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Unwilling Suspension
See, I told you. She really helps the feng shui when she's dangling there.

A Bound and Gagged prisoner is suspended by (usually) a rope from the ceiling

This is not intended for torturing the prisoner, but in reality, this could cause undue pressure on the body, and bad blood flow. Perhaps even dislocate something — there's a reason why BDSM models engaging in suspension art tend towards the light-weight and extremely flexible end. In fiction, the prisoner does not appear to suffer any particular physical discomfort. (If the viewer thinks too much about this, it results in Disbelief of Unwilling Suspension).

Hanging by the wrists, a common variation, would in Real Life quickly cause permanent damage to the hands and within a few hours cause death by suffocation/"Suspension Trauma", not quite unlike a crucifixion. Many a Tailor-Made Prison has a prior inhabitant hanging by his wrists in skeletal form.

Reasons for doing this include:
  • It provides for more effective immobilization of the prisoner. Tie somebody to a chair and they will be able to maneuver the chair toward a Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing nine times out of ten. Hang them from the ceiling and they have nothing to get traction against. Also, enough rope to hold someone's weight will also be enough rope that it's hard to get out of, especially if the Real Life consequences kick in.
  • The victim can be suspended above a chasm, piranha pond, Spikes Of Doom, or other Death Trap, as a disincentive from struggling loose.
  • Because the Rule of Cool says so.
  • Author Appeal, along with Fetish Fuel.
  • In rare cases, the villain will actually be doing this to deliberately hurt the prisoner.

Favorite victims seem to be The Hero(es) or the Distressed Damsel (especially a princess and The President's Daughter).

Compare Chained to a Rock.

Not to be confused with being suspended from the police force, or taking fantastical elements of a story or setting in stride.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pictured above: In Voltron/Go Lion, Lotor ties up Princess Romelle/Amue this way.
  • In Now and Then, Here and There, the Decoy Protagonist is suspended outside the massive death-ship for three continuous days... during which time they fire something we swear wasn't a nuke.
  • Digimon
    • The Digimon Emperor did this to the Digidestined aside from Davis in an episode of Digimon Adventure 02, telling him that he could only save one. Luckily, it turned out not to be the real Digidestined at all.
    • In Digimon Savers, the Digidestined are ambushed by a bunch of (spider-like) Dokugumon, which net the Digimon together while suspending the teens like this.
  • Keroro Gunsou
    • At the end of the "Wet King" episode, Sergeant Keroro ends up tied up like this outside the Hinata household, with bruises.
    • Also in the series premiere, after Keroro is first discovered by Fuyuki and Natsumi. Attempting to escape by slipping out of the ropes only makes it worse as the ropes stop short at his oversized head and tighten around his neck.
    • We see a variant in one brief flashback — as punishment for wetting the bed, young Fuyuki had a bamboo threaded through his pyjamas to hang him up to dry alongside his bedding.
  • Mikura Suzuki of the Mezzo DSA series ends up in one episode tied up and suppended in the air.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Sōsuke threatens a local gang leader who has kidnapped Kaname by holding the leader's younger brother and suspending him from a series of ropes that he then detonates in turn; once the opposition has surrendered, Sōsuke reveals the whole thing was a setup and the boy was safe the whole time; the kid was in on it.
    • And in Full Metal Panic FUMOFFU, Kaname and the other students do the same to Sōsuke after he turns their art class into a battleground. They then use him as an abstract art piece.
  • In a more light-hearted version of this trope, Episode 5 of Minami-ke has Kana roll up Chiaki in a sheet and suspend her from a clothes line to make a rain charm.
  • Natsuki in Mai-HiME is knocked unconscious by a Robot Girl and wakes up like this.
  • Commonly used in Ranma ½.
    • When Principal Kunō tries to force Ranma into obedience by knocking Akane out, then dangling her from the ceiling. Doesn't work — she breaks free immediately when she wakes up and gives him a piece of her mind (and a footprint on his face).
    • In the same story arc, Ranma later gets tied up and hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately for Principal Kunō, he omits to secure Ranma's legs, and the martial artist is very adept at fighting with them, even holding a bamboo staff between his toes.
    • Done to Ranma again to use him as bait for a mirror duplicate of his female side. Then they went off to have dinner. Hey, at least they left his meal out in a tray for him... just out of reach.
    • Happōsai, more than once, as punishment for his indiscretions and just to keep him out of the way.
  • Bleach
    • Nemu Kurotsuchi got once tied up like this, courtesy of Szayel Apollo Gantz. With tentacles She got better in the end. Sorta.
    • Also, Yumichika, Ikkaku, and Matsumoto when they fought Luppi.
  • Love Hina
    • In some of the final chapters, Tsundere female lead Naru Narusegawa is captured by one of her dorm mates Kaolla Su and left tied and suspended. Averted in that the bindings are tied in a way that they act as an impromptu support harness (no, it's not a crotch rope), making this example a bit more plausible than others.
    • Motoko is tied up and suspended in an earlier chapter as well.
  • In a season 1 episode of Sailor Moon, an impostor Sailor Moon is "captured" in a scheme to lure out Tuxedo Kamen. She is suspended by her wrists and dangled from a crane.

    In season 4, we see Helios's human body is seen like this, naked as well as bound by what seems to be spider webs. And upside down, even.
  • Berserk
    • Both Griffith and Guts are subject to this trope, in fact this is how the reader is introduced to Guts on the first page of the manga... mmmmm.
    • Schierke also does this to Isidro as punishment for trying to peak at Farneze and Casca taking a bath.
  • The Three Musketeers adaptation San Jushi. Milady invites a captured Constance to hang around.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
    • Fate is typically suspended from the ceiling in chains while Precia whips her for failing or not succeeding well enough.
    • Later on in Vivid, this is played more comically when Otto and Deed catch Chantez holding a sparring match with Vivio without their supervision, and Otto punishes Chantez by restraining her using a tortoise shell bondage bind, after which Deed uses ropes tied to her wrists and ankles to suspend her from a tree, all while calmly explaining to Vivio that what she did was wrong.
  • The wrists variation is used on Death the Kid in Soul Eater, and played for all the unpleasant Fetish Fuel it's worth in between Mood Whiplash moments. Kid's lack of reaction is arguably justified but it still looks far more painful than it apparently is. Gopher beating him while he's tied up is especially horrible.
  • Has happened to Mokuba in Yu-Gi-Oh! on one of the many occasions in which he's taken hostage.
  • In the manga Torikago Gakyuu during the twin arc, woobie protagonist Mikage is kidnapped by the Ax-Crazy Yuikai and held in the school's clock tower. Yuikai proceeds to tie him up and beat him in order to encourage him into willingly giving up his freedom and becoming Yuikai's slave and consequently having his ears cut off so that the last words he'll ever hear are from his master... or dying. When Mikage refuses, Yuikai drops him out the window where Yukan, Yuikai's elder twin sister grabs the rope on his foot. Consequently, this leaves Mikage dangling upside down by one foot with his hands tied behind his back and an enormous drop below him. He remains that way for an uncomfortably long time, ultimately to his advantage thanks to his Split Personality, but it must have been painful nonetheless.
  • Happens to Kyo's girlfriend Yuki in the manga version of The King of Fighters KYO, when a masked Badass Biker kidnaps her to force the recently depowered Kyo to a duel. Subverted: the stranger is Saisyu, who's subjecting a borderline Brainwashed and Crazy Kyo to a Secret Test of Character. When Kyo "passes", wakes up from his state and recovers his flames, Saisyu is satisfied so he cuts the rope and Yuki falls down... and into Kyo's arms.
  • Happens to Fujiko in Lupin III: The Secret of Twilight Gemini. Even worse, she's also naked.
  • In Sakura Gari, at some point Masataka finds a photograph in which he sees a girl subjected to this. She is a former maid from the Saiki household, and Sakurako is the one who tied her up like that... to then subject her to Cold-Blooded Torture for doubling as The Mistress to Souma.
  • Makie and Renzaburou from Wicked City are seen like this after the last fight with the Spider Woman. For worse, they're hanging upside down and their bounds are made of the spider web that said Spider Woman shot from he Vagina Dentata. Augh.
  • Happens to Anna Stephanie and several others during a particularly nasty Hostage Situation in Blue Comet SPT Layzner. Eiji saves them.
  • Manta Oyamada from Shaman King was kidnapped and placed inside a gibbet cage by the X-Laws, who then used him as a hostage to force Yoh and Co. meet with them. Considering how the X-Laws had LOTS of Christian imaginery associated with them and the gibbet cage was used as a torture method by the Christian Inquisition among others, it's fitting. Manta managed to break through with the help of Mosuke, then Ryu and Tokagero caught him mid-air safely. Then, a fight started. Then, Hao stepped in...

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • In The Wizard of Id, those who offend the king frequently end up hanging from the wall by their wrist chains.
  • In Hägar the Horrible, tax cheats and other offenders frequently end up hanging from the wall by their wrist chains.

    Films — Animation 
  • Near the end of Bolt, Penny gets "tied up" and suspended from the ceiling of the set (she's safe because a pulley harness is attached beneath the cocoon of ropes).
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Roger and Jessica are tied together and suspended from a rope, and are menaced by an out-of-control jet of Dip.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is done to the inflatable "Citizen" in the Save the Citizen game in Sky High, to simulate villains doing this to their captives. Will Stronghold mentions at the end how after they replaced the citizens with the actual villains no-one saved the Citizen anymore, but we're to assume that's a joke because he said as much.
  • The Badass Biker gang hung one of the Wild Hogs from a tree this way. They tried to rescue him by driving their bikes under him and yanking as they went by. It didn't work.
  • Ben Wade in the 3:10 to Yuma remake is suspended from his hands at one point in the movie, to prevent his escape.
  • The women in the movie 9 to 5 do this to their boss.
  • From Sherlock Holmes, this happens to Irene Alder when she tried to follow Holmes and got tied up to a conveyor belt by her wrists by Blackwood. To compensate for the pressure, Watson had to put her up on his shoulders to lessen it.
  • Happens to Velma in the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie. She falls off a scaffold and gets her foot caught in the scaffold's chain. When the chain goes taut, Velma is seen hanging upside down.
  • Happens to Django - upside down and naked - before he is sold to the mining company in Django Unchained.
  • Snow White & the Huntsman are captured by the dwarves, who hang them upside down by their ankles (fortunately they don't pass out before convincing the dwarves to let them go).
    Huntsman: Come on Beith, is this how you treat a friend?
    Beith: Oh no-no-no, ya puttock. This is how I treat a friend. (whacks him with a pick handle)
  • The famous meat locker scene in The Long Good Friday. London Gangster Harold Shand sends his men out to grab local hoods and haul them in for interrogation to find out who is bombing his businesses. They're pulled out of a truck and trundled along the pulley system hanging upside down. The actors had to keep being supported between takes to prevent them passing out.

    Literature 
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel The Killing Grounds, the Grey Knights suspend Ventris by his manacles when he's their prisoner; his survival may be Justified by his being an inhuman supersoldier.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Slithering Shadow", Thalis does to Natala before flogging her.
  • In the Villain Opening Scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort uses magic to suspend his prisoner in the air before eventually killing her.
  • The Dresden Files
    • In the second book, Magnificent Bastard Gentleman Johnny Marcone gets hogtied (which generally means the ankles and wrists are tied together behind the back) and suspended over a pit trap as werewolf bait. Even Dresden, who despises the man, acknowledges that it must be excruciatingly painful and sympathises.
    • In a later book, Dresden himself is tied up with his wrists above his head for hours, but the only ill effects he suffers besides lots of wrist pain equating to carpal tunnel syndrome is a loss of his magic due to running water being poured over his head.
    • Oddly enough, in that same book, Dresden's vampire-infected ex-girlfriend Susan is tied up hanging from a magical rope by Dresden for a short time, to keep her from attacking and killing him in a blood-lust-driven fury. They then engage in a very ill-advised consensual sexual encounter with her in that state. This being the DF and Butcher, consequences from this bad judgement do eventually ensue.
  • In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling, Salma is suspended like this before questioning.
  • In the Law of Nines, in keeping with its total deconstruction of any ideas anyone had that anything BDSM-like is good, goes into great detail about those dangers of being suspended by one's wrists at the top of the page.
  • In the first story of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf suspends Sunny in a cage.
  • In The Silmarillion, Morgoth takes Maedhros hostage and suspends him by his right wrist over a precipice of Thangorodrim. The rescue of Maedhros involves amputation.
  • In the Second Apocalypse, the Messianic Archetype character suffers the Circumfixion (to parallel the biblical Crucifixion), in which he is lashed to a ring and hung from a tree.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander is suspended above the Hellmouth by a demon. Really, Xander, you shouldn't have suggested that use for the rope yourself....
  • Super Sentai shows that this trope isn't VERY effective when used in a room with fire NOT below the victim (and if the hands are not placed behind, usually).
    • In Dai Sentai Goggle Five, Miki gets trapped into an evil picture diary and gets suspended with a spread-eagle position, then the picture diary gets burned, which in turn, surrounds her in flames. Instead, she makes a flip, then uses the fire to burn the ropes.
    • In Dengeki Sentai Changeman, Mai gets taken hostage and suspended with hands above her head, inside a room. Then, Buuba blasts her room, putting fire inside it. Again, she flips around, burnt the ropes using the fire created.
    • In Hikari Sentai Maskman, both, Momoko and Haruka, were tied up this way in the episode where they were supposedly brainwashed by the Thief Knight Kyros to become bank robbers. This is more effective since Kiros did not use fire in any form, and instead uses spikes of doom, and both girls are only able to escape due to the boys' timely Big Damn Heroes.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie: the Gokaigers are going to be executed by firing squad by the Space Police, and were held in place this way.
  • In Bones, Brennan is kidnapped by a crazy ex-agent, tied up and hung by her wrists, unable to move and leaving her at the mercy of her kidnapper. Fortunately, Booth came in just in time to stop him, leading to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming between him and a crying Brennan.
  • In Legend of the Seeker, Richard, Denna and Cara were all hanged by their wrists and tortured (in the pure Fetish Fuel fashion) when in possession of Mord-Sith under command of Darken Rahl. And all of them were successfully punished and broken into submission, if only for a short time.
  • One of the sets in You Cant Do That On Television was a dungeon in which kids were chained up by the wrists. The facts that they were standing on a stepstool and the shackles were wide enough that they could easily slip out of them were quite obvious.
  • Happens to Barnaby in the Midsomer Murders episode "Death in the Slow Lane" after he is knocked out by the murderer. The killer plans to drop Barnaby on to a sharp set of ploughs at the end of their conversation.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Masque Of Mandragora", Marco is hung by his wrists while he's being tortured.
  • Invoked in the Robin Hood episode Lardner's Ring. Marian pretends to be Robin's hostage in order to convince Guy to stop attacking Robin.
  • Happens to a car thief in 1000 Ways to Die ("Car Jacked"). When he tried to steal a rich man's car and got into his garage via descending from the ceiling, his leg got tangled in a rope and he ended up hanging upside down for several hours, which killed him in the end.
  • Happens to Frank and Jesse Colton when they are captured by Chinese gangsters in the MacGyver episode "The Coltons".
  • Hustle: "Picasso Finger Painting" opens with Ash hanging upside down by his ankles in a deserted warehouse. He proceeds to explain how he ended up in this predicament.
  • Deep Space Nine. Played for Laughs when Julian Bashir and Miles O'Brian get talked into joining Worf's pre-marriage ritual, assuming the rowdy Klingons will indulge in the usual drinking and feasting. It turns out to be several days of starvation and self-inflicted torture. Cue our heroes chained to a pole, hanging over hot coals.
    Bashir: It's working... I'm having a vision... I can see the future... I can see it so clearly. I'm going to kill Worf!
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), the djinn strings up its victims by the wrists while it drains their blood.

     Music 
  • In the video for Pet Shop Boys's "It's a sin", Neil Tennant (playing the role of a man who's imprisoned by the Inquisition) is briefly seen inside what seems to be a gibbet, a suspended cage used for Cold-Blooded Torture. See below in "Real Life"

    Pinball 
  • The "Monkey Mayhem" table of Extreme Pinball shows the protagonist hanging by a rope tied around her wrists over a pit of monkeys.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Religion and mythology 
  • This is one of the tortures of Hell described in the Qu'ran.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the "Treehouse of Horror X" episode of The Simpsons, Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl (a.k.a. Bart and Lisa) are tied up (using Stretch Dude's own arms, because they are stretchy) and dangled over a vat of lucite, which the Collector (Comic Book Guy) uses to turn real celebrities into life-size maquette figures.
  • Batman: The Animated Series
    • Robin is chained up this way above a rising pit of water after being kidnapped by the title character in the episode "Bane". For best effect, they added an equivalent of Cement Shoes to his feet.
    • The final episode of the same series has Raven and Lark (the Penguin's female bodyguards) hanging bound and gagged from the ceiling after being subdued by the Judge.
  • Transformers Generation 1
    • Optimus Prime got this after his failed attempt to save Elita One.
    • So did Blurr in "The Face of the Nijika".
  • This happened at least once on The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
  • The Batman/Superman animated series cross over, World's Finest, has Lois Lane tied up like this.
  • Happens in Totally Spies! We could cite a specific example, but we're sure that's unneccesary.
  • Shaak Ti gets bound up by electric wires by General Grievous in Star Wars: Clone Wars.
  • The ¡Three Amigos! of Jimmy Two-Shoes get strung up this way by Lucius.
  • Happened to Jean early in the X-Men series, but she quickly freed herself.
  • In Dan Vs. "The Wolf-Man", Dan catches what he thinks is the wolf-man (actually a kid in a costume) and hangs him upside down from his ceiling.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, the villains have a fondness for tying up the heroes and dangling them upside-down, usually by their feet.
  • The beginning of two Mighty Mouse cartoons — "The Perils of Pearl Pureheart" (1949) and "Sunny Italy" (1951) — has Pearl Pureheart dangling upside down by one foot.
  • Happens to Max in Goof Troop.
  • Koopa does this to Oogtar in an episode of Super Mario World, dangling him over a hungry dinosaur.

     Real Life 


Unstoppable RageAction Adventure TropesVapor Trail
Tribal CarryBound and GaggedWith My Hands Tied
Chained to a RockI Have Your IndexBring Him to Me
Meditating Under a WaterfallImageSource/Anime & MangaGoshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun

alternative title(s): Tied Up And Hanging
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