Alt titles: Tranquillizer Gun, This is being split off of Instant Sedation as examples are taking over the page. Rolling Updates, Needs More Examples, Do Not Launch
If a character needs some Instant Sedation, one of the most common delivery methods is the Tranquillizer Dart. Simply put, this is a thin, pointed projectile that is shot at, thrown at, blown at, or otherwise flung at the victim from a distance. The sedative is either smeared on the dart or contained in an ampoule or capsule attached to the dart.
This small projectile, usually fired into the neck or buttocks, seems to put the target to sleep with only enough time to pluck out the dart and stare at it in amazement before passing out. If that much.
Like other forms of Instant Sedation, tranquillizer darts are subject to Artistic License - Medicine: the same dose will work on everyone, they work exactly as fast as the plot demands, are exactly as effective as the plot demands, the effects last exactly as long as the plot demands, and they generally have little or no after-effects beyond a slight headache or some residual grogginess.
Occasionally the dart will have a non-sedative but related effect, delivering a paralytic or amnesiac drug instead, so the victim is still conscious but either can't move or won't remember what happened.
Subtrope of Instant Sedation. Sister trope to Knock Out Gas which works better for area attacks. Compare Stun Gun. Sometimes used as Family-Friendly Firearms.
Played straight with Conan's wrist-watch tranquilizer needle gun. Kogoro barely has time to mumble a few words before keeling over.
Somewhat subverted in the crossover with Lupin III. Conan uses his dart on Inspector Zenigata, who is so tough that it wears off in no time (though he still goes down quickly). Conan is pretty surprised.
Averted in Michiko to Hatchin. Michiko appears to be very resilient when hit by a dart from a tranquilizer gun. Twice.
Averted in New Getter Robo, though the writers were probably more concerned with the Rule of Cool than realism. Ryoma gets hit by an animal tranquiliser in the first episode, but it doesn't stop him from running across the street and dropkicking his two attackers before going down. Note that this is after he had just fought a 3-on-1 fight against some Yakuza goons and had gotten a knife buried into his shoulder.
In Dragon Half, Rosario shoots Mink with a knockout dart and she instantly falls. Then Rosario puts two more darts into her right away, setting up a gag where he and the king think Mink died from the overdose. Strangely, at first Rosario accidentally inhaled and got the dart stuck in his tongue, but nothing ever came of this.
[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
A Lampshaded aversion in The Gods Must Be Crazy explicitly explains that tranquilizer darts don't take effect immediately. That's why they are rigged to be so easily removed that the victim doesn't know they've been tranked (they feel only the sting, that can be attributed to insects).
In the opening scene of The Rock, the mercenaries use tranq darts on the soldiers guarding the chemical weapons depot. All of them fall unconscious immediately.
Spies Like Us. Emmett Fitz-Hume and Austin Millbarge knock out five Soviet soldiers instantly with "high-compression tranquilizer pistols".
In the short film made of Battleground by Stephen King, the nameless hitman shoots two security guards using a tranquilizer gun. While one goes down immediately, the second guard (a strong, fit-looking man) just yelps from the dart and reaches for his own gun, but the hitman is prepared for this and quickly knocks him out physically.
Discussed in Kangaroo Jack when the protagonists accidentally shoot a dart to their airplane pilot while they are airborne; the pilot experiences the effects in stages as noted by one of them.
Frank Drebin's cufflink tranquilizer darts in the first The Naked Gun movie. However, they're not quite instant enough, since the bad guy staggers around long enough to fall over a railing to a Cruel and Unusual Death.
Serenity averts this in the climactic battle when Kaylee is tranquilised by Reavers. She takes three darts to the neck. Although she quickly begins to feel shaky, she can still hurry (albeit with Simon's help) into the corridor behind and continues to stand, shielded from Reavers by Simon while Zoe and Jayne struggle to close the blast doors. Only when Simon helps lie her down does she comment she's beginning to lose feeling. Even then, the entire Final Battle between Mal and the Operative has to take place and Mal return for us to spot that Kaylee, while not moving very much at all, is still conscious.
Averted in the novel Jurassic Park, where the big Tyrannosaurus rex (yes, there are two Tyrannosaurs) takes over an hour to feel it when she's shot with several times the so-called recommended tranq dose. In fact, she nearly eats the kids while everyone's waiting for her to pitch over.
In the universe of Steven Perry's Matador series, one of the legal loads for the hand-mounted spetsdod is a round loaded with a tranquilizer, appropriately called "Trank".
Dune has this come up when Leto finds the Shaddout Mapes dying on the floor in the palace and Doctor Yueh shoots him with a dart (at the start of the Harkonnens' raid on Arrakis). Yueh is the family physician, so he knows the duke's body mass, metabolism, and so on. Some reference to the drugging of Jessica and Paul is also made; the Baron stands over Jessica as she comes to and tells her, "The drug was timed." This admission tells her the traitor has detailed and intimate knowledge of her vital statistics.
Subverted in an episode of LOST, where Sayid is shot twice with tranquilizing darts. He pulls one dart out and we're led to believe that the trope is playing straight until he surprises the shooter, who approached him to confirm unconsciousness. Pretty much played straight in a lot of other episodes, featuring darts, gas and chloroform. Namely, some episodes in this respective order are: "Live Together, Die Alone", "Left Behind" and "Something Nice Back Home".
In "In The Line of Duty", when Sam/Jolinar gets tranqued twice, the first case with "enough to knock out an elephant," it takes a minute before she's out.
In one episode Daniel shoots Osiris with a tranq dart, and she pulls it out, looks annoyed, goes and activates some transporter rings, then leaves in a spaceship. The last shot of her shows that she's just a tad off balance, and that's about two minutes after getting shot. Note that he's using a Goa'uld-specific sedative.
In the later seasons, people are using tranq darts all the time and they often knock the victim out in less then a second, and occasionally cause the victim to throw themselves away from the dart.
Subverted once on The Red Green Show. Ed Frid once shot himself in the foot with a tranquilizer dart and remained conscious long enough to calculate how long he would sleep, give Red instructions on how to deal with the animal they'd captured and lay down comfortably.
Used in nearly every episode of Dexter as well. Although in this case, they reveal the name of the sedative, which is an animal tranquilizer that really does work that fast. It also causes significant damage to the kidneys and frequently stops hearts, but given these people won't be alive for long....
The one time it takes the tranquilizer longer to work, the target is an animal control worker who is holding a tranquilizer gun loaded to take down an alligator. He has enough time to shoot Dexter with it before he collapses. Dexter also has a bit of time to pull the dart out before losing consciousness. They both wake up in an ambulance with some really worried EMTs.
Eureka equips Taggert, the Crocodile Dundee-esque dogcatcher, with these. Used twice, to take down Fish out of Water Marshall Jack Carter, and inadvertently, the owner of the town's biggest (and possibly only) café.
Subverted in Malcolm in the Middle, where trapped with a pair of lions, Malcolm shoots down the zoo personnel's idea of tranquilizing them on the grounds that the beasts would have just enough time to get angry and tear them apart (the show puts it at three minutes, which is almost certainly selling the lions short, but it's the thought that counts).
Chuck. Every time tranquilizers are used, unless the victim is Badass Normal Casey. When they have to tranquilize Jeff and Lester, Lester goes down instantly but Jeff takes multiple darts and a few minutes to lose consciousness. Jeff is a bigger guy and his past drug use made him more resistant.
Subverted in Friends when Phoebe is shot in the backside with a dart. She never passes out, though she does comment that her buttock is asleep (and that the other one has no idea). Of course, the dart was intended for a very small monkey, so there probably wasn't much juice in there anyway.
An episode of the documentary series Fatal Attractions gave a good illustration of how these work in Real Life. When a man was discovered keeping a full-grown tiger in a New York City public-housing apartment, a NYPD officer rappelled down from the roof with a tranquilizer gun to shoot the tiger through the window. When he did, the tiger immediately charged, hitting the wall with such force that the entire building shook. Only then did the tranquilizer take effect, enabling officers to safely remove the tiger from the building.
In The Incredible HulkIntrepid Reporter Jack McGee at one point has a tranq gun to use on the Hulk. Sure enough, the Hulk shows up and McGee shoots him, to seemingly no effect even though he uses several darts. After the Hulk grabs & destroys the gun and runs off, he starts being affected.
In one episode of Raw, the Big Show was shot by a tranquilizer dart used to take down dangerous animals. He may be a giant, but a rampaging deer still weighs more than twice his size. They didn't show a concern for him overdosing, but they did have him raging and ready to fight until it kicked in five minutes later so it's up to you to decide if this was played with, played straight, averted, inverted, or subverted.
Averted in Deus Ex. JC's mini-crossbow can be loaded with Tranquilizer Darts which take several seconds to subdue the target. And, furthering the aversion, the victim runs around yelling for help before falling unconscious. Though shooting them in the head plays it straight, earning you an instant knock-out.
Played straight and averted in Metal Gear Solid. Hitting somebody in the head or the heart with the tranquilizing weapons (that is, not the stun grenades or the taser-like weapons) knocks out instantly while hitting the belly or the limbs delays the effect. Some of the boss characters are bizarrely resiliant to tranquilizer rounds, though, and can take several rounds to the head before passing out, even though Otacon insists that the tranquilizer rounds are potent enough to knock out an elephant.
Played straight in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game when Silver Sable tries to kidnap Peter Parker by knocking him out with a couple of tranquilizer darts... for a few minutes anyway. Then his enhanced metabolism kicks in allowing him to wake up earlier than he was supposed to and resist all subsequent shots. Cue boss battle where he has to fight off both Silver Sable and her mercenaries while trying not to succumb to the effects of the tranquilizers in his system.
Second Sight has people staggering around for a few moments after being hit with tranquillizer darts,then reacting like they have been punched in the chest and falling over. Hitting them in the head takes them down instantly. It's worth noting that on the few occasions where you're shot with one yourself, it slowly saps your health rather than knocking you out (although the game treats knocked out enemies more or lessthe same as dead ones and the cutscenes that play after you're defeated would indicate that you survive whatever takes you down).
In The Several Journeys of Reemus: Chapter two, Reemus is shot from offscreen by a dart so loaded with sedative that it actually sprays a considerable amount on Liam when it hits. Liam has just enough time to identify the sedative before he, too, is shot and goes under. Later on, they have to collect a sample of it (it's a type of honey made by a particular bee, which is so potent that even a small amount contains enough sugar to induce a temporary diabetic coma) to exploit it's faux-sedative properties. * Used frequently in the Monster Hunter series, with Tranq Bombs, Tranq S bowgun ammo, and even Tranq Throwing Knives, required for monster capture quests. Though, to be fair, first you have to weaken them significantly and catch them in a trap. They have no effect otherwise.
Adam Jensen continues, or rather set the precedent for JC to follow in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and has access to a tranquillizer rifle.
Perfect Dark has a tranquillizer gun, but instead of knocking targets out, it blurs their vision, lowering their accuracy. The alternate fire gives the darts a lethal overdose.
A stock weapon in the No One Lives Forever series, essential in the levels where "no casualties" is the requirement.
Subverted and Lampshaded in The Last Days of Foxhound. When Liquid is possessed by Big Boss and he is threatening Raven, he is shot in the head with a high dosage tranq dart by Wolf, and it takes him several seconds to fall unconscious, causing Raven to say "That took way too fucking long". Also subverted when the Cyborg Ninja is tranquillized and remains conscious long enough to flee.
Wolf: I can never get ze dose right vith zese super-humans.
In an early episode, Peter's boss devises a contest for the company picnic, which involves taking shots at the employees with a tranq rifle and seeing who can last the longest. Most of the employees drop like stones the moment they get shot... except for Peter, who ends up with more than a dozen tranquillizer needles stuck in him, and still manages to stay conscious long enough to win the contest. It would seem that this is due to his relatively high body mass, which (in theory) would require longer for the chemicals to spread through his body.
Bart has just been "taken" by a monkey at a local zoo, and Homer tries to save him by putting a tranq-dart into a tube and putting it into his mouth. He then inhales, and it gets self-explanatory after that.
Subverted in another episode when Barney is shot with a bear tranquilizer dart. He actually pulls out the dart and drinks the remaining sedative before passing out.
In Gargoyles, when Brooklyn is hit with one, he goes down almost instantly, but is still blinking groggily when he's dragged away -- so it may not have put him out completely at all.
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