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Mischief for Punishment

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Princess Christine: What a wonderful place! I hope you'll send me here for punishment some time.
Dark Prince Egon: You'll have to be awfully bad...
Princess Christine: Oh, I will be!

Alice is up to something that would get her punished if she'd get caught. However, she's not planning to get away with it. On the contrary, getting punished is at least part of the point. Maybe she considers the punishment to be a form of Unishment, or maybe getting caught is a part of some bigger scheme. The former is often related to Happiness in Slavery, Power Dynamics Kink, or Casual Kink, while the latter is often related to I Surrender, Suckers or Xanatos Gambit. Note that the difference is in the motivation, not in the act itself.

While this trope is usually played for Rule of Funny or Rule of Sexy, it can also be played for Rule of Creepy as a twisted masochistic version of Entitled to Have You: "I can do whatever I want to you against your will because I'd enjoy you getting mad at me or beating me up."

May result in either Threat Backfire or Can't Get in Trouble for Nuthin'. Compare Briar Patching, Get into Jail Free, Too Kinky to Torture, Prank Punishment.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the anime version of Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, the playing card girls are painting the rose girls' white costumes red. They are intentionally doing a rather shoddy job of it, hoping that the Queen will "punish" them.

    Comic Books 
  • In City of Dreams, Christine is eager to indulge her masochism. See page quote.
  • In one Fables short story, Mowgli makes sure to get locked up by his enemies. Not because he likes it in itself, but because it's preferable to being out in the open as the monsters he has unleashed go berserk.
  • Small Favors play this for laughs as part of a very Friendly War.
  • In the Back Story to Watchmen, the villain Captain Carnage who tried this, but things didn't go so well.
    Laurie: Hey, you remember that guy? The one who pretended to be a supervillain so he could get beaten up?
    Dan: Oh, You mean Captain Carnage. Ha ha ha! He was one for the books.
    Laurie: You're telling me! I remember, I caught him coming out of this jeweller's. I didn't know what his racket was. I start hitting him and I think "Jeez! He's breathing funny! Does he have asthma?"
    Dan: Ha Ha Ha. He tried that with me, only I'd heard about him, so I just walked away. He follows me down the street in broad daylight, right? He's saying "Punish me! Punish me!" I'm saying "No! Get lost!"
    Laurie: Ha Ha Ha. What ever happened to him?
    Dan: Well, he pulled it on Rorschach, and Rorschach dropped him down an elevator shaft.
  • Destra spends most of The Intimates doing every outlandish thing she can think of to get expelled from the Superhero School she attends. None of her attempts work. She has a history with this sort of behavior, having succeeded in provoking expulsions from 15 boarding schools over the past few years. She's not really into the whole "school" thing.
  • In the Doctor Who comic The Forgotten the 8th Doctor is in prison so he can break out and steal the Great Key of Rassilon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Dark Knight, part of The Joker's plan involves getting arrested by the police, because that's the only way he can get close to (and murder) Lao. After a protracted chase through the city, he appears to want Batman to run him down in the street, apparently unconcerned with his own life as long as he can get Bats to break his one rule.
  • In Secretary, the eponymous woman begins making egregious spelling errors in her typing to try to goad her boss into punishing her, from which she derives sexual gratification.
  • Ocean's Eleven: One of the many elements of the heist required that Danny Ocean (the ringleader) be detained by casino security while the heist was being executed in order to provide him with an alibi as well as putting the mark's mind at ease.
  • In North By Northwest, Roger Thornhill pursues Eve Kendall and Philip Vandamm to an art auction in Chicago but is cornered by Vandamm's henchmen when he tries to leave. Instead, he disrupts the auction, prompting a call to the police, then gets in a fight with a staff member to get himself arrested. He's taken away by the police, with Vandamm's men unable to intervene, and is later brought to see The Professor, who explains to Thornhill what's really going on.
  • National Security: Hank is a white police officer who has been wrongfully convicted of beating a black man. On the way to prison, he is assaulted by a couple of black inmates and subsequently restrained by a guard who threatens him with solitary confinement if he acts up. Seeing many more inmates waiting to attack him, Hank immediately elbows the guard in the face. Upon being released from solitary a few months later and seeing more inmates waiting, he immediately punches the guard in the face and resignedly returns to his sell.

  • Dinah Glass in The Demon Headmaster. She knows something is off about her school and is afraid but doesn't know why so she decides to get in trouble and see what happens to her.
  • One rather epic scene in Slave World is when Ruth attacks Lady Isobel in front of a lot of witnesses. Ruth had just been declared innocent by the court, which means that she would be shipped back home to her own timeline — and thus lose her beloved Isobel forever. By attacking her, she made herself guilty of a real crime. Just as she intended, she was promptly sentenced to be Isobel's slave.
  • Immediately proceeding the events of Warbreaker, Vasher got into a barroom brawl with a priest, just so he'd be thrown into the God-King's dungeons so he could get some Breaths from a captured rebel.
  • In The Wheel of Time, one very logically-minded Aes Sedai trainee makes a point of committing some small infraction at regularly scheduled intervals — just enough, in her assessment, to avoid getting a reputation for being a stickler for the rules.
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, Biondetta's exposure to an Eldritch Abomination made her obsessed with the feeling of hate...whether she's its originator or subject. So she does her best to anger those around her, savouring their annoyance like normal people savour wine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Castle, a man intentionally lets himself be arrested for murder. It turns out he was a rogue spy, killing a spy sent to bring him in, and he needed to get the files on a certain person.
  • In a first season episode of ICarly, Sam gets detention on the same day the main characters are planning to do a Milestone Celebration episode of the titular Show Within a Show, so Carly and Freddie decide to deliberately get detention too so they can serve it with her. Unfortunately for them, they Can't Get in Trouble for Nuthin', until Carly manages to piss off the local Sadist Teacher in the last minute of the school day by closing her locker too loudly, and he gives her detention on the spot. Freddie never manages it, so he sneaks into detention through the window.
  • At least one con on Leverage involves one member of the team being taken into the security room for minor purposes, to case the place and maybe plant a bug.
  • On Roseanne, nobody is really enjoying Grandma Bev's company. She's been interfering and condescending all day, especially toward Darlene. At the supper table, Darlene makes an inappropriate remark.
    Roseanne: Darlene, leave the table.
    Darlene: (nods with satisfaction) I thought that would do it. (happily goes to her room)

    Newspaper Comics 
  • FoxTrot: One strip has Jason desperate to get out of playing golf with his father, so he unleashes a storm of paper planes at his teacher in an effort to be forced to stay behind after school.

    Video Games 
  • Pico in Rune Factory 4 is constantly doing little things to annoy Dolce. At first it seems to be just because that's the kind of person she is. However, in later conversations, it's revealed Pico is a masochist and enjoys the punishments. It's also implied that Dolce enjoys the punishing, or at least tolerates it for Pico's sake.

    Web Comics 
  • Lisa of Sunstone loves getting in trouble with her friend and mistress Ally — as she explains to Anne, it's often a good idea, when you are the sub in a BDSM relationship, to give your dom a reason to "punish" you, as it does wonders for setting the mood.note 

    Web Original 
  • Cracked has one article about this happening at a high school.
    And what, exactly, constitutes a violation of the dress code at Gonzales High School? The obvious stuff, like wearing clothes that expose underwear. But how about cargo pants, baggy pants or T-shirts? In other words, if you look like a normal member of the community, you could be violating the school dress code and will be forced to dress like an inmate. No more dress code distractions in class now! Of course, this whole system means that the students would have to experience some shame and ridicule wearing the jumpsuits for it to be effective ... which is the exact opposite of what happened. According to one student, "I talked to some of my friends about it and they said they are not going to obey the dress code just so they can wear the jumpsuit."

    Western Animation 
  • Happens in an episode of Family Guy after Stewie misbehaves, is hit by Lois, and realizes he enjoys the abuse. He spends the rest of the episode trying to get into trouble just so that she'll spank him again.
  • In an episode of American Dad! Francine discovers that Stan spanks Steve when he misbehaves and discovers that she enjoys it after he demonstrates it on her when she accuses him of being too harsh. She then convinces Stan to spank her instead when Steve acts up and proceeds to spend half the episode framing Steve for things so Stan would take out his frustration on her.
  • On Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Bloo tries to get himself grounded so he wouldn't have a disgusting-looking dish being prepared for that night's dinner. However, Herriman winds up ignoring him while punishing everyone else in the house for nonsensical crimes so that they don't find out about his carrot addiction.
  • Young Justice (2010) has a number of ice villains, including Mr. Freeze, purposefully get sent to jail to help with a break-out. Once there they pull this trope again, with Mr. Freeze faking a fight so that he gets taken to the warden (Amanda Waller) as part of the operation.
  • Kaeloo: The main reason for Mr. Cat trying to make Kaeloo angry is that he finds her attractive when she's angry.
    • In one episode, Stumpy tries to misbehave in class so he will get sent home or be made to stand in the hall. It backfires since he is forced to write lines instead.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender two-parter "The Boiling Rock," Sokka's first escape plan involves stealing the Cooler (the solitary confinement cell, designed to almost-freeze firebenders to suppress their bending) and using it as a boat to drift across the volcanic lake that gives the prison its name. This means someone has to get inside to unbolt it, and the quickest way to do so is to have Zuko (their only firebending ally) get caught fighting.

    Real Life 
  • In the judicial system in the USA, convictions for less than 1 year is a misdemeanor, while more than 1 year is a felony. And, if the time served is less than a year, the prisoner will spend that time in jail instead of prison. Since prison is far nicer than jail (they have a yard to workout, access to reading materials, more room in general, often better food, etc.) and they're used to the rough company, it's not uncommon for a prisoner who is about to be sentenced to 10-11 months to beat up another prisoner with zero good reason: it'll give them 2-3 more months of time in a better living arrangement.


Video Example(s):


Kicked Out of Class

During a game of "school", Stumpy behaves badly on purpose so he can get kicked out of class and allowed to leave.

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