"Welcome to my retirement party. The rules are: No attacking the hosts. No leaving early. No calling the police. I see one cop, I kill three of you. I see two cops, six people die. You can do the math. Now, mess up my party by breaking one of my rules... you can expect me to overreact."The situation for the bad guys has gone so far sideways that the only way out is to trade hostages for transportation. This may be the true gauge of desperation, in that no degree of Genre Blindness can excuse the bad guys from knowing that their demands are never, ever met. Ever. In spite of this, most municipal police forces on TV employ a negotiator specializing in these situations who has the job of convincing the bad guys that this time it could all turn out differently, if they are only judicious and fair in the way they release hostages. The negotiator's primary assistance in perpetrating this lie will be a wild-eyed SWAT team leader who is panting for a chance to nuke the building from orbit. A few additional characters are required for this scenario. A hero-wannabe hostage, for instance, whose primary job is to try something stupid and get killed. This might be a case of death by Genre Blindness. A particularly noble hostage who tells the hero not to worry about them and kill the bad guy anyway. A hostage who decides to raise the stakes by calling the bad guy's bluff. There may also be a hostage who just completely panics and starts screaming and flailing about in a way that frightens a bad guy into shooting them. Things get a bit more complex if the hero has been unwittingly taken as one of the hostages. Often this overlaps with its more spontaneous, desperate cousin, Human Shields. Also see "Die Hard" on an X. Frequently involves Put Down Your Gun and Step Away. An ... unorthodox solution to this is to Shoot the Hostage, while only someone with Improbable Aiming Skills could try to Shoot the Hostage Taker.
— Burn Notice, "Bad Breaks"
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Anime and Manga
- Cowboy Bebop: Faye is taken hostage by some of the Big Bad's goons. One puts a gun to her head and begins the standard "Put down your gun" speech, but promptly gets one between the eyes from Spike. Cue the Blast Out. Something similar happens at the beginning of the movie where a convenience store robbery goes sour and some random thug, previously unseen, takes an old lady hostage. Spike shoots the hostage taker, after somewhat cynically remarking that he's not a cop.
- Also subverted when Faye is taken hostage and sends a message to the guys assuming they will naturally ride to her rescue. Spike tells her to talk her own way out of it and shuts off the communicator.
- In an episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Kaname Chidori is taken hostage. In order to rescue her, Sousuke Sagara the military nut tortures the messenger, identifies the ringleader of the group that has taken her (along with most of her lackeys), then takes the leader's little brother hostage, and somehow manages to tie him up in the rafters of the warehouse where Chidori was being held without anyone noticing, using remote-controlled explosives on the ropes so he could send the tyke plummeting to his death if big sis didn't cooperate. As if that wasn't insane enough, he also made elaborate and somewhat disturbing threats against the loved ones and prize possessions of several lackeys, including a little sister, a motorcycle, and a lovebird, thus sending the entire gang fleeing in terror. The only thing that made Sousuke look slightly less like a dangerous psychopath was that the kid knew the plan all along, and went along with it in exchange for a radio-controlled car and, presumably, just the fun of being a hostage (hey, many kids are like that). Note that Sousuke is the same guy who drew a REAL gun on a shooting video game earlier in the same episode, so "normal" isn't really part of the program.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- A train full of people are taken hostage, including an important government official and his family. When the hostage-takers attempt to negotiate with Mustang, he makes no serious attempt to negotiate... because he knows that the Elric brothers are aboard and is fully expecting them to take care of the situation.
- Also, in later manga chapters/towards the end of the Brotherhood series, to keep Ed and Mustang in line Bradley subtly threatens the safety of Winry and Riza Hawkeye, making them both unable to (visibly) go against him.
- Attempted by Envy after being reduced to slug form. Unfortunately, the victim Envy used was Yoki, and most of the cast convinces Envy that they don't care.
- And then there's a big subversion in chapter 100 / right before the end of Brotherhood — when Roy refuses to perform human transmutation and open the Gate, one of the gold tooth alchemist's mooks immediately slits Riza's throat without warning in an attempt to force him. The dying Riza tells Roy not to do it, then May Chang arrives and saves her... but Roy ends up forced into opening the Gate anyway.
- In the first anime series, Winry and a very depressed Edward who's still reeling from the horrible incident with Tucker and Chimera!Nina are kidnapped by the still human Barry the Chopper, who takes Ed's automail away and gets him bound while also having Winry chained in Unwilling Suspension. Edward has to fight for both his and Winry's lives to get the two away from Barry more or less safely.
- In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Aramaki is taken in a hostage during a botched burglary. He soon realizes the burglars have been tricked by their employer and that the police outside are actually trying to kill them. He then takes charge to get them all out of an government cover-up alive.
- The vampire Alucard subverts this the first part of the manga/anime Hellsing by not only just shooting the hostage taker, but by shooting the hostage to do it. Through the chest, leaving a big gaping hole. The hostage (Seras Victoria) is however offered the choice of just dying, or dying but getting to be a vampire too.
- Cromartie High School: a couple of hijackers give up on jacking a plane due to the students of Cromartie being all menacing-looking. Yutaka Takenouchi, who gets motion sickness, accidentally persuades the hijackers to get everyone else off the plane and then carry out the hijacking, resulting in him being stranded in America and one of the hijackers impersonating him back at Cromartie.
- In Fairy Tail, Evergreen retorts: "If you don't surrender and undo your armor, then everyone who got petrified will be destroyed!!" Erza's answer? "If you think that winning or losing is more important than your life, so be it. I'll take your life to avenge those crumbled maidens". With her most menacing armor on, full intent to kill and Death Glare. No wonder Evergreen goes shit. The bonus? "And that's how you do a real bluff"
- In Deadman Wonderland, all of Scar Chain is taken hostage so that Genkaku can force Nagi to join Undertaker. Of course, the hostage plan fails miserably when Crow decides to come by.
- Happens several times in Mahou Sensei Negima!, most obviously when Chigusa uses Konoka as a hostage and when Fate threatens to wipe out a crowd of people if Negi doesn't listen to him. The former backfires horribly, as hurting Konoka is Setsuna's berserk button, and in the latter, Negi ultimately decides to attack Fate anyway, relying on his partners to prevent collateral damage.
- Scaled up in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing episode 10, where Lady Une threatens to attack the space colonies with self-defense missile satellites unless the Gundam Pilots surrender. Heero takes a third option and self-destructs his Gundam, which is what really kicks off the main plot by sparking the ideological divide within OZ between the noble soldiers and the ruthless and corrupt.
- In Air Gear, Magnificent Bastard Sora brainwashes his Retired Badass girlfriend, Rika Noyamano, into fighting Kilik and the Sleeping Forest team, which Rika used to be a member of. The kicker, and what makes this specially mean? Rika is pregnant, and HE is the baby's father. The subversion comes when Kilik manages to deploy a Batman Gambit to get Rika restrained without actually landing a hit on her, then unleashing his and the Sleeping Forest's Air Regalia. And then it's further suverted when Sora actually counterattacks with his own gambit and shoots back at them.
- Code Geass has an infamous example of this trope in play during the eighth episode of the first season, with a Japanese terrorist group staging one against many Britannians - including Lelouch's school friends.
- Happens a few times in City Hunter. As one example among several, a thug takes a young woman hostage in a restaurant. Being Genre Savvy enough to know how powerful Ryo's gun is, the thug positions himself in front of a window leading to a crowded street, so that any shot will go right through the thug and injure or kill an innocent civilian. This leaves Ryo with a Sadistic Choice: Either don't shoot and let the thug run off with his hostage, or risk shooting and injuring or killing a bystander. Ryo decides to Take a Third Option; he slows the bullet down by shooting through his own hand, so as to merely hit the thug and not injure anyone else.
- Played for Laughs in episode 10 of Is the Order a Rabbit?, when Aoyama holds up Tippy with the water gun Megu gives her during the water gun fight.
- Happens with alarming frequency in Detective Conan, since this is a manga about mysteries and crimes. It gets to the point that more than one whole Non-Serial Movie has this as its plot.
- One of Quantum and Woody's first cases as a superhero team was against a crazed gunman holding a woman hostage. After a brief shouting match, Cowboy Cop Woody shoots the hostage in the chest while Quantum tackles the gunman. Woody then helps the hostage to her feet, demonstrates his usage of paint pellets by shooting a few more at Quantum, and asks her what she's doing Friday night.
- An issue of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog had Princess Sally Acorn kidnapped and held for ransom; at one point, she manages to trick her captors into lowering their guard and knocks them all unconscious.
- Superman story Kryptonite Nevermore, gives two examples:
- As Lois Lane is getting a story in South America, a group of bandits capture her and her pilot to force a group of Government troops chasing them to back off.
- A band of pirates take over a Government sea facility. The leader demands money in exchange for hostages.
Quig: I want ten million dollars in gold delivered here — fifty hostages to insure you'll try no tricks — plus a hydrogen bomb! Should you refuse — my men will blast the drill hole! And you know what that would mean!
- "Interiors" of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye features Fortress Maximus pulling one of these demanding that the ship be returned to Cybertron so that he can confront Prowl. He is ultimately stopped when shown footage of his own torture and comforted by his one of his captives. Then an incompetent sniper shoots said captive in the head.
- In Astro City "Confession", a villain breaks into a nightclub frequented by heroes out of costume, and takes a busboy hostage. Keeping a wary eye on the heroes gives him no time to look at his hostage, who single-handedly takes him out.
- In the first issue of the New 52 Animal Man series, a group of kids with cancer are taken hostage at a hospital by a grieving dad who refuses to accept that his little girl is dead and thinks the hospital is hiding her somewhere. Animal Man intervenes.
- A frequent occurrence in Runaways:
- In the "New Pride" arc, the New Pride kidnaps Molly ostensibly to get the Runaways to leave them alone, not realizing that their leader Geoffrey Wilder intends to sacrifice her to the Gibborim.
- During the Secret Invasion crossover with the Young Avengers, Xavin's former mentor Chrell takes the entire team hostage to get Xavin to hand over Teddy Altman. Unfortunately for Chrell, he makes Klara cry.
- The "Rock Zombies" arc opens with the hopelessly moronic Retching Pigs taking a hapless employee at their former label hostage because he sent them an e-mail informing them that they'd been dumped. The Runaways beat them so quickly that Victor doesn't even have time to park the Leapfrog.
- Calvin and Hobbes end up in such a situation in Calvin and Hobbes III: Double Trouble.
- Young Justice: Darkness Falls features a subverted one. The hostage taker is Jason Todd, but he hadn't actually taken Dick hostage. He just wanted to make sure they both were sorry for whatever happened between them and Batman.
- In the Worm fanfic, Intrepid, the Merchants take 100 people hostage in order to get the PRT to release Squealer.
- The elemental in The Sanctuary Telepath uses Janine, John, Helen (not that she knows about it) and sometimes even James as hostages to each other to keep them in check. Luckily they figure out what's its weakest point so it plays out at least in a bearable way (and ends better or worse, depending on the timeline). Sometimes other people try it too but they realize soon that it's not the best idea.
Films — Live-Action
- In prison flick The Big House, after the Great Escape goes completely wrong, Butch takes the captured guards and starts executing them one at a time while demanding transport out of the prison.
- Similarly subverted for comic effect in Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles: When the entire town of Rock Ridge draws its guns on Bart, he draws his own gun, holds it to his head, and plays both the hostage and the hostage-taker using two different voices. As the townspeople immediately fall for this trick, he drags himself off to the town jail, where, in an inspired bit of mime, he yanks himself inside by the neck just as he's making another plea for help.
"Oh baby, you're so talented. And they're so dumb!"
- When an impromptu hostage situation breaks out in the movie Airheads, the protagonists make a series of increasingly bizarre demands, including nude photos of Bea Arthur, which the negotiators successfully supply them with.
- In The Fifth Element the alien mooks' leader takes Father Cornelius hostage and demands that negotiations start. Korben Dallas agrees, walks into the room, puts one right through the leader's forehead, and politely asks if anyone else wants to negotiate. This is because these aliens will not fight without a leader. With him dead, they pretty much surrender.
- Subverted in the film The Negotiator, where the man who's holding the hostages is the movie's protagonist and is a police negotiator, so he knows all of the tactics the police would try to use against him.
- Naturally, this is the central plot of the movie Hostage. Bruce Willis plays a former hostage negotiator who quit after a hostage crisis gone wrong, but then the house of a family man with connections to a shadowy syndicate is invaded by three armed robbers who have to take hostages after a shoot-out with a patrolman. His own wife and daughter are kidnapped by the syndicate to ensure that he gets a specific package they need out of the house.
- In Iron Man, when the hero begins unstoppably cleaning house and freeing a village from terrorists, they finally respond by taking a group of civilians hostage. At this, he relents, shuts down his suit's weapons... and then targets the hostage-takers, activates a group of smaller shoulder-mounted guns and takes them all out at once with surgical precision in a fraction of a second.
- In The Dark Knight, the Joker creates several of these. Normal procedures would be completely ineffective because the Joker is so unhinged he is entirely willing to kill hostages just for fun. Given a twist where the mooks were dressed as the hostages and the hostages are dressed as the mooks. Had Batman not interfered, the police would have shot the hostages with snipers.
- Subverted in Speed when Keanu Reeves says he would shoot the hostage during some banter with a fellow cop. When that same cop is taken hostage, Keanu actually does shoot him.
- Subverted in Die Hard, where the entire hostage situation is choreographed to provide cover for the real crime, a massive robbery. The FBI's response, to shut down the power, is exactly what they wanted.
- And subverted again in Live Free or Die Hard, when the Big Bad makes the mistake of taking Lucy McClane hostage. Neither of them plays along, since John knows that that the Big Bad can't kill her without sacrificing his bargaining chip.
- Robocop manages to get around this, with all the supercomputer targeting skills that one might expect in an awesome cyborg police officer. In RoboCop (1987) the first movie, a man was holding a woman as a meat shield, but Robocop targeted him through the woman's dress, which happens to hit the testicles. In the second, a hostage-taker holding a baby gets it in the head when Robocop points his gun away from the guy, but calculates a ricochet shot off a metal wall.
- Subverted to hell and back in Inside Man, when the masked bank robbers stage confrontations with "hostages" (really the other robbers out of their disguise) such that when the robbers release the hostages, the robbers join them and no one is able to tell who is who.
- In Winning London, a made-for-TV Olsen twins vehicle, terrorists invade a Model UN conference and kidnap a handful of delegates, including one of the twins. It's actually a surprise event for the competition, as the remaining delegates must now debate whether or not to comply with the terrorists' demands for nuclear disarmament. In the meantime, the "hostages" get to kick back in a hotel suite with pizza and TV. The situation is resolved when the other sister decides to Take a Third Option and leads a rescue party to sneak the hostages out of the suite while the "terrorists" are distracted.
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, after the shoot out/brawl in Dorian's house, the last remaining Mook tries to take Mina Murray hostage, bad idea.
- Parodied in several ways in Loaded Weapon 1:
Jigsaw: [Holding Colt hostage] Drop your gun, Mr. Luger!Luger: I don't have one.Jigsaw: You're not carrying a weapon?Luger: I don't believe in them.[Jigsaw kicks a spare pistol over to Luger]Jigsaw: Pick up the gun.[Luger looks confused, picks the gun up]Jigsaw: Drop the gun, Mr. Luger!
- Blake taking a hostage and Styles saving her is what kicks off the main conflict in Ricochet.
- In a rare case of the victim taking a hostage to coerce the villain, the senator's daughter in The Silence of the Lambs gets ahold of Buffalo Bill's poodle and threatens to break its neck if he doesn't let her phone for help.
- Snow's gang hold the professors and the musicians hostage so they won't interfere with Snow marrying Honey in A Song Is Born.
- In Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Lassard is taken hostage. Because he thinks this is a planned drill for the police convention he's attending, he actually helps his kidnappers escape the building with him. Then, once it's finally explained to him that these are real criminals and this isn't a drill, he takes them down single-handedly.
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, after finding a blast crater full of roses, Katniss fears that Snow will kill Peeta if she does any more propaganda pieces.
- Parodied in Christmas with the Kranks, where the neighbors stand outside the house demanding that they put up Mr. Frosty, while Mrs. Krank frantically calls her husband for help and is instructed to sneak Mr. Frosty out.
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier starts with Sybok and his followers taking Paradise City hostage. Kirk and the newly-commissioned Enterprise-A are sent to deal with it, even though the Enterprise is suffering from Critical Staffing Shortage and numerous system malfunctions.
- Subverted in Terry Pratchett's Discworld City Watch novels, where Angua is taken hostage on at least two occasions, neither of which are taken seriously by the rest of the Watch (one constable actually laughed during the first one). And with good reason: taking a werewolf hostage is a classic example of a Very Bad Idea™.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Flense captures Gaunt's medic, Dorden, and a wounded trooper to get Gaunt to where he could kill him. (Getting him there worked. Killing him didn't. Indeed, at one point, when Flense threatens to shoot Dorden if Gaunt mocks him, Dorden urges Gaunt to mock him, so Flense will shoot him and he won't have to listen.)
- In His Last Command, when a commissiar is trying to execute him and his men out of hand, Gaunt takes him hostage; he attempts to reason, pointing out that he didn't just kill him, but then he uses him to force his junior to contact higher-ups. When he and his team are transported in a cargo pod, they escape, and Gaunt takes a general hostage to get him to give his word for their safety.
- In Lee Lightner's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Sons of Fenris, Commander Cadmus takes Gabriella hostage, in order to compel the Space Wolves to fight the Dark Angels. What do they do? Join forces.
- Averted in the fifth Honor Harrington novel where the titular protagonist hands herself over to be the hostage. However much to the hostage-takers eventual surprise she has not one but three plants in the works and kills all but one of the hostage-takers in the process.
- Vorkosigan Saga: Hostage rescues are one of Miles Vorkosigan's specialties.
- Especially noteworthy in The Vor Game where Miles rescues Emperor Gregor by taking him hostage.
- At the climax of Komarr, Ekaterin and Helen are held hostage by terrorists, who place them in a space station airlock and threaten to flush them out into space if provoked. Miles overrules a plan to sneak around the outside of the station and get them out that way because he suspects (correctly, as it turns out) that the outer door of the airlock will have been booby-trapped.
- In Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series, the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team is featured from time to time.
- Richard does this in the Sword of Truth to himself when he's in the care of the Sisters of the Light, by going into a forest that's enchanted to kill people and refusing to come out until they meet his demands. (Nobody has ever survived being in there after sunset.) On his first day living in the Palace of the Prophets. He likes to make impressions, and doesn't do things by halves.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Star By Star, the Yuuzhan Vong take a flotilla of ships carrying millions of war refugees hostage, demanding that the New Republic reveal the location of the Jedi Order's secret base. Two thirds of the way through the book, the Republic mounts a successful rescue.
- In Through Alien Eyes a desperate father grabs Juna and threatens to slit her throat if Unkatonen doesn't heal his gravely ill daughter. It's a very sudden hostage situation, and the father knows this will put him in jail until after his daughter is grown.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, nobles who bend the knee after being defeated sometimes send their children to the victorious family. Ostensibly, the child is a ward of the other family. Everyone involved knows that the child is a glorified hostage meant to keep their family in line. Theon Greyjoy spent most of his life as Ned Stark's ward after his father Balon's rebellion was crushed. And despite knowing that Ned in theory would have killed him if Balon ever got out of hand, Theon still eventually came to see Ned as more of a father than Balon ever was.
- In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Human Bomb", Bet-A-Million Butler handcuffs himself to Lois and threatens to blow them both up if his demands aren't met.
- Family Matters: In at least three episodes:
- Season 2's "Dog Day Halloween," where Urkel (dressed up as Superman for Halloween) fantasizes about saving Laura, who is also held captive as both are among the hostages during a bank robbery.
- Season 2's "I Should Have Done Something," where the hostage situation is referred to, having taken place a year earlier, but is described in detail: A mentally deranged, drugged-out individual had robbed a convenience store and taken an elderly customer hostage; the police arrive and seemingly talk the criminal into surrendering, but just a split second before he is actually arrested, the suspect shoots and kills his hostage. The focus, then, is on main protagonist Carl mourning the hostage's death and dwelling on the fact that he just had to have done things differently and if so, the hostage would likely be alive today.
- Season 7's "My Uncle the Hero" had a brief hostage situation, where — as Carl is giving a (predictably) boring tour of the police station to nephew Richie's class — a rookie officer momentarily takes his eyes off an arrestee; the arrestee then grabs one of the kids and makes his demands. Carl is quickly able to defuse the situation and nobody is hurt.
- Diff'rent Strokes: The Season 3 premiere "The Bank Job" sees Arnold and Willis held hostage during a bank robbery. Things get very complicated when the robbers learn who the boys' father is — turns out, the suspect holds an extreme grudge against Trans Allied, Mr. Drummond's company — and decides they'd be perfect bargaining tools and means to get revenge. (Of course, Drummond gets the upper hand.)
- Subverted in Firefly: When Agent Dobson takes River hostage in the pilot episode, Mal simply shoots him in the head as he boards the ship, without even breaking stride.
- The Doctor Who Made-for-TV Movie, in a way that showed the main character's role as an A Ll Loving Hero. Stopped by a cop, the Doctor manages to get his gun away and point it at... himself, and says, "Now, would you stand aside before I shoot myself?"
- Game of Thrones: Sansa is the most important political token of the Lannisters during the War of the Five Kings after the death of Ned and the disappearance of Arya. Even if she wasn't Robb's heir as King in the North, Sansa is the heir to Winterfell after Theon "kills" Bran and Rickon. The Red Wedding caused the Lannisters to lose interest in her, as she wasn't as valuable a hostage anymore. The Tyrells try to bring her into the fold, to which the Lannisters married her to Tyrion. The cementing of the Tyrell-Lannister alliance and the chaos caused by the assassination of Joffrey allowed Littlefinger to take Sansa with him to the Vale of Arryn, disguising her as his bastard.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Resurrection," the mirror universe counterpart of Kira's deceased lover shows up on the station and takes Kira hostage with a nonfunctional disruptor pistol. She goes all the way from ops to the landing pad with him before pointing it out.
- Inverted in Stargate SG-1, "Bad Guys"; a misunderstanding leaves the heroes trapped in a museum with a room full of hostages. They have to deal with both the hero-wannabe and the screamer, while stalling the negotiator until help can arrive.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- A really unique version appears: alien consciousnesses take over Weir and Sheppard, hell-bent on killing each other. Weir/Phoebus a real bloodthirsty one and demanded that Sheppard/Thaelin be turned over to her or she'll flood the city's living quarters with halon, killing everyone (she wasn't bluffing). When they tried to talk her out of it, she retorted that she can always kill Weir via suicide. When Teyla managed to incapacitate Sheppard/Thaelin, Weir/Phoebus ordered her to kill him but at the absolute last moment, Rodney managed to hack into the system and remotely sealed the halon valves. Weir/Phoebus attempted to finish the task herself but got stunned by Sheppard who meanwhile regained control and was feigning unconsciousness. When asked why did she give him a stunner without knowing if he really was himself again, Teyla answered "you would have shot her anyway".
- Another, much earlier instance was when the Genii briefly took over Atlantis, taking Weir and Rodney as hostages. When Sheppard proved uncooperative, Kolya tricked him into believing that his defiance got Weir executed. It backfired however, as Sheppard had gone on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. When the two finally confronted in the control room with Kolya using Weir as a human shield and attempting to escape, he asked Sheppard why is he risking hitting Weir. Sheppard calmly answered "I'm not aiming at her" and shot Kolya in the shoulder, making him release her and fall backwards through the wormhole.
- Teyla also became a hostage for a while. As Michael was escaping with her, they were confronted by Beckett's clone. Unfortunately, the clone was programmed to be psychologically incapable of harming Michael so as much as he wanted to shoot and stop the hybrid, he couldn't (Michael knew this all too well since he created him).
- Or when Kolya took Sheppard hostage and demanded Ladon in exchange. When the expedition tried to stall, he expedited by having a captive Wraith periodically feed on him. What he didn't expect is that Sheppard and the Wraith teamed up and escaped, "Todd" draining Genii soldiers and restoring Sheppard's life as a reward. It also proved to be an important plot point as when the Wraith factional crisis began, "Todd" was backed by the Tau'ri as an ally of convenience (no one except him and his closest allies knew about it).
- An interesting twist is in an early Highlander episode, where MacLeod is taken hostage. When the baddies get ready to kill a hostage, he goads the head baddie into selecting him as the first hostage to be killed. Which, of course, turns out to be a bad decision for the bad guys...
- Similar to Blazing Saddles, it was used in a unique way in Titus. After walking in on his girlfriends' niece, Amy, trying to kill herself, Titus tries to talk her out of it. Amy feigns listening to him long enough to lock him out of her room. Running to the outside window he keeps screaming at her not to commit suicide, asking to let him tell his own story of suicide. She gives him a few minutes but was primed with the noose around her neck, with him saying disbelievingly, "You're holding yourself hostage?"
- Shockingly subverted in Lost when Keamy takes Ben's "daughter" Alex hostage and threatens to shoot her if Ben does not come out of the house in 10 seconds and come with him. Ben refuses, bluffing that she means nothing to him and Keamy immediately shoots her in the head while only down to 7.
- An episode from season 3 of Burn Notice had Michael and Agent Bly, who were blackmailing each other, trapped in a private bank during a robbery. Bly initially tried to steal a gun from one of the robbers but got shot, afterwards the two cooperated on Michael's usual combination of Batman Gambit and Indy Ploy to save the hostages.
- And next season, Sam and Michael get turned into the hostage takers, when a slightly deranged client takes a charity-robbing scumbag hostage while they're in the building. Naturally, the good guys aren't arrested, and the Scumbag of the Week gets framed for the deed.
- In season 6, Michael explains why they so rarely go with the direct attempt to rescue a hostage on the show. The reason: only 1 in 5 hostages survive a direct rescue attempt, and Michael doesn't risk more lives than absolutely necessary.
- Happens too often in Flashpoint, where at least every episode has one of these.
- The X-Files: Mulder exchanges himself for hostages while pretending to be an EMT to get close to Duane Barry, who Mulder thinks is an alien abductee. This episode (aptly named "Duane Barry") kicks off the Scully Abduction arc.
- Leverage had an episode where Nate and Sophie are trapped in a bank when a robbery turns into a Hostage Situation. The rest of the team are trying to get them out while stalling the cops and figuring out why two otherwise upstanding citizens are robbing a bank. However, the Mark, a corrupt local judge, is in the bank with them and figures out that he is being conned. He disarms the robbers and takes everyone hostage himself in order to get his money back. In the end it turns out that everyone in the town, including the cops, hate the judge so much that they easily go along when the team frames him for the whole robbery and hostage taking.
- Hilarously subverted in an otherwise serious situation in Boom Town. After being outed, a corrupt cop takes an internal affairs investigator hostage. One of the detectives quips that "If Thumper (the IA investigator) gets shot during the firefight, the saddest thing to be heard will be "Oops!"".
- In a season five episode of House, House, Thirteen, and several clinic patients are taken hostage by a man who wants House to diagnose him. He also makes House give Thirteen all medications first causing her kidneys to shut down.
- Lie to Me did this in season two. Cal, Gillian, Loker, and Torres are taken hostage by someone who claims he was framed for his wife's murder and wants Cal to prove his innocence.
- Ari's first appearance is when he's taking Ducky, Gerald, and Kate hostage in the autopsy room in season one of NCIS.
- There are plenty of hostage situations and kidnappings on Criminal Minds and most of the main characters have been held hostage at one point or another (mostly Reid).
- In a season four episode of Castle, Castle and Martha are taken hostage during a bank robbery by a crew of robbers disguised as TV doctors. Beckett was on the outside negotiating. Of course it turned out to be a distraction from something much bigger.
- In a season three episode of Psych, Gus is taken hostage during a bank robbery. Shawn tricks the hostage taker into letting him in. As it turns out, the guy was being forced to rob the bank to get back his wife, who had been kidnapped.
- In the season one finale of Rizzoli & Isles, Jane, Maura, and Frankie are taken hostage in the police station by a crew of guys who are looking for a piece of key evidence and an eye witness.
- Csi Ny had a hostage situation in the end of its third season. Included Disguised Hostage Gambit.
- Happened again later, in a case where Mac was taken prisoner inside a bank.
- Happens fairly often on JAG. Before 9/11 it was usually part of a "Die Hard" on an X.
- On Banshee two robbers flee from police and run into the local high school. It is after hours and the only people there are students having detention and the teacher supervising them. The robbers are trapped there and take the students and the teacher hostage. The town's police department consists of only a sheriff and three deputies, and the sheriff is out of town. The senior deputy tries to negotiate with the hostage takers to buy time so the SWAT team from the nearest city can be brought in. Ultimately most of the other associated tropes are averted since the situation is resolved when the sheriff returns, walks into the school and singlehandly kills the hostage takers.
- Adam-12 had too many of these to count. Several involved Reed, Malloy, or both.
- Several real life ones were recounted on Rescue 911.
- Doc Martin:
- Martin, Louisa, and Pauline are taken hostage by a criminal who is suffering from untreated bipolar disorder. It ends after about half a dozen others get roped into it, a medical emergency occurs, and Martin completely loses patience with the situation.
- Again in the final episode of Series 5. Mrs Tishell has a psychotic break and essentially holds James Henry — Martin and Louisa's son — hostage. Martin talks her down.
- Another episode has a delusional woman take Martin, Penhale, Ruth and her son hostage, believing the latter was poisoning her with weedkiller. Turns out she was being poisoned, but by the old wallpaper in her bedroom coated in arsenic, which her son had begun to strip but never bothered to finish.
- Happens a number of times on NUMB3RS, including at least twice with agents.
- Day Break: Of all the places to have one, Hopper starts one in his own police station in downtown L.A. during one of the time loops. He needed information which only an Internal Affairs agent who hates Hopper could provide him with, but the agent chooses to be obstructive out of spite and couldn't be persuaded (let alone bribed, since he's I.A.), The first time Hopper tried force to get his way it immediately got him arrested, the second time he actually had to take the agent hostage in his own office, resulting in an hours-long armed stand-off with his colleagues.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- In the season 1 episode "Condemned," a rookie police officer stumbles upon Matt Murdock interrogating Vladimir Ranskahov in an abandoned building. Matt overpowers the cop, but not before the cop manages to call for help. Matt has to hurry to get information out of Vladimir because the cops outside are in Wilson Fisk's pocket. During the standoff, Fisk arranges for the unreliable Detective Christian Blake and a couple other cops to get shot by an ESU sniper, while the ESU team that enters the building kills the unlucky rookie cop, and then kills Vladimir.
- In the season 2 finale, Karen Page and several other people rescued by the Devil of Hell's Kitchen are taken hostage by The Hand as part of a trap.
- Jessica Jones: Kilgrave can take large groups of people hostage and threaten to make them off themselves en masse to get Jessica's cooperation.
- Luke Cage: In "Now You're Mine", an attempt by Diamondback to shoot at Misty Knight and Luke inside Harlem's Paradise ends up leaving several people trapped inside Harlem's Paradise with Diamondback's men holding them captive until they find and kill Luke.
- School Shock has one to kick off the main plot, resulting in the main character first encounter. She saves himself from being shot and dropped from a high building.
- Sentinels of the Multiverse has this vibe when the heroes battle The Dreamer. The twist is that the Dreamer is both the hostage and captor, as her psychic powers went into overdrive during a nightmare of hers. Gameplay wise, if the Dreamer hits 0 HP, the heroes kill her and lose. In order to win, the heroes must destroy enough projections to get her to flip from her "The Dreamer Dreams" side to her "Roused From Slumber" side, then destroy more projections to calm her down and wake her up. Since attacks that hit all villain targets will also hit the Dreamer, who only has 6 HP, the team must decide if shooting the hostage is worth it.
- The 1988 computer game Hostages deals with a hostage situation in an embassy in Paris. The player controls a 6-man GIGN (akin to SWAT) team and has to complete three parts to beat the game: Get the men in position while evading seachlights and snipers set up by the terrorists, controlling a sniper and shooting bad guys hiding in the building, and clearing the building room by room. The 1992 sequel Alcatraz had a similar plot but adds hidden explosives on the former prison island.
- Mass Effect:
- At the end of the Bring Down the Sky DLC for Mass Effect, the leader of the batarian terrorist group tells you he'll kill the hostages he's captured unless you let him go unharmed. Since this is Mass Effect, you have the option of sacrificing the hostages and capturing/killing him anyways. But if you do, you can't get him or the batarians as war assets in Mass Effect 3.
- Another two sidequests have Shepard sent to defuse hostage crises, one involving biotics seeking reparations for injuries and illnesses suffered as a result of their training, another involving a cult.
- In the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC for Mass Effect 2, a character you're chasing takes a hostage and tells you to back off. In a Call Back moment, both Renegade or Paragon players can throw their rep in her face to intimidate her. Meanwhile Thane's loyalty mission ends with one.
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare At the finale of the Brutal Bonus Level "Mile High Club," the terrorist leader takes a hostage and you must kill him with a pistol headshot (in slow motion) to save him.
- The real subversion comes in the beginning: You are the hostage, the deposed President of Qurac, and the game forces you to watch in first person as you are dragged across town and finally executed for an audience.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops. At the end of the first level, you burst into Castro's bedroom to assassinate him. He takes his mistress hostage, which barely slows you down as you simply shoot him in the head. Then the mistress grabs his gun and opens fire herself. Then it turns out you killed a decoy.
- Hostages/Rescue: The Embassy Mission. The entire point of the game is to rescue a bunch of hostage kidnapped by generic terrorists at a generic embassy in Paris.
- Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening lets you “invite” some nobles to the Vigil’s Keep in order to keep their relatives from plotting against your character.
- You have to resolve one in Deus Ex. As the game is an RPG, there is almost no penalty if you mess up (well, only some cash bonus and good feeling). The only advice you get is "Do what you can, but show them that human shields won't protect them." Yeah. If you manage to skip it entirely, you will get scolded for it, but nothing more.
- The first scenario of Gods Will Be Watching, where the Xenolifers, a group of revolutionaries, hijack a ship containing data about the Medusea virus. In this case, you are the hostage taker.
- The classic Choplifter! has the player rescue 64 United Nations representatives who've been taken prisoner by the evil Bungeling Empire.
- The fourth stage of Sunset Riders is this since, right after defeating the third boss Dark Horse, a girl is violently thrown out of the saloon right behind. The hero or heroes tend to her and she says that the Smith Brothers and their goons have taken over, keeping three other dancers as hostages. Then she begs the hero or heroes to save the other girls, the hero/heroes go inside, and the stage proper begins.
- Girl Genius: Gil tries to protect Agatha by putting himself in Heterodyne Castle, so his father will not attack. She rejects this as holding him hostage.
- Most students on Castle Wulfenbach were there to keep their families in line. Agatha ended up in a similar situation, when Baron mistakenly believed her to be Moloch's lover.
- The Dragon Doctors: A shapeshifting thief impersonating one of the main characters takes said character's girlfriend hostage at gunpoint. She even says she's holding a special gun modified to go off if she's disabled in any way. Sarin blasts the both of them with an "Equiment Failure" spell that disintegrates the gun (and all their clothing).
- The Dreamland Chronicles: Joey mentions he's related to Alex and things turn bad.
- Pibgorn Trying it with Nat Bustart
- In episode 31 of Comic Shorts:Spriteoverse LE-37 tries to hold Label Buddy hostage, but his plan hits a snag: nobody even likes Label Buddy.
- In Sinfest, when Percy took Bally, and Pooch got Yarny, Percy threatens Bally.
- In Bob and George, Dr. Wily really breaks the rules: he takes the Author hostage.
- In Worm, Villain Protagonist Skitter is cornered inside a high school cafeteria by Dragon and the Cyborg hero Defiant. Skitter notes that she could potentially resolve the situation by taking any of the three hundred students in the room hostage with her powers (one of whom is one of The Bullies who caused her Traumatic Superpower Awakening), but then realizes that this is actually part of their superiors' plan, in order to make them seem justified in going to such extremes to catch her. Instead, she uses her status as a Villain with Good Publicity to convince the students to side with her.
- American Dad! parodies this in "A Jones For A Smith" with everyone but the negotiator being realistic:
[Stan has hostages, a negotiator turns up and immediately phones him]Hathaway: I just want to talk.Stan: I have nothing to say![Hathaway hangs up and sighs]Hathaway: Get him $50,000 in unmarked bills.Cop: Uh, sir, he didn't ask for money.Hathaway: Then make it $500,000!
Hathaway: [The hostages] are clear! Take your shot!Cop: Wait, what?Hathaway: Take the shot![The cop panics and shoots the already free hostages]
- Later, after Stan has clearly left the area completely:
- Parodied in the South Park episode "Fun With Veal". Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Butters steal 23 baby calves and hide them in Stan's room. An FBI negotiator treats it exactly like a hostage situation. However since the job of negotiating goes to Manipulative Bastard Cartman, the FBI guy does appallingly badly. Cartman bargains like a pro and the boys end up negotiating some heavy-duty weaponry, a ballistics missile and for eventual transportation, Michael Dorn playing Mr. Worf has to drive their truck. Despite this they eventually talk the boys into coming out without anyone getting hurt.
- Parodied in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Bird in the Hoof": Rarity is not making threats, she'd just afraid of damaging her dress.
Rarity: "Stay right where you are! All I want is a clear path to the exit. Nobody move, and my dress won't get hurt!"
- In Book (season) 3 of The Legend of Korra, the Red Lotus take the new Air Nation hostage to use as leverage against Korra, threatening to wipe them out if Korra doesn't hand herself over to the Red Lotus.
- Parodied in the Hey Arnold! episode "Curly Snaps", where Curly holes himself in the principal's office with the gym's dodgeballs The whole situation is treated like a hostage situation, with Arnold acting as negotiator.
- In Beast Wars "Code of Hero", Megatron takes one of the protohumans hostage to make Dinobot stand down. That this tactic works shows just how much Dinobot has changed. Megatron mocks him for his newfound compassion.
- In the aptly named Code Lyoko episode "Ultimatum", XANA possesses the school principal and abducts Odd and Yumi. He then threatens to "liquidate" them if Aelita doesn't turn herself over to him.