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Tranquillizer Dart
aka: Tranquilizer Dart

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An elephant tranquillizer used on a fox?
That'll keep him down for awhile.
...likely permanently.
Star: What's that thing on your neck?
Tom: [with dart on neck] What? I don't have a thing in my neck. What's that thing on your arm?
Star: [notices dart on arm] Huh? [starts getting groggy] What are you doing on the ground? What am I doing on the ground? [falls unconscious]

Simply put, a tranquilizer dart is a thin and pointed ranged weapon that pierces the skin and injects a sleep-inducing solution.

For some reason, whenever a character gets ambushed with a non-lethal weapon, it's always a tranquilizer dart. Maybe it's because people on drugs are funny. Maybe it's because the writers don't know enough about other non-lethal weapons. Whatever the reason may be, this seems to be the most common non-lethal weapon in fiction.

This small projectile, usually fired into the neck or buttocks, seems to put the target to sleep within a minute. The ones that take almost a minute to put the target to sleep are considered slow-acting — the most fast-acting ones give the target only enough time to pull the dart out and stare at it in realization before falling asleep. Often delivered by an automatic gun so that if the first dart has no effect, more darts can be fired in rapid succession until the target is woozy. However, it can also be delivered by a single-shot gun or blowpipe or even just thrown with the hands.

The sleep-inducing solution is usually assumed to be contained in an ampoule or capsule attached to the dart, but if it's a toxin, it will be smeared on the dart.note  In fantasy settings, the sleep-inducing solution may be a fictional substance.

Like other forms of sedation, tranquillizer darts are subject to Artistic License – Pharmacology: the same dose will work on everyone, they work exactly as fast as the plot demands, are exactly as effective as the plot demands, the effects last exactly as long as the plot demands, they generally have little or no after-effects beyond a slight headache or some residual grogginess, and no one ever dies from overdose.

If Played for Laughs, everything will slow down, including the character's voice.

Occasionally the dart will have a non-sedative but related effect, delivering a paralytic or amnesiac drug instead, so the target is still conscious but either can't move or won't remember what happened.

These are also very common in Video Games for capturing opponents or incapacitating guards.

Mostly used by the police, criminals, spies, the army, and island tribes but may occasionally be used by animal control officers. Sometimes the result of a character not being able to be reasoned with due to a Language Barrier. May overlap with Instant Sedation. Often results in Non Sequitur, *Thud* or Involuntary Smile of Incapacitation. Sister trope to Knock Out Gas which works better for area attacks. Often used in a Knockout Ambush. Sometimes used as Family-Friendly Firearms. For a more violent and equally unrealistic means of knocking someone out, see Static Stun Gun.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Agent Aika: Aika has a pistol that fires darts. It is used heavily in episode six. In Aika R16 and Aika Zero, guns appear to fire bullets, but they have the same effect as darts.
  • Case Closed: Conan's wrist-watch tranquilizer needle gun. The victim barely has time to mumble a few words before keeling over. So far, there have been very few characters who have proven resistant to it. When it happens, it catches Conan completely off-guard. Gin shot himself in the arm to overcome the sedation with a rush of pain and adrenaline.
  • One Doraemon short have Nobita trying to locate live wolves in the mountains to show off to his friends. To facilitate that, Doraemon lends Nobita a futuristic dart gun which can instantly knock out any target, but Nobita being Nobita questions the gun's effectiveness while pointing it on Doraemon... and accidentally knocks Doraemon out cold.
  • In Dragon Half, Rosario tranquilizes Mink with a knockout dart and she instantly falls. Then Rosario puts two more darts into her right away, setting up a gag where he and the king think Mink died from the overdose. Strangely, at first Rosario accidentally inhaled and got the dart stuck in his tongue, but nothing ever came of this.
  • Lupin III: A fairly often trope used when one of the main five characters are shot for real. Zenigata, as the "antagonist" to Lupin, is the frequent target. Usually wears off after his funeral.
  • Lupin III vs. Detective Conan: Conan uses his watch-dart on Inspector Zenigata, who is so tough that it wears off in no time (though he still goes down quickly). Conan is pretty surprised when it wears off. Tots-san probably built up an immunity to it.
  • Michiko & Hatchin: Michiko appears to be very resilient when hit by a dart from a tranquilizer gun. Twice.
  • Monster Musume: Kimihito gets hit by three darts that Ms Smith tried to shoot Miia, Papi, and Centorea with when they got out of hand. As the darts were set for monstergirls, who are much tougher than humans, Ms Smith is extremely alarmed that Kimihito might be killed, but he recovers quickly with no long-term consequences.
  • Happens in New Getter Robo. Ryoma gets hit by an animal tranquilizer in the first episode, but it doesn't stop him from running across the street and dropkicking his two attackers before going down. Note that this is after he had just fought a 3-on-1 fight against some Yakuza goons and had gotten a knife buried into his shoulder.
  • In Toriko, "Knocking" Guns fire needles to nonlethally bring down opponents. The catch is that the wielder needs to know the right nerves and pressure points to strike. "Knocking Master" Jirou and his grandson Teppei can perform Knocking with their bare hands.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman
    • Before they learned about each others' secret identity, Bruce Wayne tried to pull this on Clark Kent so he could change into his cape and cowl. This was when Bruce finally realized Clark was Superman.
    • Batman also used an incredible amount of darts in Batman: The Cult. In fact, he loaded turrets and rifles with them, basically using them in pretty much the same way everyone else would use bullets. It sure is lucky that nobody can die from the wrong dosage of sedatives, eh?
  • Kalimán uses curare-tipped darts (from a blowgun) to paralyze his foes (since he never kills). Ironically, in real life, most curare poisons (there are several under the same appellation) cause death by asphyxia.
  • During a tie-in to Spider-Geddon, Spider-Man takes his fight with Morlun to the Central Park Zoo. As Morlun's hunting for him, Spidey designs a bunch of darts with triple-strength sedatives. It takes at least four, including one jammed into Morlun's eye, to bring the vampire down.
  • The Ultimates: The guards watching Captain America fired those at him when he got mad. It was no use: he's Captain America, so he took some medical tray he had at hand and used as an improvised shield to block the shots.

    Fan Works 
  • Godzilla fanfiction Abraxas: Empty Fullness: The Makers who captured Ichi, Ni and San fired tranquillizer darts, or an analogy, at them to paralyze them during the capture.
  • In Guardian Blue, a Zootopia fanfic, tranq darts are frequently used by the ZPD, but they're shown to have their limitations:
    • In Season 1, part of the plot revolves around the season's Big Bad spiking elephants' ice cream with a substance to render them immune to tranq darts after he turns them savage.
    • In Season 3, Cherry armours herself against tranq darts by spraying her fur with epoxy. The first time she takes on the ZPD, Judy and Nick only manage to take her down by putting darts in her joints - the few areas she couldn't epoxy. The second time, Chief Tora has to pin her down before Judy and Nick can tranq her again..
    • Also from Season 3, it's mentioned that tranquilizers can be health hazards, which is why ZPD Medic Surikata panics and gives Cherry a tranq diffuser - though he should have asked why they'd dosed her so much.
      • Judy also figures that the reason Clawhauser is the only Precinct 1 officer other than her to have killed someone in the line of duty is because he tranqed a suspect and it reacted badly to them, resulting in their death.
  • Discworld-set Nature Studies sees an urban safari in Ankh-Morpork after lots of imported animals manage to make a break for freedom. The Assassin-zoologist who coordinates the recapture uses Assassin blowpipes and modified poison darts to tranquilize the larger and more dangerous animals.

    Films — Animation 
  • Alpha and Omega: The park rangers tranquilize Kate and Humphrey to relocate them.
    Kate: I'll meet you on Mars... right after I eat the Milky Way...
  • Despicable Me:
  • Madagascar:
    • Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria are all tranquilized when they are caught by the animal control while inside New York City's Grand Central Station. Alex hallucinates and sees trippy imagery set to Sammy Davis Jr.'s "The Candyman"... Then he gets tranq'd again before he gets put into the shipping crate, resulting in a sped-up version of the aforementioned sequence!
    • In the third film, all four of the Zoosters (and Julien) are tranquilized right after they return to the Central Park Zoo.
      Marty: I'm like a candy cane... in a black and white movie...
  • Moana: When the Ocean gets fed up with Maui's acting up, it (she?) blows a dart in Maui's butt cheek. While this doesn't make Maui lose consciousness, his entire body goes completely limp for a while, so it clearly acts as a muscle relaxant. The blow darts come from the Kakamora, the coconut pygmy pirates, who use tranquilizer darts as their main weapon along with arrows.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: The army fires a huge one from a catapult at Susan when she first becomes Ginormica.
  • On Open Season, Boog's caretaker has to tranquilize him when he apparently goes on a rampage (he's actually fighting with Elliot, who gets several darts to the butt as well).
  • In the first trailer for Zootopia, Judy uses one on Nick after he trips her. This is clearly a case of Artistic License – Biology, because the trailer goes out of its way to identify the dart as an "air-powered elephant tranquilizer" which would be clearly fatal if used on a small fox. Also, the sedative appears to be in the feathered end, as a wildebeest eats that part while Judy is arresting Nick and keels over before she has a chance to warn it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls: Ace takes three darts, which he says "is too much." And then he takes four more.
  • The Avengers (1998). Sir August renders Mrs. Peel unconscious with a drug-tipped dart.
  • In the short film made of Battleground by Stephen King, The Unnamed hitman tranquilizes two security guards (carefully removing the darts afterward to avoid leaving potential evidence for the police). While one goes down immediately, the second guard (a strong, fit-looking man) just yelps from the dart and reaches for his own gun, but the hitman is prepared for this and quickly knocks him out physically.
  • Black Widow (2021): Red Guardian gets tranquilized, but he laughs it off, amused that they think only one dart can take down a former Super-Soldier, only for 15 more darts to hit him in rapid succession which finally knocks him out.
  • In Commando, after a group of mooks restrain the hero John, the henchman Bennet then knocks John out cold with a tranquilizer gun.
  • In Cube Zero, the soldiers shoot tranq darts at the escaping prisoners, as their mission is retrieval, not elimination.
  • D-Day has Ivan getting captured alive when the villains manage to tranquilize him in the leg.
  • The Pink Berets from Hop have blowguns with sedative darts as their primary weapon. A patrolman near the Hollywood sign gets one dart to the neck, resulting in Instant Sedation. Two large dogs living beside a mansion where the Pink Berets' quarry is staying also get one dart each. Finally, The Hero discovers them in the mansion's kitchen, whereupon he receives a salvo of six darts to the face.
  • 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.
  • Genesis II. Members of PAX have small pistols that fire tranquilizer darts. They can render the target unconscious in seconds.
  • Get Smart. Max attempts to tranquillize a guard so that he and Agent 99 can infiltrate their target's mansion. But Max accidentally ends up sucking the dart, knocking himself out. When he wakes up, he finds that 99 has snuck both of them in, and even changed his clothes for him.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy explicitly mentions that Xi's tranquilizer darts don't take effect immediately. That's why they are rigged to fall off immediately, so the victim doesn't know they've been tranqed (they feel only the sting, which can be attributed to insects).
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a sequence where Rocket deals with a bunch of attackers using traps including tranq dart launchers. In this case Instant Sedation makes sense, since the dart launchers almost look like military missile launchers and thus each victim gets hit with almost a dozen darts at once.
  • HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami
    • The trope is exaggerated with Dan Geraldo, who gets dozens of blowpipe darts in the face before fainting.
    • Later played straight with tranq darts fired by a rifle, which take out the Marsupilami (as well as a soldier by accident).
  • Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard parodies this, as it's both an action movie and a comedy. Darius tells Sonia that there's something he's been meaning to tell her, but before he can he gets tranquilized in the neck, lets out a gurgling sound, and passes out. Sonia lets out a Big "WHAT?!" before being tranqued herself and sliding down her car. Michael has to be tranquilized multiple times before going down hilariously subverting One Dose Fits All.
  • Hulk: Bruce is staying with Betty in her forest cabin. She calls Ross and has the army tranquilize Bruce the second he steps out of the cabin.
  • James Bond
    • Goldfinger. While Bond is helplessly strapped to a table, Kisch renders him unconscious with a tranquilizer dart pistol.
    • Octopussy: Octopussy's Amazon Brigade use these against Kamal Khan's henchmen when they storm his palace. It's probably meant to show her criminal organization is much nicer in comparison, never mind that male criminal organisations that Bond allied himself with in previous movies weren't so delicate.
    • Never Say Never Again. James uses a sleep-poisoned blowgun dart on a Mook guard during Unwinnable Training Simulation opening.
  • In Jungle 2 Jungle, Mimi-Siku brings his blowgun and several darts with him to New York. His father's aim proves rather questionable, as he tries to practice with it and ends up tranquilizing his own foot. And his fiancée's cat. And his best friend's wife.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Blue the velociraptor is shot with a tranquilizer dart in an attempt to relocate. She still manages to attack someone under the effects of the tranquilizer and is then shot with a bullet.
  • Discussed in Kangaroo Jack when the protagonists accidentally tranquilize their airplane pilot while they are airborne; the pilot experiences the effects in stages as noted by one of them.
  • Kruel: When Jo tries to escape from Willie after he abducts her, he shoots a dart into her back with a gun.
  • Men In Black 2: Agent J fires one into the mouth of an alien creature that is trying to eat a subway train and it instantly falls asleep.
  • Mission: Impossible III: Ethan tranquilizes Davian in the neck after getting him to talk enough to emulate his voice. The same tranquilizer gun was used in a later infiltration scene, where Ethan uses it to knock out some guards while infiltrating a Shanghai skyscraper.
  • Morgan: The research staff have dart guns with these to knock out Morgan if she gets violent. Lee is also knocked out with one.
  • Frank Drebin's cufflink tranquilizer darts in the first The Naked Gun movie. However, they're not quite instant enough, since the bad guy staggers around long enough to fall over a railing to a Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • Old School: Frank accidentally tranquilizes himself in the neck with one and starts acting trippy as everything becomes slow-motion.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides:
    • Blackbeard's Quartermaster tranquilizes Captain Jack Sparrow before taking him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge.
    • Later, such a dart is used to fake the missionary Philip's death in order to make Syrena cry.
  • The Predator:
  • Primal: Great White Hunter Frank Walsh uses a dart fired from a tranquilizer gun to knock out the jaguar in the jungle and capture it. He later takes the tranquilizer gun when he is hunting both Loffler and the escaped jaguar on board the Mimer. It is much less successful on these occasions.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes has Landon use one of these on Rocket, when he's fighting with Caesar.
  • In the opening scene of The Rock, the mercenaries use tranq darts on the soldiers guarding the chemical weapons depot. All of them fall unconscious immediately.
  • Serenity: In the climactic battle when Kaylee is tranquilised by Reavers. She takes three darts to the neck. Although she quickly begins to feel shaky, she can still hurry (albeit with Simon's help) into the corridor behind and continues to stand, shielded from Reavers by Simon while Zoe and Jayne struggle to close the blast doors. Only when Simon helps lie her down does she comment she's beginning to lose feeling. Even then, the Final Battle between Mal and the Operative has to take place and Mal return for us to spot that Kaylee, while not moving very much at all, is still conscious.
  • Scanners: The two ConSec agents who hunt down Vale in the opening shoot him with a tranquilizer dart. Revok does the same to Vale and Kim near the end of the film.
  • Shandra: The Jungle Girl: The expedition uses tranquillizer darts to take Shandra alive. One accidentally hits Cord and knocks him out for three day. If the darts had been calibrated to take down the Made of Iron Shandra, this probably surprising.
  • The Soldier. When the Soldier's unit are taking over an ICBM base, they use a full-auto version (actually a LARC International M19-A BB gun) to fire several darts into a guard. This is because they are trying to take everyone alive, though that doesn't stop them shooting down a helicopter later.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Nick Fury tranquilizes Ned and he's out before he even hits the ground, though Fury advises Peter to move Ned to a comfortable position to make sure he doesn't accidentally swallow his tongue.
  • Spies Like Us. Emmett Fitz-Hume and Austin Millbarge knock out five Soviet soldiers instantly with "high-compression tranquilizer pistols".
  • Terror Birds: The villain's henchmen use them to knock out the protagonists with Instant Sedation.
  • In the 1967 comedy Thoroughly Modern Millie the darts work instantly, though the earlier Knockout Gas was not played as straight.

  • Lone Wolf:
    • Drugged darts are used by Maouk, the Sharnazim Captain, in Shadow on the Sand to take out Lone Wolf without a fight.
    • In the same book, Lone Wolf can use a blowpipe and tranquillizer dart on a guard; the effects are instantaneous.

  • Played realistically in The Andromeda Strain: when Hall has to get from the fifth to the fourth level of the Wildfire lab through the core area, he runs afoul of the automated defenses, which shoot tranquilizer darts at him and also fill the core with tranquilizer gas. However, the doses are calibrated for an escaped lab animal like a rhesus monkey; Hall is ten times heavier, so the tranqs take a long time to affect him. After he completes his task he collapses from the accumulated effects of the drug, and nearly dies before the others get him onto life-supporting machines.
  • Staple in Butler Parker, Parker himself usually delivered them through his blowdgun-umbrelly, though he also had ballpoint pens capable of shooting them and in early issues also used a real blowgun. Also, he had similar darts (pins) hidden in the seats of his retooled taxi (to be deployed at the press of a button) and in different forms as needles both in his arsenal and that of his associates.
  • Dune has this come up when Leto finds the Shadout Mapes dying on the floor in the palace and Doctor Yueh shoots him with a dart (at the start of the Harkonnens' raid on Arrakis). Yueh is the family physician, so he knows the duke's body mass, metabolism, and so on. Some reference to the drugging of Jessica and Paul is also made; the Baron stands over Jessica as she comes to and tells her, "The drug was timed." This admission tells her the traitor has detailed and intimate knowledge of her vital statistics.
  • In Alistair Maclean's The Golden Gate, Agent Revson has a device that fires sleep darts that don't have any side effects, which causes their victims to think they fell asleep naturally.
  • A staple of covert operations in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth universe, Instant Sedation darts are most prominently used in Bloodhype, when Kitten Kai-Sung, Mal Hammurabi, and Porsupah are infiltrating the AAnn enclave on Repler. Possibly justified by being in The Future, but it also fails No Biochemical Barriers. Oh, well.
  • Used in the novel Jurassic Park, where the big Tyrannosaurus rex (yes, there are two Tyrannosaurs) takes over an hour to feel it when she's shot with several times the so-called recommended tranq dose. In fact, she nearly eats the kids while everyone's waiting for her to pitch over.
  • The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton has hypo guns firing crystalline anesthetic that melts in the bloodstream. Both the UN police and the organleggers they hunt use them for the same reason — the loser is likely to find themselves cut up for body parts, so it's preferable they are captured alive and undamaged.
  • In the universe of Steven Perry's Matador Series series, one of the legal loads for the hand-mounted spetsdod is a round loaded with a tranquilizer, appropriately called "Trank".
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Devi is shot with tranquilizer darts in Heaven's Queen. Because of her resistance to sedatives, the first dart has little effect, and it takes four to bring her down.
  • Sam the Cat: Detective: In The Maltese Kitten, Evil Poacher Herman Hench carries a dart gun that he uses to put multiple people and animals to sleep for several hours.
  • Wings of Fire has Rainwings, a tribe of rainforest dragons that use darts smeared with frog toxins to knock unknown dragons out.
  • Wolf Pack: After falling into Dr. Monk's Pit Trap, Tora is shot in the haunches with one of these, losing consciousness not long after.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: In the Christmas Episode, Little Pete tranquilizes the Garbage Man (actually hitting a major vein!), and it takes a couple minutes of real-time to start taking effect.
  • Arrow. The title character has hand-thrown flechette darts that serve this purpose.
    Arrow: Tranq dart. He'll be out for thirty-six minutes.
    Quentin: Yeah...(rubs neck) I remember.
  • Batman (1966) episode "The Ring of Wax". The Riddler takes down Batman and Robin with anesthetic darts fired from a blowgun.
  • Billy the Exterminator: Used by Billy to sedate an escaped donkey that was too wild for him to get close enough to lasso.
  • In “The Carpals in the Coywolves” on Bones, Oliver accidentally tranquilizes Hodgins. It’s calibrated for a coyote, which is much smaller than an adult human male, so it doesn’t knock him out, just leaves him dopey for a bit. He later retaliates and tranquilizes Oliver, and the intern ends up with his shirt off, acting a bit weird. Suffice to say it was a Played for Laughs thing.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Oz is a frequent victim of these, what with him being a werewolf. Over the course of the series he gets shot six times with a tranquilizer dart: "Phases", "Beauty and the Beasts", twice in "The Zeppo", "Wild at Heart" and "New Moon Rising".
    • Giles gets shot with a tranquilizer dart meant for Oz when Buffy is thrown off the mark by the intended target's girlfriend.
    • Willow tranquilizes her vampire counterpart in "Doppelgangland".
  • Chuck:
    • Every time tranquilizers are used, unless the victim is Badass Normal Casey. When they have to tranquilize Jeff and Lester, Lester goes down instantly but Jeff takes multiple darts and a few minutes to lose consciousness. Jeff is a bigger guy and his past drug use made him more resistant.
    • The eponymous character himself is more wont to use tranquilizer darts as opposed to actual guns to (temporarily) take out bad guys. They always cause harmless Instant Sedation.
  • Although Dexter consistently uses a syringe up-close, there is one episode involving a tranquilizer dart. The target is an animal control worker who is holding a tranquilizer gun loaded to take down an alligator. Presumably resistant to the effect of tranquilizers from personal experience, he has enough time to tranquilize Dexter before he collapses. Dexter also has a bit of time to pull the dart out before losing consciousness. They both wake up in an ambulance with some really worried EMTs.
  • Death in Paradise: In "Murder Most Animal", local zookeeper Xander Sheppard is found shot in the back with a poisonous dart, and a tranquilizer rifle is found discovered just inside the zoo fence. Later, J.P. gets shot in the butt with a tranquilizer dart by Ruby while the two of them are trying to arrest an animal smuggler.
  • Eureka equips Taggert, the Crocodile Dundee-esque dogcatcher, with these. Used twice, to take down Fish out of Water Marshall Jack Carter, and inadvertently, the owner of the town's biggest (and possibly only) café.
  • An episode of the documentary series Fatal Attractions (2010) gave a good illustration of how these work in Real Life. When a man was discovered keeping a full-grown tiger in a New York City public-housing apartment, a NYPD officer rappelled down from the roof to tranquilize the tiger through the window. When he did, the tiger immediately charged, hitting the wall with such force that the entire building shook. Only then did the tranquilizer take effect, enabling officers to safely remove the tiger from the building.
  • The F.B.I.: In "All the Streets Are Quiet", the FBI use a tranquilizer gun borrowed from the local zoo to knock out the two Angry Guard Dogs guarding the crooks' hideout.
  • Fireball XL5 gave the heroes a Coma Ray Gun, a non-lethal weapon capable of making most lifeforms fall into a deep, coma-like sleep for whatever period of time the plot required.
  • Friends: Phoebe is accidentally tranquilized in the backside. She never passes out, though she does comment that her buttock is asleep (and that the other one has no idea). Of course, the dart was intended for a very small monkey, so there probably wasn't much juice in there anyway.
  • In The Incredible Hulk (1977), Intrepid Reporter Jack McGee at one point has a tranq gun to use on the Hulk. Sure enough, the Hulk shows up and McGee tranquilizes him, to seemingly no effect even though he uses several darts. After the Hulk grabs and destroys the gun and runs off, he starts being affected.
  • Henry Danger: In the episode Hour of Power, when Schwoz is helping Henry/Kid Danger test out a new ray-gun-like weapon that fires tranquilizer darts so that they can face the new villain introduced in the episode as Drex, Henry accidentally fires the tranquilizer dart at his friend Charlotte, in her forehead. Even though she manages to stay awake long enough to pull the tranq out of her forehead and give it back to Schwoz and Henry, it only takes less than 15 seconds for her to start slurring her speech, faint, and go unconscious.
  • Lost
    • In an episode, Sayid is shot twice with tranquilizing darts. He pulls one dart out and we're led to believe that the trope is playing straight until he surprises the shooter, who approached him to confirm unconsciousness.
    • Used in a lot of other episodes, featuring darts, gas and chloroform. Namely, some episodes in this respective order are: "Live Together, Die Alone", "Left Behind" and "Something Nice Back Home".
  • Discussed in Malcolm in the Middle, where trapped with a pair of lions, Malcolm shoots down the zoo personnel's idea of tranquilizing them on the grounds that the beasts would have just enough time to get angry and tear them apart (the show puts it at three minutes, which is almost certainly selling the lions short, but it's the thought that counts).
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. The U.N.C.L.E Special was originally meant to fire 'sleep darts', though later episodes vary as to how much emphasis is put on this.
  • Tranquillizer darts are frequently used in Primeval to stop creature attacks.
  • In an episode of The Red Green Show, Ed Frid once shot himself in the foot with a tranquilizer dart and remained conscious long enough to calculate how long he would sleep, give Red instructions on how to deal with the animal they'd captured and lay down comfortably.
  • Used in Smallville on basically everyone who isn't Clark Kent, probably more than once.
  • Played with in an episode of Stargate Atlantis. Ford is hit with a dart, pulls it out and seemingly collapses immediately. The villains move in to restrain him, only for him to suddenly wake up and attack, indicating that he was either only stunned for a moment, or he may have been playing possum to draw them in.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Tranq guns are used in "Hathor" by O'Neill and Carter to neutralize male soldiers enthralled by Hathor without killing them. As usual, sleep is instantaneous.
    • In "In the Line of Duty", when Sam/Jolinar gets tranqued twice, the first case with "enough to knock out an elephant," it takes a minute before she's out.
    • In one episode Daniel tranquilizes Osiris, and she pulls the dart out, looks annoyed, goes and activates some transporter rings, then leaves in a spaceship. The last shot of her shows that she's just a tad off-balance, and that's about two minutes after getting shot. Note that he's using a Goa'uld-specific sedative.
    • The same Goa'uld-specific sedative proves completely inefficient against Kull warriors, however, even though the trinium-tipped darts can pierce their special armor.
    • In the later seasons, people are using tranq darts all the time and they often knock the victim out in less then a second, and occasionally cause the victim to throw themselves away from the dart.
  • Used for that purpose on Zoo when afflicted animals are being captured alive for research.
  • Supergirl: In the pilot episode, two kryptonite-filled darts are used to bring down Supergirl while she's in flight.
  • Twin Peaks: Earle and Leo use a tranquilizer pistol on Briggs, who pulls the dart out and stares at it then falls to the floor gasping and trying to move as Earle laughs.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • In one episode of WWE Smackdown, The Big Show was shot by a tranquilizer dart used to take down dangerous animals. He may be a giant, but a rampaging deer still weighs more than twice his size. They didn't show concern for him overdosing, but they did have him raging and ready to fight until it kicked in five minutes later so it's up to you to decide if this was played with, played straight, averted, inverted, or subverted. Once he passed out, Kurt Angle shaved his head.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • Dungeons & Dragons naturally has its share of this (especially in earlier editions with their plentiful save-or-die effects, where merely falling unconscious for an hour or two from a single failed saving throw could be considered positively merciful).
    • The most iconic example are probably drow hand crossbows and their small but typically sleep drug-coated quarrels.
    • Fiend Folio. The red urchin fired spines tipped with a venom that put victims that failed a saving throw to sleep for 1-4 minutes.
  • Shadowrun has darts filled with Neurostun or Narcoject, which can be fired from pistols and rifles.
  • 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.
  • You can craft these in ARK: Survival Evolved, an arrow-based version for your bow and crossbow and two bullet-based versions for the longneck rifle. Despite the numerous fantastical elements in the game, these darts are treated fairly realistically — larger creatures need multiple darts to knock unconscious, and the effect isn't instantaneous (though still extremely fast, but that's a concession to gameplay).
  • In Borderlands 2, Mordecai uses a tranq dart on Bloodwing after she is captured, experimented on and attacks the player, in an attempt to calm her down to bring her back to Sanctuary. This triggers possibly one of the saddest lines in the game:
    Mordecai: I'm loading the tranq dart! Tranquila Blood! This won't hurt, I promise.
  • The Danger Girl level "Museum Mayhem!" where you infiltrate the British Museum's vault to retrieve a doomsday artifact before the Hammer Empire. As the mooks are security guards doing their jobs instead of terrorists, you're stripped of any lethal firearms and instead uses a dart gun for knocking them out.
  • In Dave the Diver, the Hush Dart is a small pistol that can tranquilize most small fish and some medium fish allowing them to be captured alive for better rewards (an upgrade eventually allows it to work on larger creatures as well). Additionally, the underwater rifle, sniper rifle and triple axel all have a Tranquilizer variant which has a chance to tranquilize any creature with the downside being a risk of killing them since these guns also deal damage to them.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • JC's mini-crossbow in Deus Ex can be loaded with Tranquilizer Darts which can knock a target out cold indefinitely when shot in the head, otherwise the victim will run around yelling for help before falling unconscious. When the PC is shot with a tranquilizer dart, it causes the screen to darken and sway, but the nanotechnology takes care of the venom fairly rapidly. Of course, the game is about lies and conspiracy and those tranquilizer darts are in all probability some form of lethal poison. Which is why you take damage when you are hit by them.
    • Adam Jensen continues, or rather sets the precedent for JC to follow in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and has access to a tranquillizer rifle.
  • In The Journeyman Project, a robot tranquilizes Agent 5 just after he enters one of the time zones, and he has to make an antidote to neutralize it before exploring the rest of the time zone. When the dart is analyzed, the tranquilizer in question is listed as dimenhydrinate, which would presumably render Agent 5 unconscious, rather than kill him. Later on, Agent 5 can also steal the robot's dart gun and use it to take down the Big Bad at the endgame.
  • Fallout 3 has the Dart Gun, a makeshift crossbow that fires throwing darts (the kind used in pubs) tipped with radscorpion venom. The damage is pitiful, but it cripples the target's limbs completely, preventing them from moving or fighting effectively (note that radscorpion venom administered the natural way — from a radscorpion stinger — causes damage over time, not paralysis).
  • The dart gun in Far Cry 2 fires tranq darts meant for big game animals, and thus each shot result in an instakill.
  • James Bond:
    • The World Is Not Enough has a tranq pistol in a few infiltration-based missions, though it lasts only for a few seconds before a sedated mook starts getting back to his feet. Instead, Bond needs to sheathe his weapon, walk over and land a few extra punches on anyone he tranquilized.
    • Agent Under Fire, NightFire, and Everything or Nothing use these in stealth missions where lethality isn't an option... or where shooting, even with a Hollywood Silencer, will still cause guards to cry out in pain. Uniquely, Everything or Nothing is the only game in which the dart-gun appears in more than one level.
  • Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition 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).
  • Metal Gear:
    • 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 2: Sons of Liberty:
      • Snake infiltrates the tanker armed only with a modified Beretta M9 designed to fire anesthetic darts. Suitable weaponry for infiltrating a tanker filled with loyal US Marines, less suitable weaponry for infiltrating a tanker now filled with faceless terrorists.
      • It's possible to find a "PSG1-T", a version of the Sniper Rifle that fires tranquillizer darts, and the end game high-frequency blade has a stun setting (beating people with the blunt side of the blade, presumably). These exist solely to enable Pacifist Runs.
  • Used frequently in the Monster Hunter series, with Tranq Bombs, Tranq S bowgun ammo, and even Tranq Throwing Knives, required for monster capture quests. The monster has to be weakened to the brink of death for them to work, and the effects will only kick in if the monster's in a trap.
  • In Ninja Gaiden (NES), after Ryu takes care of the first boss, he is approached by Irene Lew (who goes unnamed at that point). He tells her to go away, and she appears to comply...only to pull out a tranquilizer gun and tranquilize Ryu. Since a bang is heard, and you only see Ryu’s shocked face, it would seem as if Ryu died. Cue Act 2, where Ryu wakes up in a cell, and Irene gives Ryu a statue, telling him to escape. This begins the next stage.
  • A stock weapon in the No One Lives Forever series, essential in the levels where "no casualties" is the requirement.
  • Overwatch: Ana's sleep dart temporarily puts a target to sleep for 5 seconds, but they instantly wake up if they take any damage.
  • In Parkasaurus, you have to tranquilize dinosaurs in order to relocate them.
  • Perfect Dark has a wrist-mounted crossbow that fires knockout darts, and the medical staff in Area 51 have anesthetic guns that cause an Interface Screw on Joanna, but she can use them to knock out enemies...or deliver a higher dose at point-blank range to lethally-inject them.
  • Ada Wong is knocked out by one in Resident Evil 4 fired from a very archaic-looking air rifle. It takes her less than half a second from looking at the dart that hit her for her eyes to roll up into her head.
  • In the RuneScape quest "A Clockwork Syringe", if you're spotted during a Stealth-Based Mission, a dart will be thrown at you, the screen will turn black, and you'll wake up unharmed in an unguarded jail cell which can be easily escaped.
  • Second Sight has people staggering around for a few moments after being hit with tranquillizer darts,then reacting like they have been punched in the chest and falling over. Hitting them in the head takes them down instantly. It's worth noting that on the few occasions where you're shot with one yourself, it slowly saps your health rather than knocking you out (although the game treats knocked out enemies more or less the same as dead ones and the cutscenes that play after you're defeated would indicate that you survive whatever takes you down).
  • The Several Journeys of Reemus: In chapter two, Reemus is shot from offscreen by a dart so loaded with sedative that it actually sprays a considerable amount on Liam when it hits. Liam has just enough time to identify the sedative before he, too, is shot and goes under. Later on, they have to collect a sample of it (it's a type of honey made by a particular bee, which is so potent that even a small amount contains enough sugar to induce a temporary diabetic coma) to exploit its faux-sedative properties.
  • Shounen Kininden Tsumuji has a blowgun that shoots darts causing enemies to be instantly knocked out and easy to attack.
  • Specimen Zero has a tranq gun as an alternative weapon. Which proves to be far more effective than the shotgun — monsters in the game barely slows down even when hit by bullets, whilst tranquilizer darts when hitting a monster's cranium will knock it unconscious for 90 seconds.
  • Thief has the Gas Arrows, which do not do any damage but will instantly knock people unconscious, regardless of how alert they are. Given how incredibly useful this is in this game, they are quite rare.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2005): Played straight when Silver Sable tries to kidnap Peter Parker by knocking him out with a couple of tranquilizer darts... for a few minutes anyway. Then his enhanced metabolism kicks in allowing him to wake up earlier than he was supposed to and resist all subsequent shots. Cue boss battle where he has to fight off both Silver Sable and her mercenaries while trying not to succumb to the effects of the tranquilizers in his system.
  • Such a gun is used in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for one level by Drake and Flynn.
  • The Business from Fortuna in Warframe sells tranq rifles used for animal conservation across the game's landscape areas. These rifles shoot darts that travel in arcs and cause animals hit with them to fall unconscious in seconds, ready to pick up by a drone. Most critters need just one tranq to pacify regardless of size, though heavier ones like stovers may require up to three.
  • XCOM: Chimera Squad has Tranq Rounds ammo, that work just like regular ammo except for the fact that any enemy downed by tranq rounds suffers a Non-Lethal K.O..

    Web Animation 
  • In Deep Space 69 episode 18:
    Jay: Imma take a nap on the ground. [faints]
  • Happy Tree Friends: In Cuddles's Smoochie, the "Sleep" option causes Cuddles to get shot with several tranquilizer darts at once, killing him almost instantly.

  • Dominic Deegan has instant paralysis darts that, bizarrely wear off moments after being removed.
  • In Girl Genius, knock-out darts are revealed to be a part of Violetta's arsenal for her blow gun while in Paris.
  • The Last Days of FOXHOUND: When Liquid is possessed by Big Boss and he is threatening Raven, he is shot in the head with a high dosage tranq dart by Wolf, and it takes him several seconds to fall unconscious, causing Raven who was expecting Instant Sedation to say "That took way too fucking long". The Cyborg Ninja is tranquillized and remains conscious long enough to flee.
    Wolf: I can never get ze dose right vith zese super-humans.
  • Unsounded: The darts shot at Duane to start off his assassination and transformation into their world's first zombie retaining its mind/soul are laced with sedative. There's not much worry about overdosing as the attackers are planning to kill him anyway, they just want him immobilized for a bit before they finish him off, and the darts are really just to make it hard for him to fight back.

    Web Videos 
  • At the end of The Nostalgia Critic's review of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, he goes briefly insane, singing a terrifyingly Christmas-joy-filled song, before being shot with a tranquillizer dart. He says he loves Christmas so much, that he can build tranquillizer immunity.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In "Pulling Double Booty", Hayley goes on an animalistic rampage at the mall when Jeff breaks up with her, forcing mall security to bring her down her with tranquilizer darts. In the next scene, Stan and Francine carry her home with nearly a dozen darts in her back.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: In the episode "Creature from Plague Lagoon", when Meatwad request Shake to tell him a bedtime story, Shake tells him one about a tranquilizer dart getting picked on by other darts, who then huffed and puffed... just as Shake blows an actual tranquilizer onto Meatwad. Shake immediately gets hit with one just as Frylock walks into the room.
  • The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender has shirshu spit darts (they induce paralysis but not unconsciousness) made from the paralyzing toxins in a shirshu's tongue. They're used on Appa in the first series when he's kidnapped and sold to the circus and on the titular heroine of The Legend of Korra when the Red Lotus abducts her from her bed.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: "Operation: Z.O.O." begins with Mrs. Goodwall (a parody of Jane Goodall) knocking out the KND with tranq darts to put them in a "Kids Zoo".
  • In the unsold Hanna-Barbera pilot Duffy's Dozen, family patriarch Ted Duffy and his clan are at Yellowstone Park where Ted's bowling ball slips into the paws of a sleeping bear. Ted attempts to retrieve it without waking the bear, as his wife alerts a park ranger. The ranger shoots a tranquilizer dart, which hits Ted right in the keister and knocks him out cold. It was quite intentional as Ted was running the risk of awakening the bear.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: After recalling all that Cosmo had done to ruin his career, Jorgen von Strangle goes into a fit of animalistic rage only to be quickly rendered insensate using two darts humorously marked "K" and "O".
  • Family Guy:
    • In "The Thin White Line", Peter's boss devises a contest for the company picnic, which involves taking shots at the employees with a tranq rifle and seeing who can last the longest. Most of the employees drop like stones the moment they get shot... except for Peter, who ends up with more than a dozen tranquillizer needles stuck in him, and still manages to stay conscious long enough to win the contest. It would seem that this is either due to his relatively high body mass, which (in theory) would require longer for the chemicals to spread through his body, or due to the increased amount of fatty deposits, which would help isolate the venom from his bloodstream.
    • In "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas", when Stewie manages to calm down Lois after she reaches her Rage Breaking Point and goes on an anti-Christmas rampage, Peter still asks for the police to tranquilize her. Come Christmas morning, she's still loaded with what Peter claims is enough tranquillizer to bring down a bull elephant.
  • Subverted in a Futurama episode. A mysterious robot in a robe tries to tranquilize the Professor, but misses and hits Bender.
  • Gargoyles:
    • When Brooklyn is tranquilized, he goes down almost instantly, but is still blinking groggily when he's dragged away — so it put him out completely either slowly or not at all.
    • Goliath gets hit with a dart in "Awakening Part III", which only slows him down for awhile. It does incapacitate him enough he can't get to safety before dawn and Eliza has to distract the guys who did it.
  • In an episode of House of Mouse, Donald tries to tranquilize 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.
  • Jonny Quest:
    • In what may be a Lampshade Hanging of Instant Sedation, in "The Quetong Missile Mystery", Race Bannon makes a note of how fast anesthetic darts work on enemy guards.
    • In "Pirates from Below", Race and Bandit are knocked out by a tranquillizer dart rifle wielded by an enemy operative. Race is a full-grown man, and Bandit is a very small dog.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In the episode "Bad Hair Day", multiple are fired to subdue what seem to be orangutans (actually accidental victims of the boys' latest invention). However, only two people are hit. An Animal Control worker, and Doofensmirtz. While the worker barely has enough time to say he's going to pass out, Doofenshmirtz is able to make it most of the way through a musical number he himself sings, then passes out (in 17 seconds as he predicts).
  • Animal Control from Regular Show use assault rifles loaded with tranquilizer darts to bring down Death Bear. It works; About 2 minutes, 300 darts and one pair of arms later.
  • In a The Ren & Stimpy Show cartoon parodying nature shows; Ren is accidentally shot with a tranq dart by Stimpy, and it takes a minute for him to go down. In the meantime, his voice slows down.
  • The Simpsons:
    • When Bart is "taken" by a monkey at a local zoo, Homer tries to save him by putting a tranq-dart into a tube and putting it into his mouth. He then inhales, and it gets self-explanatory after that.
    • In "The Call of the Simpsons", Homer is mistaken for Bigfoot and tranquilized. He has enough time to say "Avenge my death, son," before falling asleep, snoring noticeably.
    • In "Much Apu About Nothing", Barney is shot with a bear tranquilizer dart. He actually pulls out the dart and drinks the remaining sedative before passing out averting Instant Sedation.
    • Marge is tranquilized in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Marge" and falls down instantly but it turns out she was faking, shocking the doctor who blew the darts at her as the dart had "enough tranquilizer to take down John Winston". Homer blows one at her and she falls asleep.
    • Chief Wiggum tranquilizes Sideshow Bob in "The Great Louse Detective". While he doesn't fall asleep immediately, he does immediately start acting woozy.
  • Skull Island (2023): Irene uses a tranquillizer dart fired from a pistol to knock out Annie and recaptures her, midway through the first season.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Star and Tom get tranquilized while searching for the monsters. Also averts Instant Sedation, as they have time to ask each other about the darts that suddenly appeared (when the camera wasn't looking) before they pass out.
  • Used in three episodes of the Total Drama series:
    • In "Search and Do Not Destroy", Owen comes back to the campgrounds sticking out of a bear's mouth. Chris uses the darts to sedate the bear, but he gets Owen, too.
    • In "Wawanakwa Gone Wild!", Izzy uses the darts in a gun to try and bring down the animal she has to capture, a deer. Unfortunately, Heather is hiding behind a bush wearing deer antlers — Izzy only sees the antlers and tranquilizes her by mistake.
    • In "Dial M for Merger", Duncan gets shot in the neck with a dart when the interns have to drag the remaining contestants to a cave as part of the challenge.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • In general, one of The Monarch's preferred weapons for him and his minions. He has knockout darts for his nemesis and lethal darts for his minions. You would think he has this backwards, but no.
    • Subverted in the first episode; Brock takes about a dozen butterfly darts, and only goes down when hit with a truck. Of course, it is Brock.
    • The pirate captain has an addiction to tranquillizer darts in the episode "The Lepidopterists".
    • 24's attempt to kill Hank in the episode "Tears of the Sea Cow" are averted because he didn't know his rifle only shot tranquillizer darts.

Alternative Title(s): Tranquilliser Dart, Tranquilizer Dart, Tranquillizer Gun, Tranquilliser Gun, Tranquilizer Gun


Kate and Humphrey Tranquilized

Kate and Humphrey are tranquilized by park rangers.

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Main / TranquillizerDart

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