Bits of Me Keep Passing Out

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Ford Prefect: You've just been through a matter transference beam ... How are you feeling?
Arthur Dent: Like a military academy. Bits of me keep passing out.

Someone experiences temporary paralysis or loss of muscle control, but tries to carry on with what they were doing regardless. Frequently, Hilarity Ensues - people losing control of their extremities is natural Slapstick fodder. Can also be Played for Drama as a mild form of Body Horror.

The causes vary - sometimes it's an aversion of Instant Sedation, where a sedative spreads gradually through the body knocking out muscles as it goes. Otherwise, can be a result of a Finger-Licking Poison, or just someone sleeping at a weird angle until their arm goes to sleep.

It's almost never a stroke (which produces such effects in real life), because that's not exactly comedy fodder - as the trope namer for Narm demonstrated, this isn't an easy trope to Play For Drama. However, see I Can't Feel My Legs for a related dramatic trope.

Expect accusations of being drunk if the character starts schlurring their worthss.

See also Intoxication Ensues and Non Sequitur Thud, which can also accompany this.

An Incredibly Lame Pun from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the Trope Namer (and page quote), but not an example.

Examples of Bits of Me Keep Passing Out include:

Anime and Manga

  • In all versions of Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed gets into a fight with a prisoner who's been tasked with guarding a secret room. During the fight, Ed's mechanical arm malfunctions and dangles loosely from the socket.
    • This also happens to various other characters whose souls have been attached to false bodies.


  • On the film version of Horton Hears a Who!, the Mayor is at the dentist when an earthquake (caused by the speck the Whos all live on moving) occurs, and the Novocaine needle ends up in his arm, which remains limp and useless for some time afterwards.
  • Johnny English, when the title character wakes up from being sedated and insists on carrying out his mission infiltrating a posh soiree despite not having fully regained muscle control. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Played for Drama in Kill Bill, when the Bride's legs (though oddly enough, only her legs) have wasted away from disuse.
  • Inverted and Played for Laughs in The Princess Bride, where it takes a while for Miracle Max's cure to fully take effect on Wesley, and Inigo and Fezzik have to carry him around while Storming the Castle as bits him are "waking up" one at a time.
  • In Rentadick, the MacGuffin is a gas that causes temporary paralysis. Towards the end of the movie, a pair of characters end up paralysed from the waist down and have to drive a truck, with one of them steering and the other on the floor working the pedals.
  • The Chosen One of Kung Pow! Enter the Fist is subjected to The Paralyzer, and then flails his arms around wildly trying to defeat Betty.
  • In Me, Myself & Irene, half of the protagonists body falls unconscious and the half that his split personality is controlling is attempting to "carry" the unconscious half to the car.
  • In Planet Terror one of the main characters is injected in her arms with a local anesthetic several times, causing her hands to become completely unresponsive. She ends up breaking her wrist attempting to get a car-door open...oddly enough she still feels the pain.


  • In the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Tie-in Novel The Doomsday Affair, Illya Kuryakin is injected with a serum that causes him to remain fully conscious, but lose muscle control and the ability to speak or write. The villains are able to kidnap him in plain view by explaining his struggles to concerned passersby as the result of a congenital brain defect.
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Luke Skywalker pulls one of the two power sources out of his artificial hand in order to use it to hotwire a locked door. For the rest of the first book, his hand keeps going numb at random times, often making him drop whatever he's holding at the time, and he apologizes and carries on. It's dropped when he gets out of the jungle, presumably with him getting a replacement power source offscreen.
  • Deconstructed in Feed, where the lower-grade neural implant that allows the heroine to access the titular feed glitches and eventually gives her locked-in syndrome.
  • Bizarre and Nightmare Fuel version with Quasiman from the Wild Cards universe. Bits and pieces of his body are constantly phasing/teleporting out into other dimensions, which can result in incidents such as his walking along only for one of his legs to teleport away, causing him to fall over, to the fact that various bits and pieces of his brain are almost constantly disconnected from the rest of him, sometimes temporarily leaving him akin to a drooling vegetable.

Live-Action TV

  • In an episode of sitcom Pete versus Life the main character was attempting Not Staying for Breakfast, but had a dead arm from the girl sleeping on top of it and was having trouble getting dressed with quite the level of stealth he wanted to.
  • "The Dentist Sketch" on The Carol Burnett Show in which a hapless dentist (Tim Conway) keeps accidentally injecting various parts of his body with Novocaine.
  • A somewhat different version of this occurs in the Doctor Who anniversary special The Five Doctors when the Doctor experiences sharp pains and is eventually incapacitated because his previous regenerations are being taken out of time.
    • A more straight forward example happend to the Doctor after he is poisoned in "Let's Kill Hitler".
  • On Mr. Bean, Bean's dentist keeps accidentally injecting himself with Novocaine until he passes out completely, forcing Bean to do his own dental work.
  • One prank on Prank Patrol involved a fake dentist who accidentally injected himself with Novocaine while working on the target.
  • A game of Weird Superheroes in Whose Line Is It Anyway has Ryan getting the name "Body-Parts-Constantly-Falling-Asleep Man".
  • In a case where it really is a stroke, this was how a line from Six Feet Under became the Trope Namer for Narm ("numb arm").
  • An interesting case is found in the last episodes of Babylon 5, where Londo is implanted with an alien symbiont that forces him to comply with all orders from his real masters. Having been a heavy drinker for most of his life, he can still think relatively clearly while the symbiont has passed out completely drunk.
  • On one Malcolm in the Middle episode, Hal has to decide whether or not to pull the plug on a man in a vegetative state. Unable to bear the pressure of the decision, Hal's mind forces him to become paralyzed from the waist up, so that he can't say or write what to do. He manages to get along surprisingly well using just his legs for everything.


  • The third act of Mary, Mary has Bob accidentally taking a bunch of sleeping pills.

Western Animation

  • Happens to all the contestants during the Africa episode of Total Drama World Tour as a result of the tranquilizer balls they are using in an attempt to subdue Zeke. And then they have to sing about it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka during the fight with Ty Lee, she was paralyzing his limb one by one yet he still tried to fight. Another similar accident happened when he was paralyzed by June's beast and just when he started to gain some control over his hand a pile of blocks falls onto him.

Real Life

  • Plato's description of the death of Socrates mention the last moments of the philosopher:

"... and he walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the directions, and the man who gave him the poison now and then looked at his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard, and asked him if he could feel; and he said, "No;" and then his leg, and so upwards and upwards, and showed us that he was cold and stiff. And he felt them himself, and said: "When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end..."