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Maximum Fun Chamber

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"Help! To do something, culling-season rejects, or to be pegged out in the pleasure pits!"
Thilf, Pime Doesn't Cray

An unspecified threat so awful that mere mention of it makes the strong go pale and the weakhearted clutch their chest, used as a Running Gag in a humorous series. Usually, the Maximum Fun Chamber itself is never shown or described, with whatever it actually is being left to the imagination of the viewer; when and if it is finally shown, it is usually deflated as something innocuous — at least, until it is seen in action.

Named for Hazel Green's isolation cell in the Webcomic College Roomies from Hell!!! (which, ironically enough, is not only shown, but is a genuinely serious threat as well); the name originally came out of a forum in-joke which the author picked up on as a Shout-Out.

The Maximum Fun Chamber can be seen as a cross between Noodle Implements and Cool and Unusual Punishment: Take Our Word for It for torture. The opposite of this trope is To the Pain, where the threat is described at great length. If played seriously, it becomes Room 101. If the name of a city (or other geographic location) is used this way, that's a Place Worse Than Death.

Compare Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Shirogane-sensei in the anime of Mahoraba takes "bad students" into a darkened back room which the viewer never sees inside, but can clearly hear the resultant screams of despair. Said students invariably emerge with Blank White Eyes and swear never to make the same mistake again.
  • Washu's Lab experiments in Tenchi Muyo! are often treated in this manner by characters within the series and in fanfiction.
  • In Penguin Musume, Sakura's sister has set up one of these for her. The lecture room.
  • The back of the van in Durarara!!. Walker and Erica make a captured enemy pick from one of the graphic novels they have with them and then torture the enemy based on the contents of the graphic novel.

  • The Labyrinth's Bog of Eternal Stench might qualify.
  • Wednesday Addams spends time in Camp Chippewa's Maximum Fun Chamber in Addams Family Values. It's unclear whether it really breaks her or she just pretends it does, but either way she reverts to her normal behavior soon enough.

    Comic Books 
  • Back when Deadpool had a captive old blind lady for a roommate, they liked to prank each other—except when Deadpool had enough and threatened to put her in "the Box". Subvertingly, it was actually explained in detail: it was a room full of really sharp things. Into which he put an old blind woman. Occasionally Weasel would get thrown in there too. Unbeknowst to them, Wade felt a little twinge of guilt every time, and always left the door unlocked. As time went on, he used The Box less and less.
  • Gary Larson liked using these as setups/punchlines in some of his strips, even though he received multiple letters after each one ran.

  • The Red Room in Jane Eyre. Jane gets locked in there for misbehaving; she's so terrified she passes out.
  • The Chokey in Matilda, which turns out to be a non-lethal (as far as we know) iron maiden.
  • Discworld:
    • The "Ginger Beer Trick" in Night Watch is a torture method left intentionally vague (not to mention Vimes and the guards just trick some prisoners into thinking they're doing it).note 
    • The Discworld's Guild of Fools and Jesters is built on the remains of a monastery formerly occupied by a sect of strict austere monks worshipping a dread infernal deity.note . The monastic cells formerly occupied by the monks are now Halls of Residence for student clowns, and the Chamber of Spikes, used for prayer and contemplation, is the guild's internal lock-up for criminals and dissidents. The whole of the Fools' Guild could be taken as one huge Maximum Fun Chamber, in fact.
    • An In-Universe case with Guards! Guards!. The Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night have an oath full of Antiquated Linguistics: "And it be well for a knowlessman that he should not be here, for he would be taken from this place and his gaskin slit, his moules shown to the four winds, his welchet torn asunder with many hooks and his figgin placed upon a spike." This sounds terrifying, but the novel itself provides us with the definitions of these Perfectly Cromulent Words shortly after the oath is first introduced, which serve as Nightmare Retardant: for instance, a welchet is a type of raincoat, while a figgin is a pastry. The Supreme Grand Master notes that not a single one of the Elucidated Brethren asks what any of these terms mean. Regardless, this comes back as a Brick Joke when one of the Night's Watch asks one of the Brethren if he wants his figgin toasted, which causes the latter to flee in terror.
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe has the Total Perspective Vortex. The device's function is to make one viscerally aware of one's place in the entire universe, utterly crushing the soul. It IS an effective, terrifying threat, except Zaphod steps into it...inside a virtual copy of the universe created just for him, so it merely reaffirms his personal view that he is the most important being in the entire universe.
  • The "Waiting Room" in The Mysterious Benedict Society. Students at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened are generally terrified of being sent there, but most have no idea what it even is. It turns out to be just a room full of very stinky mud with a lot of bugs swarming around, and none of them are actually dangerous.
  • From Star Trek: String Theory, the Ninth Dimension. Apparently, the Q and other omnipotent beings dread being Spaced to the Ninth Dimension as punishment, though it's never explained why.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "Ward E", from the Made-for-TV Movie The Stranger (which was later turned into an MST3K episode).
    • Another example from MST3K, "The Assembly Line" from Warriors of the Lost World.
    • Dr. Forrester himself threatens Frank with several punishments in MST3K episode The Day The Earth Froze, but only a threat of "the Box" gets Frank to obey.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Power Rangers in Space, Astronema's favorite punishment is having minions taken to "play with Scrudley," a beast we never get to see but which terrifies minion Elgar.
    • In Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, Mesogog's "Punishment Chamber" is never shown. Given his standard punishment is to zap his underlings with a psychic Agony Beam, it can't be pleasant.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look used a version of this; an estate agent pesters a woman who works with torture victims for the worst torture story she's ever heard. There's a cut-off, and the agent comes out absolutely terrified, barely standing and appalled at the callousness of life.
  • A special 'hidden' record in From-The-Makers-Of-Banzai Banzai knockoff The Peoples Book Of Records remained totally unknown to the viewer until the last episode. The leadup to the record attempt showed the competitor being led to a room beside a swimming pool by a referee. Arty shots of the pool would be shown during the attempt, after which the ref would leave with a flustered competitor, and tell them the value of their record. It was a challenge to see how many times you could slap said referee's bottom in 60 seconds
  • The dreaded "Awful Waffle" from Salute Your Shorts apparently involves maple syrup and a tennis racket, but little else about it is revealed.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus inverts this with the Spanish Inquisitors threatening to fetch THE COMFY CHAIR followed by gasps and shudders as the Inquisitors go to fetch an actual comfy chair. In addition to having to sit in the chair, they poke the subject with THE SOFT CUSHIONS while she has tea. This doesn't quite work so chief Inquistor orders THE RACK — a dishrack is promptly produced. Forget the rack. One of the inquisitors does question whether this is all there is to the process before, upon receiving confirmation that it is, eventually deciding that they make it worse by shouting at her. It does... for one of the other inquisitors, who tearfully confesses.
  • In Severance (2022), employees of the Severed Floor dread being sent to the "Break Room", which is usually reserved for extreme infractions. It's eventually revealed it has that name because it's where they break your spirit: employees are forced to read a short speech "acknowledging" their guilt, the harm they have done, and their regret for their actions while hooked up to a lie detector device and are not allowed to leave until the device shows that they truly believe it. It's implied that the process can take over a thousand repetitions and that it might involve physical abuse as well.
  • The Eastern Front is frequently used as such a threat on Hogan's Heroes, usually to Colonel Klink by his superiors. Though when one considers the casualties the Germans suffered when fighting the Russians in real life, its very easy to see why serving on the Eastern Front was a post that people would rather avoid.
  • Hannah Montana: Jackson's closet. Only the outside is seen, the only thing we know about it is that it's strong enough to make Oliver faint.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Half-Life 2, Overwatch Soldiers in Nova Prospekt are threatened with Permanent Off-World Reassignment if they fail their mission. Citizens are also sometimes threatened with this if they do not comply with the Combine's regime.
  • In Psychonauts, the Geodesic Psychoisolation Chambers qualify.
  • In Super Mario RPG, a hostage is held by a boss and threatened with torture, revealed to be tickling. The action is not seen, the enemy retreats to a building and the player only hears screams of insane tortuous laughter, escalating each time Mario refuses to hand over the MacGuffin.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day makes mention of one of these. The Panther King mentions that he "Doesn't want to have to get the duct tape out again.", and his Mad Scientist flunkie visibly pales and becomes much more subservient. Once he's alone, the mad scientist rambles angrily to himself about how he'll give his boss the duct tape once his plans come to fruition.
  • In Persona 3, if the girls catch you while you're in the hot springs with them, most of them will reprimand you, but then Mitsuru just yells "PUNISHMENT!" and the screen fades to black. Afterward, everyone agrees never to speak of it again. Especially notable in that Akihiko —the only one in the group who has known Mitsuru for several years, a very confident boxer, and the most self-assured character in the game — utterly freaks out at the mere thought of being caught, because he knows what Mitsuru will do to them. In the Japanese version the word used refers to a practice where boys are whipped in the junk with wet towels. It's apparently a relatively commonplace highschool prank. In the manga, the punishment is revealed to be Mitsuru using her Persona's Ice Powers to freeze them up to their necks.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, Guybrush must prove his mettle by reaching into the cage of the fearsome beast that took Meathook's hands. It turns out to be an ordinary parrot. There's also "The Carnival of the Damned", at least for Guybrush.
  • Zork Zero has a Shout-Out to Monty Python with its comfy chair, with the twist that it's so comfy you die of starvation rather than get up.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri gives us the Punishment Sphere and Nerve Stapling, both of which sound evil in an Orwellian kind of way, but are never described in-game—all we know is that the former cuts scientific research in half in the base you build it in, and the latter is considered an atrocity and results in 10 years of economic sanctions. (It's apparently in the background materials, but only a small fraction of people who bought the game ever saw those.)

  • A threat of sending someone to Castle Heterodyne is usually responded to with stark terror in Girl Genius. When we get introduced to Castle Heterodyne, you find out why. Wouldn't you be terrified of being sent to repair a building with multiple personalities, all of which are based on the original sociopathic personality, and nearly all of them willing to deal lethally with what are perceived to be intruders?
    • The castle itself seems to contain several, notably the "Red Playroom".
  • The rehabilitator in Bob and George.

    Web Original 
  • In this Let's Play of Monster Rancher, monsters are punished for foolery (or just because the player is grumpy) with a trip to "The Box". This works beautifully on the monsters and seems sinister and cruel—that is, until a child NPC's illustration shows us exactly what it entails...
  • Strexcorp’s ‘company picnic’ from Welcome to Night Vale. At first implied to simply be a picnic that you never get to leave, and becomes depressingly boring rather quickly once you run out of small talk to whittle the time away with. Later, though, more sinister implications about it are dropped.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Kappa Mikey involves the "Tatami Room". The version threatened is rather different from the one the characters eventually wind up in.
  • In VeggieTales: Esther, the Girl who Became Queen, two criminal peas are sentenced to the Island of Perpetual Tickling. We never see the Island, but its mere name brings horror to all, and the peas are driven there by some sort of a Grim Reaper with a feather. Very dark and tense music is played whilst the Grim Tickler is onscreen.
  • In Adventures in Care-a-lot: Oopsy Does It!, the mere mention of "that little talk" is enough to make the villain's minion literally fall apart.
  • In an episode of Aladdin: The Series where Mirage puts the city to sleep and sends them nightmares, Iago ends up yelling in his sleep "Jafar?!....No! Not the Cage of Torment!"
  • Invader Zim: A room...with a MOOSE!
    • To be fair, it was a BIG moose—and it was eating walnuts whole.
    • Every school class receives three "crazy cards" per month. These cards are used to commit students to a mental institution — though never seen for very long in the "real" world, Dib's mind made it nightmarish.
  • A 1950 Looney Tunes cartoon, It's Hummer Time (no, not what you think) where a dog punishes a cat for disturbing his sleep in his attempts to eat a hummingbird (said bird quickly starts tricking him into disturbing the dog). The cat's eventual response is "Not 'Happy Birthday'! NOT 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY'!!!". The dog and cat return in Early to Bet (1951), where a Jerkass Gambling Bug keeps inciting the cat to gamble with the dog, with the loser suffering from a roulette wheel of punishments. Eventually, the cat and the bug make a high-card bet— which the bug loses, so the cat subjects it to "The Post" - being attacked with a rolled-up copy of the newspaper The Post.
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters featured an episode in which the main characters went out on Halloween despite having been forbidden to do so. Ickis, the ringleader, is offered three choices of punishment: "1. Something Bad. 2. Something Really Bad. 3. You Don't Want To Know." A rare case of three Maximum Fun Chambers, each more Fun than the last.
    • By the way, "You Don't Want To Know" looks like a very nice house your very nice granny might live in. For a group of monsters that live in/under a garbage dump, that probably would be utter hell.
  • Going WAY back, there's an episode of The Flintstones where Fred and Barney are at the mercy of a diabolical megalomaniac who disposes of unwanted individuals in "the pit".
  • The Fairly OddParents! has the Fun Box, courtesy of Flappy Bob's Peppy Happy Learnatorium:
  • On Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Space Ghost at one point threatens his villainous band-leader Zorak by saying he'll "Put him in the box." Zorak, who normally serves as a completely unflappable Deadpan Snarker acts completely terrified, quietly stammering, "Th... the box?" before quickly doing as he's told.
  • On Futurama, Richard Nixon's Head mentions that in this setting, people are free to skip paying their taxes if they agree to spend a weekend with the Pain Monster. Cut to a scary-looking creature in the audience, who waves and cheerfully calls "See ya April 15th, folks!" Sounds like quite a few people prefer him to taxes...
  • On Daria, Upchuck makes a comment in Ms. Barch's class, and she threatens to send him to "independent study". Upchuck shudders and says "No... not the closet..."