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An occupational hazard of having a specialized talent in demand is that sometimes "demand" can be taken literally -- a professional such as a scientist or engineer is kidnapped and coerced into working for the bad guys, under threat to their life or the lives of their loved ones. Although there should be some obvious inherent risks to letting someone hostile to your plans work so intimately with them, doing things no one else in your organization fully understands, the success rate for this method seems to be pretty high -- at least until the heroes get around to rescuing them.

Note that this is not the same as kidnapping someone for information, using them as a MacGuffin, or having someone Made a Slave for menial (or sexual) tasks -- but having a professional work intimately with the most delicate aspects of a plan, requiring highly specialized skills.

Subtrope of An Offer You Can't Refuse. Compare Reluctant Mad Scientist.

Examples of Kidnapped Scientist include:


Comic Books

  • Tony Stark and Dr. Yinsen are abducted and told to build the Jericho missile by Islamic extremists or be executed. They Take a Third Option.

Film - Animated

Film - Live Action

  • Top Secret, Professor Flammond.
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again had the now-evil and insane Dreyfus capturing a scientist (and his Beautiful Daughter) to build a disintegration ray.
  • The film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze has Shredder and the Footsoldiers kidnapping a scientist that developed the titular ooze so he could force said scientist to create an army of mutants. The scientist reluctantly obliges, but uses infant animals and alters the ooze so that they retain a child-like intelligence resulting in Tokka and Rahzar.
  • Wild Wild West. Dr. Loveless captured America's top scientists in the fields of physics, hydraulics, and explosives and forced them to build a 80 foot tall mechanical spider that can belch out fireballs.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The Fantom captured scientists and their families. He forced the scientists to build advanced technology (like tanks and assault rifles) by threatening their families if they didn't cooperate.
  • Buckaroo Banzai. Lord John Whorfin demands that Buckaroo surrender to him or Penny Priddy will be killed. After Buckaroo does so, he's tortured to make him tell how to complete the missing circuit in Whorfin's oscillation overthruster.

Live Action TV

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Spike once kidnapped Willow and Xander to force then-novice witch Willow to cast a love spell on Drucsilla.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Professor Watkins in The Invasion.
    • In The Time Warrior, a Sontaran kidnaps scientists from his future to make them repair his spaceship.
  • Alias: Omnidisciplinary tech guy/GadgeteerGenius Marshall is kidnapped for information twice. The first time he says he can recreate the computer code they're looking for, and uses his coding skills to send a message to SD-6. He's kidnapped again for similar reasons in the Grand Finale.

Tabletop RPG

  • Villains and Vigilantes. Characters are only allowed to have a certain number of insightful ideas (Invention Points). Villains therefore kidnap scientists and other experts and force them to use their Invention Points to create new technology for the villains' use.
  • Champions supplement The Blood and Dr. McQuark. The brilliant scientist Dr. McQuark was kidnapped by the villain group VIPER and forced to create new technology for them. He pretended to go along with them while hoping for rescue. Just when VIPER's patience ran out, Dr. McQuark was rescued by the superhero Radion.
  • GURPS Supers supplement Supertemps. When Harold Wilkesom created a prototype of a weapon that could silently throw metal playing cards, he was kidnapped by the villain group TRADE and forced to continue his research on it. When he learned he would be killed when it was complete, he used the prototype to escape.

Video Games

  • In Fallout 2 Darion, the leader of a raider gang, had a vacationing medical doctor kidnapped in order to work on his heart condition. The man complies largely because this also allows him to provide assistance to the Vault 15 squatters.
    • From the same game, Vic the repairman would somewhat qualify as well, as he was first found being held captive by slavers using him to construct a radio, except that it wasn't so much that did the job unwillingly as that he'd been paid for it it, failed to get it right the first time and was held prisoner until he could finish it properly.
  • In Evil Genius the player can kidnap specialists including scientists and interrogate them to unlock new minion types.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas forcing a certain doctor into someone's service is one possible solution to a quest, useful if the player doesn't have a high medical skill.
  • Happens all the time in Metal Gear, including (but not limited to):
  • Used partially in Mega Man 4. While not the victim of the kidnapping himself, (but rather, his daughter), Dr. Mikhail Cossack is blackmailed by Dr. Willy to build him an army of robots to defeat Mega Man and take over the world.
    • Played straight in the next game with Dr. Light.
    • The fifth Mega Man Battle Network game used this as well, with Dr. Yuuichiro Hikari kidnapped by the Nebula syndicate for the duration of the game.
  • Happens within the first 20 minutes of Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness. Professor Krane is kidnapped by a couple of Cipher peons to forcibly help with their Shadow Pokemon research.
  • In the Twinbee series, more often than not the plot is set in motion with Dr. Cinnamon being kidnapped.
  • The Trash-Men in In Famous kidnap engineers to help them interfere with the power supply and construct their giant tower of junk.
    • In the sequel, Dr Wolfe, the inventor the the Ray Sphere is kidnapped and forced to work for Bertrand.
  • Occurs semi-regularly in Command and Conquer Tiberium series, most notable examples being Dr. Ignatio Moebius and Dr. Alphonse Giraud. Thing is, Nod scientists are treated very well and have practically limitless resources, so it is not uncommon for kidnapped scientists to pull a Face Heel Turn, which is implied to have happened with Dr. Giraud.

Web Comics

 "Think: Your power suits keep them alive and give them the edge. Back them up with bipedal weapons platforms and actually expendable robot troops. And of course... something to transport them to battle... What do you think? You in? (Note, this is a rhetorical question as I'm forcing you in under pain of murder. Sorry for any confusion)"

Western Animation

  • All the time in Inspector Gadget. It seemed like half of M.A.D.'s plans involved kidnapping scientists, although they just about never showed the unwilling ones actually working.
  • Subverted in Invader Zim where there is an entire race of kidnapped scientists... whose inventions always seem to go horribly wrong for some inexplicable reason.
  • Actually used by the good guys once in Gargoyles, when Goliath kidnaps Sevarius to find a cure for the mutants he'd created. Elisa calls him out on it and in the end Xanatos rescues Sevarius anyway. It's never made clear whether the serum he made was truly a cure or would have been a poison.
  • In an episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, the Mad Scientist Professor Nimnul was kidnapped by a mob boss so he could use Nimnul's shrinking ray to go on a crime spree. Ironic in that Nimnul was already evil, but he still hated not being given credit for the crime spree.
  • Terran Prof. Algernon from Exo Squad was captured by the Neosapiens early in the war and constructed a number of fantastic weapons for them (most notably, the GRAF Shield) until his recapture by the Exofleet. Being somewhat of a Mad Scientist, however, he is rather indifferent towards his employees and cares more about lab equipment than about who uses his inventions and to what ends.
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