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-> '''John Crichton''': Pilot, get a tractor beam on that shuttle.
-> '''Pilot''': Tractor beam? What's that?
-> '''Crichton''': Graviton field, attracto ray, superglue. Whatever it is you yanked me aboard with.
-> '''Pilot''': You mean the docking web.
-->-- ''Series/{{Farscape}}''

Classic AppliedPhlebotinum found on many, many space ships in fiction. At the press of a button, a beam of light comes out of the ship and sucks in anything in its reach. Occasionally used to move things already on the ship, too. The Tractor Beam thus allows space travellers to capture enemy ships, travel to the surface of planets, and [[AliensStealCattle steal the farmer's cows]].

Many stories with {{Alien Abduction}}s use this as the means of abduction--a small tractor beam just big enough to pull one human. Of course, that kind tends to run in reverse as well.

Surprisingly now just barely [[http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-21187598 defictionalized]], albeit a long way from practical useability.

Not to be confused with WeaponsThatSuck.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Called "Gravity Cranes" in ''Manga/CannonGodExaxxion''. Explained as an application of ArtificialGravity technology, the series gets a lot of mileage out of the different uses they have. For instance, using them in reverse to crush things or shoot holes in buildings with blasts of pure, concentrated gravity.

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* Examples from [[Fanfic/Swing123AndGarfieldodiesCalvinverse the Calvinverse]]:
** Sherman's invention in ''Fanfic/RetroChill'' [[AvertedTrope averts]] this, and Calvin gets really mad about it.
** Dr. Brainstorm uses one to capture Calvin and Hobbes in one episode of ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries''.

* In ''Film/AustinPowersInGoldmember'', both Goldmember and Dr. Evil came up with designs for a tractor beam to allow them to pull in an asteroid down to Earth. Dr. Evil calls his "Preparation H" (a reference to a popular OTC drug for treating hemorrhoids), as Preparations A-G were unsuccessful.
** The project itself is called the Alan Parsons Project after the head researcher. Scott mentions that it's the name of a band, but Dr. Evil doesn't get the reference.
* Shows up in at least three occasions in ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'':
** Used early on by Yondu to [[AlienAbduction abduct little Peter]] and again later when saving him and Gamora from freezing to death in space.
** Nebula's Necrocraft has one which she uses to collect the orb with after blowing Gamora's ship apart.
* The ''[=ZARYa=]'' in the Soviet film ''Film/MoscowCassiopeia'' has a "force field" that appears to act this way. It's only mentioned, though, as the target is beyond its range at that point.
* ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'' has one of these, too (called a "magnetic beam" in the film).
* ''Franchise/StarWars'' universe:
** ''Film/ANewHope'': Vader's Star Destroyer pulls Princess Leia's consular ship into the Star Destroyer at the beginning and the Millennium Falcon is pulled into the Death Star with one after it reaches the Alderaan system.
** ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack''. At the end of the movie, Vader's Super Star Destroyer is about to grab the ''Millennium Falcon'' with one when the ''Falcon's'' hyperdrive finally starts working.

* Used in the first ''Literature/ArrivalsFromTheDark'' novel called ''Invasion'', where an alien starship pulls an Earth cruiser in for a closer look. Since the starship's DeflectorShield is masking it from human radar systems, the cruise's captain has no idea why the ship is suddenly moving forward despite the retro-rockets firing.
* One of the functions of effectors in [[Creator/IainBanks Iain M. Banks]]'s [[Literature/TheCulture Culture]] novels.
* David Weber's ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series uses gravity-based tractor beams for tugboats, search and rescue operations, and towing [[MacrossMissileMassacre missile pods]]. Apparently, with the limiters turned off, they can shred a ship at short range. Powered up even further, [[spoiler:they form the basis for a stealth drive that pulls itself by poking hole into hyperspace and grabbing it]].
* Mentioned and used several times in Creator/AlanDeanFoster's ''Literature/HumanxCommonwealth'' SpaceOpera series.
* Creator/RudyardKipling, in the [[OlderThanTelevision 1912]] short story "As Easy as ABC", featured an effect referred to as a "flying loop," which Creator/JohnBrunner called the first-ever use of the tractor-beam concept. When a woman tried to commit suicide to make a political point, the "loop" yanked the knife out of her hand:
-->She threw out her right arm with a knife in it. Before the blade could be returned to her throat or her bosom it was twitched from her grip, sparked as it flew out of the shadow of the ship above, and fell flashing in the sunshine at the foot of the Statue fifty yards away. The outflung arm was arrested, rigid as a bar for an instant, till the releasing circuit permitted her to bring it slowly to her side.
* Used as a weapon in the ''Literature/McCade'' series by William C Deitz, where the main character is struck by one while in space. Then some sneaky git kicks it into reverse and turns him into 'one big bruise'.
* A possible UrExample is [[Creator/JulesVerne Jules (and Michel) Verne's]] ''The Meteor Hunt'', written in 1901 and published in 1908, where such a beam is used to bring the titular meteor down to Earth.
* Featured regularly, along with their opposite, Pressor Beams, in Creator/EEDocSmith's ''Literature/{{Skylark|Series}}'' and ''Literature/{{Lensman}}'' novel series, which may well have [[TropeMaker originated the term]]. Also "tractor shears", which are planes of force capable of breaking a tractor beam.
* Vital in cargo handling and rescue operations in James White's ''Literature/SectorGeneral'' series. One weapon system consists of using a tractor beam and a pressor beam on the same target.
* In an early ''Franchise/StarTrek'' novel, ''Literature/SpockMustDie!,'' it's stated that tractor beams can only be used to pull, not push. To achieve a "push" effect, Scotty has to use a tuned beam from the main deflector.
* ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'': [[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Tractor_beam Tractor beams]] and ways to get out of them appear regularly.
** In ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'', Luke got out of one by dropping a hastily reprogrammed proton torpedo, letting it get drawn up by the tractor beam to destroy its projector, and doing something unorthodox with his engines at the same time. Later in the trilogy he's caught again and escapes by making an empty freighter explode into a cloud of highly reflective particles, breaking the lock despite the operator's best efforts. Thrawn did not [[YouHaveFailedMe kill that operator]], instead recognizing that he made a novel effort and tasking him with figuring out an effective counter. And evidently he did; the trick doesn't work in the ''Literature/HandOfThrawn'' duology.
** The ''Literature/XWingSeries'' makes it clear that if a ship tractors something with a larger mass, the ship is pulled towards that mass instead of the other way around. In ''Wraith Squadron'', Wedge uses this to move a ship without giving off drive emissions. In a simulation in ''Isard's Revenge'', Corran tractors a space station, using it to make an even tighter turn than the TIE Defender he's flying is normally capable of.
** In ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'' there's a book with scenes on an asteroid too small to have much gravity. There's ArtificialGravity on a base, but otherwise characters use special boots with tractor beams in them to move about. They can also be used to climb vertical surfaces ''in'' gravity, but with difficulty - they're very heavy.
* Lois [=McMaster=] Bujold's Literature/VorkosiganSaga features tractor beams at military scale, including on starships, but also in civilian use at smaller scale - 'hand tractors' are used for cargo manipulation, and 'medical hand tractors' are used for delicate surgical work - ideal for battlefield medicine as they're fundamentally sterile, never physically touching the patient.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* The ''Searcher'' has one on ''Series/BuckRogersInTheTwentyFifthCentury''.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': [[Recap/DoctorWhoS28E9TheSatanPit "The Satan Pit"]] reveals the TARDIS has one, which the Doctor uses to tow the rocket ship free of the gravitational pull of the UnrealisticBlackHole.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': The Flax, a tractor net designed to capture ships for destruction and salvage by pirates.
** Also, Moya has a "docking web", which is usually used to help damaged ships aboard. Much to Pilot's confusion, Crichton ends up calling it a tractor beam in an early episode.
* Used as a large scale, multipurpose tool in the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series. Except on ''[[Series/StarTrekEnterprise Enterprise]]'', where grappling-cables are used instead. Tractor beams have been invented, but the Vulcans didn't feel like sharing.
* A joke on ''Series/MockTheWeek'' by Hugh Dennis, for a Scenes We'd Like To See: Unlikely Things to Hear in a Sci-Fi Show, went: "There's something in the tractor beam! Ed?" This was in reference to Creator/EdByrne, who in the week that ''Videogame/GrandTheftAutoV'' came out had been playing ''Videogame/FarmingSimulator'' instead.

* Music/TheyMightBeGiants: "The Bee of the Bird of the Moth":
-->All are irresistibly directed by the suction
-->Of the hypnotizing tractor beam presenting a production...

* Both ''Pinball/AttackFromMars'' and its sequel ''Pinball/RevengeFromMars'' have aliens using tractor beams to abduct various objects (including [[AliensStealCattle cows]]).

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Attractor and pressor beams exist as superscience devices in ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}: Ultra-Tech'' and ''Spaceships''. They're mainly construction tools but powerful ones can be used in combat.
* Task Force Games
** ''TabletopGame/{{Starfire}}'' likewise has tractor and presser beams. These not only pull (or push) enemy starships around, they also make it easier for your weapons to lock on to a tractored target, and can tear small fighters to pieces. They can be countered by installing a Shearing Plane on a starship, which negates ''all'' tractor and presser beams attempting to lock on to it.
** ''TabletopGame/StarFleetBattles'' is based on the Franchise/StarTrek universe and most starships have tractor beams as standard equipment. In addition to grabbing enemy ships for the usual purposes (e.g. towing), they can be used in combat as well. Above the simulator room doors at Star Fleet Academy is written "Use your tractors, [[PrecisionFStrike Dammit!]]"
*** They can be used to grab an enemy ship and prevent it from launching a "wild weasel" shuttle. This allows the tractoring ship to fire seeking weapons such as plasma torpedoes and drones (missiles) into the tractored ship with no chance of missing. This tactic is known as the "Gorn Anchor" in honor of the race that uses it most often.
*** They can grab enemy drones and hold them for later disposal.
*** They can grab enemy shuttles and be used to "death drag" the shuttle to destruction by traveling at high speed.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Monsterpocalypse}}'' features a Martian faction, who use some relatively small flying saucers equipped with these, as well as one {{Kaiju}}-size one.
* ''TabletopGame/RoboRally'' has both tractor beams and pressor beams as enhancements that may be used in lieu of the default laser weapon.
* Creator/GamesWorkshop games:
** ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'':
*** The [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orks]] have a number of weapons based on tractor beam technology such as the Lifta-Droppa (giant nuclear-powered tractor beams often mounted on their HumongousMecha for anti-tank duty as well as anti-infantry, by dropping the tank onto the infantry) and the [[AntiAir anti-aircraft]] Traktor Kannon used to grab hold of enemy aircraft and smash them into the ground, much to the amusement of the crew.
*** The tension cannons mounted on some Kataphron Breacher [[WetwareCPU battle servitors]] capture an enemy with a trio of tractor beams known as gaol-fields that then rotate in different directions to tear the target apart.
** In ''TabletopGame/BattlefleetGothic'' the Ork Fleet has the Grunt Assault Ship. A more sophisticated version of the [[RammingAlwaysWorks Brute Ram Ship]], the Grunt incorporates a massive traktor field reactor that not only increase the damage done when it rams into an enemy but also allows it to stick to the enemy vessel so that the mobs of Ork Boyz it carries can perform a more effective [[BoardingParty boarding action]]. On the downside, the poorly distributed mass of the ship considerably reduces its manoeuvrability.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Excursion Funnels from ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}''.
* The ''Jetman'' games (''Lunar'' for the ZX Spectrum, and ''Solar'' on the NES) made heavy use of a tractor beam for carrying ship parts and fuel.
* Gravity guns:
** The gravity gun from ''VideoGame/HalfLife2''.
** The gun thingy from ''VideoGame/{{Elebits}}''.
** Also, the grabber in ''[[VideoGame/{{Doom}} Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil]]''.
** And the Kinesis module in ''Franchise/DeadSpace''.
* ''Thrust'', the truly ancient computer game where you piloted a spacecraft through tunnels to pick up an object with your tractor beam and pulled it out again.
* Crops up in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'', of all places - a golden tractor beam is used by the 'ghosts' to abduct cows (and the unfortunate Romani).
* Crypto's flying saucer in ''VideoGame/DestroyAllHumans'' has the Abducto Beam, which you can use to pick up tanks, smash them against buildings, drain them of their energy, and fling them out to sea; or you can use it to, you know, [[CaptainObvious abduct people]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Freelancer}}'' has a "tractor beam" that pulls in any nearby items. It actually ''[[TeleportersAndTransporters teleports]]'' them into your cargo hold. No explanation is offered why its still called a tractor beam.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Starscape}}'' your fighter ships have a tractor beam used to suck in minerals from recently exploded asteroids.
* The main charater of ''VideoGame/RocketRobotOnWheels'' has a small, personalized tractor beam he uses to pick things up and throw them.
* Tractor Beams in ''VideoGame/SwordOfTheStars'' can be mounted in nearly any large turret socket in the game. They're especially effective when mounted on rotating defense satellites orbiting planets, where they can grab attacking ships and smash them into the planet's surface. The game's AI for some species actually takes advantage of this.
** It would make more sense to do that with ships, at planets that ''aren't yours''. Unfortunately the ships' ArtificialStupidity is not capable of this maneuver and the player's user interface is too clumsy to manually swing the target into the planet before the beam times out.
** Also a key part of the random encounter and Morrigi special unit "Colony Trap", first time someone attempts to colonize a trapped planet several drones launch and drag the fleet into the planet's gravity well with tractor beams.
* Frigates and Cruisers in ''VideoGame/GratuitousSpaceBattles'' can be mounted with (blue) Tractor Beams, slowing the pesky-deadly fighters down to the point where slow tracking beams and missiles can kill them.
* They appear in the ''VideoGame/SpaceEmpires'' series, along with their opposites, Repulsor Beams.
* One of the gadgets in ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankGoingCommando''. It only works on objects with a special marking.
* The final Bowser level of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' has tractor beams that pull you from one planet to the next, but a Launch Star is actually used to get from the second-to-last planet to the one you fight Bowser himself on.
** In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2'' however, tractor beams are now produced by large doors (which can only be opened by smashing meteorites into it) leading to the planet you fight Bowser on at the end of all three Bowser levels.
* The War Blimp boss in ''VideoGame/HeavyWeapon'' has a "Meteor Tractor Beam", it makes meteors rain on you shortly after it is fired.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' add on ''Mothership Zeta'' has the player abducted using a energy beam.
* ''VideoGame/BeyondGoodAndEvil's'' gravity lift's function as a voluntary tractor beam, allowing you to move up or down.
* In ''[[VideoGame/{{X}} X3: Reunion]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/{{X}} X3: Terran Conflict]]'', tractor beams are a player-usable weapon, used mainly for towing ships and moving stations around. In a symptom of those games' [[ArtisticLicenseEconomics broken economy]], the factories that create them sometimes disappear before the player can buy one, forcing one to build a factory for an item the player only ever needs one of.
** Interestingly, tractor beams are programmed to be incapable of locking onto non-player-owned objects. This is mainly to prevent the obvious exploit where the player drags enemy vessels into stationary objects like asteroids. The "Super [=Tractorbeam=]" mod disables the restriction and allows tractor beams to pick up ''anything''. Your pitiful freighter can become a weapon of mass destruction when you tether an asteroid behind it and start mashing ships and stations with it.
* The player's ship in ''VideoGame/{{Spore}}'' has one for grabbing items, and plants, and animals.
* There is a tractor spell in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI''. It's used to pull dead players' corpses only, thought (still usefull to pull them out of monster reach before resurecting them).
* The ''Franchise/DeadSpace'' series has gravity tethers, which can move massive amounts of rock into orbit. The player also has a smaller version in the form of the Kinesis module
* ''VideoGame/TachyonTheFringe'' has a Tractor Wave item that you can add to your fighter provided it has a slot for it. Unfortunately its short range and forward-facing targeting makes it something of a UselessUsefulSpell.
* Present in the first two games in the ''VideoGame/EscapeVelocity'' series, and possible but unused in the third. If one ship tractors another, the least massive ship is the one that gets pulled along. A larger ship can even use the tractor beam to prevent a smaller one from entering hyperspace. Mechanically, they're created by putting a negative number into the "impact" field[[note]]i.e. the kinetic "kick" imparted to the subject of a weapon strike[[/note]] of a FrickinLaserBeam. There are also (equally unused but possible in the third) repulsion beams, who mechanically are simply beams with a positive number in the impact field but (like tractor beams) doing zero damage.
* Appears as a recurring non-elemental spell in the ''VideoGame/TalesSeries'', which lifts enemies and then drops them for damage.
* Muppy has a skill in ''[[VideoGame/ManaKhemiaAlchemistsOfAlRevis Mana Khemia]]'' which summons a flying saucer to attack with this.
* ''VideoGame/WingCommander'':
** In ''Wing Commander II'', one mission has the player flying a Broadsword, using its tractor beam to retrieve a data pod.
** ''VideoGame/WingCommanderPrivateer'' some times drops loot from destroyed ships, which can be picked up with a tractor beam if mounted, then sold at the next station.
** Blair's crippled fighter, at the end of ''Wing Commander III'', is retrieved by a Kilrathi Dreadnought that uses a tractor beam to draw it in.
* ''Videogame/StarRuler'' features two versions of the tractor beam; one which will pull objects towards the ship (or station), and another which will push objects away from the ship. The devices are largely pointless, though it's always entertaining to use them to catapult an enemy's defense station out of orbit. Micromanaging a station with a repulsion tractor beam allows players to assist their ships when leaving the system, effectively giving them a big push; very useful with [[PlanetSpaceship very large]] ships that are very heavy or have weak engines.
* The player's ship in {{VideoGame/Zigfrak}} has an electromagnetic tractor beam for the purpose of collecting loot and materials in space.
* ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'', given its [[Franchise/StarTrek source material]], allows science bridge officers to learn a skill to use the ship's tractor beam in combat. It's a heavy speed debuff, though unless the target ship is already very slow it doesn't stop the target entirely. The Borg and the Tholians use this to deadly effect. There are also two other player-based Tractor Beams - Tractor Beam Repulsors, which ''push away'' enemies, and a [=DOFF=] skill that inverts the Repulsors, pulling them ''toward'' you.
* The first two ''VideoGame/StarTrekStarfleetCommand'' games use tractor beams as a passive defense against incoming missiles. If a tractor beam is set to missile intercept mode, it captures the nearest enemy missile and holds it in place relative to the ship until one of three things happen: the beam's power runs out and the missile continues on its course, the missile's fuel runs out and it disappears, the missile is destroyed by one of your point-defense phasers. They can also be used to keep enemy or friendly ships in place for a time. However, in the first game, a tractor beam cannot be rotated, which means the positioning can be a bit of a crapshoot. To counter a tractor beam, the enemy can change their tractor beams to "push".
* The Big Bad Wolf's breath in Activision's ''{{VideoGame/Oink}}'' works like this when it touches one of your [[Literature/ThreeLittlePigs three little pigs]].
* The Galaga flagship (a.k.a. Boss Galaga) from ''{{VideoGame/Galaga}}'' occasionally stops in mid-flight to emit a tractor beam in order to capture your ship.
** In the game sequel ''Gaplus'', your ship can also emit a tractor beam that can capture aliens and use them to increase your firepower.
* The ZIG shuttle in ''VideoGame/ZeroWing'' has this to capture enemies, then toss them forward, Kirby-style.
* ''VideoGame/TimeCrisis 4'': Wild Dog, in previous games, has outfitted his gun-arm with flamethrower and rocket launcher attachments, but in ''4'' he employs a tractor beam for the final phase of his fight, throwing all manners of cargo containers at you. [[MissionControl Elizabeth]] is surprised that an actual tractor beam exists. [[spoiler:When defeated, the tractor beam malfunctions and pulls in the cargo towards him, crushing him under it...although he survives.]]
* ''[[VideoGame/XCom X-COM: Interceptor]]'' has a ship mountable tractor beam. Using it disables the energy weapons, but not the missiles. Of course the effort of the ship trying to fight loose would damage both ships. They could also be mounted to stations, which would slow attacking alien ships for weapon turrets and defending fighters.
* [[NeverMessWithGranny Iva]]'s Energy ability in ''VideoGame/{{Battlerite}}''. In addition to [[WeaponsThatSuck pulling in enemies]], it also nullifies any attacks from the front.
* ''VieoGame/StarControlII'': The Chmmr Avatar has a tractor beam as special ability.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/{{Dreamscape}}'': Eleenin can utilize a pillar of light like one.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* One of the functions of gravitic technology in ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' is to act like this, usually referred to putting a ship in a "tractor-bubble" or "tractor-lock".
* Robot #1 in ''Webcomic/TheEasyBreather'' uses a tractor beam to pull Ant Woman into its cargo hold.
* Wiki/{{Wikipedia}}n Greg Williams created an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tractor_WikiWorld.png illustration]] discussing tractor beams (with a side helping of AliensStealCattle) in December 2007 as part of a series.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The animated show ''WesternAnimation/GalaxyHigh'' once showed this with a VisualPun: a beam with a farm tractor at the end.
* Tractor Beam abduction is spoofed to heck and back in the Pixar short film ''[[WesternAnimation/PixarShorts Lifted]]''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/RecessSchoolsOut'', the villain's plan is to aim the tractor beam at the moon to redirect its orbit causing a global ice age, eliminating summer vacations and forcing kids to study indoors making test scores go up.
* Spoofed in just about every alien abduction episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. In one, the tractor beam isn't strong enough to lift Homer and they end up having to use two. In another, Marge is hit with what looks like a tractor beam... and then a lasso drops down instead and yanks her into the flying saucer.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-21187598 Scientists at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom were able to create a tractor beam]], although at a microscopic level. This can have many applications, like for medical usage.