Follow TV Tropes


Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice

Go To
Moe: What are you telling us, we're trapped like rats?
Russ Cargill: No, rats can't be trapped this easily, you're trapped like... carrots.

There has been an outbreak of The Plague. Despite any quarantine protocols and maneuvers made to combat the spread of the disease, it's broken through every blockade, barrier and checkpoint. Curfews and emergency broadcasts are initiated. Carriers are mixing with the general population, and the breakdown of society is imminent.

The powers that be decide that the situation has gotten way out of hand, and extreme measures are taken in desperation — checkpoints open fire on civilians, regardless if they are carriers or not. The heroes of the story now find themselves at odds with the CDC-variants working in conjunction with the military.

Sub-Trope of Godzilla Threshold. Compare The Only Way To Be Sure, in which the entire population in the quarantined area is eliminated, as opposed to only those who are trying to escape. Contrast No FEMA Response, where a disastrous situation is bad enough that even this type of response would be justified (an maybe even accepted), but circumstances make it flat-out impossible.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, there was a kingdom that had a massive mine of "Amber Lead", a material that was considered very desirable... except that it was actually highly poisonous and ended up killing the entire population. And then the neighboring countries mistook Amber Lead poisoning for contagious and started indiscriminately killing everyone who tried to leave. Well, except for the royal family and high-ranked nobles, who managed to escape before the crisis went really bad. These include the people who most actively sought out the Amber Lead. Of course.

    Doesn't end there. In their desperation, those who had yet to die of the illness took arms with weapons made of the very mineral that was killing them and attempted to break through the quarantine for treatment. The surrounding countries took it as a declaration of war and sent their armies to decimate the population and burn the country of Flevance to the ground. Only the then 10 year-old Trafalgar Law managed to evade military forces and escape genocide.

    Comic Books 
  • Ultimate Vision: When the Gah Lak Tus module released the virus, the whole section is locked. Two full work units must be killed, but there's no other way.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Babylon 5 story Order In Chaos an Orieni exploration squadron discover that the Centauri keep the resource-rich planet Nakaleen uncolonized and under blockade, and manage to sneak a ship down to try and see why. They succeed and unwittingly embark at least one Nakaleen Feeder, with all the consequences of this happening, and when a Centauri squadron encounters one of the ships and find out where they have been they immediately blow it up, screen any survivor for Feeder infection (and kill any survivor) and send ships to hunt down the rest of the squadron, as they know the threat posed by even a single Nakaleen Feeder getting to a populated world (see the main Babylon 5 entry below).

    Film — Animated 
  • The Simpsons Movie has the town of Springfield quarantined because of excessive pollution by EPA chief Russ Cargill. When the Simpsons manage to escape, Cargill goes mad with power and requests armed guards to maintain quarantine, a top-class manhunt for the Simpsons, and plans to turn the whole town into a canyon-sized crater via nuke.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 28 Weeks Later features living humans being reintroduced into London after the zombie plague of the previous film had depopulated the whole of Great Britain. A strict military quarantine is in effect in case any traces of the virus remain, and when an outbreak does occur orders are given first to shoot everyone on sight regardless of whether they're infected, and later to firebomb the entire city. It doesn't work.
  • Alien 40th Anniversary Shorts. "Containment" opens with a colony ship with 23,282 people on board (minus the four protagonists in the Escape Pod) exploding after one of the four survivors set the Self-Destruct Mechanism to stop the Xenomorphs from spreading.
  • The Crazies (original and remake) follows the destruction of a town because of a toxin developed by the military that was accidentally spilled in the water which drives those exposed to it homicidally insane, the military which has cordoned off the area and is willing to kill anybody who is suspected to be infected, and the scientist that the military has dragged into the hot zone and forced to help find a cure at gunpoint, regardless of the fact that the conditions are terrible.
  • The entirety of Manhattan Island is made into a prison in Escape from New York, and thousands of convicts run around among the ruins preying upon each other. The opening scene shows a few convicts trying to circumvent the wall on a raft. A gunship helicopter spotlights them and issues one warning to turn back. When the response is unsatisfactory, the men and their raft are liquified by gunfire. Given what we see of the city-turned-prison camp during the rest of the film, this might well cross over with another trope entirely. The novelization turns this trope even more literal by mentioning the fact the government exploited the fact the city was hit with a massive nerve gas attack to justify blocking off the city to begin with — turning it into a Penitentiary was just the natural evolution of that.
  • Outbreak has the U.S. military using this option to stop the disease, culminating with blowing up the town with a massive blockbuster. Played with because the General Ripper behind the quarantine wants the disease as a bio-weapon and this cannot be done if its publicly known that there is a cure.
  • Both [REC] and its American remake Quarantine have a zombie-infested apartment which is quickly barricaded by heavily armed cops. Their continuations also showcase that areas affected by the zombie virus are quickly sealed off with soldiers at the perimeter ordered to shoot to kill anybody trying to leave... even children.
  • Resident Evil series. In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Umbrella Corporation decides to quarantine Raccoon City as the T-Virus escapes the Hive. As a priority, they evacuate Umbrella VIPs when the zombies reach the blockade, then start shooting everything in sight.
  • The Rezort: The army's only countermeasure to the zombies of the titular resort escaping their enclosures is to napalm the whole island to kingdom come, without even trying to save anybody still inside.
  • Zombi 3D: Following an unintentional infection of a nearby area resulting from the burning of a body infected with Death One, General Morton decides to do a rather messy cleanup.
    General Morton: You are to shoot anyone moving in a contaminated area, regardless. Your orders are to continue closing off the area with all mobile units, including helicopters! No one must get out alive. NO ONE.

  • Aurora Cycle: This is what putting a location under Galactic Interdiction means. Galactic law dictates that any ship discovered trespassing in an interdicted area be vapourized on sight.
  • Happens in Cilva to the whole of Africa. Arguable if needed, and most certainly due to politics and stopgap measures.
  • Gentleman Bastard: The Lies of Locke Lamora begins with one of the islands of Camorr having just come out of quarantine. The Duke maintains a special unit of his army to enforce quarantine (the Ghouls), and anyone who attempts to leave by bridge or boat gets shot down by archers. Locke is one of the survivors who is brought out as the quarantine is lifted.
  • In The Lost Fleet series, the fleet charged with isolating the moon Europa and the engineered disease accidentally created on it have standing orders to destroy any ship that lands on the moon so it can't take off if they can't prevent it from landing. If the quarantine is broken and a ship does make it off and gets back to Earth or the the colonies on Mars, the fleet is to destroy everything man-made in the solar system that could possibly take the virus elsewhere, annihilate all life on Mars and on Earth, and then hurl itself into the sun.
  • Newsflesh: Early in the Rising, the government was hair trigger with Kill It with Fire solutions. Twenty-odd years later by the time the protagonists are telling their story, the solution is used a little more as a surgical strike.
  • The Stand features several attempts at these (all wildly unsuccessful) including a military checkpoint that opened fire on civilians.
  • In the children's picture book A Street Through Time, the page dedicated to the 1500's is titled "The Plague Strikes!" Illustrations show guards armed with crossbows on the city bridge — they've been posted there to prevent the spread of the plague through any means necessary.
  • Set up in This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It. It helps that those responsible for the outbreak control all the information coming out of the quarantine zone, and have claimed that there are no survivors, just brainless animated corpses. This, of course, is a lie.
  • Happens in the Back Story of the Witch as Profession series by O. Gromyko. The heroine discovered her magic powers as a child when her village, after being hit with a plague, was burned to the ground by the King's army, with archers shooting anybody escaping the fire. The heroine only survived by producing a fire protection shield (the army didn't dare to get into the village itself).
  • In World War Z, at one point the commander of a tank company defending a bridge is horrified when he sees refugees crossing it get bombed with poison gas, but understands when about one in ten of the dead suddenly stand back up as zombies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24, on Day 3 terrorists manage to get their hands on a airborne virus and release it into a hotel, turning anyone inside into a potential carrier. CTU enacts a quarantine of the hotel to prevent the virus from spreading and Michelle Dessler is forced to shoot a man who tries to flee after being warned not to. Most of the hotel residents later opt to take suicide capsules offered to them to be spared a horrible death. Oh, and the virus gets out anway.
  • In Babylon 5 it's mentioned the Centauri are keeping the planet Nakaleen under a strict blockade, with orders to blow up any ship stupid enough to try to land or, worse, successfully landing and then taking off, due the presence of the pseudo-sentient Nakaleen Feeders, that will drain any sentient of intelligence or infect them to create more Feeders, making a single Feeder getting off-world a danger on a galactic scale. While the Centauri have developed protocols to keep single Feeders contained and isolate infect subjects, they know better than taking risks.
  • Frontier Circus: In "Incident at Pawnee Gun", Casey is travelling with a chimpanzee believed to have The Black Death. Lawmen quarantine Casey and the other patrons to the saloon, and shoot at anyone who tries to leave. Later, panicked townsfolk attempt to burn down the saloon with Casey and the others still inside.
  • In the Haven episode "Lockdown", a deadly disease that affects some cops causes snipers to be dispatched with orders to shoot anybody who tries to enter or exit the police station.
  • iZombie: According to interviews season 4 will start with Seattle under a military-quarantine, with the city surrounded by walls and checkpoints to keep zombie-infectees from leaving.
  • Done more literally in the Red Dwarf episode "Quarantine" when Rimmer, who has been driven mad by a holo-virus and quarantined the rest of the crew, punishes them with two hours of "W.O.O. - without oxygen".
  • In the Secret Army episode "Ring of Rosies", La Résistance discover that an Allied airman being sheltered by them caught bubonic plague from his service in Africa, and so they must isolate his aircrew to prevent plague running rampant among a population whose resistance to infection has been lowered by the lack of food and medical care in wartime Europe. When an airman tries to escape and seek medical help, he's gunned down and his body burnt by Molotov Cocktail.
  • Stargate SG-1: In "The Broca Divide", the SGC is infected by a plague of alien origin. General Hammond phones his superiors to request a quarantine by outside troops, with orders to shoot on sight and burn the bodies.

    Video Games 
  • Happens in Dawn of War 2, when Ordo Malleus pays subsector Aurelia a visit to impose Exterminatus on Cyrene, and later upon Typhon.
  • In the backstory to Star Trek Online a bloodfire epidemic broke out on the Romulan planet Kevratas, and Praetor Taris ordered the navy to blockade the planet as a quarantine measure. However, General Tebok defied Taris' order to put down the subsequent revolt by force, starting a long-running power struggle that eventually led to the navy overthrowing Taris and installing Sela as praetor.
  • Pretty much any Dead Rising game invokes this, due in part to the large-scale outbreaks and to set a time limit for exploring the game world. The real reason, though, is that the military really doesn't want to take any chances of some random reporter, motocross champion or mechanic to stumble upon the military's real role in the outbreak.
  • Standard operating procedure and the very reason for the existence of BlackWatch from [PROTOTYPE]. The Web of Intrigue indicates they had done this to innumerable towns prior the game and the very game itself takes place within a quarantined Manhattan.
  • In the prologue of The Last of Us, a soldier holds Joel and his daughter Sarah at gunpoint as they try to escape the Infected-overrun city. The soldier confers with his CO over the radio over the pair of civilians... and then reluctantly opens fire. The suggestion being that the military is gunning down everyone fleeing the city, as this is when the Infection was brand-new, everyone was panicked, and they didn't have reliable ways of detecting Zombie Infectees just yet.
  • Mass Effect 2: Mordin's recruitment mission deals a quarantine in a sector of Omega as imposed by Aria. It was spread by vorcha working for the Collectors so humans in the area would be easy pickings. A guard refuses to let anyone into the district without a proper way to defend themselves and won't let anyone out. Bodies are burned. Any non-humans who enter the district get sick (aside from Quarians and geth). People are rioting. Of course, Mordin creates a cure and saves the district.
  • inFAMOUS is set during one of these quarantines where FEMA has the entire island under lockdown due to the sudden spread of an infectious illness which is actually radiation sickness. Although it's less to do with protecting citizens as much is it about keeping a Weapon of Mass Destruction from escaping the city until they reclaim it.
    • In Infamous Second Son, Augustine and the DUP set up shop in Seattle in the hopes of recapturing a group of conduits that have escaped their custody and had escaped into the town. She uses her powers over concrete to block or demolish all means of entering or exiting the city, heavily regulating the citizen's daily lives under her draconian rule in a twisted sense of ensuring safety. It is then revealed that Augustine had allowed the conduits to escape as a gambit to show that her agency was still useful, staging the entire reason for the quarantine.
  • Attempted in The Division:
    • The Dark Zone was an initial attempt by the JTF, Last Man Battalion and "First Wave" Division agents to quarantine the infected and hopefully treat or cure them in a centralized area in the middle of Manhattan. However, they lost control of the situation there, causing the JTF to retreat from the area and the Last Man Battalion to go rogue with the remaining First Wave agents joining them.
    • All inter-borough travel in New York City has been halted, with only JTF approved convoys being allowed through the few remaining passages between boroughs.
  • You see the aftermath of this in Left 4 Dead 2, in New Orleans. When passing through an abandoned checkpoint, one of the characters points out that many of the bodies laid about were not zombified when they died. Implying that the military gunned them down to try and hold quarantine.
  • Kaidan is currently being held under one of these in The Secret World as part of the Japanese government's attempts to contain the Filth. Quite apart from the fact that literal walls have been erected around the initial exclusion zone, but guard towers have been set up around the zone's border, and the harbor has been essentially blockaded by the navy; anyone trying to escape by land or by sea will be met with deadly force. Any infectees attempting to surrender to the guard towers for treatment as per the government's instructions will be executed on sight. Sadly, all of this is completely justified, given just how nasty the Filth is... but unfortunately, these measures are also completely ineffectual: the first wall of the exclusion zone has already be breached, airborne Filth entities are able to circumvent the defences, the Black Signal is capable of transmitting himself beyond city limits, and infectees are already turning up outside Kaidan.


    Western Animation 
  • Grojband: When Corey gets the chicken pox in "Pox N' Roll", Trina alerts the Mayor who seals the place in an outbreak dome - with Trina still inside. The Mayor posts tanks outside the bubble to make sure no one tries to escape.

    Real Life 
  • In 2014, a politician suggested this method of handling any case of Ebola discovered on American soil or elsewhere. His Exact Words as tweeted: "People with Ebola need to be humanely put down immediately. The protocol for a positive Ebola test should be immediate humane execution and sanitization of the whole area. That will save lives. It's mathematical. Do whatever saves the most lives. But here's a fact: treating Ebola patients kills more innocent people. There's just no other way with Ebola. We need to be napalming villages from the air right now." Fortunately the epidemic was eventually brought under control without resorting to such extreme measures, but given that Ebola has no vaccine, is easily transmissible and nearly 100% fatal (slowly and painfully fatal at that) one has to wonder if this was a wholly unreasonable position to take...
  • Standard practice in much of medieval and Renaissance Europe whenever The Black Death struck. Whenever someone came down with the plague the rest of their household would be confined to the house until forty days elapsed without anyone else developing symptoms, enforced by armed guards. In rural areas entire villages would be similarly quarantined, and most ports had designated anchorages for ships coming from anywhere they might have been exposed to the pestilence. This was pretty well justified in the circumstances. And this practice eventually gave us the word used to describe it, from the Italian phrase quaranta giorni, forty days.


Example of: