"I bet I can take you both with my hands tied behind my back!"So you've captured the hero, and have him at your mercy, but don't kill him just yet. So tie the guy up and leave him, he'll be harmless for now, right? Wrong! What Were You Thinking? Most heroes are so badass that they can outfight your Mooks even while they're physically restricted. Their hands might be tied, but they can still kick. Chained down, they can still dodge. Shackle two together and you'll just have Back-to-Back Badasses. Plus the odds are pretty good that they'll make clever use of their binding, as garottes, club, or flails — see Handy Cuffs. And also that they'll be Breaking the Bonds. In some modern works, this is parodied by having the characters willingly impose a handicap to make things "fairer" for the enemies. The hero will make some Badass Boast to "fight you with one hand tied behind my back!" (or even both hands) and the villain will take him up on it thinking he's crazy. Maybe he is crazy, or maybe he isn't, and the villain will be in for a very big surprise. Female heroines may sometimes incorporate Kick Chick and Combat Stilettos with this trope. Related to Pre-emptive Declaration.
— Aang (who promptly does so), Avatar: The Last Airbender
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Anime & Manga
- Happens with Okoi in Basilisk. Despite being tied to a pole, she starts draining Rousai's blood when he touches her. She further traps him between her legs when he tries to retaliate, and finally kills him by draining all his blood.
- In Brave10, Anastasia can easily clean a room full of guards with her hands tied and hanging upside down.
- The first episode of Code:Breaker has Sakura kicking a couple of gang members while bound.
- While Mina Tepes from Dance in the Vampire Bund is first held prisoner by Duke Rozenmann, when an unexpected explosion distracts her two armored guards a second or two longer than it distracted her she drops one with a kick to the jaw and springs off the other so she can drop her full weight onto his headnote before rooting for the keys to her restraints.
- Badou Nails from Dogs: Bullets & Carnage once gunned down several people while his arms were tied behind the back of a chair.
- Dragon Ball
- At the climax of the initial Demon King Piccolo storyline, Piccolo gets Goku to stand and take his long distance attacks by threatening to kill Tenshinhan. Goku had already had one leg broken at this point, and Piccolo uses the circumstances to break Goku's other leg and one of his arms before taking off to finish Goku with death from above. Goku manages to use that one working arm to counterattack, punching a hole through King Piccolo.
- Earlier, right before the climax of the Red Ribbon storyline, the Red Ribbon Army newest mercenary assassin Tao Pai Pai combined this with the Worf Effect by fighting and killing a soldier who had nearly killed Goku... By using his tongue. Witnesses are obviously spooked...
- When Goku and Piccolo fight in the 23rd Budokai, Piccolo gets Goku with a lucky shot then breaks each of Goku's arms and legs, remembering what happened to his previous incarnation. Then he unleashes a blast that apparently vaporizes the hero...but it turns out Goku learned how to fly during the Time Skip, and uses the momentum to knock Piccolo out of the ring, winning the match.
- Dragon Ball Z subverts this at the beginning of Goku's fight with Frieza. Frieza initially offers to fight Goku without the use of his hands. By the end of the episode he finds himself forced to break his pledge to counter an attack by Goku. Goku offers him a chance to try again, but Frieza refuses.
- Frieza was more successful when he took on Nail with one hand behind his back.
- Later on, near the start of the Buu Saga, Trunks made a bet with Goten that he could beat him using only one arm. He couldn't.
- Vegetto makes a similar bluff to Super Buu, which is part of a larger plan to simply annoy him so much that he'll try to absorb Vegetto, allowing him to rescue the others Buu has absorbed. This is also why you might find Vegetto's fighting style includes a lot of kicking in the videogames
- In Eyeshield 21, Hiruma plays the second half of the game with the Hakushuu Dinosaurs with a broken right arm. Keep in mind that he's a quarterback (the position which throws the ball) A month later, at the Christmas Bowl, it still hasn't exactly healed, so he'll have to keep off it... causing the star running back of the opponents, the Teikoku Alexanders, to say he'll also play without using his right arm. And while this ultimately turns out to have been a ploy by Hiruma so the Alexanders would underestimate him, Yamato keeps using only one arm until he's forced to do otherwise, to show he doesn't need to try to kick ass.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist ch 105, Wrath loses both his arms, but still manages to stab Scar by holding a sword in his teeth.
- How badass is Uvogin from Hunter × Hunter? So badass that he kills three experienced assassins while paralyzed from the neck down.
- Though he's not technically tied, the effect is much like it: in the Land of Waves arc, both of Zabuza's arms have been crippled during his fight with Kakashi, such that he can't move them at all any more. When Gatō shows up with an army of mercenaries to kill both Zabuza and Naruto's team, Zabuza, bolstered by Naruto's speech about Haku's devotion, chews through the wrap over his mouth and asks Naruto for a kunai. He proceeds to grab it with his teeth and murder his way through Gatō's army with it until he reaches the man himself and takes his head.
- Deidara, too, gets one arm crushed and the other blown into an alternate dimension... and still fends off four ninja. Later, he tries to strangle Tobi with his legs.
- Danzo can only use one of his arms to full functionality (most of the time), but still manages to kill a 17-man team of assassins. One particularly memorable part was when he took out the first wave of them, and when the second came he used the head one of the first wave who survived his attack as a sword holster so he would have a free arm to use the guy's body as a human shield.
- One Piece'
- During Fishman Island arc, Luffy manages to beat down Vander Decken with both his arms and legs tied together.
- Before that, Big Bad Hody Jones wipes out a whole pirate crew (Albiet underwater where fish-men have an advantage, and pumped up on stimulants) with his hands shackled together. One pirate realizes that the handcuffs are to show just how outmatched the crew is compared to Hody.
- Trying to restrain main character in handcuffs usually doesn'r work out. Just as example:
- Mr 3 put his legs in wax shackles, so he used them as a weapon.
- Enel encase his hand into a giant golden ball to hold hom back. Luffy not only use it to destabilise giant electric bomb, but also deal finishing blow with it.
- Despite Doflamingo gain considerable advantage, after he tied his hands behind his back, Luffy still was able to block both Doflamingo's string clone and string-controlled Bellamy, with only his feet.
- Ace also manage to fight off several Impel Down guards, whith hands chained behind his back.
- Ranma ˝:
- Ranma actually does a lot of things with his toes in the manga, one chapter had him hanging from a rope with his arms bound by the aforementioned rope while going up against the Principal, using his toes to maneuver himself and kicking.
- Kodachi tried to hinder Ranma's agility by shackling her to Akane's pet piglet P-chan. It backfired spectacularly since it provided Ranma with a piggy-shaped flail.
- She might have assumed Ranma wouldn't want to hurt the cute innocent widdle pig. "Pig is VALID weapon...." Cue the squealing....
- Near the end of the manga, Ranma's hands and arms were held in place and encased in nigh-indestructible crystal, product of Saffron's metamorphosis. He was still able to fight almost to his full abilities, even wielding the spear-like Gekkaja with his toes and cut a giant Phoenix statue's neck in half that way.
- Ryoga, under the "Mark of the Battling God", become invincible, but get also an embrassing mark and need to be defeated to remove the mark from his body. In order to make things easier for Ranma, Ryoga has blindfolded himself along with tying his hands together and placing large weights to his ankles. But he fail and still easily knocks Ranma into the ceiling.
- The titular character of Rurouni Kenshin has at one point had his hands tied to a tree.
- Black*Star in Soul Eater thinks he can do this to make his fight with Patti 'fairer'. Trouble is, he gets someone to tie his hands after their match has started...allowing Patti to do a Groin Attack that wins her the match straight away.
- In one episode of Vision of Escaflowne, Van got himself tied with his hands up. He pulled the one of his guards' sword from the scabbard with his legs, throwing it so it would cut the rope he was tied with, and then proceeded to off the soldiers aroung in industrial quantities.
- YuYu Hakusho: Kurama vs Gama. Once Gama's makeup is applied to Kurama it acts as a weight attached to each of his limbs, this does not stop Kurama from easily defeating him. As a dying act, Gama does the same to Kurama's spiritual energy, as Touya enters the ring.
- In a Story Arc that takes place over a few issues of Marvel's G.I. Joe comic, Snake-Eyes's wrists are manacled together with a long chain, which is then thrown over a hook a few feet up a stone wall. He manages to feign death by slowing his heartbeat — which of course annoys the would-be torturer enough that he lets his guard down — steal a poker from the torturer, leap up to the hook, pry it free of the wall using the poker, and then use the chain to steal a sword from a guard. At that point, it's all over.
- In a variant used in an early Captain America story, Cap once got his hands untied, but his feet were still bound together. Even so, he was doing well fighting a small army of goons under that circumstance to the point when he got his legs free, the crooks know they were now really in trouble.
- The Death of Superman: Doomsday, only partially out of the super-strength straitjacket he'd been buried in for millennia, manages to decimate the Justice League literally with one hand tied.
- When Gambit is captured along with the other X-Men in mutant-enslaving Genosha and is hanging by his shackled arms, he deliberately allows himself to be impaled with a steel spike— which he works out, drops and catches it between his feet, then with his feet over his head picks an electronic lock and frees himself.
- In another story, a totally immobilised Gambit takes down the guy who has him bound by spitting chewing gum in his face. Chewing gum that promptly explodes like a grenade thanks to Gambit's mutant powers.
- Hawkeye in "Ultimates" continuity. They should have taken his fingernails.
- Black Widow in the "Ultimates" continuity. Bonus points that not only was she bound at the hands and feet, she was hung upside-down from a ceiling. She manages to dispatch several of her captors nonetheless. When one pulls a pistol and aims it at her, she shoots him a "I'm upside down, tied- and you need a gun? How pathetic are you?" look.
- In one issue of Cable & Deadpool, Deadpool and Weasel play on this trope by kidnapping a bunch of high-ups from the military, etc., who might need to hire a mercenary, then showing them that Deadpool can beat the Taskmaster with his wrists and ankles manacled. It backfires, though - the military types already knew how good Deadpool was, but they won't hire him because he's too unstable. Also: Weasel lost the key to the handcuffs. Oh dears.
- At one point during the Dark Reign-era Thunderbolts, Mr. X riles Headsman into fighting him, and nearly kills him with both hands behind his back.
- In one issue of Superman/Batman, Lois Lane makes up for years of helplessness when she's about to be burned at the stake by a bunch of loonies who think Supes is a god. Still tied, she breaks off the stake, knocks a guy out with it and threatens to break his neck with her bare feet unless they release her. It's the timely arrival of Batman which scares them off moments later, but still.
- One Star Wars comic showed a young Ki-Adi-Mundi tracking down a group of bandits on his homeworld. Being a young and brash man, he boasted that he could beat the leader with his hands tied behind his back. So she takes him up on it, and Reality Ensues.
- The Infinity Gauntlet. Captain America is stuck up to his ankles in pavement and still faces down the God-Level Thanos. He gets his shield shattered and smacked to death but still...
- The Punisher once shot a guy with his hands tied behind his back. In the head. With the gun upside down.
- In Lucifer, Mazikeen is forced into a Trial by Combat, with one hand chained behind her back and blindfolded. Through skill and guile she wins anyway.
- In chapter 6 of Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja, Naruto is caught up in a big battle with his arms shackled behind his back. Having to take on a sword-wielding opponent who he knows would slice him apart if he tried to fight using only kicks and headbutts, he suddenly recalls the LAST time he saw a ninja forced to fight with no arms and gets Sakura to throw him a kunai which he catches in his teeth.
Naruto: Here's to you, Zabuza.
- In one Naruto/Ranma ˝ story, Ranma proves that the Hyuuga's Gentle Fist isn't perfect by sparring with Neji with one hand tied behind his back, standing on one foot, and blindfolded. He utterly destroys Neji.
- Naruto and Harribel spar this way in Shards due to her martial arts style being used primarily by slaves who frequently had their arms bound, making her a Kick Chick when not using her sword.
Film — Animated
- In Disney's Peter Pan, during the climax, Peter fights Captain Hook with one hand behind his back.
- In Quest for Camelot, Kaylee kicks the feet out from under one of Ruber's mooks and drops him through the floor while tied up.
- Done as a Funny Background Event in Kung Fu Panda 2. While being taken in shackles to Lord Shen, Tigress keeps getting jabbed by a spear-wielding wolf guard. Finally she's had enough and kicks the spear out of his hand; cue Oh, Crap! look from the guard.
Film — Live Action
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has an early scene where Jack Sparrow engages in a daring escape and sword fight while his hands are shackled. At one point he fights while one hand is stuck to a moving cogwheel.
- Jack actually wanted to be shackled, just so he could escape (first thing he did was use them to hold Elizabeth in front of him so he wouldn't get shot. Second thing was to use them as a pulley to slide down a rope). As soon as they got the cuffs on him, he says "Finally".
- In the second movie, he doesn't do much fighting, but he still manages to pull off quite a lot of crazy stuff while tied to a pole.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has an early scene where Jack Sparrow engages in a daring escape and sword fight while his hands are shackled. At one point he fights while one hand is stuck to a moving cogwheel.
- The film of Charlie's Angels had Drew Barrymore's character fight off a group of minions while tied to a chair. Why didn't they simply grab her from the back?
- Done beautifully in a deleted scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park in which Roland picks a fight with a womanizing man who harasses one of the waitresses at the bar/restaurant they are both at. The man sizes up Roland, then boasts he could beat Roland with one hand behind his back. Cut to Roland having a hand tied behind his own back, then as the other man attempts to correct Roland's "mistake", gets punched out, slammed into a table and a pole or two, then has his nose broken by Roland's single hand crushing it with his index and middle fingers.
- Jackie Chan, in Rush Hour, had a nice battle with both his hands cuffed to a (removed) steering wheel. He also manages to go over a twelve-foot wall with his hands still chained. The post-movie blooper reel has a screamingly funny outtake of the wall climb...
- Only one hand was cuffed to the steering wheel, which just made it an unusual weapon/thing to try and conceal.
- Not the first time he's done this either. In Who Am I?, he escapes from his captors and makes his way down a three-story building by turning himself into a human yo-yo with his hands cuffed behind his back.
- And in Mr. Nice Guy, near the end, the Big Bad ties a bunch of ropes to him so he can beat him up without worry, but Jackie still manages to get the upper hand once.
- He likes this trope. In The Tuxedo he ends up wearing only the pants of the titular tux and activates "pants only combat".
- From that same movie, he was fighting off a bunch of mooks from all directions while keeping the movie's plot device from escaping by keeping it in a glass that was pressed up against the compulsory lady love's face.
- In the first Lethal Weapon film, Riggs manages to kill Al Leung while tied up and hanging from the ceiling.
- In a slightly unusual variant on this, The One has Jet Li practice kung fu (apparently hsing yi chuan) while wearing handcuffs.
- In a Villainous version, X-Men: The Last Stand has Mystique break the neck of a Mook with her legs because she's hanging from the wall by her arms.
- Earlier, she tries to strangle a police officer who's interrogating her, with her handcuffs.
- In Anaconda, Jon Voight strangles Kari Wuhrer to death with his legs while handcuffed to a pole.
- It takes Anton Chigurh a horrifically long time to finally strangle his arresting officer with a pair of handcuffs in No Country for Old Men.
- F/X: Murder by Illusion (1986). The protagonist is able to knock out a hitman and ties him up with his hands behind his back; but when the hitman revives he's able to partially free himself (in the middle of their struggle) by leaping up in the air and whipping his bound hands underneath his feet in one movement.
- In the first live-action Hellboy movie, Hellboy has to hold a box of kittens out of the way during part of the fight in the subway station. Less well done in the second film, where he vaults around a building fighting a giant monster while holding a baby in his stone hand.
- In Ip Man 2 Wong Leung manages to handle himself decently while bound by kicking things at his attackers.
- Not tied up, but in The Presidio, Sean Connery wins a bar fight using only his right thumb, explaing that his "left is much too powerful".
- In The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, Romeo has his hands chained behind his back while he fights a large Frenchman. Romeo dodges his attacks, flips the chains to his front and takes the man down with a submission.
- In The Avengers (2012), Black Widow's reintroduction is, after being the Play-Along Prisoner for an indeterminable amount of time, her beating up a gang of Russian thugs while tied to a chair. It's amazing.
- The Wizard of Oz - the Cowardly Lion tries to start a fight with the others, snorting "I'll fight ya with one hand behind my back!" (And standing on one leg, and with his eyes closed.) It doesn't go well for him.
- Casino Royale (1967) - Archvillain Woody Allen tries to show to a captured agent that he's just as manly as his uncle Sir James Bond - he sits down at a piano and masterfully plays some Debussy (a passionate pursuit of Sir James), then goes all "Look, one hand!" - then hastily hammers the piano off when it keeps playing without him.
- Killer Elite. The hitman protagonist Danny is tied to a chair by his antagonist, ex-SAS man Logan for interrogation and killing. A third party then enters and takes Danny prisoner, binding his hands behind his back. This leads to a three-way fight involving two bound badasses trying to kill their captor and each other at the same time.
- Riddick. Riddick kills the leader of a team of Bounty Hunters with his own machete within five seconds of having a single foot unchained. And he told him it would happen too.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Cap spends most of the Elevator Action Sequence with one wrist manacled to the elevator wall and still curb-stomps everyone else in there.
- Edge of Tomorrow. Because the protagonist is in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, he's able to dodge every punch thrown at him by a fellow soldier not only with his hands behind his back, but with his eyes closed as well.
- In the Shredder’s first scene in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), he beats up a Foot ninja with his hands literally tied behind his back.
- Spectre. James Bond defeats two mooks while both tied-up and black-hooded.
- Ghost in the Shell. While handcuffed to a stripper pole in a Bad-Guy Bar, Major does a Bullet Dodge before taking out the mook firing at him.
- Parodied in Men at Arms:
- Also from the Disc, Genre Savvy Vimes in Night Watch tries to use this, getting his hands cuffed in front of him rather than behind his back. They're old, heavy handcuffs, or in other words, "his arms were a hammer." The History Monks interrupt him in the process of swinging it, though.
- Redwall: In Mossflower, Martin the Warrior, Determinator that he is, fights off guards who are dragging him into Tsarmina's chamber over the course of three chapters or so.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister, an in-universe Memetic Badass and widely considered to be the greatest fighter in the Seven Kingdoms, gets into a sword fight with Brienne of Tarth, whose first on-screen action was to defeat something like forty other knights, including a young knight who is generally thought of as the new Jaime. Jaime's hands are shackled together at the time, and he'd been locked in a dungeon for some time prior to the fight. Brienne is arguably also hampered in that fight by her oath not to do any harm to Jaime until they reach their destination, and is on the defensive until he starts to taunt her. They fight for what's implied to be the better part of a day, and by the time they're done they've both lost their swords and been injured. It only ends when they're interrupted while grappling. Most fans give that fight to Brienne, as she was (successfully, until the interruption) trying to drown Jaime in a creek. Each is astonished at the other's skill, with Jaime later judging the strength of his opponents by Brienne (and finding them wanting,) and Brienne mentioning that no knight she's ever faced would be able to withstand Jaime at his full strength.
"You can't hurt him. I swore that I would get him safely back to King's Landing.""When we caught you, he was in shackles and you were holding his head under water.""Well, he was getting on my nerves!"
- Leading to the funniest exchange in the whole book (paraphrased):
- It's been not so subtly hinted that Jaime Lannister is (or was, in his youth) the greatest living blade on Westeros. Brienne was no slouch but its implied that most of the warriors of the new generation haven't learned to fight in real battles. The distinction between being good in tournaments and being really good is discussed by Jaime and Barristan Selmy.
- Spenser fights a tough mook in Crimson Joy with one hand, using the other to keep his gun trained on the guy's buddies so they don't jump in. Slightly subverted when he cheats a little by switching the gun from one hand to the other, but he still never uses more than one hand at a time.
- In the first book of the Sword of Truth series, several characters are captured, and one in particular, a boundary warden named Chase, has his hands tied behind his back (because he'd already killed five of the nine attackers on his own). When a suitable distraction happens, he tackles one of the captors and snaps his neck with his legs before being beaten savagely by the captor's leader. He's standing up again within minutes, leading one of the other characters to remark that he's far tougher than he has any right to be.
Live Action TV
- 24: If Jack Bauer is handcuffed, chained up, or otherwise restrained, you can bet he'll break a Mook's neck with his feet.
- He one-ups it in the Season 6 premiere. After tricking said Mook into getting close enough, he tears his throat out with his teeth.
- Adam Adamant Lives!: In "Allah Is Not Always With You", Adam defeats a knife-wielding thug despite being tied to a chair at the time.
- In a mild example, one episode of the classic '60s Batman show featured the Caped Crusader fending off mooks while holding a cat in his arms. Sure, he could have just set the kitty down before kicking ass, but where's the fun in that?
- Battlestar Galactica (2003). Leoben breaks his cuffs and gets the drop on Kara Thrace simply to show he can during his interrogation. Cylon prisoners after this episode are always excessively chained and restraint-collared.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has done this, on more than one occasion, including kicking Drusilla while she's chained in a dungeon. On another occasion, when the town attempted to burn her at the stake, she simply unearthed the stake and impaled a monster on it.
- She once did this while in Faith's body, as the Watcher's Council tried to capture Faith.
- Occurs in the Bones episode "Two Bodies In The Lab". Brennan does it trying to escape Kenton in the warehouse. It works for a while, until Kenton gets the upper hand on her.
- Daredevil: In "Condemned", when corrupt cops in Wilson Fisk's pocket corner Matt and Vladimir, Matt waits until one of the officers puts their handcuffs on him before attacking. He makes short work of the three cops, then uses their keys to free himself.
- On Dexter, the title character is kidnapped, tied up and thrown in the back of a van by a dirty cop trying to force a confession out of him. Dexter kicks him in face, then manages to wrestle the man's knife from him and take him down with his hands still tied.
- In Dollhouse, Ballard manages to deliver a pretty thorough beating to a pair of large thugs despite having his hands cuffed behind his back.
- Bushwhacked. A handcuffed Mal leads the Alliance soldiers who arrested him into Serenity with the intention of capturing the deranged prisoner who murdered the Alliance doctors that were looking after him. When the deranged prisoner attacks the Alliance captain, Mal saves the captain's life by using his handcuffs to strangle and break the neck of the lunatic.
- Ariel. Jayne, Simon and River are arrested by the police and their hands are handcuffed behind their backs. While being escorted, Jayne manages to knock down one of the guards, pull his hands to the front of his body, and kill the guard. Meanwhile, the pacifistic Simon manages to knock down the second guard, and kneel carefully on his windpipe to knock him unconscious without killing him.
- Game of Thrones: Jaime thought he could do this to Brienne, but she proves far more skilled than he thought and armoured as well, while he is unarmoured, bound, and weak from imprisonment. Brienne simply remains on the defensive and uses body-blows until Jaime becomes clumsy with exhaustion.
- Played with in one episode of Get Smart, where Max and his friend Sid are shackled by their hands in front of a deathtrap. Max frees himself by releasing the fake hands that were bound by the shackles.
Sid: Oh, the old false-hands-in-the-chain trick!
- Amanda did this on Highlander, savate-kicking several mooks unconscious before breaking the chair she was bound to.
- In Legends of Tomorrow when Ray Palmer/the Atom and Amaya/Vixen are both being held prisoners by Nazis and Ray is being forced to synthesize a super-serum. He asks for the cuffs on his wrists to be removed to make it easier for him to work, saying "What am I gonna do? Beat you with a microscope?" He is, of course, denied. Later, he actually does this (while handcuffed) and helps Amaya break free of her restraints. She hits a few of the soldiers with the (now broken) chair she was sitting in, he quips "Aww, I wanted to do it with just the microscope!"
- In Lost Sayid's Moment of Awesome is where he manages to break a man's neck...with his legs, while he is still tied up from being held at gunpoint moments before.
- In season two of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Rocky, Adam and Aisha are chained to a tree by some Putties. They manage to escape by kicking a soccer ball at the "Z" symbol of the Putty holding the keys.
- Tony combines this with a Redundant Rescue in the NCIS episode "Under Covers", managing to kick a Mook unconscious before the rest of the team could come to his rescue, in spite of the fact that he is tied to a chair.
- The New Avengers: In "The Tale of the Big Why", Purdey takes down one of her kidnappers despite having her hands tied.
- The Professionals. Played for Laughs in "The Female Factor" where Bodie fights a drunk in a pub without putting down or spilling the pint in his hand.
- Xena: Warrior Princess had this more than a few times. Of course, Xena was contractually required to display as much badassery as possible, so it's no wonder the bad guys were allowed to capture her occasionally.
- In Professional Wrestling, any wrestler who says something like "I could beat you with one/both hand[s] tied behind my back" will inevitably be put in a match with that stipulation. Quite often, this will then be used to trip said wrestler up further by rearranging the match stipulations even more.
- After boasting that they could beat (some other team) with their hands tied behind their backs, the APA (Ron Simmons and John "Bradshaw" Layfield) were once forced into a match where they had one hand each tied behind their backs.
- Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition has conditions "Helpless" and "Restrained". You can attack while helpless (although it's usually paired with another condition such as unconscious) although the DM may rule that you are tightly bound enough to prevent that. You may also attack while restrained with a slight penalty to attack rolls.
- 3rd Edition monks could use an unarmed attack with elbows, knees, feet... The only penalties to having their hands tied behind their back were that manipulating items such as potions, wands, thrown weapons and so on would pose problematic.
- Just about everyone in Warhammer 40,000, hence why more... exotic... measures are commonly employed.
- Regal from Tales of Symphonia bases his entire fighting style on the fact that his hands are shackled, and he's not going to take them off.
- Ryuji Yamazaki of the Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters series kicks copious amounts of ass with one hand in his pocket (though he'll occasionally pull it out to attack, revealing he's carrying a knife in his other hand.) In his case it is not a self-imposed handicap but rather a sign of respect for a gangster who taught him everything he knows about the life.
- Jhun Hoon always fights with one hand behind his back, and because he's a Taekwondo practicioner, he doesn't even use that.
- Iori Yagami has the legs of his pants tied with a belt, and he still has an awesome footwork (have him perform a hard kick up close to the foe; he stretches his leg almost vertically but somehow doesn't pull his standing leg out from under himself), although in his case it's more of a fashion statement than an intentional handicap.
- Cody from Street Fighter Alpha 3, an escaped convict, wears handcuffs. In one of his taunts, he easily takes them off and then puts them on again. This is because he wears them by choice, as his fighting ability has increased to the point that he requires a Power Limiter in order to even be remotely challenged by anyone. In fact, breaking out of prison in the first place was spurred by his incessant boredom growing out of his head with no one to fight; he ends up going back afterwards because he still admits he's not a very upstanding guy.
- The first time you meet the Big Bad of SquareSoft's The Bouncer, Dauragon C. Mikado, he shows off by fighting with one hand chained behind his back. This does make him somewhat easier, but beating him just reveals that, like any self-respecting Corrupt Corporate Executive, he's got a Trap Door installed in his private suite. Later on in the game, he's shown to actually use the chain as a weapon, too.
- Raiden does this a few times in Metal Gear Solid 4: first with a couple of Gekkou which have tied down all his limbs (Snake frees his arms, but he breakdances hard enough to sling the Gekkou around anyway), next against Vamp (Vamp pins his arms to his back with knives, but he holds him off long enough to free himself) and then with a squad of knife-wielding FROGs (having lost both arms previously, he fries some of them with electricity, then takes his sword in his foot and fights the rest off.)
- In the first Baldur's Gate, bandits and guards are occasionally heard quipping "I can take Drizzt with both hands tied behind my back.". With a cheat code, it is possible to summon Drizzt and prove how terribly wrong they are, as Drizzt is totally badass in this game...
- Lisa from Resident Evil on the Nintendo GameCube has her hands shackled, but can deliver extremely powerful blows on the player.
- Kuroda Kanbe in Sengoku Basara combines this with Epic Flail. He fights with the manacles on his wrists, attached to a giant steel ball which he can swing around with ease. A Running Gag is his failed attempts to remove said shackles. In fact, several of his attacks (including his Basara Attack) are actually attempts to break the manacles that fail.
- In Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Grievous will occasionally boast, "I could do this with one, two, no, THREE ARMS TIED BEHIND MY BACK!"
- There's a section near the beginning of Batman: Arkham City where Bruce Wayne gets arrested on bogus charges for speaking out against Arkham City, and after he gets thrown into the prison himself, you to fight off a few groups of goons as a still-handcuffed Bruce. Partway through the fight, Bruce kicks so much ass the handcuffs shatter.
- There's also an in-game handicap available during campaigns called With One Hand Tied: in combat maps, it disables counter icons, and in predator maps, it makes silent takedowns from behind unavailable.
- Artorias the Abysswalker from Dark Souls. Not only does he fight you with one broken arm, but it's his dominant arm, meaning he's wielding his greatsword in his offhand. And it's still one of the most intense fights in the game.
- In Homestar Runner, one of the questions Strong Bad asks Homestar in the short "The Interview" is "Who would win in a fight: Strong Sad or The Cheat?". Homestar's response comes with a cutaway to a brief demonstration:
Homestar Runner: Oh, man. That's not even fair. The Cheat would win with both hands duct-taped behind his back, and little pieces of duct tape covering his eyes, and Strong Sad can have a spear, even!
- In "Super Natraps X' Turbo" from the Natraps X series, Sylvia, the Distressed Damsel in Kung Fu Master, beats all the enemies in a stage while tied to a chair. She still can't climb the stairs at the end.
- From The Dreadful: Even after being captured and bound, Kit still kicks the asses of the JDA agents when they try to beat her up.
- Vaelia of Drowtales, a recently bought slave, took on Jer'kol when he tried to suffocate Ariel. Vaelia is still wearing shackles and Jer'kol is fully armoured and armed. The fight is short and one sided, but Vaelia buys enough time for help to arrive.
- An extreme version of this appears in Goblins: K'Seliss gets captured by an undead abomination that eats liquefied and dissolved flesh. After getting both his arms destroyed by a disease the creature uses to create its 'food', the creature leaves him to slowly die and rot away from the disease, unwilling to confront him further. Even with that handicap, K'Seliss manages to kill it by jumping onto its back and biting its head off even as his feet and tail are rotting away. He dies shortly after as biting it spreads the disease to his head.
- In Homestuck, Terezi puts a scarf over her eyes to fight Gamzee because he made her restore her sight. She slices him to bits, although this has little effect on him.
- Subverted in The Princess Planet: see the bottommost strip of this page.
- Steve of KateModern gained major badass points when he fought off the Shadow Terrence whilst chained up and gagged in "Precious Blood".
- The Frieza example in Dragon Ball Z is parodied in Dragon Ball Z Abridged when Goku decides to oblige to by claiming that he'll beat him without his shirt. When Goku bites Freeza's tail, Freeza ends the "game" by slugging him, then rewards him by trying to drown him again.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang's first meeting with prince Zuko involves his taking out two guards, evading others and finally breaking his bonds with the spiky helmet of one last mook.
- In another episode, Iroh gets captured by soldiers from the Earth Kingdom. After a first clever but failed escape (he asks one of the guards to tighten his shackles, superheats them by blowing steam out of his nose, and burns the guard's hand), he is soon caugh again and has to be rescued by Zuko. Once freed, however, he proves his fighting skills (alongside with Zuko) by using his long shackles to beat up all the guards in a matter of seconds.
- Bumi beats both by taking back the city of Omashu while being trapped in a metal box and able to move nothing but his chin.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Batman is forced to beat up two burly orderlies while in a straitjacket and held for treatment in Arkham.
- Another episode had Batgirl and Catwoman working together. When the badguys tie the duo up, Catwoman uses her claws to free herself and start a fight. Batgirl fights, too, but with her hands still tied behind her back, making it a very literal case.
- A similar concept is seen on Danny Phantom. Vlad says, "Oh, please, Daniel, must I actually defeat you with one hand behind my back?"... as he literally does just that! Talk about adding insult to injury.
- In the second part of Justice League's three-part Grand Finale, half the team gets a chance at this. Wonder Woman, impressively, manages to free herself while tied to a pole by throwing the enemy's knife at the control panel with her teeth.
- In Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, a complacent Po shows off by defeating the Croc Bandits with just his pinky. This gets subverted in their next encounter, after the Crocs have gone through Training from Hell and are able to defeat Po, even after he starts using both pinkies.
- In Motorcity, Mike is able to take out Kane's guards with his hands tied behind his back, with Chuck tied to him, and in the series finale he even takes out Red while chained to a wall—after having been tortured for days.
- Discussed and parodied in one episode of Mutant League, when Razor Kidd tells the strong badass, "I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back!" Of course, the strong guy rips off Razor's arm as a literal response, and the latter snaps back, "Hey! I said tied!" Razor even tries to kick the strong one, who quickly rips off his leg as well!
- In an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Applejack ties down Rainbow Dash's wings to keep her from flying during a race.
- Samurai Jack; in the first episode where Jack encounters the Scotsman, the two are attacked by bounty hunters and end up literally shackled together. They argue a bit at first, but when push comes to shove they get over it and pwn the bounty hunters and the robot hordes chasing after them.
- In a Halloween episode of The Simpsons, Lucy Lawless beats up a villain while encased in a giant Mylar bag.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
- "Legacy of Terror": Luminara Unduli, after being captured by undead Geonosians, puts up a good fight while handcuffed during an attempt to escape.
- "The Academy": Ahsoka Tano does this to a round-dozen corrupt Mandalorian Police after being captured, even managing to capture their leader in the process, all with her hands bound.
- Star Wars Rebels:
- "Stealth Strike": Ezra non-lethally beats down a trio of stormtroopers escorting him to a cell while handcuffed.
- "Zero Hour": It's implied that, in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome, Kallus managed to beat up the stormtroopers who were escorting him to an airlock in an elevator with his hands cuffed behind his back.
- In The Venture Bros.., Brock kills two mooks this way: One of the mooks was giving him a cavity search. Brock tightens up (enough to make the guy scream in pain), swings the guy around like a flail, and knocks the other guy out, all while being in shackles.
- This scene also wins awards for quite possibly the best dialogue in the series.
Pirate 1: Where are the keys?
Brock: They're in my ass.
Pirate 2: Really?
Brock: Why don't you reach in and find out?
Pirate 1: Well... what are you waiting for?
Pirate 2: What if he's lying?
Pirate 1: Oh, and it would be better if he was telling the truth?!
- This scene also wins awards for quite possibly the best dialogue in the series.
Truth In Television
- The Brazilian martial art of Capoeira was originally created on the assumption that the practitioner might well need to fight with hands bound, since the art began as a means of self-defense among Brazilian slaves, and so emphasizes fighting with the hands close together, as well as foot strikes and highly acrobatic attacks and movements.
- This Never Mess with Granny story of a 87-year-woman who locked a police officer in her basement after he thought he'd pull a warantless search stunt... after he had handcuffed her for trying to stop it.