Created By: Goldfritha on September 9, 2012 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on January 23, 2014
Troped

Protector Behind Bars

Being imprisoned prevents a character from protecting another character, to his anguish.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
The Hero feels strongly about his Protectorate. Obviously, imprisonment will prevent him from doing any protecting, and often goes hand-in-hand with situations where the protectorate is in grave danger. This horrifies him — often more than an impending execution, even. Partly because, being in prison, the Protectorate could be facing any number of dangers without his knowledge.

Can also apply to any other character that the prisoner knows in danger and feels strongly about. When the character is not the Protectorate, the prisoner usually is aware of a peril of which the other character is not.

Because Men Are the Expendable Gender, more likely to be a man anguished over a woman (or child) than vice versa.

This allows even a Lawful Good character who would normally insist on Self-Restraint to break prison, since it's not for his own sake that he wants out. For any character, it provides a powerful motive to escape, and so it invariably leads into the Great Escape.

From the Protectorate's POV, if that's shown, this may be Deus Exit Machina followed by Deus ex Machina, although the prisoner can be considerably less powerful than that, or even the character he's trying to aid.

Examples

Comic Book
  • In Sin City, John Hartigan is behind bars and unable to protect Nancy, a young girl who had previously survived a Serial Killer. His anguish over her possible anguish drives him to get parole and go rescue her.
  • In the "Tarnished Angel" arc of Astro City, Steeljack, prisoner and believing that the Honor Guard did not believe him about the danger, breaks free and get back to the city because he realizes that the small-time crooks of the city had no one to protect them against a murderer but him.

Film
  • In Tangled, Flynn is anguished at the thought not so much of his impending execution as the danger that Rapunzel is in — it is not until he realizes that Mother Gothel plotted the whole thing that he begins to struggle, and his pleas are about the terrible danger she is in.
  • In "Wendy and Lucy", Wendy is apprehended for shoplifting, and worries about her dog who is tied up outside the shop, whilst she is taken into custody. The dog, Lucy, goes missing before Wendy is able to return.
  • Terminator
    • Kyle Reese in Terminator is restrained inside a police station while the T-101 is in the middle of a killing spree, but Kyle manages to release himself in time to protect Sarah Connor once again.
    • Terminator 2. Sarah Conner is locked up in an insane asylum and desperately begs to be released so she can protect her son John from future attacks by Skynet.
    Sarah: Please. He's in great danger. He's naked without me.
  • In the movie Face/Off, this happens to FBI agent Archer briefly after his face transplant, when Castor (who stole Archer's face, after Archer had Castor's face transplanted to his to infiltrate Castor's gang in prison) taunts him and tells him he's going to take over his life and the role of husband and father to his family, while Archer is locked up and mistaken for Castor.
  • In Brave, Fergus locks Merida to keep her safe while he and his men chase down and slaughter a large black bear. However, the bear they are chasing is Merida's mother Elinor. Merida already told her father but he did not believe her. With Merida locked away, she couldn't come to her mother's aid.
  • A variation in Time After Time, where the hero is caught by the police with him being suspected of Jack the Ripper's latest murder spree. He begs them to send someone to protect his girlfriend.

Literature
  • Played straight and then subverted in the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Once they find his Room 101 fear, Winston would gladly betray Julia.
  • Jean Valjean's reason in Les MisÚrables for pleading with Javert to delay his imprisonment was due to him wanting to avoid being this for Cosette.

Video Games
  • This can happen to Ethan in Heavy Rain if he's arrested twice. Jayden will save him the first time, but if it happens again Ethan will spend the rest of the game locked in a holding cell. And if the real killer isn't brought to justice, Ethan will hang himself after he's found guilty for the Origami murders.
  • In Persona 4, Yu is eventually arrested by his own uncle, a detective, when there's clear evidence that Yu is withholding evidence about a high-profile serial murder case. Dojima drags him to the station and begins to interrogate him. The problem is, this leaves Dojima's daughter (and Yu's cousin) Nanako defenseless at home, and then it's revealed that she's the killer's next target...

Web Comics
  • In Order Of The Stick, Elan's worries in prison revolve as much about the danger that Nale's infiltration of the team puts Haley in as about his own innocence.

Western Animation
  • In a Shout-Out to Face/Off, an episode of The Simpsons had Sideshow Bob switch faces with another cellmate. When Marge and Bart visited "Bob", he tried to warn them of Bart being in danger, but the new mouth made him unintelligible and caused him go get locked in a padded cell.

Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • September 9, 2012
    Folamh3
  • September 9, 2012
    captainpat
  • September 27, 2012
    johnnye
    Oy, that name.

    Protector Behind Bars?
  • September 28, 2012
    TBeholder
    A bit too narrow, methinks. Leaves a massive Missing Supertrope or two.
  • September 28, 2012
    Freezer
    Subtrope of Deus Exit Machina?
  • September 28, 2012
    Goldfritha
    What would the supertrope include that would not make this a distinct subtrope?
  • October 3, 2012
    AP
    • In Sin City, John Hartigan is behind bars and unable to protect Nancy, a young girl who had previously survived a Serial Killer. His anguish over her possible anguish drives him to get parole and go rescue her.
  • October 6, 2012
    OmarKarindu
    I think something like Jailed Protector or Imprisoned Protector might be clearer. Protector Behind Bars sounds like it could refer to a character who protects another character while both are in prison.

    In any case, the trope emphasizes that protector can't do his/her/its job because said protector is imprisoned. The current name just focuses on where the protector is.
  • October 6, 2012
    DracMonster
    Protector Imprisonment Predicament? Nice and poetic. Or Protector Prisoner Paradox for alliteration but it may be less clear.
  • October 6, 2012
    Goldfritha
    How would either of those sound different?
  • October 6, 2012
    DracMonster
    Well, "predicament" highlights the fact that it's preventing the guardian from doing his job. (It sounds less like he's taking care of a fellow inmate.)
  • October 6, 2012
    DracMonster
    You know, I just had another thought if we dont have it:

    Powerless Protector Predicament.

    I think you could expand this to a more general trope for any time when a guardian is rendered helpless or restrained and their primary concern isn't themselves but that their charge is left exposed. It would encompass jail, but also being struck down in combat, and a bunch of other situations -- several Adult Fear tropes would probably fit under this. Being jailed could be a subtrope if theres enough examples to warrant it.
  • October 6, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Anyone got an examples of such a situation? We can see whether jailed is a subtrope or fundamental only with more context
  • October 7, 2012
    DracMonster
    Eleventy Zillion, but here's a couple:

    • In Fruits Basket during the flashback to Kyoko's death, when she's hit by the car and realizes she's dying, all of her thoughts are panicking over the fact that Tohru will be alone.

    • Final Fantasy X during Yuna's forced wedding to Seymour. Her guardians crash it in a Big Damn Heroes moment but end up surrounded by guards with guns pointed at their faces and watching Seymour complete the marriage ceremony. (This illustrates my point, it's close to yours but they're not actually imprisoned. There's going to be a lot of cases where the guardian is just temporarily restrained rather than incarcerated.)

    Here's a few pages that would have examples intersecting with this:

    If you don't want to expand yours, I'll start the Super Trope, this imprisonment one would be a Sub Trope and is probably workable on its own.
  • October 7, 2012
    Goldfritha
    I think you are lumping a great deal more into this trope than is described, since you are looking at only the restraint on the protectors. I'm not even sure that force majeure is a tropable thing.
  • October 7, 2012
    DracMonster
    Tell you what, ill go ahead and create a separate YKTTW, I've been mulling this and half inclined to do so anyway, I just thought I'd give you the chance first since your idea inspired me. Yours will work fine as its own page.
  • October 7, 2012
    tardigrade
    In "Wendy and Lucy", Wendy is apprehended for shoplifting, and worries about her dog who is tied up outside the shop, whilst she is taken into custody. The dog, Lucy, goes missing before Wendy is able to return.
  • October 7, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    Kyle Reese in Terminator is restrained inside a police station while the T-101 is in the middle of a killing spree, but Kyle manages to release himself in time to protect Sarah Connor once again.
  • November 25, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Film

    In the movie Face Off, this happens to FBI agent Archer briefly after his face transplant, when Castor (who stole Archer's face, after Archer had Castor's face transplanted to his to infiltrate Castor's gang in prison) taunts him and tells him he's going to take over his life and the role of husband and father to his family, while Archer is locked up and mistaken for Castor.
  • December 22, 2012
    KTera
    • This can happen to Ethan in Heavy Rain if he's arrested twice. Jayden will save him the first time, but if it happens again Ethan will spend the rest of the game locked in a holding cell. And if the real killer isn't brought to justice, Ethan will hang himself after he's found guilty for the Origami murders.
  • February 28, 2013
    KingZeal
    • In Persona 4, Yu is eventually arrested by his own uncle, a detective, when there's clear evidence that Yu is withholding evidence about a high-profile serial murder case. Dojima drags him to the station and begins to interrogate him. The problem is, this leaves Dojima's daughter (and Yu's cousin) Nanako defenseless at home, and then it's revealed that she's the killer's next target...
  • March 29, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Terminator
      • The Terminator example above (Kyle Reese)
      • Terminator 2. Sarah Conner is locked up in an insane asylum and desperately begs to be released so she can protect her son John from future attacks by Skynet.
      Sarah: Please. He's in great danger. He's naked without me.
  • April 2, 2013
    ElectricalLass
    Jean Valjean's reason in Les Miserables for pleading with Javert to delay his imprisonment was due to him wanting to avoid being this for Cosette.
  • January 21, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
    • In a Shout Out to Face Off, an episode of The Simpsons had Sideshow Bob switch faces with another cellmate. When Marge and Bart visited "Bob", he tried to warn them of Bart being in danger, but the new mouth made him unintelligible and caused him go get locked in a padded cell.
  • January 22, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    A variation in Time After Time, where the hero is caught by the police with him being suspected of Jack the Ripper's latest murder spree. He begs them to send someone to protect his girlfriend.

    Congratulations on the four hats!
  • January 23, 2014
    ElectricalLass
    More Examples !
  • January 23, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    • In Brave, Fergus locks Merida to keep her safe while he and his men chase down and slaughter a large black bear. However, the bear they are chasing is Merida's mother Elinor. Merida already told her father but he did not believe her. With Merida locked away, she couldn't come to her mother's aid.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3009grc8jpd15xgykt3k35kj