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Captured Super-Entity

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Whosoever breaks this seal will know infinite power.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Keller: And you didn't think that the United States military might need to know that you're keeping a hostile alien robot frozen in the basement?
Tom Banachek: Until these events, we had no credible threats to national security.
Keller: Well, you got one now!

This trope covers the idea of (usually) "lesser" beings capturing an alien, a god, an angel, etc. for some typically nefarious purpose. Obviously, some form of powerful magic or advanced technology will be needed to pull this off, making it a more common plot in Fantasy or Speculative Fiction.

It's also a standard "The Men in Black" plot, in which the government or other secret organization has miraculously captured a powerful entity and are extracting its knowledge and power usually through various unpleasant means. Extra MIB points if this is occurring at Area 51.

If the being came with advanced technology, they've likely been reverse-engineering it for themselves. Or maybe they've secretly put said technology on the open market, claiming that they invented it. If a common modern day technology is revealed to have actually been a direct result of all this, then E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi.

Magical entities (more often than alien ones) have a habit of breaking out and slaughtering their captors.

Naturally, should the entity's species find out about this, they're gonna be pissed, leading to the threat of The End of the World as We Know It. This may be justified, if said race was going to destroy us anyway. Oh, and Heaven help you if the captured entity is just a baby, and Mom comes calling. But even without outside help, in most cases the captured being probably won't be a prisoner for very long. So you are well advised to stand clear.

May be caused by Supernatural Sealing. If the entity is forced to obey commands, this becomes Olympus Mons. If the entity is a Power Source, it may be Powered by a Forsaken Child. If the focus is obtaining profit from a substance generated by the entity, it's Monster Organ Trafficking. If the focus is on simple containment of the entity or its power, you wind up with Sealed Evil in a Can or Sealed Good in a Can. Compare and contrast Trapped in the Host.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Trigun has these in the form of Plants, which of course everyone in every major center of habitation uses for everyday things like power for electric lights and any other technology that runs on electricity. These are clearly sentient beings (Vash and Knives are revealed to be Plants in later episodes of the anime, thus explaining their immortality and incredible abilities) kept isolated in what appear to be airtight glass containers in order to provide said power.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion had the organization NERV capturing the unconscious entities Adam and Lilith, resulting in the rest of the Angels attacking; the only defence is Humongous Mecha cloned from said captives. That is exactly what the Omniscient Council of Vagueness wanted; merging these godlike entities will result in an omnipotent god ascending Humanity through Evolutionary Levels In Their Own Image.
    • In the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie, based off of the really bad Engrish Kaji gave us, it's implied that the Third Angel suffered from this. It awakening is what forced Mari to fight it in EVA-05
  • A rare heroic example for its franchise occurs in Pokémon Adventures: Rayquaza was captured by the Pokémon Association, where they attempted to create an orb to control it so that they may use it to stop the inevitable battle of Groudon and Kyogre.
  • The Emilys in Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry are all that is left of a race subjected to this.
  • In FLCL, the phoenix-like alien with the power to steal planets, Atomsk, is imprisoned inside of the town's factory by robotic aliens.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father uses a philosopher's stone of over 50 million souls to imprison what he claims to be God within his body. This gives him alchemical knowledge far beyond that of any individual human, allowing him to do such things as manipulate the weather and create nuclear fusion in the palm of his hand. However, he's fighting off all the protagonists simultaneously, and a philosopher's stone is a finite power source; as the heroes force him to expend more and more of it, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to keep God contained.
  • Long, long ago in the Tenchi Muyo! universe, way before she took on a mortal body, Washu was on our plane of existance, and was somehow imprisoned by a race. They built a planet-sized containment facility to study her, and eventually siphoned off some of her power into three Gems. Eventually, after the death of one of the Bioroids carrying one of her Gems, Tsunami (progenitor of the Juraian race and Washu's sister) became aware of what was going on. No-one knows exactly what she did then, because there were no survivors.
  • In Claymore, the Organization captured a pair of dragons and harvested their flesh in an attempt to create supersoldiers strong enough to slay them.
  • In Soul Eater, Noah goes around capturing really powerful entities and keeping them inside the book of Eibon. Before his defeat, he'd captured Death the Kid, an Eldritch Abomination, Excalibur, and even said he'd wanted to collect Lord Death and Asura also. As most of the 'captives' were capable of leaving whenever they felt like it, it was not as effective a prison as Noah had assumed.
  • In Naruto the Tailed Beasts are abominations formed from the Ten Tailed Beast's power. Doesn't stop people from trying to weaponize them.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, Urumiya Tegu was the first Celestial Warrior known to the royal family, and was abducted shortly by the then-Prince Tegiru to use for one, install fear to the country, and two, give him credit to ascend the throne.
  • In Cross Ange, this is eventually revealed to be the reason the DRAGONs continue to invade from another world: their progenitor, Aura, the first and most powerful DRAGON, is being held captive by Embryo. She is also the source of the "Light of Mana" that suffuses the world, as Embryo harvests energy from the immense amount of Dracunium in Aura's body (replenishing it with more harvested from the dead DRAGONs the Norma shoot down).

    Comic Books 
  • In the Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover from IDW Publishing and DC Comics, Vandal Savage is The Emperor of a very powerful version of The Terran Empire. How did he do it? He captured Q!
  • IDW's Transformers comic has the Machination creating Headmaster technology from the captured Sunstreaker. Scorponok's severed head is working with them voluntarily to rebuild his body.
    • Rival secret organization Skywatch uncovered Shockwave, the Dinobots, and two of Soundwave's cassettes (Laserbeak and Ravage) from Mount St. Helens in the 80s. They attempted to use them combat drones against the other Cybertronians and Machination, but the plan ultimately failed because they badly underestimated how intelligent Shockwave was and didn't realize that the Machination had infiltrated them. Shockwave was able to locate Soundwave, who deactivated the bomb Skywatch had placed in Shockwave in an attempt to keep him under their control in exchange for Shockwave freeing Soundwave from the Shapeshifter Mode Lock he'd suffered from for the last 20 years. The Dinobots, meanwhile, simply proved to be too stubborn and hard-headed to be controlled for long.
    • The Transformers (Marvel) Megatron once got stuck in gun mode and picked up by a small time hood, who went around using him as a BFG. When he woke up, Megatron was not pleased. When the guy stood up to Megatron, though, Megatron was so impressed by the guy's moxie he let him live.
    • In the first Transformers/G.I. Joe crossover from IDW and Devil's Due, Cobra had found and activated both the Autobots and Decepticons, which was used as the explanation for all their futuristic weaponry.
  • The Sandman (1989): This trope is the kickstart of the plot after a Ritual Magic society captures Dream of the Endless and holds him for years. Of course, they're trying to get his sister, Death. Keeping him captured causes all sorts of horrible havoc to dreams and sleeping patterns; imagine what would have happened if they had captured Death.
  • Preacher: In the "Crusaders" arc, it emerges that The Grail has captured an angel that supplies them with vital information.
  • Crimson: There's an arc about a bunch of humans who capture and eat angels.
  • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: The Russian Super-Soldier program is based around reverse-engineering a captured alien robot (the Vision).
  • The Invisibles, as one of its many brought up and then forgotten "big ideas", has a being from another dimension made of "4-D energy" that bled through into our world when Oppenheimer first tested the atomic bomb. Said creature was then captured by the US government and dissected and experimented on at Area 51.
  • In Lucifer, Sandalphon keeps the Archangel Michael Demiurgos prisoner, using him to create a race of superbeings. Our beloved protagonist isn't too happy about this.
  • X-Men: It's been "revealed" that not only was the alien AI that operated the Danger Room sentient, but that Professor X knew it was sentient but chose to essentially keep it prisoner to train the X-Men. When it finally escaped (and made itself a robot body, calling itself "Danger"), it went on a rampage seeking revenge. (This was later eased off a little, to suggest that he didn't know Danger resented being used for training but did realize she might go berserk if freed. They've since made up and Danger is an ally of the X-Men.)
  • In Empowered, there is the immortal, cosmically powerful being called The Caged Demonwolf, whom Empowered prevented from destroying the Earth by imprisoning it within "cosmic bondage gear." When her superhero team wouldn't store the now talking, enraged belt, Empowered was forced to hold on to it. Now, due to a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, The Caged Demonwolf has become both an advisor and friend, despite having an overly prurient interest in their sex lives.
  • Sort of a Running Gag between Xadhoom and the Evronians (who exterminated her people) in Paperinik New Adventures. No matter if they succeed or fail, hilarity always ensues:
    • The first to capture her is actually Paperinik, who knows only that Xadhoom hates the Evronians, and thus they could be allies against their invasion of Earth, and that she was mistaken for an Evronian in their first encounter. Then the Evronians (who still don't know what Xadhoom can do) show up to kill both, Paperinik kicks their asses... and Xadhoom promptly frees herself and says they'll be allies. Paperinik's face is priceless;
    • Later in the same story as above a group of Evronians successfully seal her in a forcefield that not even she can destroy. To do so, however, they had to repurpose their ship's engine and use Duckburg's electrical grid to power it, and the forcefield is promptly shut off when One hacks the power plant's computers.
      • This one shows up again in the Alternate Universe "Universe Pk" stories, with the difference that the Evronians weren't improvising and the forcefield was powered by their own power sources. Thing is, they also captured Paperinik, and the Raider, who doesn't want anyone to steal his kill, rewinds time, so when the ship with the forcefield projector shows up they're ready and disintegrate it.
    • In a following encounter Xadhoom enters their capturing device in a deal to save Angus. Then the Evronians break the deal... And Xadhoom promptly frees herself and blows them up (this is also when the Evronians find out about Xadhoom's real abilities, as the Evronian scientist there had the time to analyze her and survived);
    • Later a group of Evronians masquerading as Xerbians (Xadhoom's people) lure her into an ambush, planning to trick her into wearing a restraining device... Except they don't know what a Xarghon (traditional Xerbian welcome dance) is, leading to Xadhoom seeing through their ruse... And amusing herself with their attempts at guessing what a Xarghon is. When they finally catch on, she blows them up;
    • In another encounter the Evronians show up with a weapon that can actually absorb all her powers. Thing is, it takes time to fully defeat her, and she has all the time she needs to enter the weapon and blow up everything;
    • In one of their latest encounters, the Evronians bank on her twisted sense of humour to let herself get captured, at which point they promptly teleport her where they have the means to keep her in check. Then they find out that Paperinik sabotaged the teleporter and she's coming back;
    • When Xadhoom attacks their Planet Spaceship, one of the defending ships whips out the forcefield from the first time they captured her. Upon noticing the ship sneaking up on her, she dodges and lets the projector capture another of their ships, before blowing up both;
    • Finally, the last incident: when the defenders of Evron are allowed to run, the Evronians use their one way to keep her in check. That is, the fact they've tracked down the surviving Xerbians and are holding them hostage. That way they can get her in a device that will explode her, making her into a powerful and infinite power source for Evron... But they greatly underestimate her self-control, thus by the time they understand how to explode her Paperinik and one of the surviving Xerbians have already contacted Xadhoom and got from her the power they need to free all the Coolflames on the ship, thus taking away the hostages. Evron blows up soon after.
    • Because the authors love this trope, the PKNE relaunch stories give us Moldrock: an ancient and immortal tyrant from planet Corona with powers possibly comparable to Xadhoom. He ruled his homeworld and a large empire with an iron fist... Until his scientists, led by Everett Ducklair, hit him with a weapon that knocked him out, applied a restraining device, and shipped him to a pentadimensional world where his powers were almost completely suppressed.
  • The Chinese and Japanese governments in Irredeemable eventually reveal they have done this to a pair of extraterrestrial, time traveling, reality altering dimension hoppers. They can release them to take care of a returned Plutonian, but simply doing so will unleash a cloud of radiation that will kill one-third of the human race. They do so. In a related matter, they are sure they can handle the Plutonian because they are his biological parents (sort of) and voluntarily remained trapped precisely in order to avoid the inevitable radiation fallout.
  • Green Lantern: It is revealed that the Guardians of the Universe have been holding the First Lantern, Volthoom, captive for billions of years. They used his power to create the Third Army, but he got free and wiped out the Third Army. Now he's loose, with complete control over just about everything.
  • One of the Planetary stories has the team tracking down a secret facility rumored to be up to who-knows-what shenanigans. They find a dusty old base left over from the 1960s, where the caretaker tells them the story of the creature at the bottom of a reinforced mineshaft. It's basically a variant of The Incredible Hulk's origin, with the military taking weeks to subdue the monster, and spending years struggling to contain it. They still monitor its corpse, just in case three decades without food or water wasn't quite enough to properly kill it.
  • Averted in one of Rat-Man (1989)'s more surreal stories. It features an evil comic book publisher who gives Rat-Man (the character and the series) an award as part of his plan to capture God (represented as a humongous hand over the horizon) and turn Him into another of his characters. In the end, it was all part of God's plan to trick the publisher into crossing over to the comic book world and let him meet his end at the hands of a forgotten comic book character. It Makes Sense in Context, sort of.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Artemis, goddess/ruler of the moon, ends up captured by an equal, Mars, the god of war/king of mars, and has to be rescued by Diana and Etta.

    Fan Works 
  • The New Age of Monsters:
    • Over the years, humanity managed to capture some of the weaker kaiju like Gorosaurus on monster island. Said prisoners are usually content with staying there since their long lifespan makes their imprisonment feel more like a short vacation.
    • Nerv has Gozilla's younger sibling and they use him to create their Evangelions.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton:
    • In this series, the Omnitrix contains inside it a Celestial, one of the beings responsible for the creation of the entire multiverse, that serves as the power source for the device. Although if Vilgax can be believed, Azmuth somehow managed to convince it to reside within the device voluntarily.
    • As we learn in Chapter 34 of The Girl Who Could Knock Out the Hulk, this is how Doom and Reed have been powering their Cosmic Retcons. They capture a god and drain their power in order to use it to trigger the timeline's reboot.

  • Averted in the original Ghostbusters movie. With all the capturing of ghosts, when they encounter an actual god, you expect them to capture it and contain it like all the ghosts. But all they end up being able to do is close the portal that is giving it access to our universe. Played straight with Vigo in the second, but he's a human sorcerer rather than an extradimensional being. In the game which follows that, they keep Vigo in the station, powerless to do anything other than ask people to bring him a child.
    • In the long-delayed Sequel GhostbustersAfterlife, this is played straight as the plot is kicked off as Egon has built a super array of over a hundred traps, meant to be supercharged by giant electrical transformers. It fails, and Egon has a heart attack as a result. In the end, with a little help from a proton stream the trap array works, trapping not only Gozer, but Zuul, Vinz Clortho, and countless ghosts swirling above that Gozer's return to earth had summoned.

  • The movie Independence Day has the government doing the same thing with a crashed alien fighter pilot. In a departure from trope, the captured alien fighter does not inspire the aliens to get angry and try to kill humanity — it's the aliens' attempts to try and kill humanity that prompts the US government to take one of them prisoner. Nor does any modern technology seem to come from reverse-engineering the ship; the scientists working on it couldn't even duplicate the power source the aliens used.
  • Malpertuis is a movie about a super-weird mansion and the creepy, freaky people within it. The Twist Ending reveals that they are Greek gods, weakened because people don't believe in them anymore. The weird old guy who owns the mansion kidnapped them, took them home, had them sewn into people suits and made them believe they were human beings.
  • While not the entire god, the villains in Princess Mononoke want the Shishigami's head. It's still alive even after it gets blown off, though. This is an issue because it is also the god of death. The body remains alive, it wants its head back, apply preschool arithmetic here.
  • The premise of Super 8 is that one of those escapes.
  • Transformers (2007) has the U.S. government in possession of a frozen Megatron and The All-Spark. All modern technology supposedly came from decades of reverse-engineering the former. Even cars, which were some 20 years before they found Megatron. Though they might have been talking about the more advanced cars.

  • Eisenhorn: When a number of captured Alpha-level Chaos Psykers are paraded through a large hive on a victory march, they manage to escape and wreak considerable havoc, including crippling recently-promoted Inquisitor Ravenor for life. Several of Eisenhorn's opponents (and later, Eisenhorn himself) also make use of daemonhosts: immensely powerful daemons bound into human bodies, which are both immensely dangerous and intensely displeased with their enforced servitude.
  • Matthew Swift: What Bakkir intends for the Electric Blue Angels.
  • Known Space: In Destroyer of Worlds, humans capture a Protector. These are highly intelligent, fast and strong beings, and explicitly stated to be the ultimate life stage of humans, merely requiring the consumption of a certain type of root (and associated symbiotic virus) to trigger their development. They have a deep hatred for anyone (including other Protectors) who is not in their bloodline. The Protector is captured to provide information, but as per this trope, ends up turning the tables on his captors.
  • In the opening of one of the Nightside novels, John Taylor is called on to discover why a ghost is constantly sabotaging a power plant. He finds out that the plant operates by sucking power from a trapped and tormented solar being; the ghost is that of his enraged bride. Both were poisoned on their wedding day by the man who now runs the plant. For extra value, all three (captured being, ghost, and plant owner) were friends of John.
  • An attempt to capture such a super entity is at the climax of Andrew Greeley's novel Angel Fire.
  • The demon X(A/N)th in Piers Anthony's Xanth series is a voluntary one, and the source of the land's magical properties.
  • In the out-of-print Dean Koontz novel Fear That Man, an inventor, using Some Kind of Force Field technology, captures something. When he understands that he captured a god, he keeps it imprisoned, fearing retribution. Consequently, life in the entire galaxy takes a very definite turn for the better...
  • Rick Riordan loves this trope.
    • In the third book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the goddess Artemis is captured by the forces of Kronos and forced by Atlas to hold up the sky.
    • The Heroes of Olympus starts with the imprisonment of Hera in Wolf House, trapped by the Earth itself as her life force is drained. The sequel continues this trend when Thanatos is chained in Alaska, thereby preventing death itself.
    • Downplayed in The Trials of Apollo, as while Apollo is captured multiple times throughout the series, he is currently in mortal form and thus less likely to escape.
    • In The Kane Chronicles, several gods are imprisoned in the Rosetta Stone, only to break free due to the efforts of Julius Kane. Julius himself is imprisoned in the form of Osiris, and the malevolent ghost Setne is imprisoned time and again by the gods and the House of Life.
  • Using the magical power of Captured Super Entities is the entire premise behind Dragon and Phoenix. The Jehangli empire is powered by a captured phoenix, which is held in place by a captured truedragon, and one of the nobles plans to capture the protagonist Dragonlords in order to assume power.
  • In the excellent short story A Colder War by Charles Stross, the Soviet Union has Cthulhu (or K-Thulu, as it's referred to here) sealed up in a bunker with the exit facing towards Western Europe. As in The Call of Cthulhu the eponymous godlike superentity is not imprisoned by any means—only sleeping. When the Soviets get nervous about US activity and poke him hard enough to wake him up, they hope he'll obliterate NATO. Instead K-Thulu consumes indiscriminately, murdering the world and bringing about arguably the darkest ending in the entire Mythos.
  • Inverted in the Gordon R. Dickson short story "Danger—Human"—the captors are aliens and the "super-entity" is a human.
  • In both The Silmarillion and appendices of The Lord of the Rings the Numenorian King Ar-Pharazon does this to none other than Sauron. Turns out a subversion, since Sauron allowed himself to be captured to corrupt and destroy his enemies from within.
  • City of Glass, has Jace and Clary finding an angel in Valentine's basement.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel "The Lost Slayer" : Vampire king Giles keeps the bat-god-demon Camazotz captive so that he can feed on him. A turn from the onscreen rule that vamps don't like demon blood.
  • In John Scalzi's The God Engines, this trope applies to the titular engines. They're used to drive starships.
  • In Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, the witch Mommy Fortuna, owner of a traveling circus-cum-freak-show, has captured by magic the Harpy Celaeno. The monster has sworn revenge and tries all possible ways to escape, while the witch drains herself of power and ages herself quickly to keep holding her by a magic tether.
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, the nanotech used on Jacob's Ladder was developed based on the study of an alien creature called Leviathan, which has been long-imprisoned and is pissed off about it.
  • In A Land Fit for Heroes, the dwenda superweapon called the Talons of the Sun is powered by the Source, an imprisoned member of the race of eldritch horrors called Book-Keepers.
  • In The Spirit Thief, it eventually turns out that the Pillar of Gregorn houses Mellinor, the spirit of an inland sea. The Pillar keeps it from flooding the entire kingdom.
  • In Pact, the ultimate goal of every (non-evil) diabolist is to bind every demon in existence. Given the mayhem and suffering even an imp can inflict, most everyone else would rather leave the demons alone rather than risk drawing their attention, to say nothing about the carnage that can be wrought if someone strikes a bargain with a bound demon.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian tale The Tower of the Elephant, Yag-kosha is both an extraterrestrial and magical example of this.
  • The Gods in The Godslayer Chronicles by James Clemens are not capture but more willingly self contained. When the Gods first fell to the world their power drove them insane. One was driven by the insanity to attempt suicide. The act of spilling his blood upon the ground tempered his power and allowed him to recover his sanity, but bound him to the land. 99 others followed his example, each now forever bound to a "country sized" area of land surrounding where their blood was spilled. Leaving that area or attempting to enter another god's area will cause them to burst into flames. From within their bindings they freely grant their Humors to their human caretakers for the creation of the magics used to power civilization.
  • The plot of the novel "Zeus Incorporated" is started when a company accidentally captures the Muse of Lyric Poetry, and begin trying to study her. The hero of the book (a surfer/computer programmer) is given a set amount of time to find and free her before Zeus (who, as it turns out is an alias used by God) comes down and takes her back Himself (and also removes all her influence from the world, meaning the end of things like music, as well as that of the other muses to protect them). He also has to get God a Harley Davidson to ride after the All Mighty notices the guy's t-shirt.
  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi:
    • The proof of the villain's sorcerous power is that he can magically dominate a marid, a titanic water spirit, and force it to do his bidding. The marid is very unhappy about this.
    • The Moon of Saba is said to hold the power of the lunar aspect Al-Dabaran. It turns out that Queen Bilqis imprisoned him within the mirror when she caught him spying on her, a fact that becomes instrumental in ending its threat.
  • In The Craft Sequence, the desert city of Dresediel Lex uses captured, weakened gods for water purification. It's a matter of debate whether this is an improvement on the previous system, where the gods provided clean water willingly in exchange for Human Sacrifice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7 Days (1998) has an alien with knowledge of the Sphere (of the race of the ones who built the Sphere) kept on ice or something. It doesn't end well because "Adam" is a prisoner who was being transported somewhere when the ship crashed in Roswell.
  • Various examples through Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood
    • Billionaire Henry van Statten keeps a captured Dalek in his underground bunker in "Dalek". It ends just about like you'd expect: badly.
    • "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit": Imprisoned deep inside Krop Tor is the Beast, an extremely powerful and evil being which claims to be Satan.
    • The Time Lords' Genesis Ark is a big box full of Daleks.
    • Abaddon, who claimed to be the son of the Beast, under the Torchwood Rift.
    • The contents of the Pandorica. The most deadly and terrifying creature in the entire universe is supposedly trapped inside it. Guess who.
  • Lost in Space (2018): The builders of the Resolute didn't just incorporate stolen alien tech into the ship, they also imprisoned and enslaved the pilot of the crashed alien spacecraft they took said tech from. This comes back to bite them later.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Josh", Josh Butler, a super-entity of indeterminate origin and nature, is taken into custody by the U.S. government.
    • In "The Beholder", Kyra, whose species lives on a different plane of existence, is briefly trapped in a magnetic field by Dwight Bordon, an MI6 agent on attachment to the NSA.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • SG-1 finds an advanced human named Khalek who demonstrates telekinetic and telepathic abilities in "Prototype". He's a Half-Human Hybrid created by Big Bad Anubis, with all of his 'father''s memories, to the point that it's 95% of the way to having the Evil Overlord himself on your base. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?note  The SGC at first attempts to study him, and for security restrains him in a chair over an electrified floor in an isolated room with the only exit being through a Tok'ra one-way forcefield, on a dopamine inhibitor to restrain his powers with it set up to dump a massive dose into his system if he tries anything funny. It doesn't work. He telekinetically pinches the dopamine tube by effectively melting it with his mind, and then he yanks the guards through the forcefield onto the electrified floor. The electrified floor is shut down from outside by Colonel Mitchell to make it safe to step in the doorway to shoot at him, but he never gets any shots off — he's just shoved into the wall. From that point on, Khalek basically just goes through the SGC to the Stargate, weaponless, telekinetically deflecting all the bullets fired at him and shoving all the guards into walls, knocking them out (or worse). In the end, he reaches the Stargate, dials home, and walks through triumphant... only to have his home's dialing defenses dial back, resulting in him stepping back into the SGC, befuddled. Seconds later, he's being shot at from two different angles and fails to block one of the two sets of bullets, resulting in his demise.
    • There's also the water microorganisms in "Watergate".
    • Stargate members attempt this (they usually just stick at this, and not permanently contain) with multiple super-powerful creatures and entities. More notable among others, Adria, Adria in Baal's body, Baal(s), and Daniel as a Prior.
  • This is the essential plot of the Pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Encounter at Farpoint". Here, the Enterprise is sent to investigate a mysterious base offered by a population who obviously do not have the engineering skill to build it, and where anything you want seems to mysteriously appear. It turns out that the base is actually a giant creature enslaved by the population, and its mate arrives to retaliate. Fortunately, the Enterprise figures out the situation and frees the creature to resolve the crisis.
  • Taken: In the final scene of "God's Equation", Allie Keys, who possesses extraordinary Psychic Powers, allows herself to be taken into custody by the UFO project. In "Dropping the Dishes", it is revealed that the military intends to use her as bait to lure the aliens into a confrontation.
  • In the Tracker (2001) episode "Into the Breach", Cole goes into the facility on his own to retrieve a captured Vardian fugitive but gets captured himself. It doesn't work at first, because heat being is used to weaken the Vardian while Cole thrives on heat and energy. But when they turn to cold, Cole is caught and about to be dissected before the fugitive interrupts and frees him. The fugitive is mortally wounded during the escape, and Cole makes the collection of his life force painless in return for helping him escape.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess:
    • In "Prometheus", the titular god and patron of humanity is bound in the mountains, allowing the gods to take back his gifts to humankind. Fire fades, which bites, but then people start to lose the ability to heal themselves or care for the sick and injured, so the heroes must take action quick.
    • In "Death in Chains", King Sisyphus takes Celesta (Hades' sister and the goddess of death) prisoner so she can't take him to the Underworld.
  • One of the many plots in The X-Files. Often, The Men in Black will hold aliens or various Monsters of the Week captive, but sometimes, if Mulder and Scully manage to get them, they end up in mental institutions or hospitals.
    • Tooms, the mutant Serial Killer in "Squeeze", is institutionalized. The episode ends as Tooms is sitting on his bed staring at the small opening in the door, hinting that he plans to escape through it via his Rubber Man powers. However, the authorities refuse to acknowledge that he's supernatural, and he's released in the sequel episode "Tooms".
    • In "Eve", the government imprisons various women called Eve, all of whom are female Super Soldiers created in a top-secret project who show psychotic and murderous tendencies.
    • "Fire" ends with its pyrokinetic villain being hospitalized and guarded. He is bound because he's extremely dangerous. He is confined to a hyperbaric chamber until he can be tried on murder charges.
    • In "Soft Light", Banton's power to suck people into his shadow is due to a Freak Lab Accident. In the end, Banton is held in a government's science center with sensors attached to his head and flashing lights casting shadows on a photoelectric panel. He visibly suffers.
    • In "Talitha Cumi", the healer Jeremiah Smith is captured, but Mulder helps him to break free because he wants him to heal his mother.

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • The origin of the Genie in a Bottle trope: Arabian myths about a djinn (or sometimes, afreet) imprisoned in a small container. Considering the impressive magical powers djinn were reputed to have, a lucky person might open up the jar, set the being free and be rewarded handsomely (usually, a noble djinn might reward you with a wish, or three). Of course, sometimes the djinn would be in a foul mood after being locked up for so long and would attack the first thing in sight after being freed, so liberating them might not always be such a good idea.
    • The part you're supposed to be impressed about, however, lies less in the fact that the hero (for certain loose definitions of hero) comes into the possession of such an object, but rather that there was a human sorcerer powerful enough to force and bind one of these proto-Angels into servitude.
      • Actually, most legends attributed the imprisonment of these djinn to King Solomon. Most of these stories start with someone finding an intact container with the Seal of Solomon keeping it shut. In Islam, Solomon is officially recognized as a prophet so these extraordinary feats are considered to be direct acts of God's will.
  • In a Brothers Grimm tale, a man somehow ended up tricking Death up a tree, causing the world to descend into chaos because this kept people from dying.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Death first took an involuntary holiday in Greek Mythology, when Sisyphos captured Thanatos Anthropomorphic Personification of Death by chaining him to a tree. Nobody in the whole world could die, no matter how horribly mangled, which finally pissed off Ares, god of War, enough that he came and rescued Death. Guess who got to die first?
  • In Gnosticism, Humans are this. Humanity's true nature is as part of the Monado, the true Top God. The reason we live this horrible flawed existance is because we're prisoners of The Demiurge, who wants to keep us ignorant and prisoner.

  • Red Panda Adventures: In "The Darkness Beyond", the first half of season seven ends with the Flying Squirrel being recruited to confirm what happened to a powerful creature known only as "The Destroyer" that has vanished from its realm and discovering that the Destroyer isn't simply gone, but has been captured by Nazis. The Draxites, the Destroyers servants freed from its control by its removal, tell the Squirrel that it was the first time they'd ever heard the Destroyer scream in terror. The season seven finale, "The Black Heart", reveals that Friedrich von Schlitz has been using the Destroyer as a power source for the Dark Towers, an imprenetrable Magitek defense system. When the Red Panda confronts the Destroyer, he tries to convince him to leave peacefully, or at least not take his anger out on all of humanity, but the Destroyer does not see the distinction between the lesser creatures that actually captured it and the ones they share a species with. Sending it back to its dimension would simply cause the Draxites to be re-enslaved, so the Red Panda uses a magical item given to him for the confrontation to kill the Destroyer, or at least inflict the closest thing to death it's possible for the Destroyer to experience.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deviant: The Renegades: The default goal for a Conspiracy is to either create or capture superhuman beings to use as weapons, tools of control, or founts of resources. The fact that their prospective captives can read minds, throw lightning bolts, punch through cinderblocks, or hijack technology makes this a dicey proposition, but Conspiracies have developed enough practice at keeping their subjects under control that Renegades genuinely fear being recaptured by their makers.
  • Deadlands: The Men in Black actually don't traffic much in Captured Super Entities. Hellstromme Industries, on the other hand, uses one to power the titular starship in an adventure titled The Unity. The demon named Apostolos requires a specific act to fuel the ship's faster-than-light engine, the aptly named "Faustian Drive." For more information, refer to the example listed in Sadistic Choice. You were warned.
  • The Dracula Dossier: Edom has an unspecified number of vampire "assets" under its control that it can deploy in the field against their enemies ... and really wants to add Dracula to that list.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The city built around the Tarrasque is all about building a city around an immortal monster; one that periodically goes on a rampage eating anything organic, then hibernates deep below the earth when full, waking up only to repeat the process.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • After overthrowing his master, the Archmage Lord Ith, the wizard Mairsil kept him imprisoned in order to feed off of his vast magical power.
    • In the Kamigawa block, a feudal lord captures a newborn spirit from the Spirit World, which makes him immortal. This act also incites the entire spirit world to declare a long and bloody war on the mortal world. The worst part is, the long and bloody war with the gods of his world doesn't cause him to take the hint; he's still convinced that his immortal reign is the best for Kamigawa. Never My Fault, much?
    • In the tie-in novel Jedit, Shauku keeps a monster imprisoned under her castle and uses the being's knowledge for herself.
  • Pathfinder:
    • In the adventure path Rise of the Runelords, the players encounter a pit fiend who's been imprisoned so that his essence can be drained as a power source.
    • In the adventure path Hell's Rebels, the players are tasked with disrupting a powerful infernal ritual that is being powered by the life force of two captured outsiders, a lillend and a rakshasa.
  • Pokéthulhu: The central idea behind the setting. Like in Pokémon, you capture and train monsters. Unlike Pokémon, they're all soul-eating Eldritch Abominations with horrifying and/or reality-bending powers.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • When the Necrons turned against the C'tan, they smashed the star gods into countless fragments and captured them in hyperspace prisons, unleashing them against their enemies on the battlefield. A Transcendent C'tan is what happens when enough fragments are reassembled, requiring an array of canoptek drones to continually repair the tesseract vault that holds it captive and channels its phenomenal destructive power through its own weapons.
    • Speaking of the C'tan, it's heavily implied that the Omnissiah that the Adeptus Mechanicus worships is actually the Void Dragon after the Emperor defeated and sealed it in Mars so that it could serve as the inspiration for the Machine Cult.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Godbeasts, immense monsters with godlike cosmic power but which aren't usually much smarter than common beasts, are very often captured and enslaved by gods and mortal civilizations to act as beasts of war or founts of power.
    • Fangathrax the World-Worm spent most of the Age of Chaos chained to crawling Chaos forts to keep the Realmgate in its gullet under their control. It broke free during a large clash with Destruction forces, but was later recaptured by the Orruks.
    • Ignax the Solar Drake was chained by the god Griminir to serve as a living sun for a part of Aqshy, and was only freed ages later by Archaon to be bound to him as beast of war.
  • Wild West Exodus: Doctor Carpathian came to the New World with a fragment of the Hex and is using it to produce RJ 1027, the super-fuel that powers the game's Steampunk technology.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Exodia provides the page image for a reason, and is quick to expresses his gratitude to any player that releases him.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Quest IX: A villain captures Celestrians (the equivalent of angels) and uses their abilities to benefit his kingdom.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI has The Empire doing this to a race of beings called Espers. They actually succeed in slaughtering most of their entire race. But only after said race of beings cripple the Empire.
    • Final Fantasy VII also has JENOVA being exploited by the Shinra Corporation for super-soldier experiments (although technically she was captured by the Cetra centuries before).
    • Final Fantasy XIV: The ancient Allagan Empire imprisoned the Elder Primal Bahamut inside the artificial moon Dalamud, which was a giant solar reactor that used Bahamut as its catalyst. It ended about as well as one would expect. First, the reactor suffered a power surge which ended the Third Umbral Era and whipped out the Allagan civilization. Then at the end of the Seventh Umbral Era the Garlean Empire undertook Operation Meteor, in an attempt to use Dalamud to put an end to the Primal Summoning arts of Eorzea. When Dalamud entered the atmosphere Bahamut was released and his ensuing rampage served as the World-Wrecking Wave that reshaped the world for the transition from version 1.0 to the Realm Reborn rerelease.
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land: Fecto Elfilis, also known as Specimen ID-F86 is a malicious creature that tried to invade the new world before its residents captured it, used it to study teleportation technology, as well as using it as a tourist attraction before leaving the world.
  • The Legend of Spyro: By the time the first game starts, three of the four Guardians, ancient dragons who each watch over one of the setting's four elements, have been captured by Cynder's forces and imprisoned so that their considerable elemental power can be drained, both to neutralize them as threats and to fuel the rituals necessary for bringing about the Dark Master's return.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Blood Elves are holding a Naaru captive within Silvermoon City; this is how they have harnessed the power of the Holy Light and made their own Paladins. (They also had Paladins in Warcraft III, but that's different.) This source of power is abandoned in Patch 2.4 and replaced with the resurrected Sunwell. Intriguingly, the Naaru never seemed to care much, leading to theories that it was all a plan to "corrupt" the Blood Elves with Holy Light. With patch 2.4, it turned out that it was after all.
    • Another example is draining the blood of the demon Magtheridon to create fel orcs, and the two backfiring attempts to use the human avatar of the Sunwell in this way. Demon Hunters have a miniature version of this happening, in that they seal a demon inside themselves to empower them. The warlocks in the Shadow Labyrinth seem to be trying this trope, though they also seem to be pretty bad at actually controlling their major summons.
  • In City of Villains, the Power Transference System in Cap au Diable is not a geothermal energy plant, as claimed, but a magical machine that drains the energy of a demon sealed in the mountain.
    • Anyone who finds it suspicious that the giant cables and pipes throughout Cap au Diable are covered in demons made of red lightning need not worry about the above spoiler.
  • In Xenogears, the entity known as the Wave Existence is trapped within the Zohar Modifier and used as a power source for the Deus Superweapon and all the Gears in the setting.
  • Happens in Persona 3 with the Shadows.
  • Jade Empire has The Water Dragon, the goddess of reincarnation and water, severely wounded by the Emperor, and her body turned into a trophy so that he can maintain his phenomenal cosmic power. The player is given a chance of killing the Water Dragon and allowing her to reenter the cycle of reincarnation so she can claim her old post, or keeping the body where it is and binding her to your service in agony.
  • In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, the bad guys have somehow caged an angel and are using her blood to create an army of bone golems. If you free her, she'll help you out at the end of chapter 2.
    • There is also the drow matron who managed to capture an archdevil by binding him with his True Name, and wishes to use him to take over the surface world.
  • Tales of Phantasia has the high-tech ancient city of Thor, powered by Asuka, an imprisoned light spirit.
  • This plot recurs throughout the Pokémon franchise. Some villain wants to capture a Legendary Pokémon with godlike powers and the protagonists have to stop them. In the games, though, you're encouraged to capture the Legendary Pokémon and no one bats an eye. Of course, their power in the games tends to be significantly less godlike, due to Poké Balls serving as a Power Limiter which the villains often find a way to circumvent.
    • That, and in story, you've proven yourself to be a pure heart who will not use them for evil. The Pokémon themselves are sometimes noted as "seem[ing] to trust you".
  • Resistance 2 starts with the heroes knowingly releasing the super entity Daedalus, the being apparently in control of the Chimera, and being unable to stop it from escaping.
  • Lost Kingdoms had the God of Destruction card. It went crazy in the first game but by the second, it's a humble servant to the throne (and it unlocks the castle too).
  • Arc Rise Fantasia has the Rogress, powerful beings used as energy generators. The one you free and subsequent ones then naturally lend their powers to you in battle.
  • Messiah has the human government capture Satan in a scheme to take over Hell and Heaven. Satan nevertheless tricks them out and almost takes over Earth as the president.
  • Origin, the Big Bad of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, captured an Etherial named Shamash and used her Psychic Powers to put all the other Zudjari into a Hive Mind under his command. He then turned his race into the Outsider Empire, a race of Planet Looters who go from world to world, conquering them, adding the natives to Mozaic (the Hive Mind), and sucking the planet's resources dry before moving on. Origin's reason for trying to get Agent Carter, the Player Character, to come to him is to capture another Etherial, Asaru, who is secretly controlling Carter.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series, summoning lesser Daedra qualifies. Lesser Daedra are the technically immortal inhabitants of Oblivion, the infinite Void Between the Worlds of Mundus (the mortal plane) and Aetherius (the realm of magic). The most powerful of the lesser Daedra are fully sapient while possessing greater than usual physical and/or magical abilities which qualify as "Super" compared to most mortal denizens of Tamriel. Conjuration magic allows these beings to be summoned to Mundus and temporarily bound to mortal masters. If their physical form is slain in Mundus, their spirits simply return to Oblivion to reform.
    • Skyrim:
      • Late in the main quest, the Dragonborn must utilize the ancient fortress of Dragonsreach to physically ensnare the dragon Odahviing. Considering dragons in this universe are divine, quasi-angelic entities capable of warping reality who may be fragments of the Top God, Akatosh, this act certainly qualifies.
      • Can be temporarily invoked by the Dragonborn in the Dragonborn DLC, where the "Bend Will" shout renders dragons compliant enough to be ridden. It sounds awesome on paper and, while it does look cool, in practice you can only give them some orders, you're limited to magic or shouts on their back, you can't fast travel everywhere note , and eventually the dragon's service to you will end. At least it looks cool the first few times.
  • In The Secret World, this is a popular research tool of the Orochi Group. According to the lore, research facilities often have unearthly test subjects still singing lullabies "in dead languages"; in Egypt, scientists on Orochi payroll examine the capabilities of powerful Filth entities, resulting in near-apocalyptic disasters when they inevitably breach containment; Vali's omega floor at Orochi tower features an attempt to access the resident Portal Crossroad World via organ donors taken from one of Gaia's Chosen... and last but certainly not least, Orochi's Prometheus Initiative made extensive use of Emma Smith, an impossibly powerful little girl heavily implied to be a replacement for Gaia herself.
  • In Evolve, Ebonstar manages to capture a Wraith (read: the corporeal form of an extradimensional Energy Being with localized reality warping powers) and experiment on it to research its teleportation abilities. This comes back to bite everyone in the ass when it manages to escape and it's discovered that the experimentation caused it to mutate, allowing it to tear rifts between worlds and attack anywhere without warning before vanishing without a trace.
  • In Minecraft, you can do this with the Wither cage, a construction designed to imprison the Wither. The Wither is an enormously-destructive Enemy to All Living Things, capable of breaking blocks through contact or by shooting explosive skulls, but this makes it useful for automatic harvesting (e.g. destroying trees in tree farms to gather wood).
  • Inverted in Chrono Trigger, where Planetary Parasite Lavos is being tapped for power by Queen Zeal, but was influenced into doing so by Lavos, who's at the center of the planet and so can't move around anyway. Even at the very end it isn't clear just how much Zeal has control over Lavos or Lavos over Zeal.
  • In Elona, Ebon the Fire Giant is shackled in magic chains in the town of Noyel and kept as a tourist attraction. The NPC keeping him comments that the giant could destroy the whole town if freed. If you know lockpicking, you can actually release him just to watch the ensuing mayhem.
  • League of Legends has Aurelion Sol, an impossibly ancient celestial space dragon responsible for creating all the stars in the sky. Eons ago, he was tricked and enslaved by the Targonians of Runeterra, aided by the various celestial Aspects who crafted a "crown" that forcibly keeps him under their control. Every now and then when needing to combat some other deathly cosmic force, the Targonians sic him on them as a glorified attack dog, but in recent times, the crown has begun to decay, and it's only a matter of time before Aurelion Sol breaks free and wreaks his apocalyptic levels of vengeance.

  • In Sluggy Freelance Hereti-Corp has done this with both Aylee and Oasis.
  • In Girl Genius
    • Van Rijn was able to capture the enigmatic Muse of Time in his Hermitorium Workshop where she remained trapped for about two-hundred years.
    • The renegade Mad Scientists of Britain manage to capture an Eldritch Abomination from another dimension and attempt to use a device to transfer its knowledge into one of their own.
  • Housepets!: After being magically trapped in his own temple by his sister, the Celestial Pete was for thousands of years unable to interact with any living creature outside the domain of said temple, which was located in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert. When a human finally discovered him in the 20th century, he struck a bargain to have his entire temple relocated to somewhere more habitable. This ended up being the forest behind the suburban town that human owned, where it remained with Pete inside for decades afterwards until the animals of the woods finally ended up accidentally setting him free. Exploring the derelict temple after the fact, Sabrina discovers that the writings along the walls thought to belong to an ancient civilization were actually Pete begging anybody to come help him.
  • The webcomic Mr Monster has an enigmatic bounty hunter raid a church where scientists created an artificial angel. The terrified girl sees him raise his gun and then shoot her chains off.
  • Aurora (2019) begins with a god being kidnapped by an Ambiguously Human sorceress who wants to use him as a test subject in her research on the workings of souls.

    Web Original 
  • Critical Role: Ludinus Da'leth, through an extremely complex Batman Gambit, baited Vax'ildan, Champion of the Matron of Ravens to the Malleus Key to save his former lover Keyleth. There, Ludinus used concentrated arcane power to compress him down into a sphere, and used said sphere as a lens for the Malleus Key. Later episodes imply that, while imprisoned this way, Vax'ildan is fully conscious and in agony.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Awar manages to trap the god Shakkan into a shard of Krystallopyr during the Vanna arc, prompting the heroes to find a way to set the god free before the god's lizardfolk followers obliterate all humans in the desert in revenge.
  • The SCP Foundation has several of these, up to a man (probably a man, anyway) who claims to be God. Although their method of "capturing" him essentially consists of them knowing that he'll be back to a certain location more often than not and not worrying too much that he can get out of his cell whenever it takes his fancy. They also have the Hindu god Kumbhakarna (he's dormant in a floating palace/battle station and the Foundation really only just keeps people from finding out) and some sort of deer-god that could destroy the world with ease that is kept contained with a phony ritual that the Foundation came up with to make it think they know how to contain it. They also have the Babylonian god Ashur contained by tricking him into thinking he is in the past and among fellow gods, which is possible because he is very gullible.
  • The Onion: I Know Heaven Is Real Because I Saw It And Abducted An Angel.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Æon Flux episode The Demiurge, a war is fought over whether to keep a powerful, ostensibly-benevolent godlike being around for the good of all, or to blast it off into friggin' outer space on a rocket for the good of all.
  • The Owl House: In season 2, it is revealed that the source of Emperor Belos's power is The Collector, a powerful but child-like entity, who was previously imprisoned by the Elder Titan in a disc. They granted him powerful magic unavailable to anyone else including a spell that would exterminate nearly everyone in the Boiling Isles in exchange for their freedom. Once he got what he wanted, Belos reneged on the deal and discarded the disc; The Collector was then freed by King, in exchange for stopping the extermination spell.
  • Ninjago: Dragons Rising: it is revealed that the city of Imperium is entirely powered by harnessing the life energy of dragons, and that they're keeping a Source Dragon captured within the city depths which acts as their main power source. It is heavily implied that the Imperium capturing the Source Dragon is what is causing the Mergequakes and destabilizing reality, as the dragon himself states that they caused major imbalances when they did so, and releasing him would only further these effects
  • In one "Treehouse Of Horror" episode of The Simpsons, Lisa inadvertently creates a miniature society around a loose tooth. Said society (which views her as God and Bart as Satan), eventually "Debigulates" her down to their level. Problem is, they can't return her to normal.
    Elder Frink: Why, that would require some sort of "re-bigulator", which is just such a preposterous —
    [Death Glare from Lisa]
  • In Transformers: Animated, Megatron's head is found by Isaac Sumdac and becomes the base of all future technology, but Sumdac has no idea who he is. Then Megatron wakes up and tricks Sumdac into not revealing his presence to the Autobots while helping to rebuild Megatron's body.
  • Megabyte manages to capture Hexadecimal in Reboot, slap a combination Restraining Bolt / Shock Collar on her, and harness her into a device so he can use her powers for his own scheme. At one point it's implied that she could bust out if she wanted to, but is enjoying the pain too much to even think about leaving.
  • The MECH organization from Transformers: Prime is rather fond of this, making several attempts to capture and reverse-engineer Transformers.
  • In Rick and Morty, the President casually mentions that they have Poseidon detained in Area 51.


Video Example(s):


Captured Superman

In the Flashpoint universe, Kal-El is caught by the government as a baby and kept weak under red sun rays. But when the other heroes find him, he gets to strut in the sun.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CapturedSuperEntity

Media sources: