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Gulliver Tie-Down

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When a bunch of tiny people need to restrain a (to them) giant one, a classic method is to bind the bigger creature to the ground while asleep. Waking up, the large person finds they've been tied down by string — lots of it — stretched over their body between stakes, allowing one of the mini-people to perform a Colossus Climb onto their chest and make demands.

Prone to Fridge Logic, as the amount of string used is often far more than a bunch of miniature people would logically have on hand. How they could pound stakes deep enough into the ground to be effective, without waking their intended captive, is likewise often Hand Waved.

A sometimes-seen variant involves normal-sized humans using this to restrain a bigger creature, such as a dragon, giant, or Kaiju.

The Trope Namers is Gulliver's Travels, a fantasy satirical work by Jonathan Swift from 1726 about a man who travels the globe. One of the fantasy realms he visits is Lilliput, where people are tiny (six inches/ 15 cm high) and he appears to be a giant. Despite the story seemingly at first glance to be a children's story, it also contains political commentary on the issues of the day.

A sister trope to All Webbed Up, in which the binding is done by Big Creepy-Crawlies (or sometimes Spider People) rather than little people. Sub-Trope of Bound and Gagged, minus the gag.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Chapter 711 of One Piece opens with Robin waking up in exactly this situation after she's captured by the Tontatta. Rather than simply being tied down, however, she's "stitched" to the ground via Devil Fruit power.
  • In Fujiko F. Fujio's short titled 超兵器ガ壱號 ("Super-Weapon Guh Mk. I"), a giant who called himself Gulliva was subdued with rope by the Japanese imperial army. He befriended a linguistics-majored officer named Toshiaki Kaido, who managed to teach him some Japanese, and went on to become a powerful asset to the Japanese during World War II thanks to his ginormous stature. In the end, the victorious Empire of Japan decided to get rid of him because he was of no use to them any more. Kaido was tasked with giving him a poisonous burger, but decided to tell him the truth. Despite that, Gulliva still wanted to die for his new homeland rather than running away. But before he could do it, a spaceship arrived. His alien friends finally found him, who they all nicknamed "Shorty" (Chibi). Turns out, even though he was a giant to Earthlings and could achieve all the feats he was proud of, he was still just a short little guy to his own kind.

    Comic Books/Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • This happens to Stealth Archaeologist Miss Alice Band when she isn't nearly stealthy enough, and makes the fundamental error of trying to excavate a burial mound in Lancre. The restraint is exercised by the NacMacFeegle in A.A. Pessimal's Discworld fic The Lancre Caper (The Perils of Over-Confidence). Later in the story, student Assassin Deborah Rust thinks she can get away with gassing "little blue vermin" who are stealing sheep on her father's land. A tie-down and intense humiliation is delivered by the Feegle.

    Films — Animated 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Tin Labyrinth has Doraemon himself subjected to a tie-down after being shot out of the sky by hostile robots who thought he was the enemy.
  • Happens to Mrs. Jumbo in Dumbo as a result of her attacking a mean boy that was threatening her title son, and consequently being locked up for this reason.
  • Happens to Ginormica at the very beginning of Monsters vs. Aliens shortly after being hit by a meteorite full of Quantonium and subsequently mutating into a giant.
  • In The Pagemaster, Horror is tied down by Lilliputians this way.
  • The residents of the candy aisle in Sausage Party gang up on a fat human, clothesline him with a strand of Twizzlers, and tie him down with more of the same.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Army of Darkness, the little Evil Ashes that spring from a broken mirror tie Ash to the floor with twine while he's knocked unconscious.
  • In The Babadook, a seven-year-old boy manages to tie up his boogeyman-possessed mother this way.
  • The lawn gnomes in Goosebumps (2015) hogtie R.L. Stine with electrical cords in a similar manner. Subverted when Zachary smashes a bunch of them before they can anchor their creator's bonds to the floor.
  • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, a tranquilized T. rex is seen lying on a transport pallet, bound heavily enough to immobilize it. In this case, the tiny (to it) humans had the sense to use metal braces rather than string.
  • In King Kong (2005), Denham has the ship's crew try to do this to capture Kong, but didn't get the ape tranquilized in time. Kong breaks loose and tosses a lot of crewmen around before finally being knocked out, via a chloroform bottle to the face.
  • In the first Night at the Museum film, the Wild West miniature diorama inhabitants successfully trip and tie down night watchman Larry Daley in an attempt to railroad lynch him with their toy train. It works as well as you'd expect, resulting in a very annoyed Larry easily breaking out of his restraints in a slow, dramatic fashion.
  • Used by the Gwendy Dolls in Small Soldiers when they ambush Cristy and capture her.
  • In Willow, the title character and his companion are captured by tiny creatures known as brownies.
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, Watson hallucinates a horde of stop-motion Anthropomorphic Food that all want to be eaten by him. A string of sausages trips him up and winds around him, rendering him helpless as various pastries force-feed one another to the frightened youth.

  • Gulliver's Travels is the Trope Namer. This is done to Gulliver by the tiny Lilliputians when he visits their homeland, as can be seen in the page image.
  • In Hilda and the Great Parade, Hilda is tied up in this manner when she, Frida and David are taken captive by the Bragga clan of Elves.
  • Discussed in the Nomes Trilogy book Truckers after one of the Nomes sees the illustration in a copy of Gulliver's Travels. Masklin concludes that the most impressive thing about it is the amount of co-operation required; if a group of Nomes tried it, they'd start arguing and never get the job done.
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture features a horde of termites catching a drunk human in a ditch and promptly tying him down For Science!, using miniature cement strings (presumably made with their advanced Organic Technology). This includes tying down every single of the man's hairs separately.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: This is how the stunned T. rex is restrained in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs". Unfortunately for Sarah Jane, the chains don't hold it for long when her camera-flash rouses it.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Small Mercies", the first Body of the Week is found in a miniature village, staked down and tied to the ground like Gulliver.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Bard Games' Atlantean Trilogy of fantasy RPG books, the bakru are a malicious race of foot-tall jungle faeries who are known to sneak into campsites and tie up sleeping travelers, then rob them blind.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Jermalkin (in later Monster Manuals, "Jermlaine") are tiny, malicious fey who tie down human-sized victims, strip them of clothes and valuables, shave off their body hair to make ropes, summon rodents to eat their food, urinate in their water flasks, and do other nasty things to them before leaving their victims hog-tied for whatever else comes along. After one or two run-ins with them, many adventurers become prone to using Cloudkill any time they even suspect they've found a Jermalkin warren.
    • A Broodswarm consists of over a hundred sparrow-sized demons with rotund bodies, toothy grins, feeble wings, and hoofed feet, created by Night Hags to help them capture victims. They generate a black thread from their hooked hands, which they use to subdue targets while swarming over them, stitching the victim's limbs to their body and their lips and eyelids shut until they're blind, mute and helpless. A victim bound this way can try to break free of the stitching, but whether they succeed or fail, they'll take damage.


    Web Originals 
  • In the episode "Bitter Gnomes and Gardens" from The Adventures of The League of S.T.E.A.M., the gnomes tie up the League's zombie manservant Zed in this way, using a garden hose.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: Done to Anne by the frogs of Wartwood (who, while not Liliputian-sized, are significantly smaller than her) when she is mistaken for a monster in the first episode.
  • The battle at the end of the third season of The Dragon Prince has ordinary-sized humans use this tactic (in combination with grappling hooks, and harpoon-carrying ballistae) to snare low-flying dragons and force them to the ground.
  • The Dino-Boy episode "The Ant Warriors" has the titular creatures tying Ugh down to the ground.
  • Dinotrux features the Slamtools: small, hammerlike creatures who seem to specialize in pretending to be friendly only to lash down their target overnight and run off with their ore. They're so good at it, they also manage to tie down the help that arrives, before he can even react or fight back.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • When Mabel is kidnapped by the gnomes in the premiere episode "Tourist Trapped", they end up tying her down.
    • Later happens to Pacifica Northwest in "The Golf War", courtesy of the aptly named Lilliputtians.
  • One Animated Adaptation of Gulliver shows him tied down in the opening credits, only for him to effortlessly rip his bindings as he gets up.
  • In one episode of the Animated Adaptation of The Littles, a young Big girl has run away from home, and the Littles set up a ruse to convince her to return. They need to delay her long enough to prepare their trick, so one of them ties her clothing to the floor when she stops to nap in a barn.
  • A 30-second short from Looney Tunes Cartoons has Elmer chase Bugs into a rabbit hole — the hole divides into a bunch of smaller holes with smaller Bugs' in them, who then tie him down and do various wacky things to his immobile body.
  • Mickey Mouse is subjected to this trope in "Gulliver Mickey", and does something like it to a giant in "Brave Little Tailor".
  • In the Superfriends episode "Fairy Tales of Doom", Brainiac traps Superman in the story Gulliver's Travels and supplies the Lilliputians with a massive amount of Kryptonite, and they use Kryptonite ropes to tie Superman up. Superman struggles and manages to break free.
  • In ThunderCats (1985), a race of tiny people called the Micrits tie up Lion-O while he was sleeping, conjuring the strings with magic.

  • In this commercial for the Acura RDX Gulliver has been tied down by the Liliputians in order to give him a car.



Willow and Meegosh get captured by brownies.

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