Bob commits a crime or (more likely) a series of crimes. The jury convicts him and thus the judge must determine an appropriate sentence.
The Judge decides to sentence Bob to 400 years of prison or eleven life sentences, essentially rotting in a cell. Bob has just been served a Longer Than Life Sentence.
Such sentences can be set sentences of a ridiculously huge amount of years (typically three digits) that, while theoretically having an end, can never be fully served by any ordinary person. They can also include multiple consecutive life terms, a single life term where the time before being eligible for parole is ludicrously long, or a superficially nonsensical sentence such as "one life term plus 40 years".
Sometimes it is not explained what the sentenced person did, just that they have X amount of years left that go beyond normal human life expectancy.
This is Truth in Television, as real sentences like all of the above examples exist. As shown in the Real Life folder, some of these examples exceed even the most exaggerated of fictional portrayals.
While in general no real-life sentence for a single crime can exceed 'one' life sentence or around 99 years for a fixed-length sentence, a person who has been convicted of multiple crimes at once can easily receive triple-digit sentences or multiple life sentences if the sentences for each crime run consecutively. This has a fully practical effect: there's always the consideration that some but not all of the convictions may be legitimately overturned on appeal (such as if a killer was wrongly accused of killing a second person). For example, a person convicted of two murders may be given two life sentences, or a 198-year sentence, or "one life sentence plus 99 years". In any of the cases, a conviction overturned on appeal will halve the sentence, leaving the person with still a life-length sentence.
An alternate possible consideration is that an extremely long set-length sentence can prevent a criminal from becoming eligible for parole in jurisdictions where the rules require them to serve a given fraction of the sentence first.
This trope can be used by an author to indicate that a criminal is truly hardcore and dangerous or has committed a particularly heinous crime (or crimes), or that a jurisdiction or judge is ruthless toward criminals or has it out for the one being sentenced. Of course, if the prisoner is ageless or otherwise Long-Lived, they may be faced with the daunting prospect of actually serving out the full sentence.
Basically, this trope is There Is No Kill Like Overkill applied to sentencing. A subtrope of In It for Life. See also The Old Convict and Disproportionate Retribution. Known in That Other Wiki as "back-to-back life sentences", with the "list of longest prison sentences" also of interest.
Compare Grounded Forever, where children are punished by being grounded for absurdly long amounts of time.
- Akudama Drive: Akudamas can receive sentences of hundreds of years. Which, as shown with Cutthroat in the first episode, just means they get the death penalty when they are arrested.
- Aria the Scarlet Ammo has Aira's mother Kanae Kanzaki, who due to various circumstances has been sentenced to 862 years in prison. One of Aria's main motivations is clearing her mother's name since she's innocent.
- Sosuke Aizen in Bleach is given a 20,000-year sentence for his crimes as the Big Bad (10,000 of which were added by the judge for being a smartass). Even with the incredibly long lifespan of shinigami, this is still far longer than any shinigami has been known to be alive for (Yamamoto is at least 2,100 years old, though his true age is unknown). However, Aizen's immortality meant he could have served the entire term of his sentence if he hadn't got out anyway after serving less than 2 years.
- All three protagonists of the cyberpunk anime Cyber City Oedo 808 are cons serving astronomical sentences on a prison satellite, to the tune of 300 years or more. For duty served, they get a few years of that sentence taken off, though if they fuck up a job or piss off Hasegawa, the warden, time gets added to their sentences — if he doesn't just pop their collars, that is.
- In Heat Guy J, those in the city-state of Magnagalia who are sentenced to more than 100 years are punished by being genetically and surgically altered, so that they have a human body, but the head of some kind of animal. They are also conditioned (read: tortured) by a deranged and sociopathic ringmaster. The idea is so they'll regret what they've done for the rest of their lives, as it is supposed to be an alternative to the death penalty (by virtue of being a Fate Worse than Death). Judoh, by contrast, rather than giving a sentence longer than a normal lifespan, simply executes its most serious criminals.
- During the Hunter Exam arc of Hunter × Hunter, the prisoners of Trick Tower are noted to have sentences of several hundred years each.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, Kenzo was given 280 years in prison for the murder of 34 people.
- In Kaiji Part 2, after Kaiji beats the Bog, Ichijou is sentenced to 1050 years underground after costing Teiai 700 million yen.
- In the final episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Chrono states that Fate's part in Precia's crimes could see her locked up for hundreds of years... under normal circumstances. Since she was obviously an unwilling accomplice, he was able to get her out on parole without ever seeing the inside of a prison cell.
- Dr. Wily gets a well-deserved one in Mega Man Gigamix for his world domination schemes. "Asteroid Blues" sees him sentenced to 2,000 years solitary confinement. Later in "Burning Wheel", all the additional attempts and miscellaneous destruction have it upped to 100,000 years in prison.
- Taken to its logical conclusion in Soul Eater when the witches' Kangaroo Court can give someone multiple death sentences. Kim, Risa, and Arisa just get one each, but the latter gets three more for complaining. Eruka got five. Free (who has Complete Immortality and was already serving an indefinite sentence when he was introduced and broken out of their jail) gets 1000. Death the Kid (the son of the Grim Reaper himself), they sentence to a million death penalties.
- Trinity Blood: Leon Garcia de Asturias has been convicted to about a thousand years in prison for a mass murder, but has his sentence reduced by several years every time The Church makes use of his combat skills. At the time of the main plot, he still faces many centuries of incarceration, however.
- Pigmeat Markham as a judge starts off "The Trial" (b-side of his "Here Comes The Judge") by giving himself six months.
Judge: If I'm gonna do six months, Mr. District Attorney, you've got a darned good idea many you're gonna do!
- In one of his concert films Richard Pryor riffed on a convict he met who was serving triple life.
How do you do triple life? That means if he die, and come back, he gotta go to the penitentiary! "Fuck kindergarten, kid, you comin' with us..."
- Achille Talon: In Le Grain de la folie, Achille Talon expects being sentenced to 745 years (with mitigating circumstances) for breaking in Surrender's base.
- In the widely-unknown (even in Europa) Bobo the Convict, centering around the life a standard comedy convict always trying to escape, although the story is set in modern times, has a convict that had such a sentence, obviously during the XIXth century, AND IS STILL PURGING IT. In one story, he has eventually served the sentence and leaves the penitentiary in a hearse, much to the other convict's amusement.
- The 30th issue of The Brave and the Bold, which featured the debut of Justice League villain Professor Ivo, ended with Ivo being sentenced to 500 years in prison. Due to inventing a serum to extend his lifespan by at least 500 years, Snapper Carr is quick to point out that Ivo is likely to survive his sentence.
- In the last issue of the C.O.P.S. (1988) Comic-Book Adaptation, the C.O.P.S. finally get an excuse to bring in Big Boss and his gang. After the crooks are in custody, they're informed of the charges against them — all told, if convicted on all counts, they're each looking at a minimum sentence of over 400 years. The comic doesn't address it, but Nightmare, being more machine than man, could potentially live to serve that term in its entirety.
- Happens quite a lot in Judge Dredd considering how brutal sentencing can be. Special mention goes to Paul Klesa, who was sentenced to 150 years in 1980, long before the judge system ever came to be. Due to his Long-Lived nature, he manages to complete the sentence and is released. He then attempts to perform a ritual sacrifice that will extend his lifespan even further before being dealt with more permanently by Dredd.
- "Beat the Devil" is an Urban Legend told by prisoners about the prisoner in Iso-Cell 666. According to the story, Dredd arrested Satan for the crime of 'sin' and for being an accessory to every crime ever committed in Mega-City, and the Devil is now serving eternity. The last panel of the story implies the legend is true.
- In a Lucky Luke comic, an escaped convict lampshades this when his hostage tells him that if he turns back now, he'll get a lighter sentence. The convict responds with "I can't see much of a difference between being sentenced to 236 or 295 years in prison".
- This trope is a running joke in Lucky Luke comics. René Goscinny, with his signature brand of humor, would often have characters talking about such sentences as if they made perfect sense. For instance, the jail keepers sometimes tell a character, sincerely and not as a joke: "Don't worry, you've got only [incredible amount of centuries] left !".
- Parodied in Pierre Tombal. A petty thug who just has been convicted and sent to jail encounters a coffin in the cell. It belonged to a prisoner who was serving a 20 years sentence and committed suicide 10 years later. So of course the prisoner is brought back in his coffin to serve his sentence to the end.
- Shakara: One of the criminals in Eva Procopio's group of condemned sentients dumped on the prison world is an alien who was sentenced for eternity because he is immortal. He's apparently swallowed by the planet, which is a living Death World, but this leaves some food for thought.
- Shazam!: Captain Marvel, Jr. had a foe called Greybeard. As a young man, he was sentenced to 99 years in prison, to which he sarcastically told the judge how considerate he was to not make it a life sentence. However, he served out his entire sentence and, once free, began a crime spree based on the theme of old age.
- Even before he became the Spider-Man villain Carnage, Cletus Cassidy was a Serial Killer who had received eleven consecutive life sentences. And when he got angry at his cellmate Eddie Brock, he figured he'd "make it an even dozen" by killing him too, as he was smart enough to realize his chances of gaining a release via legal means was pretty much nonexistent. Unfortunately, that was when the Venom symbiote re-bonded with Brock and he escaped, leaving behind a young symbiote that bonded with Cassidy.
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Megatron at one point notes that if he is put on trial for all the crimes he committed during the Cybertron Civil War, against both other Cybertronians and the galactic community at large, he'll either be executed or will be incarcerated until the heat-death of the universe.
- In MAD, one strip has a lawyer being given statements about a defendant's murder of a guard during a bank robbery, which he answers in the form of a question- two questions are worth 200 points each, and another question is worth 400. After the lawyer gets all the questions right, the judge sentences the man to 800 years in prison, and he complains that the Constitution doesn't allow putting people in double jeopardy.
- In a Bizarro strip, an extremely old suspect is told by his lawyer that he was scheduled to receive 80 years in jail, but the lawyer managed to convince the judge to "decrease" his sentence to life.
- Wade from U.S. Acres steps on a rake, sending him into a musical number, followed by a short trial sentencing him to 9999 years in prison.
- In The Wizard of Id, the Spook is serving one, although the exact details vary depending on what is needed for the joke.
- The Accidental Animagus: Peter Pettigrew tries to ask for a Plea Bargain, until Amelia Bones points out how futile it would be.
Amelia: Mr. Pettigrew, you are currently facing sixteen counts that carry potential life sentences. Are you hoping to plead down to one life sentence?
- The RWBY fic Captain Dragon has Roman get arrested and sentenced to 500 years for associating with Cinder and his role in attacking Beacon. And that was after negotiating down to that amount.
- With This Ring, unlike canon, sees Sportsmaster being actually caught and jailed, along with his daughter Cheshire, so no-one breaks him out. His other daughter, Artemis, later meets his side of the family and lets them know that he's serving fifteen life sentences in Belle Reve.
Artemis: I think they're trying to make it longer, actually.
- Super Sentai vs. Power Rangers has the fate of Arc Villain Ichijou be to work in a mine for 200 years, which even the narrative notes he won't survive to the end of.
- The Daltons are serving a 4200-years hard labor sentence at the beginning of La Ballade des Dalton before escaping.
- The title character of Megamind was sentenced to 88 consecutive life sentences for his crimes against humanity and Metro City. Largely meaningless, since he's able to waltz out the front door of his Cardboard Prison, and back into his functional laboratory...um, lair.
- In Austin Powers in Goldmember, The World Organization, after arresting Dr. Evil, gives him a 400-year prison sentence for his crimes against the world. Dr. Evil, as a "last words", has Mini-Me moon the judge.
- At the end of Cube Zero, Wynn gets two more life sentences added to his existing sentence.
- Deadtime Stories: In "Goldi Lox and the Three Baers", the newscaster reports that Beresford 'Papa' Baer and Wilmont 'Baby' Baer were both seving 4,726 years for their various crimes.
- In Malcolm X the main character's friend, Shorty, faints because he thinks he will be the victim of this trope.
Malcolm X (voiceover): Shorty thought he [the judge] hit us with 114 years, until I explained "concurrently." It meant a minimum sentence of 10 years hard labor at the Charlestown State Prison.
- In the opening scenes of The Shawshank Redemption, Andy is painted as a sociopathically cold-blooded and remorseless killer by the prosecutor, and the judge comes to agree with this statement throughout the trial due to Andy's demeanor and seeming lack of emotion, so he sentences Andy to two consecutive life sentences, one for each of the people Andy killed. Except Andy really is innocent, something which isn't confirmed until about 2/3 of the way through the movie.
- Sky High (2005): There's a passing mention that Baron Battle had received a quadruple life sentence, with no chance of parole until "after his third life." Considering superpowers, it's quite possible that's literal, and he has some form of immortality so he actually will get out eventually.
- Son of a Gun: After escaping from prison, Sterlo boasts that he was serving three life sentences, but here he is free as a bird.
- Seemingly Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad (2016), as he sarcastically tells Amanda Waller that having 10 years knocked off his three consecutive life sentences is not much of an inducement. And, as the final scenes show, sassing the Wall is a really bad idea.
- Superman II begins with an incarcerated Lex Luthor lamenting his "life plus 25 years" prison sentence, precipitated by his schemes in the previous movie. And after his later actions in this film, that sentence was undoubtedly increased even further.
- The impetus of Yellowbeard is the fact the Royal Navy wanted to increase the eponymous character's sentence of 140 years so that he escape and recovers his Booty.
- Animorphs: In The Beginning, Visser One is put on trial at the International Criminal Court and is said to be eligible for up to 800 years in prison. It's unclear how long Yeerks actually live.
- In Another Note, although we are not told exactly how long Beyond Birthday's sentence was, it can be reasonably assumed that since he's been convicted in the state of California for three murders (although the novel hints that those are just the three we know about), plus other serious crimes (grand theft auto, assaulting a police officer, impersonating law enforcement and fraud), he was likely serving one of these. note Not that it really matters, however, since Kira got him.
- In Artemis Fowl Mulch Diggums got a total of 300 years for his burglaries against "Mudmen"; subverted as fairies live very long.
- In Jack Blank, the Calculans sentence the Space Pirate Solomon Roka to 942 years in prison... for operating without a license. The length of the Calculan year isn't known, but 942 is still a lot of them.
- The plot of The Night Mayor revolves around a prison escape attempt by a Diabolical Mastermind, whose crimes include murder, arson, drug running, pornography, blackmail, and theft, all on an epic scale. His rap sheet includes "8,921 counts of first-degree murder alone, excluding his various thermonuclear adventures". His sentence is concomitantly epic.
Before they gave up, the international courts found him culpable in enough instances to entail a mandatory sentence without remission that would take a significant chunk out of the lifespan of a continent. If he were able to live out his stretch, it is likely the human race would have evolved beyond all recognition by the time he was eligible for parole.
- Officer Shrift from The Phantom Tollbooth regularly sentences offenders to prison terms of millions of years, merely because he can. Subverted in that he's not good at keeping track of time and thus assumes that anyone who escapes his city's Cardboard Prison has served out his or her time. (The prison's one permanent resident, who stays there in voluntary penance, suggests he only does it as a joke.)
- In Red Dragon, it's mentioned that Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter got sentenced to several consecutive life sentences for his killing and eating of multiple human beings. The film adaptation starting Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton places the exact number at six in a Freeze-Frame Bonus in the opening credits.
- In the Takeshi Kovacs novels "storage" sentences of a century or more are not uncommon. In the first chapter of "Altered Carbon" Kovacs himself is sprung from a two-century sentence 117 years early, but he's resleeved in a much younger body.
- The Devil Judge: Yo-han sentences Joo Il-do to 235 years for allowing dangerous chemicals to leak into a village's water supply.
- Doctor Who:
- River Song is sentenced to twelve thousand consecutive life sentences for killing the Doctor. However, after the Doctor removes all information about himself from every database in the universe, thus making it appear that the man she killed never existed at all, she is pardoned and released from Stormcage Containment Facility.
- In "The Infinite Quest" the Doctor when he arrives on the planet Volag-Noc is sentenced to two billion years, which, considering the Doctor's rate of aging, not even a Time Lord could live through.
- Grimm: In "Game Ogre", Stark was serving a 300-year prison sentence before he escaped and came looking for revenge.
- In the Law & Order episode "Deadlock" the Criminal-of-the-Week is a convicted mass murderer, serving eight consecutive life sentences. He escapes and kills a lot more people before being rearrested. His prior crimes mean bail isn't even up for debate but also means he has no reason to take any deals. In fact, he tries to get the D.A.'s office to bargain with him (for better prison conditions), pointing out every trip to the courthouse is another chance to escape. Also, there's really nothing riding on the trial. What are they going to do, give him additional consecutive life sentences? The D.A.'s office starts looking for legal loophole they can use to put him up for the death penalty, and then he's killed in a Vigilante Execution setting off the real trial of the episode.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
- In "Hardwired" (S11E5), the leader of a pedophile rights group who convinced a man to rape his stepson is sentenced to ten years for accessory to rape, plus two years for every image of child pornography on his laptop, for a total of 3,000 years.note
- In "Runaways" (S2E16), Alex Cabot threatens Lorna Frankel with a total prison sentence of 715 years for her role in managing a pornographic ring employing runaways - seven years each - and 15 years more for the fact one of them, a 14-year-old runaway named Gina Lang, died from an overdosenote .
- The episode "Nocturne" (S1E21) features an elderly child molester, with a large amount of child pornography. He's sentenced to 115 years (which would already qualify), and then we get this exchange:
ADA Hickey: He'll be eligible for parole in 38 years.
Evan: But he's almost 60!
ADA Hickey: Yeah, isn't math fun?
- Lampshaded in Money Heist. While the team is preparing for the heist, the Professor gives them a lecture on Spanish criminal law and has them study the laws they are about to break. They are about to kidnap a bunch of police officers and hold them and a bunch of civilians hostage for a number of days. Every time they manhandle a hostage, they will be committing an additional assault. By carrying and using a large arsenal of weapons, they will be breaking scores of firearm laws. Every time they fire a weapon, they could be adding an attempted murder charge. As soon as the heist begins, they will be guilty of crimes that will get them hundreds of years in prison even if they get a lenient judge. The purpose of the lecture is for the thieves to understand that if the police offer one of them immunity in exchange for betraying the others, the police are lying. Only a presidential pardon can result in one of them walking away without any jail time.
- NUMB3RS:"Arrow of Time" reveals that Buck Winters from "Spree" received a 250-year sentence for his crimes in that episode. (And then he breaks out of prison and kills a man, implying that he'll end up getting even more time tacked onto his sentence.)
- In Oz, Chris Keller is sentenced to 88 years with parole accessible in 50 before being sentenced to death, sentence overturned eventually.
- Subverted with Omar White: while he is sentenced to 75 years, he's up for parole in 20.
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Justice", Rimmer gets sentenced to ten thousand years imprisonment. Subverted as he is expected to be able to serve his sentence and be released at the end since he is a hologram. Of course, as always Status Quo Is God and the Reset Button is hit by the episode's end.
- In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina's Evil Twin Katrina is sentenced to eternity in prison for pushing Sabrina into a volcano, although in her second appearance (where she's on work detail) the unrepentant Twin claims her sentence was reduced because she "had a good lawyer". (Of course, witches are supposedly immortal...)
- For that matter Salem is actually an evil warlock serving a 100-year sentence transformed into a cat for trying to take over the world.
- Invoked in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". After Kirk is caught inside a US Air Force base in the 1960s, he is interrogated and threatened with being locked up for two hundred years, which he ruefully declares would be "just about right".
- A flashback in Supergirl (2015) shows Lex Luthor being sentenced to 31 consecutive life sentences. Before the judge can bang her gavel, however, she starts coughing. Luthor quips, "Maybe we should make it 32?" - having poisoned her, the jury and the prosecutors.
- Unbelievable: The rapist is sentenced to the maximum on each charge after pleading guilty. It comes out to over three hundred years, and thus he'll never be free again. Believe it or not, this sentence was actually incorrectly listed in the show, as his real-life counterpart got an even harsher sentence, totaling over 450 years, with his earliest possibility for parole being set in December 2283.
- In the fairly obscure sci-fi TV movie White Dwarf, a race of creatures who can infuse people with a lifespan-extending chemical are employed as prison wardens so that especially heinous criminals actually can serve out sentences like this. At the end of the movie, one prepares to do this to the Big Bad while informing him "After the first few hundred years, the centuries just fly by!"
- In Johnny Cash 's Cocaine Blues Willy Lee ended up sentenced, for murdering his girlfriend, to:
99 years in the Folsom pen
99 years underneath that ground.
- This is pretty much the whole point of "100 Years" by Plies regarding a corrupted justice system giving black people ridiculously long life sentences.
Pussy ass cracker give a nigga a hundred years
Have ya mama leavin' out the courtroom in tears
Crackers don't love to have a nigga breathin' for real
Take a nigga life from him they don't know how it feel.
- In the song "99 to Life" by Social Distortion, the narrator is given a sentence of 99 years to life for the crime of stabbing his girlfriend to death.
- The title character in Bruce Springsteen's "Johnny 99" is sentenced to "ninety-eight and a year", and begs the judge to sentence him to death instead.
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "The Night Santa Went Crazy" mentions that Santa will be out on good behavior in 700 more years... granted in Santas case, he very well could live that long.note
- In The Goon Show episode "The Rent Collectors", Seagoon is sentenced to a hundred years' hard labour for swimming in the canal.
Seagoon: A hundred years? I'll never do it!
Judge: Well, do as much as you can.
- The curse inflicted upon Lord Soth in the Dragonlance setting was a variation. He neglected to attempt to stop what would cause the Cataclysm, and instead confronted his wife over untrue claims of infidelity; as a result, whole cities were destroyed and thousands of innocents perished. His wife died right before it happened, and cursed him with her final words, saying, "you shall live the lifetime of every soul that you have caused death today". The gods delivered this curse, turning him into a death knight. Exactly how long this astronomically-long sentence actually is has never been calculated, but unlike most examples, Soth's condition may mean having to serve the entire sentence in his horrid, monstrous form.
- In GURPS Technomancer, the state of Louisiana allows for sentences of "death plus hard labor". This means a death sentence, followed by being zombified and put on a chain gang.
- World Tree RPG: Some crimes warrant multiple death sentences, the lighter ones with an equal number of resurrections — life magic, including resurrection of the recently dead, is generally very cheap and reliable.
- Clock Tower 3: All the subordinates that serve as bosses in the game were given ridiculous long sentences for their crimes. For example Sledgehammer, the first subordinate, was a stone-cutter called Robert Morris who murdered 26 people and was sentenced to 486 years. The sentence is directly proportional to the bosses' Hit Points.
- Red Ivan of Evil Genius had been sentenced to 90 years of hard labour in The Gulag by the Soviet secret police for excessive brutality against dissidents, but managed to escape after one month. As a result, he is able to be recruited as a Henchman for the Evil Genius.
- In Freedom Wars, the player character is a convict who was sentenced to a prison sentence of one million years on the day they were born. Specifically, all "Sinners" are slapped with the same sentence for being an unproductive net drain on resources. They're incentivised to do the work for which they're best suited by having sentence reductions as part of mission rewards (tens of thousands at once, for some of the most demanding ones). Lower sentences also equal better living conditions and more liberties. Reducing the sentence to zero awards the Sinner the same rights as a Citizen and freedom to pick and choose their work, but they're explicitly warned if they fall below their quota, then they're an unproductive net drain on resources and will be sentenced appropriately.
- Grand Theft Auto IV: After she's arrested and judged, Elizabeta Torres is sentenced to 300 years of imprisonment for thirty charges (ten years each) of cocaine distribution. Lampshaded by her voice mail, where she says she can't answer to the messages before the end of her prison sentence, and also by The Liberty Tree which mentions the sentence as a record for the Liberty City crime society.
- Can happen in Liberal Crime Squad:
Sgt.Pepper, you are sentenced to 31695 consecutive life terms in prison.
- The sentencing algorithm limits any sentence to 1200 months, or 100 years; beyond that, any term is converted to one or several life sentences.
- At the end of Police Quest after apprehending the drug lord, Jesse Bains, he is sentenced to 97 years for counts of Illegal Gambling, Drug Trafficking, Attempted Murder, and First Degree Murder, without possible parole. This doesn't stick in the sequel.
- In Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus Vendra Prog is sentenced to a quadruple life sentence, though the news report adds that she was offered a plea bargain to turn in her brother, and refused.
- In Sa Ga Frontier, the Warden of Despair turns out to be a criminal serving a million-year sentence.
- The Stanley Parable: Attempting to activate sv_cheats in the console causes the narrator to take you away into a Serious Room where he locks you away for trillions of years. Do it again, and he increases your sentence to infinity years note .
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic we have Belsavis, a Rakata planet turned into a Republic penal colony where the inmates' sentences are so long that whatever descendants they have while incarcerated inherit them. This is part of the main storyline for Republic players on the planet, where a Kaleesh inmate has convinced the others to rebel against the Republic for them being saddled with the weight of their ancestors' transgressions.
- Trauma Team: After the Cumberland incident, CR-S01 was arrested and received a 250-year life sentence.
- Contra: Shattered Soldier: In the year 2642, Bill Rizer was framed for using a weapon that destroyed 80% of the Earth's population. He was also framed for murdering his partner, Lance Bean. As punishment, Bill was sentenced to 10,000 years in cryogenic prison. Five years later, aliens attack Earth. Bill Rizer is released from his prison and fights the alien armada with the help from a cyborg named Lucia.
- The Season 4 Bravest Warriors episode "From the Inside Room" has Danny forced to serve a thousand-year sentence in a time prison for an unspecified crime he hasn't even committed yet. Since he is serving his sentence in a time prison, the time he spends serving his sentence travels much slower within the prison and he does so without aging. The same episode establishes that Beth's father is serving a 30,000-year sentence for his actions as an underling of the Aeon Worm.
- Played with in Freefall when Mr. Kornada is caught trying to lobotomize every robot on the planet. The chief of police wants to charge him for "exceeding his authorized access" according to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Because this is a very nebulous law, the chief of police only wants to ask for one minute of community service. One minute of community service for each of the 450 million counts (one for each robot). This adds up to about 856 years. The Chief hopes he'll plea bargain down to 15 seconds before his lawyer has time to do the math.
- In this video, a real-life lawyer watches The Dark Knight and tallies up the number of crimes committed by both the Joker and Batman over the course of the film (using New York City's laws since Gotham is based on NYC). At the end, he estimates what their sentences would be if they were arrested and convicted of all their crimes. Serving all of their sentences concurrently, he guessed the Joker would be sentenced to 12,000 years in jail, while Batman would be sentenced to 60 million years in jail (mostly because of his stunt with hacking the city's cell phones: assuming tens of millions of people live in Gotham, that would be several tens of millions of counts of computer hacking/trespassing).
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: Crimewave Clyde serves 12,423 years in prison with no parole for his extensive criminal record. He later tells the Mario Bros. that he prefers this sentence over spending another day with the Koopa family.
- Adventure Time: In "Too Young", the Earl of Lemongrab succeeds the throne from Princess Bubblegum after she was turned into a child. He's a tyrant who routinely gives these kinds of sentences to the candy citizens throughout the episode at the drop of a hat, and when Finn and Bubblegum pull a prank on him his line when sending them to the dungeon has become a meme by itself.
Lemongrab: "ONE MILLION YEEEAAARS!! DUNGEON!" *jail door slams*
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Played with in the final episode: Carl and Frylock get a singular life sentence for murdering Christopher Lambert...except since they both used a shampoo that made them immortal, that means they're trapped in prison for eternity. Frylock begs a now elderly Meatwad to find Lambert (who's actually also immortal) to prove their innocence and get them out, while Carl laughs at the prison's attempts to execute him on the electric chair.
- Batman: The Animated Series: Downplayed example. DuVaul was sentenced to 50 years of hard labor for his part in trying to conquer the old west with the intention that he wouldn't survive it. Unfortunately (for DuVaul that is) he was given extended life by the Lazarus Pits and by the end he was a broken shell of his former self.
- Beany and Cecil: "Grime Doesn't Pay" has Dishonest John being sent to jail. When the warden asks how long his sentence will last, Dishonest John tells him that he is to serve 199 years. The warden then quips that at least Dishonest John didn't get life.
- Centaurworld: In "Holes, Part 2", using magic in the moletaurs' court is punishable with three consecutive life sentences.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: Overlapping with Disproportionate Retribution in "Operation: S.P.A.N.K.", when the team tricks Count Spankulot into spanking a judge and his wife (long story) Spankulot is sentenced to "eleventy-trillion years with no chance of parole ever!!" (He still manages to be a thorn in their side in a couple of episodes, one while still behind bars, and another that suggests he was released somehow.)
- Darkwing Duck: When Taurus Bulba is first seen, he's serving a 99-year sentence for unspecified crimes, but still running a criminal organization from behind bars.
- Garfield and Friends: In the episode "Wade: Wanted", Wade pulls a tag off of a couch, then learns that it's against the law to remove it. This causes him to run frantically around, step on a rake and have an Imagine Spot where the police catch him and he's sentenced to 9999 years in prison:
Wade: Whew! At least I didn't get life.
- The Garfield Show hinted at this trope in the "Rodent Rebellion" special when Jon Arbuckle pleads to his lawyer that he's been framed for the town's robberies by rats after the lawyer states that Jon will probably be released from prison in twenty to thirty years.
Lawyer: Tell that to the judge and you'll be lucky if you get out this century.
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero:
- At the end of the episode "Cobra's Creatures", the Joes quip to the incarcerated Dr. Lucifer that he should look them up in the next 200 years, implying that his sentence will last that long.
- In the DiC Entertainment continuation, the two-part episode "D-Day at Alcatraz" began with Cobra Commander, Destro, Metalhead and several Cobra soldiers being sent to Alcatraz. The warden mentions that they'll all be serving out sentences of 362 years. The Cobra soldiers are ultimately the only ones who are left serving out their sentences, as Cobra Commander, Destro and Metalhead manage to escape at the end of the two-parter.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Blendin's Game", we find that Blendin's punishment for letting Dipper and Mabel steal his time-tape in "The Time-Traveler's Pig" included a "life-squared" sentence.
- I Am Weasel:
- "I.R. Wild Baboon" has Weasel end up serving several life sentences for letting Baboon go down a waterfall in his trailer.
- In "I Stand Corrected", Baboon gets sentenced to 99 years in a correctional facility and Weasel is forced to serve the sentence with Baboon because of a law forbidding judges from being short, hairy, and having beady eyes.
Weasel: Ninety-nine years in this joint might not be so bad.Baboon: At least we not getting life.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "This Little Piggy", Medusa gets 300 years taken off her sentence to Tartarus, which is apparently only a small fraction of her original sentence (though as an immortal she'll presumably be able to serve it eventually).
Medusa: Freedom in 4010. Ring-a-ding-ding.
- At the end of the Looney Tunes short Baby Buggy Bunny, after Baby Face Finster has been jailed, Bugs Bunny shows up and gives him this classic line:
- The Looney Tunes Show: In the episode "Jailbird and Jailbunny", Bugs and Daffy have served their one-year sentence and are let out. Bugs doesn't want to leave, while Daffy is bidding his prison friends farewell.
- Occurs on The Powerpuff Girls (1998) in the What A Cartoon! Show pilot "Crime 101". After the Powerpuff Girls rob a bank just to show the Amoeba Boys how, the Judge nearly sentences the girls to one million years in Townsville Correctional Facility until the Amoeba Boys take the blame.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "A Scooter for Yaksmas", Stimpy accidentally steals the scooter he wanted (but didn't get) from a store, and has a guilt-ridden nightmare in which his idol Stinky Wizzleteats sentences Stimpy to "infinity years" in prison.
- Subverted in South Park episode "Chef Aid" when Chef sues Capitalist Records for plagiarism and is found guilty of harassing a big company. The judge declares that Chef must either pay two million dollars or serve eight million years in prison. However, when someone informs the judge that nobody can be forced to serve more than four years for what Chef is being sentenced for, the judge does comply and says that Chef will serve four years in prison if he doesn't pay.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Bubbletown", SpongeBob is given three life sentences for accidentally destroying most of Bubbletown.
- Eleven Mafia figures, including the bosses of New York's "Five Families," were indicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) on extortion and racketeering charges. Eight of them received 100-year sentences, the maximum sentence allowed by RICO. Two of them died before they could be sentenced: Neil Dellacroce (Gambino family underboss; died of cancer in 1985), and Paul Castellano (Gambino family boss; gunned down by capo John Gotti a few weeks after Dellacroce's death). Philip "Rusty" Rastelli, the boss of the Bonanno crime family, was removed from the Commission Trial as he was later indicted on separate labor racketeering charges; due to this, the Bonannos suffered less exposure in the case.
- "99 years on the hard rock pile" used to be a common jail sentence in the Old West.
- Guinness World Records lists one Chamoy Thipyaso as the world record holder for the longest prison sentence ever received by a single person - in 1989, she received a sentence of 141,078 years in jail in Thailand for defrauding thousands of people for millions of dollars in a giant pyramid scheme. She actually served only eight years.
- Darron Anderson, in Oklahoma, was sentenced to 11,250 years for burglary, robbery, and rape after appealing.note
- Bobby Joe Long was sentenced to 28 life sentences, 99 years sentence and one death sentence by Florida for serial murders and rapes that he committed in 1984. He was executed on May 23, 2019.
- James Earl Ray got a 99-year sentence for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. After he escaped from prison and was recaptured a few days later, one more year was added to his sentence.
- Jamal Zougal was sentenced to 50,000 years for the 2004 Madrid train bombings. note
- Ronald DeFeo, Jr., perpetrator of the so-called Amityville killings, was sentenced to six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life, hence a minimum of 150 years.
- Just before the release of Halo 3, several Xbox 360 players managed to download an almost complete pirate of the game. Microsoft responded by banning the consoles with illegal copies from Xbox Live until December 31st, 9999.
- A player was caught using video chat to send explicit video to other players during a game of Uno. He too was banned until December 31st, 9999.
- While 'Indefinite' is the usual terminology for permabans on Wikipedia, on other Wiki services, it's common to see particularly annoying vandals, trolls and other internet oiks be given longer-than-life bans by irritated admins to make an example of them, often accompanied by an overtly passive-aggressive ban reason for good measure.
- A hacker was caught modifying save data in Monster Hunter 3 and he was banned until December 12th 9999, and that was just the first ban. The next time they violate the terms of service would result in a lifetime ban, that is, if the hacker in question could even live long enough to violate the terms of service again. The whole thing was rendered moot when the game's online services were terminated.
- The few senior mods in the Kingdom of Loathing who can issue chat bans of arbitrary length (as opposed to most mods, who can only ban players based on the number of previous infractions) can't actually ban people "forever". They can, however, ban them for 99,999,999,999 hours, or about 11 million years.
- Bernard Madoff, the infamous Ponzi scheme mastermind, was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 after pleading guilty to eleven counts, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements, and perjury, the maximum sentence allowed (the judge rejected his lawyer's plea of only seven years due to his age). He served eleven years before dying in prison.
- Parodied with serial rapist David Demone Reel, sentenced to 100 years instead of 120 in Wisconsin because he pleaded guilty and showed remorse.
- Patrick Sykes was sentenced in Illinois to 120 years for raping, poisoning and beating a nine-year-old girl to the point of being blind, mute and crippled.
- In 2013, Ariel Castro, of Ohio, was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 charges related to the kidnapping of three women. He was found dead in his cell a month later, an apparent case of suicide.
- In a similar (or perhaps far worse) case to Castro, convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years to life for the long-term abduction of Jaycee Dugard, who was 11 years old when she was first kidnapped by Garrido in 1991.
- Kristofor Hans got sentenced in Montana to 206 years for a school shooting: 100 years for murder, 100 years for attempted murder and two sentences of three years for using weapons during the commission of a felony. He was paroled in 2015.
- Sholam Weiss got sentenced by the federal government to 845 years in absentia for fraud, the largest sentence ever given for a white collar crime, and was initially eligible for release on November 23, 2754. He served 20 years in prison before being pardoned by Donald Trump in 2021.
- In 1972 Spain, in the Gabriel Granados case, the prosecutor asked for a 384,912 year sentence, or nine years for each letter he didnt deliver.note
- Dudley Wayne Kyzer got sentenced by Alabama to two life sentences plus 10,000 years for murdering his wife, his mother-in-law, and another man after his initial death sentence was overturned.note .
- Serial rapist Dr. Edward Franklin Jackson Jr. was sentenced in Ohio to 191 to 665 years.note
- Richard Speck was sentenced to death for eight murders in Chicago, but the Supreme Court overturned his death penalty. He ended up receiving 8 consecutive sentences of 50 to 150 years, or 400 to 1200 years behind bars. He died in prison.
- James "Whitey" Bulger, infamous mob boss of the Winter Hill Gang in Boston, was convicted of numerous crimes and sentenced to two life sentences and five years for his crimes. He died in prison, stabbed by another inmate.
- Joseph Amaya, 19, was sentenced by California to 100 years to life for raping and beating a woman in a store.
- In 1969, two Irani conmen were sentenced to one year for each of their victims, for a total of 7109 years.
- Mark Anthony Beecham was sentenced in Alabama to 624 years for crimes ranging from kidnapping and rape all the way down to bail jumping.
- This is often used as a tactic by countries where the death penalty doesn't exist: since they can't condemn anyone to a death sentence, they give him a longer than life sentence. In Brazil, for example, Roger Abdelmassih, a plastic surgeon-slash-serial rapist, was condemned to nearly 300 years in prison.
- Which is kinda pointless, as, per Brazilian law, no criminal can stay in jail for more than 30 years. The sentence is still recorded with full length, but the convict walks in 30 years at most.
- Martin Bryant, perpetrator of the Port Arthur Massacre, received a sentence of 35 consecutive life terms plus 1,035 years (life sentences for each person he killed, plus the combined normal maximum sentences for the murders, attempted murders, and grievous bodily harm charges he accumulated during the shooting spree).
- Christine Schürrer, an immigrant woman in Sweden who murdered the two children of her ex-boyfriends new girlfriend while trying to murder the girlfriend (who was severly wounded but survived) was sentenced to "Life in prison, and then lifetime banishment from Swedish soil" (a rare punishment that can only be applied to non-citizens). She was returned to Germany where she was born and will serve out her prison sentence there. In Sweden, a life sentence is generally equal to around 30 years in prison, so she will probably be released while still alive.
- James Eagan Holmes, who shot and killed 12 people and wounded 70 others at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, was sentenced to 12 life sentences plus 3,318 years.
- Steven Hayes, Joshua Komisarjevski's accomplice for the murders of the Petit family in Cheshire, Connecticut, was sentenced, on top of six consecutive death penalties, to 106 years of prison.
- Former NFL player Anthony Smith was given three life sentences for murdering four people.
- Warren Jeffs, the former leader of the FLDS polygamist cult is currently serving life plus twenty years consecutively in Texas for sexual assault on a 12 and a 15-year-old girl.
- An anecdote about King Frederick of Württemberg: he personally reviewed every criminal sentence issued in his kingdom and sometimes revised them. One man was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in the galleys; Frederick wrote "Five more years" in the margins.
- British businessman Roger Cooper was arrested in Iran, accused of espionage and sentenced for 'Death Plus Ten Years', the title of his book on the affair. He was released after only five years.
- Rene Lopez from California, who raped his teenage daughter over a four-year period, was sentenced to 1,503 years in prison.
- South African serial killer Moses Sithole was convicted of 38 murders, 40 rapes, and six robberies, and was sentenced to 2,410 years in prison. He must serve 930 years before being eligible for parole.
- Walter Meyerle, a convicted child molester, received 479 1/2 to 959 years for molesting over a dozen children.
- The exaggerated version of this trope in which multiple death sentences are imposed happened to at least one prominent member of Saddam Hussein's Secret Police in the aftermath of the Second Gulf War. We can only hope he was allowed to serve them concurrently.
- Dylann Roof of South Carolina received 9 life sentences and the death penalty for the 2015 Charleston church shooting, which claimed the lives of 9 people.
- Edgar Ray Killen, of Mississippi Burning fame, was sentenced, at 80, to sixty years of prison for the murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, with twenty years for each of his victims. He died in prison in January 2018.
- Jerry Sandusky, the Pennsylvania football coach who was convicted of sexually abusing teenagers under his tutelage, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. Seeing as how Sandusky was 68 at the time of his sentencing, it's effectively a life sentence.
- Larry Nassar, who used to be a world-renowned sports physician treating America's foremost Olympic women gymnasts, was sentenced in Michigan to a term of 40-175 years for committing numerous sexual assaults against many of the gymnasts. This is in addition to a 60-year sentence he received from the federal government on child pornography charges. Between both sentences, he won't be eligible for parole until the year 2117, by which point he would be 153 years old.
- Brian Nichols of Georgia had been tried for a murderous rampage he did while escaping prison. After the prosecution failed to obtain a death sentence from the jury, the judge sentenced him to four life sentences, adding to this several hundred years of prison.
- Terry Nichols, the accomplice of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, was sentenced to 161 life sentences, plus an additional 9300 years, without parole.
- Abdullah Barghouti, notorious bombmaker for the Hamas paramilitary group, was sentenced to 67 life sentences plus 5200 years without parole.
- James Alex Fields Jr., who perpetrated the deadly vehicle ramming attack at the white-supremacist "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was sentenced to life plus 419 years in Virginia state court. Additionally, he is serving another life sentence at the federal level on federal hate crimes charges related to the incident.
- In July 2019, Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, the infamous Mexican drug lord, was found guilty of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, use of firearms, and international distribution of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. He was condemned to a life sentence plus 30 years in the federal Supermax prison of Florence, Colorado without possibility of parole.
- British pedophile Richard Huckle, who, while in Malaysia, raped hundreds of children, some 6 months old, was given 22 life sentences in 2016. He died in prison three years later, raped and stabbed by another inmate.
- Jared Chance was sentenced to 200 years in prison for murdering and dismembering 31-year-old Ashley Young, concealing any evidence, and getting his parents to lie about the situation and help him avoid arrest. As if that wasn't enough, the final thing he was treated to before his condemnation was a confrontation with the victim's mother, who outright castigated him for his clown-like actions.
- Jeffrey Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal, got a total of 16 life sentences, life plus ten on the first two counts of murder, plus 70 on each of the next 13. He would have been eligible for parole in 900 years if his cellmate hadn't killed him in 1994, which might explain his mention in Demolition Man.
- Serial killer Steven Ray Thacker killed a woman in Oklahoma, a man in Missouri, and another man in Tennessee. Each of the crimes was tried separately, earning him a death sentence, a life sentence, and a death sentence, respectively. Ultimately Oklahoma was the state to carry out the execution.
- Serial killer Jorge Torrez received five life sentences plus 168 years in the State of Virginia for various crimes, a federal death sentence for killing a sailor in a military base, and then 100 years in Illinois for killing two young girlsnote .
- 19-year-old Francisco Palencia was sentenced by a Gwinnett County, Georgia judge to 111 years in prison for raping a woman to the point of disfiguration for money.
- Ross Ulbricht, better known by his online pseudonym of Dread Pirate Roberts, was sentenced to a double life sentence plus forty years without the possibility of parole for his role in creating the infamous Silk Road site which operated on the deep web between 2011 - 2013.
- Two of the individuals responsible for the 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 193 people were each sentenced to more than 40,000 years in prison.
- Mark Goudeau, serial killer and rapist, was sentenced to 438 years by an Arizona court.
- On 1973, Erlich Anthony Coker was sentenced in Georgia to three life sentences and 48 years for murder and rape on a 16-year-old girl and rape and attempted murder on another 16-year-old girl. When, while escaping on 1974, he kidnapped, robbed and raped another 16-year-old girl, he received a death sentence for rape, which was quashed and replaced by two life sentences and 32 years for the various offenses he did during his escape.
- Ryan Stone was a career criminal from Denver who in 2015 after stealing a car, led police on a chase that ended in additional charges of multiple car thefts, kidnapping (since one of the cars he stole while escaping capture had a baby strapped in a car seat) and attempted murder due to striking a police officer who was trying to stop him. He was sentenced to 160 years.
- Yigal Amir, assassin of prime minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin, received a sentence of life plus eight years (the eight years on an additional conspiracy charge) to be served consecutively. While in Israel life sentences are usually capped by the president at 30 years, a law has been passed making it impossible for this to be done for anyone who assassinates a prime minister.
- Steven Jay Russell, the man whose life I Love You Phillip Morris was based, was sentenced to 144 years in prison in 1998, mostly due to his multiple (and successful!) escape attempts.
- The Turkish judicial institution began to make frequent use of longer-than-life sentences from the second half of 2010, openly admitting to drawing inspiration from the American justice system :
- A first case in 2013, when Onur Kopçak, a hacker, was condemned for multiple credit card numbers stealings, each with a separate sentence, which adds up to a total of 199 years, 7 months and 10 days in prison. It doesn't end up here, because in january 2016, in a phising case, he was convicted on several charges of identity theft, website forgery, fraud in accessing an information system, and electronic payment fraud. The added years brought him to a total of 334 years in prison (2013 and 2016 convictions combined), making him the longest-serving hacker in the world.
- In april 2016, Muharrem Büyüktürk, a particular teacher, was sentenced to 508 in prison for "sexual abuse" committed on 10 boys aged 12 to 14 years.
- Fetullah Güllen, an Islamist preacher and former political ally of Turkish President Erdogan with whom he became angry, is regularly accused of being behind the failed coup attempt in 2016. He faces two life sentences plus 1900 years for this (not to mention the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey in 2016 which he is also accused of being the sponsor). However, his trial could not take place, as these accusations are often considered untruthful in Western countries, and Güllen therefore benefits from political asylum in the United States, where he lives.
- In North Carolina, from 1974 to 1978, a life sentence was defined as 80 years. This was intended to be a Distinction Without a Difference as in this trope. However, in 2010, Bobby E. Bowden, convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in 1975, successfully argued in the state Court of Appeals that he should be eligible for parole based on the law at the time of his conviction.
- To be determined whether this is averted in Canada. The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. An amendment to the law under Stephen Harper's government allowed consecutive terms of parole ineligibility to be imposed in the case of multiple murders, allowing terms of 50, 75, or more of parole ineligibility. However, in sentencing Alexandre Bissonnette, who committed the 2017 shooting at a Quebec City mosque and killed 6 people, the trial judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to impose a sentence of parole ineligibility that would probably exceed the young man's lifespan, as this would be simply a disguised term of life without parole, which doesn't exist in Canada. He read the law to permit increased terms of ineligibility that didn't amount to multiples of 25 years, and sentenced him to 40 years without parole. The Court of Appeal ruled that the provision was unconstitutional altogether, and so reduced the sentence to the previous maximum of 25 years without parole. The case has been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and as of May 2022 a final ruling on the subject is still being awaited.