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->''"[Vimes] had several pounds of metal on his wrists or, to put it another way, his arms were a hammer."''
-->-- ''Discworld/NightWatch''

A cousin to CardboardPrison. This happens where an antagonist is caught by police/soldiers/the good guys, but is destined to escape. The antagonist will then have handcuffs applied but, to facilitate their later escape, will inexplicably be handcuffed so their hands are in ''front'' of them. Obviously, their hands are much more useful when they manage to grab a gun or simply run for it.

Often, the handcuffs will be pressed into service as an ImprovisedWeapon, usually either a club (with rigid cuffs) or a garotte (with chained cuffs) -- never mind that this would probably hurt the attacker more than the victim, any bruising can be [[CuffsOffRubWrists quickly massaged away]].

In real life, most police departments in the United States require suspects to have their hands cuffed behind them, with the palms facing away from each other and the keyhole facing away from the hands, to make this kind of thing less likely. The only exceptions are when it is physically impossible to do so. In the United Kingdom, handcuffing to the front is common. Sometimes, a [[AbnormalLimbRotationRange particularly nimble character]] will be handcuffed behind their back and contort themselves between their arms to bring the cuffs in front of them.

Note that there are some restraints that do allow a prisoner to have their hands in front, or at least at their hips, facilitating them being able to sit a chair for long periods and such. In these cases, it's more than just cuffs, but manacles that attach to the prisoner's beltline, restricting how far they can move their hands, and are in a controlled environment, such as a courtroom.

People escaping while bound is covered by WithMyHandsTied, which is connected to this.

Contrast BoundAndGagged, when the cuffs are not going off so easily. Can lead to CuffsOffRubWrists.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'': The entire Gurren Brigade got once handcuffed with good ol' wooden boards, but that didn't deter Simon from digging with his Core Drill until recovering his Lagann.
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop'' episode "Pierrot le Fou". While Tongpu is being taken along a passageway by two guards his hands are cuffed in front of him. He takes advantage of this to eliminate the guards and escape.
* In the ''Franchise/StreetFighter'' manga ''Sakura Ganbaru!'', when the titular character is captured by a human trafficking ring in Hong Kong, she is handcuffed with her hands in front of her before being thrown with the other captive girls. This places her hands in the perfect position to throw Hadokens at her captors.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Comicbook/ThePunisher''
** Castle was was captured by a minor gang leader named Machete, who insisted on killing a cuffed Castle in a machete duel. Castle rejects the machete, and kills the guy with his bare hands.
** In ''[[Comicbook/ThePunisherMAX The Punisher: The Cell]]'' he was cuffed this way when he was being led to his cell. As soon as a guard taunted him about how the most dangerous inmate was going to kill him Frank elbowed his face, grabbed the other guard's baton and bludgeoned the inmate to death. [[BadassBoast Then he told them to send the second most dangerous inmate after him.]]
* ''ComicBook/LeScorpion'': In ''The Mask of Truth'', Neoli Trebaldi uses the shackles around his wrists to strangle the warrior monk who is guarding him.
* In ''[[ComicBook/JonahHex Weird Western Tales]]'' #22, an escaping prisoner strangles a deputy with the manacles shackled around his wrists.

* [[ZigzaggedTrope Zigzagged]] in ''Fanfic/NarutoTheSecretSongsOfTheNinja'', when Kakashi and Naruto are captured by [[spoiler:Wabisuke Ryota]], who uses specialised restraints to hold expert shinobi- a pair of solid, inflexible metal gauntlets locked around their hands (preventing them from moving their fingers to form seals) which are then locked together behind them. When the breakout happens, Kakashi's gauntlets are separated but not removed before he's forced into battle, allowing him to use them as effectively [[ImprovisedWeapon solid steel boxing gloves]] capable of breaking bones with a punch. However he's still at a considerable disadvantage, not just because of his inability to use jutsu but also because of their weight, [[spoiler:which is a big contribution to him losing]].

[[folder:Film - Animated]]
* Subverted in ''Disney/{{Tangled}}'' where Flynn Rider is shackled with his hands behind him. To facilitate his escape he leaps ''over'' the shackles to bring his hands in front of him.

[[folder:Film - Live Action]]
* In the movie ''Film/{{Predator}}'', the captured rebel Anna had her hands tied in front of her and took advantage of it to escape. Somewhat justified because the team was traveling through steep, rough terrain and she needed her hands in front of her to hold onto things and avoid falling.
* Happens in ''Film/X2XMenUnited'', where William Stryker has Wolverine's hands cuffed in front of him -- with special cuffs that press his knuckles into his chest so he will stab his heart if he extends his claws. Unfortunately [[spoiler:it isn't Wolverine but Mystique in his form, and she quickly shapechanges out of the cuffs]].
* In ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'' Mystique uses her cuffs to choke the interrogator, purely out of spite as this doesn't get her anywhere.
* In ''Film/DickTracy'' after being framed for murder Tracy is being moved from the police holding cell to the county lock-up. His fellow police officers handcuff him in the front, [[LampshadeHanging Tracy comments on the lapse in procedure]]. As it turns out the move was a ruse to allow Tracy the time needed to [[ClearMyName clear his name]].
* In ''Film/TheBourneUltimatum'', Bourne hands another Treadstone agent a flexicuff, then demands that he cuff himself in the front, presumably because he'd rather keep his eyes on his hands. Also because it's notoriously difficult to cuff yourself with a flexicuff in the back, and Bourne certainly wasn't going to approach the agent to cuff him.
* ''Film/TotalRecall1990'' (1990). When Douglas Quaid is captured in his hotel room on Mars, the bad guys handcuff his hands in front of him. He later takes advantage of this to grab a gun and shoot an opponent.
* Happens in ''Film/PitchBlack'', where Riddick is blindfolded and handcuffed around a post with his hands behind him. Sensing that the post is not secure at the top, he dislocates both shoulders to get his hands up and over and escape.
* Averted in ''Film/NoCountryForOldMen'': Chigurh's hands ''were'' cuffed from behind, and he has to switch them to the front when the cop is on the phone.
* In ''Film/ThreeTenToYuma2007'' the villainous co-protagonist Ben Wade has his hands cuffed this way and kills two of his guards, but his captors still don't find a better way of binding him (granted, it probably wouldn't be that safe to take the cuffs off to fix them...) To be fair, he also helps his captors fight off mutual enemies, so handcuffing his hands in front of him had some benefits.
* One Creator/AbbottAndCostello sketch involves one of them getting handcuffed with his hands in front when he points out that he can still swing his hands around. He then asks his captor to show where the cuffs need to go; the captor puts his hands behind his back, gets cuffed, and the good guy escapes.
* In the ''Film/StreetFighter'' movie, Chun-Li has her hands bound in front of her. It takes her about two seconds to snap the leather, leaving her with spiked wrist-guards and Bison's ass to kick.
* In the ''Film/TrueGrit'' remake, two outlaws having their hands restrained in this way allowed one to kill the other with a knife before he could talk.
* ''Film/DrNo''. When Film/JamesBond is captured by the crew of Dr. No's "dragon" his hands are cuffed in front of him. This allows him to resist when one of the guards manhandles Honey Rider.
* A spectacularly silly example in ''Film/{{Salt}}'', as [[spoiler: Salt had previously just beaten the piss out of several cops and Secret Service agents with her bare hands. Not that it matters. When they cuff her hands behind her back at the end, she still manages to kill Winters]].
* {{Inverted}} in ''Film/TheATeam'': Pike is placed in a car with his hands cuffed behind his back, and then explains (and demonstrates) why that can be a bad idea: With his hands where they can't be seen, he is able to pick his cuffs without his guards noticing.
* Averted in ''Film/TheTerminator'' where Kyle Reese has his hands cuffed behind his back. When the policeman guarding him is distracted by gunfire as the Terminator tears up the police station, Kyle knees him in the stomach, kicks away his gun and takes the keys off his belt.
* In the final act of ''Film/{{Spectre}}'', Bond is abducted by Blofeld's goons, who not only tie his hands in front of him, but do so with plastic zip ties, perfectly enabling him to not only shoot them both, but break free once they're dead.
* In ''Film/ManOfSteel'', Superman is handcuffed this way after he [[SelfRestraint hands himself over to]] the military. When your "prisoner" can juggle tanks and is only there of his own free will, how you choose to cuff him is pretty academic (to prove this point, Superman pops off his cuffs with no visible effort on his part whatsoever).
* In ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanTheCurseOfTheBlackPearl'', Jack Sparrow uses the chain on his cuffs to threaten Elizabeth with strangulation, and later as an ImprovisedZipline.
* Averted in ''Film/FXMurderByIllusion''. Rollie Tyler captures a hitman and ties him up with his hands behind his back, but when he wakes up the hitman fights Rollie WithMyHandsTied, jumping up and whipping his bound hands under his feet in one swift movement.

* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'': Happens with Vimes in ''Discworld/NightWatch'' as part of the "Were we ever ''really'' that bad?" sequence. Vimes' internal monologue points out how stupid this is.
-->"He had several pounds of metal on his wrists or, to put it another way, his arms were a hammer."
** He also points out that it pays to be cooperative and stick your arms out for the jailer; you're more likely to have your arms cuffed in front of you, and you have quite a bit of freedom that way.
* ''What's the Worst That Could Happen?'': John Dortmunder convinces the police to cuff him in front, even though the cop knows better, just by his "hounddog" look. Naturally, [[spoiler:he manages to escape because of this]].
* In Literature/{{the Continental Op}} short story "$106,000 Blood Money" by Creator/DashiellHammett, a crook with his hands handcuffed in front of him is able to grab a cop's gun from its holster and shoot one of his accomplices. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] as it was written in the 1920s before handcuffing procedures were standardised.
* In Desmond Bagley's ''The Tightrope Men'', enemies trying to interrogate Giles Denison made this mistake. Denison only played along until he realized they ''didn't'' have a hostage for his good behavior; then he attacked and used the link connecting the cuffs to choke the interrogator.
* At one point in ''Literature/IceStation'', Shane Schofield has his hands cuffed behind him -- and gets thrown into a small room by the bad guys to fight with TheMole in his group (not on the same side as the guys that threw them in) to determine which will die first. After knocking his opponent to the ground, the first thing he does is bring his cuffed hands beneath his feet to be able to fight better. The bad guys don't fix this after the fight, making it easier for him to escape later.
* ''Radio/TheShadow'': In at least one of the pulp novels, the police arrest a stage magician and cuff him with his hands in front. And yes, they know the guy's a professional stage magician. He doesn't stay cuffed for very long.
* In ''Literature/AllTomorrowsParties'' by Creator/WilliamGibson, mystical assassin Konrad is bought in wearing handcuffs. It is implied that the rush to bring him in is the end for his captors -- because his hands are cuffed in front of him.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', Jaime Lannister winds up in a sword fight with his hands chained in front of him (as his captor had to let him ride a horse). It slows him up a little, because he has to use a two-handed grip on a sword that isn't really long enough to be a two-handed sword. It doesn't slow him up very much. (The bigger problem is that he's spent the past six months or so locked in a dungeon, eating crummy food and getting exercise only in the form of the occasional beating).
* In the Creator/MichaelConnelly book ''Literature/TrunkMusic'', [[spoiler:Officer Powers]] has his handcuffs moved to the front during a break in his interrogation so that he can relieve himself. He takes advantage of this to make his escape from Bosch and Edgar.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Monk}}'', "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty". When the SFPD hands off a "most wanted" fugitive to the feds, they considerately cuff him with his hands in front of him, making his escape attempt easier to accomplish.
* ''Series/BabylonFive''
** "Quality of Mercy". The crack security staff cuffed a prisoner with his hands in front on his way to his execution (and thus with nothing to lose). He ended up holding an old woman at gunpoint.
** In her final episode, Lyta is cuffed in front. As the TropeNamer for TouchedByVorlons, she eventually demonstrates that she could pop open the cuffs (regardless of location) [[CardboardPrison whenever she liked]]. She explained that the only reason she left them on as long as she did was [[PlayAlongPrisoner to calm everybody else's fears]] and because [[{{fetish}} she kind of liked it]].
* ''Series/WalkerTexasRanger'': Happened in at least one episode. The bad guy doesn't escape, but this allows him to have a big throw-down with Walker.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'':
** Sort of inverted where Mal is taking point and being relatively cooperative with the Alliance types, but they've still got him cuffed from behind. He asks to be released, so they..."compromise", by cuffing him in front. Being Malcolm Reynolds, he later turns this to his advantage.
-->'''Mal:''' [[SarcasmMode "Thanks. Now I'll really have the advantage."]]
** In "Ariel", Jayne is cuffed behind his back, but works around it through judicious application of [[CombatPragmatist knees, elbows, shoulders and forehead]].
* In an episode of ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'', they handcuff an AffablyEvil ManipulativeBastard in the front.
* ''Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'':
** Played very straight. A former military suspect asks to be cuffed in front out of respect for his family. [[spoiler: He grabs a gun off one of the officers and kills himself. This immediately after attempting to kill himself and being stopped ''by the officers who arrested him''.]] One wonders why they thought that was a good idea.
** The police handcuff a deaf man with his hands in front since handcuffing him with his hands behind his back would be akin to gagging him.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''. While on Kobol, Athena is triple-cuffed with her hands in front of her -- though it's just as well, as she's able to fire a grenade launcher at the Centurions attacking them.
* In ''Series/TheFlash1990'', the Trickster was handcuffed with his hands in front of him. While sitting in the middle of a police car with 3 officers, he grabbed a gun fron one officer and shot all 3 dead. Oh and Trickster is also an escape artist so he was out of the handcuffs seconds later.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest'': During "The Crossing", Fusco is caught by HR, and his captors tie him to a chair with his hands cuffed behind his back. [[spoiler:Unfortunately for them, this means when he is tortured within an inch of his life, they don't notice when he breaks his own thumb in order to slip it through the handcuffs and finally garrotes the guy who was supposed to kill him.]]
* ''Series/ThePretender'': "Once in a Blue Moon" has an instance of handy-cuffs-as-improvised-weapon. The prisoner starts the scene with his hands properly cuffed behind him, but talks his way into getting them re-cuffed in front. (Jarod is too smart to fall for that usually, but in this case [[spoiler: letting the prisoner get away is part of the plan]].)
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': Dean has been cuffed more than a few times and always manages to get out of them.
* Played with in ''Series/BurnNotice''. Usually when someone's tied up, they're held at gunpoint and forced to zip-tie their hands together (make a loop, stick your hands in, pull it tight with your teeth) and so wind up with their hands in front of them. However, the one time we ''do'' see metal handcuffs, it's on [[PsychoForHire Simon]], who had his hands bound in front of him. [[spoiler: He's worn down the metal on the handcuffs and breaks them, then attacks Michael so he can pass him some information.]]
* Played with in ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' with Dr. Arik Soong, who's in Captain Archer's custody. When Soong tries to escape, Archer activates his magnetic cuffs, making it harder for Soong to run. Soong then tries using his cuffs to help himself climb a wall until Archer deactivates the cuffs, causing Soong to fall to the ground so Archer can recapture him.
* ''Series/{{CSINY}}'': In "Vacation Getaway", Shane Casey uses the shackles around his wrists and ankles to strangle a guard and escape.
* ''Series/TheFlash2014'': In "Crazy For You", Cisco lets Hartley out of the Pipeline with his hands cuffed in front of him. Hartley clobbers Cisco and attempts to escape, although Cisco stops him.
* ''Series/MidsomerMurders'': In "Death in a Chocolate Box", Tom for some reason--possibly lingering respect as the murderer was [[BrokenPedestal someone he had once looked up to]]--handcuffs the murderer the with their hands in front of them. The murderer feigns sickness, then whacks Tom in the face and then dashes away, on to the RailroadTracksOfDoom.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''ComicBook/TheJoker'' of all people was handcuffed with his hands in front of him while being transferred between prisons. He picked the handcuff lock with an ordinary straight nail and then later used the handcuffs as brass knuckles against police.

* In ''Theatre/TheBat'', this mistake is performed twice on the same person. The second case, in which the character manages to seize a gun with his cuffed hands, is JustForFun/{{egregious}} because [[spoiler:the cuffs were put on by the ''real'' detective]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the first ''VideoGame/PoliceQuest'' game: while handcuffing a drunk driver, he'll say he's not feeling good and that he wants to be handcuffed from the front. If you do it that way, he'll hit you over the head at a later time, ending the game.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'': Regal Bryant spends the entirety of his time handcuffed in front. However, he swore to never fight with his arms again (though he's fine with use them to cook or bust out of jail with a good KamehameHadoken) and judging by the other prisoners him wearing cuffs at all was probably by choice.
* Cody from ''VideoGame/FinalFight'' is put into a pair of cuffs when he gets jailed in ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha Street Fighter Alpha 3]]''. This however doesn't stop him from breaking out and still being a competent brawler in both ''Alpha 3'' and ''[[VideoGame/StreetFighterIV Super Street Fighter IV]]''.
** Justified in that his taunt in Alpha has him removing his handcuffs and then putting them back on. He can do it at any time, [[WithMyHandsTied and just wears them as a handicap.]]
* {{Justified|Trope}} in the InteractiveFiction game ''Videogame/TheWeapon''. The PlayerCharacter is purposely handcuffed in the front to allow him to work with the large device his captors want him to, yet still be controlled.
* Joker is cuffed with his hands in front of him as he's being taken to his cell at the beginning of ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum''. The moment he's far enough away from Batman to keep the Dark Knight from interfering in time, he strangles his escort with the chain, slips the cuffs, and runs off. [[spoiler:Batman later finds out Joker has a mole inside the asylum.]]
* Bruce Wayne is cuffed with his hands in front of him at the beginning of ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity''. It doesn't stop him from clubbing a number of mooks with his bound hands (Although he can't fight quite as well as he does once he manages to break the cuffs off).
* ''Videogame/ResidentEvil6'': [[spoiler:After being captured by Neo-Umbrella for half a year]], Jake is transported with his hands cuffed in front. When he decides he wants out, he leaps back onto a guy holding him at gunpoint and catches the latter's gun under his arm, causing a spray of bullets and making other guards cover, then kills the guy with his [[MurderousThighs knees]] and quickly loots the handcuff key from him.
* ''VideoGame/PAYDAYTheHeist'' and ''VideoGame/PAYDAY2'' have security guards that can handcuff players if caught by surprise. Although the handcuffed player are shown with their arms behind them, their arms are actually in front of them in their view. It takes several seconds for a cuffed player to uncuff themselves, but the heist fails if everyone else gets handcuffed or taken into custody.

* ''Webcomic/{{Tainted}}'': A variation with plain ropes happened in [[http://tainted.comicgenesis.com/d/20071102.html this]] strip.
* Vaela in ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' [[http://www.drowtales.com/mainarchive.php?order=chapters&id=314 here]], but she doesn't try to escape: On the contrary, she takes her new bodyguard "job" very seriously (having fought alongside her in the arena probably helped).

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'': {{Lampshaded}} and played with. A villain disguises herself as a cop. She handcuffed her partner's hands in front of him, prompting actual cops seeing this to say "Must be a rookie... who else would handcuff a guy that big with his hands in front of him?!" Elisa stumbles on the villain's plot when she follows said "rookie" to correct the mistake.