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Stock Punishment

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Dang it.

"Whoever shall be condemned to perpetual hard labour; to hard labour for time; or to solitary imprisonment; shall, before he undergo his punishment, be set in the pillory in the market-place, and shall remain there exposed to the view of the people for one hour; above his head shall be placed a label, containing, in large and legible characters, his name, profession, dwelling-place, his punishment, and the cause of his condemnation."
1810 French Penal Code, Article 23

Device in which a character has their legs (or arms) restrained and has foodstuffs, preferably rotten fruit or veggies, cream pies, wet sponges or something else in that line of thought thrown at them by members of the public. Alternatively, stocks can also be used for Tickle Torture.

Technically, "stocks" only restrain the legs; the more commonly-seen restraint that holds one's arms and head is called a "pillory". However, the latter is often referred to as "stocks" regardless of this distinction.

A point seldom touched on in fiction is that being pilloried could be seriously dangerous. People were allowed to throw things at your head, and you could neither dodge nor block them. If you were lucky they would only throw fruit and vegetables (even some of those can be dangerous; you try getting hit in the face with a turnip and see how harmless that would be). If you were unlucky (or unpopular), they'd throw stones at you instead. Or materials obtained from stable floors. And if you were really, really unlucky, it would be as bad as if you'd dropped the soap in a prison shower.


Often used in Come to Gawk.

Not to be confused with standard forms of punishment.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Tomahawk #92, the citizens of Wildcat's hometown place Tomahawk in the stocks as punishment for bringing the war to their pacifist village. This results in him almost being killed by a giant stone robot. (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context).

    Comic Strips 
  • The Wizard of Id had a peasant arrested for violating curfew. The Kings orders him made an example of. Cue peasant looking unhappy in the stocks in the middle of the night, and then hauled (still in the stocks) before the King by his brainless minions for violation of curfew.

    Fan Works 
  • In My Lord, My Love Mundungus Fletcher ends up in the stocks for stealing, only to suffer Harry throwing Fletcher's own badly-made meat pies at his head.
  • The Rites Of The Fall, a The Hunger Games story by FernWithy has Kay Donner and various other malcontents in District 12 being punished this way in the aftermath of the First Quarter Quell. Kay ends up suffering permeant and severe back pain as a result, causing her to gradually develop an addiction to painkillers.

    Films — Animation 
  • There's one guy in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame who is stuck in these. Used as a joke: he always gets out of things like stocks exclaiming "I'm Free! I'm Free!" and falls into another trap (an open manhole, etc.), muttering "Dangit!"
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast has a guy in these tipping his hat to Belle at the start of her "I Want" Song.
  • Robin Hood: In the establishing scene of Nottingham, an owl is in the stocks for not paying his taxes while his wife feeds him soup from a spoon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Knight's Tale has this happen to the main character while his friends try to defend him. Earlier in the film, there's a flashback to him as a young boy, watching the knights parade into the tournament grounds with his father. There's a man locked in the stocks right next to them, who advises young William that it would be easier for a man to change the stars themselves than for a peasant to grow up to be a knight.
  • Andersonville sees this Played for Drama after several survivors of an escape attempt are kept in stocks for several days. It is portrayed as demeaning and agonizing for them, and at least one man dies as a result.
  • The female lead in Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter is introduced in the pillory, a punishment for dancing on a Sunday. She does not appear to have had a good time of it.
  • In Up the Chastity Belt, there is a man in stocks in village square being pelted with vegetables. Sir Coward later sneaks around collecting the vegetables for dinner.
  • In the 1923 silent film Little Old New York, the heroine, who is pulling a Sweet Polly Oliver, sees someone getting punished this way. It makes her more afraid of getting caught.
  • Swashbuckler: After being captured at the customs house, Mr. Moonbeam is held in a pillory at the fortress. During the assault of the fortress, his pal Polanski uses his Stout Strength to bust him loose.
  • In The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Esmeralda is locked in a pillory horizontally, so her torturers can pour water down her throat till she chokes.

  • The Prince and the Pauper: The prince-as-a-pauper's friend, Miles, gets punished with these.
  • In the Aubrey-Maturin series, Captain Aubrey is pilloried after being set up for stock market fraud. The potential danger is made very clear but, lots and lots of his old shipmates turn up to cheer for him and look menacing at anyone who so much as thinks about throwing things. Manly Tears may have been involved.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Roose Bolton sentences women caught fraternising with the enemy to this, the sexual implications being not only explicit but his twisted idea of Laser-Guided Karma. This is just one of many horrific punishments in the series, yet it manages to stand out among the crowd. POV character reactions run the gamut from truly scared to almost blasé.
  • In the beginning of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo ends in one for attempting to kidnap Esmeralda on Frollo's orders in the night, and Esmeralda give him water while the mob is pelting him with rotten vegetables and other disgusting things.
  • In World War Z, the president proposed bringing back the stock punishment and public flogging since the United States is in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse and putting criminals in prisons would be highly impracticable. Since the United States needs to dedicate all its resources to rebuild the nation and fight off zombies, publicly humiliating criminals would be more effective in deterring crime.
  • Martín Fierro: This is a Narrative Poem about Martin Fierro, a Gaucho who is Press-Ganged into Conscription trying to Settling the Frontier. At song III, he describes various tortures the military use on the recruits as Villainous Demotivator, and this is one of them (its name is “La Estaca”).
  • In Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers, the brothers are threatened with this, after breaking the church warden's window and insulting the vicar.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, there is a fieldtrip to a Salem Witch Trial themed village. At the end of the episode the Alpha Bitch Libby ends up in the stock, but does not get things thrown at her.
  • Blackadder The Third: Edmund invites Prince George to star in his new play, "Thick Jack Clot Sits in the Stocks and Gets Pelted with Rancid Tomatoes''. George naturally agrees enthusiastically.
  • Merlin- a bit of a Running Gag for the titular character- happens in the first episode when he picks a fight with Arthur, three times in one episode. The Children in Need scene naturally features it.
  • In an entirely serious example from the George III-era Very Loosely Based on a True Story Costume Drama Garrow's Law (coming soon to a US TV station near you...), William Garrow exposes Forrester, a professional "thief-taker" - basically a man who is paid to frame people up - as a perjurer. The judge sentences him to two hours in the stocks - a pillory in this case. He gets the rotten fruit treatment, then we see the grandmother of the boy he murdered as part of one such scheme pay the man who turned on him. The man then throws a rock...
    • A similar thing happened to Mother Needham, the notorious bawd, in Channel Four's drama-documentary of Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress.
    • Kind of Truth in Television. Unpopular people put in the stocks faced a real risk of being beaten to death by angry mobs. Some people even wore armor when in the stocks in order to avoid this.
  • The Bill. At a community fair someone suggests to Chief Superintendent Brownlow that it would be amusing for a couple of his officers to be placed in the stocks. The two officers with Brownlow try to vanish into the crowd, but they're not quick enough and get volunteered. Things become dangerous when some teenaged hoodlums who've previously had a run-in with these officers show up and start threatening violence, so the showman has to quickly let them out.
  • A sketch on You're Skitting Me has two convicts locked in the stocks. While one of them complains bitterly, the other goes on about how lucky they are to be in Australia and how he plans to work hard when he is released, buy some land and have his own set of stocks in his backyard so he can relax.
  • On The Last Man on Earth, Phil #2 builds a pillory and uses it to punish Phil #1/Tandy. Later on it gets used on Todd, and eventually Phil #2 himself.
  • Tony Robinson's Crime and Punishment was a documentary series in which Tony looked at the history of how the law worked and what happened if you broke it. Naturally, in one episode he gets pilloried.
  • "Mileaway", one of Ronnie Barker's scripts for The Two Ronnies, has Ronnie Corbett's character put in "the stocks" (as the stage directions point out, actually a pillory) overnight. The word "stocks" may have been chosen for scansion, since the character in question was speaking in iambic pentameter.
  • Dad's Army. In "A Man of Action", Private Pike gets his head stuck in some gate railings. The gate is removed with Pike still in it so he can be brought back to the hall, which leads to a Running Gag of people thinking Pike is undergoing Stock Punishment due to Captain Mainwaring having just declared martial law and acting like a petty dictator.
  • ''Thanks: The Winthrops are put in stocks as punishment for going to a party.

  • Adam and the Ants' "Whip in my Valise"
    You put my head into the stocks
    And then you, you went to choose a cane

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook Book of Vile Darkness has the pillory listed under torture devices. Every hour a victim spends pilloried in a public place, they suffer damage from passers-by tormenting and assaulting them.

    Video Games 
  • The title heroines of Beat Blades Haruka, Ikusa Otome Valkyrie, and Himekishi Lilia all get scenes in which they are locked in pillories and raped.
  • In the Translation Train Wreck game, Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal, sometimes when switching out Pokemon, the game will say "(Pokemon) HAVE A PILLORY." A pillory is pretty much the same things as stocks, implying that this might be happening to them. But it's so badly translated, who knows?
  • In The Sims Medieval sims can end up in the stocks from failing to complete responsibilities, stealing, or just because the player felt like it.
    • It's technically a pillory, but apparently because nobody knows that word anymore, they call it the stocks. (Sims' heads and hands are restrained, not their legs.)
  • LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean uses this to replace scenes where people were hanged in the movie.
  • In the Stronghold series, a pillory is one among the many devices of punishments the player can use where to send criminals both to punish and to gain prestige. It's actually the mildest punishment option available to you, only slightly hurting public opinion; everything else is an outright torture or execution method.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, the victory animation for Sinestro has him making a Hard Light construct of one with his lantern ring, suspending his defeated opponent in the air with it.
  • The Gibbering Prophet of Darkest Dungeon was put in a stock to die of exposure or starvation in one of the many ways that the Ancestor tried to kill him. To this day, he wanders around in said stock, although he broke one of his arms free so he can hold his eyeballs.
  • Fallout 4's "Contraptions Workshop" DLC added a pillory item you can build in your allied settlements and put NPCs into. This means that they won't be gathering food or scrap or manning a store, but if one of your settlers keeps complaining, or blocking doorways, or nearly killed you during that skirmish with raiders, maybe they deserve to be in there.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons did an odd version of this where Marge and Homer were deemed bad parents, and were forced to wear portable pillories 24/7 and then had additional punishments added onto such as standing next to a road while motorists spanked them as they drove by.
    Wiggum: Hey, no extension cords!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Mr. Krabs is locked into a stock and Force Fed lima beans after kids discovered Krabby Land was another of his get-more-money-schemes.
  • Used in the Trollz story arc where the town was sent back to the Middle Ages. The girls were put in pillories. Among other things, croutons were thrown at them.
  • Used in KaBlam! when Henry and June were visiting Colonial Williamsburg, and ended upin stocks at the end (I guess they were too nineties)
  • In an episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? the gang goes to a ren faire, and Scooby and Shaggy get sentenced to the pillory. Fairgoers throw (fresh) food at them. Cue Scooby and Shaggy open their mouths wide and eat the food...
  • The Rocko's Modern Life episode "Camera Shy" features this on the title card, with a film clapboard used in place of actual stocks. Rocko is stuck inside it.
  • In Gravity Falls Stan tries to leave the yearly Pioneer Day, but an altercation with the police ends with him stuck in the stocks for most of the day.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode, "Lotsa Latkes", this was Doofenshmirtz's daily trap with Perry the Platypus; he found it in a book of top 10 greatest historical traps. Perry makes his way to Phineas and Ferb in the end still trapped in the stocks, which gives Ferb his one line of the episode.
    Phineas: What's Perry doing in a pillory?
    Ferb: Actually, those are stocks; a pillory forces the wearer to remain upright, exposing them to poking and prodding from passers-by.
  • Zeke's Pad: After making himself king in "King of the Pad", Zeke gets to put Ike in stocks – just for being critical of him.

    Real Life 
  • At least one Renaissance faire has one of these, in which fairegoers can buy a certain number of mushy tomatoes and throw them at the poor sod who gets paid to stand there. Fortunately, the poor sod in question is entitled to hurl as much verbal abuse upon the throwers as he likes.
  • Some BDSM "dungeons" feature these.
  • As said by the head quote, Napoléon Bonaparte reestablished pillory for some offenders, both as an consequence and as an autonomous penalty; this was legal until 1832.
  • Daniel Defoe was sentenced to pillory for seditious label by writing a book about the dissenters from the Church of England sarcastically advocating their extermination, ala A Modest Proposal; Subverted when the mob pelted him with flowers.
  • Gays were often victims of vicious treatment by the mob; for example Ann Marrow, who disguised herself as a man and married another woman, ended up blinded by the stones thrown at her by a mob of women.
  • Pillory was a legal sentence in British Courts until 1837.
  • The last to have undergone this sentence was Peter James Bossy who, rather than serving a seven year sentence of transportation, prefered the pillory.
  • Comedian Bobby Davro was put in a pillory for a joke at the end of his series Public Enemy Number One. This caused him a broken nose when the pillory fell over and there was nothing to stop him from falling face first onto the studio floor. This is in Real Life rather than Live-Action TV because it wasn't televised, but it was filmed and the BBC used it in a health and safety video. He'd probably have been alright if Lionel Blair hadn't pulled his trousers down.


Video Example(s):


Stan Gets Stocked

For acting up on Pioneer Day, Grunkle Stan gets put in "ye stocks" and gets tomatoes thrown at him by Li'l Gideon.

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Main / StockPunishment

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Main / StockPunishment