Deadly Environment Prison
A prison that is impossible to escape because it is surrounded by a deadly environment.
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There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying.This prison doesn't need walls, or guards, or security cameras. No one's stopping prisoners from escaping. The jailor might even point them in the direction of the convenient escape route. The door's right there! It's not even locked! Why doesn't everyone just leave? Well, because escape would be suicide. The secure facility remains secure because it is located in an extremely inhospitable environment. It might be in the middle of a vast desert or tundra, such that anyone foolish enough to leave would die of exposure. Alternatively, the surroundings could be populated by Super-Persistent Predators or other deadly creatures. In extreme cases, the prison may be smack in the middle of the ocean, or at the top of a mountain with a hundred-foot drop on all sides. Needless to say, it's safer just to stay inside. Often serves as an example of Morton's Fork. May be how a villain carries out Released to Elsewhere. If there's any chance at all of success, the escape route is likely to be a Death Course; sufficiently Badass prisoners may theoretically win their freedom. Being imprisoned in such a facility, however, may lead to the realization that Hope Is Scary. Some prisoners may choose to commit suicide using the escape route, preferring death to imprisonment. Often overlaps with Penal Colony, which are built in remote (but not necessarily deadly) locations by definition. Sub-Trope of The Alcatraz.
Bane, The Dark Knight Rises
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Anime and Manga
- Impel Down in One Piece is situated in the bottom of an ocean - which, for Devil Fruit users, is no good news. Not just any ocean either; it's in the Calm Belt, a zone on the Grand Line's border where there are no winds blowing and Sea Monsters are abundant; only Seastone-coated ships (usually that of the Marines) can pass through it easily.
- In Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, Zoe is sent to an Alliance Penal Colony on a planet where the terraforming didn't take, leaving it a barren desert. The prison camp doesn't have walls—if you leave any way but by ship, you die of thirst—and the guards don't bother breaking up fights between the inmates or bother to chase you if you run. Zoe excepted: the guards quickly pursue her once they realize she's running to meet Mal and the others, who came in on Serenity.
- Parodied in the very first Judge Dredd story, which ends with the perp being sentenced to a prison called Devil's Island — which is a road island surrounded on all sides by a multiple-lane freeway with traffic streaming along it at high speeds at all hours.
- One issue of Superman has The Villain contain a pair of hostages within a magnetic force field generated by one of his devices. The field generator and the hostages are hidden within an active volcano, where the extreme heat would boil away the hostages in seconds without the protection that the force field offers. Superman's dilemma is how to extract the hostages and also keep their compartment intact.
- The underground Klingon labor camp Rura Penthe where Kirk and Mc Coy are imprisoned in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has nothing preventing prisoners from escaping—except the extreme cold and storms of the surface, where death by exposure would be a certainty. In fact, prisoners are threatened with expulsion to the surface if they don't work.
- The Dark Knight Rises has two examples: Bane's prison has a gaping hole for a roof that only one child's ever managed to climb out of. Scarecrow's Kangaroo Court also offers the choice between exile (you walk on a frozen lake out of Gotham, fall through and freeze to death) or death (exile.)
- The Bridge on the River Kwai is set at a PoW Camp deep into the Burmese jungle. The camp has no fence to prevent escape because, as the Japanese commander puts it: "If the wardens don't kill you, the jungle will." Of course, he is proven wrong.
- The Chronicles of Riddick: The Crematoria Prison is located on a planet orbiting an extremely bright sun. Temperatures on the surface vary between so hot during the day that you'll be instantly incinerated and so cold during the night that you'll instantly freeze to death. The outside is only survivable for a short period during twilight.
- In A Game of Thrones, the Arryns' cells have only three walls...with a 600-foot drop off the side of a mountain on the fourth side. The Lord of the Eyrie also tries to force the imprisoned Tyrion to leave their castle via the Moon Door (again, with a 600-foot drop on the other side.) When Tyrion manages to get pardoned, Lady Lysa Arryn manages to do Death By Freedom again (he can now leave the castle via the road full of shadowcats and hostile tribes.)
- In Going Postal, when Vetinari is meeting his new Boxed Crook Moist von Lipwig, he tells Moist that if he doesn't like the offer he can simply walk out that door. When Moist goes to check, the door leads to a deep pit full of spikes.
- In the sequel Making Money, when placed in the same scene and offered the same choice, Moist theatrically goes to test the depth of the "alternative"...only to find that now it's an ordinary exit door, because this time Vetinari really is giving him the option to refuse.
- Holes. The juvenile detention camp "Camp Green Lake" has no guard towers or fences, and most of the counselors aren't even armed...but the camp is in the middle of the desert, and has the only water for 100 miles. Anyone who wants to leave can leave, only to die of thirst or be forced to come back.
- In The Stars My Destination, everyone can teleport, so criminals are kept in a location they don't know. You are welcome to Tele-Frag yourself whenever you want.
- Tribesmen of Gor. The salt mines of Klima are staffed entirely by male slaves. There are no guards, and you're free to leave at any time. But it's surrounded by hundreds of square miles of desert, and canteens are limited to small sizes; you'd die of thirst & exposure if you try to leave.
- Honor Harrington:
- The native life of Haven's secret Penal Colony of Hades is indigestible to humans, the prisoners were scattered in camps all across the planet with the only source of food being periodic supply shuttles.
- From Torch of Freedom: after the Battle of Torch, a POW camp is set up on one of Torch's islands. There's no guards on the island itself, and only a few patrol boats in the ocean around it ... but the local sea life will eat just about anything short of rocks, and the surviving StateSec prisoners learn quickly not to try swimming/boating to the mainland.
Live Action TV
- In The Walking Dead, Rick chooses to allow one of the prisoners to escape into the walker-infested woods rather than wasting a bullet on him.
- Star Trek: Voyager: One episode has Kim and Paris being sent to an alien prison. The only access to it is a chute from which new prisoners and supplies are delivered. After some effort, Kim manages to climb the chute, only to find that the prison is actually free-floating in deep space. After that, all they can do is survive until Voyager finally manages to locate them.
- The Elder Scrolls
- The prisons in the Shivering Isles in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. They do confiscate your stuff, but your cell is not locked and you are free to try and brave the dungeon creatures with your bare hands and spells.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The Chill, a prison in the Winter Hold runs on this. They do not confiscate your swag, they do not guard your cage, but it is located in an icy cave on a small island in the middle of the local Arctic. If you beat the ice elementals on the island and swim through the frigid ocean to freedom, no one is going to object.
- The prison camp in Final Fantasy VII is in the middle of a desert. You get there by being dumped down a chute from the Golden Saucer, and nobody bothers to guard the place because the desert is impassable. The other prisoners will all tell you that people who go into the desert don't come back. (However, to prevent the game from becoming unwinnable, if you wander out into the desert, first you get lost but after a while someone shows up with a chocobo stagecoach and takes you back to prison.)
- In Jedi Academy, Jaden is put into one of these prisons when he is captured by the Empire. The doors of his cell are open, but the prison complex is swarming with stormtroopers and their commander is fond of Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. Oh, and they took Jaden's lightsaber.
- There are multiple indications throughout the Portal series that the world outside the Aperture Science complex poses more danger to Chell than the tests endlessly invented by the murderous AI GLaDOS inside.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- The Boiling Rock is a Fire Nation prison for some of their most high-value captives located in a volcanic crater filled with a boiling lake, which gives it its name. Anyone attempting to escape is boiled to death.
- The Fire Nation's prison rig is located hundreds of miles out to sea. While that may not sounds that dangerous, it's still pretty much a death sentence for anyone trying to escape.
- The Vichy French regime in Algeria ( a puppet government taking its orders from Mussolini and Hitler) interned British and Commonwealth military personnel who fell into its hands in a concentration camp in the South Sahara. Security in this notorious camp was light because there were two hundred miles of desert on all sides and the local Arabs were paid to bring back corpses, rather than living escapees.
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.