranges from being a serial Black Widow, to merely not paying him his proper respect. Healers, for instance, are cursed with bloodlust and scythes for hands, so that the hands that used to heal now harm. Their crime? Preventing people from dying, thus denying Nagash his tithe.
- If Mary Poppins really did send Miss Andrews to Hell (as opposed to a fiery room beneath the Banks' house) in the stage version of the Disney musical, then it makes sense that before she went, the evil nanny had a dose of her own nasty Brimstone and Treacle that she had fed to the children and ended up stuck in a birdcage for eternity after she had caged that lark for so long. She even got a more angelic singer to echo her nasty song as she went.
- No Exit has an extremely simple but cleverly built one. You are sent to hell because you're a bad person. Your punishment is to be locked in a room forever with two other bad people, chosen specifically to drive you (and each other) crazy. And it doesn't even have to be locked. The door to the characters' room pops open near the end, but the characters insist on staying to sort out the meaningless argument they're having. The only things making the hotel room a place of eternal torment are the exact same psychological flaws and unpleasantnesses that got you sent there in the first place.
- In Afterlife (1996), Hell has Fate Structures which condemn SOULs for the strongest of their Seven Deadly Sins. Most are ironic — for example, the Lust ones remove any sex from the lives of the damned (except for Big Tease Shower Towers, that sparks it only to keep extinguishing it through supernaturally mood-ruining cold showers), the Sloth ones involve subjecting damned SOULs to forced labor, like 666 Pennants Over Perdition (where the damned are run ragged trying to keep the demonic customers happy at a carnival); and the Gluttony ones punish them with eating, from Taco Inferno (where everything, even the beverages, is hotter than melted silver) to Bahb's All-U-Must-Eat. Several of the equivalent Heavenly Fate Structures reward SOULs with as much as they want of what their virtues denied them — for example, the Humility ones heap fame and praise on visitors, while several of the Temperance structures are restaurants full of Impossibly Delicious Food. Finally, Hell also has "Infernal Institutes of Irony" as a general punishment, where the devils keep coming up with new, deliciously ironic fates for all the damned and test-run them on whatever SOUL they get. It's noted the whole process is more than a little inefficient, but it's so effective the concept still runs strong.
- Hunters who become consumed by the hunt and drunk with blood are spirited away to the Hunter's Nightmare, a twisted and distorted version of Yharnam where they'll all be trapped in an unending hunt that not even death can free them from. Until the Player Character shuts down the Hunter's Nightmare by pulling a Mercy Kill on the soul of the Orphan of Kos, anyway. For bonus points, the Hunter's Nightmare is even based on Nakara, the Hell of Japanese Buddhism, with Yharnam's towering steeples taking the place of Naraka's iconic Needle Mountains, the classic River of Blood running through the Nightmare's valley and Ludwig, the boss preventing you from leaving the Nightmare, serving as a Captain Ersatz of Mezu, the horse-faced demon guarding the entrance to Naraka. Some of the characters in the Nightmare have their own unique twists:
- As noted, Ludwig, the first leader of the Healing Church Hunters, turned into possibly the most horrific Beast of them all. Not only that, his horrible Beast form resembles a monstrous centaur, possibly as a gross parody of his Knight in Shining Armor image. He's situated at the entrance of the Nightmare, where he personally witnesses the Hunters that he sought to mould into honorable protectors engaging in pointless bloodlust forever.
- Lady Maria participated in the massacre at the Fishing Hamlet (and possibly the death of Kos) and oversaw the Healing Church's immoral experiments using the information they gained from said massacre. It's implied she committed suicide over it. The Nightmare has her trapped in the top floor of the Healing Church's research hall, in the same position that she died, right in front of a door leading to the evidence of her original atrocity. She's desperate to prevent any visitors from finding it.
- It's heavily implied that Gehrman, who led the original raid on the Fishing Hamlet, is somehow linked to the soul of the Orphan of Kos, who his Hunters cut from his mother to be experimented on, causing Gehrman great torment. Once you slay the Orphan, the Doll notes that Gehrman seems a lot calmer and happier when he sleeps.
- Laurence, the First Vicar, gets it the worst of all. He spread the Beastly Scourge via pedaling Great One blood as a miracle cure in order to increase the power of the Healing Church, which he headed. When Beast outbreaks began to occur, he had his Hunters brutally suppress them and even massacred and set fire to Old Yharnam to both keep the Scourge contained and keep the cause of it a secret. So in the Nightmare, he has not only been transformed into a horrible beast himself, but is perpetually on fire.
- The Hunter's Dream itself is Gehrman's Ironic Hell; a quiet and peaceful version of his own workshop where he'll be able to teach new Hunters the ropes and where his only other company is a doll in the spitting image of Maria, the love of his life... but This Isn't Heaven; the doll isn't Maria, it lacks her spark, and its likeness only serves as a reminder of Gehrman's past sins and failures, and even if the workshop was Gehrman's haven in the past, and teaching the young ones was his greatest joy in life, this is where he'll be and what he'll do for the rest of eternity... by the time the game starts, it's heavily implied that Gehrman has already gone through hundreds of iterations of the Night of the Hunt, and he's grown to despise both the workshop and the doll. But if he were to ever give up his role as the Dream's host, a new Hunter would have to take his place and become bound to it, so he must kill all new Hunters that stumble into his workshop in order to save them from the same hell he has suffered for so long.
- If you get reported one too many times (due to abandoning games, feeding, being just a jerk or whatever) in Dota 2, you get sent to Low Priority. Back then you just need to play a number of games against other Low Priority players to go out of it. But then they patched it so Low Priority games are set to Single Draft and you have to win for it to count. Truly ingenious.
- The Elder Scrolls
Alduin: "You I curse right here and right now! I take away your ability to jump and jump and jump and doom you to [the void] where you will not be able to leave except for auspicious days long between one and another and even so only through hard, hard work. And it will be this way, my little corner cutter, until you have destroyed all that in the world which you have stolen from earlier kalpas, which is to say probably never at all!"
- In the series's backstory, Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, grew powerful in a time before recorded history. The other Daedric Princes, fearful and jealous of his growing power, came together and cursed him into becoming his own antithesis: Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. At the end of every Era, Jyggalag is able to return to his true form in an event known as the Greymarch. During this time, he retakes and destroys the Shivering Isles (his old realm, now Sheogorath's), only to return to the form of Sheogorath at the end. In Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion, Jyggalag devises a plan to finally break this Vicious Cycle while passing the mantle of Sheogorath onto the Champion of Cyrodiil.
- Similarly, this is the case for Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, along with And I Must Scream. Dagon exists to destroy, but is stuck in his realm of Oblivion where nothing can ever be killed or destroyed without eventually coming back, effectively negating his purpose for being. No wonder he wants so badly to take over and destroy Mundus; it would be stress relief for him. Even worse, in The Seven Fights of the Aldudagga, it is implied that Alduin originally cursed Dagon into this state in the first place as a punishment for hiding parts of earlier kalpas from him.
- The Five Nights At Freddy's franchise has a few of these:
- In Five Nights at Freddy's and its sequel, the children from the backstory. They were ordinary children who simply loved the Freddy Fazbear's Pizza characters... and then they were murdered, stuffed into the animatronics, and presumably bound to them by the Marionette. And now they'll have to watch those same animatronics force the nightguards into a Freddy Fazbear suit, the exact same way they died, for the rest of the animatronics' lifetimes.
- Fittingly, in the third game, it's revealed the children finally killed the Murderer by scaring him into the Spring Trap suit, which then malfunctioned and crushed him to death. After this, the murderer's soul ended up bound to that suit and left locked away in a room in the abandoned Pizzeria for the last few decades. A Serial Killer trapped inside his own preferred murder weapon and entombed in the very location he committed his crimes, this trope at its finest.
- Finally, the Ultimate Custom Night is hinted to be one for the now dead for real this time William Afton, and it's very appropriate — the guy who made the Five Nights at Freddy's games happen is punished by being forced to play a Five Nights at Freddy's game. And one that's even harder than the hells he put the protagonists through. Fittingly, the animatronics themselves, even those who were suffering in the other games, appear to be having a great time. (Quoth Mangle, "Now I get to play 'take apart and put back together'!")
- In I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, the evil A.I. known as AM traps each of the five characters in one of these for over a century before the game starts.
- Gorrister became a Death Seeker after having his wife institutionalized, and AM trapped him in an electrified prison cell while promising him a means to kill himself at the game's beginning.
- Benny's backstory was changed to make him a psychotic, brutish Colonel Kilgore who murdered members of his own unit in China for failing to meet his expectations. AM turned his "handsome, strong good looks into the hideous warped countenance of an ape-thing", and kept him in a primitive cell that forced him to constantly dodge spears.
- Ellen was raped in an elevator by a man wearing yellow, so AM kept her in a tight yellow box with the door frequently opening and closing on her.
- Ted was a Con Man who scammed rich women out of their money with his good looks while living in fear of getting caught and developed severe paranoia. AM kept him in a literal Gilded Cage (with lasers).
- Nimdok was a proud Nazi scientist. AM kept him in an oven while taunting him with a "Not So Different" Remark.
- To deal with Rage Quitters in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the devs implemented a system that pairs frequent rage quitters with and only with other rage quitters. Killer Instinct (2013) does this too (calling it "Jail").
- In the Overlord expansion pack Raising Hell, you encounter some of the Fallen Heroes and their minions you defeated in the course of the regular game in the Abyss levels, suffering appropriate punishments. Some examples:
- Melvin Underbelly, the King of the Halflings, is forced to eat food until he literally explodes, only to be later reincarnated and forced to do it all again. His halfling servants are trapped in a world with killer pumpkins and exploding sheep.
- Goldo Golderson, the Dwarven King, is turned into a living statue of gold for his sin of greed. He's also physically beaten by his once-loyal subjects, and he can't die.
- Oberon Greenhaze, the Elven Ranger, is trapped in his tree form and forced to watch a play detailing the genocide of the Elven race, which he failed to stop due to his tiring of battle, for all eternity. Oh, and the acting is really bad.
- The Path has Grandma's house become this if your character strays from the path and meets her wolf.
- In Saints Row IV, the Zin inflict a virtual reality version of this on their captives in order to, as Zinyak puts it, "break" them. For the Boss — a chaotic, violent sociopath ("Puckish rogue!") — it's being trapped in an idyllic version of The '50s: a happy, peaceful world where there's no beer or guns and where the cars all move at roughly the same speed as an old man out for a leisurely morning jog. This simulation proves to be so utterly antithetical to the Boss that their mind actually rejects it, and they quickly revert back to their original personality and start destroying things. Zinyak recognizes his mistake and changes the Boss's simulation to a different Ironic Hell that's actually compatible with their personality: a version of Steelport where the Saints have been defeated and the Zin have taken over. Later in the game, we see that the idyllic '50s simulation was repurposed as Kinzie's Ironic Hell.
- Silent Hill is speculated to be one of these. The second game, especially adds to this interpretation, but there are hints throughout the series that suggests that the town personalizes itself for the people there, preying in their specific fears and guilts, but it applies to James in particular, who is tormented by Pyramid Head, the physical manifestation of his guilt and anger at himself, who repeatedly butchers his perfected image of his dead wife, Maria.
- Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: El Jefe is shown throughout the game to be a big-time Cigar Chomper. As revealed in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, upon his defeat, El Jefe was imprisoned and forced to roll Cuban cigars and was also forbidden to smoke any of them.
- This is a possible interpretation of the intentionally ambiguous Spec Ops: The Line. Word of God is that it is perfectly valid to believe that Captain Walker, a Villain Protagonist and war criminal, died or was mortally wounded during the in media res introductory sequence and that the game actually takes place as a horrific Dying Dream or as an Ironic Hell, Self-Inflicted Hell, and Journey to the Center of the Mind. The game marks all hallucinatory cut scenes with a fade to white, as opposed to fade to black for all real events. All the endings fade to white.
- Every Malefactor in the original The Suffering that's a specific, discernible figure from Carnate's history is going through an undead Ironic Hell — the soldiers who executed innocent men under the dubious suspicion that they were spies are now a Body Horror-riffic living Firing Squad; the slave traders who ran their ship aground and left their "cargo" to drown or be eaten by rats are now bloated, drowned corpses filled with exploding rats; the girls who levied false accusations of witchcraft that got people burned at the stake are now eternally burning charred corpses. This continues into the second game as well — the Gorgers appear to either be the Depression-era Reverend who fed his followers human flesh when the food ran out, or the soup kitchen attendees so desperate for food they didn't question where it came from until it was too late. Either way, they're now ravenous beasts, capable only of devouring anything — or anyone — they come across.
- If you try to play a pirated copy of Video Game Tycoon, your business will quickly start losing money thanks to in-game piracy.
- Discussed in parody in CLANNAD during Kotomi's tsukkomi training, when Kyou describes the different worlds awaiting a tsukkomi, including the hell of all tsukkomis, the hell of lame jokes that cause people to Face Fault, and the one that really frightens Kyou and Tomoya, the hell with no punchlines...
- Fate/stay night presents us with a variation of this trope, in form of EMIYA (aka. Servant Archer), whose attempts to fulfill his dream of becoming a hero brought him into a situation where he only killed people "for greater good", without ever saving anyone, and incapable of ending the cycle. He doesn't take it well.
Rin: The boy who stated that he just doesn't want to see anyone cry... could only see crying humans forever.
- 8-Bit Theater:
- Thief is killed by Berserker at one point though we later learn that he wasn't actually dead, just very grievously injured and probably only hallucinating. He ends up in his own personal Hell... which possesses every last bit of money, gold, and whatnot in the entire world. Thief is at first elated to be in this predicament until a Trickster God that had been commissioned to revive him points out the one downside to Thief's situation: He owns everything, so now there's nothing left to STEAL. Thief immediately starts begging the god to get him out of there.
- Lampshaded when Black Mage goes to Hell. The demon greeting him notes that he's committed so many over-the-top atrocities in his short life, they've had to build a whole new wing just for him. When Black Mage asks why a bunch of demons would want to punish him for doing evil, he's reminded that Hell is big on irony. Black Mage retorts that that means they'll really appreciate what happens next.
- Referenced in an Alt Text in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The comic itself features a motorcycle transforming into an evil muscular anthropomorphic unicorn in an explosion of rainbow colours. The Alt Text says "What Lisa Frank will see in Hell."
- More of an Ironic Get Out Of Hell Free card, but: In And Shine Heaven Now, Father Enrico Maxwell is given a chance to get out of going to hell (automatic punishment for anyone who opposes Integra Hellsing, not to mention he tried to wipe out London simply because it was Protestant) by performing 5000 hours of community service as a Guardian Angel...but it only counts if he protects non-Catholics. To make it even more ironic, one of those he guards is Integra's Dhampyr son.
- Awful Hospital: Each of individual Zones. See if you can spot the motif of dreadful backwardness running through them all:
- The Hospital has lots of doctors, yet many of them don't know how to treat the patients they bring in; it's a place where you're liable to get SICKER.
- Burger, Inc. has lots of food, yet all of it is unfit for human consumption, and it's a place where you're liable to get EATEN yourself.
- The Morgue has lots of cadavers, yet it's not a lifeless place at all. Indeed, the corpses are TEEMING with no end of lifeforms.
- Much like the Dragon Ball Z example above, when Casey and Andy die yet again, Andy is forced to go to Heaven because he is dating Satan and would therefore find Hell no punishment. This is ignoring another death scenario where Satan puts Andy through torture anyway, but...
- Dresden Codak has a two-part piece in which it is revealed that there is a "secular Heaven", which as its name states is a secular humanist idyll populated by people who refuse to believe in the anthropomorphic deity running the place. Meanwhile, "religious Hell" is populated primarily by fundamentalists of all faiths; when a character notes it makes no sense, the comment is made that God is powered by irony.
- The Furry Webcomic Jack, which is set in both heaven and hell (along with the living world), features this trope prominently. In its Hell, the people who end there are given punishments reminiscent of the way they lived or died, and are often denied memories from their past, making their ironic punishments even crueler. The titular character is, at the same time, The Grim Reaper and the Anthropomorphic Personification of Rage with Laser-Guided Amnesia, whose job, tag and amnesia are all punishment for his former sins from when he was alive. In fact, all the malevolent Anthropomorphic Personifications became that way as a result of their acts and are punished in a way symbolic of the sin(s) they personify; save for the protagonist, they all prefer to see The Punishment as more like a Cursed With Awesome, even if it obviously does not work that way. The whole basis for Hell in Jack seems to be a case of Be Careful What You Wish For and Literal Genie: A person who desperately wanted to believe his life was beyond his control suddenly found that it was; the embodiment of Lust found an endless supply of people to rape, but can't feel any of it... and, of course, the titular Jack wanted, more than anything, power over life and death, so he became the type of Reaper who has no control over who is reaped.
- Double subverted here on The Non-Adventures of Wonderella. The punishment isn't related to Wonderella at all and The Devil admits that the irony is mostly relative. Then Wonderella realizes that she is really in Homer Simpson's ironic hell, and The Devil declares that she will suffer as she lived: "Recycling old Simpsons jokes for all eternity!" Satan also notes that he created a circle of hell for Monty Python fans where they quote lines at each other. They think they're in heaven, everyone else is tormented for eternity.
- In The Order of the Stick, a choir appears to sing dramatically when a character makes a Deal with the Devil (and The Demon and The Daemon). The fiends identify these singers as the damned souls of pedophiles, whose high-pitched singing voices are a result of repeated castration. (Souls continually reform to match their image of themselves in accordance with their attitudes.)
- When Paul finally ends up in Hell in pictures for sad children, he is continually frustrated at its failure to provide tailored ironic punishments. The closest it comes is that Hell's version of Wikipedia just lists things that you meant to look up, and when you click on them, it says "This information is unavailable and a waste of time." (You can just Google it, though.)
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal puts increasingly weird twists on this one:
Beings who fail to believe in the scientific outlook are forced to live out eternity in absurd afterlife scenarios, sitting on clouds, playing tiny harps forever.
- Atheist Hell: Having to listen to bad arguments for the devil's existence for all eternity. (Obviously they know he exists by then, so the arguments are a case of Right for the Wrong Reasons, and clearly it's really freaking annoying.)
- Politicians' special hell: "Everyone here is reasonable, considerate, prudent, and deliberate."
- Ironic Ironic Hell: Ironically, it's not ironic at all!
- In "Flawed", it's revealed that God's ironic hell, in punishment for vainglorious obsession for creating order and beauty back when he was alive, is to run this universe instead.
- In "Dear Science", a woman praying to Science instead of God learns that Heaven is an Ironic Hell for those who fail to take the scientific outlook. (Meanwhile, true empiricists are rewarded with Cessation of Existence.)
- Spring Trapped posits that Five Nights at Freddy's World is this for the Murderer/Purple Guy. The comic's version of the Purple Guy was a man who hated Freddy's (and incidentally ruined it for a lot of others) and is now forced to live in a world where pretty much everything takes cues from the restaurant. The creepy animatronics are not only very much alive, but the personification of Spring Bonnie (the suit that killed him) is one of his party members. Things not staying dead when they were supposed to cause him a lot of trouble in life, and now he's in a world where Death Is Cheap is the rule. Oh, and he's now the resident Butt-Monkey and everyone thinks he's nuts.
- Subnormality is known to play with this one. On one occasion a misfile causes a guy to be signed up for the wrong ironic punishment, which is immediately corrected when he takes offense to being buried in dog feces (having always made it a point to clean up after his dog, even if he did kill and eat five people). In another one, Hell's latest tenant frustrates the demon assigned to him for orientation because here, yet again, is some dipshit who thinks a single lifetime of being a dull little guy has given him the guile to outwit millennia-old beings who have honed the craft of eternal suffering; then his attempt to prove his point ends up seriously screwing his pooch.
- Cracked's 16 Appropriate Punishments for Everyday Annoyances
- After Hours implies that the characters are trapped in one of these, doomed to endless pop culture conversations in a lousy diner.
- Not exactly Hell, but the personality fragments absorbed by Rokolo in Polokoa Quest are imprisoned by their own specialties in her mindscape — for instance, a Rokoa with magical ice powers is imprisoned in a block of ice, while a Polo who studied structural engineering is buried under rubble and construction materials.
- The God and Devil Show (from the same creator's as Happy Tree Friends) would end with the viewer getting to choose whether the celebrity guest would go to heaven or hell. A lot of the hells would follow this trope, and in some cases, cross over with other people's heavens.
- The Hellsing Ultimate Abridged version of Alucard is just as bloodthirsty as his canon counterpart, but it's his death that triggers the deviance that leads the abridged version to this trope. The canon Alucard basically butchered every soul except for Schrodinger in order to get out, and while the abridged Alucard would just love to do so, he tried, especially on his own soul, all in vain. As he said when he finally got back...
Alucard: The only way out... was to help them out.
- In Nerd³ Dan decided to put Matt through 1 of these in his 2.5 million subscriber special. Apparently, Matt failed to give Dan his Castle DVDs back in a timely manner so he made him play a Henderson Challenge from one of the episodes with him being very calm about it while Matt was raging and screaming the entire way. Matt was not amused when he heard the news.
- SF Debris applied this to Santa Claus of all people. Nicholas Claus was a con man who, when finally confronted by the angel of death, tried to bluff him by saying that he was known the world over as a generous man. His hell is to forever try to live up to that claim, traveling the world in a single, time-stopped night, delivering presents to a world that sees him as a fictional character of folklore, living on an empty diet of sweets (and in recent years, a piece of veg). His elves are implied to be demons there to make sure he does his work, and his red coat is a reminder of how, near the end, he beat an accomplice to death.
- In Ten Little Roosters, Ryan wakes up in a hole.
- When Mai Valentine loses her card game with Melvin in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, she is sent to a Hell where everybody's breasts are larger than hers.
Mai: Even Tristan's?Melvin: Especially Tristan's!
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series: Devil Ville is this to Judge Dimsdale Devil. As part of the punishment for his crimes of tormenting the Towns People and to keep the World safe from the Evil Devil, a Witch casts a spell on the Towns People, whose misery Dimsdale Devil lived for, to be mindlessly happy to make the Evil Devil all the more miserable in comparison.
- In Elena of Avalor, Ash is all about how she wants to feel like a winner, with taking over Avalor as part of the idea. In the series finale "Coronation Day", she wins the Grand Macaw's olaball game. However, he considers living in the spirit world with him as a prize and returning to the human world as a loss, and she has to stay there forever.
- Family Guy sometimes Played for Laughs in its Cutaway Gags:
- A dog is in hell, but instead of devils taunting them with pitchforks, they are using vacuums. See it here.
- Peter predicts that when Quagmire dies he will be reincarnated as a condom. Used by a gay couple.
- One gag has a suicide bomber go to heaven and get his 72 virgins... with said virgins being a group of male nerds playing Magic: The Gathering.
- Defied in the episode "Ready, Willing and Disabled", where Joe being unable to catch up to a fleeing criminal due to his paraplegia eventually leads to the events of the rest of the episode revolving around Joe competing in the Special Olympics. By the end, the episode is bookended by Joe chasing the exact same criminal and managing to subdue him by landing on top of him. Later, he mentions how he accidentally landed on him in such a way as to sever his spinal cord, but when Peter jokes about him being his future rival in the next Olympics, Joe responds with a flat "Nope, he's dead."
- Futurama's famous "Robot Hell" musical sequence from the episode "Hell is Other Robots" featured Bender going through several instances of this trope for the various sins he'd committed. For example:
Robot Devil: (singing) Cigars are evil, you won't miss 'em.
We'll find ways to simulate that smell;
What a sorry fella,
Rolled up and smoked like a panatella,
Here on Level One of Robot Hell!.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Miseryville is usually a comical but otherwise very straight (when not somewhat tolerable) depiction of Hell. But in "Best Prank Ever", it's turned into the Tastes Like Diabetes Smilesville as part of the ultimate prank on Lucius, resulting in a short-term Villainous Breakdown.
- In one episode of Kevin Spencer, Kevin finds out his own personal room in hell is a family room, where he'll have to make polite conversation with his parents for all eternity.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: At the end of The Ending of the End Part 2, the Legion of Doom, who constantly argued about everything and fought among each other, are sealed away in stone together, forced to spend an eternity together. For an added layer of irony, Discord, the one who previously had this punishment inflicted on him, is the one who suggests it to Celestia and Luna in the first place and helps them carry it out. Discord himself also lampshades how this is a fate the three villains would hate more than anything.
- In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "To Heck and Back", Heffer chokes on a chicken bone and goes to Heck, and is forced by Dark Lord Peaches to sit in front of a TV (which has no remote) to watch the effects of his gluttony on others (more specifically, his best friend Rocko).
- In the fourth Halloween special of The Simpsons, Homer spends a day in Hell. Since he sold his soul for a doughnut, Homer is force-fed "all the doughnuts in the world" as punishment. Much to the frustration of the demon torturing him, Homer thoroughly enjoys the experience and even asks for more doughnuts when he's done.
Demon: I don't understand it. James Coco went mad in fifteen minutes!
- This is explicitly shown to be in the "Hell Labs' Ironic Punishment Division", so presumably it's happening to everyone else there.
- The doughnut sequence is a reference to the early Looney Tunes short Pigs Is Pigs, where a young pig who steals a slice of pie dreams he's force-fed to the point of explosion.
- In another episode, Disco Stu has a vision of his own personal Heaven, which is naturally an eternal disco nightclub. For some reason, Frank Sinatra is there, and when Stu asks him what he's doing there, he replies, "For me, this is Hell! Ya dig?"
- In a living example, in another Halloween episode, Homer goes back to the past and accidentally changes history, and spends the rest of the episode repeatedly going back to the past and changing different things in an effort to return to his own timeline. He eventually arrives in a timeline that is much better than his own: his family is filthy rich, his kids are well-behaved, and Patty and Selma are dead. Naturally, he decides to stay there... until he asks for donuts, and discovers to his horror that they apparently don't exist in this timeline, since Marge has never heard of them before. He immediately hurries back to the past to try another timeline. Mere seconds after he leaves, donuts start falling from the sky en masse and Marge becomes annoyed that "it's raining again".
- Three non-death variants happened in SpongeBob SquarePants:
Plankton: It's not worth it! It's just not worth it! Goodbye, everyone. I'll remember you all in therapy.
- In "Squidville," Squidward decides to move to Tentacle Acres after Spongebob and Patrick destroy his house. Squidward enjoys the fact that he lives in such close proximity to people that share his passions and tastes, but eventually becomes bored of his new routine, and decides to act like Spongebob and eventually escape.
- In "The Algae's Always Greener," Plankton creates a device that allows him to travel to another reality where he is the owner of the Krusty Krab, and the secret Krabby Patty recipe. Although he is happy at first, he decides to go back to his reality when he experiences firsthand what Mr. Krabs has to endure to keep the restaurant afloat.
- In "Ghoul Fools", an evil pirate ghost traps Mr. Krabs, Patrick, and Squidward in dark voids where they'll be eternally tormented for trying to steal his gold. Mr. Krabs, being a greedy cheapskate, is placed in a void where he can only relieve himself by using a pay toilet; Patrick, being a glutton, has a talking donut who will always move out of his reach placed onto his head (although this quickly turns into eternal torment for the donut, since Patrick can't decide if he even likes donuts that much, and keeps forcing it to add toppings to itself or transform into other foods); and finally, Squidward is placed on the nose of a giant SpongeBob, to his own lack of surprise.
- And then it turns out the pirate ghost stole gold from the Flying Dutchman who dishes out his own Ironic Hell: everyone stuck in a dark void working in the Krusty Krab for all eternity with demons and ghosts as the customers.
- In Total Drama All-Stars Mike tries to seal away his evil personality Mal by hitting himself on the head with a large rock. He ends up giving Mal complete control of his body and is trapped in his own head, chained to the rock he hit his head on and forced to listen to Mal's Evil Gloating.
- In Hercules: The Animated Series, Hades' Evil Plan in one episode is to change the course of the River Styx so that Athens is now part of the Underworld. This includes Prometheus Academy, so Hades inflicts ironic torments on Hercules and his classmates—Cassandra and Icarus can't get out of their least favorite classes (Home Greconomics and P.E. respectively) while the egotistical Adonis has to serve his servants.
- German newspaper comic Touche has a recurring strip about the devil welcoming the new arrivals to Hell, informing them about the particularly horrible and humorous punishment that awaits them.
- There was a "Got Milk?" tv commercial where a Corrupt Corporate Executive is killed by a truck and wakes up in eternity. His all-white loft is supplied with giant chocolate chip cookies, so he assumes he's in heaven, but the refrigerator is full of empty cartons of milk.
- A similar joke tells of a stoner who dies and is given a choice between "the afterlife with fire" and "the afterlife with no fire". He chooses the latter and is transported to an infinitely large cannabis field, with nary a lighter to be found.
- A car commercial shows a guy who has died and has gone to hell, but instead of the usual fire and brimstone, he's on a single road in the middle of a desert. Satan shows up as a normal looking guy in a white suit and explains to the dead man that he's not in heaven. The man exclaims that he lived a good life and never did anything wrong. Satan explains that it wasn't that the man did anything bad, but that he lived a very boring life and could have avoided it if he bought a new car (as shown in the ad). The man's punishment? He has to drive a mini-van.
- Shadow/Stealth bans (making their posts visible only to them) can serve as this for Trolls in general, especially since most of these people tend to be Attention Whores of some kind.
- This Cracked article shows that not voting in Greece can get your driver's license and passport denied, thus forcing you to 'remain in the country you didn't care enough to vote for'.