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The Paralyzer

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"Don't fight it, Adam. It won't do any good. I know, it must be a disconcerting feeling, experiencing complete paralyses. Your mind, fully functioning, aware of what's going on, but your body just... won't respond. It must be just awful. The effects of the paralysis will wear off once I leave. You might be a little sore. Take two aspirin, and don't call me in the morning."
Jennifer Towne, Painkiller Jane

A non-lethal version of the Touch of Death, this technique allows the character performing it to paralyze parts of a person's body, paralyze the entire person, or simply render them unconscious. There are several common ways to do this:

  • A single judicious strike to the proper area of the body. This is distinct from the Tap on the Head in that the effect is achieved through some sort of nerve manipulation, rather than simple blunt force trauma. This trope is most commonly seen in Chinese wuxia films, but it has made appearances in other media as well. Similar to the Touch of Death, in the Far East this trope stems from the belief that Pressure Points or nerve clusters control the physical functioning of a person's body, and that precision manipulation of these points can allow one to manipulate the body itself.
  • A poison or venom.
  • A magic spell or curse.
  • Using telekinesis or a psychic ability to forcibly immobilize or disable someone.
  • Technology of some sort; in science fiction, a phaser or ray gun may be used.
  • Electricity-based attacks, which can impair the nervous system to prevent movement. See Static Stun Gun.

This may be used as a non-lethal means of disabling opponents by Technical Pacifists or others who follow the creed of Thou Shalt Not Kill or are laden some other kind of No-Harm Requirement, or it may simply be used to render opponents helpless so that executing them is made much easier.

Compare and contrast Tap on the Head, where it's implied that anyone applying a sufficiently heavy blow is capable of harmlessly knocking a person out, rather than it being a carefully studied technique.

If somebody tries to get up and get on with things despite the effects of this, they may find that Bits of Me Keep Passing Out.

Compare Forced Sleep and Non-Lethal Warfare.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Assassination Classroom: Nagisa uses a stun gun on Takaoka, which causes him to pass out.
  • In Bleach, Mayuri Kurotsuchi's zanpakuto Ashisogi Jizo is capable of paralyzing any part of a body he stabs, though said area can still feel pain.
  • Hei from Darker than Black can do this, using his electricity-based powers to imitate a taser.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Muten/Master Roshi as Jackie Chun, can apparently paralyze someone by tapping a pressure point on their forehead.
    • There's also General Blue's secret technique which consists of a paralysis-inducing gaze. However, he must keep his focus on his target, or else the technique will be dispelled.
  • Although Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star mostly uses his Hokuto Shinken to make his enemies explode messily when he touches them, he can also use it to create less messy effects, including paralysis and even healing of blindness.
  • Saizou "Soul Freezer" Fujibayashi from Gamaran is known and dreaded in Unabara for his paralyzing technique, which involves throwing tiny but strong needles at the opponent's muscles and joints.
  • One type of weapon Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex's Section 9 uses is something like a handshake joy buzzer, built like fingerless gloves. Of course, they're designed specifically for use against cyborgs.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has two types of damage: Physical and Magical. Physical damage can kill you, while Magical damage will only knock you out at most. The latter is the reason why Nanoha can make friends by blowing them up with a high-powered magical beam of pure energy. Inexplicably, these same attacks are perfectly capable of damaging inanimate objects, so one can survive having the entire area around destroyed. In The Movie, Nanoha explicitly sets Raising Heart to stun.
  • Sieglinde Jeremiah of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid is shown to be capable of paralyzing all of a person's limbs in an instant with a series of nerve strikes. Not even a Barrier Jacket could protect against it as her razor-sharp fingertips are strong enough to rip through them like paper.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Stain's Quirk, Bloodcurdle, allows him to paralyze anyone whose blood he ingests (which he usually does by Licking the Blade after slashing his opponent). The duration of the paralysis depends on the victim's blood type, with type B having the longest duration and O the shortest.
    • Habuko, one of Tsuyu's friends shown in a bonus chapter, has a paralyzing Quirk. However, it requires direct eye contact and only lasts three seconds.
  • Naruto:
    • The Hyuga clan specializes in attacks like this, as Neji and Hinata can utilize their Byakugan to see specific pressure points on their targets.
    • Haku utilized senbon to attack pressure points on his enemies. His signature move was to place his opponent in a false-death state, thus removing them from the battle.
  • In One Piece, Magellan's Doku Doku no Mi allows him to generate venoms with a wide range of effects, including paralysis. His Hydra technique in particular targets the nervous system, paralyzing them while they die in agony.
  • The Dominators in Psycho-Pass have a Paralyzer mode for targets whose Criminal Coefficients are between 100 & 299. Anything above that goes into Eliminator mode.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • Happōsai and Cologne are masters in the use of, among other things, pressure points, and often knock people out by tapping a spot on the victim's nape whenever they're too busy to have a straight-up confrontation. It's implied that Ranma can use these too, but the one time he attempts it, he is interrupted.
    • Tōfū-sensei also uses paralyzing pressure points in a late episode of the anime. An early appearance has him induce a time-delayed reaction on Ranma, making his legs give out and forcing him to be carried home by Akane.
  • Slayers: Elmekia Lance is a weaked-down holy blast useful against things like demons and zombies. For what has been seen of its (usually accidental) use on humans, they tend to be knocked out cold. It's safe to assume the Ra Tilt does something similar, on a grander scale.
  • Toriko has the concept of Knocking, a non-lethal method of hunting in which a device called a Knocking Gun shoots biodegradable needles into an animal (or person's) nerves. An expert at this method is "Knocking Master" Jirou.
    • Impact Knocking is a sub-technique performed with bare hands (probably via Pressure Points) as shown by Teppei, the grandson of the aforementioned Jirou.
    • The titular Toriko can use Knocking with the index finger of his "Fork" hand.
    • Jirou uses a technique called "Grand Knocking" which somehow paralyzes THE EARTH ITSELF causing worldwide natural disasters! After he removes the restraining seals, his abilities gets even more ridiculous - he gains ability to paralyze creatures with just his breath, stop flow of time, and even damage in his own body. If something moves - Jirou probably knows, how to stop it with his bare hands.

    Comic Books 
  • Tag, from the '90s Anti-Hero team Bloodstrike had this as her superpower. Not very impressive on the battlefield, but comes in handy when you're a rotting cyborg/zombie trying to get laid.
  • The Lawgiver MkII in Judge Dredd has a stun setting. However, it's notoriously unreliable and, as a result, highly unpopular among street judges. They also have access to "Stumm" gas grenades, that incapacitate people through nausea, vomiting and other unpleasant symptoms — essentially current CS grenades on steroids — that unfortunately kill 1 in every 250 people affected so are only used in serious riots.
  • Rawhide Kid once fought a villain called Scorpion who was an expert pharmacist. He developed a gun that fired plastic capsules containing a quick-acting paralytic. The capsule melted almost instantly, and the drug took effect as soon as the victim was struck by the capsule. Scorpion would later change his alias to Sting-Ray and go on to fight the Phantom Rider.
  • The comic version of Kevin from Sin City apparently has the ability to make limbs go numb from certain strikes.
  • After the Squadron Supreme forcibly disarms the nation as part of their Utopia Plan, law enforcement officers are armed with "Pacifier Pistols", guns that shoot small tranquilizer gels.
  • Blasters in Strontium Dog have a 'stun' setting in order to avoid harming civilians. In the "Bitch" story, Johnny ordered Red to keep her blaster set to "stun" at all times as he was sympathetic to the Kaiak-K.
  • Teen Titans villainess Cheshire is a Master Poisoner who often makes toxins with this effect, which is handy since actually writers don't want heroes to be afflicted with a deadly poison. Notably, one Birds of Prey storyline has her take down master martial artist Lady Shiva by flooding the room with an odorless and paralyzing toxin, which Cheshire had previously made herself immune to.
  • One of Miles Morales' abilities in Ultimate Spider-Man is a "venom sting" that can paralyze opponents. It is capable of quickly knocking out many of his opponents, though larger and tougher ones like Venom or Giant Woman take a little more effort.

    Fan Works 
  • All Mixed Up!: In addition to her lifeline attached to her belt buckle that can turn people into personalized anagrammed objects and back again, Mariana Mag has a stun gun that she attempts to use on Otto in order to prevent him from going back to the few agents left of Precinct 13579 and warning them about her. The gun can both stun its targets and "unstun" them at will, and the villainess manages to hit Oscar's legs with it as well as leave Otto paralyzed on the right side of his body.
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the first resort against Chrysalis consists of tranquiliser rifles, filled what seem to be absurdly lethal amounts of sedative (well, to anyone and anything but the hardy changeling herself).
  • No stars in sight: Zendolyn-Far, one of the fic's villains, has the ability to inject others with a specially-made neurotoxin with paracausal properties that causes near-total paralysis in the victim with the exception of the lungs, eyes and cardiac systems, keeping them just barely alive so they can be captured without putting up a struggle.
  • The Petriculture Cycle: Manifesto: "3. Implementation":
    Sunset cast a relatively simple spell that temporarily prevented all voluntary motion

    Films — Animation 
  • In Kung Fu Panda, both Master Oogway and the main villain Tai Lung are able to paralyze their enemies with a series of pinpoint nerve strikes. Hero Po is completely immune thanks to his thick layer of fat.
  • Megamind: Roxanne Ritchie is put to sleep with a can of mace spray.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Psychlo handguns in Battlefield Earth have a stun setting, which they use to capture rogue humans for their labor camps. It seems like it's two weapons in one, especially since they use different barrels. The lethal mode is basically a Hand Cannon that can blow holes in a person's body. The stun mode shoots a green pulse that knocks out a target cold.
  • The gang throw a knockout gas grenade into the security car trailing the armored van during the Armed Blag on the Tower Bridge in Circus of Fear.
  • Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon uses a quick series of nerve strikes to completely freeze an opponent on the spot. Li Mubai uses a similar sequence of strikes on him to reverse the paralysis. It's apparently so effective (and well known) that Li Mubai threatens people by pointing two fingers at them.
  • In Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, Dr. A. Tomic's experimental gas causes everyone in the area who inhales it to be frozen solid for 15 minutes. Gruesome and his gang steal it and use it to paralyze everyone in a bank while they rob it.
  • A paralyzing technique with needles is used by Hayate and Kasumi in DOA: Dead or Alive. During a flashback, Hayate tosses a bunch of needles in the air in slow-mo, then is able to grab them one at a time and jab them into the bad guys' bodies to disable them. During the climax, they use the needles to paralyze the Big Bad and leave him to die when his island base self-destructs.
  • Firestarter. Used for a long-range Knockout Ambush on Andy and Charlie, as it's the only way to capture them safely due to their superpowers. Trying to attack Charlie at any range even with bullets is a dangerous proposition, as the Shop later discovers.
  • In Iron Man, Obadiah uses a device of some sort that has this effect. It works using sound, and Obadiah protects himself from the gadget's effects with what appear to be fancy earplugs. Specifically, the frequencies used severely disrupt the inner ear, leading to severe vertigo, disorientation, and lack of balance. Of course, given Tony's overall reaction, it would be a safe guess that it does a bit more than described.
  • King Kong: The gas bombs work very quickly and appear not to endanger the monsters life.
  • In Kiss of the Dragon, Jet Li combines this with acupuncture needles to paralyze his enemies. The titular "Kiss of the Dragon" is a Touch of Death Dangerous Forbidden Technique that uses the same principles, which he uses on the main villain at the end of the movie for no apparent reason other than the coolness effect of the guy's head exploding. It's not obvious, but the commentary mentions a justification - Li's character gets shot in the arm as he starts to move, so he performs a technique that doesn't use his arm (the Kiss of the Dragon has him use his teeth to insert the needle). A better reason might be that he wanted to kill the villain, but not in front of the little girl he was rescuing, so he used a fatal technique with a delay.
  • This trope is named for the signature Called Attack of the main villain Master Pain Betty in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, a parody of '70s Kung Fu films. The attack had Betty smack the Chosen One on the shoulder blade with his gauntlet while it glowed, rendering his arm useless. This made the Chosen One just flop his arms around uselessly until he's knocked out.
  • Minority Report:
    • Since the premise is centered around law enforcement, the film shows off quite a few nonlethal weapons. The closest thing they have to a stun gun is a gun that shoots a huge shockwave of air powerful enough to blow people across the room.
    • The Sick Stick is a nightstick that causes a person to instantly vomit.
  • Even the great El Santo proves vulnerable to a knockout gas grenade thrown by a hunchback in Santo y Blue Demon contra Drácula y el Hombre Lobo.
  • In Serenity:
    • The Operative paralyzes people by pinching selective nerve clusters, rendering them unable to escape or resist while he executes them. He's defeated by Mal after his attack fails to work; Mal's nerve cluster was moved in surgery due to a war injury.
    • Simon uses some sort of area-effect stun weapon disguised as a cane to knock out the scientists at the Academy. It appears to be a one-shot, though.
  • The hero of Spaceballs used this to neutralize guards. Sort of. He wasn't quite good at it, but the first guard was nice enough to correct him.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Star Wars universe is rife with stungun technology. Many blaster pistols have a stun setting in addition to the kill setting (a feature commonly lacking in the FPS games), which appears as an energy ring instead of a concentrated bolt. Though a blaster on Stun is only fired once in the original film series, against Leia at the beginning of A New Hope, Expanded Universe and Legends authors have taken that one scene and run with it. Stunners come back into use in The Last Jedi with both Finn and Poe on the receiving end.
    • Kylo Ren twice uses the Force to immobilize his opponents in The Force Awakens.

  • Lone Wolf: The Kalkoth are dangerous predators from the mountains of Kalte, which have a long, barbed tongue that can inject a paralyzing venom. They have a rather low Combat Skill, but any damage received during a fight results in complete paralysis within seconds, after what the Kalkoth can easily feast on the hapless victim.
  • Fighting Fantasy: Ghouls will do this if they strike you with their claws 4 times (3 for a Mega Ghoul). The paralysis itself is non lethal, but not so much them making a free meal of you...

  • The Vulcan Nerve Pinch is spoofed in the Beavis and Butt-Head book "The Butt Files". In a Star Trek parody, Butt-head uses the pinch on Beavis just for fun. When a female crew member asks if he's okay, Butt-head hits on her and grabs her butt, knocking her out. Then he decides to spank his monkey... and knocks himself out.
  • Brown Girl in the Ring: Synapse Cordons and their portable version, the Dazer. Synapse Cordons uses "baseball-sized lump[s] of what looked like modelling clay" to create "stake[s] sprouting a good eight feet high" that define the cordon's borders, and kicking the cordon creates a "synapse surge of current", a.k.a a "daze charge" inside the field, that "short-circuit[s] [the] neuromuscular system".
  • In The Dragon Knight, due to the No-Harm Requirement, "Still" is the closest thing Magickians have to an offensive spell.
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith's Family D'Alembert series (mostly ghostwritten by Stephen Goldin after Smith's death) features a stun gun with settings from one to ten. #1 is a mild shock that will sometimes not render the finest physical specimens immediately unconscious; #3 or #4 will put you out for up to an hour; #8 will put you down for many hours, and SOME victims suffer permanent neurological impairment; #10 is uniformly lethal. Weak or infirm victims may react worse to any given setting. Preferred by law enforcement because in moments of doubt you can shoot everybody and not worry about the consequences, but it backfires on them when the bad guys start using humaniform robots, against which they are ineffective.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Full Body Bind Curse, as the name implies, paralyzes opponents while leaving them conscious.
    • Making direct eye contact with a Basilisk is typically lethal, but if non-direct eye contact is made (like in a mirror or reflection), the victim is just Petrified, leaving them paralyzed and apparently unconscious.
    • The Stupefy spell renders the target unconscious when the right amount of power is put into it, and most victims are shown being magically revived with no side-effects. Taking multiple hits at once, however, is not advised, especially for older people—Professor McGonagall needed a hospital stay after such an experience in Order of the Phoenix. If the caster if puts enough energy behind the spell or the individual being hit is too weak the spell can be fatal, as it was when Molly Weasley used it against Bellatrix Lestrange in Deathly Hallows.
  • Mark Delewen and the Space Pirates has Officer Tirt ordering Mark to set his gun to stun. Justified, as he's a police officer; killing people he is supposed to be arresting would be frowned on.
  • Andre Norton's science fiction stories had stunners, pistol-like devices that rendered their victims unconscious.
  • Various paralysis and narcosis-inducing weapons are in relatively common use in the Perry Rhodan universe, though they tend not to penetrate force fields very well — if your target has one of those active, you usually need to get rid of it first. As in the Vorkosigan Saga example above, the problem with using only stun guns in combat comes up in one issue; a carefully placed blaster shot puts the opposition back on their guard quickly enough in this particular case.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's The Stars Are Cold Toys, the Russian government has managed to develop one-shot paralyzers that become useless after discharging with no way to recharge the battery. Unlike the typical examples of this trope, the target remains fully conscious but is incapable of movement. It is proven to work on at least one other race. Interestingly, the paralyzer is made by a think tank specifically charged with reading/watching science fiction for ideas. Their other known invention is an Explosive Leash.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Parts of the series note various drawbacks and side effects. The "expanding and shrinking blue rings" special effect is taken to mean that stun settings have far less range than the usual Slow Lasers of kill settings.
    • The Thrawn Trilogy, when Thrawn's forces are out to capture a pregnant Leia, reveals that they can't just stun her, since it sometimes causes miscarriages.
    • In the X-Wing Series Corran Horn is stunned and is conscious but paralyzed until it wears off, unhappily remembering that this happens to him sometimes when he gets stunned.
    • Survivor's Quest has the Aurek Seven stormtroopers checking someone they'd just stunned for heart palpitations.
    • In Star Wars: Allegiance, Mara Jade confronts a shady warehouse dealer who doesn't believe her when she tells him that he's not going to like the penalties for assaulting an Imperial agent. He orders his thugs to restrain her. One of them pokes her with the muzzle of his blaster just before firing; she twists around and uses the Force and some fancy moves to shoot all of the thugs, ending with the one who poked her, with that blaster, and aims it at the warehouse dealer. All very quickly.
      "Stun settings," she commented approvingly as the triple thud of falling bodies faded away. "So Pirtonna wasn't nearly as ready to play all-or-nothing with me as you are. Smart man. Means he gets to live through the night. What do you think your odds are?"
    • During Galaxy of Fear, Tash wants an Actual Pacifist to shoot someone with a blaster pistol set to stun, telling her that this isn't breaking the rules of nonviolence, just bending them. In a later book, she takes a blaster from one of Vader's stormtroopers and uses it to resolve a Spot the Impostor plot—and finds that it's set to stun.
  • In Super Powereds, Camille can do it by virtue of being an injury absorber. A single touch of skin-on-skin (or, later, on a special conductive fabric Will makes for her, so she can preserve a modicum of modesty) is enough to disable all but the toughest humans and Supers by giving them some of the injuries she has absorbed over the years. She usually goes with broken bones and a mild concussion. In the Distant Finale, she becomes a feared Hero named Adrestia ("she who cannot be escaped"), capable of stopping any criminal Super with a touch.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, stunners are standard issue for police or anyone else who might want to be able to shoot first and ask questions later. Hangover-like symptoms are a nearly universal side-Effect, and at one point something like "we don't have to worry about heart conditions with this lot" is mentioned, implying that there is a risk of causing more severe damage than intended. She also points out a problem with stunners: If they're all you've got, then you can be killed by an unarmed mob, since they won't be afraid of attacking you, and with sufficient numbers they can overwhelm you, and kick you to death. If you were carrying a lethal weapon, they wouldn't dare try it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There was an episode of The Adventures of Superman that dealt with a professional wrestler who used a move called The Paralyzer that was sending his opponents to the hospital. This episode portrayed pro wrestling as a legit sport and not "sports entertainment."
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Early on, Fitz develops an Instant Sedation-causing but entirely nonlethal neurotoxin that can be packed into hollow bullets and fired from guns that greatly resemble normal firearms, initially rifles but later pistols. After the technology is perfected the agents use it in place of lethal guns almost exclusively. (How they continue to manufacture and stock this unusual ammunition despite their other resource problems goes unexplained.) The first rifle is initially named, to much ridicule, the "Night-Night Gun", but later they come up with the much cooler acronym I.C.E.R.s.
    • Season 3 has an Inhuman who can do this when he makes eye contact with the victim.
  • Battlestar Galactica. A flash-bang grenade is used to knock out Tigh and Adama during The Mutiny; this of course is a weapon developed for anti-terrorist use in Real Life.
  • Blake's 7.
    • In "Project Avalon", Blake is shot during the dramatic rescue of a Rebel Leader from a detention center. His injuries are only minor however, so he has Avon examine a captured weapon. The rebel leader is actually an android impersonator.
      Avon: It's not standard issue. Low energy bolt discharge. This could bruise or stun, but it couldn't cause any serious injury.
    • In "Volcano", the Pyroans use a pistol that fires a narcotic spray into the air above their target, drifting down as a mist and rendering them unconscious. However when fired directly at a person, the concentrated dosage kills them.
    • The Bloodless Carnage in the final episode (except for one actor who insisted he be Killed Off for Real) was so the producers could bring the characters back to life if the series was renewed another season, by saying that stun guns had been used.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Same Time, Same Place", the demon Gnarl paralyzed victims with a touch so it could feed on them at leisure. To the amusement of at least one character, paralyzed victims are poseable.
  • The killer in the CSI: NY pilot, "Blink," is *trying* to do this to achieve Locked-In Syndrome on his victims, but he keeps screwing up and killing them, except the final one.
  • Daredevil (2015): Leland Owlsley has a stun gun that he drags out of storage once the man in the mask starts causing problems for Hell's Kitchen organized crime. He uses it to great effect on Matt Murdock when Matt is distracted by Stick's sudden appearance. In the season 1 finale, Leland tries to use it on Wilson Fisk, who shrugs it off and kills him by throwing him down an elevator shaft.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Third Doctor practiced "Venusian Karate", which allowed him to instantly render an opponent unconscious with a single tap.
    • "The Daleks" has the Daleks' weapons shown to have a secondary "stun" function which is used on one of the Doctor's companions. However, it should be noted that the blast does not render him unconscious, it only temporarily paralyzes his legs. In their defense, Ian was pretty stunned when they blasted him.
    • The Fourth Doctor gets knocked out by such a weapon in "The Ark in Space". "Stun guns; I hate them."
    • K9's nose blaster had a stun setting, which the Doctor naturally preferred to the more lethal options.
    • In "Hell Bent", the Doctor snatches the sidearm from a Gallifreyan general. He's told; "That's the sidearm of the President's personal security. There isn't a stun setting." He shoots the General anyway, though not before checking that he's got some regenerations left. So this trope is played straight, yet also averted to show O.O.C. Is Serious Business, as the Doctor doesn't like guns and prefers to avoid killing anyone.
  • Captain Larraq in Farscape carried a specialized stasis gun for capturing hosts of the intellent virus he and his crew of commandos were chasing.
  • Firefly: Alliance police officers generally carry some kind of concussion/stunning rifle (sonic weapons, at least according to the RPG) that knocks people off their feet and leaves them dazed, though it doesn't appear to have any effect on inanimate objects like doors, as Jayne finds out in "Ariel" as he's trying to get the Tams out of the hospital before the Hands of Blue get them:
    Jayne: Shee-niou high-tech Alliance crap!
  • In Helix, Arctic Biosystems security techs have 600 kV stun batons, which knock humans out cold, but only serve to irritate Vectors.
  • In The Last Man on Earth, Tandy decides to start teaching self defense, and asks Louis to volunteer for his demonstration on using a tazer. He reassures Louis that he will NOT shoot him, but accidentally hits the fire button anyway. He wonders how to make it stop, and the others suggest he removes his finger from the firing trigger.
  • For the most part, the Law & Order franchise pretends that stun guns don't exist, seeing as they would suck the drama out of chases and stand-offs.
  • Primeval has the Electo-Muscular Disruptors (usually shortened to EMDs), mean to help the cast non-lethally take down creatures. Though they're about the size of a normal submachine gun, Matt claims that they can take down a fully grown Tyrannosaurus rex, much to Becker's skepticism. Matt finally gets to put this to the test in the fifth episode of Series 5, and the EMD does not disappoint. In a Call-Back to when the EMD was first introduced, Becker admits he was wrong.
  • In the sci-fi parody Quark, gamma guns freeze people in mid-fall.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • A newsreader reports that "rubber nuclear weapons" (presumably the WMD version of rubber bullets) were used to suppress a riot over the latest virtual reality game.
    • A simulant incapacitates the crew with a laser weapon for a period of three weeks. Somehow, this works on all four of them, never mind that two are flesh and blood, one is a droid and one is a hologram.
  • The standard sidearm of a UEO naval officer in SeaQuest DSV is a sleek-looking energy pistol with a variable charge. The lowest setting ("green") stuns, while the highest ("red") blows stuff up spectacularly.
  • Smallville: The episode "Recruit" features Geoff Johns, the tailback for the Metropolis University Bulldogs, who is a meteor freak with this ability. Careful use of it leads to his moniker as the "Teflon Tailback". He originally didn't use it while playing, but the pressure to perform eventually led to his over-reliance on it until he could not stop. When one of his teammates tries to blow the whistle, Geoff murders him by paralyzing him and applying a Vorpal Pillow. Later, he tries to paralyze Lois and drown her, but Clark, who is immune to his touch, saves her.
  • Lampshaded (like several other sci-fi tropes) on the NBC series Something is Out There
    • The protagonists are being chased, so Jack Breslin tells his alien partner Ta'Ra to set her weapon on stun and shoot them. She demands to know where he gets these silly ideas.
    • However this contradicts the pilot episode where someone gets hold of Ta'Ra's Ray Gun and innocently fires it. Fortunately it's only set on stun so all that happens is Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Wraith on Stargate Atlantis carry "stunners" as their main weapon, devices that will render their target unconscious when hit. They need their targets alive so they can "feed" on them.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The team make use of Goa'uld-made semi-lethal stun guns, called "Zat'nik'tel" or "Zats": one shot will knock the target out (originally an Agony Beam but no longer starting around season three), two shots are fatal, and three shots completely vaporize a body or a light object. The show's creators later regretted adding the third function, so the Zat never gets used this way anymore.
    • There are also some training weapons called Intars. An intar is a close replica of another weapon, but with stun bursts instead of whatever the weapon normally fires, and is identifiable by a yellow light on the weapon. (This is because the war games were a know-your-enemy sort of thing; they were first encountered at a Goa'uld mock-up of an army camp, with all the soldiers given human names, etc.)
    • And in Stargate Atlantis, all of the Wraith's handheld weaponry are alien stunners. Justified in that the Wraith need their preya live, because they "feed" on their human enemies by draining their Life Energy, so they wouldn't want any wasteful deaths. Well, they do have heavier weaponry, but they only break that out in cases of extreme resistance or in order to teach humans a lesson (e.g. such as on Sateda).
    • Ronon's pistol also has various power settings, which at the lower end seem to act in a similar manner. Ronon being Ronon, however, he often has to be reminded to take it off of the highest kill setting.
      Sheppard: That thing is set to stun, right?
      Ronon: [Beat] It is now.
    • When Sheppard later encounters the Travelers, he finds out that they have the same weapons, implying that Ronon has somehow obtained a Traveler gun (or they both shop at the same arms dealer).
    • The Bedrosians in "New Ground" also have staff-like weapons that fire a yellow knockout blast. Their shields also double as stunners.
    • The Tollan, being Technical Pacifists, equip their security personnel with triangle-shaped stun guns.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Vulcan Nerve Pinch serves as the "render fully unconscious" version of this move, and was invented on the spot by Leonard Nimoy, who felt that the blunt trauma Tap on the Head did not fit with Spock's character. Originally, it was explained as a combination of Vulcans' extensive knowledge of pressure points on humanoid species combined with their telepathic abilities, but the latter part is often ignored. For example, Michael Burnham of Star Trek: Discovery, a human raised on Vulcan, can perform the technique fairly well, as can Picard after mind-melding with Sarek. Data can do it too, to Spock's approval, but it's not clear if he learned it from Spock or simply had the needed knowledge of pressure points. At any rate, it is something that can definitely be learned.
    • The Discovery series features a Klingon weapon that paralyzes the victim. It's harmless at first, but if the victim isn't released in time, organs such as the heart and lungs will also paralyze, leading to death.
    • In The Original Series, phasers featured a stun setting (which would handily knock out any non-godlike humanoid) and a kill setting which would make things go away (unless, again, the target was just plain immune). In "Omega Glory", Spock is too near the blast radius of a disintegrating phaser shot. He recovers, but from Kirk and McCoy's reactions, there was a good chance that he could have been killed. "The Man Trap" and "The Conscience of the King" featured lethal settings that left a body, with no visible damage, as per typical television standards of the time. Something similar may have featured in "What Are Little Girls Made Of", when an android has a hole shot in it, revealing its electronic workings. Ironically, this is the first episode to show disintegration. On the other hand, phasers also could heat rocks (or heat coffee) as a story might allow, which might have involved a special toast setting unmentioned in the canon media.In one of the episode novelizations, Yeoman Rand uses a phaser on a low setting to heat coffee when the power is out, somewhat to Kirk's surprise (and approval).
    • After The Undiscovered Country, it became canon that movie-era phasers on Stun could kill at point blank range (to the head). On occasion, phasers have been set to "maximum stun" when facing unusually tough enemies, which is implied to have a higher risk of killing someone.
    • Scriptwriter guidelines for The Next Generation specified hand-phasers had about ten settings, from give someone a headache to vaporize a chunk of granite. They started making marks on walls around 3 or 4. This was later expanded to sixteen settings, with level 3 capable of knocking an average humanoid unconscious for about an hour and level 7 treated as deadly force.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In keeping with the show's darker tone, the series downplayed phasers as a safe means to disable someone, generally treating them as "minimally lethal" rather than safely non-lethal. With a few early exceptions, phasering someone was always treated as serious rather than a safely reliable Tap on the Head. The justification seemed to be that most non-Federation species (such as the Bajorans or Ferengi) don't have an explicit stun setting on their phasers, and Federation weapons are mentioned as being complex and difficult to maintain compared to everyone else's.
    • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "North Star" a mook from a primitive Space Western society puts a revolver to T'Pol's head, holding her hostage. Reed simply stuns T'Pol, then the mook while he's still gaping at Reed's apparently ruthless action.
    • In Enterprise, and sometimes Voyager, phasers and similar weapons can be seen to have no effect at all, maybe causing a slight limp from a shoulder wound (Enterprise pilot). So they work a bit like electrolasers, maybe?
    • Stun grenades, utilizing phaser technology, have been featured in Enterprise.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Hunted", certain humans in the military of the planet Angosia are altered to increase their fighting abilities, and are also resistant to phaser stun.
    • Whether or not being hit by a phaser actually hurts seems to vary depending on story needs. In one Body Horror moment from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a character turns his phaser, set to kill, on himself and endures an agonizing death as his body is burned away.
    • In the 2009 film, switching a hand phaser to stun actually causes the muzzle to flip itself around; stun shots are fired from a blue lens and kill shots from a red one.
    • Star Trek: Picard. In "The End is the Beginning", one character picks up a Romulan disruptor and uses it on a Romulan assassin. She's never shot anyone before, and is visibly distressed when informed that Romulan weapons don't have a stun setting.
  • Supernatural: The angels have the ability to render people unconscious by touch, though they don't use this nearly as often as their killing touch because most of the show's angels are, well, fanatical pricks. Castiel demonstrates the non-lethal version on Bobby in his first appearance.
  • Thunderbirds: The Tracy boys had guns with interchangeable ammunition represented by different coloured gun barrels. They could fire normal bullets (red), gas pellets (blue) or tranquillising darts (yellow).
  • Darien Lambert in Time Trax is equipped with a Micro-Pellet Projection Tube, disguised as an ordinary car alarm keychain. Two of its buttons fire stun pellets (green and blue), which stun a person either for a few minutes or a few hours. The third button is for dosing the target with TXP, a drug required for Time Travel.
  • The Tomorrow People used stun guns, due to the "Prime Barrier" preventing them from killing.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena was familiar with pressure point techniques due to time spent studying and conquering in the Far East, but mostly preferred to simply hack her enemies up with good ol' fashioned bladed weapons.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In some versions of the Hand of Glory legend, anyone who gazes into its flames or even those who just happen to be in the same building as the hand are rendered unable to move until the flames are extinguished.
  • The Bible: In 1st Kings, a prophet of God who was sent from Judah to prophesy about the altar made to the idol King Jeroboam had created for worship had caused the king's hand to shrivel up when the king pointed toward the prophet to have him arrested, paralyzing the king's arm until the prophet prayed to restore the arm to normal.

    Pro Wrestling 


    Tabletop Games 
  • Gas Grenades are a weapon that can be used by the crew-player in the boardgame The Awful Green Things From Outer Space; the effect on the Things (good, bad or indifferent) is randomly determined for each game, but any crew present when one gets set off are knocked unconscious for a turn.
  • Carcosa: Weird Science-Fantasy Horror Setting: In hex 0712 there's a Spawn of Shub-Niggurath whose touch causes paralysis.
  • Champions. A power such as Drain, Transfer of Destruction can be used to eliminate a target's movement ability, and the power Entangle can be defined as physically paralyzing the victim. Early editions of the game had the Mental Paralysis power, which made you think you couldn't move.
  • One Cyberpunk 2020 splatbook included two variants. First, one that used a moderate charge laser between the contacts to ionize the air, turning it into something similar to the GURPS electrolaser - and another that was the same thing, but built into a cyber arm.
  • d20 Modern has the air pistol and air rifle, meant to deliver a tranquilizer round, though some characters don't hesitate to use more deadly payloads.
  • In Deadlands: Hell on Earth and Lost Colony, sykers have access to a power that, when successfully used on anyone they can touch, renders them unable to move. It was invented by a psychic professional wrestler who used it as a Finishing Move named — you guessed it — The Paralyzer.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The hold person and hold monster line of spells are the most commonly used for this effect by PCs. They got more and more nerfed with passing editions since, well, a paralyzed opponent is easy to finish off. Although this being a mental effect, a lot of creatures happen to be immune to it.
    • The Forgotten Realms spell paralysis has this effect when the caster touches a victim.
    • Liches can paralyze any creature they touch. This paralysis is permanent unless magically cured and can easily be mistaken for death.
    • Several creatures can do this, like ghouls or ghasts or carrion crawlers or... well, too many to list.
    • Assassins (and most other classes with the ability) can use their Death Attack to paralyze rather than kill. Most don't.
    • In the 1st Edition Oriental Adventures supplement, the Paralyzing Touch martial arts ability allowed the user to paralyze an opponent by putting pressure on specific nerve junctions. The victim couldn't move for up to an hour afterwards.
  • In Exalted, this is one of the things that the Ebon Shadow Style of Celestial Martial Arts can do.
  • Feng Shui: The Point Blockage fu power is a very nasty attack from the Healthy Tiger path that allows its user to paralyze foes. One of the very first powers on the healing path of the Healthy Tiger, Flow Restoration, is one of the best ways to free someone from this form of paralysis.
  • GURPS: Paralyzing a person limb by limb is one use of Pressure Secrets. There's also the Partial Petrification spell.
  • Marvel Super Heroes supplement Uncanny X-Men boxed set, "Adventure Book"
    • In Chapter 4 "Time Out" the Mandrill's Powered Armor-wearing soldiers carry neurostunners so they can take down the heroes without killing them.
    • Chapter 5 "Nightmare in New Guinea"
  • The tabletop MechWarrior RPG features a variety of stun weapons. Chemical, electrical, and sonic stun weapons are available as ranged weapons, though stun batons are also available. An insidious item known as the neural whip could also technically be used to stun victims, but prolonged use could result in crippling injuries and permanent loss of attribute points.
  • Believe it or not, the normally ultra-lethal Paranoia has stun guns, along with tanglers (which strangle you to death if you get hit in the neck, otherwise they just immobilize a body part).
  • Pathfinder: Thornies are quadrupedal fungus creatures that can inject a paralyzing toxin through their thorns, which their vegepygmy masters use to help subdue victims to expose to the russet mold that spawns them.
  • In Rocket Age most Ray guns have a stun setting built in, but there are also spasm rods, odd pronged batons that produce a shimmering sphere that can be used to both stun people in melee and to deflect Ray fire.
  • Shadowrun:
    • The physical adept ability Nerve Strike reduces the target's Quickness. If its Quickness is reduced to zero it is paralyzed.
    • Even those who specialize in firearms can get in the game, with Gel Rounds (do Stun damage, not good with Armor) and Stick and Shock ammo (use electricity to Stun people). Of course, these aren't fully non-lethal, and GMs are invited to take advantage of the fact that Gel Rounds can go through eyes and hit the brain, and Stick and Shock might do something nasty to a grunt with a heart condition.
    • One of the provisions of Dunkelzhun's will is a large sum of cash for the developer of an effective, safe, stun weapon. 15 in-game years later, there is still mention from time to time of companies trying to win that prize.
  • Star Trek: The Role Playing Game phasers had "stun", "wide angle stun" and "heavy stun" settings similar to its source material. Other stunning weapons (such as Gorn stunners) were detailed in supplements.
  • Traveller had the snub pistol which could be loaded with tranquilizer rounds, as described in Book 4 Mercenary. Any creature hit by one would be asleep shortly. In Adventure 2 Research Station Gamma the Animal Care Robots used them to capture escaped lab animals.

    Video Games 
  • Alpha Protocol has tranquilizer rounds for the pistol, which does fixed (very low) damage against human foes (and even less so against body armour) with its only advantage being that it counts as nonlethal incapacitation. They're even usable against bosses, although they will simply be treated as regular (but much less damaging) bullets against them and subsequent cutscenes will ignore said bosses being hopped up on enough tranquilizer to put a herd of elephants to sleep. This means that if you bring down Darcy with them in the endgame, he'll presumably suffer an allergic reaction to them since he dies anyway.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • In a mission for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, your GDI riot troops are equipped with rubber bullets to put down protests. Using one causes protestors to give up and go home, while using too many will kill the target (and lose you the mission).
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, the training levels have your troops clearly shooting at other Allied troops, with the justification being that everyone on the field is using rubber bullets.
  • In the later Commander Keen games, your weapon is the Neural Stunner. Most enemies stay "stunned" permanently, but some revive after a few seconds.
  • Deus Ex was coded to react differently based on the lethal force the player used. In the immediate sense, death screams were louder than anything short of an explosive, judging by AI reaction to noise. More long term, some NPCs liked taking prisoners or avoiding combat, some liked to shoot things. The game featured a silent "minicrossbow" that fired tranquilizer darts, a riot prod that looked like a stun gun on steroids with a healthy dose of More Power, and tear gas. There was also a baton which was mainly used for one hit knock out if you could sneak up on someone from behind, though it could be used for a frontal assault if the player was inclined to commit suicide by actually trying to use it on an enemy firing back. The game was inconsistent when determining the casualties caused by the player, however, occasionally marking the player as overly violent because of how many targets had been 'removed' from combat rather than how many had been killed outright.
  • The Cleric of Dragon Nest has a spell that does this.
  • Drunk on Nectar features a mud dauber wasp with a paralyzing sting as part of its insectoid cast.
  • Subverted in Dwarf Fortress: Giant Cave Spider venom is a paralytic that's more effective the smaller the target is. For anything smaller than the grizzly-sized spider itself it causes full-body paralysis... which including paralyzing the LUNGS, causing death by suffocation.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the different forms of the Paralyze spell. Variously classed in either the Alteration school or Illusion school of magic, the spell freezes targets in place or causes them to drop helplessly to the ground for the duration of the spell. As with most spells, it can also be enchanted into a weapon where the effect will trigger on strike. Naturally, most high-level enemies are completely immune to it.
  • Enemy on Board: One of the weapons the crew members can wield includes a laser gun that fires a blue ball of light that holds the aliens in place for a few seconds.
  • Fallout 3:
    • If you specialize in Unarmed combat, you can get the ability "Paralyzing Palm" which sometimes makes your VATS unarmed attack freeze the opponent in place. You can even do it to Yao Guais and Deathclaws.
    • The Mesmetron is an experimental weapon that has a 50% chance of stunning someone, a 30% of making them very angry and a 20% chance of making their head explode.
    • One shot from the Dart Gun will instantly cripple an enemy's legs. It doesn't completely immobilize them, but reduces their movement speed to such a slow pace that they might as well be immobilized for all the good it does them. Even Deathclaws become utterly trivial to deal with as they can only plod towards you slowly as you fill them with lead. Which is probably why the Dart Gun did not return in later games.
  • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, the Focus series of abilities such as Barret's Focused Shot. These types of abilities have poor damage (comparable to a few weak hits in a combo) but they do a large amount of damage to an enemy's Stagger Gauge especially if the enemy is being pressured, whereas all your other attacks that don't exploit a weakness will barely make a tick.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has a stun gun as one of the available weapons. It won't set your targets on fire, but downing someone with it is basically the same as killing them with a conventional firearm-they won't get back up, and other characters will react the same as if you had shot the target with a real gun.
  • Heat Signature has concussive guns, and are the only type of guns Offworld Security will use against infiltrators. They work just like regular firearms, but leave their targets unconscious instead of dead, making them useful for Bloodless clauses, and always come with the Rechargeable tag, so one will always have 16 shots of a concussive gun after stopping by a station. However, they must be unlocked in order to purchase them (and getting an Offworld Security mission or ship isn't always guaranteed), they do not use standard ammo (so those 16 shots will also be the only shots you have in that gun for that mission), are never Piercing (meaning armored enemies are almost immune to them), and are subject to the rest of the drawbacks of firearms.
  • As befits her nigh-universal mastery of combat, Nariko from Heavenly Sword knows a technique to paralyze her opponents. She can only use it in one scene, however, when she is pitted against her own clan in a fight to the death. Paralyzing instead of killing doesn't make the fight, or the rest of the game, any easier, but you play the rest of the game knowing that you didn't murder your own people needlessly.
    • Of course not a single one of them has a problem with murdering her and none of them attack each other.
  • The only weapon you get in Hydrophobia is a stun gun, you're meant to use it to keep enemies at bay while you use the environment to kill them but oddly for this trope it can kill if you shoot it enough times....or change the ammo to something more lethal.
  • In Jade Empire, Paralysing Palm is a support style (i.e. one that does no physical damage) that does this. Excellent for Cherry Tapping.
  • The Genesis version of Jurassic Park limited Dr. Grant exclusively to non-lethal guns like tranquilizers, tasers, grenades and sedative-laced rockets, only the last of which put down dinosaurs indefinitely. The Actionized Sequel Rampage Edition added in some more deadly guns and removed the possibility for enemies to get back up (they'll still flash and disappear even if you are just using the tranq guns on them).
  • The Force Stun ability in Knights of the Old Republic deadens enemy senses, perception, and movement, good for avoiding fights or making an escape.
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, heroes that have attacks that are rated 'A' in stagger (these are almost always a Dash Attack) will usually only have a 'C' in damage. These attacks do average damage, but will greatly deplete a boss or Elite Mook's stagger gauge.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The Stasis ability completely stops enemies from moving or attacking and leaves them vulnerable when it wears off, at the cost of making them invincible for the attack's duration (they can be damaged, though, in the first game with an upgrade, and in the third game).
    • The Seeker Swarms deployed by the Collectors in Mass Effect 2 paralyze their victims with a sting, leaving them trapped in a semi-aware state.
  • Mega Man Battle Network: FlashMan.EXE is one, a functional translation of his predecessor's Time Master abilities.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid, hitting somebody in the head or the heart with the tranquilizing weapons (that is, not the stun grenades or the taser-like weapons) knocks out instantly while hitting the belly or the limbs delays the effect. Some of the boss characters are bizarrely resilient to tranquilizer rounds, though, and can take several rounds to the head before passing out, even though Otacon insists that the tranquilizer rounds are potent enough to knock out an elephant. It's worth pointing out that the same bosses can take a similar number of bullets to the head without dying.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (and its sequels Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker) have the Mk22 and Mosin Nagant. The latter is also in MGS4, and Peace Walker also has a stun rod in place of MGS3's knife, as well as a shotgun that fires rubber slugs.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots:
      • You have a Ruger Mk II and can unlock the Solar Gun, which is unable to damage anyone (except Vamp) but is very good at stunning and knocking down opponents.
      • You have a stun knife. You can also stun people by sneaking up on them with Metal Gear Mk. II and smacking them with its manipulator.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain gives us the Wu Silent pistol, which is the silenced tranquiliser pistol that's been a staple of the series since Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and the Urugan-5, which fills the role the Rubber Slug Shotgun did in Peace Walker, except as a 5-shot revolver. It's also possible to develop rifles that fire rubber bullets.
  • In the Monster Hunter series, quite a few weapons are capable of paralyzing enemies, though it takes quite a few hits to leave a monster twitching in place. Of course, the monsters these weapons are made from can also paralyze you.
  • One unique aspect to Mortal Kombat as a fighting game is the prevalence of moves that make an enemy helpless, with the most famous being Subzero's Ice Ball and Scorpion's Harpoon. In contrast, many other fighting games only feature stunning when a character takes too many heavy damage hits in a short time or else the stunning moves are restricted to Super Attacks such as in Darkstalkers 3. As for actual stun guns, Stryker will use one during his X-Ray attack in Mortal Kombat 9.
  • Bats and spiders in the Intellivision game Night Stalker paralyze the player if he runs into them.
  • No One Lives Forever: A Spy In H.A.R.M.'s Way features an electric stun gun (the hand-to-hand kind) and a CT-180 utility launcher that can be loaded with tranquilizer darts which will both quickly and quietly take down opponents, leaving them alive. Sadly, they recover inside only a few minutes, and then will manifest weapons (even if searched and disarmed) shortly after that, providing an incentive to take out opponents in a more lethal fashion.
  • In Pirates Outlaws: There's a unique Status Ailment called Tentacle Bind which is a drawback for Giant Tentacle relic on the first turn. In that time, you can't use your character but after it wears off they get a large buff to doing damage.
  • Pokémon has the Status Condition Paralysis, which reduces speed by 75% and prevents action 25% of the time. It can be caused by the moves Force Palm, Body Slam, Bounce, Dragon Breath, Glare, Lick, and Stun Spore, as well as numerous electric-type and electric-themed attacks, and a few Abilities.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield introduces Galarian variants of the Legendary Bird trio that have different secondary typing compared to their Kanto counterparts. Galarian Articuno is a part Psychic type instead of part Ice, but still has a Signature Move that inflicts the Freeze status, a status condition that completely immobilizes opponents until it wears off, in the form of Eye Beams. Instead of actually freezing targets, the flavor text states that they're frozen in place by G-Articuno channeling its vast psychic powers.
  • Pylons: The pylon monsters will temporarily stun you if they touch you, leaving you open to be nabbed by possessed human beings.
  • Spider and Web: The pulse guns shoot bolts of energy that knock people out, while shooting most inanimate objects produces the result: "The [object] showers a corona of sparks. Lacking a nervous system, however, it is unaffected by the pulse."
  • Splinter Cell: Sam's rifle fires a variety of knock-out weapons, including electric bullets, airfoil rounds (which work via blunt trauma to the head), and gas grenades. Chaos Theory has a level where the enemies are equipped with the airfoil rounds. Sam correctly identifies these as "Less-Than-Lethal" weapons; they are definitely not non-lethal. In Chaos Theory, the captain of the ship in the second mission actually dies if you try to knock him out (presumably from a heart condition or something). It doesn't count as a kill in your mission stats, but if you look at his body in thermal vision you can see it cooling down to corpse temperature. Same with one of the mafiosos in Kalinatek in the first game guarding the computer to open the fire doors.
  • The Shock Trap from Star Wars Battlefront (2015) is an electronic mine which immobilizes any enemy within range and kills them if they fail to struggle loose in five seconds.
  • In Super Punch-Out!!, the Bruiser brothers can render one of your arms useless for ten seconds, making it impossible to punch with it or to block. The arm thus "broken" turns red until it heals.
  • SWAT 4 features the full range of less lethal weapons at the disposal of major metropolitan police forces in the US, including CS grenades, Stinger grenades (fragmentation with rubber shrapnel), tasers, pepper spray, beanbag shotgunsnote  and paintball guns loaded with pepper balls. All this gear is necessary to achieve high or even qualifying scores, since every casualty, suspect or victim, counts against your final score.
  • In Total Annihilation the Arm Spider unit is armed with a stunner, although this is more probably a weapon to disable technology. The spin-off Total Annihilation: Kingdoms has magical stun weapons used by Aramonian Mage Archers and Verunan Lighthouses. Interestingly, the logo for the stun arrow is an arrow with a pair of magically glowing handcuffs wrapped around it.
  • World of Warcraft's Monk class has this as an ability that can paralyze briefly or for longer depending on use and is visually implied to rely on acupuncture.
  • Xenogears has gunslinging Jesiah Black use "stun bullets" once, with no further elaboration.

  • Girl Genius:
    • Baron Wulfenbach's revenant containment troops are equipped with stun bullets and C-gas grenades, for non-lethally subduing mind-controlled civilians. Tarvek gets shot in the back — at point blank range — with a stun bullet, and survives; he shows up in Castle Heterodyne.
    • Agatha paralyzes Bang so that she can threaten the dangerous pirate without Bang retaliating or reacting to give away what Agatha is doing. Agatha was right beside Violetta (Smoke Knight drug and poison expert) moments before, and gives extravagant praise to one of her little clanks afterward for being good and helping.
  • Hell(p)'s № 4 can paralyze people with his saliva. Much like some Amazonian tribes use curare, № 4 briefly licks his fork before stabbing an opponent with it, causing a fully-body paralysis within seconds.
  • The Order of the Stick: As a Dungeons & Dragons-style lich, Sorcerous Overlord Xykon can permanently paralyze creatures with his touch, though he usually prefers to massacre people with his magic. Played for Drama when he ends a Paladin's Hope Spot by paralyzing him from off-panel with one finger.
  • Schlock Mercenary: While not traditional stun weapons, "goobers" are common incapacitation weapons. Instead of bothering with rays and difference tones, they just shoot high-tech goop at people that sticks them to walls. The goop makes use of nanomachines so that it will migrate off faces to make sure the victim doesn't suffocate. Goober guns are great against civilians, but shields easily block them and Powered Armor is usually strong enough to break free.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Riff subdues a demon-possessed Gwynn by using the stun setting on his laser cannon. Given Riff's personality the fact that a weapon he built has a stun setting surprises everyone.
  • Tower of God: Bam learnt a technique from Quant to paralyze people. Technical Pacifist that he is, he loves using it.

    Web Original 
  • Stun guns are the weapon of choice of the Temporal Rectification Division in Chrono Hustle. After all, when fixing the timeline, it's a lot easier to erase memories a person shouldn't have, than to program an entire lifetime of memories into a clone.
  • The Irbzrkian shock gun in The Jenkinsverse is a less-lethal short range weapon designed to pacify humans. Humans being a species of insanely resilient deathworlders, it is emphatically not a less-lethal alternative when used on anybody else.
  • RWBY: Marrow Amin's Semblance allows him to to issue the command "Stay" to immobilize anyone in front of him, freezing them in place, even if they're mid-step. He can use this on single targets or large crowds, but can only do it in one direction at a time.
  • In Twig, Gladys Shipman invented a swarm of insects capable of injecting people with poisons that had this effect. Initially, she'd intended to use it as a means of delivering vaccinations en masse, but in order to get budget, she instead marketed it as a nonlethal method of disabling enemies. She later applies similar concepts using spiders, which inject people with paralyzing venom in their sleep and cocoon them in their own flesh, allowing her employers to capture entire downs in one night.
  • Ki mistress Chaka learned this trick in her first week at Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, when a ninja mutant thought she would hold still while he did this to her. In a school full of mutants, there are people it does not work on.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Ty Lee uses chi-blocking pressure-point strikes as her signature attacks, which allow her to paralyze people, and/or take away their bending. However, she has the ability to separate the two, and take away bending or movement without affecting each other.
    • The shirshu (a.k.a. June's giant mole thing) can paralyze you by hitting you with its tongue. Ouch.
    • Bloodbending can also be used to inflict this effect.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • Anti-benders use Ty Lee's chi-blocking as their main method of fighting.
      • Tthe Equalist shock glove is a Static Stun Gun in Power Palm form, designed to give the Equalists' nonbender forces an edge over enemies like the armored metalbending police. It becomes the weapon of Asami Sato, Team Avatar's token Badass Normal.
  • Danny Phantom's Action Mom Maddy is able to do paralyze her target with a couple good jabs. On ghosts, no less.
  • Spectrum-issue sidearms have a stun setting in Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, which is a mild bowdlerisation from the original 1960s version. It is mild because they also have a clearly-marked KILL setting which appears to be the default, and the on-screen body count is not noticeably lower.
  • In an episode of House of Mouse, Donald tries to shoot tranquilizers at the Aracuan Bird during his performance, eventually using heavier firepower in all directions. By the time he's done, everyone in the club, including Mickey and Donald himself is shot and fast asleep... except Princess Aurora.
  • In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures Uncle does this to Captain Black to prevent him from interrupting Jackie's fight with Shendu.
  • In the Jonny Quest episode "The Robot Spy", the title device had two antennae that could render anyone they touched unconscious.
  • This is the special power of the Bee Miraculous in Miraculous Ladybug, in an example of Bad Powers, Good People.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "Castle Mane-ia", Twilight Sparkle uses her telekinesis to this effect, freezing all her panicking friends in place while allowing their eyes and mouths to move.
    • In "The Hooffields and the McColts", she does this to two whole feuding clans! Very impressive, although the number of ponies affected makes it quite a strain on her to keep it up for any length of time.
  • Once Upon a Time... Space: Paralyzing guns are standard sidearms for the Space Police, although they have deadlier Ray Guns too. Interestingly enough, the protagonists use the paralyzers against living targets; against non-living ones such as robots they use the lethal guns. As seen in "In the Land of the Dinosaurs", though, the paralyzers aren't terribly efficient against large predators, only affecting them for a few seconds.
  • Samurai Jack has been seen using the shoulder-pinch style paralyser on a civilian to avoid being discovered.
  • The Simpsons: Homer learned to use a shoulder-pinch style paralyser during his brief stint as a bodyguard, and thoroughly abused it.
    Homer: Hmm. It's half-hour until lunch. [proceeds to use shoulder pinch on HIMSELF]
  • Skysurfer Strike Force:
    • Crazy Stunts' duel pistols can fire long cable at his enemies that will shock them if they touch it.
    • Paralyzing gas is of the many types used by the vile borg, Noxious.
  • In Star Wars Rebels, Ezra Bridger uses a Mix-and-Match Weapon that's one-half stun blaster and one-half lightsaber. Until Darth Vader destroys it.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "April's Fool" after Shredder captures April this time because he thought she was a princess, he does this to her.
  • The Transformers: Starscream's null-rays halt all electrical pulses, which is bad news for a species of robots.
  • Transformers: Animated has stasis cuffs, which are handcuffs that cause a mild form of stasis lock that keeps the robot immobilized, but conscious and able to speak.
  • Donita Donata, fashion-designer villain on Wild Kratts, uses a "pose beam" to paralyze animals for use as living clothing accessories. It's also been turned on the heroes on many occasions, and occasionally on Donita and/or her henchman.

    Real Life 
  • Wasps are known to use this method against a staggering variety of prey. Corpses have a bad tendency to decompose, so to keep the meat fresh until their young are ready to feed, these wasps will instead paralyze their quarries and seal them away with the eggs. The offspring will then devour the victim alive upon emergence.
    • Spiders too, especially those that do not use silk to restrain their prey where the venom can paralyze the victim in just seconds.
  • The well-known Sleeper Hold of Professional Wrestling fame could be considered this, though it works by restricting blood flow to the brain, rather than affecting nerve signals.
    • Similarly, many use a "nerve strike/pinch" type of signature maneuver, obviously playing up to this trope, especially those with a martial arts gimmick.
  • Stun guns, on the other hand, do work against the nervous system. The electrical shock overwhelms it with sensory input, resulting in short-lived paralysis. Although, contrary to Hollywood, this actually wears off in a few seconds. What keeps the target down? Why, the blinding pain, of course!
    • This depends on whether the "stun gun" in use is an actual stun gun (handheld, physical contact needed to work) or a taser. While a handheld stun gun works only as long as you keep contact, the actual duration of stun/disorientation/nausea depends largely on where you hit, in addition to the voltage. Which means that knowing what portions of the body various nerve clusters run through can improve the effect. A taser, on the other hand, fires barbed spikes connecting to the weapon. Meaning that you can continue shocking as long as is needed (or wanted, as seen in Johnny Knoxville's initial Jackass stunt).
      • Also, stun guns work through the sensory nervous system, while tasers work through the motor nervous system. Stun guns don't actually physically stop an assailant (they work through pain compliance), so an assailant with enough adrenaline/pain resistance can actually continue fighting even sustained contact with a high voltage stun gun. Tasers actually physically disrupt your body movements by flooding your motor nervous system with electricity, stopping a person much more reliably.
  • A precise rap to the sides of the neck over the carotid sinus can cause a vaso vagal reaction that, if applied in the heat of combat, can render someone precipitously unconscious. (Of course, it can easily be fatal...)
  • Darts/arrows tipped with curare have been used by some native South American peoples to hunt; the toxin is a muscle relaxant that works pretty quickly, and only works through injection, meaning the meat of said hunt is safe to eat. It was also used in a few surgeries in the 1940s because people assumed it was also an anesthetic. It wasn't, meaning the patients who went through those surgeries felt the full pain of the entire operation, but couldn't do anything about it. It's treated a LOT more carefully these days. Good thing too, since high doses can cause asphyxiation due to paralyzing the diaphragm. Yeesh.
  • Modern anesthetia offers a wide range of nerve blocks, causing paralysis and numbing of everything past the point on the nerve where the drugs are injected. Used for everything from dental fillings to abdominal surgeries.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Paralyser



The Pinky is one of the few Jelliens that cannot kill you. Instead, it will temporarily stun you when it attacks.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / TheParalyzer

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