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Instant Sedation
Toby: Datura knockout darts. POW! Guy goes down for 12 hours, wakes up, doesn't know who the hell he is, and his head's splitting like a cord of firewood. note 
Xander: I was shot twice with those.
xXx

A character is drugged and goes out like a light in just a few seconds. Just as often, they wake up in short order, groggy but otherwise none the worse for the experience. Delivery methods can vary, from gas, to darts, to controlled injection, to a liquid added to food or drink. The ranged attack version is effectively a subtrope of Stun Gun.

This is Artistic License - Medicine in the extreme. In Real Life, drugs can take anywhere from a few seconds (as with inhaled sedatives and anesthetics used in surgery) to several minutes (as with intramuscular injections of many animal tranquilizers, as frequently observed in wildlife documentaries) to several hours (as with sedatives that are administered in food or drink) to take full effect. Similarly, dosage matters; the amount required to sedate a muscular man or a large animal would kill a smaller person, with the converse also true: a dose safe for a normal person might barely faze a Big Guy. There is a reason why surgeries requiring full general anesthesia have an anesthesiologist there whose entire job is to monitor the type and amount of drugs going into the patient. For a full treatment of these and other issues, see the Analysis page.

Knockout Gas is an area-effect variant subtrope, which is subject to different, but related rules. Tranquilizer Dart is another common delivery method, often in a Knockout Ambush. Compare Magic Antidote, Stun Guns, Tap on the Head and Slipping a Mickey. Not to be confused with Instant Seduction.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In one episode of Pokémon, Ash and company were helping out at a hospital that, due to overcrowding at the local Pokémon center, had to take in some injured monsters. While trying to sedate a patient, the head doctor accidentally stabbed himself with a hypodermic needle, and was conscious just long enough to warn our heroes that he'd be out for a few hours and they were on their own.
  • The way Koon "recruits" Edin for his team in Tower of God: A sedative dart into the neck. The poison used was said to be very effective on WhiteSteelEals.
  • Averted in Michiko to Hatchin. Michiko appears to be very resilient when hit by a dart from a tranquilizer gun. Twice.
    • Played straight when she goes down very quickly after inhaling some Knockout Gas.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya plays this pretty straight.
    • In the novels, Mikuru ends getting kidnapped by agents of the rival Esper and Time travel groups who knock her out with some kind of sedative. It works very fast, so fast that her kidnappers were actually surprised and wondered if she was used to getting KO'ed.
    • Also, in "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody", Mikuru puts Kyon to sleep so he won't see how time travel works, and then later (or 3 years earlier) Adult!Mikuru puts Young!Mikuru to sleep (from a distance) so that she won't see her future self. Neither of the victims suffer any ill effects when they wake up. They do come from the future, so perhaps it's justified.
  • Averted in New Getter Robo, though the writers were probably more concerned with the Rule of Cool than realism. Ryoma gets hit by an animal tranquiliser in the first episode, but it doesn't stop him from running across the street and dropkicking his two attackers before going down. This is after he had just fought a 3-on-1 fight against some Yakuza goons and had gotten a knife buried into his shoulder.
  • In the world of Ranma ˝, knockout gas, sleeping powder, sleeping pills, and the like are in extreme abundance. Lots and lots of characters use them at one point or another.
    • The best-known examples are Kodachi's rose bombs and tainted food.
    • Gosunkugi also does the "chloroform rag" trick on Akane.
    • Even worse, most characters (but especially Ranma) have a tendency to munch and swallow anything put in their mouth, even against their will, rather than spit it out. Ranma has been neutralized once by tea mixed with a paralytic that Sentarō just threw toward her mouth. Another time, she's fed a drugged ricecake by Kunō — and the worst part is that it was Ranma who laced it with sleeping powder in the first place.
    • Another common way of putting a character to sleep is with pressure points; notably used by Happōsai.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne had Folken do this to Van once via an injection to the back of the neck.
    • It's likely this happened to Dilandau also, in just one scene from episode 16.
  • Detective Conan
    • Played straight with Conan's wrist-watch tranquilizer needle gun. Kogoro barely has time to mumble a few words before keeling over.
    • Also nicely subverted in that Conan, who is stuck as a six-year-old, will go down quicker when knocked out compared to the teenagers and adults... But the method of sedation is normally a cloth covered in narcotics or chloroform, instead of intramuscular injection.
    • Somewhat subverted in the crossover with Lupin III. Conan uses his dart on Inspector Zenigata, who is so tough that it wears off in no time (though he still goes down quickly). Conan is pretty surprised.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai La Vérité episode 8. Three security maids are rendered unconscious in seconds by a drugged handkerchief over their mouths.
  • In Dragon Half, Rosario shoots Mink with a knockout dart and she instantly falls. Then Rosario puts two more darts into her right away, setting up a gag where he and the king think Mink died from the overdose. Strangely, at first Rosario accidentally inhaled and got the dart stuck in his tongue, but nothing ever came of this.
  • City Hunter often has Ryo protecting or otherwise dealing with beautiful ladies. Often these ladies manage to get themselves kidnapped right under Ryo's nose via a three-second chloroform rag attack.
  • The thugs in Durarara!!, rather than using the standard "chloroform on a rag" trick, pour it into a bottle that has a face mask attached. It still goes to work very, very quickly.
  • In episode 4 of Season 2's Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, during a card game, Hideyoshi is called on a card he placed down, and begins to strip his shirt. He immediately gets knocked out by slightly drunken Himeji, who claims he's simply "tired". When Kouta attempts to bring up the topic of the chloroform bottle laying nearby, she swipes it at him, causing him to "get tired" as well.
  • Bleach. Shinigami have access to three tranquilliser drugs that they can use as necessary: shinten, gaten and houten. Shinten is used on targets with weak spiritual pressure whereas gaten and houten are used on much stronger opponents. Hanatarou has been seen using shinten to knock out low-level guards when rescuing Rukia. Yoruichi uses either gaten or houten to knock out Ichigo and rescue him from Byakuya. Kira uses gaten to knock out Yumichika during the fake Karakura Town battle. All the drugs work instantly but are also fantasy drugs made up for the setting and therefore able to work to whatever rules the author wants.
  • Cowboy Bebop
    • When Spike confronts Vicious and is shot with a tranquilizer dart. He's also blown backwards, so it looks like he really did get shot.
    • Averted in the Shooting Star manga. In order to fulfill a mission, Spike has to take someone down alive and is given a tranquilizer gun by Jet to do so. However, just as Spike is about to shoot the target, Ed discovers that the target is fatally allergic to sedatives.

    Comedy 
  • In one of his routines, Bill Cosby talks about how, as a child, he had his tonsils removed. He described being knocked out as the doctors telling him to count backwards from one hundred and him making it to about ninety-nine before passing out. He adds that he felt rather embarrassed about that, since he was sure that his alcoholic father could have lasted longer. Usually it takes less than 10 seconds though.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, a syringe the size of a missile filled with Instant Sedative is used to drop a frightened young woman (that happens to be 49'11", but it is still rather rude) who accidentally wrecked her wedding. Her staggering around for a few seconds before collapsing is downright impressive compared to those silenced at a later briefing for mentioning Area Fifty — *thunk* ZZZZ...
  • Played very straight in the Jet Lags cartoon Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle, when Tooie's mother is shot with a tranquilizer dart. It comes out of a rifle with a blast of fire and a loud bang, and she goes down hard mid-run, so much so that her cub flies out of her mouth. Tooie later implies he thought she'd been killed, and with good reason.
  • In the Tales of the Continuing by Daniel Keys Moran there's a knockout drug which dissolves in water and is absorbed through the skin. One of the protagonists takes advantage of this to sedate people with a simple squirt gun.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One early use was in the Universal Frankenstein, where the enraged superhuman monster is once brought down in about ten seconds by a (rather large) injection in his back.
  • In Young Frankenstein, the monster is rendered helpless mere seconds after receiving the injection of a "sedagive".
  • Averted in the The Andromeda Strain. In the climax, a character has to get to a sub-station to stop a self-destruct. He gets shot with a tranquilizer dart that is meant for small mammals (such as monkeys). He starts staggering and moving more slowly but can still function.
  • A Lampshaded aversion in The Gods Must Be Crazy, which explicitly explains that tranquilizer darts don't take effect immediately. That's why they are rigged to be so easily removed that the victim doesn't know they've been tranked (they feel only the sting, that can be attributed to insects).
  • Ace Ventura
    • In the first film, Ace uses the chloroform-soaked-rag routine on a football player twice his size, which takes about 5 seconds to work.
    • When Nature Calls uses the humorous muscle paralysis angle, but Ace is still blacking out after a rather short chase. He was running and three darts are too much. Plus the four others he took in the back.
  • In the opening scene of The Rock, the mercenaries use tranq darts on the soldiers guarding the chemical weapons depot. All of them fall unconscious immediately.
  • Parodied in the Woody Allen comedy Sleeper: Woody's character is able to knock out a security guard by holding a large hunk of bleu cheese under his nose.
  • In Bananas, Woody Allen's revolutionary character has to use a hypodermic to knock out a government official, but in the scuffle he also knocks out his assistants — as a passing policeman takes notice, he props them up against a car and desperately tries to look casual.
  • X2: X-Men United:
    • The military guys use Instant Sedation darts on the students when they invade the school. While they knock out the children instantly, Cyclops was protected by the armour under his clothing and multiple darts fail to have any effect on Wolverine. Justified by his larger body mass, Healing Factor, and adrenaline as well, since he doesn't show any effects while killing the immediate threat. After all the enemies in his vicinity are neutralized, he pulls the darts out and shakes his head, indicating he was becoming at least a little woozy or disoriented. Removing the source of the sedative lets his healing eliminate the rest of it in his body.
    • Mystique's drugged beer also takes effect the second Mr. Laurio downs the last of it, where the pills have settled.
  • Averted in Pan's Labyrinth. Captain Vidal gets doped with sleeping pills, but they only make him drowsy.
  • James Bond
  • Spies Like Us. Emmett Fitz-Hume and Austin Millbarge knock out five Soviet soldiers instantly with "high-compression tranquilizer pistols".
  • In the short film made of Battleground by Stephen King, The Unnamed hitman shoots two security guards using a tranquilizer gun. While one goes down immediately, the second guard (a strong, fit-looking man) just yelps from the dart and reaches for his own gun, but the hitman is prepared for this and quickly knocks him out physically.
  • Played for laughs in Star Trek: McCoy hyposprays Kirk with a sedative. Kirk asks, "How long will this take t—" and collapses backward on the bed, completely out.
  • Discussed in Kangaroo Jack when the protagonists accidentally shoot a dart to their airplane pilot while they are airborne; the pilot experiences the effects in stages as noted by one of them.
  • In The Man Who Knew Too Little, Wallace gets jabbed in the arm with a needle disguised as a pen and he's unconscious in seconds.
  • Subverted in Suicide Kings. The main characters, one of whom is a medical student, expect their kidnapping attempt to go like this, and are nearly killed when they find out just how difficult it is to sedate an unwilling subject in a moving car.
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. The pills Sacker puts in the wine during the opera scene. When the actors drink the wine they instantly collapse.
  • Frank Drebin's cufflink tranquilizer darts in the first NakedGun movie. However, they're not quite instant enough, since the bad guy staggers around long enough to fall over a railing to a Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • Subverted in the remake of The Wolfman (2010). Lawrence gets a number of injections while in the asylum, presumably to sedate him, but none take effect immediately. When a doctor tries to inject him with a sedative as he turns into a werewolf, he isn't affected at all.
  • Law Abiding Citizen: Gadgeteer Genius Clyde sets up a huge gambit to capture the thug who killed his family, the centerpiece of which is a boobytrapped pistol-boobytrapped to stab a dozen paralytic-enhanced pins into the hand of anyone who tries to fire it. The thug falls for the gambit, stealing the pistol from him and getting a surprise. The thug isn't even able to take a step before being frozen in his tracks.
  • Thor plays it straight when the title character becomes combative in the hospital. The sedative knocks him out instantly in mid-sentence.
    Thor: YOU ARE NO MATCH FOR THE MIGHTY...! (collapses, his face smearing on the window)
  • Downplayed in The Fast and the Furious. In the opening scene, a trucker is shot with a tranquilizer dart. He has enough strength to swing his billy club at the shooter three or four more times, although he's still unconscious within ten seconds.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes does it a few times... Landon sedates Rocket to stop him fighting with Caesar and drops him in a few seconds
  • Mission: Impossible
    • Ethan's wife is abducted by a mook who puts a trandermal patch containing a sedative on her hand. She has just enough time to ask what it is before she drops.
    • Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol shows an agent poking a target at the back of the hand with a tiny needle on a ring. The target starts feeling groggy almost immediately and is out within seconds.
  • In Audition, Aoyama is injected under the tongue with a paralytic agent that seems to start working in seconds.
  • Averted in Sherlock Holmes (2009). It takes a couple of minutes for the drugged wine Irene Adler feeds him to take effect.
  • In P2, Thomas uses a rag and chloroform to knock out Angela. She's out within a minute and stays asleep long enough for him to dress her, chain her up, and set the table.
  • In Alex Cross, the villain uses a paralytic drug on his first victim. He's shown having to restrain her for a few seconds before it takes effect.
  • In Soviet comedy Operation Y a.k.a. Operation Laughter, Instant Sedation together with Tap on the Head are played unrealistically straight. To cover his embezzlements a warehouse manager hires 3 lowlifes to sedate a guard with a chloroform handkerchief and imitate a robbery. The rehearsal seems to work fine, but then the old woman guard is replaced by a young student Shurik and Hilarity Ensues. First the crook with the chloroform faintsnote  and Shurik unknowingly waves the handkerchief over his face putting him to sleep. Then Shurik beats his accomplices with cymbal, practice rapier, rope and tobacco. Then Shurik wipes his face with the same handkerchief and falls asleep too. Then a mouse smells the handkerchief and also falls asleep.
  • Happens to Lt. Hurwitz in the flashback scene in Airplane!
  • In Cube Zero, Jax paralyzes Dodd by blowing some kind of dust in his face through his pen. The victim drops to the ground instantly.
    Jax: Ooh, instant paralysis. They weren't kidding, were they?

    Gamebooks 

    Literature 
  • Larry Niven's Known Space books feature "mercy needles". They are bullets made out of crystallized anaesthetic, that dissolve after penetrating the skin and knock the target out immediately. (Law enforcement uses them to capture criminals alive, so they're in good condition when sentenced to being broken up for spare parts.)
  • A staple of covert operations in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth universe, Instant Sedation darts are most prominently used in Bloodhype, when Kitten Kai-Sung, Mal Hammurabi, and Porsupah are infiltrating the AAnn enclave on Repler. Possibly justified by being in The Future, but it also fails No Biochemical Barriers. Oh, well.
  • Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat books feature several uses of sleep capsules; break one open under a mark's nose and they lose consciousness instantly.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian:
    • In the story "The Pool of the Black One", the ship finds an island, and the crew eats a strange golden fruit, which puts them to sleep so quickly that some are still holding the fruit they were eating.
    • In "Queen of the Black Coast", Conan is struck down by the presence of the black lotus.
  • In Licence Renewed, the first of John Gardner's updated James Bond novels, Bond uses a cigarette lighter filled with halothane that seems to have an instaneous effect (provided it is deployed directly into the target's face).
  • Justified in Dune. Paul and Jessica Atreides are both dosed with a sedative that renders them unconscious for several hours. Jessica knows that for such a sedative to work, the assailant would have to have precise knowledge of their weight, age, and medical histories. By process of induction, she realizes her personal physician, Dr. Yueh, must have been the culprit.
  • Jurassic Park
    • Averted in the novel, where the big Tyrannosaurus rex (yes, there are two Tyrannosaurs) gets shot multiple times with tranqs but it takes her over an hour to feel it. In fact, she nearly eats the kids while everyone's wondering if she'll ever pitch over.
    • Muldoon discusses this trope as well, and how the recommended dosage is highly variable. According to him, it's a matter of strength and temperament: a trang shot that will take down a calm elephant will merely make a hippo groggy and a rhino angry.
    • Also a minor plot point in the film adaptation of The Lost World. A very angry bull Tyrannosaurus attacks Tembo and is shot with a tranq dart. It apparently kicks in quickly enough to drop the Tyrannosaur before it can make a snack out of him. However later in the film, Harding angrily discusses the dangers of not knowing how much sedative to give a particular animal.
  • Averted in Stolen — the characters are attacked by people with tranquiliser guns, and one seems surprised when, after being shot, Elena just plucks the tranq out with no problems. (She comments in the narrative that werewolves need an elephant-sized dose to knock them out.)
  • Non-knockout variant: In the Ghost Finders novels, Happy Jack Palmer's various mood-altering pills seem to take effect upon him within a few seconds of being swallowed. May be a subversion, as it's possible their initial effect on him is that of a placebo.
  • Dreamless Sleep Potions in Harry Potter.
  • This is a minor plot point in the tie-in novel Final Destination: End of the Line, in which a handful of med students engage in "Sux racing", wherein they inject themselves with a dose of suxamethonium, a general anaesthetic, and see how far they can run down the hall before the drug kicks in.
  • The Nancy Drew series uses chloroform a few times.
  • Averted — arguably defied — and justified at various points in the plot of Biggles Scores A Bull. The books antagonists are a gang of crooks stealing expensive pedigree bulls to order, using a tranquilliser gun to render the animals docile enough to lead out of their paddock and aboard a small cargo plane without waking their owner. Naturally, if one of the darts hits a human being, the effect is considerably faster and very likely to be fatal, as Ginger has the misfortune to find out; he only survives because the dart ricochets before hitting him, and fails to deliver its full payload.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin fights back when kidnapped and eventually is given some kind of injection. While it does make him stop fighting effectively instantly, he's still conscious in an increasingly distorted way for several minutes.
  • Averted in a book called Cryptid Hunters: The protagonist shoots two mercenaries with tranqs, and then runs off as they chase him with shotguns. He knows full well that they will take a few minutes for the drug to take a effect, and laments that it's not instantaneous like in the movies.
  • The fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" uses a magic curse. When a spindle pricks the princess, the curse activates and the princess instantly falls asleep. She'll never wake up until something specific happens; in the Disney version, she needs the True Love's Kiss.
  • The first Artemis Fowl book has a drinkable tranquilizer that knocks you out in seconds. There's no way it could reach your brain so quickly, but since the characters in question were in a time-dilation field and somehow exited it by falling unconscious, Timey-Wimey Ball may have been a factor.
  • Some sort of sedative is used on Evvy in Street Magic in order to abduct her, which instantly knocks her out. They only call it the sleepy juice, but the symptoms (splitting headache, nausea) are similar to chloroform.
  • Used and averted in Dr Franklins Island. A needle used on Semi takes effect almost instantly. At the end of the book the injections administered to make Arnie and Miranda human again also put them to sleep, but it takes longer. Semi and Miranda poke around and talk before it takes effect.
  • Averted and a plot point in Danny, the Champion of the World. The villain Mr. Hazell owns an enormous estate with pheasants that he refuses to let anyone but the rich hunt in, even though pheasant poaching is a tradition of the community. Deciding to humiliate him by stealing all the pheasants before Hazell's annual pheasant shooting party, Danny and his father feed the birds raisins with sleeping pills in them. The birds act fine until several hours later, when they fall asleep and start dropping out of the trees they roost in. This lets the two catch all the birds after hours, preventing Mr. Hazell from discovering them.
  • Subverted in Dune. Jessica is sedated in exactly the way the trope describes, but realises this means the drug has to be tailor-made by an expert poisoner with access to her entire medical record.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: There is an episode where the guy actually acknowledged that he has used a paralytic on the president's husband. However, it was in a drink (the slowest way to get any kind of drug to work, since it needs to go through the digestive system first) and took a minute, max, to completely paralyze the victim everywhere, even the vocal cords. In spite of being that complete of a general paralytic, for some reason, it didn't touch the president's husband's lungs, as evidenced by his ability to, well, live a good hour or so while he was still under the influence of the paralytic.
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: Subverted Trope in the Christmas Episode; Little Pete shoots the Garbage Man with a tranq (actually hitting a major vein!), and it takes a couple minutes of real-time to start taking effect.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • When Raina surprises Agent Coulson with an injection of an unspecified sedative in his back, he has but a few seconds to give her an defiant stare before blacking out.
    • Also this is the main trait and purpose of the Night-Night Gun/ICERs that Fitz and Simmons invented.
  • Arrested Development: The Franklin puppet soaked in ether can immediately knock people out.
  • The A-Team: Must have had a ton of it, with how often they knocked out B.A.
  • Batman:
    • Invoked Trope constantly.
    • "The Bookworm Turns": The sleeping gas released by the Bookworm's booby-trapped book renders Robin unconscious in seconds.
    • "While Gotham City Burns": The Bookworm uses a package booby-trapped with sleep gas to render Alfred and Aunt Harriet unconscious so he can steal a book from the Wayne Manor library.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Willow's vampire Evil Twin is instantly sedated. Also, said Evil Twin is a vampire, and thusly has no pulse to spread the sedative.
      • This would explain how Spike is able to get drunk, come to think of it...
    • Happens whenever Oz's werewolfishness is involved. The first time they need to sedate him Giles says he has loaded up the tranquilizer gun with enough phenobarbital "to sink a small elephant", but the amount has absolutely no ill effect on Oz (whose mass is decidedly less than that of a small elephant).
    • Giles is shot with a tranquilizer dart meant for Oz in "Beauty and the Beasts":
    Giles: Ow!
    Buffy: Oh! Sorry!
    Giles: Oh, right. Bloody priceless. (instantly unconscious)
    • The same darts were used on Vamp!Willow. The question is how Giles managed to not die from that much sedative. (Vamps, being dead already, obviously won't die from it.)
    • The chloroform version is used by Xander, on Dawn, when Buffy wants him to get her out of town before the final battle with the First. She's not happy with him when she wakes up, TASERs him, and drives them back to town.
  • Burn Notice:
    • In an episode, Michael narrates that injecting someone with a sedative might not knock them out right away so it is best to approach from behind and physically subdue them while the sedative takes effect. This was then subverted when the target spots them and they end up simply tackling him and tying him up.
    • In another episode, Michael has to knock out a group of CIA agents so he pumps in a powerful Knockout Gas into the building. The catch is that anyone affected by the gas will have their hearts stop if not injected by a counter-agent within a few minutes after the gas takes effect. Micheal knows that he is taking a big risk of killing one or more people if he is too slow in administering the counter-agent once he breaks into the building.
  • Charlie's Angels: The episode "Lady Killer" uses the "chloroform in a rag" trick, however unlike many uses of this cliche in TV shows of the era, it is used to kill rather than simply sedate. But the death is still shown to be almost instantaneous. (Except, of course, when it's tried on one of the Angels and she manages to come out of it unscathed).
  • Chuck: Every time tranquilizers are used, unless the victim is Badass Normal Casey. When they have to tranquilize Jeff and Lester, Lester goes down instantly but Jeff takes multiple darts and a few minutes to lose consciousness. Jeff is a bigger guy and his past drug use made him more resistant.
  • Dexter:
    • Used to nearly Once per Episode frequency. Although in this case, they reveal the name of the sedative, which is an animal tranquilizer that really does work that fast. It also causes significant damage to the kidneys and frequently stops hearts, but given these people won't be alive for long....
    • The one time it takes the tranquilizer longer to work, the target is an animal control worker who is holding a tranquilizer gun loaded to take down an alligator. He has enough time to shoot Dexter with it before he collapses. Dexter also has a bit of time to pull the dart out before losing consciousness. They both wake up in an ambulance with some really worried EMTs.
    • Another time Dexter is forced to inject himself with his own syringe and goes down almost instantaneously. He was faking it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Possible subversion in the serial The Talons of Weng-Chiang. The title villain uses an unspecified knockout drug on a cloth to capture Leela, and she goes down fast... but she has enough time to tear the villain's mask off. Given the time period, it was probably either chloroform or ether.
    • Played straight in "New Earth", with a spray bottle of sedative that works ridiculously quickly (you can see it in action at 5:59; don't blink or you'll miss it). Possibly justified either by improvements in tranquilizer technology (the episode takes place about five billion years in the future) or by the differences between human and Time Lord physiology.
    • Averted in "The Pandorica Opens", when the tranquilizer dart Amy gets shot with takes so long to down her that she has plenty of time to hide from the Cyberman responsible, which then proceeds to get killed before she finally loses consciousness.
  • ER: At least one episode zigzags the trope, though. A drug-addict takes a hostage in order to get IV Demerol, which the ER attending provides, but the nurse intentionally overdoses. Subverted in that he was actually cooperating with her attempt to administer the injection IV; played straight in that he just barely made it past the triage desk before pitching over.
  • Eureka: Equips Taggert, the Crocodile Dundee-esque dogcatcher, with these. Used twice, to take down Fish out of Water Marshall Jack Carter, and inadvertently, the owner of the town's biggest (and possibly only) café.
  • Firefly:
    • Averted Trope: during a routine treatment for injury, Simon covertly injects Jayne with a sedative when he begins to show signs of planning to take command of the ship, but several minutes pass before Jayne gradually loses consciousness (mid-takeover rant, no less).
    Jayne: Now we're finishing this deal, and then maybe — maybe we'll come back for those morons... got themselves caught... and you can't change that by getting all... bendy.
    Wash: All what?
    Jayne: You got the light... from the console to keep you... lifting you up... They shine like... little angels... (falls to the deck)
    Wash: Did he just go crazy and fall asleep?
    Simon: I told him to sit down.
    • The sedative used by Saffron against Mal and Inara did kick in rather quickly, however. Of course, Saffron doesn't exactly care about the safe dosage.
    • Also averted during the final battle in Serenity Kaylee is struck by three Reaver tranquilizer darts. She remains conscious, but is decidedly loopy and out of the fight after a few minutes. It probably helps that she was hit right in the neck.
  • Friends: Subverted Trope when Phoebe is shot in the backside with a dart. She never passes out, though she does comment that her buttock is asleep (and that the other one has no idea). The dart was intended for a very small monkey, so there probably wasn't much juice in there anyway.
  • Heroes: Played hilariously straight in the fourth season where the bad guys use tube of chemicals administered nasally to sedate and disable the powers of the specials, which turned them out like a light when inserted. Used in reverse during the numerous escape and rescue scenarios, where even after days or weeks of sedation a simple removal of the tube had the heroes instantly up and ready for anything.
  • House:
    • Often seen. The protagonist should be considered an Improbable Weapon User; he never misses a vein, and the drug is the exact amount needed for the specific person. Sure, it's Gregory House, but it's still amazing.
    • House does feature a subversion in the episode "One Day, One Room", when he takes down a patient that's freaking out and injects him with something. Cuddy is initially surprised that the patient still has his eyes open, and House gleefully announces that he didn't use a sedative, but a paralytic, meaning the patient is still in pain. And will stop breathing quite soon.
    • In the episode "Last Resort", when his hostage-taking "patient" insists his medication gets tested on one of the hostages first, House chooses the fat one in the hope his higher body mass will keep him conscious long enough for him to inject the gunman.
    • Very much played for laughs in "Living the Dream", where House sedates a soap opera star with a syringe to the neck while having an unrelated conversation with Wilson.
    House: It's all about her and whatever hapless salesman wanders into her sights. She's going to lie, steal and trade your testes to get whatever she wants — hold on, I've got to do something before he dials his second 1 (stabs man in the neck with syringe before continuing) — you're going to end up holding her purse, humiliated, and going home to sleep on a mattress you hate.
    Wilson: (watches man fall unconscious to the floor) What the hell are you doing?
    House: He needs an MRI.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Averted Trope. A mentally unstable suspect has a psychotic break in the interview room, Benson and Stabler have to restrain him while Dr. Huang injects him with a sedative, the man is even more unhinged, and Dr. Huang says it will take at least ten minutes to work.
  • Leverage: Played straight in one episode, in which Parker asks an auctioneer the traditional question, "does this rag smell like chloroform to you?", and knocks him out in about two seconds.
  • Longmire: Averted Trope, in which a load intended to knock out a bear still takes a minute or so to work on Vic. Notably, she has time to attack the guy who shot her.
  • LOST: Subverted Trope in one episode, where Sayid is shot twice with tranquilizing darts. He pulls one dart out and we're led to believe that the trope is playing straight until he surprises the shooter, who approached him to confirm unconsciousness. Played straight in a lot of other episodes, featuring darts, gas and chloroform. Namely, some episodes in this respective order are: "Live Together, Die Alone", "Left Behind" and "Something Nice Back Home".
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Subverted Trope, where trapped with a pair of lions, Malcolm shoots down the zoo personnel's idea of tranquilizing them on the grounds that the beasts would have just enough time to get angry and tear them apart (the show puts it at three minutes, which is almost certainly selling the lions short, but it's the thought that counts).
  • The Man From Uncle: Instant Sedation is often used by both U.N.C.L.E. and THRUSH in such situations. Most common varieties: various forms of tranquilizer darts (the U.N.C.L.E. Special handgun was early established as being capable of firing "sleep darts" as well as conventional bullets, but on at least one occasion THRUSH operatives used similar darts to capture a target of their interest) and knockout gas (often lobbed, grenade style, in spherical glass containers, into the midst of a group of Mooks needing disablement).
  • M.A.N.T.I.S.: Averted Trope: The hero's darts cause instant paralysis, not sedation, so it's more of a temporary And I Must Scream kind of thing. Interestingly, the darts' mechanism changed when the TV Movie became a series — in the TV Movie, the agent was a (heavily diluted) poison from a South American praying mantis; in the series, it was a man-made chemical that worked alongside an electrical current.
  • Mash:
    • In one episode, Trapper tries to subdue a sleep-deprived Hawkeye with a syringe. He accidentally injects Frank Burns, and a few seconds later he drops to the ground, passed out.
    • In another, an unrestrained combative patient grabs a syringe of anesthetic and threatens the staff. Col. Blake tries to talk him down and then grabs the syringe. He gets a handful of the needle.
    Col. Blake: Ninety nine, ninety eight... *thump*
    • A humorous aversion n A Full Rich Day, Hawkeye attempts to drug a troublesome Turkish Soldier by spiking his drink with chloral hydrate and having Radar pretend to drive him back to the front until he passes out. A noticeably disoriented Radar drives off with the Turk in a stolen Jeep, only for the Turk to return several hours later to dump the unconscious Radar off before driving away.
  • Mission: Impossible: Common, where the need for anesthetics that worked instantly was frequently a plot point.
  • Monk: Happens a few times, with the most notable being when Adrian is being drugged with chloroform. He grabs the cloth, sticks his face into it, smells it, and repeatedly asks "Is this chloroform?"
  • The Prisoner:
    • In the opening title sequence, the title character is sent promptly into unconsciousness by Knockout Gas.
    • A doctor's hypodermic needle carries a sleep drug in "A Change of Mind".
  • The Red Green Show: Subverted Trope once. Ed Frid once shot himself in the foot with a tranquilizer dart and remained conscious long enough to calculate how long he would sleep, give Red instructions on how to deal with the animal they'd captured and lay down comfortably.
  • Revolution: Played straight, with Jason Neville knocking out his father Tom Neville with chloroform in "The Love Boat", and Rachel Matheson knocking out Grace Beaumont with chloroform in "The Dark Tower". This doubles as Fridge Horror when Tom and Grace turn against them upon waking up...because they think Jason and Rachel were trying to kill them when they used the stuff on them.
  • SeaQuest DSV: Exaggerated Trope. In the episode "Meltdown", the crew of the Sea Quest resolves to capture a prehistoric crocodile by sedating it with liquid nitrogen and hauling it back to the polar ice cap where it woke up from. After having Darwin lure it close, the Sea Quest fires a syringe-converted-torpedo into the thing's hide. It's out in less than five seconds. This thing is one-fifth the size of the Sea Quest, which then has to haul it!!
  • Sherlock: Averted Trope in the episode "A Scandal in Belgravia". Irene Adler surprise injects Sherlock with some sort of sedative she normally uses on her clients. Although Sherlock is almost immediately physically compromised, he remains conscious and lucid for quite a few seconds, arguing with her even as he sinks to the floor and adamantly refusing to hand over the phone she wants until he finally drops it because, due to his sedation, his fingers can no longer grip it. He ends up on the floor on his back, but is still semi-conscious and keeps trying to get up, albeit unsuccessfully. Eventually he slides into a weird dream coma and wakes up in bed some time later, so he did finally lose consciousness, but John mentions that he "wasn't making much sense" and that Lestrade had time to film some of his inane babbling on his phone, despite the fact that Lestrade was presumably on his way at the time that Sherlock was drugged, implying that Sherlock was still partially conscious and animated (if completely confused and spouting gibberish) for several minutes after the injection.
    • Played perfectly straight in "The Reichenbach Fall." When Moriarty goes to steal the Crown Jewels of England, he sprays something in a guard's face, and the guard drops like a sack of bricks. Given how Moriarty is revealed to have got in, this might just mean that the guard is The Mole and trying to throw off suspicion.
  • Sliders: Zig-Zagging Trope in one episode. Stuck on a world where Gendercide has rendered men a valuable commodity, Quinn and Arturo are both hit by tranq darts. Quinn starts to fumble, but with Arturo's urging manages to will himself far enough to get some help from a sympathetic passerby. Arturo, who is not only shot later but is also significantly heavier than Quinn, drops in under a minute, just long enough to pointlessly threaten the attackers with a tree branch he's grabbed as a weapon.
  • Smallville: Played dead straight a million times.
  • Stargate Atlantis: This is played with. Even the Wraith stunners, which were probably engineered to produce an electrical shock to take out the target instantly, allow those hit to react for several seconds before they fall, and that's the characters without resistance. The resistant characters can take two or three hits before falling.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The episode "The Broca Divide" has both sides of this: early in the episode, they have to tie a thrashing character down and wait for the sedative to take effect; later, they go into another thrasher's isolation room, hold him steady, and inject him, making him stagger within 10 seconds.
    • In "In the Line of Duty", when Sam/Jolinar gets tranqued twice, the first case with "enough to knock out an elephant," it takes a minute before she's out.
    • In one episode Daniel shoots Osiris with a tranq dart, and she pulls it out, looks annoyed, goes and activates some transporter rings, then leaves in a spaceship. The last shot of her shows that she's just a tad off balance, and that's about two minutes after getting shot. He's using a Goa'uld-specific sedative.
    • In the later seasons, people are using tranq darts all the time and they often knock the victim out in less then a second, and occasionally cause the victim to throw themselves away from the dart.
  • Star Trek:
    • Played straight sometimes in The Original Series, but averted in "Amok Time" with McCoy's "triox compound" that knocks Kirk out significantly after he's back fighting Spock. However, this was deliberate on McCoy's part, since simulating Kirk's death was the only way to end the combat without him or Spock actually dying.
    • Each of the Next Gen shows (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager'') makes liberal use of the magic off-button hyposprays that knock people out almost instantly. Justified by being set 400 years in the future; they clearly have new drugs that provide safe, rapid means of anaesthesia.
    • Averted Trope in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Wire". Garak injects himself with a sedative in an attempt to dull the pain he's in. When Bashir has a look at the dose, it's apparently "enough to anaesthetise an Algorian mammoth". Not only does it not dull the pain Garak's in, but it doesn't slow him down and he tries to give himself a second dose which would almost certainly kill him. By the end of the scene (which lasts for several minutes), Garak never acted as though the sedative had ever worked... probably justified as the pain he's in is caused by a malfunctioning brain implant that's wrecking havoc with his blood chemistry and which had given him an endorphin addiction for two years. It's also possible that, as part of his Obsidian Order training, he's built up an immense resistance to anything that someone might want to inject him with.
  • White Collar has an episode where Peter and Neal are made to drink iced tea and chloral hydrate and it knocks them out immediately.
  • Wonder Woman: Happens to the title character in several season 1 episodes. "The Nazi Wonder Woman": a Nazi spy knocks her out with a chloroform soaked rag.
  • The Vampire Diaries:In the season 3 finale "The Departed" Elena is knocked out almost instantly when she drinks some drugged tea given to her by Matt. She is not pleased when she awakens in Matt's truck later and her night only gets worse when Rebekha (believing Klaus to be gone for good) causes the truck to go off of a bridge leading to Elena drowning and then being resurrected as a transitioning vampire due to unknowingly having vampire blood in her system at the time.
  • Averted in The Americans. When a Soviet agent shoots her target with a tranquilizer, he has enough time to struggle with her and then shoot her with a tranquilizer dart in the confusion. Also, since he is larger than she is, he wakes up first and subdues her.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • At Wrestlemania IX, nefarious villain (and terrible wrestler) Giant Gonzalez used a chloroform soaked rag during his match against The Undertaker. This did knock out The Undertaker in under a minute, but got Gonzalez disqualified, so The Undertaker won anyways. Somewhat subverted in the fact that while it took less then a minute to knock him out, The Undertaker woke up very shortly afterward and chased Gonzalez out of the ring.
  • In one episode of Raw, The Big Show was shot by a tranquilizer dart used to take down dangerous animals. He may be a giant, but a rampaging deer still weighs more than twice his size. They didn't show a concern for him overdosing, but they did have him raging and ready to fight until it kicked in five minutes later so it's up to you to decide if this was played with, played straight, averted, inverted, or subverted.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A commonly-available sedative in Shadowrun called Narcojet delivers a tremendous amount of stun damage immediately after injection; only a very robust or lucky target will still be standing after getting shot up with it. The description states that the drug has no side effects.

    Video Games 
  • Sleep is one of the Standard Status Effects in video games, though it often comes from magic rather than a drug.
  • Deus Ex
    • Averted in the first game. JC's mini-crossbow can be loaded with Tranquilizer Darts which take several seconds to subdue the target. And, furthering the aversion, the victim runs around yelling for help before falling unconscious. Though shooting them in the head plays it straight, earning you an instant knock-out.
    • The Tranquilizer Rifle in Human Revolution works the same, and further averts the trope in that there is a small chance of it killing someone (it seems some enemies are randomly given the trait of dying when hit with any non-lethal attack but a take-down).
    • Also alert enemies take longer to fall over and shots near the head work quicker.
  • Played straight and averted in Metal Gear. Hitting somebody in the head or the heart with the tranquilizing weapons (that is, not the stun grenades or the taser-like weapons) knocks out instantly while hitting the belly or the limbs delays the effect. Some of the boss characters are bizarrely resilient to tranquilizer rounds, though, and can take several rounds to the head before passing out, even though Otacon insists that the tranquilizer rounds are potent enough to knock out an elephant. The MGS bosses are simply that badass.
    • There's also the rag and gas cigarette items in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater which both instantly knock out enemies. But don't overuse the rag, too much of it might knock Snake out himself. They are also especially handy because Snake can use them while wearing disguises that otherwise restrict what weapons he can use.
    • The tranquilizer gun appears in Project M as Snake's new Side Special to replace the Family-Friendly Firearms he has in the official game, playing the trope straight - they immediately put the opponent to sleep no matter where they hit.
  • Final Fantasy IX plays this straight after the Festival of the Hunt. Princess Garnet puts a sedative in the food that her uncle Cid provides, making sure to leave it out of her own food and Steiner's. Within less than a minute, everyone who has consumed the affected food is down for the count, and Garnet is able to make her planned escape.
  • Hitman makes liberal use of this, particularly in later games.
  • Averted with the Lantern Spider enemies in The Funhouse level from American McGee's Alice - while they have needles with what is symbolically a sedative liquid, getting jabbed by one of them causes the screen to go bizarre for a few minutes.
  • Occurs in Crysis, although given the capabilities of your nanosuit it may be a tiny bit more realistic.
  • Played straight in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game when Silver Sable tries to kidnap Peter Parker by knocking him out with a couple of tranquilizer darts... for a few minutes anyway. Then his enhanced metabolism kicks in allowing him to wake up earlier than he was supposed to and resist all subsequent shots. Cue boss battle where he has to fight off both Silver Sable and her mercenaries while trying not to succumb to the effects of the tranquilizers in his system.
  • Second Sight has people staggering around for a few moments after being hit with tranquillizer darts, then reacting like they have been punched in the chest and falling over. Hitting them in the head takes them down instantly.
  • In The Several Journeys of Reemus: Chapter two, Reemus is shot from offscreen by a dart so loaded with sedative that it actually sprays a considerable amount on Liam when it hits. Liam has just enough time to identify the sedative before he, too, is shot and goes under. Later on, they have to collect a sample of it (it's a type of honey made by a particular bee, which is so potent that even a small amount contains enough sugar to induce a temporary diabetic coma) to exploit its faux-sedative properties.
  • Used frequently in the Monster Hunter series, with Tranq Bombs, Tranq S bowgun ammo, and Tranq Throwing Knives, required for monster capture quests. Though, to be fair, first you have to weaken them significantly and catch them in a trap. They have no effect otherwise.
  • During Rachel's gag reel in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Litchi destroys the candy Kokonoe's offering due to it possessing a powerful sleeping pill. Kokonoe confesses, but not before adding that "This shit would knock the Black Beast out!"
  • Pokémon have various methods of instantly inducing "sleep" including Sleep Powder, Hypnosis, Sing, and Lovely Kiss.
  • A headshot with Nightwing's wrist darts in his DLC for Batman: Arkham City is an instant takedown. A body shot on an unarmored henchman is just a normal knockdown.
  • The first System Shock has a dart gun which can be loaded with tranquilizers. Take a guess whether you have to wait around several minutes for them to take effect. Maybe there's something about SHODAN's method of creating mutants that causes special sensitivity to tranquilizers...
    • Perhaps the part with replacing lots of disgusting flesh with beautiful machinery.
  • James Bond video games use this judiciously. Everything or Nothing at least attempts to justify this by stating that the knocker-outer is a fast-acting nerve toxin rather than a chemical.
  • A tranquilizer gun is part of Lara Croft's arsenal in Tomb Raider Underworld. Shooting a full-grown panther with it will take the beast down in the blink of an eye.
  • There is an almost-instant tranquilizer dart firing crossbow in Dishonored; however, if the target is in combat, it takes longer to knock them out than if they are relaxed.
  • When Petra from Emerald City Confidential is investigating a series of crimes in the city, her Arch-Enemy uses poppy dust to quickly sedate and capture her.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has Raul Menendez undergo this. Though given that he was carving a soldier's jugular up like a turkey with a nail file, it's understandable.

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted and Lampshaded in The Last Days of Foxhound. When Liquid is possessed by Big Boss and he is threatening Raven, he is shot in the head with a high dosage tranq dart by Wolf, and it takes him several seconds to fall unconscious, causing Raven to say "That took way too fucking long". Also subverted when the Cyborg Ninja is tranquilized and remains conscious long enough to flee.
    Wolf: I can never get ze dose right vith zese super-humans.
  • An example not using chemical means: in The Law of Purple, we discover that Wraithe can send electric shocks through soft tissue, strong enough to knock someone out almost immediately. Daimon does this to Blue via kiss, though that method was used more for the psychological effect.
  • Girl Genius
    • The webcomic has "stun bullets" and several varieties of sleeping gas grenades. No word on how they actually work, but the stun bullets at least look like they're killing their targets. Unless it was just that Tarvek looked pretty messed up to begin with and Lucrezia wasn't paying much attention, which is very possible.
    • When Gilgamesh blew extract of Somnia dust and Zola used a gas grenade looking much the same, those knocked out instantly, but the victims recovered fairly quickly.
    • Calming pies also work instantaneously as long as you get the recipe right.
    • Just to show how Crazy-Prepared Sparks really are, Gil recently pulled this off against Franz who is a giant green dragon with Heterodyne-grade cyborg enhancements.
  • Dominic Deegan has instant paralysis darts that, bizarrely wear off moments after being removed.
  • In The Dragon Doctors, this is explicitly one of surgeon Goro's talents: managing magical sedatives and anesthesia. Surgery in the far-flung (and magical) future is vastly quicker and easier. During the Die Hard in a Hospital chapter, Goro knocks out two of the thieves with a single injection to the neck (it helps that she has the talent to aim directly at the carotid artery).
  • Used in Inhuman, where Cinne is stabbed with an anesthetic to keep him from running away. To be fair, they do note that it won't take effect immediately, and the doctor is using an injector, rather than a straight needle. Played straight, however, as in the confusion of the situation, the doctor only managed to get the needle in at his shoulder blade, yet it is still treated like it will affect him as fast as getting stabbed in a vein.
  • Averted in Unsounded: after being hit by a tranq-disc, Sette is able to run across town to her Love Hotel room (It Makes Sense in Context) before she loses consciousness.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender , the Shirshu's poison tongue instantly paralyzes whoever it hits. The exception is Appa, who has to be hit several times before going down and could still move somewhat. Appa's basically a walking bus, though, so it makes sense it would take a lot more venom to stop him. Darts coated with Shirshu poison also show up and are nearly as effective. In The Legend of Korra, Korra and Naga (bear-sized) are both instantly stopped by said darts, though Naga was shot by three at once just to make sure.
  • The Fairly OddParents
    • In an episode, a Drill Sergeant Nasty, Jorgen von Strangle, is quickly rendered insensate using two darts (humorously marked "K" & "O") during a fit of animalistic rage.
    • This trope is also a favorite of Vicky's in several episodes, whether she's using tranquilizers or Truth Serums.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episodes:
    • "The Quetong Missile Mystery". In what may be a Lampshade Hanging, Race Bannon makes a note of how fast anaesthetic darts work on enemy guards.
    • "Pirates from Below". Race and Bandit are knocked out by a tranquilizer dart rifle wielded by an enemy operative.
  • Max Steel used this at least twice.
  • Family Guy
    • In an early episode, Peter's boss devises a contest for the company picnic, which involves taking shots at the employees with a tranq rifle and seeing who can last the longest. Most of the employees drop like stones the moment they get shot... except for Peter, who ends up with more than a dozen tranquilizer needles stuck in him, and still manages to stay conscious long enough to win the contest. It would seem that this is due to his relatively high body mass, which (in theory) would require longer for the chemicals to spread through his body.
  • The Venture Bros.
    • Subversion where the Fake Ghost Pirate Captain has not only developed a resistance to Instant Sedative but is actually addicted to the stuff.
    Captain: I got the dart monkey on me back!
    • Also subverted in the first episode; Brock takes about a dozen butterfly darts, and only goes down when hit with a truck. It is Brock.
  • The Simpsons
    • Bart has just been "taken" by a monkey at a local zoo, and Homer tries to save him by putting a tranq-dart into a tube and putting it into his mouth. He then inhales, and it gets self-explanatory after that.
    • Subverted in another episode when Barney is shot with a bear tranquilizer dart. He actually pulls out the dart and drinks the remaining sedative before passing out.
  • Subverted in a The Ren & Stimpy Show cartoon parodying nature shows; Ren is accidentally shot with a tranq dart by Stimpy, and it takes a minute for him to go down. In the meantime, his voice slows down.
  • Gargoyles
    • When Brooklyn is hit with one, he goes down almost instantly, but is still blinking groggily when he's dragged away — so it may not have put him out completely at all.
    • Subverted in an early ep, where Goliath takes a few minutes for the tranq darts to really hit him.
  • The Herculoids. In "Sarko the Arkman", the title villain uses a sleep mist on Zandor.
  • Space Ghost episode "The Looters". Brak uses a sleep gas missile on a ship.
  • In one of the Gorillaz short animated idents, 2D is knocked out cold by just a whiff of gas.
  • In Wakfu season 2, the Justice Knight captures fugitives with his Justice Train by trapping them inside the wagon, which then fills with a golden Knockout Gas. The effects are shown to be immediate even with the heroes.
  • Invoked frequently in Inspector Gadget, usually in the form of a knockout gas.
  • Subverted in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Sideshow". Killer Croc has just escaped from a train transporting him to prison, but not before being shot with a sedative in his upper arm. He manages to tussle with Batman, attempt to crush a downed Bats' head with a rock, run through the woods for, at the very least, several minutes, push down a full-grown tree, and fight off Batman again, all while only experiencing moderate dizziness from the sedative. He finally goes under after falling down a waterfall.
    • Justified somewhat as a Magic Antidote in "Dreams in Darkness": Dr. Wu tells Batman that he has made an antidote that can eliminate the fear toxin in his body, but with one side effect: instant drowsiness that can render the antidote taker asleep for two days. Batman, however, decides to put the antidote on hold until he can stop Scarecrow and his evil plans of poisoning the water supply. Only then can the Dark Knight get the antidote administered to him by Alfred.
  • Played straight in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Bad Hair Day", where a naturalist who's mistaken a hair-covered Candace for a rare tangerine orangutan gets shot with one of his own tranquilizer darts, and is conscious just long enough to ask Mrs. Johnson (Jeremy's mom) to go after the "orangutan". Oddly averted later in the episode, where Dr. Doofenshmirtz gets covered in Candace's excess hair and ends up getting shot with a tranquilizer, and he's merely groggy and delirious aftewards. The episode ends with a still-barely-conscious Doofenshmirtz stumbling through a nature preserve singing a random song about getting "Shot in the Butt with a Dart", only to fall asleep in the middle of his song.
  • In King of the Hill, Bill adopts a dog to participate in a dog dancing competition, which turns out to be highly vicious and corners Bill in his shower. Bill attempts to grab some sleeping pills from the medicine cabinet using a wire hanger and get the dog to swallow them. He is out cold within seconds.
  • Thoroughly averted on Gravity Falls, where Deputy Durland gets hit with several tranquilizer darts and still has time to chase down Dipper and Mabel. He's only out for a few minutes.
  • Care Bears episode "Bedtime for Care-a-lot" uses magic dust to put the Care Bears to sleep. No Heart makes the sleeping dust, and Beastly and Shreeky sprinkle it onto bears in Care-a-lot. They miss Bedtime Bear, who was just taking a nap. So it's up to Bedtime Bear to find a way to wake the other bears.

    Real Life 
  • The RSI (Rapid Sequence Intubation) cocktail: low-dose fentanyl (pain management), etomidate (rapid-acting induction agent), and succinylcholine (rapid-acting paralytic). Injected IV, will take a patient from awake and screaming to unconscious and paralyzed in 30 seconds. The objective is to intubate the patient (who can't breathe for himself at this point), after which you'll start a sedative drip (such as propofol) for maintenance.
    • Alternatively the fentanyl can be substituted for midazolam or lorazepam (or another benzo) for amnestic effect.
  • Averted rather heavily when Russian special forces solved a hostage situation by filling the theater they were being held in with gas, neutralizing the terrorists, but inadvertently killing 130 hostages (other sources give numbers up to 174 out of 916). The causes of deaths were:
    • Some victims fell asleep in positions that blocked respiratory pathways, and were not evacuated quickly enough.
    • Some terrorists stayed conscious and started a firefight.
    • Hostages were weakened by sitting in the same places for 3 days.
    • Many of the victims suffered from chronic illnesses and have not received medication for 3 days.
    • The intention to use the gas was kept in secret. As a result medics did not know what happened to the unconscious people, that arrived to hospitals, and what to do with them.
    • The composition of the gas remains a secret. The hospitals lacked the antidote and it started arriving only much later.
  • Zoo veterinarian David Taylor was a pioneer of safely sedating/anesthetizing wild animals of all types. He tells a tale in one of his autobiographies about using a blow pipe to shoot a dart full of a new, powerful agent, at a dose intended to bring down a very large hoofed animal. As he puts the pipe to his lip, he feels a small cold spot. When he put the dart into the blowpipe, the tip of the needle brushed against the edge, and the tiny bit of liquid deposited, absorbed through the skin of his lip, was so strong that he barely had time to grab the syringe of antidote (something he always kept nearby whenever using this agent, just in case) and inject himself with it before losing consciousness. Had he not been able to give himself that injection, he would likely have been dead within minutes.
  • A common movie technique (especially in kidnappings) is to press a rag soaked in chloroform or diethyl ether to the mouth and nose, causing near-instantaneous blackout. With the correct dosage, this really can work as advertised, hence why both compounds were used as early surgical anesthetics. What the movies tend to leave out is just how difficult it is to get a "correct" dosage and how dangerous both these are:
    • Chloroform is highly toxic and it is frighteningly easy to administer a lethal overdose even with proper medical equipment and training. Portrayals of chloroform use (particularly those playing to the fetish crowd) also rarely mention the common side-effects of chloroform exposure, such as nausea, splitting headaches, and (under prolonged exposure) severe liver damage. Some people have even been known to vomit immediately at the first sniff of a chloroform rag.
    • Diethyl ether is highly combustible even at relatively low temperatures and therefore dangerous around any kind of heat source, even without open flame or sparks. In fact, James Young Simpson invented chloroform as an alternative anesthesia because hospitals that used ether had a nasty tendency to blow up.
    • There's also an inherent risk of suffocation in covering someone's nose and mouth with a wet cloth.

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