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Macho Masochism

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"I started stabbing myself repeatedly in the shoulder just to prove how much tougher I was than him..."

Need an instant way to prove you're not a pussy, that you're good enough for a woman, or that you're really dedicated to whatever cause you're fighting for? Injure yourself! Carve a symbol into your own chest, chop off a limb or two, or just punch yourself in the face to show that you can handle it!

As the direct subtrope of Men Are Tough, this is one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, as well as a huge Truth in Television. Compare Primal Chest-Pound, where the character hits himself in the chest to show toughness and fierceness, but doesn't cause any real damage to himself; Self-Mutilation Demonstration, which is a more literal demonstration of resilience to show off one's regeneration powers, not just to look tough; and Test of Pain, where a character has to endure a test of pain endurance, usually as part of an Initiation Ceremony, Secret Test of Character, or Rite of Passage.

See also, but don't confuse with, Testosterone Poisoning. Goes hand-in-hand with Major Injury Underreaction and Men Don't Cry. For badass injuries that are not self-inflicted, see Real Men Get Shot. This trope is related to Finger Extinguisher.

For when the "masochism" part gets a little more literal, see Combat Sadomasochist and Too Kinky to Torture.

Also, in case this wasn't obvious, Don't Try This at Home. There can be permanent repercussions (namely, whatever disabilities or less-inhibiting wounds were inflicted), and it's usually not Worth It.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece:
  • Kongoh Bancho: Iai Bancho slashes his own eyes open so that he doesn't get distracted by his opponents' breasts. (Wouldn't a blindfold have been better?... maybe he was worried he'd take it off?)
  • Double-subverted in YuYu Hakusho. When Sensui takes off his shirt after falling into the lake, the first thing the heroes notice about him are his scars that criss-cross his whole body. They assume at first that it was from all of the demons he had to fight when he was younger; however, it's revealed that he got all those scars training himself. Yusuke lampshades it in the dub:
    Yusuke: Awww, jeez, a masochist!
  • Berserk: Griffith skinned his own shoulders with his fingers — just to make a point (something about free will). It may have had more to do with self-loathing, though. Guts does the same at various points when he seems particularly angry at himself.
  • Naruto does this way early, when his team is first leaving Konoha for the Wave Country on the C-ranked-mission-that-turned-out-to-be-A-ranked. Nobody's taking him seriously, because he's Naruto, so when he's scratched on the hand by an enemy with a poison weapon, Sakura uses the argument that he needs medical treatment to suggest they should give up and turn back to Konoha, with Kakashi musing that maybe it's too much for them. Furious at being underestimated, Naruto drives a kunai into the wound to bleed out the poison, insisting that they will carry on with the mission and he will protect the old man Tazuna. He panics comically once Kakashi points out that if Naruto doesn't do something about his now self-inflicted wound he's going to rapidly bleed to death, although when he treats Naruto's injury he notices that, thanks to Naruto's Healing Factor, it's already starting to close.
  • In Elfen Lied (the manga), doctor Nousou has at one point developed a way to control the violent silpelites via brain chips, and, when prompted by chief Kakuzawa, demonstrates their complete obedience by ordering one of them to stab herself in the arm. Kakuzawa's reaction? He pulls his gun and shoots himself in the hand, remarking disappointedly that pain is no guarantee for obedience.
  • Megalo Box:
    • In season one's semifinal episode Yuri intentionally removes his Gear with the help of a Back-Alley Doctor, and refuses to use painkillers or to convalesce properly because he believes the pain is necessary to prepare him for the pain ahead of him in fighting Joe. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome as he's crippled during the fight, and is left permanently handicapped afterwards.
    • In season two's final episode Joe begins tanking hits during his exhibition match with Mac just like he would in his prime as "Gearless" Joe, despite age and cumulative boxing damage since then meaning he risks permanent injury. In defiance of the events of the first season, Sachio throws in the towel rather than risk Joe's health.
  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Honky Tonk Woman", when Jet points out that the casino they're going into is nonsmoking, Spike makes a show of swallowing his cigarette. Jet is unsurprisingly disgusted.
  • Kill la Kill: Ira Gamagori is the self-proclaimed "impenetrable shield" of Lady Satsuki. Of all the Elite Four, he's by far the most loyal. To the point he'll put himself in any danger just to prove that. Complementing Gamagori's vocal masochism, his 3-Star Goku Uniform, Scourge Regalia, grows in size and power every time it is hit. When Ryuko fought him, she attempted to circumvent this by simply refusing to battle. Unfortunately, Gamagoru can grow spiky tentacles and whip himself into a powered frenzy, forcing her to find another way to deal with him.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: During the first fight between Batman and the Mutant leader, Batman shatters the Mutant leader's nose with a punch. However, despite blood pouring out of where his nose used to be, he starts laughing, and Batman realizes that he let himself get punched just to show Batman that he could take it. This angers Batman so much that he starts pounding the Mutant leader to see how much punishment he can take, but this is when the Mutant leader decides to stop toying with Batman and delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that nearly kills him.
  • In the first issue of Star Wars: Jedi vs. Sith, an herbalist refuses to cure the poisoned and dying Darth Bane. He states that he is unafraid of death, and does not fear pain. To demonstrate, he dips his hand in the boiling cauldron in front of him, then pulls it back out (blistered and horribly scalded) without the slightest sign of pain.
  • In X-Factor #70, when Wolverine is told to put out his cigar in the infirmary, he promptly swallows it. don't try this if you're not Wolverine.
  • It's a little bit of this and also a rather twisted take on Clothes Make the Legend, but Superboy-Prime scratches the iconic S-shield into his own chest with his fingernails when he's imprisoned at the end of Infinite Crisis.
  • In Teen Titans #1/2, Rose Wilson (a.k.a. Ravager) demonstrates her loyalty and worthiness to her father Deathstroke by gouging out her own eye. Though it should be noted she was at the time pumped full of mind-altering drugs that were literally driving her insane when she did it.

    Fan Works 
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Norscans have a ceremony where every man downs a Gargle Blaster made from apples (well, mainly apples) and tries to keep it down as a test of courage. The masochism part comes from the fact that one of the ingredients is troll bile (one victim is found with his jaw dissolved).
  • Maedhros does this in the Silmarillion fanfic series All That Glitters: Gold Rush AU, heating his own signet ring to burning point in a candle flame while he's wearing it to a) prove that he and his family are not to be messed with and b) threaten to brand another man with the heated symbol.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). After several members of their gang are killed in a police ambush, the leaders of the Street Thunder gang stick Sinister Switchblades into their forearms to make a Blood Oath to avenge them.
  • Predator. Just before fighting the title creature, Billy cuts a diagonal wound into his chest with his knife.
  • Fight Club: Joe/Jack/Tyler Durden takes this WAY too far. Extinguishing lit cigarettes against his own skin as a form of foreplay, burning himself with lye just so he can experience pain, and defeating a mobster by letting the mobster beat him to a bloody pulp.
  • In Jarhead, the Marines mark the new guys who have shown themselves branding them like cattle. They (pretend to) do this earlier, as standard hazing practice.
  • Gary Busey's character Mr. Joshua in Lethal Weapon holds his hand in a lighter flame until it sizzles, as a demonstration of Badass Loyalty because his boss tells him to.
  • In The World Is Not Enough, Renard holds a scalding hot rock - except he can't feel pain, so it doesn't matter to him. However, at the same time he tells of legends of fanatical monks who would hold those same rocks to prove their devotion.
  • A Man Called Horse. Nothing says "I'm an Indian warrior despite being born an English gentleman" like hanging yourself from the ceiling by your skin. This is called body suspension in real life.
  • In AVP: Alien vs. Predator, the predator uses acidic alien blood to scar himself as a victory ritual. Another predator scars the Final Girl this way. She barely even flinches despite the acid's telltale sizzle.
  • In X-Men, when asked to put out his cigar, Wolverine looks around to find something to stub it out on but doesn't find anything within reach, so he resorts to his own palm. It's not a case of machismo; his own regenerating skin was the only option at the moment (other than his boots, which is how non-mutant smokers usually put things out).
  • Less flashy example in Lawrence of Arabia when Lawrence pinches out a burning match.
    "The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts. "
  • Best Seller (1987). The hitman played by James Woods has a habit of burning himself with cigarettes. This tips off Brian Dennehy's character that he's the masked robber who tried to kill him back in '72, having seen the burn marks on his palm during the robbery.
  • In Three to Tango, Matthew Perry's character has been Mistaken for Gay (it's actually his law partner who's gay, but a rambling public statement made by him was taken out of context), and he wonders why even people who know him believe it. And then he looks around him and realizes he's cooking hors d'oeuvres for his friends and wearing goofy animal oven mitts. So to prove his manliness, he decides to pull the hors d'oeuvres out of the oven with his bare hands. He of course burns his hands and Screams Like a Little Girl. His friend then walks in on him practicing more manly-sounding cries of pain.
  • In Pet, Holly is kidnapped by her Stalker with a Crush Seth and locked in a cage. To prove that he cannot control her, she slams her own face into the bars until her face is bloody, and mocks his attempts to stop her from doing so.
  • In Death Sentence, Billy demonstrates that he is not intimidated by Nick (or possibly just Ax-Crazy) by extinguishing his cigarette on his tongue.
  • Pushing Tin: At a bar, the air traffic controllers hold lit matches in their fingers. Whoever drops his match first has to pay. Nick and the new employee Russell both hold on after the contest has ended. Russell wins, to Nick's annoyance, and doesn't seem bothered by the pain, while Nick dunks his fingers in his water glass.

  • In the first Daughters of the Moon book, a girl tries to prove her devotion to the Dragon by carving his name into her chest. She is stopped before she gets past the first three letters. In later books, she still has the scars.
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • Brisingr. The Trial of the Long Knives, in which a ruler and a challenger take turns slitting their arms to prove who is willing to endure more pain for the people's sake.
    • There's also an earlier scene in the same book where people can only become high priests of a dark rite by lopping off one of their limbs. The head of their order has no arms, no legs, no tongue, no teeth...
  • In The Baroque Cycle, various members of the True Companions of escaped galley slaves have been throwing their most valued possessions into the center of a circle to demonstrate their loyalty to the Plan. Otto van Hoek vows he'll cut his hand off if he ever gets taken by pirates again, and he chops off his pinky and throws it into the circle to prove how serious he is.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Burned Men clan's name come because they mutilate their own flesh with fire to sacrifice a body part when they come of age. (The other clans of wild men consider them crazy for it.) Most will sacrifice a finger or something similarly small. Those who remove something at the scale of an ear are considered brave and greatly respected. Timmett, son of Timmett, put out his eye, and even the other Burned Men have a sort of fearful reverence for him. He was made a war leader on the spot despite his youth.
    • Strong Belwas allows all his opponents to cut him across the belly before killing them. He likes slapping his scarred belly and proclaiming that you can count the men he has killed by the number of cuts.
  • Jean Valjean slits his wrists in Les Misérables just to prove how hardcore he really is. He also brands himself with a fire poker to prove that Thénardier's gang can't torture him for information.
  • In H. Beam Piper's Four Day Planet, Steve Ravick shows off how tough he is by putting out cigarettes in his palm. Subverted — It turns out that "Steve Ravick" is a false identity. His hands are covered with skin grafts to hide his prints; they have almost no tactile or pain sense.
  • Parodied in Terry Jones's The Saga Of Erik The Viking. A rival challenges Erik for leadership of the Viking band, and Erik challenges him to a series of tests of this nature. The rival wins every test, but in the process injures himself so badly and permanently that he'd be useless as a Viking leader.
  • In the first book of the Coldfire Trilogy, the undead sorcerer Gerald Tarrant stands for several minutes in the presence of a glass phial containing a liquid known as the Fire (essentially Holy Napalm) without showing any visible effects before withdrawing. One of Damian's companions takes this to mean that it couldn't hurt him. Damian countered that the light of the fire was hurting Gerald, and could kill him if he was exposed to it long enough - but that Gerald was the kind of person who would take the pain without showing it right up until the moment he dropped dead just to prove a point. And that why he's so dangerous.
  • Commander Sam Vimes, in the Discworld novel Jingo, intimidates Lord Rust, currently in command of Ankh-Morpork's army, by plucking a live coal out of a fire and holding it without flinching. Rust takes it and is burned. He leaves and doesn't bother Vimes further; as soon as the aristocrat's out of sight, Vimes demonstrates that he's Not So Stoic and goes to get the burn looked at. In a Shout-Out to Lawrence of Arabia, Vimes claims the trick is "not to care".
    • Parodied in more than one of the Discworld series by references to tough-guy types who do this by opening beer bottles with their teeth (possibly a Gaslamp Fantasy answer to Can-Crushing Cranium)... "or, if the night has been going really well, other people's teeth."
  • In The Malloreon, all Angorak males (Murgos, Malloreons, and Thulls) slash themselves once across each cheek as a blood offering to Torak on reaching adulthood. Urgit, current king of the Murgos, has very faint scars, as he's not all that big into pain. (The same goes for women if they want to join the priesthood of Torak; one minor villain is a woman who took it a step further and carved a flame pattern out of those cuts.)
  • In Wolf Hall there's a flashback to something that happened to Thomas Cromwell while he was in a company of soldiers in Italy. He and other soldiers caught a snake and were daring each other to hold it, risking getting bitten. He was the one who finally did—it bit him on three but he refused to let go until ten, which freaked the others out. Someone asks him when he's telling the story if he knew the snake was poisonous or not and he says that he didn't, and that was the point. He does admit it was a stupid thing to do, though.
  • Cooking With Wild Game has a downplayed example. One reason that Forest Edge's food tastes so awful is that the (very isolated) tribe never learned how to make meat palatable. The other reason is so men can show how tough they are by eating it because apparently hunting the gigantic boar that provided the meat didn't prove that enough. The eagerness with which women adopt edible food- and pressure their fathers to- implies that they never actually cared.
  • Deconstructed in The Executioner #46: Bloodsport, by Raymond Obstfeld. A female terrorist leader gets one of her men to hold his hand over a camp stove's flame in a demonstration of his fanaticism (then presses the injured hand against her naked breast). The injury gets the terrorist killed later because he fumbles when reloading his weapon.
  • Parodied in a humorous short story by Patrick McManus, where he told that a good way to prove your toughness was to hold your hand over a candle for ten minutes...but be careful in case some sadist suggests actually lighting the candle.
  • Bast of The Kingkiller Chronicle grabs an iron medallion (the touch of iron causes severe pain to the fae) and holds it through a conversation in order to prove he's badass enough to back up his threats.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Peter from Le cœur a ses raisons has a VERY bad case of this: because he's insecure about his manliness, he keeps trying to prove it but at the worst moments conceivable. He insists on leaving to fight a bear while the other characters are busy trying to rescue Criquette from a horrible death and could quite use his help... And he chooses to leave a hospital through the air corridors rather than the doors because it's not badass enough. The result: he spends almost ten episodes lost in the air corridors (this was the excuse used to explain his absence from the show).
  • Jackass is built around this, though it's for comedy rather than straight machismo.
  • The branding urn in Kung Fu (1972): You have to carry it by pressing its branding ends between your forearms. This marks the arms with the tiger and dragon.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Master explains how all vampires are filled with mysterious fear and dread when they see a cross. He then grabs the cross in his hand, saying (as his hand sizzles) "Fear is in the mind. Like pain. It can be controlled."
  • Angel:
    • The Groosalugg sticks his hand into a flame without flinching at the start of his fight to the death with Angel.
    • When Kate refuses to accept that vampires exist despite seeing Angel in Game Face, he seizes the cross around her neck and holds it despite the smoke rising from his palm.
    • Angelus and William (not yet calling himself Spike) stuck their hands in sunlight during their first meeting.
    • Vampire Hunter Holtz gives Justine an Impaled Palm for sassing him. After he pulls out the awl she punches him with her injured hand.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Khal Drogo allows an opponent to cut him to show his badassery, before dodging every blow while methodically disarming himself and killing the man with his own blade. The cut gets infected, and he eventually dies as a result.
    • Shae plays a game with Tyrion where they link arms and hold a candle to them. Tyrion gives up in a few seconds and asks her if she even feels pain.
    • In his first appearance, Prince Oberyn of Dorne advances on a pair of Lannister goons, and casually swipes his hand over a candle, almost as an afterthought, establishing himself as a consummate badass and more than a bit of a daredevil.
  • Star Trek
    • Klingon Bachelor parties in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Not to mention wedding nights. And the Palm Bloodletting at just about every ceremony. Hell, pretty much everything Klingon.
    • In the pilot episode of Star Trek: Discovery, Voq is a Klingon who is ostracized for being an albino and known as "pagh puqloD" ("Son of None"). To prove his devotion and worthiness to the warlord T'Kuvma, he holds his hand in a fire until the skin is crispy. T'Kuvma is impressed.
    • Nausicaans also deserve a mention, as demonstrated when two of them are shown casually passing the time by throwing darts into each others' chests during another episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is apparently the norm for their culture as, according to Brunt, most Nausicaan games involve pain.
    • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Oasis" the alien trader D'Marr introduces the crew to a hot spice called Hajjlaran and mentions that warlords on Preenos consumed the spice as a test of courage.
  • Parks and Recreation
    • Invoked, subverted, and parodied in the episode "April and Andy's Fancy Party", where Ron complains of a toothache, then casually tears it out of his mouth during a meeting as the rest look on in horror. He then reveals to the camera that he actually had the tooth removed at the dentist's the day before, and pretended to rip it out to intimidate them.
    • In the episode "Leslie's House", Tom tries to eat a hot pepper to impress his ex-wife Wendy, who's now going out with Ron. Tom can't handle it and spends the rest of the dinner party in pain and recovering.
  • In Breaking Bad, Tuco Salamanca puts out a cigarette on his tongue.
  • A ten-year-old Bruce Wayne does this in Gotham by putting his hand over a lit candle. It's enough to make poor Alfred think that the boy is self-harming in his grief, but Bruce explains that he's testing his own endurance (which when you think about it is basically Bruce preparing himself for self-harming in his grief).
  • Colonel Flagg used to hurt himself (or threaten to) in most of the M*A*S*H episodes he appeared in to try to show how tough he was, however all this did was confirm to Hawkeye and most of the other characters that he was completely crazy. In one episode he's told his arm (which has been in a cast) has healed, meaning he no longer has a reason/excuse to stay at the hospital. He slams it in a door to re-break it.

  • Marilyn Manson seems to do this in some of his concert videos.
  • You ever seen videos of Rammstein performing some of their songs? For example, when performing "Sehnsucht", Till Lindemann (the singer) bashes his head with the microphone until he draws blood. In fact, he kept a bag of fake blood hidden in his hair and beating it with the microphone broke it, making it look like Till was bleeding. The burn injuries, however, are not intentional.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Given its levels of Testosterone Poisoning, it should come as no surprise that this is present in Warhammer 40,000.
    • In the Imperium, the Imperial Fists regularly use a meditation aid known as a Pain Glove, which does pretty much exactly what it sounds like it does. Sources across the editions have hinted, to varying degrees, that pronounced and even unhealthy masochistic tendencies are actually one of the negative mutations associated with the Imperial Fist geneseed, leaving them to wrestle with an intense obsession with penance and self-flagellation.
    • Outside it, Orks regularly try and get scars to show off; that the easiest way to do this is to pick fights isn't a major drawback, because the entire species are unhinged Blood Knights.
  • In Rocket Age the initiation rituals to join the Cult of the Fanged Mother, a Venusian murder cult, involves both murder and extensive self-mutilation. The women's path up the cult's ranks is far worse, involving even more self-harm and psychological torment.
  • BattleTech:
    • Clan Ghost Bear has The Clawing ritual. Warriors who've distinguished themselves are allowed to undergo a hunt of the clan's totem animal, which is basically a Dire Polar Bear. A small party of hungers is sent out with nothing but a spear apiece and a pair of hunting dogs. The objective is to kill and skin a Ghost Bear and make a cloak out of its hide. Injuries are common and often leave the warrior with permanent scars and disfigurements. Because of the danger, there's no dishonor in failing to kill a bear.
    • Clan Hell's Horses has a similar ritual: The Branding. A team of six warriors gets sent out to capture the Clan's totem animal, which is a carnivorous Dire Horse, brand it, and release it unharmed. Again, permanent scars and disfigurements are common. There's no dishonor in failing to capture and brand a horse, but those who succeed get tattooed with the Mark Of The Horse. Those who fail the ritual due to failing to cooperate or arguing with their fellows, however, get branded with the Mark Of Hell.

    Video Games 
  • The Intro to the Dante's Inferno 360 game. Dante sews a cross-shaped cloth that details all his sins onto his bare chest.
  • Star Control II:
    • The Slylandro (living gas bags who live in the atmosphere of a gas giant planet) mention that if they try to sink too low into their homeworld, the increased pressure can cause them to rupture. As a result, young Slylandro will sometimes dive as deep as they can without killing themselves, and regard the scars they get from such activities as marks of toughness (which are also popularly regarded as attractive to females).
    • Parodied with the Thraddash. Their Culture Three encountered a problem when coming into power as the previous culture already epitomized extreme strength and endurance. To impress them, Culture Three soldiers would stand on a tall hill where everyone could see them and cut off one of their own limbs, and then wave it at their enemies. Surprisingly, it worked and Culture Two armies ran away without a fight. At war parades Culture Three heroes would roll around on the ground because they had no legs to walk on. Later cultures regard them as a bit of an Old Shame.
  • Warcraft offers us a few examples with the rites of passage in some orcish clans:
    • Members of the Shattered Hand clan mangle one of their hands (and replace it with a weapon) to honor their chieftain, Kargath Bladefist.
    • The members of the Black Tooth Grin Clan in Warcraft II had to knock out one of their teeth as a rite of passage.
    • And finally, members of the Lightning's Blade Clan had to stand on top of a mountain in a thunderstorm with their axes lifted, and survive being struck by lightning at least three times.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, St Mannox cut off his own finger to underscore to a group of bandits that he would not be held for ransom. The finger bone was later turned into a powerful relic, solely through its inherent badassitude.
  • In order to prove your devotion to the cause of the Assassins in Assassin's Creed, you have to hack off your own ring finger. This is why the Hidden Blade is designed to be unusable unless the ring finger is missing. Heavily lampshaded in the second game, where Leonardo modifies the Hidden Blade to be usable with the finger still on (and then briefly tries to talk Ezio into removing the finger anyway), and some of the Codex pages (written by Altair) mention that the Assassins eventually decided this was a stupid tradition. They still keep part of this tradition, however. An Assassin's initiation from Ezio's time onward involves branding the Assassin sigil onto the neophyte's ring finger with hot iron and having him perform the Leap of Faith immediately afterwards. Making it more ridiculous, Assassin's Creed Origins reveals the tradition started by accident - Bayek sliced off his finger stabbing a target, and recruits started slicing off their fingers as a sign of dedication to the cause, something he was disturbed by but never bothered to correct.
  • Finch from Tales from the Borderlands is said to let people shoot him in the chest for fun, though he also charges them 40 bucks.
  • Torgue weapons in Borderlands 2 invoke this, partially as an advertising strategy, partially because Mr. Torgue is a nutcase who sweats testosterone and blasting gelignite. Instead of designing sleek, curved, high-tech devices like Maliwan or Hyperion, or simple and lightly adorned guns like Tediore or Dahl, Torgue guns are deliberately built to be chunky and weigh a ton even without the clips of exploding bullets, just so you can prove you're tough enough to carry one. This mostly doesn't apply in-game, though - since all guns are "equal" (they all take up one inventory/equipment slot and can be wielded as long as you meet the level requirement), Gadgeteer Genius Gaige (18 years old, 5'3" and relatively fresh out of high school) can wield them as effectively as Axton (a 5'9" professional soldier).
  • One Shrine quest in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild requires Link to stand on top of a roasting hot platform to prove to the "Goron Blood Brothers" that he is tough enough to do so. Unbeknownst to them, completing this unlocks one of the many shrines Link can access to acquire a Spirit Orb, meaning that this was also the intention of the monk that set the trial. Link isn't permitted to equip fireproof armour to protect himself from the flames, though there's nothing stopping from eating to heal, or drinking an elixir with the Fireproof buff. Of course, it's also possible to survive it unprotected if he has at least 24 hearts' worth of health.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The krogan living on Elaaden have taken to having starving contests, seeing how long they can go without food or water on the desert moon. Since krogan can store nutrients in their humps, this can last up to several days, if not longer.
  • The Flagellant from Darkest Dungeon is a religious Sense Freak who endures great suffering and pain to prove his devotion and deal the pain back to his enemies, to such great lengths that he becomes an Undead Abomination in the second game so he can feel the sensation for longer.

  • Rowasu of Juathuur makes a scar on his body for every person he kills. And he kills a lot.
  • Oglaf takes this trope to the logical extreme in "Beot." There's not much left for the monster to do.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • A million fraternity/club/gang hazing rituals, a billion tribal "manhood ceremonies," and a trillion prison and military rituals.
  • G. Gordon Liddy (of Watergate fame) would hold his hand in a candle flame until his flesh burned to prove his willpower.
  • Of course, the tried and true method of self-flagellation. This is a subcategory of "mortification of the flesh," a principle practised by dozens of religions.
  • Crushing beer cans on your head.
  • Tattooing/piercing/stretchers, especially when gang-related. Temporary piercings apply even more because you're subjecting yourself to pain with no permanent body decoration to show for it.
  • During the Winter War one Finnish general had the habit of wandering about frozen battlefields with his shirt open. But then he was something of a Patton-esque Sociopathic Hero.
  • George Carlin called some women's insistence on natural (pain reliever-free) birth "childbirth machismo."
  • The Thaipusam Festival, in which men spear themselves through the cheeks and get dragged down the street by meat hooks stuck into their backs. The underlying belief is "The more pain, the more 'god-induced merit.'"
  • Apparently there's an Inuit custom/ordeal that involves two people telling their side of the story while slashing themselves with bone knives all the while.
  • Two winners of the Darwin Awards took this trope and combined it with Chainsaw Good: One chopped his leg off to demonstrate his devotion to a woman upon whom he had an unrequited crush. Another one-upped him by chopping off his own head.
  • The Pain Olympics. Nothing more will be said about this.
  • Overlapping with Video Games: some funny person made a console called PainStation. It was a Pong-style game operated by holding two buttons with your left hand and operating the paddle with the right. The game can go to eleven points but not holding down the two buttons causes a meter to deplete which also determines if you lose. When the ball gets past your paddle and hits the popup hazards, you get an electric shock, have your hand warmed/burned, or even have the hand whipped. Any place that has this game posts a lot of health advisories and disclaimers when using this game.
  • One could argue that some varieties of exercise, diet and so on that are considered healthy have this component to them.
  • Mountain climbing in the Himalayas. It's badass "sport" to be sure, but you got to wonder about who in their right mind would do this for fun.
    • It may not even be for "fun". One of the first two men to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, was once asked why he underwent such a brutal, dangerous climb. His response of "It was there." is partially this trope and partially a real-life version of Bragging Rights Reward.
  • And of course there was a certain Greek city that was known for making this into the most noticeable aspect of its way of life.
  • Dueling scars, the result of academic fencing by upper-class German university students of the 19th and 20th centuries, were seen as badges of honor and proof of courage. The custom of mensur duels continue to this day, though the wounds are downplayed, and it's said that several major German companies require a mensur background.
  • The religious rituals of the ancient Mayan nobles involved piercing and cutting of various body parts, including tongues and penises.
  • Harada Sanosuke of the Shinsengumi pierced his belly with a sword in an attempt at Seppuku just to prove that he was a real samurai. He survived this.
  • During The Napoleonic Wars it was in some circles considered unmanly to use drinks or opium (the only "anesthetics" available) during surgery. This was, as you will note, a time when most military surgery consisted of amputation with a saw and cauterization with a branding iron.
  • Many members of Polar Bear swimming clubs participate in ice-swimming activities as a way to show off their endurance and willpower. Make no mistake: jumping into near-freezing water hurts.
  • Older Than Feudalism: According to legend, when the Etruscan king Lars Porsena captured a Roman assassin, the assassin (Gaius Mucius) told him that three hundred Roman youths had sworn to assassinate him. Mucius then thrust his hand into a sacrificial flame, saying "Watch this so that you know how cheap the body is to men who have their eye on great glory." Porsena released Mucius and offered peace to Rome; Mucius earned the name "Scaevola" ("left-handed") for himself and his heirs.
  • Some indigenous cultures around the world have practiced something called penile subincision, which is a form of genital cutting where a slit is made along the bottom of the penis. This serves as a rite of passage for pubescent males. (Think of it as a little like circumcision, but much more invasive.) Google pictures of it at your own risk.
  • Drink-Based Characterization can imply this in different ways. For example, some folks consider drinking your whiskey neat to be manlier than having it with a mixer or with a splash of water (in contrast, many argue that a splash of water, preferably mineral water from the same water source used to make the whiskey, brings out the drink's flavor).
  • The sport of Shin-kicking is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; two guys grab each other by the shoulders, and kick each other in the shins until one cries "sufficient!" While the agility to dodge and stay on your feet is certainly helpful, having a higher threshold for pain is likely to be the deciding factor.