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Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice

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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, fighting to escape being Trapped in Containment with whatever danger provoked the quarantine.

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 (and maybe even accepted), but circumstances make it flat-out impossible. Very common in modern zombie stories, for obvious reasons.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, the kingdom of Flevance 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. Worse yet, it 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.
    • A similar event happened to the island of Ohara, which had a Buster Call unleashed on it, razing the entire island and all its inhabitants, and even sinking a ship full of civilians trying to flee, with Nico Robin as the Sole Survivor. In this case, the "contagion" was forbidden knowledge related to the Void Century.

    Comic Books 
  • During the "Immune" arc of All-New Wolverine all of Roosevelt Island is placed under quarantine by SHIELD after an outbreak of an alien virus. Complete with Helicarriers standing by to annihilate anyone attempting to break the blockade.
  • 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).
  • Halloween Unspectacular: In "Monsters in the Darkness", a Zombie Apocalypse hits Amity Park, leading to half the city being sealed off by the army, while troops with black suits and gas masks move through the quarantined zone, killing everyone (infected and not) that they come across... much to the surprise and confusion of the army officers maintaining the quarantine, as those aren't their troops.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Simpsons Movie has the town of Springfield quarantined by EPA chief Russ Cargill because of excessive pollution. 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, with protocol for a suspected outbreak being "herd all civilians into a single, too-small room and lock the doors (which are quite flimsy). Unsurprisingly, when an outbreak does occur this proves worse than useless and orders are given first to shoot everyone on sight regardless of whether they're infected, and once that proves ineffective to begin using nerve gas before finally firebombing the entire city. It doesn't work.
  • Alien 40th Anniversary Shorts. "Containment" opens with a colony ship with 23,278‬ people on board exploding after one of the four survivors in the Escape Pod set the Self-Destruct Mechanism to stop the Xenomorphs from spreading. It doesn't work, as one of them is already infected with a Chest Burster.
  • 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.
  • In Doomsday, Britain sealed off Scotland to prevent the Reaper Virus from spreading by rebuilding the Hadrian Wall and shooting anything and anybody who approached it, at first it with snipers, but by the time the plot picks up the government has switched to automated machine guns. It's also mentioned that Britain placed mines on the surrounding seas and set a no-fly zone.
  • 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 liquefied 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.
    • The sequel, Escape from L.A., gives Los Angeles the same treatment. After an earthquake separates the city from the US mainland, the government turns it into a walled-off, heavily guarded colony for the morally undesirable. Anyone convicted of any crime can either choose to repent and be electrocuted, or accept lifetime exile to the island.
  • Subverted in Kingdom of the Spiders. Colby is convinced his herd will be quarantined and purged whenever anything happens to any of his animals. He keeps accusing everyone in authority of planning this even after it's made clear it isn't a disease, and even before then nobody can figure why he thinks they want to.
  • In Life, the quarantine protocols for the station have a last-ditch measure of shoving the entire station out of orbit and into open space to prevent any possible contamination of Earth.
  • 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 it's 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 Film Series 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. In the first film, The Hive's security instantly locks down the entire facility and kills everyone inside to contain the T-Virus... Even though a self-contained, sealed air circulation system could have done the same thing with a far smaller losses of personnel and equipment (Umbrella is infamously Stupid Evil in both the movie and video game continuities, but are even worse about it in the films).
  • The Rezort: The army's only countermeasure to the zombies of the title resort escaping their enclosures is to napalm the whole island to kingdom come, without even trying to save anybody still inside.
  • Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse has a variation of this, in that the military in this movie are so desperate to contain the zombie virus that they'll firebomb the town to do so.
  • Things to Come: The Chief of Everytown deals with the Wandering Sickness by shooting anyone approaching the town who looks like they might be infected.
  • Vampire Circus: When the village of Stetl is struck with the The Plague, the local authorities set up up roadblocks around the town and shoot at anyone who attempts to arrive or leave.
  • 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.
  • Empire from the Ashes: Many planets of the Fourth Empire attempted this when a horrific bioweapon was accidentally unleashed, setting up systems that shot down ships either approaching or leaving the planet depending on whether it was infected or not, but most worlds were unsuccessful. The only planet known to have succeeded was Pardal from the third book, whose inhabitants subsequently went insane and destroyed all technology when they heard the Empire dying all around them on their Hypercom.
  • 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 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.
  • Worm:
    • Especially awful villains go to the Birdcage, an ultra prison designed so that nobody leaves, ever. The whole complex is suspended inside a hollowed mountain, which is a perfect vacuum and guarded by an army of drones. Any attempt to breach the walls, even with super powers, will cause the whole complex to suffocate and the drones to start shooting whoever's left. Other defenses, such as spatial warping, are suspected but unconfirmed. The mountain is also hardened against electricity and radiation to ensure no communication can enter or leave. Prisoners get monthly deliveries of newspapers, food, uniforms, and novels, but otherwise must fend for themselves.
    • Any city attacked by the Simurgh is quarantined once she's driven away, because the Simurgh uses a combination of future sight, telepathy, and induced psychosis to turn people she interacts with into Disaster Dominoes that will cause more disasters months or years down the line. People attempting to leave the affected city without very rare authorization are shot on sight, and those that are permitted to leave are tattooed to ensure everyone knows they're a potential hazard.
    • Mention is made of other extant threats that are quarantined to specific areas because they're too powerful and hostile to destroy or apprehend. One example is Nilbog, a supervillain capable of creating intelligent lifeforms and entire ecosystems which he can then control, who is quarantined within Ellisburg, New York.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24, on Day 3 terrorists manage to get their hands on an 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 anyway.
  • In Babylon 5 it's mentioned the Centauri are keeping a planet 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 to the presence of the quasi-sentient Na'ka'leen Feeders, who 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 to take the risk.
  • In Dark Matter, an entire planet was quarantined when an attempt to create an immortality serum instead created highly infectious zombies. In "Episode 5", the crew take a job which involves boarding a ship that breached the quarantine and got themselves infected as a result.
  • 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: Season 4 starts with Seattle under a military quarantine, with the city surrounded by walls and checkpoints to keep zombie infectees from leaving. This situation stays through the remainder of the series, until a cure is finally created in the series finale.
  • Kingdom (2019): In response to the rapidly spreading outbreak, Cho Hak-ju orders the closing of all gates into Sangju, effectively sealing the entirety of the southern Korean peninsula from the capital Hanyang (present-day Seoul) and trapping the Crown Prince with a growing zombie horde.
  • 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 
  • An early sidequest in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey involves a village that's been razed due to a plague, with the Misthios encountering a priest attempting to kill a family of survivors. They have the option of either attempting to save the family or let the priest finish the job. Doing the latter will result in Kephallonia being wiped out by the plague.
  • 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.
  • Most Resident Evil games involves this, in that most involve either a military faction or a corporation desperately trying to contain a viral outbreak that creates monsters.
  • 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.
  • Crusader Kings II allows you to bar the gates to your manor during an epidemic, secluding your court within from the infected outside — technically an inversion, but the basic idea is the same. This will significantly reduce the chance of any courtiers (including your ruler and family) catching the disease and spreading it through your court, but it comes with risks of its own — people may try to break quarantine to reach out to friends and loved ones on the other side, and with especially long periods of seclusion you may run the risk of running out of food before the epidemic burns out.
  • Subnautica: Turns out to be central to the game's plot. The Precursors encountered a bacterium called the Kharaa, which spread to their homeworlds and the death toll was an estimated 143 billion when they enacted a quarantine. Any planet with the Kharaa on it was cut off from space travel: any ship attempting to either land on a quarantined planet or take off from it would be obliterated without warning. It doesn't seem to have been enough: the Precursors appear to be extinct, but their automatic "quarantine enforcement" systems are still active... and they're the reason your ship was shot down and you're now stranded.
  • Plague Inc.: If things get bad enough, governments can start bombing infected cities. Unfortunately for humanity, they tend to only resort to this after your plague has gotten completely out of control; so unless you're playing Mega-Brutal and that buys them just enough time to finish the cure, it's not gonna save them.
  • In Pandemic 2, as your disease spreads and the game progresses, many countries will institute not only quarantines, but martial law.
  • In Pathologic 2, Isidor's Dark Secret is that, the last time the Sand Pest hit, he ordered the district it was in shut off. Everyone in there eventually got infected and died, because there was no other place they could go to. Given that the Sand Pest is a mystical, sapient disease, Isidor's actions may have been justified. Fortunately, his son is able to find a better way not long after the disease returns.
  • In ZombiU, the RAF resort to this in the finale, declaring London a no-rescue zone and enacting "Operation Firewall" - firebombing the city to destroy the zombies.

    Web Animation 
  • In a COVID-19 themed short of The Most Popular Girls in School, Shay is quarantined to her bedroom against her will because her family believes she has the virus after she coughed once the previous day.


    Western Animation 

    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, and there is now a vaccine for Ebola that, while still undergoing trials, had such initially effective results in preventing Ebola that it is now being used in the field while awaiting full trial completion and licensing.
  • 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.
  • The enforcement of lockdowns during the COVID-19 Pandemic varied throughout the world from police forces giving fines (and beating up people in some cases) to outright military deployments (such as in China).


Video Example(s):



After the Ray Sphere went off, the US Government has kept Empire City under lock and key at all costs.

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Main / QuarantineWithExtremePrejudice

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