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Knockout Ambush

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A group of characters is suddenly ambushed, but they're either knocked out with concussive force or shot with Tranquilizer Darts, Knockout Gas, Static Stun Guns or something with a similar effect, and not lethal weapons, because the ambushers want them alive.

Usually, the scene will involve the darts coming out of nowhere before those being shot at even see their attackers. The heroes are walking along, when all the sudden - zip!, Alice goes down. Followed by Bob and Charlie, and the screen fades out.


When this happens in video games, the player's weapons and items are usually taken away. In some games, there will be an opportunity for the player to get their items back shortly after the Knockout Ambush, in others the game might give different items to replace the ones lost.

A Sub-Trope of I Want Them Alive!. Often involves Instant Sedation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens to Vanessa and Madlax in Madlax, when they are captured by Enfant.

    Comic Books 
  • Happened in an old issue of The Bionic Woman comic. Thugs shot Jamie Sommers, apparently killing her. Then the thugs mention that she was shot with "medicated wax pellets", drugging her into unconsciousness.
  • Regularly happens to Tintin, via Tap on the Head.

    Fan Works 
  • The four are ambushed by Brox and Co. and the Raleka in Ehndris in With Strings Attached in an ambush where none of the four are meant to be killed, though only one of them (John) is actually knocked out (well, he's put to sleep). Paul is mind-controlled and led away, George is briefly paralyzed so they can take his Ring of Power and render him harmless, and the ambushers do nothing to Ringo because they know he can't do anything to anyone at that point.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Hudson Hawk, Almond Joy takes out Eddie, Tommy Five-Tone and Anna using curare-tipped blowgun darts.
  • In Star Wars: A New Hope, the Jawas ambush R2-D2 and C-3PO with ionization blasters designed specifically to disable droids.
  • In Hannibal, Hannibal is ambushed and captured by mooks wielding some sort of stun gun.
  • In the Stargate movie, soldiers are knocked out by the blunt ends of staff weapons one by one.
  • A scene in Daybreakers has a convoy of humans being ambushed by the vampire military. They stop to change a tire, only to have an Oh, Crap! moment when a dart is found sticking out of it. Then crossbow bolts, arrows and tranquilizer darts start flying between the two sides, until all the humans are captured for use in the blood banks.

  • In Firestarter, agents of The Shop capture Andy and Charlie McGee by shooting them with tranq darts from long range. Which was smart considering Andy can control minds and Charlie is pyrokinetic.
  • At the beginning of Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom, everyone in the main group except for Glory and Starlight gets ambushed and hit by tranquilizer darts courtesy of the RainWings. Later done to one of the villains under Glory's command, but Icicle stays awake long enough to realize that she's going to have to face Queen Scarlet and possibly find out that she is going to kill her brother for failing her.
  • Happens constantly in The Perils of Enhancegirl. The main character's super-senses make her very vulnerable to chloroform, so she's often captured and subdued in this fashion. It's not limited to her. At one point Spectra is knocked out by being konked on the back of the head by a semi-crooked cop.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happened to Sheridan on Mars in an episode of Babylon 5. Subverted in that rather than just go down for the count, Sheridan is able to fight his attackers for a short time before succumbing to the tranquilizer patch that had been slapped on him by Garibaldi.
  • Frequently used in Heroes when taking down superhumans.
  • Happened on Lost when Michael leads Sawyer, Kate, Jack, and Hurley to the Others' camp. The Others ambush them from the trees using tranq darts, then gag them and put bags over their heads.
  • In My Name Is Earl, after Darnell is identified as a former secret agent, Earl and Randy keep being shot at with tranquilizer darts as a Running Gag.
  • Merlin had Merlin and Arthur hit by tranquilizer darts by a band of slave-traders.
  • In Supernatural 'Swap Meat' this happens to Sam.
  • In Arrow, Oliver has Diggle knock him and his mother out with tranquilizer darts so that Diggle can interrogate her as The Arrow and use the threat of harm to Oliver against her, with the added bonus of Moira apparently seeing Oliver and The Arrow in the same room.
  • Blake's 7
    • In "Bounty", Blake teleports up to the Liberator to find it deserted except for an apparently distraught woman who claims that the crew have been killed. He finds out the real reason she's holding her hands over her face when Space Pirates spray him with Knockout Gas.
    • In "Horizon", the crew teleport down to the eponymous planet one-at-a-time and get ambushed by natives with blowguns. Finally Avon is smart enough to teleport down elsewhere, which is just as well as he's the last one left.
  • Bones: Zach does this to Bones, because he's no match for her in a fair fight and he knows it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons, module A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. If the PCs will be playing in module A4, at the end of A3 the entire PC party will be rendered unconscious by a green gas and captured by the Slave Lords.
  • Marvel Super Heroes supplement Uncanny X-Men boxed set "Adventure Book"
    • In chapter 4 "Time Out" the PCs are at a charity basketball game when the supervillain Arcade floods the gymnasium with Knockout Gas in order to capture them.
    • Chapter 5 "Nightmare in New Guinea".
      • The PCs are at an audience with the Mandrill when he decides to capture them. He and his soldiers open fire on them with neurostunner pistols that cause unconsciousness.
      • While the PCs are escaping from Mandrill's base, one of his soldiers wearing Powered Armor attacks them. She uses a neurostunner built into her armor to knock them out.
    • At the end of Chapter 8 "Terror in the Amazon" the PCs are knocked out by Arcade's Knockout Gas again the same way they were in Chapter 4.

    Video Games 
  • At one point in Half-Life, you're knocked out from behind by a couple of soldiers.
  • In Fallout 3 you are knocked out by a stun grenade from nowhere after recovering the G.E.C.K.
  • In The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon, Spyro, Cynder, and Sparx are shot with enchanted arrows by Hunter's tribe that immediately renders them unconscious. Sparx only had enough time to react with a Slow "NO!"
  • Mega Man Battle Network 5: Team Colonel and Team ProtoMan: In the first chapter, Lan and his friends visit his dad's office as the latter is going to show something. Suddenly, gas grenades roll from outside and burst, knocking them all out. Then some Gas Mask Mooks enter the room to confirm the gas concentration before their boss, Dr. Regal, walks in and orders them to kidnap Lan's dad and confiscate Lan's friend's PET devices. Lan himself, meanwhile, escaped notice because he's in a closed part of the room (in his dad's personal workspace, as he's told to take something from there).
  • In Postal 2, two rednecks sneak up on The Postal Dude while he's urinating on his father's grave and knock him out with a shovel to the back of the head.
  • In Medal of Honor: Vanguard at the end of 'Behind Enemy Lines', Keegan is knocked out with a Buttstroke from a Karabiner 98K by a Fallschirmjager.
  • In STALKER: Clear Sky, Scar is knocked out by a tripmine set up by Bandits in the basement containing Fang's PDA, the Bandits also take all of the player's equipment and money, although it is possible to get all of the stolen equipment back shortly afterwards, the money cannot be retrieved.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: Overlaps with Cutscene Incompetence when the vampire player character gets clubbed unconscious by an enemy as they climb out of a cab, requiring them to be rescued before they're dealt a Cruel and Unusual Death. Why a Tap on the Head affects the character more than a bullet through the brain does is left unexplained.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


Tranquilized By Animal Control

Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman, and King Julien are ambushed with Tranquilizer Darts by Captain DuBois and her team of animal control officers.

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Main / KnockoutAmbush

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