Created By: BoukenDutch on November 30, 2017 Last Edited By: BoukenDutch on December 14, 2017
Troped

Brig Ball Bouncing

A character locked up in a prison cell (or occasionally some other form of containment) passes time by throwing/catching a baseball.

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Locked up all by yourself, you have to pass time somehow.
A trope popularized by the prison movie The Great Escape: a character locked up in a prison cell (or some other place they are unable/not allowed to leave, like being grounded), often in solitary confinement, faced with boredom and little else to do, passes time by sitting down against one of the walls of the room, throwing a ball (usually a baseball, but variations are possible) at the wall opposite of them and catching it when it bounces back, over and over. Most of the time with a bored expression on his/her face and clearly not putting much effort in the throwing/catching.

Along with Captivity Harmonica, it perfectly demonstrates the boredom and isolation an imprisoned character suffers through.


Examples:

Film - Animation
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension: After being captured, 2nd dimension-Candace is seen bouncing a baseball against the wall of her cell like Captain Hilts, just before she is freed.
  • Chicken Run: The movie is in many ways a parody of The Great Escape. One of the main characters is a chicken named Ginger, who is notorious for her escape attempts, but gets caught and put in solitary confinement every time. While there, she passes time throwing a ball at the wall.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: B.O.B. can be seen bouncing a ball on his cell. It dislodges his one eyeball, which he then bounces off the wall as well.

Film - Live Action
  • The Great Escape: Provides the page image. As mentioned in the trope description, this movie is either the Trope Maker or the Trope Codifier, as many of the other works that use it are doing so as a Shout-Out to this movie; the character Captain Hilts frequently ends up in The Cooler, a solitary cell, as punishment for his many escape attempts. While there, he can be seen throwing a baseball against the cooler cell wall to entertain himself. He even has a baseball glove for catching the ball.
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: Ethan Hunt throws a rock around his cell to overcome boredom.
  • Safe House: Matt Weston can be seen bouncing a ball while imprisoned.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: While in Hulk's room (which, while quite luxurious, is still a prison), Hulk can be seen bouncing a huge ball against the wall in the background while Thor and Valkyrie are talking.

Live-Action TV
  • The Flash (2014):
    • In "Rogue Air", Mark Mardon is shown in his containment cell in the Pipeline bouncing a ball off the wall since the small, bare cell has no other forms of entertainment to offer. Then the cell gets gassed to sedate him.
    • During the third act of the Crisis on Earth-X four-parter, while imprisoned in the pipeline, Harry can be seen playing with a ball in his cell, driving his neighbor Cisco nuts and causing them to bicker as usual, much to Dinah's irritation.
  • Arrested Development: In the episode "Key Decision", Gob gets himself locked up in the same prison where his father is interred for a magic trick. After he fails the trick (seemingly), his father decides to play the game of catch they never did on the outside. Unfortunately, their bonding moment is interrupted when Gob is shanked by another prisoner, White Power Bill.

Western Animation
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In the episode "Escape from Phineas Tower", during the song Breakin' Out, there is a brief scene with Phineas and Ferb inside a prison cell parodying the cooler from The Great Escape, where Phineas can be bouncing a ball against the wall of the cell.
    • "Robot-Rodeo": Has Perry throwing a ball against the wall in the containment trap Doofenshmirtz put him in.
    • "Picture This": A mime is seen bouncing a ball against the wall of an invisible box.
  • Generator Rex: In the episode "The Day Everything Changed", Rex in his room/cell is bouncing a ball off the wall.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "A Streetcar Named Marge" has a B-plot about Maggie staying at "Ayn Rand School for Tots" daycare center, which spoofs "The Great Escape". Maggie even bounces a ball against the wall of the playpen she is put in by Ms. Sinclair, similar to Captain Hilts in the movie.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: In "Hero of the Hourglass", when Jake is grounded by his dad, he is seen in his room, lying on his bed, and using his tail to bounce a baseball off the ceiling.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "The Night the Clown Cried", Scooby is sent to a farm and can be seen throwing a ball against his cell wall, catching it with his mouth.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Rainbow Dash gets grounded (as in being unable to fly) when she hurts her wing and gets stuck in a hospital bed. She starts killing time by bouncing a ball.
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • November 30, 2017
    TonyG
    Monsters Vs Aliens: B.O.B. is bouncing a ball on his cell. It dislodges his one eyeball, which he then bounces off the wall as well.
  • November 30, 2017
    Theriocephalus
    I'm thinking the title may cause confusion with Idiot Ball and its subtypes (Distress Ball, Hero Ball, Villain Ball) and conversely the Smart Ball. Maybe Prison Baseball?
  • November 30, 2017
    BoukenDutch
    Prison Baseball it is, for now. New suggestions are still welcome of course.
  • November 30, 2017
    NateTheGreat
    How often is it a baseball, and how often is it a simple rubber ball?
  • November 30, 2017
    girlyboy
    Is Great Escape merely the most famous example, or is it the actual Trope Maker / Trope Codifier?
  • November 30, 2017
    LeoMR
    Is this trope meant to be about imprisonment/containment specifically, or more about the boredom aspect generally? Because I think there are many examples of this being used to demonstrate the boredom of characters who are not imprisoned (e.g. characters who are waiting for something/someone to come).
  • November 30, 2017
    BoukenDutch
    @ Nate The Great: It is a baseball in The Great Escape, and that also became the title since just 'ball' would be too confusing (see Theriocephalus' comment).

    @Girlboy: I'm not sure if it's the trope maker, but trope codifier could be correct.

    @Leo MR: all examples I know involve a character being imprisoned, or otherwise not allowed to leave the place they are in. How many other examples do you know? If there are enough we might expand the trope and rename it 'Ball of boredom' or something.
  • November 30, 2017
    Kartoonkid95
    • Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated: In "The Night the Clown Cried", Scooby is sent to a farm and throws a ball against his cell wall, catching it with his mouth.
  • November 30, 2017
    BKelly95
    Live Action Television
    • The Arrested Development episode "Key Decision" has Gob get himself locked up in the same prison where his father is interred for a magic trick. After he fails the trick (seemingly), his father decides to play the game of catch they never did on the outside. Unfortunately, their bonding moment is interrupted when Gob is shanked by another prisoner, White Power Bill.
  • November 30, 2017
    NateTheGreat
  • November 30, 2017
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Capitalized the first word of a sentence.
    • Examples section

    Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context.
  • December 1, 2017
    BoukenDutch
    @Nate The Great: Good one!

    Added more context to the zero context examples.
  • December 1, 2017
    henke37
    • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Rainbow Dash gets grounded (as in being unable to fly) when she hurts her wing and gets stuck in a hospital bed. She starts killing time by bouncing a ball.
  • December 2, 2017
    Snowy66
    earlier example from The Flash 2014:
    • In "Rogue Air", Mark Mardon is shown in his containment cell in the Pipeline bouncing a ball off the wall, promptly before the cell gets gassed to sedate him.
  • December 4, 2017
    Malloon
    I definitely think we should expand this to include all instances of a character bouncing or throwing an object out of boredom caused by, for all intents and purposes, incarceration, but mention that the object is usually a ball, and that the setting is usually a jail cell or similar.

    An example that illustrates why I think the generalisation makes sense:

    • At the beginning of the first book of Die Wilden Kerle, about a young German football team, the members are bored, waiting for winter to end, because they aren't allowed to play outside. One of them passes the time by shooting his ball at the wall of his room, again and again.

    For the title, I'd suggest keeping the alliteration by going with "Bouncing Ball of Boredom", or similar.

  • December 4, 2017
    DustSnitch
    ^ Bouncing Ball of Boredom is a better name. The emphasis in examples should be what the bouncing communicates, not just that the bouncing happens. Otherwise this is just People Sit On Chairs.

    BTW, I edited the description to fix a typo.
  • December 4, 2017
    Theriocephalus
    ^ Bouncing Ball of Boredom sounds like a good name. It also flows a bit better than Brig Ball Bouncing, at least to me.
  • December 5, 2017
    Arivne
    If this isn't going to be limited to prison settings, Bouncing Ball Of Boredom is better.
  • December 5, 2017
    BoukenDutch
    As far as I know, this trope is still mostly associated with prison settings, and pretty much always as a reference to The Great Escape. Expanding the trope to other scenario's runs the risk of it becomming People Sit On Chairs, like Dust Snitch already pointed out.
  • December 13, 2017
    LegitimateIdiot
    OP, if you’re going to launch this soon, remember that a trope proposal requires five hats. You currently have four.
  • December 13, 2017
    BoukenDutch
    I have 6 hats and 2 discards, but as far as i know those 2 discards do not automatically cancel out 2 of the 6 hats. In fact, the launch button is already available on the bottom of the page. Something that only happens when you have enough hats.
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