Created By: Glucharina on April 27, 2011 Last Edited By: GrigorII on November 16, 2016
Troped

Kidnapped Doctor

A doctor has to provide medical care outside of the legal health system.

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Trope
If your friend is injured and can't go to hospital, why not make hospital come to you? Kidnap a doctor and force him to treat your friend.

This plot can be seen from both sides. The doctor may be a protagonist and his kidnappers are bad guys, most likely criminals. Or the hero may be the kidnapper because he is on the run from the law (perhaps he is a Vigilante Man in distress) and can't get help officially.

Patient-Doctor relationship adds additional complexity to the story. The doctor may suffer Conflicting Loyalties: on one side, he has to report his actions (specially if he's treating a gunshot injury), but on the other, the Hippocratic Oath would require him to help as best as he can. Being outside a hospital may make things more complicated, as the doctor does not have access to his regular tools and may have to resort to a lot of MacGyvering to compensate. And, of course, there's also the risk that the criminals may decide to Leave No Witnesses once the doctor has outlived his usefulness.

Compare Back-Alley Doctor, for doctors who are not dragged into this situation, but actually work that way in a regular basis. A Kidnapped Scientist is similarily kidnapped by the bad guys to make the science work that the bad guys do not understand.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • It happened at least once in Monster, sorta. The protagonist is a doctor - a surgeon, at that - but he's also on the run from the law due to being framed as a serial killer. Thus, he sometimes wind up working as a Crime Doctor of sorts, including situations like these.
  • Also, I'm pretty sure it's happened to BlackJack a few times. I definitely remember some mobsters forcing their way into his remote clinic and threatening to kill him unless he fixed their boss's gunshot-wound.

Comic Books
  • In the Batman comics, Dr Thomas Wayne (father of Bruce Wayne) was once kidnapped away from a masquerade party to treat the wounds of gangster Lew Moxon.

Literature
  • The The Indian in the Cupboard series has an unusual variant—the eponymous cupboard can bring plastic figures to life by transporting real people through time. When some of the people transported this way are injured, Omri uses the cupboard to animate a hospital nurse and a WW1 combat medic to treat their wounds.
  • Owlsight: Ghost Cat clan came to Valdemar in search of the legendary Valdemaran Healers for their sick children, and were prepared to kidnap some if other methods of getting a Healer to accompany them didn't work. Several Healers get into an argument over whether Healer's Oath demands they head off to the Ghost Cat encampment despite the risk of kidnapping.
  • Storm from the Shadows: During the post-Battle of Monica standoff, Monican authorities demand Terekhov let them evacuate "ill" personnel from a space station. Terekhov suspects this is a bluff, but doesn't want to send a medical team to the station — even if the illness is real, the Monicans are certain to take the Manticoran doctors prisoner.
  • In Darth Bane, Bane and Zannah each force a renowned healer, Caleb, to tend to Bane at various times with threats to his family. In Bane's case, he spares Caleb's life afterwards expecting he may need the healer's services again, but Zannah kills Caleb as part of a ruse to make the Jedi think the Sith are finally gone for good.

Live-Action TV
  • In Lost, The Others kidnap Jack in hopes of getting him to operate on a tumor in Ben's spine.
  • In Sanctuary, group of criminals kidnapped Dr. Will Zimmerman and forced him to treat their boss. Not a wise choice, by the way
  • In an episode of Firefly, Simon, their doctor, is kidnapped by a village on a rural planet to tend their people and live their forever. He isn't very happy about it.
  • Prison Break: After the "Fox River 8" escape the titular penitentiary, T-Bag gets his hand cut off when he cuffs himself to Michael. He later takes a veterinarian hostage to force him to stitch it back on despite the man's protests that he's trained to treat animals, not people. T-Bag kills him when he's finished anyway.

Video Games
  • In Fallout: New Vegas this is one possible solution to a quest, useful if your character's own medical skills are too low.

Western Animation
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Paging the Crime Doctor", Leslie Thompkins is kidnapped to perform an emergency surgery on Rupert Thorne.

Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • April 27, 2011
    Koveras
    In the Batman The Animated Series episode "Paging the Crime Doctor", Leslie Thompkins is kidnapped to perform an emergency surgery on Rupert Thorne.
  • April 27, 2011
    randomsurfer
    .
  • April 27, 2011
    BlackDragon
    It happened at least once in Monster, sorta. The protagonist is a doctor - a surgeon, at that - but he's also on the run from the law due to being framed as a serial killer. Thus, he sometimes wind up working as a Crime Doctor of sorts, including situations like these.

    Also, I'm pretty sure it's happened to Black Jack a few times. I definitely remember some mobsters forcing their way into his remote clinic and threatening to kill him unless he fixed their boss's gunshot-wound.
  • April 27, 2011
    troacctid
    • In Lost, The Others kidnap Jack in hopes of getting him to operate on a tumor in Ben's spine.
    • The Indian In The Cupboard series has an unusual variant--the eponymous cupboard can bring plastic figures to life by transporting real people through time. When some of the people transported this way are injured, Omri uses the cupboard to animate a hospital nurse and a WW 1 combat medic to treat their wounds.
  • April 27, 2011
    foxley
    In the Batman comics, Dr Thomas Wayne (father of Bruce Wayne) was once kidnapped away from a masquerade party to treat the wounds of gangster Lew Moxon.
  • April 27, 2011
    Topazan
    • In Fallout New Vegas this is one possible solution to a quest, useful if your character's own medical skills are too low.

    I think this could be widened to include other professionals. Kidnapping A Specialist? If so...
    • In Evil Genius this is how you acquire new skills for your minions. You send your men on a mission to kidnap a specialist, then interrogate the specialist to learn their skills.
  • April 27, 2011
    Glucharina
    Evil Genius example doesn't fit this trope, because kidnapped specialist are not forced to work, but interrogated.

    Also, being doctor adds moral complexity to the story. Without Hippocratic Oath, they are simply slaves.
  • April 28, 2011
    Topazan
    Well, ok, but that seems like an arbitrary difference to me. In both cases you're kidnapping someone to make use of their skills. It doesn't make that much difference story-wise if you want them to use the skills or teach them to someone else.
  • April 28, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • In an episode of Firefly, Simon, their doctor, is kidnapped by a village on a rural planet to tend their people and live their forever. He isn't very happy about it.
  • April 28, 2011
    arromdee
    The Sanctuary example should not say "not a wise choice". The head criminal kidnapped Will because she wanted the guy to die, but had to make it look like it wasn't intentional, so kidnapping Will makes perfect sense.
  • April 28, 2011
    Zyfarius
    I agree with Topazan's idea. We would get much more mileage out of a generalized "kidnapping a specialist" trope. On that note:
    • In Professor Layton And The Unwound Future, scientists are kidnapped by Clive to build the giant underground fortress.
    • In Iron Man, Tony Stark is kidnapped by terrorists, who attempt to force him to make a missile for them. Things do not go as planned.

    EDIT: Actually, the OP's notion of a difference in dynamic between just a kidnapped specialist and a kidnapped doctor makes sense. Perhaps we could have sub-folders listing common instances of Kidnapped Specialist, like doctors and scientists, as well as a folder for miscellaneous examples. This all depens on how many example we flesh out, of course.
  • April 28, 2011
    Hukky
    Not to be confused with Shoot The Medic First.
  • April 28, 2011
    arromdee
    Kamen Rider Black movie 2 has a scientist kidnapped to help build the villains a robot, with his wife and daughter as hostage. Unusually, he gets rescued before he builds the robot.

    Examples of this are very common in such shows, this just happens to be one I watched recently.
  • April 28, 2011
    Topazan
    @Glucharina - I just saw your edit about the Hippocratic Oath. Does that mean we should exclude examples where the oath isn't brought up?

    I think that there are two separate tropes. Any plot that places a doctor in a position where they're the only ones who can treat someone they may not want to can set the stage for a medical ethics conflict. I can think of at least a couple of examples where this is the case without the doctor being kidnapped. If that's what you want this trope to be about, then I recommend dropping the kidnapping element from the name and description.

    I also think that 'kidnapping someone to make use of their skills' is a viable trope, without the medical ethics angle. IMO, it's unnecessarily specific to limit oneself to plots where these elements overlap.

    At any rate, here's another example:
    • In the Star Trek Enterprise episode 'Affliction', a group of klingons abduct Dr. Phlox to secure his aid in developing a cure for a disease that threatens the empire.
  • April 29, 2011
    arromdee
  • April 29, 2011
    Odon
    Deep Space Nine. A slightly different take on this trope: Bashir and O'Brian are captured by a group of renegade Jem Haddar who plan to execute them on the spot, but their leader stops this because he wants them to cure them of their addiction to Ketracel White.
  • April 29, 2011
    foxley
    The other major difference I can think of between kidnapping a doctor and kidnapping some other specialist is planning. Kidnapping a specialist is usually the specific objective of a mission. Kidnapping a doctor is usually done on the fly becuase a member of the team got injured during the job.
  • April 29, 2011
    Arivne
    Kidnapping a doctor (original YKTTW)

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Next Generation episode "The High Ground". A group of terrorists/freedom fighters on the planet Rutia IV kidnap Doctor Crusher from the Enterprise. They need her to treat the side effects of the inverter device they use for dimensional shifting (i.e. teleportation).
    • Baywatch episode "Tentacles". A woman kidnaps Mitch Buchannon to treat her boyfriend, a convict who was wounded while escaping from prison. Unfortunately Mitch is only a lifeguard and not a true doctor, and the woman will kill him if her boyfriend dies.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Champions adventure "The Great Super Villain Contest". A doctor is kidnapped to save a dead criminal by transplanting his brain into the body of another person.

    Kidnapping a specialist/scientist

    Film
    • Wild Wild West. Doctor Loveless kidnaps physicists and specialists in hydraulics and explosives to build his giant mechanical spider.
    • The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Former Chief Inspector Dreyfus kidnaps the nuclear physicist Professor Hugo Fassbender and forces him to build a weapon that destroys matter.
    • The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The Fantom kidnaps scientists and makes them create new weapons of war, including assault rifles and tanks.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Villains and Vigilantes. Super villains may kidnap scientists and force them to use their Invention Points to create useful devices for the villain.
  • April 29, 2011
    Thebes
    The Firefly example is misspelled: "live their forever" should be "live there forever."

    ^Some of those are non-medical doctors, and as such don't quite fit the trope dynamic.
  • April 29, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    Happens to both Dr. Keller and Dr. Beckett on Stargate Atlantis.
  • April 29, 2011
    captainbrass2
    I'm not sure about the example from The Indian In The Cupboard - there's no actual kidnapping. Bringing extra toy figures to life isn't quite the same.
  • April 29, 2011
    troacctid
    ^ The toy they bring to life corresponds with a real person from a different time and place, and when they animate the toy, that person goes into a comatose state back in their own time.
  • November 14, 2016
    GrigorII
    I'm taking this one up for grabs (it's five years old)
  • November 14, 2016
    Leporidae
    Live Action TV Example(?): Does the case of Albert Thompson in Jessica Jones count? He's technically a scientist, not a doctor, but he is held against his will and forced to "medically assist" Kilgrave. Never mind their troubled past.
  • November 14, 2016
    Omeganian
    In Norbert Wiener's short story "The Brain", a gangster's mooks summon a doctor to perform urgent surgery on their leader, who got hit in the head (allegedly in a car crash). Since the gangster's driving had already cost the doctor his family, he takes the opportunity to perform a quick lobotomy, leading to the gang being wiped out during the next robbery.
  • November 14, 2016
    LondonKdS
    In one episode of Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah kidnaps an emergency room doctor after being shot. She quickly wins the doctor over by pretending to be fleeing a domestic abuser.
  • November 14, 2016
    Astaroth
    In the Diagnosis Murder episode Murder on the Run, a convicted murderer is sent to Community General hospital after a prison transport crash, but takes Dr Mark Sloan as a hostage and flees. Mark later has to perform impromptu surgery on him when the broken rib he suffered during the crash punctures his lung.
  • November 14, 2016
    DrNoPuma
    We already have Kidnapped Scientist. This might be different enough to be tropeworthy, though. I'm not sure.
  • November 14, 2016
    Antigone3
    It doesn't happen, but it's talked about on-page if that counts —

    Owlsight: Ghost Cat clan came to Valdemar in search of the legendary Valdemaran Healers for their sick children, and were prepared to kidnap some if other methods of getting a Healer to accompany them didn't work. Several Healers get into an argument over whether Healer's Oath demands they head off to the Ghost Cat encampment despite the risk of kidnapping.

    Storm from the Shadows: During the post-Battle of Monica standoff, Monican authorities demand Terekhov let them evacuate "ill" personnel from a space station. Terekhov suspects this is a bluff, but doesn't want to send a medical team to the station — even if the illness is real, the Monicans are certain to take the Manticoran doctors prisoner.
  • November 14, 2016
    Antigone3
    Oh, and I took a look at Kidnapped Scientist. I think this is distinct enough thanks to the Hippocratic Oath (or equivalent) — a kidnapped scientist needs to be forced to work, but a kidnapped doctor is being coerced by his own ethics. (Suggestion: rename this one Kidnapped Doctor.)
  • November 15, 2016
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Added punctuation (periods at the ends of sentences).
    • Examples section
  • November 15, 2016
    StarSword
    Page quote:
    Hoban Washburne: I went by the sheriff's office. Seems if we had checked the posted alerts for this rock, we might've known it. Settlers in the hills take people sometimes. Usually tradesmen and the like.
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: And now they got themselves a doctor. And we don't.
    — "Safe", Firefly

    Literature:
    • In Darth Bane, Bane and Zannah each force a renowned healer, Caleb, to tend to Bane at various times with threats to his family. In Bane's case, he spares Caleb's life afterwards expecting he may need the healer's services again, but Zannah kills Caleb as part of a ruse to make the Jedi think the Sith are finally gone for good.
  • November 16, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    • Prison Break: After the "Fox River 8" escape the titular penitentiary, T-Bag gets his hand cut off when he cuffs himself to Michael. He later takes a veterinarian hostage to force him to stitch it back on despite the man's protests that he's trained to treat animals, not people. T-Bag kills him when he's finished anyway.
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