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Knotty Tentacles

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"Get out of that, if you can!"

One way of beating something with tentacles, long stretchy limbs, or serpentine features is by tying it up with said features. For smaller creatures, those about the size of the protagonist, this often involves physical tying. Larger creatures will have to be wrapped up with more complex maneuvers, similar to what one would use to dispose of a Misguided Missile.

Sub-Trope of Bound and Gagged, and almost always involves Hoist by Their Own Petard. Compare and contrast Tentacle Rope. Not to be confused with Human Knot or Naughty Tentacles.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z has Goku face a giant snake called Princess Snake. He defeats the snake by flying around it until it ties itself into a knot trying to eat him.

  • One of Steven Wright's deadpan jokes is that he once got fired from a pet store because he took three snakes and braided them, then tried to pass it off as a three-headed snake.

    Comic Books 
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Hulk has at least once defeated Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four by tying him in knots.
    • He also tied Doc Ock's arms into knots in retaliation for the beating he received in a Sinister Six storyline.
  • In X-Wing Rogue Squadron, a teenaged Wedge Antilles was restrained by Booster's tentacled copilot while going berserk as his parents were dying. Somehow, off panel Wedge slipped out and got to a window, and the copilot was seen looking startled with its tentacles knotted.

    Fan Works 
  • In the climax of Old West, the serpentine heroine Grace Glossy is restrained by the Big Bad's goons (who are smaller animals than her) by pulling her body into an uncomfortable knot.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the 1980s The Chipmunk Adventure movie, the Chipettes escape from a room full of snakes by tying two of them together and using them as a rope to get out of a window.
  • As in the mythology example, this happens to Pain and Panic when they try to kill baby Hercules in Disney's Hercules.
  • In The Jungle Book, Mowgli pushes Kaa's coils off a tree and he collapses on the ground in a tangled heap. As he crawls away, his tail ends up tied in a knot, which gets snagged and trips him up.
  • In Robin Hood (1973), Prince John punishes Sir Hiss by tying a knot on his throat, then later by tying him around a pole (pictured above). It also used to be the page image for the movie's funny page.
  • The animated film The Secret of Kells has the boy protagonist face off against a tentacle monster to retrieve another magnifying crystal to replace the one his mentor lost years ago. Part of his tactics for defeating the thing invokes the trope as he evades the tentacles.
  • In Vivo, Vivo defeats a hungry python this way.
  • Tarzan in one scene is being chased by an extremely long snake. Suddenly he comes to a stop and turn to face the snake which looks like it is about to get him but it gets stuck just short of of him. The camera then zooms out to show how Tarzan had tricked it into tying itself up as it chased him though the trees around them.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has Plimpies: fish-like creatures with two legs who nibble on the feet and clothing of unsuspecting swimmers. They are considered as pests by the merfolk, who will tie their legs into knots and letting them drift away to get rid off them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Goodies: In "Scoutrageous", when the 'Lone Scout (Plus One)' (a.k.a. Graeme and Bill) are using their scouting skills to run a Protection Racket on a huge scale, one of their targets is the London Zoo, where they tie knots in a python and an elephant's trunk.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: When attacked by two snakes, the baby Hercules defeated them by tying them together.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mutants & Masterminds suggests allowing this as an Acrobatics or Bluff check against an opponent with Elongation.

    Video Games 
  • In Burly Men at Sea, the brothers can tame a Kraken by tying two of its tentacles together.
  • In the video game adaptation of Hook, the instruction manual says that the reason the snake enemies are attacking you is because you used to tie them into knots when you were a kid.

  • In Freefall, the police chief points out to Sam just how long it would take him to free himself if his facial tentacles were tied to an object. Sam complains that is something he wishes the chief did not know from experience.

    Web Original 
  • The Adventures of The League of S.T.E.A.M.: In "Tall Tails", three men boast of their encounters with a kraken, including one man who claims he defeated it by tying its tentacles in a nice square knot. While he's talking, a kraken attacks, but as the man only has one arm now, he's got a good excuse not to volunteer to fight it off. "I need two arms for that!"
  • In Bee and Puppycat, Bee's landlord Cardamon tells a "Just So" Story about the creation of jellyfish to his comatose mother. It involves the arms of an octopus rupturing from tying themselves in knots trying to frantically collect the strands of hair scattered by ocean currents a princess gifted him in gratitude. The chunks of his arms fused with the strands of hair and became jellyfish.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Several animals in real life are known to tie themselves into knots. Eels and hagfish tie themselves into knots as a defensive measure against predators and to help them tear food apart. Eels have also been observed tying themselves into knots to give themselves leverage to pull prey out of hiding places. Hagfish also tie themselves into knots in order to remove excess slime from their bodies. Snakes normally do not tie themselves into knots and usually only do so if something is wrong with their nervous system, which may be caused by a viral infection. Snakes also tie themselves into knots during experiments where they are subjected to microgravity by a rapidly descending airplane, but why they do this is unknown.


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