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Pull the I.V.

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"Why is it that whenever someone wakes up in a hospital, the FIRST thing they do is pull the IV out of their arm? Maybe it was KEEPING THEM ALIVE!"

The hero — or villain — has been hospitalized. When they come to, they've got better things to do than sit in the recovery ward for hours and hours —the world's at peril! They dramatically yank off their IV as they're informed of another attack—especially if the bad guys are knocking down hospital doors, guns blazing. They've got no time to bleed. That this is against Doctor's Orders is always implied, and sometimes explicitly stated.

In real life, doing this has a pretty good risk of the wound getting infected, as it directly goes into your bloodstream, and requires some gauze, tape, and pressure to stop the bleeding, on top of whatever medicine in there being the medicine that's most likely beneficial to them. It also requires a gentle pull, not a yank.

May be related to Afraid of Needles, and represents an amusing subversion: there is no needle in an established IV, as it's only used to introduce the catheter into the vein, and is removed and safely disposed of immediately thereafter. The bit that stays is actually made of soft, flexible plastic(-y stuff).

Often followed by The Patient Has Left the Building. See also: Worst Aid, Television Is Trying to Kill Us, Artistic License Medicine.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Downplayed in Durarara!!. During the Daily Life Arc, Izaya is hospitalized and has an IV attached to his arm which he drags around as he wanders the hospital. That night, Manami Mamiya attempts to kill Izaya and during the fight, the IV is tugged out. While he pins Manami down, Izaya holds his wrist to his chest, which makes sense since he just had a needle ripped out.
  • An offscreen example happens in Fruits Basket. Rin wakes up in a hospital after collapsing and, in a haze, wanders off. When the nurse sees that she's missing, there's a shot of her slightly-bloody IV needle lying on her bed. Presumably, she didn't notice any pain because she was that delirious.
  • When Lady Une comes out of a coma in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, she pulls out her IV and goes to rescue Treize.
  • One Piece. Right before the fateful battle in Marineford, Whitebeard pulled off all of his life support equipment since he didn't want anyone else to see how age and sickness had taken their toll on him.
  • Sankarea. Chihiro sustains injuries to his neck serious enough to need an IV and when he wakes up, he gets out of bed fast enough for the IV to come off but feels nothing.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!. Bakura, a character who has a spirit possessing him on and off, is stabbed and passes out. He wakes up in a hospital as the spirit, who promptly knocks out the old man who was watching over him, stands up, violently rips the IV out of his arm, and sets off to find the guy he's planning to defeat.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: David Cain in one flashback didn't do this. After breaking out of a secure hospital he kept the I.V. line in, and the I.V. bag in the breast pocket of his coat.
  • Desolation Jones: Jones was panicking when he pulled out his IV, but a year's worth of trauma kind of justifies it.
  • The Walking Dead: Justified (by the Zombie Apocalypse) and deconstructed. When Rick Grimes does it, the wound noticeably continues to bleed throughout the first issue.

    Fan Works 
  • All the Roofs of Uncertainty: Leslie demands that someone Dick trusts stay in the room with him after surgery, preferably one of the Bats, to ensure he doesn't pull his IV lines and try to escape before he realizes he's in a friendly medical facility.
  • A Certain Holiday Season: Touma knows what to do:
    "Right. Anyone outside?" He stumbled when his feet hit the floor, but soon he was mobile, carefully prying at his IV drip.
    "[S]hould you be removing that?"
    "Hmmm? Oh, yeah, it's nearly empty anyway, and they did a clean insertion. I've done this before: just shut the drip off at the roller clamp, remove the taping, and then cover with a sterile bandage."
  • Subverted in How the Light Gets In. A recently resurrected Laurel wakes up and sees she's on an IV, and, thinking it's painkillers, panics and tries to rip it out. She's stopped however by Diggle, who assures her its just fluids, which she desperately needs. Diggle carefully removes the IV at a later point.
  • A critically ill Ryuuko was noted to be doing this in Room 002108 and her reasons for pulling out IVs is that she feels she is going die and has little else to lose.
  • Though he doesn't end up actually doing it, Danny Fenton wasn't looking forward to the hole doing this with his intangibility would leave in his arm when he wakes up in a hospital in Running Blind.
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls:
    • Tsuji is staying in the Dispensary after a very bad incident the week before. He's been getting treatment, healing from Kim, and hydration since then. At the point where he has to remove the I.V. so he can go to Chicago with his dad to help Marcellus, it's just replenishing water in his system. As for the wound, he takes some of Kim's healing vial, though that was meant to cure bodily grogginess.
    • Kujira is a straighter, villainous example. Hours fresh off major optic surgery, she hears a distress call from the Other Side Gang and elects at that moment to go to Chicago, taking out the IV and all. Bizarrely, she's good at biology, so she should know at least a little something about that. Mitigated in the very next chapter which shows she took time to dress the I.V. wound.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged has a variant at the end of the first season, where as in canon, Kirito immediately gets up from his hospital bed to go staggering after Asuna. Unlike in canon, there's a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome that extends Kirito's stay in the hospital.
    Kirito: Gotta find Asuna... Gotta find - hey, is that a catheter?
    (SPLORCH followed by a horrific shriek of pain)

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Jim of 28 Days Later does this, though not right away. It's not like anyone's coming to tend to him, and we see him wrapping a bandage around his arm where the IV had been.
  • Played for Laughs, naturally, in Airplane! There's a young girl being transported to a hospital, whose IV line keeps getting knocked out by the stewardess playing the (borrowed) nun's guitar.
  • Deconstructed in Click. Adam Sandler, hospitalized, seeing his son is about to repeat his same mistakes, pulls his IV and races out to catch his son in the parking lot. This leads directly to his death within five minutes.
  • James Bond does this when escaping from the MI6 medical facility in Die Another Day.
  • Shows up in Halloween II (2009) (2009). Justified, as it happens during a nightmare sequence.
  • Harry Brown of the eponymous film removes his monitors and goes home after waking in hospital following an emphysema attack.
  • The Hidden: Justified—the alien villain, occupying a human body, is hospitalized after the police gun him down. After they leave him with another patient he yanks out the IV to jump into the other person's body. The alien supercharges all its hosts' durability far beyond human standards.
  • A particularly gruesome example in The Human Centipede, as one of the girls tries to escape - she runs from the drip stand without removing the needle, which subsequently tears her vein open and bleeds heavily.
  • Played with in Isn't It Romantic when Natalie, after waking in a romantic fantasy that runs on tropes, easily pulls an IV that only appears to be taped on. When she tries this again after waking in reality, she gets a spurting hole in her arm.
  • The Bride does this in Kill Bill during the hospital sequence after killing Buck's latest "customer," who he'd been pimping out her comatose body to, just before getting into position (with no working legs, mind you) to ambush and take revenge upon Buck.
  • Inception: The dream machine appears to involve an IV-like device, which appears to be simply pulled out when not needed.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: Tony Stark not only pulls out an IV but also his own respirator tubes. Yensin, observing, only stops him when he tries to remove the electromagnet newly implanted in his chest, so presumably the IV and endotracheal tubes were no longer actually necessary.
    • He does it again in Avengers: Endgame, pulling out the IV giving him fluids during an argument with Steve. He also stands up from his wheelchair despite everyone telling him not to. This bites him in the ass hard, as he collapses and passes out mid-rant, and has to be sedated to ensure he actually gets some nutrients in him.
  • In The Matrix, Neo has a similar setup, but fed directly into a port in his arm (and facing the wrong way). Removing it does seem to cause pain though.
  • Humorously averted in OSS 117: Lost in Rio, leading to a Low-Speed Chase through a hospital.
  • Downplayed in Phenomena. When the heroine realizes the person watching her has fallen asleep, she very carefully removes what's keeping the IV attached, gently tugs on it to remove it, then wipes the blood and keeps pressure on it.
  • In Resident Evil (2002), Alice wakes up alone in a hospital Late To The Zombie Apocalypse, and the first thing she does is yank out the multiple IVs all over her body. It does hurt like hell.
  • Scream 4: Jill does this at the end when she learns that Sidney survived her murder attempt, planning to kill her before she can disprove the whole story about Jill being the Final Girl.
  • Played for Laughs in Something's Gotta Give. Harry, a man in his 60s, has just been admitted to the hospital after suffering a heart attack. When asked if he's taken Viagra recently, he denies it because his much younger girlfriend is present. The doctor then tells him that they're putting medication into his IV that could have fatal side effects if combined with Viagra. Cue Harry staring at the drip in absolute horror before hurriedly yanking out the needle.
  • Bob Lee Swagger does this to himself in Shooter; he's been shot and knows he's going into shock from blood loss, so he improvises an IV set using aquarium tubing, plastic soda bottles, and a basting needle. Once he's bolused himself with a liter or so of homemade sugar-salt solution, he yanks the line out and continues on his merry badass way.
  • Variation in Underworld: Blood Wars. Selene is knocked out with poison and is strapped to a table with needles inserted into her attached to tubes that are slowly draining her blood. When David and Thomas attempt to rescue her, Thomas examines the needles and finds they are barbed, so he warns David to pull them out very gently or else they will inflict serious damage to her.
  • In X-Men, Wolverine wakes up at the medical room of the X-Men base and promptly rips out the needles. Doesn't bleed thanks to his Healing Factor.

  • Katniss Everdeen does this at least once per book in The Hunger Games.
  • Subverted in Specials. Protagonist Tally has bio-sculpting performed on her and is placed inside a liquid-filled healing tank. When the facility is attacked she rips her breathing tube out to try and join the fight but starts drowning instead, only surviving thanks to someone noticing and breaking the tank.
  • Han Solo rips out a saline IV drip by accident in Star Wars: Tatooine Ghost, leaping out of bed when he thinks the hotel room where he's recovering from dehydration has been infiltrated by stormtroopers—they're actually just in the lobby, which Leia has under surveillance. He doesn't even realize his arm is bleeding until Leia points it out to him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On the first season of America's Next Top Model, Adrianne Curry got extremely sick and was taken to the hospital. She was told that unless she went to the photoshoot and turned in a photo for the judges to see, she would be eliminated. She was so alarmed at the thought of losing, in the course of getting out of the hospital bed, she dramatically ripped the IV out of her arm..... and regretted it almost immediately due to the pain. She later had a bruise covering the entire length of her arm that was so extreme, even make-up couldn't fully cover it, and it had to be photoshopped out.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), Starbuck does this when breaking out of the Cylon farm.
  • Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although in her case the badassery (and ability to walk immediately after eight months in a coma) is justified by her being a Slayer.
  • In one episode of Criminal Minds, an unsub shoots Reid and sends an accomplice to the hospital to finish him off by poisoning his IV. Reid figures out what the accomplice is doing and pulls out the IV.
  • ER even featured a version where the doctor themself did it. Carter yanked out a patient's IV upon realizing that he'd given her a medication that she was allergic to, then hurriedly tried to claim that she had done it when questioned by another doctor.
  • General Hospital: Serial Killer Ryan Chamberlain has been hospitalized. Beloved Chief of Staff Steve Hardy (whose wife Ryan almost killed) has snuck into his room and is preparing to pull out his IV (one of the few times it's acknowledged that doing this could kill someone). Ryan wakes up and tries to taunt him into doing it, but Steve ultimately decides to stand by the most basic principle of medicine—"First, do no harm"—and walks out.
  • A variation on the theme happened in an episode of House, with a serial killer who yanked out his breathing tube.
  • M*A*S*H. Winchester isn't happy when Colonel Flagg starts conspicuously playing with the I.V. tube of a wounded North Korean prisoner he's interrogating.
  • Averted in an episode of Moonlighting, where a hospitalized gangster gets into a fight and drags his IV drip around with him. Played for Laughs, obviously.
  • An entirely Justified example occurs on NCIS: Los Angeles when Granger is in the hospital after being stabbed. Justified because an assassin has just injected poison into his IV, forcing him to pull it out before it can hurt him (after, of course, shooting said assassin with a gun that Hetty had left him).
  • During the climax of season 1 of The Newsroom, Will McAvoy tears out his IV while quoting the end of Don Quixote. It sets off alarms at the nurse's station and unsurprisingly pisses off his nurse.
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett does this. She's at Planned Parenthood or some such clinic, just about to receive abortion #5, but having second thoughts about going through with this one (because her boyfriend/husband/whatever the hell he was kind of wanted her to keep it, even trying to persuade her to do so by telling her she could get government assistance.) She ends up going out, taking her partner's shotgun, and shooting the nurse that made a snarky comment about how many abortions Ms. Doggett had received. The pro-lifers out front protesting think she did it to support their cause.
  • In an episode of Psych, Henry Spencer, not wanting his son to embarrass him by this whole "barely poisoned" foolishness (thus resulting in his son languishing in a hospital rather than solving the case) yanks the IV out of Shawn's arm. Notably, it has quite painful results.
  • The breathing tube variant also appears in an episode of Royal Pains. Jill asks Divya to have them take her breathing tube out; Divya explains she can't, and so Jill gives her a distraction so she can remove it herself.
  • One episode of Scrubs had JD attached to an IV to cure his hangover. When he tries to run away from Dr. Cox, he falls over and the IV gets ripped out. Another episode mentions that the nurses take great care when removing the IV, saying that removing it without bruising is a great skill—even though in Real Life, removing an IV without bruising is very easy when done properly (i.e. not yanking, and putting pressure on afterward).
  • The Seinfeld episode "The English Patient" has George unplug the I.V of a guy who was dating a girl George likes.
  • In Sense8, a Visiting Will rescues Nomi — who is handcuffed to a hospital bed and due for an involuntary lobotomy — by having her pull out her IV and using the needle to pick the cuffs.

  • In Angels in America, when Roy Cohn is in the hospital for treatment regarding his suffering from HIV, he accidentally knocks out his IV while flailing in anger at a visitor. This does cause him pain as well as cause blood to come out, which the nurse hurries to clean up and warns the visitor to wash off of himself ASAP.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Blood Feud", Mr. Burns yanks his IV off right after his blood transfusion.
    • Used humorously in the episode "Days of Future Future", which has a montage of Homer repeatedly being killed and then cloned by Professor Frink. One of these comedic deaths includes him pulling out his I.V at the hospital after being told he couldn't eat solid food for two weeks.
  • The Venture Brothers averts this in "Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel", at least at first. When Brock Samson wakes up in an O.S.I. sickbay, with every reason to believe he's a prisoner, he drags the I.V. stand with him as he sneaks around the hallways. He even uses it to pin a doctor for questioning. The catheter does come out at some point before he skydives out the nearest hatch. A more gruesome spin on this trope is played for laughs in "Dia de los Dangerous!" when a kidney-less Dr. Venture jury rigs his robot into a dialysis machine. Whenever he moves carelessly, the two rather short catheters break loose from his abdomen, spraying blood everywhere.