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.
Trying to see if enough examples of this actually exist. May need someone else to launch it if I forget.
The villain has our heroes captive in his prison/lair/death volcano, with no escape route. Well, one escape route.
That just so happens to have killed anyone who dares try and use it (often as a Cool and Unusual Punishment
Often serves as an example of Morton's Fork
. May be how the 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
- 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.
- In Game of Thrones, the Arryns' cells quite literally have No Fourth Wall, allowing the prisoner to walk through the gap and leave any time they want (as long as they can survive the 600-foot drop). 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.)
- 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 first Pirates of the Caribbean has Barbossa promise Will he'll let Elizabeth go free to prevent him on from breaking the curse. He indeed lets her walk off the ship while it's in shark-infested waters. As he points out, "it was you who failed to specify when or where."