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In many works a character can end up being Not Himself. He or she could even hurt someone, or admit to someone that they are worried they might hurt someone. Sometimes, he or she is just acting oddly enough to give people reason to think that they're crazy and/or a danger to themselves and others. Often, their freedom is taken away by their own friends or allies to keep them safe and unable to harm themselves or other people. This could be by restraint, sedation, or confinement.

This will often happen in a safe location, such as their base or a hospital (or whatever serves as one), and will often result in some fight between the captive and the captor(s). This can result in Breaking the Bonds, or if they gain superpowers it could become a Cardboard Prison. Those keeping them captive may employ some sort of Kryptonite Factor to keep them under control. This could also result in an Unwanted Rescue. If they ask to be restrained, it can overlap with No Matter How Much I Beg.

The character being confined does not need to be willing, and the characters to whom they lose their freedom don't need to be benevolent. However, their confinement has to be for safety, and not for malice or punishment, in order to actually fit this trope.

Related to: Cruel to Be Kind.


Comic Books

  • This happens to The Incredible Hulk from time to time. In early stories Bruce Banner had a bunker under the sea which he had Rick Jones lock him into at night for when he turned into the Hulk.
  • Spirou and Fantasio: In the album La Valllée des Banis, a venomous mosquito bites Fantasio and causes him to go insane; the insanity makes Fantasio become very violent and reckless and Spirou is eventually forced to tie him up to keep them both safe.
  • A similar situation happens in the Achille Talon album Viva Papa!. To escape from a prison cell while tied up, Talon has sidekick Lefuneste gnaws on their bonds. Except, as they finds out, the rope is made of Tapasambalian hemp, a dangerous psychotropic plant. Thus Lefuneste has to be kept tied during the escape. Later, the bad guys capture them again and, seeing one of them still in ropes, conclude that he's no longer their friend and have him freed -- and Lefuneste goes berserk on them.

Films -- Live-Action

  • The Invisible Man Returns (1940) has Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) ask a friend and lab colleague to restrain him if he shows signs of insanity (a known side effect of the invisibility formula). After a tense dinner scene with said friend and his love interest, Radcliffe is subdued and chained to a chair and does indeed attack the friend.
  • The Wolf Man: Lawrence Talbot is tied up so he can't get out in his wolf form.
  • Tropic Thunder: the other guys tie up Jeff Portnoy when he starts to freak out over not having any "jelly beans."
  • Young Frankenstein: Dr. Frankenstein locks himself in the dungeon with his creation and tells Igor, Inga and Frau Blücher (insert horse whinny) not to let him out no matter how much he begs. Five seconds later, he bangs on the door and asks to be let out with no avail.
  • Young Sherlock Holmes: Holmes uses his scarf to tie up his love interest, Elizabeth Hardy, when she is beset by poison-induced hallucinations.


  • The Chronicles of Narnia novel The Silver Chair. The Green Lady's protege asks the protagonists to tie him to the title device and not let him go No Matter How Much I Beg, so that he won't change into a green serpent and kill them. Actually a subversion since he has not yet been revealed to be Prince Rilian and the real reason he is being kept in the Silver Chair is because, rather than being in danger of turning into a snake and killing everyone, those nightly spells are the only times he realizes that he is Prince Rilian and the Green Lady wants to ensure that he doesn't escape from her while he still knows who he is.
  • In Mockingjay, Peeta is Brainwashed and Crazy in such a way that the usage of Insane Equals Violent is justified and is restrained to ensure that he doesn't harm anyone, especially Katniss.
  • Cut is about a fifteen year old cutter whose family placed her in a mental health facility once they found out that she'd been engaging in Self -Harm. As well as providing therapy, the facility also has a policy against "sharps," which they call anything that can be used for Self -Harm. This even extends to pencils and glass. However, Callie does find ways to engage in Self -Harm despite this...
  • In Harry Potter, Remus Lupin is a werewolf who, each full moon, would be overcome by the wolf and attack any humans in sight. To keep him from hurting anybody, once he enrolled in Hogwarts he was sent to the Shrieking Shack monthly where he would be kept until sunrise.
  • In The Parasol Protectorate, werewolves have servants called "clavigers", whose job description includes locking their werewolf in a cell when the moon is full.
  • Animorphs the team has to tie up Jake when he's accidentally infested,to starve out the Yeerk in his head, and they have to constantly watch him on top of it, because they know the Yeerk will try to morph to free him from the restraints.
  • The Dresden Files has examples for both werewolves (with the circle in Fool Moon) and (semi) vampires who have trouble controlling their bloodlust (in Death Masks).
  • In The Shining by Stephen King, Jack Torrance starts going violently insane to the point where his wife Wendy has started carrying a knife around in the event that she has to use it on Jack in self defense. When she manages to get him unconscious after he tries to hurt her, she locks him in the pantry of the Overlook to protect herself and their son Danny and so that he won't starve in the time it takes for help to arrive. He does manage to escape, though.

Live-Action TV

  • Stargate SG-1, in the first season episode "The Broca Divide". Most of the characters in the SGC end up locked up after being affected by a diseases SG-1 brought back from the planet.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Sheppard is confined to his room while turning into an Iratus-bug hybrid. He asked for it, he warned everyone, yet no-one seemed to take him seriously.
  • Stargate Universe:
    • Chloe being locked in her room while turning into the aliens.
    • Similarly, Cornel Young is tied to a chair before swapping minds with one of the aliens to make sure the alien can't do anything to Destiny.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Oz is confined on full moons. At first in a cage locked with a key, later however in a cage locked with a combination keypad which he can supposedly only operate when he is human.
    • In the episode "Living Conditions" she starts rooming with a new girl her own age, then starts to get annoyed about those kinds of little things that roomies do to annoy each other... then she starts to get delusional and claiming that the girl is 'evil', and that she's going to have to 'slay' her, which prompts the rest of the Scoobies to tie her up to stop her while trying to find out why she's suddenly gone crazy. Turns out the girl actually IS a demon in disguise, and she's been performing nightly rituals to drain Buffy's soul, which is why she's acting erratic. Also, the restraints are less than effective at holding her.
    • Buffy chains Angel up to keep him from hurting himself or attacking others after his return from hell, when he's still feral and wild.
  • In Angel:
    • There's a werewolf chick who comes to Wolfram & Hart every month to be locked up.
    • Angel himself in "Somnambulist". He lets the others tie him up when he's afraid he's killing people in his sleep. "Eternity" might or might not count... he was having a pseudo-Angelus episode brought on by drugs, so he was evil when they chained him up. However, he was left tied for a while by Cordy and Wes later at the end of the ep.
  • In Farscape, at the end of season 2, Crichton is restrained in order to keep the Neurochip inside his brain in check. It doesn't work too well, given that Scorpius' Neural Clone allows him to talk his way out on one occasion.
  • Star Trek the Original Series episode "The Tholian Web". When Chekov goes violently insane due to the effect of area of space the Enterprise is in, he's shown strapped down to a table in Sick Bay screaming.
  • Star Trek Voyager:
    • Seven of Nine once is affected by a borg core causing other personalities to come forth.
    • Tuvok in a last season episode dealing with Makii brainwashing.
  • In Star Trek Enterprise, T'pol in an episode with a Vulcan mining ship, is affected by some mind altering ore.
  • In Supernatural, Castiel, Bobby, and Sam lock Dean in Bobby's panic room to stop him getting to Michael.
    • Bobby and Dean also lock Sam in there to keep him away from the demon blood.
  • In early episodes of Being Human, Mitchell does this for George, the resident werewolf. Later, George finds ways to get the job done on his own.
    • In a flashback, Mitchel's vampire sponsor ties him to a chair during his blood-detox.
  • In The Walking Dead, Jim goes a little nuts and starts digging graves in the blazing hot Atlanta sun, and has to be restrained by being tied to a tree until he comes to his senses.
  • In Firefly, after one of River's bouts of madness (where she attacks Jayne with a knife) Mal has her confined to her quarters and only allowed out if accompanied by himself or Simon. Unlike most cases, River seems to willingly accept this limitation, as while confined to her room there's no lock or other restraint used. Later in Serenity, after a much more destructive round of violence, River is chained up in a locked storeroom, but subsequent events show that she only remained restrained because she knew the rest of the crew were terrified of her and could escape at any time.

Myths & Religion

Tabletop Games

  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Masks of Nyarlathotep, adventure "The Derbyshire Murders". Eloise Vane suffers from the Curse of the Vanes, which causes her to turn into a werewolf on nights with a full moon. On those nights Eloise's father and brother lock her away in the castle dungeons to prevent her from wandering around killing people.

Web Comics

  • In Girl Genius, the scene in the basement of Castle Heterodyne where Agatha has her minions strap her to an operating table during an experiment which required her to allow an earlier quasi-Demonic Possession to reassert itself. Unfortunately, some other helpers show up during the experiment, and don't understand why their dear friend is restrained, so they "help" her...
  • In The Order of the Stick, Roy has to bound and gag Durkon in the Wooden Forest so that he'd stop freaking out about trees and risk alerting the bandits.

 Durkon: (gagged) Mmph mrph mmmph mmf mrf mrrrph mrph!

Roy: I'm going to choose to attribute that comment to stress and not hold it against you in the future.


Western Animation

  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
    • In the "The Return of Harmony, Part 2", Twilight Sparkle has to find her friends and cast a spell to make them themselves again. Once she finds them, they have to be tied up in order for her to cast the spell because they won't stay still.
    • It happens again in "Hearts and Hooves Day," where the Cutie Mark Crusaders brew up a love potion in order to get Cheerilee and Big Macintosh together: it backfires dramatically as the two become obsessed with one another, and the only cure is to keep them apart for a whole hour. Sweetie Belle manages to barricade Cheerilee in the dressing room while she picks out her wedding dress; keeping Big Macintosh at bay, however, takes a bit more effort (and a hastily-dug pit trap).
  • In the Futurama episode "The Honking", Bender, who is turning into a "were-car", is bolted to the wall while Fry and Leela find a cure.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Haunted", the team start to think Robin is insane when he continuously claims to see his arch-enemy Slade when they can't. He threatens to hurt them if they get in the way of his hunt for Slade, so they knock them out and strap him down until they can find out what's wrong with him. As it turns out he'd inhaled a drug that affected his nervous system, meaning only he could see Slade and his body reacted to Slade's attacks as if they were real.
  • Happens twice to Batman in Batman the Animated Series, both as a result of the Scarecrow's toxins. The first time Bruce inhales a fear-inducing hallucinogen and is confined in Arkham Asylum while suffering various paranoid delusions, unable to convince his caretakers that the Scarecrow's plan is actually real. The second time, a fear-eliminating toxin turns him into a psychopath, and Robin ties him up against his will to protect his enemies.

Real Life

  • In the United States, a person can be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital on the grounds of likelihood of harm to themselves or others or grave disability, defined as inability to provide for one's own needs as a result of their mental disorder. Even when a patient voluntarily commits themselves, the environment in a mental institution is such that patients are unable to escape or harm themselves, with the purported goal of helping them get better.
  • Suicide watch in any form, which is basically restricting the watchee, if not outright confining them, so that he or she can't kill themselves. Of course, when this is done with death row prisoners, this veers more into Cruel Mercy territory.
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