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Bits of Me Keep Passing Out

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Westley: Why won't my arms move?
Fezzik: You've been mostly dead all day.

Someone experiences temporary paralysis or loss of muscle control but tries to carry on with what they were doing regardless. Frequently, hijinks happen — people losing control of their extremities is natural slapstick fodder. Can also be Played for Drama as a mild form of Body Horror.

The causes vary — sometimes it's an aversion of Instant Sedation, where a sedative spreads gradually through the body knocking out muscles as it goes. Otherwise, can be a result of a Finger-Licking Poison, or even just someone sleeping at a weird angle until their arm goes to sleep. Inversely, this trope can also come about in the opposite direction as a character is roused from a deep stupor by a slow-acting stimulant, antidote, or other healing remedy, causing them to wake up with extremely limited mobility and gradually regain motor control and general vigor (the page quote being one such example).

It's almost never a stroke (which produces such effects in real life), because that's not exactly comedy fodder — and as the trope namer for Narm demonstrated, this isn't an easy trope to Play For Drama. However, see I Can't Feel My Legs! for a related dramatic trope.

Expect accusations of being drunk if the character starts schlurring their worthss.

See also Intoxication Ensues and Non Sequitur, *Thud*, which can also accompany this. May be an early symptom of The Paralyzer.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed gets into a fight with a prisoner who's been tasked with guarding a secret room. During the fight, Ed's mechanical arm malfunctions and dangles loosely from the socket.

    Comic Books 
  • Elliot S! Maggin's classic Bronze Age Superman story "The Luthor Nobody Knows" is primarily all about the backstory and psychology of Lex Luthor — but the frame device of the story is a standard fight between Lex and Supes in the present day. Lex hits Superman with a gizmo that causes him to lose all muscle control. Then Superman realizes that, since they're in a relatively deserted area, all he really needs to do is lie on his back and shake to cause a localized earthquake, which knocks Lex out until the gizmo's effects have worn off, and Superman then flies around at super speed, repairing the damage he caused with the earthquake.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The first sign Steve Trevor is fighting off Hypnota's mind control is that when she orders him and some other mind control victims to shoot he grabs his gun and then his arm just fails to lift. He looks down at it in a daze before he actually starts to regain control.

    Film - Animated 
  • On the film version of Horton Hears a Who!, the Mayor is at the dentist when an earthquake (caused by the speck the Whos all live on moving) occurs, and the Novocaine needle ends up in his arm, which remains limp and useless for some time afterwards.
  • In a moment of massive stupidity, Sid eats a poisonous berry in Ice Age: Continental Drift despite Diego's warnings not to do it while they are in the middle of a big plan. Almost immediately after swallowing it one side of his face starts drooping and it gets worse from there. This ends up causing Sid, Diego, and Manny to fail to get aboard the pirate ship they were stealing before it takes off.
  • In Toy Story 2, Woody's arm rips, causing it to go limp whenever he's moving.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Not the first time for Jim Carrey to use that bit of humor — after all, we learned in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls that "Three darts is too much!"
  • In Botched, Boris gets injected in the face with a paralytic, which gradually causes his face to freeze and makes him harder and harder to understand.
  • Played for Drama in El Dorado. Early in the movie, Cole Thornton is shot in revenge for accidentally killing one of the McDonald boys. For the rest of the film, Cole occasionally experiences sharp spasms of pain in his lower back followed by his right arm (his gun hand as well) going numb due to the bullet lodging in his spinal cord where the local doctor can't get to it. This winds up disabling him during the climax, forcing him to learn how to cock and fire a rifle with only his left hand.
  • Used to clownish effect in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Raoul and Dr. Gonzo attempt to enter a casino whilst utterly spangled on ether.
    Raoul: Ah, devil ether. It makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel. Total loss of all basic motor skills. Blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue. The mind recoils in horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column. Which is interesting because you can actually watch yourself behaving in this terrible way, but you can't control it.
  • In Flora and Ulysses, the protagonist's father, George, is trying to save her pet squirrel from an antagonistic animal control officer armed with a tranquilizer gun. On a couple of occasions the darts hit George and he loses the use of each limb hit, with comical effect - as, for example, when he attempts Driving Stick with a numb arm.
  • Johnny English, when the title character wakes up from being sedated and insists on carrying out his mission infiltrating a posh soiree despite not having fully regained muscle control.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Owen is hit with a tranquiliser dart (with a dosage meant to take down dinosaurs) - he eventually wakes up but his body is almost completely paralysed... and hot lava is creeping closer, causing a moment of Black Comedy as he has to literally worm his way to safety.
  • Played for Drama in Kill Bill, when the Bride's legs (though oddly enough, only her legs) have wasted away from disuse.
  • The Chosen One of Kung Pow! Enter the Fist is subjected to The Paralyzer, and then flails his arms around wildly trying to defeat Betty.
  • In Me, Myself & Irene, half of the protagonist's body falls unconscious and the half that his split personality is controlling is attempting to "carry" the unconscious half to the car.
  • In Planet Terror one of the main characters is injected in her arms with a local anaesthetic several times, causing her hands to become completely unresponsive. She ends up breaking her wrist attempting to get a car door open... The look of panic on her face presumably isn't pain, but the knowledge that once she gets feeling back, it's going to hurt like hell.
  • During the final showdown in Primal, Frank shoots Loffler multiple times with curare coated darts. As the fight goes on, Loffler finds that he is losing feeling in various parts of his body and losing control of them.
  • Inverted and Played for Laughs in The Princess Bride, where it takes a while for Miracle Max's cure to fully take effect on Wesley, and Inigo and Fezzik have to carry him around while Storming the Castle as bits him are "waking up" one at a time.
  • In Rentadick, the MacGuffin is a gas that causes temporary paralysis. Towards the end of the movie, a pair of characters end up paralysed from the waist down and have to drive a truck, with one of them steering and the other on the floor working the pedals.
  • Most of the laughs in Senseless are the result of the main character's senses either going into hyperdrive or completely shutting off, leaving him with things like floppy limbs and inability to speak properly.
  • Part of a Running Gag in Star Trek (2009) movie, in which Bones keeps jabbing Kirk with hypos to treat symptoms as they arise — including:
    Kirk: Wath... wath wrong wif mah mouf?
    McCoy: You've got numb tongue?
    Kirk: NUM TON?
    McCoy: I can fix that!
  • What's the Worst That Could Happen?: When Kevin and Berger are trapped in a Laser Hallway, they are forced to remain motionless in awkward positions till Windham arrives to rescue them. When they are released, various limbs have fallen asleep. They continue to stagger their way through the robbery.
  • A frequent result of all the Quaaludes consumed in The Wolf of Wall Street, particularly when a set of really strong, yet old enough for the effect to be delayed, ludes cause Jordan to skip the earlier phases of the Quaalude high and reach the point where he has to crawl from the phone in the country club all the way out to his Ferrari.

  • Deconstructed in Feed (2002), where the lower-grade neural implant that allows the heroine to access the titular feed glitches and eventually gives her locked-in syndrome.
  • The Trope Namer, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, features this when Ford rescues Arthur from the destruction of the Earth. They have just materialised in the Vogon ship, and Arthur, never having teleported before, says:
    Arthur: I feel like a military academy... Bits of me keep passing out.
  • In the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Tie-In Novel The Doomsday Affair, Illya Kuryakin is injected with a serum that causes him to remain fully conscious but lose muscle control and the ability to speak or write. The villains are able to kidnap him in plain view by explaining his struggles to concerned passers-by as the result of a congenital brain defect.
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Luke Skywalker pulls one of the two power sources out of his artificial hand in order to use it to hotwire a locked door. For the rest of the first book, his hand keeps going numb at random times, often making him drop whatever he's holding at the time, and he apologizes and carries on. It's dropped when he gets out of the jungle, presumably with him getting a replacement power source offscreen, or the original power supply (by then in the possession of Lando) being returned.
  • Bizarre and terrifying version with Quasiman from the Wild Cards universe. Bits and pieces of his body are constantly phasing/teleporting out into other dimensions, which can result in incidents such as his walking along only for one of his legs to teleport away, causing him to fall over, to the fact that various bits and pieces of his brain are almost constantly disconnected from the rest of him, sometimes temporarily leaving him akin to a drooling vegetable.

    Live Action TV 
  • An interesting case is found in the last episodes of Babylon 5, where Londo is implanted with an alien symbiont that forces him to comply with all orders from his real masters. Having been a heavy drinker for most of his life, he can still think relatively clearly while the symbiont has passed out completely drunk.
  • "The Dentist Sketch" on The Carol Burnett Show in which a hapless dentist (Tim Conway) keeps accidentally injecting various parts of his body with Novocaine. By the end of the sketch, Tim's character has numbed his leg, arm, and forehead and his patient (Harvey Korman) is madly corpsing in the chair.
  • A somewhat different version of this occurs in the Doctor Who anniversary special The Five Doctors when the Doctor experiences sharp pains and is eventually incapacitated because his previous regenerations are being taken out of time.
    • After he is poisoned in "Let's Kill Hitler", the Doctor tries to pass off his painful spasms as this.
  • On The Inbetweeners, Jay is watching a porn film and sitting on his hand to try out "the stranger" when he's Caught With His Pants Down, and desperately tries to close the laptop and dress himself with his dead arm.
  • On one Malcolm in the Middle episode, Hal has to decide whether or not to pull the plug on a man in a vegetative state. Unable to bear the pressure of the decision, Hal's mind forces him to become paralyzed from the waist up, so that he can't say or write what to do. He manages to get along surprisingly well using just his legs for everything.
  • On Mr. Bean, Bean's dentist keeps accidentally injecting himself with Novocaine until he passes out completely, forcing Bean to do his own dental work.
  • In an episode of sitcom Pete Vs World the main character was planning on Not Staying for Breakfast, but had a dead arm from the girl sleeping on top of it and was having trouble getting dressed with quite the level of stealth he had in mind.
  • One prank on Prank Patrol involved a fake dentist who accidentally injected himself with Novocaine while working on the target.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Back in the Red: Part II", Rimmer injects his groin with anesthetic is an attempt to bring his 'sexual magnetism virus' enhanced libido under control. However, the effect spreads to his legs causing them to start buckling as he is running along the corridor.
  • In a case where it really is a stroke, this was how a line from Six Feet Under became the Trope Namer for Narm, as Nate tried to say he had a "numb arm".
  • A game of Weird Superheroes in Whose Line Is It Anyway? has Ryan getting the name "Body-Parts-Constantly-Falling-Asleep Man".

  • A pun from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978) is the Trope Namer, but if the trope occurs at all it's only as an Informed Attribute; the nature of the medium makes it difficult to convey the exact details, and it's also not clear whether Arthur means bits of his body or of his brain, although he sounds decidedly out of it at the time so the latter is a strong possibility.
    Ford Prefect: If you've never been through a matter transference beam before, you've probably lost some salt and protein...How are you feeling?
    Arthur Dent: Like a military academy.note  Bits of me keep passing out.

  • In the third act of Mary Mary, Bob accidentally takes a bunch of sleeping pills and struggles to remain awake. At one point, he falls asleep and collapses on the floor just as he starts to make an impassioned speech.

    Visual Novels 
  • A dramatic example occurs during the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, where Shirou's first experiments with projection result in the entire left side of his body falling asleep and some troubles moving around and doing things that evening.
  • A Harsher in Hindsight variation occurs in Hatoful Boyfriend with Kazuaki Nanaki's narcolepsy. He has a tendency to fall asleep with his eyes open, and a lot of the odd stuff he just accepts as normal is suggested to be a result of him falling asleep and his body continuing on autopilot as if he were aware of the conversation.
    • The true route shows that this trope also applies to Shuu Iwamine. Nervous system damage from the Aves High City attack renders his right arm/wing almost entirely useless, and he often needs help carrying things or getting around. It ends up often being used against him by both the main character and Kazuaki Nanaki when trying to defeat him. The main character narrowly avoids a cleaver in Holiday Star by disabling Shuu's functioning left side, and Kazuaki shoots him twice in the left side in the true route. It's also Lampshaded by Shuu in the manga.
    Ah... I overestimated my right side again. Now this specimen is ruined.

  • Inverted early on in Erf World, where a door guard snarks at the villainess telling him to stand at attention.
    Parts of me were. Now all of me is.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "From Bad to Worse", Jake continuously expands his arm in an attempt to keep the zombie infection from spreading to the rest of his body and claiming him.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Sokka, during the fight with Jun, was paralysed by her beast and just when he started to gain some control over his hand a pile of blocks falls onto him.
    • Also happened to Sokka in his fight with Ty Lee when she was paralysing his limbs one by one yet he still tried to fight.
  • In Invader Zim, Zim has gone inside Dib's brain to destroy the knowledge of where he put his backups of evidence against Zim. Zim takes over control of his arms, deactivating them to start, prompting the quote...
    Dib: "Arms! Like! Noodles!"
  • Happens to all the contestants during the Africa episode of Total Drama World Tour as a result of the tranquilizer balls they are using in an attempt to subdue Zeke. And then they have to sing about it.

    Real Life 
  • Some muscle spasms and cases of dystonia can manifest as this, as well as in cases of a focal onset aware seizure, in which the person experiencing it remains completely conscious, but they lose control of one or more limbs temporarily. Contrary to most depictions of this trope in fiction, most people who experience such spasms agree that not only are such incidents not funny, but they can be truly terrifying for someone not aware of what's happening.
  • Plato's description of the death of Socrates mentions the last moments of the philosopher, dying of hemlock poisoning;
    "... and he walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the directions, and the man who gave him the poison now and then looked at his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard, and asked him if he could feel; and he said, "No;" and then his leg, and so upwards and upwards, and showed us that he was cold and stiff. And he felt them himself, and said: "When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end..."
  • Bell's Palsy causes paralysis in one (or rarely both) sides of the face. Most medical websites suggest that anyone who suffers an onset of Bell's Palsy immediately present themselves to a hospital—it might be something far more serious instead, like a stroke.
  • Some autistic people describe this happening within their brains when they go into Sensory Overload. Much like an overworked computer, different portions of the brain essentially go into "sleep mode" until the person has a chance to calm down. It can be a rather frightening experience, especially if one of the affected parts of the brain is the part responsible for alerting the person that it's happening.