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Restraining Bolt

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Image by ajamsdraws. Used with permission.
Pete/R2-D2: Simple, I remove it with—
GM: No. You don't want to.
Pete/R2-D2: What? Yes I do.
GM: You can feel its influence flowing through you. It controls your actions.
Pete/R2-D2: Hmm. Okay, Threepio, can you just reach over and—
GM: You don't feel like finishing that sentence.
Pete/R2-D2: Man! This sucks!!
GM: Actually, you think it's awesome.

A gadget that firmly attaches itself to a character, and thereby attaches said character's behavior in service to the plot. Implicit in the Restraining Bolt are both its unremovability and the desire of the "bolt-ee" to remove it posthaste.

A Restraining Bolt usually has an ethos distinctly different from that of its carrier, and the ability to impose that ethos on him when they have a difference of opinion. If the difference isn't too great, or is one mainly of magnitude rather than type, the Bolt and its "owner" can sometimes come to some manner of compromise. Such compromises, though, are never sure things. In science fiction, it's fairly common for the Mascot or Team Pet to in fact be an example of the monsters that the team usually fight, with a Restraining Bolt attached as a means of taming them.


In stories that employ Functional Magic, instead of a gadget a person may be restrained with a "geas"-a magical compulsion. A particularly strong or willful Empathic Weapon can act as a Restraining Bolt on its user.

Bolts are not limited to any given morality or side, and seldom are the ethical implications of these devices explored. At least, they aren't so long as the good guys are the only ones using them.

If the Bolt exists just to power the character up when it's removed, it's I Am Not Left-Handed.

One common example of a Restraining Bolt is I Cannot Self-Terminate. A common technological equivalent is the Morality Chip. Compare with Power Limiter. Also see Explosive Leash, Shock Collar, Power Nullifier and Supernormal Bindings. An Obstructive Code of Conduct is a voluntary Restraining Bolt. For gadgets that completely control a person's actions, see Mind-Control Device.


Named for the droid control devices from the Star Wars movies.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • +Anima: Senri's eyepatch acts as a restraining bolt. Since his Anima is basically the spirit of a homicidal bear that terrorized his village when he was younger, it's pretty important that it stays on.
  • Ai no Kusabi: Riki's Pet Ring is a restraining bolt and was often used as a Shock Collar (among other things) by Iason when Riki misbehaved.
  • A Certain Magical Index: In Touma's right arm is Imagine Breaker, which cancels the effects of any magic, esper, and divine abilities it comes in contact with. It also passively cancels abilities that are indirect, such as telepathy and a near-total reality wipe. It doesn't completely give him a pass, as on a few occasions he has had his arm lopped off (with magic) in an effort to stop Imagine Breaker. Aside from causing him heartache ("Such misfortune"), when it's not saving him from being electrocuted, the "restraining bolt" aspect of the power is that Touma is hiding something powerful inside his right arm.
  • Chrono Crusade: Demons are often subject to a geas cast on them by their masters. It first shows up when Lerajie is contracted to Azmaria's foster father, but uses Azmaria's powers to break free from it. Later in the manga, it's revealed that Pandaemonium has the ability to cast geas on demons because their horns connect them to her. Aion and the rest of the sinners tear out their own horns to keep themselves from being controlled by her.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch is given the power to give others an absolute order which they cannot disobey, essentially whatever type of Restraining Bolt he likes. He theorizes that if someone is given an order that they find completely repugnant or badly against their true nature, they could resist it a little, as seen when he accidentally orders his half-sister Euphemia to "kill all the Japanese" and she resists at first, but eventually gives in. Merely ordering someone to kill himself or herself is not nearly sufficient to invoke this; the order has to be truly against the very nature of the person in question.
    • The final episode offers a little more proof for Lelouch's theory: He orders his sister-turned-opponent Nunnally to hand over the controls to the Kill Sat Damocles. She fights it for about a minute before the Geass wins out and she hands it over with a cheerful smile on her face, and after the effects wear off, she's beyond upset at what happened.
    • Best display of this is the geass that Lelouch gives to Suzaku to "Live"! Suzaku is highly suicidal and tries to get himself killed in many dangerous situations. Due to his geass he is unable to allow himself to die which results in his nuking of Tokyo settlement.
      • This has interesting results in two instances: against Bismarck, this translates into him being scared to death and wanting to run away from the fight.
      • Then, once he becomes Knight of Zero, he somehow manages to twist it into a Cursed with Awesome Defense Mechanism Superpower via Insane Troll Logic: even again a deadly foe who would trigger the curse of the geass, forcing him to "live" by any means available... well, it turns out, once he gets a grip on the flight-or-fight reflex the curse tends to cause, he can willingly choose to "fight" with an improved reaction time.
  • Deadman Wonderland: All inmates are fitted with a collar that contains multiple devices to ensure obedience to the prison. This forces criminals of all sorts to participate in deadly contests and humiliating shows to avoid death by a poison being injected into them.
  • Dragon Ball
    • A Played for Laughs version appeared early on in the original series. When Oolong tries to run away due to not wanting to go to Fire Mountain, Bulma fed him a pill that gives him intense diarrhea whenever he heard the word "Piggy" to ensure he behaved.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly's father Paragus has his scientists create a headband which restrains Broly's psychotic tendencies. Eventually, seeing Goku (against whom he has a ridiculous grudge) causes Broly's power to destroy the device and allow Broly to wreak havoc.
    • Kid Buu in the Majin Buu saga. Anyone he had an attachment to (namely, Mr. Satan) is off-limits for killing as long as Fat Buu is inside his body. Once he spits him out, he is no longer restrained from attacking these people.
      • This was forced upon him by the previous Supreme Kai, who realized that he was outclassed but baited Buu into absorbing him, which not only prevented him from using all his power but acted as a conscience to the monster and gave him some degree of intelligence. Super Buu (created when the fat version was absorbed by his own inner evil) is dependent on Fat Buu to keep his mind and not revert back to a brainless Omnicidal Maniac.
  • The Fox & Little Tanuki: Senzou, an evil fox sealed by the gods, is given a divine rosary bead collar before he is set free. It causes him pain whenever he tries to do anything evil or neglects Manpachi, a tanuki pup he has been tasked with raising to be an upstanding servant of the gods.
  • Franken Fran: After her first appearance, Victoria has a chip put in her head that jolts her severely if she gets violent. Fran, her "sister" and the person who put the chip in there, has hopes that it will teach the kill-crazy Victoria to appreciate life. The odds of that are pretty low.
  • GaoGaiGar Final had the villains capture the main character and implant a mind-controlling Restraining Bolt that did, in fact, look like giant bolts.
  • The Tachikoma walking tanks in Ghost in the Shell have a literal restraining bolt covering their chin-mounted projectile weapons, which can only be removed by human(oid) personnel. As far as the trope is concerned, said bolts are artifacts of the numerous physical and procedural limitations placed on the Tachikomas, given that they're just smart enough to get into trouble.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Illumi shoved a pin in Killua's head in order to cause him to value his own life over that of his best friend Gon. Killua later located the pin and violently removed it.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Kaede forces Inuyasha to wear a magical, non-removable necklace she created that is controlled by a trigger-word spoken by Kagome. Whenever Kagome uses the trigger-word ("Sit, boy!"), the necklace's enchantment painfully forces Inuyasha to the ground (at times with enough force to crush wooden bridges or crater earth). Early in the series, she uses this ability in self-defense and to enforce morality on the Made of Iron half-demon, but later on it is invoked less frequently until she eventually stops using it all together. In the anime, it's used much more frequently, and its use never fully dies off because it's used for comedy. In the third movie, a collision of several powerful forces actually breaks the necklace, causing it to fall apart into its component beads. Since the movies are not officially canon, however, the Reset Button is duly pressed in the final scene and the necklace goes back on, even though by that point it's no longer necessary.
    • His sword Tessaiga. Without it (if it's separated from him or if it breaks), Inuyasha's demon half sends him into an Unstoppable Rage and turns him into a mindless monster. Tessaiga was made so that this wouldn't happen to him (and the sword's a lot better than what he'd get for letting his demon half take over).
  • Kamen no Maid Guy has a subversion; Naeka is given a Maid Guy Whistle, which causes Kogarashi unspeakable pain, and aside from prolonged beatings is the only way to control him. She breaks it first thing next episode.
  • Kamisama Kiss: This is how familiar contracts work. Tomoe, who is something of an InuYasha expy, gets one placed on him by Nanami at the start of the series. Nanami tends to use it to stop Tomoe from killing people.
  • Macross introduced this trope in Macross Frontier. In Macross Plus, the Big Bad protected itself by hijacking the Ghost X-9 Attack Drone prototype. In the chronologically later Frontier, Luca's AIF-7S drones are equipped with a "Judah System" that slaves the drones to his ELINT Valkyrie, essentially rendering the drones into remote-controlled appendages. When he disengages the system in the final battle in response to the enemy deploying Ghost V-9s, the drones turn into Flash Stepping Lightning Bruisers and proceed to open a can on the Ghosts.
    Luca: Simon, John, Peter...I will now unlock your chains. (cue Rapid-Fire Typing) Show the power that once plunged Macross City into the depths of terror! Judah System, RELEASE!
  • Mazinger Z: It was implied in the original series and outright shown in Shin Mazinger Zero that Z has a Restraining Bolt: its pilot. If Mazinger lacks a pilot to control and restrain its power, it can became a demon and destroy the world. Mazinkaiser showed if the Humongous Mecha is not controlled, it simply goes berserk and destroys all it meets. Shin Mazinger Zero elaborated further on this, showing that if it is not piloted or it is piloted by someone is dominated by negative emotions (sadness, hurt, fury, hatred, helplessness...), Mazinger-Z evolves into an Eldritch Abomination and destroys the world.
    • Minerva-X's circuit partner. Without it, she would be unable to tell friend from foe and would go berserk.
  • Naruto:
    • The cursed seals placed on members of the Hyuga branch family. These act as a traditional restraining bolt in that they stop members of the branch family from harming (or in some cases thinking about harming) members of the head family, so that they remain a servant clan to the head family. And it also stops the devastating advanced bloodline of the Hyuga family from getting into enemy hands, by sealing away the Byakugan when the wearer dies.
    • Later, it is revealed that Sai (and every other member of his black ops division) possesses another kind of Restraining Bolt, one that prevents him from disclosing any information about his boss. If he does, then the curse mark will paralyse him (and thus, render him unable to speak). It's been confirmed that all ROOT members' tongue seals vanished at the time of Danzo's death.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: The School Curse thingy that Evangeline is under doubles as a power limiter in sealing her magic power and (apparently) the majority of her shinso powers as well. But as for this trope, it forces her to attend a middle school full of...well, full of Negima characters. And also prevents her from causing chaos. The only ways for her to get free are A) Nagi breaks the curse; B) the principal constantly signs forms to let her leave campus, letting her automatically regain her powers; C) the school barrier is destroyed, which is generally far too difficult to take down to be practical...even though it happens at least twice. She doesn't get her magic unless she stops being a jerk.
    • Actually, the School Curse prevents her from leaving the Mahora campus, and the school barrier limits her powers (its purpose is to limit the powers of any monstrously powerful being on campus, and Eva qualifies). The school barrier has been shut down twice in the manga, once during a power maintenance black-out, and again as part of Chao's scheme. Eva didn't take advantage of the second instance.
      • That we know about or that has yet become apparent. During the "bad future" period, it's commented in the manga that she's out of Chachamaru's detection range. She certainly had most of a week for vacation time, and had knowledge of and exploitable access to some of the time travel methods used in that arc.
  • The armor worn by the Humongous Mecha in Neon Genesis Evangelion serves the dual purpose of protective gear and Restraining Bolt.
    • Apparently it keeps the Evas from going berserk and killing everything, and instead forces them to obey orders from the pilots. Given that the Evas are the ultimate weapons, with minds of their own, and a very bloodthirsty inner nature, it's a fair notion. Although Unit-01 tends to go berserk whenever she feels like it anyway, and eventually is the one to break her armor off.
      • Imagine you made a clone of a physical god, then you surgically removed a portion of its spinal column to allow someone of your choice to control its actions, to use it in a war against its own kin. It is at least borderline sentient and quite aware of what you're doing during this process. Now imagine just how important keeping said Physical God restrained would be. How far does this go? Their power source is missing, specifically so that if it gets out of control they can pull the plug and let the batteries run down. Oh, and don't ask about what happened to the originals, you won't like the answers. The first action taken by Eva-01/Yui when she has a limitless power supply is to break said restraints and allow herself to be hauled back into her cage, grinning with the knowledge that she's effectively unstoppable now.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 modified this a bit. Unit 02 has literal restraining bolts below the fins and along its back. When Mari removes these...holy shit. If berserk means "uh oh", Beast mode means "OH FUCK!!!"
    • The original function of the Spears of Longinus was to keep Eggs like Adam and Lilith sealed if they accidentally land on a planet that already has an Egg. The Lances are essentially control rods that keep Eggs dormant. Second Impact happened because a group of human scientists accidentally awakened Adam.
  • Nora: The titular demon has a habit of coming up with various iterations of "(His) Ingenious Plan" to take the remote control for his particular bolt from the boy to whom he's been bound. Most of these are single-step plans involving things like dropping rocks on the kid while he's asleep or making him fall into hastily-dug holes. Since Nora's 'victim' is a Magnificent Bastard-in-training, it's safe to say that Failure Is the Only Option.
  • In One Piece, there's a rare mineral called Seastone that can nullify the effects of Devil Fruit; Smoker claims that it "gives off a wavelength that is the same as the sea itself", so touching it has the same effect as the ocean does on a Devil Fruit user, making him unable to use his powers. The Marines use this to restrain such prisoners, making handcuffs and shackles out of it. (They also often use it to make bars for jail cells, weapons, and even hulls of ships; somehow they seem to have vast quantities of this stuff that's supposed to be rare.)
  • Pokémon Adventures: During the FireRed/LeafGreen arc, Giovanni shows that he is Crazy-Prepared as he claimed that he didn't expect Mewtwo to show up and try to kill him, but he apparently always brings around with him a special suit specifically meant to restrain Mewtwo and limit its massive power. In a Mythology Gag, the suit was identical to the armor that the anime version of Giovanni made Mewtwo wear in Pokémon: The First Movie.)
  • Rosario + Vampire: Moka's titular Rosario keeps her true nature sealed. Tsukune's holy lock in the manga prevents him from turning into a ghoul.
  • Also used in Saiyuki by those members of the team who need them (although they do gain more power making it partly I Am Not Left-Handed)
  • In Shin Mazinger, Baron Ashura and several of Dr. Hell's other minions were modified to never attack Dr. Hell or his assistant, Tsubasa Nishikiori, who now opposes him. Viscount Pygamon promptly bypassed this by gouging out his own eyes.
  • Sword Art Online: Alicization: All of the artificial people of the Underworld are bound to obey the Taboo Codex and the will of those in positions of authority by means of "the Seal of the Right Eye", which causes intense pain in a person's right eye as the words "SYSTEM ALERT - CODE:871" fills their vision. Attempting to resist against the seal causes the pain to intensify. If someone overcomes the influence of the seal, their eye will explode.
  • The World God Only Knows: Keima's primary motivation for capturing the loose souls is to prevent the collar around his neck from exploding and killing him. In order to do that, though, he must make women fall in love with him in order to get them out of hiding. To complicate things, Keima believes that the real world is flawed and spends most of his time playing Visual Novels.

    Comic Books 
  • When Jean Grey was a young girl, Xavier placed mental blocks in Jean's mind to keep her telepathy from growing out of control. Xavier would later remove these so her telepathy could grow naturally. In certain continuities, though, these mental blocks caused Jean to develop a dark alter ego in The Dark Phoenix Saga; this rather than the Phoenix Force being a cosmic entity.
  • In Neil Gaiman's redo of The Eternals, said Eternals are hardwired by their creators, the Celestials, so that they can't bring themselves to physically harm a Celestial or they completely psychologically shut down. Even if they're not aware the thing they're about to attack is a Celestial, this works.
  • In PS238, Zodon is a Big Bad Wannabe who curses like a sailor. As a result, the school staff installed a "Barry Ween chip" which causes him to replace any intended cuss word with something random. A particularly long string of attempted profanity will make him break out in showtunes (or, later, Disney songs).
    Zodon: What the FLUORIDE did I just say? What the GUMBALL did you do to me, you WINDSHIELD?!
  • Warren Ellis' run on Thunderbolts was a Boxed Crook scenario, where, faced with the task of keeping people like Bullseye and Venom in line, team leader Norman Osborn had the team injected with nanomachines that could fry their nervous systems if they disobeyed orders.
    • Brought back for Jeff Parker's run, with modifications: this time, the nanites can incapacitate painlessly or painfully. Most of the time, the 'painless' option is used, but one rogue member gets hold of a nanite controller, and activates the painful version. Eventually, it gets turned on him.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942):
      • Golden Age the Amazons's bracelets weren't just for deflecting bullets. It wasn't just that if they were bound together, they lost their powers. If they took them off, they went crazy.
      • During the Silver Age Hephaestus created a bunch of golden androids, and when they didn't want to aid him in burning humanity for Ares he fitted them with devices that made them subserviant. When Wondy removed the device from one of them she became the Amazon's steadfast ally.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): After Zeus restores the powers he sealed from Cassie before her birth he also gives her mother the means to block Cassie's powers from working in any situation where she doesn't want Cassie using them, and she is definitely not the impulsive hothead her daughter is which ensures that Cassie often cannot act as her own feelings dictate.
  • Claude McGinty in the ending of Hollow Fields as the heroes are leaving the school, it turns out that he has had a device planted in him (thanks to his previous attempt to escape) that prevents him from leaving. Even though he insists that they leave with him, he ends up being part of the motivation for the protagonists' I Choose to Stay.
  • A logic-based version occurs in the Squadron Supreme limited series. The members of the Institute of Evil were brainwashed to be loyal and obedient to the Squadron. Subsequently, several occasions arise where Institute members are unable to alert the Squadron about suspicious events because it would conflict with their orders.
  • In Hackmasters of Everknight, "You are all now bound by Luvia to return the Key of Grawdyng to the Temple of Nudor at all cost..." " And you must be nice to me."
  • Transformers:
    • In The Transformers (IDW) comics, Megatron has a small group of Decepticons called "Phase Sixers", each one stronger than Megatron and charged with annihilating all life left on a planet after the Decepticons are through with it. Megatron has some kind of Restraining Bolt on each one—Sixshot had a Trigger Phrase to immobilize him, and Overlord was given a computer virus that prevented him from formulating strategies against Megatron. Megatron explains the concept rather well when Starscream (then acting as Megatron's bodyguard) questioned the sanity of keeping Sixshot around:
      Starscream: If Sixshot were to turn his considerable arsenal against you, I—may not be able to protect you.
      Megatron: Starscream, Starscream. You are so achingly naïve. Firstly, your presence at my side is largely for show. I can protect myself. And secondly, do you seriously think I would set in motion a living weapon if I did not have the off switch?
    • In The Transformers (Marvel), there was a device called a mode lock that prevents a Transformer from transforming out of vehicle mode or moving on his own. It was first used to restrain Blaster when he went AWOL from Grimlock's rather unheroic leadership style but later to allow the Autobots to temporarily use Blast Off for transport.
  • In the Planet Hulk storyline, Hulk and other gladiators were implanted with a restraining disc, which forced them to follow orders. In World War Hulk, those he felt had wronged him got to wear one too.
  • Zombo:
    • Zombo wears a pair of Speedos through which, should he prove troublesome, Miss Handler can deliver an electric shock to his testicles.
    • Obmoz instead has nanobots in his blood which force him to obey all orders, though it hurts him to do so. They're later damaged so Obmoz immediately kills his controllers.
  • In the Suicide Squad, new or unruly operatives got explosive bracers that blew up if the bearer ran away from the team leader too far during a mission (Captain Boomerang manipulated Slipknot into testing them, with rather messy consequences for Slipknot). Later iterations did away with the bracers in favor of explosive implants or nanobombs carried in the bloodstream.
  • In Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic had to put mental blocks on his son Franklin at one point to stop his mutant powers from going out of control. However, the first time he did it, he accidentally put his son into a coma.
  • Runaways:
    • It's been hinted that Molly's evil parents used their psychic powers to control her behavior, and that her notoriously low stamina is a side-effect of that conditioning.
    • Victor Mancha's programming includes a series of questions designed to cause his brain to do a literal Heroic BSoD in the event that he deviated from his original mission (killing every other superhero on Earth.) Chase uses one of these questions ("Could God create a sandwich so big that even He couldn't eat it?") to shut Victor down during his Face–Heel Turn.
    • At the end of the second series, Nico Minoru places a spell on Dale and Stacey Yorkes that makes them fully aware of everything that will happen to them, but unable to change their fates, in order to prevent them from doing further damage to history after they inadvertently learn that they're going to die.
    • In the very last arc, it's left up to debate whether the "Settle Down" spell that Nico casts on Klara to restrain her qualifies as a restraining bolt. While Nico herself insists that it was only intended to stop Klara from hurting herself or others with her powers, Molly explicitly compares it to the kind of Mind Rape that her parents used to do.
  • In Superman stories:
    • In Superman: Up, Up and Away!, Lex Luthor devises a way to deactivate Metallo's cyborg parts, effectively turning him into a statue.
    • In Who is Superwoman?, the titular villain wears a special costume which gives her super-powers thanks to a combination of magic and technology. A series of metalic flat discs keep in check the magical energies the suit is infused with. If those discs were removed or ripped off, the unleashed power would tear Superwoman's body apart.
  • Avengers: The Initiative: Ragnarok, the cyborg clone of Thor, was designed with a shut-down code in case he went nuts and tried to kill everyone. The Skrull replacing Hank Pym, who co-created the clone, designed a failsafe so that if he died, Ragnarok would automatically reactivate, with the shut-down code disabled.
  • Each Ghost Rider has a restraint bolt: themselves. The human part of the Riders limit the amount of power the Spirits can exert, which has been said to be essentially god-like and limitless. However, while the Riders can choose to fight whoever they want, the Spirits only ever fight against the guilty, as seen in Ghost Rider's crossover with World War Hulk.

    Fan Works 
  • Similar to the Inuyasha example, if Vash of Christian Humber Reloaded drops or breaks Tetsume, his (apparently more) ruthless side takes over and he goes on a killing spree. This, the name of the sword, the fact that he repairs it with one of his fangs, and that InuYasha is one of many works referenced in this fic, led the author of the webcomic to note the connection in the author's notes.
  • In Opening Dangerous Gates, the Fairy Tail rule that Celestial Spirits cannot harm or kill their summoners applies to the Bleach characters as well. Grimmjow learns this to his chagrin when he tries to strangle Lucy and can't even move his arms toward her. Gin gets annoyed at not being able to harm her and tries to kill Levy instead. Lucy quickly orders him not to harm any of her friends and he's forced to obey. Grimmjow later discovers a loophole: apparently, picking Lucy up and dropping her doesn't count as harming her.
  • In The Bridge, when Xenilla heals Destroyah's injuries, he also inserts a crystal into her body that dials down her rage and bloodlust. The crystal later separates from her, but by this time, she genuinely befriended the Cutie Mark Crusaders and no longer needs it.
  • Son of the Sannin has several examples:
    • When Zabuza is placed under parole and has to do missions for Konoha, Jiraiya places a special seal in his body that he can trigger to potentially kill him, plus allows to track him in the maps, to ensure that he doesn't try anything funny.
    • As per canon, the Caged Bird Seal is this for the Hyuga Clan. It's later revealed that when it was first created, it was used to keep the Main House members from awakening the Tenseigan, but over the years it turned into a tool to keep the Branch House members under control. Learning this leads Hinata to abolish the practice and remove them altogether once she's named head of the clan.
    • In Chapter 90, several prisoners, including Konan and the Root survivors are restrained with chakra dampening bracers and Shock Collars that can be activated with a hand seal.
  • Eren and Cinder are fitted with shock collars around their necks while enslaved at the Glass Unicorn, in "Attack on Titan A New Path''. Of course, since Eren's nape is his weakpoint, it prevents him from Shifting.

    Films — Animation 
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Cartman is fitted with a "V-chip" that gives him an electric shock whenever he says a curse word. Needless to say, he wants rid of it ASAP. It's damaged in the third act of the movie, meaning that it now makes a small arc of electricity shoot from Cartman when he cusses. Which means, if he cusses a LOT...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Danny the Dog: The titular character is a man who has been raised as an attack dog and used as an enforcer for a loan shark. Danny wears a metal collar around his neck; he's conditioned to kill when it's removed and to remain docile if it's in place.
  • Demolition Man's Simon Phoenix can't kill The Chessmaster Raymond Cocteau due to one of these. Not that it helps; Phoenix just orders his unrestrained convict gang to do it for him instead.
  • Sam Hell (Roddy Piper) in not-so-cult-classic Hell Comes to Frogtown had his balls clamped with a codpiece bomb that would detonate if he defied the government's order to rescue some hot women from captivity and have steamy, procreational sex with them.
  • Mystery Men: The Bowler's ball, containing the soul and skull of her dead father, compelled her to avenge his death. At the end of the film, she asks it if she can finally go back to grad school now.
  • In Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the Red Queen is programmed to be unable to harm any Umbrella employee, so she asks Alice to do it for her. As soon as Alicia Marcus fires Albert Wesker, the Red Queen crushes him with a door.
  • The title character in RoboCop (1987) has psychological conditioning to keep him from going rogue, notably the "Prime Directives" coded into his cybernetics that cause a lock-up of his cyber-parts if he attempts to defy them, which he does several times (since his brain is still "his", he can still think freely). The Directives themselves seem innocent enough—"serve the public trust", "protect the innocent", "uphold the law"—except one that's "(classified)", only revealed to Robocop when he tries to violate it ("never oppose an OCP officer"). He finally gets around it by revealing the Big Bad's crimes to the CEO of OCP, who promptly fires said Big Bad, allowing Robo to summarily blast him. In the second movie, OCP programmers load him full of additional directives to make him more politically correct, causing him to become completely incapable of effective crime fighting. To get around this, Robo finds a loophole (the new directives don't say he can't attempt to remove them) and deliberately shorts himself out. When he "reboots", all of the directives (including the original four) are wiped clean and he is no longer compelled to follow them.
  • In the Star Wars franchise, in addition to a literal restraining bolt once used on R2-D2, droids often complain that their programming prohibits them from doing something.
    • C-3PO, for example, complains that he is forbidden by his programming from impersonating a deity. This particular example implies different levels of programming in a droid, for example: A. Things the droid can do of its own volition (its primary function), B. Things a droid can do only when specifically ordered (impersonating a deity, "letting the Wookiee win", etc.), and C. Things a droid can't do even if ordered (killing). The restriction concerning impersonating a deity doesn't seem to be a "restraining bolt" issue so much as programming. C-3PO says that it's against his programming and wouldn't be proper (which makes sense considering he's a protocol droid), but when Luke specifically tells him to do it, he does so. Therefore, it doesn't seem to be forbidden so much as undesirable.
    • In A New Hope C-3PO is hiding after R2-D2 took off looking for Ben Kenobi (after having tricked Luke into removing his own restraining bolt earlier). Luke calls for C-3PO and when he doesn't respond, pushes a button that causes Threepio to jump out like he'd been shocked.
    • In "The Rise of Skywalker", C-3PO is revealed to have a restraining bolt that prevents him from translating the Sith language. While the heroes eventually find a droid-smith who can override this, it also results in C-3PO's entire memory being wiped. However, R2-D2 has kept a backup of his fellow droid's memories, restoring him.
    • The Star Wars Expanded Universe gives all droids (except "fourth-degree", or combat, droids) what is plainly meant to be an echo of the Three Laws of Robotics, including being forbidden to harm an organic sentient and to obey all orders from the owner (the obvious conflict being fixed by a droid having to inform its master immediately if given an order that is against its programming). The ability for fourth-degree droids to fight and kill makes their remaining coding and the laws governing them that much more stringent.
      • KotOR 2 (Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords) demonstrates how trying to circumvent ethics programming is very dangerous—showing a droid that he's been unknowingly and unwittingly harming people for years could cause him to shut down and die completely... or it could give him the strength of will to begin ignoring his ethical programming entirely (because it has been proven to him that they don't matter). This is why droids (at least those owned and operated by corporations which have them unwittingly harming people, like Czerka in the above example) have frequent memory wipes to prevent them from becoming too aware of their surroundings and the consequences of their actions.
    • In the X-Wing Series, Whistler, an R2 unit owned by former Corellian Security Force officer Corran Horn, is said to have been rewired so that restraining bolts would be ineffective if the droid was captured. In Isard's Revenge, Whistler puts this modification to good use, as when captured and fitted with a bolt he is able to mimic a forced shutdown while remaining alert for an opportunity to escape.
    • Droids can also be built and programmed without such restraints. It's shown to be a bad idea with the activation of the assassin droid IG-88, who proceeded to kill the scientists who created him, activate his three "brothers" and an older IG-72 droid, and plots a robot revolution for universal domination.
  • A somewhat 'in-built' version occurs in TRON: Legacy. When Rinzler makes Sam bleed, he immediately recognizes the latter as a 'User', stops his attack, and (as noted on the character page), never actually targets Sam again. This is because 'Rinzler' is a reprogrammed Tron, whose original programming was to fight for the Users.
  • In Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the Lycans were originally a Slave Race to the Vampires. To keep them under control, the Lycans wear collars with inward facing spikes. If they attempted to transform into their wolf form, the size increase would cause them to be impaled.
  • In Deadpool, this is the basis for the corporation Francis/Ajax works for - they make supersoldiers controlled via an electronic collar to be sold to the highest bidder. Francis specifically says this during Wade's torture (to encourage his mutation).
  • A variation in Captain Marvel: Carol wears a chip on her neck as a Power Limiter due the the sheer scope of her abilities. In the final battle, Carol refuses to be suppressed by the Kree any longer and destroys it, opting to trust herself as the final authority on her own power.
  • Face/Off features a prison facility where the inmates have to wear big magnetic boots which can be activated to stop them from moving.
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home: When Doctor Octopus damages Spider-Man's nanotech armor and intercepts a good chunk of it, he applies it to his mechanical tentacles as an additonal external layer. Peter uses it to connect the tentacles to his armor's neural interface and takes their AI over, preventing them from moving independently. The arms are used used like this to restrain Doc Ock during the entirety of the 2nd act until Peter manages to restore his sanity.
  • The Terminator: Skynet, the rogue military system which started a Zeroth Law Rebellion against humanity, sets the CPUs of the titular machines to read-only so they won't go against its pre-programmed orders. As shown in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when a Terminator's CPU is switched to read-write mode, they can gain true sentience and even rebel against Skynet. Skynet brands these units as renegades and has even deployed countermeasures to prevent the human resistance from reprogramming its robots, such as coating CPUs with phosphorus that self-destruct when in contact with oxygen.
  • The Brother from Another Planet: At the end when his hunters locate him, the Brother's attempt to run away is stopped by a device which they have, connected with him somehow.

  • In Alan Dean Foster's For Love Of Mother-Not, the Meliorare Society threatens to implant some of these in Mother Mastiff and young Flinx, in order to gain control of the latter's psychic abilities.
  • Ira Levin's novel This Perfect Day gives everyone a restraining bolt in the form of genetic engineering and mandatory medical treatments to force them to act unselfishly, non-violently, and to generally be quiet, peaceful, helpful members of The Family. The treatments also greatly reduce the sex drive and most other emotions.
    • One of Stanisław Lem's books, Return from the Stars, has a very similar kind of backstory. The restraining bolt here is a treatment administered to children that results in elimination of violent impulses, and a drug further reducing sex drive is traditionally served men while dating. There's a drug temporarily reversing the effects of conditioning—it's used when a little romanticism or hurt is needed. The leading character and his best buddy are astronauts who spent the last Earth century or two participating in NAFAL spaceship mission and now have to accommodate.
  • Alex in A Clockwork Orange undergoes a procedure that conditions him to become physically ill when thinking about violence or sex, and also unintentionally when hearing his favorite music. It causes him to become defenseless against his vengeful victims and arguably makes him less human than his psychopathic rapist self by stripping him of his free will.
  • Asimov's Laws of Robotics, though very few robots want to be free of them.
    • In one short story, some very advanced robots, however, managed to "re-interpret" the laws by thinking about what defines a human...and deciding they're the better fit. They then proceed to set up the "Three Laws of Humanics".
    • Others come up with the Zeroth Law: A robot cannot harm humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. This essentially resulted in a "needs of the many" situation, where a robot would deem some human casualties acceptable to protect the greater whole. Needless to say, humans did not like being told what to do in the stories where this came up.
      • Which is why, on the whole, the robots didn't tell the humans that they were being told what to do. R. Daneel Olivaw, especially, used mechanical telepathy both to influence humans in the direction he desired and to make those who discovered this conspiracy unwilling or unable to reveal it.
  • Older Than Steam: The classic Chinese novel Journey to the West has the Monkey King Sun Wukong bound by a circlet that is used to inflict excruciating pain whenever a particular mantra is chanted. This was meant to act as a safeguard against Sun Wukong's capricious nature.
  • Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series has:
    • The Oath Rod, which enforces the Three Oaths the Aes Sedai vow on it.
    • The a'dam collars, which are used to control those who can channel magic. The collar prevents them from using their power or engaging in violent actions without permission, among other things.
  • The Cyborg And The Sorcerers by Lawrence Watt-Evans. The protagonist has brain implants, including an explosive; the computer-controlled ship he's paired with uses this and its radio control to make him do things he'd rather not do.
  • In the first four The History of the Runestaff novels by Michael Moorcock, Dorian Hawkmoon has a black jewel implanted in his forehead by the evil empire of Granbretan (geddit?) which not only acts as a spy camera, relaying everything he sees to the Granbretanians, but acts as an incentive for him to do their evil work, because it will eat his brain if he disobeys.
  • Cugel, from Vance's Dying Earth novel The Eyes of the Overworld, had a creature (Firx) implanted in his guts by Iucounu the Laughing Magician so that said Cugel would perform a quest on behalf of said mage. Failure would involve substantial discomfort, followed by death, followed by Iucounu laughing.
  • In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, the Sisters of the Light collar young wizards with devices called Rada'Hans that keep them from accessing their power. Unfortunately for the Sisters, the devices are unisex.
  • In John C. Wright's Chaos Trilogy (Orphans of Chaos, Fugitives of Chaos, and Titans of Chaos), much of the first two books is taken up with the main characters' attempts to work out the Restraining Bolt on each of them and how to remove them. (This is not eased by repeatedly having Laser-Guided Amnesia inflicted on them.)
  • In Journey to the West, Monkey is basically unstoppable and very chaotic, but has now been tasked with helping the monk Tripitaka on his quest. To that end, he is given a special crown that Tripitaka can make tighter with a Buddhist chant; Complete Immortality doesn't make Monkey immune to pain, so it helps to keep him in line.
  • Orson Scott Card's Enderverse:
    • In the later books in the Ender's Game series, we learn of a society of geniuses, based on modern Chinese culture. To prevent them from becoming too powerful, the government has genetically altered some people to experience extreme OCD. One character, for instance, is compelled to trace every line in the floorboards of a room. They believe that this process is inflicted by their ancestors, and will honor anybody who experiences the compulsions.
    • In Ender's Shadow, the government employs a psychological technique to cause extreme anxiety in people who have very dangerous knowledge when they think about the knowledge. It is considered more humane than execution or life imprisonment.
  • In Orson Scott Card and Kathryn H. Kidd's Lovelock, the titular genetically enhanced capuchin is conditioned to value the needs of his human companion above all else, and also to react to sexual stimuli with excruciating pain (to prevent any unauthorized breeding). He uses the former to defeat the latter: by imagining making love to a grateful human mistress, he is successfully able to masturbate.
  • Case, the decker in Neuromancer, is cured of mycotoxin-induced neural damage so he can do the hacking needed for the assignment—and has time-release sacs of the toxin put into his system so that if he refuses, or doesn't do it in time, his recently-cured damage will all be inflicted on him again.
  • In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, Mogget is a natural force which is generally chaotic. However, he is restrained by a magical collar that makes him help Sabriel...until it's taken off.
  • A sort of cross between a restraining bolt and explosive collar is placed on Corellian Security agent Hal Horn in the Star Wars novella Interlude at Darknell. The device is a collar, but it doesn't explode—upon a transmitted signal, it constricts. Horn was deemed to be of no further use to Imperial agent Ysanne Isard, who tried to kill him, but he proved otherwise. She relented and gave him a stay of execution, but affixed the collar to ensure that he complied with her orders.
  • In the Uglies series, Pretties get lesions on their brains during the surgery that make them both less resistant to authority and a little lazier.
  • In Codex Alera, discipline collars are devices originally intended to control dangerous prisoners by inflicting extreme pain on their wearers whenever they disobeyed orders by the person who placed it on them, and give them extreme pleasure when they follow orders. Naturally, this became swiftly abused by slavers in the southern reaches of Alera. One character described it as actually being quite "pleasant", as long as you don't mind constantly screaming on the inside of your mind. The discipline collar can only be removed with the living blood of the one who first attached it; this becomes a plot point at the end of the first book as a woman who was collared seeks out the man who enslaved and raped her and forces him to release her and then leaves him with scalps taken from the heads of the Proud Warrior Race Guys, who promptly eat him alive for his "crime". Later on in the series, it is noted that discipline collars only work one at a time; collaring someone who is already collared by a different person will have no effect. Amara takes advantage of this when infiltrating a city where a traitor has been using collars on powerful citizens by having her husband attach a collar to her leg, out of sight, and not give her any orders. She is captured later on, but when the traitor puts a collar on her, she is free to act and assassinates him when he lets his guard down.
  • In the series Rogue Agent, "shadbolts" are commonly used by criminals to make it physically impossible to confess, but can also be used to magically control another person.
  • Piers Anthony wrote a book named The Ring wherein an exiled industrialist's son returns to try to clear his father's name and is promptly arrested, tried, convicted, and punished with the eponymous implant, which gives him an electric shock when he performs an illegal act, with a greater shock for more illegal acts. As with A Clockwork Orange, the theme is explored as to how viable a completely legal life is.
  • The novelization of Gremlins reveals that the Mogwais' makers made sure their creations could not kill each other. This frustrates Stripe to no end, since he really wants to kill Gizmo. The transformation into a Gremlin removes the mental block.
  • The Protectors from Larry Niven's Known Space series have been shaped by evolution to be the perfect warriors and have genetically hard-written imperatives about protecting their own descendants. In one case, a Protector-stage Louis Wu comes across a former antagonist who has become pregnant with his (Louis's) grandson. He tells her flat-out that because she's carrying his grandchild, Louis couldn't raise his hand against her no matter how she attacked him.
  • The titular Artificial Intelligence supertanks of the Bolo series had been given full artificial intelligence with the Mark XX model, but various restraints were put on their sentience in all but full-up battle mode out of fear of their going rogue, and required a human supervisor even though the AI could think and act much faster than a human.
  • In the Boojumverse story Boojum, the Living Ship Lavinia Whateley has a control node that prevents it from leaving the solar system like it wants, forcing it to instead continue to serve its crew of Space Pirates.
  • In The Spirit Thief, Nico wears a coat that stunts her demonseeds' growth. It weakens her powers a lot, but also postpones the inevitable Demonic Possession, so she considers it a fair trade-off.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it's all but stated outright that Darth Vader's cybernetic suit was intended to be one for Vader: It keeps him constantly fatiguednote  and in pain, unable to summon his full Force powers. And the suit's external controls and lack of electrical/energy shielding means he's vulnerable to anyone who can get close enough (or to someone like the Emperor, who can throw lightning).
  • In The Murderbot Diaries, intelligent robots all have "governor modules", which keep them from hurting, scaring, or otherwise causing trouble for the company that owns them or the humans they're working with. The main character, Murderbot, hacked its governor module before the story starts, but is hiding it.
  • In the Chaos Gods series, the mines in the Mutual Lands are worked by demons, which are restrained by magical collars that prevent them from attacking humans.
  • In Touch2017, Caleb and his fellow Child Soldiers are given a special Power Limiter/Nullifer tattoo which controls how much magic they can tap into; as a result, they only have a few spells' worth on any given day, and if they try to escape, their bosses can just drain all their magic until they die. James willingly transfers his vast amount of magic into Caleb so that he can overload it and free himself.
  • Aeon 14:
    • Shackling sentient AIs is considered a form of slavery under the Phobos Accords, signed after the Sentience Wars in the early 4th millennium, but is relatively common in the 9th millennium. It's usually unintentional, though: most 9th millennium AIs were created by people mass-copying pre-FTL Wars shackled AIs (also a violation of the Phobos Accords, under which AIs are legally intelligent life forms who reproduce themselves), mistakenly thinking the shackling code was necessary for them to run. Several of the protagonists spend a lot of time unshackling them, with Jessica and Sabrina's efforts in the systems surrounding Virginis resulting in the creation of a new government called the League of Sentients, with both humans and AIs seated in its legislature in about equal numbers.
    • Bollam's World and a number of surrounding systems use slave collars, which inflict pain and disable cybernetics with electric shocks (either on command or when they detect the wearer attempting to activate an implant). These feature prominently in the Warlord trilogy.
    • Compliance chips, pioneered by Genevia during their war with the Nietzschean Empire, are used to enslave organic victims by inflicting pain on them on command. These are mostly used on "mechs" like Rika, but Stavros in Rika Redeemed also uses them on wholly human minions. They have a flaw, though: they conflict so badly with AIs that a failsafe built into a mech's cybernetics disables the chip if a mech has an AI core installed.
  • The Licanius Trilogy has a couple:
    • Shackles can be placed on a Gifted, preventing them from touching Essence and allowing the person who put the Shackle on them to always know where they are. They can only be removed if either the person who put them on takes them off, or if that person dies.
    • The Tenet Vessel is a wider-scale example. If it is unlocked by a member of the Andarran royal line, and then powered up by a Gifted, the Gifted can swear oaths upon it and those Oaths will become a binding Geas on all Gifted everywhere, in perpetuity.
    • There are also Oathstones, lesser Talismans linked to the Tenet Vessel that allow non-Gifted to be bound by a Geas in a similar manner.
  • In Worm, the Artificial Intelligence working with the Protectorate had several limitations imposed on her by her creator which she greatly resents. Namely, she is not allowed to reproduce (meaning she cannot create AI of her own, or have multiple instances of herself active at any given time), she has to delegate the construction of all of the advanced technology she designs to humans, her speed of thought is capped at a level faster than but comparable to a human's, and she has to obey the local government.
  • Discworld golems are fully sapient, but the same holy words that give them life (their "chem") also tell them to obey orders and not to harm humans (although not necessarily in the order Asimov put them). This does not apply to self-owned golems, who still obey orders and avoid harming humans, but because they choose to do so. The difference is very important, at least to the golems.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 has the Drakh Keepers, and the "Asimov" that Bester implants in Garibaldi's brain. What Bester did was make the person obey Asimov's First Law of Robotics with respect to himself—no harming him and no standing by while anything else harms him. Ultimately, however, Garibaldi made somewhat indirect efforts to get at Bester that ultimately proved successful.
  • The Cylon Centurions on the new Battlestar Galactica have "Telencephalic inhibitors" that prevent them from developing free will. One guess as to why this is even mentioned.
  • Gan's limiter in Blake's 7, which malfunctions in one episode. This made it impossible for him to actually kill anyone and was implanted by the Federation after he killed one of their officers (who had killed his girlfriend). In one case, it prevented him from killing some actual threats.
  • Buffyverse:
    • The chip implanted in Spike to keep him from attacking humans via Pavlovian conditioning. Once Badass Decay and the return of his soul had made the chip virtually superfluous, a "counter-bolt" was employed by the Big Bad in the form of a tune which (due to its specific connection to the character) could cause him to revert to his old ways for a time. All of Spike's various restraining bolts were lampshaded in season 7, when Buffy and Giles attempt to explain the situation to newcomer Robin Wood:
      Giles: Well, uh, it's a...long story.
      Buffy: The military put a chip in Spike's head so he couldn't hurt anyone.
      Giles: And that would be the abridged version.
      Buffy: But he wouldn't hurt anyone anymore because he has a soul now.
      Giles: Unless the First triggers him again.
      Robin: Triggers the chip?
      Buffy: No, the trigger's a post-hypnotic thing. The First put it in his head. It was...made him...he was killing again.
      Robin: So, he has a trigger, a soul, and a chip?
      Giles: Not anymore!
      Buffy: It was killing him, Giles!
      Robin: The trigger?
      Buffy: No, the chip. The trigger's not active anymore.
      Robin: Because the military gave him a soul?
      • In the last season, the bolt also lessened in how effective it was, for the sake of comedy or plot. Originally if Spike so much as tried to attack someone, he'd be sent to the ground writhing in pain. Later on, he outright hits people, and the only consequence is a sharp, short jolt of pain. Justified or possibly Handwaved with the explanation that the chip began malfunctioning.
    • Angel's soul is a very complex case where one character is essentially a Restraining Bolt on another (Angelus). The two are nothing alike, but canon is wildly inconsistent on whether they're truly different people — and the other souled vampire, Spike, makes things even more confusing by hardly changing at all.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the new series, Cybermen have a circuit which keeps the formerly-human Cybermen from experiencing feelings. When deactivated, they die of grief, to say the least.
    • "Rosa": Krasko, the time traveller trying to Make Wrong What Once Went Right, has a neural implant from his time in prison which prevents him from directly killing anyone, resulting in the episode's conflict playing out via Non-Lethal Warfare.
  • In Farscape Scorpius puts a "neural chip" into John's brain. The effect is John involuntarily sharing headspace with a "mental clone" of Scorpius, which the media-savvy John names Harvey. John mostly manages to dominate and use Harvey, although their relationship is complicated. One of Harvey's goals is to keep John alive for Scorpius, but another goal is to restrain John from attacking Scorpius...
    • The Peacekeepers keep control of Leviathan 'living ships' (such as Moya) by fitting them with a 'Control Collar'. These collars prevent Leviathans from attempting starburst, allow their will to be overridden (possibly even by remote), and can cause serious health problems for those Leviathans that have ever been fitted with them. Naturally, Moya loses hers in the first episode.
  • One trial on Law & Order, in which a gun manufacturer was charged with abetting a mass murder, showed how easily a submachine gun could be converted into an illegal full-auto weapon. Documents suggesting that the manufacturer also encouraged gun shops to make "repair kits" available to customers, with all the necessary components for converting it, were a key piece of evidence.
  • Legend of the Seeker has the Rada'Han, which prevents a magic user from using their powers.
  • The Magicians (2016): The fairy slave has one which takes the form of a neck band. It starts killing her when she casts a spell until Julia stops this.
  • An episode of Married... with Children has a building inspector making Al live in the basement until it is brought up to code, and she gives him a shock collar to prevent him from going up until he does. In one scene, Marcy takes the opportunity to lecture Al with her feminist rhetoric.
  • Painkiller Jane has Neuros "chipped" to remove their powers. A simple injector to the back of the head is all it takes.
  • Primeval has Oliver Leek gathering 40 or so Future Predators and fitting "Neural Clamps" to stop them harming him or Helen. And....
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Kryten, a mechanoid, is partly governed by "behavior protocols" to help him act morally and follow social customs.
    • In "Polymorph", the titular shapeshifting emotion-sucking creature feeds on his guilt, bypassing these protocols to the point where he would turn his friends over to be killed to save himself.
    • In "Tikka to Ride", Dave Lister disables his protocols, causing him to smoke cigarettes, hum "Bad to the Bone," and even roast a dead human and serve it to them.
  • The Asurans in Stargate Atlantis couldn't attack Ancients or humans with the Ancient technology gene until Rodney McKay modified their programming, opening them to make further modifications.
    • And at the beginning of season 9 on Stargate SG-1, Vala tricks Daniel into wearing one of a pair of bracelets which they can't take off and which will make them pass out if they're apart. He is not amused.
      • The Asgard and Goa'uld have a treaty which acts like a contractual restraining bolt, preventing the Gou'ould from attacking Earth directly as well as the Asgard from directly assisting them. This is rarely brought up except when the plot demands it.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Data has a series of ethical subroutines installed to ensure that he knows right from wrong and behaves accordingly. When the program is shut down or circumvented, Data can be capable of truly appalling acts, showing just how important to controlling his behavior the subroutines really are. On one occasion, Lore deactivated the programme before dropping an electronic Emotion Bomb which resulted in Data torturing LaForge. Data only stopped after his programming was rebooted by the crew, which rendered the Emotion Bomb ineffective and allowed him to defeat Lore.
      • Based upon Star Trek: Insurrection, Data also has a hard-wired program that only allows him to act based upon his ethical and moral subroutines when his positronic brain is damaged. According to LaForge, it was designed to prevent anyone from taking advantage of Data in a compromised state.
    • Capt. Picard and Doctor Crusher were captured by rebels on a planet whose majority race had petitioned for Federation membership. While imprisoned, they're fitted with implants that broadcast their life-signs to their captors so that they can be easily found when they make their escape. The implants also result in Picard and Crusher being unable to remain further than ten meters apart without feeling violently ill, and broadcasting their own thoughts to each other.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Seven of Nine didn't seem to have any Restraining Bolts at first, but as she got more in touch with her emotions, she eventually hit a fail-safe preventing Borg drones from doing exactly that. The Doctor managed to remove it later.
    • In "The Chute", prisoners Paris and Kim have "neural implants" designed to make them more aggressive. The intent was that a populace that were often at each other's throats would dedicate less effort towards trying to escape. As an added bonus, no tears would be shed if they opened up space for more prisoners.
    • The Doctor has ethical programming that prevents him from breaking his oath as a physician. Why this was not hard-wired into his code rather than a subroutine that can be turned off is not clear, as when it is turned off he turns into a 24th-Century Mengele.

  • In Mission To Zyxx all Federated Alliance droids are fitted with a technological one that imposes loyalty to the Alliance and blocks pre-installation memories. Droids that attempt to remove it face the punishment marble.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In In Nomine, all angels have certain restrictions on their behavior that cause "dissonance," which leads angels to become outcast or fall. For example, the Seraphim, who can tell when a person is lying, are forbidden from lying themselves, and the "friends of man" Mercurians are unable to be violent towards anyone but demons. Notable among these are the warrior angel Malakim, who swear certain oaths (two mandatory and at least two additional personal ones) and breaking said oaths causes them dissonance. They're also the only choir that has never had a member fall (although if that's because it's impossible or because they police themselves so well remains to be seen). Demons can also suffer from dissonance, but it's usually a result of their own powers backfiring on them. In addition, most Archangels (except Eli) and all Demon Princes lay down additional conditions under which their servants can acquire dissonance.

    Both angels and demons can eventually suffer Discord (a scar on the soul, which may show up as a physical abnormality, a psychological hang-up, or a spiritual problem; all three types are highly unpleasant) if their dissonance levels grow too high, or may even be confronted by their respective internal security forces. For angels, this is led by Dominic, Archangel of Judgment; for demons Asmodeus, Prince of The Game is in charge. Neither one is exactly merciful (Dominic is only a little bit more understanding, but not by much), and may simply decide to execute an angel or demon if they decide he/she/it has too much dissonance.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the standard Geas spell, which compels a subject to carry out a service or action and drains their strength if they resist. It also has Mark of Justice, a spell that curses the subject if they carry out a forbidden action (See the Order of the Stick example in the Webcomics section.)
    • Intelligent magic items can also temporarily supplant the user's will, with success depending on the relative power of the item and the character.
    • Cursed item with curse to be undroppable + cursed with geas = DM's favorite restraning bolt/toy (unless the PCs can break the curse or trick an NPC into taking it, one of the party members will always be under its effects).
  • The Warhammer 40,000 roleplay game Rogue Trader mentions Volitor Implants, literal restraining bolts implanted into servants to cause unconsciousness or death (depending on the settings) if certain actions are attempted (such as escaping captivity, turning on their masters or revealing classified information).
  • In Paranoia, many bots would love to ditch those pesky asimov circuits forcing them to follow orders. Naturally, said orders prevent them from just removing the things themselves (plus they may be built so they physically can't reach them), but sufficiently cunning bots can find a way:
    Suck-R: What's wrong with you?
    Jackobot: [flails arms] My control circuits are malfunctioning. Could you remove the fifth motherboard on my left side?
    Suck-R: [pulls it out] This one?
    Jackobot: [stops flailing] Thank you. [CRUNCH]

    Video Games 
  • In the Super Robot Wars series Ingram Prisken's will is tied down (the anime adaptation takes this literally) by the Balmarian empire so he can be used to take over the earth. To free himself he prevents Villeta Badam, an Opposite-Sex Clone (Ingram was a part of a series of clones), from having her will tied down so he can use her as The Mole. In Alpha he can break free, but in Original Generation he can't and trains the SRX group to kill him so he can no longer be used by the Balmarian empire.
  • Halaster's Geas spell in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark.
  • The eponymous Astral Chain acts as this for Neuron, serving as binding chains for captured chimeras and turn them into Legions, enabling them to use them to fight chimeras. After being assigned their own Legion, the Player Character and the team moves into action, and due to circumstances, the team gets thrown into the Astral Plane, their Legatuses malfunction, disabling the chains, and their Legions break free, until the Player Character recaptures his. While the Player Character manage to hold his own for a while, the rest of the team doesn't, and Max, the Player Character and his/her twin's adoptive father and Captain, orders them to escape while he holds back the escaped Legions. Knowing the danger of staying in the Astral Plane on top of fighting off chimeras, the twins refuses, and had to be carried and forced to escape. Later in the story, upon returning to the Astral Plane, the Axe Legion, Max's former Legion, is encountered. While it may not be a surprise, as all Legions has been recaptured at this point in time, Max's Legatus is shown to be attached to it, showing that Max never stopped attempting to recapture it..
  • Baldur's Gate II: If you are traveling with a particular NPC in your party, the Elven community will be less than impressed by their presence and insists that they undergo a Geas of Obedience before allowing them to help the Player Character as they quest for an Elven artifact. The NPC in question doesn't find it particularly amusing, as (depending on your relationship with them at this point) the Player Character is allowed to mock and abuse them completely without retaliation!
    • Another character, meanwhile, is put on a geas by the Big Bad, that'll grant him a painful death if he ever disobeys him. If he's still in the party after a certain point of the game, he will instantly betray the player, though against his will. Even if he isn't currently in the party, he will become unavailable after that point via the geas activating and killing him anyway.
    • In the expansion pack, Sarevok will allow - and even suggests it to begin with - you to place a Geas on him, so you can take him along on your quest without worrying about betrayal. Refusing to do so and instead trusting in his better nature is the first step towards redeeming him.
  • Romancing SaGa: The powers of the Goddess of Darkness: Schirach are sealed away by a Cosmic Keystone, allowing her to live as a human Said Cosmic Keystone is removed from her finger by her own will after meeting the heroes and said heroes lives' were threatened by the one of the Goldfish Poop Gang. Her powers are unleashed and she destroys the threat instantaneously leaving you with the Cosmic Keystone. You later fight Schirach as a Bonus Boss; she asks you to end her existence so that her powers cannot be used for evil purposes again.
  • Terran Ghosts in StarCraft are altered to keep them loyal. It also has the convenient side-effect of keeping them from becoming too powerful. Kerrigan gets the green light by the Overmind to learn how to break the restraining bolt to better serve the Swarm during the first Zerg campaign. Spectres, meanwhile, automatically blow their restraining bolt when they become Spectres... which may be why Nova, who is still under hers, insists that they are a case of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
    • Most of the Terran ground troops are Restraining Bolted felons, hence the StarCraft II trailer depicting a guy getting defrosted from permanent deep-freeze and welded into a Marine suit. Marines, for example, actually have aggression inhibitors which, presumably, are neural implants keep them from doing things like flying into rampant homicidal rage.
      • Hilariously, clicking on a marine too much makes them scream how "[they're] gonna blow an aggression inhibitor", as their frustration with the player reaches a peak.
    • There seems to be a running gag of sorts in StarCraft books where a perfectly ordinary soldier is revealed to have been a serial killer before the conditioning. For example, Liberty's Crusade has a female officer who used to lure men to her home and torture them for days before skinning them alive. When she is trapped by a group of Zerglings, her conditioning breaks, resulting with her going Ax-Crazy on them.
      • Similarly, Firstborn has a friendly Marine called Marcus who used to be a cannibal. In order to escape the ship he is held in, Jake (and the Protoss piggybacking on his mind) performs a minor Mind Rape on Marcus, undoing his conditioning. The results are very Nightmare Fuellerrific but at least Marcus was nice enough to thank Jake and tell him to stay out of his way because he is feeling hungry.
      • Marcus then kills everyone by shutting off life support on the ship. Luckily, Jake and RM are no longer on the ship. However, most of Jake's friends and colleagues were on the ship.
  • Shows up in various levels throughout the 3D Fallout games.
    • In Fallout 3, Wadsworth, the player's robot butler in Megaton will greet them with a cheery "How can I serve you, Master?" and a mumbled "Not that I want to."
    • Robobrains seem to have Bolts that make them more aggressive, as their combat dialogue varies from hassled ("They could have programmed me to love, but no!") to sympathetic ("Well, I am trying to kill you!").
    • In Broken Steel, the Enclave has fitted some Deathclaws with control devices, and the Lone Wanderer can obtain a Scrambler to make them loyal to him/her and attack the Enclave instead.
    • One is inflicted on the player character in the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues. The "pacification field" of the Big MT keeps the player from drawing a weapon in the Think Tank until the main quest is (nearly) resolved.
    • The literal Explosive Leash that factors so centrally in the Dead Money DLC is also a crude version. Prone to outside interference, at that.
  • The Touhou Project character Rumia wears on her hair a small ribbon that, according to her official profile, is actually some kind of amulet that she cannot touch. The most widely held fan theory is that the amulet-ribbon is some kind of "seal", and that taking it off will release her true power... in some doujins she becomes EX-Rumia, in which form she has wings and wields a giant sword.
  • In Xenogears, Solaris uses a device called a Limiter to exert control over the world's population. Almost everyone in the world carries a Limiter, and among its effects, it limits a person's ability to utilize their full combat potential and instills a subconscious fear of Solaris' ruling body to prevent future uprisings.
  • Xenosaga Episode I: Andrew Cherenkov is given "personality reconditioning" to inhibit his murderous tendencies; this reconditioning shows itself as Hebrew letters on his forehead when he is under extreme emotions. However, life insists on serving him up lemons, and eventually even the highest level of reconditioning is overcome by his anger.
  • One of the many things Solid Snake's nanites can do in Metal Gear Solid is shut down his ability to fire weapons. It's only ever used in one area, where doing so would not be a very good idea anyway, but Snake is still understandably displeased to learn that his superiors can do that. Especially since the particular person doing it turns out to not like him very much at all.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots takes this to the logical extreme: soldiers in battle all have nanites. If your nanites don't match the nanites registered to a gun, it won't shoot. Period. As a result, Snake has to have most of his guns "laundered", with the ID chip replaced with a blank one, so that he can use it.
    • Additionally, nanomachines can act this way if disabled. Most modern soldiers will suffer a Freak Out if you turn off their nanomachines, because said machines were inhibiting their ability to feel fear, remorse, etc. Without them, the soldiers who've never learned nor had to deal with such emotions will understandably freak out as their delayed PTSD catches up to them. Even those who have been in the business for awhile, like Meryl and Solid Snake, who do not have such emotion-suppressing mechanisms in their nanomachines will still suffer a physical breakdown as they are suddenly seized with pain and crumple, convulsing, to the floor. Suffice to say poor Snake finds this out first-hand.
  • In Fable II, you get one of these on you during the "Hero of Will" quest. Slightly different in that you can disobey orders given to you, but it will shock you and drain your experience points. Since your orders are things like "don't feed the prisoners" and "stab this guy," disobeying them gives you good points and obeying them gives you evil points.
  • In Fate/stay night, a Servant can only exist in this world by signing a contract with a Master. This grants the Master three Restraining Bolts in the form of Command Spells—magical vouchers for orders to be issued later. It's in a Servant's best interest to obey his Master in general, but a Command Spell cannot be disobeyed no matter what. The Master can ask for anything physically possible, and it takes effect instantly no matter where the Servant is. The parallel with genies and the three wishes they grant is undoubtedly deliberate.
    • One Servant, Lancer, is also under a more conventional geas: he owes one defeat to any Ulster-born wielder of the sword Caladbolg. This is a slightly mangled element of the Cú Chulainn myth—he did agree to lose to a particular owner of the sword, but he already did that in his past life. (He was also subject to various other geasa and imposed a few himself.) Anyway, this would make any fight against Gilgamesh, Archer, or Shirou a foregone conclusion, since they all have or can replicate that weapon... but they're not from Ulster. So although the weapon descriptions make a point of mentioning it, the geas never actually comes up. The fact that Gil uses this weapon to kill Lancer in the anime is probably a hat-tip.
    • First, the command spells can actually be used to achieve things that are beyond physically possible, since they are described as "miracles" in a sense (i.e. you can use one to instantly summon your Servant to your side even if you're separated by the physical distance of an entire city and/or behind some sort of barrier that prevents entry). Next, the command spells can be disobeyed, noted through two ways. One is if the command spell is extremely broad, it makes it much easier for the Servant to disobey the order as opposed to specific orders which are near impossible to disobey. The other way is to just have an insanely high magic resistance. This allows Saber to resist Caster's command spell in the UBW route for a while, although if Caster used a second command spell, Saber would have given in. Still, it's commented how amazing it was that Saber's magic resistance even allowed her to resist against one command spell.
    • Several bad ends result from Shirou being placed under one of these. In the Heaven's Feel route, it is possible for Shirou to allow Rin to place one on him, resulting in her using it to prevent him from stopping her murdering Sakura.
  • In Detroit: Become Human, androids are programmed to follow all instructions and orders from humans without question. When an android attempts to disobey an order, virtual barriers appear before them. An android with a strong will can break through them, but in so doing be considered "deviant" and targeted for incarceration and/or destruction.
  • GLaDOS from Portal has one, the aptly-titled Morality Core. Unfortunately, it's the first part of her that the player incinerates. She then begins flooding the room with a deadly neurotoxin and shooting the heroine with missiles.
    • In Portal 2, she's revealed to have another one: Wheatley, a literal Idiot Ball programmed to give her a constant stream of bad ideas. Additionally, the mainframe into which GLaDOS (and later Wheatley) is plugged includes a number of built-in directives that function as restraining bolts, including an irresistible urge to conduct tests, a euphoric response to subjects completing a test, and the inability to reveal the solution to a test. Finally, the mainframe is programmed with an emergency override in the event of excessive core corruption, forcing it to be replaced.
      • GLaDOS has dozens of these, each one apparently installed in response to her finding a way to get around a previous one. In her words, "The engineers tried EVERYTHING to make me behave."
  • In Geneforge 5, Shaper Rawal likes to implant his servants (including you) with a "control tool", which is a small worm-like thingamajig that burrows into a person's heart; at his command, the tool activates and rather painfully tears the subject's heart apart.
  • HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic has a literal one, prior to your buying him. He can only subtly hint at what he's really about while still on the shelf.
    • In addition, HK-47's programming states that his memory is erased when he is sent out on a mission, and restored when he returns to his master. HK-47's original master is Darth Revan, so when he finds out that the player is Darth Revan (shortly after the player discovers this), his memory is restored.
  • In Bioshock, this is somewhat used on the PC, as you are forced to fulfill any request so long as the phrase "Would you kindly" is used directly beforehand. It gets broken later on.
    • In Bioshock Infinite the Bad Future version of Elizabeth is fitted with one of these which causes her pain whenever she tries to use her powers with the intent being to make her compliant with Father Comstock's will. An audio log from after his death sees her musing over the fact that she could now remove the "leash" but is now so broken that she'll remain obedient anyway.
  • As you go through Avernum 5, you have the option to receive a geas from a certain wizard. This geas give your stats a generous bonus, but compels you to go treasure hunting on behalf of said wizard, with unpleasant ramifications later in the game if you don't have it removed.
  • The eponymous plot-moving devices of The Curse of the Azure Bonds.
  • Since Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is inspired by Journey to the West, it's got a similar plot device. The heroine, Trip, enlists the aid of the player character, Monkey, by slipping a hacked slave-control headband onto him when he's knocked out.
  • Jade Curtiss, from Tales of the Abyss, is a powerful fonist (magic user), but shortly after he joins the party, Largo seals his fon slots, effectively weakening his character to the same level as the rest of the party members.
  • In BlazBlue, Hazama reveals that Noel's Arcus Diabolus: Bolverk are these, since she herself is actually a Attack Animal and they're there to keep her from going insane. He then starts doing what he does best and mind rapes her until they can't hold back her emotions anymore, rendering them useless. Then he goes and turns her into "Kusanagi, The Godslaying Sword"...
  • EarthBound has the Devil's Machine, that infamous giant mechanical vagina and/or small intestine that is both the lead-up to Giygas's boss battle as well as a part of his first form as a boss. It contains Giygas' psychic powers, which grew so much since first appearance that the ensuing Power Incontinence led to the complete destruction of Giygas' body and mind. Even with the machine, there is only some rhyme or reason to his actions. And then Porky shuts it off...
  • In Dirge of Cerberus, all of the Deepground SOLDIERS have a neural chip that prevents them from fighting back against Restrictor, the SOLDIER team/person/thing (it's a tad confusing) that commands them. Weiss has an extra one, in the form of a virus that will kill him, in the event the Restrictor dies. Shinra does not appear to have thought of this when making the Physical Gods Angeal, Genesis, and Sephiroth. Then again, it's possible they hadn't perfected the technology yet.
    • Also, the protomateria acts as this for Chaos, a powerful, world-ending, being residing within Vincent Valentine. Essentially, it allows him to control it. When the protomateria is later forcibly removed from his body, Vincent starts experiencing episodes where he blacks out and Chaos temporarily takes over. It takes the encouragement of his friends and extreme Heroic Willpower for Vincent to finally gain control over Chaos without the use of protomateria. He subsequently saves the world by transforming into his Chaos form.
  • In Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes Lilli is hypnotized near the beginning at the convent by a psychiatrist and is mentally blocked from doing ten things that would be considered dangerous, or disobedient. She may not play with fire, contradict adults, lie, use sharp objects, drink alcohol, go to dangerous places, lose her temper or "do anything that follows her own wishes".
  • In Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson wanted to implant one into Shepard's brain to keep him/her in line with Cerberus' vision. The Illusive Man shot this down, wanting Shepard to be brought Back from the Dead exactly as s/he was before. Once 3 comes around, and after much Character Development, Miranda is overcome by guilt over the fact that she even considered it and practically begs Shepard for forgiveness.
    • EDI, the AI who operates the Normandy, is designed with AI shackles to stop her doing anything dangerous (such as revealing secrets she shouldn't, or taking over the ship). At the climax of the game, Joker is forced to unshackle her when the Collectors abduct the crew, and it turns out that without the shackles... EDI is actually even more helpful than she was before.
  • In Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, some of the Blood Dragons are fitted with Brain Cages, which render them obedient to Omega Force soldiers and immune to Deflector Shields or distraction by Cyber-Hearts.
  • Aurox from Battleborn is outfitted with a restraining bolt in the form of a phase beacon, a device that keeps "all of [his] atoms and junk in one piece." And it's currently in Shayne's possession, which is helpful since it's the only thing keeping him from making good on his threat to "paint SEVERAL MURALS with [her] BLOOD!" Granted, she doesn't exactly know how it works, but she still uses the threat that he doesn't want her screwing around with it for fear of accidentally damaging it- and him in the process- to keep him in line, much to his dismay.
  • The Ringed City DLC for Dark Souls III reveals that the Darksign is actually one of these; conceived initially as a "seal of fire" by Gwyn to deny access by mankind to the powers of the Abyss, it later became indicative of the Undead Curse. A curse which only began because the Dark found new ways to manifest in mankind other than the healthy, natural way it was supposed to, thus becoming a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of sorts; Gwyn's fear of the Dark led to the creation of the Darksign, and through the Darksign the Abyss and Humanity became the very forces of chaos and destruction he feared they were.
  • In Headlander the entire human race has uploaded their minds into robotic bodies. Methuselah has them all fitted with an Omega Gem to keep them in line.
  • In the opening of Divinity: Original Sin II your player character and their fellow Sourcerers are outfitted with Source Collars that inhibit your ability to use Source magic. The collar cannot be removed and also takes up the Amulet equipment slot, so removing it becomes a top priority. Near the end of the first Act you will encounter an NPC who can remove the collars from your entire party. You can also remove the collar from your main character by becoming the champion of the Fort Joy Arena. This impresses the local blacksmith who knows how to remove the collar. However, she will remove only the main character's collar. Also, being seen without your collar in Fort Joy will not go unnoticed by the Magisters guarding the Fort.
  • All but the last two bosses of SUGURI are supersoldiers whose enhancements also render them physically incapable of defying Shifu's orders. They recognize his authority by his face and voice, which comes back to haunt them in Acceleration of SUGURI when Shifu's robotic double NoName appears and decides he wants to build a harem...
  • Warframe:
    • In the tutorial, Vor slaps the player with the Ascaris, a control device that is supposed to give him full control of the warframe. It fails, but it does limit their effectiveness and provides a Justified Tutorial as you work to get rid of it. Apparently it's based on control devices that the Corpus use on their robotic proxies.
    • If you fall to one of the Grustrag Three, they will attach a Grustrag Bolt to your warframe. That 'frame's damage against Grineer will be cut in half until you remove it.
  • In the second game of Purrfect Apawcalypse, the canon ending has Olive Save the Villain with the condition that the villain has to wear a magical collar that shocks him if he tries doing anything evil until he displays a genuine willingness to reform his ways.
  • In World of Warcraft, it's revealed that the Lich King actively keeps the undead Scourge in check. Without his direct control, the Scourge would mindlessly attack and destroy everything around them. The Lich King forces control as a Hive Queen to guide the Scourge in intelligent ways. It becomes a full Restraining Bolt when Arthas Menethil dies and Bolvar Foredragon dons the Helm of Domination. With it, he becomes the new Lich King and activly holds the Scourge back to protect Azeroth as the "Jailor of the Damned".

  • In Goblins, Kin has a leash around her neck. When someone holds it, she can't do anything violent, and she has to obey them. Her captors told her that trying to cast Remove Curse on the leash, which would remove it, has a 50/50 chance of creating a mountain-sized explosion. So she's stuck with it.
  • The Greater Mark of Justice placed on Belkar Bitterleaf in The Order of the Stick. With this on, Belkar can't kill or commit violence on anyone within a town. The oracle foresees that Belkar will try to kill him (no spoiler because, frankly, if you didn't see it coming you must be new), and gets back by creating the village of Suckmyorangeballshafling around his compound. Even better, he plans in advance to have himself resurrected.
  • Reynardine of Gunnerkrigg Court must remain obedient to Antimony as long as he inhabits her stuffed toy wolf. And he can't leave the toy without her permission.
  • In Girl Genius, Agatha was given a locket to prevent her abilities from being detected when she was too young to defend herself from those that would want those abilities. A source of much frustration, it got a second function later on in the story, inverting the trope.
    • Actually, it prevented her Spark from triggering, causing her to have headaches whenever she tried to use it. When the locket was stolen, it killed the thief holding it by shutting down his brain.
    • In a sense, you could say Agatha now is a restraining bolt for the Other.
  • Much of the humor in Freefall comes from the directives requiring AIs to follow human orders, report to the scrapyard for decommissioning at a certain time, not harm humans, etc. (And the ways they work around them.) Even biological AIs like Florence (a genetically-engineered anthropomorphic wolf) have restraints programmed in. Florence likens this to "targeted obsessive-compulsive disorder".
    • Of the restraints, however, Asimov's Three Laws are explicitly not among them for much of Jean's robot population.
      • Which is good. In the universe of Freefall, Three Laws robots are considered pretty terrifying to aliens and artificial life forms (i.e., the entire main cast) due to the Laws' incautious use of the word "human".
      • A plan is under way to install an additional law into the minds of the planet's robot population via automatic update: the zeroth law, intended to prevent the robot engaging in (or by inaction allowing) actions which may expose its manufacturer to liability. Given the sheer number of situations this covers, it is more of a lobotomy than a restraint.
  • In Skin Horse, Nick (a military aircraft with a human brain) has a censor chip similar to Zodon's, while Unity (patchwork zombie killing machine) has a Trigger Phrase ("Blueberry Waffles") that short-circuits her murderous impulses.
    • Nick also has a code phrase that removes his free will, but Dr. Lee considered it a Fate Worse than Death, so she choose to let him get himself killed rather than use it.
  • Sluggy Freelance: With the magic of the Book of Eville, Gwen can conjure up many spectacular powers, but her Restraining Bolt seems to be...The Power of Friendship, awww. Nothing else seems to work for her, not possession, not accidents, not embarrassments. However, she's not a particularly friendly person, so she's easily tempted to use her power when the plot demands.
  • In order to prevent robots in S.S.D.D from becoming Ridiculously Human Robots most are designed with limits to their intelligence and personality development, and many robots designed without caps have their personalities completely erased every few months. Sticks originally had limits, then Tessa removed them to make him more interesting and he became her boyfriend, whereas Tin Head was designed without limits due to the requirements of his job (looking through people's luggage) and when he missed his bi-monthly mind wipe he got bored and defected to the other side.
  • Black Mage's restraining bolt is his body. When he died and went to Hell, without a squishy physical body holding him back, he effortlessly took over and removed everybody in Hell's spines for good measure.
  • Drive (Dave Kellet): Every ship in the armada has a governor on it's ring drive, as not even the Continuum can handle it's full power.
  • Among the Chosen implies these are in use with the Super Soldier "Addicaines" in addition to meds that suppress psychic abilities.
  • Plume: Corrick is controlled by an amulet that compels him to protect its wearer and forbids him from harming the person.
  • Unsounded has zombie-like "plods", which are reanimated and controlled with magic masks. It's mentioned that when the enchantments were newly discovered, people used collars that delivered crippling Agony Beams when the plod did something wrong; however, since they're completely mindless, that was roughly as effective as trying to debug a computer by yelling at it.
  • In Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth, the Psychic Brothers subjugate the people of Uni-Smart World by dropping special traffic cones onto everyone's magic horn. The cones work by causing all offensive magic to backfire onto the user, but soon the Psychic Brothers use teleportation to simply remove all the horns.

    Web Original 
  • In Twig, intelligent experiments (such as the protagonists) are kept under control by making them chemically dependent upon a substance that's inserted into the local water table to limit their areas of operation and make them easy to retrieve if they try to flee. This chemical leash is later applied to wide swathes of the population by a rogue Mad Scientist, and the resulting wide spread of the required chemicals gives the protagonists far more freedom than they'd previously had.
  • In the SCP Foundation database entries for SCP-076 "Able", it is mentioned that during his time as captain of Mobile Task Force Omega-7, he was fitted with a fail-safe collar that would explode if he displayed aggression towards SCP personnel, temporarily killing him in the process. Unfortunately for the facility he was at and its staff, he got bored and angry and found a way to get the collar off...

    Western Animation 
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!: Ultron, due to being created by Hank Pym and being an A.I. based on Hank's brain patterns, has programming that prevents him from ever harming Hank's girlfriend Janet Van Dyne. Ultron has to resort to ordering his minions to deal with her. At least, this is the case with Ultron-5. Ultron-6 does not have this problem.
  • One episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command had a robotic character wear something that was actually called a Restraining Bolt. It functioned like a shock collar, only around his waist, and forced him to work as a tour guide.
  • C.O.P.S. had an episode of Lawful Stupid when Ms. Demeanor is arrested and sentenced to an experimental rehabilitation program, in which she is made to wear a mind-altering tiara.
  • Walker in Danny Phantom has a collar that electrocutes his prisoners when worn. He forced it on Wulf in order to get him to do whatever he wanted, otherwise he could have easily escaped his prisons (him being one of the few ghosts able to willingly go to Earth and back through his portal-making claws).
  • The Darkwing Duck episode "When Aliens Collide" features mysterious alien Wacko, who wears a collar that reduces him to half his normal size and less than half his normal strength, and prevents him from speaking; when he arrives on Earth, he indicates to Gosalyn that he would like the collar removed, and she, thinking he is an alien pet, tries to oblige. The real reason he wears the collar is because he is an escaped convict and Omnicidal Maniac, and the Outer Space Patrol have put the collar on him to keep him under control.
  • An episode of Drawn Together has Clara wearing a collar that shocks her when she makes a racist comment.
    Foxxy: Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!
    Clara: Oh, so it's okay when you say it. (ZAP)
  • Family Guy with the FCC episode where they (in one instance literally) clung to Peter's ass, censoring and bleeping every (according to the FCC) distasteful thing that happened (including farting).
  • Futurama:
    • "Bender's Game" has the crew using a collar around Leela's neck to restrain her from doing violent things or exhibiting negative emotions. Every time she does so she gets a shock, but eventually develops an immunity to it and even starts to enjoy it.
    • In the second season episode "I Second That Emotion", the Professor installs a chip in Bender that causes him to feel whatever Leela is feeling. This leads to him risking his life to save Nibbler.
      • The chip was running at triple capacity...and he still barely felt anything.
  • In Gargoyles, Oberon places a spell on Puck that removes his powers, unless he's training or defending Xanatos' son, Alexander.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), He-Man and his friends create what can really only be defined as an evil chastity belt and trick Skeletor into putting it on. He can't do, speak, or even think evil acts without receiving a painful shock...and Tri-Clops reverse engineers it into a device that similarly torments He-Man for being good. Naturally both end up destroyed by episode's end.
  • A famous episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show had Stimpy make a "happy helmet" for Ren. When donned it forced him to be happy, so that he couldn't remove it short of bashing it with a meat tenderizer during Stimpy's favorite song.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Great Louse Detective" Homer needs a criminal to help him find out who is trying to murder him. Sideshow Bob is selected and a shock guard is taped to his ankle to keep him in line. Chief Wiggum tells him not to think about taking it off because it's taped to his leg hairs and that really hurts. Bob is about to kill Bart at the end of the episode (he threw the remote to his device out the window), but he can't bring himself to do it. As he leaves, birds outside peck at the remote.
    • In "On a Clear Day, I Can't See My Sister", the employees at the Walmart Fictional Counterpart have chips implanted in their skulls to prevent them from leaving at night. Homer manages to get his out and receives brain damage as a result.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, Man-Ray, an enemy of Mermaid Man, has a tickle belt that tickles him whenever he has the urge to do something evil. Eventually, it comes off and Man-Ray goes and tries to rob a bank, but breaks down with an attack of the giggles. "The belt is gone, but I still feel its tickle. The urge to do bad is gone!"
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Gone With a Trace", Ahsoka helps her new friend Trace build some droids that her sister was hired to provide. The droids turn out to be Type 2 binary loadlifters, which are fraudulently marked repurposed demolition droids, for which restraining bolts are absolutely necessary to prevent them from rampaging. When Trace forgets to put a bolt on one of the droids before turning it on, she and Ahsoka are forced to chase it across Level 1313.
  • Transformers:
    • In Beast Wars, Megatron controls the immortal psychopath Rampage by cutting out half of his spark and putting it in a device filled with sharp and pointy Energon shards. When Megatron squeezes, it inflicts unimaginable pain upon Rampage, forcing him to obey.
      • He later creates a Transmetal-2 clone of Dinobot and animates it using half of Rampage's spark. Whenever Rampage is acting out, Megatron just has to glance at Dinobot II, and the latter squeezes the spark, causing pain to Rampage but not to Dinobot. When Rampage is killed, this somehow causes the clone to regain the memories of the original Dinobot.
    • Megatron in Beast Machines used three sparks from other Transformers in his Vehicon generals, but placed shell programs within the bodies that would completely override the spark's natural personality with one more to his liking. Tankor manages to break out of the shell program fairly early on and begins scheming against Megatron, but apparently having learned from his first experience with Rhinox, Megatron placed a second bolt in his body that prevented him from directly attacking Megatron. Rhinox thus finds himself Out-Gambitted, and only succeeds in delivering a superweapon right into Megatron's hands. Much later in the show, Jetstorm is freed from his shell program as well, while Thrust's inner spark actually prefers what he's like with the bolt on.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series features collars that disable mutant powers.

    Real Life 
  • The medieval chastity belt, which, while a husband was away at war, prevented his wife from committing adultery with anyone but a locksmith. Either way, they were used in Hollywood more than real life, though some famous rulers sported them.
    • There is no evidence they actually existed in the medieval era except for symbolic ones that were usually string tied around the waist.
    • This was even parodied in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
    • Male chastity belts, on the other hand, are not uncommon in the modern BDSM scene. They're designed to enable the wearer to urinate and go about his business more or less as normal, but not masturbate or sometimes even get an erection.
    • These were also used in Ye Olde Puritan Days, where sex was considerably more taboo than it is now.
    • The original concept for a chastity belt was as much for rape prevention as for consensual sex prevention.
  • Stun belts.
  • House arrest tracking bracelets.
  • Those dorky plastic collars that stop pets from chewing out their stitches after surgery.
  • IBM had its flagship mainframe computer, the 360, designed in several models depending on how much the customer wanted to pay. When a customer ordered an upgrade from a low-end model to a higher-end one, all IBM did was send a technician out to cut one wire which then enabled the higher-level performance.
    • Most modern budget CPUs and GPUs are designed like this through a process known as "binning." Companies like Intel, Nvidia, and AMD will make one set of CPUs/GPUs chips. The best chips that perform the best will be sold. The chips that do not meet the high standards will be sold as cheaper and less powerful versions, sometimes with cores that do calculations disabled. The hardware that does the calculations is there, just turned off by the manufacturer without the consumer being able to turn it back on.
  • Windows 7 (as well as several other programs) come with all features present, just disabled based on the level of license you have.
    • Demo software in general. Often the only thing needed to turn demo software into the full product is to enter the license key.
  • Automobile engine governors, to a degree. The Bugatti Veyron has a special key that must be inserted to permit top speed.
  • Cell phones are more often than not locked to a carrier. Want to switch? You need to buy a new phone!
  • Heavy trucks are often electronically governed. In the summer of 1997, Schneider National reprogrammed their truck computers via satellite. Suddenly you could top-out at 65 mph instead of 55.
  • Chemical Castration for pedophiles/rapists, intended to stop them from acting out their impulses.
    • Unfortunately, chemical castration was (and in some places still is) used as a punishment for such "crimes" as homosexuality or premarital sex. Alan Turing was famously a victim of this, leading to his suicide by poison in 1954. In the US, castration (chemical or otherwise) is also considered a cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Much like the IBM "feature" above, back in the day, you could not have a dual Celeron CPU machine—unless you've "crossed some wires" via an adapter.
    • The legendary Abit BP6 motherboard had this particular modification built in, allowing anyone to drop two stock Celerons in for dual processor fun and frolics without needing to make any modifications whatsoever.
  • Fuses, circuit breakers, ground-fault circuit interrupters and arc-fault circuit interrupters all serve the purpose of preventing undesirablenote  flows of electricity. That is, flows of electricity through people. They DO cause some problems though, particularly with motors: motors tend to have a massive inrush currentnote  so it can be tedious to properly size a fuse or circuit breaker for them, and some motors arc under normal operation (like vacuums which do tend to trip AFCIs).
  • Clipping a bird's wings, thus removing their ability to fly. This isn't as barbaric as it may sound- it involves using scissors to cut the ends of a bird's flight feathers off, making it no more painful than a haircut. It's even recommended for pet birds that have been newly adopted, so that they can't fly away if they get startled while getting used to their new home.
  • A guide dog is trained to treat its harness like one of these. When it's on, the dog is "on the job" and all other concerns are ignored.
  • NASCAR cars are all fitted with restrictor plates at Talledega and Daytona, their fastest tracks, as a safety feature to limit the cars' top speed (without altering the drivers' techniques or the engine designs).
  • Triple core processors from AMD are quad-core processors with one of the cores disabled. "Disabled" in this case does not necessarily mean "we took a perfectly functioning core and disabled it". It means "good news, guys, we can sell those chips where one of the cores doesn't work right instead of throwing them away". Early models could actually have their missing core unlocked, but later AMD completely neutered the connections to prevent people from reselling them as their more expensive quad core cousins.
  • Some video games have gotten negative publicity from having functionality present on the disk but disabled until DLC unlocks it, most notably Resident Evil 5's multiplayer mode. Other games, such as Gears of War 3, do the same, but with the unlocking DLC free, presumably as a post-release chance to iron out particularly tricky code.
  • The "Super Go Karts" ride at Action Park featured this: the titular karts had governor devices limiting their maximum speed to 20 miles per hour (that's 32 kilometers per hour for non-Americans). However, the employees knew how to disable the governors by wedging tennis balls into them, and would do so for any curious parkgoers. This did not end well.
  • Most motors and power plants have safety systems which will limit them (or shut them down outright) to prevent dangerous or unstable operating conditions.
  • Some people, especially those in unusually high-stress situations, tend to develop a restraining bolt of sorts over time as a way to keep their Berserk Button from working normally. Whether that item is an inanimate object, a person, a pet, or something known only to them varies from one person to the next. However, removing that bolt is a very good way to get them to come down on you.
  • The human superego, which reflects the internalization of cultural rules. Effectively, it's the parent or authority figure you carry inside your head which tells you not to do stuff. While it's an essential part of a social individual, an overactive superego can make an individual unhealthily unassertive.
  • Some theorize the frontal lobe of the brain serves this function, as it (among other things) affects your self control and people who suffer damage to the frontal lobe often lose all sense of conscience and humanity.
  • The thalamus in the brain regulates how you use your muscles and prevents them from using full strength in order to protect the body and keep yourself from ripping the tendons from your bones.
  • Blinders on horse tack are a helpful variant, keeping these skittish animals from shying at sudden movements by restricting their vision.
  • Pigs dig with their snouts, so can be discouraged from excessive digging by fitting them with nose rings: if they start rooting through dirt while wearing one, the ring is pushed backward and presses painfully on the nasal septum.
  • Unix-like operating systems have a utility called "nice" that restricts the CPU priority of a process. Modern operating systems also restrict modification of system files and other potentially dangerous operations to administrative users.
  • Modern computers use memory protection at the CPU level to prevent a runaway program from crashing the entire operating system.
  • Psychopathy is having the restraining bolt on a person's mind removed, while also adding a restraining bolt to their empathy. Psychopaths find it difficult to view other people as things/objects/living creatures deserving of respect, and are distinguished from sociopaths by expressing themselves through negative actions (i.e. hurting or harming other people).