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Inescapable Net

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No! An easily escapable net! The one weakness of killable cuties and Red Shirts everywhere!

"Net... overpowering! Arms... tired... heavy! Can't... move... must... urk..."
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Want to incapacitate somebody without killing them? Then the most foolproof way of pulling this off is with the Inescapable Net, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a net that, when thrown over someone, causes them to just flail around helplessly, trapped like a bunch of fish, ready to start dying.

This trope is particularly popular in children's animation, where the intended audience usually just accepts the application of this trope without considering the general silliness of the idea. Suffice to say, this trope is much more difficult to pull off in live action television, in which the participants usually just end up looking silly.

To some extent this is Truth in Television. Animals surprised by nets usually don't have enough time to figure out a way to get out of it before the hunter is able to incapacitate them permanently. Of course, anything that is substantially stronger, smarter or with more escape time than your typical hunted animal doesn't have this excuse. Sometimes, however, heavy weights will be added to the edges of a net to make it more difficult to escape from, or the corners will be attached to long ropes to drag the captured target away. Even without the weights, some nets are just so heavy by themselves that they require several men to carry around as seen in nets used by commercial fisherman which are strong enough to carry hundreds of fish in one catch. Also, as the method they are often portrayed in fiction is used in traps, just the gravity alone is enough to bring an impact equivalent to getting hit even if the net is not heavy as seen in net guns used by policemen. And some nets are designed to tangle people with their holes to make it more difficult to escape despite weighing less than a pound.

See also All Webbed Up and Net Gun.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes have Nobita's initially-useless abilities to shoot two tiny strings from his hands getting upgraded into a powerful, all-ensnaring net, which he uses to trap Ikaros' monster form in the final battle.
  • One Piece uses this trope sometimes, always justifying it:
    • Don Krieg can fire a weighted net from his gauntlet, which is used to send people into the water. It doesn't stop the main protagonist Luffy from beating him, but it does send him sinking helplessly after the coup de grâce, requiring someone else to save him.
    • The Marines have some net launchers with ammo reinforced by sea prism stone, meaning that any Devil Fruit user caught in it is completely powerless.
    • Largo, the villain of the Little East Blue Filler Arc, used a Devil Fruit based on this concept, allowing him to make extremely durable nets out of any substance that he ingested, from mucus and iron to fire and boiling water.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Pokémon caught inside Team Rocket's nets will only rarely manage to free themselves, despite them usually being pretty powerful in battle. Usually handwaved as being electric/whatever proof nets. The peak of this trope may be when Team Rocket captured Cresselia, a Legendary Pokémon, with an ordinary net.

    Comic Books 
  • Justice League of America: One Silver Age story has the Flash trapped in a net intended to shrink around him and crush him to death.
  • Spider-Man: Averted in a very early comic featuring Kraven the Hunter's debut. Kraven catches Spidey in a net, but Spidey reasons that, just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the net must have a weak joint in it, and he then tests the netting until he finds a part he can make big enough to escape through.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In Volumes 1 and 2 Mala, Diana's childhood friend among the Amazons who grew up to be the warden of their prison, uses a net as her favored weapon for its non-lethal attributes.
    • Wonder Woman and the Star Riders: Purrsia catches Dolphine in a net Dolphine can't escape without the aid of the other star riders despite having magic relating to water and being in the ocean.
  • Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki sees Ibuki and her friends get caught in a net, interestingly only Ibuki and Sarai genuinely couldn't escape it.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Jackie Chan film The Accidental Spy has Chan, unarmed, attacked near a pier by a hatchet-wielding mook. Chan managed to get his hands on a fisherman's net, throws it, and entangles the mook in seconds.
  • In Children's Party at the Palace, Horrid Henry gets stuck in a net by the Child-Catcher somewhere inside of Buckingham Palace. He has trouble getting it off him until Tracy Beaker comes along and helps him.
  • In the Action Prologue of Conan the Destroyer, Queen Taramis sends her royal guard to capture Conan via this trope (and some hefty clubs), but only his Bumbling Sidekick is caught this way. Conan either hacks through the net or uses it to pull the guards off their horses. Eventually the queen tires of their ineptitude and tries negotiation instead.
  • In Cry of the Banshee, Whitman goes hunting in the hills for witches. His armed posse breaks up what is apparently meant to be a witches' Black Sabbath. His soldiers toss a net over several of the members and proceed to hack them to pieces.
  • In Duel to the Death, Ching Wan's Old Master Shaolin monk mentor is captured with a net by ninjas... and the net in question looks incredibly flimsy, lightweight, and doesn't even completely cover him.
  • The Hunger Games: At one point, Rue is inescapably trapped under a net tied to tree trunks. A freeze frame reveals the trap's poor set up which Rue should have had no problem escaping from.
  • Spoofed in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist: the hero is trapped in a net that isn't even big enough to cover his head.
    Mayor: Master Betty, my compliments! That tiny net was sure-fire!
    Master Betty: Mm, yes, a tiny net is a death sentence. It's a net and it's tiny!
  • In The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl, the Iga Ninja abduct one of the village women by throwing a net over her as she is working in the fields and dragging her into the woods.
  • Liane, Jungle Goddess: When Liane is spotted bathing by Thoren, she escapes into the jungle only to be later caught in a big game net by Kersten and Keller.
  • James Bond
    • In the Action Prologue of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond traps a Union Corse thug by collapsing a fishing net, hung up to dry on the beach, on top of him. In this case Bond isn't trying to take him prisoner and just leaves before he can untangle himself.
    • Octopussy. During the attack on Kamal's palace, some henchmen come charging through a door only to get caught in a net which is hauled into the air by an elephant! The Action Girl clubbing them as this was going on can't have helped either.
  • Predator:
    • In the first movie, the mercenaries manage to catch the Predator hunting them in a net thanks to Dutch playing bait, but the alien promptly tears the net apart by firing his plasma caster.
    • The Predator nets in the film series are quite effective, but that's also because they automatically contract on the target and are apparently made out of something like piano wire, so targets are less incapacitated and more cubed. How well this works when the "prey" starts bleeding an insanely corrosive acid, however...
  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr opens with scenes of the protagonists snaring wild deer from their helicopter using net guns. Later in the movie a villain is aiming at a main character and fires, only to snare him with a deer-catching net instead.
  • The Running Man: A CODA Net Gun is used to capture the protagonist.
  • Star Wars: In Return of the Jedi, the protagonists find themselves suspended in snare-nets laid by the Ewoks. They are able to quickly escape (thanks to R2D2 producing a small circular saw from its many compartments) but not before the Ewoks arrive in force to surround them.

  • In Lone Wolf book 8, The Jungle of Horrors, your traveling companion Paido is snagged by the bad guys in a net that is also studded with fish hooks, making it practically impossible to quickly free him before they drag him off. You see him again a couple of books later, alive but covered in scars from where the hooks were pulled out.
  • Subverted in The Curse of the Cave Creatures, where players who chose the Hunter route can obtain a Sticky Net as one of his default weapons. In every occasion you're given to use the net, it ends up biting you back with the net either entangling you instead or failing to hold your target in place.
  • One of the purchasable items in the Fighting Fantasy Gamebook, The Forest of Doom is a Net of Entanglement, which you can use to ensnare a sleeping ogre.

  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • "Connor Nets" are capable of doing this to starships. Connor Nets are justified by them being EMP's in the form of a net to tangle stabilizers and shut down engines.
    • As well as Stokhli Spray Sticks, which basically fire electrified riot goop.
    • Force Nets, which are actually a darkside method of executing someone by constricting the net.
  • Lampshaded/justified in the Planet of the Apes book: The protagonist and narrator writes that he was so panicked he did exactly the wrong thing when trying to escape from the net, which led to his capture.
  • Warrior Cats: In one of the field guides, one cat tells a story about how his ancestor got chased through an old rabbit warren by some kind of terrier. He dashes out of one of the tunnels, only to get caught in a net and become at the mercy of the human and the dog.
  • Dolphin Trilogy: In Dolphin Boy, John is reintroduced to human society after being raised by dolphins for roughly twenty years by swimming right into the trawl of the research vessel Poseidon. The people aboard think the thrashing about is from a large fish, until they pull the net out of the water and are astonished to find a man trapped inside.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Averted in "Consequences". The Watcher's Council traps Angel under a net, and to make sure he stays down they start whaling on him with crowbars.
  • The Colony: Used in each season. In the first season Grand Finale, the colonists drop a huge, weighted cargo net on a group of raiders that had been channeled into a narrow corridor. In the second, one of the colonists is hit by a net with weighted corners made of very light fiber that wraps around him and tangles him, rendering him completely immobile.
  • In The Electric Company (1971), Spider-Man catches criminals this way with his webbing.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "A Rare Bird", the killer uses birding nets to entangle his first two victims before killing them. Justified as birding nets have a very fine, almost unbreakable mesh, and the killer only needs them to hold long enough for him to deliver the killing blow/shot.
  • Who Wants to Be a Superhero?: One second season episode has this happen to the good guys early on to act as a lead-in to the supervillain death-trap challenge.

    Video Games 
  • Dungeon Fighter Online: The Brawler subclass has a skill called Heaven's Net, where they throw a net forward and use it to pull enemies up to them, as well as immobilize them.
  • Rise of the Triad has troops that can fire nets at you. If you don't have a knife handy (a knife whose sole purpose it is to cut nets, apparently), your character is pinned down hard until you shake it off. No moving, no shooting, not even any turning. Though curiously, if you DO have a knife, you can still run around as usual until you cut the net off.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The Ensnare ability, throwing a net on the unit to keep it from moving. While it makes sense when bringing down air units to ground level, why ground units never try to break out is anyone's guess.
    • The Undead have a similar (air-only) ability with sticky web strands.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Darktide: The Scab Trapper enemies have Net Guns that trap player characters they hit — once trapped, a player cannot free themselves on their own, and requires a teammate to help them out. It's justified in this case as the nets are electrified, numbing the victims into helplessness.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Early on, the party runs into local law enforcement, who use ether nets to capture Nia and Dromarch by instantly wrapping them into neat cocoons. It's explained that these nets serve to prevent Blades from drawing ether from atmosphere, serving as a Power Nullifier for the Blade. And without the Blade the Driver is just a normal human. With the revelation that Nia is a Blade herself, her powerlessness is even more justified, as Blades rely on ether for basically everything.

  • Girl Genius: There is significantly little struggling shown but Agatha and Larana's group is captured by Larana's father using a net when returning to The Incorruptible Republic of the Immortal Library of the Grand Architect from the adjacent old Corbettite Vaults and only Violetta escapes capture, and she managed to avoid the net entirely.
  • The Order of the Stick: Parodied when the party gets trapped in a net on an island with an orc tribe hunting after them. They quickly figure out a way to get out of the net, but Elan warns them that the presence of the net is proof that they were supposed to be caught, and that trying to escape from the net is ultimately futile because the narrative structure is working against them. They're then beat up while still removing the net.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: "The Runaway" starts with Toph Bei Fong — badass, fearless, unstoppable, justifiably self-appointed "greatest Earthbender in the world" — being trapped in a net and hauled off to prison, apparently helpless to break out or put up a fight. It was all an act.
  • In Centurions, John Thunder's Silent Arrow system fires a giant pursuit arrow that functions like a Net Gun, opening to reveal a capture net.
  • Darkwing Duck: This happens several times, the most egregious of which is when the Liquidator, a villain made entire of malleable, liquid water, gets trapped in an ordinary net.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, fairies are literally incapable of escaping if trapped in a butterfly net. Not a special, fancy net—an ordinary butterfly net. Talk about Weaksauce Weakness! Rules of magic. Handwaved the first time it's brought up, with Wanda stating that if it has wings and flies, a butterfly net will catch it.
  • Many Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
    • Done most blatantly in Superfriends. These are characters with the ability to vibrate through walls, move entire planets, turn into lightning bolts — but put them under a net and they have no idea what to do. If you're lucky, it'll be a kryptonite net, but that still doesn't explain that no one else can escape.
    • Also used in Scooby-Doo and shows like it to capture the monster at the end.
  • In Lady Lovely Locks dragon-hair nets are almost completely unbreakable and are resistant to most magic. Ravenwaves uses one to capture Shining Glory, while Maiden Fairhair uses one to stabilize the castle after a tunnel was dug underneath it.
  • Looney Tunes: In Elmer's Candid Camera, Elmer puts a net over Bugs Bunny. Bugs then begins gasping for air and pretends to die, causing Elmer to sob and call himself a murderer.
  • The Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) cartoon useds this on occasion. Since Mega Man's a robot, the nets are either metal or electrified, and one instance has him invoke this in order to get into where Dr. Light's being held prisoner.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Men from A.P.E.", Superman dumps the villains in the ocean and ten scoops them up in a fishing net. Apparently, Lex Luthor has nothing on him capable of dealing with a net.
  • Happens so many times in Puppy in My Pocket: Adventures in Pocketville that it’s considered a Running Gag.
    • Kate, Magic, and the Royal Guards get caught in a net trap set by Eva and her gang. They eventually escape.
    • Ava gets trapped in the Pet Buster's net while they were at the Big City amusement park. She gets put in his "animal shelter".
    • In a Nightmare Sequence, Kate and Magic are trapped in a net by Eva, who manages to get their half of the Friendship Heart from them.
    • The Pet Buster gets trapped in a net while he breaks in Kate's house at night. It was one of the traps Kate and Magic set up around the house just in case he makes a break-in.
  • In Rose Petal Place Nastina uses spider webs to trap Rose Petal on a few occasions.


Video Example(s):


Princess Ava gets captured

When Magic finds Princess Ava, he comes to her aid until the Siamese cat monarch gets caught in the Pet Buster's net.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / InescapableNet

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