Wait, weren't you tied up a moment ago? Haley:
That was a moment ago.
Simply put, a character is tied up by the enemy for whatever purpose, and when the most dramatic (or the most humorously opportune) moment arises, reveals that they slipped out of their ropes ages
ago. Can also be done with handcuffs.
A variation is where they reveal that they could
have slipped the ropes, but chose not to: this is Play-Along Prisoner
Compare and contrast Breaking the Bonds
, which is generally much less subtle.
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Anime & Manga
- Ganta from Deadman Wonderland did this, using his own blood.
- Lupin III can only be handcuffed if he lets you handcuff him. During a Lupin III (Red Jacket) episode, Fujiko uses this trait to convince Zenigata Lupin is possessed: there's blood on the cuffs, which means he had to fight his way out of them... something the normal Lupin wouldn't have to do.
- Trigun: Vash the Stampede once slid out of ropes to protect a young woman from bandits. Said bandits caught him before he could get back into them... the second time.
- Dark and Riku from D.N.Angel have been captured and handcuffed because Dark surrendered the moment they were confronted. Riku is furious and begins yelling at Dark, at which point he reveals he has easily escaped.
- "You were saying...something about handcuffs?"
- Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind manga.
Films — Animated
- Iago had this moment in Aladdin and the King of Thieves. This time, however, it wasn't easy, as he had to wiggle out of his very tight bonds
- Done hilariously in Treasure Planet with Dr. Doppler. Turns out, he has abnormally thin wrists.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Roger Rabbit can slip out of his cuffs at any given moment, but only when it's funny.
- Bugs Bunny in Space Jam. When the aliens have him imprisoned, and are "gloating" to the highly amused toons, Bugs is quietly rolling his eyes and slipping out of the somewhat impressive amount of rope he's bound with. And the cuffs for his ears.
Films — Live-Action
- The President in Air Force One did this, and used a shard of glass to get out.
- Babylon 5: A call To Arms has Dureena Nafeel show the entire Thieves guild that she already loosened the bonds by simply dropping them, then knocking out the person who was taunting her about being restrained.
- Harry Tasker did this in True Lies. The cool part is that he had just told his interrogator exactly how he was going to kill the guy, right before revealing the cuffs were off.
- Two of the kids from The Pacifier did this, silently and quite impressively.
- Marv did this in Sin City, combined with Breaking the Bonds.
- One of the villains Pike from The A-Team has his hands cuffed behind him and put in the backseat of a car. Using his would be killer's imcompetence he quickly reveals his hands are free and steals the gun away from the man, pointing out they should "Never handcuff a guy's hands behind his back, then you can't see the hands."
- In Agents Of SHIELD episode "0-8-4", Melinda May does this... by dislocating her wrist first.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Living Conditions" Buffy is starting to go Ax-Crazy because a demon is taking her soul, so the Scoobies tie her to a chair. At one point Xander and Oz wonder if the ropes are tight enough, and cautiously approach Buffy...who promptly bangs their heads together.
- Supernatural. Played for Drama when Dean discovers Sam doesn't have a soul after being rescued from Hell. He beats Sam up and ties him to a chair while he and Cas try and work out what to do. Sam argues that it doesn't make any difference, and Dean can hardly keep him tied to a chair forever. He then stands up having spent the time working on his bonds.
- Cody in Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a prisoner who makes a habit of breaking out of jail. He's handcuffed. In his taunt, he slips out of the cuffs, makes fun of his enemy and then puts them back on.
- In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Layton and Luke get captured and tied up by a vampire who intends to drink their blood. Luckily, their captor did a sloppy job of securing the ropes, so after a quick puzzle, they manage to free themselves and continue their investigation. This turns out to have been an Invoked Trope. Anton's standard procedure for dealing with intruders is to capture them, threaten them a little, then leave them alone so they can escape and flee to further spread his fearsome reputation.
- In the first book of Shadow of the Templar, Gentleman Thief Jeremy is captured and handcuffed by Team Templar. When the team decides that it's safe to release Jeremy from the cuffs, he casually tosses them away before they can even reach for the key.
- Harry Houdini did this a lot. On more than one occasion, police officers he challenged handcuffed him to something and walked away, saying, "We'll be back for you in an hour." Before they reached the door, Houdini would walk up to them and say, "Take your handcuffs with you."
- At least one magician has had a routine where he's handcuffed by volunteers, supposedly to do a trick, his hands are hidden and he's continually pulling out one hand or the other (sometimes with the cuffs dangling from it) to "assist" the volunteers in setting up the supposed trick or "correcting" things they've supposedly done wrong.