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A bolas is a type of throwing weapon made of weights on the ends of interconnected cords, used to capture animals by entangling their legs. This is the traditional tool of the Gaucho, although versions of it have existed since pre-Columbian times.

In Real Life, the bolas is a tool of hunters and herdsmen, with only occasional use in actual warfare. However, in fiction, probably because it looks so spectacular in action, the bolas is often used as a combat weapon to take down foes, especially in visual media.

Usually found as the Weapon of Choice in warriors and fighters who personify You Will Not Evade Me, as a counter-escape tool.

One advantage of the bolas is that allows for the capture of people without doing permanent harm to them, making it the perfect weapon for someone looking to Bring It Back Alive.

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Often extends into Rock Beats Laser territory when the bolas, which is stone age technology, is capable of taking down someone armed with a fully automatic firearm or even an Energy Weapon.

Sister Trope to Battle Boomerang. See also Knows the Ropes for use of the lasso, the Western equivalent of the bolas.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, Bravo, the Kid Sidekick of the whip-wielding el Hombre, used bolas as his Weapon of Choice.
  • Batman:
    • Bolas are an often used weapon in Batman's utility belt in order to ensnare enemies for capture.
    • El Gaucho, the 'Batman of Argentina', uses a bolas as his primary weapon.
  • Green Arrow's quiver of Trick Arrows includes a bolas arrow. In fact, a bolas arrow was the very first Trick Arrow ever used by GA: in More Fun Comics #77 ("Doom over Gayland", 1942).
  • Hawkeye, like Green Arrow, often uses a bola arrow that releases a string of weighted cords that wraps around a moving object to take it down.
  • Wonder Girl: Yara Flor, the third Wonder Girl, wields the Golden Bolas, instead of a lasso like the previous Wonder Girls.
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    Films — Animation 
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup builds a crossbow-like bola-throwing device in order to take down a dragon. Prior to Hiccup unveiling his crossbow, Gobber chides Hiccup for trying to join the other Vikings in defending the village from the attacking dragons, citing Hiccup's inability to wield hammers, axes, or even throw a bola, the bola in question being grabbed by another Viking and immediately used to capture one of the dragons mid-flight.
    Gobber: You can't lift a hammer, you can't swing an axe, you can't even throw one of these!
    Hiccup: Okay, but this will throw it for me!
  • Saludos Amigos: In the El Gaucho Goofy segment, Goofy demonstrates how not to be badass with a bolas. American cowboy Goofy gets taken from Texas to the Argentinian pampas by the Narrator to learn the ways of the native gaucho. As part of this process, Goofy learns how to use the bolas to capture a rhea. After the bird is captured, the sequence is shown in slow motion to capture the "grace and beauty" of the action. But, the slow motion only reveals Goofy's clumsiness as he gets himself, his horse, and the bird tangled up together in the bolas.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, bolas are used as a murder weapon by Prof. Moriarty's henchman.
  • In Avatar, while Neytiri leads him back to hometree for the first time, Jake Sully is tripped with a bola thrown by the Na'vi hunters.
  • Escape from L.A.: During Snake's attack on Cuervo Jones's parade, Cuervo manages to take him down with an expertly thrown bolas that knocks Snake off the top of a moving truck.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill uses a pair of energy bolas when he is attacked by Gamora, who attempts to steal the Orb from him. Quill quickly takes out a pair of energy bolas and throws them at Gamora, briefly incapacitating her.
  • In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Dori uses a set of metal bolas as a battle weapon.
  • In Kangaroo Jack, Jessie helps Charlie and Louis construct their own aboriginal-style bolas and then trains them to throw and catch things with them. They fail to catch the kangaroo with the bolas, but in the end, Charlie uses his bolas to snag his nemesis, Frankie, and successfully foils his escape from Australian authorities.
  • In Spaghetti Western The Mercenary, the protagonist is knocked down in mid-run by two men on either side of him who simultaneously throw their bolas under his feet.
  • In Moonraker, James Bond checks in with Q at an MI6 base in Brazil where several weapons are being tested for near-future use. One of these is a bolas modified with balls that, once wrapped around a test dummy, explode on impact.
  • In Return of the Jedi, makeshift bolas made of stones and ropes are among the primitive weapons used by the Ewoks. They're mostly used for incapacitating the Empire's ground troops during the Battle of Endor, with at least one random Ewok accidentally tangling himself with an ill-timed swing.
  • In Romancing the Stone, Joan's sister Elaine is intentionally incapacitated by bolas thrown by an apparently playing child. The boy then abducts Elaine, recklessly driving her red Shelby Cobra away, setting the plot in motion.

    Literature 
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: In Viper's Daughter, the Narwal Clan gives Torak "slingstones", which function like a bolas. He uses them to take down Naiginn at the end of the book.
  • Mattimeo: Slagar the Cruel, The Heavy of the book, uses a bolas as his Weapon of Choice. He uses it both to attack and to intimidate. In the Animated Adaptation, he throws it at a wooden chair, shattering the chair to splinters, just to demonstrate what will happen to his slaves if they don't obey him. He later uses it to attempt a stealth kill on Matthias, though he fails. Subverted in that he's a Dirty Coward, and never uses his weapon in direct combat with anyone, instead running away when the heroes prepare to fight him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Game of Thrones episode "You Win or You Die", Rakharo uses a weapon akin to bolas to apprehend a wine merchant who attempts to poison Daenerys Targaryen.
  • Hawaii Five-O: In "Though the Heavens Fall", a vigilante group use bolas to capture the criminals.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time", the Vulcan weapon ahn-woon, consisting of a leather strip with weights at each end, is used to entangle the legs of a competitor in a Kal-if-fee battle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Deadlands, the Gaucho archetype carries a bolas, and is shown using it in the character portrait.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Bolas are specialist weapons, dealing minimal damage but rendering ensnared targets unable to take any action but try to escape. Most Careers that offer the necessary training either work with animals (like Horse Masters) or capture live humans (like Slavers and Witch Hunters).

    Toys 
  • In the C.O.P.S. (1988) toy line, sundown's major weapon is a bola-launching backpack.

    Video Games 
  • Bolas are the second gadget Catwoman receives in Batman: Arkham City. They can be thrown at enemies to stun them and are Catwoman's equivalent to Batarangs.
  • The Arbalest class from Darkest Dungeon has a skill called "Bola" which fires one from their crossbow. This hits the front two ranks of the enemy formation for reduced damage but can push them backwards, disrupting the enemy group's formation.
  • In Death Stranding, the majority of the weapons you get are non-lethal (because dead bodies, unless they're properly disposed of, attract violent ghosts and trigger huge explosions). One of those non-lethal weapons is a crossbow-looking gun that shoots bolas, for quickly incapacitating human enemies by entangling them. And if you headshot someone with a bola, it'll knock them unconscious.
  • Diablo III: The Demon Hunter can choose to have their bows shoot bolas instead of arrows, which explode shortly after hitting their target.
  • Bolas are one of the weapons that Seedlings can use in Ever Oasis. They have a long range and deal magical damage.
  • In Far Cry Primal, Takkar uses bolas as his Weapon of Choice.
  • In Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues, the bola is one of the weapons available for the player character to use.
  • Rengar, a champion in a computer game League of Legends utilizes bola strike as one of his skills, to ensnare enemy champions.
  • In Never Alone, Nuna uses a bola to help her and the arctic fox traverse to break ice and activate spirits to help solve the puzzles found in the game.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath has Bolamites, which are spiders that, when fired from Stranger's crossbow, wrap enemies up in webbing like a Bola.
  • The Serious Sam series has the Kleer mook class, which uses a pair of bolas as their ranged attack, throwing them at their enemy in a straight line.
  • In Smite, the Mayan God of the Moon, Xbalanque uses bolas as his weapon of choice.
  • Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams: Tak is given some magical Bolas after the Mind Reading Juju ties the three magical stones that he had Tak collect. He can use them to grapple onto enemies and totems, bind his enemies and remove their shields. And then there's the stuff he can do when infusing his Juju powers into them.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Enforcers operating in topside Piltover throw orbs that break open to reveal three ropes that entangle around the target. Enforcers going down into the Undercity don't bother with such non-lethal tools.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, bolas are one of Batman's many weapons in his war on crime. In some instances the bolas attach to a rope or line, permitting Batman to reel in the criminal after he has caught them, often leaving the criminal hanging from a height so the police can apprehend them with ease.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: One of the many functions of Rook's Proto-Tool is to fire a set of energy-bolas (which proves useful in catching fleeing criminals).
  • Hawgtie, one of the bad guys in BraveStarr, is a humanoid pig dressed in a Union Army uniform who uses bolas to capture or bind his victims.
  • Class of the Titans: Downplayed. Bolas are initially the Weapon of Choice of Atalanta the hunter, however, they more often than not only manage to temporarily inconvenience the monsters they face a fact she herself acknowledges midway through the first season, leading to her ditching them in favour of a wrist-mounted energy crossbow.
  • Di-Gata Defenders: Adam has a spell called "Black Bolas" which creates black bolas to restrain the enemy.
  • G.I. Joe: Sigma 6: Spirit fights with a pair of hatchets which he can combine into a bolas like weapon.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): He-Man keeps a pair of bolas, tucked inside his shorts.
  • The Legend of Korra: Bolas are standard gear for the Equalists in the first season. Bending (usually) requires elaborate movements, so restricting those movements will quickly neutralize a bender.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Juleka's Miraculous form, Purple Tigress uses a Bolas.

    Real Life 
  • In real life, these were more or less the trademark weapon of the Inca.
  • Along with the facón, bolas are the trademark weapon of the Gaucho.
  • Bolas spiders use "bolas" made of sticky webbing to capture their prey (they aren't thrown like bolas, but used more like grappling hooks to snatch flying prey).

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