An occupational hazard of having a specialized talent in demand is that sometimes "demand" can be taken literally — a professional such as a scientist or engineer is kidnapped and coerced
into working for the bad guys, under threat to their life or the lives of their loved ones
. Although there should be some obvious inherent risks to letting someone hostile to your plans work so intimately with them, doing things no one else in your organization fully understands, the success rate for this method seems to be pretty high — at least until the heroes get around to rescuing them.
Note that this is not the same as kidnapping someone for information, using them as a MacGuffin
, or having someone Made a Slave
for menial (or sexual) tasks — but having a professional work intimately with the most delicate aspects of a plan, requiring highly specialized skills.
Subtrope of An Offer You Can't Refuse
. Compare Reluctant Mad Scientist
Anime and Manga
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Megumi lost her family in the war, and was trying to move on with her life to study their trade (medicine). She was promised an apprenticeship, but ended up being forced to produce opium (and concoct stronger and more addictive varieties of the drug, such as Spider's Web) for Kanryu Takeda. More than once, she has attempted suicide over the guilt, but Kenshin convinced her to pick up her medical studies and focus on healing as many people as possible.
Film - Animated
Film - Live Action
- Getafix, druid of Astérix's village is kidnapped quite often for his knowledge of the super-strength magic potion.
- Professor Calculus in Tintin has been kidnapped on two different occasions.
- Tony Stark and Dr. Yinsen are abducted and told to build the Jericho missile by Islamic extremists or be executed. They Take a Third Option.
- The Avengers, Astrophysicist Dr. Erik Selvig was kidnapped and forced by Loki to help build a portal device powered by the Tesseract
- Top Secret!, Professor Flammond.
- The Pink Panther Strikes Again had the now-evil and insane Dreyfus capturing a scientist (and his Beautiful Daughter) to build a disintegration ray.
- The film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze has Shredder and the Foot Clan kidnapping a scientist that was involved in the development of the Ooze responsible for transforming the Turtles into their present state so he could force said scientist to create an army of mutants. The scientist reluctantly obliges, but uses infant animals and contaminates the ooze so that they retain a child-like intelligence resulting in Tokka and Rahzar. After being rescued by the Turtles, the scientist works with them to formulate an anti-mutagen based on the contamination so that the two mutants can be turned back to normal.
- Wild Wild West. Dr. Loveless captured America's top scientists in the fields of physics, hydraulics, and explosives and forced them to build a 80 foot tall mechanical spider that can belch out fireballs.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The Fantom captured scientists and their families. He forced the scientists to build advanced technology (like tanks and assault rifles) by threatening their families if they didn't cooperate.
- Buckaroo Banzai. Lord John Whorfin demands that Buckaroo surrender to him or Penny Priddy will be killed. After Buckaroo does so, he's tortured to make him tell how to complete the missing circuit in Whorfin's oscillation overthruster.
- Professor Fenton is kidnapped by that Hun swine Otto von Bruno for nefarious purposes in Bullshot.
- In Piers Anthony's Prostho Plus a group of space aliens with poor hygiene kidnapped a dentist.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Spike once kidnapped Willow and Xander to force then-novice witch Willow to cast a love spell on Drusilla.
- Doctor Who:
- Professor Watkins in The Invasion.
- In The Time Warrior, a Sontaran kidnaps scientists from his future to make them repair his spaceship.
- Alias: Omnidisciplinary tech guy/Gadgeteer Genius Marshall is kidnapped for information twice. The first time he says he can recreate the computer code they're looking for, and uses his coding skills to send a message to SD-6. He's kidnapped again for similar reasons in the Grand Finale.
- In the 70s and 80s Kamen Rider series, a highly common plot of the week was a scientist being forced to build some doomsday device or plague or whatever, either by kidnapping the scientist (and it's his kid who runs into the Rider by dumb luck) or the scientist's loved ones (then it's the scientist who runs into the Rider by dumb luck.) Note to scientists: if you ever get kidnapped by any Nebulous Evil Organization run by the disembodied voice of Goro Naya (and there's a lot of 'em!) do not expect them to actually keep their deal.
- Villains And Vigilantes. Characters are only allowed to have a certain number of insightful ideas (Invention Points). Villains therefore kidnap scientists and other experts and force them to use their Invention Points to create new technology for the villains' use.
- Champions supplement The Blood and Dr. McQuark. The brilliant scientist Dr. McQuark was kidnapped by the villain group VIPER and forced to create new technology for them. He pretended to go along with them while hoping for rescue. Just when VIPER's patience ran out, Dr. McQuark was rescued by the superhero Radion.
- GURPS Supers supplement Supertemps. When Harold Wilkesom created a prototype of a weapon that could silently throw metal playing cards, he was kidnapped by the villain group TRADE and forced to continue his research on it. When he learned he would be killed when it was complete, he used the prototype to escape.
- In Fallout 2 Darion, the leader of a raider gang, had a vacationing medical doctor kidnapped in order to work on his heart condition. The man complies largely because this also allows him to provide assistance to the Vault 15 squatters.
- From the same game, Vic the repairman would somewhat qualify as well, as he was first found being held captive by slavers using him to construct a radio, except that it wasn't so much that did the job unwillingly as that he'd been paid for it it, failed to get it right the first time and was held prisoner until he could finish it properly.
- In Evil Genius the player can kidnap specialists including scientists and interrogate them to unlock new minion types.
- In Fallout: New Vegas forcing a certain doctor into someone's service is one possible solution to a quest, useful if the player doesn't have a high medical skill.
- Happens all the time in Metal Gear, including (but not limited to):
- Used partially in Mega Man 4. While not the victim of the kidnapping himself, (but rather, his daughter), Dr. Mikhail Cossack is blackmailed by Dr. Wily to build him an army of robots to defeat Mega Man and take over the world.
- Played straight in the next game with Dr. Light.
- The fifth Mega Man Battle Network game used this as well, with Dr. Yuuichiro Hikari kidnapped by the Nebula syndicate for the duration of the game.
- Happens within the first 20 minutes of Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. Professor Krane is kidnapped by a couple of Cipher Peons to forcibly help with their Shadow Pokémon research.
- In the Twinbee series, more often than not the plot is set in motion with Dr. Cinnamon being kidnapped.
- The Trash-Men in inFamous kidnap engineers to help them interfere with the power supply and construct their giant tower of junk.
- In the sequel, Dr Wolfe, the inventor the the Ray Sphere is kidnapped and forced to work for Bertrand.
- Occurs semi-regularly in Command & Conquer: Tiberium series, most notable examples being Dr. Ignatio Moebius and Dr. Alphonse Giraud. Thing is, Nod scientists are treated very well and have practically limitless resources, so it is not uncommon for kidnapped scientists to pull a Face-Heel Turn, which is implied to have happened with Dr. Giraud.
- In Virtue's Last Reward's backstory, Alice's father was kidnapped along with several other scientists and forced to research human cloning for the Free the Soul cult.
- Charles in Antihero For Hire.
"Think: Your power suits keep them alive and give them the edge. Back them up with bipedal weapons platforms and actually expendable robot troops. And of course... something to transport them to battle... What do you think? You in? (Note, this is a rhetorical question as I'm forcing you in under pain of murder. Sorry for any confusion)"
- All the time in Inspector Gadget. It seemed like half of M.A.D.'s plans involved kidnapping scientists, although they just about never showed the unwilling ones actually working.
- Subverted in Invader Zim where there is an entire race of kidnapped scientists... whose inventions always seem to go horribly wrong for some inexplicable reason.
- Actually used by the good guys once in Gargoyles, when Goliath kidnaps Sevarius to find a cure for the mutants he'd created. Elisa calls him out on it and in the end Xanatos rescues Sevarius anyway. It's never made clear whether the serum he made was truly a cure or would have been a poison.
- In an episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, the Mad Scientist Professor Nimnul was kidnapped by a mob boss so he could use Nimnul's shrinking ray to go on a crime spree. Ironic in that Nimnul was already evil, but he still hated not being given credit for the crime spree.
- Terran Prof. Algernon from Exo Squad was captured by the Neosapiens early in the war and constructed a number of fantastic weapons for them (most notably, the GRAF Shield) until his recapture by the Exofleet. Being somewhat of a Mad Scientist, however, he is rather indifferent towards his employees and cares more about Flab equipment than about who uses his inventions and to what ends.
- Serling Roquette from Young Justice was kidnapped in order to produce a nano-robotic "fog" capable of stealing information and destroying the computers that held it. She's freed within the episode and later is instrumental in producing Cure-Tech.
- Dr. Drakken does this quite a few times. One episode has him kidnap his former colleagues, one of them being (Mr.) Dr. Possible, for revenge. In college they made fun of him, including ridiculing his crappy robot. In the present, he has made much better versions of the same robot and plans to destroy them. Trouble is said robots turn against Drakken when they figure out their smarter than him.
- Played with in Duff Killigan's first (and only, as a solo villain) episode. Killigan kidnaps a scientist who had developed a top-secret missile-defense system... a technology that is now obsolete and readily available on the Internet. The golf-obsessed villain was actually after the now-retired scientist's quick-grass-growing formula.
- When Mr. Burns tries to capture the Loch Ness Monster, he kidnaps Professor Frink for help.
- Los Zetas, a major Mexican crime syndicate, has been known to kidnap telecoms engineers to build and maintain their communications network. Unlike their usual kidnapping victims, ransoms are not offered and the victims are believed to be killed when they have outlived their usefulness.