"It's not another party head, this time you cannot rise Your hands are tied, your legs are strapped, a light shines in your eye You faintly see a razor's edge, you open your mouth to cry You know you can't, it's over now, blade is gonna ride"
Tip: When captured by a Mad Scientist, don't expect to be left alone in the dungeon. In fact, don't even expect to see the dungeon. Odds are, you'll be hauled into the lab for immediate experimentation and strapped to the operating table. Heaven help you if They Would Cut You Up.
This is particularly popular with the Evilutionary Biologist, and often occurs when people start Playing with Syringes.
Even if you're dealing with an Evil Overlord who merely wants to kill you, many a Death Trap still involves strapping the victim down to a flat surface.
For some reason, the entire room is darkened except for a spot-lit circle around the table. You'd think working mad scientists would prefer better lighting.
More realistic settings involve victims bound to a chair instead. Speaking of reality, remember: the invention of surgery long preceded the existence of anesthetics, so... you and your surgeon needed those straps. Now hold still...
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Anime and Manga
In Soul Eater, Professor Stein ironically ends up like this in a later arc while he is going insane.
Sanji of One Piece gets this as treatment from the sadistic (but with a Heart of Gold) Dr. Kureha for spinal injuries when he didn't have the sense to not injure himself further by NOT fighting.
Integra Hellsing from Hellsing is trapped by Big Bad Incognito on a cross-shaped table in the last episode of the Gonzo anime series.
Gundam SEED Destiny features a less villainous version of this: Stellar is bound to the operating table by her captors, but that's largely due to the fact that she's a chemotherapy-altered biological weapon engineered by her masters; not only is she dying from not being administered the highly-illegal chemicals that are keeping her alive, she's fighting tooth and nail to kill the doctors - technically her enemy - who are trying futilely to save her.
Gundam Wing: In Episode 2, Heero Yuy is strapped down after being captured. His response? He lowers his own pulse to make it seem like he's still unconscious and almost manages to break through his bonds, leaving a bloody mess. (Keep in mind, he's 15...)
Tomoya of CLANNAD finds himself strapped to an operating table (and attended by nurse Kyou) during an odd dream sequence that rapidly grows disturbing.
Kei of the Dirty Pair spends a good chunk of the penultimate TV episode doing a Goldfinger. As Yuri notes, she's lucky she's a girl.
Tenchi Muyo!: Washuu gets Tenchi strapped down in her lab for at least a little while, early in one series. And proceeds to attempt to take "DNA samples" while dressed as a naughty nurse, no less. Lady has... issues.
In Durarara!!, Celty actually agrees to an autopsy in return for room and board from the doctor performing the dissection. She discovers a little too late that general anesthetic doesn't work very well in this case. While she doesn't feel nearly as much pain as human, it didn't look very comfortable.
In Code Geass, Kallen is strapped to a table for no reason save Fanservice after being captured in the second season.
In Escaflowne (more specifically, The Movie), Dilandau is seen strapped to a table and screaming.
Fullmetal Alchemist: In a flashback, the future Führer King Bradley is strapped to an operating table to be injected with a Philosopher's Stone and turned into the homunculus Wrath.
In the 2003 anime, Izumi finds Wrath strapped to an examination table by the military.
In Swamp Thing, this happens to a few hapless souls who fall foul of the Un-Men.
Desolation Jones goes through this as part of a horrifying experiment of which he is the sole survivor.
In Cavewoman: Labyrinth, Meriem is strapped to an operating table after being captured by a zombie cyborg guard in an abandoned military research facility. Because she is superhumanly strong, this situation does not last long.
In the Soul Eater fanfic When I Was Young, human!Ragnarok and Crona (who are nine and about five, respectively) are both strapped to operating tables in Medusa's lab before she forces Ragnarok to turn into his weapon form, melts him down, and injects him into Crona.
In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Insontis, McCoy straps Spock to a biobed as part of a game the two are playing with kid!Kirk, in which Spock's character has been strapped down by an evil doctor.
Goldfinger has possibly the most famous operating table scene. James Bond gets strapped to an operating table with an industrial laser slowly moving towards his crotch. They did it a second time in Die Another Day, albeit it was the Bond Girl instead of Bond himself (really, pretty much anything that happened in a previous Bond film turned up in that one). It's a favorite scene to rework as a James Bond parody. In The Simpsons, a James Bond lookalike is subjected to this in "You Only Move Twice". It also happens to Plucky Duck in one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. Heck at this point, if you had a dollar for every James Bond parody that doesn't use this at some point, you'd be broke.
Repo! The Genetic Opera: The Repo Man does this to one of his on-screen victims and stands it upright while he repossesses the guy's bowels.
The Princess Bride: Westley is strapped to a table in the Pit of Despair for Count Rugen's experiments in pain.
Re-Animator : Megan Halsey gets strapped to a lab slab in this 1980s horror pic. Whereupon the movie puts a really Squicky spin on the term "giving head".
In The President's Analyst the title character, quitting his job and running off under extreme stress, and pursued by agents of every country for the secrets in his head, ends up getting captured by the Canadian Secret Service. Tired of being the 'silent bleeding partner in North America', agents strap him down on a cot and intend to inject him with something that will make him talk.
In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, this happens to anyone when they're having the Doctor do anything that involves stick needles into them. Including to Duke, though he escapes before anything bad happens.
District 9 plays this trope horrifyingly straight. Wikus is strapped to a table and subjected to lots of very painful experiments for the better half of a day, non-stop. They were going to vivisect him, too, but he escaped when that part became obvious.
In Johnny Mnemonic, a member of the Yakuza wants the information stored in Johnny's head. The best way of collecting that data (as well as everything else that's ever been stored in there) is, naturally, to strap Johnny to a table and try to cut his head off.
Help! - in an attempt to remove a stuck ring from his finger, Ringo goes to a Mad Scientist who straps him to a device that runs current through him to enlarge the molecules of metal objects. When it doesn't work the scientist opts for surgery, but is thwarted, then, toward movie's end, he has Ringo strapped down on a yacht, ready to try again.
In the 1967 spoof Casino Royale (1967), archvillain Jimmy Bond (Woody Allen) has the Detainer (Daliah Lavi) strapped naked to a cot (with wide, strategically placed metal straps). His intentions are strictly lustful.
Detainer: And is this how you treat the women you desire?
Jimmy: Yes! Yes, I remove their clothing and tie them up, yes. I learned that in the Boy Scouts.
Cap finds Bucky strapped to a table after being captured by HYDRA. Judging by his exhaustion and delirious rambling, as well as his pretty drastic change of character afterwards, something happened to him that's never elaborated on. Word of God says Zola injected him with some variation on the same Super Soldier serum used on Steve, explaining how he later survives his fall.
In The City of Dreaming Books, one character wakes up to find his body strapped to the operating table. His head, on the other hand, is being held by the villain.
Ditto for Phase, in the Whateley Universe. Except for the head thing. Trevor Goodkind gets darted when he turns into a mutant, and wakes up clamped down on a table under the 'care' of the notorious Dr. Emil Hammond.
In Maximum Ride, when the School captures them, Max and her flock are strapped to tilted tables.
In Cobra by Timothy Zahn, protagonist Jonny Moreau is strapped to one when he's captured by the Troft (invading aliens), and expects to be vivisected (live-dissected); however, as a Cobra supersoldier, he has a bomb in his body. The Troft know about this from previous attempts at vivisection, so they just stick monitoring equipment on him and fill the place with video cameras so they can get information on his surgically-implanted equipment from how he uses it during his inevitable escape attempt.
In Robert A. Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold, Hugh Farnham and his son, Duke are strapped to an operating table where they're about to castrate both of them until Ponce decides not to have them do this. Later, they actually end up doing this to Duke.
In A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man, poor Brett spends an entire year more or less strapped to a table while Dr. Wu turns him into a moth/human hybrid. Later on, he's strapped to the same table when Dante Eclipse tries to psychologically break him (this time though, the restraints are rigged to electrocute him if he tries to break free).
In one book in the Animorphs series, the Animorphs are strapped to operating tables by creatures who want to kill and stuff them for display.
Live Action TV
River from Firefly was strapped to a chair by the Hands of Blue at the Academy.
Several of the heroes in Heroes were subjected to this by Mr Bennet.
On LOST, Sawyer is strapped to an operating table by Ben's henchmen in Season 3. Cue lots of Sawyer squirming and yelling while he gets an enormous fucking needle jabbed into his heart. Ben then brings out a bunny in a cage and induces the creature to have a heart attack. Except not.
Happens to Martha Jones in the Torchwood episode "Reset".
"Earlier" happens to Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith in the episode "The Girl In The Fireplace". There was a unintentional pan over Billie Piper's tightly-clad body. When the production team saw it in the edit, they kept it. She's Billie Piper.
And, while it's not quite an operating table, it happens to the Ninth Doctor in "Dalek" too when he gets unwillingly examined.
In "The End of Time" Part One it is The Master who ends up strapped to a chair by the villains who had abducted him, complete with large, buckled straps around his ankles, wrists and neck. And he's clearly loving it. Afterwards, the Master straps the Doctor to the same chair in Part Two. While the Master pretty much pants in his ear. What do you mean, it wasn't homoerotic? (It's David Tennant and John Simm, having fun with the subtext. How can that not be homoerotic?) Additionally, the script stated that the Master got out extra straps to tie the Doctor up even tighter.
The chair variant also happens to the Third Doctor at least once. Guess who did the tying up? Yep, the Master.
During the Sixth Doctor's run, this happens twice to Peri. This is one of the reasons many people feel his era is nasty and mean-spirited.
Even further back, Romana I was strapped to a table (after being mistaken for an android), and about to be cut up for parts, just like the above example with Rose.
Subverted in the fifth season, where the Silurian doctor doing the examination turns out to be perfectly well meaning, if a bit lacking in anesthetic techniques.
Sarah Jane gets tied down to an operating table by Solon in "The Brain Of Morbius". He wasn't going to operate on her, thank goodness, he was too busy trying to reanimate Morbuis. Just needed to keep an eye on her as she kept running away and causing trouble. Whilstcompletely blind.
Also by Davros in "Genesis of the Daleks" so she can be tortured to force the Doctor to talk.
The Daleks did this to the Fifth Doctor as well.
Leela in "Face of Evil", strapped to a table in her little leather leotard... Talk about Fetish Fuel!
Happens to Chloe on Smallville when Lex Luthor discovers she's a Meteor Freak.
Also happens to Kara in Season 7, when an agent from the Department of Homeland Security finds out she broke into a secure location to retreive the blue crystal they took, putting two-and-two together and concluding she's not from Earth.
Also happens to Tess in the series finale. Earth-2 Lionel wants to cut out her heart so that he can use it to bring Lex back to life.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Schisms" includes a very creepy reveal as several people who were experimented on slowly regain their memories and describe them to the computer, which recreates them as holograms. Result: one sinister-looking operating table.
Star Trek: Voyager ("Shattered"). After entering the Captain Proton holoprogram, Captain Janeway finds herself strapped to Dr Chaotica's Cradle of Persuasion ("It's fully equipped: Brain Probe, Pain Modulator..."). Much to her annoyance, Janeway has to resort to the undignified method of vamping her way out.
In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, this happened to PhD-holding/high school teacher Tommy Oliver before his students saved him (and he became a Ranger again). The evil villain, once friends with Tommy when he was human, was oddly gleeful about having him strapped down.
Dexter is fond of securing his "playmates" to tables (or equivalent surfaces) with plastic wrap.
In one episode of Big Wolf on Campus, Tommy finds himself in another dimension where he never became a werewolf, but his much less responsible football teammate did. While trying to fight with said teammate, Tommy is bitten and passes out. Merton and Lori (who, in this dimension, aren't normally friends with Tommy) have him strapped to a table in Merton's lab until they can determine if he's safe or not. He promptly rips the (metal!!!) straps apart just by sitting up.
A late-entry Get Smart episode has Smart and Agent 99 in a Mad Scientist lair, strapped to tables. As the scientist and his Igor dementedly play organ and violin, Smart works to set them free. To give them more escape time, 99 cheerfully cries out "One more time!" and they obligingly play another verse.
The climax of The Hunger episode "Sanctuary" has Mad Artist Julian Priest (David Bowie) strapping Eddie, a murderer on the run, to an operating table to turn him into a grisly piece of performance art. Worse, Eddie is conscious, but only from the neck up thanks to Julian's subsidiary skills with anesthetics. Even worse, Eddie does not exist, and the legless corpse the police discover is Julian's. What we saw was his Dying Dream: having committed the murder, he proceeded to kill himself by numbing his body, strapping himself to the table, and severing his own legs — knowing he would gain artistic immortality this way.
Sanctuary: Henry is strapped to a chair several times. He manages to break free on one occasion, though that was exactly the plan, as they intended him to go on a murderous rampage after he had transformed into his werewolf self.
Kamen Rider: This is one of the iconic images, since many of the early Riders were turned into Cyborgs against their will by bio-terrorists.
People keep doing this to Olivia Dunham of Fringe, and she keeps kicking their ass for it. Her alternate isn't too fond of it either.
The music video to "Nightmare" by Avenged Sevenfold begins with such a situation happening to the lead singer M.Shadowsnote given the surreal imagery throughout the video while Shadows is wheeled down the halls of the institution and since the song is called "Nightmare", this probably isn't actually happening.
The music video to "Asylum" by Disturbed has the delusional patient of the titular asylum being wheeled down a hallway in this manner then drowned as the doctors try to calm him down with cold water to the face.* Since the patient/protagonist is insane and all, this probably wasn't actually happening.
The music video to "The Phoenix" by Fall Out Boy has Patrick strapped to a table whilst his hand is chopped off and other various tortures inflicted upon him.
Female Victim: Why have you strapped me to this operating table?
Mad Scientist: Call it an old man's whim.
Female Victim: All right — why have you strapped me to this old man's whim?
In Hazlan, a Ravenloft domain ruled by a wizard dark lord with an enquiring turn of mind, being sent to "the Tables" is a standard punishment for those convicted of sedition or other capital crimes. Or those who just piss him off, for that matter. This trope is just the beginning of one's problems if Frantisek Markov gets a hold of you.
Although Return to Castle Wolfenstein starts you off in the dungeon, the first thing you see is your fellow spy strapped to the operating table. And you were going to be next...
Early in Quake IV, the hero gets in a little over his head in a battle, and is subsequently knocked out and captured by the enemy aliens. When he wakes, he's strapped to the operating table/Conveyor Belt-O-Doom for a rather nasty surgical procedure to turn him into one of them...and after watching most of the "Stroggification" procedure happen to yourself, the cavalry shows up.
While you never get strapped down yourself, the first boss of is the deranged plastic surgeon Dr Steinman. When you show up at his operating room (with the ominous-sounding name "Aesthetic Ideals"), he's slashing away at some poor splicer strapped to the table, ranting that she's still not perfect. On the whole, you may want to think twice before you go to a plastic surgeon who loves Cubism.
One bed in the Little Sister's orphanage/lab has straps...
The crucifix like operating tables in the Big Daddy factory, head rests restraints bathed by spotlight, also Steinman's other failed works are suspended from these on his ceiling.
Likewise, in System Shock 2, you come upon a ghostly reenactment of one of the ship's scientists about to perform a rather... radical cybernetics procedure on an unwilling female victim. Considering that you meet the results in the very next room, it's ever-so-slightly chilling.
In 7 Days A SkepticDoctor William straps you to an operating table after you find out he was possessed by DeFoe.
In Art of Theft you are brainwashed like this, the tilted version.
In the Infocom text-adventure Leather Goddesses Of Phobos, the player is strapped to an exam table by a mad scientist and turned into a Gorilla. It's also possible to observe other experiments of the Leather Goddesses, but the game won't tell you what they are. Whether that is a Sexy Discretion Shot or a Gory Discretion Shot is entirely up to the player's imagination.
The Final Fantasy VII Compilation pulls this one on the endlessly-unlucky Vincent Valentine, though whatever eeriness or service-factor was intended vanishes rapidly down the commode on account of polygon chibi-sprites (FF7 itself) or towering mounds of bad drama (Dirge of Cerberus).
Happens a few times in Geist. First, Raimi is strapped up in a gigantic, vaguely telescope-like thing to be separated from his body. Later this happens to his friend Bryson, and when that is interrupted Bryson is strapped down and left to die. There are also a few others who failed separation and got strapped and straightjacketed down.
Dr. Loboto in Psychonauts straps his victims into a dentist chair before removing their brains.
Roger has flashbacks of when this happened to him in Jeanne D'Arc.
In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Becket briefly wakes up after a city-shattering explosion to find himself strapped to an operating table and enduring a horrifyingly traumatic surgery, made all the worse by the fact that everytime he passes out, Beckett experienced hallucinatory dreams involving the operation, except the doctors are replaced by screaming demonic ghosts ripping into his guts. Before he passes out for the last time, the doctor in charge kindly says, "You'll feel a... little pinch... now." Cue writhing in excruciating agony when the final hallucination shows one of the monstrous doctors slamming a blade into his heart. Later on, Becket learns what that surgery was all about: Genevieve Aristide was surgically implanting Beckett to attune him to Alma in order to draw her attention after she was released.
In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, Guybrush Threepwood gets strapped to an operating table by the Marquis De Singe, who attempts to cut off Guybrush's Poxed hand, and our hero must use his limited movement ability (and the Marquis' helper monkey Jacques) to escape.
In Disgaea 4 all of the generic classes have introductory cutscenes which play when you create a new one to add to your team. The cyborg class's cutscene shows a female fighter being subjected to Alien Abduction, followed by being restrained this way and undergoing Unwilling Roboticisation.
At the end of ''Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Mao declares Super Hero Aurum will be his guinea pig for his experiments. Cut to the credits where a very distressed Aurum is strapped down while Mao delightfully contemplates what he should do first.
The intro of Jak II: Renegade shows Jak strapped to an operating table while undergoing Dark Eco experiments at the hands of Baron Praxis. He manages to break himself free apropos of his first transformation into Dark Jak.
Team Fortress 2: Look closely at the operating table in "Meet the Medic". The table has restraints, but they aren’t being used on the Heavy, who is currently being treated. It’s only natural to assume some of Medic’s other patients were... troublesome.
Alcatraz in Crysis 2 after Hargreave captures him. The table has dozens of arms suspended above it with lasers for slicing.
BioForge: Happens to Dane, to the hero in the opening cutscene, and presumably to all of Dr. Mastaba's other cyborgization victims.
Happens off-screen in Déjà Vu: the amnesiac protagonist comes across a restraint chair which is later revealed to be where the bad guys strapped him down and gave him the drug that caused him to lose his memory prior to the start of the game.
Parodied in Real Life Comics, when the James Bond parody spy is captured trying to sneak into Tony's base. He gets strapped to a table, and asks Tony if he's going to put him in some overly elaborate Death Trap and then leave. Tony denies it; he says he's going to point a gun in the spy's face. If the spy moves, he pulls the trigger. If the spy doesn't move, he pulls the trigger.
In Zero Punctuation'sDuke Nukem Foreverreview, Yahtzee tells that ear-flailing buttons come in handy when Duke is strapped to an operating table and must activate a crossbow somewhere left of his head.
In Atop the Fourth Wall, after Linkara beats Mechakara, the robot is captured by Dr. Insano, who has him tied down and tortured with magnets.
Happens to Veldron in Super Stories after being captured by the Ultimate Justice Squad.
Danielle hangs a lampshade on this in Danny Phantom. Also occurs in another episode, when Danny himself is strapped to a table by Maddie, and, even earlier, by Spectra.
It happens to Danielle again in the Facing The Future Series by the Guys In White. Based on her previous experiences, she's not impressed.
Whenever Tarantulas of Transformers: Beast Wars was able to get his hands on a "subject" he would gleefully strap them to a table and torment them with a variety of painful experiments while casually dismissing remarks about his sanity.
Brother Blood did this to the Titans East in their debut two-parter (well, as a team—three of five have had guest spots) on Teen Titans.
A little earlier in the same season, the main Titans had to do this to Robin. (He was somewhat violently unstable and having hallucinations of fighting Slade at the time.)
Dr. Wily straps Rock and Roll to two of these in the first episode of Ruby-Spears's Mega Man cartoon, so it'd be easier to reprogram them. By shoving an electric drill in their heads while they were still awake.
Just the start of the agony for Tim Drake/Robin in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
Occurs several times in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The season 1 episode "The Way of Invisibility" has this happen to Raphael after being captured by the Foot. "Notes from the Underground" parts 1 and 2, from the same season, show a video recording of a scientist turning a random guy strapped to a table into a digging monster. Later, in the season 3 episodes "Worlds Collide" part 2 and 3, the turtles are strapped to operating tables by Bishop, who plans to dissect them. Leatherhead is also shown strapped down to a table and possibly had similar procedures done to him.
In Street Sharks, the four protagonists are strapped to tables before being injected with stuff that should turn them into sharks, but just kills them...until they wake up and turn into sharks.
In The Venture Bros.' Halloween special, this happens to Dean after sneaking into a spooky old house. Subverted when it turns out that Ben only wants to give Dean a medical check-up, and soon releases him.
Jokey and Clumsy in The Smurfs episode "Jokey's Funny Bone" are strapped together on two adjoining tables when Brainy is about to do the funny bone transplant operation.