The article proposes an explanation for why spectators may enjoy excessive punishment when watching fiction, even in Scandinavia where harsh punishment is roundly condemned. Excessive punishment is typically carried out by a vigilante avenger, and in fiction this character is often a fantastic character (e.g., not realistic, taking on superhuman and/or supernatural characteristics). We allow ourselves to enjoy punishment more readily when the character who punishes is clearly fictional. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Let the Right One In, fantastic elements seep into an otherwise realistic setting and allow the spectator to fully enjoy the main characters’ vigilante revenge. The theory of fictional reliefs posited here holds that this mixture of modes facilitates one of two paths to moral judgment.

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