[[quoteright:216:[[Manga/SaintSeiya http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/HesIntoChainsInAGoodWay.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:216:Andromeda Shun [[AccidentalInnuendo is into chains]]... ''[[ChainPain in a good way!]]'']]

->''"We are all bound to the throne of the Supreme Being by a flexible chain which restrains without enslaving us."''
-->-- '''Joseph de Maistre'''

Lots of characters use chains and [[WhipItGood whips]], mostly [[ImpossiblyCoolWeapon because it's cool]]. However, these often have the pesky problem of having limited reach, and if they're long they'll be heavy and bulky to carry. So how do you keep the cool while downplaying these inconveniences? By using Variable Length Chains! They grow long to reach a target, short when being carried, and even disappear entirely depending on needs.

Usually this is a stylistic effect that's [[RuleOfCool never addressed]]. When it is, the [[ShapeShifterBaggage extra length and weight of chains]] are usually said to be stored in {{Hammerspace}}, or the weapon is actually [[AWizardDidIt magical]], [[EmpathicWeapon empathic]] or somehow alive and able to prestidigitate more links as needed.

Usually paired with WhipItGood, ChainPain, ChainedByFashion and WhipSword. Sometimes uses InstantKnots.



[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Most incarnations of Dead Master in the ''Franchise/BlackRockShooter'' franchise can summon these out of nowhere.
* Shizuru Viola in ''Anime/MaiOtome'' has some sort of dual-bladed fighting stick (a bit like Darth Maul, only less - [[MagicFromTechnology or arguably more]] - teched up). Said blades discombobulate into chains of blade-chunks, but these appear to be variable-length and often greatly exceed the length of blade available when the weapon is in one piece. That said, all Otome technology seems to rely heavily on [[HammerSpace hammerspace]] so anything is probably possible. Her ''Anime/MaiHime'' incarnation's element (a [[BladeOnAStick naginata]] with WhipSword capabilities) also works this way, as she's able to swing it, wrap the blade around a bell several feet away several times, destroy the bell, and then wrap it aroind Natsuki before pulling it in.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''
** Nnoitra Jiruga has a chain connecting his axe to his outfit, the length of which seems to vary.
** Hisagi's shikai, as he can throw the blades at enemies a fair distance away and retract the chains easily.
** Renji's WhipSword shikai ''and'' bankai follow this trope. Justified with bankai by a lack of physical connection between each boney link.
* ''Anime/GaReiZero'': Michael-12 comes with an attachable chain so the blade isn't lost when it's [[ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks launched]]. Where Kagura keeps several dozen metres worth of chain? Who knows?
* ''Anime/{{Daimos}}'' has metal jaws on chains shooting from his wrists. This is actually a combination of two weapons from Tadao Nagahama's previous SuperRobot show ''Anime/CombattlerV'', the Battler Gallager (jaws) and Choudenji Crane (actually a wrecking ball with a similar chain).
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''
** In the [[Anime/NarutoTheMovieGuardiansOfTheCrescentMoonKingdom third movie]], Lee combines a set of metal bars into nunchaku, then pulls them apart into a chain which is somehow long enough to wrap around a GiantMook and propel him high into the air.
** Hidan's [[SinisterScythe tri-bladed scythe]] has a variable-length cable attached to it, allowing him to use it like a kusarigama or even ''[[RuleOfCool pull himself through midair by the cable]].''
** [[spoiler:Naruto's mother, Kushina Uzumaki,]] could summon chains from her body powerful enough to hold down [[AnimalisticAbomination Tailed Beasts]]. Her distant clanswoman, [[spoiler:Karin]], later awakens the same ability. Tobi/[[spoiler:Obito Uchiha]], after gaining the Rinnegan, and [[spoiler:Madara Uchiha]], after his resurrection [[spoiler:and regaining his Rinnegan from Obito]], used this ability derived from power of the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path to extract, reseal, and/or control the Tailed Beasts. Justified on the basis that the chains are solidified constructs of chakra and they could generate chain links as long as they have sufficient energy to create and sustain them.
* Kurapika of ''Manga/HunterXHunter'' uses an arsenal of such chains in combat. Justified, as the in-universe magic (Nen arts & skills) features a school of controlling items and [[spoiler:averted as the chains are actually the manifestation of Kurapika's summoning Nen skill]].
* ''Manga/SaintSeiya''
** Andromeda Shun IS this trope. It's justified, in that his armor is mystic in nature and the chains are [[EmpathicWeapon somewhat]] [[EvilDetectingDog sentient]] on their own, but some of his attacks can get downright ridiculous. Really, the page picture doesn't do his mastery of this trope justice. In the Poseidon arc his fight with Io Scylla has him create a giant web of chains to stop an attack... and ''still'' have enough to attack Scylla. When idle, the lengths of the Nebula Chain hang about 1 or 2 feet long from each of his arms. However, he can unspool them to several dozen yards in a defensive ring around himself; by his own words, the chain can extend across the entire galaxy (and across dimensions!) to strike at a foe. D
uring the Dark Saints arc, when, after Seiya has fallen into a ravine, Shun pulls him up with one of his chains not by hoisting the chain up like rope, as anyone else would have done, but by ''retracting'' it into {{Hammerspace}} as if it were measuring tape. Shun did explain during the battle against the [[EvilCounterpart Cerberus Saint]] that the length and power of the chains is directly proportional to the amount of cosmos the user possesses, and if we take into account the flashback in which his teacher lectures him and his fellow trainees about how a Saint's cosmos is limitless... well, [[MoreThanInfinite you get the idea]]. And Shun loves to mention his chain can reach even ''different dimensions''.
** This also applies to other weapons such as Balrog Lune's whip, or the chains that the Libra Gold Cloth's shields have.
* ''Franchise/SailorMoon''
** Sailor Venus' ''Love Me Chain'' is shown to work this way (justified via magic).
** Tuxedo Mask has a Variable Length ''Cane''.
* ''Anime/YesPrettyCure5GoGo'': A similar example to Sailor Venus' Love Me Chain is Cure Lemonade's Prism Chain, summoning a pair of two chains. Though, the chains are made of magical ''butterflies''.
* Touka of ''Anime/{{Grenadier}},'' who wields a ball and chain that must be several hundred feet long, yet somehow retracts into her staff.
* Tsubaki, kusarigama mode, in ''Manga/SoulEater''. Especially apparent when Black Star uses his Trap Star technique. Given that she's one of the ridiculously large proportion of human-weapon shapeshifter characters in the series, this is passable.
* [[Franchise/LyricalNanoha Signum's]] EmpathicWeapon Levantine can change into a VariableLengthChain form, since it's a magical weapon with a connection to hyperspace.
* Gojyo's Shakujo chain in ''Manga/{{Saiyuki}}''; justified in that it's a magical artifact.
* In ''Manga/PokemonSpecial'', Yellow's fishing line. This would be averted if her rod had a reel, but no, her line is simply tied to the end of her rod.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'': Kyouko's [[WhipSword Whip Spear]].
* Pretty much any whip-type weapon in the ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' franchise, the most JustForFun/{{egregious}} being the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam Gouf's]] heat rod (a metal tentacle that somehow all fits within a forearm only slightly larger than normal) and [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing Gundam Nataku's]] dragon fang (a dragon-shaped claw with a seemingly endless "chain" of red boxes, officially stated to be 250 meters in length).
** The Gouf got two "corrections" which made the concept more believable: ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamThe08thMSTeam'' introduced the Gouf Custom, a remodel whose heat rod is simply a wire with a magnetic anchor on the end, while ''GundamTheOrigin''[='s=] redesigned the original with a substantially beefed-up arm and slimmed-down heat rod.
* From ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', Mousse's entire fighting style consists of things stored in [[HyperspaceArsenal Hammerspace]], so it's not surprising that his arsenal contains chains which, when he does use them, shoot out rapidly and usually instantly wrap themselves around his target.
* Hades from ''Manga/FairyTail'' produces powerful magical chains from his hands as his signature magic. It's later revealed that before he used magic his [[WeaponOfChoice preferred weapon]] was a chain-blade.
* Nate Mitotsudaira from ''LightNovel/HorizonInTheMiddleOfNowhere'' has chains like these.

* Comicbook/GhostRider, possibly justified by the fact that his chain is a magical artifact.
* Justified for Comicbook/{{Spawn}}, what with having made a DealWithTheDevil for his powers.
* Variable length or, "elasticity", is explicitly one of the qualities of the magical rope of ComicBook/WonderWoman's lasso of truth.

* The hooked chains that Pinhead uses as his WeaponOfChoice in the ''Franchise/{{Hellraiser}}'' series.
* In the ''Film/ScottPilgrim'' movie Roxy wears her chain whip as a belt when not in use. It seems to get a lot longer when she actually wields it. Considering that Ramona pulls a giant war hammer out of her purse a few seconds after Roxy shows off the belt, it could just be the Pilgrim-verse's CartoonPhysics coming into play.

* ''Literature/{{Dragaera}}'': The magical chain ''[[ICallItVera Spellbreaker]]'' used by protagonist Vlad Taltos, which aside from [[AntiMagic breaking enchantments]], changes both the size and ''number'' of links when he's not looking. This is something that disturbs Vlad when he thinks about it too much.
* Melek's rope in ''Literature/TheAncestralTrail'' explicitly lengthens on several occasions when they need it to. It's ambiguous whether this is a property of the rope or Melek himself.
* Played with in ''[[Literature/GarrettPI Petty Pewter Gods]]'', in which a creepy goddess loans Garrett a length of magical cord that can be manipulated in various ways, including elongating it as needed.
* In the ''Literature/{{Xanth}}'' novel ''Ogre, Ogre'', Smash must solve some puzzles using a ball of twine that can be rolled out to any length.
* The "variable sword" in Creator/LarryNiven's ''Literature/KnownSpace'' universe consists of a handle which contains a spool of monofilament wire. A variable length is then extended from the handle, and an electrical charge causes it to go rigid. Since the wire is so thin as to be practically invisible to the naked eye, a large colorful ball is stuck on the far end so the user can visually gauge how far the wire is extending.
* ''Literature/JudgeDee'': [[ThoseTwoGuys the Shrimp and the Crab]] fight with [[EpicFlail a chain fitted with iron weights]], lengthened and shortened as required (or rather, the Shrimp does, the Crab coaches him) and hidden under the Shrimp's robes. An envious Ma Jong asks if he can learn this technique, but the Crab tells him [[TheBigGuy large men]] can't master it, because they always try to hit too hard. Using it correctly requires mastering the exact distance for the short end and the long end of the chain, as well as reeling one in to lengthen the other.
* The ArchangelMichael has one for binding up Satan before tossing him into the BottomlessPit in the Literature/LeftBehind book ''Glorious Appearing''.
* In the ''Literature/WheelOfTime'' series, the leash between a ''damane's'' collar and her ''sul'dam's'' bracelet seems to be jointed, or woven, or even both, and is explicitly noted to be of variable length, from about a metre long to roughly three depending on need.

* This is a justified trope with the monowire whips from ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'': Ultra-Tech can switch automatically from one to seven yards long, allowing the user to enjoy the benefits of different-sized whips. It's justified because there is a spool of monowire in the whip, and being so thin it could be miles long. ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' has it pretty much the same way.
* Employed by Choke Chain of ''TabletopGame/MutantsAndMasterminds'''s META-4 setting due to her having been empowered by an agent of chaos.

* ''Franchise/MortalKombat'''s Scorpion and his Bloody Spear.
* The Belmont Clan's upgraded Vampire Killer whip in ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' games. Some games also have the whip Nebula, which is a direct ShoutOut to the ''Manga/SaintSeiya'' version above, with the more common version of it automatically homing towards enemies.
* Kratos' Blades of Chaos/Athena/Exile'' in the ''VideoGame/GodOfWarSeries'' have less than a foot of chain when on his back, and can become several dozen meters long when in BossBattle cinematics. Justified because the blades are explicitly stated to be magical.
* Selphie in ''VideoGame/{{Kingdom Hearts|I}}'', with a jump rope substituting for the [[FightingWithChucks nunchucks]] she wielded in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII''. Interestingly, she doesn't have this trope in ''FFVII''.
* If this trope doesn't make you think of Ivy's weapon, then you haven't played ''[[VideoGame/SoulSeries Soul Calibur]]''. Justified since she used alchemy and a fragment of [[EvilWeapon Soul Edge]] to forge it. The prototype that she made using only alchemy is so pathetic it's her [[JokeItem Joke Weapon]] in ''Soul Calibur II''. Oddly enough, while most examples of this trope grow infinite chain links, Ivy's weapon keeps the same number and stretches the length between them the further out her weapon extends.
* The Dark Prince's [[WhipSword Daggertail]] from ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersiaTheTwoThrones'' fits pretty well. In its normal form, it's a few links of spiked chain that are embedded in the Prince's arm, but the [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Dark Prince]] can lengthen them to a combat-worthy chain.
* ''VideoGame/BloodRayne'''s harpoon which sounds exactly like the Prince's daggertail.
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'':
** Rider's chains tend to vary in length many times in any given scene. Also an example of ChainedByFashion.
** Gilgamesh's Chain of Heaven (also known as "Enkidu," named for his sole friend) tends to vary in length and thickness from scene to scene as well, and even sometimes appears like multiple separate chains instead of a single one. Expanded universe material heavily implies, but hasn't confirmed yet, that this is because [[spoiler:the chain is ''literally'' the corpse of Enkidu, who in this setting is a shapeshifting clay doll.]]
* The chains connected to Giganscudo Duro's Rocket Anchors in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars''. The attachments on its arms they come out of don't look nearly big enough for them to retract into.
* Averted with Chang Koehan of ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'', as the chain to his iron ball ''is never animated''.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda''
** [[GrapplingHookPistol The Hookshot]] (and its variations, the Longshot and Clawshot) certainly qualifies, given it both has a chain long enough, and strong enough, to carry Link a considerable distance, while not having a notable chain hanging out from the device itself. Not to mention that the weapon is one handed and (in the case of the Clawshot) [[http://www.zeldawiki.org/Clawshot#Double_Clawshot can be]] [[DualWielding dual-wielded]].
** In the Wii edition of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'', in one region of the Arbiter's Grounds, a chain which you pull out of the wall ''visibly'' grows as needed: you can see links popping into existence on the wall end of the chain. It's presumably a level layout error rather than really this trope, though.
** There are also enemies that swing around a ball and chain in the 2D games; the chain extends up to the edge of the screen when they fling the ball at you, and then retracts so they can swing it around some more.
* Catwoman gets a Variable Length Whip in ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity''. It's necessary to jump across streets between buildings.
* Scharlachrot from ''VideoGame/ArcanaHeart 3'' has one, and she can throw magical fulcrums onto the field to temper/strengthen her special attacks.
* Remilia Scarlet from ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' uses those in the fighting games. They also chase you wherever you are.
* Axl Low from ''VideoGame/GuiltyGear'' is this, BIG TIME. In his [[IdleAnimation idle sprite]], the chain on his kusarigama is short enough that the whole thing isn't as long as he is tall. However, when battle comes around, some attacks can extend the chain the entire length of the screen! And his [[OneHitKill Instant Kills]] show the chains stretching ''beyond'' that. His intro pose in ''Xrd'' additionally depicts Axl [[WeaponTwirling twirling]] [[SimpleStaff twin rods]] in his hands before [[BifurcatedWeapon linking them together]] to form a longer staff that's seen during a scant number of attacks in the ''XX'' installments. He then yanks on both ends to free the chains holding his weapon together, leaving Axl with his default kusarigama. Apparently, the chains are stored in {{Hammerspace}}.
* ''Ninja Spirit'' has the Rising Dragon, a ''kusarigama'' whose chain can be extended and spun to sweep across the screen.
* In the Creator/DataEast UsefulNotes/ArcadeGame ''VideoGame/DarkSeal'', the Knight can extend and twirl around his Morning Star very quickly.
* Dhelmise's [[AnchorsAway anchor]] in ''VideoGame/PokemonSunAndMoon'' is attached to one such chain, and it uses it in an EpicFlail fashion. It is also used to coil around Pokémon during the Anchor Shot move, preventing them from escaping.

* In ''Webcomic/WickedAwesomeAdventure'', JET makes use of a variable-length [[http://www.wickedawesomeadventure.com/2010/06/117-use-hose-to-fill-terrarium.html rubber]] [[http://www.wickedawesomeadventure.com/2010/06/131-use-hose-lasso-with-plot-hook.html hose.]]
* One of the bandits in ''WebComic/HeroOhHero'' uses a chain which expands from his sleeves. [[http://www.neorice.com/hoh_68 Not that it does him much good.]]

* In ''Film/{{Sockbaby}}'', Ronnie can use his leisure suit neck chain as a weapon. (Apparently it's electrified, too.)
* On ''WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall'', Linkara sent the "Scales of Justice" weapon image from ''ComicBook/JLAActOfGod'' to Spoony, who said one of the main things it would need to work was a ''much'' longer chain. Lo and behold this trope en effect when Linda Danvers uses it later, much to Linkara's frustration. Seeing as how the chain went from about a foot to six feet, it's ''really'' noticeable. Bear in mind that this is a universe where magic explicitly does not exist anymore.
* In ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', Flechette has a chain-generating machine that effectively grants her this.
* In ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'', Blake's weapon, Gambol Shroud, is attached to a ribbon which lets her whip it around. The ribbon's length is not set, with the reach depending on whatever would make the [[RuleOfCool coolest]] fight.
* ''WebAnimation/DSBTInsaniT'': Killdra uses chains to fight, which she can make any size or length she wants.

* ''WesternAnimation/ElTigreTheAdventuresOfMannyRivera'' -- El Tigre's claw hands are on chains whose length is plot-appropriate.
* In the "Alaskan Bull Worm" episode of ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'', Sandy uses a necklace-length piece of string to {{MacGyver|ing}} a grappling hook for she and Spongebob to swing to safety on.
* In "Shirley the Medium," [[WesternAnimation/CouragetheCowardlyDog Courage]] uses an average-length clothesline to save Eustace and Muriel from being dragged into the demonic box, by wrapping it around the house three times.
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra Avatar: The Legend of Korra]]'', the Republic City police are metalbenders, and can move around the city on cables attached to their wrists. Out of the episodes released, so far, no specific length has been noted for them, but they seem to be as long as they need to be. They are connected to a spool mounted on the officers' backs though, so it does not have to resort to {{Hammerspace}}.
* In ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'', Amethyst's [[WhipItGood whip]] is as long as it needs to be, being anywhere from her height to ten times that length (in the same scene, even).
* [[WesternAnimation/MiraculousLadybug Ladybug]] is a rare Western Magical Girl whose weapon is a KillerYoyo. The amount of string the spool has is dependent on how long she wants it to be.

[[folder: RealLife]]
* Not a weapon, but there's a brand of garden hose that extends when water is flowing through it and then retracts to a shorter length for storage.