"Better run for the border
He's never gonna understand
Better find a place to hide
On the other side of the Rio Grande"
— Johnny Rodriguez, "Run for the Border"
A character desires to escape something in his home country, and resolves to flee or relocate to a neighboring one.
This usually manifests itself in one of two ways:
Type A is your standard getaway for criminals and malcontents after they rob a bank or engage in a crime spree, to escape arrest and prosecution. This can even include travel within
the same country. In the US for instance, the criminal will cross a "state line" (border between states) because the police of the state they were in has no jurisdiction in adjoining states. Especially common in Westerns
, and other old U.S. movies. This also includes Prisoners of War
who have escaped to an allied or neutral country as their goal after an escape attempt. Whether these types make it or not varies: it's an almost even split between those who do (and live in a lazy beach town Happily Ever After
) and those who don't (usually dying in a Bolivian Army Ending
Type B is the sufficiently more noble version, where a character's home country is either going Crapsack World
by way of After the End
, or is taken over by a totalitarian movement
which quickly brings an end to the previous civil liberties, and escape is the only sane alternative. Fleeing the country is usually the end goal, and they'll likely either have to escape or avoid capture by the roving death-gangs or evil repressive authorities to leave.
May end in a Road Block
or Border Crossing
scene, or perhaps a Tropical Epilogue
. For another method of evading the law by escaping their jurisdiction, see Diplomatic Impunity
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- In the first Serpentwar Saga novel, Rupert and Eric try to flee to the Sunset Isles after killing Eric's half-brother due to a law there that said that criminals who stayed there without causing trouble for a year had their records cleared. They didn't even get close.
- Played for Laughs in Jeeves and Wooster whenever an Oh Crap situation is met by an escape to another country.
- Andrew and Jonathan flee to Mexico at the end of season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- See CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's Season 9 opener for an example of A.
- CSI:NY's season premiere had the perp try to escape to Canada before Mac caught up with him. Needless to say, he failed.
- Referenced occasionally in Friends. Phoebe's future plans tend to end up with her and an accomplice fleeing to Mexico for some reason. Which is odd, considering that Canada is much closer...
- In an episode of The Closer a murderer fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution. But because his victim, an illegal immigrant, was a Mexican citizen, Brenda smiled, got him to sign a paper stating that he had no intention of leaving Mexico, then told him that he was now under Mexican jurisdiction. And Mexico takes a dim view of people murdering its citizens. Just as two Mexican cops haul him off.
- The murderer only steps into this trap because the victim's mother had claimed to be from (IIRC) Costa Rica, not Mexico.
- Spoofed in The Beiderbecke Affair, when the protagonists help a dissident escape across the Yorkshire-Lincolnshire border, and later the Yorkshire-Lancashire border.
- Shane Vendrell wants to do this in Season 7 of The Shield, but needs to hang around Los Angeles trying to wait for the heat to cool off and to get some money to do so. Lem was going to do the same thing, until Shane murdered him.
- Due South had a rather interesting variant of type A. Ray was accused of killing a perp, though he actually didn't, and it looked worse because he had GSR on his hands from spending the morning at the range. Ray runs into the Canadian consulate and because it's technically Canadian territory, extradition proceedings have to be done before he can be removed. That gives Fraser time to find the evidence to clear him.
- Joy attempts this in My Name Is Earl, when she is facing felony charges, but it doesn't work out so well. Earl takes the rap for her and goes to prison in her place, when he sees that Darnell and the kids are suffering without her.
- An episode of Dexter wonderfully subverts this: after the previous season ended on a cliffhanger, with his sister discovering one of his murders, the next episode opens In Medias Res, with him rushing to the airport to buy a ticket out of the country. You only find out later in the episode, he was just there to kill a Ukrainian mobster, and had no intention of actually getting on the plane.
- Spoofed by a Top Gear segment that didn't make it into the final cut. After "escaping" from Colditz (now a hotel, and Jeremy checked out with his credit card), they make what ends up being an economy run for the Polish border on 11.3562354 liters of fuel. James May is taken out and shot when he fails to make the border.
- JAG: In "Scimitar", Harm and Meg along with the freed marine sergeant struggle to get out of Iraq (in 1996) and into Kuwait.
- In "Mr. Monk's 100th Case," it's revealed that serial killer Douglas Thurman, after strangling three young actresses, had Mexican currency in his wallet when he killed himself at a motel in Southern California, as he was fleeing from San Francisco to Mexico.
- In "Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico," Monk is lured to Mexico by a corrupt doctor who wants to kill him in revenge for Monk testifying against him in an insurance fraud case. Said doctor jumped bail, fled to Mexico and changed his name, and did so by committing two bizarre murders (a wild lion attack, and then a boy who drowned in mid-air while skydiving).
- Border Crossing, an adventure for Espionage and Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes, is closest to a Type A. The player characters are Western spies who infiltrate East Germany during the Cold War to investigate a mysterious "factory", and then have to get themselves out of East Germany. Unless the players have done an incredible job (or the GM has incredibly lousy die rolls), the secret police will be coming after the characters at some point in the mission.
- In Spycraft 2, if you find yourself the subject of a manhunt you can escape by invoking this trope to initiate a chase scene: the manoeuvre is actually called "Run for the Border".
- In Boris Godunov, Anti-Hero Grigory becomes a fugitive and succeeds in escaping Russia after a close encounter with the police at an inn near the Lithuanian border.
- Subverted in real life: During World War II, German POWs were imprisoned in Kansas. A few of them managed to escape ... for three days. They asked how close they'd gotten to Mexico. They were very disappointed to discover that they hadn't gotten out of the state, let alone the country. (This relates to how a lot of Europeans don't seem to realize how truly gigantic the United States really is; Americans for their part have the same problem when it comes to Canada.)
- Late in the war, 25 Germans broke out of a camp near Tucson, Arizona. Most tried to hike to Mexico, but only two got farther than a few miles before being caught. Three built a boat, intending to row down the Gila River — which they did not know was a dry riverbed until they were actually standing in it. (It only runs during flash floods, so it wouldn't have been much help anyway.)
- When was this? Because if it was after May 22, 1942, Mexico wouldn't have been too welcoming.
- They might not have liked U-boat sailors, but they weren't famed for their security.
- There was a Movie "The One That Got Away" about a German pilot who escaped from Canada, to the USA (pre-Pearl Harbor). True story, but he really was the only one. Mostly because they just plunked the prisons in the middle of lots of empty wilderness where even if they did escape, they wouldn't last long.
- Truth in Television. Partly the reason why the FBI was formed was because during the Prohibition era, the lack of any centralized police force meant that gangsters could commit their crimes and cross state or county lines without fear of pursuit.
- The reason why many American criminals (especially serial killers and murderers) escape to Mexico is because the Mexican Constitution forbids to deport people who are going to face death penalty in their home countries. That law was created during the Cold War and during the time period when almost all Central and South America were controlled by military dictatorships, but the law doesn't have exceptions for criminals for democratically-elected countries (like the U.S), and while they can be deported back to the U.S., they can't face death penalty due to a treaty with the Mexican government.
- Ironically, this law ended biting the Mexican government in their ass, thanks of the Zhenli Ye Gon case since the main culprit, by law, cannot be stripped of his acquired Mexican nationality and deported back to China, since he will be executed if he puts a foot there in this case, but the Mexican government neither wants him in the country, and since the American law agencies also wanted him too, he was extradited to the U.S. instead.
- Hong Kong Phooey: One of his fellow superheroes had to let a criminal go because said criminal had crossed the state border.
- Sheriff Ricochet Rabbit pursued a criminal named El Loco Lobo until Lobo crossed the border and was arrested by Ricochet's Mexican counterpart.
- A strange example in The Simpsons episode "The Bob Next Door". Sideshow Bob tries to kill Bart at Five Corners, a point where five states meet, intent on carrying out the murder in pieces across the different state lines so that he hasn't committed a murder in any specific jurisdiction and cannot be tried for it.note When the cops show up, Bob tries to use the border to escape Chief Wiggam, only to find police officers from the other four states have him surrounded.
Anime and Manga
- A Certain Magical Index: Hamazura is forced to flee Academy City when he learns that he has topped Aleister's hit list. He certainly escapes in style: stealing a supersonic plane and auto-piloting it to Russia. Then World War Three happens and AC forces continue pursuing him, so he has to make a run for the Elizalina Alliance border... but that doesn't stop the AC forces either, since it's a World War and he's only twenty meters inside the border anyway. He kicks himself mentally for thinking that such things as national borders would deter Academy City.
- Happened in The Day After Tomorrow because Mexico was far enough south that the new ice age would be less deadly to people from northern United States. One especially snarky web review put it thusly:
TV NEWS: In other developments tonight, millions of Americans are evacuating to Mexico, which briefly closed the borders while drunk on the incredible irony of the situation, but then the administration forgave all Latin American debt. ¡Buenos días a nuestros nuevos amigos!
- The movie Fortress (with Highlander star Christopher Lambert) has the protagonist and his pregnant wife try to leave a dystopian US after it implements a no-births policy to fight the increasing population growth. The film even opens with shots of the heavily crowded international bridges between the US and Mexico.
- Inverted in the opening of The A-Team movie featuring the newly formed team from fleeing a Mexican drug lord and his mooks to the U.S. border. The result?
Hannibal: General Tuco. You are engaged in unauthorized combat with United States military personnel... OVER U.S. AIRSPACE.
Cue Oh Crap
looks from the Mexicans... followed by an air strike.
- In the independent monster film Monsters, the protagonists are stranded in Mexico, which is overrun by gigantic aliens. They are trying to sneak across the American border without getting arrested or eaten.
- In a Run For The State Line variation, the ex-military father of Tank uses his WWII Sherman tank to free his son from the corrupt Georgia sheriff who'd framed him, then drives it to the Tennessee border where the governor has promised they'll all get a fair trial.
- The implied ending of The Handmaid's Tale.
- Pretty much the entire second half of Galaxy of Fear is the Arrandas and their uncle, having foiled an Imperial plot, trying to find a place outside of the jurisdiction of the Empire. But space doesn't have tremendously clear borders, so any place that looks safe generally isn't after a while.
- On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follet dramatises the true story of Electronic Data Systems employees escaping from Iran after the revolution.
- Americans flee to Mexico in the Made-for-TV Movie Super Volcano, where Yellowstone Park erupts, covers much of the US in ash, and plunges the world into a nuclear winter. They are forced to close the border here too.
- After painting their cars with the most anti-Southern slurs they could think of, driving through Alabama and subsequently getting rocks thrown at them, the members of Top Gear made a run for the Louisiana border. Why they thought it would be any better on the other side is up for debate.
- If they didn't know Mississippi was in the middle, the idea that they didn't do any research seems beyond the point of debating.
- They were trying to reach New Orleans, which was the designated 'finish line' for the challenge. And by the way, they just didn't have rocks thrown at them, the guys and their camera crew nearly got beaten up by some Alabama locals, making this a Chased by Angry Natives trope as well.
- The Billy Joel song "Miami 2017" tells of a future in which New York City is destroyed and everyone flees to Florida. They can't Run For The Border because "The Mafia took over Mexico."
- Chris de Burgh's song Borderline is about this (probably the Nazi takeover of Germany, judging by the context of the sequel song Say Goodbye to it All).
- Dragon Age II begins with this version, as Hawke and his/her family flee the monstrous invasion of darkspawn. It potentially ends with Type A, as Hawke goes on the run with his/her Love Interest, who may be a highly wanted criminal.
- Amusingly inverted in South Park's "Last Of The Meheecans" episode. Butters inspires a resurgence of nostalgia, homesickness, and nationalism that causes Mexican emigrants to the United States to cross the border back into Mexico. Border patrol guards eventually have to guard the border on the U.S. side instead to prevent the loss of menial labourers to the American economy.
- In Alfred J. Kwak, Alfred and his friends flee to neighbouring Broad Reedland when their home Great Waterland is turned into a fascist dictatorship by Dolf and his National Crows Party.
- The southwestern United States play host to a ton of illegal immigrants who fled Mexico due to higher wages.
- With the new immigration laws passed by Arizona recently, there's been a lot of news hubbub about Mexican immigrants moving back to Mexico (or at least out of state).
- Along with lifelong legal residents of Hispanic descent who didn't feel like staying around and risk harassment.
- North Korean defectors fall on the far end of type B.
- During the Cold War, much the same situation was the case for East Germany.
- During the Cultural Revolution, there were many Chinese who fled to North Korea.
- Some choose to swim to Hong Kong or Taiwan.
- According to the non-fiction book Nothing to Envy detailing the lives of North Korean defectors, one path out has a double example. For political reasons South Korean Consulates in China cannot accept North Korean defectors as refugees but the Korean Embassy in Ulanbattor, Mongolia can so after making it to China they then have to try and cross another border into Mongolia. And even if they don't make it all the way, as long as they cross the border Mongolian authorities will deport them South Korea rather than back to North Korea like Chinese authorities would.
- When Germany transformed into Nazi Germany in the 1930s, many intellectuals, political opponents, and Jewish people emigrated to escape persecution. Those that fled to other European countries usually found themselves in the same situation all over again when the German army overran these states several years later.
- The northern free states in the US were this way for escaped slaves, until the Dred Scott decision (since condemned as the Supreme Court's Dethroning Moment Of Suck) effectively forced them to keep running all the way to Canada.