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The heroes of a story are suddenly ambushed but are shot with Tranquilizer Darts, or something with a similar effect, and not lethal weapons, because the ambushers want them alive.

Usually the scene will involve the darts coming out of nowhere before those being shot at even see their attackers. The heroes are walking along, when all the sudden - zip!, Alice goes down. Followed by Bob and Charlie, and the screen fades out.

Sub-Trope of I Want Them Alive. Often involves Instant Sedation

Examples of Knockout Ambush include:


Anime

  • Happens to Vanessa and Madlax in Madlax, when they are captured by Enfant.

Comic Books

  • Happened in an old issue of the Bionic Woman comic. Thugs shot Jamie Sommers, apparently killing her. Then the thugs mention that she was shot with "medicated wax pellets", drugging her into unconsciousness.

Film

Literature

  • In Firestarter, agents of The Shop capture Andy and Charlie McGee by shooting them with tranq darts from long range. Which was smart considering Andy can control minds and Charlie is pyrokinetic.

Live Action TV

  • Happened to Sheridan on Mars in an episode of Babylon 5. Subverted in that rather than just go down for the count, Sheridan is able to fight his attackers for a short time before succumbing to the tranquilizer patch that had been slapped on him by Garibaldi.
  • Frequently used in Heroes when taking down superhumans.
  • Happened on Lost when Michael leads Sawyer, Kate, Jack, and Hurley to the Others' camp. The Others ambush them from the trees using tranq darts, then gag them and put bags over their heads.
  • In My Name Is Earl, after Darnell is identified as a former secret agent, Earl and Randy keep being shot at with tranquilizer darts as a Running Gag.

Video Games

  • At one point in Half Life you're knocked out from behind by a couple of soldiers.
  • In Fallout 3 you are knocked out by a stun grenade from nowhere after recovering the G.E.C.K.
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