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Stockholm Syndrome

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Malcolm: Don't you know about Stockholm Syndrome? You're starting to identify with your captors.
Reese: My captors?! These guys saved my life, man!
Malcolm: Only because they decided not to kill you!
Reese: Same thing.
Malcolm in the Middle, "Reese's Party"

Stockholm Syndrome is a phenomenon in which kidnapped victims can develop loyalty, sympathy, or affection (sometimes even sexual attraction) for a captor. In one way, it could be seen as a valid survival strategy wherein victims foster an emotional bond with their captor to reduce the risk of being harmed by them or others.

This can develop in kidnapping victims, political prisoners, and prisoners of war; or hostage situations when there is a long standoff with police (like the ever-popular bank robbery situation). It can also happen in abusive marriages or relationships, and has even been known to happen in prisons between prisoners and wardens.

It was originally named after a bank robbery that took place in Stockholm in 1973, wherein employees were held hostage for six days while police sieged the building. "Stockholm syndrome" was coined by the police criminologist working the siege to explain why the hostages seemed to be more trusting of their captors than the police, to the point of defending them and maintaining contact after arrest.


The full story is more complicated: in the years since, several of the hostages have described how the police were aggressive, unsupportive, and uncaring of them during the siege, and how their greatest fear was of the police suddenly escalating with deadly force and carelessly catching everyone in the crossfire.

Considering these facts, and the obvious conflict of interest of the person who coined the term, "stockholm syndrome" could be seen as a hand-wave to discredit victims who had valid criticisms of police conduct during the incident. More broadly, it could be used to unfairly accuse or blame a victim of perpetuating their own captivity — aka the "why didn't they do more to resist or escape?" argument — rather than viewing their attachment as an adaptive response to a traumatic and inescapable threat. Furthermore, a 2008 literature review of "stockholm syndrome" concluded that most "diagnoses" were made by the media and not by psychologists or psychiatrists, and that there was still widespread scientific disagreement about the specific symptoms, qualifying criteria, and assessment measures that could be used to diagnose it.


Still, in fiction and media, the idea of a captive falling in love with their captor is a popular one. Many of these stories feel forced, starting with captivity and jumping straight to love. The most realistic depictions of Stockholm Syndrome in this manner of the story include not only the kindnesses, but also the extended time needed, and clear isolation from outside influences.

Where a villain intentionally attempts to induce Stockholm Syndrome, it is most likely one of the subtropes such as More Than Mind Control. If played for fanservice, it becomes Romanticized Abuse.

The reverse situation, Lima Syndrome, is considerably rarer but definitely exists. In any story featuring The Svengali, expect at least one of the two to make a showing.

If left untreated in Comedy, may result in the captor shivering in the corner, mumbling "Take it away! Take it away!"

For more about this syndrome in Real Life, see Analysis.

See also: Being Tortured Makes You Evil, Blank Slate, Conditioned to Accept Horror, More Than Mind Control, Rousseau Was Right, Nurture over Nature, Then Let Me Be Evil and Not Used to Freedom. If the person incorrectly believes that they're in a sexually abusive situation, or is still adjusting to being out of one, they may ask Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?.

Not to be confused with Stockholm Syndrome, a game made by Antony Kos.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Rather violent Boys' Love version: Riki from Ai no Kusabi develops this towards Iason, after witnessing the lengths the other goes to screw with laws and keep him around.
  • In Assassination Classroom, this is what Takaoka's "9 sticks to 1 carrot" training strategy invokes. Students become so scared of falling to the bottom of the hierarchy that they suck up to the teachers who put that hierarchy in place, even bullying their fellow students in a desperate attempt to establish a dichotomy. Not all of the students succumb to this worldview, but many do.
  • Monster Progenitor Ymir in Attack on Titan was revealed to be a slave and concubine to the Evil Overlord King Fritz who used her power to build his empire. In spite of him destroying her hometown and killing her parents, enslaving her, and trying to have her killed before giving himself a Marital Rape License, she performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save him from the consequences of his overwhelmingly monstrous behavior. Eren comes to the conclusion that she came to love him even though he never returned the favor.
  • In the beginning of Black Lagoon, Rock worries he might be developing Stockholm Syndrome as he begins to sympathize more with his kidnappers (the Lagoon crew) than his employer, who is ostensibly looking for him. He probably is, and the fact his employer is willing to write him off as dead rather than lift a finger to help him pretty much cements it. By the time the crisis is resolved and his employers say they'll take him back now, it's pretty well set and he tells them to shove it, he's sticking with the pirates (but keeping his white shirt and tie).
  • In canon Bleach Orihime is taken captive by Aizen, but Ulquiorra is given the assignment to take care of her. It is a very popular view in fanon that she has Stockholm Syndrome for Ulquiorra, and in some cases, even Aizen. At the least, she does show some compassion towards Ulquiorra as he's dying.
  • Ohgi and Viletta in Code Geass. This one is a highly unusual example: Viletta is normally an ambitious, cut-throat, Japan-hating Purist, but getting shot by Shirley caused her to develop Easy Amnesia. Ohgi found her and, not knowing who she was (other than Britannian), took care of her and treated her kindly. As a result, "Chigusa" (as she started calling herself) fell in love with him. When Viletta regains her memory, she shoots Ohgi in the gut, saying that the idea of being an Eleven's lover makes her want to vomit. In the second season, she's seen visibly struggling with the conflict between her old attitude and her feelings for Ohgi as an individual. They end up getting together, but not before committing a few acts which set the Broken Base fandom up in arms.
  • In Di[e]ce, Akikage flat-out stole Sion and Gara away from their families when they were children, and raised them to play in death games (which included traumatizing them into accepting that if they don't play, war will occur in place of the death games and kill off tons of people, including everyone they care about). Sion came to trust and admire him, and see him as a substitute guardian. Gara is more hostile towards him, but tells Sion that he'd rather live with Akikage than with his abusive parents.
  • Gohan from Dragon Ball essentially gets kidnapped by Piccolo who thinks that teaching him to fight will save the world. Eventually, he comes to like Piccolo about as much as his own father. On the other side, Piccolo comes to genuinely care for Gohan and becomes one of the heroes as a result.
    • Also Mr. Satan/Hercule who ends up becoming a slave for Buu (who has no real concept of what's going on). While Satan is at first trying to kill Buu (and becomes his slave to try to find a way to actually kill him after his first plan's don't work) he realizes that Buu is a Manchild with no understanding of how terrifying and violent he is because Bibidi and Babadi always told him to kill and destroy (the former even saying it was a game). Satan ends up becoming a friend to Buu and almost ends the whole thing there and then by asking him not to kill again but a pair of bandits put a stop to that
    • Averted with Vegeta, Raditz and Nappa and Freeza, their boss/overlord and killer of the rest of their species. While Radtiz survived by chance (he was off world) Vegeta (and by extension Nappa) were specifically saved from the destruction of the Planet Vegeta by Freeza who saw potential in Vegeta. While the truth about his world's destruction was kept from Vegeta he still saw Freeza as a Bad Boss who got in the way of his own goals and planned to kill him
  • Saito Hiraga from The Familiar of Zero has the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome ever. The poor boy is unwillingly transported to another world, and once there, is bound in a master/familiar contract. He is then treated worse than a dog, forced to sleep on hay, regularly beaten for the slightest bit of pervertedness, and just generally treated like dirt. This is all done by his master Louise, who he comes to love. In his defense, he does get treated better as time passes by, but still... oh, and there are also the hints that the familiar contract may involve subtle brainwashing too.
    • Somewhat deconstructed in the novels, though. It's confirmed that Saito's mind was being altered, repressing his feelings of homesickness and every bad thought he could conceivably have about Louise. When the contract fails and the sort-of brainwashing fades, Saito has a Heroic BSoD and immediately starts wishing to come back home and a crack immediately forms between him and Louise. That takes a long time to heal and it may never completely heal.
  • Guy on guy version: the feddie mechanic Heckle to the guerrilla Festo in Fang of the Sun Dougram.
  • Implied in Franken Fran; when Veronica is introduced, she terrorized Fran and even kills one of her subjects. Then Fran catches her and starts conducting horrible experiments offscreen. By the next chapter, she's Fran's doting little sis.
  • Komari from Gokujou Drops has to endure quite a bit of sexual abuse from all the girls at her dorm. This is especially the case with Yukio, who also adds an immense emotional element to this. Of course, this leads Komari to fall head over heels with Yukio over time. It seems to be mutual, but since Yukio has the habit of crushing Komari's feelings over and over, it's hard to tell for sure.
  • Michael Garret from GUN×SWORD was at first kidnapped by The Claw against his will, but then he became enarmored on The Claw's methods and came to trust him and become one of his followers. He even inflicts the Lima Syndrome on The Claw's second-in-command Fasalina.
  • Berwald/Sweden and Tino/Finland's relationship of Hetalia: Axis Powers may qualify for this trope, as Finland wasn't exactly the most willing partner at first (read: was downright terrified of Sweden), and despite warming up to Sweden and acknowledging he's not a bad guy, he still denies that they're married. Amusingly, Stockholm is the capital of Sweden... and in a subversion, Sweden is actually portrayed as a Gentle Giant-type nation-tan in the strips, instead of your typical captor.
    • Considering how their relationship is shown in the comics, if Tino has Stockholm Syndrome, then Berwald in parallel has Lima Syndrome. He might have started thinking of Finland as a mere companion for his journey, then became genuinely fond and protective of him.
    • And what about Italy/Germany? Okay, they're allies for most of the series, but their first encounter was Germany taking Italy prisoner during WWI. And Italy was completely okay with it, more than usual.
  • Jazz is entirely about the protagonist falling into a Stockholm Syndrome relationship, which eventually fixes some of his other psychological issues.
  • In Loveless, this could describe Ritsuka's undying devotion to his psychotic, murderous elder brother Seimei.
  • This might be what causes Hatchin to bond with Michiko in Michiko & Hatchin. Then again, she still treats her better than her Abusive Parents.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED:
    • Flay, after being captured by Big Bad Rau. She begins to think of him as a substitute for her recently-killed father George, and it doesn't help that their voices are *very* similar.
    • Dearka also counts. He was a war prisoner, well treated, even when some of the crew would like to kill him. Finally, he is released, because the Archangel is no longer part of the Earth Alliance. Just after this, he jumps into his cockpit to protect the Archangel. At least he started to like them, at most he had a crush on Miriallia (probably if you consider the nice names he uses on her).
  • The manga of Nana references the idea of kidnap victims coming to love their kidnappers in chapter 72. Several character relationships are cast in this light, if mostly metaphorically.
  • Orochimaru from Naruto is so good at inducing this that it would probably be easier to list his followers who don't have Stockholm Syndrome for him.
  • In Okane ga Nai, Kanou buys Ayase as a slave to work his debt off, even though he's fully aware that rape is not something you do to the one you love (except in fiction). Ayase is understandably terrified of Kanou at first and views him as the one ruining his life, but becomes touched by Kanou's small moments of kindness and even defends him to his brother "because he's kind." Keep in mind that even after Kanou allows Ayase to do such things as going to school, he still pretty much controls every aspect of Ayase's life and continues to rape him just to remind him that he belongs to him and will not give him up to anyone else. If that isn't Stockholm Syndrome, then nothing is.
  • In Real Account a guy torments Yuuma (one of the Deuteragonists) in his own twisted for love for most of the second part. Yuuma later snaps or has a Split Personality and beats him up both psychologically and with his fists, and one almost feel sorry for the guy as he cries for his mother who committed suicide. Later as a gang comes to kill Yuuma, the guy comes along and seemingly has fallen in love with him even more. Even Yuuma's Superpowered Evil Side is unnerved out by this.
  • Rebuild World: Debatable. Sheryl’s first encounter with the Unscrupulous Hero Akira was him only barely avoiding shooting her because it’d be a waste of ammo to kill a non-combatant. In their following interactions, Akira gives her repeated death threats and forces her to go along with being a puppet gang leader, which causes her to break down in a few Heroic BSoD moments. In the second one, Akira comforts her and holds her for a day belatedly telling her he’ll protect her. After that, Sheryl’s clearly in love with Akira while he bounces between extreme coldness and warm admiration for her Guile Hero talents, with Sheryl doing everything she can to help him as a Dogged Nice Girl while he gets occasional Trauma Button panic attacks out of fear of falling into a Honey Trap from her.
  • In Star Driver, Sakana-chan has (probably) been kidnapped by Kiraboshi before the beginning of the series and is locked up in a cage in their leader Head's house after her maiden seal is destroyed, forced to tell stories to him and sing. She eventually gets set free and leaves Southern Cross Island, but not before mentioning that she never fought back against her imprisonment because she was in love with Head. According to her assumptions and Word of God, Head was also in love with her.
  • In Pokémon Adventures:
    • Gigi, White's prized Tepig actress, happily decides to go off with N. This right after he kidnapped both her and her handler, then dropped her to be strangled by a Servine. This made her realize that she indeed has potential as a fighter and she ended up quite proud of herself. White is understandably upset. It turns out Gigi decided to go off with the guy who pretty much just dumped her in the rain when she was specifically raised to travel with a trainer. White had ended up taking her in. Yeah...
    • Blue and Silver were kidnapped as children and were one of three pairs of Children trained by The Mask of Ice to be the trainer equivalents of Tyke Bombs. While Silver and Blue actively oppose him the other four are working for him, appearing to show this trope. When Silver faces Will and Karen he thinks it's because they have grown attached to the man who kidnapped them but Will subverts it when he reveals that the others went to him of their own free will, and only Silver and Blue were kidnapped.
  • When she was a child, Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena became a willing victim of all the world's anger in order to save her ailing brother. When her brother developed an evil side out of sheer grief over being unable to save her, she decided to stick with him and indulge in his whims, and even to become his sex slave just to make him happy. She additionally allowed the whole world to continue hurting her with her anger, just to save her brother from feeling that pain. Eventually, she realizes that this is not the life she wants to lead, and she simply tells her brother to go deal with his issues alone.
  • In Scrapped Princess, Chris abducts Winia in hopes of luring Pacifica and the others to him. Winia eventually ends up falling in love with Chris.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kriem ended up falling for Jake Martinez after he kidnapped her for ransom, largely because he was the first person to not shun her for being a NEXT.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul:Re, Seidou Takizawa appears to be suffering from it. Abducted by Aogiri in the original series, and subjected to experimentation and torture, he returns fully indoctrinated into their ideology. He's prone to mimicking the mannerisms and speeches of the Big Bad, and is deployed as their secret weapon during the Auction operation. He readily and gleefully goes about slaughtering Investigators without a second thought, even decapitating a former student after she attempts to reason with him.
  • Jonah Matsuka's relationship with Keith Anyan in Toward the Terra is characterized to some extent by Stockholm Syndrome, as Keith alternates systematically between kindness and cruelty which leaves Matsuka conflicted but nevertheless loyally devoted to him. Interestingly, the series implies that this is intentional on Keith's part, as a means of inspiring Matsuka to protect him during the war against the Mu and setting Matsuka up to fulfill Keith's death wish by killing him in self-defense when the war is over. This does not work out quite as planned.
  • Subverted in Tsukigasa. Kuroe was known to have joined a robber syndicate after they saved his life and so everyone assumes he became a criminal by choice due to this. In truth he never actually approves of them and only acts as their doctor and when he finds out their next target is Azuma, he steals some very important maps, runs off, kills the men who come after him, and gives all the information to his samurai friend so he can catch the rest of them. His gratitude really did have its limits.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America: After being abducted by Crossbones for a month, inbetween vicious physical training and threats of death (and knowing Crossbones, worse), Diamondback starts falling into this. Meeting up with her long-lost kid brother, who then gets himself murdered by Crossbones, cures Rachel of it completely.
  • Scrooge McDuck's and Glittering Goldie's relationship has elements of this in the Disney comics.
  • Harley Quinn claims this to the doctors at Arkham in defense of her actions, but her miniseries shows her going crazy and falling in love with The Joker long before ever meeting him.
  • In Incorruptible, Max Damage abducts a girl and puts her in Jailbait's costume to lay a false trail for enemies who might be tracking her. Before too much longer she was calling herself "the new Jailbait."

    Comic Strips 
  • In one series of Dilbert strips in 2013, Dilbert is kidnapped by the Elbonians and put in a forced labor camp; he actually likes it much better than his regular job, and the Elbonians are much better off with him there (making this Lima Syndrome as well).
  • Played for Laughs in What's New? with Phil and Dixie where a village of Amazons kidnaps men for reproductive purposes. The men fight to the death against any attempt to rescue them.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge has an example that is exaggerated, defied, and justified. The Sirens and and the Dark Hunters kidnap Princess Twilight Sparkle, after menacing her friends, after they mistake her for her human counterpart, who has stolen Sonata's heart. Seeing how badly Sonata was traumatized, and how much both groups care about her, as well as grasping at how it was a logical but huge misunderstanding Princess Twilight not only decides to help them, but willingly works with them to find her human counterpart. She lies to Gloriosa that she had always been their friend, and eventually offers Adagio the chance to return to Equestria, with the only quid pro quo that they don't kill anyone. It is justified however in that the sirens and hunters never do anything malicious to her, give her a lot of freedom, and X and Gigan, the very two who kidnapped her, apologize for it. Twilight for her part stays to help moderate them by her influence, making the best of the situation while not excusing her captors actions. It's obvious no one really wants to keep her captive, they just can't release her without risking an irate Mothra and Celestia coming in guns blazing for vengeance. When Twilight is finally let go by them, she considers the Sirens and Dark Hunters to be her friends...but she still admonishes them for kidnapping her and causing so much havoc, albeit very subtly, and makes it clear she's calling the shots from now on.
  • The One Piece fanfictions Captive and its tie-in Mission Dressrosa portray Eustass Kidd and the unnamed Marine sniper that he takes captive develop deep romantic and sexual feelings toward each other. Kidd loves her to the point where he is willing to let her go even though it breaks what little heart he has left. In the tie in the snipers ends up deserting in order to go to Wano and rescue Kidd from Kaido.
  • Captive (AbyssCronica): Called "Banaro Syndrome" in One Piece. Birdie is acutely aware that she has it but there is little she can do about it.
  • The Danny Phantom fanfic Checkmate focuses on a two-way, non-romantic example of this between Vlad and Danny, the latter having been heavily abused by the former and even approaching a Face–Heel Turn—until he realizes that the Dungeon Master placed him in this situation for the purpose of winning Vlad over from hardcore villainy a la Lima Syndrome.
  • Children of Remnant: All of the Claimed were tortured extensively by Salem throughout their life, yet they still love her dearly and call her Mother. Yang quickly realizes that, having grown up with Salem all their lives, they truly have no idea how much trauma they've endured.
  • A downplayed example in Comes a Crossover. Flash Sentry is kidnapped by Lilth, Etna, and Flonne including having his car commandeered by them. When he send an S.O.S to Sunset she send X and Brook to save him, but when they arrive they see he is having a good time with the three of them with his electric guitar. Despite having fun however, and admitting Lilith is good on the bass, he still holds a grudge against the three of them for kidnapping him and is only not rescued at that moment because he is in no immediate danger.
  • Compass of Thy Soul has no less than three examples:
    • The first was a Senju warrior whom the female Uchiha Head of the Outgard decided to abduct and forcibly bed for flirting with her on the battlefield. The poor guy tried to escape several times, but ultimately resigned himself to be a male concubine. The Uchiha clan acknowledges it was rather skeevy and not very nice for the Senju.
    • The second is Senju Tobirama briefly given as a hostage to the Uchiha clan to ensure a truce. Tobirama is deeply aware he won't be as effective as a fighter against the Uchihas if he continues to interact with them in a friendly context such as watching the kids or discussing fuinjutsu, but can't do anything to reverse the process. The Uchihas being much more supportive and understanding towards his mental trauma than Tobirama's own brother doesn't help either.
    • The third is Kakuzu of the Waterfall, who tried to assassinate one of Konoha's founders only to be imprisoned and exiled in absentia by his clan for his failure. He was left so traumatized by his elders' betrayal that Uchiha Sakurajima swooping in to seduce and ultimately marry him met no resistance whatsoever.
  • Eden (Obsessmuch): Hermione Granger spends most of the story being a forced slave to Lucius Malfoy, who frequently abuses her physically and emotionally, and would eventually murder her parents and rape her when his lust for her gets out of control. Despite this, Hermione ends up being drawn to him as he's the person she interacts with the most.
  • Tom claims to have this in the Eleutherophobia series.. In These Are the Damned, he says that being a Controller made him feel like his place in the world was to be obedient so the Yeerks wouldn't hurt him. In Total Recall, he slips up and calls himself "property", then blames it on Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Fade: Light lampshades this trope while being held captive by L for being the Kira suspect. The Unresolved Sexual Tension between them is not helping matters, and when Light is released and they begin their romantic relationship/partnership, it plays a large part in Light letting L's more... unfavourable actions slide.
  • In The Gender Bend Omake: Stone Age, Luca ends up a slave in a tribe of women after being kidnapped by Natsu. While initially against it, he does eventually bond with the women due to having more in common with them than his overly manly male tribe members.
  • In the penultimate chapter of Group of Weirdos: Ocarina of Time, Gate reveals that he's started to bond with Ganondorf. Of course, Gate's a Cloudcuckoolander, so that might not be true.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Some fans treat Norway having this for Denmark and/or Sweden. Denmark being an overprotective Yandere or Sweden for being an atoning Love Martyr after the soured historical unions he had with Norway.
    • Russia/Lithuania is often portrayed as this in fanfic, with Lithuania growing fond of Russia after years of being forced to stay with him (and most likely physically and/or mentally abused in the process). Also happens in Russia/Latvia, Russia/Prussia aka East Germany and more than one AU Russia/America or Russia/Canada fanwork. Estonia and Russia's sisters seems to be mostly free due to his lack of screentime and the girls's familiar bonds to Russia, but it can be seen from time to time.
    • There are a number of England/Japan fics that are all about pirate!England abducting/kidnapping an unwilling Japan at swordpoint as his "possession" or "treasure", being pretty much a domineering, possessive bastard to Japan's Ukefiied self (as quoted from one such fic: "Listen to me may struggle, you may rebel, you may try and fight back, but know this: I always get what I want in the end. And what I want, is you. I will break you down if I have to, love, so consider yourself warned."), and Japan of course falling in love with him nonetheless. There's even a pretty famous England/Japan MAD titled "Beautiful Dreamer" that's a visual version of this kind of fic, with more than one commenter pointing out its Unfortunate Implications.
    • This is a "foundation" for some Japan/Taiwan, Japan/China, Japan/Hong Kong, China/Taiwan, China/Hong Kong and Japan/Thailand Darker and Edgier fanwork, specially in the times of Imperial Japan or Imperial/Red China. The aggressor/Bastard Boyfriend controls, abuses (in many different ways, but preferably sexual), manipulates, etc. his "captive" of either gender, breaking them mentally and emotionally and making them their love/sex slaves. That is, when the "captive" isn't shown as being head-over-heels in love with the aggressor since the beginning — specially common in Japan/Taiwan works, where she's openly crushing on Imperial Japan, who is portrayed as a Relationship Sue Knight in Shining Armor for her. Japan/Korea works are most likely excepted since Japan is almost always shown as a monster to Korea right from the start, and considering the Japanese occupation from Korea... huh.
    • Also a possible interpretation of anything involving The Ottoman Empire/past!Turkey. Specially in regards to Egypt, young Greece (either as a child or a teenager), teen Romania or teen Hungary.
      • Especially creepy in some Turkey/Greece works where it's clear that Bastard-ized!Turkey's abuse of Greece was a Break the Cutie experience for Greece, leaving him bitter and emotionally damaged... and the authors try to justify Greece continuing to stay with Turkey in spite of this by showing him to be cold or dickish toward everyone else and Turkey being the only one he shows his sweet side to... even though this is the exact opposite of the way Greece behaves in canon, and makes him come across as having been emotionally brainwashed into Taking A Level In Jerkass and believing the person responsible for all his emotional griefs and ruin to be the one he can be the happiest with.
    • In fanfiction, Hong Kong almost always has Stockholm Syndrome for England. Then again, England usually has Lima Syndrome and acts like a substitute father/older brother for Hong Kong.
  • Played with in Hope for the Heartless, which takes place shortly after the events of The Black Cauldron. The Horned King (who died in the movie) is resurrected by the Fates, and soon his isolated castle is visited by a peasant girl named Avalina. He imprisons her in order to cover his return from Prydain, treats her initially coldly and almost kills her, restricts her movements to the borders of his lands and threatens to kill her loved ones should she try to escape. Avalina is forced to live like this for many months, and while she has her beloved horse Mitternacht and the invisible servants at her beck and call, the only creatures around who can talk back to her are Creeper and the Horned King. Avalina is frightened one day and flees, getting almost killed by a pack of Ax-Crazy wolves. The Horned King saves her, almost dying himself, and she takes him back to the castle. In the following months, she plays him music every day (on his orders) and gets a chance to befriend a gwythaint and ride it. His cold treatment of her lessens, and he allows her to tend to a garden on his lands and provides her a library. She realizes one day that she no longer hates him like she probably should, as she senses the subtle changes in him and that he's under his cold exterior lonely and desperate. While she still misses her home very much, she realizes that a part of her wants to stay with the lich because he actually listens to her thoughts and what's on her heart more than her family, and she has more time for her two passions - playing music and reading. While she still remains his prisoner, she becomes his dear friend.
  • In the Emergency fic Lost and Found John Gage has signs of this. John is abducted and held captive for 18 months by a firefighter-obsessed madman who tortures and rapes him. John eventually becomes a willing participant in the guy's sex games because the torture is too much to bear, and he's treated kindly and nicely when he complies. He knew he was being raped and used, but he knew that "playing nice" and willingly complying felt good and the torture hurt so much. After snapping, killing the guy, and escaping, he struggles with the good feelings and erotic dreams he has, amongst his hatred and fear. A psychiatrist eventually lays out for Roy (John won't go) how the guy was John's only human contact, and how the good and evil acts are seperated in the victim's mind and the good ones clung to like a lifeline. The love isn't normal or healthy but it is strong. The information persuades John to see the doctor himself.
  • It's not romantic affection, but Scootaloo comes out of the "good" ending of Pattycakes viewing Fluttershy as a kind of mentor and Parental Substitute. Given that Fluttershy had hit her on the head and forced her to run a gauntlet of tests dotted with the risk of arbitrary Mind Rape, either it's Stockholm syndrome, or Scoots had a really crappy home life. (I mean, say what you will about your parents - no matter how bad they were, at least they never tried to totally destroy your mind.)
  • Predator and Prey: Bridgette develops this after being raped by Alejandro during the flight to Egypt (it's never identified by name, Noah's observations give it away). What makes this case even more horrifying is that it also serves as an Adaptational Explanation for why Bridgette was more seriously impacted by Alejandro's charms than anyone else was in Total Drama World Tour.
    • The same author also has a one-shot titled Stockholm Syndrome in which an unknown observer compares Bridgette falling for Alejandro's manipulative charms to the stages those with Stockholm Syndrome go through.
  • In Prison Island Break it is clear that Shadow is obsessed with the Prison Doctor, Amy Rose. At first he does things like threatening to rape her for her own good. As the story progresses his affection for her becomes less creepy - although it is obvious that the emotion confuses him.
    • Sonic also falls for her but is a lot less obsessed.
  • A non-romantic version of this happens in the Pony POV Series. Sweetie Belle ends up brainwashed by Queen Chrysalis, but Chrysalis ends up developing Lima Syndrome for her and treating her much more kind than any of her slaves to the point of becoming an Evil Mentor. As a result, it starts to become more than just mind control. When Sweetie Belle is freed from the mind control, she still feels like Chrysalis is Not Evil, Just Misunderstood and keeps acting on her will until Rarity breaks through to her. Even after that, she still has hopes that Chrysalis might be redeemable because she saw what little good that was left in Chrysalis. She naturally is heartbroken when Chrysalis dies, though does quickly form a bond with her innocent Reincarnation.
  • The RWBY Loops have a rare postive example. It's a Running Gag that if Raven is Awake, she will kidnap Whitley. While at first it was just to screw over Jacques and later to prove she's a better parent than him, she eventually became attached to Whitley and considers him an adopted son. More often than not, while Whitley will resist at first, he eventually comes around to liking the Branwen tribe and stays willingly.
  • A RWBY fic titled Stockholm Syndrome does not actually have a straight example, despite the title. While Blake does develop a Happiness in Slavery attitude throughout the story, she isn't really misinterpreting anything or thinking illogically; Yang and Ruby genuinely care about her, protect her from abuse dished out by other humans and don't exactly qualify as "captors" anyway.
  • In Strings, Korra slowly starts to develop this after being kidnapped by Tarrlok as a hostage and forced to marry him as Tarrlok makes an effort to make their Happy Marriage Charade more genuine. Tarrlok himself slowly begins to love Korra a la Lima Syndrome.
  • Invoked in Tangled In Time, Ganondorf kidnapped Link, but he treats Link as his own son and deliberately isolated him so Link would too much of an emotional attachment to fight him when he grows up. This is justified on Link's part as Ganondorf kidnapped as an infant so he doesn't remember his biological parents nor knows any differently.
  • The Heroes Dark Fic Unmade results in two-way Stockholm Syndrome from a Locked in a Freezer scenario.
  • Your Alicorn Is in Another Castle: From "Inevitability Frames", when Twilight's thinking about prisoners who don't want to escape, she calls it "Gotland Syndrome".

    Films — Animated 
  • Despite how it looks to some, Beauty and the Beast is an aversion. Belle agrees to stay with Beast to save her father, but she doesn't obey his orders, later decides her promise isn't worth how dangerous he is and tries to leave, and even after Beast saves her she isn't putting up with his behavior. It's only after he starts being nice and considerate, but like a person instead of her captor, that she warms up to him. Yet even then, she still misses her father, and leaves when Beast finally lets her. Interestingly, Emma Watson heard about the accusations around the time she was being scouted for the role of Belle for the Live-Action Adaptation, and by her own admission she looked into them thoroughly before signing on. Lindsay Ellis discusses it here.
  • Not an intentional example on the part of the filmmakers, but Lightning McQueen in Cars. Lost, confused, not allowed to speak to a lawyer or try to call anyone, locked up and forced into heavy labor until he ends up screaming for help from a passing pair of minivans before his view of Radiator Springs and its inhabitants does an abrupt 180.
  • In Sahara, the snakes captured by Omar the snake charmer idealize their situation to the point of delusion, because it's the only way they can cope with the bleak reality in front of them. One of Omar's tools to keep them escaping is a hallucinogenic flute, the music of which hypnotizes snakes to move against their will.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 3:10 to Yuma (2007) plays with this trope. The captive is stage coach robber Ben Wade, who is never really a prisoner in the movie. He demonstrates the capability to escape any time he wishes, but sticks around because of an interest in Dan Evans that developed before he was even taken 'captive'. Wade is a badass cynic who grows increasingly fascinated with Evans' Determinator idealism which is uniquely motivated by his own cynical perspective. In the end he helps Evans deliver him to the train, despite having an entire town gunning for him. Of course, he had already escaped Yuma prison several times. In fact when his gang kill Evans, a furious Wade guns them down. And then he gets back in the train, and lets it take him to prison.
  • In 12 Monkeys, someone suggests to Kathryn Railly that she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome after she puts James Cole's multiple killings in context by saying that the victims were thugs who had tried to kill them both.
  • Parodied in the Spanish Comedy, Acción mutante (Mutant Action) after Patricia has been kidnapped by the eponymous terrorist organization and traumatized in every way you can think of, she starts to shout her support and quote their dogma, even while being dragged through the dirt. Lampshaded by her kidnapper, Ramón, who finds it all very annoying and keeps trying to explain to her that she has Stolkholm's syndrome and she'll hate him the next day.
  • In the controversial Spanish movie Atame! (English: ''Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!), an actress falls in love with her stalker kidnapper (played by Antonio Banderas).
  • Berlin Syndrome: Clare seems to be suffering from a bit of this at times, as she becomes friendly with Andi and even has sex with him after he starts holding her captive. It's unsurprising, since she's also probably desperate for any affection in the situation, plus she'd felt attraction toward him before and they also had consensual sex previously. It's likely the source of the film's name.
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. None of the historic figures seemed to mind being abducted by two nutty teenagers. They all eventually it as the "excellent adventure" through time that it is.
  • Blue Steel: In an early scene Megan is engaged in a training scenario at the police academy. She kills the kidnapper after he grabs his hostage, but is then shot and "killed" by the hostage herself.
  • The Bourne Identity, possibly. The book has definite elements of this trope, but then the book is almost entirely different from the film. There does come a point in the film where Bourne forces Marie to stay with him. He had offered her a way out before but now leaving his company would get them both killed. It is only after this point the two end up in bed together. The pair had built up a relationship before coercion had come into play, so it seems that Stockholm Syndrome is only part of the reason for Marie's feelings, if it's a factor at all.
  • Buffalo '66 depicts a man kidnapping Christina Ricci in order to fool his parents into thinking he has a girlfriend. She warms up to him quickly. The "kidnapping" is pretty mild, however, and she seems to have a thing for him almost automatically.
  • In the movie The Chase (1994), Kristy Swanson's character falls in love with her captor (played by Charlie Sheen) — in fact, she even rescues him from the police in the end, so that he can escape to Mexico.
    • This is a subversion, because she falls for him based not on anything he did or said, but basically to rebel against her parents.
  • In Contagion, Dr. Orantes is eventually kidnapped by one of her colleagues who takes her to his village so that they will be among the first to get the virus vaccine. The vaccine is developed three months later, after which we see Orantes happily working as a schoolteacher for the village children and willingly cooperates with the kidnappers in the exchange for the vaccine. Later on in the airport, she is informed that the vaccine given was actually a placebo. The last we see of her is her running away from the airport, presumably to warn the villagers.
  • In Cry Blood, Apache, Apache woman Jemme is abducted by the gang who murdered her tribe, as they believe she can lead them to gold. Over the course of her ordeal she falls in love Pitcalin, the only one of her captors to treat her with kindness.
  • Subverted in Die Hard when the news report is discussing Stockholm Syndrome and suggesting the hostages are entering the first stages the camera pans to the hostages watching a corpse being dragged past them and are terrified of rather than identifying with their captors. Interestingly, the psychiatrist, the author of a book on the subject, refers to it as Helsinki Syndrome, suggesting that he either got his facts wrong or is ripping off Stockholm Syndrome (if the former case, it's a Take That! to clueless pundits). Amusingly, the male newsreader tries to clarify to the viewers that he's referring to "Helsinki, Sweden," and is quickly corrected - Helsinki is in Finland.
  • Lampshaded by Ronnie about Ashley's feelings towards Turner in Disturbia.
    "Where do you get this stuff?"
    "I read...a lot..."
  • In Dog Day Afternoon, the bank employees clearly sympathize with the robbers/kidnappers by the end.
  • Gender Flipped example in Five Branded Women, where the German soldier held captive by the country girls-turned-Partisans in Yugoslavia appears to develop feelings for Mira, his captor. He ends up trying to flee while she gives birth.
  • The Getaway. A possible explanation for the behaviour of Fran... though hardly enough to excuse her behaviour: she has sex with Rudy, the man who kidnapped her and his husband while the latter is locked in the adiacent bathroom and forced to listen, which drives him to commit suicide.
  • The TV Christmas movie Holiday In Handcuffs has this happen, with the kidnapper in question being Melissa Joan Hart.
  • Home Sweet Home (2005) revolves around the protagonist, May, having her son kidnapped by a mysterious "monster" who later turns out to be an ordinary - if mentally-insane - woman from the slums, having lost her husband and son years ago, and kidnapped May's child to replace her own. To May's horror, by the time she confronts the insane woman while trying to get her son back, her son outright rejects her, having grown to sympathise with the madwoman.
  • Captain Hook in Hook deliberately tries to induce Stockholm Syndrome in Peter (Pan) Banning's children, in part by posing as the good, caring, attentive father that Peter wasn't. It works on his son Jack, but not his daughter Maggie, and even Jack gets set straight when he realizes his father does loves him and that Hook is a murdering asshole.
  • This is discussed in Horrible Bosses 2. Kurt and Dale start to bond with Rex, but Nick tells them that they have Stockholm Syndrome: a mental condition that makes a hostage become obsessed with their captors. However, Kurt and Dale point out that Rex is the hostage so it's actually "reverse Stockholm Syndrome".note 
  • I Spit on Your Grave: Ana in the second film is revealed to be a victim of the sex traffickers herself. She'd not only been raped like Katie is, but gave birth to two sons as a result (who now are members of the ring). In the present, she assists them in luring new victims into their clutches (like Katie). Even so, as she's upstairs hearing them rape Katie in the cellar, she weeps silently holding a doll. You can't help but sympathize, despite what she did to Katie, knowing that she's probably been utterly broken and brainwashed by her experience.
  • As Indy tells Mutt in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, he was "technically" (well actually, more than technically) kidnapped by Pancho Villa's men as a teenager before joining their revolutionary army. (The incident was only described in slightly more detail in the pilot episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, but was later told in complete detail in book form.)
  • James Bond
    • In Never Say Never Again, Bond undergoes a hostage situation at the beginning. He liberates the woman bound to a bed, but doesn't remember that she might be suffering Stockholm Syndrome, and she kills him. Fortunately it was just a training scenario.
    • The World Is Not Enough revolves around this trope, as Elektra King was held hostage by Renard and 007 correctly assumes by slight pieces of evidence, that something just isn't right with his protege. It also turns out that it's reciprocated through Lima Syndrome, with the former hostage emotionally manipulating the hostage taker out of spite.
  • The movie John Q.. had this. Because of the title character's sympathetic ordeal (Trying to get his son a much-needed heart transplant), beating up a man who was abusing his girlfriend in the middle of the situation and letting the sickest people go without hesitation, everyone was laughing and joking with him near the end, even the guy he beat up. Even the people he let go only had nice things to say about him.
  • Gamora from the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to have a version of this. She's made it explicitly clear across several movies that she despises Thanos for abducting her as a child, and defected from his ranks in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, she does care about him to some degree as shown in Avengers: Infinity War. When he's seemingly dying after she stabbed him in the neck, Gamora sits down next to him and breaks down sobbing.
  • King Kong (2005): Ann Darrow and her captor Kong. Though usually Stockholm Syndrome doesn't last as long after the captivity has ended.
  • A non-romantic example in The Magdalene Sisters. Margaret finds the laundry's back gate left open and walks out, even stopping a man on the road for a lift. However she decides not to get back in and returns to the laundry. Viewers have debated over whether or not this is loyalty to the other women (she was taking care of the unstable Crispina) or fear of the outside world. Given that she'd seen another escapee physically dragged back into the laundry by her family, it's entirely possible she felt she had nowhere else to go.
  • Played extremely darkly in The Poughkeepsie Tapes with the character of Cheryl Dempsey. Nightmare Fuel indeed.
  • Given Westley's story to Buttercup in The Princess Bride, his relationship with the Dread Pirate Roberts (or rather, the man he assumed was him) was both this and Lima Syndrome. Roberts spared Westley, keeping him around (often reminding him of his threat to kill him, but never making good on it) and in the meantime, Westley was able to learn swordplay, fighting, and anything else the pirate crew would teach him. Eventually, Roberts, who had clearly taken a liking to him, revealed the secret behind his title to him, and later Passed the Torch to Westley.
  • Invoked in Return to Cabin by the Lake. After Stanley takes over the production on Cabin by the Lake under his JC Reddick identity, he rewrites his interactions with Mallory in the previous film as if she starts desiring the serial killer who repeatedly abducted and tried to drown her. Allison later pretends that she's fallen for Stanley, but it's just an act to play to his ego and try to escape.
  • In the Saw movies, the character of Amanda.
    • This is apparently Jigsaw's preferred method of recruitment as his apprentices are either a survivor of one of his traps (Amanda, Dr. Gordon) or someone he blackmailed who became a willing apprentice (Hoffman)
  • The woman John Wayne was trying to rescue in The Searchers. It gets a little confusing, because at first she says "These are my people" - but then, when her stepbrother sneaks into the Comanche camp to rescue her, she is happy to see him and wants to leave immediately. Of course, that could be because the Wayne character now wants to kill her (believe her to have become "defiled" by Indians), and her stepbrother (who is one-eighth Indian himself) has sworn to protect her.
  • In The Smurfs 2, Grouchy claims Smurfette's bonding with the Naughties is "a classic case of Smurfholm Syndrome".
  • In Transcendence, Max is kidnapped by RIFT and held hostage for months, but he eventually comes to agree with their views if not necessarily their methods. It helps that he was already wary of Will's new existence to begin with, though they might have won him over sooner if they hadn't tried to murder Evelyn right off the bat.
  • The subplot in Truth or Consequences, N.M. showed how Stockholm Syndrome was taking its toll on the couple Gordon and Donna. As Gordon slowly began to bond with his captors, Donna started to fear for Gordon's sanity, and realized he was getting too comfortable with their kidnappers. He finally snaps out of it after he slashes a man's throat, and Curtis fools him into thinking he killed him.
  • Lampshaded and subverted in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Naomi believes that Allison is falling in love with her hillbilly captors due to Stockholm Syndrome, and Allison is slowly falling for Dale. The twist is that Tucker and Dale aren't her captors — they rescued her when she almost drowned. And Allison is interested in Dale because he's a Nice Guy.
  • Who's That Girl: It was suggested by one of the reporters who are trying to interview the bridesmaids being held captive by Raoul and Benny.
    Reporter: Have you developed a relationship with your captors? Do you find yourself physically attracted to them?
  • Woman in the Dunes: Junpei is held prisoner by the villagers of a Town with a Dark Secret at the bottom of a sand quarry, where he is expected to dig sand and be a husband to the woman who was already living there. Multiple escape attempts fail. After seven years and after impregnating the woman, Junpei finally gets a chance to escape when the villagers forget to haul up the rope ladder as the woman's being taken away to give birth. He doesn't escape.
  • Indian film The Road plays with this. A city girl named Veera is abducted by men from the surrounding hills, and starts off violently resisting. The men are planning to sell her to a brothel. This being Bollywood of course, everyone's carefully laid plans get upended. Veera ends up with the leader of the group in an isolated mountain village. Having nothing else to do, he indulges her fantasy of living in a mountain cabin: which results in Veera pouring affection on him. Evidently, Veera's family have never really taken her seriously. Veera is extremely angry and sad when her captor is killed during the rescue attempt. But this is perhaps less because she trusts this specific man, and more because she doesn't want to go back to her parents.
  • This was the subject of a 1970s TV-movie called Sweet Hostage, with Martin Sheen as the abductor and Linda Blair as his victim. Blair tries to escape at first, but falls in love with Sheen after he introduces her to poetry and buys her nice things from the nearby town.

  • Averted in one short story by J. R. R. Tolkien. During the Second Age, when the Númenórean empire is just being founded, a Númenórean colonist is captured by local tribesmen and forced to marry one of them. She tells her husband that her people will be back for revenge and that she is very glad of that.
  • The ending of 1984. The last four words of the book show how thoroughly Winston has been brainwashed by Miniluv: "He loved Big Brother".
  • In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Professor Arronax gradually becomes more impressed with Nemo during his stay onboard the Nautilus. Ned Land is the only one who seems to remember that they are prisoners, not guests. It's only when Nemo launches another attack on British vessels that Arronax remembers this too.
  • Parodied in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom discusses his plan to start a band of robbers and kidnap people for ransom:
    "...Only you don’t kill the women. You shut up the women, but you don’t kill them. They’re always beautiful and rich, and awfully scared...Well, the women get to love you, and after they’ve been in the cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and after that you couldn’t get them to leave. If you drove them out they’d turn right around and come back. It’s so in all the books."
  • In the first Artemis Fowl book, Holly develops enough of an attachment to her captors (the title character and his associates) to object to her allies' plans to bio-bomb Fowl Manor after her rescue. Although her objections are partly due to Artemis being Just a Kid and his servant Juliet being a relative innocent, her friends dismiss it as "just Stockholm Syndrome... you'll get over it."
  • Done intentionally in John Ringo's Council Wars series. The lead villain, known as Paul, sets up a harem where he keeps kidnapped young women, for the express purpose of breaking them and inducing Stockholm Syndrome. The repeated rapes and hopeless nature of life in the harem inevitably take their toll on the captives. This is even explained during a short story at the end of Emerald Sea. It is partially averted in the character of Megan, Paul's latest victim. Despite falling in love with him, she ends up killing him partway through Against the Tide, in a particularly brutal and grisly manner.
  • Central to the concept of the Dick Francis thriller novel The Danger, the author's clearly extensive research providing a more nuanced portrayal than usual of the syndrome.
  • The Detachment by Barry Eisler. Dox and Rain are betrayed by their employer Colonel Horton, so they kidnap his daughter for ransom. Dox eventually releases the woman early because he's worried their Token Evil Teammate will kill her regardless, and the two have a discussion over this trope — she states firmly that she had no intention of Taking the Bullet for Dox if the police had stormed the building, but ends up asking Dox to call her afterwards. Dox in turn admits to an attraction, but doesn't take up the implied offer as he realises it would be wrong. In turn though he asks Rain not to take vengeance on Horton like they planned, saying his daughter has suffered enough from their acts.
  • Referenced in Dr. Franklin's Island by Ann Halam. The victims of the titular Mad Scientist try to stop this from happening to them, but end up still treating him "with this crazy kidnap-victim respect". Not that this stops them from killing him.
  • Flowers in the Attic has a moment where Chris rapes Cathy in a fit of desperation. Afterwards she says she could have stopped him if she wanted to, and they end up beginning a full blown incestuous relationship in subsequent books.
  • Happens to Clarice Starling in Hannibal. Unlike the more well-known movie, she is converted to the dark side by Hannibal Lector and the two become lovers.
  • Older Than Feudalism: It's suggested in Homer's Iliad that Helen of Troy, after being kidnapped by Paris in an act that triggered The Trojan War, got pretty comfortable in Troy after a while. Of course, the fact that Paris was the most handsome man of the time himself probably helped him kidnap her in the first place. It's never explicitly stated, but there is one scene in which a Greek soldier actually considers killing Helen, believing her to be one of the enemies now.
  • In Island of the Aunts, there is a mild case - the titular aunts kindnap children who are unhappy in their normal lives, anyway, and take them to a magical island. The kids initially want to get away, but after some time they find that the aunts are better parental figures than their actual parents, and help the aunts fight off the villains (who might have rescued them, but would also kill the magical creatures living on the island)
  • Jacen Solo in New Jedi Order. The rogue Jedi Vergere was one of his torturers while he was held by the Yuzhaan Vong, but she also showed him kindness and engaged in long philosophical debates on Jedi dogma with him, resulting in Jacen starting to identify with her and question everything Luke taught him. It's the first step on his road to the Dark Side.
  • Discussed Trope in The Orphan Master's Son, where Kim Jong Il hopes to foster this in an American girl that his minions kidnapped.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, decades before the Stockholm bank robbery occurred, Christine falls in love with Erik after he kidnaps her, drugs her, and locks her in his house for two weeks — all this after three months of him as an Unseen Pen Pal and gradually growing more verbally abusive and aggressive. Raoul is saddened but not the least bit surprised that she loves a man she's (understandably) terrified of, and Christine comes to her senses long enough to tell Raoul to take her away from Erik once and for all No Matter How Much I Beg.
  • In the fourth Protector of the Small, soldiers kidnap some refugee children and take them to Blayce the Gallan, who will kill them and use their souls to animate killing devices. The Protector of the Small is able to stop him and his soldiers, but finds one of the girls crying over a soldier she'd killed.
    "Loey, what's the matter?"
    "Him. He was - he was good to me. He took care of me all the way here, he was nice, and I killed him."
    "He couldn't have been that nice. He was bringing you here to die."
    "I know I ought to think of that, Lady Kel. But he was nice when I was scared. How can I feel good about killing him?"
  • Rebel Force: Uprising features Luke Skywalker captured by Soresh, who has developed a method for destroying someone's memories and reprogramming them to become his loyal emotionless assassins, via injected serums and loads of Cold-Blooded Torture. Naturally, he starts using them on Luke, who is there for two weeks. He has Luke tortured at all times that Soresh is not in the cell with him, so that when Soresh visits the pain stops; sometimes Soresh gives Luke water or a piece of fruit, too, deliberately trying to invoke this trope. It works initially, but Soresh failed to account for the Force.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Though she doesn't exactly love him in the traditional sense, this trope explains how the Countess Persephone and Duke Nobel ended up in what would generally be considered a fairly healthy marriage. A captive of war, her original quarters in the palace were essentially a Gilded Cage. By The Baron of Maleperduys, she actually has to be reminded that he was the man who (indirectly) killed her father.
  • Shards of Honor: After Cordelia gets back to Beta after being captured by the Barrayarans during the Betan/Barrayaran war, her commanding officers and family believe that her feelings for Aral Vorkosigan are the result of Stockholm Syndrome, an assumption helped along considerably by the fact that some groups of Barrayaran soldiers did make a practice of raping and torturing their POWs. Since Cordelia can't provide an honest account of all of her experiences while she was a prisoner without revealing a whole lot of messy Barrayaran political secrets that would cause whole worlds of trouble — and thus can't convincingly explain the assortment of injuries she came back with, which her fellow Betans assume came from torture — it's not hard to understand their reasoning.
  • An unintentional example, as the term didn't even exist at the time, is The Sheik. The heroine is abused and raped by the Sheik until she falls in love with him.
  • In The Silmarillion, Elrond and Elros's (reciprocated) love for Maglor, who took part in the slaughter of their people (twice) and took them captive, could be interpreted that way. Then again, most annals say they were 5 at the most when captured.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire.
    Ramsay: Do you love me Reek?
    Theon/"Reek": Yes, of course, my lord.
    • Theon also has some of this for the Starks. Theon was taken hostage by Ned Stark because his father lost his Rebellion and isn't allowed to go home until his father (and probably his mother) are dead. He takes it in stride and becomes friends with Robb, but only comes to terms with the reality of his situation when he finally gets to return home.
  • In Redeeming Love, Angel was raped at the age of eight by a man named Duke and spent ten years as his Sex Slave; she confesses later that for a time she thought herself in love with him.
  • Averted in Room. Ma has no love for the man who imprisoned her for years, and is upset when a journalist implies that she somehow collaborated with her captor.
  • Second Apocalypse: This is Prince Sorweel's main dramatic conflict. Kellhus has conquered his kingdom, murdered his father the king, and forced him to join a military detachment of similar noble hostages. However, Kellhus is a master manipulator and his cause does seem to be just, so Sorweel is constantly struggling to avoid surrendering his heart to Kellhus.
  • Discussed in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Lemony Narrator explains the phenomenon of Stockholm syndrome—then immediately goes on to say that it doesn't apply in his story. When the Baudelaire kids are held hostage, they hate their abductors, and he mentions that in Real Life this reaction is more common and rational than Stockholm syndrome.
  • Winnie from Tuck Everlasting was kidnapped by the Tucks, but grew to love them all the same. To be fair, they never intended to harm her and were very kind — they just needed to explain the situation to her properly, and were more than willing to take her home once they had done so. Could also be a case of Lima Syndrome for the Tucks, though they never saw her as a hostage in the first place.
  • The Wheel of Time has the damane. Women channelers (a.k.a. sorceresses) are captured by the Seanchan Empire, collared with a device that doesn't allow them to do any kind of channeling (or anything else) without their handler allowing it. It's a Fate Worse than Death for the women channelers raised in cultures where they are allowed to roam free and are even admired and feared. But some captured do develop an attachment to it (attachment meaning completely assuming whatever identity the handler wants them to have, resisting capture, and being terrified and traumatized if set free). Although that is more a case of actively breaking the spirit of the captured women and turning them into obedient puppets, more like pets or tools than human beings. Fate Worse than Death indeed. This trope is averted rather horribly with Rand's capture by the hands of Elaida's Tower embassy. There is not exactly identification or sympathy with his captors/tormenters on his part.
  • The Kim Newman short story "Who Dares Wins" refers to Stockholm Syndrome, but since the captors are vampires, they have faster and more reliable methods to get the hostages on their side.
  • Kobo Abe's The Woman in the Dunes. An entomologist plans to spend the night at the sand-pit of a widow. She and other villagers hold him in. He tries to escape and fails, and gradually develops a very sexual relationship with the woman. Years later, the man has a chance out of the pit, but he cannot bring himself to leave.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Amy wonders whether the "wife" of her owner Walter, who it turns out is also a slave, suffers from this, since she helps him. After determining this isn't the case, she covers up the fact the woman's a slave so she's punished with Walter later.
  • In Poul Anderson's Year of the Ransom, when Wanda admires something about her time-traveling conquistador kidnapper, she immediately 9 herself about this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The A-Team, "Harder Than It Looks". Miss Teasdale demands the team go back to retrieve one of her kidnappers, Marcus. They initially think it's mental imbalance brought on by her captivity, but the show goes out of its way to disprove this. Marcus was her boyfriend before this started and was an Unwitting Pawn in the kidnapping scheme.
  • Barney Miller: In "Abduction", Joe and Lois Wheaton want to recover their daughter Barbara Lynn from a new-age temple/restaurant run by Indian guru Boddhisattva, and they kidnap her from it and take her back home. Meanwhile, Barbara Lynn has actually found the presence of Boddhisattva more bearable than her own home, and she tells her parents that her name is Praknamurti, and decides not to press charges, in the hope of eventual reconciliation with her parents.
  • Subverted in Soolin's Dark and Troubled Past in Blake's 7. She was spared by the thug who killed her whole family, for what are implied to have been paedophilic reasons. She convinced him that she had Stockholm Syndrome for long enough that he taught her to fight... until she thought she'd learned enough, at which point she killed him.
  • Subverted early in Breaking Bad. Walter and his drug dealer captive start to bond, but it turns out the dealer was just trying to earn Walter's trust so he could stab him.
    • More disturbingly, while it's never stated that she's a hostage, Walter (who by this point has roared past the Moral Event Horizon) spends almost the entire first half of the fifth season attempting, whether consciously or subconsciously, to induce this with Skyler.
  • Oft-mentioned but rarely used on Criminal Minds.
    • In the season four episode "Bloodlines," a woman kidnapped when she was a small girl marries into the family who kidnapped her and goes on to kidnap other girls to marry her son.
  • Subverted in the Elementary episode "Child Predator", where the first victim of a serial kidnapper/killer is found after many years. His parents quickly lawyer him up and get the DA to offer an immunity deal for any crimes the kid helped the serial killer commit. However, after the serial killer is cornered by the cops and offs himself, Holmes realizes that the kid was the one in control almost from day one, being a sociopathic genius and master manipulator (he managed to trick Holmes). Thanks to the immunity deal, he's free and clear (until Holmes manages to find a loophole in the wording of the deal).
  • A mild version on ER, when Carol is taken hostage during a convenience store robbery. As one of the gunmen rants about having killed a man, she tells him that she knows how he feels, having done the same thing a few weeks earlier (she gave a patient the wrong blood) and successfully talks him out of killing another hostage, even placing herself in between the two, indicating that she knows he won't shoot her. When he takes her with him as a Human Shield, he acquiesces to her request that he release her once he makes his escape. Then when they're confronted by a cop, she screams at him not to run, knowing the police will shoot him, and when they do exactly that, she goes into panic mode, frantically trying to resuscitate him and even comforting him. His last words are to ask if she's okay, indicating that he himself developed Lima Syndrome. While it might not be love, they clearly bonded and she's visibly torn up by his death.
  • A variation in Finding Carter, when the eponymous character, upon learning that she was a kidnapping victim, initially identifies more strongly with her kidnapper than with her real family. In her case, this is largely down to the fact that she was only a toddler when she was abducted and hadn't even been aware of the crime up to that point; she had only ever known the kidnapper as her loving mother, and by the time she learned the truth, she isn't able to just cast off that relationship, even knowing it was built on a lie. What's more, going back to her real family essentially meant being ripped away from the life she knew and shoved into one that was entirely unfamiliar, causing her to rebel against this new life and her birth family with it. With time and clarity, she eventually begins to see that the mother-daughter relationship between her and the kidnapper was screwed up in ways she wasn't able to recognize at the time (like the fact that her "mom" had been celebrating Carter's birthday on the anniversary of her abduction), and slowly accepts her family again.
  • Flashpoint:
    • Horrifically depicted in an episode when a teenage girl kidnapped eight years earlier ends up with Stockholm Syndrome to the point where she tries to keep the police from rescuing her and the abductor's latest victim.
    • In one episode, an SRU tactic is referred to as "inducing Stockholm", although the tactic they're talking about seems to actually be more like Lima Syndrome (getting the subject to sympathize with the hostage rather than the other way around).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The early part of Daenerys' marriage consist mostly of rape by a beast of a man whom she fears, but after a while she embraces his culture and comes to love him and his people. By the time he threatens to Rape, Pillage, and Burn the realm of those who tried to assassinate her, she seems aroused by the idea. It doesn't take entirely though, since she's repulsed by seeing the actual rape, pillage, and burn. After the death of Khal Drogo, she continues to speak his name with respect, and shows a great fondness and affection for his memory, seeming to forget that he was a savage marauder that fully supported rape, slavery, and senseless slaughter. He was basically the antithesis of everything Dany stands for but without his influence she wouldn't be the woman who had made it back to her home shores.
    • Ramsay Snow has perfected the art of instilling this into his captives.
    Ramsay: Do you love me Reek?
    Theon/"Reek": Yes, of course, my lord.
    • The High Sparrow does this to people. He has King Tommen politically trapped, but his patient and avuncular personality wins Tommen over into thinking of him as a beloved authority figure. Margaery acts this way, but she's just faking it and warns her grandmother Olenna to flee the city for fear of the High Sparrow's machinations. Loras, for his part, seems to have been broken under torture and welcomes the High Sparrow's judgment.
  • A particularly horrifying instance occurs in the Hannibal episode "Oeuf", where an unnamed woman kidnaps several small children from their families and over the course of a year, she manages to not only make them think of her as their real family, but also able to return to their birth families and murder them.
    • Arguably, Will and Hannibal's series-long slow-burn romance altogether, what with Hannibal being a manipulative serial killer and all.
  • Heroes featured villainess Elle Bishop forcibly electrifying Peter, locked in a cell for four months, presumably every day. "You'll get used to it, and then you'll start to like it." It didn't work, but Peter pretended that it did.
  • In the Highlander episode "Revelations 6:8", Methos tells Cassandra that she had Stockholm Syndrome when she was his slave. She denies having loved him but he points out that she expected him to protect her.
  • Forms a key part of the plot in Homeland as CIA agent Carrie Mathison tries to determine whether Sergeant Nicholas Brody has undergone a Face–Heel Turn while being held by Al Qaeda. Explored how it might have occurred via Flashbacks.
  • House:
    • An element of this came into play in Last Resort, when he bonds with the guy holding him and others hostage and ends up giving the gun back, mistakenly believing that the guy will be noble enough not to test the drugs on 13 anymore. Oops.
    • A first season episode includes the following dialogue:
    Cameron: [House's] crazy ideas are usually right. We've been here long enough to—
    Foreman: We've been here long enough to have Stockholm Syndrome.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The McPoyles take the gang hostage and Sweet Dee worries about someone developing Stockholm Syndrome, then begins to show signs of it herself. Charlie misunderstands the concept and begins complaining about fever-like symptoms.
  • It is explicitly mentioned twice on JAG: first in season 6 "Valor" where it is used in its straight meaning and in season 9 "A Tangled Web: Part 2" where it’s used jokingly.
  • Lizzie Sutton on Lincoln Heights develops a friendship with one of her kidnappers (much to the horror of her family) after she is rescued. She hated her other kidnapper because he was "mean" to her.
  • In the mini series The Kill Point, Chloe, one of the hostages in a bank robbery, develops feelings for the bank robbers' leader to the point that she wishes to go with him when he escapes.
  • Law & Order:
    • The season 13 episode "Sheltered" featured a teenage child abduction victim who was raised to be so dependent on his abductor that he was willing to kill to protect him, with his abductor having told him that his biological family was dead. The Stockholm Syndrome was so prevalent that the teen was unable to face the reality that his abductor was not his real father, or believe that his real family was still alive. When he's reunited with his mother and sister, he's downright horrified and screams at them to get away from him, not believing that they're his relatives. He spends the remainder of the episode shunning them, and even as his kidnapper is convicted and taken away, he still wants nothing to do with them. Combined with Lima Syndrome in that the man who abducted him also appeared to care for the teen, despite the lies he raised him with.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent
    • A particularly dark example occurs in an episode where a teenaged girl develops Stockholm Syndrome towards the Serbian gangster who kidnapped her family as a result of her father's poor business dealings and, along with his crew, repeatedly gang-raped her. It's treated a bit more realistically than some of the examples on this thread, with the girl having been held captive several days, and the syndrome itself treated as a clear psychological issue based on trauma and PTSD rather than her simply falling in love with the guy.
    • Another episode had a prison warden hiring a hitman to 'escape' with the warden's wife and kill her. The man decided not to go through with the killing and kept the wife around. After a few years, she barely even remembered her old life.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of M*A*S*H, as Klinger willingly lets himself be taken as a hostage in place of Winchester whom the kidnapper was all too happy to let go. The reason is that the hostage-taker is trying to get back home... to Ohio. By the end, Klinger has to prop the wounded man up to try and keep the attempt going.
  • Malcolm in the Middle. Reese lets a bunch of thugs into his house for a "party," where they end up running what is strongly implied to be some kind of meth lab. For the whole weekend. Naturally, Reese ends up admiring them, as seen in the quote above.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road", Buddy became incredibly loyal to Moonface after being his captive for so long. He initially helps the heroine escape, but immediately yells at Moonface to come down and recapture her afterwards.
  • This is how Morgana brainwashes Guinevere in Merlin. Morgana kidnaps her, traps her in a tower, torments her with visions of her family and friends taunting her, and throws in an occasional Pet the Dog moment. Gwen holds out longer than expected, but eventually succumbs to the brainwashing.
  • Discussed Trope in Spanish series Money Heist, after a hostage and one of the Heist Team develop feelings for one another.
  • Played extremely for laughs when Fran and her mother are hostages in a bank robbery on The Nanny, because once they get to know the bank robber, they consider him (correctly, to all appearances) to be too nice a guy to ever actually shoot any of his hostages.
  • NCIS:
    • Done twice in as many seasons. The first time involved a main character and a Magnificent Bastard and merely prevented the main character from stabbing him with a scalpel.
    • The second time had the villain-of-the-week kidnap a woman and lock her in a room to be his wife every time he moved, and when the team rescued the latest one, she bashed her rescuer's head in with a plant.
    • Another episode had Kate coming to work and finding Tony doing his fingernails.
      Kate: Most people tend to their personal hygiene at home.
      Tony: This bothers you?
      Kate: No, what bothers me is that it doesn't bother me anymore.
      Tony: Hm... I'm an acquired taste.
      McGee: Actually, it's more like the Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Combined with Lima Syndrome in an episode of New Tricks: Hannah Taylor was kidnapped by a young man with a grudge against her mother, a then-alcoholic doctor who he blamed for his mother's death. After Paul talked with Hannah for a while, he came to his senses and decided to release her and go on the run, not even bothering to collect the ransom he'd asked for. But Hannah, who hated her mother as much as Paul did, chose to come with him. 13 years later they're Happily Married with a child.
  • An episode of NUMB3RS had a kidnapped heiress in a Patty-Hearst-like situation join up with the kidnappers' cause. Subverted in that it turned out she had been the mastermind all along and planned her own kidnapping.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Suddenly Human" a human boy was raised in an alien culture after his adoptive father led an attack on the research post, killing his birth parents and taking him (a custom among his culture). Unusually, the adopted father truly cares for the boy and in the end of the episode the boy stays in his adopted culture.
    • In the episode "The High Ground," Capt. Picard is kidnapped by terrorists and brought to Dr. Crusher who was kidnapped earlier. As they are conversing, Crusher admits that she's been talking to the leader and beginning to understand his point of view, and Picard reminds her of the psychological implications of being a hostage, which obviously refers to stockholm syndrome.

  • The band Muse has a song called "Stockholm Syndrome" on their third album, Absolution.
  • The band Yo La Tengo also has a song of the same name on their album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.
  • So does blink-182, on their album of the same name.
  • "Black Widow's Eyes", from the album Endless Wire, was written in response to the Beslan school massacre. It was inspired by one hostage's comments on the haunting beauty of one female terrorist's eyes. Said Pete Townshend on the subject: "We sometimes fall in love when we do not want to, and when we do not expect to."
  • "Soldier" by Bitter Ruin seems to be about a very Stockholm-y relationship in which the narrators describe how they've given up on attempting to escape, and just want to be a good soldier for their captor.
  • "Adopduction" by Les Savy Fav is about a dream in which the protagonist undergoes this process over years of captivity.
  • "The Hook" by Stephen Malkmus begins "at age 19 I was kidnapped by Turkish pirates". The next verse begins "by 25 I was respected as an equal" and the third "by 31 I was the Captain of a Galleon".
  • "I'm Not Mary Ann" by Ego Likeness
  • One Direction has a song of the same name on their album "FOUR".

    Music Videos 
  • Amy Studt's video for "Under the Thumb" has her holding a man captive in her house and it looks like she's trying to make him love her. She lets him go by the end of the video, subverting the trope.
  • The Music Video Show:
  • Michael Jackson's short film Ghosts has his character Maestro confronted by an angry mob when it's revealed that he's been secretly entertaining kids in his creepy mansion. He turns out to have magical powers, and he proceeds to terrify the crowd with them; when they try to flee, he traps them and declares they're his guests. He summons a crowd of ghouls to assist them, and what follows alternates between entertaining the crowd and terrifying it, particularly when he magically possesses the mob leader, a mayor. When all is said and done, the mayor is the only person who still wants Maestro gone from the town.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, "bondsmen" captured by Clans are expected (and generally do) forget their previous alliances and become part of the Clan they were captured by. In the expanded universe, Phelan Kell, a Private Military Contractor from the Inner Sphere, was captured by Clan Wolf and became one of their famous warriors, eventually leading a faction of Clan Wolf to defend his former nation, the Lyran Commonwealth.
  • There was an example of this in Dungeons & Dragons cosmology that is the stuff of legend, literally. The short version: The archmage Iggwilv summoned the demon lord Graz'zt and held him prisoner; eventually, they became lovers (Iggwilv bearing his child, Iuz, who would grow up to become a notorious tyrant and acted as her advisor as she forged her empire. She never released him from his bonds, however, and eventually, it sank in that she was never going to. What made this even more humiliating — for Graz'zt — is that when they finally did come to blows, she came closer to killing him than anyone had (or has since). The fight was a knock-out draw, with his material form destroyed (leaving him unable to leave his home plane for a century) and her left half dead and powerless. Her empire crumbled, and little was seen of her for decades.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Kind of what the Chaos god Nurgle does to his devotees. He corrupts their minds and infects them with all sorts of disgusting, deforming diseases, and yet they adore him.

  • In many productions of The Abduction from the Seraglio, Konstanze is shown to grow very fond of Pasha Selim who holds her captive. It helps that a) before that, he rescued her and her Hired Help as Family servants from pirates and b) he treats them very well and is a generally good-hearted man if with an explosive temper and too passionately in love with Konstanze. Not to mention that, as his is a non-singing part, the directors are free to cast any attractive and/or charismatic actor without considering the voice type. For extra irony, the Ship Tease with Selim usually happens when Konstanze is singing how she’ll never be inconstant to Belmonte.
    • The Christof Loy takes it Up to Eleven by having the syndrome affect not just Konstanze, but her fiery maid Blonde (who usually is too busy playing pranks on her captor Osmin to consider developing any tender feelings towards him). Konstanze shares a passionate kiss with Selim and barely restrains herself from continuing it. Blonde lectures Osmin on feminism, as usual, but her expressions and body language show that she is clearly attracted to him (for instance, she sits on his lap herself and giggles happily when he caresses her), and rather than making fun of him as she usually does, she grows angry and sad that he can’t understand women value their freedom.
    • The 2015 Glyndebourne production cast handsome and fit Cirque du Soleil actor Franck Saurel as Selim and gave him a Shirtless Scene in the second act’s beginning. This Selim very nearly manages to seduce Konstanze: he almost gets her consent and only ruins his chances by blurting out that she must love him. And still she looks very torn about refusing him.
  • In some productions of Das Rheingold, Freia is shown to develop some feelings for Fasolt during the time he holds her hostage (he is in love with her at the start of the opera already and was actually promised she’d be his wife — little did he know Wotan never intended to keep that promise). To name a few examples:
    • In the 1992 Graz production, she sadly puts one of her magical apples by his dead body.
    • In the 2008 Stockholm production, she is very affectionate with him in the final scene and holds him in her arms when he dies.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Francesca Zambello’s San Francisco staging, where Freia clings to him in the final scene with a blissful smile and has to be physically torn away by her brothers when she gets returned to her family.
    • Occurs even in the 2016 production of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where the giants are so enormous that Freia fits into Fasolt’s hand. As Laura Wilde, who sang Freia, explained in an interview, her heroine realises that Fasolt is the only one out there who loves her for her own sake rather than for the sake of her magical apples.

    Video Games 
  • In Destiny 2, Ashir Mir is a Guardian Warlock who was infected and partially assimilated by the alien Mechanical Lifeforms known as the Vex. While he thoroughly hates and despises the Vex for what they did, as he studies them and feels the slow transformation of his body and blood by the Vex, he admits a "craven admiration" for something so much more incredibly advanced than him, and whatever mysterious designs they have on the world around them.
  • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Princess Nyna's entire family is slaughtered by Grust/Dohlr, but a well-known knight from Grust, Camus, protects her from the same fate. Her narration of the events that followed strongly resemble Stockholm Syndrome. She admits that she first hated him because he was part of the group that killed her family (although not directly responsible) and then during their small-time together when she was his country's captive as a political prisoner, she develops very strong romantic feelings for him.
    • He reciprocates her feelings and did put his knighthood on the line to take her to an allied kingdom before she could be executed. This causes him to lose a lot of influence in his kingdom, but he stubbornly refused to abandon his king, even when Nyna begs him to side with the League.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age. The villains from the original Golden Sun were killed at the end, yet their hostages continued the mission, and the heroes of the original eventually join up—leading to a Not Brainwashed scene at the end with the Wise One. Justified that the original mission is saving the world anyway (even though Saturos and Menardi are more concerned about their town than Weyard, the world's saved is still the side effect).
    • Technically, their parents lives were on the line as well.
  • A rare heroic example depending on how you look at it is Visas Marr in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. She’s sent by her master, a personified black hole of force energy that sustains himself by draining the life out of other force users, to kill the Jedi Exile who has similar properties as a “wound in the force”, but she cannot best them in combat. While technically a captive of the Exile, she begins to care for them, and will ultimately stand with them against her former master. If the Exile is a male, she will even be involved in a love triangle with him and another follower. It doesn’t help that she’s an Extreme Doormat.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, despite the fact that Crow beats Rean up in the final battle of Cold Steel I which results in Rean in a coma for a month and ends up forcibly taken to the Pantagruel in after the climax of Act I in Cold Steel II, once Rean learns about Crow's motivations, his past, and eating Crow's food, Rean's number one priority in Cold Steel II is to bring Crow back to Thors Academy, never mind Crow being the leader of the terrorist group that Class VII had to deal with in the first game.
  • In Mass Effect, if Shepard has the Colonist background, you can get a mission to help Talitha, a woman who was taken in the slave raid that killed your parents. Asking her how she escaped makes Shepard realize that the poor woman is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
  • In the first Metal Gear Solid game, Otacon is attracted to Sniper Wolf. Snake directly tells him he's probably suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
    • It's not outside the realm of possibility that Stockholm Syndrome turned into genuine affection, or even skipped the Swedish bit. Otacon explicitly states that Sniper Wolf was the first person in a long time who felt he was worth treating decently, and given how his life's gone up to the point that he tells Snake that, it's not unfeasible that Otacon might interpret a waitress actually bringing him his order as a gesture of undying love.
    • Word of God claimed at one point that the feeling was mutual, and that Otacon and Wolf had at least been friends for a while before FOXHOUND's revolt. This is more obvious in the game's comic adaptation, which actually shows them interacting several times and depicts Wolf as being conflicted between her work and her feelings for Otacon.
    • An inverted instance occurs between Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. MGS has Meryl tricking, pummeling, and stripping Johnny, taking her captor's uniform as a disguise, but by MGS4 they're on the same side and end up marrying by the epilogue. In other words, a twist of this and Lima Syndrome has the captor falling for his hostage-turned-captor.
    • Quiet's affection for Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has shades of this; his refusal to kill her and his attempt to take her back to Mother Base prompts her to change sides, and his kindness to her during her stay causes her to fall in love with him and completely drop her original mission objective to spy on/sabotage the Diamond Dogs.
  • Police Quest: SWAT 2 allows the player to engage in Stockholm-generating tactics in the terrorist campaign as a way of temporarily delaying S.W.A.T. and potentially adding to their personnel pool.
  • Appears in Liberal Crime Squad, as a game mechanic. You can abduct people, and attempt to indoctrinate them in myriad ways (torture, propaganda, psychedelic drugs), but one of the most effective ways is to treat them poorly until they're sufficiently "broken", and then treat them nicely.
  • In World of Warcraft, two Orcs who have been rescued from imprisonment from Dunholde Keep insist on keeping their balls and chains, which they have given names to. Another NPC dubs it "Durnholde Syndrome".
    • "Durnholde Syndrome" appears again in the Searing Gorge, when you have to free Dark Iron slaves in the last raid of the dig, some of them will scream for their slavers to save them from this [Race] trying to free them and will attack you.
  • In the indy game Yandere Simulator, Yandere-Chan's mother kidnapped her father, and he eventually would succumb to this.

    Visual Novels 
  • In A Light In The Dark, Hao-Chen gets kidnapped by two girls in a desperate attempt to pay a debt left by their long-gone father, who abandoned them after having accumulated numerous debts, and they both are being harassed by a cruel debt collector. If you follow a peaceful route, he will begin to empathize with the kidnappers through understanding and learns that they are by no means evil, but rather, people born poor, desperately trying to stay alive in a cruel world. Eventually, in the Golden Ending, he promises to help the poor and is entrusted with the well-being of the young girl by the mysterious girl, her older sister, before she commits suicide for the sake of her younger sister.
  • In My Magical Divorce Bureau, Jeska's magically-arranged marriage to Lillum turns out to have been an attempt to invoke this, with Jeska hoping that she could gradually earn Lillum's friendship (and therefore her help) through enforced proximity. Lillum is quite blunt in her appraisal of this plan, telling Jeska that it was the "most annoying experience of my life" and that "you suck at this". Depending on player choices, however, Lillum may eventually concede that Jeska is more socially inept than villainous, and that getting to know Jeska better wouldn't be so bad, telling her that "you pulled off your awful plan better that I thought."
  • In Reflections on the River, players can have Zheng be either friendly or distant to whichever of the royal children are being held captive. These choices influence the captives' attitude towards Zheng and can result in them coming around to Zheng's point of view. Should this happen, they decline rescue when it shows up; otherwise, Zheng is killed. Zheng finds this puzzling.
    Zheng: Why aren't you skipping all the way back home to the palace? [...] I'm starting to really think that the princess was right, and that there really is something wrong with you! I kidnapped you, remember? I'm the bad guy here.
  • The last part of Subaru's route in Shall We Date?: Can't Say No involves the heroine being kidnapped by Subaru and feeling bad for him when she's being held hostage. Her feelings and her fate will depend on how the player did with his affection.
  • Shiki's route in Togainu no Chi consists largely of this.

    Web Animation 
  • After his kidnapping and subsequent rescue in Episodes 2-3, Hitoshi-san from Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls begins to have romantic fantasies about his kidnapper, leading to Fan Disservice. The two of them actually end up hooking up during the finale, much to Raku's dismay.
  • Despite discussing the trope and claiming the contrary, Doc develops such a fierce loyalty to his captor Wash in Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction that he ends up saving his life in the final battle. Then again, he is a pacifist who joined the army as a conscientious objector, so he might just have done it for moral reasons. you make the call.

    Web Comics 
  • Basic Instructions explains Beauty and the Beast in the page image above from this comic.
  • In Casey and Andy, land pirates kidnap the King of Sweden, who is usually residing on the title characters' couch. At first Casey and Andy enjoy finally having their couch for themselves. But then the king reappears and helps the land pirates to steal the couch.
    Andy: Looks like the King of Sweden has joined his captors.
    Casey: Stockholm Syndrome. Now that's ironic.
  • One Cyanide & Happiness strip describes beer (an acquired taste, per the comic) as Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Zip and Netta from DDG seem to be engaged in a two way Stockholm Syndrome at the moment. Whether Netta really does care about Zip or just sees "her" as anything more than a ratings earner is up for debate, but Zip is definitely developing an attachment to her employer/owner.
  • In Killing Stalking, Yoon Bum has this badly for Sangwoo. He loves Sangwoo despite the fact that Sangwoo broke his legs and abused and raped him. However this could likely also be due to Bum's Borderline Personality Disorder since Sangwoo saved him in military from a rape attempt once and Bum, who is a severally traumatized and sensitive individual, became obsessed with Sangwoo due to that "kindness" of being saved by him that one time.
  • In The Kingfisher, some of the middle generation of vampires have developed loyalty to monstrous masters. This is more apparent in some characters (Sarah) than others (Vitus).
  • In Marilith, the titular assassin's apprentice, a young Japanese girl named Kimiko, started out as a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome before she managed to drag her captor into Lima Syndrome as well (in the prequel Krakow 2.0), after Marilith kidnapped the girl to ransom her back to her wealthy father. Her affections were somewhat nuanced by the fact that she's a Japanese schoolgirl, mind...
  • The cast of Shortpacked! are occasionally accused of having this for the toy store they work at. To explain, the place is a grade-A Weirdness Magnet run by a self-proclaimed Evil Overlord, and the customers tend to embody the worst parts of online fandom.

    Web Original 
  • Cracked accuses Beauty and the Beast of this in 23 Romantic Movies Revised for Honesty and 5 Romantic Movie Gestures That Were Actually Dick Moves.
  • Stockholm Syndrome is one of the cornerstones to Tommy's Exile in Season 2 of the Dream SMP. It's a non-traditional example since Tommy has technically been exiled and not kidnapped, but nonetheless this seems to be what Dream is trying to induce. After isolating Tommy from everyone, Dream manipulates and lies to Tommy, leading the boy to believe that no one cares about him anymore — especially Tubbo. Dream is quick to follow up on these moments by keeping Tommy company or being oddly friendly with him, claiming to be Tommy's only friend. Combine that with the fact that Dream is actively trying to keep other people away from Tommy (such as him neglecting to hand out invites for Tommy's beach party), it's no surprise that Tommy started clinging to Dream despite how awfully he treats him. Even after running away and realizing what Dream was trying to pull on him, Tommy still had conflicting thoughts about Dream, occasionally referring to him as a friend and calling out for Dream when he's stressed despite knowing that Dream would try to kill him for running away from exile, and still occasionally shows signs that he was conditioned to be Not Used to Freedom.
    Tommy: The more I think about him the more I get confused.

    Web Videos 
  • Hardly Working:
    • There is a sketch where Dan takes Sarah hostage and ties her up in a conference room chair, at which point she immediately lapses into Stockholm Syndrome.
      Dan: Wait, what?
      Sarah: I love you.
      Dan: What do you mean? Why?
      Sarah: Stockholm Syndrome.
      Dan: OK, but I literally just kidnapped you.
      Sarah: Yeah I guess it kicked in there pretty fast, didn't it? [shrugs] Maybe some people are just more suseptible to it. [runs her finger along Dan's arm]
      Dan: Thanks, I guess.
    • Then Pat comes in and decides to take Sarah hostage at gunpoint, saying he'll get a "handsome ransom":
      Sarah: [turned on] Ooh, a "handsome ransom". I love it when you rhyme.
      Dan: What? You said you loved me.
      Sarah: I'm sorry, Dan, but ever since Pat threatened to splatter my brains across the wall, I just... I feel like I can be more myself with him.
      Dan: What about us?

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • In "Princess Cookie", Jake infiltrates a hostage situation where a cookie person named Baby Snaps demands Princess Bubblegum's crown. It turns out Baby Snaps wanted to be a princess as a kid, but when Princess Bubblegum laughed at him for saying that he though she was mocking his dreams. Jake comes to sympathize with Baby Snaps, to the point of helping him try and escape the Banana Guard.
    • In "Sons of Mars", Magic Man has a tiny manticore trapped in a bottle which Finn and Jake free at the end of the episode. By the time of the episode "You Forgot Your Floaties", the Tiny Manticore is back in Magic Man's house because in his own words, "was given some kind of hostage syndrome". He breaks out of when Finn gives him an inspiring (albeit unintelligible, due to Finn temporarily being turned into bread) speech.
  • Played surprisingly seriously in one episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, where teen star actress Jennifer Nocturne is revealed to suffer from this (with Gwen Tennyson explicitly mentioning the trope). This causes her to fall in love with Fallen Hero Carl Nesmith/Captain Nemesis, who had kidnapped her in a previous episode, and help him escape. She goes as far as becoming his accomplice, severely injuring Ben in order to save him, and even continuing to follow him after he committed several murders. She ends up injuring herself in the process, causing Nesmith to surrender so she can get medical assistance.
  • Invoked in Dragons: Riders of Berk after The Team finds a group of dragons kept as slave for hard work from the Dragon Hunters and they realize that the dragons are too conditioned to be freed.
    Tuffnut: Same thing happened to my cousin in Stockholm.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Meg developed Stockholm Syndrome, much to her kidnappers' horror. That, or she was trying to indulge in a ravishment fantasy.
    • Not to mention that Meg relationship with her family is downright abusive, and she will put up with it to maintain the status quo, as the Seahorse Seashell Party episode makes rather obvious.
    • Plus in the Valentine's Day Episode she dated a guy who stole one of her kidneys!
  • Harley Quinn, possibly. Many reviewers have compared her relationship to the Joker to Stockholm Syndrome, even though she wasn't technically kidnapped. How straight the Trope applies to her depends just how much of a willing recruit she was, which in turn, depends on the which version of the events - and continuity - is being followed.
  • Futurama:
    • In an episode when some hostages are in danger of being executed, Bender hastily exclaims, "I think I'm coming down with Stockholm Syndrome... handsome." Of course, he's just trying to manipulate his captor.
    • There's also "A Clockwork Origin," in which Leela and Amy are kidnapped by two robot cavemen, for one day, and both miss them afterwards.
  • Played for Laughs on Infinity Train:
    Glad-One: Goodbye, former kidnapper!
    Sad-One: I miss you already and it's emotionally confusing.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes has Jez getting kidnapped by a King Kong-esque creature. A scene later, however, she's seen going to the movies with him.
  • The page image is from the The Simpsons episode "Blame It On Lisa". Homer gets kidnapped in Brazil, and developed Stockholm Syndrome, much to his kidnappers' annoyance. He even ends up making a scrapbook of the experience. He also inflicts a bit of Lima Syndrome on his kidnappers, as they're shown to actually be getting along pretty well by the time Homer's family comes with the ransom money.
    Captor: He has developed Stockholm Syndrome. He has come to identify with his captors.
  • Played for Laughs in The Looney Tunes Show, episode "The Muh-Muh-Muh-Murder", when Daffy thinks Porky is a murderer that is keeping him trapped in his house. His increasing paranoia causes him to think that he has developed Stockholm Syndrome and has fallen in love with his kidnapper.
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Alone at Sea", it's revealed that during the time when Jasper was kept prisoner by Lapis for months at the ocean floor, she came to admire Lapis for her power and become absolutely obsessed with the Power High of being Malachite to the point that now that she's free, she's desperate to become her again. Lapis also revealed to Steven that she misses being fused with Jasper since it gave her the chance to release all her anger out on Jasper, though Lapis had enough sense to know that the fusion was not healthy for either of them and refused Jasper's plea for them to fuse into Malachite again.
  • Played for Laughs in the French cartoon Zig & Sharko, which revolves around Zig repeatedly kidnapping a mermaid called Marina. Marina's surprising lack of distress when this happens is eventually explained when it is revealed that she has a crush on Zig.
  • This is one of two possibilities of what the victim experienced in the Batman Beyond episode "April Moon".
  • Defied and then Exploited by April O'Neil in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode “Green With Envy”. Krang’s Evil Plan this time was to slip a love potion into the Turtle’s pizza to make them fight each other due to jealousy. As weird as that idea might have been, it actually worked better than most of his plans (all the Turtles except Donatello fell in love with Irma) but Rocksteady fouled it up (big surprise) by eating the pizza himself, and falling head over heels in love with April, then kidnapping her in order to force her to marry him. Of course, April did not like it in the least, (in fact, probably even less than she usually did; she tended to be kidnapped a lot, but never with this motivation in mind) but she quickly got the idea to pretend she reciprocated the affection and told him she wanted to “freshen up” before she married him, asking him to get her compact and lipstick that she had dropped. (The “compact” was actually her communicator that she used to keep in contact with the Turtles. And he fell for it; she quickly used it to call for help. The episode was played mostly for humor, of course, but notable as this was one of the few times April actually had a good idea to help them save her behind.)

    Real Life 
  • The Trope Namer is a bank robbery/hostage incident that occurred in Stockholm in 1973. The story traditionally goes that the hostages grew to identify with their captors and started defending them. They berated the police for trying to stop the robbers by force, raised money for the robbers' legal defence, and even wrote letters to the robbers while they were in jail. But as with everything, it's a bit more complicated than that, for several reasons:
    • First, the robbery was politically motivated. The robbers made it a point to explain their reasons to the hostages without exerting undue violence. The hostages may have been won over by the robbers' politics, or at least reasoned that their goal wasn't sadism or brutality.
    • Second, it might actually be a case of Lima Syndrome — the robbers identifying with the hostages and thus treating them better. The robbers would later admit that the hostages' relatively calm behaviour made them less inclined to hurt them.
    • Third, the hostages knew the government wasn't going to help them out. The Swedish Prime Minister had told them, in no uncertain terms, that they couldn't guarantee anything and the hostages should accept that they're probably going to die. The ensuing police operation was disorganised and careless, including uncontrolled gunfire and filling the bank vault with Knockout Gas. It probably didn't take much to convince the hostages that the robbers were more attentive to their safety than the government and police. In fact, the term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by the government's psychologist in charge of the negotiations as a way of dismissing the hostages for not praising the government's actions.
    • And fourth, some of the hostages would later disagree with the assessment that they ever identified with their captors at all. In particular, Kristin Enmark — who admitted to a later romantic relationship with one of the robbers — bluntly stated that (a) during the robbery, the hostages were willing to do anything that would ensure their survival, (b) the police were pretty much incompetent, and (c) unlike the police, her later boyfriend apologised for his role in the whole thing. Enmark also called the whole concept of Stockholm Syndrome "misogynist".
  • But the phenomenon was also observed well before 1973:
    • Sun Tzu advised invoking this trope on prisoners of war as a matter of standard policy. He observed that it may not have worked all the time, but it worked often enough to be worth the effort. Many countries since then have followed his advice (or found out for themselves by complying with the Geneva Conventions).
    • Robert the Bruce financed much of his campaign against England by taking English knights hostage and ransoming them back. He treated them so well that many would lose the will to fight against him when they were released.
    • Early colonists in North America told accounts of white women who were kidnapped by Native Americans during raids on settlements who chose to stay with the natives and even resisted attempts to rescue them. One of the most famous accounts is that of Eunice Williams, the daughter of a minister who was taken captive by the Mohawk along with her family in 1704 and given to a Mohawk family who had lost their own child and raised her as their daughter. While her family was released after a few years, the tribe and Eunice each refused to part with the other, as she had already assimilated into the tribe and they had come to love her as one of their own. She eventually eventually agreed to reestablish contact with her family, but resisted all their efforts to get her to leave the Mohawk and rejoin her family. In some sense, one could say that the reverse happened with Pocahontas, who was whisked off to England but did all right for herself there.
    • During The American Revolution, George Washington ordered that all prisoners of war were to be treated humanely. Many Hessian mercenaries taken prisoner by the American rebels were so surprised at how well they were treated that they did not try to escape; a few even defected to the Americans and stayed there after the war. (Perhaps they also saw all the cheap land and relative social mobility — they were mercenaries, so it wouldn't have been hard for them to change allegiances anyway.)
  • Other famous instances, once the phenomenon got a name:
    • Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and then joined them in committing other crimes; there's footage of her quite enthusiastically participating in a bank robbery. The prosecution called it Stockholm Syndrome and charged her fully. Her defense team claimed that she had been purposely brainwashed, partly through systematic abuse during her kidnapping, and that she was so mentally affected that she could not be responsible for her own actions. Most researchers who have since analysed the case believe she was in fact brainwashed, which contributed to President Carter's decision to commute her prison term, and President Clinton's decision to grant her a full pardon.
    • This excerpt from the diary of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a longterm prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, describes his falling prey to Stockholm Syndrome and hating himself for it at the same time.
    • The Perdicaris incident, in which an American man and his son were kidnapped by the Moroccan bandit Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni. Perdicaris came to admire Raisuni, saying, "I go so far as to say that I do not regret having been his prisoner for some time... He is not a bandit, not a murderer, but a patriot forced into acts of brigandage to save his native soil and his people from the yoke of tyranny."
  • In keeping with the commentary that Stockholm Syndrome is a misogynistic concept, it has been observed commonly in cases involving violence or abuse against women, and in many of these cases it may not be an accurate description of what the victims are actually feeling.
    • Several young kidnapping victims, like Steven Stayner, Elizabeth Smart, Shawn Hornbeck, and Jaycee Lee Dugard, have been described as defending their captors. While it's true that many of them were reluctant to escape or otherwise cooperated with their captors, even when given the opportunity to do so, this is more attributable to a survival instinct than to actually growing to like their captors. Many of them have vehemently denied that they suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and said in no uncertain terms that they hate their captors. Here's an interview with Dugard in which she voices her distaste for the hypothesis. Meanwhile, some cite Mary McElroy, who really did openly plead for her kidnappers not to be executed and killed herself in despair, but she doesn't exactly fit the profile, in part because her story didn't really add upnote ; hers might be a case of a more severe mental illness.
    • It's also been speculated with respect to the female half of many Outlaw Couples — the girl is only going along with the guy's crime spree out of fear. Again, this hasn't really borne out in real life, as women have proven to be just as depraved as men are. In a few cases, if any party is dominating the other, it's the wife.
    • Stockholm Syndrome is often considered a sign of an abusive relationship. Abuse victims often develop paradoxical attachments to their abusers, but not in a sense of genuine understanding. They convince themselves of extreme and unlikely scenarios, like that they deserve the abuse they get, or that the abuse is a genuine way of spreading affection, or that the abuser is the only one capable of ever loving them. Abusers tend to be aware of this and exacerbate these feelings, often telling their victims outright that the abuse is because they love them so much. Abusers also tend to alternate between abusive and extremely effusive and affectionate behaviour, in a technique known as "love bombing"note . The victim's feelings may well be exacerbated by an abusive relationship growing up, in which the victim never learns to distinguish affection from abuse because they always happen together.note 
    • Pimps and human traffickers exploit Stockholm Syndrome. Many lure their victims into a life of forced prostitution and sexual slavery by making their victims completely dependent on them. When the pimp has secured a victim's love, he will gradually increase the emotional and physical abuse. The pimp will also work to isolate the victim from society, discouraging them from seeking help from family, police, or social workers; they'll convince their victims that they're the only one who understands them and everyone else is out to hurt them (e.g. "only I can stop the police from throwing you in jail or deporting you"). It also factors into the concept of the "bottom bitch", the pimp's most loyal and trusted prostitute (i.e. the biggest case of Stockholm Syndrome), who acts as the pimp's enforcer and essentially vents her suppressed suffering and frustration on the other victims.
    • Sometimes Stockholm Syndrome can be exacerbated by culture. Highly patriarchal cultures create an environment of pervasive misogyny, in which every woman is expected to be subordinate to men and accept that they might be abusive. In these cases, there's just no frame of reference. The book Loving to Survive suggests that this is the only way women in these cultures can ever really fall in love.
  • BDSM culture invokes a sort of temporary Stockholm Syndrome with its concept of "subspace", in which the submissive partner allows themself to be extremely susceptible to any suggestion by the dominant partner. This still doesn't count as "real" Stockholm Syndrome, because it's the deliberate and premeditated goal of two consenting adults.
  • Military basic training has been accused of inducing Stockholm Syndrome in its recruits. Recruits are isolated from outside contact, punished for the smallest infractions, and rewarded with not being punished. They are effectively conditioned to trust the group, and only the group. Some commentators claim that Stockholm Syndrome is what convinces recruits to reenlist, and that this is also why so many veterans find it hard to function when discharged. On the other hand, most Western militaries don't reenlist at all, and it's shown that better treatment at the beginning of one's military training correlates with a willingness to keep going (at least until the retirement benefits kick in).


Video Example(s):


I Got the Stock, Holm

In "Family Time", after spending two month with Dr. Weitzman, the Smiths developed Stockhom Syndrome and they want to return to his buffet.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / StockholmSyndrome

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