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Strapped to an Operating Table

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"It's not another party head, this time you cannot rise
Your hands are tied, your legs are strapped, a light shines in your eye
You faintly see a razor's edge, you open your mouth to cry
You know you can't, it's over now, blade is gonna ride"
Twisted Sister, "Under the Blade"

When captured by a Mad Scientist, don't expect to be left alone in the dungeon. In fact, don't even expect to see the dungeon. Odds are you'll be hauled into the lab for immediate experimentation and end up strapped to the operating table. Heaven help you if They Would Cut You Up.

This is particularly popular with the Evilutionary Biologist and often occurs when people start Playing with Syringes.

Even if you're dealing with an Evil Overlord who merely wants to kill you, many a Death Trap still involves strapping the victim down to a flat surface. Some even automate the process.

For some reason, the entire room is usually dark except for a spot-lit circle around the table. You'd think working scientists — even mad ones — would prefer better lighting.

More realistic settings involve victims bound to a chair (possibly a Shackle Seat Trap) instead. Speaking of reality, remember: the invention of surgery long preceded the existence of anesthetics, so... you and your surgeon needed those straps. Now hold still...


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Assassination Classroom:
    • It happens to Itona in a flashback. Being a lab experiment, it kind of comes with the territory.
    • The human who would later be known as Koro-sensei was often strapped to a table during his months of undergoing unethical experimentation. The restraints were increased as he lost his humanity and developed tentacles.
  • Tomoya of CLANNAD finds himself strapped to an operating table (and attended by nurse Kyou) during an odd dream sequence that rapidly grows disturbing.
  • In Code Geass, Kallen is strapped to a table for no reason save Fanservice after being captured in the second season.
  • Kei of the Dirty Pair spends a good chunk of the penultimate TV episode doing a Goldfinger. As Yuri notes, she's lucky she's a girl.
  • In Durarara!!, Celty actually agrees to an autopsy in return for room and board from the doctor performing the dissection. She discovers a little too late that general anesthetic doesn't work very well in this case. While she doesn't feel nearly as much pain as humans, it didn't look very comfortable.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: In a flashback, the future Führer King Bradley is strapped to an operating table to be injected with a Philosopher's Stone and turned into the homunculus Wrath.
    • In the 2003 anime, Izumi finds Wrath strapped to an examination table by the military.
  • Chidori Kaname of Full Metal Panic! is subjected to this in the first season.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny features a less villainous version of this: Stellar is bound to the operating table by her captors, but that's largely due to the fact that she's a chemotherapy-altered biological weapon engineered by her masters; not only is she dying from not being administered the highly-illegal chemicals that are keeping her alive, she's fighting tooth and nail to kill the doctors - technically her enemy - who are trying futilely to save her.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: in episode 2, Heero Yuy is strapped down after being captured. His response? He lowers his own pulse to make it seem like he's still unconscious and almost manages to break through his bonds, leaving a bloody mess. (Keep in mind, he's 15...)

      What's confusing is the fact that he's lying there for God-knows-how-long with an open bullet wound that's bleeding out, meaning the medics actively had to remove the bandage Relena made from a scrap of her party dress. When Relena visits later, she even demands to know why he's tied down like that; Sally Po says they're trying to keep him from hurting himself further.
  • Happy Lesson - Chitose gets strapped to a table by Kisaragi for the worst Ear Cleaning ever.
  • Integra Hellsing from Hellsing is trapped by Big Bad Incognito on a cross-shaped table in the last episode of the Gonzo anime series.
  • Vivio of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, after being recaptured by the Big Bad. Agito as well, although ironically she's saved by the Big Bad. Well, his minions, anyway.
  • Sanji of One Piece gets this as treatment from the sadistic (but with a Heart of Gold) Dr. Kureha for spinal injuries when he didn't have the sense to not injure himself further by NOT fighting.
    • Trafalgar Law's devil fruit power functions as a variation of this. He has the ability to create "Rooms", clear domes where his powers work. As long as someone's stuck in a room, their bodies are completely at the mercy of the Surgeon of Death, which can include such things as swapping places, swapping people's bodies, removing hearts without leaving a cut, or even completely liquefying someone's internal organs with millions of tiny blades
  • Paprika: The titular character is not strapped to an operating table per se, just a table, and she has butterfly wings behind her.
  • Soul Eater:
    • Professor Stein ironically hallucinates ending up like this in a later arc while he is going insane.
    • He did it a lot to Spirit in their backstory — he was operating on him for five years before Spirit found out after being told by the woman who would become Maka's mother. The hallucination mentioned above actually reverses their roles, with Stein as the "patient" and Spirit the "doctor".
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Washuu gets Tenchi strapped down in her lab for at least a little while, early in one series. And proceeds to attempt to take "DNA samples" while dressed as a naughty nurse, no less. Lady has... issues.
  • At one point in Toumei Shounen Tantei Akira, Akira gets caught by Team Z and strapped to a table, with a laser slowly moving towards his crotch. The laser gets stopped before it can do any damage, however.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: In the movie, Dilandau is seen strapped to a table and screaming.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who Special The Last Adventure: In The Red House Charlie is strapped to an operating table by Dr. Pain who intends to use the physic extractor on her. Dr. Pain comments that the procedure is painful to a 'pure human', not realising that Charlie is one.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman and the Outsiders/Checkmate crossover, Captain Boomerang II and Sasha Bordeaux are captured on a mission to Oolong Island and wake up strapped to operating tables in the lab of Chang Tzu.
  • In Cavewoman: Labyrinth, Meriem is strapped to an operating table after being captured by a zombie cyborg guard in an abandoned military research facility. Because she is superhumanly strong, this situation does not last long.
  • Desolation Jones goes through this as part of a horrifying experiment of which he is the sole survivor.
  • JSA Classified: Delores Winters has Dr. Mid-Nite strapped down and his eyes forced open in order for her pet doctor to extract them for sale to clients wanting meta-human parts.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Sabretooth & the Exiles: At least some of Dr. Barrington's mutant prisoners are used for medical research, secured to operating tables, and vivisected by Barrington or her robot Auto Doc. In Sabretooth's case, after he threatens her, she makes a point of getting the robot surgeon to remove his claws without sedating him.
    • Thanos Rising: Sui-San, Thanos's mother, is captured by her villainous son, strapped to an operating table and vivisected. Thanos, unaware of his family's full history, doesn't realise that Earth's Eternals have full Resurrective Immortality and she returns to life on Earth. It's a long time until Thanos realises that, though.
  • Superman:
    • In The Death of Superman (1961), Lex Luthor straps Superman to an operating table so he can bathe him in Kryptonite radiation until killing him.
    • Heroic example in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004). When Supergirl arrives on Earth, she is confused, frightened, doesn't know English, and doesn't know her own strength, so she causes several disasters without meaning it. Batman knocks her out using a Kryptonite chunk, carries her to the Batcave, and straps her to an operating table to examine her and check if that unknown alien girl is Kryptonian as he suspects.
    • Day of the Dollmaker: A flashback panel shows one little girl gagged and chained to a table while the titular villain turns her into a living doll.
    • In Superman: Brainiac, Superman is strapped to an operating table after being captured by Brainiac. When he comes around, he breaks his restraints and rams his fist through a Brainiac's robot.
  • In Swamp Thing, this happens to a few hapless souls who fall foul of the Un-Men.
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers (Marvel): Happens to some nameless Decepticon grunt who is chosen as part of Straxus' plan to replace Megatron. He's strapped to the table and taken apart, piece by piece, before being rebuilt in Megatron's image.
    • Transformers: TransTech: Shockwave straps some dimensional travelers to tables for analysis.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Origins: Everyone who's a "guest" of Project: Rebirth and Weapon X, including Nick Fury, Logan, and T'Challa.
    • The Ultimates: Captain America has been found alive, but he's still a man with superhuman strength, and there's no telling to the way he would react to the idea of having been frozen for so long (or if he's still sane). Strapping him to the operation table was a mandatory precaution.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Sensation Comics: In her first appearance, Doctor Poison straps Steve Trevor to an operating table to force a truth serum into him and question him, with the promise of returning later and using him in her experiments.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Paula von Gunther straps her victims into chairs and onto tables both in preparation for torturing information out of them and to condition people into her agents via The Ludovico Technique.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 21st Century Serial Killer: Aaron wakes up strapped to an operating table in an empty room with wooden walls after Charles knocks him out.
  • ABCs of Death 2: The man starts strapped to an operating table, waiting for his killers to arrive in "D is for Deloused".
  • Anger of the Dead: After the film's prologue, we see Rooker's prisoner strapped naked by her wrists and ankles to a table.
  • Army of Frankensteins: After being struck by lightning, Alan wakes up strapped to an operating table in Dr. Finiski's lab, with the doctor about to remove his eye without anaesthetic.
  • Asian School Girls: After May kills one of his mooks, Curtis straps her to an operating table and prepares to perform a female circumcision on her, claiming that torture is a hobby of his.
  • Black Widow (2021). Yelena is captured by the Red Room and is sent to an operating theatre so Red Room techs can cut her head and find out why she is no longer under their mind control. She mutters that this is not a cool way to die. Fortunately she's a Trojan Prisoner and cuts the straps with a concealed knife.
  • In Bride of the Monster, Dr. Eric Vornoff straps his unwilling experimental subjects to his operating table before experimenting on them.
  • The Butchers: After capturing Nicole, Jack the Ripper straps her to what is either a dentist or barber's chair in preparation for the torture and murder that is to follow.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger:
    • Cap finds Bucky strapped to a table after being captured by HYDRA. Judging by his exhaustion and delirious rambling, as well as his pretty drastic change of character afterwards, something happened to him that's never elaborated on. Word of God says Zola injected him with some variation of the same super-soldier serum used on Steve, explaining how he later survives his fall.
    • When Zola himself is captured, he's put in an interrogation room with a hospital gurney and is disturbed to see a patch of blood on the floor beneath it. It's possible that this was set up just to mess with his head so that he'd be more willing to cooperate.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, poor Bucky is strapped to an operating table again when his mind is wiped and he's put in cryonic stasis as the Winter Soldier.
  • Cherry Falls: After discovering her father in the trunk, Jody receives a Tap on the Head and wakes up to discover she is strapped to an operating table in the killer's Torture Cellar.
  • A Cure for Wellness has this happen with hospital gurneys, iron lungs, and dental chairs.
  • Deadpool (2016): After he's diagnosed with terminal cancer, Wade Wilson volunteers for a program that turns out to involve him being strapped to a gurney and tortured for months in the belief that his latent mutant genes will activate in an attempt to save his life. Wilson manages to keep up his annoying snark through all of it, so they place him in a hyperbaric chamber and keep him on the verge of oxygen suffocation.
  • In Deep in the Valley, the nurses strap Lester face down to an examination table preparatory to giving him a sponge bath. This leaves him in a very vulnerable position when Suzi Diablo enters, and she proceeds to torture him by shoving a sphygmomanometer cuff up his ass and starting to pump.
  • The Devil Commands: When Dr. Blair decides that his daughter Anne is a conduit he needs to be able to communicate with her dead mother Helen, he straps her into a chair that looks a lot like an electric chair and affixes the brainwave helmet to her head.
  • District 9 plays this trope horrifyingly straight. Wikus is strapped to a table and subjected to lots of very painful experiments for the better half of a day, non-stop. They were going to vivisect him, too, but he escaped when that part became obvious.
  • Dr. Giggles has the protagonist strapped to one at one point, when the killer arrives to check her heart with a stethoscope (which he keeps in the fridge) and begins to operate upon her.
  • In Escape from L.A., the plastic surgery freaks strap their victims to tables.
  • The Serial Killer in Feardot Com does this.
  • The villains in The Final do most of their torturing with their victims strapped to a chair in front of their classmates.
  • Fire in the Sky, during the horrifying Alien Abduction scene.
  • In Frankenstein Island, Jason and his daughter are strapped to operating tables when Sheila Frankenstein plans to transfuse their blood into her husband in order to complete his revival.
  • From Hell: A supposedly insane woman is used as a lobotomy demonstration for a class of medical students. Unfortunately, she's not insane; she's being lobotomised to cover up a royal scandal. The 'subject' is Bound and Gagged, unable to plead for rescue.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, this happens to anyone when they're having the Doctor do anything that involves sticking needles into them, including to Duke, though he escapes before anything bad happens.
  • Parodied in Help!. In an attempt to steal the ring magically stuck to Ringo's finger so he can rule the world, a Mad Scientist has Ringo strapped to an operating table on a boat to amputate his finger. The restraints are set up in a way that should make them more than easy for Ringo to break out of, but of course he just lies there and waits to be rescued. This particular joke is also justified, as he and the rest of the Beatles were quite stoned, both in and out of universe.
  • The Human Centipede: Dr. Heiter does this to the hapless victims of his deranged surgical experiment, the "Siamese triplet".
  • James Bond:
    • Goldfinger has possibly the most famous operating table scene. Bond gets strapped to an operating table with an industrial laser slowly moving toward his crotch.
    • In Casino Royale (1967), archvillain Jimmy Bond has the Detainer strapped naked to a cot (with wide, strategically placed metal straps). His intentions are strictly lustful.
      Detainer: And is this how you treat the women you desire?
      Jimmy: Yes! Yes, I remove their clothing and tie them up, yes. I learned that in the Boy Scouts.
    • Done similarly to Goldfinger in Die Another Day, albeit with the Girl of the Week instead of Bond himself.
    • Bond is strapped to a high-tech version (more like a dentist chair) while he is remotely tortured by Oberhauser in Spectre.
  • In Johnny Mnemonic, a member of the Yakuza wants the information stored in Johnny's head. The best way of collecting that data (as well as everything else that's ever been stored in there) is, naturally, to strap Johnny to a table and try to cut his head off.
  • In Man of Steel, this happens to Superman. He's just suffered a Mind Probe, so Kal-El may not be at his A-game, and he's in an environment that cancels out his powers. Nevertheless, the implications are still horrifying.
  • Marathon Man: A horrifying variation — strapped to the dentist's chair, complete with oral torture.
    "Is it safe? Is it safe?"
  • Charlotte is tied to a table for the waxing procedure in Mystery of the Wax Museum.
  • Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight II: The film ends with Adas strapped to an operating table with two scientists about to operate on him. The shot cuts out as one of the scientists starts using a large syringe to extract fluid from Adas' head.
  • In The President's Analyst, the title character, quitting his job and running off under extreme stress, and pursued by agents of every country for the secrets in his head, ends up getting captured by the Canadian Secret Service. Tired of being the "silent bleeding partner in North America", the agents strap him down on a cot and intend to inject him with something that will make him talk.
  • The Princess Bride: Westley is strapped to a table in the Pit of Despair for Count Rugen's experiments in pain.
  • Re-Animator: Megan Halsey gets strapped to a lab slab, whereupon the movie puts a really Squicky spin on the term "giving head".
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera: The Repo Man does this to one of his on-screen victims and stands it upright while he repossesses the guy's bowels.
  • Revenge of the Sith features Anakin Skywalker's Emergency Transformation into Darth Vader. He is operated on while still conscious, since he screams and writhes.
  • A staple of the Saw series. Applications of this trope are almost always followed by explosions of Gorn.
  • In Scream and Scream Again, Helen is strapped to an operating table when Dr. Browning is about to use her as an unwilling donor for his next transplant operation.
  • Part of the opening scene in Serenity features River strapped to a chair while a group of Alliance scientists experiment on her. Fortunately, Simon is there to rescue her, although substantial damage has already been done.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes is strapped to an operating table by Moriarty. Turns out to be Holmes's Batman Gambit.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes: After being knocked unconscious by Miss Ivory's injection, Watson wakes up strapped to an operating table-like contraption in the Big Bad's laboratory.
  • Space Mutiny: Kalgan's interrogation of Lea involves her being strapped to a dentist's chair while a futuristic dental laser is used to burn out her teeth.
  • Tales of Halloween: In "Trick", the little girl who is missing an eye has been taped to the table that Catlyn and her friends are using as an operating table for their perverted experiments.
  • Happens multiple times in Train as the victims of the Organ Theft ring wake up to discover themselves strapped to an operating table with a surgeon either about to, or in the process of, removing their organs.
  • Transformers: Bumblebee is chained down to an appropriately sized table and tortured. It's never really explained why, besides the government agency needing to hold the Villain Ball.
  • Transylvania 6-5000: After the Wolfman delivers Gil to Dr. Malavaqua, Malavaqua straps him to the operating table in his Mad Scientist Laboratory.
  • Underworld (2003): In Underworld: Evolution, the hybrid is strapped to an upright operating table for some Playing with Syringes, albeit by the good guys.
  • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Angel is strapped down to receive the mutant cure of his own volition, but once he sees the needle, he gets panicky and quickly escapes.
  • The Italian comedy Le Comiche 2 offers a few variations of this trope:
    • A man is strapped to a stretcher by two lunatic male nurses. Since he is complaining too much, he is knocked out with an oxygen bottle and a Minnie Mouse mask is placed on his head.
    • The same man (he is The Chew Toy of the movie) finds himself on an operating table where he takes the place of a female patient. Before even understanding what is going on, an anesthesia mask is placed on his face. A doctor comes in and the man learns they are going to perform a breast augmentation on him. He starts moaning but is not able to alert about the patient mix-up and passes out.
    • For a second time the same man finds himself on an operating table. He has been stripped to underwear revealing he has now a pair of large breasts and he is wearing a lacy bra. A surgeon with comically large scissors approaches, implying he is going to have a sex reassignment. At this point, he just passes out.

  • In one book in the Animorphs series, the Animorphs are strapped to operating tables by creatures who want to kill and stuff them for display.
  • In The City of Dreaming Books, one character wakes up to find his body strapped to the operating table. His head, on the other hand, is being held by the villain.
  • In The Cobra Trilogy, protagonist Jonny Moreau is strapped to one when he's captured by the Troft (invading aliens) and expects to be vivisected (live-dissected); however, as a Cobra supersoldier, he has a bomb in his body. The Troft know about this from previous attempts at vivisection, so they just stick monitoring equipment on him and fill the place with video cameras so they can get information on his surgically implanted equipment from how he uses it during his inevitable escape attempt.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold, Hugh Farnham and his son, Duke are strapped to an operating table where they're about to castrate both of them until Ponce decides not to have them do this. Later, they actually end up doing this to Duke.
  • Into the Bloodred Woods: Happens to Hans when Albrecht is cutting him open to try and force him to transform.
  • In A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man, poor Brett spends an entire year more or less strapped to a table while Dr. Wu turns him into a moth/human hybrid. Later on, he's strapped to the same table when Dante Eclipse tries to psychologically break him (this time though, the restraints are rigged to electrocute him if he tries to break free).
  • In Maximum Ride, when the School captures them, Max and her flock are strapped to tilted tables.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alex Rider:
    • Shortly after arriving in Point Blanc, Alex is drugged unconscious. Next morning, he mentions to James that he didn't sleep well because of a nightmare about this trope. Kyra, sat nearby, chimes in to finish his description with eerie precision, revealing that she had the exact same nightmare, with James soon admitting the same thing. This, along with Laura suddenly turning all Stepford Smiler, makes them decide to escape.
    • Later, after Alex's cover gets blown, he's caught and subjected to this while doped on Truth Serum.
  • Every time Cyd and Shelby travel to the future in Best Friends Whenever, they find themselves strapped to examination tables under blinding white lights, with a figure in a Hazmat-type suit walking towards them.
  • In one episode of Big Wolf on Campus, Tommy finds himself in another dimension where he never became a werewolf, but his much less responsible football teammate did. While trying to fight with said teammate, Tommy is bitten and passes out. Merton and Lori (who, in this dimension, aren't normally friends with Tommy) have him strapped to a table in Merton's lab until they can determine if he's safe or not. He promptly rips the (metal!) straps apart just by sitting up.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "New Moon Rising", the werewolf Oz is strapped naked to an operating table by the Initiative, experimented on and tortured to find out what makes him tick.
  • CSI: In "Lying Down with Dogs", the Victim of the Week was strapped to an operating table in a rescue kennel before being injected with a euthanizing solution.
  • Dexter is fond of securing his "playmates" to tables (or equivalent surfaces) with plastic wrap.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Savages", the Doctor is strapped to a gurney before he undergoes the transference process.
    • This happens to Polly as the first cliffhanger of "The Underwater Menace", as she is forcibly anaesthetized, about to be turned into a fish-person while kicking and screaming. This scene was so brutal that it was cut by the Australian censor board, thus making it some of the only surviving footage of the episode.
    • In "The Dominators", Jamie gets this at the hands of the Dominators, only instead of straps, the table paralyses him via molecular forces.
    • In "Genesis of the Daleks", Sarah Jane and Harry are strapped to a table and tortured via Agony Beam so that Davros can force the Doctor to reveal the information of how he defeated the Daleks in every encounter in the past (in Davros' future).
    • In "The Brain of Morbius", Sarah Jane is tied down to an operating table by Solon. Thankfully, he's too busy trying to reanimate Morbius to operate on her — he just wants to keep an eye on her, as she keeps running away and causing trouble, even whilst completely blind.
    • In "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor experiences a hallucination of this in the Cyberspace Nightmare Sequence, in a sequence inspired by the common phobia of waking up in the middle of surgery. He also willingly submits to this in order to enter said Cyberspace world, complete with head nodes and agonized screaming.
    • In "The Face of Evil", Leela's first story, she gets strapped to a table in her little leather leotard, setting a trend for her later appearances.
    • In "The Robots of Death", one robot is seen immobilized on a table in Taren Capel's workshop with its face removed while Capel sticks a laser probe into its CPU. The robot is clearly aware of the whole process, and being Three Laws-Compliant, it loudly protests against being reprogrammed into a killer.
    • In "The Androids of Tara", Romana I is strapped to a table and nearly cut up for parts due to being mistaken for an android.
    • "Resurrection of the Daleks" has the Daleks do this to the Doctor.
    • During the Sixth Doctor's run, this happens twice to Peri — one of the reasons why this era was widely perceived as nasty and mean-spirited.
    • In "Dalek", the Doctor gets strapped to a wall-based body scanner and unwillingly examined via Agony Beam.
    • This happens to Rose and Mickey in "The Girl in the Fireplace". There was an unintentional pan over Billie Piper's tightly clad body; when the production team saw it in the edit, they kept it.
    • Subverted in "The Hungry Earth"/"Cold Blood": the Silurian doctor doing the examination turns out to be perfectly well-meaning, if a bit lacking in anesthetic techniques.
  • River from Firefly is strapped to a chair by the Hands of Blue at the Academy.
  • Natalie from Forever Knight ends up strapped to one by a desperate doctor who wants her heart to save her dying daughter. Natalie was going in for knee surgery and it would have ended badly if Nick hadn’t found the truth.
  • People keep doing this to Olivia Dunham of Fringe, and she keeps kicking their ass for it. Her alternate isn't too fond of it either.
  • A late-entry Get Smart episode has Smart and Agent 99 in a Mad Scientist lair, strapped to tables. As the scientist and his Igor dementedly play organ and violin, Smart works to set them free. To give them more escape time, 99 cheerfully cries out "One more time!" and they obligingly play another verse.
  • Gotham:
    • In "All Happy Families Are Alike", Falcone is wounded in an assassination attempt. When he wakes up, he is strapped to a gurney in an abandoned section of the hospital. The Penguin and Butch then arrive planning to kill him.
    • A mob plastic surgeon who transplants captives' faces to give criminals new identities has his latest victim strapped down and gagged this way, and is marking pen-lines on her face in preparation for removing hers when Barnes busts in and interrupts.
  • Several of the heroes in Heroes were subjected to this by Mr Bennet.
  • Happens to Duncan in a season 1 Highlander episode. He gets hit by a car and catches the attention of a Mad Doctor when his Healing Factor kicks in and he tries to leave the hospital. He’s drugged and taken to the doctor’s basement lab. Fortunately, he’s able to escape when the guy leaves for a while.
  • The climax of The Hunger episode "Sanctuary" has Mad Artist Julian Priest (David Bowie) strapping Eddie, a murderer on the run, to an operating table to turn him into a grisly piece of performance art. Worse, Eddie is conscious, but only from the neck up thanks to Julian's subsidiary skills with anesthetics. Even worse, Eddie does not exist, and the legless corpse the police discover is Julian's. What we saw was his Dying Dream: having committed the murder, he proceeded to kill himself by numbing his body, strapping himself to the table, and severing his own legs — knowing he would gain artistic immortality this way.
  • Kamen Rider: The first episode of the original series had protagonist Takeshi Hongo strapped to a circular table while Shocker turned him into the Kamen Rider; as a result, this has become one of the most iconic pieces of imagery in the entire franchise. Kamen Rider OOO's Milestone Celebration of the franchise's 1000th episode (which had the cast making an In-Universe Kamen Rider movie) paid homage to this with a shot of Eiji strapped to a his trademark boxer shorts.
  • On Lost, Sawyer is strapped to an operating table by Ben's henchmen in Season 3. Cue lots of Sawyer squirming and yelling while he gets an enormous fucking needle jabbed into his heart. Ben then brings out a bunny in a cage and induces the creature to have a heart attack. Except not.
  • The Magician: When Tony finds his kidnapped friend The Amazing Denbo in "The Illusion of the Deady Conglomerate", Denbo is strapped into a dentist's chair as a dentist prepares to forcibly alter his teeth to match those of a criminal preparing to fake his death.
  • Mission: Impossible: Happens to Barney when he is tortured in "The Golden Serpent (Part 1)".
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Last Supper", Frank Martin's flashbacks show Jade strapped to an operating table being experimented upon and tortured by Dr. Lawrence Sinclair to test the extent of her Healing Factor.
    • In the final scene of "Blank Slate", Hope Wilson is strapped to an operating table about to have her memory erased by Dr. Tom Cooper, with whom she had a brief relationship when his memories were erased.
  • In Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, this happened to PhD-holding/high school teacher Tommy Oliver before his students saved him (and he became a Ranger again). The evil villain, once friends with Tommy when he was human, was oddly gleeful about having him strapped down.
  • In Roswell, Max is strapped to an operating table as Agent Pierce prepares to dissect him.
  • Sanctuary: Henry is strapped to a chair several times. He manages to break free on one occasion, though that was exactly the plan, as they intended him to go on a murderous rampage after he had transformed into his werewolf self.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): In The Hostile Hospital, Violet Baudelaire finds herself captured by Esme Squalor and Count Olaf, tied to a gurney in the Heimlich Hospital. When she attempts to call for help, they put tape over her mouth. The next time we see Violet, she's tied to a hospital bed, where the "mad doctor" Count Olaf taunts her in a very creepy way. He also reveals his plan to "operate" on Violet, performing a craniectomy which means cutting off her head. The resourceful Baudelaire does manage to escape her bonds by using a scalpel but is caught and restrained again on a gurney with thicker restraints. She is then put under anesthesia for the operation, to which the villains release her from her bonds now that she was not able to escape.
  • Happens to Chloe on Smallville when Lex Luthor discovers she's a Meteor Freak.
    • Also happens to Kara in Season 7, when an agent from the Department of Homeland Security finds out she broke into a secure location to retrieve the blue crystal they took, putting two-and-two together and concluding she's not from Earth.
    • Also happens to Tess in the series finale. Earth-2 Lionel wants to cut out her heart so that he can use it to bring Lex back to life.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Late in season 4, Teyla gets this treatment after being kidnapped by Michael because he wants to use her unborn child for his schemes.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Schisms" includes a very creepy reveal as several people who were experimented on slowly regain their memories and describe them to the computer, which recreates them as holograms. Result: one sinister-looking operating table.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Shattered", after entering the Captain Proton holoprogram, Captain Janeway finds herself strapped to Dr. Chaotica's Cradle of Persuasion ("It's fully equipped: Brain Probe, Pain Modulator..."). Much to her annoyance, Janeway has to resort to the undignified method of vamping her way out.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: In "Singularity", a Negative Space Wedgie is making the crew act loopy. Dr. Phlox becomes obsessed with finding the cause of Ensign Mayweather's headache. He refuses to do any further tests and says Phlox will "have to strap him to a biobed". Guess what happens a mere thirty seconds later.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "Time is On My Side", Sam has this done to him by a zombie doctor who wants his Puppy-Dog Eyes.
    • After being stripped and redressed in lederhosen, Dean had his turn in "Monster Movie".
    • And Ruby while being tortured by Alastair. The table is shaped like a cross.
    • The same table crops up again in season 6, this time with Meg as the victim.
    • This happens routinely to Castiel in season 8, as part of a Brainwashing scheme. He actually doesn't remember any of it until another torture victim screaming triggers a PTSD reaction. He's still brainwashed though, so Naomi is able to order him back to Heaven and keep doing it to him.
    • Happens to Dean again in season 10, when he's captured by a family who routinely harvest other people's organs to replace or add to their own. Dean suggests they not kill him, because if they don't, some of them might survive, but if they do, the Mark of Cain will resurrect him as a demon and he'll kill all of them. Needless to say, it's doesn't end well for the family.
  • Happens to Martha Jones in the Torchwood episode "Reset".
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "Fausta, The Nazi Wonder Woman", Wonder Woman is captured, her belt of strength removed, and put into this position. Pride saves the day as Fausta's superior officer throws the belt and lasso back to Wonder Woman. A minute later Wonder Woman is the only one left standing.
  • Alex ends up on one close to the end of The Secret World of Alex Mack.

  • Blue Öyster Cult's Doctor Music is at face value a rock tune with a dance-disco edge. But listen carefully to where the lyrics go: Doctor Music is a psycho who hears music in the sounds of the strapped-down women he is torturing.

    Music Videos 
  • The music video to "Nightmare" by Avenged Sevenfold begins with such a situation happening to the lead singer M.Shadowsnote .
  • The music video to "Asylum" by Disturbed has the delusional patient of the titular asylum being wheeled down a hallway in this manner then drowned as the doctors try to calm him down with cold water to the face.
  • The music video to "The Phoenix" by Fall Out Boy has Patrick strapped to a table whilst his hand is chopped off and other various tortures inflicted upon him. None of which stop him from singing.
  • Nor will it stop Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco during the first minute of the music video to "This Is Gospel," which finds him strapped to an operating table while scrubbed-in surgeons perform various tests and prepare him for some conveniently metaphorical open-heart surgery.


  • Parodied in Round the Horne.
    Female Victim: Why have you strapped me to this operating table?
    Mad Scientist: Call it an old man's whim.
    Female Victim: All right — why have you strapped me to this old man's whim?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The art of Vedalken Anatomist depicts a goblin restrained this way.
    • In the Invasion tie-in novel, Metathran general Thaddeus is captured and Strapped To An Operating table by the sadistic Phyrexian general Tsabo Tavoc before being tortured and vivisected.
    • The silver-bordered Goblin Secret Agent parodies James Bond straight up.
  • Ravenloft:
    • In Hazlan, a domain ruled by a wizard darklord with an enquiring turn of mind, being sent to "the Tables" is a standard punishment for those convicted of sedition or other capital crimes. Or those who just piss him off, for that matter.
    • This trope is just the beginning of one's problems if Frantisek Markov gets a hold of you.
    • Or golem-creator Emil Bollenbach.
  • One of the images of incapacitated Tempest in Sentinels of the Multiverse shows him in this predicament while an evil Thorathian scientist prepares to do his worst.

    Video Games 
  • In Army Men II, one of the Game Over videos (on the mad grey scientist's island) was of Sarge strapped to an operating table and torn apart by zombies.
  • BioForge: Happens to Dane, to the hero in the opening cutscene, and presumably to all of Dr. Mastaba's other cyborgization victims.
  • BioShock:
    • While you never get strapped down yourself, the first boss is the deranged plastic surgeon Dr Steinman. When you show up at his operating room (with the ominous-sounding name "Aesthetic Ideals"), he's slashing away at some poor splicer strapped to the table, ranting that she's still not "perfect". On the whole, you may want to think twice before you go to a plastic surgeon who loves Cubism.
    • One bed in the Little Sister's orphanage/lab has straps...
    • The crucifix-like operating tables in the Big Daddy factory, headrest restraints bathed by spotlight, also Steinman's other failed works are suspended from these on his ceiling.
    • In the prequel DLC Burial at Sea Episode 2, Atlas does this to a helpless Elizabeth to get information out of her.
  • In BlazBlue, Relius Clover's Astral Finish had his opponent in this condition. In a way, this varies between characters, such as Arakune's 'Operating Table' being a big flask, Ragna and Rachel being bound to crosses, Jin being tied with ray lights, Taokaka being inside a cage, Bang being bound and forced to kneel thanks to the heavy weights on his legs, etc. (The only one actually strapped to something like a table is Mai Natsume.) Regardless, knowing what kind of person Relius is, rather than showing what happens to the character, the door closes in and a scream is heard.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops: THE NUMBERS, MASON.
  • Chzo Mythos
    • In 7 Days A Skeptic Doctor William straps you to an operating table after you find out he was possessed by DeFoe.
    • In Art of Theft you are brainwashed like this, the tilted version.
  • In the text-based Gamebook-style game Cyberqueen, the eponymous A.I. straps the protagonist down for experimental surgery. Twice.
  • Alcatraz in Crysis 2 after Hargreave captures him. The table has dozens of arms suspended above it with lasers for slicing.
  • JC from Danger Girl briefly suffers this fate at the start of a level, after she's abducted by Assassin X, with a Mad Scientist threatening to use a "probing device" on her. Press X to Escape a gruesome fate via dissection ensues.
  • Happens off-screen in Déjà Vu (1985): the amnesiac protagonist comes across a restraint chair which is later revealed to be where the bad guys strapped him down and gave him the drug that caused him to lose his memory prior to the start of the game.
  • In Disgaea 4 all of the generic classes have introductory cutscenes which play when you create a new one to add to your team. The cyborg class's cutscene shows a female fighter being subjected to Alien Abduction, followed by being restrained this way and undergoing Unwilling Roboticisation.
    • At the end of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Mao declares Super Hero Aurum will be his guinea pig for his experiments. Cut to the credits where a very distressed Aurum is strapped down while Mao delightfully contemplates what he should do first.
  • Endless Nightmare: Hospital begins with the player character, James, waking up in a hospital ward with a probing device lowering on him. But he breaks out in an instant and starts exploring the place.
  • Occurs in Epic Mickey, as seen here.
  • In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Becket briefly wakes up after a city-shattering explosion to find himself strapped to an operating table and enduring a horrifyingly traumatic surgery, made all the worse by the fact that every time he passes out, Beckett experienced hallucinatory dreams involving the operation, except the doctors are replaced by screaming demonic ghosts ripping into his guts. Before he passes out for the last time, the doctor in charge kindly says, "You'll feel a... little pinch... now." Cue writhing in excruciating agony when the final hallucination shows one of the monstrous doctors slamming a blade into his heart. Later on, Becket learns what that surgery was all about: Genevieve Aristide was surgically implanting Beckett to attune him to Alma in order to draw her attention after she was released.
    • Redd Jankowski undergoes similar treatment but doesn't survive, since the medical staff overseeing the automated surgery machines were killed.
  • The Final Fantasy VII Compilation pulls this one on the endlessly unlucky Vincent Valentine, though whatever eeriness or service-factor was intended vanishes rapidly down the commode on account of polygon chibi-sprites (FF7 itself) or towering mounds of bad drama (Dirge of Cerberus).
    • Interestingly zig-zagged, as while he is implied to be the victim of multiple experiments, he never seems to be strapped down - in the original Hojo simply puts him on his desk and leaves him to wake up after the event, and in Dirge he wakes unbound on an operating table in a few flashbacks or is otherwise suspended in a semi-conscious state in some sort of liquid in a tank. Whether this was an attempt to keep the certification down is anyone's guess.
  • In The Force Unleashed, this is where Starkiller wakes up six months after being stabbed, beaten and spaced.
  • Galerians opens with the protagonist bound to a table, receiving an injection of some sort of chemical. He discovers he can release the restraints through telekinesis, but he has no idea who he is.
  • Happens a few times in Geist. First, Raimi is strapped up in a gigantic, vaguely telescope-like thing to be separated from his body. Later this happens to his friend Bryson, and when that is interrupted Bryson is strapped down and left to die. There are also a few others who failed separation and got strapped and straight-jacketed down.
  • Faust from Guilty Gear places his opponent in this condition with his instant kill. He proceeds to detonate the nuclear bomb planted under the table, which either goes off normally or malfunctions and gives him and the victim a Funny Afro. In Xrd, he instead gives them a swift facial.
  • Happens to Madison in Heavy Rain.
  • The intro of Jak II: Renegade shows Jak strapped to an operating table while undergoing Dark Eco experiments at the hands of Baron Praxis. He manages to break himself free apropos of his first transformation into Dark Jak.
  • Roger has flashbacks of when this happened to him in Jeanne d'Arc.
  • In the Infocom text-adventure Leather Goddesses of Phobos, the player is strapped to an exam table by a mad scientist and turned into a Gorilla. It's also possible to observe other experiments of the Leather Goddesses, but the game won't tell you what they are. Whether that is a Sexy Discretion Shot or a Gory Discretion Shot is entirely up to the player's imagination.
  • In Madou Souhei Kleinhasa, one of the bad endings has Roze strapped to a gynecologist's chair as scientists perform various experiments on her. It's implied that she doesn't survive.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 3: If you don't go to help the Ascension Project in time, this is the ultimate fate of Jack, experimented on by Cerberus until they turn her into a Phantom.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The kett love doing this. Many times through the game it's possible to find their victims, often with a recording of their last words before the kett killed them.
  • Metal Gear: A recurring theme is less "the protagonist comes to strapped to an operating table" and more "the protagonist comes to strapped to a torturing device", but it's not better.
  • The Medical level of Nightmare Ned plays this for laughs. One half of it opens with a Hospital Gurney Scene where Ned has to avoid evil doctors that are out to steal his organs, and the next puzzle has Ned strapped to a spinning table on a wall. The player then has to stop the table at one of eight glass jars containing substitute monster organs, and repeat depending on how many organs were taken at the start. Succeeding allows Ned to leave the room, but failing the puzzle drops Ned into a body bag, returning him to the level's hub.
  • Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee: In the bad ending, if you didn't save enough Mudokon scrubs and Fuzzles, Munch becomes a victim of this.
  • Dr. Loboto in Psychonauts straps his victims into a dentist's chair before removing their brains.
  • Early in Quake IV, the hero gets in a little over his head in a battle and is subsequently knocked out and captured by the enemy aliens. When he wakes, he's strapped to the operating table/Conveyor Belt o' Doom for a rather nasty surgical procedure to turn him into one of them...and after watching most of the "Stroggification" procedure happen to yourself, the cavalry shows up.
  • Although Return to Castle Wolfenstein starts you off in the dungeon, the first thing you see is your fellow spy strapped to the operating table. And you were going to be next...
  • In one cutscene of Sanitarium, Dr. Morgan catches Max sneaking into his laboratory and straps him to a cross-shaped operating table to be injected with a strange substance.
  • In The Secret World, Illuminati characters are strapped to a table as part of their introduction to the organization.
  • Shadow Guardian begins with Jason waking up in Dr. Novik's lab, wrists and legs bound to one such table as Novik prepares to interrogate him.
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming: How you start off, complete with a bit of Controllable Helplessness. Then you hear good old Pyramid Head lumbering towards you. Cue "Oh, Crap!" and furious button mashing to break free.
  • Silent Hill: Origins: One of the endings has the protagonist strapped to an operating table.
  • In Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, an officer is strapped to an assimilation table.
  • Cletus in The Simpsons Game gets abducted by aliens and is found stapped on a table along with a pig with both of them having a rather big pointy thing pointing at them.
  • In System Shock 2, you come upon a ghostly reenactment of one of the ship's scientists about to perform a rather... radical cybernetics procedure on an unwilling female victim. Considering that you meet the results in the very next room, it's ever-so-slightly chilling.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, Guybrush Threepwood gets strapped to an operating table by the Marquis De Singe, who attempts to cut off Guybrush's Poxed hand, and our hero must use his limited movement ability (and the Marquis' helper monkey Jacques) to escape.
  • Team Fortress 2: Look closely at the operating table in "Meet the Medic". The table has restraints, but they aren’t being used on the Heavy, who is currently being treated. It’s only natural to assume some of Medic’s other patients were... troublesome.
  • In X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Charlie Nash is seen restrained like this in his ending. This particular "continuity" states that not only Charlie was tortured and experimented on, but transformed into a Brainwashed and Crazy Super Soldier known as Shadow.

    Web Animation 
  • Chadam:
    • A unknown woman wakes up in episode 1, strapped down to an operating table, seeing nothing but the bright lights above her head before her captor suddenly appears and clamps his hand over her mouth...
    • The same thing happens to an innocent artist later, who gets captured by Viceroy and then wakes up in the same operating room.
    • Even later, Ripley herself ends up getting kidnapped and strapped down by Viceroy.


    Web Videos 
  • In Atop the Fourth Wall, after Linkara beats Mechakara, the robot is captured by Dr. Insano, who has him tied down and tortured with magnets.
  • Maggie of LG15: the resistance is shown to have spent a lot of time strapped to an operating table in Flashbacks.
  • The Whartons of lonelygirl15 appear vulnerable to this; it happens to Emma in "Girl Tied Up" and Jonas in "Dangerous Injection!" and "Rooftop Brawl".
  • In Zero Punctuation's Duke Nukem Forever review, Yahtzee tells that ear-flailing buttons come in handy when Duke is strapped to an operating table and must activate a crossbow somewhere left of his head.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: The episode "April Moon" ends with one of the most disturbing uses of this trope. For context, the episode's villain, Bullwhip, has kidnapped a surgeon's beloved girlfriend and forced him to turn him and his gang into powerful cyborgs. Right before the climax, the doctor discovers that Bullwhip and his girlfriend are actually in on it together and having an affair; the thing is, Bullwhip doesn't know that the doctor knows and goes back to him for repairs after Batman defeats the rest of the gang. Bullwhip is strapped to an operating table, and he asks that the doctor upgrade him and tells him not to hold back. The doctor then begins lowering a power drill as he puts Bullwhip under...
    "I understand. No holding back."
  • Happens to Batman when the Joker starts to unscrew his head and destroy his mind in Batman: The Brave and the Bold's Lighter and Softer Animated Adaptation of Emperor Joker.
  • Beetlejuice: When Lydia injures her foot, Beetlejuice takes her to a Neitherworld hospital where she is strapped to a gurney for the better part of the episode ("Generally Hysterical Hospital"). It appears that the Neitherworld doctors' plan is to remove Lydia's soul from her body. Beetlejuice has to think of a plan to get her out.
  • Code Lyoko: Odd and Ulrich end up strapped to hospital beds in one episode because they are experiencing XANA-induced hallucinations and attacking anyone that resembles a monster on Lyoko. Aelita comes to set them free later on.
  • Danielle hangs a lampshade on this in Danny Phantom. Also occurs in another episode, when Danny himself is strapped to a table by Maddie, and, even earlier, by Spectra.
  • Happens to King Cole in Felix the Cat in Bold King Cole.
  • Heckle and Jeckle use this to spring Dimwit from an asylum in "Magpie Madness". The head physician, Chesty the Bulldog, gets strapped to an operating table as the birds climb inside him for some spot surgery.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures does this in its James Bond parody episode.
  • The Season 1 opening of Jimmy Two-Shoes has an unfortunate demon strapped onto Heloise's operating table for an electrical experiment. The guy's saved when Jimmy slides into it and pushes him out at the last second. Heloise acknowledges Jimmy's presence but goes on with the experiment anyway.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes (2006), while Saturn Girl is in Timber Wolf's mind, it's shown that this happened to him when he got his powers.
  • Dr. Wily straps Rock and Roll to two of these in the first episode of Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) so that it'd be easier to reprogram them, by shoving an electric drill in their heads while they were still awake.
  • Happens to poor Mickey Mouse in a frankly horrifying short, "The Mad Doctor". Pluto's not strapped to a table, but he is shackled to a chair-thing. Luckily for both of them, it's All Just a Dream.
  • This happened in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, episode "The Treacherous Movie Lot Plot".
  • Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz does the Goldfinger thing on Perry because he Saw It in a Movie Once, though Doofenshmirtz didn't stay to see the end because it looked pretty foolproof. Unless you're using it on a platypus smaller than what the restraints were made for, so he can pull them free the moment you've gone.
  • One episode of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century has Holmes strapped down by the episode's Deadly Doctor... with invisible magnetic restraints.
  • The above-mentioned Goldfinger example is a favorite scene to rework as a James Bond parody. In The Simpsons, a James Bond lookalike is subjected to this in "You Only Move Twice".
  • Jokey and Clumsy in The Smurfs episode "Jokey's Funny Bone" are strapped together on two adjoining tables when Brainy is about to do the funny bone transplant operation.
  • In Street Sharks, the four protagonists are strapped to tables before being injected with stuff that should turn them into sharks, but just kills them... until they wake up and turn into sharks.
  • Occurs several times in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): The season 1 episode "The Way of Invisibility" has this happen to Raphael after being captured by the Foot. "Notes from the Underground" parts 1 and 2, from the same season, show a video recording of a scientist turning a random guy strapped to a table into a digging monster. Later, in the season 3 episodes "Worlds Collide" parts 2 and 3, the turtles are strapped to operating tables by Bishop, who plans to dissect them. Leatherhead is also shown strapped down to a table and possibly had similar procedures done to him.
  • Teen Titans (2003):
    • Brother Blood did this to the Titans East in their debut two-parter (well, as a team; three of five have had guest spots).
    • A little earlier in the same season, the main Titans have to do this to Robin. (He's somewhat violently unstable and having hallucinations of fighting Slade at the time.)
  • The Goldfinger parody also happens to Plucky Duck in one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. Heck at this point, if you had a dollar for every James Bond parody that doesn't use this at some point, you'd be broke.
  • Transformers:
  • In The Venture Bros.' Halloween special, this happens to Dean after sneaking into a spooky old house. Subverted when it turns out that Ben only wants to give Dean a medical check-up, and soon releases him.
  • Subverted in Winx Club's Season 2, where Bloom is seen strapped down and gagged but it's not thanks to a Mad Scientist. The culprit is the season's Big Bad, an Evil Sorcerer who plans to infuse her with Dark Energy and transform her into his Brainwashed and Crazy Apocalypse Maiden.


Video Example(s):


Spay Anything

Itchy tricks Scratchy into going into his cat hospital and promptly straps the cat to an operating table.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / StrappedToAnOperatingTable

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