Bring the Anchor Along

Sometimes the heroes (or the villains) need to restrain someone, but are in a hurry and do not have the time to properly imprison them. A temporary solution is to handcuff (or otherwise shackle them) to a heavy or immovable object, which should ensure that they are still there when the hero returns to retrieve them. But this underestimates the determination of the prisoner, and they turn up later, still handcuffed to the object and dragging it with them (and often looking for revenge). One popular depiction of this is a heavy iron ball tied to the wrists or ankle that the guy drags around.

Compare Chained Heat (when you're chained onto someone else), Steal the Surroundings, Bench Breaker (when you break the anchor).

See also Epic Flail and Chain Pain when this is weaponized. Don't confuse it with Anchors Away (wielding a nautical anchor as a weapon).


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  • A print ad for a brand of Scotch whiskey has the slogan "Some things are just worth it." The photo shows a Dalmatian's leash tied to one corner of a hay shed on a farm. The dog has dragged the foundationless structure all the way to his master's back porch, because ... dog.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Skypeia arc of One Piece, Luffy's first fight with God Eneru ends with Eneru throwing Luffy off his airship with a giant gold ball attached to his arm. That ball stays on Luffy's am for nearly the entire rest of the arc. It's broken off of Luffy's arm and smashed to pieces in the course of the final attack against Eneru.

    Comic Books 
  • The Mighty Thor: the Absorbing Man is iconic with his ball and chain that was used to restrain him when he was in jail before he acquired his material absorption powers; the ball can also change its material along with him.

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live Action 
  • At the start of The Quick and the Dead, the Lady knocks out Dog Kelly and shackles him to the wheel of an old wagon buried in the desert. Later Dog turns up in town, dragging the wagon wheel with him, and challenges the Lady to a duel.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Max is held prisoner by the Warboys, and tied to Nux (who's leukemic) to administer blood. When Nux crashes his car with Max aboard, Max is unable to break the chain tying them (and a car door) together, and settles for carrying them with him.

  • In Unseen Academicals, Nutt describes his early childhood labouring in a dark forge, where he built up his strength by working with larger and larger equipment until he could even carry the anvil. When his friend asks why that was so important to him, he clarifies that he was chained to the anvil.
  • Joe Pickett: In Winterkill, Joe gets handcuffed to the wheel of his truck by an escaping prisoner. Without his handcuff keys, Joe undoes the steering wheel and pursues his prisoner with the steering wheel handcuffed to his wrist.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "Robot of Sherwood", the Doctor and Robin are shackled together in the dungeon of Nottingham Castle with chains that run through a bolt in the floor. When the Doctor and Robin escape, they are still chained to each other and carrying the large stone the chains are attached to between them.
  • Agent Carter: In the second episode, Peggy defeats an accomplice of a Leviathan agent but knocked him out cold before he could be interrogated. She ties him to a chair and leaves, and he's found later by the SSR fleeing out in the road with the chair still tied to him. Chief Dooley, after arresting him, snarks at the guy trying to play it casual.
    Dooley: Yeah, I know. I used to go for walks at night with a chair strapped to my ass too.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): In one episode, Jacquelyn is tied to a small tree. She escapes by uprooting the tree and carrying it on her back, which she does for almost the entire episode.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Footrot Flats: When Jess the bitch is in heat, the Dog will often take off while still chained to his water tank/kennel; taking the water tank with him.

  • In the climax of The Play That Goes Wrong, Dennis - who is playing Perkins - is handcuffed to the chaise-lounge. He is supposed to be released when Perkins's innocence is established, but this being the play that goes wrong, they have lost the handcuff keys. Dennis struggles through the rest of the scene carrying the chaise-lounge.

    Video Games 
  • The trial of Thievery in The Secret of Monkey Island ends with Fester Shinetop tying the stolen item, the Idol of Many Hands, to Guybrush Threepwood and dropping him in the bay. How does our hero get out of this? Just pick up the Idol. You know, the one he was just carrying a few seconds ago. It should be noted this is the only part of the game in which Guybrush can die.
  • Sengoku Basara: One of the playable characters, Kuroda Kanbei, has his hands tied and chained to a huge ball as he's a prisoner of war. Nevertheless, he's strong enough to carry it around and weaponize it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: In "Homer the Great", Homer is punished for ruining the Stonecutters' sacred parchment by being stripped naked and forced to pull the "stone of shame" all the way home. When the Stonecutters' notice a birthmark identifying Homer as The Chosen One, they release him and instead make him pull the even larger "stone of triumph".
  • Looney Tunes: In "Birds Anonymous", Sylvester handcuffs himself to a radiator to keep himself from getting Tweety. But when he can't restrain his urges any longer, he just charges at Tweety, yanking the radiator off the wall.
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon Buccaneer Bunny has Bugs Bunny hornswoggled into rowing Shanghai Sam's ship across the sea, with the rabbit affixed to his post with an ankle shackle attached to a heavy iron ball. Nonetheless, Bugs is able to carry it to the Captain, demanding that he rid the rabbit of this device. Shanghai Sam complies by throwing the ball overboard ... taking the rabbit with it.
  • Samurai Jack in the episode where's he trains to 'jump good', he unknowingly volunteers to have a boulder tied to him. This is thus an inversion (subversion?) of the trope, as it's for training, but he carries the rock around until he can bear its weight.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: In "Has-Been Hero", Crane is captured and tied to a rotating wooden pillar. He escapes still tied to the pillar and uses it as a battering ram to smash his way out of the villain's hideout. Later Monkey uses the pillar as a weapon, with Crane still tied to it.
  • In Dragons: Race to the Edge, Hiccup teaches the dragon hunters that dragon-proof chains are useless without dragon-proof winches... but dragon-proof winches are just as useless when anchored to a wooden deck, as Hiccup simply blasts the deck, allowing Meatlug and Fishlegs to fly away with the winch still chained to her leg.
  • Slugterra: In "Inheritance", Dana Por breaks into the Shane Gang's hideout, and webs Eli arm to chair during a shootout. The chair is a rolling chair, and Eli spends the the rest of the fight scooting around on it with his arm still stuck to it.