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Shipped in Shackles
The only way to travel.

Sure, you can build a fancy Tailor-Made Prison for when your Omnicidal Maniac is hidden away, but what happens when you have to move the little bastard? He can't be thrown in the back seat of a black-and-white with just a uniformed officer for supervision. No, he's got to be Shipped in Shackles.

This trope is about taking extreme measures to secure a prisoner and/or their intended route during transport. Simple handcuffs and couple of escorts won't suffice. This is when the guards feel they must chain the prisoner hand and foot, wrap him in a straightjacket, secure him to a hand truck, give him a Hannibal mask, cart him around in an armored vehicle full of strapping young guards toting high-caliber weapons, or all of the above. If he has superpowers, expect the guards' weapons to be loaded with the appropriate Kryptonite Factor. If he's a Manipulative Bastard notorious for talking his way out of being captured, he may even be gagged.

This may be to prevent the prisoner's allies on the outside from pulling off a daring rescue during transit, or to keep him from contacting such allies, but more likely it serves the same purpose as a stationary oubliette: to show the audience that this guy is so tough that it takes a quarter-ton of purpose-built restraints to hold him, or so dangerous that his captors want to ensure that the odds of him escaping are exactly zero.

Of course, these restraints prove ineffective as often as not, especially since most villains realize that escaping from a few measly chains while under constant armed surveillance is still easier than getting out of their usual prison cell.

Compare Tailor-Made Prison, which refers to custom-made prisons for similarly dangerous prisoners. If the prisoner fights while still restrained, that's With My Hands Tied. Has nothing to do with (relation)shipping.


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Captured pirates and other convicted criminals are transported in this manner to Impel Down in One Piece. Normally they stop at shackles (Since the cuffs are made out of a mineral that can zap superpowers), but when Usopp and Franky are caught by the CP9, they are carried to the Sea Train in burlap sacks.

Comic Books
  • In the Spider-Man "Maximum Carnage" storyline Cletus Cassidy was being transported via the chained to hand cart method. Unfortunately for the guards his symbiote chose that moment to re-awaken.
  • In The Intimates, Sykes is transported to a government research lab with his hands and feet bound to a wheelchair. Sykes exists in a state of near-total catatonia, incapable of speech or anything but the simplest physical action, but his handlers didn't want to get caught with their pants down in case he suddenly developed the ability to try something.
  • In several issues of Daredevil, Bullseye is shown being transported in this fashion, with his hands bound to the point that he couldn't grab anything if he wanted to, and his feet bound so close that he can barely walk. Later issues (after he'd demonstrated he retained the ability to kill guards even bound up like that) showed him with bound hands, feet, a muzzle over his face, and tightly bound to a furniture-mover's hand cart.

Film
  • One of the most familiar examples comes from The Silence of the Lambs, where Hannibal is transported from his usual maximum-security cell by being chained inside a straightjacket, wheeled around on a hand truck, and wearing his iconic mask.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand blurs the line between this and the Tailor-Made Prison with the government's mobile prison-van. Mystique is kept behind bars and with her hands shackled to the ceiling. Juggernaut and Multiple Man both got locked in standing metal coffins to seal off their abilities. The guards on the van were also armed with weaponized Mutant Cure.
  • In The Boondock Saints, Il Duce (pictured above) is moved from his cell to the ground floor for a parole hearing. He is cuffed hand and foot, chained to a rolling platform, and wheeled down to the parole board. The entire prison is put on high-alert, with shotgun-wielding guards on every floor, all to move one man down a few flights of stairs. Once he's there, they even put him inside a metal cage to protect the parole board. Makes you wonder why they even thought about parole...
    • It's more or less stated that Papa Joe Yakavetta was pulling strings and getting him out for the purpose of dealing with the MacManus brothers.
  • Lecter-expy Garland Green (Steve Buscemi) in Con Air was introduced wearing similar restraints as Lecter.
    • Invoked with DJ Qualls' character in the 2002 film The New Guy, who is delivered by a sympathetic prison staff to his new school in a straightjacket and mask as a shout-out to Green (and by extension, Lecter). The whole thing was a sham to convince his new peers that he was a formidable badass, rather a reversal of his former image.
  • Star Wars: Han Solo was frozen in carbonite following his capture by Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back to be transported to Jabba the Hutt. Fett didn't like the risk to Solo's life (and, thus, his bounty), but Vader was willing to write him a compensation check if Han died. The whole procedure was justified a trial-run to make sure Vader could freeze Luke Skywalker, who would turn out to be dangerous cargo otherwise.
  • Snake-Eyes arrives at Einsargen Prison like this in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

Literature
  • In A Clash of Kings, three prisoners from the black cells, Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter, are transported to join the Night's Watch shackled to a flatbed wagon. They convince Arya to give them an axe to free themselves as she runs from a fire, with very mixed results for her in the long run.

Live-Action TV
  • Played straight and subverted in Prison Break. Linc is usually moved around like this, but sometime subverted when the guards go easy on the shackles because he's a good prisoner/they want him to break out.
  • Zach Galifianakis was carted in Hannibal Lector-style in a "Scared Straight" sketch on Saturday Night Live.
  • This happens to Baek San and Sa-Woo toward the end of the Korean drama Iris. It doesn't work.
  • Jake LaPlant, "the man with the most dangerous jokes in show business", arrives at The Slammer in a straight jacket and face mask and strapped to a trolley like Hannibal Lector.

Music
  • In a Shout-Out to The Silence of the Lambs, Disturbed opens many of their shows by having their lead singer wheeled out on stage in a straight jacket and restraining mask, strapped to a hand truck while a roadie (usually dressed in a white coat) releases him to sing.

Video Games
  • The Joker is a frequent candidate for this treatment, with deliberate parallels to Lector. In the opening of Batman: Arkham Asylum he is wrapped in a straitjacket and chained to a hand-truck for delivery to the asylum. The guards seem to wish he was gagged as well. Batman later gets the same treatment in a fear-gas induced hallucination.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, at the beginning of the game, when Ulfric Stormcloak is captured, he has a gag over his mouth to prevent him from using the Thu'um.
    • You are in the same party cart, not gagged (since no one, you included, yet knows about your great thu'um capabilities) but shackled nonetheless. Its destination is the closest execution ground.
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, this is taken Up to Eleven when, in the Light Side Ending, the Heroes are transporting a captive in an upright frame that appears to be six-inches thick solid durasteel. Probably justified, given that the captive is Darth freaking Vader!
    • Fridge Logic suggests that however sturdy those restraints might be, however, they won't be enough to hold Vader, given the sort of telekinetic power he's demonstrated to be capable of bringing to bear in even the movies, let alone the things he does in the game's climactic battle immediately prior. It seems likely that Vader is biding his time and allowing himself to be 'captured,' since they didn't seem to cage a Ysalamiri anywhere nearby.

Web Comics
  • The condemned contestants arrive this way in Last Res0rt (Some leg irons might have been a good idea in Slick's case!)
    • Daisy is even brought in strapped to a wheelchair, though at least part of that is thanks to her missing leg...
  • In The Order of the Stick, the Empire of Blood transports its arena champion (Thog) in this manner.
  • On her first appearance in Skin Horse, Tigerlily Jones is wrapped in a straitjacket and strapped to a handcart.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: C. Montgomery Burns was given the Hannibal Mask treatment once when he was dragged into court for illegally dumping radioactive waste in "Marge vs. the Monorail".
    • So was Bart when he was accused of stealing the church collection money on season six's "Bart's Girlfriend." Marge even lampshaded how excessive the punishment was.
  • Muzzle from Road Rovers was kept restrained exactly like Hannibal, complete with a muzzle. And he was one of the good guys! See the page image for the series.
  • In Transformers Animated, Decepticon prisoners are usually transported in stasis cuffs (which paralyze the prisoner from the neck down) and gags. The handcart makes an appearance for Megatron, not due to being dangerous, but because Optimus beat him so badly he couldn't walk.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the bounty hunters who captured Toph stuck her in a metal box for transport so she couldn't use her earth bending to escape. Of course, Toph gets out by inventing metal bending. See the series' CMOA page.
  • An episode of the original Batman: The Animated Series opened with Killer Croc being transported to prison with his arms and legs in shackles. He escapes by biting through the chains and uses their remains as evidence that he was a prisoner in a freak show. After Batman recaptures him he is taken away chained, straight jacketed and muzzled.
  • In Sponge Bob Square Pants the police nab the Tattletale Strangler (for littering, of course) and proceed to wrap him in several miles of handcuffs, chains, manacles, and even eye-cuffs. All of which he slithers out of about five seconds later. "Not again!"
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) Kobra Khan is shackled and muzzled when transported. The muzzle is left on in his prison cell due to him being able to spit acid-like venom.
  • In his first appearance in the ThunderCats (2011) episode "New Alliances", Kaynar is being shipped in shackles back to his cell in solitary confinement.
  • Drake Darkstar, Duck Dodgers' Evil Twin, in the episode "Detained Duck", is transfered to the Shirley Temple Black maximum security space prison in an enclosed barrel with futuristic shackles. It doesn't stop him from escaping.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: When the Joker is taken into custody at the end of "Game Over for Owlman!", he is strapped to a trolley with a mask over his face a la Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

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