So you have a criminal. They have been caught, and they are going to the slammer. Justice has been served. Right?
Well, not if the criminal is a Prison Escape Artist
. To them, prisons might as well be made of cardboard.
They can wiggle their way out of anything. Yes, even The Alcatraz
. And if you try to build a Oubliette
just for them, it will fail. Several methods can be used to achieve their escapes, including digging their way out
, making use of air vents
, and having some friends come in disguised as guards
, among others.
Needless to say, they often play a role in a Great Escape
, and may lend a Wrongly Accused
protagonist a hand if they aren't evil
and happen to like said protagonist. If they never get caught again, they might organize escape attempts for other prisoners. Compare and contrast Play-Along Prisoner
, as a Prison Escape Artist
doesn't necessarily have to be able to escape at any time. Some may just seek out opportunities.
Note: This trope is not
simply someone who escapes from prison. This is someone who has escaped and/or has helped others escape more than once, either prior to or during the story.
I don't think we have this one, but I could be wrong. I have a feeling that it's quite common
(though I could be wrong about that, too), but unfortunately I can't think of many examples at the moment.
I bet there are some Real Life
Index: Prison Tropes
, of course.
Anime And Manga
- Gunther Milch from Monster. Dude escaped twelve times prior to when he was introduced.
- The Spook from the Batman comics. His original shtick was offering criminals incarceration insurance: promising that he could break them out of any prison if they were caught.
- The Dalton Brothers from Lucky Luke are this in most of the stories their appear in. They are best known for being Tunnel King but they have tried quite a few other methods as well: cut throuh the jars at the window with a file, use a broken file to make four extra doors (one for each brother) in the cell, make a hole in the wall with either dynamite or with their mattocks, set the prison on fire, hidding in the waggon with food (comic) of dirty clothes (cartoon)... In fact this have become so much of a Running Gag, that the creators in some of the later stories will simply just skip the escape part, since the readers already know easy it is for them.
- The Great Escape, the Film of the Book based on the Real Life event. The inhabitants of the Nazi prison camp are the best escape artists among captured Allied soldiers, and Roger Bartlett (AKA "Big X") is the best organizer of escape attempts among them.
- Both Pour Elle, a french thriller about a man attempting to break his wife out of jail and its English-language remake, The Next Three Days, feature one of these characters. In the latter, he's played by Liam Neeson.
- Frank Morris in Escape from Alcatraz.
- I Love You Phillip Morris is based around Steven Jay Russell, a real life conman who has escaped prison multiple times in increasingly creative ways.
- The Space Precinct episode "Two Against The Rock" featured a psychic alien Prison Escape Artist, who was rather inconspicuously named Houdini.
- River Song in Doctor Who. In the 2011 series so far, she has been shown exiting and entering Stormcage prison at will, even stopping to pick up a phone and holler over the klaxons, "Oh turn it off, I'm breaking in, not out!"
- Parodied with Major Errol Phipps in the Ripping Yarns episode "Escape from Stalag Luft 112B".
- Michael Scofield from Prison Break.
- The Spook in Wizard Of Id is always escaping, but he's always caught again soon afterwards, usually because his plan backfired on him.
- Traveller Classic adventure 8 Prison Planet. One of the prisoners, Axel Herrmon, has escaped from the Imperial prison facility on Newcomb and another prison as well.
- Anne from Dubloon mentions that she has experience breaking out of jail before offering to help Russel break out in the beginning.
- As dramatized in Escape from Alcatraz, Frank Morris is a Real Life example, rendering every single prison he was held in as cardboard, including, you guessed it, Alcatraz. As despite what prison officials said (that he and his two co-escapees drowned) they Never Found the Body, we can only assume that he's gone straight and is living a normal life under an assumed name... assuming he's still alive, that is (he did escape in June 1962, after all).
- Roger Bushell, the man who inspired The Great Escape.
- Steven Jay Russell, as mentioned above.
- Jack Sheppard was a thief in 18th century London, who was arrested and imprisoned four times, but always escaped. This made him a hero among the poorer classes. Eventually, he was caught for a fifth time and hanged.