Moe: What are you telling us, we're trapped like rats?There has been an outbreak of The Plague. Despite any quarantine protocols and maneuvers made to combat the spread of the disease, it's broken through every blockade, barrier and checkpoint. Curfews and emergency broadcasts are initiated. Carriers are mixing with the general population, and the breakdown of society is imminent. The powers that be decide that the situation has gotten way out of hand, and extreme measures are taken in desperation — checkpoints open fire on civilians, regardless if they are carriers or not. The heroes of the story now find themselves at odds with the CDC-variants working in conjunction with the military. Sub-Trope of Godzilla Threshold. Compare The Only Way To Be Sure, in which the entire population in the quarantined area is eliminated, as opposed to only those who are trying to escape. Contrast No FEMA Response, where a disastrous situation is bad enough that even this type of response would be justified (an maybe even accepted), but circumstances make it flat-out impossible.
Russ Cargill: No, rats can't be trapped this easily, you're trapped like... carrots.
Russ Cargill: No, rats can't be trapped this easily, you're trapped like... carrots.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In One Piece, there was a kingdom that had a massive mine of "Amber Lead", a material that was considered very desirable... except that it was actually highly poisonous and ended up killing the entire population. And then the neighboring countries mistook Amber Lead poisoning for contagious and started indiscriminately killing everyone who tried to leave. Well, except for the royal family and high-ranked nobles, who managed to escape before the crisis went really bad. These include the people who most actively sought out the Amber Lead. Of course.
Doesn't end there. In their desperation, those who had yet to die of the illness took arms with weapons made of the very mineral that was killing them and attempted to break through the quarantine for treatment. The surrounding countries took it as a declaration of war and sent their armies to decimate the population and burn the country of Flevance to the ground. Only the then 10 year-old Trafalgar Law managed to evade military forces and escape genocide.
- In the Babylon 5 story Order In Chaos an Orieni exploration squadron discover that the Centauri keep the resource-rich planet Nakaleen uncolonized and under blockade, and manage to sneak a ship down to try and see why. They succeed and unwittingly embark at least one Nakaleen Feeder, with all the consequences of this happening, and when a Centauri squadron encounters one of the ships and find out where they have been they immediately blow it up, screen any survivor for Feeder infection (and kill any survivor) and send ships to hunt down the rest of the squadron, as they know the threat posed by even a single Nakaleen Feeder getting to a populated world (see the main Babylon 5 entry below).
Film — Live-Action
- The Crazies (original and remake) follows the destruction of a town because of a toxin developed by the military that was accidentally spilled in the water which drives those exposed to it homicidally insane, the military which has cordoned off the area and is willing to kill anybody who is suspected to be infected, and the scientist that the military has dragged into the hot zone and forced to help find a cure at gunpoint, regardless of the fact that the conditions are terrible.
- The entirety of Manhattan Island is made into a prison in Escape from New York, and thousands of convicts run around among the ruins preying upon each other. The opening scene shows a few convicts trying to circumvent the wall on a raft. A gunship helicopter spotlights them and issues one warning to turn back. When the response is unsatisfactory, the men and their raft are liquified by gunfire. Given what we see of the city-turned-prison camp during the rest of the film, this might well cross over with another trope entirely.
- Zombi 3D: Following an unintentional infection of a nearby area resulting from the burning of a body infected with Death One, General Morton decides to do a rather messy cleanup.
General Morton: You are to shoot anyone moving in a contaminated area, regardless. Your orders are to continue closing off the area with all mobile units, including helicopters! No one must get out alive. NO ONE.
- Outbreak has the U.S. military using this option to stop the disease, culminating with blowing up the town with a massive blockbuster. Played with because the General Ripper behind the quarantine wants the disease as a bio-weapon and this cannot be done if its publicly known that there is a cure.
- Resident Evil series. In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Umbrella Corporation decides to quarantine Raccoon City as the T-Virus escapes the Hive. As a priority, they evacuate Umbrella VIPs when the zombies reach the blockade, then start shooting everything in sight.
- Both [REC] and its American remake Quarantine have a zombie-infested apartment which is quickly barricaded by heavily armed cops.
- Set up in This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It. It helps that those responsible for the outbreak control all the information coming out of the quarantine zone, and have claimed that there are no survivors, just brainless animated corpses. This, of course, is a lie.
- In World War Z, at one point a tanker defending a bridge is horrified when he sees refugees crossing it get bombed with poison gas, but understands when about one in ten of the dead suddenly stand back up as zombies.
- Newsflesh: Early in the Rising, the government was hair trigger with Kill It with Fire solutions. Twenty-odd years later by the time the protagonists are telling their story, the solution is used a little more as a surgical strike.
- Happens in Cilva to the whole of Africa. Arguable if needed, and most certainly due to politics and stopgap measures.
- Happens in the Back Story of the Witch as Profession series by O. Gromyko. The heroine discovered her magic powers as a child when her village, after being hit with a plague, was burned to the ground by the King's army, with archers shooting anybody escaping the fire. The heroine only survived by producing a fire protection shield (the army didn't dare to get into the village itself).
- In The Lost Fleet series, the fleet charged with isolating the moon Europa and the engineered disease accidentally created on it have standing orders to destroy any ship that lands on the moon so it can't take off if they can't prevent it from landing. If the quarantine is broken and a ship does make it off and gets back to Earth or the the colonies on Mars, the fleet is to destroy everything man-made in the solar system that could possibly take the virus elsewhere, annihilate all life on Mars and on Earth, and then hurl itself into the sun.
- The Lies of Locke Lamora begins with one of the islands of Camorr having just come out of quarantine. The Duke maintains a special unit of his army to enforce quarantine (the Ghouls), and anyone who attempts to leave by bridge or boat gets shot down by archers. Locke is one of the survivors who is brought out as the quarantine is lifted.
- In the children's picture book A Street Through Time, the page dedicated to the 1500's is titled "The Plague Strikes!" Illustrations show guards armed with crossbows on the city bridge — they've been posted there to prevent the spread of the plague through any means necessary.
- Done more literally in the Red Dwarf episode "Quarantine" when Rimmer, who has been driven mad by a holo-virus and quarantined the rest of the crew, punishes them with two hours of "W.O.O. - without oxygen".
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Broca Divide" the SGC is infected by a plague of alien origin. General Hammond phones his superiors to request a quarantine by outside troops, with orders to shoot on sight and burn the bodies.
- In the Haven episode "Lockdown", a deadly disease that affects some cops causes snipers to be dispatched with orders to shoot anybody who tries to enter or exit the police station.
- Frontier Circus: In "Incident at Pawnee Gun", Casey is travelling with a chimpanzee believed to have The Black Death. Lawmen quarantine Casey and the other patrons to the saloon, and shoot at anyone who tries to leave. Later, panicked townsfolk attempt to burn down the saloon with Casey and the others still inside.
- In Babylon 5 it's mentioned the Centauri are keeping the planet Nakaleen under a strict blockade, with orders to blow up any ship stupid enough to try to land or, worse, successfully landing and then taking off, due the presence of the pseudo-sentient Nakaleen Feeders, that will drain any sentient of intelligence or infect them to create more Feeders, making a single Feeder getting off-world a danger on a galactic scale. While the Centauri have developed protocols to keep single Feeders contained and isolate infect subjects, they know better than taking risks.
- In 24, on Day 3 terrorists manage to get their hands on a airborne virus and release it into a hotel, turning anyone inside into a potential carrier. CTU enacts a quarantine of the hotel to prevent the virus from spreading and Michelle Dessler is forced to shoot a man who tries to flee after being warned not to. Most of the hotel residents later opt to take suicide capsules offered to them to be spared a horrible death. Oh, and the virus gets out anway.
- iZombie: According to interviews season 4 will start with Seattle under a military-quarantine, with the city surrounded by walls and checkpoints to keep zombie-infectees from leaving.
- Happens in Dawn of War 2, when Ordo Malleus pays subsector Aurelia a visit to impose Exterminatus on Cyrene, and later upon Typhon.
- In the backstory to Star Trek Online a bloodfire epidemic broke out on the Romulan planet Kevratas, and Praetor Taris ordered the navy to blockade the planet as a quarantine measure. However, General Tebok defied Taris' order to put down the subsequent revolt by force, starting a long-running power struggle that eventually led to the navy overthrowing Taris and installing Sela as praetor.
- Pretty much any Dead Rising game invokes this, due in part to the large-scale outbreaks and to set a time limit for exploring the game world. The real reason, though, is that the military really doesn't want to take any chances of some random reporter, motocross champion or mechanic to stumble upon the military's real role in the outbreak.
- Standard operating procedure and the very reason for the existence of BlackWatch from [PROTOTYPE]. The Web of Intrigue indicates they had done this to innumerable towns prior the game and the very game itself takes place within a quarantined Manhattan.
- In the prologue of The Last of Us, a soldier holds Joel and his daughter Sarah at gunpoint as they try to escape the Infected-overrun city. The soldier confers with his CO over the radio over the pair of civilians... and then reluctantly opens fire. The suggestion being that the military is gunning down everyone fleeing the city, as this is when the Infection was brand-new, everyone was panicked, and they didn't have reliable ways of detecting Zombie Infectees just yet.
- Mass Effect 2: Mordin's recruitment mission deals a quarantine in a sector of Omega as imposed by Aria. It was spread by vorcha working for the Collectors so humans in the area would be easy pickings. A guard refuses to let anyone into the district without a proper way to defend themselves and won't let anyone out. Bodies are burned. Any non-humans who enter the district get sick (aside from Quarians and geth). People are rioting. Of course, Mordin creates a cure and saves the district.
- inFAMOUS is set during one of these quarantines where FEMA has the entire island under lockdown due to the sudden spread of an infectious illness which is actually radiation sickness. Although it's less to do with protecting citizens as much is it about keeping a Weapon of Mass Destruction from escaping the city until they reclaim it.
- Attempted in The Division:
- The Dark Zone was an initial attempt by the JTF, Last Man Battalion and "First Wave" Division agents to quarantine the infected and hopefully treat or cure them in a centralized area in the middle of Manhattan. However, they lost control of the situation there, causing the JTF to retreat from the area and the Last Man Battalion to go rogue with the remaining First Wave agents joining them.
- All inter-borough travel in New York City has been halted, with only JTF approved convoys being allowed through the few remaining passages between boroughs.
- You see the aftermath of this in Left 4 Dead 2, in New Orleans. When passing through an abandoned checkpoint, one of the characters points out that many of the bodies laid about were not zombified when they died. Implying that the military gunned them down to try and hold quarantine.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the Just Before the End prologue, Iceland, the first nation to close its borders to protect itself from The Plague, is shown having its coast guard gunning down boats of refugees. The focus character of the segment showing this happening is a radar reader starting to get Bad Dreams and deciding to quit to become a sheep herder.
- The Simpsons Movie has the town of Springfield quarantined because of excessive pollution by EPA chief Russ Cargill. When the Simpsons manage to escape, Cargill goes mad with power and requests armed guards to maintain quarantine, a top-class manhunt for the Simpsons, and plans to turn the whole town into a canyon-sized crater via nuke.
- In 2014, a politician suggested this method of handling any case of Ebola discovered on American soil or elsewhere. His Exact Words as tweeted: "People with Ebola need to be humanely put down immediately. The protocol for a positive Ebola test should be immediate humane execution and sanitization of the whole area. That will save lives. It's mathematical. Do whatever saves the most lives. But here's a fact: treating Ebola patients kills more innocent people. There's just no other way with Ebola. We need to be napalming villages from the air right now."
- Standard practice in much of medieval and Renaissance Europe whenever The Black Death struck. Whenever someone came down with the plague the rest of their household would be confined to the house until forty days elapsed without anyone else developing symptoms, enforced by armed guards. In rural areas entire villages would be similarly quarantined, and most ports had designated anchorages for ships coming from anywhere they might have been exposed to the pestilence. This was pretty well justified in the circumstances. And this practice eventually gave us the word used to describe it, from the Italian phrase quaranta giorni, forty days.