Created By: nameheregrrer on May 26, 2011 Last Edited By: Morgenthaler on June 24, 2016

Sky Cell

A prison with fatal drops instead of walls

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Trope
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http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/400px_thomas_denmark_skycell.png
Watch your step.

Most prisons have walls and guards. This one is open to the air. In fact, there's open air below it as well. The only way out is through the door or by flying. May be on top of a tower, but that's not necessarily the case. Obviously, this tends to be an example of The Alcatraz, as most settings rarely have people capable of unpowered flight. It's rarely an Oubliette, simply because it's a rather generic way of containing people who can't fly.

Note that the key aspect is an easily reachable drop, or unlocked airlock IN SPACE!. If reaching the fatal drop requires what would be a major breakout attempt on the ground, it's not an example of this trope. If you're not quite sure, ask yourself if it would be remotely secure on the ground.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In Thorgal there is "mouth of the Sun", though it is more a death penalty than a prison. The victims are taken (via a net on ropes) to a small cave in the face of the cliff. Not only do they have no way out, short of jumping to their deaths but the whole thing is located in the desert and the cave is facing south and not nearly deep enough to provide shade... even if it wasn't filled with mirror-like crystals.
  • Lucky Luke: "Tortillas for the Daltons" has Joe escape from Luke onto a mesa... only to find that he's trapped on maybe four square feet of dirt. When Luke suggests he come back in a year or so, Joe quickly surrenders.

    Film 
  • In Time Bandits, after Evil takes the map, he locks the Bandits in a cage hung above a huge chasm.
  • From the movie First Knight, as Guinevere is led across a hanging bridge to a small ledge over a bottomless pit...
    Maligant: This is called an oubliette. That's French for "a place of forgetting." Your quarters, My Lady. No gates, no bars, no locks. Just walls of air.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Farscape episode "The Ugly Truth", the characters are put on a "holding cell" on an alien spaceship that consists of a metal disc hung from the ceiling above a huge drop, with no railings.
  • In the British miniseries Casanova, the titular character was in one. He manages to escape, though.

    Video Games 
  • The citizens of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite have done this to themselves out of extreme xenophobia. Booker is infiltrating it to get what may be the only sane person left out.
  • The Aerial Prison in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers. - ZCE
  • An Ard Skellig island in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has prison cells clearly inspired by the sky cells from Game of Thrones, as proved by the corpse of a Tyrion lookalike and some lines of dialogue taken from the show.
  • Durgesh Prison from Far Cry 4 has a few of these. Ajay gets stuck in one and escapes by assembling a makeshift grappling hook.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Earthbender prison is built far out at sea with only a few token handrails, ensuring the prisoners have no contact with dirt to fight with.
  • The Legend of Korra: While Zaheer's prison has walls, it's built on a remote mountaintop and still has guards. Every precaution was taken, but no one (including Zaheer) could have predicted that he'd gain airbending abilities that allowed him to quickly escape the mountain.
  • The second season of Loonatics Unleashed has many dangerous superpowered criminals moved from deep subterranean burrows to a prison satellite in orbit above the stratosphere of Acmetropolis. Many of the Loonatics' Rogues Gallery are housed in the satellite, including Massive, Otto the Odd and Electro J. Fudd.


Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • May 26, 2011
    LeeM
    Is This Tropeable, or should it be expanded to include all forms of unorthodox prison?
  • May 27, 2011
    NateTheGreat
    We already have Oubliette.
  • May 27, 2011
    LondonKdS
    In the Farscape episode "The Ugly Truth", the characters are put on a "holding cell" on an alien spaceship that consists of a metal disc hung from the ceiling above a huge drop, with no railings.
  • May 27, 2011
    Fearmonger
    The citizens of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite have done this to themselves out of extreme xenophobia. Booker is infiltrating it to get what may be the only sane person left out.
  • May 27, 2011
    dalek955
    • In Time Bandits, after Evil takes the map, he locks the Bandits in a cage hung above a huge chasm.
    • In Schlock Mercenary, the Touch-and-Go's brig cells are double-walled, with hard vacuum inside the walls. That way, any cell that the prisoners manage to break open will explosively decompress.
  • May 27, 2011
    jaytee
    Would Rapunzel count? Tangled's modern interpretation would be a subversion maybe.
  • May 27, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    In Thorgal there is "mouth of the Sun", though it is more a death penalty than a prison. The victims are taken (via a net on ropes) to a small cave in the face of the cliff. Not only do they have no way out, short of jumping to their deaths but the whole thing is located in the desert and the cave is facing south and not nearly deep enough to provide shade... even if it wasn't filled with mirror-like crystals.
  • May 27, 2011
    nameheregrrer
    I've provisionally added the examples and clarified the trope some more. Someone with more familiarity with the examples could say if they're this trope or a standard prison that happens to be surrounded by fatal drops.
  • May 27, 2011
    Tifforo
    The Aerial Prison in Final Fantasy Crystal Bearers.
  • June 2, 2011
    NetMonster
    In the british miniseries Casanova, the titular character was in one. He manages to escape, though.
  • June 4, 2011
    nameheregrrer
    Am I not getting folders because I messed up the syntax, or is it just not supported by YKTTW?

    Also, I think it's complete enough to publish once it's all indexed up and the folders are configured. If you disagree, say what you think it needs added.
  • June 4, 2011
    nameheregrrer
    In retrospect, I should have checked the guidelines before asking that first part. I'll leave it like it is to simplify launching, though.
  • June 4, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^Folders don't work in ykttw.
  • June 4, 2011
    Micah
    You need a few more wicks than are obvious. If you launched right now, you'd probably be able to have 11 or 12; 15 is better.

    Also, I'm not actually familiar with it, but the Schlock Mercenary description doesn't read like an example to me.
  • June 4, 2011
    Rolf
    yeah it don't, as its sealed self-contained box.
  • June 8, 2011
    Octagon8
  • December 18, 2011
    Octagon8
    bump
  • May 22, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Since it seems the OP has forgotten about this one, I'll take up sponsorship.

    The Casanova and Final Fantasy examples will need to be fleshed out more.
  • May 22, 2016
    DAN004
    Honestly, I think we have this trope already.
  • May 23, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    ^ Which one would that be?
  • May 23, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ meh, checking through Pri Son and I didn't find anything.

    I do recall a ykttw like this tho.
  • May 23, 2016
    Arivne
    • Examples section

    Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles The Crystal Bearers is a Zero Context Example and has been marked as such (ZCE). It needs more information about how it fits the trope.

    Bioshock Infinite is not an example of this trope in any way at all. Specifically, Columbia is not a prison for those inside of it.
  • May 23, 2016
    Waddle
    • An Ard Skellig island in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt has prison cells clearly inspired by the sky cells from Game Of Thrones, as proved by the corpse of a Tyrion lookalike and some lines of dialogue taken from the show.
  • May 23, 2016
    KTera
    • Durgesh Prison from Far Cry 4 has a few of these. Ajay gets stuck in one and escapes by assembling a makeshift grappling hook.
  • May 23, 2016
    Chabal2
    • Avatar The Last Airbender: The Earthbender prison is built far out at sea with only a few token handrails, ensuring the prisoners have no contact with dirt to fight with.
    • The Legend Of Korra: While Zaheer's prison has walls, it's built on a remote mountaintop and still has guards. Every precaution was taken, but no one (including Zaheer) could have predicted that he'd gain airbending abilities that allowed him to quickly escape the mountain.
    • Lucky Luke: "Tortillas for the Daltons" has Joe escape from Luke onto a mesa... only to find that he's trapped on maybe four square feet of dirt. When Luke suggests he come back in a year or so, Joe quickly surrenders.

  • May 23, 2016
    NateTheGreat
    From the movie ''First Knight", as Guinevere is led across a hanging bridge to a small ledge over a bottomless pit...
    Maligant: This is called an oubliette. That's French for "a place of forgetting." Your quarters, My Lady. No gates, no bars, no locks. Just walls of air.
  • May 23, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • The second season of Loonatics Unleashed has many dangerous superpowered criminals moved from deep subterranean burrows to a prison satellite in orbit above the stratosphere of Acmetropolis. Many of the Loonatics' Rogues Gallery are housed in the satellite, including Massive, Otto the Odd and Electro J. Fudd.
  • June 6, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    ^^^ Namespaces next time, please.

    Updated to here.
  • June 14, 2016
    NubianSatyress
    In Super Mario RPG, Booster keeps Princess Peach locked out on the balcony of his tower. She is forced to remain there until (of course) Mario comes to save her.
  • June 14, 2016
    NateTheGreat
    Please explain the difference between Thrown Down A Well and this.
  • June 14, 2016
    zarpaulus
    • Judge Dredd has one "prison" that's simply a raised platform above a constantly busy superhighway. Any crooks that tried to escape would be pulverized by traffic.
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