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File:Sadist 7860.jpg

Life is funny...if you enjoy pain.

"What I see here is a dozen people, all trying to make each other miserable. You disgust me, but it's also faintly amusing. Carry on."
Quote from an attorney in a Dutch court (translated)

There's a German word, Schadenfreude. It means "the joy you get at seeing other people's misfortune" (Schaden = "damage", Freude = "joy"). The Sadist Show is built on it. In this kind of show, there are no sympathetic characters whatsoever, and nobody will ever Pet the Dog. Everybody is both obnoxious and incompetent, beyond even the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist — the audience can't really root for them. The fun is in seeing the characters suffer more than they deserve, more than Job, more than possibly everybody in the history of the human race combined. In short, it's a comedy, but not in the Shakespearean sense.

And not just any old misfortune, like getting an Anvil on Head. The agony in a Sadist Show is a very sharp kind, the one that reminds you how totally unfair life is. It isn't a Sadist Show unless the characters suffer the very opposite of poetic justice. For instance, if our Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist has been mugged, that's not enough. If the poor dope runs to report the mugging, and is arrested for jaywalking, and has to sit in jail while the mugger walks past their cell every day, that's the Sadist Show.

Sometimes, there will be a character who the audience kind of sort of roots for, but not really. One form is the "No Respect" Guy (like Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force) who tries to act decent but fails. However, the audience doesn't exactly root for them, because they're so ineffective, and they're usually a bit of a stick in the mud too. Another form is a Heroic Sociopath, who is as vile as the rest of the cast, but is at least competent (like Brock Sampson from The Venture Brothers). But they're too evil to really cheer for, and how sympathetic can they be if they're stuck with the rest of these losers? The Venture Brothers, with its emphasis on failure, reminds us that Brock may be competent, but he's in a pointless dead-end gig, and one that he is so over-qualified for that it's humiliating.

Note that this can be somewhat subjective, depending on how sympathetic and/or interesting one finds a character, a cast, or a situation.

This kind of show almost always has Negative Continuity, so the writers can inflict any kind of torment they like (including killing them off over and over again) without affecting future episodes.

Often overlaps with the Gross-Out Show. May be the result, cause or overlap a World Half Empty. Essentially the basic premise of a Dark Fic. Compare Kafka Komedy. Compare and contrast Point and Laugh Show (Real Life Jerk Asses, but dispensing with the torture in favor of just laughing at their existence). Home sweet home for the Lethal Klutz.


Anime and Manga/Asian Animation

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion plays this for drama.
  • Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu. Guu uses her logic-defying powers just to fuck Hare's life up. His mother is not much nicer to him. Seriously, asking him if he saved his game, and then turning it off for no apparent reason? He never knew his father most of his life, and it turns out that it was the school doctor, who looks at pornography and hates him with a passion.
  • Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt: It's like Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi meets South Park meets The Powerpuff Girls, Japanese Anime Style.
  • Pick a harem series. Any. You'll be lucky if it isn't this trope.
  • School Days. Maybe the ONLY harem series that takes itself seriously.
    • Sn****r.
  • Ultimate Girls. UFO Man has revived three girls by sacrificing much of his own life force, so now they're in charge of protecting Tokyo. Oh, but growing 50 feet tall is only half of this show. While most fellow fanservice shows just feature embarrassment as a natural emotion of being seen naked, this show actively goes out of its way to utterly humiliate the protagonists. It's not enough that embarrassment becomes the girls' power source as their magical spandex wears out (very quickly). Oh no. When they revert back to their normal size, they don't even get their clothes back, even though said embarrassment has already served its purpose.
  • Lucky Star, somewhat. While a lot of it is fluff and cuteness, the girls do tend to find themselves in awkward situations much of the time. Examples? Tsukasa having no say when Konata and Kagami go to see a slasher movie, the three girls (not much later in the same episode) finding themselves in a jam at a cake buffet, Miyuki missing a dentist appointment while waiting inside the lobby, Yui barging in drunk just when Konata and Soujiro are about to have a nice, heartwarming moment, more than one instance of Kuroi-sensei appearing online and telling Konata to go study instead of gaming, Konata scaring Tsukasa while they're sleeping at the beachhouse, and let's not even get started on Hiyori or the Lucky Channel segments!
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The titular character is God! Absolutely everything has to go her way, at all costs. And that's mainly so that she can fondle Mikuru and treat her as her dress-up doll as much as she wants to. The last episode is all about that. (Kyon is better off than Mikuru, but not much.)
  • Alien Nine. Yuri got chosen for the Alien Party completely against her will. And there is no way out of it for her (except maybe killing herself).
  • Grrl Power! One half-hour OAV which focuses on convincing this one guy to go to school. How do the girls do it? Set him up for all kinds of miserable tasks, and when he asks for payment, explain that it's not a part-time job. The girls are saving up to set up a new country at some island. Oh, and there's also this one man who the girls refuse to do a damn thing for, for no explained reason, even though they make a point of helping everyone else who can pay up.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The rules of the universe were made specifically to make all girls who contract with Kyubey as miserable as possible for the rest of their lives. Those last five words take on a whole new meaning too: It means they'll become witches once they lose all hope for life, if they don't get killed by any first.
  • Blood C: Chances are if you're not an ally of the Big Bad or Saya, prepare to die horribly.
  • Popee the Performer: It can best be described as Looney Tunes meets David Lynch while taking place at a circus. And that's not even getting into the protagonist and what he does to his crew.
  • Speaking of Popee, the same makers created another "lovely" series: Funny Pets. The titular Funny is very rude and apathetic to her friends and easy to trigger, Crescent is frequently abused by Funny for minuscule reasons, and Corona behaves like a spoiled brat and always gets his way.
  • All characters in the movie version of X1999 die either in the first 5 minutes after they're introduced or at least before the end of the movie.
  • Love Hina. Everything bad that happens to the main protaganist is meant to be funny. Not many people find it to be funny at all.
  • Girls Bravo takes that to the point where its own protagonist becomes allergic to females.
  • Excel Saga. Everything Il Palazzo assigns to his henchgirls ends up in failure, Hyatt is so ill that she continually dies and comes back to life, all of Menchi's attempts to escape Excel's ownership end in failure, Mr. Pedro lost ties with his family to Gomez, Nabeshin is prone to lose loved ones only moments after he reunites with them, and Excel's neighbors are led by one hell of an iron-fisted bitch.
  • Amazing Nurse Nanako. One of the few shows starring a female Butt Monkey. And it's played for laughs, too.
  • Its Not My Fault That I Am Not Popular, the semi-real tales of a mangaka who went through a lot of humiliation and abuse.
  • Keroro Gunsou. Being a space frog with inferiority complex, while trying to take over Earth, only to be at the mercy of the pink-haired Natsumi Hinata, who you live under and forces you to do chores can suck big time.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist, considering everything that has happened to the Elric brothers and the people they have to associate with, especially the State Military of Ametris.
  • Nyan Koi!: The main character, Junpei Kousaka, is deathly allergic to cats and does everything he can to keep away from them, but both his mother and sister love cats so much that they keep one around the house constantly, even lets the cat on the dining table, and treat his cat allergies as petty whining. Junpei also suffers abuse from everyone else around him, is surrounded by people who loves cats, is mocked by his own classmates, occasionally gets treated like a pervert and beaten up for it, and not helping the accusations are smarter than average cats who seem to enjoy making his life hell. That's not even mentioning the Guardian Deity of Cats who cursed Junpei into doing 100 good deeds for cats, or he will be turned into one himself and possibly die from the full-body allergic reaction.
  • Paranoia Agent. This applies to the lives of nearly every main character that is featured in each episode, up until Lil' Slugger comes by and puts them out of their misery.
  • Jigoku Shoujo. That. is. all.
  • D. Grayman's Allen Walker is the universe's chew toy whose rather depressing life is played off for laughs.
  • Grand Blue: Most of the humor comes from each character screwing each other over.
  • Daily Lives Of High School Boys. About every female character here is a deranged psychopath, except for Yassan, who is just a terrifying stalker. It's played for laughs, too.
  • Ranma 1/2 has the women frequently bitch and scheme at each other while Ranma is mainly smacked around.
  • Stay clear of Cool Devices if you're not aroused by raped and killed women.
  • Welcome To The N.H.K. (how 'bout not). The loser protagonist gets himself into a jam a lot and his friends are not successful in making the problem settle (worst, his female friend is suicidal).
  • The first half of Eureka Seven, because the protagonist suffers for no reason for no fault of his own, to the point that viewers and fans asked to tone his torment down.
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan: Geez!! Whiz!! We have a magical girl who repeatedly kills this guy, and an angel who also wants to kill him because he's going to invent immortality for women so that they look younger. So, everyone decides he's a pedophile.
  • When you think about Crayon Shin-chan, it's about toddler Shin getting into zany weirdness all the way. His parents and friends are not much better off, though.
  • The Chinese series Kuang Kuang. Jesus! There's more than one reason as to why it's banned. To sum it up, it's a primary student who's tortured and mutilated (graphically!!) for being decent. Thankfully, one girl in his class and his parents likes him.
  • Super Cruel and Terrible Tales of Mangaka. It's a semi-documentary manga about the lives of typical down-on-their-luck mangaka, and it's darkly hilarious: between dysfunctional workplace, overbearing editor, and general sad state of the manga industry in Japan, it comes out as something that is genuinely funny. For example, one of the mangaka just lost his position in a prestigious magazine and is forced to draw for no-name hentai publication for a shitty amount of money. To avoid unwanted children he can't afford to raise, he force his wife to only do oral. This in turn make the wife sick of him, and she abandoned her. The mangaka is now jobless and gets no sex at all. Hahaha!


  • The comics in Mad Magazine featuring Monroe, a whiny, ugly teenage loser. His stories often end with something nasty and painful being done to him.
  • Also Mad's Spy vs. Spy by Prohias. Unlike in the golden age cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, one of the two spies always died a horrible death.
  • Ziggy, the titular character is always getting the short end of the stick, and the other human characters he comes across are sarcastic and indifferent towards him at best, and cruel to him at worst. No wonder he only has animals as friends-- but then again his pet parrot Josh isn't all that nice to him either.
  • Funky Winkerbean started as a standard humor comic strip, and eventually morphed into a treatise on existential despair and the futility of life.
  • Spider-Man can tend this way, Depending on the Writer. At the best of times, writers make sure to show how his superheroic life makes his mundane life more difficult. At the nasty end of the scale, he can't keep a girlfriend (or wife), job, or residence; he's roundly hated and on the run from both the police, the mob, and a veritable army of Super Villains; all of his friends are dead, insane, on drugs, insane AND on drugs, or refuse to take his phone calls because he's so unreliable; and he intermittently suffers injuries, power fluctuations, web-fluid shortages, and costume damage. And at one point, his heroism winds up killing him!
    • How pathetic can it get? There was a three issue run in the early 90s where, because Peter had been so busy with superheroics and his mundane life, he forgot to do laundry and had to fight crime in a dirty, slightly mildewed costume. Everyone he encountered commented on the smell and made remarks about his personal hygiene.
  • Life in Hell. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Garfield. Lots of the humor revolves around Garfield, Jon, and Odie (usually the latter two) being injured. In one strip, Garfield kicks Odie off the table, then drops a freaking vase on him.
  • Hagar the Horrible, particularly when the titular character deals with his wife Helga.
  • Empowered: Poor Emp is stuck with a suit that is only good at full power and when she's at her most confident...of which she rarely is and the suit is very fragile to boot. What's more she can't wear any clothing under it, so she often finds herself humiliated because of it. Add to the fact that her so called teammates are largely jerkasses to her and you'll start wondering exactly how these people can even be considered superheroes.
  • Baby Blues, mainly for the parents.
  • Zits, for both the parents (whose teenage son drives them crazy), and for said son (whom they deliberately humiliate, as if that's an acceptable way to run any relationship). Though, to they're credit, at least they're not nearly as abusive as Monroe's parents.
  • Peanuts. Everything that happens to Charlie Brown. Linus is not much better off, having such a tyrannical big sister as Lucy.
  • The Lockhorns. Their last name says it all: They argue and berate each other about everything.


  • Final Destination. Fuck your will to live, you're gonna die no matter what. Very, very, horrifically! Manage to ruin Death's plans? He'll just knock on your door again when you least expect it. Who's willing to bet that, to top it all off, Death's victims will spend the rest of eternity in hell for no reason?
  • Big Bully. So, if you've tattled on your childhood bully, he gets sent away to reform school, and you get to move away and live a happy life where you can be a successful novelist, right? Nope. People are more interested in the new Stephen King book, you're divorced, your son hates you because of that, and that childhood bully is back, and he can get away with messing with your life again, as good things happen to him.
  • Meet the Parents and its sequels have one thing after another go wrong for Ben Stiller's character. Even after his happy ending in the first movie, he is embarrassed once more during the credits.
  • The Muppets. Have you ever seen a group of characters get shat upon as badly as Kermit and the gang does in this movie? Even the ending is more or less a depressingly unhappy one.
  • Pretty much any of Paul Verhoeven's movies. Even the 'heroes' are unlikeable and amoral, tending to use sex as a weapon against others. Bad things happen to his characters, and you can't really find a reason to care. (The SFX are usually pretty entertaining, though.)
  • The Passion of the Christ: Subverted in South Park, "it only shows a man being tortured for 2 hours".
  • Shark Tale is rather huge on this trope. The main character is a Butt Monkey because his mean boss and his favorite henchmen bully him for being too dumb to live. The sad part was that it aired during Cartoon Network's Stop Bullying campaign.
  • Karate Kid: Giving us plenty of scenes of Daniel being beaten and tortured, and bad guys being patheticaly punished.
  • Drive is the story of an amiable getaway driver who finds love with his pretty neighbor and her young son... and then has that love cruelly snatched away when the neighbor's ex-con husband comes back from jail, and he decides to do what he thinks is right by helping the husband get out of a jam. Naturally, his attempt to do the right thing goes horribly wrong...
  • Furry Vengeance is literally nothing but a man being beaten by animals for no good reason.
  • What about Chicken Little? The title character is frequently tormented by everyone and only catches a break at the end. Even his father isn't so nice to him!
  • Free Birds centers around an idiotic and sociopathic turkey (voiced by Owen Wilson) who always gets what's coming to him.
  • Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom arguably takes this trope literally, considering that the fascists are all sadistic nutjobs who brutally torture young teens for their own pleasure.
  • The Nut Job, with its mean-spirited characters and feel.
  • The Adam Sandler film Hubie Halloween.
  • The Tokusatsu paordy Gun Caliber pulls no punches in displaying how screwed up its world is.


  • "Kevin Shapiro, Boy Orphan" in Daniel Pinkwater's story Young Adult Novel is the lugubriously sad tale of a thirteen-year-old boy straight out of Dysfunction Junction, told by the Wild Dada Ducks of Himmler High School. Kevin fails so completely to fix his messed-up life that he often gets killed off in frustration; of course, Negative Continuity lets him always come back to life in the next chapter.
  • The early novels of Evelyn Waugh are sadist shows. In the first few pages of Decline and Fall, for instance, Paul Pennyfeather gets debagged, expelled from Oxford, fined five and sixpence for two cigarette burns in his room, cheated out of his inheritance by his guardian, and sent to work in the worst school in England. No wonder he's upset. ('God damn and blast them all to hell,' said Paul meekly to himself as he drove to the station, and then he felt rather ashamed, because he rarely swore.')
  • When Philip K. Dick was going through his darkest days of depression and insanity, he wrote some very painful stories, most of which consist of him bashing down his protagonists so that even suicide seems like a happy option.
  • The Gap Cycle. Hooooo, boy, and HOW. It's even represented by an actual sadist show in which a large-breasted woman cuts off her breasts with a rusty knife, then guts herself. On a nightly basis, thanks to future technology - but she still feels everything.
  • Justine by the Marquis de Sade is nothing but a Sadist Show punctuated by philosophical monologues. The world is not just indifferent, but actively malevolent. Justine is consistently punished for her decent behavior while her persecutors experience nothing but boons for their cruelty and selfishness.
  • Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: centers around an Attention Whore Loser Protagonist having a Hilariously Abusive Childhood.

Live Action Television

  • The Ur Example for this in television might be the game show Queen for a Day, in which five female contestants described 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 viciously belittling and ridiculing them as the audience laughed at their predicaments. When the winner was announced, the other contestants were ushered off the stage and given nothing, not even bus fare home. This passed for family entertainment for twenty years on American TV.
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined plays this for drama. It got excruciatingly (and brilliantly) dark at points.
  • Teen soaps are prone to this half of the time, apparently to show you that some Teens Are Monsters. Nickelodeon usually leads this trope, as well as Dan Schneider shows that employ Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male.
  • Almost any Indonesian television show.
  • The series Arrested Development finds its characters, particularly Michael Bluth, constantly having brief opportunities at success yanked away from them. Often times, 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.
  • The humor in the BBC TV series The Office and Extras comes from the continual humiliation of the main characters, especially the second series of Extras.
    • The US adaptation of The Office will occasionally flirt with this, but seldom rely on it. However, the Dinner Party episode...
    • The same goes for The IT Crowd, often in a big way.
  • The Britcom 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, and Catflap. This sort of show is really Edmondson and Mayall's specialty.
  • Peep Show is another Britcom 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.
    • Every single episode can be summed up as Mark Corrigan narrowly avoids a fleeting moment of happiness.
  • 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.
  • To an extent, Nothing But The Truth counts. It seems fine at first, where you win money by responding truthfully while hooked up to a lie detector. But then you consider some of the questions that can be asked and the mere fact you're doing this in front of friends and family. Gets hilariously awkward and embarrassing for the contestants fast.
  • Played for drama in Breaking Bad. The show opens with Walt deciding to use his scientific expertise to make a batch of meth so he can pay for his cancer treatments. It Got Worse from there, again and again, as the expense of treatment draws Walt deeper and deeper into the drug world.
  • Somewhat inverted on Frasier, which was an extremely well-written show with sympathetic characters, but it was very rare for the titular character or his brother to ever come out ahead by the end of the episode. This made the series a bit of a "Masochist Show."
  • The Worst Week of My Life: The title is pretty self explanatory. Poor, poor Howard Steel.
  • Mad TV: Many later episodes tended to enter here, where everyone was, in some way, shat upon.
  • It's arguable that the humor in the Australian mockumentary We Can Be Heroes derives from the patheticness of the characters.
  • 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.
  • Space Cadets: scarring the contestants by faking a blast off into space (taking great pleasure into the exaggerations) and when the truth was revealed, they all felt embarrassed or miserable.
  • 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.
    • 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 anybody? 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.
    • Then there's Cutthroat Kitchen. The competitors actively try to screw each other over. It even encourages cooking competition fights!
  • Hello, Supernatural. All the fans watch it 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.
  • When it comes to makeover shows, you usually don't think of The Swan, which went out its way to make the women featured feel horrible about themselves.
  • Everybody Hates Chris. The name speaks for itself.
  • Seinfeld was practically built around this idea. "No hugging, no learning" was the mantra in the show's formative years.
  • 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 series you'd wish they died in the pilot, for the entire Universe's sake. The third series tries to redeem them, but some even consider blowing up Heaven and Hell planets to deserve them the fate above. Fourth series 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.
  • The BBC show Mongrels.
  • There's Something About Miriam: six men try and woo a woman each episode, who reveals to the winner that everything was completely pointless by revealing herself as transgender. This humiliation usually had a slice of mockery from the other contestants as well. One contestant broke down on camera from this embarrassment and heartbreak as well. It's definitely an understatement if critics call it one of the cruelest reality shows ever.
  • Malcolm in the Middle. The show 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. Just two examples: the episode that ends with Francis dragged naked behind a Zamboni on a skating rink (after trying to stop getting deeper in debt to his evil employer), and the episode that ends with Malcolm 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."
  • 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. Oh, and it's about politics. But we repeat ourselves.
  • Superstar USA: basically a spoof of American Idol without having the contestants know it's a spoof. You can imagine what happens from there....
  • And then there's Cheaters. The show's purpose 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?
  • The Japanese series Prize Contest Life: basically "Making A Man Suffer: Reality Edition". Even his prizes turn out craptastic. That's not getting into the fact of him being unaware of being on TV: he thought everything was a pre-record!
  • Naeturvaktin/Dagvaktin/Fangavaktin/Bjarnfredarson are about a Dysfunction Junction Comic Trio unintentionally (and occasionally intentionally) making each others'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.
  • Veronica Mars: The woman protagonist goes through a lot of shit and makes everything better by taking a level in jerkass. Her life as a detective, as well as her sadistic backstory in the pilot, is why she's miserable in the first place, yet she stays in this role to keep the town under control (heh).
  • Two And A Half Men is another that follows the formula of: bad guys go unscathed, good guys must be tortured until they themselves become jerks.
  • The Korean series Ooh La La Couple has characters in awkward and desperate situations, juxtaposed to hilarious reactions.
  • Mr. Bill: Basically a big Take That! on low quality children's entertainment revolving around the title character and his dog receiving torture from a pair of hands and a silent antagonist. Many episodes end with one of the duo (usually Bill) horribly mutilated.
  • What about Man Vs. Beast? Let's just say the animals are on the upper hand and what our contestants went through are bizarre and dangerous.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000's basic premise of a man forced to watch bad movies after a failed tackle with mad scientists makes it automatically fall under here, though they frequently try to deny it.
  • This Morning is a bit of an inversion, in that issues seen as sadistic are covered on the show.
  • It's a rarity that a show gets canned due to being a sadist show, but Who's Your Daddy? only got one episode aired before being swiftly removed from television due to its premise alone, as the contestants were adoptees who were looking for their birth fathers. However, each of the fathers were fake and it was their job to mislead the adoptees into picking one of them. And once they were paired, the fake father got all the money. It's hard to a believe a game show was made out of the emotional warfare of finding one's parents, but it was, and thank goodness it was cancelled quickly.
  • Tore!, a Japanese series that basically tells you: "If you don't complete our puzzles, we'll sent you falling down a giant, dark pit of undetermined length."
  • Black Books focuses on an Irish drunk berating at everyone and everything around him. Hilarity Ensues.
  • There's Wizards Of Waverly Place. Don't be shocked if our heroes are outright sadists, too.
  • A.N.T Farm has a decent kid surrounded by jerks or idiots, and he's at the butt of terrible situations a lot.
  • The French sketch series Camera Café. The two main characters are Anti Role Model 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. Jesus H. Macy!! It's one of the more brutal Sadist Shows.
  • Dirty Jobs has its main humor come from Mike Rowe trying, and mostly failing, to do disgusting tasks as other workers laugh or smile at him. Infamously, he had to tackle with snakes! Doesn't turn out well if you're bitten a lot.
  • Dadagirl is an Indian game show where contestants are bullied by the three hosts during their attempts to win a cash prize. Infamously, the main female host slapped a male contestant in the face in one episode, and he proceeds to slap her back yelling "How can she slap?" After this, a group of men rush in and beat the tar out of him for slapping her.
  • A minor example, but Party Down does like setting up all the main characters' dreams and desires just to knock them down time and time again.
  • Four words: 1000 Ways To Die. Thankfully, most victims do deserve it.


Tabletop Games

  • Paranoia has one of the most consistently and gleefully sadistic rule sets imaginable, as everything and everyone is stacked against the players, including each other. The backup clones each player receives does less to mitigate the cruel dooms than it does to encourage the GM and players to heap even more on each other. Players participate with the guarantee that they will get to spread their share of sadism around and enjoy the suffering of their friends.

Video Games

  • Whacked! No matter what the specifics are for any given round, it will always involve slaughtering your opponents with baseball bats, meat cleavers, exploding rubber duckies, oversized shishkabobs, cacti, missiles, and plenty more! Again, and again, and again!
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day. Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Maybe minus the "fur" part, since none of it has anything to do with his fur so much as his acid-trippy trials and tribulations, which are ultimately topped off with his life being ruined. Did the prologue say that this was all how he became the king? It was all a lie. He never became anything grand; he just went through hell for nothing... or, less than nothing, if you will.
  • Dragon Age 2, Hawke is caught smack dab in the middle of having an apostate (or being an apostate) on the run from Templars and insane blood mages and have absolutely no way to make anything better. Only the way they approached one bad thing after another. Either by being pragmatic/sarcastic/angry.

Web Comics

  • Something Positive is a form of Sadist Webcomic that is more about characters surviving their lives while the world continues to spit at them. (Of course, how sympathetic you think they are depends on how you view the passive-aggressiveness and sadism they react with.)
  • 8-Bit Theater has an entire cast of idiots, sadists, and idiotic sadists. The main characters are Fighter, a nimrod who manages to be Too Dumb to Live and too stupid to die at the same time (or maybe not); Black Mage, a psychotic murderer who kills any- and everyone that gets in his way (and a few others just for the hell of it); Red Mage, a Munchkin powergamer blissfully unaware of his own idiocy with no regard for anyone elses' well-being; and Thief, a duplicitous, greedy elf supremacist with no conscience. All their opponents are of matching idiocy, and the king of the local kingdom wears the literal interpretation of Dead Baby Comedy for shoes. In fact, the most sympathetic main character other than White Mage, the voice of reason, is Black Mage, as he's at least tried to change. Well, before it was revealed that in order to obtain his doomsday attack, he sacrificed orphans to a dark god. Said doomsday attack is also powered by love; i.e. it siphons love out of the universe, and the divorce rate goes up by a few percent every time he uses it.
    • Even White Mage is becoming more of a Jerkass, with her refusing to heal Black Mage when he has a spear through his head (though to be fair, it's Black Mage). Also, to add insult to injury, Thief almost never gets his comeuppance, whereas Black Belt (an actually slightly sympathetic character) is the only character yet to have been Killed Off for Real (even the Big Bads turn up in Hell occasionally).
    • Technically, Thief does get his comeuppance when he loses everything he has ever stolen when his bag of holding is frozen, then is shattered into a million pieces in order to kill one of the fiends. He is catatonic for several strips afterwards.
    • It's true, he rarely gets his comeuppance, so it's just that more hilarious when Berserker strangles him with his own intestines. He has savagely attacked Thief at least 3 times by now.
  • The webcomic Ansem Retort, which tells the tale of a sadistic Fox reality show.
  • Garfield minus Garfield forces this trope into being, but that's somewhat the point.
  • Nana's Everyday Life is basically about how long you can keep a character alive without putting her out of her misery...
  • Every protagonist in Contemplating Reiko is a sadistic demon girl.
  • The Snail Factory features characters which eat each other on a fairly regular basis.
  • Prequel. Just read the subtitle: "Making a Cat Cry: The Adventure".
  • Two Guys And Guy: While protagonist-boy is an ordinary loser jerk, his friends are sociopathic to him and the world at best.
  • Men In Hats. Just Men In Hats.

Web Original


  — The Theme Song of Mari-Kari.

  • You Suck At Photoshop is about an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist going through a complete mental, emotional and life breakdown, while making faux-snarky Photoshop tutorial videos because being able to Photoshop is all he has.
  • Several Harry Partridge shorts have characters suffering in Bloody Hilarious and occasionally disturbing ways.
  • Ultra Fast Pony is a Friendship Is Magic parody series where murdering your own friends is seen as both acceptable and funny.
  • The GoAnimate "Grounded" videos are notable for entering this territory. Some are grounded for insane periods of time for little offenses, while others are brutalized for being kiddie characters and nothing else.
  • Beochan Paisean Agust Aifeala is prone to this because of its treatment on the characters varying from episode to episode.
  • Brain Dump: a review series where a man tries to review media but is frequently berated, smack talked, and harassed by a ghost character, and even his close friend/assistant Burnbot can turn on him. No wonder he's miserable. He openly broke down a few times.
  • A majority of Ice Scream is this.
  • Sex House, a parody of reality TV shows from The Onion, became this in later episodes.
  • The Annoying Orange. Oh so much.
  • Breaking Trail: Poor Coyote gets subjected to so much pain throughout the series (in glorious HD!). It got especially nasty when he gets unintentionally injured (such as his cactus injury).
  • PONY.MOV from front to back is this. It does get better by the end, though.
  • The Necki Menij Show is a more cattier Sadist Show.
  • Kakos Industries is pretty much built around this trope.
  • From around the third volume onwards, RWBY would often wind up going this route.
  • Ashens focuses on this one man who tries out products and is mutilated on-screen each time.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared otherwise fits. It tortures the likeable puppets with bizarre musical numbers and deaths each episode.
  • The absolute worst by far: DaddyOFive. What he does to his children is despicable.

Western Animation

  • Classic Disney Shorts: Donald Duck. OH, Donald. In his own words "You can't win. You just can't win"
    • Though this trope does exemplify many of the golden age animated shorts with Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes leading the pack. The worst offender for the latter is the Road Runner series of shorts. In them, Wile E. Coyote does EVERYTHING to catch the titular bird, but the formula is that Wile must suffer in every scene without progress.
    • Paramount's Noveltoons are another big offender. They tend to be more violent and brutal than other golden ages toons as well. A good example is Baby Huey.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: We have a shake who is an outright jerkass, a dim-witted meatball who's berated by said shake frequently, and a box of fries who's the only one of the trio to care about anything, but doesn't exactly help fix the problem at hand.
  • Invader Zim: A megalomaniac alien, a deranged hedonistic robot, a paranormal-obsessed lunatic and his self-centered, sociopath sister in a ignorant, cybergothic Crapsack World.
    • This one's worth elaborating on a bit, because there's something special about just how all these characters come together to create the amazingly unfortunate (for the characters) milieu of this show. Vasquez has managed, through no small amount of effort in both writing the show and fighting to get his ideas aired by the censor-happy Nickelodeon network, to create a world wherein everyone fails at everything they try all the time. The only ones who come out okay are the ones (read: Gaz and...pretty much just Gaz) who do. Not. Give a shit. About anything. Dib tries to foil Zim's latest plan to destroy Earth? Dib probably succeeds, Zim's plan fails, ending up with Zim learning nothing, Gir having destroyed half the lab (again), Dib taking the blame for whatever damage Zim wrought on the world, and Gaz rubbing salt in his wounds by calling him a kook. Pyrrhic victories all around, nobody grows, and the world is worse off. In every goddamn episode. Vasquez is a misanthropic savant.
  • Family Guy - From about season 4 and onwards.
  • The Simpsons. Only show ever to have a famous running gag involving child abuse. Not to mention everything that happens to Homer.
    • Though, to its credit, it's not as cynical as other shows like Family Guy, usually ending on an upbeat note.
  • Moral Orel - Especially in the third season, when it stopped pretending to be a comedy.
  • Sealab 2021 - Think of it as a torturous parody of Sealab 2020.
  • Frisky Dingo - To sum up, it's an Adult Swim version of Invader Zim, only with an Earth villain.
  • Pick one of the Looney Tunes derived series from WB in the 90s and tell yourself it isn't sadistic, you won't be able to. Examples include Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Histeria!, and Pinky, Elmyra, and The Brain.
  • When Drawn Together isn't about taking the piss out of Reality TV (the original premise which it pretty much dropped in the second season) or cartoons, it's about heaping abuse on the dysfunctional housemates. Fortunately, they all retain strong Jerkass tendencies, so there's little room for sympathy save for Captain Hero, who was originally the biggest of the Jerkasses but developed into the most sympathetic character.
  • For a temporary example, the second season of the original Powerpuff Girls. Just watch episodes like "A Very Special Blossom", "Schoolhouse Rocked", "Too Pooped To Puff", "Cover Up", and "Down 'n Dirty" to see what we mean.
  • Stressed Eric (and how!). The entire point of this show was to have everything go wrong in Eric's life. Almost every episode ended with him dying of a stroke or harmed out of stress.
  • The Ren and Stimpy Show. A hyperactive but sadistic chihuahua and a brainless, fat cat on zany and insane adventures.
    • The adult party cartoon is MUCH worse!!!
  • The Venture Brothers. More on show page.
  • CatDog, everyone hated them just because they're different, they never succeeded (but except for a few episodes like "All you Can't eat" where Cat said they won in the end), and they lived in a Crapsack World.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy. It's a rare occasion that the neighborhood kids did something positive toward the Eds. It changed by the end of the movie--the neighborhood kids actually start liking the Eds at that point.
    • In most of the episodes, a character gets hurt practically every five seconds. The show practically revolves around pain.
  • South Park - the moral of the show appears to be "Life sucks, then you die. Then life continues to suck, and you die again."
  • From it's second season and onward, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends often wound up being this.
  • Jimmy Two Shoes: It takes place in a town that's obviously Hell, with the titular character the only one in the cast that isn't either a complete sociopath or an idiotic hedonist.
  • Total Drama. It's even hosted by a sadist!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants seems to have become this in it's later seasons, due to Seasonal Rot.
  • The Drinky Crow Show: What more would you expect from a drunk crow ending up in chaos?
  • Superjail: It has a sadist Willy Wonka looking character for a prison warden.
  • American Dad, though to a lesser extent than Family Guy.
  • The Life and Times of Tim: When Tim isn't the victim of his own social ineptitude, he's suffering for being too meek and unassertive to turn down his friends and coworkers' terrible ideas.
  • MAD does this also to the celebrities it mocks, too!.
  • The Buzz On Maggie, with its title character having to put up with everything in life. Almost everyone seems against her, including her parents and best friend.
  • Futurama: Basically what a craptastic future is like. The only sane man is ajerkass robot, too....
  • The Fairly OddParents mostly revolves around Timmy Turner getting humiliated and abused, even if he has fairies. It's a miracle the kid hasn't broke down after all the crap he gets into.
  • The obscure Cartoon Network series Time Squad has most of its humor come from the main characters being dicks to each other. Tuddrussel abuses Larry, Larry tries to murder Otto, and Otto attacks Tuddrussel. The writers can sometimes resort to outright misery on Otto, too.
  • The Mighty B! - A cartoon in a Crapsack World about a girl who usually gets into weird adventures and is bullied and the teacher can care less, being the mother to one of the bullies.
  • My Gym Partner's A Monkey, with Adam Lyon stuck in an animal school and failing to put up with it.
  • Teen Titans Go! is commonly criticized for this, as it has the Titans acting like complete assholes to each other, the worst offenders being Beast Boy and Cyborg.
  • Rocko's Modern Life has the title character struggling to suit in with America as everyone steps on him. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Regular Show - No matter what happens, Rigby and Mordecai will never get out of their boring job as park groundskeepers.
  • The Amazing World Of Gumball is frequent with this trope Season 2 onwards. Examples include "The Hero" and "The Romantic".
  • The Grim Adventures Of Billy and Mandy: What else could it be if Death himself is the most sociable character on the show?
  • The YTV series Sidekick. Boy, and how! Every hero we see is useless or just as brutal as the villain, with Maxum Man being the worst, torturing his former sidekick and mocking villains, the sidekicks are usually just as bad as them, the school they attend is run by an angry German plant creature, and even only sane man Eric can be nasty.
  • Archer. Just Archer.
  • Scaredy Squirrel has its main character at the butt of EVERYTHING most of the time. He spends much of his time trying to keep things in shape while he's bickered at and abused. And what goes on at work isn't pretty.
  • The short-lived CN series Robotomy is this in spades, with beatings, electrocutions, and even mutilation going on in the robot school of Harry S. Apocalypse.
  • The Baskervilles features a normal family trying to survive in a hellish town. It's as pretty as it gets.
  • The Three Friends and Jerry. Let's just say that there's frequent downer endings and that Jerry is the definition of "Iron Butt Monkey". A lot of people in this show are also mean and vulgar (by kids show standards) as well.
  • During its later seasons, Bobby's World became this.
  • Stickin' Around frequently does this to the main character's dorky best friend, Bradley, who often gets into quaint and often times painful situations. Almost every other character is either obnoxious, mean, or indifferent towards each other as well.
  • The Oblongs has humiliation and abuse go toward about everyone in the Valley.
  • The cult series The Dreamstone. Despite its cutesy appearance, it's really about the Urpneys suffering torment whether they like it or not. And these are the villians who are suffering!! Not to mention whatever the heroes do to them.
  • Robot Chicken: Basically taking the piss out of classic pop culture and driving them into sadistic and horrible situations.
  • Johnny Test: It's easier to list the people who aren't selfish assholes or complete idiots. Though this one is tame, as most episodes are resolved for the better.
  • The show Poochini dives into this a lot, with the dog protagonist at the butt of abuse (even from his owners).
  • The second season of Kick Buttowski frequently went this route, with the title character now being the resident punching bag and everyone else taking a level in jerkass. Some good examples are "Power Play" and "Snow Problem".
  • Tom Goes to the Mayor for sure.
  • Numb Chucks: The town of Ding-A-Ling springs usually gets destroyed or vandalized, many characters suffer beatings and bruises (specially Buford and Hooves), and the two main characters are the definition of Idiot Houdini, causing much of the trouble themselves with their idiocy (under the assumption that they're protecting the town) and getting away with it (usually).
  • Ovni is a show where a blue alien crashes and get trapped on Earth and the world injures and kills him again and again until he dies for real.
  • Gogs focuses on a family of cavepeople trying to hunt for food, but they usually ended up getting shat on (figuratively and literally) by the end, either by themselves or the wildlife.
  • Some of the shorts on MTV's Cartoon Sushi. Defiantly.
  • The French series Kaeloo usually features the characters in physical and emotional torture purely for the audience's amusement.
  • The Loud House can sometimes enter this territory, with Lincoln being the most common victim.
  • Herman and Katnip. Jesus H. Macy. It's essentially Tom and Jerry up to eleven.
  • Kid vs. Kat: The town of Bootsville is a not particularly nice one, and despite Coop being the victim of torment because of Kat, the latter surprisingly receives more hell than the former.
  • Another French series by the name of Monk The Little Dog. The title character frequently gets the short end of the stick through either accidents or failed attempts at impressing his friends. His friends can even mock the poor mutt. No wonder he has anger fits almost each episode. He is practically an iron butt monkey.
  • Family Dog: The Binsfords' dog always ends up in some sort of shake up, often bordering onto Black Comedy Animal Cruelty.
  • Starting from the midway point onwards, Grojiband often wound up being this.
  • Dexter's Laboratory flirts with this trope on times, especially whenever Dexter gets something horrible done to him.
  • King Of The Hill, though, like The Simpsons, it is tamer than Family Guy.
  • Spliced follows the chaotic adventures of animal hybirds on a lone island where disaster is frequent and protaganists Peri and Entree usually make things worse.
  • The 2013 Mickey Mouse series of cartoons are prone of this.
  • The stop-motion series Life's a Zoo.
  • Oggy and The Cockroaches does this in a manner similar to the golden age toons.
  • The 70s cartoon Fraidy Cat stars a cat who's down to his last life and the rest of his lives (and the world) are out to kill him.