Created By: hobbitguy1420 on March 20, 2012 Last Edited By: hobbitguy1420 on April 23, 2012
Nuked

Stuck In the Bank Robbery

The characters are stuck in a bank robbery or other hostage situation, and have to resolve it.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs an Index, Rolling Updates This is a Narrative Device

It seems like action protagonists can't do *anything* without getting into trouble. They've hardly gone out for a drive when the explosions and helicopters start flying, if they go on vacation you can be sure there's going to be a drug ring operating there.

So if an action protagonist is swinging by the bank to check on his account balance, well, you can be sure that's when the guns will come out and the masks will go on.

This trope represents occasions in action series when their heroes inadvertently get stuck in banks while they're being robbed, thus forcing them to work against (or, occasionally, with) their captors in order to protect the other captives. This trope is especially common in action and action-comedy television shows. If the protagonist is a superhero in their secret identity, can result in Bruce Wayne Held Hostage.

Often leads to a Die Hard in a bank moment. If the hero needs to communicate with others outside the bank, it's a good thing Everyone Knows Morse.


Anime and Manga
  • Aramaki visits friend in London in one episode of Stand Alone Complex. She is a wine maker, who is held up, and the chief has to not only contend with foiling the robbery but with the corrupt SWAT team under orders to kill them all.

Film

Live-Action TV
  • The Bob's Burgers episode "Bob Day Afternoon". Bob is asked to deliver food to the robber and his hostages, but things go wrong and Bob ends up inside the bank, having to serve as negotiator.
  • Happens twice in Burn Notice.
    • One episode has Michael helping a woman who works in a bank, whose online date was stalking her. Turns out, the "stalker" was a bank robber.
    • A fourth season episode complicated things by making Mike and Sam's clients the robbers.
  • The Castle episode "Cops & Robbers"
  • Happens to Delko in the CSI: Miami episode "Urban Hellraisers".
  • An episode of CSI NY had this, as well. The guy was angry about a case and ended up trying to force the group's hand. Mac wound up getting taken on a car ride and thrown into the river with the car, though he survived.
  • Due South had an episode where the protagonists were trapped in a bank vault bank while robbers were trying to break in. They foiled the robbery by setting off the sprinkler system so that the vault filled with water, which knocked the robbers back when they eventually got in.
  • Happens to McCall in The Equalizer. As an added bonus, the episode had Mickey showing up too late after McCall had already disarmed the situation.
  • Happens to character Mike Cannon in a episode of Las Vegas.
  • "The Bank Shot Job," from Leverage. Complicated in that the team are in the middle of a con at the time. Another example of the robbers being sympathetic.
  • Happens in Monk, but with a twist. The entire staff of the bank are actually its robbers, and everyone in the main cast, including police chief Leland Stottlemeyer, is trapped in the vault. In order to escape, as nobody knows they're locked in there, they have to hack the bank's scrolling marquee and replace "Low Rate Loans" with "Help, We're Trapped Inside the Bank." Even that doesn't work, so Randy tells the silver statue impersonator out front to call the police.
  • The episode "Gus Walks into a Bank" from the third season of Psych
  • Subverted in Supernatural, where the boys get locked in during a hostage situation, then talk the hostage taker into keeping the hostages longer, so they can seek out the nasty of the week.
  • Happens in the X Files episode "Monday," with the added twist that the bank robbery was tied to a time loop that Mulder was stuck in.

Video Games
  • Max Payne is caught in a middle of bank robbery in the first game, just as his cover is blown, so both The Mafia and the police come after him.
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • March 21, 2012
    chicagomel
    CSI NY did one of those. The guy was angry about a case and ended up trying to force the group's hand. Mac wound up getting taken on a car ride and thrown into the river with the car, though he survived.
  • March 21, 2012
    NightNymph
    • X Files had one of these episodes with an added twist that the bank robbery was tied to a time loop that Mulder was stuck in.

    Not an exact example: The episode "Nightshifter" of Supernatural had Sam and Dean stuck in a bank during a "hostage situation" though it was specifically not a robbery (the potential robbery was averted), and not a typical hostage situation. A civilian trying to help took the bank hostage trying to find the "mandroid" that was impersonating people. It was really a shape shifter that Sam and Dean had to then hunt before the authorities got into the bank and found them (Sam and Dean) instead.
  • March 22, 2012
    Koveras
    • Max Payne is caught in a middle of bank robbery in the first game, just as his cover is blown, so both The Mafia and the police come after him.
  • March 22, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    Nightnymph, would you say that the Supernatural episode counts as a Subversion, an Aversion, or simply Playing with the trope?
  • March 22, 2012
    foxley
    Happens to Delko in the CSI Miami episode "Urban Hellraisers".
  • March 22, 2012
    Hedgi
    "Gus walks into a Bank" from the third season of Psych
  • March 23, 2012
    NightNymph
    That is a good question, hobbitguy1420. It may depend on how important the bank robbery part is to the definition of the trope. The episode begins with a subversion: there is a live newscast showing a typical bank robbery/hostage situation. There is even one of those "breaking news" type things in the bottom corner saying "Bank Robbery," but soon after the stage is set, it is Dean (the hero) coming out of the bank saying "Don't shoot!" and releasing a hostage. The episode then reverts to "one day ago" and we see how we got to that point. Later as part of the flashback sequence, Dean and Sam are taken hostage in the bank (where they are pretending to be checking the functioning of the security cameras). But very soon they convince the hostage taker they are on his side - not to let the people go, but to help the hostage taker keep the people hostage so they can find the shapeshifter more easily. It is ultimately to save people in general, but that doesn't negate that they end up being the hostage takers to achieve that goal. And then the police and the FBI show up with the usual bank robbery/hostage trappings: the cutting of the power, the negotiating phone calls, the snipers, etc. all working against the heros who are wanted by the authorities. (Did I mention that this episode is awesome?)

    So bottom line: The begining of the episode makes it look like a Bank Robbery/ hostage situation is occurring, but when we see Dean releasing a hostage, that scenario becomes unlikely - Subversion

    Unless it ends up that "Dean" is a shapeshifter (which could be possible on this show) - small potential for being played straight

    Then the heros are for a while taken hostage in a bank (just not due to a bank robbery) - Played straight for a bit

    But the heros talk the hostage taker down and join him in keeping everyone hostage while they search for the monster (the shapeshifter) that is among the hostages and can look like anyone - Subversion? or Heavy Playing with the Trope?

    Not an Aversion because a good deal of the episode revolves around the hostage situation in the bank with all of the usual trappings as mentioned above. It even includes the FBI take over of the hostage situation cliche - Cop 1: "Ohhh Crap." Cop 2: "What?" Cop 1: "FBI's here." Cop 2: "Oh crap."

    I'm not sure I was very helpful there. Can you make heads or tails of what fits best?
  • March 23, 2012
    Arivne
    If the protagonist is a superhero in their secret identity, can result in Bruce Wayne Held Hostage.
  • March 23, 2012
    Belfagor
  • March 23, 2012
    TonyG
    The Bobs Burgers epsiode "Bob Day Afternoon". Bob is asked to deliver food to the robber and his hostages, but things go wrong and Bob ends up inside the bank, having to serve as negociator.
  • March 23, 2012
    NightNymph
    Thank you, Belfagor.
  • March 25, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    Any other notes? Indices? Is This Tropable?
  • March 25, 2012
    NightNymph
    hobbitguy1420 - one comment. In the Supernatural example, it is not a bank robber who takes everyone hostage in the bank (despite the misleading opening), but it is a hostage situation in a bank. So if you change "bank robbery" to "hostage situation" and "robber" to "hostage taker" in that example, all should be close enough (it's a very complicated example.) The hostage taker was actually also trying to stop the nasty of the week, but his plan to do so - take the bank hostage to flush out the potential robber monster - was very ill-advised. Also it's even more of a subversion perhaps in that Sam and Dean actually become the hostage takers - they talk the hostage taker into letting them lead - and continue to keep everyone hostage even after the original hostage taker is taken down by the authorities.
  • March 25, 2012
    kjnoren
    I'm not really sure from the description and the title what you are going for, that the plot places the protagonist into a bank robbery or other sticky situation without them doing anything, or that this happens to them frequently (which limits the trope to series formats).

    A good example of the former (which IMO should be the main point of this trope) is JCVD.
  • March 26, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    It's supposed to be the former; I edited the entry and added JCVD. Anyone else? Index ideas?
  • March 27, 2012
    spideydude
    Inverted and subverted on Sanctuary. Inverted because it's the protagonists that are holding up the bank. Subverted because they were never going to actually rob the place, they just wanted to keep everyone there so they could figure out which "hostage" was infected by an abnormal.
  • March 27, 2012
    kjnoren
    Checking further, this is basically that Die Hard On An X is combined with a Plot Magnet, or it is Bruce Wayne Held Hostage. Not sure that is tropable, really.
  • March 27, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    I dunno. the fact that I could name 5 or 6 series who shared the exact same plot premise implies to me that it was tropable. It's not necessarily Die Hard On An X, as they don't always wind up sneaking around trying to foil the baddies stealthily.
  • April 5, 2012
    mdulwich
    Due South had an episode where the protagonists were trapped in a bank vault bank while robbers were trying to break in. They foiled the robbery by setting off the sprinkler system so that the vault filled with water, which knocked the robbers back when they eventually got in.
  • April 5, 2012
    sigh824
    Happens in a episode of Las Vegas to Mike Cannon.
  • April 6, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Happened to Mc Call in The Equalizer. As an added bonus had Mickey showing up too late after Mc Call had already disarmed the situation.
  • April 6, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Happened in Burn Notice to Michael as well.
  • April 6, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    Think I already have all the Burn Notice examples listed, John Di Fool - did I miss one from the fourth season?
  • April 11, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Happens in Monk but with a twist. The entire staff of the bank are actually its robbers, and everyone in the main cast, including police chief Leland Stottlemeyer is trapped in the vault. In order to escape, since nobody knows they're locked in there, they have to hack the bank's scrolling marquee and replace "Low Rate Loans" with "Help, We're Trapped Inside the Bank." Even that doesn't work so Randy tells the silver statue impersonator out front to call the police.
  • April 11, 2012
    tsstevens
    If t is tropeable, then we cannot forget this.

    • Aramaki visits friend in London in one episode of Stand Alone Complex. She is a wine maker, who is held up, and the chief has to not only contend with foiling the robbery but with the corrupt SWAT team under orders to kill them all.
  • April 13, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    OK. been a while on this one. Looks like it's got a good selection of examples. I think it's tropeable. Anyone else?
  • April 15, 2012
    fulltimeD
    • Another example from The X Files: "Duane Barry," a second season episode, featured Mulder attempting to talk down an insane UFO abductee ( who turned out to also be a former Federal Agent) who was holding a travel agency and several of its customers hostage.

    • Yet Another X-Files example: "Folie a Deux" featured an employee holding the call center he worked at hostage because only he was aware that his boss was actually a mind-controlling giant cockroach in disguise.

    • Battlestar Galactica (reimagined): An episode where several of the crew took time off to visit a bar on the pleasure cruiser Cloud Nine, but got caught up in a terrorist plot that involved holding the hotel bar hostage.

  • April 15, 2012
    JonnyB
    In an episode of Stargate SG 1, the team gates into a museum and are mistaken for terrorists; the museum locks down with them and a number of museum patron "hostages" inside. (And one lone security guard, in a spoof of Die Hard.)
  • April 15, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    Sounds like this is expanding beyond bank robberies to all hostage situations. *That* would probably take it too close to Die Hard In An X for comfort; we should probably stick just to banks.
  • April 23, 2012
    hobbitguy1420
    Folks' opinion on that - should this apply to folks who randomly show up in all sorts of hostage situations, or just bank robberies?
  • April 23, 2012
    fulltimeD
    How about a compromise? Robberies, but not necessarily bank robberies?? (though bank robberies would form many of the examples, I'm sure).
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=rkrvn2sk5rtjld3a89n296kj&trope=DiscardedYKTTW