Hank: In case I'm incapacitated for any reason, do you know how to start a man's heart with a downed power line?A defibrillator is a remarkable device which can help revive a patient who has suffered cardiac arrest by providing an electric shock and inducing the conditions needed to begin CPR. This alone makes it a valuable and potentially life-saving tool. On TV, however, the defibrillators must be magical, because they work quite differently and have a much higher success rate than they do in real life. A Magical Defibrillator works in a distinctive way. The rescuer encounters someone who has suffered a Hollywood Heart Attack. He grabs the paddles and rubs them together dramatically. Then he removes the victim's shirt, shouts "Clear!", and presses down on the patient's chest while the device makes a satisfying "CHUNK". The patient will jerk violently, and you may even see visible sparks. This will revive the patient on its own; if not, he will perform CPR, which will be clean, pretty, and reliable. For Rule of Drama purposes, though, they don't always work the first time; characters will need two or three dramatic tries before it works. This trope implies that defibrillators work by administering an electric shock to the patient which gets the heart back to doing what it needs to do. Unfortunately, this is not the case; in Real Life, a defibrillator stops a dysfunctional heart rhythm, and CPR is needed to get the heart doing what it's supposed to do if it doesn’t restart on its own. Therefore, shocking an asystolic (flatline) patient will do absolutely nothing of value, which is why a flatline patient will first be given a round of drugs such as Epinephrine to jumpstart the heart into any kind of activity, which can then be shocked. The quasi-logical extension to this protocol is that any electric shock can do what a defibrillator can; as such, a Magical Defibrillator could also be the use of lightning-based powers to revive people (which may be justified depending on how those powers are explained to work). Alternatively, TV victims might be hooked up to what's known as a "suicide cord" — a wall plug with nothing but two bare wires, which is incidentally a good way to induce the need for a defibrillator in real life. Additionally, the lightning-based power of a TV defibrillator provides characters a chance to use them offensively. Defibrillators commonly appear in Medical Dramas; whether or not they're magical depends on the series. Unrealistic medical dramas have a tendency to use them on a flatlining patient, which is not how they're used in Real Life; again, a defibrillator creates a flatline so that you can use CPR to get the heart doing what you need it to do. This is a sub-trope of Worst Aid and a sister trope to CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable, another medical technique that works very differently on TV than it does in Real Life. It's often used in video games, where it's an Acceptable Break from Reality. For more information about defibrillators in Real Life, see the Useful Notes page. (That page is not meant to be a guide for how to revive someone in real life; if someone near you actually needs a defibrillator, call emergency services and/or find an AED and follow its instructions.) Finally, as this trope can involve dying characters, please beware of spoilers.
Hank: Well, there's really no wrong way to do it.
Hank: Well, there's really no wrong way to do it.
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- Parodied amusingly in a Minute Maid ad, in which a science teacher revives a rabbit using balloons and static electricity.
Anime & Manga
- In One Piece, after a severe system-wide shock from a Reject Dial stops Eneru's heart, he uses his electrical powers to restart it.
- Averted in the anime, when Nurse Joy resorts to defibrillators when Pikachu's heart rhythm lowers (it had been seriously injured in battle with a Raichu)... and it takes a few tries to get it back on the right pattern, implying that it might not make it after the third attempt. Pikachu is the mascot of the franchise, so we know better.
- An interesting variant of this trope appears in another Pokémon episode where Ash's Pikachu is taken to a hospital and defibrillated. In this case it seems to act more like smelling salts, although it may have to do with the fact that the paddles were placed on Pikachu's electric pouches.
- Played straight when Pikachu IS the defibrillator, however. Ash's heart has stopped multiple times throughout the series and each time Pikachu revives him by shocking him. It doesn't work on petrification, though.
- Pikachu has also used his electrical attacks to rouse others throughout the series. In an early Master Quest episode, EP211 Fly Me to the Moon, he uses it to revive a Pidgey that flew too high and was asphyxiated by the rarefied air.
- A magical example: Hei from Darker Than Black uses his electricity-based powers to reset his heart after it's been affected by a resonance-disturbing sonic scream. Just in case we hadn't figured out that he's a badass yet.
- Another magical example, this time from Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force. Some members of Hayate's crew, such as their pilot, Lucino, and the members of their main strike force, come equipped with Magitek Automated External Defibrillators that kick in during emergencies. This is a good thing since when Tohma activated his Zero Effect, it caused a good number of people to go into cardiac arrest.
- Hime from Princess Resurrection uses a defibrillator offensively to incapacitate a room full of people. The head physician was shocked by her clearly impossible action before realizing she had wired her android to the defibrillator to use her as a more effective energy source.
- In one episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, the cast acquires a defibrillator that can revive everything: dead relationships, dead sports teams etc. Taken to the logical extreme by reviving actual dead people to start a Zombie Invasion.
- Averted in Digimon Frontier: in the finale, defibrillation does absolutely nothing to revive Kouichi. Given that it's The Power of Love that revives him shortly thereafter, though, it's pretty clear they weren't trying to realistically render defibrillation anyway...
- In Episode 10 of Aldnoah.Zero Inaho used the defibrillator (together with CPR) to revive Asseylum, even while she was flatlining after being strangled. It worked, though it might be the CPR that worked, not the defibrillator.
- Dragon Ball: In the 2010s era, characters have started using their ki for this.
- During Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Piccolo used a blast of kiai to restart Gohan's heart after it was stopped by a heavy blow from Frieza. This was got him moving enough to take a senzu bean.
- During Dragon Ball Super, Goku's heart is momentarily stopped by Hit. Piccolo tries to use the same technique to revive him as he did with Gohan but to no success. It's later revealed Goku had shot a bolt of ki into the air and that went and fell back to Earth to strike Goku in the chest, restarting his heart. Goku essentially acted as his own defibrillator.
- During the Tournament of Power, Goku uses this to revive Master Roshi after he collapses from overexertion. This one takes several attempts to work.
- DC Comics:
- In one issue of Power of Shazam, Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel summon their magical lightning to act as a defibrillator. It's made clear that they have to both be involved, using the opposite Transformation Sequences so the lightning is channeled correctly. Because otherwise, exposing a flatlining man to magic lightning could be dangerous.
- In another comic, Justice Society of America, their evil counterpart Black Adam attempts to do something not-so-evil and revive his teammate Atom Smasher with his magic lightning.
- Part of the Star Wars: Legacy comics. Cade Skywalker, latest bearer of the Skywalker name, has an uncanny gift for bringing people back from the brink of death. It looks rather like Force Lightning; he has to tap the Dark Side to do it, but it has managed to save instead of harming.
- In the issue after Superman's death, medics attempt to revive Superman using defibs, but his body just wouldn't take it. Professor Hamilton hauls out a massive device that requires a massive energy charge for one charge and needs a personal barrier to protect you from the super shock. Bibbo takes the first try and it blows him back several feet and still knocks him out. Does jack for Superman.
- In a later comic Superman is fighting Doomsday again and almost dies. This time Black Lightning himself using his powers to restart Superman's heart.
- The Simpsons: Dr. Nick once tries to revive a goldfish belonging to Ralph Wiggum using these. The nurses refuse to let him try, but he still has them charged up. Then circumstances involving some poorly place wires and the water inside the goldfish bowl result in Drs Nick and Hibbert getting shocked, along with the goldfish, which is miraculously revived.
- In The Marriage Contract an unidentified Muggle medic uses a portable defibrillator and CPR to save a man who was just hit by the Killing Curse.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Flowerbell's Love Triangle", Empath uses his telekinetic powers to generate an energy pulse to use as a defibrillator to jumpstart Papa Smurf's heart after he goes into cardiac arrest.
- Played for absolute Nightmare Fuel in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic The Twelfth Sister, where the Watchers' Council decide to create an army of Slayers by killing and reviving the "active" Slayer... again and again and again and again...
Let me begin with the concept of defibrillation...
- First seen in the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage.
- The premise of the movie Flatliners. They are even able to revive someone clinically dead for up to 12 minutes, and have them instantly come to with no brain damage whatsoever.
- In the film Short Circuit 2, the robot, Johnny, is given a battery charge from a defibrillator.
- Used in an important role in the film The Abyss. The only thing that saves the scene from being completely wrong is the fact that the defibrillator is an early 80s model that wouldn't have had a "quick look" ECG function, and hence the Deep Core crew had no way to tell if the victim was in asystole (hosed) or pulseless VT/VF (recoverable). All they knew was that the victim had no pulse.
- In Powder, the title character uses his odd electrical powers to revive a schoolmate who had drowned. In a more straight play, it is implied he tried this on his grandparents, too, but they weren't as lucky.
- In the film There's Something About Mary, Pat Healey tries to revive a dog with a cut lamp cord. He winds up setting it on fire instead.
- In Casino Royale (2006), Bond uses a defibrillator from his MI6-issue medical kit to revive himself after being poisoned with digitalis during his poker game. Averted in that digoxin does cause a number of arrhythmias, and treatment consists of administration of an antidote and an anti-arrhythmic agent (the two syringes from the kit); defibrillation isn't indicated unless the patient tips over into V-fib, which Bond did. Previous to that point, the MI6 medical staff were using Bond's AED as a quick-look ECG rather than as a defibrillator.
- In Diary of the Dead, one was used unconventionally — as an anti-zombie weapon. It was only partially successful.
- In the movie Our Man Flint, Derek Flint manages to revive a man from near-death by using an unorthodox defibrillation procedure. He has one man stick his finger in an light socket, then uses a human chain to apply the electricity and shock the victim's heart back into working.
- In the made-for-TV Disney movie The Thirteenth Year, the main character, an electricity-generating merman, revives a friend after he almost drowns by shocking him.
- In Bean (in the words of the Literary Agent Hypothesis "novelisation"), "all you have to do is put the round things on someone's chest, yell 'Clear!' and then they come back to life!... But I thought I'd better try the round things on my chest first."—which launches him through the air to land on a comatose patient and accidentally revive them. Admittedly residual electrical current in Mr Bean might have helped there but it's still crazy.
- Done for laughs in Eraser. A character fakes a seizure to create a distraction, and while he's in the building infirmary, pulls out the cable monitoring his heart rate out of curiosity. This causes the flatlining alarm to go off, so the nurse immediately starts zapping him, with him furiously struggling. She actually gives it to him three times with no ill effects.
- Messed up horribly in Mission: Impossible III. They need to use a defibrillator to shock someone in an attempt to overload the electronics inside an explosive pill (which has apparently been implanted in the person's head - but the shock from the defibrillator, applied correctly, should not pass through the head at all!), but fail because the defibrillator (which, it should be reminded, is a tool that might be needed at a moment's notice) has a warmup time (with large-font countdown), which just so happens to be a few seconds longer than it takes for the pill to go off. To add to the defibrillator magic, a character acknowledges that shocking someone like that will stop her heart. The Hero responds that he'll just use it again to restart it.
Luther: If you zap her like that you'll stop her heart!
Ethan: Then I'll zap her again and bring her back!
- Later on in the movie, Ethan jerryrigs a defibrillator out of some live wires to short out the implant in his own head. However, this time, he seems to know that a defibrillator will stop his heart, asking Julia (a nurse) to bring him back, before shocking himself. She does so, with some passable CPR and a few precordial thumps.
- In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Ethan wakes up a second after Ilsa shocks him with a defibrillator after drowning. Oddly, after that, Ilsa shocks Benji in the back with the same defibrillator, knocking him out so that she can run away with the disk, but he's fine a minute after. Benji should probably be unconscious and pulseless on the floor next to Ethan.
- Interestingly, the defibrillator is acutally a real ECG monitor(Zoll), but, unfortunately, is somehow showing Ethan's ECG tracing without being connected to him at all. Meanwhile, Ilsa shocks him with metal paddles (the shock is actually supposed to be delivered through adhesive patches that conduct electricity, especially out in the field), in the wrong places (one pad should be just above the right nipple and the other should be round about the lower left side ribs), while the environment and Ethan himself are soaking wet (high risk of the shock being transferred incorrectly through moisture, and high risk of the rescuer being shocked themselves).
- In Police Story, thieves jump-start a woman's heart with a car battery.
- In The Prize (1963) two doctors use the lamp cord method to revive a heart attack victim in a Stockholm hotel room.
- In Scanner Cop, the hero uses a defibrillator—using his telekinesis to move it—to kill the Big Bad.
- Used in Inception to bring Fischer back from the dead after taking a bullet through the chest. Possibly, possibly justified by the fact that this happens inside somebody's dream and the dreamer may have changed the rules so that a defibrillator would be capable of that.
- Accidentally subverted in the MST3K movie Devil Fish, proving that even a broken clock is still right twice a day. It's made to look like the doctor did everything he could to save a dying patient when he whips out a defibrillator and starts zapping the poor guy's chest, but the results are about what they'd be in Real Life: patient has a pulse, doctor defibs him, and then patient flatlines.
- In Little Fockers, the third movie of the Meet the Parents series, Jack uses the suicide cord technique to defibrillate himself when he realises he's having a heart attack, after calling the paramedics and telling them where he is and what he's about to do.
- In Rat Race, a medical courier accidentally grabs an electric fence while holding a human heart that has been out of its cooler for a while, rolled around the messy floor of his van, flung out the window into a field, and chewed on by a dog. The heart starts beating in his hand, with the implication that all the unfortunate things that have happened to it are fixed and it is still good for transplant. This falls under the Rule of Funny but really tests the limits of its power.
- The A-Team film has a subversion or something, when Murdock tries to escape the mental hospital by jump-starting an ambulance. With a defibrillator. It doesn't work.
- Knowing does a weird version of this. The EKG is clearly showing v-fib (i.e. the thing you actually want to defibrillate) and the EMT administers defib, which correctly stops the heart. This, however, surprises the EMT somewhat, causing them to call the time of death without even attempting CPR.
- In Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Gretel defibrillates Edward using a homemade, steampunk taser.
- In Space Jam, when we go though a montage of the Tune Squad's injuries after getting thrashed by the Monstars, Watch Hazel is seen using a defibrillator on Taz. Since the characters are Looney Tunes, this is naturally Played for Laughs (in an otherwise grim-looking scene), as the result is Taz suddenly sitting up with his body turned into a neon sign that reads "Eat at Joe's". The light and sound the device makes is also atypical of the common, fictional defibrillator (unless the device was running off Pikachu).
- In Terminator Salvation, Marcus Wright is revived near the end of the film by having another character repeatedly jab him with a live electrical cable. This somehow works. He's a cyborg, after all.
- Lone Survivor both starts and ends with the same scene of Marcus Luttrel being shocked for a flatline. It only works after 8 or 10 shocks.
- In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Electro stops a man's heart by zapping him, then revives him by zapping him again. He at least correctly positions his hands where you are supposed to place the paddles.
- In the 1935 version of Magnificent Obsession, a man dies while another is saved, because the emergency squad had only one rescue "machine." The machine is not named, but at this time, the defibrillator existed experimentally, but not in practice. The movie manages to remain pertinent with this reference. Also a nice example of Did the research.
- In Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, April and Gilbert improvise a defibrillator by rubbing two baby sharks together to create static electicity to revive Fin. They at least position the sharks where you are supposed to place the paddles, and Gilbert performs CPR in between each shock.
- Area 7 by Matthew Reilly has a Magical Defibrillator. In it, a character is executed by lethal injection. The book goes into detail on how an overdose of multiple chemicals induce unconsciousness, paralyze his lungs, and stop his heart. Several minutes later, he's revived by a defibrillator. From that point on, he's fine. Apparently it cures poison, too.
- At the end of On the Edge, Rose Drayton uses up all of their magic and dies. Declan brings them back to life by "flashing" his magic into their chest repeatedly to restart the heart.
- In The Dresden Files: Changes, Harry Dresden awakens to find Waldo Butters attempting to revive him with a defibrillator. Mere moments later, Butters uses the same defibrillator to stun a hitman.
- Though Harry's body was in a kind of magical slumber while his mind was meeting with Mab and Lea and becoming the Winter Knight, and had just been released back into the real world. But his heart had stopped anyway, so maybe it was a combo of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane?
- Subverted in Ark Angel. Alex uses a defibrillator to stun a character, the whole thing being preceded with something along the lines of "he knew what they did, he'd seen a lot of television". Those must have been some pretty accurate television shows.
- The first book in The Immortals involves a literally magical defibrillator when Alanna uses lightning magic to restart Daine's heart, a rather straightforward application of this trope (however since we don't see the scene happen from that end, we don't know whether anyone yelled "Clear!").
- Almost subverted in Exhuman when Athan uses his lightning-based powers to accidentally stop someone's heart during a fight. Then played absolutely straight when he shocks her again to get the heart started again.
- In the Alias season 3 episode "Facade", Ricky Gervais is a very Mad Bomber who doesn't afraid of nothing, especially the electric chair. Or is he? When all else fails and they're all doomed, Spy Daddy steps up to the plate to strangulate Ricky, having attained a portable defibrillator from nowhere, and has it fully charged and waiting right around the corner. When Ricky dies, Spy Daddy brings him back and tells him that there is no white light for people like him and that they'll do it all again unless he stops the bombs, and they're both confident that it will work again and again because it's a Magical Defibrillator.
- In a Mr. Bean sketch, the bumbling character revives someone with the bare cable method, but then accidentally electrocutes him soon after.
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger has Tetsu use his Lightning Fist attack as a defibrillator to save Ban.
- An episode had a perfectly-conscious character who required cardioversion for atrial tachycardia telling the doctors to use a certain energy level, as he had had the problem a number of times before and 200 joules was always what fixed it before. The doctors follow procedure, shocking the patient multiple times at increasing energy levels, but 200 is still what sets his heart rate to normal.
- Compared to other medical shows, ER avoided this pretty well, and in fact sometimes put placing accuracy over dramatic license to good use. This is where series creator Michael Crichton's experience as a trained MD came to good use. Not using (or better yet, discontinuing) the defibrillator when a patient goes into asystole ramped up the tension, precisely because uneducated audiences expect this trope to be true. This leads to accurate procedural facts giving a misleading implication: when "even" the "magical defibrillator" is useless, things are really going south.
- Inverted. The appearance of defibrillators is a sure sign that the patient is a goner.
- Early in the series Turk encountered a sleeping patient whose heart monitor leads have fallen off, so Turk assumes he is flatlining and tries to shock him. Although it is used for comedy, as a doctor Turk should have known better than to defibrillate what he thought to be an asystole.
- Averted in Breaking Bad when the Salamanca assassin who survived after trying to kill Hank is going into cardiac arrest, one nurse asks if they need to use a defibrillator, and another replies that there is no need as the patient is in asystole.
- When Max from Dark Angel jabs herself with a Cybernetic implant to make herself able to defeat some rival supersoldiers. After kicking ass and taking names, she starts to seziure as it is starting to burn out her nervous system and brain. Thus, Original Cindy and Logan have to stab through her neck into the implant with a knife and use it as a conductor for a defribillator.
- In House, Kutner sets fire to a patient with a defibrillator, earning him the name of "professional defibrillist" from House. He also shocked himself unconscious when he used a defibrillator on a wet patient. He seems to like his nickname though. Despite being promoted as a less-drama-more-medicine medical show, House's team has about a 50% chance of incorrectly trying to shock a flatline instead of administering the proper medications.
- Played for laughs in Bottom where, in the episode "Gas", Eddie tries to revive a presumably dead gas-man with some electrical wires. He first lodged them in his chest to no effect, then tries them on his crotch before sticking them in his nostrils. He considers this conclusive proof that he's dead (and probably would be anyway after that). Surprisingly the gas man wakes up later and is only dazed with slight amnesia, despite having been attacked and brutalized in all manner of ways in an effort to revive him or hide his body, after initially being punched and hit with the comedy frying pan dozens of times.
- Used in a sketch on Scottish comedy show Chewin' the Fat where doctors are using defibrillators on a patient to no effect except the usual cliche muscle spasms you would expect. One doctor then suggests "Try his nuts!" at which point they use them on the patient's crotch, which revives him immediately.
- Defibrillators often appear in Stargate SG-1, but strangely, the patient either always revives on their own before the pads are applied, or just dies anyway. One wonders why they bother keeping them around. Averted once in "Singularity"; the Goa'uld bomb causes Cassie to develop a fairly serious arrhythmia, which is successfully treated by one round of defibrillation. (It doesn't stop the bomb, though.)
- Stargate Atlantis:
- Zig-Zagged once, where a defibrillator was actually used to stop John Sheppard's heart to stop an alien parasite from feeding on him. Once his heart is stopped, the defibrillator is used in attempt to restart his heart, but it doesn't work and it takes CPR plus medical attention to get Sheppard's heart started again. So while they might get the facts about defibrillators wrong, it's not really treated as a magical heart-fixing button.
- In a later episode, Dr. Keller uses a defibrillator to short out an implanted tracking device. However, she notes how risky it is and using it could kill the subject.
- Angel: In the episode "Ground State," Gwen Raiden not only uses her electrical powers to kill and then revive Gunn, she also manages to shock Angel's 200-plus-years-dead heart into beating temporarily.
- In the MacGyver (1985) episode "The Enemy Within", Mac juryrigs a defibrillator out of two candlesticks, a floor mat, and an electrical power cord. The idea was not to reverse fibrillation, but to counteract some kind of magnetic field that was causing bubbles to form in the victim's blood... somehow. Whatever that meant, it worked.
- In one episode of Holby City, the annoying new anaesthetist is messing around with the defibrillators while in surgery... and shocks himself. He dies, not that many of his colleagues mind too much. Being set in a hospital, there are plenty more boring versions of the Magical Defibrillator.
- Averted in 24. Jack gets brought back, but at the end of the day he has trouble sniping due to heart pains.
- Parodied in That Mitchell and Webb Look; in a poorly-written medical drama written by a pair of lazy writers who can't be bothered doing the research, a doctor bursts into a theatre jabbering about how he's going to use "the electric paddles that can make you better if you're really sick but can make you sort of ill if you're fine!" Moments later, after giving the poor sod a fatal electric shock, he muses that the man "was fine, but is now poorly from too much electric."
- NUMB3RS averts this altogether in the season 5 episode "The Fifth Man". While in the hospital, Don's heart goes into fibrillation, and the defibrillator is used to restore a normal rhythm. You can actually see the monitor displaying an erratic heartbeat. When he flatlines, they use a syringe filled with a drug to attempt to revive him, not the paddles.
- In the Firefly episode "Ariel", Zoe uses a defibrillator to knock someone out when they break into a hospital. And that's a contrast to the previous scene, where Simon uses a defibrillator to save a patient who is suffering a heart seizure due to an accidental dosage of two drugs that negatively interact. In the latter incident it appears to be a case of a lack of heartbeat with no pumping, and the shock is used to restart the heartbeat, before a drug is introduced via intravenous injection to return the heart to normal.
- During the opening of one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Jazz, Will's idiot best friend, stumbles upon a defib and applies it to himself. Cut to him being blown down the corridor.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles the titular character zaps herself with defibrillators in order to short out a tracer inside her breast, even asking from a doctor if it'll kill her before doing it. It should have stopped her heart temporarily, along with the tracer, but she's up and about in a couple of minutes, max.
- An episode of M*A*S*H has Hunnicutt building a defibrillator from improvised parts after reading about the device being tested on dogs in a medical journal, though the episode has it used in a realistic fashion.
- In an episode of Medium Lee is shot by the sheriff in a bathroom, and dies. His ghost meets the ghost of his brother, who ridicules him for finally dying. The doctors come in later with the defribillator, and guess who returns to life?
- An episode of CSI had a killer getting a reprieve just as he's flat-lining during a lethal injection execution. They defibrillate him, and he recovers. No mention of all the chemicals still in his system.
- An episode of Kamen Rider Double has a main character revive someone who is clinically dead (the plot depends on this fact) by issuing a sharp electric shock to their heart... with a sword.
- In Eureka, while trapped in 1947, Allison revives a man using jumper cables hooked up to a car battery.
- Star Trek series starting with Next Generation had their own Technobabble version of the Magical Defibrillator, the cortical stimulator, which are two little pads attached to the head. They even do the "clear!" and the body-jerking bits. Most memorable during the death of Tasha Yar, used from then on throughout the franchise.
- They very nearly get it right in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in the Series 3 episode The Wire. Dr. Bashir tries a number of treatments in an attempt to stabilise the unconscious Garak. One of the treatments he tries is a cardio-stimulator in an attempt to get Garak's dysfunctional heartbeat back under control. His heartbeat does stabilise, but it doesn't magically bring him round or make his health problems go away. A body jerk does accompany the use of the stimulator, but it's a much more subdued and far less dramatic jerk than television usually insists upon.
- Babylon 5 has a device that is, apparently, supposed to be a futuristic defibrillator. It looks like a ribcage and is attached to the stretcher. The patient jerks when jolted. However, no wires are shown being attached to the patient.
- Royal Pains tries to play this more realistically. Hank must revive a woman who has just collapsed and does not have a pulse. He uses the ECG display of his portable defibrillator to see that she has an irregular heartbeat (ie not a flatline) and shocks her twice. When this does not work, he diagnoses that she has a condition where a defibrillator will not work so he administers a potassium injection instead to correct the heartbeat.
- An episode of Small Wonder had Vicki (a Robot Girl) save a character from a heart attack by shocking him, leading to the immortal line "she jump-started Grandpa!"
- Smallville episode "Fever", doctors defibrillate a flatlined patient. She dies.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Power of Three", the mysterious cubes send an electrical pulse that stops the hearts of people near them, including one of the Doctor's. Amy restarts the Doctor's one stopped heart with a defibrillator, and later the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to reprogram the cubes so they will restart everyone's heart, essentially Magically Defibrillating a third of the population of the planet by remote control. The victims have all been out for far too long to be revived, too, but the Doctor's magic takes care of that as well.
- Emergency! had one of the earliest regular depictions of this device with the usual Jack Webb emphasis on realism. However, the producer did manage to get a more dramatic style to it with a different version that created a rising tonal sound as it charged up for a shock.
- Played straight in Continuum, when doctors attempt to defibrillate a flatlined gunshot victim. Subverted when it fails. Double Subverted because he's a Super Soldier who apparently has one built-in, which does work.
- One episode of Bettys Diagnose has them defibrillate a botulism patient of all things, complete with shocking the flatline. At least they're shown squirting gel on the pads before rubbing them.
- Mythbusters tested a couple of oddball claims about defibrillators, none of which were at all related to heart function. A defibrillator will cause a nitroglycerin patch to detonate: Busted. Defibrillating will cause burns if the patient wears an underwire bra or nipple rings: plausible under very abnormal circumstances.
- Remarkably averted in an episode of Lucifer where a defibrillator is used to stop Lucifer's heart.
- Also averted in Scream Queens (2015) when the Green Meanie attacks Denise with a defibrillator, and nearly kills her in the process.
- Played laughably straight in an episode of Grimm, where a handful of doctors use a defibrillator to restart the heart of a corpse that's been dead for days (if not weeks - it's not made clear how long they've had the body). A corpse that's had all four limbs replaced with stolen body parts, some from cadavers that have been dead for several months.
- The Time Tunnel episode "End of the World". After a Time Tunnel technician suffers a heart attack, Ann uses some ripped out electrical cables to shock his heart into beating again.
- In Black Lightning, after Jefferson's heart is stopped by a punch to the chest, his youngest daughter Jennifer accidentally uses her recently-manifested electrical powers to shock it into beating again. Then again, metahuman physiology could be different, especially one whose power is absorbing and manipulating electricity.
- The backgrounds to both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 have instances of the literal version of this, curiously enough both involving a sadistic fantasy version of an electric cattle-prod. In Warhammer the mad Skaven Master Moulder (chaotic ratman Doctor Frankenstein equivalent) Throt the Unclean used one of his clan's technomagical shock prods—usually used for herding mutant war-beasts into battle—to re-start the multiple hearts of the giant blindwyrm he was vivisecting when he created the very first Hell Pit Abomination. Presumably such measures were necessary in the creation of all or most of the rest. In Warhammer 40,000 the context is a bit more traditional. The ork painboy (medic) "Mad" Dok Grotsnik once had to be revived with a charge from an electrified "grot prod" (a tool used to herd unwilling gretchin underlings into battle) when his barely-competent gretchin orderlies were stitching him back together after an unfortunate "accident" arranged by his enemies. Suffice to say he wasn't known as "Mad" Dok Grotsnik before the procedure. Given the absurdly robust, partially fungal nature of the ork body, being easily revived is actually fairly tame for them.
- The medics in Dirty Bomb all have access to defibrillation devices that revive incapacitated teammates, but do nothing for those already killed.
- In the games Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142, the defibrillator is a tool available for medics. It can revive the injured or kill enemies.
- In both games the medics use the defibrillator as an instant cure from death. Unless you were blown up by a direct artillery hit, anti-tank (or anti-air) weapon, a C4 charge, or killed inside a vehicle, you will be revived by a shock with the pads, if a friendly medic can reach you within about 15 seconds after your fatal wound. Considering the pace of gameplay, probably an Acceptable Break from Reality.
- Less appreciated are those medics who choose to teamkill you and immediately revive you. However, it is much faster than whipping out the medkit, and as is acknowledged by those in the med-tech field, whatever gets the job done.
- Bad Company 2 also included the magical defibrillators, however all restrictions were now gone. If it was dead, an electrical shock would have it prancing about happily instantly. C4, 50 cal, rockets, tank shells, explosive helicopter crashes, nothing is beyond the fibs.
- Defibrillators are back in Battlefield 3 but now they can't kill enemies (reliably). In an effort to stop medics from endlessly reviving you in a bad spot, the ability to opt out of a revive was added, meaning you can die and get revived, only to spontaneously die again.
- Parodied in Warcraft III. If you click repeatedly on the Priest unit, it will eventually respond with a "Clear!" followed by the sound of an electric shock.
- Justified in Star Wars: Republic Commando. In it, the commandos can use what appear to be defibrillators shaped like guns to revive each other almost instantly and regardless of damage received or time incapacitated... however, dialogue reveals that what the paddles actually do is activate cybernetic implants that release bacta, the setting's miracle cure-all.
- To add to that, the commandos are not killed after their health bar runs out, they are simply paralyzed and are unable to move. (Possibly a stun mechanism built into the armor to keep the commandos from dying like typical grunts.) You only die when all commandos are incapacitated.
- The medkit in Half-Life's mod Sven Co-op can revive teammates and other players for 50 Med points, and a quirk also allowed to revive players that were smashed/blown into pieces
- In In FAMOUS, Cole's healing hands work a lot like Magic Defibrillators, complete with charge up and zap, and will bring anyone not-quite-dead back to life. Except when they're Killed By Plot, then it only brings them back long enough for a tearful last words.
- In Saints Row 2, the ambulance missions allow you to use a defibrillator or CPR to revive people in car accidents. Once all missions are completed, the defibrillator is unlocked and can be used on anyone that you see outside of cinematics, including people suffering from headshots, severe burning, ingested explosives, katana impalement, etc. The magical properties of ambulances makes one wonder why you can't just use it when Aisha is beheaded, but perhaps that's where Zombie Carlos comes from (and explains why it wasn't used thereafter).
- In Dirty Bomb, all of the medics, except Sparks, have access to defibrillators that revive downed teammates. Teammates also get more health the more charged up the defibs are before using. It also damages enemies proportional to the amount of charge it had.
- Enemy Territory: Quake Wars has a defibrillator as a revive tool for downed allies and a one-hit-down for teammates and enemies. Acceptable Breaks from Reality It revives you with half health, recharges almost instantaneously, and requires no timing. Some people will shock you to down you and immediately revive you if you're noticeably below half health.
- In Ever17, a defibrillator is used in a attempt to revive Sara, who had just drowned. Even disregarding the fact that the paddles are supposed to be applied to bare skin (a somewhat forgivable omission, as Ever17 is one of the rare Visual Novels that doesn't hold an AO rating), the wisdom of attempting to send an electric current into somebody who is wearing wet clothing is truly to be questioned. (Although it did fail...)
- This is remedied in the Xbox 360 remake, where in its version of said incident, the characters in question take off the other character's wet shirt first, then use the defibrillator on her bare skin. It still fails.
- The Wii versions of Trauma Center sometimes have defibrillators used in operations. When the EKG/health meter begins to fibrillate, the player is supposed to stop operation and wait for it to pass, if it doesn't, the defibrillator is used. The sound effect implies that the player waits until the patient flat-lines before defibrillating, which is really too late, although this may just be a stylistic choice. If it is a situation where defibrillation is impossible (such as when the heart has bullets lodged in it), the heart is massaged by hand instead.
- Under The Knife has one operation where's it's used correctly: while performing a valve replacement, the heart will periodically fibrillate. If it lasts for more than a few seconds, your assistant immediately shocks the patient. This causes a flatline, requiring you to perform a cardiac massage and restore pulse before continuing.
- In zOMG!, the Defibrillate ring lets a player revive another player that has been dazed. The icon even includes an EKG heartline.
- In Amateur Surgeon, you can use the car battery to restart the patient's heart, if it stops. The reason it stopped was probably because you used the car battery on it the first time, though; so death by excessive bleeding is can't be undone by the car battery.
- That said, the most common use for the car battery? Zapping bugs.
- Left 4 Dead 2, in keeping with their B-movie theme, has a defibrillator that can revive a dead Survivor from absolutely anything.
- One of the more humorous applications can be seen in the opening stage of Dead Center. Grab a defib, jump off the right balcony, and plummet a dozen or so stories down, through a skylight no less, and die... several feet from the safe house. Your three teammates fight their way to the safe house, grab the defib you dropped, zap your shattered body back into working order, and you waltz into the safe room like nothing happened.
- You can also revive your team mate if they get ripped to a bloody puddle by a Witch
- Or if an airborne forklift hit them in the face.
- It gets particularly ridiculous on the water covered levels, where you can shock someone back to life while completely submerged in water.
- An MMO called Requiem: Bloodymare has items in the game called AED's. Automatic External Defibrillators. They work by ressurecting the player on location instead of at a designated spot.
- Killzone 2 takes this to the point of a non-contact defibrillator that fires a stream of
magicelectricity at people.
- In Tales of Rebirth, Annie asks Hilda to use her Thunder Force to revive a dead soldier, saying that "according to a research paper [she's] read, a person can be resuscitated after cardiac arrest if you apply a weak electrical current to the heart".
- RAGE features a defibrillator that can not only revive your character from absolutely anything, but produces enough electricity to fatally electrocute nearby enemies. Even weirder, it's actually based on nanotech, so they could have used something that makes more sense, but chose to explicitly identify it as a defibrillator.
- Nurse Valentine from Skullgirls has a special that can revive fallen teammates.
- She can also use the same special as a powerful attack, and her snapback move to knock the current enemy away and bring their teammate in uses her defib paddles, too.
- Averted in the intro for Afterlife. The defibrillator, referred to as the "electro-cardial stimulator" or, when the nurse is slow on the uptake, "the jumper cable, you fool!" does absolutely no good for the patient, despite liberal and increasingly frantic use.
- Taken to the furthest possible extreme in Splinter Cell: Conviction's co-op mode. When Archer or Kestrel is incapacitated, the other character has a limited amount of time to get there and revive him with a defibrillator jolt. While said character is still conscious enough to cry out for help or even keep shooting.
- Emergency! series: Doctors have these, and use them on patients on the brink of death. There is a very narrow window in which they can be used successfully, however; if a doctor is not on-site, the patient will probably die.
- WildStar has a high-tech version called Resonators, used by the Medics. While useful for reconstructing tissue and bone on the fly, it can also be useful for melting and liquefying said tissue and bone.
- Averted in the bonus chapter of Rite of Passage 4: The Lost Tides when the chapter's main character attempts to use her mermaid lightning powers to save her dying human husband but fails. (Not that it matters because she gets to go back in time and prevent him from needing to be saved.)
- The writer of Polite Dissent ranks it at number 3 in his list of Top Five Most Common Comic Book Writer Medical Errors.
- An 11points list discusses an instance of this trope, specifically mentioning that "no-one even yelled clear!"
At this point I'm conditioned to believe that defibrillators are voice-activated.
- Homestar Runner:
- Parodied in the cartoon A Decemberween Mackerel, where Marzipan desperately tries to cheer up Senor Cardgage after being led to think he is dying. Just when it seems that his final moments are near, Strong Bad shows up and claims that the real means to revive him is to tear a few motor sports magazines in half and pour gravy on a defibrillator. This causes Senor Cardgage to miraculously recover.
- An earlier Strong Bad e-mail had Strong Bad criticizing toys that come with cereal. When he comments on how one should avoid health-based products, he shows a defibrillator and sarcastically remarks "oh great, I can restart my heart if it stops."
- Use of this in a video game for teammate revival is discussed in a Cracked article: 7 Video Game Healing Methods Least Likely to Actually Work
- Played for laughs in one skit in the Supermarioglitchy4s Super Mario 64 Bloopers episode "Ssenmodnar 11", where SMG3 burns a toast and the Shy Guy fairy tries to unburn it using a defibrillator. It doesn't work as the toast ends up burning further after a few shocks.
- Lampshaded in the SuperMarioLogan episode "The 1UP!", where Mario and Brooklyn T. Guy briefly discuss on this after Mario's grandpa dies, complete with imitating shock sounds.
Brooklyn T. Guy: You think-you just-ugh, you don't even know how this works, do you? You can't just electrocute somebody back to life. Just, pff, no.
- Shock Troopers takes this premise and runs with it. Out of bullets and need to take down an enemy combatant? Defibrillator. Need to blast an opponent two stories into the air? Defibrillator. Need to set a knife wielding mook on fire? Defibrillator. Need to revive a comrade with about a dozen bullet holes in his chest? Defibrillator.
- In an episode of Justice League, Hawkgirl uses her electrical mace this way. Although at least she just lays it gently on the victim's chest, instead of pushing down with it. That probably wouldn't have helped matters.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold pulls something similar when Black Lightning pulls a Heel–Face Turn and revives Wildcat when he has a heart attack. It probably helped that other measures were taken, such as having Metamorpho turn into oxygen and fly into his lungs.
- In Sealab 2021, Stormy tosses his high powered hair dryer to a swimming Quinn, shocking him. When Quinn regains consciousness, Stormy tries to revive him by shocking the pool with a defibrillator, knocking out Quinn again.
- In Assy McGee Da Chief revives a clinically dead Assy by shocking him over and over.
- Played for laughs in one episode of The Fairly OddParents!. Mama Cosma has the 9-hour flu, and Cosmo poofs up a defibrillator. Off screen, we hear the machine charging up, lightning strike, and Cosmo screaming in pain, saying "I shocked myself!".
- Used on Aelita in the Code Lyoko episode "Common Interest", when her heart stops beating because the Supercomputer's uranium battery is failing. They use the defibrillator on her, without gel, and leave her underwear on. It didn't work, and it took the Supercomputer turning back on to fix the problem. Then again, this is also the hospital that, in the same episode, let a known and extremely dangerous criminal stroll inside and kidnap a kid in broad daylight without so much as an objection. Clearly they're just grossly incompetent.
- The Simpsons:
Homer: This thing pays for itself.
- Homer does this at the beginning of "Homer the Moe" after he attempts to dig a hole with Bart and tires out after only a few seconds.
- Played straight in another instance, where Dr. Nick Riviera attempts to prevent a discombobulated Grandpa from going into "skin failure" by ripping an electrical cord out of the wall and sticking it down his throat to induce "transdental electromicide." Unusually enough for Dr. Nick, it works.
- In "Dog of Death" the family take Santa's little Helper to the vet, who is unsuccessfully attempting to use a defibrillator on a flatlining hamster. Failing, the vet tosses the hamster through a basketball hoop into a bin.
- Humorous use on Dexter's Laboratory . Dexter is experimenting on himself to try and give himself superpowers. In a Shout-Out to Spider-Man, he irradiates a spider so he can be bitten by it. Unfortunately, he kills it, and has to bring it back to life via a tiny spider-sized set of defibrillator paddles.
- This was only inverted in Invader Zim because the titular character Zim used a time machine to replace the paddles with a pair of rubber pigs. This ultimately results in Dib's skeleton being crushed.
- Played 100% for laughs in a short on Tiny Toon Adventures. Plucky fakes sick, but it turns out Elmyra is acting as a nurse. At one point he plays dead, prompting Elmyra to pull out a defibrillator, and put the paddles on either side of his head! She even said "Clear!"
- Family Guy:
- In the episode "Big Man on Hippocampus", when Quagmire is unable to get an erection, he uses a defibrillator on... himself. For whatever reason, it doesn't help.
- A Cutaway Gag from "The Son Also Draws" has Peter doing this on someone. When the guy thanks Peter for saving his life, Peter does it again and kills him.
- In The Venture Bros., Dr Girlfriend uses a pair of defibrillators on the monarch to keep him alive. She then lampshades how ridiculously cheesy the whole scene was immediately afterwards, "I can't believe I actually said clear!"
- On Futurama, Zoidberg is trying to kill Professor Farnsworth (he was dying of a horrible disease and wanted to be put out of his misery). One of his attempts is to pull out some wires from a fuse box and electrocute him, but then Farnsworth dies of a heart attack and Zoidberg puts the wires back. After he leaves, the wires fall out and shock the professor back to life.
- In South Park, in "Imaginationland", it's subverted—even though it's South Park. Asystole is not present, Kyle only jerks slightly when it's applied, and CPR is used as well between shocks. Resuscitation doesn't work without both, and oxygen is applied. It's supposed to be a line-for-line parody of the scene from The Abyss.
*Beep. Beep. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep*