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Supernormal Bindings

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Gods in chains.

You cannot break this cage's bars. They are forged from the same principles that bind people to their positions in society; more, that bind identities. Perhaps if you had a very sturdy saw, and a few centuries to spare, you could begin to scratch a single bar.
Experiment at Lowell's Locks & Cages, Fallen London

So you've just captured a wizard, a fairy, a spirit, a ghost, maybe Superman or even a god. Congratulations! Now how do you keep them from escaping? Ordinary rope or handcuffs won't do the trick, they could just use magic to make them come undone or maybe just break them or pass right through them. What you need are special restraints that are either so strong nothing short of the universe collapsing can break them, or the restraints somehow counteract the prisoners' powers, rendering them harmless as long as they're bound by the restraints.

This trope covers ropes, chains, handcuffs, shackles, straitjackets, and other things along those lines which are capable of holding these extraordinary beings without them being able to get out of them.

Most likely some form of Applied Phlebotinum, probably as a Power Nullifier, and chances are you'll find something like this in a Tailor-Made Prison or Extranormal Prison, but may just as well be used outside them.

Anything that does not actually restrain the limbs in some way is Not This Trope. Bracelets, anklets, necklaces or anything else that simply limits or removes their abilities is a Power Nullifier.

See also Restraining Bolt.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Bleach anime, "Soul Society/The Rescue" arc episode 45. After Ganju, Uryu and Chad are captured by the Soul Society, manacles are put on them that seal off their spiritual pressure and prevent them from using their powers.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Kurapika's "Chain Jail" Nen ability is a powerful Variable-Length Chain made of Nen that prevents physical movement and seals its victim's Nen. Kurapika enhanced its power by setting the condition that he can only use it against the members of the Genei Ryodan/Phantom Troupe — if he uses it against anyone else, he will die.
  • There exist unique handcuffs in One Piece made of a special substance called "sea prism stone" that nullify the powers of a Devil Fruit user. They're nearly impossible to break, too.
  • In Naruto, one of the special traits of the Uzumaki clan is the ability to generate chakra chains which can be used to seal the Tailed Beasts.
  • During the Team Galactic arc of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, Cyrus uses the Red Chain to tie up Dialga and Palkia and make them do his bidding.

     Comic Books  

  • In The DCU, Grimbor the Chainsman was a villain who specialized in creating restraints for use on superpowered characters.
  • Rather common in Hellboy and B.P.R.D. when dealing with demons. When attempting a summoning, anyone with half an ounce of sense will use some magical binding or words of power to prevent the demon from leaving the summoning circle. (Of course, anyone with a full ounce of sense wouldn't be summoning demons in the first place, because things always manage to go wrong even with these barriers in place.)
  • Doctor Strange uses a "Crimson Bands of Cyttorak" spell to tie up superpowered evildoers, and The Incredible Hulk when he's rampaging.
  • In the third arc of W.I.T.C.H. a Bashee is shown to be bound with something that looks like vines and which can only be undone by the one who imprisoned her, but Will is able to break them with the Heart of Kandrakar's power.
  • When the Bunny from Beyond captured Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, most of them received Power Nullifier prisons. Since presumably there was no way to nullify "really, really strong," Captain Carrot was held in special manacles and Pig-Iron's limbs were pinned in place with magnets.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • The Lasso of Hestia (a.k.a. the Lasso of Truth) is unbreakable, and whoever is bound in it cannot free themselves (depending on the writer) and is forced to answer questions, and to answer honestly. It can also extend magically (having been used to wrap the Earth multiple times). It is crafted by Hephaestus of magical gold and the concept of the truth.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): During the Golden Age Diana and the other Amazons were already wearing the restraints that would depower them with just some assembly required. Their bracelets of submission just needed to be welded together by a man to drain them of their superhuman abilities, and given Marston's love of bondage villains would unknowingly stumble upon this weakness with alarming frequency.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Empire held the Daxamite later nicknamed Julia in bindings designed to immobilize and de-power her. Diana disabled the power to them during her slave revolt.
  • Irredeemable has the main character bound by aliens using cloned strips of his own invulnerable flesh.

     Fan Works  

  • In Peptuck's Final Fantasy VIII story Legacy Of The Chimera, Dr. Odine's Sorceress suppressing devices have been adapted into handcuffs and are used to capture Rinoa.
  • In the massive crossover fic Freedom Through Harmony, Book II has Number Two use a Time Anchor to prevent Doc from time traveling to get out.
  • Heart of Ashes (a Tolkien's Legendarium fic) introduces a chain that is strong enough to restrain a dragon. It cannot by melted by their fire, and it strangles them when they continue struggling. The only existing one was forged by Celebrimbor who didn't craft another one because he was horrified at how the first dragon contained with it killed itself in claustrophobic panic. Gandalf recovers the chain from the Iron Hills to be used against the dragon — a still living Smaug — signed in Dorwinion. After Smaug's knocked unconscious, he's restrained with the chain, forcing him to bargain himself free to find and rescue Kathryn in time.
  • The Dark Lords of Nerima: Helios' sister Melinoe, the guardian of nightmares, is restrained with chains marked with powerful runes that keep her bound to the dream realm so that she can't run rampant through human nightmares. Continued usage of the Golden Crystal weakens them, though.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, the Legion of Super-Heroes has developed Kryptonite-shackles to restrain Kryptonians.
  • Lost to Dust: The White Fang captures Achilles and hold him with chains with divine runes on them so he can't break them.
  • In Shazam!' story Here There Be Monsters, Doctor Sivana finds a way to forge Marvelium, an extra-tough metal, into shackles to bind Captain Marvel with.
    Their attention was drawn to the red-and-yellow-clad man whose body was held pent in metallic bands that encircled his chest, arms, legs, waist, ankles, and neck. Two electrodes protruding from opposite walls held him in something like a stasis field. But how could even those hold Captain Marvel?
    "What've you got him in?" asked Magnificus.
    Sivana, Jr. answered. "Oh, it's really great. Ironic, too. You see, those metal bonds holding him are made of Marvelium. That's a metal Big Red himself discovered. Only he was able to work it, it was so hard."
    "That was before," chortled Georgia. "Before Daddy powered up Ibac and all the rest. It took them a lot of effort, but they managed it."
    "The stasis beam prevents him from using his flight power to simply fly off with the Marvelium around him," confided Sivana.

     Film — Animated  

  • After Hades assaults Olympus in Hercules, the gods are shown being led away in chains, which vanish rather than fall off after Herc cuts them.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, after Vanellope is captured by King Candy and thrown in his Fungeon, she's shown in an enormous shackle labeled "100% glitch-proof".

     Film — Live-Action  

  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier Steve is attacked in an elevator by thugs with a set of powerfully magnetic manacles. They manage to get one on him robbing him of use of that hand, but he still manages to turn it into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons (2000), Marina conjures a set of ropes on Ridley and Snails that seems to pull them along wherever she goes.
  • It took 88 years, but Godzilla vs. Kong finally had chains the latter couldn't break even after pulling as hard as he could for a few minutes.
  • In Hellboy, Rasputin binds Hellboy in stocks and chains inscribed with Hellboy's true name. The only way for Hellboy to break these bindings is to say his name, tacitly submitting to his destiny as Prince of Hell and bringer of the apocalypse. Of course, making Hellboy fulfill this destiny is Rasputin's entire goal.
  • Star Wars: When Count Dooku captures Obi-Wan Kenobi in Attack of the Clones, he holds the Jedi Knight captive, suspended in midair in a containment field that slowly rotates him. It has several other features designed to make Jedi less able to use the Force to escape.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: After Judge Doom captures the Toons Jessica and Roger Rabbit, he has the Weasels tie them up with escape-proof Toon rope.


  • At least twice in The Dresden Files: the troll-made anti-magic spiky cuffs and Harry's unicorn-hair binding that works on a red half-vampire.
  • In The Emperor's Soul, Shai is bound with chains made of ralkalest metalnote , preventing her from Forging the shackles to make them defective. Interestingly, ralkalest is a fairly weak metal, so if she'd really wanted to, Shai could probably have Forged tools to break the chains.
  • During the treasure hunt in Myth-ion Impossible, the Shifter tries to reach the treasure alone and ends up being captured and infected. Aahz is able to restrain her with a magical rope ... but privately tells Skeeve that she'll be using that rope every full moon for the rest of her life.
  • This happens in The Riftwar Cycle: When Milamber is captured by the Tsurani, he must be bound. However, being Milamber, there is no way that even magic can bind him. he promptly escapes.
  • Rick Riordan's Verse:
    • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: When Artemis is captured in The Titan's Curse, she's briefly shackled before being forced to take Atlas' place holding up the sky.
    • The Heroes of Olympus: In The Son of Neptune, Thanatos, god of death, has been captured and bound with chains. The only thing that can break them is the flame of life, meaning Frank has to burn off part of his life force to cut through them.
    • The Kane Chronicles: The most powerful means of restraint the House of Life has are the Seven Ribbons of Hathor, which are capable of holding gods. The renegade magician Setne still manages to escape from them.
  • In Magehunter, rogue mages have their powers neutralized once they're bound by ropes made of human hair, which the heroic Magehunter carries with him at all times.
  • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe series The Q Continuum, an old enemy of Q's is unleashed and traps him aboard the Enterprise, which manifests itself as a pair of leg irons. Later he finds himself in the ship's hydroponics bay trying to pick them with a cactus needle.
  • In Faded Steel Heat, captured shapechangers cannot be restrained by normal shackles, but thin silver chains from Nicks's personal jewelry suffice to bind them. Garrett fully expects the strands won't be strong enough, but because silver is baneful to the shifters they can't muster the strength to break loose.
  • In Lords and Ladies, Granny Weatherwax lassos and binds the unicorn with one of her own hairs. Although witnesses most likely assumed she used witchcraft to do this, it's actually Virgin Power at work.
  • The Witcher has Dimeritium: a fictional metal with a special property that represses magical energy. Shackles made from it are often used to restrain captured mages, as nothing else is capable of holding them for very long.
  • The Silmarillion has Angainor, the chain used to bind Melkor/Morgoth after his first war against the Valar and again after the War of Wrath. It was forged by Aulë and is strong enough to hold the mightiest of the Ainur and literal God of Evil. In earlier writings Tolkien specified that it was made from six metals, plus a seventh magically created from the first six, plus a lot of spells.

     Live Action TV  

  • Doctor Who: "Warriors' Gate" featured a "time-sensitive" race who had been enslaved because their abilities made them useful in navigating through hyperspace; their restraints had to be made from a special super-dense material extracted from white dwarf stars to pin them down to a single place and time and prevent them escaping.
    • Dwarf star material appears several more times in the series, such as when the Doctor uses such chains on the Father of The Family of Blood and drops him down a shaft.
  • An episode of Smallville has handcuffs with kryptonite in them which are used on Kara Kent. In another episode, the goddess Isis tied Clark Kent to a table with magic ropes he was unable to break. However, he was able to escape by pulling until the table broke and then untangling himself from the now loose ropes.
  • Supernatural has sets of shackles intended to restrain demons.
  • In True Blood, vampires are typically restrained with silver chains or handcuffs, since silver hurts and paralyzes them. It's not uncommon for a silver necklace to be used as a garrotte wire, and simply placing one on top of a vampire's wrist acts as if it's an impossibly heavy weight.
  • WandaVision: Two instances of magically conjured chains in "Previously On..."
    • First when Agatha is bound to a stake prior to being judged by her coven.
    • The next is when Wanda is in Agatha's basement, discovering she can't use her powers due to being within Agatha's wards. Agatha then binds her in similar chains that also suspends her in the air.
  • Subverted in an episode of Wonder Woman when after being caught by Nazis, she's wrapped in chains that had survived being tested by teams of elephants. For a while she just sits there as they monologue, but when the time comes she breaks the chains easily.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: One episode had Xena capturing Celesta, the goddess of death, in the chains of Hephaestus, which not even the gods can break.

     Mythology & Religion  

  • In Norse Mythology, the gods had the dwarves create a magical chain called Gleipnir to bind the mighty wolf Fenrir. To make Gleipnir impossible to break (at least until Ragnarok), it was made of six impossible things: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish and the spittle of a bird. Fenrir's father Loki, would later be bound by the transmuted guts of one of his other children, thus making him bound by ties of kinship. Since the only people with any interest in freeing him were his kin, that made them effectively unbreakable until Ragnarok.
  • In The Bible: From Jude 1:6:
    Likewise, the angels who did not keep to their first domain, but forsook their own dwelling, He has kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
    • Also from the Bible: Jesus' comment to Peter in the gospel of Matthew that "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" is often intepreted in Pentecostal circles as Jesus giving authority to believers to "bind" and "loose" spirits in this fashion. Also Jesus' comment, which is used to support this interpretation: “No one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.” (Mark 3:27)
    • In the book of Revelation, a great angel with a chain in his hand binds up Satan and seals him up into the Bottomless Pit for a thousand years, after which he will be loosed for a season.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Several Champions adventures had superpowered devices that were used by villains to prevent captured heroes from escaping. One applied a backlash attack to any character that used their superpowers to try to escape it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In the Forgotten Realms setting the gods bet Kezef the Chaos Hound, an expy of Fenrir, that they could forge a chain that would hold him. Gond, god of craftsmen, forged the chain and buried its anchor miles deep in the rock of Pandemonium, and Mystra, goddess of magic, wrapped him in a self-repairing magical curtain. The two traps successfully held Kezef for millennia until he was freed by one of Cyric's plots.
    • Basic D&D adventure IM2 The Wrath of Olympus. A group of Immortals (minor deities) illegally interferes on the Prime Plane. The forces of Entropy capture them and secure them with chains that not only render them helpless but drain their internal power (Life Energy) as well.
    • Basic D&D supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic. Irons are magical confinement devices combining manacles (wrists) and shackles (ankles). The Irons of Imprisonment can only be broken by a Wish spell or a blow from a plus 4 or better weapon.
    • Dimensional Shackles are magic arm bindings that prevent the creature wearing them from using any sort of teleportation or ability to shift to another plane while they're imprisoned.
  • Pretty much the domain of White in Magic: The Gathering, which is the colour with the most access to arresting spells (including, of course, Arrest). Most artwork depicts Hard Light construct chains or ropes, but more regular bindings of abstract situations (like the current artwork for Arrest, which is an arresting scene) are occasionally displayed.

     Video Games  

  • On each mission of Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time the detective is given a set of Time Cuffs, which in-game can only be activated by an ACME Good Guide once all three pieces of a Carmen Note is found. Although in physical practicality they're just regular handcuffs, the manual states that they can detect the wavelengths of those who traveled through time using the Chronoskimmer.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • A quest line investigating Defias activity in Dustwallow Marsh yielded enchanted shackles from the wreckage of a ship, which indicated it had been transporting the king of Stormwind.
    • These can also be seen in Ulduar surrounding Yogg-Saron's prison. Unsurprisingly, they're all broken by the time you arrive.
    • In the Maw you can get a quest to collect Runforged Shackles. The Flavor Text reads that they are used by the Mawsworn to restrain powerful entities with dominion magic.
  • Fallen London: Lowell's Locks & Cages specializes in such bindings when they're not manufacturing similarly anomalous safes and locks. When you take personal commissions from the Masters of the Bazaar, you need to be really good at what you do. The cage in the page quote can only be escaped with a judicious application of the reality-warping Red Science; you alter yourself minutely so the bars aren't around you (because the "you" they were around is technically gone), then return yourself to normal elsewhere.
  • In League of Legends, several playable champions have "binding" spells that magically stun enemies in place one way or another. Morgana wields "Dark Binding", a basic projectile that stuns the first enemy it hits for a few crucial seconds, while Lux uses a variant called "Light Binding", which hits up to two enemies at once for a shorter duration. Bard and his "Cosmic Bindings" first collide with an enemy then extend behind them, and if the extension runs into terrain or another enemy, all affected units become stunned.

     Visual Novel  

  • On Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero one of Archer's Noble Phantasms is Enkidu, a special chain that was created to restrain the gods. Its strength is proportional to the divinity of his opponent, making it unbreakable when used on a god but merely exceptionally strong when used on a mortal.


  • In Digger, the dead god underground is bound by chains made by dwarfs of impossible things, in a probable shout out to Norse Mythology. In order to make sure the chains are also proof against mundane threats such as earthquakes or lockpicks, a wombat is also hired as a consultant.
  • Looking for Group: There's at least two occasions where the Warlock, Richard has his powers limited by enchanted shackles after being captured. In the second case we're shown that some of the enchanted shackles can be used to control Richard's body by commanding him to do something.
  • Magick Chicks: Faith invites Layla back to her place, looking to score. But when Layla vamps out on her, Faith ends up using her telekinesis to psychically restrain her.
  • In Unsounded, Duane is briefly restrained with shackles that have the additional Anti-Magic property of blocking the points on his palms where his soul interfaces with the Background Magic Field. Since he's a mostly skeletal undead being, however, he can just pop his hand off at the wrist and slip the cuffs off.

     Western Animation  

  • An episode of the animated Bibi Blocksberg had the eponymous witch attempt to conjure a set of ropes to capture an evil wizard, but he sends her spell right back at her, leaving her wrapped up in her own ropes which, being magical, can't be untied by hand, they have to be burned off.
  • The Centurions episode "Return of Cassandra" had Hot Witch Cassandra Cross being captured by her Evil Twin sister Lilith and bound with mystic chains. Ace had to use a magic rose she'd given him to enchant a sword to be able to cut through them.
  • Project Cadmus in Justice League Unlimited develops special handcuffs to hold the superpowered members of the League. However, on the only occasion they actually get to use them, the President calls it off and admits to doubting these cuffs would hold the Leaguers, anyway.
  • On My Pet Monster, the title creature can be transformed into an ordinary plush toy by a pair of magic orange handcuffs his owner uses to keep his existence secret. They also work on the Big Bad and Monster's fellow boogeyman Beastur, except they simply make him tiny and powerless.
  • In the sixth season of Ninjago, when the ninja are arrested, they are put into shackles made of vengestone, which cancels both elemental powers and ghost powers.
  • Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends has manacles capable of restraining the various types of aliens they have to deal with, many of whom are at least considerably stronger than humans or have other abilities.
    • Lycanthropes when they transform can easily break bonds meant for humans so their cuffs must be much stronger.
    • Banshee restraints cover their hands completely so they can't fire their heat beams.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Cargo of Doom", Bounty Hunter Cad Bane captures Ahsoka and puts her in binders that will constrict and shock her if she tries to use the Force to break out of them.
  • In Winx Club:
    • In episode 21 of the third season, when the Winx are headed out on the mission to find the Water Stars, they discover that Nabu has snuck onto the airship. Since they didn't yet know whether he was on their side or not, they put shackles on him that would prevent him from using his magic. However, when monsters attack, Nabu easily removes the shackles so he can use his magic to help the others fight the monsters, and admits to Aisha that he could've done so at any time, but didn't do so since the Winx had bigger concerns than whether or not they could trust him.
    • At the end of the 19th episode of the fourth season, three of the Winx get caught in a trap while trying to rescue the Specialists from Diana's warrior fairies. The chains used to bind them prevent them from using their new Sophix powers. However, once the remaining three fairies are caught, all six are able to combine their powers and break the chains.


Video Example(s):


Shadowforged Chains

It's never explained what "Shadowforged" means, but if the Hulk can't break them then they very well may be unbreakable.

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Main / SupernormalBindings

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