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Shipped in Shackles

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Hand and leg shackles: the only way to travel with a serial killer.

Sure, you can build a fancy Tailor-Made Prison for when your Omnicidal Maniac is hidden away, but what happens when you have to move the little bastard? He can't be thrown in the back seat of a black-and-white cruiser with just a uniformed officer for supervision. No, he's got to be shipped in shackles.

This trope is about taking extreme measures to secure a prisoner and/or their intended route during transport. Simple handcuffs and a couple of escorts won't suffice. This is when the guards feel they must chain the prisoner hand and foot, wrap him in a straightjacket, secure him to a hand truck, give him a Hannibal mask to prevent biting, cart him around in an armored vehicle full of strapping young guards toting high-caliber weapons, along with a convoy of SUVs, or all of the above. If he has superpowers, expect the guards' weapons to be loaded with the appropriate Kryptonite Factor, and/or the shackles to be specially made to negate his powers. If he's a Manipulative Bastard notorious for talking his way out of being captured or manipulating his captors, he may even be gagged.

This may be to prevent the prisoner's allies on the outside from pulling off a daring Inescapable Ambush to rescue during transit or to keep him from contacting such allies, but more likely it serves the same purpose as a stationary oubliette: to show the audience that this guy is a One-Man Army so tough that it takes a quarter-ton of purpose-built restraints to hold him, or so dangerous that his captors want to ensure that the odds of him escaping are exactly zero.

Of course, these restraints prove ineffective as often as not, especially since most villains realize that escaping from a few chains while under constant armed surveillance is still easier than getting out of their usual super-maximum prison cell.

Compare Tailor-Made Prison, which refers to custom-made prisons for similarly dangerous prisoners. If the prisoner fights while still restrained, that's With My Hands Tied. Has nothing to do with (relation)shipping.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Inuyasha: When Naraku first introduces Juromaru, he's in an iron cage and despite looking like a white-haired Bishōnen wearing expansive clothes he's wrapped in chains and has an iron mask covering his face. As soon as he removes the chains and mask to have him fight the heroes at his top, Juromaru promptly beheads Naraku's golem, showing off why he was chained up.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Once they're defeated by a hero, the more powerful villains are loaded into a heavy steel capsule referred to as the 'Iron Maiden' for transit to Tartarus. There are also solid metal 'straitjackets' used to hold villains still; in the case of exceptionally powerful and belligerent villains, both are used simultaneously.
    • At the end of the Shie Hassaikai arc, Overhaul is seen being transported to the villain hospital strapped to a gurney with his hands sealed inside a special shackle, designed to prevent him from using his (touch-based) deconstruction/reconstruction quirk. The gurney is kept in the back of an armored truck escorted by several police cars and a hero.
  • One Piece:
    • Captured pirates and other convicted criminals are transported in this manner to Impel Down. Normally they stop at shackles (Since the cuffs are made out of a mineral that can zap superpowers), but when Usopp and Franky are caught by the CP9, they are carried to the Sea Train in burlap sacks.
    • When Don Quixote Doflamingo is arrested, the Navy makes sure to wrap him in chains. The ship taking him to prison has him bound to the floor of his holding cell.
    • When Big Mom passes out while rampaging through the Udon Prison Factory, Queen immediately has her wrapped in hundreds of Seastone chains and then injected with at least a hundred shots of animal tranquilizer before taking her Kaido's main base.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo: The four Berserkers of the Twelve Heavenly Generals are so violent and ferocious that they are constantly chained up into an underground cell when not needed. In fact, as soon as the chains are removed, they promptly devour their own jailers. They only fully remove their apparel and chains when engaged in combat with their enemies.

    Comic Books 
  • One story arc in the Avatar: The Last Airbender sequel comics ends with Azula's being wheeled in with a still whacked, disturbing smile on her face.
  • Batman: Several members of Batman's Rogues Gallery tend to be shown like this during "downtime" in Arkham, particularly the Joker and Killer Croc. Special mention goes to Mr. Zsasz, who's traditionally transported with a collar-and-rod system taking four guards.
  • Copperhead: Zolo's gang kidnaps Boo and handcuffs him. He escapes in a matter of hours and starts killing his captors. When they recapture him, he's bound with chains and stuffed into tiny seating flanked by guards with no range of movement.
  • In several issues of Daredevil, Bullseye is shown being transported in this fashion, with his hands bound to the point that he couldn't grab anything if he wanted to, and his feet bound so close that he can barely walk. Later issues (after he's demonstrated that he retains the ability to kill guards even bound up like that) show him with bound hands, feet, a muzzle over his face, and tightly bound to a furniture mover's hand cart.
  • The Intimates: Sykes is transported to a government research lab with his hands and feet bound to a wheelchair. Sykes exists in a state of near-total catatonia, incapable of speech or anything but the simplest physical action, but his handlers didn't want to get caught with their pants down in case he suddenly developed the ability to try something.
  • In Maximum Carnage, Cletus Cassidy is transported via the chained-to-hand-cart method. Unfortunately for the guards, his symbiote has gotten into his bloodstream, so when a doctor takes a blood sample from him, the open wound allows him to transform back into Carnage.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): When Diana and the Holliday Girls recapture the four villains who managed to escape from Reformation Island, they send the first two back bound hand and foot. The latter two are bound in Diana's magic lasso and escorted by the princess herself.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 13 (2010) has a case of being literally shipped when a contestant in the Deadly Game is shackled and sent in a crate from a Mexican prison. He's shackled not because he's dangerous but because he really didn't volunteer for this.
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976): Napoleon Wilson (who is said to have killed six people for reasons that are never revealed) is shackled for the ride on the prison bus taking him to Death Row, and the Warden trips him up just to Kick the Dog. A few minutes later Wilson returns the favor by tripping up the Warden with his chain. He doesn't get out of his shackles until halfway through the movie. In the final scene, Lieutenant Bishop refuses to allow Wilson to be handcuffed and insists they walk out of Precinct 13 together.
  • In The Boondock Saints, Il Duce (pictured above) is moved from his cell to the ground floor for a parole hearing. He is cuffed hand and foot, chained to a rolling platform, and wheeled down to the parole board. The entire prison is put on high-alert, with shotgun-wielding guards on every floor, all to move one man down a few flights of stairs. Once he's there, they even put him inside a metal cage to protect the parole board. All this serves to establish this guy as perhaps the biggest badass of the movie. Makes you wonder why they even thought about parole...note 
  • Garland Green from Con Air is introduced wearing similar restraints as Lecter. When he's taken onto the plane, there's trepidation among at least one of the other criminals about actually taking them off.
  • Han Solo is frozen in carbonite following his capture by Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back to be transported to Jabba the Hutt. Fett doesn't like the risk to Solo's life (and, thus, his bounty), but Vader is willing to write him a compensation check if Han dies. Unlike most examples, it isn't done because Han himself is too dangerous; the point of the exercise is to test the method for later use on Luke. However, The Mandalorian is later shown to have a carbonite-freezer in his spacecraft, so it appears that the bounty-hunting fraternity thought Vader had come up with a good idea.
  • In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Grindelwald starts the film being shipped from New York to Europe for trial. His hands are shackled, his wand confiscated, his tongue removed (apparently, he's so persuasive that multiple guards assigned to him have defected), locked in a flying carriage with at least three other wizards training their wands on him at all times, and said carriage has magical locks that run around almost the entire doorframe. Two other wizards follow this carriage on brooms for backup. Grindelwald being Grindelwald, it's not nearly enough. He's not even in the carriage.
  • Snake-Eyes arrives at Einsargen Prison like this in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • At the end of The Avengers (2012), Loki is shown in chains for his transport back to Asgard, in addition to a muzzle.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, Loki is escorted to his trial in heavy handcuffs, legcuffs and a metal collar interconnected with chains that are also wrapped around his waist, and is accompanied by ten Einherjar, elite Asgardian warriors holding those chains. With the God of Mischief who has just tried to conquer Earth, you can't be too sure.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, when the team uses time travel to go back to 2012, we see exactly when Loki was shackled. Thor put the muzzle on him simply because he would not shut up.
  • Invoked with Dizzy in The New Guy, who is delivered by a sympathetic prison staff to his new school in a straightjacket and mask as a Shout-Out to Green (and, by extension, Lecter). The whole thing is a sham to convince his new peers that he's a formidable badass, rather a reversal of his former image.
  • Patient Zero (2018): Every infected is brought to the interrogation room with their hands behind their backs, a rope around their neck, and their mouths held open with some strange device.
  • In Primal, Richard Loffler arrives at the ship shackled hand and foot (like the page image). On board the ship, he is locked in a cage in the hold and chained to a chair that is welded to the floor.
  • John Doe in Se7en, while being taken into what seems to be an obvious trap. It makes no difference, as his Batman Gambit does not require him to escape or attack his captors.
  • One of the most familiar examples comes from The Silence of the Lambs, where Hannibal is transported from his usual maximum-security cell by being chained inside a straightjacket, wheeled around on a hand truck, and wearing his iconic mask.
  • Suicide Squad (2016): Killer Croc, considering his strength and penchant for cannibalism, is shipped to Task Force X in numerous restraints.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand blurs the line between this and the Tailor-Made Prison with the government's mobile prison-van. Mystique is kept behind bars and with her hands shackled to the ceiling. Juggernaut and Multiple Man both got locked in standing metal coffins to seal off their abilities. The guards on the van were also armed with weaponized Mutant Cure.

  • 100 Cupboards:
  • In A Clash of Kings, three prisoners from the black cells, Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter, are transported to join the Night's Watch shackled to a flatbed wagon. They convince Arya to give them an axe to free themselves as she runs from a fire, with very mixed results for her in the long run.
  • Marcus Didius Falco: When Falco gets himself arrested during the Roman festival of Saturnalia, his friends throw as many shackles as possible on him, then drag him before a holy man who, according to ancient Roman tradition, commands that the shackles be cast off, effectively releasing him.
  • In the second Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape book, Rise of the Robot Army, Lenore is always escorted between her cell and the cafeteria by two of General Breckenridge's robot soldiers, and in chains that only allow her enough elbow room to walk and feed herself. This is because she has some kind of superpower.
  • In the Nursery Crime series, the gingerbread man is transported this way, straightjacketed and handled by burly guards at all times until he isn't.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Cylon prisoners are always excessively chained and restraint-collared after Leoben demonstrates just how easy it is to break his handcuffs during his interrogation.
  • Daredevil (2015): Frank Castle is transported to the courtroom this way. Even when he's in hospital there are excessive precautions — an entire floor of the hospital is blocked off for him, guarded by ESU officers with carbines, bags have to be searched twice to be absolutely certain no one's smuggling in a weapon, and there's a "do not cross" line around his bed marked with red tape, to which bed Castle is both strapped and shackled.
  • Farscape: D'Argo, one of the main characters who is a former prisoner of the Peacekeepers, has a couple of attachment rings permanently imbedded in his collar bone for this trope. He's from a species that suffer from regular bouts of Hyper-Rage so they must be restrained, or they'll kill someone. That doesn't make D'Argo happy about it however, and he has them surgically removed in Season 3.
  • Gotham:
    • Mad Bomber Ian Hargave is shipped in shackles when he is being transported from Blackgate to St. Mark's Psychiatric Hospital in the episode "Harvey Dent".
    • Jeremiah Valeska also gets this treatment at the end of the fourth season, when the GCPD are preparing him to be transported to Arkham. Unfortunately, even putting him in full-bodied restraints reminiscent of Hannibal Lector's doesn't prevent him from escaping, because before he can be locked away in Arkham, he's rescued by invincible ninjas.
  • This happens to Baek San and Sa-Woo toward the end of Iris (2009). It doesn't work.
  • Happens in My Name Is Earl to one of the inmates taking a creative writing class.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): At the end of "I, Robot", Adam Link is able to effortlessly break his chains when he saves Carrie Emerson from being run over by a truck.
  • Zig-zagged in Prison Break. Linc is usually moved around like this, but sometimes the guards go easy on the shackles because he's a good prisoner or because they want him to break out.
  • Parodied in Raising Hope with one of Lucy's bridesmaids at her jailhouse wedding. The bridesmaid in question is strapped to a dolly, with a face mask and everything.
  • Zach Galifianakis is carted in Hannibal Lector-style in a "Scared Straight" sketch of Saturday Night Live.
  • Jake LaPlant, "the man with the most dangerous jokes in show business", arrives at The Slammer in a straightjacket and face mask and strapped to a trolley like Hannibal Lector.
  • Supernatural: After a powerful witch is able to immobilize a Leviathan with a spell, the brothers ship him back to Bobby wrapped in chains in the back seat of their car. However it's made clear that only the spell is binding him, so they've got until it wears off to find out how to kill a Leviathan.

  • In a Shout-Out to The Silence of the Lambs, Disturbed opens many of their shows by having their lead singer wheeled out on stage in a straight jacket and restraining mask, strapped to a hand truck while a roadie (usually dressed in a white coat) releases him to sing.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Heavy Metal Sisters from GLOW would regularly be led to and/or from the ring in straitjackets. Their gimmick was they were mental patients at the state hospital, but were let out to wrestle "because it's therapeutic".
  • For a time in 2003, Kane would be led to the ring in shackles and chains with several guards escorting him, who would then unlock the chains once he got to the ring.

    Video Games 
  • In the opening of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Joker's wrapped in a straitjacket and chained to a hand-truck for delivery to the asylum. The guards seem to wish he was gagged as well. Batman later gets the same treatment in a fear-gas induced hallucination.
  • At the start of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you and the rest of your party are all shackled in a cart, being taken to your execution.
  • In the Light Side Ending of The Force Unleashed II, the Heroes transport a captive in an upright frame that appears to be six-inches thick solid durasteel. Probably justified, given that the captive is Darth Vader.

    Visual Novels 
  • Missing Stars: Lena is apparently a nice girl but is always muzzled up. It's very unlikely to be for show either, considering her university is for kids who are mentally ill. Lena is otherwise unrestrained besides the muzzle.

  • Last Res0rt: The condemned contestants arrive this way. (Some leg irons might have been a good idea in Slick's case!) Daisy is even brought in strapped to a wheelchair, though at least part of that is thanks to her missing leg.
  • The Order of the Stick: The Empire of Blood transports its arena champion (Thog) locked inside a wheeled cage.
  • Skin Horse: In her first appearance, Tigerlily Jones is wrapped in a straitjacket and strapped to a handcart.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the bounty hunters who capture Toph stick her in a metal box for transport so she can't use her earthbending to escape. Of course, Toph gets out by inventing metal bending. See the series' CMOA page.
  • An episode of Batman: The Animated Series opens with Killer Croc being transported to prison with his arms and legs in shackles. He escapes by biting through the chains and uses their remains as evidence that he was a prisoner in a freak show. After Batman recaptures him, he is taken away chained, straight-jacketed and muzzled.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: When the Joker is taken into custody at the end of "Game Over for Owlman!", he is strapped to a trolley with a mask over his face a la Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Duck Dodgers: Drake Darkstar, Duck Dodgers' Evil Twin in the episode "Detained Duck", is transferred to the Shirley Temple Black maximum security space prison in an enclosed barrel with futuristic shackles. He still escapes, runs into Duck Dodgers, and switches clothes with him. Dodgers then is arrested and put in a straitjacket and muzzle and gets chained up to a dolly like Hannibal.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), Kobra Khan is shackled and muzzled when transported. The muzzle is left on in his prison cell due to him being able to spit acid-like venom.
  • Muzzle from Road Rovers is kept restrained exactly like Hannibal, complete with a muzzle — and he's one of the good guys!
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Marge vs. the Monorail", C. Montgomery Burns is given the Hannibal Mask treatment when he's dragged into court for illegally dumping radioactive waste around the city.
    • So is Bart when he's accused of stealing the church collection money in "Bart's Girlfriend". Marge even lampshades how excessive the punishment is.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, the police nab the Tattletale Strangler (for littering, of course) and proceed to wrap him in several miles of handcuffs, chains, manacles, and even eye-cuffs... all of which he slithers out of about five seconds later. "Not again!"
  • In his first appearance in the ThunderCats (2011) episode "New Alliances", Kaynar is being shipped in shackles back to his cell in solitary confinement.
  • Total Drama:
    • In "No Pain, No Game", when the muscular Eva is voted off for the second time (on the day she returned, no less), she becomes very hostile and has to be tied in a straitjacket before she can be shipped off on the Boat of Losers.
    • Delinquent Duncan is brought in as a classic competitor in "Grand Chef Auto" against his will. He's wheeled in tied to a trolley with a mask over his mouth, but has to be released so he can perform the demo. Of course, he immediately makes a run for it laughing madly and Chris admits this one is on him.
    • The kindhearted but strong DJ is brought in as a classic competitor in "Eat, Puke and Be Wary" against his will. He's wheeled in tied to a trolley with a blindfold over his eyes to taste and judge the dishes the current campers prepare. It works only until he sees what the mostly-alive dishes are, at which point he breaks open the ropes and runs away screaming.
    • In "I Love You, I Love You Knots", Rodney antagonizes Clucky by boasting that he eats six eggs a day. Chris prevents Clucky from attacking Rodney then and there, but as soon as the controller to shock the Pim√Ępotew Kinosewak comes within reach, Clucky dives for it and smashes the button in crazed fury. As Clucky is no longer trustworthy, she is wheeled off tied to a trolley and with a mask over her beak. A straitjacket hangs over her neck, but doesn't actually hold her wings. It's implied she gets turned into dinner that evening.
  • In Transformers: Animated, Decepticon prisoners are usually transported in stasis cuffs (which paralyze the prisoner from the neck down) and gags. The handcart makes an appearance for Megatron, not due to being dangerous, but because Optimus beat him so badly he couldn't walk.