Created By: justbugsme on September 23, 2012 Last Edited By: justbugsme on October 31, 2012
Troped

Tracking Chip

Tracked by an implanted chip.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Works set in the future or depicting organisations with access to advanced technology often show that characters have been injected with microchips to identify or track them. This can show technological advancement or a lack of privacy for the protagonists.

In darker works, a character may not recall being "chipped" and be alarmed when they find one in their body, raising questions about who is tracking them and how it was installed.

Note that technologies that aren't used for tracking or identification, such as the head jacks in The Matrix, don't count as examples.

Compare Big Brother Is Watching, Restraining Bolt, The Schizophrenia Conspiracy.


Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • In Casino Royale, MI6 implants a GPS tracker in James Bond to keep track of him.
  • Demolition Man. As part of Doctor Cocteau's master plan, almost everyone in San Angeles had an organic microchip implanted in them. Sensors around the city can determine the exact location of any of them at any time. The Scraps clearly don't have chips implanted, or Cocteau's forces would have hunted them down before the movie started. Simon Phoenix is also noted as not having a chip.
  • In Never Let Me Go, the students have microchips implanted in their wrists.
  • In The Matrix, Neo is bugged with a tracking-bug. It is removed by Trinity.
  • In Total Recall (1990), Quaid has been implanted with a tracking chip in his head which he manages to find out about and remove before the bad guys can reach him.
  • In Mission: Impossible II, the good guys put a chip in Ethan's head which transmits his location to a satelite. They tell him "this chip is completely untraceable." Which kind of defeats the purpose, when you think about it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In the Maximum Ride series, Max realizes that she has a microchip implanted in her arm, and that this means the lab she came from will always be able to track her. She tries to get it out herself and later has it surgically removed.
  • In The Hunger Games, all the tributes going into the Games are implanted with a tracker so that the Capitol knows where they are in the arena at all times.
  • Great Crystal series by Vladislav Krapivin had a world with Computerized Judicial System using "bio-indexes", set early on and irremovable as they saturate the whole body -- it started as a convenience, and in two generations or so ended up in outlawing anyone who remains index-less. Naturally, when a boy with otherwise inconsequential healing talent accidentally purged himself of this thing, the bureaucracy overreacts and Hilarity Ensues.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • In the Red Dwarf episode Epideme, Kryten uses a scanning device to identify the dead body of an ex-JMC employee. He mentions that it is attempting to locate her microchip, since JMC employees are implanted with them.
  • In Heroes, Company kidnaps evolved humans and injects them with tracking devices ("bagging and tagging").
    • In the first episode of volume 4, Hiro implants Ando with a GPS tracker.
  • In the Doctor Who episode The Long Game set in the year 202,000 all humans have a chip implanted in them to enable their brains to work as computers. It also allows the Monster of the Week to read their mind.
  • In The X-Files third season episode "The Blessing Way", Scully discovers a computer chip implanted in her neck. In later episodes she tries to find out what it does.
  • In The Last Enemy, Stephen Ezard discovers that he had been chipped when he is automatically let into his house.
  • In the CSI: Miami episode "Legal", a victim was identified by the ID/credit chip she'd had implanted in her arm so she could go to nightclubs without a purse.
  • In Charlie Jade all people in the Alphaverse have chips implanted in their arms that act as identification, an electronic wallet and as tracking devices. The plot of the series is kicked off when a women is found dead and the autopsy reveals that she does not have a chip and never had one implanted at all. This is an impossibility in that world so the titular detective is asked to investigate.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
  • This is joked about from time to time in Sluggy Freelance, with Riff saying he's put a chip in Torg's head. A Dorito.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • In the pilot episode of Futurama, everyone has a chip implanted with the information on the job they are best suited for. It isn't brought up again until the following season and never mentioned after that.
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Boy Who Knew too Much" (S5 E20) Principal Skinner bemoans the fact that only the kids that don't need to be tracked volunteered to be chipped.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]] [[/folder]]


Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • September 23, 2012
    captainpat
    Does this have to be in a futuristic setting? If not the name's kinda misleading.
  • September 23, 2012
    justbugsme
    No (see my comment). It was the best name I could think of, though.
  • September 23, 2012
    Dawnwing
    We could have the title just be Microchip or Microchipped - doesn't have to be anything fancy. We've got one-word trope titles as simple as that.

    Literature:
    • In the Maximum Ride series, Max realizes that she has a microchip implanted in her arm, and that this means the lab she came from will always be able to track her. She tries to get it out herself and later has it surgically removed.
    • In The Hunger Games, all the tributes going into the Games are implanted with a tracker so that the Capitol knows where they are in the arena at all times.
  • September 23, 2012
    JakeTheYak
    I second Microchipped as the trope title. Do you need to limit the chip merely to tracking/identification? That would preclude a heap of other uses (such as the Buffy example below).

    Live Action TV
    • In season four of Buffy The Vampire Slayer the Initiative use microchips to control the behaviour of captured vampires and demons, as well as their own soldiers.

    Real Life
    • In March 2006, Australian software developer Jonathan Oxer implanted an RFID chip into his arm and modified his home to automate a number of tasks when his presence was detected. For example, the doors would automatically unlock when he arrived home.
  • September 23, 2012
    Xtifr
    Microchip seems ambiguous, since that term also refers to computer chips. Microchipped may be sufficient, though. The laconic should probably mention tracking, since the first thing I thought of was a cyberpunk work where people "chip in" portable personality and skill overlay devices.
  • September 23, 2012
    kuyanJ
    The title could be "Microchipped Person" or "Implanted Microchip" if "Microchipped" is too ambiguous. The current title is an inappropriate snowclone, since the trope's nature and relationship to the future is different from that of the "we will X in the future" tropes.
  • September 23, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Yeah I'd definitely say something more specific like "Implanted Microchip".
  • September 24, 2012
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • In The X Files third season episode "The Blessing Way", Scully discovers a computer chip implanted in her neck. In later episodes she tries to find out what it does.
  • September 24, 2012
    Omeganian
    Demolition Man, I believe.
  • September 24, 2012
    Antigone3
    Microchipped Person sounds good to me.

    Do we want something in the description comparing this to microchipping of pets?
  • September 24, 2012
    justbugsme
    @Jake The Yak: The Buffy example is already (partly) in Restraining Bolt.
  • September 24, 2012
    TonyG
    In the pilot episode of Futurama, everyone has a chip implanted with the information on the job they are best suited for. It isn't brought up again until the following season and never mentioned after that.
  • September 24, 2012
    Astaroth
    In Syndicate (The original Bullfrog series, not sure about the reboot), all citizens are fitted with microchips that alter their perception of reality. It's the only way they can be made to cope with the misery and squalor of the game's dystopian setting.
  • September 24, 2012
    Xtifr
    The description really needs work, as I'm not quite sure where the boundaries are. It seems a little too broad at the moment, if anything that could reasonably be described as a chip qualifies. The laconic suggests a possible limit, but some of the examples don't seem to match. What is this trope, exactly?
  • September 24, 2012
    TheNinth
    In The Simpsons episode "The Boy Who Knew too Much" (S5 E20) Principal Skinner bemoans the fact that only the kids that don't need to be tracked are the only ones who volunteered to be chipped.
  • September 24, 2012
    Karalora
    Another Real Life example: Some municipalities routinely outfit animals adopted from shelters with a microchip containing the name and contact information of the new owner. Unlike most of the fictional animals, the purpose is basically benevolent--making it easy to get the animal home if it gets lost.
  • September 24, 2012
    justbugsme
    @Xtifr: Which of the examples do you think don't match?
  • September 24, 2012
    justbugsme
    @Karalora: I think that's out of scope.
  • September 24, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Benign example: One victim on CSI was identified by the ID/credit chip she'd had implanted in her arm so she could go to nightclubs without a purse.
  • September 24, 2012
    Koveras
    • In Exosquad, all E-frame pilots have microchips (with sockets) implanted at the base of their necks to control their E-frame weaponry with their minds.
  • September 24, 2012
    justbugsme
    @Koveras: I think that's out of scope, assuming they aren't used for tracking.

    @Astaroth: I'm also not totally sure about the Syndicate example (but I've added it for now). Are the chips used for tracking/identification?
  • September 24, 2012
    Folamh3
    The 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate featured this.
  • September 24, 2012
    Xtifr
    @justbugsme: the ones that don't seem to match are: Dr Who & Buffy. I also agree that the Syndicate example seems iffy. I think I have a couple of examples to add, but I need to double-check. Tracking Chip for the name might help eliminate some of the confusion here.
  • September 25, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Yeah, if this is just for chips that are for tracking, then change it to Tracking Chip.
  • September 25, 2012
    nielas
    • In Charlie Jade all people in the Alphaverse have chips implanted in their arms that act as identification, an electronic wallet and as tracking devices. The plot of the series is kicked off when a women is found dead and the autopsy reveals that she does not have a chip and never had one implanted at all. This is an impossibility in that world so the titular detective is asked to investigate.
  • September 25, 2012
    justbugsme
    @Shnakepup: I've removed the Buffy example and renamed the trope. However, IIRC the chips in Doctor Who were also used for tracking.
  • September 25, 2012
    WolfgangAmadeusPenis
  • September 25, 2012
    lexicon
    The examples sound like Zero Content Examples and the description sound like People Sit On Chairs. This should be expaned to Spied On By Tracking Chip or something.
  • September 25, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ How is this even vaguely People Sit On Chairs? That's basically "something mundane with zero significance to the story". This is neither.
  • September 26, 2012
    TBeholder
    • Great Crystal series by Vladislav Krapivin had a world with Computerized Judicial System using "bio-indexes", set early on and irremovable as they saturate the whole body -- it started as a convenience, and in two generations or so ended up in outlawing anyone who remains index-less. Naturally, when a boy with otherwise inconsequential healing talent accidentally purged himself of this thing, the bureaucracy overreacts and Hilarity Ensues.
  • September 26, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Demolition Man. As part of Doctor Cocteau's master plan, almost everyone in San Angeles had an organic microchip implanted in them. Sensors around the city can determine the exact location of any of them at any time. The Scraps clearly don't have chips implanted, or Cocteau's forces would have hunted them down before the movie started. Simon Phoenix is also noted as not having a chip.
  • September 26, 2012
    nitrokitty
    This is a pretty standard part of The Schizophrenia Conspiracy as well.
  • September 26, 2012
    surgoshan
    Web Comic

    • This is joked about from time to time in Sluggy Freelance, with Riff saying he's put a chip in Torg's head. A Dorito.
  • September 26, 2012
    justbugsme
    What does this YKTTW still need before it can be launched?
  • October 21, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • In Total Recall 1990, Quaid has been implanted with a tracking chip in his head which he manages to find out about and remove before the bad guys can reach him.
  • October 21, 2012
    robinjohnson
    In one of the Mission Impossible movies, the good guys put a tracking chip in Tom Cruise's head, telling him: "This chip is completely untraceable." Which kind of defeats the purpose, when you think about it.
  • October 31, 2012
    robbulldog
    In the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale, M has Bond chipped so she can keep track of him. Comes in handy later, as the chip can also track Bond's vitals and give the the information to diagnose what kind of poisoning Bond is suffering.

    In the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, both Shaw and Marco are chipped. Marco bites his way through his skin to extract his, but drops it down a drain, forcing him to get Shaw's chip.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=arxyiv9jouv9ikjosrxe2oro&trope=TrackingChip