Often times a good way to add extra Nightmare Fuel
to the already-scary Prison
setting is to show inmates reaching their hands out between the bars like animals. Bonus points if it is done by several inmates at the same time.
More often than not, there is essentially nothing to grab, or alternatively, they reach out way too early to grab it; it's probably more often for the symbolic value of "I'm not completely
in my cell."
Sometimes, though, a variation of this trope can come if the imprisoned person is reaching for something (ex: a key
) outside the cell.
EDITED IN: Fixed reference to outdated trope name.
- The Shawshank Redemption has, on the first night for a bunch of new inmates brought to Shawshank, the majority of the other inmates each reaching both hands out between the bars to clap in unison while repeatedly shouting "fresh fish" as a means of taunting the new inmates.
- In Return of the Jedi, C-3PO gets grabbed by that tentacle through the bars in Jabba's dungeon.
- Seen at the end of the movie Tower Heist, when the Big Bad is sent to prison.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean, trapped pirates reach for a dog on the other side of the bars that has the keys around his neck.
- In Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Robin is captured and led through a dungeon, where there is a floor grate with prisoners' hands reaching through it. His captor lays into them with a whip, and they withdraw.
- In Manda Scott's Boudica trilogy, about the life of the Celtic warrior queen, when the rebel British army reaches Colchester, the Roman capital, she is shocked and disgusted to find British people taken for export to Rome as slaves are kept in an underground pit covered with a grille. This barely allows them room to crouch, so that she sees hundreds of arms waving up through the grille, seeming like disembodied arms growing like grass. She orders the slaves to be freed, and for atrocitas against every Roman they find, and the burning of their city.
- In Assassins of Gor Tarl takes a tour through a slaver's pens. One woman sticks her hands through the bars begging to be sold, and the tour guide lashes her away from the bars. He tells Tarl that she's not yet ready for sale; when she doesn't run away from the bars when lashed, enduring the whip to try to touch a man, she'll be ready.
- On A&E's Beyond Scared Straight, the inmates will often reach their hands through the bars to intimidate the teens.
- Comedic examples pop up in NCIS and Bones when our heroes are wrongfully imprisoned. Their True Companions come to literally bail them out, and you can see the imprisoned characters reaching gratefully through the bars.
- In TheCloser, Johnson and Sgt. Gabriel have to walk past a long series of cells, where guys are pounding on the bars and shouting obscenities at her. Gabriel wordlessly steps between her and the prisoners.
- Not a prison, but at one point in Mystery Case Files: Escape From Ravenhearst you need to move down the hall of a reconstructed insane asylum. There are animated mannequins in the cells reaching out for you.
- In Brazil, if you go to jail without having a college degree you will end up in a very small cell with other ten people or more. Duo to this reason, whenever a reportage shows said cells, inmates act accordingly to this trope.