Created By: Tacitus on July 31, 2009
Troped

Sealed Badass In A Can

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A Badass who, as the trope's title suggests, is locked away until such time as his or her abilities are needed. This can happen for a variety of reasons: maybe the Badass's society is peaceful and doesn't around a killing machine around all the time. Perhaps the imprisonment was voluntary, with the character choosing to get sealed away with a terrible evil just in case the seal doesn't hold. Sometimes the Badass doesn't have any choice in the matter, and is stuffed away until his or her handlers decide it's time for violence. Or maybe the Badass is a little too boisterous a bruiser between missions.

In any case, when the time is right, this character adds whole new meaning to the phrase "opening up a can of whoopass."

A neutral variant of Sealed Evil in a Can and Sealed Good in a Can. Occasionally involves a Human Popsicle.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • AKIRA
  • How Arcueid Brunestad was treated by the True Ancestors, and then by herself in Tsukihime. She'd wake up, destroy a target, then erase most of her memories and go back to sleep. Despite being born a thousand years ago, she only has about 1 year of living experience.
  • Alucard from Hellsing's anime, locked away by the Hellsing family before he is released by Integra.
  • In Macross II, we are given a glimpse of the cargo bay of an alien ship, where an army of Proud Warrior Race giant slave-soldiers are preserved waiting to be revived and sent into space.

Film
  • In Demolition Man criminals are locked in cryo-storage, and the world gradually gets more clean, neat and pacifistic. Then Wesley Snipes breaks out of cryostorage and starts killing people, and nobody knows how to stop him! Fortunately, they cryo-preserved Sylvester 'The Itallian Stallion' Stallone too, so they thaw him out to counter Snipes...
  • One of the Metal Gear Solid side-games reveals that Frank Jager, AKA Grey Fox, started his 'career' in black-ops as a project codenamed 'NULL'. He was kept in a sensory deprivation tank, without memories or any sense of self, and only pulled woken up when the government needed someone killed.
  • The Beast in Kung Fu Hustle willingly checked him into an insane asylum due to a lack of challenging opponents to fight.

Literature
  • There is a Christopher Anvil short story depicting a peaceful, pacifistic planetary society. An evil, violent armada of aliens think the planet is ripe for harvest, but soon learn otherwise. It turns out that if any of the people develop violent tendencies, they are put through intense, thorough training in various types of warfare and strategy, and then are put into suspended animation until needed.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's story ''With Friends Like These..." the Badass who is sealed in a can is the human race.
  • Wheel of Time

Live-Action TV
  • There was a Star Trek TNG episode where some Klingons who had been in deep sleep since before the Klingons and Federation made peace were about to wake up in their battle cruiser. They were supposed to attack the first Federation ship they encountered.

Myth And Legend
  • This tends to pop up a lot in mythology or religion. Jesus Christ will show up on Judgment Day with an impact that will split a mountain before he starts slaughtering the unbelievers. King Arthur is slumbering somewhere until England needs him most, Charlemagne will someday return to help France, and Denmark has Holger Danske in reserve somewhere.

Tabletop Games
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium's Eversor assassins are kept in stasis pods when not on a mission, as their bodies are pumped full of stimulants that turn them Ax-Crazy and significantly shorten their lifespan (not to mention cause them to literally explode upon death).
    • The Eldar use a weird variant of this trope by sealing the badass inside their own head. The Eldar travel different "Paths" of life at a time, focusing on one skill to the exclusion of all others, mastering it, and moving on. So an Eldar who trains to become a specialized Aspect Warrior on the battlefield will set aside those skills and even the whole warrior persona when they're finished, until the time for war is nigh. They effectively cultivate multiple personality disorder to help control the bloodlust the Eldar race lives in constant denial of.
  • The Traveller classic adventure Twilight's Peak. The Ancient base has a number of warriors still held in stasis from the War 300,000 years earlier. They were automatically released when any violence occurred inside the base.

Video Games
  • In StarCraft, this is what happens to the Terran Marines between missions: cryogenic storage. Not surprising, since they're mostly a bunch of "rehabilitated" criminals.
  • Between Half-Life 1 and 2, Gordon Freeman is put away in stasis somewhere for two decades, until the right man is needed in the wrong place.
  • Happens at the end of Halo 3.
  • Mega Man X spent decades undergoing ethics testing in a sealed capsule, to ensure that the world's most powerful android didn't turn evil.
  • Tangentially, in inFamous, a friendly NSA agent you get into contact to warns you that the CIA will do this to you if you give 'em half a chance - lock you away somewhere in an insulated room, and only release you when they want some shit blown up.

Web Original
  • SCP-076 is the very embodiment of this trope.

Other
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • July 15, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    There is a variation in the King Arthur legend that claims he will return when Great Britton is in its greatest need.
  • July 15, 2009
    johnnye
    Won't most of these fall under either Sealed Evil In A Can or Sealed Good In A Can?
  • July 15, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Wheel of Time series (great books). Also the bad guy in Kung Fu Panda.
  • July 15, 2009
    AvatarofRage
    I think this is where the sealed isn't necessarily good or evil, but instead sealed with a specific purpose in mind, or just don't have any moral axis they can be judged on
  • July 15, 2009
    Tacitus
    Huh, so this is the "Neutral" third option between the Sealed ___s in a Can? They aren't a Big Bad/Good being stuffed somewhere because they're too powerful to drop, they're characters awaiting their moment to shine, regardless of alignment. Is that what we're going for?
    • The recent Star Craft 2 trailer suggests this is what happens to the Terran Marines between missions: cryogenic storage. Not surprising, since they're mostly a bunch of "rehabilitated" criminals.
    • "The, right man in the...wrong place can make all the dif-fer-ence, in, the world."
    • The Eldar of Warhammer 40000 use a weird variant of this trope by sealing the badass inside their own head. The Eldar travel different "Paths" of life at a time, focusing on one skill to the exclusion of all others, mastering it, and moving on. So an Eldar who walks the Path of the Warrior to become a specialized Aspect Warrior on the battlefield will set those skills aside when they're finished, until the time for war is nigh. They effectively cultivate multiple personality disorder to help control the bloodlust the Eldar race lives in constant denial of.
  • July 15, 2009
    Jack Butler
    Ini Alan Dean Foster's story ''With Friends Like These..." the Badass who is sealed in a can is the human race.
  • July 17, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I don't know about "in a can" - but most "western" religions have some form of this - Christ will come again, the Messiah will come and make all things right, etc... It's worth noting that the descriptions of these often focus more on the badass than the actual good - see the book of Ezekiel, where the Messiah(/Christ) is prophesied to come down on earth hard enough to split a freaking mountain, and then pretty much kills all the baddies like Neo on angrypills.

    Also, Akira (a good example of something not good or evil necessarily)

    And in some form, Halo.
  • July 18, 2009
    Tacitus
    I dunno, the image of the Christ sealed away in a Mega Man capsule is strangely appealing. Oh yeah...
    • Mega Man X was sealed in his capsule for decades, undergoing ethics testing to make sure that, as the first free-willed robot, he wouldn't turn out evil.
  • July 18, 2009
    BlueHeel
    Mutant Zero fit into this category before her identity was reveald. With the shadow initiative, Mutant Zero could only be used/activated once per mission.
  • July 18, 2009
    random surfer
    There was a Star Trek TNG episode where some Klingons who had been in deep sleep since before the Klingons and Federation made peace were about to wake up in their battle cruiser. They were supposed to attack the first Federation ship they encountered.
  • July 18, 2009
    SevenMass
    This trope would give a whole new meaning to the act of "opening a can of whoopass"
  • July 18, 2009
    BlackDragon
    -looks above-

    Hmm...

    I propose Sealed Whoopass In A Can for a name. :D

    Anyway, I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Demolition Man yet. Criminals are locked in cryo-storage, and the world gradually gets more clean, neat and pacifistic. Then Wesley Snipes breaks out of cryostorage and starts killing people, and nobody knows how to stop him! Fortunately, they cryo-preserved Sylvester 'The Itallian Stallion' Stallone too, so they thaw him out to counter Snipes...

    Also, one of the Metal Gear Solid side-games reveals that Frank Jager, AKA Grey Fox, started his 'career' in black-ops as a project codenamed 'NULL'. He was kept in a sensory deprivation tank, without memories or any sense of self, and only pulled woken up when the government needed someone killed.

    Tangentially, in inFamous, a friendly NSA agent you get into contact to warns you that the CIA will do this to you if you give 'em half a chance - lock you away somewhere in an insulated room, and only release you when they want some shit blown up.
  • July 19, 2009
    Zaxser
    Obviously, this should have it's own (small) index. Might want to include related tropes like Human Popsicle and such.
  • July 19, 2009
    LarryD
    The Legands about King Arthur sleeping (rather than being dead), to return when England needs him most.
  • July 19, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Him, and several dozen other Ancient Heroes. Practically every counry has its own King of Old who 'sleeps' somewhere, waiting for when his nation needs him again. France has Charlemagne, Denmark has Holger Danske... there are loads of others that I don't know by name.
  • July 27, 2009
    Tacitus
    Okay, prepping this sucker for launch, not that I'm calling dibs on it or anything. I'm just surprised it's fallen off the radar.

    Went from Badass Sealed... to Sealed Badass..., just to keep with the theme.

    Didn't include the Kung Fu Panda example, since I thought that was a straightforward Sealed Evil In A Can, or Mutant Zero, as the work wasn't cited.
  • July 27, 2009
    BrainSewage
    SCP-076 is the very embodiment of this trope.
  • July 27, 2009
    Nomic
    Also in Warhammer40000, the Imperium's Eversor asassins are kept in stasis pods when not on a mission, as their bodies are pumped full of stimulants that turn them Ax Crazy and significantly shorten their lifespan (not to mention cause them to literally explode upon death).
  • July 27, 2009
    random surfer
    The Beast in Kung Fu Hustle
  • July 28, 2009
    Andyzero
    How Arcueid Brunestad was treated by the True Ancestors, and then by herself in Tsukihime. She'd wake up, destroy a target, then erase most of her memories and go back to sleep. Despite being born a thousand years ago, she only has about 1 year of living experience.
  • July 30, 2009
    Tacitus
    Well, this one's all ready to go. I'll probably launch this after lunch tomorrow, unless someone feels like hitting the button between then and now.
  • July 30, 2009
    owh
    • Alucard from Hellsing's anime, locked away by the Hellsing family before he is released by Integra.
  • July 30, 2009
    Frodo Goofball CoTV

    Standard Operating Procedure in Sci Fi films, since ships often come with 'hypersleep chambers' or similar:
    • In an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, an entire Klingon battlecruiser, complete with crew.
    • Alien.
    • In Macross II, we are given a glimpse of the cargo bay of an alien ship, where an army of Proud Warrior Race giant slave - soldiers are preserved waiting to be revived and sent into space.
  • July 31, 2009
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Traveller Classic adventure Twilight's Peak. The Ancient base has a number of Ancients warriors still held in stasis from the time of the War, 300,000 years earlier. They were automatically released when any violence occurred inside the base.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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