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"Roger, I told you - no food for a month!"

"Fine! Then go ahead and STARVE!!!!!"

So a character has apparently said and/or done something to anger an authority figure. What's the best course of action to take? Why, punish them by depriving them of either breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three meals together, of course!

Withholding food is also used by villains to punish prisoners who are uncooperative, when the prisoners don't go for I'm Not Hungry first. (The exact opposite punishment is Force Feeding.) And, of course, servants may be threatened with this by their masters in order to keep them in line.

One of the earliest examples of this trope is the Greek myth of Tantalos, making this Older Than Feudalism. After feeling jilted by the gods, Tantalus invited them over for a meal at his palace, where he fed his own children to them as revenge. Disgusted, the gods sent him to eternal punishment in the underworld. He would stand in a pool of water with a grape vine overhead—but whenever he tried to drink or eat, the water and grapes would move beyond his reach, making him suffer eternal of thirst and hunger (hence, the word "tantalize").

Compare the Lysistrata Gambit, which is the denial of something else that people hunger for.

Sometimes done if a character is enduring Cinderella Circumstances.

Examples of Denied Food as Punishment include:

Anime & Manga

  • Zero no Tsukaima: Louise punished her familiar Saito like this whenever he roused her temper, which was often, and also threatened to take away his meals as a way to prevent him from disobeying her orders.
  • Angel Beats: The failure of Operation High Tension Syndrome results in this, and the starvation period is a week, even the strongest of SSS died, but they should be fine.
  • In One Piece, the Navy (and Koby), salute Luffy and Zoro as they sail off. One of them decides, "As punishment, no dinner for a week!" because they allowed pirates to escape.
    • Earlier, Zoro agreed to the terms Helmeppo set that he would starve for a month to protect a little girl.
  • Subverted in Naruto, in which Kakashi holds a "bell test" for the three members of his team, with the one who doesn't get a bell being tied to the stump, denied lunch, and sent back to the academy. The trick is to work together in spite of the circumstances, but none of the three realize this, and Naruto tries to cheat but gets tied to the stump for trying this. Kakashi then tells them that he'll give them another chance if Sakura and Sasuke don't feed Naruto... but each one gives him part of their lunches anyway, so he reveals that this test shows that the rules are less important than teamwork, and passes all three.
  • Madame St. Paul, Picolet Chardin III's instructor in Ranma ½, forbids Ranma from eating "ungracefully"—that is, using her hands. The Chardin Family school of Martial Arts Dining thinks it demeaning to a)use your hands to eat, and b) to be seen eating, hence why they use their chameleon-like tongues to eat food in the blink of an eye. If Ranma can't do that, then she isn't allowed to eat anything until she learns. Then Ranma undergoes a severe training regimen, and turns down Akane's offers for food on the grounds that it would be admitting defeat. She nearly starves to death.
  • In Gakuen Alice, no-star students (who are generally misbehaved) are given a measly portion of food, where 3-star students are treated to an extravagant feast.
  • In Mirai Nikki Yuno had control-freak parents who measured everything she did from how many hours she got to sleep to how many calories she had a day. They also kept her in a cage and starved her in an effort to raise her to be a model person. As a result, Yuno fatally snapped on them via finding a way to lock them into said cage and try getting them to acknowledge how much they abused her... and since they didn't, she starved them to death.
  • Taken to a new level in Speed Grapher, where Kagura Tennozou goes to school with empty lunch boxes thanks to her abusive mother Shinsen, and collapses of hunger at least once.
  • Austria of Axis Powers Hetalia was a very strict Parental Substitute to Chibitalia, and one of his punishments when he either messed up or was a Mouthy Kid was this.
  • Occurs in Kaze to Ki no Uta after a teacher discovers students having a fight and making a mess in a room.
  • In Yumeria, Tomokazu is denied dinner after making Mone cry, even though he apologized.
  • In Nichijou, Nano often threatens this to the professor, a very young child who created her, due to her experiments or attempts to blame their talking cat, Sakamoto. It doesn't work very well however, as Nano either forgets about the punishment, or simply forgives her.
  • In Sekirei, Miya often threatens to do this to Seo, especially if he refuses to help the main characters. She will also sometimes use this threat on Matsu when the latter is getting a little too friendly with Minato, and by extension, Minato, even if though he's completely innocent in those cases.
  • Inverted in one episode of Kirby: Right Back at Ya. After King Dedede and Escargoon's attempts at sabotaging Kirby's newfound cooking career was foiled, the denizens of Dreamland decide that, as punishment, both of them are required to eat some curry. King Dedede and Escargoon figure that it doesn't seem to be too much of a punishment. Let's just say they were very wrong in their assumptions.[1]
  • In GoLion, when Prince Sincline "drops by" to mock his prisoner Princess Amue, he comments that even after she's barely been given any food ever after she was captured, she still looks beautiful. Voltron, unsurprisingly, tones the line down and has Lotor simply say that Romelle looks beautiful even when she's been locked in a cold cell.
  • In the first chapter of The Kabocha Wine, Shunsuke is caught in his school's girls' dormitory; Natsumi, who got him there to patch up his sprained foot, is punished with no dinner for that night as a result. Shunsuke still sneaks back into the dorm to secretly give her some red-bean paste bread.

Comic Books

  • In one Batman flashback to before the death of the Waynes, they send Bruce to bed without supper for reading a comic book. Alfred secretly brings a tray of food to the boy ... just slightly ahead of Thomas Wayne, who was doing the same thing.
  • Subverted in a Mad Magazine parody of The Shining. Dinny's father chases him down with an axe at the climax, telling him that he's been a naughty boy. Dinny asks him why he doesn't send him to bed without supper like other fathers do, and the father points out that with the fact that frozen food is the only thing to eat at the hotel, that would be a reward.
  • In Neil Gaiman's 1602, this is a punishment Doom uses to train his prisoners out of bad behavior.
  • Inverted in one of Disney Comics' serials for Teacher's Pet. After Spot, or more accurately Scott, accuses the school cafeteria of feeding them dogfood, and trying to find proof via the last meal he ate before then (only to discover that he was fed Corned Hash by mistake, with the implication that that was the actual meal the cafeteria had been serving that day), the principal tells the kids that, to prove they weren't serving dogfood, he's going to make Scott eat plenty of it. Of course, Scott, being a dog in student's clothing, just chows the whole thing up to everyone's shock (and it's implied that he had to take a test anyways).

Fan Fiction

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon gets no lunch from his parents when he's grounded for fighting at school. The SOS Brigade gives him food anyway.
  • Happens in The Strange Change of Veruca Salt as her father sent her to bed without dinner. Katherine the next nights, and once again before her thirteenth birthday over the essay incident.


  • Home Alone: Kevin gets angry at his brother Buzz and shoves him into some drinks which spill over, creating a mess in the kitchen. Chaos thus ensues among the family, and everyone directs their anger towards Kevin. As a result, Kevin's mother makes him sleep in the attic (Kevin is scared of the attic) without dinner.
  • In The Worst Witch TV film adaptation, Miss Cackle sends Mildred straight to bed without supper after wrecking the broomstick display. She isn't sadistic though, in fact earlier in the film when Mildred is sent to her office she doesn't act nasty at all.
  • In Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, the pastor punishes two of his children by denying food to the whole family - that is, the other children, the mother and himself.
  • Ken Watanabe in Letters From Iwo Jima does this as an intervention - the culprits were being whipped at the time.
  • In Nanny McPhee, the father tries this on his unruly children at the very beginning. It doesn't work—the kids simply sneak down to the kitchen for a raid.
  • In Antz, Azteca is denied her rations for a day after standing up to the foreman on behalf of her new co-worker, Weaver.
  • In The Saint, as punishment for Simon's refusing to answer to the religiously themed name arbitrarily given to him by the priests at his orphanage (even when whipped), not only was he not given dinner, every other boy in the orphanage wasn't given dinner as well. Simon waited until the priests left, picked the lock to the pantry, and then the boys helped themselves.
  • In The Sixth Sense, Cole is sent away from the table after barely touching his dinner. He would not confess to his mother that he took her brooch. He was telling the truth though, it was a ghost that kept stealing it.
  • In The King's Speech, Berty mentions that his first nanny favoured his brother over him. While she dressed and treated his brother well, she would pinch Berty before presenting him to their parents, then deny him food to "punish" him for crying.
  • In A Few Good Men, it is mentioned at one point that Lt. Kendrick had placed a misbehaving Marine Private on "barracks restriction" where he was confined to his barracks and given nothing but water and vitamin supplements for a week.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy suggests that she be sent to bed without supper for letting Toto go into Miss Gulch's garden rather than have Toto be put down.
  • Happens in Welcome to the Dollhouse when Dawn has no dessert for saying that she hates her sister, Missy. She is forced into bed several hours later, and her family doesn't like her.



 Oliver: Please sir. May I have some more?

Workhouse Master: MORE?!?!?

    • In this case, the part about not getting enough food is not intended as a punishment, it's just the way the orphanage is run. The punishment is that Oliver is sold into what amounts to slavery (at least, that's the Workhouse Master's intent; it doesn't work out quite that badly for him).
  • In the beginning of Law Of The Wolf Tower, the first book in the Claidi Journal series by Tanith Lee, Claidi works at a place called House as a servant for Lady Jade Leaf, who punishes Claidi and her fellow maids in this way even for the most miniscule things.
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • The students at Lowood in Jane Eyre are denied their meals if they should break the school rules. For a while, they are given meager portions of food as well before the school changes for the better.
    • Jane herself was locked in a bedroom for a while without food when she stood up to her bullying cousin.
  • In Changes For Samantha: a book from the American Girl Doll collection, Samantha's friend Nellie is regularly punished by the cold headmistress and given little to no food during her stay at Coldrock House, an Orphanage of Fear.
  • In the book Emily of New Moon, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the titular Emily is punished this way on occasion by her Aunt Elizabeth.
  • Often done to Cinderella before she went off with the prince to live in his castle.
  • Another retelling of Cinderella is a book called Just Ella, in which Ella's stepmother deprives her of her meals. In the beginning at least, and she doesn't actually marry the prince considering how he turned out to be Prince Charmless.
  • In A Little Princess in one scene the teacher bans both Sara and the girl she uses as a slave from having any meals the following day after they let the other girls into their bedroom (they are forbidden from doing so)
    • During her time as a servant, Sara was ordered to go days without food. Frequently too.

 "I will attend to you tomorrow. You shall have neither breakfast, dinner, nor supper!"

"I have not had either dinner or supper today, Miss Minchin," said Sara, rather faintly.

"Then all the better. You will have something to remember."

  • In the book Ella Enchanted, after Ella talks back to her teacher Sewing Mistress, the lady punishes Ella by making her skip both dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.
    • Made even worse by the fact that she had been denied food throughout the journey to the school because of a spiteful girl she was traveling with.
  • In one of the Adventures Of The Wishing Chair stories, Mollie and Peter are both sent to bed without dinner by their mother after they vandalize the titular chair.
  • In Harry Potter:

 Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go--cupboard--stay--no meals," before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy.

    • For most of his childhood with the Dursleys, Harry received this punishment.
    • The first movie largely retained this scene, with one notable difference: Vernon merely threatens to leave Harry with no meals for a week if the latter were to engage in "funny business" (a euphemism towards magic) just prior to departing to the zoo as part of Dudley's birthday, though it was very clearly implied he made good with his threat after Harry not only released the Burmese Python from its cage by causing the glass to disappear, but also managed to trap Dudley inside the cage in the process.
  • Phineas from Jason and the Argonauts who Zeus punished by having his harpies defile his food.
  • In Mount Vernon Love Story, Martha Washington halfheartedly tries this, sending her son to bed without dinner after he pulls a prank that has the entire neighborhood searching for him—but still leaving him an elaborate tray of bread, jam, and milk, just in case he gets too hungry. It's still a great concession for her, as she mostly lets him run wild, since his two older siblings have already died, and his younger sister is sickly. For his part, George (yes, that one) comes up to his room and asks Jacky to go ahead and punish himself, since his mother won't. Being George Washington, it works.
  • In The House on the Cliff, the smugglers who are holding the boys' dad hostage are also starving him in a vain attempt to get him to go along with their plan.
  • In Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, the children's grandmother tries to invoke this when Sammy disobeys her, but Dicey points out going to bed without dinner wouldn't be much of a punishment because he already knows what it's like to go hungry due to having lived on the run and a tiny food budget for months prior.
  • In Furnace: Lockdown, the teenage inmates are denied access to the dining hall as punishment for rioting.
  • In Louisa May Alcott's short story The Children's Joke, the children and parents reverse roles for a day, and the son sends his father away from the table without his breakfast as a punishment for being late; it's implied that the father has punished his son in this way many times, but having it done to him makes him realize that it's a harsher consequence than he realized. His mother (the children's grandmother) slips him a muffin later, implying that she also mitigates the children's punishments in this way.
  • Sometimes done with hares in the Redwall series, usually for having eaten too much food in the first place. This rarely ends well. Also seen sometimes with slaves in the series.
    • This actually nearly got a character killed in Triss. After the hare in question (who had already been in trouble twice for eating food that belonged to other people) eats a trifle that the Dibbuns were supposed to get as a prize for winning a contest, the abbot makes him clean the abbey from top to bottom, with only lettuce and water for food. The hare then loads up a haversack full to bursting with food, and leaves. He then gets caught by the villains and has to be rescued.
  • In his autobiography A Child Called "It", Dave Peltzer claims his mother did this to him persistently, as arbitrary punishment for the slightest disobedience of her control freak insanity.
  • In All of a Kind Family, Sarah refuses to eat her rice soup at lunch and as a result is denied anything else to eat for the rest of the day until she gives in and eats the soup.
  • In Malevil, this is the favorite punishment of the evil priest Fulbert, especially as he tricked the town into letting him watch the food supplies after the Apocalypse.
  • In Anne of Green Gables, Marilla thinks this idea is ridiculous.
    • In Rainbow Valley, Una Meridith does this to herself. This results in her fainting in church, forcing her father to finally see that something is dreadfully wrong with his kids.
  • This was done to Danglars in The Count of Monte Cristo as a way to force him to return the money he stole from Edmond.
  • Once Ella from Ella Enchanted falls into the hands of the terrible Hattie, who is in the habit of issuing commands and realizes in the coach to finishing school that Ella always obeys, she starts being starved. By the time they actually get to the school, Hattie hasn't let her eat for days, and then she gets sent to bed without supper for being bad at embroidery. Areeda sneaks her some puffy rolls:

 "More air than substance, but more substance than I'd had in days."


Live Action TV

  • Sheridan in Babylon 5 was uncooperative to the interrogator. As a result, he was denied intravenous nourishment.
  • Dr. House's father would make him go without food if he was ever a tiny bit late for a meal when he was a kid. Which is just one example of House's father's abusive parenting. No wonder he's so messed up.
  • Inverted in Battlestar Galactica, when Baltar offers Gina food, assuring her he's not going to take it away at the last second. Gina, a raped and tortured Cylon prisoner, had been refusing to eat in an effort to kill herself. Baltar realises he's got across to her when she reaches over and takes a piece of food from the plate.
  • This is a frequent trope found in reality shows, especially residential ones such as Big Brother.
  • This happens in an episode of ROY.
  • Trope taken to the extreme in I, Claudius (BBC historical series). Mother Antonia punishes daughter Livilla this way in an early episode. In a later one, grown-up Livilla poisons her husband. Antonia finds out and locks her in a room to starve to death. Those fun-loving Romans!
  • A different version appears in My Wife and Kids where after the children eat a pie Michael was saving for himself. They are forced to eat nothing but pie, and their mother sneaks them celery.
  • An episode of Jo Frost Extreme Parenting has the titular nanny tell a mother to use this punishment when her daughter refuses to eat her dinner.
  • Arnold Rimmer revealed early in the series that this led to his near starvation and eventual divorce from his parents when he was a teenager.
  • Apparently this was among the torture techniques employed in Roman Times until Professor Bobo burned it down.
  • The adult leader of a child street gang in Survivors uses this tactic to keep "his" kids more productive.
  • Oz. Alvarez is in solitary confinement after blinding a guard; the prison chaplain is shocked to discover the other guards have been withholding food and water from him, forcing Alvarez to drink his own urine.
  • Nehrus, a gluttonous goa'uld scientist comes to Earth claiming to help the tau'ri in Stargate SG-1. When he's revealed to be a traitor, he is locked up in Area 51. He asks Landry what will get him to cooperate. Landry calmly says "hunger".
  • On one episode of The Sopranos, A.J. keeps complaining about the breakfast Tony prepares until Tony takes it from him and dumps it down the garbage disposal, smilingly informing him "Now you got nothing."
  • Referenced by Drew Carey on The Price is Right when a male contestant gave a Shout-Out to The Brady Bunch.

Drew Carey: Don't forget Alice. Don't forget Alice. You'll never have dinner if you forget Alice.


  • In one episode of Roseanne, DJ lies about having smoked a cigarette in hopes that he'll be sent to his room with no dinner, desperate to avoid eating a meal that Mark cooked. Later, when it turns out Mark added some unsavory ingredients to the meal as punishment for the family continually mocking him, Dan dumped his serving onto DJ's plate in an inversion of the trope.



 On a Monday, my Momma came to see me

On a Tuesday, they caught me with a file

On a Wednesday, I'm down in solitary

On a Thursday, I start on bread and water for a while


Newspaper Comics

  • The quote above is from a 1991 FoxTrot story where Roger gets blamed for messing up Andy's computer (it was actually Jason and Paige's fault).
    • Note that Roger messes up the computer all the time; this time it was a rather spectacular accident (Diet Coke spilled into the keyboard, then an attempt to clean it up using a hairdryer).
    • Roger also was implied to have suffered this trope in another strip, where the kids got pancakes whereas he didn't (or, well, any breakfast). That time, however, he definitely deserved it (Let's just say he picked a very poor gift for Valentines Day for Andy, and that was her way of communicating it).
  • In an early Garfield strip, Jon threatened to send Garfield to bed without dinner because he said his cat food was "yucky." It backfired for obvious reasons.


Video Games

  • In Grand Theft Auto III, radio host and Deadpan Snarker Lazlo talks to Bob from Pine Creek, who treats his young son Johnny like dirt, including using this trope.

 Bob: If he left so much as one hair on the soap, it was off to bed with no dinner. And you know what? He only went to bed hungry 20, maybe 30 times. He learned!

  • In a skit toward the end of Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd notes that his adoptive father, Dirk, taught him a Dwarven Vow each day, and quizzed him at dinnertime, not allowing him to eat if he got it wrong. Regal correctly notes that Lloyd's desire for food strengthened his memory, but Colette wonders if dwarven food has special memory-enhancing ingredients.
  • In the second Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, both the player and their partner are denied dinner on one occasion not being able to restock the Guildmaster's supply of Perfect Apples (the only food he will eat). The only problem? They were framed. Fortunately, a few friends of the player and partner compiled parts of their dinners together so that the two got a meal the next morning. (Though you could have apples in storage)
  • Inverted in Banjo Tooie. Mrs. Bottles ends up forcing Bottles to eat a heavily burnt meal after he was late for dinner, and Mrs. Bottles is implied to not believe Bottle's sound alibi of having just been resurrected from the dead until meeting Klungo and King Jingaling.
    • A similar inversion occurs in Mario and Luigi Bowsers Inside Story. Bowser attempts to steal a giant carrot as an adequate substitute for a Banzai Bill in order to attack his castle. However, a Wiggler catches him red-handed, and forces him to eat said carrot in under a minute as punishment. This of course massively backfires on the Wiggler thanks largely to Mario and Luigi helping him from the inside.
    • Also inverted in Bart Simpson Escapes From Camp Deadly. During the mess hall levels, Bart is forced to defend himself from his murderous fellow campers by hurling inedible food. If Bart gets caught by one of the overseers, a whistle is blown by the overseer, and Bart is then forced to eat all the food he stocked up as punishment for throwing food. The campsite rules board before the first mess hall level even lampshades this by saying "You Throw It, You Eat It."

Web Comics

  • Order of the Stick: Team Evil feed the captive O-Chul "a small bowl of watery gruel". Luckily, the Monster in the Darkness shares his stew.
  • Parodied in El Goonish Shive. Since Elliot lied to his parents about sleeping over at Tedd's house, (never mind that he snuck into a government facility and created a female duplicate of himself) they initially decide not to give him any dessert that night but then downgrade it to only giving him one brownie as dessert.
    • Nanase's mother denies Nanase dessert after the poor girl explodes—they were already eating dinner, so she couldn't very well tell Nanase to vomit up what she'd already ate. Her sister sneaks her some cookies.

Western Animation

  • Angelica from Rugrats had this happen to her on one occasion after throwing her dinner plate against the wall.
  • If she doesn't eat with me, then she doesn't eat at all!. Though Beast didn't really bother to enforce it. Belle gets her dinner from the servants right when she felt a bit hungry.
  • This happens to Bart in one episode of The Simpsons when Marge decides he needs to be disciplined more, although Homer does ruin it by sneaking him some pizza.
    • Also happened in Bart versus Thanksgiving when he is sent to his room without Thanksgiving dinner for destroying Lisa's centerpiece. He sneaks out and gets a meal at the homeless shelter.
    • Also, while technically it's a beverage and not food, in the episode where Bart (attempts to) shoplift a video game Homer proposes as one of his punishments: "No eggnog. In fact, no nog period."
  • On Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Bloo tries to get sent to bed without supper on purpose after finding out that Frankie is making "it", an indescribable dish he finds unappetizing.
    • And because Bloo is a moderate Jerkass, he Can't Get in Trouble For Nuthin' and somehow manages to get everyone in the entire house sent to their room without supper. So Frankie takes particular delight in dumping the entire bowl of "it" onto Bloo's plate, since he's the only one left who hasn't "gotten in trouble".
  • Happened at least twice of Garfield and Friends"
    • In "Fair Exchange", Jon punishes Garfield for gluing Odie's head to the table by sending him to bed without his pre-bedtime-post-midnight-snack-meal (he already gave him his supper, post-supper and post-post supper snacks).
    • In "The Multiple Choice Cartoon", John punishes Garfield for catapulting Odie into the woods by (as the audience chooses) either "A: No food for a day, B: No food for a week, or C: No food until the next time Haley's Comet cruises the galaxy". The audience chooses (like all the other answers) "C".
  • Happened to Spirit in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. "No food or water, three days."
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Appa's Lost Days," this is one of the punishments used by the cruel animal trainer in an attempt to break Appa into a circus performer. Since Appa is an airbender who can suck food into his cage, this doesn't work so well.
  • Hey Arnold did this to the one character that didn't deserve it at all - Helga. One wonders how she even manages to survive by eating cereal for dinner and a complete lunch of "An individual package of crackers, moist towelettes and shaving cream", not to mention that her mom forgets to either buy food or leaves the grocery bags on the roof of the car. But in the Thanksgiving episode this trope is invoked on her when she declares that she has nothing to be thankful for while at the table.

  Big Bob: "Alright then, little lady. You can just park your keister upstairs until you think of something you're thankful for!"

  • In Family Guy Lois once ate Meg's lunch and sent her to school with an empty lunch box purely because she's an Abusive Parent and she doesn't like her.
  • In Tom and Jerry The Movie, Robin is being raised by her Evil Aunt while her father's away in Tibet. Said Aunt verbally abuses her (she refuses to call her by name, simply calling her "Orphan," and yes, to her face), threw her mother's locket out the window, and is generally only looking after her so she can have access to the fortune Robin is entitled to. It's also implied she locks Robin in her room, and despite the huge amounts of food shown in the kitchen at one point, Robin is never given any.
  • Inverted in the Recess episode Gustler Kid: After Gus lost his business as Gustler Kid to Hustler Kid, his friends made sure to have him pay for his stunt as Gustler Kid by forcing him to eat all of those "kidlicious" bars he had been selling and then have him recite the slogan for them upon doing so.

Real Life

  • People in concentration camps were starved (and overworked) to the point of looking like skeletons.
    • However, the reasons sometimes varied. While in e.g. GULAGs and Nazi concentration camps this was played straight, in the British concentration camps (from the Boer Wars - the Ur-concentration camps), where mainly Boer civilians were kept, many starved to death because most of the time there simply wasn't enough foodstuff to go around. Later concentration camps exploited this misfortune.
    • In GULAGs specifically, this was a Morton's Fork situation. The rations were brutally low to begin with, but increased with your productivity. However, the amount of productivity you needed kept increasing as well, and the rewards could not possibly replace the calories you burned earning it, leaving every prisoner in a vicious cycle.
  • Prisoners in general often had their rations diminished for misbehavior. While not as widely used nowadays because of health concerns, it still happens in places.
    • A common form of punishment in prisons is "food loaf restriction". The meal the prisoner would be served would be served is mixed up in a blender and baked into a loaf. It has the same nutritional value as a meal, but doesn't taste very good. Dessert is a privilege to be earned. Incidentally, guards and prisoners eat the same thing, only guards can go back for seconds if they want.
  • This used to be a fairly common punishment for misbehaving military personnel, regardless of country. Nowadays, the most common punishments are forfeiture of pay, extra duty, and restriction of privileges.
  • It used to be that if a Papal Conclave took too long to decide on a new Pope, Cardinal-Electors would be put on a diet of bread and water until the white smoke blew. This regulation is still technically on the books, but no conclave has dragged on long enough to trigger that provision in a very long time.
    • This is somewhat surprising, as past elections have dragged on well after food actually was denied. The longest-ever conclave, 1268-1271 (that's right, it took them almost three years) was only ended after the people of Viterbo (where the election was held) decided to remove the roof of the palace where the cardinals were meeting.
  • Sending a misbehaving child to bed without supper is a popular disciplinary action for many parents.
    • This is frequently joked about, with the punchline being that this wasn't much of a punishment because the joke-teller's mother was a terrible cook. Or another family member will take pity on the child and covertly sneak food into their bedroom—the child being already aware that this might happen prevents it from being an especially effective punishment.
  • The judge in Texas who sentenced a woman to spend the first few days of her animal cruelty prison sentence on a bread and water diet as a reminder of how she'd starved the horses. (after the initial round of news articles, it also showed up on Animal Planet's Animal Cops Houston.)
  1. Turns out the "curry" was the Superspicy Curry from Kirby's Dream Land as well as the Super Smash Bros. series.