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Banging for Help

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The hero is Bound and Gagged. With no avenue of escape, and severely restricted movement, what is there to do?

Well, assuming there's no Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing nearby to cut the bonds, there's only one thing to do: Get attention in the hope of attaining rescue.

The simplest and most common (and often, the only) way to do this is to make noise. Banging on a wall or floor with bound feet (more effective when said feet are clad in high heels), or making noise through a gag, are the most common. If the captive has a bit more freedom of movement, then knocking things over could work, or making a signal of some kind. If the captive is lucky, which happens the majority of the time, it'll be the heroes who hear the noise and come to the rescue. Sometimes, it's instead the villains, who then do a better job of restricting the captive. Other times, there's nobody around to hear the captive's attempts at rescue.

Note that merely struggling and making noise out of frustration is not this trope. Only if the captive is making noise with the goal of obtaining rescue, would it be Banging for Help.

If the captive is more savvy, he or she will bang in Morse code, which ensures that somebody will come by and realize what the message is and come to the rescue. Because, you know, Everyone Knows Morse (at least enough to recognize the alternating three-short-three-long SOS signal).

Has nothing to do with having sex to summon aid, although that certainly would be something.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Pokémon: The Original Series episode "The Misty Mermaid", Misty's sisters Violet and Lily do this after being bound, gagged, and stuffed in a closet by Team Rocket, who wanted to take their place in the play that was happening.
  • Played for laughs in the Outlaw Star episode "The Strongest Woman in the Universe". Aisha tries to pose as a wrestler named Firecat, and during a locker room scene, the real Firecat bangs for help and manages to fall out of the locker she was left Bound and Gagged in. She tries to call for help but Aisha quickly stuffs her back inside.
  • Happens several times on Case Closed to alert Conan, who has Hyper-Awareness, that somebody's in serious trouble somewhere.
  • At one point during Fullmetal Alchemist, Pride ends up trapped in an enclosed space with Al's helmet, stripped of his powers and with nothing to do but sit down and tap on the helmet with a stick. The heroes end up realizing too late that he was actually tapping in Morse code, drawing Kimblee to their position.
  • In the manga adaptation for Kingdom Hearts II, DiZ locks Naminé in a broom closet to prevent her from interfering with Sora's awakening. Her banging is what caused Axel to rescue her.

    Comic Books 
  • A variation occurs in the Astro City "Dark Ages" story arc. Seeking shelter at an arms cache during a citywide riot, Royal Williams finds his brother Charles dying from a gunshot wound. Desperate to attract the police despite the chaos, Royal fires off all of the weapons to try and warrant attention.
  • An issue of Catwoman has the title character chloroforming a bartender in order to take the woman's place at a fancy party. The real bartender soon wakes up and manages to make enough noise that she is discovered tied up and gagged in a closet, blowing Catwoman's cover.
  • Used in Marvel's Spygal one-shot. The title heroine discovers that a French businesswoman has been Bound and Gagged and replaced by an impostor after hearing banging noises and "mmph" sounds coming from a nearby closet.
  • Marvel 1602, the Thing is Buried Alive in Doom's castle. Less this trope and more as a way to pass the time (and piss off Doom), he leans from side to side with enough force to echo in the castle.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Paula von Gunther (after her Heel–Face Turn) was once Bound and Gagged and tossed in a closet in her laboratory. When Diana came to see why she wasn't answering her mental radio device she quickly found and freed Paula as Paula was kicking at the door.

    Fan Works 
  • Rocketship Voyager. Captain Janeway is welded inside an autonomous cargo rocket and shot off into a Portal Network. On reaching her destination, she has to bang on the rocket's inspection window to be released even through her knuckles are already bruised from her previous efforts to free herself, because she's Almost Out of Oxygen.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • D.E.B.S.: Amy and the other DEBS are investigating a bank robbery. While passing by a closed door they hear a "Mmmmm" noise from behind it. When they open it they find the bank's employees tied up and gagged, and they "Mmmmm" again.
  • Frog And Wombat, an independent kid movie about two middle school Kid Detectives who solve a murder, has "Frog" tied and gagged by her school principal, and using her toe to push a button on a walkie-talkie to try to get the attention of her friend "Wombat".
  • Played unusually in U-571, as the German captive on their sub isn't banging to get help, he's banging out Morse code: "I am U-571, destroy me."
  • The ending of The Poseidon Adventure featured this as the way the band of survivors was rescued.
  • In an Italian movie about the Aldo Moro kidnapping, he hears a child bouncing a ball in the apartment above and starts banging on the ceiling with a broomstick to get attention. However, the child's mother thinks someone is just complaining about the noise and tells the terrorists that she'll get the child to stop.
  • In Dressed to Kill (1946), Holmes and Watson arrive at the Kilgore home to find it seemingly empty. Once inside, Holmes hears a banging noise and discovers the Kilgores' young daughter Bound and Gagged in the cupboard; kicking on the door to attract attention.
  • Dick Tracy, Detective: Bound and Gagged in the boiler room of an abandoned steamboat, Junior manages to grab one of the ropes that releases coal from the bunker and yanks it. The coal spilling out on the floor creates a clatter that Tracy hears.
  • Body: Paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak above a whisper, Arthur attempts to attract Ben's attention by using his teeth to yank a tray off a table and shatter some glasses. Ben doesn't hear it.

  • The Adventures of Archie Reynolds has a hilarious variant of this. Amanda is Bound and Gagged in a crate and banging and "mmmphhing" to get attention. Archie is terrified of the banging, muffling crate for several pages until he finally realizes "these might be human moans".
  • Nancy Drew is especially notable in that she (in at least one instance) combines this trope with her knowledge of Morse code.
  • The J.T. Edson character Doc Leroy, temporarily working as a lawman, was coshed and immobilised to prevent his interfering with a planned robbery. (The crooks didn't kill him as Leroy had plenty of the kind of friends you don't want to spend the rest of your life running away from.) He was reduced to banging on the floor of the hotel room he was shut up in, hoping to attract attention.
  • The main character of What is the What does this when burglars tie him up in his own house. To alert his neighbors, he starts by kicking the floor, then moves on to kicking the door, which makes a good deal more noise.
  • In Alfred Noyes's poem "The Highwayman", Bess, with no other way to make a noise loud enough to warn her lover of danger, shoots herself with the musket tied to her.
  • In the Dan Brown thriller Deception Point, scientists Rachel Sexton, Michael Tolland, and Corky Marlinson are left for dead on an iceberg in the arctic by a team of Delta Force operatives sent to cover up the results of their investigation. Rachel uses an ice ax to bang out S.O.S. in Morse code to get the attention of the hydrophones listening hundreds of miles away. She doesn't believe that the trio can be rescued before they freeze to death, but she hopes that whoever finds their bodies will dig into the anomaly they were investigating. They end up getting rescued by the Navy submarine USS Charlotte, which happened to be three miles away on a highly classified lie-and-listen mission.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: After being captured by Fidelia, Eliana wakes up in one of their cells once their drugs have worn off. When she remembers how she got there, she launches herself at her cell's door and begins throwing shoulders against it, calling for someone to answer her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Criminal Minds episode The Inspiration, the opening victim is tied, gagged, and left to wiggle on the floor, so she kicks and bangs on it to attract the neighbors below. It works, but the killer arrives and convinces his neighbor that the noise is from his roommate and insatiable new girlfriend "going at it like rabbits." The victim is later seen murdered by the killer and posed.
  • In The Worst Witch in the episode where Miss Cackle gets tied up, gagged, and left in the storage closet when she sees Mildred and Enid flying in through the passage at the top of the closet, she starts making noise.
  • The X-Files:
    • In "Duane Barry", a bound and gagged Agent Scully bangs to attract the attention of a police officer when locked in the trunk of Duane Barry's car who kidnapped her. Unfortunately, this leads to the cop being distracted enough that Duane can shoot and kill him.
    • After finding herself Chained to a Bed and hidden away by the creepy residents of a Town with a Dark Secret in "Roadrunners", Scully manages to attract the attention of her new partner Dogett by knocking over a lamp and starting a fire.
  • In Dexter's fifth season, Lumen bangs on the side of the car's trunk when it stops at a red light. Unfortunately, the light changes, enabling her captor to speed off before the interested fruit vendor can properly investigate. But he does tell Debra of his suspicions that someone was in the trunk later, leading her to the villain's hideout.
  • Vera: In "A Certain Samaritan", the Vict Im Of The Week is thrown off an overpass and lands on top of a truck passing underneath. He breaks his back in the fall and raps on the top of the truck in an attempt to attract attention. The truck driver hears the banging but ignores it and the victim dies.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "Fausta the Nazi Wonder Woman", a bound, gagged, and trapped in a crate Steve Trevor alerts Wonder Woman as to his whereabouts by kicking the crate and mmmmruphing through the gag. She beats up some Mooks and rips open the crate to rescue him.
  • Person of Interest: In "Relevance", Sameen Shaw goes to meet Veronica Sinclair who might provide some information, not realizing the woman who answers the door is actually Root. She hears a banging during their conversation and goes to investigate, finding the real Veronica Bound and Gagged whereupon Root tasers Shaw on the spot.
  • Most victims in Criminal Minds who aren't killed right away make some attempt at drawing attention. In "The Inspiration," the victim's banging on the floor did alert the people living in the apartment beneath her kidnapper, but unfortunately they assumed the banging was, well, banging and responded by just asking the unsub to "go to her place."
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, someone is trying to kill LCOL Blake, going so far as to blow up the latrine while he is using it. As the unit comes to his help, Klinger shouts to him:
    Klinger: Colonel! If you're alive, knock twice!
    Klinger: Oh, God! He's dead!
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): An interesting variation appears in "The Thirty-Fathom Grave". A Navy ship finds a sunken WWII submarine making a persistent banging sound, seemingly for help, despite having sunk nearly two decades earlier. The sub's only survivor, now on duty on the ship, thinks that it's his old crew mates calling him "home" and jumps into the Pacific. A diving team discovers that the periscope split in the command room and that likely caused the noise... but the skeletal remains of one of the sailors is holding a hammer.
  • The Avengers (1960s): In the fourth season episode "The Gravediggers", Mrs. Peel gets in with a group of saboteurs (disguised as doctors and nurses at a hospital) by pulling a gun on a "nurse" and leaving her Bound and Gagged on the floor, while she takes her place. The "nurse" manages to knock over a table, which alerts one of the saboteurs, and he frees her, which ends up exposing Mrs. Peel to the other villains.

  • Rachel from Tower of God bangs full of despair against a magical barrier that separates her from Bam, as he takes Headon's test. She is in fact trying to stop him.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for Street of Dreams by 80s metal band Rainbow, the hero's girlfriend, tied to a chair, gagged, and locked in a closet, manages to attract her boyfriend's attention by kicking the door with the toes of her shoes.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dick Tracy was once held captive during World War II by a villain named Flattop. He hammered out a message with his feet in Morse code, which was heard and correctly transcribed by a young woman upstairs.

    Video Games 
  • In Town of Salem you can be silenced by the Mafia Blackmailer. Most people's response to this is to spam the Votes to not get hanged when people claim they are suspicious.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Comte Boisvert can be heard letting out muffled shouts from inside a cabinet after an assassin ties him up and steals his clothes.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Sebastian Debeste, who was left Bound and Gagged in his own garage after being mistakenly kidnapped by his corrupt father's men, does this to get the attention of Edgeworth and Kay, who are in the middle of investigating another kidnapping case and are therefore around to hear him.

    Web Videos 
  • Played for Horror in Danny Gonzalez's "The Truth About Jake Paul and Team 10", as Danny and a friend hear some kids tell them they heard banging coming from the Team 10 house, all adding to their fear that something bad is going on.

    Western Animation 
  • Julie Yamamoto in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien does this after being bound, gagged, and locked in a closet by Elena in "Revenge of the Swarm". It worked.
  • Happened in "Which Witch is Which?", an episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which had Daphne tied and gagged along with a sheet put on her. Her struggles and her mmmphing through her gag from under the sheet caught the gang's attention, whereas they otherwise might have ignored her.
  • Superman: The Animated Series:
    • In "Feeding Time", Superman bangs out "SOS" on the pipe that Parasite tied him to so as to get Jimmy Olsen's attention. He succeeds.
    • A variation appears in "The Main Man" when Lobo shows up looking for Superman. When a police officer tells him that Superman shows up when there's trouble, Lobo takes out his big gun and starts some.


Video Example(s):


Chase (Mission: PAW)

Chase figures out how to signal for help while locked in a dungeon.

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