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Instant Sedation

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"Hey, does this rag smell like chloroform?"

Toby: Datura knockout darts. POW! Guy goes down for twelve hours, wakes up, doesn't know who the hell he is, and his head's splitting like a cord of firewood.
Xander: I was shot twice with those.

A character is drugged and goes out like a light in just a few seconds. Just as often, they wake up in short order, groggy but otherwise none the worse for the experience. Delivery methods can vary, from gas, to darts, to controlled injection, to a liquid added to food or drink.

This is Artistic License – Pharmacology in the extreme. In Real Life, drugs can take anywhere from a few seconds (as with inhaled sedatives and anesthetics used in surgery) to several minutes (as with intramuscular injections of many animal tranquilizers, as frequently observed in wildlife documentaries - note how the animal initially reacts with panic or aggression when the dart hits them, then gradually calms down before passing out over the course of those minutes) to several hours (as with sedatives that are administered in food or drink) to take full effect. Another factor is stress; it takes a lot longer for a sedative to work on a stressed, excited animal or person than a calm one, with less overall effect on the stressed one too. Similarly, dosage matters; the amount required to sedate a muscular man or a large animal would kill a smaller person, and a dose safe for a normal person might barely faze The Big Guy. There is a reason why surgeries requiring full general anesthesia have an anesthetist there whose entire job is to monitor the type and amount of drugs going into the patient. For a full treatment of these and other issues, see the Analysis page.

If a drug is administered to several people at once, all of whom get knocked out immediately, then this trope overlaps with One Dose Fits All. Knockout Gas is an area-effect variant subtrope, which is subject to different, but related rules. Tranquillizer Dart and Futuristic Jet Injector are common delivery methods, as well, often in a Knockout Ambush. Compare Magic Antidote, Perfect Poison, Tap on the Head, and Slipping a Mickey. Not to be confused with Instant Seduction.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Darts in Agent Aika have this effect.
  • In season 2 episode 4 of Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, during a card game, Hideyoshi is called on a card he placed down and begins to strip his shirt. He immediately gets knocked out by slightly drunken Himeji, who claims he's simply "tired". When Kouta attempts to bring up the topic of the chloroform bottle laying nearby, she swipes it at him, causing him to "get tired" as well.
  • Bleach. Shinigami have access to three tranquilliser drugs that they can use as necessary: shinten, gaten, and houten. Shinten is used on targets with weak spiritual pressure whereas gaten and houten are used on much stronger opponents. All the drugs work instantly but are also fantasy drugs made up for the setting and therefore able to work to whatever rules the author wants.
    • Hanatarou has been seen using shinten to knock out low-level guards when rescuing Rukia.
    • Yoruichi uses either gaten or houten to knock out Ichigo and rescue him from Byakuya.
    • Kira uses gaten to knock out Yumichika during the fake Karakura Town battle.
  • Case Closed
    • Played straight with Conan's wrist-watch tranquilizer needle gun. Kogoro barely has time to mumble a few words before keeling over.
    • Also nicely averted in that Conan, who is stuck as a seven-year-old, will go down quicker when knocked out compared to the teenagers and adults... But the method of sedation is normally a cloth covered in narcotics or chloroform, instead of intramuscular injection.
    • Averted with Gin. Due to his large height, the sedation process works slower on him than on Kogoro. He uses the time he has to shoot through his arm, which destroys the needle and cancels the sedation effect and the pain on his arm allows him to stay fully awake.
    • Somewhat subverted in the crossover with Lupin III. Conan uses his dart on Inspector Zenigata, who is so tough that it wears off in no time (though he still goes down quickly). Conan is pretty surprised.
  • In Cat's Eye (from the same author as City Hunter), the Kisugi sisters employ a special knockout spray that instantly renders people unconscious without any negative side effects.
  • City Hunter often has Ryo protecting or otherwise dealing with beautiful ladies. Often these ladies manage to get themselves kidnapped right under Ryo's nose via a three-second chloroform rag attack.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • When Spike confronts Vicious and is shot with a tranquilizer dart. He's also blown backwards, so it looks like he really did get shot.
    • Averted in the Shooting Star manga. In order to fulfill a mission, Spike has to take someone down alive and is given a tranquilizer gun by Jet to do so. However, just as Spike is about to shoot the target, Ed discovers that the target is fatally allergic to sedatives.
  • In Dragon Half, Rosario shoots Mink with a knockout dart and she instantly falls. Then Rosario puts two more darts into her right away, setting up a gag where he and the king think Mink died from the overdose. Strangely, at first Rosario accidentally inhaled and got the dart stuck in his tongue, but nothing ever came of this.
  • Averted in New Getter Robo, though the writers were probably more concerned with the Rule of Cool than realism. Ryoma gets hit by an animal tranquiliser in the first episode, but it doesn't stop him from running across the street and dropkicking his two attackers before going down. This is after he had just fought a 3-on-1 fight against some Yakuza goons and had gotten a knife buried into his shoulder.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Team La Vérité episode 8. Three security maids are rendered unconscious in seconds by a drugged handkerchief over their mouths.
  • Averted in Michiko & Hatchin. Michiko appears to be very resilient when hit by a dart from a tranquilizer gun. Twice.
    • Played straight when she goes down very quickly after inhaling some Knockout Gas.
  • In One Piece, when Luffy eats a mushroom that causes him to hallucinate and try to attack everyone during the Alabaster arc, Chopper injects him with a sedative that knocks him out instantly.
  • In one episode of Pokémon: The Series, Ash and company were helping out at a hospital that, due to overcrowding at the local Pokémon center, had to take in some injured monsters. While trying to sedate a patient, the head doctor accidentally stabbed himself with a hypodermic needle and was conscious just long enough to warn our heroes that he'd be out for a few hours and they were on their own.
  • In the world of Ranma ˝, knockout gas, sleeping powder, sleeping pills, and the like are in extreme abundance. Lots and lots of characters use them at one point or another.
    • The best-known examples are Kodachi's rose bombs and tainted food.
    • Gosunkugi also does the "chloroform rag" trick on Akane.
    • Even worse, most characters (but especially Ranma) have a tendency to munch and swallow anything put in their mouth, even against their will, rather than spit it out.
      • Ranma has been neutralized once by tea mixed with a paralytic that Sentarō just threw toward her mouth.
      • Another time, she's fed a drugged rice cake by Kunō — and the worst part is that it was Ranma who laced it with sleeping powder in the first place.
    • Another common way of putting a character to sleep is with pressure points; notably used by Happōsai.
  • The way Khun "recruits" Edin for his team in Tower of God: A sedative dart into the neck. The poison used was said to be very effective on White Steel Eals.

  • In one of his routines, Bill Cosby talks about how, as a child, he had his tonsils removed. He described being knocked out as the doctors telling him to count backwards from one hundred and him making it to about ninety-nine before passing out. He adds that he felt rather embarrassed about that since he was sure that his alcoholic father could have lasted longer. Usually it takes less than 10 seconds though.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Batarangs tipped with knockout drugs are common, especially in post-Frank Miller stories.
  • DC Pride 2022: In the Tim Drake Special, the chaos cult member that abducts Bernard uses chloroform powder to quickly knock out Tim after managing to catch his attempt to punch him. As the cult isn't too concerned about killing bystanders when abducting victims to sacrifice, the potential of causing Tim serious damage wasn't something they were worried about.
  • Empowered: Discussed when Emp is giving Damsel in Distress tips. She explains that most forms of sedation aren't instant, so you can try to fight it, but that will just piss off your captors and make them inclined to tie you up tighter when you do go down. Chloroform, especially, can kill you if your captors don't know what they're doing, so it's best to just go limp at the first sign of it and try to escape later.
  • Red Robin: Becoming a "Daughter of Acheron" gives one superpowers which are able to knock someone out without lingering side effects if used carefully, though it can go wrong and the victim may never wake or be left permanently damaged.
  • One of the biggest offenders in comics is Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman and his iconic sleeping gas gun. This actually becomes a plot point in the sequel miniseries Sleep of Reason where the US military and a group of Middle Eastern terrorists are racing to capture the new Sandman so they can figure out how he does it. It's implied that the gas gun's miraculous properties may be the result of his ill-defined connection to that other Sandman.
  • The Smurfs: In "The Smurfs And The Book That Tells Everything", Papa Smurf is given a drink that instantly puts him to sleep, giving the Smurfs the chance to lock him up inside his own house so that he would not interfere with their going to Brainy to consult the titular book.
  • Rags with Chloroform are a very popular method in Tintin. They act extremely fast in the comic, slightly less so in the Ellipse-Nelvana Animated Adaptation.
  • In Violine, this is how Violine is put to sleep each night. This is routine for her control-freak mother.
  • Whisper: Jiro gets shot with a tranquilizer gun that knocks him on his back, and out cold.
  • Wonder Woman and the Star Riders: Star Lily can create blossoms that cause people to instantly fall asleep.
  • Zatanna (2010): Mikey drugs a piece of cloth and uses on Oscar Hampel, who passes out almost instantly as Mikey shoves the cloth into his face.

    Fan Works 
  • Both Cupcakes (Sergeant Sprinkles) and Pattycakes use this trope to render poor Rainbow Dash unconscious and get her ready for the main event.
  • Mass Foundations: Redemption in the Stars is more realistic about it than usual: there are no Tranquilizer Darts, with the sedative being delivered through the syringe and the dosage is checked beforehand. It still works in a matter of seconds, but that can be justified with the Mass Effect universe's medical advances.
  • Averted in Nine Lives One Love when Kurloz's brother drugs him and he's still awake, but weakened.
  • Another aversion occurs in Sleepless: it takes some time before Zippoorwhill goes down, and even then she's conscious enough to start thrashing when Diamond Tiara hangs her.
  • Averted in the Naruto fanfiction SugarPlums, Ume uses sedatives on an opponent at the beginning of the fight and has to spend the rest of the fight avoiding being knocked out while she waits for it to set in.
  • As the series' quote here is "My Little Pony: Reality Ensues", If Rainbow Dash Can't Sleep features Twilight explaining just why a sleep spell won't work.
    Twilight: — you want me — to reach into a pony body — creating an overload of fatigue poisons in every single cell from a starting point of absolutely nothing — while simultaneously not just overriding the brain's natural cycle, replacing it — and you think that's going to be easy?
    • However, Word Of Fanfic Author is that Twilight's overthinking it: projecting the emotional resonance of exhaustion won't create an instant knockout for a fully-awake subject, but it'll slow a lot of opponents down and might drop someone who was on the verge already.
  • Horrifically averted in Weight of the World. Ironwood drugs America with a paralytic. It paralyzes him but doesn't knock him out. Seeing as how sedation is not the drug's purpose that makes sense... so Ironwood keeps injecting his victim with more doses until he is on the verge of overdosing and nearly catatonic.
  • In a sidestory of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, a friend of Lara Laramie gets hit by a tranquilizer dart and immediately gets knocked out. Justified because said tranquilizer is explicitly stated to be for Pokémon like Ponyta and Rapidash, and it could potentially kill her if she doesn't get medical attention soon enough.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the very mature student Assassin Joan Sanderson-Reeves (she's forty-seven) is seen in a poisons class explaining things to her more-at-home-with-sharp-weapons peers Alice Band, Emmanuelle les Deux-Epées and Johanna Smith-Rhodes. Joan extols over the virtues of lithium hydroxide, one of the simplest sedatives possible, but which never fails to knock somebody out within minutes.
    The good old Mickey Finn, girls. One of these in somebody's bedtime cocoa and they are absolutely guaranteed a good night's sleep!
  • In Sacrifice (Ravenshell), Shasta's pollen has a soporific effects, inducing a relaxed state on anyone who breathes it in, and can even knock people out when exposed to enough of it.
  • Your Alicorn Is in Another Castle: How the first chapter ends, with Twilight being sedated:
    "All right," the supervisor said, and flew down to her, keeping pace with her trap. "Now in order to prevent enduring what we've been told is a rather boring trip, allow me to introduce you to another new addition into our package." It held out a liquid-soaked square of silk, worked it through the net and pressed it against her snout.

    The last words Twilight heard before going unconscious were "We're all looking forward to hearing what you think about our choice in floral scent."

    Films — Animation 
  • Back to the Outback: Nigel’s scorpion venom and the tranquilizer serum both knockout their targets within seconds, and both have the added effect of causing Pretty Boy to foam at the mouth when it kicks in.
  • During the meal in Despicable Me 2, Shannon notices Gru's wig and is about to humiliate him when Lucy, visiting the restaurant herself, renders Shannon instantly unconscious with a Tranquillizer Dart.
  • Played very straight in the JetLags cartoon Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle, when Tooie's mother is shot with a tranquilizer dart. It comes out of a rifle with a blast of fire and a loud bang, and she goes down hard mid-run, so much so that her cub flies out of her mouth. Tooie later implies he thought she'd been killed, and with good reason.
  • In Moana a single Kakamora blowdart to the butt is enough to paralyze Maui, a 300+ pound demigod, in seconds.
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, a syringe the size of a missile filled with Instant Sedative is used to drop a frightened young woman (that happens to be 49'11", but it is still rather rude) who accidentally wrecked her wedding. Her staggering around for a few seconds before collapsing is downright impressive compared to those silenced at a later briefing for mentioning Area Fifty — *thunk* ZZZZ...
  • In Sahara, the venom of Pitt the scorpion puts human and animal alike to sleep in no time flat. Pitt's own venom does the same thing to him.
  • In the Tales of the Continuing by Daniel Keys Moran there's a knockout drug which dissolves in water and is absorbed through the skin. One of the protagonists takes advantage of this to sedate people with a simple squirt gun.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane has Howard sedate Michelle. It takes effect two seconds after the needle touches skin.
  • The Abduction of Saint Anne: When Anne struggles and screams, Dave presses a cloth to her face. She passes out in a few seconds.
  • Ace Ventura:
    • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: Ace uses the chloroform-soaked-rag routine on a football player twice his size, which takes about 5 seconds to work.
    • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls uses the humorous muscle paralysis angle, but Ace is still blacking out after a rather short chase. He was running and three darts are too much. Plus the four others he took in the back.
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. The pills Sacker puts in the wine during the opera scene. When the actors drink the wine they instantly collapse.
  • Happens to Lt. Hurwitz in the flashback scene in Airplane!.
  • The Facehuggers from the Alien franchise use sedation to subdue their victims, but in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem the Facehuggers can instantly sedate with two homeless Red Shirts being knocked unconscious in less than 10 seconds.
  • Andhadhun has the "rag over the mouth" variety when Akash kidnaps Simi.
  • Averted in The Andromeda Strain. In the climax, a character has to get to a sub-station to stop a self-destruct. He gets shot with a tranquilizer dart that is meant for small mammals (such as monkeys). He starts staggering and moving more slowly but can still function.
  • In Alex Cross, the villain uses a paralytic drug on his first victim. He's shown having to restrain her for a few seconds before it takes effect.
  • In Audition, Aoyama is injected under the tongue with a paralytic agent that seems to start working in seconds.
  • Zig-Zagged in the short film made of Battleground by Stephen King. The hitman Renshaw takes out his target's security guards using a tranquilizer gun. He lands a direct hit on one, who goes down immediately, but doesn't perfectly nail the second and is forced to knock him out physically.
  • Averted in The Big Lebowski. When the Dude is given a spiked White Russian, it takes him about a minute to collapse on the floor and is later seen running around in daze through traffic.
  • In Billion Dollar Brain, Harry Palmer is rendered unconscious immediately with a chloroformed handkerchief and wakes up later in a car.
  • Blood Harvest: During two different scenes, the stalker presses a cloth to Jill's face. She jerks briefly before passing out, and remembers nothing when she wakes up.
  • In The Compleat Al, Al knocked himself out at the nasal decongestant factory after sampling a few bottles of the product.
  • Conjoined: When Stanley gives Alisa some wine that he laced with a crushed up sleeping pill, she's out like a light soon after one sip.
  • In Cube Zero, the villainous Jax paralyzes one of the technicians by blowing some kind of dust in his face through his pen. The victim drops to the ground instantly.
    Jax: Ooh, instant paralysis. They weren't kidding, were they?
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman shoots little Batarang-shaped tranquillizer darts into the necks of Bane's armed henchmen. Due to Rule of Perception, one mook gets shot first, slaps his hand on his neck to pull out the dart into the view of the camera, and then falls unconscious. The rest of the henchmen then all get shot with darts within two seconds and instantly flop over like ragdolls.
  • In Death Ring, Lauren goes down immediately when a chloroform rag is clamped over nose and mouth. Matt takes longer, and the kidnappers have to physically hold him down and hold the rag on his face until he passes out.
  • Downplayed in The Fast and the Furious. In the opening scene, a trucker is shot with a tranquilizer dart. He has enough strength to swing his billy club at the shooter three or four more times, although he's still unconscious within ten seconds.
  • Father of the Bride Part II Franck gives George some experimental sleeping pills called Vatsnik to help George sleep and tells them they're "mild" and also fails to tell him he's only supposed to take half a pill... George takes two and passes out at the dinner table. He snaps back to full consciousness when the family are in hospital later that day because his daughter's waters broke and he gets mistaken for a different patient who is due for a prostate exam.
  • Frankenstein:
    • One early use was in the Universal Frankenstein, where the enraged superhuman monster is once brought down in about ten seconds by a (rather large) injection in his back.
    • In the sequel Bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Pretorius lures the Monster aside with a promise of booze and puts a sedative into a glass that presents to him. Once the Monster finishes his drink, it knocks him off of his feet.
  • A Lampshaded aversion in The Gods Must Be Crazy, which explicitly explains that tranquilizer darts don't take effect immediately. That's why they are rigged to fall off immediately, so the victim doesn't know they've been tranqed (they feel only the sting, that can be attributed to insects).
  • Gangs of New York: Jenny uses chloroform to put Amsterdam to sleep so she can treat his wounds. He goes from screaming in agony to unconscious in three seconds.
  • Played for comedy, of course, in Get Smart:
    Max: Knockout gas, Agent 99? Please. I have trained my body to be impervious to- *eyes roll back in his head* oh, that's the new stuff. *falls over*
  • Hudson Hawk
    • Anna Baragli gives Eddie a cappuccino laced with the sedative ethyl chloride. After he drinks it, he falls asleep instantly.
    • Anna, Eddie and Tommy are paralyzed instantly by curare-tipped blowgun darts. Subverted by Eddie and Tommy, who somehow recover within minutes.
  • It Follows features a somewhat realistic scene in which the main character is drugged with a (presumably) chloroform rag. She struggles for an extended period of time and her attacker still has to wrestle with her until she passes out.
  • James Bond
    • Goldfinger. While Bond is helplessly strapped to a table, Kisch renders him unconscious with a tranquilizer dart pistol.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me. While Anya and Bond are sailing down the Nile, Anya knocks out Bond with sleep dust blown out of a cigarette.
    • Never Say Never Again. James uses a sleep-poisoned blowgun dart on a Mook guard during the Unwinnable Training Simulation opening.
    • Goldeneye. James is hit in the neck with a tranq dart when he tries to shoot Janus. He goes down immediately before he can even raise his pistol.
  • Discussed in Kangaroo Jack when the protagonists accidentally shoot a dart to their airplane pilot while they are airborne; the pilot experiences the effects in stages as noted by one of them.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park: A minor plot point in the film adaptation of The Lost World. A very angry bull Tyrannosaurus attacks Tembo and is shot with a tranq dart. It apparently kicks in quickly enough to drop the Tyrannosaur before it can make a snack out of him. However later in the film, it's revealed that this sedative was too strong: the Tyrannosaur nearly suffered heart failure from it. It was administered a stimulant to keep it alive... which was also too strong a dose and lead to its rampage in San Diego. Sarah Harding chews out the guy revealing this in an angry rant about not knowing the proper medical doses for the T-Rex, knowledge which InGen should definitely possess.
    • Subverted in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in two instances. When the mercenaries shoot Blue with tranquilizer darts, it takes time before they take effect, allowing Blue to kill one of them in the meantime. Later Wheatley shoots the Indoraptor with 2 tranquilizer darts and it wobbles for a few seconds before falling to the ground. Unfortunately for Wheatley, the Indoraptor was only pretending to be unconscious.
    • Played straight in Jurassic World Dominion when Owen shoots Blue's daughter with one and she immediately loses consciousness.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: It takes one second for Eggsy to put the Swedish Prime Minister to sleep with his amnesia dart.
  • Killer Angels: During the stakeout scene, Yau-li, disguised as a nightclub hostess, knocks out a client she's flirting with using knockout gas... disguised as breath spray. Yes, two squeezes and her target is somehow completely unconscious.
  • Law Abiding Citizen: Gadgeteer Genius Clyde sets up a huge gambit to capture the thug who killed his family, the centerpiece of which is a boobytrapped pistol — boobytrapped to stab a dozen paralytic-enhanced pins into the hand of anyone who tries to fire it. The thug falls for the gambit, stealing the pistol from him and getting a surprise. The thug isn't even able to take a step before being frozen in his tracks.
  • In The Man Who Knew Too Little, Wallace gets jabbed in the arm with a needle disguised as a pen and he's unconscious in seconds.
  • In The Marriage Chronicles, Ethel gets the chloroform rag treatment and conks out immediately.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Mission: Impossible III: Ethan's fiancée is abducted by a mook who puts a transdermal patch containing a sedative on her hand. She has just enough time to ask what it is before she drops.
    • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol shows an agent poking a target at the back of the hand with a tiny needle on a ring. The target starts feeling groggy almost immediately and is out within seconds.
  • Frank Drebin's cufflink tranquilizer darts in the first NakedGun movie. However, they're not quite instant enough, since the bad guy staggers around long enough to fall over a railing to a Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • In Soviet comedy Operation Y a.k.a. Operation Laughter, Instant Sedation together with Tap on the Head are played unrealistically straight. To cover his embezzlements a warehouse manager hires 3 lowlifes to sedate a guard with a chloroform handkerchief and imitate a robbery. The rehearsal seems to work fine, but then the old woman guard is replaced by a young student Shurik and Hilarity Ensues. First the crook with the chloroform faintsnote  and Shurik unknowingly waves the handkerchief over his face putting him to sleep. Then Shurik beats his accomplices with cymbal, practice rapier, rope, and tobacco. Then Shurik wipes his face with the same handkerchief and falls asleep too. Then a mouse smells the handkerchief and also falls asleep.
  • In P2, Thomas uses a rag and chloroform to knock out Angela. She's out within a minute and stays asleep long enough for him to dress her, chain her up, and set the table.
  • Averted in Pan's Labyrinth. Captain Vidal gets doped with sleeping pills, but they only make him drowsy.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes does it a few times... Landon sedates Rocket to stop him fighting with Caesar and drops him in a few seconds.
  • In the opening scene of The Rock, the mercenaries use tranq darts on the soldiers guarding the chemical weapons depot. All of them fall unconscious immediately.
  • The Tranquilizer Darts used to capture Shandra in Shandra: The Jungle Girl have this effect. The one that hits Cord knocks him out for three days.
  • In Shark Week, Tiburon's henchman inject the people they abduct with some drug that knocks them out instantly.
  • Averted in Sherlock Holmes (2009). It takes a couple of minutes for the drugged wine Irene Adler feeds him to take effect.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes: When Watson attempts to tackle Miss Ivory, she injects him in the neck with something that causes him to instantly collapse.
  • Downplayed in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), as Sonic passes out a few seconds after taking tranq dart to the leg. Justified in that the tranq dart was meant for bears.
  • The title character suffers this in Spider-Man, courtesy of the Green Goblin. He takes a face-full of Knockout Gas and passes out in seconds. It takes a lot longer for the effects to wear off - when he wakes up, he's coherent but unable to move while the Goblin gives his We Can Rule Together speech.
  • Spies Like Us. Emmett Fitz-Hume and Austin Millbarge knock out five Soviet soldiers instantly with "high-compression tranquilizer pistols".
  • Split: Dennis carries around some sort of tranquilizer in an aerosol spray that works improbably fast. That being said, the part about there being no side effects is subverted. While the teenage girls are fine, an old woman who he tranquilized is practically paralyzed when she wakes up and can't even speak coherently. Most likely Dennis is using an unsafe dosage, and the girls didn't have any problems because they were young enough to heal quickly.
  • Star Trek (2009): Played for laughs. McCoy hyposprays Kirk with a sedative. Kirk asks, "How long will this take t—" and collapses backward on the bed, completely out.
  • Averted in Suicide Kings. The main characters, one of whom is a medical student, expect their kidnapping attempt to go like this and are nearly killed when they find out just how difficult it is to sedate an unwilling subject in a moving car.
  • In Tenet during the airplane heist, the crew uses chloroform rags and the security go immediately unconscious.
  • Thor plays it straight when the title character becomes combative in the hospital. The sedative knocks him out instantly in mid-sentence.
    Thor: YOU ARE NO MATCH FOR THE MIGHTY...! [collapses, his face smearing on the window]
  • Zigzagged in The Three Stooges. In the episode Bubble Trouble, the Stooges landlord (who’s inexplicably turned into a gorilla) is knocked out by chloroform almost immediately. In an earlier episode, Monkey Businessmen, a thug the trio tries knocking out with chloroform doesn’t go down and in fact enjoys the smell. So Curly knocks him out with either, either the bottle or the hammer.
  • Turkey Shoot. Secretary Mallory brings along a tranquilizer pistol of his own design while Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
    Mallory: May I?
    Thatcher: Yes, of course. Anyone you like.
    [Mallory shoots a prisoner in the leg. He takes a few hops before keeling over.]
    Mallory: Ah, quite... instant, hmm?
    Thatcher: Leaves them alive but not kicking.
  • Averted in the remake of The Wolfman (2010). Lawrence gets a number of injections while in the asylum, presumably to sedate him, but none take effect immediately. When a doctor tries to inject him with a sedative as he turns into a werewolf, he isn't affected at all.
  • X2: X-Men United:
    • The military guys use Instant Sedation darts on the students when they invade the school. While they knock out the children instantly, Cyclops was protected by the armour under his clothing, Colossus has metal skin that the darts can't penetrate, and multiple darts fail to have any effect on Wolverine. Justified by his larger body mass, Healing Factor, and adrenaline as well, since he doesn't show any effects while killing the immediate threat. After all the enemies in his vicinity are neutralized, he pulls the darts out and shakes his head, indicating he was becoming at least a little woozy or disoriented. Removing the source of the sedative lets his healing eliminate the rest of it in his body.
    • Mystique's drugged beer also takes effect the second Mr. Laurio downs the last of it, where the pills have settled.
  • In Young Frankenstein, the monster is rendered helpless mere seconds after receiving the injection of a "sedagive". Even odder if you consider that the monster is given the "sedagive" because he is currently choking Dr. Frankenstein, who has to resort to ridiculously long game of charades before his assistants realize that they should sedate the monster. Dr. Frankenstein would have probably passed out from lack of oxygen long before they clued into his attempts to communicate through pantomime, let alone actually figured it out.

Instant Sedation sometimes shows up in gamebooks when the hero needs to be knocked out and captured without a fuss.

  • Ben Aaronovitch
    • In Rivers of London, Peter Grant wants something that does this. Dr. Walid explains there is no such thing, although he can come up with something that will work reasonably quickly, at the expense of common sense and basic safety. That would be etorphine hydrochloride - an opioid derivative a thousand times stronger than morphine, commonly used as a general anesthetic for large animals and perfectly capable of causing fatal respiratory arrest in very small doses. Dr. Walid helpfully supplies Peter with auto-injectors of Narcan (an opioid antidote) as well as a card to give paramedics in case of accidental exposure. The aftereffects are played realistically as well, as the person who does get hit with the needle is effectively out of commission for the next novel due to rehab and physical therapy.
    Warning. I have been stupid enough to stick myself with etorphine hydrochloride, the following is the list of heroic measures that will be necessary to save my life...
    • Gets a call back in a later novel; when the bad guys hit Peter with a near-instant sedative, he notes that anything that works that fast will probably have horrible after-effects.
  • The first Artemis Fowl book has a drinkable tranquilizer that knocks you out in seconds. There's no way it could reach your brain so quickly, but since the characters in question were in a time-dilation field and somehow exited it by falling unconscious, Timey-Wimey Ball may have been a factor.
  • Averted and defied — and justified at various points in the plot of Biggles Scores A Bull. The books antagonists are a gang of crooks stealing expensive pedigree bulls to order, using a tranquilliser gun to render the animals docile enough to lead out of their paddock and aboard a small cargo plane without waking their owner. Naturally, if one of the darts hits a human being, the effect is considerably faster and very likely to be fatal, as Ginger has the misfortune to find out; he only survives because the dart ricochets before hitting him, and fails to deliver its full payload.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin fights back when kidnapped and eventually is given some kind of injection. While it does make him stop fighting effectively instantly, he's still conscious in an increasingly distorted way for several minutes.
  • A staple in Butler Parker — be it blowgun darts (shot from a reworked umbrella), the points of skewer-sized hat needles worn by Lady Agatha, a Borgia ring, sedative-covered needles in the upholstery of Parker's car (delivered by pneumatic gears to the behinds of people sitting in the car), gas fed into an elevator cabin...
  • Circle of Magic: Some sort of sedative is used on Evvy in Street Magic in order to abduct her, which instantly knocks her out. They only call it the sleepy juice, but the symptoms (splitting headache, nausea) are similar to chloroform.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian:
    • In the story "The Pool of the Black One", the ship finds an island, and the crew eats a strange golden fruit, which puts them to sleep so quickly that some are still holding the fruit they were eating.
    • In "Queen of the Black Coast", Conan is struck down by the presence of the black lotus.
  • Averted in a book called Cryptid Hunters: The protagonist shoots two mercenaries with tranqs, and then runs off as they chase him with shotguns. He knows full well that they will take a few minutes for the drug to take effect, and laments that it's not instantaneous like in the movies.
  • Averted, discussed, and a plot point in Danny, the Champion of the World.
    • The villain Mr. Hazell owns an enormous estate with pheasants that he refuses to let anyone but the rich hunt in, even though pheasant poaching is a tradition of the community. Deciding to humiliate him by stealing all the pheasants before Hazell's annual pheasant shooting party, Danny and his father feed the birds raisins with sleeping pills in them. The birds act fine until several hours later when they fall asleep and start dropping out of the trees they roost in. This lets the two catch all the birds after hours, preventing Mr. Hazell from discovering them.
    • The dose issue is also touched on. Danny is worried that the fifty sleeping pills they have won't be enough for two hundred pheasants, but his father points out that a pheasant is so much smaller than a man that a quarter dose will be more than enough to knock out a pheasant.
  • In the Domino Lady pulps, Ellen Patrick (a.k.a. the Domino Lady) wields a syringe full of knockout serum that seems capable of inducing instant unconsciousness no matter where it is injected.
  • Doc Savage and his men fired sleep-inducing "mercy bullets," hollow projectiles which "flattened under the skin," releasing a powerful anesthetic. One of his crew carried a sword cane with the tip dipped in the substance, to render bad guys unconscious in seconds. The entire team also carried hollow glass balls with anesthetic gas which could be thrown grenade-style, putting large groups of villans to sleep in moments.
  • Dracula: Averted during Lucy Westenra's first blood transfusion. Dr. Van Helsing gives her a sedative before starting the procedure and Jack Seward notes in his journal that it seemed to take longer than usual for it to take effect. Seward attributes this to how weakened Lucy was by the mysterious condition that's caused her lose so much blood.
  • In Dragon Bones this is used on Ward in order to sedate him so that they can get him to the asylum for insane nobles. Justified in that the drug used is explicitly magical in nature.
  • Used and averted in Dr. Franklin's Island. A needle used on Semi takes effect almost instantly. At the end of the book the injections administered to make Arnie and Miranda human again also put them to sleep, but it takes longer. Semi and Miranda poke around and talk before it takes effect.
  • Justified in Dune. Paul and Jessica Atreides are both dosed with a sedative that renders them unconscious for several hours. After waking up, Jessica intends to attack the person approaching her by pretending to still be asleep. However, the moment the person states he knows she's awake, Jessica realizes that the assailant would have to have precise knowledge of their weight, age, and medical histories. By process of induction, she realizes her personal physician, Dr. Yueh, must have been the culprit.
  • The thugs in Durarara!!, rather than using the standard "chloroform on a rag" trick, pour it into a bottle that has a face mask attached. It still goes to work very, very quickly.
  • This is a minor plot point in the tie-in novel Final Destination: End of the Line, in which a handful of med students engage in "Sux racing", wherein they inject themselves with a dose of suxamethonium, a general anaesthetic, and see how far they can run down the hall before the drug kicks in.
  • In the web serial novel Fishbowl, Lachlan's kidnappers inject him with a substance that knocks him unconscious in just a few seconds.
  • Non-knockout variant: In the Ghost Finders novels, Happy Jack Palmer's various mood-altering pills seem to take effect upon him within a few seconds of being swallowed. May be a subversion, as it's possible their initial effect on him is that of a placebo.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya plays this pretty straight.
    • In the novels, Mikuru ends getting kidnapped by agents of the rival Esper and Time travel groups who knock her out with some kind of sedative. It works very fast, so fast that her kidnappers were actually surprised and wondered if she was used to getting KO'ed.
    • Also, in "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody", Mikuru puts Kyon to sleep so he won't see how time travel works, and then later (or 3 years earlier) Adult!Mikuru puts Young!Mikuru to sleep (from a distance) so that she won't see her future self. Neither of the victims suffers any ill effects when they wake up. They do come from the future, so perhaps it's justified.
  • A staple of covert operations in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth universe, Instant Sedation darts are most prominently used in Bloodhype, when Kitten Kai-Sung, Mal Hammurabi, and Porsupah are infiltrating the AAnn enclave on Repler. Possibly justified by being in The Future, but it also fails No Biochemical Barriers. Oh, well.
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss gives Peeta a tiny vial of sleep syrup. It's so strong that he falls asleep as he's trying to throw it back up when he realizes what it is.
  • John Rain: In Extremis, John Rain and Dox plan to start a war between the Triads and Yakuza by robbing a drug deal, shooting the Triads but only using a Tranquilizer Dart on the yakuza so it looked like they ripped off the drugs. Unfortunately the yakuza soldiers turn out to be two huge ex-sumo wrestlers. Dox shoots them in the neck so they go down fast, but they recover quickly and attack Rain and Dox as they're trying to arrange the scene, leading to Black Comedy as Rain tries to immobilize the still woozy thugs.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • Averted in the novel, where the big Tyrannosaurus rex (yes, there are two Tyrannosaurs) gets shot multiple times with tranqs but it takes her over an hour to feel it. In fact, she nearly eats the kids while everyone's wondering if she was even hit.
    • Muldoon discusses this trope as well, and how the recommended dosage is highly variable. According to him, it's a matter of strength and temperament: a tranq shot that will take down a calm elephant will merely make a hippo groggy and a rhino angry.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space books feature "mercy needles". They are bullets made out of crystallized anaesthetic that dissolve after penetrating the skin and knock the target out immediately. (Law enforcement uses them to capture criminals alive, so they're in good condition when sentenced to being broken up for spare parts.)
  • In Licence Renewed, the first of John Gardner's updated James Bond novels, Bond uses a cigarette lighter filled with halothane that seems to have an instantaneous effect (provided it is deployed directly into the target's face).
  • Subverted in Lolita. Humbert tries to find a sedative that will knock out Lolita long enough for him to molest her without her knowledge but the best sedative he can find doesn't stop Charlotte from waking up instantly when he kisses her after trying it out on her, and the purple pills his doctor claims are the strongest sedative they have turn out to be only a mild sedative that leaves Lolita sleepy but still conscious enough to be aware of his presence.
  • The Otherworld: Averted in Stolen — the characters are attacked by people with tranquiliser guns, and one seems surprised when, after being shot, Elena just plucks the tranq out with no problems. (She comments in the narrative that werewolves need an elephant-sized dose to knock them out.)
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Copernicus Starchild falls unconscious within seconds when Devi injects him with a sedative. Devi, by contrast, has built up a resistance to sedatives over the years due to her frequent use of combat drugs; while this allows her to keep going after being hit with a tranquilizer dart, it also causes her problems in the infirmary when the doctor isn't able to properly sedate her for medical procedures.
  • In The Perils of Enhancegirl the eponymous heroine is routinely subjected to this. In fact, it's a specific weakness of her super senses: chloroform and similar substances send her to dreamland with the slightest whiff.
  • Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat books feature several uses of sleep capsules; break one open under a mark's nose and they lose consciousness instantly.
  • Starship's Mage: "Smart darts" are tiny stun darts that are shot at a target, scan them, and then deliver the optimal electrical shock to render that specific person unconscious for a few hours. There's a slight delay before the target falls unconscious, but that's mostly caused by the darts calculating the shock. It's also mentioned that occasionally the darts will knock someone out for far longer, which is usually a bad sign, as it means that the darts missed something in the scan and gave too strong a shock.
  • FadeAway in Daniel Keys Moran's Tales of the Continuing Time is used from a squirt gun frequently by Trent, who considers killing to be wrong. He also injects it into a fire suppression system, to take out an entire room of people.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: There is an episode where the guy actually acknowledged that he has used a paralytic on the president's husband. However, it was in a drink (the slowest way to get any kind of drug to work, since it needs to go through the digestive system first) and took a minute, max, to completely paralyze the victim everywhere, even the vocal cords. In spite of being that complete of a general paralytic, for some reason, it didn't touch the president's husband's lungs, as evidenced by his ability to, well, live a good hour or so while he was still under the influence of the paralytic.
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: Averted Trope in the Christmas Episode; Little Pete shoots the Garbage Man with a tranq (actually hitting a major vein!), and it takes a couple of minutes of real-time to start taking effect.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • When Raina surprises Agent Coulson with an injection of an unspecified sedative in his back, he has but a few seconds to give her a defiant stare before blacking out.
    • Also this is the main trait and purpose of the Night-Night Gun/ICERs that Fitz and Simmons invented.
  • Averted in The Americans. When a Soviet agent shoots her target with a tranquilizer, he has enough time to struggle with her and then shoot her with a tranquilizer dart in the confusion. Also, since he is larger than she is, he wakes up first and subdues her.
    • Played straight in the season 2 episode "A Little Night Music", where a man visiting a prostitute is knocked out by being forced to inhale chloroform for a few seconds.
  • Arrested Development: The Franklin puppet soaked in ether can immediately knock people out.
  • The Barrier: Yogurt laced with sedatives, injected sedatives and chloroform are all used over the course of the series, none of them take more than two minutes to kick in.
  • Batman (1966): Invoked Trope constantly.
    • "The Bookworm Turns": The sleeping gas released by the Bookworm's booby-trapped book renders Robin unconscious in seconds.
    • "While Gotham City Burns": The Bookworm uses a package booby-trapped with sleep gas to render Alfred and Aunt Harriet unconscious so he can steal a book from the Wayne Manor library.
  • Bones.
    • Arastoo is out fast when Cam injects a sedative into his IV. It *is* going right into his blood,though.
    • Averted though when Hodgins and Wells shoot each other with coy-dog tranquilizer darts in another episode.They were meant for much smaller animals, so neither one passes out and there’s no immediate effect. They basically just act high when seen a couple of scenes after.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Doppelgangland", Willow's vampire Evil Twin is instantly sedated. Also, said Evil Twin is a vampire, and thusly has no pulse to spread the sedative.
      • This would explain how Spike is able to get drunk, come to think of it...
    • Happens whenever Oz's werewolfishness is involved. The first time they need to sedate him Giles says he has loaded up the tranquilizer gun with enough phenobarbital "to sink a small elephant", but the amount has absolutely no ill effect on Oz (whose mass is decidedly less than that of a small elephant).
    • Giles is shot with a tranquilizer dart meant for Oz in "Beauty and the Beasts":
      Giles: Ow!
      Buffy: Oh! Sorry!
      Giles: Oh, right. Bloody priceless. (instantly unconscious)
      • The same darts were used on Vamp!Willow. The question is how Giles managed to not die from that much sedative. (Vamps, being dead already, obviously won't die from it.)
    • In "End of Days", the chloroform version is used by Xander on Dawn when Buffy wants him to get her out of town before the final battle with the First. She's not happy with him when she wakes up, TASERs him, and drives them back to town.
  • Burn Notice:
    • In an episode, Michael narrates that injecting someone with a sedative might not knock them out right away so it is best to approach from behind and physically subdue them while the sedative takes effect. This was then subverted when the target spots them and they end up simply tackling him and tying him up.
    • In another episode, Michael has to knock out a group of CIA agents so he pumps in a powerful Knockout Gas into the building. The catch is that anyone affected by the gas will have their hearts stop if not injected by a counter-agent within a few minutes after the gas takes effect. Micheal knows that he is taking a big risk of killing one or more people if he is too slow in administering the counter-agent once he breaks into the building.
  • Often seen in El Chapulín Colorado. Whenever somebody gets a hankerchief drenched in chloroform near their face, they'll invariably fall unconscious a few seconds later.
  • Charlie's Angels: The episode "Lady Killer" uses the "chloroform in a rag" trick, however unlike many uses of this cliche in TV shows of the era, it is used to kill rather than simply sedate. But the death is still shown to be almost instantaneous. (Except, of course, when it's tried on one of the Angels and she manages to come out of it unscathed).
  • Chuck: Every time tranquilizers are used, unless the victim is Badass Normal Casey. When they have to tranquilize Jeff and Lester in "Chuck Vs The Suitcase", Lester goes down instantly but Jeff takes multiple darts and a few minutes to lose consciousness. Jeff is a bigger guy and his past drug use made him more resistant.
  • Daredevil (2015): Twice averted.
    • "Penny and Dime": A bunch of Kitchen Irish move to capture Frank at the carousel where his family died. One of them sticks a needle in Frank's neck, but he doesn't go down quite instantly. In fact, he's able to still gun down a wave of Kitchen Irish soldiers and only goes down after a couple of them taze him simultaneously.
    • "Blindsided": Matt goes to the prison to get information on Wilson Fisk's stay there. Fisk has anticipated Matt's visit and has a nurse on his payroll inject Matt with a sedative. The intention is that the sedative will weaken Matt enough that he'll be easily shanked during the riot that Fisk then has his inmates and guards orchestrate. He just doesn't count on Matt having heightened senses. It takes over 12 minutes, the length of the entire single take fight, for the sedatives to kick in, during which Matt is able to fight a bunch of Fisk's inmates, some of his guards, get information from the Albanian boss at the prison, and convince one of his men to disguise himself as a guard to get Matt out of the prison. It's only once Matt is in the taxi that he finally is knocked out, which keeps him from realizing until it's too late that his cab driver has been replaced with one of Fisk's henchmen.
  • Dexter:
    • Used to nearly Once per Episode frequency. Although in this case, they reveal the name of the sedative, which is an animal tranquilizer that really does work that fast. It also causes significant damage to the kidneys and frequently stops hearts, but then again, keeping the sedated person alive and healthy is very much not what Dexter is going for...
    • The one time it takes the tranquilizer longer to work, the target is an animal control worker who is holding a tranquilizer gun loaded to take down an alligator. He has enough time to shoot Dexter with it before he collapses. Dexter also has a bit of time to pull the dart out before losing consciousness. They both wake up in an ambulance with some really worried EMTs.
    • Another time Dexter is forced to inject himself with his own syringe and goes down almost instantaneously. He was faking it.
    • This article does a good job of explaining the issues with the drug. Dexter would probably be killing most of his victims, and would need to administer antidote to those who survived in order to wake them. It would also not take effect in 2-3 seconds.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Possible subversion in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". The title villain uses an unspecified knockout drug on a cloth to capture Leela, and she goes down fast... but she has enough time to tear the villain's mask off. Given the time period, it was probably either chloroform or ether.
    • Played straight in "New Earth", with a spray bottle of sedative that works ridiculously quickly. Seriously, one puff in the Doctor's face and he immediately goes down. Possibly justified either by improvements in tranquilizer technology (the episode takes place about five billion years in the future) or by the differences between human and Time Lord physiology.
    • Averted in "The Pandorica Opens", when the tranquilizer dart Amy gets shot with takes so long to down her that she has plenty of time to hide from the Cyberman responsible, which then proceeds to get killed before she finally loses consciousness.
  • The Electric Company (1971): The Spidey Super Stories segment "Spidey Meets the Sandman." Not the Marvel Comics villain who could turn himself into sand, but rather a burglar who — patterning himself after Wee Willie Winkle — used sand to sedate his victims and rob them of their possessions. At one point, he sprinkles his magic sand on everyone at a grand gala, and Spidey himself falls victim to the sand's powers. However, Spidey recovers and eventually captures the Sandman ... using his own sand against him.
  • ER: At least one episode zigzags the trope, though. A drug-addict takes a hostage in order to get IV Demerol, which the ER attending provides, but the nurse intentionally overdoses. Subverted in that he was actually cooperating with her attempt to administer the injection IV; played straight in that he just barely made it past the triage desk before pitching over.
  • Eureka: Equips Taggert, the Crocodile Dundee-esque dogcatcher, with these. Used twice, to take down Fish out of Water Marshall Jack Carter, and inadvertently, the owner of the town's biggest (and possibly only) café.
  • Firefly:
    • Averted Trope: during a routine treatment for injury, Simon covertly injects Jayne with a sedative when he begins to show signs of planning to take command of the ship, but several minutes pass before Jayne gradually loses consciousness (mid-takeover rant, no less).
      Jayne: Now we're finishing this deal, and then maybe — maybe we'll come back for those morons... got themselves caught... and you can't change that by getting all... bendy.
      Wash: All what?
      Jayne: You got the light... from the console to keep you... lifting you up... They shine like... little angels... (falls to the deck)
      Wash: Did he just go crazy and fall asleep?
      Simon: I told him to sit down.
    • The sedative used by Saffron against Mal and Inara did kick in rather quickly, however. Of course, Saffron doesn't exactly care about the safe dosage.
    • Also averted during the final battle in Serenity Kaylee is struck by three Reaver tranquilizer darts. She remains conscious, but is decidedly loopy and out of the fight after a few minutes. It probably helps that she was hit right in the neck.
  • Friends: Averted Trope when Phoebe is shot in the backside with a dart. She never passes out, though she does comment that her buttock is asleep (and that the other one has no idea). The dart was intended for a very small monkey, so there probably wasn't much juice in there anyway.
  • Actually done realistically in the second season of Harrow, as the Big Bad serial killer was an anesthetist, and thus could believably calculate the correct dosages and give drugs by the correct routes to knock his victims out quickly without killing them...or immobilize them while still fully conscious to make them watch helplessly while he kills a loved one in front of them.
  • Heroes: Played hilariously straight in the fourth season where the bad guys use tube of chemicals administered nasally to sedate and disable the powers of the specials, which turned them out like a light when inserted. Used in reverse during the numerous escape and rescue scenarios, where even after days or weeks of sedation a simple removal of the tube had the heroes instantly up and ready for anything.
  • Henry Danger: In the episode Hour of Power, when Schwoz is helping Henry/Kid Danger test out a new ray-gun-like weapon that fires tranquilizer darts so that they can face the new villain introduced in the episode as Drex, Henry accidentally fires the tranquilizer dart at his friend Charlotte, in her forehead. Even though she manages to stay awake long enough to pull the tranq out of her forehead and give it back to Schwoz and Henry, it only takes less than 15 seconds for her to start slurring her speech, faint, and go unconscious.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
    • More than once a sleeping pill in a drink (often alcoholic) is used to knock someone out in seconds. In one case several sleeping pills in a pot of coffee take out two guards who are no worse for wear after waking up.
    • One episode has an Allied deep cover agent sedate a traitor with a ring with a concealed needle. The man shakes hands with the agent, is injected, and is out cold in less than ten seconds.
  • House:
    • Often seen. The protagonist should be considered an Improbable Weapon User; he never misses a vein, and the drug is the exact amount needed for the specific person. Sure, it's Gregory House, but it's still amazing.
    • House does feature a subversion in the episode "One Day, One Room", when he takes down a patient that's freaking out and injects him with something. Cuddy is initially surprised that the patient still has his eyes open, and House gleefully announces that he didn't use a sedative, but a paralytic, meaning the patient is still in pain. And will stop breathing quite soon.
    • In the episode "Last Resort", when his hostage-taking "patient" insists his medication gets tested on one of the hostages first, House chooses the fat one in the hope his higher body mass will keep him conscious long enough for him to inject the gunman. Unfortunately, the gunman suspects a trap and doesn't let House inject him right away, which leaves enough time for the hostage to keel over.
    • Very much played for laughs in "Living the Dream", where House sedates a soap opera star with a syringe to the neck while having an unrelated conversation with Wilson.
      House: It's all about her and whatever hapless salesman wanders into her sights. She's going to lie, steal and trade your testes to get whatever she wants — hold on, I've got to do something before he dials his second '1' (stabs man in the neck with syringe before continuing) — you're going to end up holding her purse, humiliated, and going home to sleep on a mattress you hate.
      Wilson: (watches man fall unconscious to the floor) What the hell are you doing?
      House: He needs an MRI.
    • Notably, it's usually averted whenever House drugs Wilson — which he does frequently enough that it becomes something of a running joke. Chloral hydrate in Wilson's food seemed to be House's weapon of choice, and it was usually shown to take quite a while for the effects to kick in.
  • Iron Fist (2017) plays this quite realistically (and intelligently) for a superhero story. When Walker ambushes Danny, she takes an early opportunity to inject him with a pre-prepared knockout drug. It takes quite some time to take effect, in which he continues to fight very effectively — but because she knows that it's in his system, she only has to fight defensively and survive until he passes out. And she's been watching and assessing him for weeks beforehand, so it's plausible that she'd get the dosage right.
    • Later, Danny has to use drugs to knock out Davos, and he learns the lesson from how Walker beat him: Surprise the opponent with the injection, then defend for a few minutes until it works.
  • Kamen Rider Build: During his time as a convict just before the series, Banjou was injected with sedative by a prison guard and he only has enough time to turn around and rise his hands in defense before going out like candle.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Averted Trope. A mentally unstable suspect has a psychotic break in the interview room, Benson and Stabler have to restrain him while Dr. Huang injects him with a sedative, the man is even more unhinged, and Dr. Huang says it will take at least ten minutes to work.
  • Played for laughs (just like basically everything else in the show) in Le cśur a ses raisons when Megan tries to chloroform Criquette. Criquette is completely unfazed, and warns Megan that her chlorophorm is of rather bad quality. Said woman then curiously sniffs her rag and instantly falls unconscious.
    • She falls for this THRICE.
  • Leverage: Played straight in one episode, in which Parker asks an auctioneer the traditional question, "does this rag smell like chloroform to you?", and knocks him out in about two seconds.
  • Longmire: Averted Trope, in which a load intended to knock out a bear still takes a minute or so to work on Vic. Notably, she has time to attack the guy who shot her.
  • Lost: Subverted Trope in one episode, where Sayid is shot twice with tranquilizing darts. He pulls one dart out and we're led to believe that the trope is playing straight until he surprises the shooter, who approached him to confirm unconsciousness. Played straight in a lot of other episodes, featuring darts, gas and chloroform. Namely, some episodes in this respective order are: "Live Together, Die Alone", "Left Behind" and "Something Nice Back Home".
    • During the flashbacks in "One of Us", Juliet is given a glass of juice laced with sedatives to prepare her for the submarine journey to the island. The intention was for her to gradually drink it and slowly go unconscious. Juliet instead decides to chug the entire glass in one go which causes her to immediately pass out.
  • Macgyver 1985: The gas sprayed by the helicopter in "Honest Abe" has this effect.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Discussed Trope, where trapped with a pair of lions, Malcolm shoots down the zoo personnel's idea of tranquilizing them on the grounds that the beasts would have just enough time to get angry and tear them apart (the show puts it at three minutes, which is almost certainly selling the lions short, but it's the thought that counts).
  • The Magician: In "Nightmare in Steel'', the Ruthless Modern Pirates use anesthetic pistols which cause instantaneous knockout when the hijack the cargo ship.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: Instant Sedation is often used by both U.N.C.L.E. and THRUSH in such situations. Most common varieties: various forms of tranquilizer darts (the U.N.C.L.E. Special handgun was early established as being capable of firing "sleep darts" as well as conventional bullets, but on at least one occasion THRUSH operatives used similar darts to capture a target of their interest) and knockout gas (often lobbed, grenade style, in spherical glass containers, into the midst of a group of Mooks needing disablement).
  • M.A.N.T.I.S.: Averted Trope: The hero's darts cause instant paralysis, not sedation, so it's more of a temporary And I Must Scream kind of thing. Interestingly, the darts' mechanism changed when the TV Movie became a series — in the TV Movie, the agent was a (heavily diluted) poison from a South American praying mantis; in the series, it was a man-made chemical that worked alongside an electrical current.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • In one episode, Trapper tries to subdue a sleep-deprived Hawkeye with a syringe. He accidentally injects Frank Burns, and a few seconds later he drops to the ground, passed out.
    • In another, an unrestrained combative patient grabs a syringe of anesthetic and threatens the staff. Col. Blake tries to talk him down and then grabs the syringe. He gets a handful of the needle.
      Col. Blake: Ninety nine, ninety eight... *thump*
    • A humorous aversion n A Full Rich Day, Hawkeye attempts to drug a troublesome Turkish Soldier by spiking his drink with chloral hydrate and having Radar pretend to drive him back to the front until he passes out. A noticeably disoriented Radar drives off with the Turk in a stolen Jeep, only for the Turk to return several hours later to dump the unconscious Radar off before driving away.
  • Mission: Impossible: Common, where the need for anesthetics that worked instantly was frequently a plot point. In "The Town", Cinnamon ambushes an enemy nurse with a drug dripped on a handkerchief and slapped over the woman's nose and mouth. The nurse drops like a rock; Cinnamon doesn't even have to struggle with her.
  • Monk: Happens a few times, with the most notable being when Adrian is being drugged with chloroform. He grabs the cloth, sticks his face into it, smells it, and repeatedly asks "Is this chloroform?"
  • Played with in the Psych episode This Episode Sucks. Lassiter is knocked out with a chloroform rag after a while of struggling but recovers. Justified as he’s apparently been building a tolerance to the substance for 15 years just for such an occasion. Played straight with Gus who takes one sniff and passes out immediately.
  • The Prisoner (1967):
    • In the opening title sequence, the title character is sent promptly into unconsciousness by Knockout Gas.
    • A doctor's hypodermic needle carries a sleep drug in "A Change of Mind".
  • Probe's "Quit-It":
    • Austin has some chloroform that he brought with him in case he needed to kidnap one of the people living there. He uses it on Karen, who struggles for only a few seconds before falling asleep.
    • Karen uses the "Quit-It" pills to put herself to sleep almost instantly, stealing them from her parents.
  • The Red Green Show: Averted Trope once. Ed Frid once shot himself in the foot with a tranquilizer dart and remained conscious long enough to calculate how long he would sleep, give Red instructions on how to deal with the animal they'd captured and lay down comfortably.
  • Revolution: Played straight, with Jason Neville knocking out his father Tom Neville with chloroform in "The Love Boat", and Rachel Matheson knocking out Grace Beaumont with chloroform in "The Dark Tower". This doubles as Fridge Horror when Tom and Grace turn against them upon waking up...because they think Jason and Rachel were trying to kill them when they used the stuff on them.
  • SeaQuest DSV: Exaggerated Trope. In the episode "Meltdown", the crew of the Sea Quest resolves to capture a prehistoric crocodile by sedating it with liquid nitrogen and hauling it back to the polar ice cap where it woke up from. After having Darwin lure it close, the Sea Quest fires a syringe-converted-torpedo into the thing's hide. It's out in less than five seconds. This thing is one-fifth the size of the Sea Quest, which then has to haul it!!
  • Sherlock:
    • Averted Trope in the episode "A Scandal in Belgravia". Irene Adler surprise injects Sherlock with some sort of sedative she normally uses on her clients. Although Sherlock is almost immediately physically compromised, he remains conscious and lucid for quite a few seconds, arguing with her even as he sinks to the floor and adamantly refusing to hand over the phone she wants until he finally drops it because, due to his sedation, his fingers can no longer grip it. He ends up on the floor on his back, but is still semi-conscious and keeps trying to get up, albeit unsuccessfully. Eventually he slides into a weird dream coma and wakes up in bed some time later, so he did finally lose consciousness, but John mentions that he "wasn't making much sense" and that Lestrade had time to film some of his inane babbling on his phone, despite the fact that Lestrade was presumably on his way at the time that Sherlock was drugged, implying that Sherlock was still partially conscious and animated (if completely confused and spouting gibberish) for several minutes after the injection.
    • Played perfectly straight in "The Reichenbach Fall". When Moriarty goes to steal the Crown Jewels of England, he sprays something in a guard's face, and the guard drops like a sack of bricks. Given how Moriarty is revealed to have got in, the trope might be invoked, with the guard being The Mole and trying to throw off suspicion.
    • In the pilot that became "A Study in Pink", Sherlock confronts the man who will, indeed, turn out to be the culprit, and point-blank demands to know how he's conducting his murders and doesn't seem to notice he's been jabbed with a needle; the man comments on how he's "resilient" as it takes him another minute to lose consciousness, and wakes up (sooner than most) with a forecast that he'll be weak for another hour.
  • Sliders: Zig-Zagging Trope in one episode. Stuck on a world where Gendercide has rendered men a valuable commodity, Quinn and Arturo are both hit by tranq darts. Quinn starts to fumble, but with Arturo's urging manages to will himself far enough to get some help from a sympathetic passerby. Arturo, who is not only shot later but is also significantly heavier than Quinn, drops in under a minute, just long enough to pointlessly threaten the attackers with a tree branch he's grabbed as a weapon.
  • Stargate Atlantis: This is played with. Even the Wraith stunners, which were probably engineered to produce an electrical shock to take out the target instantly, allow those hit to react for several seconds before they fall, and that's the characters without resistance. The resistant characters can take two or three hits before falling.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The episode "The Broca Divide" has both sides of this: early in the episode, they have to tie a thrashing character down and wait for the sedative to take effect; later, they go into another thrasher's isolation room, hold him steady, and inject him, making him stagger within 10 seconds.
    • In "In the Line of Duty", when Sam/Jolinar gets tranqued twice, the first case with "enough to knock out an elephant," it takes a minute before she's out.
    • In one episode Daniel jabs Osiris with a tranq dart, and she pulls it out, looks annoyed, goes and activates some transporter rings, then leaves in a spaceship. The last shot of her shows that she's just a tad off balance, and that's about two minutes after getting hit. He's using a Goa'uld-specific sedative.
    • In the later seasons, people are using tranq darts all the time and they often knock the victim out in less then a second, and occasionally cause the victim to throw themselves away from the dart.
  • Star Trek:
    • Played straight sometimes in The Original Series, but averted in "Amok Time" with McCoy's "triox compound" that knocks Kirk out significantly after he's back fighting Spock. However, this was deliberate on McCoy's part, since simulating Kirk's death was the only way to end the combat without him or Spock actually dying.
    • Each of the Next Gen shows (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager) makes liberal use of hyposprays that knock people out almost instantly, both in medical situations and as improvised weapons. Justified by being set several hundred years in the future; they clearly have new drugs that provide safe, rapid means of anaesthesia. And the hypospray device itself presumably has sensors that allow it to instantly calculate the correct dose based on the target's height, weight, and species.
    • Each series in the franchise features weapons with a stun setting which renders the victim unconscious instantly.
  • Stranger Things: Used several times to put Will out after the shadow monster inhabits him and on Billy in a confrontation at the Byers' house. Though it's somewhat justified in both cases: Will is still just a child, and Billy almost manages to shake it off before succumbing.
  • The Vampire Diaries:In the season 3 finale "The Departed" Elena is knocked out almost instantly when she drinks some drugged tea given to her by Matt. She is not pleased when she awakens in Matt's truck later and her night only gets worse when Rebekah (believing Klaus to be gone for good) causes the truck to go off of a bridge leading to Elena drowning and then being resurrected as a transitioning vampire due to unknowingly having vampire blood in her system at the time.
  • White Collar has an episode where Peter and Neal are made to drink iced tea and chloral hydrate and it knocks them out immediately.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): Happens to the title character in several season 1 episodes. "The Nazi Wonder Woman": a Nazi spy knocks her out with a chloroform-soaked rag. Occurs less frequently in the later seasons although still pops up in episodes such as "The Murderous Missile", chloroform and other forms of gas and drugs one of the few weaknesses of the nearly invulnerable Diana.


    Music Videos 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In one episode of Raw, The Big Show was shot by a tranquilizer dart used to take down dangerous animals. He may be a giant, but a rampaging deer still weighs more than twice his size. They didn't show concern for him overdosing, but they did have him raging and ready to fight until it kicked in five minutes later so it's up to you to decide if this was played with, played straight, averted, inverted, or subverted.
  • At Wrestlemania IX, nefarious villain (and terrible wrestler) Giant González used a chloroform-soaked rag during his match against The Undertaker. This did knock out The Undertaker in under a minute but got Gonzalez disqualified, so The Undertaker won anyways. Somewhat subverted in the fact that while it took less than a minute to knock him out, The Undertaker woke up very shortly afterward and chased Gonzalez out of the ring.
  • Ether-soaked rags used to be a common finish for heel wrestlers. It was justified for three reasons: The target was already tired and out of breath; the target only needed to be unconscious long enough to be pinned, not for hours; they often used actual ether with the tainted object often tossed into the audience where spectators ignorant enough to inhale it too deeply too long would also suffer the same affects as any face who couldn't hold his breath and act unconcious at the same time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Injected drugs in Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution start to take effect immediately, so powerful sedatives can put a character down instantly.
  • A commonly-available sedative in Shadowrun called Narcojet delivers a tremendous amount of stun damage immediately after injection; only a very robust or lucky target will still be standing after getting shot up with it. The description states that the drug has no side effects.
  • Space 1889 has a harmless sleeping gas as a possible invention.

    Video Games 
  • Sleep is one of the Status Effects in video games, though it often comes from magic rather than a drug.

  • Averted with the Lantern Spider enemies in The Funhouse level from American McGee's Alice - while they have needles with what is symbolically a sedative liquid, getting jabbed by one of them causes the screen to go bizarre for a few minutes.
  • ARK: Survival Evolved has tranquilzier darts that can instantly put a player and several (relativley) smaller creatures to sleep if fired from a high quality longneck rifle. The shock dart delivers a paralyzing shock against players before sending them into a deep sleep, and can potentially cause even larger dinos to fall asleep with a single dart.
  • A headshot with Nightwing's wrist darts in his DLC for Batman: Arkham City is an instant takedown. A body shot on an unarmored henchman is just a normal knockdown.
  • During Rachel's gag reel in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Litchi destroys the candy Kokonoe's offering due to it possessing a powerful sleeping pill. Kokonoe confesses, but not before adding that "This shit would knock the Black Beast out!"
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II has Raul Menendez undergo this. Though given that he was carving a soldier's jugular up like a turkey with a nail file, it's understandable.
  • Occurs in Crysis, although given the capabilities of your nanosuit it may be a tiny bit more realistic.
  • Parodied in Day of the Tentacle. Dr. Fred's recurring nightmare has motivated him to just stop sleeping and keep himself awake with a constant supply of coffee — for ten solid years. As a result, a sip of decaf is all it takes to put him out cold.
  • Deus Ex
    • Averted in the first game. JC's mini-crossbow can be loaded with Tranquilizer Darts which take several seconds to subdue the target. And, furthering the aversion, the victim runs around yelling for help before falling unconscious. Though shooting them in the head plays it straight, earning you an instant knock-out.
    • The Tranquilizer Rifle in Human Revolution works the same, and further averts the trope in that there is a small chance of it killing someone (it seems some enemies are randomly given the trait of dying when hit with any non-lethal attack but a take-down).
    • Also alert enemies take longer to fall over and shots near the head work quicker.
  • Dino Crisis has tranquilizer darts that you can load into your shotgun, coming in S, M, and L. S requires many seconds for the effects to kick in or a few shots if you're impatient. M requires less time and shots while L is an instant knockout to most dinosaurs.
  • There is an almost-instant tranquilizer dart firing crossbow in Dishonored; however, if the target is in combat, it takes longer to knock them out than if they are relaxed. An upgrade allows near-instant knock out even in combat.
    • Averted for gameplay reasons much later in the game, however. The poison you are given in the Hound Pits Pub is activated by movement, not time - so the closer you get to your bedroom, the hazier your vision gets, with Corvo passing out when he reaches his room. Of course, this means that the player could stay in the Hound Pits for ''hours'' and suffer no ill effects, if they so choose.
  • When Petra from Emerald City Confidential is investigating a series of crimes in the city, her Arch-Enemy uses poppy dust to quickly sedate and capture her.
  • Final Fantasy IX plays this straight after the Festival of the Hunt. Princess Garnet puts a sedative in the food that her uncle Cid provides, making sure to leave it out of her own food and Steiner's. Within less than a minute, everyone who has consumed the affected food is down for the count, and Garnet is able to make her planned escape.
  • The first Journeyman Project game varies with this trope.
    • In one of the time zones, a robot shoots you with a tranquilizer dart the instant you arrive. After it leaves, you have to make an antidote, but it only truly knocks you out if you leave the room you're in, recall to the present, or not take the dart out first. The remake, Pegasus Prime also has your energy bar drain faster while the toxin is in effect.
    • Averted at the end when you steal the robot's gun and shoot the Big Bad with it later. He struggles for a few seconds, then collapses.
    • Inverted in the NORAD VI time zone, which has sleeping gas in the vents. If you take the source of the problem out and don't put it back, a guard instantly wakes up and apprehends on sight when you step outside the first room.
  • In a bit of realism, the pneumatic dart rifle in Far Cry 2 fires animal tranquilizer darts that cause both instant sedation and thus are lethal.
  • Hitman supplies various ways to render people unconscious so as to get them out of the way without killing them, for the purpose of attaining the "Silent Assassin" ranking for missions. Early games gave you a rag which had to be "charged up" with chloroform from a limited supply to knock a person out for variable amounts of time. Later games traded this out for a single-use knockout syringe, with Hitman: Absolution trading all chemical means of sedation in favor of a basic choke-hold. Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 (and likely Hitman 3 as well) all have sedatives return as well as the choke-hold, but using sedatives voided a Silent Assassin run until 2 released and buffed it to not count towards the "Body Found" score.
  • James Bond video games use this judiciously. Everything or Nothing at least attempts to justify this by stating that the knocker-outer is a fast-acting nerve toxin rather than a chemical.
  • Averted in the first Jurassic Park video game for the Sega Genesis. Grant needs to shoot most dinosaurs multiple times with tranquilizer darts to render them unconscious, and even then it typically only lasts a few seconds before wearing off.
  • Played straight and averted in Metal Gear. Hitting somebody in the head or the heart with the tranquilizing weapons (that is, not the stun grenades or the taser-like weapons) knocks out instantly while hitting the belly or the limbs delays the effect (shooting male enemies in the crotch, however, is an instant knockout and hilarious). Some of the boss characters are bizarrely resilient to tranquilizer rounds, though, and can take several rounds to the head before passing out, even though Otacon insists that the tranquilizer rounds are potent enough to knock out an elephant. The MGS bosses are simply that badass.
    • There's also the rag and gas cigarette items in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater which both instantly knock out enemies. But don't overuse the rag, too much of it might knock Snake out himself. They are also especially handy because Snake can use them while wearing disguises that otherwise restrict what weapons he can use.
    • The tranquilizer gun appears in Project M as Snake's new Side Special to replace the Family-Friendly Firearms he has in the official game, playing the trope straight - they immediately put the opponent to sleep no matter where they hit.
  • The Mages in Miitopia can use a spell named Sleep Tight, which instantly puts a teammate to sleep, allowing them to recovers both health and magic points. Some enemies like the Owlets can also send Miis into a damaging, nightmare-fueled sleep.
  • Used frequently in the Monster Hunter series, with Tranq Bombs, Tranq S bowgun ammo, and Tranq Throwing Knives, required for monster capture quests. Though, to be fair, first you have to weaken them significantly and catch them in a trap. They have no effect otherwise.
  • Castti from Octopath Traveler II can put NPCs to sleep with certain kinds of medicines at night, allowing the team to get access to the path these NPCs block or finish certain sidequests that require an NPC to be knocked out.
  • Overwatch has Ana Amari's sleep darts, capable of dropping a target instantaneously (and amusingly) where they stand.
  • Persona 5 has Hypno-Mist as an item Joker can craft. When thrown down, it puts every enemy on the map to sleep instantly, allowing him to escape, ambush or run past them. Like Smoke Bombs, it fits into his Phantom Thief motif.
  • Piofiore: Fated Memories:
    • In some instances when Lili is kidnapped, her kidnapper often uses a chloroformed cloth to knock her out within seconds.
    • Averted in Dante's route where he and Lili drink a tampered wine without realizing it and they continue with their dinner and conversation for some time well before Lili even begins to feel drowsy.
  • Pokémon have various methods of instantly inducing "sleep" including Sleep Powder, Hypnosis, Sing, and Lovely Kiss.
  • Second Sight has people staggering around for a few moments after being hit with tranquillizer darts, then reacting like they have been punched in the chest and falling over. Hitting them in the head takes them down instantly.
  • In The Several Journeys of Reemus: Chapter two, Reemus is shot from offscreen by a dart so loaded with sedative that it actually sprays a considerable amount on Liam when it hits. Liam has just enough time to identify the sedative before he, too, is shot and goes under. Later on, they have to collect a sample of it (it's a type of honey made by a particular bee, which is so potent that even a small amount contains enough sugar to induce a temporary diabetic coma) to exploit its faux-sedative properties.
  • In Sonic Adventure, Eggman ambushes Sonic and Tails after they get the gray Chaos Emerald in Casinopolis. Before they can get it back, Eggman hits them with a purple gas that puts them out until the next day, Eggman long gone.
  • The first System Shock has a dart gun which can be loaded with tranquilizers. Take a guess whether you have to wait around several minutes for them to take effect. Maybe there's something about SHODAN's method of creating mutants that causes special sensitivity to tranquilizers...
    • Perhaps the part with replacing lots of disgusting flesh with beautiful machinery.
  • A tranquilizer gun is part of Lara Croft's arsenal in Tomb Raider: Underworld. Shooting a full-grown panther with it will take the beast down in the blink of an eye.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Played straight when Silver Sable tries to kidnap Peter Parker by knocking him out with a couple of tranquilizer darts... for a few minutes anyway. Then his enhanced metabolism kicks in allowing him to wake up earlier than he was supposed to and resist all subsequent shots. Cue boss battle where he has to fight off both Silver Sable and her mercenaries while trying not to succumb to the effects of the tranquilizers in his system.
  • Played with in the Zero Escape series. In-universe, a drug named Soporil is invented shortly before the events of the first game, that cause all the familiar conditions of this trope, without any dangers of lethal overdose. However, it is pointed out that such a drug would be groundbreaking in the medical field and has led the company behind it to extreme wealth.

    Web Animation 

  • Dominic Deegan has instant paralysis darts that, bizarrely wear off moments after being removed.
  • In The Dragon Doctors, this is explicitly one of surgeon Goro's talents: managing magical sedatives and anesthesia. Surgery in the far-flung (and magical) future is vastly quicker and easier. During the Die Hard in a Hospital chapter, Goro knocks out two of the thieves with a single injection to the neck (it helps that she has the talent to aim directly at the carotid artery).
  • In God's World, Arby dumps a Bag of Holding full of sleeping potions inside the Creator's mouth, and he immediately becomes drowsy and collapses.
  • Follower: Zig-Zagged with Dia. The first injection has no effect on her, but the second knocks her out cold instantly.
  • Girl Genius
    • The webcomic has "stun bullets" and several varieties of sleeping gas grenades. No word on how they actually work, but the stun bullets at least look like they're killing their targets. Unless it was just that Tarvek looked pretty messed up to begin with and Lucrezia wasn't paying much attention, which is very possible.
    • Gilgamesh blew extract of Somnia dust to immediately flatten everyone but Moloch, Agatha, and Tarvek, to keep them out of the way while he and Agatha were busy saving Tarvek -and it kept the snoozy ones from learning things Gil didn't want them to. Subverted in them waking up sooner than Gil expected, probably due to the Somnia being twenty-plus years old.
    • Zola used a gas grenade knocks out her targets instantly, but the victims recovered fairly quickly with no side effects.
    • Calming pies also work instantaneously as long as you get the recipe right.
    • Just to show how Crazy-Prepared Sparks really are, Gil later pulled this off against Franz who is a giant green dragon with Heterodyne-grade cyborg enhancements.
  • Grrl Power shows ARCHON using tranqs to help capture supervillains in their first big brawl, though employing a Succubus who's also a Gadgeteer Genius may be a factor there. The drug also doesn't work instantly; Silent Shadow/Mach the Knife is able to slash at one of Harem's selves before he drops.
  • Used in Inhuman, where Cinne is stabbed with an anesthetic to keep him from running away. To be fair, they do note that it won't take effect immediately, and the doctor is using an injector, rather than a straight needle. Played straight, however, as in the confusion of the situation, the doctor only managed to get the needle in at his shoulder blade, yet it is still treated like it will affect him as fast as getting stabbed in a vein.
  • An example not using chemical means: in The Law of Purple, we discover that Wraithe can send electric shocks through soft tissue, strong enough to knock someone out almost immediately. Daimon does this to Blue via kiss, though that method was used more for the psychological effect.
  • The Last Days of Foxhound:
    • Averted and Lampshaded. When Liquid is possessed by Big Boss and he is threatening Raven, he is shot in the head with a high dosage tranq dart by Wolf, and it takes him several seconds to fall unconscious, causing Raven to say "That took way too fucking long". Also averted when the Cyborg Ninja is tranquilized and remains conscious long enough to flee.
      Wolf: I can never get ze dose right vith zese super-humans.
    • Deconstructed when Liquid dismantles a Mexican Standoff/hostage situation in a drugstore. Liquid and a telepath persuade everyone to drink a glass of drugged water, and they all pass out within thirty seconds... because Liquid overdosed them (about a dozen pills per glass). Everyone spends the night in the hospital getting their stomachs pumped.
  • In Sandra on the Rocks, the old-fashioned chloroform method knocks Sandra out instantly.
  • Averted in Unsounded: after being hit by a tranq-disc, Sette is able to run across town to her Love Hotel room (It Makes Sense in Context) before she loses consciousness.
  • Widdershins: When Mr. Luxuria betrays his erstwhile associates, he gives them champagne that knocks them all out within seconds, even though they range from a petite woman to The Big Guy. Justified because it's magically imbued with Sloth rather than a mundane drug.

    Web Original 
  • In AHWU #195, Gavin is instantly able to subdue Jack with a chloroform gag when the Team Lads Action News Team pulls a Hostile Show Takeover.
  • In The Nostalgia Chick's Transformers-Bratz arc, she and The Nostalgia Critic go down pretty quickly when she chloroforms him and he tranquilizes her. Justified, as this was for comedy.
  • SF Debris has a favorite nickname for whenever this trope occurs in Star Trek, "The Magic Off-Button Hypospray".
  • Starsnatcher contains an aversion. When his alien abductors shoot tranquilizer darts at him, Lucas still rides his bike for a few minutes, showing only mild signs of fatigue, and it takes several darts to get him down.
  • One of the parahumans in Worm is a lizard-man called Newter whose bodily fluids have this effect.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane:
    • Done by Marcus via classic chloroform rag to Vi before the time skip.
    • Singed makes sure to knock out Silco with an injection before operating on Jinx, knowing the painful nature of the operation will cause them to interfere.
  • Lampshaded in season 6 of Archer. Slater describes its miraculous properties in detail before being called on it by Kreiger. Who is then shot with a dart, knocking him out instantly.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, a shirshu's poison tongue instantly paralyzes whoever it hits. The exception is Appa, who has to be hit several times before going down and could still move somewhat. Appa's basically a walking bus, though, so it makes sense it would take a lot more venom to stop him. Darts coated with shirshu poison also show up and are nearly as effective. In The Legend of Korra, Korra and Naga (bear-sized) are both instantly stopped by said darts, though Naga was shot by three at once just to make sure.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Averted in the episode "Sideshow". Killer Croc has just escaped from a train transporting him to prison, but not before being shot with a sedative in his upper arm. He manages to tussle with Batman, attempt to crush a downed Bats' head with a rock, run through the woods for, at the very least, several minutes, push down a full-grown tree, and fight off Batman again, all while only experiencing moderate dizziness from the sedative. He finally goes under after falling down a waterfall.
    • Justified somewhat as a Magic Antidote in "Dreams in Darkness": Dr. Wu tells Batman that he has made an antidote that can eliminate the fear toxin in his body, but with one side effect: instant drowsiness that can render the antidote taker asleep for two days. Batman, however, decides to put the antidote on hold until he can stop Scarecrow and his evil plans of poisoning the water supply. Only then can the Dark Knight get the antidote administered to him by Alfred.
  • Care Bears episode "Bedtime for Care-a-lot" uses magic dust to put the Care Bears to sleep. No Heart makes the sleeping dust, and Beastly and Shreeky sprinkle it onto bears in Care-a-lot. They miss Bedtime Bear, who was just taking a nap. So it's up to Bedtime Bear to find a way to wake the other bears.
  • The Fairly OddParents!
    • In an episode, a Drill Sergeant Nasty, Jorgen von Strangle, is quickly rendered insensate using two darts (humorously marked "K" and "O") during a fit of animalistic rage.
    • This trope is also a favorite of Vicky's in several episodes, whether she's using tranquilizers or Truth Serums.
  • Family Guy
    • In "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas", Lois reaches her Rage Breaking Point, goes on an anti-Christmas rampage, and climbs up a giant Christmas tree. When Stewie manages to calm her, Peter still asks for the police to tranquilize her so she can be returned to the family. She falls asleep immediately after being hit with the dart. Come Christmas morning, she's still loaded with what Peter claims is enough tranquilizer to bring down a bull elephant. This is a case of Artistic License – Law Enforcement — while police carry many less-than-lethal weapons, tranquilizer guns are (unfortunately) not one of them. Realistically, the police would have needed to ask Peter for Lois's weight to make sure they don't give her more tranquilizer than needed, which would drop her instantly but also fatally. Secondly, at least one officer would need to have a taser drawn in case the dart causes the suspect to become violent; tranquilizers take almost a minute to kick in.
    • In an early episode, Peter's boss devises a contest for the company picnic, which involves taking shots at the employees with a tranq rifle and seeing who can last the longest. Most of the employees drop like stones the moment they get shot... except for Peter, who ends up with more than a dozen tranquilizer needles stuck in him and still manages to stay conscious long enough to win the contest. It would seem that this is due to his relatively high body mass, which (in theory) would require longer for the chemicals to spread through his body.
    • Pictured above is Peter getting rid of their maid, Consuela, this way with chloroform. One whiff and she's out.
  • Gargoyles
    • When Brooklyn is hit with a tranquilizer dart he goes down almost instantly, but is still blinking groggily when he's dragged away — so it may not have put him out completely at all.
    • Averted in an early ep, where Goliath takes a few minutes for the tranq darts to really hit him.
  • In one of the Gorillaz short animated idents, 2D is knocked out cold by just a whiff of gas.
  • Thoroughly averted on Gravity Falls, where Deputy Durland gets hit with several tranquilizer darts and still has time to chase down Dipper and Mabel. He's only out for a few minutes.
  • The Herculoids. In "Sarko the Arkman", Antagonist Title. They use a sleep mist on Zandor.
  • Invoked frequently in Inspector Gadget, usually in the form of a knockout gas.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episodes:
    • "The Quetong Missile Mystery". In what may be a Lampshade Hanging, Race Bannon makes a note of how fast anaesthetic darts work on enemy guards.
    • "Pirates from Below". Race and Bandit are knocked out by a tranquilizer dart rifle wielded by an enemy operative.
  • King of the Hill:
    • In one episode, Bill adopts a dog to participate in a dog dancing competition, which turns out to be highly vicious and corners Bill in his shower. Bill attempts to grab some sleeping pills from the medicine cabinet using a wire hanger and get the dog to swallow them. He is out cold within seconds.
    • In "Now Who's the Dummy", Hank threatens to kick Dale's ass for destroying Bobby's ventriloquism dummy. Dale promptly chloroforms himself in the hopes of being spared a beating, and quickly passes out.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Japanese Sandman", the sleep sand used by the Sandman cause people to fall asleep instantly when it is blown in their face.
  • Exaggerated in The Owl House. Hooty gives Eda some cookies laced with sleeping nettles in "Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Hooty's Door" to make sure she gets some rest, and she doesn't even notice the transition from awake to dreaming.
  • Played straight in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Bad Hair Day", where a naturalist who's mistaken a hair-covered Candace for a rare tangerine orangutan gets shot with one of his own tranquilizer darts, and is conscious just long enough to ask Mrs. Johnson (Jeremy's mom) to go after the "orangutan". Oddly averted later in the episode, where Dr. Doofenshmirtz gets covered in Candace's excess hair and ends up getting shot with a tranquilizer, and he's merely groggy and delirious afterwards. The episode ends with a still-barely-conscious Doofenshmirtz stumbling through a nature preserve singing a random song about getting "Shot in the Butt with a Dart", only to fall asleep in the middle of his song.
  • Averted in Regular Show in the episode "Death Bear". The titular Death Bear and Rigby both are hit by tranquilizer darts, but neither is immediately incapacitated. Death Bear requires an absurd amount of darts from a fully-automatic tranq rifle and a few minutes of rampaging around before being rendered unconscious. Rigby is struck by one and remains conscious for the rest of the episode, albeit much slower and barely aware.
  • Averted in a The Ren & Stimpy Show cartoon parodying nature shows; Ren is accidentally shot with a tranq dart by Stimpy, and it takes a minute for him to go down. In the meantime, his voice slows down.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has Donatello develop a tranquilizer gun attachment for his Tech-Bo in the episode “Bullhop.” He ends up shooting both Raphael and Michelangelo with it, both of whom are knocked out in seconds. This is in spite of the fact that Raphael is at least twice Michelangelo’s size and should take a lot longer for one dart to incapacitate.
  • The Simpsons
    • Bart has just been "taken" by a monkey at a local zoo, and Homer tries to save him by putting a tranq-dart into a tube and putting it into his mouth. He then inhales, and it gets self-explanatory after that.
    • Averted in another episode when Barney is shot with a bear tranquilizer dart. He actually pulls out the dart and drinks the remaining sedative before passing out. Played straight afterwards when the bear it was meant for is shot with one, passing out much quicker than Barney did.
    • Subverted in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Marge" when a doctor uses a blowdart on Marge with "enough tranquilizer to take out John Winston", and she falls but immediately gets back up as she was only faking. Played straight afterward when Homer blows one at her and she falls asleep.
    • Happens several times in "The Computer Wears Menace Shoes" with knockout gas and roofies.
      Homer: Oh, I'm tired of being drugged and gassed.
  • Space Ghost episode "The Looters". Brak uses a sleep gas missile on a ship.
  • The Venture Bros.
    • Subversion where the Fake Ghost Pirate Captain has not only developed a resistance to Instant Sedative but is actually addicted to the stuff.
      Captain: I got the dart monkey on me back!
    • Also averted in the first episode; Brock takes about a dozen butterfly darts and only goes down when hit with a truck. It is Brock.
  • In Wakfu season 2, the Justice Knight captures fugitives with his Justice Train by trapping them inside the wagon, which then fills with a golden Knockout Gas. The effects are shown to be immediate even with the heroes.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Code Yellow", a nurse sedates Squidward before surgery when he tries to protest about SpongeBob performing his surgery.

    Real Life 
  • The RSI (Rapid Sequence Intubation) cocktail: low-dose fentanyl (pain management), etomidate (rapid-acting induction agent), and succinylcholine (rapid-acting paralytic). Injected IV, will take a patient from awake and screaming to unconscious and paralyzed in 30 seconds. The objective is to intubate the patient, who can't breathe for himself at this point, after which you'll start a sedative drip such as propofol.
    • Alternatively the fentanyl can be combined with midazolam or lorazepam (or another benzodiazepine) for amnestic effect.
  • In emergency medicine, sedation of the combative or violently psychotic patient (euphemistically referred to as putting the patient to sleep) is typically achieved with a combination of a rapid-acting antipsychotic agent and a rapid-acting benzodiazepine, all injected intramuscularly. The classic cocktail is called the B-52, named for its constituents (5 milligrams haloperidol - antipsychotic, 2 milligrams lorazepam - benzo, plus 50 milligrams Benadryl - reduces dystonia caused by the haloperidol) and for its effect (the target ends up bombed back to the Stone Age.) The B-52 has been solving unsafe situations in emergency departments since the 1970s, but it takes at least 10-15 minutes to work. Modern versions typically use droperidol and midazolam and kick in within 3-5 minutes.
  • Propofol itself is a more or less instant sedative (it also causes short-term memory loss, hence the common nickname "milk of amnesia"), but it only works IV and its dose must be very carefully titrated for effect. A few milligrams one way or the other can mean the difference between sedation and respiratory arrest - as Michael Jackson found out to his sorrow.
  • Zoo veterinarian David Taylor was a pioneer of safely sedating/anesthetizing wild animals of all types. He tells a tale in one of his autobiographies about using a blowpipe to shoot a dart full of a new, powerful agent, at a dose intended to bring down a very large hoofed animal. As he puts the pipe to his lip, he feels a small cold spot. When he put the dart into the blowpipe, the tip of the needle brushed against the edge, and the tiny bit of liquid deposited, absorbed through the skin of his lip, was so strong that he barely had time to grab the syringe of antidote (something he always kept nearby whenever using this agent, just in case) and inject himself with it before losing consciousness. Had he not been able to give himself that injection, he would likely have been dead within minutes.
  • A common movie technique (especially in kidnappings) is to press a rag soaked in chloroform or diethyl ether to the mouth and nose, causing a near-instantaneous blackout. With the correct dosage, this really can work as advertised, hence why both compounds were used as early surgical anesthetics. What the movies tend to leave out is just how difficult it is to get a "correct" dosage and how dangerous both these are:
    • Chloroform is highly toxic and it is frighteningly easy to administer a lethal overdose even with proper medical equipment and training. Portrayals of chloroform use (particularly those playing to the fetish crowd) also rarely mention the common side-effects of chloroform exposure, such as nausea, splitting headaches, and (under prolonged exposure) severe liver damage. Some people have even been known to vomit immediately at the first sniff of a chloroform rag. Finally, unless combined with another agent (generally injected or consumed), chloroform is far from 'instant'; with inhalation alone, it can take around five minutes for someone to pass out, and continuous application is necessary afterwards to keep them unconscious.
    • Diethyl ether is highly combustible even at relatively low temperatures and therefore dangerous around any kind of heat source, even without open flame or sparks. In fact, James Young Simpson invented chloroform as alternative anesthesia because hospitals that used ether had a nasty tendency to blow up.
    • There's also an inherent risk of suffocation in covering someone's nose and mouth with a wet cloth.
    • In addition, give too small a dose of ether, and congratulations; you’ve just given someone something between a general and local anaesthetic! The patient becomes heavily intoxicated, but it’s not enough to knock them out. Ether frolics, a type of party in the Victorian era where people deliberately inhaled small amounts of ether, then danced the night away were where the anaesthetic properties of this chemical were first seen, since party-goers would often sustain minor injuries, yet barely react to them.
  • In the aftermath of the disaster that destroyed the Russian submarine Kursk, Nadezhda Tylik, an irate and grief-stricken mother of a member of Kursk's crew, was filmed berating a Russian government official at a briefing for the families of the crew. Russian military personnel restrain the woman, while a medic injects an unknown drug into her thigh — apparently through her pants, no less. Within moments, the woman becomes visibly unsteady, and the military troops guide her into her seat, where she seems to lose consciousness. At this point, the press was quickly ushered from the room. Interestingly, Tylik would later vehemently deny that she had been administered a sedative, claiming that the injection contained medicine for a heart condition.
  • Anyone who's ever had a surgery under general anesthetic will remember being asked to perform a task along the lines of counting backwards from ten, and will usually not remember getting much further down the list than "Seven" or maybe "Six". Of course, this does involve a specialist calculating the correct dosage for the patient, administering the drug intravenously, and the recipient of the sedation being compliant throughout; said specialist then has to stay around for the entire procedure to monitor for any complications, such as the dose being a little bit off, or perhaps a sudden and potentially fatal allergic reaction... The comedy musical duo Amateur Transplants (comprised of two doctors) poke fun at the perception of the job among other medics in their song "Anaesthetist's Hymn". Also, unconsciousness tends to disrupt short term memory before it can be transferred to long term storage, so remembering the last few numbers is a bit like remembering the moment you fall asleep, very unlikely.


Video Example(s):


Rio Chloroform Rag

The chloroform-soaked rag that Nigel used to incapacitate Sylvio the guard is pretty powerful as it knocks him out in less then 10 seconds. Even sniffing the used rag for a second is enough to put both the guard and the cop Sylvio called out like a light.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / InstantSedation

Media sources: