So I'm building a galaxy with bunch of space-age civilizations and an galactic wide supra-nation. Something similar to the Citadel races in the Mass Effect games. Unlike those games, the most of the aliens in my story are hardly humanoid. Right now, I have one humanoid alien, two beetle-like aliens, a squid-like alien, a monitor lizard-like alien and a bat-like alien. Assume they gained intelligence and technology yet mostly keeping the form of their Earth counterparts, ex. the squid aliens are pretty much squids with slight adaptions to allow them to use technology.

The supra-nation has a law enforcement force employed with various members of these aliens. What I am concerned about is how would the criminals be bound or trapped after they are caught. For the humanoid aliens, handcuffs would suffice, but I am not sure about the other races.

  • $\begingroup$ Something glue like, to be sprayed on, with a second spray that removes/breaks the glue bond. Nanite or chemical based... $\endgroup$ – ivanivan May 30 '18 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ I don't have the time for a full answer, so someone feel free to steal it - an implant of some kind that can shock/stun, like was used in Thor: Ragnarok. $\endgroup$ – sirjonsnow May 30 '18 at 15:34

14 Answers 14


All right! You're going in the BAG.

person in a bag http://northbaybulldogs.com/huge_gymbag_person/

One BAG fits all. You get to keep your head out if you are good and your head is the right shape. Think twice: if something comes out of you, it stays with you in the BAG. BAG is air permeable. It has strong handles or maybe some levitation tech. BAG withstands a lot of chewing.

Hopefully the police clean the BAG between uses.

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    $\begingroup$ Prison guard here, actually weve got something kind of like that..... we've got these heavy duty blanket type things with straps on em. We roll people up in em like a people-burrito with thier head sticking out and cinch the straps tight. Mostly its for people who go violently insane and need to be protected from themselves. Supposedly the cozyness and pressure is supposed to calm them, but in reality they usually just scream and bounce around thier cell until they get tired. $\endgroup$ – TCAT117 May 30 '18 at 4:18
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    $\begingroup$ I think Mr Squid might escape this unless he is fully bagged. $\endgroup$ – Hawker65 May 30 '18 at 9:37
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    $\begingroup$ I can see one benefit to not cleaning them between uses - "OK, you have two choices - clean bag or dirty bag?" $\endgroup$ – VBartilucci May 30 '18 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ BAG stands for Bad Aliens Go inside $\endgroup$ – Hobo_warrior May 30 '18 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobo_warrior A BAGI? Even better! $\endgroup$ – Carl Kevinson May 30 '18 at 13:34

Here are a few alternatives from other fiction:

Halo (Minority Report)

In Minority Report, criminals could be fitted with a small device around the head that numbed the brain, stunning (or at least making compliant) the sentient fitted with the device.

Application of Halo from Minority Report

Explosive Collar (Wedlock)

A collar with a small range receiver and a bit of explosive. Paired to another receiver on a control officer, or another prisoner. When out of range, or on command, the collar will detonate.

Collar exploding from Wedlock

Shock Collar (Thor: Ragnorok)

A similar fitted restraint that can provide shocks ranging from warning to stun to lethal

Shock Collar from Thor: Ragnorok

Quick Freeze (Demolition Man)

Although it seems to have limited or limitless effect in Demolition Man, as required by the scene, the concept is a portable device that flash freezes the prisoner.

Quick Freeze Sphere in Use from Demolition Man

Gravity Guns (Schlock Mercenary)

An extremely-low power gravity gun can be employed as a restraint. Generally controlled by an artificial intelligence, which has sufficient quick thinking to keep the beam tuned as required.

Goober Gun (also from Schlock Mercenary)

A lower tech restraint, firing balls of material that very quickly increase their viscosity from almost nothing (so that it can flow around the target) to very high (keeping the target in place). This viscosity must be layered somehow, allowing a lower viscosity inside so that targets are ripped apart or smothered.

Zero-Point Energy Ray (Incredibles)

A force field that very precisely cancels out velocity and movement.

Zero-point energy ray in use from Incredibles

Alternate Dimension (The New Legends of Monkey, Pokemon, Tron, Superman)

Another option is a portable device that places the suspect/prisoner in a pocket dimension until required for release.

Time Loop (Dr. Strange)

Doctor Strange captures a deity in a small fragment of looped time that would continue looping back on itself until the Doctor negotiated a deal with the timeless deity, after which he released them both.

Frozen Time (Starcraft)

Although later treated as big solid crystals, Protoss prisons were early described as frozen time, given the space and time bending capabilities of that species.

Carbonite (Star Wars)

Not very portable (a facility was required in Empire Strikes Back) and potentially lethal (Darth Vadar asked Boba Fett for assurance that the process wouldn't kill his son in the form of trying it out first on Han Solo), but you could imagine a perfected and miniaturized implementation. The process flash freezes the subject and covers them in a protective coating until intentionally thawed.

Carbonite Freezing, from Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back Carbonite Thawing, from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Amber (Fringe)

In Fringe, one of the government agencies developed and deployed a mist that solidified after a certain number of seconds. It was used to seal dimensional rifts, or imprison monsters.

Amber removed and deployed from Fringe

Neuralizer (Men in Black)

Neuralizers come in many forms and sizes. In addition to temporarily stunning the suspect, it also renders them open to a certain amount of persuasion and provides for a controllable amount of memory erasure.


For completeness. The suspect is wrapped in cloth that eliminates mobility without suffocating the being inside. Optionally can be secured with straps or zippers.

  • $\begingroup$ Similar: electric shock collar/strap that automatically kicks in if the prisoner moves away from the escort or otherwise tries to escape, or even just moves fast $\endgroup$ – Chris H May 30 '18 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ This is a good answer. Too bag it's not as cool as the bag. $\endgroup$ – DonQuiKong May 30 '18 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisH then the guard takes a five-second nap and wakes up to a crowd of freshly fried steaming vegetables :P $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak May 30 '18 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ Another one you might consider adding to your list: Goober guns (Though, obviously some minor tweaking of the concept would be required to make it work as a mobile restraint) $\endgroup$ – jmbpiano May 30 '18 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ I'm disappointed that "frozen in carbonite" is not on this list. $\endgroup$ – David Starkey May 31 '18 at 20:36

Most likely law enforcement officers would prefer to be able to subdue, immobilize and transport their suspects all in one go. Given the wide variation in body types, and presumably different environments you can find your criminals in (squid aliens are in the water, while bat aliens are flying away), then a portable net projector is a handy, low tech means of doing subduing, capturing and transporting the miscreants in one go.

enter image description here

Anti-UAV net gun with suitable Sci-Fi looks

enter image description here

Edit to add this criminal eye view of a net gun on action

The net mostly has to be strong and flexible enough to wrap around the suspect and withstand attempts to break, cut, bite etc. though it, immobilize the limbs (which is ultimately the idea behind handcuffs), and once the suspect is caught, the ends sealed off and the suspect carried away. If the net comes with built in carrying handles or not is up to the enforcement agency.

I would probably avoid things like sticky nets, or energizing the net, both to make the net usable in all environments, and to prevent the possibility of injury or wrongful death of the suspect when entangled, but local departments might review this on a case by case basis ("OK Officer Blonkins, if you have a positive ID on the suspect, the backdrop is clear and it is a monitor lizard, set the net to stun and fire").

Peace officers might also appreciate the ability to have only one item on their utility belt rather than a plethora of devices.

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    $\begingroup$ Please Tell me where to buy one... tell me now... i have a friends Stag do in two weeks $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith May 30 '18 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ polymorphic sequence -> geletenous cube $\endgroup$ – Joshua May 30 '18 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ Well Blade, since you asked nicely, there really is a thing called "The NetgunStore" thenetgunstore.com. Enjoy! $\endgroup$ – Thucydides May 31 '18 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua You either have to limit the types of aliens that can exist or you have to have different types of holding apparatuses. After all, something designed to contain a creature that breathes is unlikely to be useful with sentient clouds. $\endgroup$ – David Starkey May 31 '18 at 20:41

So handcuffs are meant to be used to make sure something is safe to transport and this will vary for each of your aliens. For humans, it means restricting our hands so we can't use them to fight and really resist, but for your aliens it could also include binding all their limbs or body (looking at the beetles) and muzzles to stop biting (lizards).

The easiest way would be to carry around some flexible rubber cables. Wrap them around the body of your prisoner and it should restrict all limb movement.

A more advance way would to have a material like putty, which can be hardened using a weak electric current. That way you could apply it to any part of your alien and basically stick or bind it to something, or wrap it around something and then insert a small chip that will cause the putty to harden and make it extremely tough to break free (I'm not saying it becomes completely solid, just not as liquid like as putty usually is). This way you don't need to worry about size or weird shapes too much. If your squid is being annoying, wrap all its limbs together in the putty and not it can't really move anymore. If your bat keeps trying to fly away, putty its wings together. If your human keeps talking non-stop and is an annoying prick, put some putty in their mouth or put them into a putty cocoon.

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    $\begingroup$ reminds me of the spray foam I've seen in movies (though can't recall where), that expands to restrict movement. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble May 31 '18 at 12:09

Duct Tape.

It combines the adhesive properties of glue with the binding properties of straps.

It adheres to flesh, chitin, scales and more.

You can bind any number of limbs and layer it up for stronger species as necessary.

Removal is a trickier prospect, but if your variant on it has a glue with an easily applied solvent you could just use that to make it easier.

If you want to go science-fiction, use gecko-foot style molecular adhesives in the tape instead of glue, then you can simply peel it off, but if it's being pulled at then it won't come undone.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, a combination of duct tape and/or zip ties and species-specific training on how to use them. $\endgroup$ – Scott Whitlock May 31 '18 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ I really like it when duct tape is the solution. Works even when the alien is duck shaped $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen May 31 '18 at 21:30

The problem with cephalopods is the lack of bones means they can squeeze out of just about anything.

For the other species cable ties would work like a lot of police use these days.

For a universal "handcuff" so to speak, I'd recommend a pain inducing nanite that responds to sudden movements as well as remote commands. It could also double as a tracker and/or a proximity sensor.

Being sensitive to sudden movements, the prisoner can't run or attack the officers which makes escape virtually impossible and not obeying commands would be painful.



Tasers, All complex life on Earth uses small electrical impulses to control movement, however it would need to be adjustable as each species might need a different charge to have the same effect, and that shock might kill some species. this would be the only surefire way to effect all species, detaining them would be another matter, a boneless species couldn't be restrained in the conventional sense, unless it was some form of... (Yes i know what i'm about to write is a bit stupid!)... rapid deployable zorb ball... which would surround the target and seal shut.

Prisoner Transport

Something similar to that used on Sokar in Thor Ragnarok, and implant that would be excruciatingly painful to remove by force, but which causes an electrical shock would severely restrict movement, this is basically just an advanced version of the taser law enforcement use today. even cephalopods would be effected. mix this with the basic technology that some Dog trainers use, an electric shock device that if taken too far away from the owners home, shocks the dog.

So imagine a Shock implant, that if linked to a Squad Car or police station or prisoner, if the target leaves tries to run it automatically shocks them.

Stopping Runaways

I'd imagine the futuristic Police Vehicles would be made so that if the driver was not a police officer, say the prisoner had overpowered the officer, taken the keys and were trying to drive off in the squad car so that the implant doesn't auto activate, then the car would recognize this and disable the local emitter so that the implants would activate.

Other solutions that would work for all species...

Other than a fine Net as explained by Thucydides, those pesky cephalopods are going to be able to get away every time.


You can use epoxy.


GLue has serious advantages over simple handcuffing. It is anatomy-agnosthic. And if you need to keep an offender somewhere - with handcuffs, you need to have some prop to cuff them to, such as pipes or cell bars. With glue, you can stick them to the nearest wall, or to the roof of a police car for easier delivery.

It works like this: law enforcers have a glue gun with two barrels and one trigger. By pulling the trigger, the gun will spill out the two substances that form loctite, one from each barrel. Apply these on the creature's appendages.

When the time comes to let the offender go, simply apply solvent.

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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately all solvents for epoxy that I'm aware of are somewhat dangerous themselves. I don't imagine the health & safety guys would sign off on this approach. $\endgroup$ – Jules May 31 '18 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, to dissolve epoxy you are going to dissolve skin. $\endgroup$ – James Jun 4 '18 at 21:11

Allow me to declaim slightly before I even start, this answer comes to you direct from my inner sociopath and I am not a nice person:

Assuming you have really good medical technology, regrowing body-parts good, and an extremely cavalier attitude towards the "human" rights of criminals, then they don't need limbs unless they're serving time with hard labour. To that end law enforcement should use weapons substantially similar to lightsabers that cut and cauterise in one pass. Simply cut off enough limbs to incapacitate your suspect and bundle their twitching thorax and head into cargo bay for the trip to jail/interrogation. It doesn't matter if you get the wrong guy go can just grow him some new limbs, same as the old limbs just younger and less tan.

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    $\begingroup$ It sounds like you need to read "The Patchwork Girl" by Larry Niven. although the limbs are only removed after the criminal is captured in that case. $\endgroup$ – Alchymist May 31 '18 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ Schlock Mercenary has gangsters that go even further than this. Their medical tech lets you regrow a whole body from just the brain. So the safest way to take someone prisoner is to cut their head off and stick it in a jar. $\endgroup$ – DawnPaladin Jun 1 '18 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @DawnPaladin I thought about that too but if you're going to go that far you may as well go the whole hog and just do a remote brain scan and gun the poor suspect down outright once you have their personality on a lock. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jun 2 '18 at 16:06


A "cartridge" of nanobots with a controller chip on one end is loaded into a Nanonet Gun, which, when fired, places the nanobots (via commands signed with the private key embedded into the chip) into "liquid mode" to be sprayed onto the suspect. In liquid mode, they maintain contact with one another, but allow for some movement. They gradually build strong linkages between each other, locking into a very fine-mesh net structure that allows air and water vapor to pass, but no living cell will get through.

When the prisoner is delivered to the destination, the controller provides more power and the command to revert to liquid and reform into the "cartridge", ready to be used again. In cartridge form, the bots are very tightly packed, and thus take up very little space. A police officer would probably have multiple magazines of such cartridges at his disposal.

(Nanonet™ is made by Nancrete Industries. And you all know them, since nearly everyone lives in Nancrete™ homes and rides in Nancrete™ vehicles, given the wonderful way that Nancrete™ can change colors, thermal and light transmissivity, and permeability to air and water on the fly. That's how George Jetson's air car is able to fold up into a brief pad computer case, after all.)


Maybe you could use some fictional technology which dampens any quick movements by sucking out kinetic energy from the subject while still allowing the alien to function - sort of like a personal dampening field.


In combination with other measures proposed elsewhere...

Disable their bio-suits

It is very unlikely that such a combination of aliens as the one you describe would all be able to share a common environment. Some (many?) of them will be forced to use a life-support suit in order to stay alive.

This makes keeping them under control both easy and risky: if you disable the biosuit by violent means the alien will become incapacitated, but there is a high risk of the alien ending dead.

As it is usually seen as bad manners killing someone(something?) just because it was challenging a traffic ticket1, and aliens do not want to die if things escalate, that lends support to the idea of creating an "arrest switch" in the bio-suits; a securely criptographic code that will trigger the bio-suit to disable motor functions without affecting life-support functions.

You can add some safety features: the code must be encoded in a way that the officer sending the signal will be always identified, officers may issue the command but the order must be validated remotely by a situation room that checks that there is a real reason for it, to prevent its use by kidnappers if the suit is disabled it sends an alarm to the police and an acoustic alarm to alert bystanders...

If the alien decides to mess with the system and disable it, then the officers are authorized to use force to detain the alien and if as a result of it the suit is damaged and the alien dies it will be considered the alien's fault. Of course,



Drugs. Rick and Morty did it, and it worked out narratively. Why handcuff them, when you can just drug them and make sure they can't move?

I guess if you want to get really out there with how the drug works, you can make it nanobots that specifically make the target sleep without killing it by secreting appropriate amounts of localized anesthetic. Nano bots seem like over kill for that IMO. You could probably do that with a smart needle too if you wanted.

Why have only one tool?

  • $\begingroup$ Because you can't overdose on handcuffs, not suffer a lethal allergic reaction. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal May 30 '18 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal Yeah, but are you really going to handcuff a tentacle monster? How many would you even need? Could you even stuff it in a bag to begin with? $\endgroup$ – user32463 May 30 '18 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ 50% of the time anesthetizing a giraffe is fatal, and they are biologically pretty similar to us. Also what does "actually" mean in a cartoon? In rick and morty specifically they could portal to another universe exactly identical except the victim happened to fall asleep randomly without alienating their viewers, their world is set up as having no hard rules at all. $\endgroup$ – user25818 May 30 '18 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ @notstoreboughtdirt it worked narratively. Honestly I think machine learning could anesthetize a giraffe with a much higher success rate now. Honestly I'd be shocked if someone wasn't already working on building an artificial anesthesiologist. I'd assume a space aged civ in OPs setting could figure out how to put things to sleep without killing them if they wanted to, given that they could have access to tools we have now and we could do this feasibly in the next decade. Hell, we have an AI that can dream. We have one that can find bugs in games. $\endgroup$ – user32463 May 30 '18 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ If you went with the nanobots, they could analyze the target's blood and compare against a known biological database, then release native/endogenous neurologic inhibitors while monitoring bodily function, effectively paralyzing them using their own body chemistry -- which has the convenient side effect of not actually introducing potential allergenic agents, nor "overdosing" (since vitals are being monitored and release controlled by vital signs). You might want to even keep the release levels a bit low so they're only severely inhibited, not paralyzed. $\endgroup$ – Doktor J May 31 '18 at 15:07

the easiest solution is anything BUT universal, and that's selective subduction.

insects respond almost entirely robotically to pheromones, use this for the beetles.

ensephlopods are easy too, heat them them up till they submit, keep a low level heat on them, enough to be uncomfortable/painful without being damaging.

bats HATE High frequency noise.. ultrasonic transducer drone/gun, bat can't fight it, and can't run.

Lizards: COLD GUN they'll slow down and unwillingly go to sleep.

regular humanoid? regular handcuffs/collar there's absolutely no way anything humanoid can get out of triangle cuffs (collar and handcuffs, clasp in the front under the chin, arms crossed in the back linked to the collar).

over-specialize and you build-in weakness, it's unlikely that there will be situation where you encounter bugs/bats underwater, or humanoids/quids in the air, at MOST your officers will need 3 devices if they're land/air based, everyone will usually only need 2, you can also combine techs, like the heat/cold/sound gun can easily be one device that covers 3 major species, in a pinch the cuffs/collar can be used on both bats and lizards, same with the cold gun on the bugs. bats can also be brought down by heating their wings.. there's ways to mix-and-match these devices!


protected by James Jun 4 '18 at 21:12

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