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Sadist Show / Live-Action TV

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  • 31 Minutos is a puppet show Work Com for kids and allegedly an Edutainment Show that at points looks more like an [adult swim] parody of one. The cast is extremely flawed, ranging from annoying to downright criminally irresponsible and even just criminals. The biggest assholes seem to always have a Karma Houdini card at hand, "Shaggy Dog" Story and Broken Aesop are a given and as always, the nicest guy in the whole cast is the one who suffers the most.
  • The series Arrested Development finds its characters, particularly Michael Bluth, constantly having brief opportunities at success yanked away from them. Oftentimes, it will be the culmination of the decisions of everyone in the house working against each other to completely void any progress they may have made. The mildly likable Michael Bluth often finds that as soon as he himself is willing to be the slightest bit lax in his principles he is karmically punished, as when he condemns his family for spending their shares of company stock only to have it immediately revealed that he has used his shares to buy a new car (though, in all fairness, a car is way more useful than a boat and gaybar in a terrifying neighborhood).
  • A.N.T. Farm. While the main character isn't too bad, everyone else is either an inconsiderate jerk or a complete idiot.
  • Black Books is nothing more than an embittered Irish drunk taking out his anger and frustration on the world, usually in the form of Manny. It's good.
  • The Brit Com Bottom (as well as its spiritual predecessor The Young Ones) exists entirely so the audience can watch two only-slightly-sympathetic Loser Protagonists sharing an apartment, arguing, dreaming up Zany Schemes that inevitably fail, beating the hell out of each other, and suffering fatal injuries at least once every three episodes. Edmondson, Mayall, and Planer also joined forces for Filthy Rich & Catflap. This sort of show is really Edmondson and Mayall's specialty.
  • The Sketch Comedy series Caméra Café. The two main characters are Anti Role Models Villain Protagonists with no redeeming qualities. Everyone else is a jerk, a Chew Toy, an idiot, or all three of them. It's a show where Domestic Abuse is Played for Laughs and everybody believes Violence is the Only Option.
  • The purpose of Cheaters is to be a private investigator service for people who think their significant other is being unfaithful. Except without the "private" portion. If the SO is indeed cheating, you don't have to pay any fees for hiring the show, but you are expected to confront them and the Other (Wo)Man in public with the host and camera crew trailing behind like Ambulance Chasers, getting in the broken-hearted peoples' faces and asking, "How do you feel?" Never once have they shown an investigation that exonerated the SO or had a happy ending. Is it any wonder the host was once stabbed on-camera by an enraged man?
  • Dinner: Impossible could be fairly accurately summarized as "Food Network tries to kill Robert Irvine." Restaurant: Impossible allows him to spread the suffering around a bit more. That said, he enjoys the sadism a bit as he doesn't perform so well in other shows.
    • From the same network, a lot of the "Food Network Specials" basically consist of the audience waiting for the cake to fall over.
    • Or shows like Chopped and Cupcake Wars which is a stage-by-stage elimination show where 3 out of 4 chefs' dreams gets crushed one chef at a time.
    • Hell's Kitchen, getting eliminated early there is practically suicide for your career in the culinary field, you will be stuck working for slave wages after this at a low-quality dining place if you were eliminated early.
    • And then there's Cutthroat Kitchen, which is a show about a cooking competition where chefs strategically screw each other over.
      ... where sabotage is not only encouraged, it's for sale!
  • Much of the appeal of Dirty Jobs is seeing Mike Rowe get absolutely filthy and try (and mostly fail) to perform tasks that would make most people cringe while his hosts (who do this for a living) look on with amusement. One of the most popular episodes involves Mike getting bitten by snakes. Multiple times.
  • Everybody Hates Chris. The name speaks for itself.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond, to some extent. There are no more than token efforts to solve the Dysfunction Junction situation. Ray is a wuss when it comes to standing up to his wife and mother, although he does get better at this in the later seasons; Frank is an insensitive Jerkass; Deborah is a mean, overly angry housewife; Robert is a self-loathing whiner who expresses Wangst despite the fact that he's in his forties; and Marie is simply the personification of the devil who uses guilt to get what she wants in addition to being meddlesome.
  • Extremely common in British sitcoms, especially those which follow a "Fawlty Towers" Plot format. Fawlty Towers itself features an incredibly unpleasant hotel owner who is astonishingly rude to his staff and guests. Whilst Basil himself is a deeply unpleasant man, and he deserves everything he gets, the cruel ways in which his lies fall apart can be particularly indulgent to watch. Additionally, his wife and several of his guests are portrayed as almost as unpleasant as he is, and even more sadistic. Basil and Sybil's marriage could be a Sadist Show all on its own.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is this trope in spades. The main cast of five has virtually no redeeming qualities and their attempts to improve anything always makes it worse. Sweet Dee was originally conceived as the voice of reason, but very quickly lost that aspect of her character and is now just as horrible as the rest of them.
  • Lexx is another World Half Empty example. The characters are less than sympathetic, and while you'd kinda root for them at first, by the third season you'd wish they died in the pilot, for the entire Universe's sake. The third season tries to redeem them, but some even consider blowing up Heaven and Hell planets to deserve them the fate above. The fourth season goes to Earth, which doesn't have that much luck or sympathy either, and is destroyed chunk by chunk until it is blown up and between the survivors manage to wind up President Buffoon, the Mad Scientist partly responsible for Earth's destruction (and his Fangirls), and of course, the devil himself.
  • Malcolm in the Middle. This show has "Life is Unfair" as its slogan, after all:
    • The series is wall-to-wall power struggles and emotional warfare. The rule on that show is that whatever makes the characters (especially Malcolm) the most miserable is what will happen. The episode "Company Picnic: Part 2" has Francis's subplot ending with Francis dragged naked behind a Zamboni on a skating rink (after trying to stop getting deeper in debt to his evil employer), while Malcolm's subplot ends with him being insulted, a lot, by a girl, having a crying jag and drying his tears with poison oak.
    • There was an in-universe example of this as well... In one episode, Francis babysits his brothers and sets up a "contest" to see which brother loves him most by doing random tasks for him. This quickly devolves into a brawl, and Francis briefly cuts in, saying something to the effect of "Whoa, whoa. This was supposed to be about love, and you've turned it into something ugly! ...Carry on." He then sits down with a drink and watches his brothers fighting, saying "This, too, pleases me."
  • Married... with Children. What redeeming moments the characters had were very few and far between, and such moments were almost always the exclusive purview of Al and to a lesser extent Bud.
  • Teen soaps are prone to this half of the time, apparently to show you that some Teens Are Monsters. However, Nickelodeon's sitcoms usually leads this trope, especially Dan Schneider-created shows that employ Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male. Drake & Josh and iCarly are poster-children for Comedic Sociopathy, both having a massive Karma Houdini in the form of Megan and Sam, with their targets Drake & Josh, and Freddie respectively.
  • Although largely downplayed, the entire premise behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 is that a man is stranded in space by a couple of mad scientists and forced to watch bad movies until he goes insane. The whole thing is played for laughs of course, but some of the movies are truly punishing.
  • Næturvaktin/Dagvaktin/Fangavaktin/Bjarnfredarson are about a Dysfunction Junction Comic Trio unintentionally (and occasionally intentionally) making each other's lives worse in a Crapsack World. Dagvaktin is the most extreme, dealing with the cast committing or enduring rape, murder, and child abuse, as well as embarking upon a Mushroom Samba and breaking the index finger of a Jerkass surgeon with million-dollar hand insurance.
  • The humor in the BBC TV series The Office (UK) and Extras comes from the continual humiliation of the main characters, especially the second series of Extras. The US adaptation will occasionally flirt with this, but seldom rely on it. The same goes for The IT Crowd, often in a big way.
  • 1000 Ways to Die lives and breathes this trope, featuring the most disgusting excuses for human beings dying in a number of strange ways for the audience's amusement.
    • Averted for the first season, which had a more suspenseful tone, with the victims being killed by the negligence of another person.
  • Ooh La La Couple, a 2012 Korean Drama, constantly has its characters in awkwardly funny situations that should generally be serious and heartbreaking, but are juxtaposed to hilarious reactions.
  • Peep Show is another Brit Com to fit this trope, a cringingly awkward black comedy following, once again, two only-slightly-sympathetic Loser Protagonists as they ruin their own chances in life and love.
  • Queen for a Day is a show in which five female contestants describe in excruciating detail their horrible Real Life problems (such as deaths in the family, cancer, job loss, poverty, homelessness, even mental illness) in order to win prizes, the host often doing some jokes to avoid things from getting sour, with the only result often being that the audience had no chance but laugh at their predicaments. When the winner was announced, the other contestants have ushered off the stage and were given nothing, not even bus fare home.note  This passed for family entertainment for twenty years on American TV.
  • Seinfeld was practically built around this idea. "No hugging, no learning" was the mantra in the show's formative years.
  • All the fans watch Supernatural to see the Winchesters suffer and see how Dean will fall apart this week (except for the portion of the fandom that thinks Dean is a saint). And everyone loves to watch Sam and Dean cry. Lampshaded by an In-Universe fan of the Supernatural books, who points out that the best moments are when the boys cry. Dean is very annoyed.
  • Strike It Rich: The contestants that did not win were given nothing, often having to rely on charities (although viewers were urged to call a hotline if they desired to help them). An issue of TV Guide called it "a despicable travesty on the very nature of charity.", which came out as very strong criticism at the time. The late 1950s game show It Could Be You, in which women were prized for embarrassing situations and were given comically useless gifts, was basically a jab at the show.
  • The Thick of It is a relentlessly cynical, sadistic show about dirty cowards and a near Villain Protagonist. The characters who aren't self-serving and malicious are hideously incompetent, and they all inhabit a realm where idealism goes to die.
  • Almost every character in Two and a Half Men is a Jerkass or becomes one and never receives any comeuppance for their actions (which sometimes cross over into criminality). The few characters that are decent or half-decent are constantly abused for it. Alan is an obvious example, he's abused by everyone around him and only ever catches a break after he Took a Level in Jerkass.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Not only do wizards have to give up their powers and fight their siblings to be the only one in the family to keep them forever, but even Alex, Justin and Max Russo, the main trio of siblings in the show, have been shown to be sadists themselves who will joke about killing someone for holding a revolution to make sure no wizard ever has to give up their powers and consider them "evil" for doing it.note 
  • Every episode of World's Dumbest... features the commentators poking fun at 20 complete idiots either being humiliated or ending up hurt/damaging property, or the celebrity panelists' "rock-bottom" moments.