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Televised Torture

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Major Isamu: (in torture chamber) The general is watching... If you sign this paper, admitting you lied about us, you'll be freed. If you're foolish and refuse, then we will persuade....
General Tara: (in private office, smirking) I hope they refuse....

Not all torturers consider their activity a private, intimate thing. Some of them will televise their deed, either for their personal consumption via CCTV or for a public to watch. The equipment used can run the gamut from state-of-the-art camera systems operated by legions of henchmen in a torture dungeon to a Handycam and a tripod, for the more cost-conscious psycho.

Ideally, the villain will be somewhere far more comfortable than the victim, and usually indulging in some hedonistic relaxing ritual, such as sipping an expensive bordeaux or cognac, smoking a fine cigar or cigarette (in a holder for added decadence), while simultaneously giving orders by intercom to the henchmen who are paid to do their dirty work. These villains usually also use this same system to subtly (or not so subtly) verbally torment and taunt the victim.

Whatever they do, the effect is demoralizing for the prisoner. The message is clear: "Someone is watching you and, unlike you, that someone is enjoying themselves." Public Execution and are related tropes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • While it's not exactly torture, Pegasus in Yu-Gi-Oh! definitely enjoys watching security footage of Mokuba wasting away in a jail cell and Yugi facing off against sadistic opponents... all while enjoying a comic book and a glass of "fruit juice," of course.

    Comic Strips 
  • In The Phantom, self-absorbed dictator General Tara tortures the Phantom's fiancee Diana Palmer and her UN co-worker Sven Nillson remotely. With Diana chained to a torture rack, and Sven to a whipping post, General Tara patiently insists they sign a document stating that he is not a tyrannical torturing madman. While Sven and Diana endure a smoky, rancid dungeon, General Tara watches from a large leather chair in a poshly comfortable palace office, puffing on a cigarette holder.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Captivity, a lunatic imprisons a supermodel in an underground dungeon and watches her endure his tortures (though sometimes he executes them himself as well, slightly breaking the trope). The hooded villain is often seen enjoying a glass of fine wine as he monitors her suffering on a bank of video monitors.
  • In Cradle of Fear, Richard is a reporter with a morbid obsession for extreme pornography and snuff films. One day he finds 'The Sick Room': a website offering real-time footage of people being attacked and tortured on commands issued by remote users. His growing obsession with the site eventually brings about his downfall.
  • In Kick-Ass, a live-stream Kick-Ass plans to host is hijacked by the villains, who instead broadcast themselves subjecting Kick-Ass and Big Daddy to Cold-Blooded Torture as a lead-up to a planned Public Execution. A news channel broadcasting the live-stream quickly cuts the feed once they realise what's actually happening. Hit Girl arrives in time to save Kick-Ass, but not her father.
  • The premise of Untraceable. The killer places people torturous and slow death traps, then livestreams their reactions. The more people log in to view, the more intense the torture becomes, with the irony being that the victims would survive if the viewers would just stop watching, which is also made obvious to the viewers. With each new victim, the views increase exponentially.

  • The Player of Games: The Empire of Azad has a TV channel which is all torture, all the time. It is encrypted, and only the elite can watch it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who serial "Vengeance on Varos", the torture is broadcast to the general public, for dual purposes of entertainment and warning.
  • In one episode of Stargate SG-1, Teal'c is captured and tortured with the intent to force him to admit that the Goa'uld are indeed gods and to beg them for forgiveness. The whole thing is recorded to discredit him and his rebellious influence on the Jaffa. He doesn't break, however, and remarks that instead of recording Teal'c's humiliation, the torturer merely showed his own.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger:

    Video Games 
  • In PAYDAY 2, The end of the level "Henry's Rock" has you retrace your steps to the beginning of the level, where shutters open up to reveal, among other things, a big screen picturing the Payday Gang's mastermind, Bain, who was heard being captured at the end of the Reservoir Dogs Heist, with his head covered in duct-tape and his body strapped into a torture chair. Behind him, the silhouette of "The Dentist" is visible, who is presumably the one torturing him. Later, in the level "Hell's Island", one of the rooms you run through has the same chair from the video, just without Bain in it.