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Vengeful Vending Machine

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Janeway: Coffee. Black.
Replicator: Make it yourself!

You put your change in a vending machine, you expect to get your candy, prize, or whatever you paid for. This trope is when the machine doesn't do that, or inflicts harm on you. This comes in several varieties:

  • The machine refuses to accept a character's money.
  • The machine gets jammed and the buyer might get the candy right upside the head.
  • The machine ruins a drink it dispensed.
  • In snack vending machines, the snack fails to be dispensed properly, just barely hanging off of the shelf that holds it.
  • A character attempts to reach into the vending machine (usually after the previous example happens) and gets stuck. Usually it's only their arm, but Played for Laughs can result in their whole body somehow ending up inside the machine.
  • One of the previous examples happen, causing the character in question to kick the vending machine only for it to topple over and flatten them.

Percussive Maintenance is usually involved. Will often lead to Enmity with an Object.

Coffee machines and Matter Replicators do count, and machines gaining sentience and attacking people is the Exaggerated Trope. My Car Hates Me is a sister trope. People usually apply Percussive Maintenance when they encounter an uncooperative vending machine. No Snack For You, Your Television Hates You are related.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh features Tomo trying to get some milk tea from a vending machine, only for it to pour the drink but fail to dispense the cup. She's suitably outraged when the next person to step up (Yomi) gets two cups.
  • Nichijou has Sasahara get similar treatment when his vending machine dispenses the drink then the cup. Being a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Sasahara merely admires the vending machine's gall.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Touma puts in a 2000 yen bill into a vending machine to get a drink. When that doesn't work, Misaka comes and charges it with electricity, causing him to receive 2000 yen worth of drinks in return.
    • Mikoto hates that particular vending machine and spin-kicks it into giving her drinks ever since it ate her 10000 yen bill.
    • Index puts money in a vending machine, but it uses a touch screen instead of buttons. Since she is Hopeless with Tech, she can't figure out how it works, until Hyouka Kazakiri patiently shows her how.
  • In Trigun: Badlands Rumble, Wolfwood is found nearly dying of dehydration because a water vending machine refused to accept his crumpled bills.
  • In Anne Happy, part of Hanako's misfortune is that if she tries to buy something from a vending machine, it will dispense something completely random and gross instead.
  • Fresh Pretty Cure!: The second Wakewameke summoned was created from a drink vending machine. It could shoot cans as missiles and douse people with fizzy juices while yelling slogans ("MADE FROM CONCENTRATE!", "ZERO CALORIES!").
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Asuka is first introduced when Shinji and Toji run into her fighting with a jammed vending machine. In the manga the first word she says on the page is to exclaim "Scheiße!" while kicking the machine in frustration.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • A Hellboy omake strip showed him dealing with one of these, but the ending reveals that a tiny imp was behind it, not the machine itself.
  • Luke Cage, Power Man, had a Running Gag feud with the coffee machine at the local police station based on its supposedly hostile behavior. He experienced similar difficulties with the soda machine at his old office. Clearly, Luke had no luck with crazy vending machines.
  • Garfield: The Soda Pop Quickie from the old cartoon. He popped in a lot of change to see what would come out of the soda machine, and it spat out a giant can of soda right on top of Garfield.
  • In one Sabrina the Teenage Witch one-shot, Aunt Hilda gets cheated by a vending machine and kicks it in frustration. The machine retaliates by punching her, and Sabrina remarks that they're making vending machines that can fight back.
  • In one X-Men comic, Beast complains that he may have experimented on the coffee machine a tad too much after it comes alive and tries to strangle him to death.

    Fan Fic 
  • There's a Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) fanfic where the commissariat's recaf machine is given the nickname "Little Horus" (think "Little Judas"). Eventually the protagonist shoots it, and the replacement works a lot better.

    Films — Animated 
  • Over the Hedge
    • The opening scene features RJ the raccoon struggling with the chip machine at the beginning of the movie. It's only after Vincent the bear gives RJ the ultimatum of replacing all the food RJ accidentally destroyed in one week or getting killed that the vending machine finally gives up the chips, much to RJ's frustration.
    • And in the Stinger, RJ and the other animals go back to the vending machine he was raiding at the start of the film to get more food for the log. They actually get all the snacks this time...but there are so many the vending machine slot can't be budged.
    Hammy: Kinda anti-climactic, huh?
    RJ: Shoot!
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Twilight's first encounter with a vending machine in the human world goes this way, not because the machine is broken, she just doesn't know how to use one and nearly ends up bucking it in frustration.
  • Chicken Little: Chicken Little asks Runt to get him a soda from the vending machine to rocket himself to the school bell to warn the town about the invasion. When the machine won't take his dollar, Runt goes into a ferocious rage, thrashing and pounding the machine, much to the astonishment of the others. The machine reluctantly spits a single soda bottle out.
    Runt: What happened? I blacked out there for a second.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in Terminator 2: Judgment Day: A security guard orders a cup of coffee from a machine, and is pleased to have gotten a Full House, based on the cards printed on the cup (two Aces, two Jokers, and a "Wild Card"). But while he's waiting, the T-1000 forms behind him and kills him as soon as he gets his drink.
  • Silent Movie. The three protagonists encounter a Coca Cola vending machine that fires out cans of soda like grenades. They later use it as a weapon against the villains.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, Col. Guano has to shoot a Coca-Cola vending machine to get change for a crucial phone call to the President. He gets Coke squirted in his face.
  • In the live-action Transformers film, the power of the Cube animates a soda machine, which sprouts limbs and goes berserk.
  • Maximum Overdrive
  • In the adaptation of The Tommyknockers, some guy tries to retrieve a soda can from a vending machine, which is possessed or powered by the alien technology and has a greenish glow. His hand gets stuck in there and the whole thing blows up, killing him.
  • At the beginning of The X-Files: Fight the Future, Mulder goes to buy something to drink from a machine. He puts money in, pushes a button, then the next one, then all of them, then whacks the machine and then jiggles it angrily. He then notices that the machine is not plugged in and finds out that a bomb, the very bomb he and the rest of the FBI agents are looking for, is inside the machine.
  • The "guy crushed by a vending machine" story is brought up in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, and nearly happens to Buck.
  • The talking bowling ball polisher in Gutterballs is a dick.
  • In Here Comes the Boom, Scott tries to buy a snack from a vending machine, but it gets stuck. He rams the vending machine causing several snacks to fall out. A student sees him do this and he tosses him one of the extra snacks telling him to keep quiet.

  • Eve Dallas in the In Death series has a generally antagonistic relationship with most technology, and where vending machines are concerned the feeling seems to be entirely mutual. They tend to malfunction whenever she attempts to use one. It's so bad that she habitually has someone else put her money in for her and press the button whenever she wants to buy something from one.
  • Nexus magazine #2, short story "Firepoint Five". The main computer of a starship has a tendency to malfunction. One example of its problems is was preparing Lieutenant Simms' breakfast. It scrambled his fried eggs, and his sausage came out burned - and was supposed to be bacon. His toast was buttered (he hated buttered toast) and the coffee nozzle missed his cup - but didn't miss his lap.
  • In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur Dent, sick of getting bad tea from the Nutri-Matic machine, gives it a lengthy lecture on the nature and history of good tea. The machine hijacks the starship's entire computing power to work on the problem, leaving the ship defenceless against a missile attack. Arthur gets his tea in the end, though.
  • In a short story by Axel Hacke. He is talking to his sentient fridge named Bosch about this trope. Some American soldiers who were crushed by vending machines are mentioned. Bosch thinks it's the soldiers' fault, since they shook up the machines. The narrator gets angry and mentions the many times he got nothing for his money.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here presents a "chilling excerpt from a nineteenth-century New York factory worker's diary" describing the horrors of vending-machine food. Among the complaints:
    The machine for some reason is constructed in such a way that it drops these items from a great height, causing the contents, already brittle with age, to shatter into thousands of pieces. Also half the time it just eats your money, and forget about getting a refund...
  • In the Discworld spin-off Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook to the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Railway, it's mentioned that many of the vending machines in New Ankh Station are like this, due to badly trained and mistreated imps. Mrs Bradshaw suggests that the chocolate machines in particular might be violating Thieves Guild demarcation rules.
  • One of the stories in Cops: Their Lives In Their Own Words involves an unnamed city that installed automatic fuel pumps for police vehicles. Policemen end up physically assaulting the machines with batons due to their tendency to malfunction if the user doesn't follow every step right (and sometimes even if they did).
  • Dave Barry in Cyberspace begins its "Software" chapter with this "very simple program" for controlling an ATM:

    Live Action TV 
  • Hill Street Blues; The officers at the eponymous police precinct fought a constant running battle with their vending machine, which stubbornly refused to dispense anythng that might be edible; at one stage, an enraged officer blew it to pieces with a shotgun!
  • In Les Guignols de l'Info, there is a sketch with the puppet of French politician Philippe Séguin (portrayed as The Eeyore due to his real life looks) orders a can of orange juice from a vending machine. The machine gives him an orange, a knife, a press and a glass, then the message "Do that shit yourself" appears on it.
  • Godzilla Island has a variation in that the vending machine itself isn't malicious, but its contents are; The Monster Vending Machine! A gigantic vending machine floating in deep space, the Xillien Zagres used it to dispense an enhanced version of Mecha-King Ghidorah dubbed "Hyper Mecha-King Ghidorah", though judging by signs on the machine it could also dispense a regular King Ghidorah, Battra, a pre-transformed Fire Rodan, Moguera and Dogora.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • "Future Echoes": A vending machine has a lisp malfunction, which has been reported. When Lister orders breakfast and black coffee, he gets him a pair of boots. When the machine tries just for the coffee, he produces a bucket. However, he was being really nice and trying to be helpful.
    • Possibly the most literal example of all time appears in "Only The Good", when Rimmer cheats a vending machine out of its money by attaching it to a string and yanking it out after receiving what he ordered from it. It vows revenge, and later in the episode, the machine blasts a can at Rimmer in anger, knocking him down while he's trying to escape a raging fire.
      Vending Machine: You are my nemesis! One day our paths will cross again, and I will destroy you!
    • Rimmer was in charge of vending machines aboard the Red Dwarf. When they hold a funeral for Rimmer's hologram and say their eulogies in "Stoke Me a Clipper", Lister mentions that with him when you ordered coke, it would never happen for you to get soup or orange juice on his shift. Except it happened all the time, but Lister was trying to say something nice.
    • "Queeg": No food machines work. However, this time it's not the machines being malicious, but it was their new computer Queeg who claims the crew have spent their credit. They have to start working, and real hard. When Lister has dinner, all he got was only burnt toast and one pea.
    • In a Season 10 episode, a vending machine becomes romantically obsessed with Lister.
    • "Body Swap": One of the maintenance robots became nuts and changed circuits in everything on the ship. Lister is advised not to touch anything until it gets fixed. He absentmindedly orders a bar and milkshake from a snack machine. He initiates the autodestruct. The crew cannot cancel it. After a horrible 15 minutes, the Self-Destruct Mechanism dispenses the bar and milkshake.
    • Played with regarding the artificially-intelligent Talkie Toaster that drives Lister mad by constantly asking if he wants anything toasted.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", the Tribbles start getting into everything on The Enterprise, including the food dispensers in the cafeteria. Kirk's attempt to get a chicken sandwich and coffee gets him two Tribbles, one of them in a cup.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "Contagion": Picard orders tea from the replicator, only for it to produce a flower in a tea cup.
    • "Cost of Living": Lwaxana Troi orders tea, but the replicator produces sausages.
    • "Evolution": Dr. Crusher sees that a replicator is producing a glass of drink and the liquid is overflowing but the replicator won't stop (due to a computer malfunction). It only stops when Crusher tells the computer to deactivate the replicator. Also, a deleted scene from that episode has a sickbay nurse get electrocuted from a malfunctioning replicator.
    • "A Fistful of Datas": Bugs in Data's programming cause various malfunctions aboard the Enterprise. One of them is that replicators only produce cat's supplements, meals for Data's cat Spot.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: When the crew accidentally triggered a Cardassian riot failsafe in the station's computers, one of its defensive measures was to have the ops replicator produce a turret to attack the crew.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In the pilot episode, Ensign Tom Paris fails to get the "Hot! Plain! Tomato! Soup!" that he wanted, because according to the replicator, his request was insufficiently specific, and "There are eighty-five foods that match the generic description,"tomato soup"; they include; with rice, with pasta, with cream, gazpacho, Bolian style, Vulcan Plohmeek....." After finally getting his soup, he takes a single taste and rejects it in disgust.
      Paris: Fourteen varieties and they can't even get plain tomato soup right.
    • "The Haunting of Deck Twelve": Janeway orders coffee from the replicator, only first it replicates the coffee without the cup and then replicates the cup.
    • Janeway attempts to have Chakotay over to her quarters for dinner, and achieves the unique distinction of burning the roast, which her only involvement in its making was to issue a verbal order to the replicator.
      Chakotay: Let me guess. You burned the roast again.
      Janeway: Once, a long time ago, I called this replicator a glorified toaster. It never forgave me.
    • "Q2": As quoted above, Q's son magicks the replicators so that it sasses Janeway when she asks for a coffee.
    • Janeway cites the trope in "Latent Image" when arguing with Seven of Nine that their holographic Doctor is Just a Machine, no matter how human he acts and appears.
      Janeway: Coffee, black. (she takes a sip) Lukewarm. Now I've told that replicator a dozen times about the temperature of my coffee. It just doesn't seem to want to listen. Almost as if it's got a mind of its own. But it doesn't. A replicator operates through a series of electronic pathways that allow it to receive instructions and take appropriate action, and there you go. A cup of coffee, a bowl of soup, a plasma conduit, whatever we tell it to do. As difficult as it is to accept, the Doctor is more like that replicator than he is like us.
    • Played for drama when the Kazon steal a food replicator from Voyager and try to figure out how it works. It explodes, melding their bodies into the ship's bulkhead.
  • Brass on CSI once helped a witness's mother get a soda from the lab's vending machine, which had taken her for $2. He rattled its controls in the right way to get it to cough up the stuck can for her.
  • In 30 Rock, Pete Hornburger spends an entire episode with his hand trapped in a vending machine.
  • ER pulls this gag at least once a season.
  • In the Austrian police procedural parody Kottan Ermittelt, one character has a long-running feud with the police department's coffee maker.
  • Sledge Hammer!
    • When the soda dispenser in the police HQ goes on the fritz, takes money and fails to dispense soda. The member of the public involved, who must be from out of town, complains to the nearest policeman, Lieut. Hammer. Who obliges by un-holstering the Amigo, at which sign everyone runs for cover and Captain Trunk begins to bellow "No, Ham...". The dispenser gives in after several direct hits from Hammer's unfeasibly large weapon.
    • In a different episode, Hammer does the same thing to a bank ATM that has swallowed his card and refused to give cash.
  • On Scrubs, Turk gets his hand caught in a vending machine not once but twice. The second time is when he's getting ice chips for his wife when she starts giving birth, and it almost causes him to miss his daughter being born. The first time is because of...a less pressing issue.
    I paid for my Rolos! I'm getting my Rolos!
    • The ice machine is also revealed to be the reason for the security guard's hook hand, but because of it Kelso installed a release switch on it, which sets Turk free and he doesn't miss the birth.
  • In the Frasier episode "Rooms with a View", Niles is having bypass surgery, and the rest of the main cast are in the waiting room. Martin debates which of two candy bars he wants, but when Frasier makes the decision for him, the machine swallows his money. Frasier makes an attempt to prise the the bar out, until Daphne - who has been getting increasingly tense as she waits to hear how her husband is doing - smashes the glass front of the machine with a fire extinguisher and hands him the candy.
  • The Muppet Show had a nutty talking vending machine called Vendaface:
    • In its first appearance, it offers psychiatric advice; after Fozzie deposits a coin, Vendaface asks for another, and then another. Then, it tells Fozzie that his problem is "You are much too generous." (Fozzie gets angry, to which it responds "You also have a rotten temper." and starts strangling him.).
    • The second time it appears, it gives facelifts; it works okay the first time, giving a rather ugly Muppet a beautiful face. Then, another Muppet (who doesn't really have anything wrong with her face), likes the results and tries out Vendaface, but Vendaface gives this one the same features that the last customer originally had.
    • The third time it's also giving out facelifts, and tells its customer, Statler, it can "rearrange your looks"; which it does, slugging him in the chin.
    • There was also the similar Vendawish, which appeared in Season 3 and seemed to be an upgraded Vendaface. When its customer, a generic Muppet, wanted to be taller, it obliged by grabbing his neck and stretching it higher.
  • In "The Dealership" episode of Seinfeld, a vending machine gives George no small amount of trouble. First he tries to pay with a dollar bill that's so old and crinkly that he can't get the machine to accept it. He has to scrape whatever money he needs to buy a Twix bar off the floor and under the machine (where something bites him). Then the Twix he buys gets stuck in the machine. And when he finally gets a manager to come get it out for him, the Twix is gone and in the hands of an auto mechanic who also bought a Twix and got George's for free. The mechanic denies eating George's Twix, claiming he bought a 5th Avenue bar instead, so George devises some convoluted plan involving purchasing multiple Twix and putting them in a "candy lineup" which would somehow prove the mechanic's guilt. Before he can go through with it, all these other Twix are eaten by the staff (including the mechanic again). He never thought to eat any of them himself, despite being extremely hungry.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "Fatal Charm," a vending machine eats Starsky's dime, and he gets his arm stuck trying to get his drink. Hutch has to pull him loose.

  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent, sick of getting something vaguely resembling bad tea from the Nutri-Matic machine, gives it a lengthy lecture on the nature and history of proper tea. The machine, being unable to fathom why the heck anyone wants mere dried leaves in boiling water, hijacks the starship's entire computing power to work on the problem, leaving the ship defenceless against a missile attack. Arthur gets his tea in the end, though.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Comic Dan Cummins noted those vending machines that dispense pricy electronics and questioned whether this is a problem they have, too:
    "I get mad when a candy machine takes my dollar. If the iPod machine takes a couple hundred of my dollars, I'm not getting mad; I am getting my iPod... Along with every other iPod that machine has to offer."

    Tabletop Games 
  • The campus vending machines in GURPS IOU will dispense almost anything a character might need: from a cold soda to a flamethrower. However, they don't always give you what you ask for.
  • Dungeons & Dragons supplement AC 11 The Book of Wondrous Inventions. One of the inventions is Ardraken's Refreshment Simulacrum, which is basically a soda vending machine. Unfortunately it doesn't work: its malfunctions include attacking the customer trying to use it and dispensing drinks with negative effects.
  • If a vending machine doesn't try to kill you in Paranoia, your GM is bad at the job.

    Video Games 
  • Early in Deus Ex, you overhear Gunther Hermann grumbling to Anna Navarre. The vending machines gives him the wrong soda so often he believes there is a conspiracy against him. In the sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War, it turns out he was right, the maintenance man was screwing with him.
  • Monkey Island:
    • There are grog machines featured in four out of the five Monkey Island games. Two of them act like this.
    • In The Secret of Monkey Island, you can put as many pieces of eight as you want in it, but it won't work. A single bottle of root beer later falls out of it when LeChuck punches Guybrush into the machine.
    • In Escape from Monkey Island, the machine still doesn't dispense any grog, but if you kick it enough, some empty cans eventually tumble out.
  • Vending Machine Champ by [adult swim] Games combines this trope with Punch-Out!!.
  • Mike Shadow: I Paid for It! has you buying upgrades to beat the crap out of an uncooperative vending machine.
  • When you reach New Haven in Borderlands, you can find Dr. Zed's Claptrap assistant running around all over the place. He stops at the medical vending machine and pounds on it, frustrated that it isn't working. The vending machine works just fine for the player.
  • Early in Half-Life: Opposing Force, Shepard encounters a fat security guard named Otis with his hand stuck in a vending machine. The guard curses, going like "Stupid machines!" and asks the player for a quarter. It's possible to operate the machine with the Use key, and this makes a candy bar pop out. However, the guard does nothing if you do.
  • Greeters in Oddworld are the result of an experiment in creating self-promoting vending machines, which was deemed a failure because they kept electrocuting their customers. The Magog Cartel decided to exploit their psychotic tendencies and had them redesigned as security guards for their factories.
  • Used as part of a puzzle in The Feeble Files. Feeble tries to buy an item from a vending machine, which takes his money and refuses to dispense. Do this three times and he'll kick the vending machine in frustration, then feel guilty about it, which opens access to the confession booth area.
  • Inverted in Pokémon when you occasionally get a bonus drink.
  • The University expansion pack of The Sims 3 comes with vending machines. Slamming into one can cause it to fall on you, causing death by Blunt Force Trauma.
  • Zork: Grand Inquisitor has the candy vending machine at GUE Tech. Not only does it eat your money and never actually dispense candy, one of the buttons is broken- and it's the one you need to use to open an important lockernote . The drinks dispenser might also count, as while it does give you the drinks, it doesn't provide cups, again wasting your money on a beverage that just goes down the drain.
  • BioShock:
    • In BioShock, a vending machine in Hephaestus has been sabotaged to dispense a live grenade — and then laugh at you — as soon as you try to use it. If you pay close attention, you can actually hear the saboteur mumbling about it as you approach from around the corner.
    • In the multiplayer mode of BioShock 2, this a valid strategy to kill other players. After hacking a vending machine to freely use it, it will drop a bomb if someone not from your team or anyone besides you (in case you are not playing a team-based game mode) tries to use it.
    • This tactic can be used in the single-player campaign of both games, though it's limited specifically to Health Stations. If you hack a Health Station, not only does it give you discounts on healing (and a freebie in 2 if you hit a bonus zone), but any Splicer that tries to use it gets hit with poison gas instead.
  • Inverted with Tina in Borderlands 2 after she gets a raisin cookie from one. That poor machine should have known better...
  • In the third level of Max Payne, a mook kicks a vending machine because it refuses to give him the item he bought. Another mook then sings about a "killer vending machine".
  • The first time you enter the Shinra Tower in Final Fantasy VII, you can put some money into a vending machine for an energy drink. Unfortunately, it gets jammed, and any attempt to apply Percussive Maintenance on it will fail because a nearby attendant will tell you to knock it off. Near the end of the game, you can return to that very same machine and finally get your drink, which comes in the form of a couple of stat-boosting source items.
  • Fallout 2 features old Nuka-Cola vending machines that can be interacted with. For 1 dollar, they will dispense a Nuka-Cola bottle at great speed and if your character fails an Agility and Luck check the bottle will hit them in the groin for a few Hit Points worth of damage.
  • In Crash Tag Team Racing, a Die-O-Rama involves Crash putting a coin in a soda machine and not getting anything out of it. He tilts the machine, causing it to fall on him.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • The somewhat obscure webcomic The Kenny Chronicles has one strip where the protagonist really needs some caffeine but a vending machine instead gives him something caffeine-free. Which the author notes was an inversion of something that happened to him in real life (he ordered Sprite and got VAULT).
  • Cosmic Dash: In chapter "Grounded", Dash encounters one such machine and promptly decides to take it apart and repair it. Since he has no accreditation to do so, the owner calls security on him.

    Web Original 
  • Well, here's a fairly typical (and wordless, so it'd work for international audiences) example. A guy versus a coffee vending machine.
  • A vengeful vending machine appears in the Eddsworld video 'Movie Makers'. When making a video about getting free chocolate from tackling a vending machine the machine falls over (as it would), then flips and crushes an unfortunate Matt. As seen here.
  • The SCP Foundation has two of 'em:
    • SCP-261 is a windowless vending machine which only accepts yen and can dispense a seemingly infinite variety of strange items (most of which are edible... though not necessarily by humans). Experimenting with it has produced several instances that suggest the machine is capable of being vengeful:
      • Whatever you do, do not put counterfeit yen into its coin slot. It will give you cyanide-laced gummi candies shaped like human hands Flipping the Bird.
      • In a more humorous case, when someone tried to slip in an "I. O. U. 500 Yen" note, it responded with an empty popcorn bag containing the note "I. O. U. 41 popcorn kernels". The next time someone put 500 Yen into it, it immediately spilled 41 popcorn kernels on the ground.
      • Hitting the coin return once produced a zero-value coin. Using the zero-value coin produced a lunch utterly devoid of taste, nutrition, texture, or really anything else. The test-subject who ate it said it didn't fill her up at all. Hitting the coin return again caused it to dispense a can with "STOP THAT" written on it, which turned out to contain a living and very angry stinging insect.
      • On a slightly darker note, trying the coin-on-a-string trick on it at first made it give seemingly normal food that caused the eater to inexplicably vomit it back up later, but eventually got it to deploy a live grenade, with actual casualties. The machine then trolled the staff the next time they tried this by deploying a grenade which burst into candy with a party horn noise.
    • SCP-294 is a beverage dispenser that can dispense any substance in existence, so long as this substance can exist in fluid form. While it's very good at what it does, what with being able to 'summon' everything from regular coffee to things that clearly shouldn't be able to exist in a polystyrene cup without some rather...exotic mishaps, (think all kinds of industrial chemicals, molten metal, liquid nitrogen...) SCP-294 is very Literal-Minded:
      • An agent asking for "a cup of joe" got 12 ounces of mixed bodily fluids from a nearby agent named Joseph. Said agent had to be hospitalized, but eventually recovered.
      • A researcher asked the machine to give him "Whatever the next person orders". The machine simply waited until someone else ordered something and gave two drinks at once, which naturally overflowed the cup and spilled all over the floor.
      • A researcher told the machine "Surprise me". It gave him a cup of superheated water which exploded into boiling-hot steam when disturbed. The researcher confirmed that this event surprised him.
      • A researcher who asked for "the perfect drink" was Driven to Suicide after drinking it, because the drink was so good that nothing else in life could measure up to it. After this incident the Foundation stopped letting the site staff try asking it for something unusual without running it past a supervisor first.
      • Someone once asked it for a "Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster", and the drink it dispensed replicated both the taste and the side effects pretty much perfectly. They survived, but needed treatment for alcohol poisoning and were firmly instructed not to try that again.
  • From Things Of Interest, the story "The Vending Machine Murders", where all the vending machines in the world turn murderous. And then the Earth gets attacked by a giant vending machine from space.
  • The PFY from Bastard Operator from Hell has encountered a few of these. The first was a drinks machine in the office, specifically designed by a friend of the Bastard’s to randomly dispense crappy products instead of the desired ones, and to randomly eat the buyer’s money as an intended feature. The second, and more notable, appliance was a snack machine on a Tube line. Its stubborn refusal to dispense a packet of salt and vinegar chips pissed the PFY off enough for him to build a refrigerator-sized EMP device specifically to destroy it. This led to him, the BOFH, and the Boss taking the “Pinch” on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against every machine and establishment they felt had wronged them, ending with their being trapped in an elevator after accidentally setting the device off.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show", Homer, who just regained use of his legs, walks to a vending machine. The chocolate bar he tries to buy gets stuck and he tries using Percussive Maintenance on it, causing it to tip over him and start force-feeding him chocolate until he passes out, sending him into a coma.
    • In "Marge on the Lam", Homer puts his arm inside a vending machine to get a free "invisible cola" (actually a Crystal Buzz Cola). When he reaches into it Carl warns him, telling him that someone lost an arm doing that once. (We see the inside of the machine where there's a skeleton arm from the last guy who tried to get a free soda, still holding onto a can of Fresca.) Homer eventually grabs the soda, but his arm gets stuck and Lenny and Carl run off screaming. Then, Homer gets his other arm stuck inside a candy vending machine. (In a scene cut from syndication, he imagines himself at Maggie's wedding with his arms still stuck to the vending machines.) Just as the rescue workers are about cut off Homer's arms, it turns out this could've been avoided if he let go of the can in the first place. The firemen write a note up for Marge to prove that the incident wasn't some wild excuse to avoid going to the ballet (with said note mentioning that while they were wasting their time with Homer, a lumber mill burned down).
    • In "The Trouble with Trillions", Homer keeps trying to use Burns's (stolen) trillion dollar bill in the vending machine. This time, much to everyone's relief, the machine keeps spitting it back.
      Mr Burns: There's soda on the plane!!
    • "'Tis the Fifteenth Season" had Homer at a Secret Santa exchange at work where, after receiving a DVD player from Carl and being asked by Lenny where ''his'' present was, he says to Lenny, "Your present is right in the other room." He then goes offscreen to the other room and is clearly heard saying "C'mon, machine, take my dollar! ... Fine, we'll play it your way!" He then tackles the machine (still offscreen) and returns with a tube of Certs breath mints.
    • In "The Heartbroke Kid", Bart attacks the school vending machines and they retaliate by firing their contents at him ("I'm gonna cap a pop in yo ass!"), with Bart blocking them.
    • A Funny Background Event in "A Streetcar Named Marge" has Homer beating the crap out of an uncooperative vending machine.
    • In "You Only Move Twice", Homer struggles to get a vending machine to accept his incredibly beat-up dollar bill.
    • In "22 Short Films About Springfield", Homer tries to get a newspaper while walking the dog and carrying Maggie and groceries simultaneously. While he does manage to get the paper, he ends up accidentally locking Maggie in the vendor, and since he has no money left, he attempts to free her through various methods before ultimately taking the vending machine itself home with him.
  • An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures had Hamton get frustrated over such a vending machine.
  • In the animated special of Garfield: His 9 Lives, Garfield attempts to use a vending machine aboard his spaceship to order lunch, in the form of a cup of coffee and some pie, during his ninth and final life. The machine drops the pie, pours coffee on it, and then crushes it with the coffee mug.
    "Everything tasted like lead anyway."
  • VeggieTales: Larry has gotten his candy stuck. In a vending machine.
    • Lunch: An Animated Parable loves this trope to the point where the vending machine ends up falling on Ed (the blue man). He then comes out unharmed.
  • Futurama:
    • "My Three Suns": A machine selling "Refreshing Crack" gets stuck, and the customer whines "Don't hold out on me, Man!"
    • "Mother's Day": All the machines rebel against humanity, including a coffee machine that sprays its contents at Fry and a vending machine that shoots cans at people.
      "I got a big, big thirst for human blood!"
    • "The Bots and The Bees": Bev, the new beverage vending machine at the office, hates Bender and insults him at every occasion. Soon the two start fighting, which then leads to lovemaking, which leads to Bev having a baby.
    • In the episode "Ghost in the Machines", one of Bender's methods in his attempt to kill Fry involved possessing a vending machine that serves pineapples and has them launch at Fry when he tries to make a purchase.
  • In the episode "Rock Bottom" in SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob is waiting for the bus so he can go home. He gets hungry and runs across the street to the vending machine to buy a candy bar. The machine itself works properly, but the bus showed up and drove off everytime he tried to put a dollar into the machine or to reach for the candy bar after it was dispensed. Keeping his eyes on the bus, he slowly moves to grab the candy bar, with the bus revving the engines everytime he gently touches the bar. He tries to run back across the street to catch the bus, but it drives off. A random stranger walks up to the machine and just takes the candy bar.
    • In "Wet Painters", the bill Patrick tries to use in a vending machine is repeatedly rejected. This is actually a good thing, because he and SpongeBob need that dollar to replace Mr. Krabs' First Dollar Earned, which they got paint on. Unfortunately, the machine eventually accepts it after Patrick's numerous attempts to buy a candy bar.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Practical Joker". After the Enterprise passes through a mysterious energy field the ship's computer starts playing practical jokes on the crew. When Mr. Scott tries to obtain a sandwich from the food replicator it sprays food all over him, including a custard Pie in the Face.
  • In Seven Little Monsters, Four tries his hardest to get a sheriff's badge from a prize machine, only for it to keep giving him princess crowns.
  • Phineas and Ferb: The bit from the movie is called back in an episode when Doofenshmirtz gets hit by an Inator that causes his greatest fear to materialize... enter the vending machines...
  • One Beavis and Butt-Head episode features the pair trying to buy a bag of pork rinds from a vending machine, only for it to get stuck. The rest of the episode revolves around them trying to get it out. Butt-Head eventually wanders off to get change for a dollar he managed to panhandle up, but ends up spending the whole thing on a ton of expired nachos at the Maxi-Mart, and promptly forgets about Beavis, who is left still standing around the machine.
  • In a Ben 10 short episode, Ben tries to get a candy bar from a vending machine, only for it to fall against the glass. Ever the Determinator, Ben decides to go Grey Matter to get the candy bar. The only problem is when the Omnitrix times out, leaving Ben's ENTIRE BODY trapped in the machine.
  • In The Oblongs, plumbing issues leave the entire city save the Oblongs' house without water. In order to cut down on bathroom lines, a hundred-dollar cash slot is installed on the door. When Bob's boss tries to use it and his bill is rejected, another character quips "the great equalizer".
  • Inspector Gadget once had a villainous Master of Disguise called Presto Change-O. At one point during his episode, Gadget thinks he's found the foe disguised as a vending machine he was running around disguised as Gadget. Naturally, this goes about as well as expected, with Gadget getting his Finger Key stuck in the keyhole and his foot stuck in the slot.
  • The "Prom Night Special" episode of Celebrity Deathmatch has Johnny Gomez announce that there will be two hours detention after the evenings matches for anyone caught tipping over vending machines in the arena lounge, with a cutaway to two teenagers doing exactly that, with one getting crushed to death for his troubles.
  • Biker Mice from Mars: in the episode "Vicious Cycles", Greasepit ends up in a fight with a vending machine; the machine keeps firing its goods at him, and he returns fire with a machine gun. Carbuncle and Limburger watch the whole thing from a distance, to which Limburger casually remarks that his money is on the vending machine.
  • In Regular Show, Gene, who is an actual vending machine and manager of a rival park, wreaks havoc on the park of the main characters in a prank war.
  • Sealab 2021:
    • In "All That Jazz", Murphy gets stuck under a vending machine for a long time after accidentally knocking it over on himself because it wouldn't give him his drink. Over the course of the episode, the machine spits out soda cans that hit him in the face, knocking his teeth out in the process. Murphy starts Hulking Out when the cleaning robot collecting his teeth crushes Ben the scorpion, shoving the machine off him to get revenge. Then the whole thing's revealed to be a long, rejected commercial for the soda brand. They decide to go with billboards in space instead.
    • The episode "Return to Oblivion", a 'behind the scenes' episode that portrays the cast and crew 'filming' the episode "All That Jazz", has Stormy (played by Ellis Henican) hopping on the machine-while Murphy (played by Hal Goz) is under it-trying to get his change. Ellis hopped so hard that it started crushing Hal's spine.
  • A series flashback in the The Amazing World of Gumball about the Wattersons learning things the hard way shows Gumball getting stuck entirely inside a vending machine while trying to grab some candy without paying, a fireman cutting him out with a buzzsaw, then just paying for one regularly the next time.
  • In the "Indie Movie" episode of American Dad!, Snot attempts to buy a bag of off-brand Cheeto knockoff's called Cheeso's, the same his now deceased absent father used to buy him. When it gets stuck, he has an emotional breakdown in a parody of heavy-handed symbolism prevalent in indie films.
  • One episode of the recurring "Pluto Gets the Paper" shorts in Mickey MouseWorks features Pluto trying to get a newspaper out of a vendor. At one point, he falls inside a storm drain trying to recover a dime for the machine and somehow winds up trapped inside the kiosk itself. For some reason, this is one of the two shorts that were never rerun in House of Mouse (the other being the controversial "Minnie Takes Care of Pluto").
  • The hot chocolate machine at the school in Code Lyoko seems to be this. In one episode, William is hitting it and complaining that it's trying to "drive me bananas". In another, Odd complains that the hot chocolate from it tastes like "dirty sweatsocks and an old pair of sneakers".
  • Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?
    • In "Family Vacation", Robot Jones comes across a biker trying to get a vending machine to work and accidentally enrages the biker and causes him to come after Robot and his family when the biker puts his money in Robot's mouth.
    • A major part of "School Newspaper" consisted of Robot Jones photographing Principal Madman in compromising situations for the school newspaper and embarrassing stories being fabricated for the pictures. At one point, Robot photographs Madman taking out his frustration on a vending machine, with the newspaper's headline claiming that Madman had an affair with the machine.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode "Transcendental Tourists" has a scene where Slimer tries to buy some milk from a vending machine. The vending machine won't work, so Slimer resorts to using his ghostly powers to phase through the machine and consume a carton of milk from the inside.
  • In the Cow and Chicken episode "The Full Mounty", Cow and Chicken try to get snacks from a vending machine that doesn't work. The Red Guy, who was dressed as a Canadian Office Mountie, ends up squashed by the vending machine when he tries to capture them at that moment.
  • The Bureau of Alien Detectors episode "Gifted" involved Living Toys, one of which was a miniature gumball machine that could fire its contents like bullets that left the recipients Covered in Gunge.
  • Gravity Falls: Near the start of "Blendin's Game", Dipper and Mabel try to get some candy from the vending machine in the Mystery Shack's gift shop. The kids are naturally upset when it gets stuck (with Mabel crying "Everything is terrible forever!"), but Soos shows them a way to not only unstick the machine, but open it up so they can get all the candy they want.
  • The Buzz Lightyear of Star Command episode "Good Ol' Buzz" has XR get frustrated at a vending machine not working.
  • A minor Running Gag in DuckTales (2017) involves Gyro's enmity with an uncooperative vending machine.
    Gyro: You miserable piece of rust. I am man, you are machine! Do as I command or I will pull your plug!

    Real Life 
  • Modern vending machines all have messages warning you against tipping the machine or reaching up into it in order to free the things that are stuck there. That doesn't stop people from trying, and getting hurt in the process. These things are more top-heavy than one would maybe expect. Reportedly, each year vending machines topple over and fatally crush about 10-13 people.
  • There's a Darwin Award (or urban legend) about a guy who tried to get a free drink by cramming his arm into the machine's slot. His efforts brought the machine crashing down on him.
  • Vending machines that dispensed soda/pop in cups, rather than cans or bottles, used to be fairly common. They were notorious for malfunctioning, for example by giving you only ice or having an AWOL cup.
    • Or even better, the machine dispenses the beverage first and then drops the cup in place. Without a witness, it just looks like you are trying to scam a free drink.
  • As far as the more benign definition in the summary goes, sometimes your purchased item gets stuck in the machine. In most cases, nothing a good, strong shove won't fix.
  • The US military loses a couple of service members to this trope every year. And dozens of injuries as well.
  • Some vendors are aware of people hitting, tilting, or damaging the vending machines to get their snack if it gets stuck. To discourage this, some vending machines will dispense a second snack to push out the first one that was stuck. Sure, the person will be getting two things for the price of one, but it's a small price to pay compared to a damaged machine or a person being injured from the machine falling on top of them.
  • Vending machines in Canada that lack card readers can be truly brutal to coax food out of owing to the Canadian government's constant minting and issuing of new special or commemorative quarters, loonies, and toonies (one dollar and two dollar coins for those of you who live elsewhere). Try as you might, vending machines will utterly refuse to accept these due to minute differences in weight and pattern that are enough to trip the device's anti-scam protections.
    • This can also happen around the world with ordinary coins and banknotes, depending on how the acceptor mechanism has been programmed by the vending machine owner or operator. In the USA, you're usually hard out of luck if you show up to a vending machine with only bills larger than a $10 in your pocket, but you're especially unlikely to get your desired snack if you try to pay with a $2 - despite the fact that many acceptor mechanisms have a switch to enable any bill, including the $2, most of the time the switch is turned off, since most operators it's unlikely such a customer would show up to the machine.


Video Example(s):


Die-O-Rama #30: Heavy Metal

In one Die-O-Rama, Crash attempts to get a drink from a vending machine, only to get nothing from it (he doesn't seem to realise that he has to press a button to dispense a drink). He jumps on it and rocks it, only for it to fall on him and crush him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / VengefulVendingMachine

Media sources:

Main / VengefulVendingMachine