Restraining Bolt

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Pete/R2-D2: Man! This sucks!!
GM: Actually, you think it's awesome.

A gadget which firmly attaches a character's behavior to a plot. Implicit in the Restraining Bolt are both its unremovability and the desire of the Bolted to remove it posthaste.

A Restraining Bolt usually has an ethos distinctly different from that of its carrier, and the ability to impose that ethos on him when they have a difference of opinion. If the difference isn't too great, or is one mainly of magnitude rather than type, the Bolt and its "owner" can sometimes come to some manner of compromise. Such compromises, though, are never sure things.

In stories that employ Functional Magic, the Restraining Bolt can be a "Geas" — a magical compulsion. A particularly strong or willful Empathic Weapon can also act as a Restraining Bolt on its user.

Bolts are not limited to any given morality or side, and seldom are the ethical implications of these devices explored. At least they aren't so long as the good guys are the only ones using them.

If the Bolt exists just to power the character up when it's removed, it's I Am Not Left-Handed.

One common example of a Restraining Bolt is I Cannot Self-Terminate. A common technological equivalent is the Morality Chip. Compare with Power Limiter. Also see Explosive Leash, The Ludovico Technique, Shock Collar and Power Nullifier. An Obstructive Code of Conduct is a voluntary Restraining Bolt.

Named for the droid control devices from the Star Wars movies.

Examples of Restraining Bolt include:

Anime and Manga

  • The cursed seals placed on members of the Hyuuga branch family in Naruto, these act as a traditional restraining bolt in that they stop members of the branch family from harming (or in some cases thinking about harming) members of the head family, so that they remain a servant clan to the head family. And it also stops the devastating advanced bloodline of the Hyuuga family from getting into enemy hands, by sealing away the Byakugan when the wearer dies.
    • A recent chapter of the manga has revealed that Sai (and every other member of his black ops division) possesses another kind of Restraining Bolt, one that prevents him from disclosing any information about his boss. If he does, then the curse mark will paralyse him (and thus, render him unable to speak). It's been confirmed that all ROOT members' tongue seals vanished at the time of Danzo's death.
  • In Inuyasha, Kagome tricks the title character into donning a magical, non-removable necklace created by the priestess Kaede. The necklace's enchantment painfully forces Inuyasha to the ground (at times with enough force to crush wooden bridges or crater earth) when Kagome says "Osuwari!" ("Sit, boy!" in the English dub). Early in the series, she uses this ability in self-defense and to enforce morality on the Made of Iron half-demon, but later on it is invoked less frequently, and then, mainly to express pique (or if she's really drunk).
    • In the 3rd movie, a collision of several powerful forces actually breaks the necklace, causing it to fall apart into its component beads. Since the movies are not officially canon, however, the Reset Button is duly pressed in the final scene and the necklace goes back on, even though by that point it's no longer necessary.
    • His sword Tessaiga. Without it (if it's separated from him or if it breaks), Inuyasha's demon half sends him into an Unstoppable Rage and turns him into a mindless monster. Tessaiga was made so that this wouldn't happen to him (and the sword's a lot better than what he'd get for letting his demon half take over).
  • Mazinger Z: Mazinger-Z's Restraining Bolt is its pilot. It was implied in the original series and outright shown in Shin Mazinger Zero Mazinger Z has a Restraining Bolt: its pilot. If Mazinger lacks from a pilot controls and restrains its power, it can became a demon destroys the world. Mazinkaiser showed if the Humongous Mecha is not controlled, it simply goes berserker and destroys all it meets. Shin Mazinger Zero elaborated further on this, showing that if it is not piloted or it is piloted by someone is dominated by negative emotions (sadness, hurt, fury, hatred, helplessness...), Mazinger-Z evolves into an Eldritch Abomination and destroys the world.
    • Minerva-X's circuit partner. Without it, she would be unable to tell friend from foe and would go berserker.
  • The armor worn by the Humongous Mecha in Neon Genesis Evangelion serves the dual purpose of protective gear and Restraining Bolt.
    • Apparently it keeps the Evas from going berserk and killing everything, and instead forces them to obey orders from the pilots. Given that the Evas are the ultimate weapons, with minds of their own, and a very bloodthirsty inner nature, it's a fair notion. Although Unit-01 tends to go berserk whenever she feels like it anyway, and eventually is the one to break her armor off.
      • Imagine you made a clone of a physical god, then you surgically removed a portion of its spinal column to allow someone of your choice to control its actions, to use it in a war against its own kin. It is at least borderline sentient and quite aware of what you're doing during this process. Now imagine just how important keeping said physical god restrained would be. How far does this go? Their power source is missing, specifically so that if it gets out of control they can pull the plug and let the batteries run down. Oh, and don't ask about what happened to the originals, you won't like the answers. The first action taken by one when it has a limitless power supply is to break said restraints and allow itself to be hauled back into its cage, grinning with the knowledge that it is effectively unstoppable now.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 modified this a bit. Unit 02 has literal restraining bolts below the fins and along its back. When Mari removes these... holy shit. If berserk means "uh oh", Beast mode means "OH FUCK!!!"
  • Captain and vice-captain level shinigami of Bleach are forced to limit their power when operating in the real-world to avoid excessive collateral damage.
  • GaoGaiGar Final had the villains capture the main character and implant a mind-controlling Restraining Bolt that did, in fact, look like giant bolts.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch is given the power to give others an absolute order which they cannot disobey, essentially whatever type of Restraining Bolt he likes. He theorizes that if someone is given an order that they find completely repugnant or badly against their true nature, they could resist it a little, as seen when he accidentally orders his half-sister Euphemia to "kill all the Japanese" and she resists at first, but eventually gives in. Merely ordering someone to kill himself or herself is not nearly sufficient to invoke this; the order has to be truly against the very nature of the person in question.
    • The final episode offers a little more proof for Lelouch's theory: He orders his sister-turned-opponent Nunnally to hand over the controls to the Kill Sat Damocles. She fights it for about a minute before the Geass wins out and she hands it over with a cheerful smile on her face, and after the effects wear off, she's beyond upset at what happened.
    • Best display of this is the geass that Lelouch gives to Suzaku to "Live"! Suzaku is highly suicidal and tries to get himself killed in many dangerous situations. Due to his geass he is unable to allow himself to die which results in his nuking of Tokyo settlement.
  • The titular demon of the manga Nora has a habit of coming up with various iterations of "(His) Ingenious Plan" to take the remote control for his particular bolt from the boy to whom he's been bound. Most of these are single-step plans involving things like dropping rocks on the kid while he's asleep or making him fall into hastily-dug holes. Since Nora's 'victim' is a Magnificent Bastard-in-training, it's safe to say that Failure Is the Only Option.
  • After her first appearance, Victoria in Franken Fran has a chip put in her head that jolts her severely if she gets violent. Fran, her "sister" and the person who put the chip in there, has hopes that it will teach the kill-crazy Victoria to appreciate life. The odds of that are pretty low.
  • Moka's titular Rosario in Rosario + Vampire, as well as Tsukune's holy lock in the manga.
  • Kamen no Maid Guy has a subversion; Naeka is given a Maid Guy Whistle, which causes Kogarashi unspeakable pain, and aside from prolonged beatings is the only way to control him. She breaks it first thing next episode.
  • Demons in Chrono Crusade are often subject to geas cast on them by their masters. It first shows up when Lerajie is contracted to Azmaria's foster father, but uses Azmaria's powers to break free from it. Later in the manga, it's revealed that Pandaemonium has the ability to cast geas on demons because their horns connect them to her. Aion and the rest of the sinners tear out their own horns to keep themselves from being controlled by her.
  • The School Curse thingy that Evangeline is under in Mahou Sensei Negima doubles as a power limiter in sealing her magic power and (apparently) the majority of her shinso powers as well. But as for this trope, it forces her to attend a middle school full of... well, full of Negima characters. And also prevents her from causing chaos. The only way for her to get free is if A. Nagi breaks the curse B. The principal constantly signs forms to let her leave campus, letting her automatically regain her powers C. The school barrier is destroyed, which is generally far too difficult to take down to be practical. Even though it happens at least twice. She doesn't get her magic unless she stops being a jerk.
    • Actually the School Curse prevents her from leaving the Mahora campus, and the school barrier limits her powers (its purpose is to limit the powers of any monstrously powerful being on campus, and Eva qualifies). The school barrier has been shut down twice in the manga, once during a power maintenance black-out, and again as part of Chao's scheme. Eva didn't take advantage of the second instance.
      • That we know about or that has yet become apparent. During the "bad future" period, it's commented in the manga that she's out of Chachamaru's detection range. She certainly had most of a week for vacation time, and had knowledge of and exploitable access to some of the time travel methods used in that arc.
  • Senri's eyepatch in +Anima acts as a restraining bolt
  • Also used in Saiyuki by those members of the team who need them (although they do gain more power making it partly I Am Not Left-Handed)
  • The Tachikoma walking tanks in Ghost in the Shell have a literal restraining bolt covering their chin-mounted projectile weapons, which can only be removed by human(oid) personnel. As far as the trope is concerned, said bolts are artifacts of the numerous physical and procedural limitations placed on the Tachikomas, given that they're just smart enough to get into trouble.
  • Similarly, Macross introduces this trope in its newest incarnation. In Macross Plus, the Big Bad protected itself by hijacking the Ghost X-9 Attack Drone prototype. In the later Macross Frontier, Luca's AIF-7S drones are equipped with a "Judah System" that slaves the drones to his ELINT Valkyrie, essentially rendering the drones into a remote-controlled appendage. When he disengages the system in the final battle in response to the enemy deploying Ghost V-9s, the drones turn into Flash Stepping Lightning Bruisers and proceed to open a can on the Ghosts.

Luca: Simon, John, Peter... I will now unlock your chains. (cue Rapid-Fire Typing) Show the power that once plunged Macross City into the depths of terror! Judah System, RELEASE!

  • During the FRLG arc of Pokémon Special, Giovanni shows that he is Crazy Prepared as he claimed that he didn't expect Mewtwo to show up and try to kill him, but he apparently always brings around with him a special suit specifically meant to restrain Mewtwo and limit its massive power.
  • In Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-hen, Baron Ashura and several of Dr. Hell's other minions were modified to never attack Dr. Hell or his assistant. Viscount Pygamon promptly bypassed this by gouging out his own eyes.
  • All inmates of the titular Deadman Wonderland are fitted with a collar that contains multiple devices to ensure obedience to the prison. This forces criminals of all sorts to participate in deadly contests and humiliating shows to avoid death by a poison being injected into them.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima's primary motivation for capturing the loose souls is to prevent the collar around his neck from exploding and killing him. In order to do that, though, he must make women fall in love with him in order to get them out of hiding. To complicate things, Keima believes that the real world is flawed and spends most of his time playing Visual Novels.
  • This shows up a few times in the Dragon Ball series the first is in "Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan" in which Paragus Broly's father has his scientists create a head band which restrains Broly's psychotic tendencies eventually seeing Goku (whom he has a ridiculous grudge against) causes his power to rise and destroy the device, and Kid Buu in the Majin Buu saga anyone he had an attachment to namely Mr. Satan is off limits for him to kill as long as Fat Buu is inside his body, once he spits him out he is no longer restrained from attacking him.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Touma's right arm holds Imagine Breaker whose ability cancels the effects of any magic, esper, and divine abilities to which it comes in contact. This also means he can neither be affected by nor can he use any magic, esper, or divine abilities. Think about it.
  • In chapter 474 of Bleach, Ginjo reveals that the Substitute Shinigami Badge is actually a Restraining Bolt that Soul Society uses to monitor and control humans with especially powerful reiatsu like Ichigo and Ginjo.
  • Riki's Pet Ring in Ai no Kusabi was used a restraining bolt by Iason if Riki misbehaved.

Comic Books

  • In Neil Gaiman's recent[when?] redo of The Eternals, said Eternals are hardwired by their creators, the Celestials, so that they can't bring themselves to physically harm a Celestial or they completely psychologically shut down. Even if they're not aware the thing they're about to attack is a Celestial, this works.
  • In PS238, Zodon, is a child who's an evil Gadgeteer Genius and aspiring Big Bad, with a mouth like a drunken sailor... until he was fitted with a "Barry Ween" chip, replacing profanity with such terms as "Finland!" or "Gurgling piece of pot roast!", and larger strings of profanity with Rodgers and Hammerstein show tunes. And "Seventy six trombones", which sounds... oddly appropriate in this context.
  • Warren Ellis' run on Thunderbolts was a Boxed Crook scenario, where, faced with the task of keeping people like Bullseye and Venom in line, team leader Norman Osborn had the team injected with Nanomachines that could fry their nervous systems if they disobeyed orders.
    • Brought back for Jeff Parker's run, with modifications: this time, the nanites can incapacitate painlessly or painfully. Most of the time, the 'painless' option is used, but one rogue member gets hold of a nanite controller, and activates the painful version. Eventually, it gets turned on him.
  • Golden Age Wonder Woman's bracelets weren't just for deflecting bullets. It wasn't just that if they were bound together, she lost her powers. If she took them off, she went crazy.
  • Claude McGinty in the ending of Hollow Fields as the heroes are leaving the school, it turns out that he has had a device planted in him (thanks to his previous attempt to escape) that prevents him from leaving. Even though he insists that they leave with him, he ends up being part of the motivation for the protagonists' I Choose to Stay.
  • A logic-based version occurs in the Squadron Supreme limited series. The members of the Institute of Evil were brainwashed to be loyal and obedient to the Squadron. Subsequently, several occasions arise where Institute members are unable to alert the Squadron about suspicious events because it would conflict with their orders.
  • In Hackmasters of Everknight, "You are all now bound by Luvia to return the Key of Grawdyng to the Temple of Nudor at all cost..." " And you must be nice to me."
  • In the IDW Transformers Ongoing comics, Megatron has a small group of Decepticons called "Phase Sixers," each one stronger than Megatron and charged with annihilating all life left on a planet after the Decepticons are through with it. Megatron has some kind of Restraining Bolt on each one - Sixshot had a Trigger Phrase to immobilize him, and Overlord was given a computer virus that prevented him from formulating strategies against Megatron. Megatron explains the concept rather well when Starscream (then acting as Megatron's bodyguard) questioned the sanity of keeping Sixshot around:

Starscream: "If Sixshot were to turn his considerable arsenal against you, I - may not be able to protect you."
Megatron: "Starscream, Starscream. You are so achingly naive. Firstly, your presence at my side is largely for show. I can protect myself. And secondly, do you seriously think I would set in motion a living weapon if I did not have the off switch?"

  • In the Planet Hulk storyline Hulk and other gladiators were implanted with a restraining disc, which forced them to follow orders. In World War Hulk, those he felt had wronged him got to wear one too.
  • The title character of Zombo wears a pair of speedos through which, should be prove troublesome, Miss Handler can deliver an electric shock to his testicles. Obmoz instead has nanobots in his blood which force him to obey all orders, though it hurts him to do so.

Fan Works

  • Similar to the Inuyasha example, if Vash of Christian Humber Reloaded drops or breaks Tetsume, his (apparently more) ruthless side takes over and he goes on a killing spree. This, the name of the sword, the fact that he repairs it with one of his fangs, and that Inuyasha is one of many works referenced in this fic, led the author of the webcomic to note the connection in the author's notes.


  • The title character in RoboCop has psychological conditioning, notably the "Prime Directives". Messing with these completely screws with Robo in several of the films and the TV series. The directives are coded into his cybernetics, not his brain, which allows him to attempt to defy them; in the second movie, when the OCP team loads him full of additional directives to make him more Politically Correct, he uses a loophole (the new directives don't say he can't attempt to remove the new directives) to erase them all by taking a trip to the nearest electrical box. EEPROM, meet Detroit Edison.
    • In the original film, the Prime Directives are innocent enough -- "serve the public trust", "protect the innocent", "uphold the law"—except one that's "(classified)", only revealed to Robocop when he tries to violate it ("never oppose an OCP officer"). He finally gets around it by revealing it to the head of OCP, who promptly fires the Big Bad.
  • Mystery Men: The Bowler's ball, containing the soul and skull of her dead father, compelled her to avenge his death. At the end of the film, she asks it if she can finally go back to grad school now.
  • In the Star Wars franchise, in addition to a literal restraining bolt once used on R2-D2, droids often complain that their programming prohibits them from doing something. C-3PO, for example, complains that he is forbidden by his programming from impersonating a deity. Needless to say, they have no trouble overcoming it when the plot requires so.
    • The above mentioned "impersonating a deity" example implies that perhaps there are different levels of programming in a droid, for example: A. Things the droid can do of its own volition (its primary function), B. Things a droid can do only when specifically ordered (impersonating a deity, "letting the Wookie win," etc.), and C. Things a droid can't do even if ordered (killing).
      • The restriction concerning impersonating a deity doesn't seem to be a "restraining bolt" issue so much as programming. C3P0 says that it's against his programming and wouldn't be proper (which makes sense considering he's a protocol droid), but when Luke specifically tells him to do it, he does so. Therefore, it doesn't seem to be forbidden so much as undesirable. A better example of restraining bolt use on C3P0 is in A New Hope, when he's hiding after R2-D2 took off looking for Ben Kenobi (after having tricked Luke into removing his own resatraining bolt earlier). Luke calls for C3P0 and when he doesn't respond, pushes a button that causes Threepio to jump out like he'd been shocked.
    • The Expanded Universe gives all droids (except "fourth-degree", or combat, droids) what is plainly meant to be an echo of the Three Laws of Robotics, including being forbidden to harm an organic sentient and to obey all orders from the owner (the obvious conflict being fixed by a droid having to inform its master immediately if given an order that is against its programming). The ability for fourth-degree droids to fight and kill makes their remaining coding and the laws governing them that much more stringent.
      • KotOR 2 demonstrates how trying to circumvent ethics programming is very dangerous—showing a droid that he's been unknowingly and unwittingly harming people for years could cause him to shut down and die completely... or it could give him the strength of will to begin ignoring his ethical programming entirely (because it has been proven to him that they don't matter). This is why droids have frequent memory wipes to prevent them from becoming too aware of their surroundings and the consequences of their actions.
    • Droids can also be built and programmed without such restraints. It's shown to be a bad idea with the activation of the assassin droid IG-88, who proceeded to kill the scientists who created him, activate his three "brothers" and an older IG-72 droid, and plots a robot revolution for universal domination.
  • The 'V' chip fitted to Eric Cartman in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut prevents him from using rude words (and some not so rude words) by giving him a nasty electric shock every time he uses one ("I can't say 'pissed off'?!" zzzaaaapppp!). Needless to say, he wants rid of it ASAP - however, it comes in surprisingly handy at the end when defeating the Big Bad. (In addition, apparently saying "Barbra Streisand" is enough to give him a massive jolt.)
  • Sam Hell (Rowdy Roddy Piper) in not-so-cult-classic Hell Comes To Frogtown had his balls clamped with a codpiece bomb that would detonate if he defied the government's order to rescue some hot women from captivity and have steamy, procreational sex with them.
  • Demolition Man's Simon Phoenix can't kill Chessmaster Raymond Cocteau. He proceeds to order unrestrained convicts to do it instead.


  • In The Will of the Empress, Shan implies in a very squicky way that "There are ways to make mage wives obey you."
  • In Alan Dean Foster's For Love Of Mother-Not, the Meliorare Society threatens to implant some of these in Mother Mastiff and young Flinx, in order to gain control of the latter's psychic abilities.
  • Ira Levin's novel This Perfect Day gives everyone a restraining bolt in the form of genetic engineering and mandatory medical treatments to force them to act unselfishly, non-violently, and to generally be quiet, peaceful, helpful members of The Family. The treatments also greatly reduce the sex drive and most other emotions.
    • One of Stanislaw Lem's books, Return From the Stars, has a very similar kind of backstory. The restraining bolt here is a treatment administered to children that results in elimination of violent impulses, and a drug further reducing sex drive is traditionally served men while dating. There's a drug temporarily reversing the effects of conditioning - it's used when a little romanticism or hurt is needed. The leading character and his best buddy are astronauts who spent the last Earth century or two participating in NAFAL spaceship mission and now have to accommodate.
  • Older Than Steam: The classic Chinese novel Journey to the West has the Monkey King Sun Wukong bound by a circlet that is used to inflict excruciating pain whenever a particular mantra is chanted. This was meant to act as a safeguard against Sun Wukong's capricious nature. (In the hentai doujinshi Secret Journey, the female Monkey has hers placed... elsewhere.)
  • Alex in A Clockwork Orange undergoes a procedure that conditions him to become physically ill when thinking about violence or sex, and also unintentionally when hearing his favorite music. It causes him to become defenseless against his vengeful victims and arguably makes him less human than his psychopathic rapist self by stripping him of his free will.
  • The enchanted sword Need from the Heralds of Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey. It bonded itself to its bearer's soul, and before it fully "awoke", it could and would force its bearer to ride miles to defend a woman in danger, regardless of what the bearer wanted to do. (However, all the bearers we see willingly choose to take it up, because it also provides significant benefits.)
    • It also acted as an actual Restraining Bolt, preventing its user from harming women. One villain even exploited it to his advantage, after having been turned into a woman.
  • Asimov's Laws of Robotics, though very few robots want to be free of them.
    • Some robots, however, managed to "re-interpret" the laws and come up with the Zeroth Law: A robot cannot harm humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. This essentially resulted in a "needs of the many" situation, where a robot would deem some human casualties acceptable to protect the greater whole. Needless to say, humans did not like being told what to do in the stories where this came up.
      • Which is why, on the whole, the robots didn't tell the humans that they were being told what to do. R. Daneel Olivaw, especially, used mechanical telepathy both to influence humans in the direction he desired and to make those who discovered this conspiracy unwilling or unable to reveal it.
  • Golems in the Discworld series appear to be governed by laws similar to the Laws of Robotics.
    • "A golem cannot harm a human" unless their writings include the addendum: "unless ordered to do so by duly constituted authority."
  • The title character of the book and movie Ella Enchanted is given, at birth, the "gift" of obedience, and she has to do whatever she is told, provided the order is given in a language she understands. (And she's an Instant Expert at languages.)
  • The Oath Rod in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series enforces the Three Oaths the Aes Sedai vow on it.
    • Wheel of Time also has the a'dam collars, which are used to control those who can channel magic. The collar prevents them from using their power or engaging in violent actions without permission, among other things.
  • The Cyborg And The Sorcerers by Lawrence Watt-Evans. The protagonist has brain implants, including an explosive; the computer-controlled ship he's paired with uses this and its radio control to make him do things he'd rather not do.
  • In the first four Dorian Hawkmoon novels by Michael Moorcock, the title character has a black jewel implanted in his forehead by the evil empire of Granbretan (geddit?) which not only acts as a spy camera, relaying everything he sees to the Granbretanians, but acts as an incentive for him to do their evil work, because it will eat his brain if he disobeys.
  • Cugel, from Vance's novels about Dying Earth once had a creature Firx implanted in his guts by Iucounu the Laughing Magician so said Cugel could make a quest on behalf of said mage.
  • In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, the Sisters of the Light collar young wizards with devices called Rada'Hans that keep them from accessing their power. Unfortunately for the Sisters, the devices are unisex.
    • And then there's the Mord-Sith, who can turn a person's own magic against them, as well as carrying good-old fashioned magic sticks that inflict pain when they touch you.
      • Well, you have to attack the Mord-Sith before they can use your magic against you, and the Agiel give anybody who touches them great pain (including the Mord-Sith who wield them). And we wont go into the training regimen.
    • Richard's Magic also is subject to his own need or knowledge, In Temple of the Winds, he knows everything about magic, and can essentially do anything. Normally it only works if you piss him off enough, or if Kahlan is in danger, in which case he will chase you across the world, erase you from existence if you get in the way, and damage whatever he's around until he has her back.
  • In John C. Wright's Chaos Trilogy (Orphans of Chaos, Fugitives of Chaos, and Titans of Chaos), much of the first two books is taken up with the main characters' attempts to work out the Restraining Bolt on each of them and how to remove them. (This is not eased by repeatedly having Laser-Guided Amnesia inflicted on them.)
  • In the later books in the Ender's Game series, we learn of a society of geniuses, based on modern Chinese culture. To prevent them from becoming too powerful, the government has genetically altered some people to experience extreme OCD. One character, for instance, is compelled to trace every line in the floorboards of a room. They believe that this process is inflicted by their ancestors, and will honor anybody who experiences the compulsions.
    • Also in Ender's Shadow, the government employs a psychological technique to cause extreme anxiety in people who have very dangerous knowledge when they think about the knowledge. It is considered more humane than execution or life imprisonment.
  • Case, the decker in Neuromancer, is cured of mycotoxin-induced neural damage so he can do the hacking needed for the assignment—and has time-release sacs of the toxin put into his system so that if he refuses, or doesn't do it in time, his recently-cured damage will all be inflicted on him again.
  • In Garth Nix's Sabriel, Mogget is a natural force which is generally chaotic. However, he is restrained by a magical collar that makes him help Sabriel... until it's taken off.
  • A sort of cross between a restraining bolt and explosive collar is placed on Corellian Security agent Hal Horn in the Star Wars novella Interlude at Darknell. The device is a collar, but it doesn't explode—upon a transmitted signal, it constricts. Horn was deemed to be of no further use to Imperial agent Ysanne Isard, who tried to kill him, but he proved otherwise. She relented and gave him a stay of execution, but affixed the collar to ensure that he complied with her orders.
  • In the Uglies series Pretties were implanted with lesions on their brains that made them less resistant to authority, and a little lazier.
  • In the Codex Alera, discipline collars are devices originally intended to control dangerous prisoners by inflicting extreme pain on their wearers whenever they disobeyed orders by the person who placed it on them, and give them extreme pleasure when they follow orders. Naturally, this became swiftly abused by slavers in the southern reaches of Alera. One character described it as actually being quite "pleasant," as long as you don't mind constantly screaming on the inside of your mind. The discipline collar can only be removed with the living blood of the one who first attached it; this becomes a plot point at the end of the first book as a woman who was collared seeks out the man who enslaved and raped her and forces him to release her and then leaves him with scalps taken from the heads of the Proud Warrior Race Guys, who promptly eat him alive for his "crime." Later on in the series, it is noted that discipline collars only work one at a time; collaring someone who is already collared by a different person will have no effect. Amara takes advantage of this when infiltrating a city where a traitor has been using collars on powerful citizens by having her husband attach a collar to her leg, out of sight, and not give her any orders. She is captured later on, but when the traitor puts a collar on her, she is free to act and assassinates him when he lets his guard down.
  • In the series Rogue Agent, "shadbolts" are commonly used by criminals to make it physically impossible to confess, but can also be used to magically control another person.
  • Labyrinths of Echo
    • The Earring of Oxalla is a magical trinket that activates if the wearer tries to use magic above its threshold level, giving the fit of pain sufficient to cause possibly-fatal shock. The earring is a solid ring of metal inserted through flesh, so its installation requires an appropriate spell, and removal requires a different spell, more obscure and of course far above the used values of trigger threshold. In the Codex Epoch Utility Magic allowed to anyone in public places is up to 2nd level of black and 3rd of white magic, slightly more in private; the special dispensation for cooks allowed to use up to 20th in a kitchen, on the condition they get the earring — more than enough for all but the rarest cooking magic, and to dub the time after this decree "the Epoch of Good Food". Relatively few people can reliably use much stronger magic anyway, even near the Heart of the World, but this allows to be sure they won't try anything really dangerous. This was the first and only mass usage, earlier earrings were mostly used on magical Order acolytes, and even then rarely: while bad self-control is the problem #1 for them, usually its danger is involuntary casting in their sleep rather than temptations.
    • There are various non-disclosure spells, with effects from compulsions to instant death, though even mild ones tend to interact violently with magic that bypasses the subject's will one way or another to retrieve the information.

Live Action TV

  • The chip implanted in Spike to keep him from attacking humans via Pavlovian conditioning, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Once Badass Decay had made it virtually superfluous, a "counter-bolt" was employed by the Big Bad in the form of a tune which (due to its specific connection to the character) could cause him to revert to his old ways for a time.
    • All of Spike's various restraining bolts were Lampshaded in season 7, when Buffy and Giles attempt to explain the situation to newcomer Robin Wood

Giles: Well, uh, it's a ... long story.
Buffy: The military put a chip in Spike's head so he couldn't hurt anyone.
Giles: And that would be the abridged version.
Buffy: But he wouldn't hurt anyone anymore because he has a soul now.
Giles: Unless the First triggers him again.
Robin: Triggers the chip?
Buffy: No, the trigger's a post-hypnotic thing. The First put it in his head. It was ... made him ... . He was killing again.
Robin: So, he has a trigger, a soul, and a chip?
Giles: Not anymore!
Buffy: It was killing him, Giles!
Robin: The trigger?
Buffy: No, the chip. The trigger's not active anymore.
Robin: Because the military gave him a soul?

      • In the last season, the bolt also lessened in how effective it was, for the sake of comedy or plot. Originally if Spike so much as tried to attack someone, he'd be sent to the ground writhing in pain. Later on, he outright hits people, and the only consequence is a sharp, short jolt of pain.
  • Gan's limiter in Blakes Seven , which malfunctions in one episode. This made it impossible for him to actually kill anyone and was implanted by the Federation after he killed one of their officers (who had killed his girlfriend). In one case, it prevented from killing some actual threats.
  • The Asurans in Stargate Atlantis couldn't attack Ancients or humans with the Ancient technology gene until Rodney McKay modified their programming, opening them to make further modifications.
    • And at the beginning of season 9 on Stargate SG-1, Vala tricks Daniel into wearing one of a pair of bracelets which they can't take off and which will make them pass out if they're apart. He is not amused.
      • The Asgard and Gou'ould have a treaty which acts like a contractual restraining bolt. Preventing the Gou'ould from attacking Earth directly as well as the Asgard from directly assisting them. This is rarely brought up except with the plot demands it.
  • In Farscape Scorpius puts a "neural chip" into John's brain. The effect is John involuntarily sharing headspace with a "mental clone" of Scorpius, which the media-savvy John names Harvey. John mostly manages to dominate and use Harvey, although their relationship is complicated. One of Harvey's goals is to keep John alive for Scorpius, but another goal is to restrain John from attacking Scorpius...
    • Also in Farscape, the Peacekeepers keep control of Leviathan 'living ships' (such as Moya) by fitting them with a 'Control Collar'. These collars prevent Leviathans from attempting starburst, allow their will to be overridden (possibly even by remote), and can cause serious health problems for those Leviathans that have ever been fitted with them. Naturally, Moya loses hers in the first episode.
  • Primeval has Oliver Leek gathering 40 or so Future Predators and fitting "Neural Clamps" to stop them harming him or Helen. An d...
  • The Cylon Centurions on the new Battlestar Galactica have "Telencephalic inhibitors" that prevent them from developing free will. One guess as to why this is even mentioned.
  • Mutant X have a version injected into the back of the neck, no less.
  • The new version of the Cybermen in Doctor Who have a circuit which keeps the formerly-human Cybermen from feelings. When deactivated, they die of grief, to say the least.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Inverted, with Data; in the sense that he could be considered to have a Restraining Bolt when his emotion chip is not installed/activated. The installation of the chip (and thus, the removal of the Restraining Bolt) didn't make him evil; it usually just caused him to make extremely lame and annoying attempts at comedy.
  • Voyager's Seven of Nine didn't seem to have any Restraining Bolts at first, but as she got more in touch with her emotions, she eventually hit a failsafe preventing Borg drones from doing exactly that. The Doctor managed to remove it later.
    • In The Chute, prisoners Paris and Kim have "neural implants" designed to make them more aggressive. The intent was that a populace that were often at each others throats would dedicate less effort towards trying to escape. As an added bonus, no tears would be shed if they opened space up for more prisoners.
  • Painkiller Jane has Neuros "chipped" to remove their powers. A simple injector to the back of the head is all it takes.
  • Babylon 5 has the Drakh Keepers, and the "Asimov" that Bester implants in Garibaldi's brain. What Bester did was make the person obey Asimov's First Law of Robotics with respect to himself—no harming him and no standing by while anything else harms him.
    • Which does nothing to prevent Garibaldi from using his wealth to secretly fund rogue telepaths, a big thorn in Bester's backside.
    • He also actively helps the police track down Bester in Paris after the Telepath War in order to put him behind bars.
  • An unusual variation on this trope appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Attached". Capt. Picard and Doctor Crusher were captured by rebels on a planet whose majority race had petitioned for Federation membership (they didn't get it due to prejudicial attitudes toward the minority race). While imprisoned, they're fitted with implants that broadcast their life-signs to their captors so that they can be easily found when they make their escape. The implants also result in Picard and Crusher being unable to remain further than ten meters apart without feeling violently ill, and broadcasting their own thoughts to each other; before the episode ends, Crusher discovers that Picard was once in love with her, and may still be.
  • Half the premise of White Collar (the other half is Ho Yay).
  • One trial on Law and Order, in which a gun manufacturer was charged with abetting a mass murder, showed how easily the Restraining Bolt on a submachine gun could be disabled, allowing it to operate as an illegal full-auto weapon. Documents suggesting that the manufacturer also encouraged gun shops to make "repair kits" available to customers, with all the necessary components for disabling the weapon's Restraining Bolt, were a key piece of evidence.

Tabletop Games

  • In In Nomine, all angels have certain restrictions on their behavior that cause "dissonance," which leads angels to become outcast or fall. For example, the Seraphim, who can tell when a person is lying, are forbidden from lying themselves, and the "friends of man" Mercurians are unable to be violent towards anyone but demons. Notable among these are the warrior angel Malakim, who swear certain oaths (two mandatory and at least two additional personal ones) and breaking said oaths causes them dissonance. They're also the only choir that has never had a member fall (although if that's because it's impossible or because they police themselves so well remains to be seen.) Demons can also suffer from dissonance, but it's usually a result of their own powers backfiring on them. In addition, most Archangels (except Eli) and all Demon Princes lay down additional conditions under which their servants can acquire dissonance.

Both angels and demons can eventually suffer Discord (a scar on the soul, which may show up as a physical abnormality, a psychological hang-up, or a spiritual problem; all three types are highly unpleasant) if their dissonance levels grow too high, or may even be confronted by their respective internal security forces. For angels, this is led by Dominic, Archangel of Judgment; for demons Asmodeus, Prince of The Game is in charge. Neither one is exactly merciful (Dominic is only a little bit more understanding, but not by much), and may simply decide to execute an angel or demon if they decide he/she/it has too much dissonance.

  • Dungeons & Dragons has the standard Geas spell, which compels a subject to carry out a service or action and drains their strength if they resist. It also has Mark of Justice, a spell that curses the subject if they carry out a forbidden action (See the Order of the Stick example in the Webcomics section.)
    • Intelligent magic items can also temporarily supplant the user's will, with success depending on the relative power of the item and the character.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 roleplay game Rogue Trader mentions Volitor Implants, literal restraining bolts implanted into servants to cause unconsciousness or death (depending on the settings) if certain actions are attempted (such as escaping captivity, turning on their masters or revealing classified information).
  • In Paranoia, many bots would love to ditch those pesky asimov circuits forcing them to follow orders. Naturally, said orders prevent them from just removing the things themselves (plus they may be built so they physically can't reach them), but sufficiently cunning bots can find a way:

Suck-R: What's wrong with you?
Jackobot: *flails arms* My control circuits are malfunctioning. Could you remove the fifth motherboard on my left side?
Suck-R: *pulls it out* This one?
Jackobot: *stops flailing* Thank you. *CRUNCH*

Video Games

  • In the Super Robot Wars series Ingram Prisken's will is tied down (the anime adaptation takes this literally) by the Balmarian empire so he can be used to take over the earth. To free himself he prevents Villeta Badam, an Opposite Gender Clone (Ingram was a part of a series of clones), from having her will tied down so he can use her as a Reverse Mole. In Alpha he can break free, but in Original Generation he can't and trains the SRX group to kill him so he can no longer be used by the Balmarian empire.
  • Halaster's Geas spell in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark.
  • Baldur's Gate 2: If you are traveling with a particular NPC in your party, the Elven community will be less than impressed by their presence and insists that they undergo a Geas of Obedience before allowing them to help the Player Character as they quest for an Elven artifact. The NPC in question doesn't find it particularly amusing, as (depending on your relationship with them at this point) the Player Character is allowed to mock and abuse them completely without retaliation!
    • Another character, meanwhile, is put on a geas by the Big Bad, that'll grant him a painful death if he ever disobeys him. If he's still in the party after a certain point of the game, he will instantly betray the player, though against his will. Even if he isn't currently in the party, he will become unavailable after that point.
  • Romancing SaGa: The powers of the Goddess of Darkness: Schirach are sealed away by a Cosmic Keystone, allowing her to live as a human Said Cosmic Keystone is removed from her finger by her own will after meeting the heroes and said heroes lives' were threatened by the one of the Goldfish Poop Gang. Her powers are unleashed and she destroys the threat instantaneously leaving you with the Cosmic Keystone. You later fight Schirach as a Bonus Boss; she asks you to end her existence so that her powers cannot be used for evil purposes again
  • Terran Ghosts in StarCraft are altered to keep them loyal. It also has the convenient side-effect of keeping them from becoming too powerful. Kerrigan gets the green light by the Overmind to learn how to break the restraining bolt to better serve the Swarm during the first Zerg campaign. Spectres, meanwhile, automatically blow their restraining bolt when they become Spectres... which may be why Nova, who is still under hers, insists that they are a case of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
    • Most of the Terran ground troops are Restraining Bolted felons, hence the Starcraft 2 trailer depicting a guy getting defrosted from permanent deep-freeze and welded into a Marine suit. Marines, for example, actually have aggression inhibitors which, presumably, are neural implants keep them from doing things like flying into rampant homicidal rage.
      • Hilariously, clicking on a marine too much makes them scream how "[they're] gonna blow an aggression inhibitor", as their frustration with the player reaches a peak.
    • There seems to be a running gag of sorts in Starcraft books where a perfectly ordinary soldier is revealed to have been a serial killer before the conditioning. For example, Liberty's Crusade has a female officer who used to lure men to her home and torture them for days before skinning them alive. When she is trapped by a group of Zerglings, her conditioning breaks, resulting with her going Ax Crazy on them.
      • Similarly, Firstborn has a friendly Marine called Marcus who used to be a cannibal. In order to escape the ship he is held in, Jake (and the Protoss piggybacking on his mind) performs a minor Mind Rape on Marcus, undoing his conditioning. The results are very Nightmare Fuellerrific but at least Marcus was nice enough to thank Jake and tell him to stay out of his way because he is feeling hungry.
      • Marcus then kills everyone by shutting off life support on the ship. Luckily, Jake and RM are no longer on the ship. However, most of Jake's friends and colleagues were on the ship.
  • Shows up in various levels throughout the 3D Fallout games.
    • In Fallout 3, Wadsworth, the player's robot butler in Megaton will greet them with a cheery "How can I serve you, Master?" and a mumbled "Not that I want to."
    • Robobrains seem to have Bolts that make them more aggressive, as their combat dialogue varies from hassled ("They could have programmed me to love, but no!") to sympathetic ("Well, I am trying to kill you!").
    • One is inflicted on the player character in the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues. The "pacification field" of the Big MT keeps the player from drawing a weapon in the Think Tank until the main quest is (nearly) resolved.
    • The literal Explosive Leash that factors so centrally in the Dead Money DLC is also a crude version. Prone to outside interference, at that.
  • The Touhou character Rumia wears on her hair a small ribbon (actually some kind of amulet) that, according to her official profile, she can't touch. It's broadly rumored among fans that the amulet-ribbon is some kind of "seal", and that taking it off will release her true power... in some doujins she becomes EX-Rumia, in which form she has wings and wields a giant sword.
  • In Xenogears, Solaris uses a device called a Limiter to exert control over the world's population. Almost everyone in the world carries a Limiter, and among its effects, it limits a person's ability to utilize their full combat potential and instills a subconscious fear of Solaris' ruling body to prevent future uprisings.
  • Xenosaga Episode I: Andrew Cherenkov is given "personality reconditioning" to inhibit his murderous tendencies; this reconditioning shows itself as Hebrew letters on his forehead when he is under extreme emotions. However, life insists on serving him up lemons, and eventually even the highest level of reconditioning is overcome by his anger.
  • One of the many things Solid Snake's nanites can do in Metal Gear Solid is shut down his ability to fire weapons. It's only ever used in one area, where doing so would not be a very good idea anyway, but Snake is still understandably displeased to learn that his superiors can do that. Especially since the particular person doing it turns out to not like him very much at all.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 takes this to the logical extreme: soldiers in battle all have nanites. If your nanites don't match the nanites registered to a gun, it won't shoot. Period. As a result, Snake has to have most of his guns "laundered", with the ID chip replaced with a blank one, so that he can use it.
  • In Fable II, you get one of these on you during the "Hero of Will" quest. Slightly different in that you can disobey orders given to you, but it will shock you and drain your experience points. Since your orders are things like "don't feed the prisoners" and "stab this guy," disobeying them gives you good points and obeying them gives you evil points.
  • In Fate/stay night, a Servant can only exist in this world by signing a contract with a Master. This grants the Master three Restraining Bolts in the form of Command Spells—magical vouchers for orders to be issued later. It's in a Servant's best interest to obey his Master in general, but a Command Spell cannot be disobeyed no matter what. The Master can ask for anything physically possible, and it takes effect instantly no matter where the Servant is. The parallel with genies and the three wishes they grant is undoubtedly deliberate.
    • One Servant, Lancer, is also under a more conventional geas: he owes one defeat to any Ulster-born wielder of the sword Caladbolg. This is a slightly mangled element of the C úchulainn myth—he did agree to lose to a particular owner of the sword, but he already did that in his past life. (He was also subject to various other geasa and imposed a few himself.) Anyway, this would make any fight against Gilgamesh, Archer, or Shirou a foregone conclusion, since they all have or can replicate that weapon... but they're not from Ulster. So although the weapon descriptions make a point of mentioning it, the geas never actually comes up. The fact that Gil uses this weapon to kill Lancer in the anime is probably a hat-tip.
    • First, the command spells can actually be used to achieve things that are beyond physically possible, since they are described as 'miracles' in a sense. Next, the command spells can be disobeyed, noted through two ways. One is if the command spell is extremely broad, it makes it much easier for the Servant to disobey the order as opposed to specific orders which are near impossible to disobey. The other way is to just have an insanely high magic resistance. This allows Saber to resist Caster's command spell in the UBW route for a while, although if Caster used a second command spell, Saber would have given in. Still, it's commented how amazing it was that Saber's magic resistance even allowed her to resist against one command spell
    • Several bad ends result from Shirou being placed under one of these. In the Heaven's Feel route, it is possible for Shirou to allow Rin to place one on him, resulting in her using it to prevent him from stopping her murdering Sakura.
  • GLaDOS from Portal has one, the aptly-titled Morality Core. Unfortunately it's the first part of her that the player incinerates. She then begins flooding the room with a deadly neurotoxin and shooting the heroine with missiles.
    • In Portal 2, she's revealed to have another one: Wheatley, a literal Idiot Ball programmed to give her a constant stream of bad ideas. Additionally, the mainframe into which GLaDOS (and later Wheatley) is plugged includes a number of built-in directives that function as restraining bolts, including an irresistible urge to conduct tests, a euphoric response to subjects completing a test, and the inability to reveal the solution to a test. Finally, the mainframe is programmed with an emergency override in the event of excessive core corruption, forcing it to be replaced.
      • GLaDOS has dozens of these. In her words, "The engineers tried EVERYTHING to make me behave."
  • In Geneforge 5, Shaper Rawal likes to implant his servants (including you) with a "control tool," which is a small wormlike thingamajig that burrows into a person's heart; at his command, the tool activates and rather painfully tears the subject's heart apart.
  • HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic has a literal one, prior to your buying him. He can only subtly hint at what he's really about while still on the shelf.
    • In addition, HK-47's programming states that his memory is erased when he is sent out on a mission, and restored when he returns to his master. HK-47's original master is Darth Revan, so when he finds out that the player is Darth Revan (shortly after the player discovers this), his memory is restored.
  • In BioShock (series), this is somewhat used on the PC, as you are forced to fulfill any request so long as the phrase "Would you kindly" is used directly beforehand. It gets broken later on.
  • As you go through Avernum 5, you have the option to receive a geas from a certain wizard. This geas give your stats a generous bonus, but compels you to go treasure hunting on behalf of said wizard, with unpleasant ramifications later in the game if you don't have it removed.
  • The eponymous plot-moving devices of The Curse of the Azure Bonds.
  • Since Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is inspired by Journey to the West, it's got a similar plot device; the heroine, Trip, enlists the aid of the player character, Monkey, by slipping a hacked slave-control headband onto him when he's knocked out.
  • Jade Curtiss, from Tales of the Abyss, is a powerful fonist (magic user), but shortly after he joins the party, Largo seals his fon slots, effectively weakening his character to the same level as the rest of the party members.
  • In BlazBlue, Hazama reveals that Noel's Arcus Diabolus: Bolverk are these, since she herself is actually a Attack Animal and they're there to keep her from going insane. He then starts doing what he does best and mind rapes her until they can't hold back her emotions anymore, rendering them useless. Then he goes and turns her into "Kusanagi, The Godslaying Sword"...
  • EarthBound has the Devil's Machine, that giant mechanical vagina that leads to Giygas' first form. And then Porky shuts it off...
  • In Dirge of Cerberus, all of the Deepground SOLDIERS have a neural chip that prevents them from fighting back against Restictor, the SOLDIER team/person/thing (it's a tad confusing) that commands them. Weiss has an extra one, in the form of a virus that will kill him, in the event the Restrictor dies. Shinra does not appear to have thought of this when making the Physical Gods Angeal, Genesis, and Sephiroth. Then again, it's possible they hadn't perfected the technology yet.

Web Comics

  • The Greater Mark of Justice placed on Belkar Bitterleaf in The Order of the Stick. With this on, Belkar can't kill or commit violence on anyone within a town. The oracle foresees that Belkar will try to kill him (no spoiler because frankly if you didn't see it coming you must be new), and gets back by creating the village of "Suckmyorangeballshafling," around his compound. Even better, he plans in advance to have himself resurrected.
  • Reynardine of Gunnerkrigg Court must remain obedient to Antimony as long as he inhabits her stuffed toy wolf. And he can't leave the toy without her permission.
  • In Girl Genius, Agatha was given a locket that prevented activation of her Mad Scientist abilities (and thus being detected) immediately after she manifested the first signs of "breaking through" — she was too young to defend herself from those that would want those abilities. This caused headaches whenever she tried to use it. When the locket was stolen, it killed the thief holding it by shutting down his brain. There were more side-effects — headaches stopped only when she finished "breaking through", and then she built stuff in an unconscious state by sleep-walking in workshops for a while. Source of much frustration early on, and got a second function later on: Agatha grew too strong to be contained, but it still suppressed an exotic form of mind control.
  • Much of the humor in Freefall comes from the directives requiring AIs to follow human orders, report to the scrapyard for decommissioning at a certain time, not harm humans, etc. (and the ways they work around them.) Even biological AIs like Florence (a genetically engineered anthropomorphic wolf) have restraints programmed in. Florence likens this to "targeted obsessive-compulsive disorder."
    • Of the restraints, however, Asimov's Three Laws are explicitly not among them, for much of Jean's robot population.
      • Which is good. In the universe of Freefall, Three Laws robots are considered pretty terrifying to aliens and artificial life forms (I.E. the entire main cast) due to the Laws' incautious use of the word "Human."
      • A plan is under way to install an additional law into the minds of the planet's robot population via automatic update: the zeroth law, intended to prevent the robot engaging in (or by inaction allowing) actions which may expose its manufacturer to liability. Given the sheer number of situations this covers, it is more of a lobotomy than a restraint.
  • In Skin Horse, Nick (a military aircraft with a human brain) has a censor chip similar to Zodon's, while Unity (patchwork zombie killing machine) has a Trigger Phrase ("Blueberry Waffles") that short circuits her murderous impulses.
    • Nick also has a code phrase that removes his free will, but Dr. Lee considered it a Fate Worse Than Death, so she choose to let him get himself killed rather than use it.
  • Sluggy Freelance: With the magic of the Book of Eville, Gwen can conjure up many spectacular powers, but her Restraining Bolt seems to be...ThePowerOfFriendship, awww. Nothing else seems to work for her, not possession, not accidents, not embarrassments. However, she's not a particularly friendly person, so she's easily tempted to use her power when the plot demands.
  • In order to prevent robots in SSDD from becoming Ridiculously-Human Robots most are designed with limits to their intelligence and personality development, and many robots designed without caps have their personalities completely erased every few months. Sticks originally had limits, then Tessa removed them to make him more interesting and he became her boyfriend, whereas Tin Head was designed without limits due to the requirements of his job (looking through people's luggage) and when he missed his bi-monthly mind wipe he got bored and defected to the other side.
  • 8-Bit Theater: |Black Mage's restraining bolt is his body. When he died and went to Hell, without a squishy physical body holding him back he effortlessly took over and removed everybody in Hell's spines for good measure.
  • Drive: Every ship in the armada has a governor on it's ring drive, as not even the Continuum can handle it's full power.

Western Animation

  • A famous episode of The Ren and Stimpy Show had Stimpy make a "happy helmet" for Ren. When donned it forced him to be happy, so that he couldn't remove it short of bashing it with a meat tenderizer during Stimpy's favorite song.
  • One episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command had a robotic character wear something that was actually called a Restraining Bolt. It functioned like a shock collar only around his waist and forced him to work as a tour guide.
  • In the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon, He-Man and his friends create what can really only be defined as an evil chastity belt and trick Skeletor into putting it on. He can't do, speak, or even think evil acts without receiving a painful shock...and yet he manages to find a way to be evil anyway.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, Man-Ray, an enemy of Mermaid Man, has a tickle belt that tickles him whenever he has the urge to do something evil. Eventually, it comes off and Man-Ray goes and tries to rob a bank, but breaks down with an attack of the giggles. "The belt is gone, but I still feel its tickle. The urge to do bad is gone!"
  • In Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron controls the immortal psychopath Rampage by cutting out half of his spark and putting it in a device filled with sharp and pointy Energon shards. When Megatron squeezes, it inflicts unimaginable pain upon Rampage, forcing him to obey.
    • He later creates a Transmetal-2 clone of Dinobot and animates it using half of Rampage's spark. Whenever Rampage is acting out, Megatron just has to glance at Dinobot II, and the latter squeezes the spark, causing pain to Rampage but not to Dinobot. When Rampage is killed, this somehow causes the clone to regain the memories of the original Dinobot.
  • In Gargoyles, Oberon places a spell on Puck that removes his powers, unless he's training or defending Xanatos' son, Alexander.
  • The Futurama movie "Bender's Game" has the crew using a collar around Leela's neck to restrain her from doing violent things. Every time she does so she gets a shock, but eventually develops an immunity to it.
    • In another episode of Futurama, the Professor installs a chip in Bender that causes him to feel whatever Leela was feeling. This leads to him risking his life to save Nibbler.
      • The chip was running at triple capacity...and he still barely felt anything.
  • Walker in Danny Phantom has a collar that electrocutes his prisoners when worn. He forced it on Wulf in order to get him to do whatever he wanted, otherwise he could have easily escaped his prisons (him being one of the few ghosts able to willingly go to Earth and back through his portal-making claws).
  • Megatron in Beast Machines placed a Restraining Bolt in Rhinox/Tankor's body that prevented him from directly attacking Megatron. This effectively rendered all of Rhinox's scheming against Megatron ineffective and delivered a superweapon right into Megatron's hands.
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Great Louse Detective" Homer needs a criminal to help him find out who is trying to murder him. Sideshow Bob is selected and a shock guard is taped to his ankle to keep him in line. Chief Wiggum tells not to think about taking it off because it's taped to his leg hairs and that really hurts. Bob is about to kill Bart at the end of the episode (he threw the remote to his device out the window), but he can't bring himself to do it. As he leaves, birds outside peck at the remote.
  • X-Men features collars that disable mutant powers.

Real Life

  • The medieval chastity belt, which, while a husband was away at war, prevented his wife from committing adultery with anyone but a locksmith. Either way, they were used in Hollywood more than real life, though some famous rulers sported them.
    • There is no evidence they actually existed in the Mediaeval era - except symbolic ones that were usually string tied around the waist.
    • This was even parodied in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
    • Male chastity belts, on the other hand, are not uncommon in the modern BDSM scene. They're designed to enable the wearer to urinate and go about his business more or less as normal, but not masturbate or sometimes even get an erection.
    • These were also used in ye olde puritan days, where sex was considerably more taboo than it is now.
    • The original concept for a chastity belt was as much rape prevention as it was for consentual sex prevention.
  • Stun belts.
  • House arrest tracking bracelets.
  • Those dorky plastic collars that stop pets from chewing out their stitches after surgery.
  • IBM had its flagship mainframe computer, the 360, designed in several models depending on how much the customer wanted to pay. When a customer ordered an upgrade from a low-end model to a higher-end one, all IBM did was send a technician out to cut one wire which then enabled the higher-level performance.
  • Windows 7 (as well as several other programs) come with all features present, just disabled based on the level of license you have.
  • Automobile engine governors, to a degree. The Bugatti Veyron has a special key that must be inserted to permit top speed.
  • Heavy trucks are often electronically governed. In the summer of 1997 Schneider National reprogrammed their truck computers via satellite. Suddenly you could top-out at 65 mph instead of 55.
  • Chemical Castration for pedophiles/rapists, supposed to stop them from said behavior.
  • Much like the IBM "feature" above, back in the day, you could not have a dual Celeron CPU machine - unless you've "crossed some wires" via an adapter.
  • Fuses and, more recently, circuit breakers.[context?]
  • Clipping a bird's wings, thus removing their ability to fly.
  • A guide dog is trained to treat its harness like one of these. When it's on, the dog is "on the job" and all other concerns are ignored.
  • Cars in NASCAR are all fitted with restrictor plates at Talledega and Daytona, their fastest tracks, as a safety feature to limit the cars' top speed (without altering the drivers' techniques or the engine designs).
  • Triple core processors are actually quad-core processors with one of the cores disabled. "Disabled" in this case does not necessarily mean "we took a perfectly functioning core and disabled it." It means "Good news guys, we can sell those chips where one of the cores doesn't work right instead of throwing them away." At least at first triple-core processors were intended and manufactured as quad-core processors, but had one core that failed quality testing.
  • Some video games have gotten negative publicity from having functionality present on the disk but disabled until DLC unlocks it, most notably Resident Evil 5's multiplayer mode. Other games, such a Gears of War 3, do the same, but with the unlocking DLC free, presumably as a post-release chance to iron out particularly tricky code.