KidnappedByTheCall Kidnapped by the Call YKTTW Discussion

Kidnapped by the Call
Short on heroes for your cause? Kidnap one!
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(permanent link) added: 2012-11-15 15:45:27 sponsor: GameChainsaw (last reply: 2012-11-18 03:03:02)

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Summary: A situation where the hero is kidnapped or otherwise forced to come along on an adventure via any means, direct or indirect, or otherwise forced to partake in a heroic cause.

Sometimes the hero of your adventure (or one of his allies) just isn't going to come willingly. Maybe they've got other responsibilities; you know, those pesky families would-be heroes are so often attached to. Maybe they've got little reason to believe that mysterious prophetic dream you had once while you were asleep and possibly drunk. Or perhaps they're just cowardly. At any rate they aren't coming.

Problem is you're the good guy. You can't just destroy the place the hero has settled him or herself into. And the bad guys aren't about to make that mistake themselves, at least not until it's too late. You've either tried various means of coercing the hero into adventure or discounted them as impossible. Or at least you should have. The answer remains no. What can be done?

Simple. If the hero isn't willing to come along, you're just going to have to force them, whether through softer measures such as blackmail or the draft (or threatening the hero with the draft) or through the considerably more direct means of stuffing the recalcitrant rascal in a sack and slinging them over your back in the dead of night. Either way, the hero is now off to adventure, whether they like it or not!

One indirect method is the subtrope Boxed Crook; the government agrees to let a criminal go early provided they partake in some (in this case heroic) venture first. The crook usually ends up wishing they'd taken the jail time. A fantasy version is Summon Everyman Hero if the would-be hero wasn't consulted first before being dragged through the portal.

Methods vary regarding how to keep the hero from sneaking off again. An Explosive Leash is a good guarantee, but you have to at least appear ruthless enough to use said leash. If you can keep the hero around long enough a combination of Stockholm Syndrome and the hero seeing firsthand the righteousness of your cause may set in.

Compare and contrast The Call Knows Where You Live. Contrast Jumped at the Call. Closely related to Press-Ganged which covers direct incidents where someone is actually kidnapped into serving a cause, be it good or evil.

Subtrope of Call to Adventure


Anime and Manga


  • In The Last Starfighter, Centauri kidnaps Alex for his skills playing the Starfighter arcade game. In this case the kidnapping is more out of overexuberance though: Centauri is utterly convinced that Alex would love to fly a Space Fighter in defense of a Federation he's never even heard of.
  • In Die Hard III after Zeus plays Good Samaritan and saves McClane, the villain forces him to team with McClane and solve together several puzzles to defuse some bombs scattered all along the city.


  • Sun Wolf and Starhawk: In The Ladies of Manddrigyn the eponymous ladies force Sun Wolf to train them in combat so they can rescue their kidnapped husbands by poisoning him and witholding the cure from him until their training is complete.
  • In Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, John Kelly (later Clark) is gently coerced out of his semi-retirement by naval officers/the CIA intent on securing his behind-the-lines expertise for a rescue mission, by reminding him that if he doesn't want to, they can always call him back into active duty (this was during the Vietnam War). This is in addition to The Call Knows Where You Live for his ... private hobby.

Live-Action TV

  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Cosmic Wiz Kid". Lieutenant Dia Cyrton asks Buck to rescue her boss Hieronymus Fox, the president of the planet Genesia. When Buck refuses, she uses a Mind Control drug on him and takes him to Genesia against his will.

Real Life

  • Ye olde methods of recruiting in Age of Sail navies, such as press-ganging and shanghaiing. The former is plain old kidnapping, the latter is giving a lot of booze to drink and kidnapping while drunk.
  • This is of course what governments hope to invoke with the draft, assuming that government isn't a horrible tinpot dictatorship establishing said draft for a few more moments of sweet sweet power, and also isn't just using the war as a cynical PR exercise to distract from problems at home. Whether or not the draftees agree with the government on the worthiness of the cause they are drafted for is another matter entirely, making this a potential can of worms.
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