Created By: TARDIS2468 on February 16, 2013 Last Edited By: TARDIS2468 on February 18, 2013

Witness Unprotection Program

A criminal hunted by goons hands himself over to the police, but the goons are able to kill him anyway,

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Trope
Until I can think of a good description, the laconic version says it all.


Examples:

Literature
  • The Saint short story "The High Fence". A captured criminal agrees to turn Queen's Evidence and tell the police who the High Fence (an underworld buyer of stolen goods) really is. He's murdered in his cell by being fed poisoned food. When another criminal is taken into custody and agrees to tell Inspector Teal the High Fence's address, he's shot dead before he can do so.

Film
  • The Dark Knight: Batman kidnaps a mob accountant and turns him over to Gotham police, and the accountant agrees to help the police bring the mob down in exchange for amnesty. In response, the mob hires The Joker as a 'problem-solver'; Joker proceeds to get himself arrested, blow up the police station with a cellphone bomb, spring the accountant from his cell and execute him by immolating him with gasolene.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Doctor Who serial The Ambassadors of Death, a scientist called Lennox runs away from where he's been held and forced to do alien experiments and turns himself in to UNIT. His superiors are quick to find out where he is and murder him by putting a radioactive isotope in his cell.
  • In the Torchwood episode Small Worlds, Mark Goodson, a paedophile, is being stalked by alien fairies (It Makes Sense in Context). He turns himself in to the police, hoping to be safe there, but the fairies get in and kill him.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • February 16, 2013
    Lavalyte
  • February 16, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • Downplayed in a couple of episodes of Barney Miller
      • When a rumor goes around the neighborhood that the squad is closing down, a Protection Racket starts up. A robber turns himself in to the police, figuring it's safer there.
      • Inveterate gambler Nick finally wins a bet. Then his bookie enters the squad room to turn himself in; it turns out a whole lot of people won that same bet and the bookie doesn't have enough money to cover his losses, and he thinks he'll be safer in jail than out.
  • February 16, 2013
    TheHandle
  • February 16, 2013
    aurora369
    Omnipresent in Russian criminal/mystery fiction, where a cell is NEVER safe and always contains Mafiya goons. Truth In Television.
  • February 16, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    • Runaway: Jackie is not safe from Luther even with police protection.

    also Not Even A Cell Is Safe for somereason makes me think of weapons that destroy actual cells or a political attack against monasteries for some reason.
  • February 17, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
    • The Saint short story "The High Fence". A captured criminal agrees to turn Queen's Evidence and tell the police who the High Fence (an underworld buyer of stolen goods) really is. He's murdered in his cell by being fed poisoned food. When another criminal is taken into custody and agrees to tell Inspector Teal the High Fence's address, he's shot dead before he can do so.
  • February 17, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Didn't we already have Witless Protection Program or somesuch?
  • February 17, 2013
    Astaroth
    • The Dark Knight: Batman kidnaps a mob accountant and turns him over to Gotham police, and the accountant agrees to help the police bring the mob down in exchange for amnesty. In response, the mob hires The Joker as a 'problem-solver'; Joker proceeds to get himself arrested, blow up the police station with a cellphone bomb, spring the accountant from his cell and execute him by immolating him with gasolene.
  • February 17, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Is there where the Witness protection program failed to protect the victim?
  • February 18, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ I am pretty sure that's it.

    • In the epilogue of Mafia The City Of Lost Heaven, Tommy Angelo himself is found and ritually murdered by his old mafia pals despite having his identity changed and moved to another state by the Feds.
  • February 18, 2013
    Arivne
    The description should have a reference to the Witness Protection page.

    Several of the examples on that page (e.g. Bullitt, I Am The Cheese, The Wire) are also this trope.
  • February 18, 2013
    spacemarine50
    ^^^From the examples I saw, I thought it was either the WPP telling the criminals where the victim is, or a Xanatos Gambit by WPP to get the victim killed. Or WPP are idiots.
  • February 18, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    Since this trope seems to be for "killed despite being in police custody" I suspect that there are going to be a lot more examples of deaths in jail or prison than out in witness protection. I'm not sure the current title is sufficiently clear. Maybe Killed In Custody or something like that would be better.

    Does this include cases where the cops are corrupt and *they* kill the person?

    Both a cause and an effect of Police Are Useless (no one's going to turn themselves in if they think the Don will still be able to have them killed), and of course if The Bad Guys Are Cops this is a definite possibility.
  • February 18, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I agree that as described right now this isn't a distinct thing -- so much as an underlying theme to several distinct things.
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