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Rapid DNA Test

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Technician: Whoa, nice eyelash. Yours?
Chief Wiggum: No. We need to find out who it belonged to. We want a DNA test.
Technician: Whoa, whoa, whoa. That takes eight-to-ten weeks.
[Chief Wiggum sighs and bribes the technician with a large box of cigarettes.]
Technician: Did I say "weeks"? 'Cause I meant "seconds".

In real life, DNA fingerprinting takes a minimum of a few hours, during which time the DNA sample is broken down, replicated, bound to colored dyes or radioactive isotopes, and passed through filters. And most labs that do DNA analysis will have a backlog of weeks or months at the time a given sample arrives. However, in fiction it's not uncommon to have devices that can read DNA as quickly as a fingerprint scanner.


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    Comic Books 
  • One arc of Transmetropolitan introduces a new device called a "G-reader" that can read someone's genome from a distance. It's first used by Spider to indite a politician in a porn ring, and then by a bunch of skinheads to find someone with an unpopular genotype and kill him. Spider later uses one to bring down the Smiler.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cale Tucker from Titan A.E. receives a ring from Captain Korso, made by his Disappeared Dad, Doctor Tucker. This wedding band-sized bauble takes only seconds to analyze Cale's DNA, and create a star map within Cale's hand (it doesn't hurt).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The central technology behind the plot of Gattaca is DNA scanners which can determine one's identity from a drop of blood or urine in seconds and indicate whether a person has any genetic disorders. This makes laws against genetic discrimination impossible to enforce.
  • The film adaptation Judge Dredd of the comic book has Dredd carry the Lawgiver as his sidearm. In addition to voice-activated load switching, the Lawgiver can also take a DNA reading from its wielder, and deliver a lethal shock to any unauthorized user. It also takes the judge's DNA data, and encrypts the sequence onto the round fired, effectively signing the judge's handiwork, all within the few moments between unholstering the weapon and discharging it.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: The T-X can scan DNA in blood samples using its mouth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Tricorders in Star Trek can usually scan DNA samples.
  • Andromeda: The lineage-obsessed Nietzscheans tend to carry DNA scanners on them, and in "Music of a Distant Drum" a DNA biometric lock is one of the three locks on Tyr's safe. The High Guard's force lances have similar biometric security on them.
  • In Altered Carbon Kovacs' expense account is tied to his sleeve's genetic profile, so he usually makes payments by slapping his saliva or blood on the register.
  • In Castle, Castle often uses his connections to get lab tests of various things related to the case he's helping with bumped in priority so that the results come back in a matter of hours rather than weeks.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Ancient technology comes in two types: technology that can be used by anyone and technology that can only be initialised by humans with a very specific gene that humans have nicknamed 'the Ancient Technology Activation (ATA) gene'. Technology can scan DNA to detect this gene instantaneously. Once the SGC became aware of the existence of, and need for, this gene, they made sure as many people as possible who possessed the gene was assigned to the Atlantis expedition. They also found a way to use gene therapy to give the gene to people who didn't possess it, although it only has a 48% success rate. All key systems in the city of Atlantis require initialisation, but once initialised can be used by anyone. The Puddle Jumpers, however, can only be used by someone who possesses the gene, so very few people can fly them as they are habitually switched off when not in use and therefore require initialisation every time they're switched on. Atlantis also possesses biosensors that can constantly scan in real time the people in the city and tell the difference between humans and Wraith, and also identify the presence of disease-causing pathogens which can instantly send the entire city into lockdown. There are members of the Pegasus Galaxy who also possess the Ancient gene, but they are few in number and at least two Royal Familities owe their dynastic reigns to the fact they possess the gene.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Gene scans are sufficiently advanced that large cities can have their population scanned and see if they've been attacked by genestealers (Tyranid scouts who inject their own DNA into the victims and make them slaves of the Hive Mind, so that each new generation becomes closer to a pure Tyranid).
    • They're also used in standard Space Marine medical examinations (to monitor possible breakdowns of the geneseed that gives them their superhuman abilities) and to reinforce security against infiltrators and genestealers (although this can be fooled).
    • Tau battlesuits include DNA scanning to prevent mech hijacking, as one human found out when he tried to steal one and was instantly fried.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • In the pilot of Futurama, Fry and the Professor are confirmed to be related by sticking their fingers into a machine that lights up green and dings a minute later.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons in "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)". Chief Wiggum presents an eyelash for DNA analysis, and the technician warns that it takes eight to ten weeks. Then Wiggum bribes him with a carton of cigarettes, and the technician says "Did I say 'weeks'? 'Cause I meant 'seconds'."
  • The Ringmaster from Loonatics Unleashed has a device that performs LEGO Genetics on target subjects, including a random boy attending his Circus of Fear. The Ringmaster captures all six Loonatics, and within minutes has computed their complete genomes. That's complete sequencing on two rabbits, one duck, one coyote, one roadrunner and one Tasmanian devil.


Attack of the 50 Ft. Mandy

Sorry; no hair root, no DNA.

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