The main character in a prison cell. No, in this story, generally the main character isn't guilty of an actual crime. They're arrested as a flimsy excuse, in fact, the flimsier the better. Actually, they're likely test subjects for a mad scientific experiment that crosses some line or other, or an equally evil or insane magical ritual. You want to reveal this. But you don't want to sacrifice your main character, since you have, after all, devoted hours of screen time (or hundreds of pages). So, you introduce a Doomed Cellmate. All you need her is a name and a face, and a few lines of backstory. The next day, something will happen to them.
Examples:Live Action TV
- In Starhunter, Dante's niece Percy gets arrested. They talk about how some of the prisoners are in "demand" by males, and she shrugs it off. Later, one of the other prisoners gets hauled off to be raped to drive the point home...
- In Snow White and the Huntsman, the title character is in a cell near a young girl. After the witch gets through with her, she's an old hag.
- Subverted in Legend. Jack and his friends slide down the tunnel into a cell in Darkness' dungeons. They find a fellow prisoner: a fairy who worked for Darkness but betrayed him and was punished by being put in a cell. While they're talking to him one of Darkness' minions enters his cell and takes him out to be baked in a pie (no blackbirds, though). They eventually rescue him before he meets his fate.
- In Players of Gor, Tarl is imprisoned with Nim-Nim, a member of the Urt People. (Urts are giant rats about the size of a small pony. Urt People are humans who live within a herd of urts, are vaguely urt-like in appearance, and can "speak" urt.) Nim-Nim "helps" Tarl to escape, which turns out to be a joke on the part of the Big Bad, who planned the escape so that Tarl will be killed by the urt herd that Nim-Nim brings Tarl to. Nim-Nim excitedly rejoins the herd, but during his time in prison he has lost the herd scent, so he is descended upon and killed as an outsider - which is also Tarl's intended fate. Instead, Tarl kills an urt and uses its carcass to make the other urts think he's an urt, at least long enough to cross the herd and escape unscathed on the other side.
- Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit – Will Travel. Kip is being held prisoner in the Wormfaces' base on Pluto. Two of his cellmates are the enemy's human minions who are going to be Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves because the Wormfaces decide that they have outlived their usefulness. First one of them is removed from the cell, then the other. The second one to go told Kip their fate: to be cooked and eaten by the Wormfaces.
- Inversion: Anytime The Punisher goes to prison, his cellmate dies very fast -- usually at his hands.
- This usually is the case for Ghost Rider too. Anyone who doesn't measure up to his standards of innocence gets the Penance Stare.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "The City Without A Name". If the investigators are captured in the title location they will be put in individual prison cells. Each day one of them will be taken and fed to the immature chthonians.
- Castle Wolfenstein (1981). The introductory screens have information given by the PC's cellmate. It ends with the other prisoner screaming as he's being dragged away by the Nazis to be tortured.
- In Tales of Legendia Shirles meets a friend in the cell adjacent to her. She soon gets dragged off.
- This turns out to be an inversion. She's the one who eventually gets used for an experiment.
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Zelda mentions something happened to the other princesses, before Link saves her.
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