Static Stun Gun

As we know all too well, Lightning Can Do Anything.

Concurrently, electricity has many uses; one of these manifold uses is a natural taser.

This trope refers to the tendency for electricity (most especially in Video Games) to serve as a stunning mechanism. If a person can summon/harness lightning or electricity, chances are someone hit with it with be stunned, with arcs flowing across their body. Water is basically a giant taser trap waiting to be sprung by the proper application of an electric shock. Additionally, victims of said tasing with often cry out spasmodically before falling in a heap, in order to properly convey the force of the incapacitating blast.

Related to Shock and Awe, as most of the Electric weaponry related therein would carry this effect.

In SF literature after about 1955 you are much more likely to encounter a Sonic Stunner. Since then Static Stun Guns have been primarily a visual-media trope.

A Static Stun Gun can be considered a subtrope of Stun Gun, because both kinds of weapons have the ability to incapacitate. It's just that the former is explicitly mentioned to be lightning-driven while the latter can use something else besides electricity to do the same job.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Film 
  • "Dynamo" in The Running Man
  • The Glow Rods in Demolition Man at first do not necessarily appear to be electrical, but near the end of the film, John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) exploits the "water = taser trap" form of the trope.

    Literature 
  • In the 1941 story "Fire-Power", by C.M. Kornbluth (writing as "S.D. Gottesman") there is one reference to "electric stunners". This has been cited as the first occurrence of Sonic Stunner, but was probably intended as a static stun gun.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's classic 1949 story "Gulf" features a static stun gun called a "Markheim". This may well have been be the Trope Codifier; Heinlein's influence on later genre SF was enormous.
  • There were "Markheim stunners" in Alan E. Nourse's 1958 novel "Gold In The Sky".
  • "Tom Swift And His Ultrasonic Cycloplane" (1957). The villain had a weapon that generated electromagnetic waves which shocked the target into stunned submission.
    • "Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle" (1911) gave the taser its name. Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe explains the stun setting on a blaster as an electrical effect.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Goa'uld "Zat'Nik'Tel" weapons in Stargate SG-1 work like this; effectively scaled up versions of a Taser weapon. In one instance, one was even used as a substitute for electroshock therapy. It can also be used as a lethal weapon, since the charge is strong enough to kill most humanoids on a second shot.
  • The weapons used by The Initiative in Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The Tesla guns (designed, as one would expect in this series, by Nikola Tesla himself) in Warehouse 13 are exactly this.
  • In Helix, Arctic Biosystems security techs have 600 kV stun batons, which knock humans out cold, but only serve to irritate Vectors.
  • In the Intelligence episode "Athens" Dr. Cassidy improvises an electrical stun bomb to temporarily incapacitate Jin Cong and one of his mooks.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dark Conspiracy supplement Darktek had the "E.T. Stun Gun". It fired a laser to ionize the air, then discharged an electric current that followed the ionization path.
  • GURPS has electrolasers. However these are merely stunguns that don't need a wire.
  • One Cyberpunk 2020 splatbook included two variants. First, one that used a moderate charge laser between the contacts to ionize the air, turning it into something similar to the GURPS electrolaser - and another that was the same thing, but built into a cyber arm.
  • In BattleTech, the Battlemech taser is a stun gun on steroids. It uses a modified Gauss Rifle mechanism to fire two armor-piercing harpoons into enemy battlemechs, then pumps it with electricity to fry the mech's electronics, allowing it to be salvaged mostly intact. Sadly, it doesn't cause the violently twitching that a stungun causes against meatbags, as battlemech's artificial muscles are immune to it courtesy of their extreme electrical resistance. The weapon also has a small chance of feedback shocking the user, and will violently explode when damaged.

    Video Games 
  • In Super Scribblenauts, shooting something with electricity gives them the "vegetative" adjective. This is extremely effective due to the fact that it can easily put down characters that are virtually invincible.
  • Eddie Riggs can stun the various animals in Brütal Legend, and then ride them, by calling down lightning with his guitar.
  • Most Pokémon's lightning attacks come with a paralysis side-effect. Don't count on that to have an advantage if you're not using Thunder Wave, though, but do expect paralysis to occur often on your team members..
  • The infamous "One-Two Punch" in Bioshock involves first stunning an enemy with Electro Bolt and then whacking them upside the head with your wrench. Shooting a pool of water not only hits every Splicer in that pool, but kills them instead of merely stunning.
  • Custom Robo has the Stun, Ion and Thunderbolt guns, electrical weapons that stagger the opponent for an extended time if they hit.
  • Metroid Prime's electricity-based Wave Beam may disable the target if charged. Also, Samus' pistol in Super Smash Bros. Brawl fires a bolt of what is presumably electricity which stops foes in their tracks, complete with the coursing arcs.
  • Players could control Mumbo Jumbo as a playable character in the sequel to Banjo-Kazooie. His weapon, the Zap Stick, shot a continuous stream of sparks that would immobilize the victim and cause them to babble incoherently until they die. It was wonderful.
    • DOW-BA-LA-DOW-BA-LA-DOW-BA-LA-DOW-BA-LA-DOW-BA-LA-DOW-BA-LA-AAAARRGHHH !!!
  • The Thunder branch of spells in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles may inflict the "Stunned" status condition, preventing the victim from moving until it wears off.
  • In Borderlands, electric elemental damage can stun enemies.
  • Golden Sun represents stunning as two bolts of lightning alongside the afflicted character.
  • Warcraft 3 has Purge (hits target with lightning), which removes buffs but slows the target a great deal, as well as Storm Bolt, an electrically-charged hammer that stuns the target. Used by name without involving electricity, Thunder Clap also slows enemies by slamming the ground.
  • X-COM has stun rods, which are basically electric cattle prods used to stun aliens for capture (and stun your own soldiers when they get mind-controlled). Or stunning civilians to stop their tendency to run into mind control and become enemies.
  • Similarly, the stun baton in Deus Ex is electric and awesome. The first hit would stop a regular human in the ass. If the second his is applied to their buttocks then they would be knocked out. Sometimes it takes more than two hits if not applied to the behind.
  • Oni has the van de Graaf pistol, which fires a short-ranged arc of lightning does almost no damage but stuns an enemy for several seconds or until they are damaged. It's most useful for crowd control or allowing Konoko to get into position for a Backbreaker.
  • Need for Speed has this for cars.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, paralysis is an effect typically associated with the Elec type. This works in reverse, as well, as The Paralyzer Flash Man became Elec type in MMBN3.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Manfred von Karma uses one of these on you.
  • Jade Empire's Storm Dragon style does this. It becomes a Game Breaker for many fights, since harmonic combos with Storm Dragon usually gives you Focus drops. Focus powers your Bullet Time, so you can effectively stay unhittable and kill everything in a room in maybe 4 seconds of real-time.
  • Resident Evil has a few good examples.
    • In the first game's remake, Jill can acquire one of these as a defensive weapon. In The Umbrella Chronicles, it is her counter move, frying a zombie by tazing them in the stomach.
    • The Stun Rod in 5 deserves its spot of honor as a Disc One Nuke. It can be bought really early for a very low price, it has a monstrous damage out put... and it makes enemies flinch. A lot. It works wonders against Demonic Spiders such as Chainsaw Majini, and even more notably, the fast and tough One-Hit Kill-toting Reapers.
  • The Soviet Telsa Pistol used by commissars in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Paradox is one of these, useful to stopping deserters or for stunning enemy soldiers alike.
  • One of the weapons available to Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a taser pistol which, surprisingly, must be reloaded after every shot. Luckily that's enough to take down basically any one person he fights.
  • In the X-Universe, the Ion Disruptor acts like an arcing lightning ray against ships, which does good shield damage but is effectively useless against the hull. Ion Disruptors are also the only way to capture Spaceflies - zap a spacefly with the disruptor as it zips past, and it will be stunned long enough for the spaceship to scoop it up with a spacefly collector. The spacefly can then be sold to the Split Dynasty to power their reactors or to the Space Pirates for pretty much the same purpose.
  • Syphon Filter has the air taser, an electroshock weapon that is notable for three major attributes—firstly, it has infinite ammo, which is quite handy in an FPS. Secondly, it has infinite range—if you can see it, you can shoot it with the air taser. Finally, while stunning opponents via electric shock, holding down the trigger too long results in the victim bursting into flames while screaming loudly and spasming wildly. Fans widely consider this 'side effect' to be gruesomely hilarious. Conversely, the hand taser available in the sequel is a standard contact-type stun weapon similar to a real-life stun gun. It doesn't have the same range, utility, or entertainment value as the air taser, and is therefore uninteresting to expound upon.

    Webcomics 
  • A very common weapon in Spacetrawler.
  • Princess Anevka of Girl Genius, who, thanks to using a robotic avatar to communicate with the world, can produce small bursts of electricity capable of stunning people. She can also use this to kill people, including her father.

    Webcomics 
  • Agent Grant uses a cattle prod as a taser during a bank robbery in Curveball. He later mentions that he wouldn't have bothered with the cattle prod if he'd known that their helmets weren't padded, which meant that tapping them on the head was far more effective than he thought it would be.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Taser electroshock weapons obviously actually do use electricity to incapacitate people by delivering a powerful electric charge into a person's nervous system, inciting muscle spasms as well as an extremely painful sensation.
    • They don't actually shoot lightning bolts, though. Any electric bolt powerful enough to move through more than an inch or so of air is going to do a lot more than just stun its target (assuming you could actually hit anything just by discharging energy at it). Instead, the Taser fires two barbs on wires at the target. The barbs pierce the skin and an electric arc is generated between them. This means that wearing body armor or protective clothing that prevents the barbs from piercing will render a Taser useless.
    • Unfortunately, there is a very good reason professionals call stun guns and their ilk 'less lethal" weapons as opposed to "non lethal". Stun guns have been known to kill those with certain background diseases, especially heart conditions. Still, it sure beats shooting the person, and wrestling to the ground isn't always a practical or safe option (in which case, chances are they're healthy enough to survive the Taser).
  • Electrolaser weaponry uses, as the name implies, a laser; this ionizes the air ands create a low-resistance plasma channel that an electrical discharge can then be sent down. Handheld devices aren't yet feasible due the the energy and size requirements, but experiments have been conducted with electrolasers intended for remotely detonating improvised explosive devices.