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- In Batman comics, Solomon Wayne was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, hiding escaped slaves in that big cave under Wayne Manor (this comes up in The Dark Knight Saga).
- In Superman, The Kents, Pa and Clark Kent learn that they had heroic ancestors who were abolitionists who gave Harriet Tubman a hand with the Underground Railroad.
- In The Three Kings: Hunt the mages are organizing one of these in order to get any mages that they find to safety
- In the Slavequestria portion of MLP Loops It's mentioned the in-Loop version of Pinkie Pie was running the Underground Railroad into Griffon Territory before the group awoke in that loop
- The Philadelphia Experiment II. The American Underground has a route to help Americans (who are basically slaves of the Nazis) escape to safety in Alaska, which is apparently not under the Nazis' control.
- In 101 Dalmatians, the Twilight Bark networks of dogs and other animals who help the dalmatians escape Cruella.
- In Batman Begins, a Historical In-Joke reference to the Civil War Underground Railroad is made when Bruce and Alfred are exploring the Batcave.
- Not Without My Daughter (1991). The protagonist and her daughter use such an organization to escape Iran.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel is an early literary example, smuggling French bluebloods from the clutches of the revolutionaries and the embrace of Madam Guillotine.
- In The Handmaid's Tale, there was an underground railroad for getting people (mostly women, IIRC) from Gilead to Canada.
- In Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, American dissidents flee Windrip's regime by traveling to Canada via an underground railroad, including Doremus after he escapes the Trianon camp.
- Number the Stars is a work of historical fiction set during World War II, about the Real Life efforts by Danes in Nazi occupied Denmark to smuggle Jews into neutral Sweden.
- In Jo Walton's Small Change trilogy, several groups focus on getting Jews and other undesirables out of fascist Europe. When Carmichael is blackmailed into becoming the head of The Watch, a British gestapo, he and a few trustworthy allies found the Inner Watch and use their resources and feared reputation to secretly get innocents to safety.
- One is developed in the New Jedi Order series to help Jedi evade the various invaders, sympathizers, and bounty hunters who want to capture them. The "Great River" is later converted into a branch of the Insiders and later the Ryn Network, which both have a more active intelligence role.
- In Rapscallion, Matthew Hawkwood has to infiltrate and shut down an underground railroad that is smuggling escaped French POWs out of England.
- Colson Whitehead's aptly named The Underground Railroad re-imagines the American Civil War-era underground railroad as an actual railroad, underground, that helps slaves escape.
- Subverted in Eyes of the Calculor by Sean McMullen. After an electro-magnetic pulse stops technology, the government forcibly conscripts anyone capable of operating the Calculor, a human-powered computer. An underground railroad is formed, but it turns out to be run by the secret police to scoop up all those who escaped the net — this is only revealed after another agency arrests everyone in the mistaken belief that it's a real underground railway.
Live Action TV
- Babylon 5: There is a so-called Telepath Underground Railroad, which helps telepaths escape from the Psi-Corps. From time to time, the Psi-Cops, elite Psi-Corps agents who are also powerful telepaths, will attempt to break the Railroad in order to capture the rogue telepaths.
- Later on, other operations develop to help Narn civilians escape captivity after their star nation falls under a brutal occupation by The Centauri Republic. One of the notables in this movement is Vir Cotto, using his credentials as Londo's aide and later Ambassador to Minbar under the name "Abrahamo Lincolni".
- And the Telepath Underground Railroad is used again later on as a recruiting network for telepaths to help the Army of Light fight the Shadows.
- In Firefly and Serenity, Simon was helped in his rescue of his sister from a government lab by some unspecified co-conspirators who apparently are these.
- In Hogan's Heroes, the title characters and the French Resistance helped escaping Allied P.O.W.s reach England.
- Murder, She Wrote: Investigating a murder attributed to the slave of a distant relative, Mrs. Fletcher found that the victim was a "Station Master" on the Underground Railroad, and was murdered by his father-in-law.
- Quantum Leap: In "The Leap Between the States" Sam leaps into his own great-grandfather, a Union officer in The American Civil War, and comes across a southern belle and her seemingly devoted slave who are secretly helping other slaves escape north.
- In Degrassi, Jimmy mentions that one of his ancestors had come to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
- In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the detectives come across a network of women who help battered wives escape from their abusers and start a new life far away where they can't be found.
Elliot Stabler: What is this, some kind of DV Underground Railroad?Woman: You could call it that.
- Secret Army is about Lifeline, a Belgian resistance network which returns Allied airmen to Britain during World War II.
- Criminal Minds: An underground railroad that helped battered spouses escape their abusive husbands was central to the plot read: was the target of the Serial Killer Of The Week, who was a Cold Sniper hired by one of said spouses and was killing his way to the escaped wife of the episode "Sniper, Sniped".
- Underground is about a group of Georgia slaves making a 600-mile journey to freedom with the help of the Underground Railroad.
- Played for laughs in the Friends episode "The One with the Two Parties": Phoebe smuggles people from Monica's boring party to Joey and Chandler's fun party across the hall, acting like she was freeing them from one of the places mentioned in the Real Life section below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4zEqse0F2o
Party Guest: What about my friend Victor?Phoebe: No, only the three of you, any more than that and she'll get suspicious.Party Guest: All right, let me just get my coat.Phoebe: There isn't time! You must leave everything! They'll take care of you next door.Party Guest: Is it true they have beer?Phoebe: Everything you've heard is true.
- Shadowrun supplement Aztlan. The Aztlan Freedom League helps refugees from Aztlan escape to the Confederated American States.
- Fantasy Games Unlimited's Psi World adventure Underground Railroad. The Free State operates, with the aid of a psionic underground in the Confederacy, a series of escape routes for psis who wish to get out of the repressive police state of the Confederacy.
- Half-Life 2: The human resistance ran a network of safehouses and supply caches to help people escape City 17, with the help of resistance agents planted in Civil Protection. When the manhunt for Gordon Freeman is set off, much of the network ends up being broken by the Combine, although the resistance group that was running the network manages to survive and fight on.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has The Twin Lamps, who serve as one to free slaves and help them return to their homelands. Given that slavery is legal in Morrowind, they need to be discreet.
- Fallout 3 took the Underground Railroad and ran with it in one of the sidequests, essentially by combining it with the plot of Blade Runner and having the Lone Wanderer either assist in protecting an escaped android, or helping capture him and return him to his creators in Massachusetts. They are expanded on in Fallout 4, where they're one of the factions you can side with.
- Dragon Age has a couple of these, helping mages escape the local religious Mutant Draft Board. Origins has a series of sidequests where you can either support or oppose the Mages' Collective, a group of Ferelden apostates.
- Dragon Age II is built around the Fantastic Racism mages in Kirkwall deal with, so the presence of a "Mage Underground" should come as no surprise. There's even a sidequest called "Underground Railroad." By act 3, the increasingly-paranoid Meredith has dismantled it, which doesn't do much for Anders' mental state.
- The Simpsons "The Color Yellow": The Simpsons had an ancestor who was a part of this. Bart suggested it should've been called "Aboveground Normalroad". To be more precise, a fugitive slave and a woman who helped him are ancestors of the Simpsons.
- Played with in Archer when Cheryl explains how one of her insane ancestors bankrupted himself building numerous tunnels underneath the Tunt Mansion in an effort to find the Underground Railroad, capture runaway slaves, and sell them back to their owners. Not only did he think it was an actual railroad, but he built these tunnels in 1890.
- The Trope Namer is the Underground Railroad that existed in the United States before The American Civil War, which helped escaped slaves make their way north to safety. Some found refuge in the Northern states that were anti-slavery, but some ended up fleeing all the way to Canada to avoid slave extradition laws that required escaped slaves to be arrested and returned to their owners (especially following the Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court).
- During World War II, airmen from the Allied Powers who were shot down over Occupied Europe would often find themselves being hidden and protected by members of various resistance groups, who would try to smuggle them back to England or to a neutral country such as Switzerland or Sweden.
- Counter-intuitively, the easiest path back to England was not across the English Channel, but rather a lengthy and difficult trip through Occupied France, Vichy France, and neutral Spain to the Mediterranean, due to the density of German defenses and patrols along the French coastline.
- Norway had its own network, usually smuggling refugees over the border (and also many jews) to neutral Sweden - and also back again, as the resistance network planned their moves in Sweden, smuggling their people back in to do their job. Woe for the ones getting caught on the way. The "railroad" usually went through uncharted forest terrain where the resistance knew the Germans were not actually looking. Another route went by fishing boats to the British isles (an even more daring attempt as you had to break the German Submarine lines).
- And immediately after WWII, the remnants of the Nazi leadership, with a lot of help from elements within the Vatican, created ODESSA (Organisation Der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen; or, Organization of Former SS-Members) and the San Girolamo ratline to smuggle Nazi politicians and officers—and whatever stolen treasure that they can get their grubby hands on in short notice—to Argentina.
- There were also the British who smuggled thousands of Jews (children especially) out of Europe and to England before and during WWII. This was presented as the work of Hallam in Upstairs Downstairs.
- There's currently an underground railroad which smuggles defectors out of North Korea. The usual route is through the northern border with China, bribing border guards along the way. Once in China, North Korean defectors have to keep a low profile since China is friends with North Korea and the Chinese government will send back any defectors it finds. However, it's much easier to get out of China than North Korea, so from there they can travel to whatever country they want. Under Kim Jong Un's rule, the border with China has been strengthened, which has slowed the flow of defectors.
- Cracked wrote an article after interviewing someone who got out. Apparently, they had to go all the way to Vietnam before it was safe to go to South Korea.
- According to Nothing to Envy an alternate route is to head for the Mongolian border upon reaching China. You'll still get deported, but Mongolia deports all Koreans entering illegally to South Korea.