When a normal or not-as-powerful rival needs to take down someone with a super power, the attacker is commonly going to use a stun gun, typically of the electrically powered variant. Something about the shock to the nervous system renders the victim unable to access his powers long enough for the attacker to get the drop on him. It seems especially useful on vampires.
There's a slight element of Truth in Television to this. Tear gas or pepper-spray rely on the fact they hurt so badly that you can't do anything but curl up in a ball and holler in pain, but people with very high pain-tolerance (either natural or chemically-enhanced) can sometimes at least partly overcome them by sheer force of will. Tasers completely bypass all that by blasting the nerve receptors in your muscles with electrical impulses, bypassing the input from your brain entirely. (Which isn't to say it doesn't really, really hurt as well, mind you.) There's no way to overcome that by Heroic Willpower, or villainous willpower for that matter.
Note: This can be inverted or subverted only if the charge is meant to incapacitate and fails somehow. Simply getting a shock that empowers or has no effect at all doesn't count as a real inversion or subversion.
Contrast Self-Defenseless, where tasers and similar less-lethal fail to work even against people they logically should.
- Early in Pokémon, Team Rocket often came out with Humongous Mecha, robots, etc. that generally proved explosively vulnerable to Pikachu's electricity. Eventually they got smart and started designing their machines to withstand or even be supercharged by electric attacks.
- A minor early antagonist in A Certain Scientific Railgun incapacitated powerful Espers with a stun gun. It was less than effective on Mikoto
- In The Ultimates, The Wasp knocks out The Hulk, who's been thrashing her teams and most of Manhattan, by shrinking to wasp size, crawling into the Hulk's ear and electrocuting his brain.
- The Punisher MAX: A team of special forces soldiers takes out Frank (non-lethally) by continuously hitting him with tasers, even after he stops moving, just to be sure.
- Blade: Used on the daywalker by Quinn and his cronies, all of whom Blade has made a hobby of thrashing.
- Inverted, played with in Crank, in which shocks are the only way the main character can continue to live or perform his fighting feats.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe':
- Thor: The titular character gets tasered by Darcy after being Brought Down to Normal. Not only does the scene get funny points for Irony (the God of Thunder getting tasered), but Thor also calls the taser a puny weapon.
- Thor: Ragnarok has the Grandmaster fitting him with a neurotoxic, taser-like Obedience Disk for added irony, as well as Thor tasing his differently superpowered, villainous brother Loki.
- Ancillary materials to Attack of the Clones reveal that the energy cage in which the Geonosians held Obi-wan exerts a constant low-level electrical charge on the prisoner, which has the side effect of rendering Force users unable to concentrate enough to use their powers.
- In Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, the Brethren use electric sticks to fend off the faceless nurses.
- In the movie ''Jumper, the Cape Busters Paladins use strings of high voltage wires to prevent Jumpers from using their teleportation power to escape.
- In Jurassic World, a cattle prod is enough to zap a charging Velociraptor.
- Subverted in the New Jedi Order series. During an otherwise successful attempt to capture a Yuuzhan Vong infiltrator on Coruscant, Mara Jade Skywalker hits him with multiple stun shots from her blaster with no effect whatsoever. Medical scans of the prisoner later on reveal that redundancies in the Yuuzhan Vong nervous system render them invulnerable to stun shots.
- Subverted in the first novel of The Dresden Files, Storm Front. While wizards are normally just as vulnerable to mundane weapons as any other human, being one also makes you a Walking Techbane. So when he's threatened with a stun gun by the Big Bad's untrusting wife, Harry is easily able to disable it although it would easily take him down if she managed to hit him with it.
- A variant in Charlie Stross's The Laundry Files: zombies are very difficult to bring down with gunfire, being essentially Energy Beings that have taken up residence in a human's nervous system (or the informational echo of a long-deceased human's nervous system, they're not picky). They are, however, susceptible to electrical charges: a cultist wielding a taser manages to banish a preta inhabiting a body this way. (The OCCULUS unit, Britain's elite counter-occult special forces drawn from the SAS Reserves, ups the ante with modified cattle prods hooked up to signal generators instead of delivering white-noise electric shocks.)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Initiative uses taser blasters as a standard issue weapon for its human soldiers to capture non-humans, who would normally prey on even the strongest and most well-trained humans.
- In Heroes, agents with The Company use tasers to subdue super powereds.
- During one episode of Supernatural, one is used on Kate, a vampire.
- During the third season finale of Angel, Connor uses a taser to subdue Angel and capture him. When Fred finds out about this at the start of next season, she returns the favour.
- Subverted with a non-plot-relevant prisoner in the opening of an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The prisoner is hopped up on PCP and breaks loose from the officers trying to restrain him. Another officer hits him with a taser; he collapses, then gets back up, and is finally subdued by half a dozen officers dogpiling him.
- Person of Interest. Root twice uses a taser to capture Sameen Shaw, a government-trained Professional Killer.
- All of the boss characters in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which are heavily modified cyborgs,) can be stunned by the stun gun, although they're just held still for a few seconds rather than knocked out, like most mooks.
- In Saints Row: The Third, the only thing to which no one is immune (not even a fully resistant player character) is the humble Stun Gun melee weapon.
- In Girl Genius Agatha takes out one of the incredibly tough Geisterdamen by tossing her tiny Castle Heterodyne dingbot at her so that is can zap her and jumping to make sure she doesn't get zapped herself since they're on a metal floor.
- A fan movie based on Batman, titled as Death of Batman. While the battle against a simple criminal started with Curb-Stomp Battle from Batman, the criminal is a Combat Pragmatist who doesn't hesitate to play dirty. He used stun-gun to taser Batman's groin! Although this isn't immediately incapacitate the dark knight, it's enough to make him let his guard down, allowing the criminal to knee him in that sensitive area. Watch!
- The Legend of Korra: The Lieutenant, who supports Amon's claim that Benders use their powers to control and frighten non-benders, uses electrified kali sticks to incapacitate said Benders. The same technology is later issued to the Equalist rank-and-file in the form of taser gloves, and proves equally effective against them when Asami acquires one.
- In the DC Animated Universe, Superman is commonly inconvenienced by being electrocuted. However, since the character is a Flying Brick the only thing electricity do is stun him — and at best knock him out.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Black Widow is able to stun the otherwise unstoppable Hulk with her electric Widow's Sting.