Ford Prefect: You've just been through a matter transference beam ... How are you feeling?
Arthur Dent: Like a military academy. Bits of me keep passing out.Someone experiences temporary paralysis or loss of muscle control, but tries to carry on with what they were doing regardless. Frequently, Hilarity Ensues - people losing control of their extremities is natural slapstick fodder. Can also be Played for Drama as a mild form of Body Horror. The causes vary - sometimes it's an aversion of Instant Sedation, where a sedative spreads gradually through the body knocking out muscles as it goes. Otherwise, can be a result of a Finger-Licking Poison, or even just someone sleeping at a weird angle until their arm goes to sleep. It's almost never a stroke (which produces such effects in real life), because that's not exactly comedy fodder - and as the trope namer for Narm demonstrated, this isn't an easy trope to Play For Drama. However, see I Can't Feel My Legs for a related dramatic trope. Expect accusations of being drunk if the character starts schlurring their worthss. See also Intoxication Ensues and Non Sequitur, Thud, which can also accompany this. May be an early symptom of The Paralyzer. A pun from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the Trope Namer (and page quote), but not an example.
— The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, (Radio series)
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed gets into a fight with a prisoner who's been tasked with guarding a secret room. During the fight, Ed's mechanical arm malfunctions and dangles loosely from the socket.
- This also happens to various other characters whose souls have been attached to false bodies.
- Elliot S! Maggin's classic Bronze Age Superman story "The Luthor Nobody Knows" is primarily all about the backstory and psychology of Lex Luthor — but the frame device of the story is a standard fight between Lex and Supes in the present day. Lex hits Superman with a gizmo that causes him to lose all muscle control. Then Superman realizes that, since they're in a relatively deserted area, all he really needs to do is lie on his back and shake to cause a localized earthquake, which knocks Lex out until the gizmo's effects have worn off, and Superman then flies around at super speed repairing the damage he caused with the earthquake.
Film - Animated
- On the film version of Horton Hears a Who!, the Mayor is at the dentist when an earthquake (caused by the speck the Whos all live on moving) occurs, and the Novocaine needle ends up in his arm, which remains limp and useless for some time afterwards.
- In Toy Story 2, Woody's arm rips, causing it do go limp whenever he's moving.
Film - Live-Action
- Johnny English, when the title character wakes up from being sedated and insists on carrying out his mission infiltrating a posh soiree despite not having fully regained muscle control. Hilarity Ensues.
- Played for Drama in Kill Bill, when the Bride's legs (though oddly enough, only her legs) have wasted away from disuse.
- Inverted and Played for Laughs in The Princess Bride, where it takes a while for Miracle Max's cure to fully take effect on Wesley, and Inigo and Fezzik have to carry him around while Storming the Castle as bits him are "waking up" one at a time.
- In Rentadick, the MacGuffin is a gas that causes temporary paralysis. Towards the end of the movie, a pair of characters end up paralysed from the waist down and have to drive a truck, with one of them steering and the other on the floor working the pedals.
- The Chosen One of Kung Pow! Enter the Fist is subjected to The Paralyzer, and then flails his arms around wildly trying to defeat Betty.
- In Me, Myself & Irene, half of the protagonist's body falls unconscious and the half that his split personality is controlling is attempting to "carry" the unconscious half to the car.
- Which wasn't the first time for Jim Carrey to use that bit of humor - after all, we learned in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls that "Three darts is too much!"
- In Planet Terror one of the main characters is injected in her arms with a local anaesthetic several times, causing her hands to become completely unresponsive. She ends up breaking her wrist attempting to get a car-door open... The look of panic on her face presumably isn't pain, but the knowledge that once she gets feeling back, its going to hurt like hell.
- Part of a Running Gag in the 2009 Star Trek movie, in which Bones keeps jabbing Kirk with hypos to treat symptoms as they arise - including:
Kirk: Wath... wath wrong wif mah mouf?McCoy: You've got numb tongue?Kirk: NUM TON?McCoy: I can fix that!
- Most of the laughs in Senseless are the result of the main character's senses either going into hyperdrive or completely shutting off, leaving him with things like floppy limbs and inability to speak properly.
- Used to clownish effect in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Raoul and Dr. Gonzo attempt to enter a casino whilst utterly spangled on ether.
Raoul: Ah, devil ether. It makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel. Total loss of all basic motor skills. Blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue. The mind recoils in horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column. Which is interesting because you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can't control it.
- A frequent result of all the Quaaludes consumed in The Wolf of Wall Street, particularly when a set of really strong, yet old enough for the effect to be delayed, ludes cause Jordan to skip the earlier phases of the Quaalude high and reach the point where he has to crawl from the phone in the country club all the way out to his Ferrari.
- In the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Tie-In Novel The Doomsday Affair, Illya Kuryakin is injected with a serum that causes him to remain fully conscious, but lose muscle control and the ability to speak or write. The villains are able to kidnap him in plain view by explaining his struggles to concerned passers-by as the result of a congenital brain defect.
- In The Thrawn Trilogy, Luke Skywalker pulls one of the two power sources out of his artificial hand in order to use it to hotwire a locked door. For the rest of the first book, his hand keeps going numb at random times, often making him drop whatever he's holding at the time, and he apologizes and carries on. It's dropped when he gets out of the jungle, presumably with him getting a replacement power source offscreen, or the original power supply (by then in the possession of Lando) being returned.
- Deconstructed in Feed, where the lower-grade neural implant that allows the heroine to access the titular feed glitches and eventually gives her locked-in syndrome.
- Bizarre and terrifying version with Quasiman from the Wild Cards universe. Bits and pieces of his body are constantly phasing/teleporting out into other dimensions, which can result in incidents such as his walking along only for one of his legs to teleport away, causing him to fall over, to the fact that various bits and pieces of his brain are almost constantly disconnected from the rest of him, sometimes temporarily leaving him akin to a drooling vegetable.
Live Action TV
- In an episode of sitcom Pete Vs World the main character was planning on Not Staying for Breakfast, but had a dead arm from the girl sleeping on top of it and was having trouble getting dressed with quite the level of stealth he had in mind.
- "The Dentist Sketch" on The Carol Burnett Show in which a hapless dentist (Tim Conway) keeps accidentally injecting various parts of his body with Novocaine.
- A somewhat different version of this occurs in the Doctor Who anniversary special The Five Doctors when the Doctor experiences sharp pains and is eventually incapacitated because his previous regenerations are being taken out of time.
- After he is poisoned in "Let's Kill Hitler", the Doctor tries to pass off his painful spasms as this.
- On Mr. Bean, Bean's dentist keeps accidentally injecting himself with Novocaine until he passes out completely, forcing Bean to do his own dental work.
- One prank on Prank Patrol involved a fake dentist who accidentally injected himself with Novocaine while working on the target.
- A game of Weird Superheroes in Whose Line Is It Anyway? has Ryan getting the name "Body-Parts-Constantly-Falling-Asleep Man".
- In a case where it really is a stroke, this was how a line from Six Feet Under became the Trope Namer for Narm, as Nate tried to say he had a "numb arm".
- An interesting case is found in the last episodes of Babylon 5, where Londo is implanted with an alien symbiont that forces him to comply with all orders from his real masters. Having been a heavy drinker for most of his life, he can still think relatively clearly while the symbiont has passed out completely drunk.
- On one Malcolm in the Middle episode, Hal has to decide whether or not to pull the plug on a man in a vegetative state. Unable to bear the pressure of the decision, Hal's mind forces him to become paralyzed from the waist up, so that he can't say or write what to do. He manages to get along surprisingly well using just his legs for everything.
- On The Inbetweeners, Jay is watching a porn film and sitting on his hand to try out "the stranger" when he's Caught With His Pants Down, and desperately tries to close the laptop and dress himself with his dead arm.
- In the third act of Mary, Mary, Bob accidentally takes a bunch of sleeping pills and struggles to remain awake.
- A dramatic example occurs during the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, where Shirou's first experiments with projection result in the entire left side of his body falling asleep and some troubles moving around and doing things that evening.
- A Harsher in Hindsight variation occurs in Hatoful Boyfriend with Kazuaki Nanaki's narcolepsy. He has a tendency to fall asleep with his eyes open, and a lot of the odd stuff he just accepts as normal is suggested to be a result of him falling asleep and his body continuing on autopilot as if he were aware of the conversation.
Ah... I overestimated my right side again. Now this specimen is ruined.
- The true route shows that this trope also applies to Shuu Iwamine. Nervous system damage from the Aves High City attack renders his right arm/wing almost entirely useless, and he often needs help carrying things or getting around. It ends up often being used against him by both the main character and Kazuaki Nanaki when trying to defeat him. The main character narrowly avoids a cleaver in Holiday Star by disabling Shuu's functioning left side, and Kazuaki shoots him twice in the left side in the true route. It's also Lampshaded by Shuu in the manga.
- Happens to all the contestants during the Africa episode of Total Drama World Tour as a result of the tranquilizer balls they are using in an attempt to subdue Zeke. And then they have to sing about it.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Sokka, during the fight with Jun, was paralysed by her beast and just when he started to gain some control over his hand a pile of blocks falls onto him.
- Also happened to Sokka in his fight with Ty Lee when she was paralysing his limbs one by one yet he still tried to fight.
- In the Adventure Time episode "From Bad to Worse", Jake continuously expands his arm in an attempt to keep the zombie infection from spreading to the rest of his body and claiming him.
- Plato's description of the death of Socrates mentions the last moments of the philosopher, dying of hemlock poisoning;
"... and he walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the directions, and the man who gave him the poison now and then looked at his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard, and asked him if he could feel; and he said, "No;" and then his leg, and so upwards and upwards, and showed us that he was cold and stiff. And he felt them himself, and said: "When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end..."