Gods in chains.
So you've just captured a wizard, a fairy, a spirit, a ghost, maybe Superman
or even a god. Congratulations! Now how do you keep them from escaping? Ordinary rope or handcuffs won't do the trick, they could just use magic to make them come undone or maybe just break them or pass right through them. What you need are special restraints that are either so strong nothing
short of the universe collapsing can break them, or the restraints somehow counteract the prisoners' powers, rendering them harmless as long as they're bound by the restraints.
This trope covers ropes, chains, handcuffs, shackles, straitjackets, and other things along those lines which are capable of holding these extraordinary beings without them being able to get out of them.
Most likely some form of Applied Phlebotinum
, probably as a Power Nullifier
, and chances are you'll find something like this in a Tailor-Made Prison
or Extranormal Prison
, but may just as well be used outside them.
Anything that does not actually restrain the limbs in some way is Not This Trope
. Bracelets, anklets, necklaces or anything else that simply limits or removes their abilities is a Power Nullifier
See also Restraining Bolt
Anime and Manga
- Bleach anime, "Soul Society/The Rescue" arc episode 45. After Ganju, Uryu and Chad are captured by the Soul Society, manacles are put on them that seal off their spiritual pressure and prevent them from using their powers.
- The marines in One Piece use handcuffs made of a special substance called "sea stone" that nullify the powers of a Devil Fruit user. They're damn near impossible to break too.
- In the DC Universe, Grimbor the Chainsman was a villain who specialized in creating restraints for use on superpowered characters.
- Rather common in Hellboy and B.P.R.D. when dealing with demons. When attempting a summoning, anyone with half an ounce of sense will use some magical binding or words of power to prevent the demon from leaving the summoning circle. (Of course, anyone with a full ounce of sense wouldn't be summoning demons in the first place, because things always manage to go wrong even with these barriers in place.)
- Doctor Strange uses a "Crimson Bands of Cyttorak" spell to tie up superpowered evildoers, and the Hulk when he's rampaging..
- In the third arc of W.I.T.C.H. a Bashee is shown to be bound with something that looks like vines and which can only be undone by the one who imprisoned her, but Will is able to break them with the Heart of Kandrakar's power.
- In Peptuck's Final Fantasy VIII story Legacy of the Chimera Dr. Odine's Sorceress suppressing devices have been adapted into handcuffs and are used to capture Rinoa.
- in the masssive crossover fic Freedom Through Harmony Book II has Number Two use a Time Anchor to prevent Doc from time traveling to get out.
- In Wreck-It Ralph after Vanellope is captured by King Candy and thrown in his Fungeon she's shown in an enormous shackle labeled "100% glitch-proof".
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit. After Judge Doom captures the Toons Jessica and Roger Rabbit, he has the weasels tie them up with escape-proof Toon rope.
- After Hades assaults Olympus in Hercules, the gods are shown being led away in chains, which vanish rather than fall off after Herc cuts them.
- When Count Dooku captures Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, he holds the Jedi Knight captive, suspended in midair in a containment field that slowly rotates him. It has several other features designed to make Jedi less able to use the Force to escape.
- In Hellboy, Rasputin binds Hellboy in stocks and chains inscribed with Hellboy's true name. The only way for Hellboy to break these bindings is to say his name, tacitly submitting to his destiny as Prince of Hell and bringer of the apocalypse. Of course, making Hellboy fulfill this destiny is Rasputin's entire goal.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, Marina conjures a set of ropes on Ridley and Snails that seems to pulls them along wherever she goes.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier Steve is attacked in an elevator by thugs with a set of powerfully magnetic manacles. They manage to get one on him robbing him of use of that hand, but he still manages to turn it into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
- When Artemis is captured in The Titan's Curse, she's briefly shackled before being forced to take Atlas' place holding up the sky.
- In The Emperor's Soul, Shai is bound with chains made of ralkalest metal, preventing her from Forging the shackles to make them defective. Interestingly, ralkalest is a fairly weak metal, so if she'd really wanted to, Shai could probably have Forged tools to break the chains.
- This happens in The Riftwar Cycle: When Milamber is captured by the Tsurani, he must be bound. However, being Milamber, there is no way that even magic can bind him. he promptly escapes.
- At least twice in The Dresden Files: the troll-made anti-magic spiky cuffs and Harry's unicorn-hair binding that works on a red half-vampire.
- In the Star Trek Expanded Universe series The Q-Continuum, an old enemy of Q's is unleashed and traps him aboard the Enterprise, which manifests itself as a pair of leg irons. Later he finds himself in the ship's hydroponics bay trying to pick them with a cactus needle.
- In The Son of Neptune, Thanatos, god of death, has been captured and bound with chains. The only thing that can break them is the flame of life, meaning Frank has to burn off part of his life force to cut through them.
- Subverted in an episode of Wonder Woman when after being caught by Nazis, she's wrapped in chains that had survived being tested by teams of elephants. For a while she just sits there as they monologue, but when the time comes she breaks the chains easily.
- Supernatural has sets of shackles intended to restrain demons.
- The Doctor Who story "Warrior's Gate" featured a "time-sensitive" race who had been enslaved because their abilities made them useful in navigating through hyperspace; their restraints had to be made from a special super-dense material extracted from white dwarf stars to pin them down to a single place and time and prevent them escaping.
- An episode of Smallville has handcuffs with kryptonite in them which are used on Kara Kent. In another episode, the goddess Isis tied Clark Kent to a table with magic ropes he was unable to break. However, he was able to escape by pulling until the table broke and then untangling himself from the now loose ropes.
- Xena: Warrior Princess: One episode had Xena capturing Celesta, the goddess of death, in the chains of Hephaestus, which not even the gods can break.
- In Norse Mythology, the gods had the dwarves create a magical chain called Gleipnir to bind the mighty wolf Fenrir. To make Gleipnir impossible to break (at least until Ragnarok), it was made of six impossible things: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish and the spittle of a bird.
- Several Champions adventures had superpowered devices that were used by villains to prevent captured heroes from escaping. One applied a backlash attack to any character that used their superpowers to try to escape it.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In the Forgotten Realms setting the gods bet Kezef the Chaos Hound, an expy of Fenrir, that they could forge a chain that would hold him. Gond, god of craftsmen, forged the chain and buried its anchor miles deep in the rock of Pandemonium, and Mystra, goddess of magic, wrapped him in a self-repairing magical curtain. The two traps successfully held Kezef for millennia until he was freed by one of Cyric's plots.
- Basic D&D adventure IM2 The Wrath of Olympus. A group of Immortals (minor deities) illegally interferes on the Prime Plane. The forces of Entropy capture them and secure them with chains that not only render them helpless but drain their internal power (Life Energy) as well.
- Basic D&D supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic. Irons are magical confinement devices combining manacles (wrists) and shackles (ankles). The Irons of Imprisonment can only be broken by a Wish spell or a blow from a plus 4 or better weapon.
- On each mission of Carmen Sandiego: The Great Chase Through Time the detective is given a set of time cuffs. It's never really specified why special cuffs are needed but they need to be activated before nabbing the perp. Presumably they keep them from drifting off into the timestream, or something.
- In World of Warcraft a quest line investigating Defias activity in Dustwallow Marsh yielded enchanted shackles from the wreckage of a ship, which indicated it had been transporting the king of Stormwind.
- These can also be seen in Ulduar surrounding Yogg-Saron's prison. Unsurprisingly, they're all broken by the time you arrive.
- On Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero one of Archer's Noble Phantasms is Enkidu, a special chain that was created to restrain the gods. Its strength is proportional to the divinity of his opponent, making it unbreakable when used on a god but merely exceptionally strong when used on a mortal.
- Looking for Group: There's at least two occasions where the Warlock, Richard has his powers limited by enchanted shackles after being captured. In the second case we're shown that some of the enchanted shackles can be used to control Richard's body by commanding him to do something.
- Magick Chicks: Faith invites Layla back to her place, looking to score. But when Layla vamps out on her, Faith ends up using her telekinesis to psychically restrain her.
- In Digger, the dead god underground is bound by chains made by dwarfs of impossible things, in a probable shout out to Norse Mythology. In order to make sure the chains are also proof against mundane threats such as earthquakes or lockpicks, a wombat is also hired as a consultant.
- The Centurions episode "Return of Cassandara" had Hot Witch Cassandra Cross being captured by her Evil Twin sister Lilith and bound with mystic chains. Ace had to use a magic rose she'd given him to enchant a sword to be able to cut through them.
- Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends has manacles capable of restraining the various types of aliens they have to deal with, many of whom are at least considerably stronger than humans or have other abilities.
- Lycanthropes when they transform can easily break bonds meant for humans so their cuffs must be much stronger.
- Banshee restraints cover their hands completely so they can't fire their heat beams.
- Project Cadmus in Justice League Unlimited develops special handcuffs to hold the superpowered members of the League. However, on the only occasion they actually get to use them, the President calls it off and admits to doubting these cuffs would hold the Leaguers, anyway.
- An episode of the animated Bibi Blocksberg had the eponymous witch attempt to conjure a set of ropes to capture an evil wizard, but he sends her spell right back at her, leaving her wrapped up in her own ropes which, being magical, can't be untied by hand, they have to be burned off.
- In Winx Club:
- In episode 21 of the third season, when the Winx are headed out on the mission to find the Water Stars, they discover that Nabu has snuck onto the airship. Since they didn't yet know whether he was on their side or not, they put shackles on him that would prevent him from using his magic. However, when monsters attack, Nabu easily removes the shackles so he can use his magic to help the others fight the monsters, and admits to Aisha that he could've done so at any time, but didn't do so since the Winx had bigger concerns than whether or not they could trust him.
- At the end of the 19th episode of the fourth season, three of the Winx get caught in a trap while trying to rescue the Specialists from Diana's warrior fairies. The chains used to bind them prevent them from using their new Sophix powers. However, once the remaining three fairies are caught, all six are able to combine their powers and break the chains.