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Tar and Feathers

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A Professional Gambler gets their comeuppance. note 

In The Wild West and other American Frontier settings, a common form of mob justice short of actually lynching a wrongdoer (or suspected one) is to cover them with tar and feathers, parade them through town riding a rail, and run them out of town. May be found in other settings as well, and the sticky substance may not always be tar. Tarring and feathering seems to be the epitome of American folk justice (well, if we exclude lynching, that is). The belief that it is extremely dangerous seems to be an overreaction to the belief it was purely comic, there seems to be no corroboration on the use of boiling tar for this purpose (frankly, pouring boiling tar over a person's body is moving into lynching territory). The essential aspect of the punishment was to use the filthiest feathers possible.

Often played for comedic effect, but the reality was that this was hardly a mild punishment; being run out of town without your belongings was harsh in itself, and the physical damage inflicted by the tar varied wildly, ranging from being a mild irritant requiring hours of scrubbing to clean off your skin if it's relatively cool (pine tar becomes a spreadable liquid at about 25° C / 77° F) to causing life-threatening burns if the tar is near boiling. In addition, they tended to suffer fairly severe injuries from being forced to straddle the rail.

Note: The rail in question would be a splintery wooden fence rail, not a steel track section as shown in the page illustration. Even an angry mob would be hard-pressed to lift someone on one of those.


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  • In a Rocky and Bullwinkle-themed Taco Bell commercial, Boris and Natasha invite all of Frostbite Falls to watch the 12th annual grass-growing so they can sell them McBoris Burgers. After Rocky and Bullwinkle manage to awaken the town from their boredom with the crunch of a Taco Bell taco, a huge muscular guy punishes Boris and Natasha by covering them in tar and feathers.
  • In a commercial for Wilkins Coffee, Wilkins says that people who don't drink Wilkins Coffee should be tarred and feathered, and asks Wontkins if he agrees. Wontkins, who is covered in tar and feathers, appears and says, "Wrong!".

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: After his Mystery Cow scam was exposed near the end of "The Great Cow Race" arc, Phoney Bone was tied to a stake and pelted with eggs by his outraged suckers. It's strongly implied that they would have done much, much worse if Lucius and Gran'ma Ben hadn't agreed to pay Phoney's debts.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In "Wishing Stone Island" by Carl Barks, Donald arrives on the island and grabs the first round, black object he sees and makes a wish, only to discover it is the head of a native who has been tarred and feathered. After he scares Donald off, the nephews help him and he explains that he was tribe's medicine man, but the tribe tarred and feathered after none of his medicine could summon any traders to the island, leaving them stuck with a huge glut of coconuts.
  • Idées Noires: People pray to God for help after a massive oil spill. Cue an exploding plane loaded with feathers in the exact same region.
  • Scrooge McDuck does this to Flintheart Glomgold in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (Well, with molasses instead of tar, but close enough.)
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, the Knights' pirate characters (except for Sara's) are tarred and feathered by their mutinous crew in the strip "Justice on the High Seas".
  • Lucky Luke:
    • Happens regularly to Card Sharps and gamblers who push their luck too far, and sometimes, in the more lawless frontier towns, to local law enforcement.
      Sign on the page picture: Stranger, if you put down more than four aces on the table, you risk being put down too.
    • A recurring gambler receives this comment: "Scat! I didn't recognize you without the feathers!"
    • One story had a Cattle Baron's mooks repeatedly fail to intimidate farmers into leaving, coming back tarred and feathered every time. To the point where one of them doesn't even want to get cleaned up anymore since it's just going to happen again.
  • In Superman Smashes the Klan, the Klan likes to inflict this on its victims, and unlike other instances of this trope the comic makes it clear that it's very dangerous, Matt Riggs stated some victims die from it.
  • In Jack Black And His Dog Silver in one issue of Viz, a paleontologist is tarred and feathered for believing in evolution.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Bloom County strip, Meadow Party candidate Opus is out canvassing the neighborhood about the "upcoming" presidential election, and gets a dose of this treatment.
  • In Dilbert, this happens to Dilbert after delivering bad news to a company meeting, showing that the company policy about not shooting the messenger merely forbids the literal act of shooting.
  • Seen in the infamous Jack Acid Society story arc in Pogo, which satirized Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare of the 1950s. The Society is a "bird watchers" group on the look out for migratory birds (read: Communist subversives), and when it's unable to find any, they accuse other characters of being them. Simple J. Malarkey, the strip's version of McCarthy, takes things too far by suggesting that they tar and feather their victims as "proof" that they are birds, and plans to start with his co-conspirators, who turn the tables on him.

    Fan Works 
  • In Changing Fate's Plans Fred and George set up a ward at Grimmauld Place which vanishes Daphne's clothes and the house's magic tars and feathers them in retaliation.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: The minion trio do this to Dib in Chapter 5 to humiliate and demoralize him. And disorient him as part of their Batman Gambit to get into his house and steal back the Ceramic Clown Puppy.
  • In It Gets Worse, a Rube Goldberg-esque chain of events causes supervillain Lung to be tarred, feathered, lifted off the ground by a giant balloon, blown up, and then dropped into a sinkhole full of wet cement when he attacks a chicken festival that a parahuman with the power of causing unlikely events that chain together to comically neutralize any threat to her or anyone she likes is attending.
  • In Second Time Love this happens to Rita Skeeter after she writes one too many libelous stories about Harry.

    Films — Animation 
  • At the beginning of Barnyard, when Otis and his friends go surfing, they fly through an oil well and a chicken farm, resulting in them becoming covered in feathers when they arrive at the barn during the morning meeting.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, villainess Yzma suffers this (although it's honey rather than tar), and then gets whacked with sticks by a group of children who think she's a pinata.
  • The animals inflict this fate upon Shaw at the end of Open Season.
  • Happens to Darwin at one point in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Broken Lizard's film, Beerfest, includes a scene in which Cloris Leachman's character and her son are tarred and feathered in turn of the century Germany.
  • An idealistic School Marm is nearly tarred and feathered in the 1938 movie Child Bride.
  • In Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), Elvira is tarred and feathered in a spoof of the movie Flashdance.
  • In F the Prom, Maddy is doused with tar at the prom. Emile also suffers a tar-and-feather prank in a flashback.
  • The Headless Horseman: After becoming convinced that Ichabod is a "witch-doctor," the townsfolk almost do this to him, but at the last minute, it's revealed that he was framed by Brom Bones.
  • Glue and feathers on Joe Pesci in Home Alone.
  • Joseph Smith is tarred and feathered in the 2005 film Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. Truth in Television for several early Latter-Day Saints, including Joseph Smith.
  • Played dead straight in Lawless, where we see just how horrible a thing it would be. Hot tar is no fun.
  • In Little Big Man, while the protagonist is apprenticed to a classic Snake Oil Salesman, their "elixir" makes some people sick. The angry townsfolk put tar and feathers on them and ride them around the campfire on rails before kicking them out.
  • In McLintock!, Mrs. McLintock gets covered with molasses and then feathers during the climactic Indian raid. First, the barrel of molasses behind her gets shot. Then, as she runs around, she lands in the feather bag.
  • In Morning Glory, one ratings stunt Becky suggests is having Arnie tarred and feathered on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.
  • In The Naked Gun 2, the modern variant happens to Dr. Meinheimer, who is covered with spilled oil and foam packing peanuts.
  • The full phrase is "tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail," as seen in the picture; the latter half, at least, happens in O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
  • In the remake of The Parent Trap, the last event in the Escalating War between the twins involves doing this with chocolate syrup.
  • In the 1972 John Waters film Pink Flamingos, Connie and Raymond Marbles, are tarred and feathered as retribution for a series of misdeeds against the film's protagonist, Babs Johnson.
  • In Revenge of the Nerds, nerds Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowe are tarred and feathered by the Alpha Betas in response to their attempt to seek admittance to the fraternity.
  • In Seven Ways from Sundown, the townsfolk of Beeker's Crossing decided to tar and feather Seven when he rides into town (on some extremely spurious logic), but are dissuaded when Seven draws his rifle.
  • Smokey and the Bandit III: For all his flaws, Buford has no respect for the Ku Klux Klan, and causes a truckful of Klansmen harassing an African-American group to get covered in tar and feathers.
    Buford: Here's how you handle the Klan, Junior.
  • Snuff Movie: After having her hair shaved off, and her face tattooed, Angie is tarred and feathered as the final stage of her humiliation.
  • In Your Highness, Courtney is given this treatment by the dwarves for associating with Thadeous and shows little more than some annoyance.
    Courtney: Children, I'm allergic. Please - let’s not.

  • In the Discworld novel Going Postal, con-artist Moist Von Lipwig displays a unsurprising familiarity with this trope, although it doesn't actually happen to him (this time.)
  • Jimmy Carter's 2003 novel Hornet's Nest describes the tarring and feathering of a Tory by members of the Sons of Liberty. The man suffered severe burns on both feet as the tar filled his boots and had toes amputated as a result.
  • Happens in Huckleberry Finn. The Duke and King push their luck one too many times, and even Huck feels a bit sorry when he sees them paraded out fully be-feathered.
  • The main character witnesses this being done to a few Tories in Johnny Tremain.
  • In the Nathaniel Hawthorne story My Kinsman Major Molineux, set right before the American Revolution, a young man newly arrived from England tries to seek out a relative (the title character) who is a person of importance in the colonial government, and a potential source of employment in the new world. When he asks around, he's eventually told by a strangely amused person that his relative will be passing by shortly. Sure enough, he seems Major Molineux passing by—being paraded through the streets, tarred and feathered, by the Sons of Liberty.
  • Mother Holle: The lazy daughter requests to enter into Frau Holle's service, fails to fulfill any of her duties, and expects to be given gold in return for doing nothing. Tired of her attitude, Frau Holle sends her back after spilling a large keetle full of pitch over her head. The pitch does not seem to be harmful, but it is impossible to remove.
  • Nero Wolfe: In Death of a Dude, when Archie questions a friend of one suspect (the murder victim had gotten the girl he loved pregnant and then deserted her), the friend says that she had indeed encouraged the suspect to seek revenge that day, but that he'd planned to tar and feather the man, not kill him. This causes Archie to reflect that at least now he knows why said suspect had visited a chicken farm and a roofing business that day, as he'd apparently planned to go through with the tarring and feathering before his victim turned up dead and been gathering the supplies.
  • In Seamus Heaney's poem Punishment, the tarring and feathering of Catholic women who fraternized with British soldiers during The Troubles in the 1970s is made reference to. Heaney juxtaposes this with the punishment of Iron Age bog body the Windeby Girl who was supposedly punished for infidelity, suggesting that the punishment meted to women in Northern Ireland is very much rooted in ancient tribal traditions.
  • In Sarah Bishop by Scott O'Dell, set during the Revolutionary War, a young girl's father dies after being tarred and feathered for remaining loyal to King George.
  • Spoon River Anthology: Carl Hamblin, Da Editor who crusades against political corruption, and is subjected to tar and feathers for his pains.
  • Possibly the Ur-Example in fiction is Edgar Allan Poe's story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. It's administered to the staff of an insane asylum after the inmates take over.
  • Played seriously in Victoria, where this is meted out to an activist judge who uses his powers to protect the gangbangers and drug dealers who prey on the protagonists' friends and family. The man is apparently not badly injured, but certainly does not enjoy the experience.
    • All the more serious, because they use hot modern road tar. Similar in concept if not execution, thirteen federal agents are later forcibly stripped, their butts painted red, and run out of New England in a boxcar.
  • "What Happened To Charles," one of James Thurber's Fables For Our Time, has the duck Eva, who eavesdrops on every conversation she hears but never gets anything quite right, tarred and UN-feathered after, having mistaken "shod" (having shoes put on one's feet) for "shot" (having a ranged projectile physically fired into one) and spread the (false!) word that the horse Charles has been killed, he turns up very much alive and wearing new horseshoes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season 22 of The Amazing Race, shemozzle racing in New Zealand involved getting covered in molasses and feathers.
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show: Vince is tarred and feathered by the freaks in retaliation for his mutilating his daughter Penny. He comes out of it horribly burned and permanently scarred.
  • In The Black Donnellys, in the episode "The Black Drop", Tommy Donnelly is tarred and feathered in retribution for trying to change a deal with Irish mob leader Derek "Dokey" Farrell.
  • Bones, and then they all got arrested.
  • In the Carnivàle episode named "Lincoln Highway", Clayton "Jonesy" Jones, the crippled co-manager, is almost lethally tarred and feathered.
  • In the Deadwood episode "Complications", Samuel Fields, the "Nigger General", is tarred at scalding temperature on the shoulder by a lynch mob leader, before the procedure is interrupted by sheriff Seth Bullock. The tar is then painstakingly but painfully stripped off his shoulder by Calamity Jane.
  • On the Spanish Game Show El gran juego de la oca, any contestant who landed on space 58 (la muerte, or the "Death" space) was driven back to start on a piece of morbidly decorated construction equipment by the Grim Reaper. On most episodes, the contestant was "tarred" fully clothed before being covered in goose feathers.
  • In Green Acres, the citizens of Hooterville threaten to do this to Oliver whenever one of his plans to help the county backfire.
  • Harper's Island with a guy getting tricked into having honey smeared on his back as part of a massage, then a pillow emptied on him.
  • Hell on Wheels: In "God of Chaos", the Swede gets tarred and feathered before getting run out of town.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell"
  • In an episode of Jackass, Ryan Dunn was tarred and feathered by Bam Margera.
  • The 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams featured a fictionalized scene of Adams witnessing a British tax collector being tarred and feathered by an angry Boston mob. In this case it is shown as a frightful form of torture and there is nothing funny about it. The title character quite aptly calls it barbarism. See the Real Life section for the possibly apocryphal real basis of the scene.
  • Invoked in The Magnificent Seven television series, in which the group's resident gambler is found riding hurriedly out of town, a smear of tar on his face.
  • In Norsemen, Rufus is subjected to this fate after his enforcer leaves due to not being paid, leaving him at the mercy of the villagers he's been pushing around during his time as substitute chieftain.
  • Tatort: In the Western parody "Der höllische Heinz", Kommissar Lessing is eavesdropping on the subjects. A directional microphone would have been a better idea than climbing on a convenient shaky scaffold. He promptly crash-lands in a convenient tar barrel. (Admittedly no feathers, because a surplus chicken stampede or whatnot would have stretched it. note 

  • The chorus of Big Audio Dynamite's "Medicine Show" went:
    It was really vile weather when we got tarred and feathered
    You could hear the six-guns sound as they chased us out of town
  • "Tarred and Feathered", by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets.
  • The avant-garde electronic music artist Fad Gadget often performed on stage while tarred and feathered. He was photographed in tar and feathers for the cover of his album Gag.
  • Mentioned in Rufus Rex's "Ingenious Forms of Torture".

  • The Dollop:
    • "Oofty Goofty" was covered in tar and horse hair for his role as 'the wild man of Borneo'. Which he couldn't get off again when the show's producers fled after being caught.
    • The perpetrators of the frame-up against the Marblehead hospital were tarred and feathered for their crime.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This was a common stipulation match in the South back in the territory days. The "tar" was just chocolate syrup.
  • After Eric Young was on the losing side of a Tag Team match against Team 3D on the 8/2/2007 TNA iMPACT, Robert Roode and Traci Brooks took the opportunity to tar and feather him.

  • Adventures in Odyssey:
    • R. Edwin Blackgaard dreams that this will happen to him in “Welcome Home, Mr. Blackgaard”.
    • It’s actually molasses and feathers, but Curt Stevens ends up doing this to himself when trying to prank someone else in “Pranks for the Memories”.
  • The Adventures of Superman: In "The Clan of the Fiery Cross", the Clan attempts to tar and feather a child.

  • The Music Man:
    • The anvil salesman refers to tar and feathers, but since this is 1912 one wonders if he was simply being facetious.
      Salesman: Your hair (pulls hat off, revealing bald head) never grows back!
    • Some productions of the musical feature Mayor Shinn suggesting this be one possible punishment for Harold Hill after he is exposed.

    Video Games 
  • In the video game The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush Threepwood is tarred and feathered by monkey crew members of a pirate ship. He later uses this to pose as El Pollo Diablo, a giant chicken who has terrorized the area.
  • In Kingdom Rush: Vengeance where you play as Vez'nan's Dark Army, the final level has King Denas' mortar troops firing barrels at your dark army's towers. These cover your towers in burning tar and feathers making them unable to perform any action for a long while, and it costs gold to remove the stuff early.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in Homestar Runner — in the Sbemial "your edge", Strong Bad recalls himself and The Cheat only feathering Strong Sad.
    The Cheat: (Makes exclamatory noises.)
    Strong Bad: You said it, The Cheat! Tar is prohibitively expensive!

    Web Comics 
  • In the Oglaf strip "Prince Rodgar" (NSFW), this happens to a shapeshifter.
  • In Ozy and Millie, Ozy demonstrates the "coin behind the ear" magic trick for a younger kid. Unfortunately, since this was in a Christian bookstore, the girl immediately screams "Witchcraft!" and Ozy gets tarred and feathered.
  • Tales of the Questor: Rahan sets up a prank that involves tar and feathers, aimed at his nemesis Quentyn. Then Squidge gets involved by scaring the crap out of Rahan and his cronies, resulting in them being tarred and feathered instead.

    Web Original 
  • In one Protectors of the Plot Continuum mission into Pirates of the Caribbean, the Agents tarred and feathered three of the four Modern Sues and two Stus and left them, claiming to be pirates, to the mercies of the townspeople. One of the Modern Sues accidentally set another on fire shortly thereafter.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Traitor", Gumball and Darwin try to do this substituting the tar with maple syrup.
  • Cartoon Sushi: Done to three characters in the "Robin" short "The Film Buff".
  • The Classic Disney Short Three Little Wolves features a "wolf pacifier" Rube Goldberg Device that inflicts various punishments on the Big Bad Wolf, concluding with him being tar, feathered and shot out of a cannon.
  • In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Mission to the Sun", the haughty AI of the ship that Courage, Eustace, and Muriel are on convinces Courage to press a button on the control panel that results in him being tarred and feathered.
  • A Running Gag in Cow and Chicken was that since Chicken already had feathers, he would be punished by getting tarred and un-feathered.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: The Vulture Squadron's first attempt to stop the pigeon in "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon" consists on this. Klunk drops the tar and Zilly and Muttley drop the feathers. They miss the target and Dastardly and his plane are hit instead.
  • Davey and Goliath: In one episode, Davey imagines doing this to a kid who framed him for vandalizing some drying cement, only using molasses instead of tar.
  • One episode of The Fairly OddParents! had Mr. Crocker trying to set up a Zany Scheme involving a giant magnet dragging Timmy into a pair of roller skates and sped through this, with the added elements of sticking a glove on his head and throwing him into a nearby Dimmsdale Fried Chicken restaurant. It backfires when he walks out wearing a metal video camera headset.
    • In another episode, Timmy gets tarred and feathered by Vicky.
  • The Johnny Bravo episode "Blanky Hanky Panky" ends with the villain Felinius being tarred and feathered by the mothers of Aron City.
  • A very serious, notable Truth in Television example occurs in the historical fiction series, Liberty's Kids, in which the main character watches as an innocent man getting this treatment from the mob, and joins in their mocking. He later, however, is informed how dangerous the act is when he meets the man being treated for it...near death. While his final fate is left unclear, this is a show in which characters were often Killed Off for Real, so it doesn't look good.
  • The Looney Tunes short "Guided Muscle" has Wile E. Coyote build a tar-and-feather machine to use it on the Road Runner ("How to Tar and Feather a Road Runner"). The Road Runner zooms by just as the barrels are about to spew out their tools. The barrels end up on the Coyote, with predictable results. In closing, the Road Runner shows up holding a sign:
    Road runners already have feathers.
  • In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Robin Brain", the Brain and Pinky get tarred and feathered after suggesting that peasantry try washing with soap and hot water.
  • Mordecai and Rigby are victims of this in the Regular Show episode "Prankless", as part of an Escalating War of pranks against a rival park.
  • Recess: In "The Big Prank", the main six try to pull this prank on King Bob by luring him into a trap. Unfortunately for them, Bob becomes aware of the trap and ducks before Vince and Spinelli can spray him with grease, resulting in T.J. getting sprayed instead. Then Mikey launches a box of feathers into the air, resulting in them covering T.J. and the latter being humiliated by Bob in front of everyone on the playground.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode, "Keeping Up with the Bigheads", while attempting to tar his driveway, Rocko accidentally squirts Mr. Bighead with tar thanks to Heffer standing on the hose and stepping off. Then an army of featherless chickens target Mr. Bighead with a plane and drop a load of feathers on him.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "Treehouse of Horror XVIII," one of Marge Simpson's sisters appears to have been tarred and feathered from a Halloween prank.
    • In "Bart of Darkness," Bart gets Grandpa Simpson tarred and feathered.
      Marge: Remember how you got Grandpa tarred and feathered?
      Bart: Sure. That was twenty minutes ago.
      Grandpa: Gonna be in the tub for a while.
    • In the final segment of "Treehouse of Horror XXIV" parodying Freaks, the circus freaks chop Homer's limbs off and tar and feather him. The credits show that he later gained fame as the "world's strongest duck."
    • In "At Long Last Leave," Homer is tarred and feathered as the family is driven out of town. Just Homer, of course.
  • Happens to Mary in the Sym-Bionic Titan episode "The Ballad of Scary Mary", although it was probably a substance like molasses rather than tar.
  • In the TaleSpin episode "The Sound and the Furry", the subject comes up, but, lacking tar or feathers, engine grease and spoons are used instead.
  • Timon & Pumbaa: In the "Stand By Me" music video, bad things happen to Pumbaa whenever Timon says "Stand by me". At one point in the song, a tar truck drives by Pumbaa, covering him in tar, then a chicken coop lands on him, covering him in chicken feathers.
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Buster Bunny states in a school paper interview that he believes students who cheat on tests should be tarred, feathered, and kicked out of school. Interviewer Montana Max immediately follows up the question by framing Buster for cheating.
  • Tom and Jerry: In Slicked-Up Pup, Jerry covers Tyke in tar to get Tom in trouble with Spike, who had threatened to beat him up if he got his son dirty. With Spike fast approaching, Tom tries to avoid his wrath by covering Tyke with feathers, along with putting on a rubber glove and clothespin on him, to make him look like a chicken.
  • Total Drama:
    • Harold tries to stop the moving train in "Get a Clue" by throwing something at the wheels to block them. First he throws a bottle of soda pop. It bursts open and the sticky substances splashes all over Harold. Next he throws a pillow. It also bursts open and the feathers blast all over Harold. Due to the layer of soda pop, the feathers stick to him.
    • On the train in "Planes, Trains, and Hot Air Mobiles", Heather tries to defend herself from Ezekiel by throwing whatever she can grab at him. Most of it is food, but when she readies herself to throw a bowl of porridge, the train hits a bump and she herself becomes covered. Her next move is to grab a pillow to protect herself from Ezekiel's attack now that he has an opening. The pillow is ripped open and the feathers stick to the layer of porridge on Heather.
    • Scott has to build himself a set of wings in "Up, Up, and Away in My Pitiful Balloon" and gets well underway with a whole batch of mutant seagull feathers and a thick glue. However, Zoey is fixing up her flying machine nearby and obliviously gives it a test run. The air blown from the machine travels over and lifts the glue-covered feathers right onto Scott.

    Real Life 
  • In real situations, the subject was forcibly stripped fully or half naked and covered in hot tar, which if hot enough would burn badly. There was probably a beating or two along the way. After being feathered, the person would be humiliated by being carried around on a rail — not a rounded pole — the cross-section is square or rectangular, and the corners undoubtedly dug in. That's where most fiction ends. Then consider that if the person survived, the cooled tar would need to be removed — aggravating the burns and ripping out hair. Being tarred and feathered was never a good or easily-overcome thing. Everyone would remember what was done to you.
  • This was common in the aftermath of war and occupation by a foreign power — in the aftermath of German occupation in 1944-45, this was not uncommon as punishment for French women who had chosen to "collaborate" on a one-to-one basis with individual German soldiers. This was also meted out as punishment in Northern Ireland by IRA terrorists, as a deterrent to girls in nationalist areas "collaborating" with British soldiers. Social control and enforcement of rules/consolidation of power via a painful and humiliating punishment was the motivation.
  • Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was beaten, tarred, feathered and left for dead at one point. He survived, but his infant son — who was not tarred and feathered but had been forced from his house by the mob — ended up dying from exposure to the elements.
  • Bill Bryson writes of an unfortunate customs agent who was twice tarred and feathered during the Boston Tea Party of 1773. This is generally viewed in retrospect as crossing the line by the protestors, as they essentially tortured a man, twice, who was just doing his job.
  • Prior to the twentieth century, most instances of tarring and feathering occurred either in feudal-era Europe or during a few historical post-white-settlement eras in America. In feudal Europe, it was a horrific and often fatal form of torture because the tar/resin was boiled. It wasn't a particularly nice thing to happen in America but was usually less deliberately horrific and much less deadly, because it usually involved the use of (low melting point) pine tar which hadn't been heated as much. In America, the point of tarring and feathering (as opposed to lynching) was public humiliation, not murder.
  • In 1874, the Speaker of the Manitoba Legislature was tarred and feathered over a controversial decision.
  • The IRA would do this on occasion, mostly during the Troubles. The last known instance was to a suspected drug dealer, in 2007.
  • In August 2017, protestors tarred and feathered a monument to Jefferson Davis in Arizona as a response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA.

Alternative Title(s): Tarred And Feathered