The single most powerful deterrent to kidnapping in all fiction, (and certainly in the mundane category), is to be so annoying that the kidnapper requires an active force of will to keep their sanity. What makes them annoying isn't important. In truly bizarre cases, the kidnappers can be annoyed because their victim insists on being kind, upbeat, and forgiving even through torture. The point is, nobody wants to be around them and that ransom note looks increasingly unimportant as compared to the promise of not having to deal with the Anthropomorphic Personification of "damned pest" day in and day out.
This can lead to an especially awkward situation when it turns out that the extortee doesn't want the hostage back. Expect much comedy to abound in this scenario, in part because a sufficiently vicious kidnapper would not get in this situation in the first place. Foiled by niceness once again, it seems.
This trope is a fairly old one. O. Henry's famous example "The Ransom of Red Chief" executes this trope using a pair of kidnappers (and a particularly bratty kid as the "victim") back in 1910, and there are stories, jokes, and folk tales going back to the Middle Ages and beyond of someone who escapes damnation because the Devil Himself doesn't want to deal with her (and it was almost always a her, because the Middle Ages were like that).
It's fairly common for this trope to be invoked if the captive is particularly Genre Savvy or cunning. Subversions, aversions, and defiances of this Trope usually (although not universally) involve the kidnapper hitting a Rage Breaking Point and demonstrating how much of a bad idea this was, being unrelentingly evil in the face of said annoyance, or the hostage finding out the hard way that whatever is the final objective of the kidnapper they don't need to be alive (or at least conscious) for it to be achieved.
Compare Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth, where the captive is intolerable even to the most hardened captor, Prefer Jail to the Protagonist, where the villain is forced to flee from the hero's presence even if it means being re-incarcerated, and Talking the Monster to Death, where the captive directly challenges the captor's beliefs and motivations. Contrast Poisonous Captive, who insidiously subverts and undermines the captors. If you pity the kidnappers because they're about to get their asses kicked by the kidnappee, then that's Mugging the Monster. Also compare Defiant Captive, who is more 'uncooperative' than simply 'annoying'. See also Sick Captive Scam, which is another trope that works better when the captors don't want any harm to come to the captive.
Not to be confused with Stockholm Syndrome, in which the kidnappee develops pity/amicability with the kidnapper; Contrast Lima Syndrome, in which the kidnapper actually starts to like or feel sympathy for the victim.
- In Hetalia: Axis Powers, Germany, America, England, and France have ALL, on separate occasions, tried to hold Italy prisoner. It never works out.
- Germany has recently taken Italy prisoner. Germany, bored out of his mind and furious that Italy doesn't even want to escape, is pushed to the limit when Italy starts singing Germany a song. The song starts out as complimentary, but it then starts to insult Germany's attitude, food, "scary tourists" and overly abrasive girls. Italy is shipped back home in a box before he is even finished singing.
- The Allies shipped Italy back to Germany twice, once after America captured him (although they were willing to keep him like a dog until he insulted England's cooking, at which point America immediately decided not to keep him), then again after France captured him. Both times, the box had 'FUCK' written on it, in big, bold letters.
- In Zoids: New Century, Polta and the Backdraft Group have kidnapped Leena. While he calmly attempts to negotiate, Leena can be heard in the background shouting down her kidnappers and harassing them. Polta stops talking twice, once to order them to restrain her and another after asking "excuse me a minute", when she threw something that hit him in the face. He leaves the video call to stop her and returns visibly beaten and disheveled, but successful at least.
- An early episode of Dragon Ball GT saw Goku, transformed into a child by the Black Star Dragon Balls, get kidnapped by a gang of thugs. (Well, technically he goes along with them willingly, not realizing that they are kidnappers.) He forces them to spend all of their money on food for him, undermines their attempts to negotiate a ransom from his friends, and in the end simply flies away when it's time to go home.
- In Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, you will feel sorry for the demons who kidnapped Princess Syalis of the Human Nation as they constantly feel the wrath of the Princess in her quest for the perfect sleep.
- The Marvel Universe robot character Machine Man (Aaron Stack) was nudged toward sentience by the alien Celestials at his creation. Years later, they abducted him and took him into space. They then returned him to Earth with little explanation for their actions. Suffering from self-esteem issues, Aaron claims they returned him because they thought he was boring and obnoxious.
- A flashback in Nextwave (which may or may not be real) has the Celestials telling Aaron that he's a loser. Complete with L on the forehead. And they mock him further when he Wangsts about it.
Celestial: Aaron Stack, you who were called Machine Man. You have travelled with us for three hundred and sixty cycles by your reckoning of time. There is now something we have to tell you. You are total ☠☠☠☠.
Aaron: ... What?
Celestial: No. Really. You're ☠☠☠☠. We've taken a year of you. We're taking you back to that orbiting trashcan you call a planet. And dumping you there. ... You're turning away from us. We are speaking to you and you're turning away from us. This is exactly the kind of ☠☠☠☠ we're talking about here.
- A flashback in Nextwave (which may or may not be real) has the Celestials telling Aaron that he's a loser. Complete with L on the forehead. And they mock him further when he Wangsts about it.
- In The DCU, Lobo, Karnevil, and The Joker have all been kicked out of hell at one point or another. Lobo for throwing wild parties and causing massive damage to demons and property, Karnevil for annoying/freaking out the demons by constantly pointing out better torture methods, and the Joker for being the Joker.
- Features in a Judge Dredd story, where a criminal kidnaps a woman for ransom after she frees him in the mistaken belief that Society Is to Blame. Of course, she's so saccharinely annoying that he's soon begging to be taken to prison just to get away from her.
- Happens a few times in the Asterix stories.
- In Asterix the Gladiator, Cacofonix is captured by a Roman prefect to give to Caesar as a gift. The suffering of the kidnappers only increases on their journey as they spend more and more time with Cacofonix's singing which however ends up giving them a much more effective threat that the whip for the galley slaves who promise to do their best if this inhuman torture stops, which it does in the old-fashioned way. And as for Caesar, he doesn't deserve pity either, as he is not the one guarding Cacophonix's cell but rather some poor soul of a legionary.
- In Asterix in Spain, Romans try to get a village of Iberians to surrender by holding the chief's son Pepe hostage. Pepe is, of course, a Bratty Half-Pint who drives the Roman soldiers guarding him up the wall, complicated by the fact that Julius ordered for no abuse or punishment against the child (in order to better indoctrinate him) and is little better when Asterix and Obelix offer to take him home to his father.
- Lucky Luke's fiancee in the album of the same name is kidnapped by the Dalton gang as bait to get Luke. Like most examples of this trope she gets on Joe's nerves and leads the rest of the boys to housework and chores. Instead of doing the obvious thing of tying her up and gagging her, they surrender.
- There has been at least one Batman story wherein Alfred is kidnapped by thugs with ambitions towards the Wayne trust fund. Unfortunately for them, Alfred is generally portrayed as a Retired Badass with shades of Battle Butler.
- Impulse #50: "Impulse Agent of the Bat". Bart is drawn into a Batman/Joker conflict and the combination of his Super Speed and short attention span prove to be too annoying for The Joker.
Joker (writing a poem) Tell me, speedy... What rhymes with "obnoxious irritating fleet-footed superbrat?"◊
Impulse: No it doesn't!
- In the first arc of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) comics, Chrysalis gives the Mane Six three days to find and rescue the Cutie Mark Crusaders, partly because that's when the Comet of Doom will be in position, but mostly because she's already starting to get annoyed by their constant chatter and cutie mark obsession.
- Tintin: While she isn't thrown out, Bianca Castafiore's stay in a San Theodoran prison is very stressful on the guards, who keep coming out of her cell with spaghetti on their heads because it wasn't cooked to her liking. When she is rescued by Tintin and the revolutionaries, she wants to break into song, which is met by a hasty "No! No!" by Captain Haddock and the San Theodoran officer.
- Abdullah, the son of Emir Kalish Ezab, is a Spoiled Brat and an absolute terror who constantly pulls painful pranks on his captors, even when he's actively held at gunpoint by Dr. Mueller. This also leads to the villain's capture, as Mueller tries to shoot himself with the gun Abdullah gave him to avoid capture, but it turns out to be a squirt gun full of ink.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: in the story where Mortadelo's and Filemón's nephews appear, they are kidnapped by a soon-to-be judged criminal that demands all proofs against him as payment. The two children proceed to make his life a living hell for his troubles. Of course, it ends up working for him when the kids destroy those proofs as part of his games.
- One Piranha Club story arc had Mother Packer being kidnapped. Much asskicking ensued.
- Doonesbury: The Red Rascal's been captured by terrorists, but he had just googled a certain Ear Worm.
Red Rascal: ...Friday. Gettin' down on Friday! Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend!
Terrorist 1: Aggg...
Terrorist 2: No! No more!
- An old Bloom County strip features Bill the Cat being traded to the Soviets in a prisoner exchange, causing one character to remark "Such a fate even the evil empire don't deserve!"
- The Lord of the Rings fanfic the Ransom At The Redhorn explores the situation where Elrond's wife Celebrían (daughter of Galadriel) is taken prisoner by Orcs. The canon tells us unspecified torments were suffered in the Orc-Den. But, as Thranduil Oropherion Redux points out, the reality of who suffered torments and who inflicted the torments might be rather different. It is noticeable Elrond was not in much of a hurry to get his wife back.
- A good portion of Calvin and Hobbes III: Double Trouble is Calvin and Hobbes annoying Chill (his kidnapper). Rupert and Earl exploit this in order to kill Calvin.
- In We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
- Deconstructed in The Rise of Darth Vulcan. When Diamond Tiara gets kidnapped by Darth Vulcan, she whines and screams and cries and kvetches and does everything this trope involves—so the evil overlord just proceeds to treat her as brutally as possible until she lets it off. He later comments that this trope doesn't actually work in real life.
- Defied (in a most soberingly brutal fashion) on I Against I, Me Against You: Rarity's attempt to pull this trick on the Big Bad (explicitly referencing the episode "A Dog And Pony Show") ends with said Big Bad (a violent psychopath Knight of Cerebus, unlike the Goldfish Poop Gang that were the Diamond Dogs) murdering a fellow prisoner Mauve Shirt right in front of Rarity in retaliation.
- Bleach fanfic To The Limit has Orihime using her powers of Rejection to give Aizen his "Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Week."
- In Earth and Sky, at one point Diamond Tiara is abducted by the Changelings... and is shortly after kicked out of their hive, because even they can't stand her.
- Infinity Crisis: In Gamma Relations, when Tony states how Bruce has been kidnapped Pietro asks who they should be sending condolence cards to.
- In Conversations with a Cryptid, this happens to the poor sods who decide to kidnap Izuku. All for One is not happy about how they tortured his only child, and both rescues Izuku and turns the lot of them into chunky salsa.
- In The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain: Clavius, an Evil Sorcerer, kidnaps Queen Uberta, who manages to redecorate the dungeon, get good food and get the Clavius' minion Knuckles confused enough to follow her orders instead of his. She also keeps complaining about how it's her birthday. She doesn't even stop when Clavius turns her into a bunch of different animals.
- In Strange Magic, The Bog King kidnaps the fairy princess Dawn in order to get back a love potion. Unfortunately, she's been hit with it, and falls in love with him and can't stop singing about it, driving everyone in the castle up the walls. He solves this by using her desire to please him by convincing her to go to sleep.
- Deconstructed in Rango; when Beans is kidnapped by the bad guys and gets defiant/irritating, Rattlesnake Jake just starts beating and choking her to force her to comply. When she continues resisting, he almost kills her and only stops when Rango interrupts him.
- In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World an attempt by the heroes to capture Grimmel the Grisly goes bad and, in their haste to retreat, Ruffnut is left behind. When Grimmel locks her up, she starts babbling literally non-stop about all sorts of trivial nonsense (including her annoying twin brother, her love life, and her hair braids) until he snaps, releases her, gives her a dragon fledgling to ride, and tells her to just get out. Ruffnut is quite proud of how she used her talent to be annoying this way. Unfortunately, she's not nearly as clever as she thinks; Grimmel also heard her babbling about the Hooligan tribe's new island base and had her followed back to them.
- In "Weird Al" Yankovic's movie UHF janitor/uber-popular children's show host Stanley Spadowski drives his Mafia captors crazy with his inane guessing games and loud rendition of the theme from Bonanza. It's not entirely clear if he even knew he'd been kidnapped; he was blindfolded and being driven away at gunpoint before he realized that they weren't pizza delivery guys.
- To give an example as to how inane the guessing games were, Stanley was trying to get them to play I-Spy... while he was blindfolded.
Stanley: I'm thinking of something orange. Something orange. Give up? It's an orange!
- To give an example as to how inane the guessing games were, Stanley was trying to get them to play I-Spy... while he was blindfolded.
- In Dennis the Menace, Switchblade Sam is initially okay with taking Dennis hostage, but Dennis being his usual mischievous self, he doesn't make things easy for Sam.
- The main character in High Strung spends most of the film complaining about whatever is within his view. At the end, he is dragged away by Death (played by Jim Carrey), who eventually lets him go because he complains so much.
- No Deposit, No Return — again, the kidnapees are child terrors.
- Ruthless People is all about this trope (and You Can Keep Her too).
- Baby's Day Out has three bumbling kidnappers completely unable to keep one baby corraled, with hilariously painful results. The baby isn't trying to hurt anyone, he's just going about his adventure. It's the kidnappers themselves who are getting into trouble.
- French movie Le Grand Chef is an adaptation of The Ransom of Red Chief. You do the math.
- The Mummy Returns, too, couldn't resist dragging this one out. ("Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "NO!")
- In Midnight Run, Jack is a licensed bounty hunter, not a kidnapper, but otherwise the dynamic is the same, as Mardukas annoys the bejesus out of him with his constant irritating questions. The same film showcases a defiance of this trope when rival bounty hunter Marvin gets a hold of Mardukas: Mardukas starts trying to be annoying, but Marvin just knocks him out with one punch and by the time Mardukas wakes up again, they've made it all the way to Las Vegas and Marvin has handcuffed him to a toilet and is taking pictures of him as proof he's got him so he can sell him out to The Mafia.
- In Pure Luck (and the original French movie La Chèvre), an extremely accident-prone woman goes on a vacation and ends up getting Easy Amnesia. A guy sees an opportunity (correctly assuming her family to be wealthy) and takes her, figuring he could get a lot of money for her return, once she remembers who she is, that is. By the time the detectives find the guy, he has lost all his money to her bad luck and is in debt to a drug dealer. He explains that he ended up passing her off to another guy. Naturally, things aren't much better for that guy either (she costs him a plane, for one).
- A Straightforward Boy is a 1929 short film about two kidnappers who grab a Japanese boy, only to send him back after the boy proves way too irritating.
- The entire plot of The Ref. A jewel thief takes a couple hostage while he tries to get out of town, only for him to find out the hard way how dysfunctional they are. And then the rest of the Dysfunction Junction shows up for Christmas dinner, which means he has to pretend to be the couple's marriage counselor in order to keep from arousing suspicion. Hilarity Ensues.
- Talesof Halloween: In "The Ransom of Rusty Rex", two kidnappers abduct what they believe to be the son of a millionaire. However, their victim actually turns out to be a malicious goblin that has been plaguing the millionaire's life for years. Now that it is gone, he has no intention of ever taking it back.
- O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief" is a Trope Codifier. The titular "Red Chief" (what the kid calls himself in his first game, Cowboys and Indians) is so bad, that the kidnappers had to pay a ransom to his father to take him back! Totally understandable, as the kid was no mere Bratty Half-Pint, but rather both a Motor Mouth and a precocious Magnificent Bastard- one memorable scene involves one of the kidnappers being ambushed in his sleep and nearly scalped with his own knife.
"What you getting up so soon for, Sam?" asked Bill.
"Me?" says I. "Oh, I got a kind of a pain in my shoulder. I thought sitting up would rest it."
"You're a liar!" says Bill. "You're afraid. You was to be burned at sunrise, and you was afraid he'd do it."
- When the hapless duo did finally get the boy back home, he wanted to stay and play with his abductors, so his own father had to hold him back to give them time to flee on foot, with the fat Bill outrunning his fitter counterpart by a mile and a half in his haste to leave the terror behind.
- The short story "A Good Boy" by Desmond Warzel references "The Ransom of Red Chief" by name. The titular boy turns out to be a lot more than just an annoyance, though...
- Saki's "The Disappearance of Crispina Umberleigh" inverts this trope by having the kidnap victim be odious enough that the kidnappers successfully extract eight years' worth of ransom from her family by threatening to return her. Even though, as it turns out, they don't actually have her.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
- The Nac Mac Feegle, a race of belligerent, six-inch tall, red-haired, kilt-wearing blue men (also known as pictsies) were rumoured to have been thrown out of Fairyland for being drunk and disorderly. This trope is even more perfectly exemplified in Wintersmith, the third book featuring them, where they accompany the young man Roland to the Underworld to rescue the goddess Summer. Roland gets across the river Styx by paying Death the classical two pennies, but when he retrieves Summer and wants to cross back the other way, Death demands another six pence, which Roland doesn't have. However, when the Feegles say that if Roland stays, they're obligated to stay with him, the ferryman quickly changes his mind and lets them go.
- In Carpe Jugulum, where Granny Weatherwax is about to march off into the woods after the Magpyrs. Mightily Oates (a visiting Omnian priest quite unaware of Granny's reputation) asks the villagers:
Oates: Aren't you going to stop her? There are monsters in that forest!
Villagers: So why should we care what happens to a bunch of monsters? That's Granny Weatherwax, that is.
- In Feet of Clay, a gang takes Angua (a werewolf) hostage. Their injuries are reported as "self-inflicted".
- The now-out-of-print children's picture book The Barons Booty is about a nefarious but soft-hearted Wicked Baron who kidnaps a nobleman's dozen-or-so young daughters while gloating in rhyme about the ransom he plans to demand for them. The children turn out to be cute but demanding, and the kind-hearted baron is worn down trying to keep them happy. To his shock, the girls' father declares that he is rather enjoying his break from them and sees no reason to take them all back. The baron ends up bankrupting himself bribing the father to let him return the kids.
- In Simon R. Green's Blue Moon Rising, Prince Rupert arrives at a dragon's lair only to find a dragon who desperately wants to be rid of an aggressive, tomboyish, loud princess who was sent to it to die. When asked later why the dragon is helping them, Rupert answers that he rescued it from a princess.
- In Ratbags and Rascals, a collection of short stories by Robin Klein, 'The Kidnapping of Clarissa Montgomery' is an example of this. Clarissa is an obnoxious Rich Bitch who complains constantly and bullies her kidnappers into submission, forcing them to learn French verbs, beating them at cards and even sending out her own ransom note and collecting the briefcase with the ransom in it as she can't trust the kidnappers to do a good job. The briefcase contains no money, just a note from her guardian saying 'Do not want Clarissa back. She is too irritating and bossy. You can keep her. Glad to get rid of her.' Clarissa then takes over the gang.
- In a Polish poem, Pani Twardowska, the Devil comes to claim the soul of a wizard, Sir Twardowski, after he visits Rome (accidentally, an inn Twardoski just happens to visit is called "Rome"). There was, however, a part of the deal that allowed Twardowski to give the Devil three last tasks, and failing one would result in breaking the deal. The first task is to build a cathedral from various absurd materials like Jews' beards and in an impossibly short time, which the Devil manages. The second is to bathe in holy water, which he, very reluctantly, forces himself to. The third task is to live with Mrs. Twardowska. The Devil gives up.
- In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Herman the dwarf is really tired of helping girls spin straw into gold and then claiming their firstborn children along with a share of the cash. It's not that he doesn't like the children, it's just that they're expensive to feed, forcing him to run the same dodge all over again to get more money.
- His dialogue implies he's long since stopped trying to kidnap children; first he legally changed his name to Herman to make his name easy to guess (it never worked), then he tried moving out away from everybody. People still find him and keep managing to talk him into spinning more straw into gold, and he always gets stuck with more children. The children themselves are generally well-behaved, and he does like children and takes good care of them - it's the situation which is unfortunate.
- Jennifer the Jerk Is Missing has a group of kidnappers who can't stand their 8-year-old charge, even when she's tied to a chair, due to her constant complaining and mocking.
Kidnapper: That kid's driving me nuts! I'm restraining myself all the time! I keep wanting to bust her in the chops every time she opens that big mouth of hers!
- In Animorphs one Yeerk is practically driven insane by his own host. Said host constantly recited Henry V, so when the yeerk finds the Time Matrix the first thing he does with it is kill the inspiration for that play, just to silence him.
- In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace is such a miserable person to be around that the slave-dealers who kidnap the crew cannot sell him and try, without success, to give him away for free.
- Happened in the novel Jimmy The Kid (a sequel to The Hot Rock) by Donald Westlake, and the movie based on the book.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's short story "Helping Freddie" (later rewritten for the Jeeves and Wooster series as "Fixing It for Freddie"), a young Upper-Class Twit comes up with a Zany Scheme to help his friend Freddie, whose fianceé has broken up with him. He kidnaps a small boy who he thinks is the fianceé's cousin, intending for Freddie to bring the kid home and play the hero. Then the boy turns out to be unrelated to the fianceé, his actual guardian turns out to be in quarantine, and our hero is stuck with him for the rest of the story.
By Jove, you know, till I started to tramp the place with this infernal kid, I never had a notion it would have been so deuced difficult to restore a child to its anxious parents. It's a mystery to me how kidnappers ever get caught.
- Jasmine's attempt to kidnap Matt from a casino hotel in The Affix goes way south from the outset. Having lost a few marbles already, Matt is starting to understand the probability-breaking gem he's stuck with, and uses it along with his newfound brashness to tweak her repeatedly until her eye twitches—then tries to make her other eye twitch. Then the kidnapping is interrupted by a third party and her night gets a whole lot worse.
- The kidnappers in "The Snatching of Bookie Bob" by Damon Runyon successfully get a $25,000 ransom for him. Unfortunately for them, they spent their time waiting for the payment gambling with Bob, and end up owing him $50,000.
- Angel combines this one with Enfante Terrible in "I've Got You Under My Skin": after discovering a young boy is possessed by a demon, Angel Investigations exorcises it and then tracks its physical form down to kill it... a fate the demon welcomes, as the little boy was so evil by himself that the demon found himself trapped in a hellish mindscape for years.
- On The A-Team, in the season 3 episode "Bounty", resident lunatic Murdock is abducted by bounty hunters thinking they can use him to find the team. He manages to drive them crazy before they even get back to their hideout.
- Babylon 5 presents a nonantagonistic version: Garibaldi arrests G'Kar for assaulting Londo Mollari (long story). Sometime later, Garibaldi notes that a petition was passing around because the station population thought Garibaldi's men were torturing G'Kar. What was actually happening was that G'Kar was singing to pass the time. But that wasn't what got him out early. Instead, the station was about to go under martial law and Garibaldi needed his security out on the beat, not guarding an otherwise model prisoner.
- Doctor Who: In "The Fires of Pompeii", Donna is abducted by the Sibylline Sisterhood while the Doctor's back is turned. When he shows up to rescue her, neither of them are very concerned about the fact that Donna was about to become a Human Sacrifice (mainly for blasphemy, but also for being, well, Donna).
- On Dynasty (2017), Fallon is abducted and quickly drives her kidnappers nuts by complaining about them only asking for $15 million for her, cutting her hair into bangs, and complaining about her surroundings like it's a hotel. And then, they also net Fallon's step-mother Cristal so the two women bitch at each other constantly.
- Fantasy Island had a B-plot that involved two kidnappers trying to ransom Tattoo. He and Mr. Roarke are both quite familiar with the Red Chief story, referred to above, and Tattoo is roughly child-sized...
- Father Brown: The robbers in "The Great Train Robbery" who abduct Mrs McCartney and Lady Felecia to cover their getaway soon regret it. The two women are soon directing their behaviour and dictating the ransom note.
- On General Hospital, after being kidnapped by goons working for her husband's enemies, Laura Spencer proceeded to drive them crazy with her mood swings, demands, and cravings—she was 5-6 months pregnant—then genuinely began to worry them by complaining of abdominal pains. Her husband burst in to save her just as one of them decided to relent and release her, at which point it turned out she'd been faking everything.
- An episode of Grimm has a Wesen with a grudge against Sean Renard kidnap his young daughter Diana. When the kidnapper first calls Renard, the latter starts to panic at first, then he remembers that Diana is the most powerful Hexenbiest in history and no moral qualms about torture and murder. So, the next several times the kidnapper calls, Sean reacts very casually, doing everyday things, such as going out for a jog, figuring the guy will eventually beg him to take Diana back. Yeah, that's exactly what happens, and Diana even asks Sean if she can come back and "play" some more with the guy later, much to the horror of the kidnapper, who has been beaten to a pulp by the girl's Mind over Matter abilities.
- On Hawaii Five-0, a pair of kidnappers are abducting the teenage daughters of a rich private school for ransom. The cops are thrown to find their bodies in a van and figure their latest victim must have gotten lucky and gotten away. As it happens, the "schoolgirl" is actually a North Korean spy who had been posing as a teenager to get closer to a local Army Intelligence officer. Too late, her captors realized they were dealing with a very lethal agent.
- The protagonists of Hogan's Heroes were technically POWs, but this Trope could apply a lot. In fact, in one episode, Col. Hogan made a public announcement over a radio (giving support to the German army that was obviously sarcasm) that even got Hitler's attention. Hitler's orders were: "If this man ever tries to escape, LET him!"
- In the first season finale of Killing Eve, Villanelle kidnaps Irina, Konstantin's young daughter. Irina responds to being dragged all over Moscow by a hotheaded psychopath who has a gun by... arguing with her, screaming at her, and in general going out of her way to make damn sure that Villanelle is just as miserable as she is. Konstantin even predicted this would happen.
Konstantin: I need to find my daughter. She's going to drive that woman crazy.
Kenny: Is she really annoying?
Konstantin: [choking back tears] She's so annoying. She's amazing, but so annoying.
- In M*A*S*H, a pair of North Korean infiltrators drop Major Burns off on the road. In the brief conversation that ensues, they explain that they don't need a hostage anymore, he's driving them crazy, they're not in the mood to torture him, and he should go back to the 4077th because it's the best thing he can do "to help our side."
- A few seasons later, Major Winchester hires a North Korean spy as a houseboy. In one of his last communications to his people, the spy replies "And in regard to kidnapping Major Winchester for questioning, forget it. He is one big jerk."
- This happens in an episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, but it's unique in that the victim intentionally tries to drive the abductor nuts. Lord Zedd gets the idea of making Kimberly his queen, so orders Goldar to kidnap her and use a spell of mind control. The first part is successful, but the spell doesn't work for some reason; so Kimberly pretends it does, doing a rather good impression of Rita, which reminds Goldar only too well how bad a temper she has. He doesn't let Kimberly go (although it is hinted he wants to), but the act does distract him long enough for Billy to find them.
- One episode of Murphy Brown had Murphy get kidnapped by a group of activists who wanted more publicity for their cause. She eventually annoyed them to the point where they let her go (The fact that everyone they tried to announce her kidnapping to either thought Murphy was pranking them or decided You Can Keep Her didn't help).
- The Nanny: From the end of "The Bank Robber":
Val: The bank robber took your mother!Fran: Oh, my God! That poor man!
- Subverted in an episode of Stargate SG-1; the team gates into a museum and ends up taking a security guard (and a bunch of guests) hostage until they can find a way to gate out. When the security guard has made himself into enough of a pest, Mitchell simply duct tapes his mouth shut.
Mitchell: Should have thought of that sooner.
- On True Blood, Bill Compton is forced to turn the teenaged Jessica Hamby into a vampire, as punishment for staking Longshadow. It is implied that the vampires think this will be agonizing torture to Jessica...until she realizes that this means she'll no longer under the thumb of her ultra-religious and abusive father, at which point she becomes insufferable. Bill and Eric at first pass her back and forth to get rid of her. She does eventually get better, but it's amazing nobody shoved her out in daylight before her attitude improved.
- On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, in the season 3 episode "Kimmy Steps On A Crack," aspiring cult-leader Gretchen turns out to have kidnapped a bunch of teenage boys to keep as "child brides." While they are less rumbunctious than most examples on this list, and just sort of messy, lazy and useless, the result is still this trope, as Gretchen finds herself spending all her time cooking for them, cleaning up after them, and generally acting like their mother.
- Weeds: Celia Hodes is kidnapped by her daughter and her boyfriend the rebel leader. They intend to ransom her, but no one is interested. They then plan to sell off her organs for cash but find out she's had chemotherapy so no one will want them. Celia then "makes herself useful" e.g. by organizing the rebels' firearms, but manages to provoke a fight between her daughter and the rebel leader, breaking up their relationship. The daughter leaves, and the rebel leader lets Celia go.
- The old Irish song "Killieburne Brae" is about a loud and annoying woman who is dragged off to hell, then terrorizes the demons there in all kinds of colourful ways. She is eventually sent back to her husband, with the moral that "women are worse than the men/when they go down to hell they are truant again."
- "Scolding Wife" doesn't go so far, but does include the line:
And if the Devil would take her, I'd thank him for his pain
- Heather Dale covered this song under the title "The Farmer's Curst Wife"
- "Scolding Wife" doesn't go so far, but does include the line:
- Heather Alexander performed a similar song, "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife."
"Now I've been a devil for most o' me life, but I ne'er was in Hell 'til I met with your wife."
- Brazilian song "Sequestraram a Minha Sogra", by artist Bezerra da Silva, the title of which translates to "They Kidnapped My Mother-In-Law". As the story in the song goes, the kidnapper had to pay a ransom to return her.
- To add a male example, German folk song "Des Schneiders Höllenfahrt". Devils drag a tailor to hell so he makes them new clothes. They are in for a world of pain. Seitdem holt der Teufel keine Schneider mehr, es gehe, wie es wöll. note
- Happened more than once with Sub-Lieutenant Phillips in The Navy Lark. He was kidnapped several times, and virtually every time the Troutbridge crew had to be forced to take him back for reasons of either annoyance or if he cooperated with his kidnappers he ended up doing more damage to them than armed opposition would have.
- The Stanley Baxter's Playhouse episode "Two Desperate Men" is "The Ransom of Red Chief" in 1930s Perthshire. They finally decide they have to return him when he tries to drive their car and nearly crashes it. The father takes the car as part of the anti-ransom, and the story ends with them walking to Glasgow.
Hughie: You tried to set me on fire! You are a very bad boy!Logan: You're a kidnapper, so you can't tell me off. Now I'm going to sleep for a bit, but when I wake, you're getting burnt proper.
- In a comical skit in Tales of Destiny 2, Nanaly Fletch imagines herself being a Damsel in Distress. Then Loni Dunamis offers to be her Knight in Shining Armor... because he pities any villains that kidnap Nanaly for her tomboy-ness. Cue to the bonecrusher.
- Used in Serious Sam 2, where the literal dragon, after kidnapping the hilariously ugly princess, decided to surrender her to Sam without a fight; he refuses, and they fight over who has to take her. Sam wins and agrees to take her if he can also take the magic artifact he was after.
- Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade provides the page quote. An example of this trope doesn't actually occur in the game, but, given Serra's personality, it becomes quickly apparent why Erk would come to this conclusion about her.
- In a bit of background conversation in Diablo III, an old soldier and his wife reminisce about the time she was kidnapped by barbarians, and the soldier describes how he was beside himself until they brought her back with an apology. His wife comments that their leader still sends her a bundle of hides every year.
- In The Last Remnant, a sidequest involves rescuing a merchant's son from kidnappers. The catch? The son is a yama, a race of 10-foot-tall powerhouses (and said son is one of the larger ones), and the three kidnappers are qsiti, a race of 2-foot-tall reptilian creatures, with knives that would barely scratch the yama's skin. Rush even says something to the effect of "Which one of them actually needs help?"
- Bruno the Bandit had the nieces and nephew of King Xerxes, who are portrayed as extremely close-knit and with a nasty temper. When Bruno kidnaps the youngest, the other two offer the sum Bruno demanded in exchange for every cutthroat and lowlife in Rothland to hunt down the kidnapper. Hell, even their parents openly pity the kidnapper more than they fear for their child's safety.
- Nodwick once had the crew greeted at a volcano cave by a dragon, with great relief. He's sick and tired of the nagging princess he's kidnapped, who keeps insisting he does things like "put the seat down"... on the volcano. Said princess turns out to be so annoying that in the following month's issue, even Piffany, a cleric with endless goodness and purity wants to kill her.
- The current page image is Wonderita from The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, making life difficult for recurring villain Hitlerella. (And that was not the only time it happened.)
- Penny and Aggie: Charlotte is pitiful enough when she kidnaps Cyndi as a reflection of her self-hatred and hatred for her abusive mother. Then Cyndi talks her into slitting her own throat.
- Both times that The Annoying Orange got kidnapped by Jigsaw.
- In an episode from Black Box TV (a serious horror example of this trope), a couple kidnap a young girl with the intent to force her family to pay for her back, but then don't hear anything. No police report, no callback on their ransom, nothing. The couple, a man who does have some level of moral compass and a woman with a drug habit and surly attitude, begin becoming frustrated. Eventually, the kidnapped girl turns the tables, using her supernatural powers to lock the woman in her bedroom and viciously attack her with a supernatural teddy bear with razor teeth and sharp claws. The kidnapped girl then forces both the man and woman to become her "perfect parents", acting like a nuclear family out of the '50s. Should they refuse, the kidnapped girl will kill them both with her powers. It is essentially implied that the parents of the girl didn't want her back as this was the life they were forced to live as well, and likely split the second they were free.
- An episode of RWBY Chibi has Cinder kidnapping Jaune and Ren. Jaune sings the Camp Camp theme song to successfully annoy Cinder into throwing them out of the car.
- Subverted on 7-Second Riddles. One of the potential solutions for a riddle involves annoying a kidnapper into freeing you, but it's the wrong answer; the correct answer is to try and befriend the kidnapper, to make it harder for them to hurt you.
- Yakko and Dot challenge Death at checkers to bring Wakko back to life, with their lives at stake. Death exploits Exact Words so he can take all three of them (they asked to "be with their brother again") — but then he realizes he'll have to host the three loons in the underworld for all eternity, and he lets them go. In other episodes, they get Dracula and Satan to let them go for the same reason. They subvert their own pattern in a later episode, as this fails to work on an Army drill sergeant; he just assigns them to worse duties. That is until he can finally stand it no longer, goes insane, and becomes a camp counselor.
- One episode features something so horrible, even the Warner siblings can't deal with it: Baloney the Dinosaur. Even dropping multiple anvils on him only gains them a temporary respite.
- At the end of the Looney Tunes short "The Whole Idea", an inventor finally tires of his stereotypically shrewish wife's nagging and drops her down one of the "portable holes" he'd invented. It apparently leads all the way to Fire and Brimstone Hell, as there's a burst of flame and then a mopey-looking demon appears, hauling her out by the collar of her blouse and asking the inventor, "Isn't it bad enough down here without her?"
- In The Pink Panther cartoon "Pink Valiant", the king sends Pink Panther (as the pink knight) to rescue his daughter from a Black Knight who kidnaps her for ransom, and after some trouble getting on his horse, he eventually trades his stubborn steed in for a dragon. By this time, the princess has become such a fierce fighter throwing everything short of the kitchen sink at the black knight that he is the one crying for help, and the pink knight brushes her aside with his gauntlet rescuing the Black Knight, only for the Pink Panther and Black Knight to be Chased Off into the Sunset by the king riding a dragon.
- The Boondocks had this happen twice in the episode "Let's Nab Oprah". In an attempt to kidnap Oprah Winfrey from a book signing, the bumbling duo Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy accidentally kidnap Maya Angelou instead. They have to dump her out of the van after she starts repeatedly kicking Gin Rummy. The two try again by breaking into Oprah's studio, but they end up going into Bill Cosby's dressing room instead. They decide to cut their losses and just kidnap him, but he's so annoying they have to let him go fifteen minutes later.
- Subverted in an episode of Extreme Dinosaurs. A scientist allows himself to become the hostage of the evil Raptors, but not before hinting his plan to the heroes by making reference to "The Ransom of Red Chief". Unfortunately, his plan backfires and he instead learns a valuable lesson.
- In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Bugs and Thugs", Bugs is kidnapped by a pair of gangsters. He drives them so crazy that when the police arrive, the criminals beg the cops to arrest them to get them away from him.
- The same gag is used in the earlier "Racketeer Rabbit".
- Locking the baddies in a stove, turning the gas on, and then throwing a match in to explode it is really a whole new level of "driving crazy".
- The same gag is used in the earlier "Racketeer Rabbit".
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: The plot of Episode 2 of Season 2, after Glimmer and Bo capture Catra.
- In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Take Elmyra Please", Elmyra's father invents an environmentally friendly fuel and a rival fuel company kidnaps Elmyra for ransom so they can get the fuel's formula. Elmyra is oblivious because she believes the hideout is a TV studio for her own show and tortures the henchmen by making them do dangerous or humiliating segments. In the end, the henchmen surrender and disclose information about their boss because they want to get away from her.
- In the episode "Molly Coddled", Molly, dressed as her hero Danger Woman, is kidnapped by two gangsters, whom she repeatedly kicks in the shins and raises a ruckus over until help arrives. This defense technique is also used by her against the antagonist, smooth-talking Covington, in a getaway earlier in the episode.
- Baloo's pal Louie has an aunt who, in "The Ransom of Red Chimp", is abducted by Don Karnage... and proceeds to drive him up the wall when she develops a crush on him. At the time of the abduction, Karnage demands thousands in ransom. By the time Baloo and Louie arrive to "rescue" Louise, the ransom has dropped to five bucks, and when it turns out that Louie didn't bring his wallet, Karnage pays him five bucks to take her.
- In an early episode of Dexter's Laboratory Dee Dee was given to a trio of visiting aliens by Dexter, but after Dexter changed his mind and went to rescue her, the aliens were more than happy to give her up, since she caused so much havoc on their ship.
- In the Sam and Max cartoon, Lorne's first episode The Friend For Life features him kidnapping the Mad Thespian, who begs and pleads to be arrested due to Lorne's psychotic obsession with impressing Sam and Max.
- SpongeBob SquarePants was once returned from Davey Jones' locker because the Flying Dutchman couldn't stand to have Spongebob around.
- The Flying Dutchman also enslaved SpongeBob and Patrick, but it turns out they were HORRIBLE minions. Unfortunately, the Flying Dutchman realized that they'd make better dinner than slaves.
- Not to mention "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", where the Tattletale Strangler would rather be in prison than trying to strangle SpongeBob for ratting him out.
- And in another episode where Krabs lost SpongeBob in a card game to Plankton. By the end of it, Plankton paid Krabs to take him back.
- In an episode of the Josie and the Pussycats cartoon series, Melody ends up kidnapped by "the Evil Eye" and is put under Mind Control. Unfortunately for the Evil Eye, Melody is The Ditz and is completely useless as a minion - she even responds to commands with "Yes, Mustard" instead of "Yes, Master".
- The Rugrats episode "Ruthless Tommy" featured Tommy being kidnapped by two bumbling criminals who mistakenly believe him to be the child of a billionaire (due to them mixing up their actual target's house address). Tommy proceeds to act in his usual manner and promptly destroys their hideout. By the end of the episode, the exasperated crooks apologize frantically and return Tommy back to the Pickles before they even realized he was missing.
Crooks: Please take him back! We've learned our lesson, and we're very sorry, Mr. Thump.
(The crooks hand Tommy back to Stu, then walk away. Stu stares in confusion as they get into their car and drive off)
Stu: Who were those guys?
(A gust of wind blows the ransom note out of Stu's hands and covers one of the crook's head, causing him to crash into a hydrant, and send both of them flying headfirst into the back window of a police car.)
- An episode of The Jetsons had Jane attempting to get her driver's license. Her driving was so awful that when a bank robber hijacked her and forced her to be his getaway car, her instructor pitied him.
- The Filmation's Ghostbusters episode "The Ransom Of Eddie Spencer" has Prime Evil kidnapping the titular character, who manages to wreck Prime Evil's lair because he is such a screw-up. Prime Evil ends up pleading with the other heroes to take him back, even promising to call off the horde of thunder ghosts he's unleashed on the city if they do. (And he does.)
- My Little Pony 'n Friends, "The Great Rainbow Caper": Danny and Surprise are held for ransom by the Gizmonks, two Mad Scientist monkeys who want to get their paws on the Rainbow of Light so they can study it. Danny manages to flatter the Gizmonks into letting them out of their cage, then he and Surprise proceed to screw with their inventions, free their test animals, and generally make a mess of the Gizmonks' lab. The episode ends with the Gizmonks fleeing their ruined lab and begging Megan to take the hostages back.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has this happen in the episode "A Dog and Pony Show" when Rarity gets kidnapped by a pack of Diamond Dogs who seek to exploit her ability to find gems and put her to work digging them up and hauling them around. She proceeds to drive them up the wall with her whining, crying, and complaints. When Rarity's friends come to her rescue, the Dogs are all too willing to let Rarity leave, with all the gems she'd found for them. Turns out Rarity was doing it on purpose, too.
- We find out later that Rarity is a Cute Bruiser and probably could have kicked their flanks if she'd wanted to, she just chose to whine her head off and annoy them into letting her go.
- A Jimmy Two-Shoes short revolved around Dr. Scientist snatching up Cerbee and trying to experiment on him. However, he quickly proved to be so energetic the doc couldn't handle him.
- Family Guy: In "The Griffin Family History", burglars break into the house and take Meg hostage. By the time the family is rescued, Meg has been charged with sexual harassment against the burglars.
Stewie: This. Was. Exhausting. This whole experience. Was absolutely. Exhausting. You people have ruined Star Trek: The Next Generation for me. You are absolutely the most insufferable group of jackasses that I have EVER had the misfortune of spending an extended period of time with. I hope you all fucking DIE.
- In "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven", Stewie kidnaps the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation so he can spend time with them. They quickly get on Stewie's nerves, annoying him and complaining about trivial things, and piss him off to the point that before he sends them home, he dishes out a blistering speech.
- In an episode of She-Ra: Princess of Power, the title character's friend Perfuma is captured by the evil Horde. Hordak first demands that She-Ra surrender herself in exchange for Perfuma's release, but Lighthope urges her not to agree to his demands. This proves good advice. Perfuma then proceeds to annoy everyone (especially the audience) with her sing-songy voice, decorate the evil lair with flowers, and even coerce the Horde-Troopers into dancing (in a conga line). Hordak quickly changes his demands, saying She-Ra can have her back if she simply comes to get her. She still heeds Lighthope's advice, and eventually, by the end of the episode, he begs She-Ra to take her back, paying the rebels three months' worth of supplies in return.
- A recurring plot in The Dreamstone involved Amberley getting kidnapped by the Urpneys, and spending the entire duration of her capture verbally and physically thrashing them. In the pilot, Zordrak has to turn her into stone just to keep her quiet.
- Dan Backslide from the Chuck Jones-directed Merrie Melodies short The Dover Boys manages to lock Dora in his shack, but every time he attempts to approach her from here, she violently lobs him into the opposite wall... All while she's banging on the door calling to be rescued by Tom, Dick and Larry. Eventually, after she escapes on her own, it's Dan who's crying for them to save him.
- Happened in an episode of Kim Possible when Professor Dementor captured Kim's cousin Larry.
- In the The Transformers episode "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide", the Decepticons kidnap a girl named Astoria in an attempt to learn her father's formula. She drives them crazy with her constant whining, being The Jinx, and tearing the place apart.
- An episode of Count Duckula featured the Count ending up held for ransom (after some mix-up about sending a ransom note before the actual kidnapping) and inadvertently driving the abductors crazy by showing off his alleged musical skills.
- One episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) had Shredder kidnap a teenage girl who was the young president of an explosives firm (he wanted their recipe for a powerful explosive). She refused to talk, so he tries to use a device that reads thoughts and emotions in an attempt to extract the recipe out of her. The girl, however, was an extreme brat who overloaded the machine with incessant complaints. Subverted in that she was eventually threatened with force to divulge, so she spills, but in the chaos of the Turtles rescuing her, there was no time to test it, allowing the girl to get away with one last insult: she had given the wrong recipe.
- One episode of Beverly Hills Teens, Bianca tries to play a Wounded Gazelle Gambit to get Troy's attention by arranging a fake kidnapping. Unfortunately, an actual criminal overhears the conversation and kidnaps her for real. Soon, it becomes apparent that the episode isn't titled "Take My Hostage, Please!" for nothing.
- In The Life and Times of Juniper Lee episode "The World According to LARP", the demon warlord Maret told his two moronic henchmen to nab June, but they nabbed her teenage brother Dennis himself. Unfortunately for Maret, Dennis (who tends to drive even June up the wall) thought it was all part of his LARP group and his ranting gave Maret a bigger migraine worse than any of the armies, sorcerers, and dimensional hordes he had ever vanquished. (Eventually, he did get what he wanted - the Goblet of Nesteer - from him, only for June to show up and beat him senseless.)
- In the Mickey Mouse (2013) short "Road Hogs", a group of bikers kidnap Minnie by tricking her into riding with them. When she proves too much for them to handle, throwing out the leader's stuff from his sidecar and cleaning him up as he's driving, he begs Mickey to take her back, as she's nuts.
- One episode of Sabans Adventure Of The Little Mermaid has Hedwig transform Carol into a baby, and kidnap her as leverage against Marina. Unfortunately for her, baby Carol wrecks her lair inside-out, to the point that Hedwig gives up her hostage instantly when Marina comes knocking.
- The The Real Ghostbusters episode "The Ransom of Greenspud" had three ghosts kidnap Slimer and hold him for ransom in an attempt to get the Ghostbusters to free their boss Spiderlegs from the Containment Unit. Slimer ends up driving the ghosts nuts before the Ghostbusters find them and come to Slimer's rescue.
- In the C.O.P.S. episode "The Case of the Ransomed Rascal", Big Boss and his goons attempt to kidnap Prince Baddin of Rashiland to hold him for ransom. They quickly get tired of Baddin's brattiness and eventually send him to the C.O.P.S. wearing a T-shirt that reads "Take Him Back" on the front and "Please" on the back.
- Note: If you are kidnapped in real life, do not attempt to invoke this trope in order to escape. If you are unable to escape on your own or alert others of the kidnapping as it's happening, follow along with the kidnapper's demands until/unless it becomes life-threatening. Most real-life criminals will have little patience for people who try to annoy their way out of the kidnapping and, at best, will result in having your mouth taped shut and forcefully tied down or, at worst, result in them permanently shutting your mouth for you.
- A surprising number of people who were kidnapped by organ harvesters in Brazil have been released voluntarily by their kidnappers unharmed. At least once, it was because the woman kidnapped screamed so loud for so long that the guard forcibly threw her out.
- Doesn't work on the police, so don't bother trying. (They'll just beat you to a pulp, lawsuits be damned.)
- Prison guards are usually considered expendable in the event of a kidnapping, so they make poor hostages in the event of a riot or an attempted breakout. Visitors of maximum-security facilities are also obligated to sign a waiver in which they accept in writing that the federal government will not negotiate for their safety if they are taken hostage before being allowed entry, which leaves them in the same place (you can see Metallica getting this explained to them at the beginning of their music video for St. Anger, as can be seen here).
- News headline: Every Praise: Kidnapper Releases 10-Year-Old Who Wont Stop Singing Gospel Song. Helped that the kid sang the same song for 3 hours.
- This is one variant of the legend of Archimedes' death. When Syracuse was under siege by the Romans, they sent a single soldier to find and secure Archimedes, since his genius was far too valuable to let him get killed in the battle. The soldier found him working on a geometry problem, and he barely even acknowledged the soldier's presence. The soldier got extremely frustrated and ended up killing Archimedes out of spite. (Another version of the legend states that the soldier didn't know the man was Archimedes and killed him because he refused to answer when he asked about Archimedes' whereabouts.)
- In 2001, the FBI broke news about an attempt to kidnap Russell Crowe for ransom. At a press event, the infamously hot-tempered actor cracked that he could easily imagine the kidnappers, having been saddled with him for a few days, calling up and saying "we've passed the hat around, we've got a few hundred dollars, can you take him off our hands?"