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Series: Breakout Kings
"We're not breaking out of anything!"

Breakout Kings is an American drama television series created by Nick Santora and Matt Olmstead, of Prison Break fame. The show is based on the adage that it takes a thief to catch a thief. This time it takes the Best of the Worst to catch the same.

Three deputy U.S. Marshals form a partnership with three convicts to apprehend escaped prisoners. In return for their services, the cons will be transferred to a minimum-security prison and have one month taken off their sentences for each fugitive they catch. If any of the cons themselves should try to escape, all three will be returned to their original maximum-security prisons and their sentences will be doubled.

The Team tries to catch fugitives within 72 hours of their escape, before they "get lost in the wind" or before they can cause too much collateral damage.

Set in the Prison Break verse, Breakout Kings has also been called "Leverage meets White Collar", or "Thunderbolts without superheroes".

The show was cancelled after two seasons in May 2012.


This series provides examples of:

  • And That's Terrible: The team's reaction to the pedophile in "Out of the Mouths of Babes."
  • Arch-Enemy: Damien Fontleroy, to Lloyd in particular and the team in general.
  • Asshole Victim: This show is surprisingly fond of this trope.
    • Erica's victims.
    • Genevieve's rapists in "Paid in Full."
    • Wayne and Roy in "The Bag Man."
    • The rapist in "Steaks."
    • Cruz's victims in "Cruz Control."
    • The prison guard and Candace in "Ain't Love (50) Grand?"
  • The Atoner: Benny Cruz, the runner in "Cruz Control", a lifelong gangbanger looking to erase his sins... by killing the wicked.
  • Beardless Protection Program: The team figures that a big prison break was supposed to have another participant who missed the escape because he was sent to the prison infirmary. He stands out since he recently shaved his head so he would look different from his mugshot pictures.
  • Big Bad: Damien in Season 2.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Erica is convinced that the perp in Episode 9 is packing; his lover doesn't dispute that fact.
  • Black Best Friend: Shea to Lloyd, on occasion.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: In "Off the Beaten Path", Erica is captured and dressed in a wedding veil by the escapee after she has freed his original victim. Charlie rescues her by shooting the escapee, splattering Erica and the veil with his blood.
  • Bodybag Trick: In "Steaks", two convicts murder an obese inmate and then hide in his coffin in order to escape.
  • Boxed Crook
  • Black Dude Dies First: Charlie.
  • Break the Cutie: Lloyd, when in the second season Damien takes him hostage and forces him to play a game of cards to save a girl's life. Lloyd does, and he wins... but then Damien reminds Lloyd that he is insane, and kills the girl anyway. Right in front of him.
    • It gets even worse in the season finale. Damien holds Ray's daughter hostage to force the team, particularly Lloyd, through a scavenger hunt intended to screw with his mind. This includes forcing them to dig through Charlie's ashes, and making Lloyd confront the parents of the girl who OD'ed from one of his bad prescriptions. Lloyd points out to Ray that he accepted 25 years for a simple manslaughter charge because he couldn't bear to face them in court. Topping off the twisted game, for the last step in the scavenger hunt, Damien demands that Lloyd kill an escaped convict in cold blood. Lloyd offers to do it, saying that Damien wanted to break him, and it worked. Fortunately the team finds Damien before Lloyd actually goes through with it.
  • Broken Bird: Julianne is a mix of this and Shrinking Violet. The Broken Bird part comes from an incident as a child when she witnessed her cousin being kidnapped, presumably to be murdered.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: T-Bag claims to be the product of this (brother-sister rape actually) in "The Bag Man".
  • Brutal Honesty: This appears to be how Lloyd views his profiling; he doesn't understand why Shea gets pissed when he rattles off statistics about black crime rates or why Erica is enraged to the point of attacking him when he realizes that she's got a daughter who she's been separated from.
  • Character Overlap: In the third episode of the first season T-Bag breaks out from Fox River, yet again. An unprecedented case of a character crossing over to a show on a completely different network. The show was originally owned by Fox.
    • Not to mention, it was unadvertised; only people who had seen Prison Break would know about the crossover.
  • The Collector: Xavier Price
  • Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: In "The Bag Man", T-Bag feeds one of his victims into a rock crusher at a quarry.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: In "Queen of Hearts", Erica gets a little annoyed at Lloyd for jeopardizing everyone's position on the team due to his gambling problem:
    Erica: If you ever get in debt again... I will harvest one of your organs with my thumbnail.
  • Daddy's Girl: Ray's daughter, in a positive example.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Both cons and cops have theirs.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: When the task force listens to Dom!Erica's interrogation in "Queen of Hearts," Charlie tells Lloyd to "keep his hands out of his pockets."
  • Disappeared Dad: Lloyd never really knew his father, Lars. He tricks himself into believing whatever lies his mother tells him about the man because he doesn't want to confront the truth.
  • Disney Villain Death: Damien.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: a lot of this show demonstrates both this trope and its inverse when it comes to the American justice system, where relatively innocent people get horrific sentences for their crimes (sometimes crimes complicated by circumstance, accidental or those they didn't commit at all), and the deeply guilty often get away with a light slap on the wrist (hence showing Truth in Television). For example, there is Lloyd, who gets twenty-five years for writing an illegal prescription to pay for his gambling debts... a prescription that his "patient" voluntarily paid for, and then ended up overdosing on when she attempted suicide by downing a handful of pills with a bottle of vodka. Everyone treats him like a murderer, and he clearly thinks the same about himself, despite the fact that the girl could have taken aspirin or any other medication and taking that many pills would still have killed her. Shae, on the other hand, got considerably less time when he ran an illegal gang syndicate which was more directly responsible for dozens of deaths. Typically, prison is a way to punish, and the worse the lawyer sells the case, the worse the convict gets, irrelevant of their actual crime or moral culpability.
  • Dropped After the Pilot:
    • The con artist Philly in the pilot episode was intended to be a regular member of the team. She doesn't appear in the series, replaced by bounty hunter Erica. Her absence is at least explained, as the Marshals discovered she was concealing ill-gotten gains and she was thrown of the program and transferred to high-security prison.
    • The show also has another seeming team-member cut (i.e. sent back to prison) before the end of the first episode, because he pocketed a knife while they were in a restaurant, apparently planning to escape. The guy shows up in a later episode wherein he aids the team from prison.
  • Dying to Be Replaced: Now that Charlie's gone, it seems like Ray's going to be the new protagonist.
  • Elevator Going Down: Shea and his girlfriend Vanessa hook up in the elevator in the Kings's base in "One for the Money".
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-Universe: Ray forces Lloyd into this when he enacts a plan that involves allowing the criminal they've captured to swipe his keys and gun and take them hostage, taking them straight to where her partner was holding several other hostages. Lloyd is understandably less than thrilled when he learns how he was manipulated.
    • Ray and Charlie do it again a few episodes later, convincing a runner he's going to take a bribe so that he'll let go of Lloyd and give him a clear shot.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: It's the reason why T-Bag breaks out of prison.
    • Subverted with Lloyd, as he wanted his teammates to tell his mother "I hate you" if he was killed.
  • Everything Is Racist: Shea tries this on Ray in the second episode of the second season, Ray says that the reason is that he doesn't trust Micks (Shea claims that he is 1/8th Irish.)
  • Evil Counterpart: Damien is this for Lloyd. Both have mother issues, crave attention, fake emotion when the situation demands, and are highly intelligent and well read. Damien just happens to be a psychopath.
  • Evil Matriarch: Carmen Vega
  • Exact Words: Lloyd convinces a captured fugitive to turn on his partners by pretending to be a Marshal, and offering a deal. He never specifically says he is one; he just comes into the interrogation room, and behaves like he's Charlie's boss. He also says that the deal is "as legit as anything I can offer" (which is nothing) and that "an offer made by a U.S. Marshal cannot be rescinded under the law." (which it hasn't been)
    • That is, of course, nonsense: an offer made by a marshal has no legal force whatsoever. Only a prosecutor can offer a deal.
  • Expy: Lloyd is basically T-Bag, taken down a few notches.
  • Fanservice:
    • Erica in Episode 12; she even lampshades the fact that she's wearing unnecessarily tiny panties. She then is used to try and bait a convict by dressing provacatively in the season 2 premiere, along with appearing only just with a towel around her.
    • Jules to a lesser extent, but she still cleans up very nicely. There's also that scene in the series finale where she yanks off her nylons to provide the "spit shield".
  • Faux Action Girl: Erica is supposed to be this badass former bounty hunter who can track anyone and killed five of the men who killed her father and so forth, but in "Out of the Mouths of Babes," a middle-aged former school counselor is able to outrun her and give her the slip. In "The Bag Man," T-Bag is able to get away from her by the simple expedient of closing a door and sticking a mop in the door handle. When she is useful, it's in a role that seems more like they were written for Philomena, as when she seduces/dominates the fugitive-of-the-week's accomplice in "Queen of Hearts."
  • Femme Fatale: Lilah in "Queen of Hearts." Starla in "Fun With Chemistry."
  • Five-Man Band: The band got a little switched up in Season 2 due to Charlie's death.

  • Also fits the sub-type of Five-Man Band of Three Plus Two or in this case Three Plus Three.
    • Charles, Ray, Jules make up the base Power Trio and the Face-Heel Turn three round it out.
    • The 'Legal' power trio is Beauty Brains and Brawn with Beauty also being the Na´ve Newcomer.
    • To keep it fresh the 'Legal' Power Trio rolls of Brains and Brawn are shared by Charlie and Ray. Charlie is Brains but also Brawn when it comes to throwing around the full power of the criminal justice system. Ray is the more traditional Brawn but his experience and past successes allow him to also be the brains.
  • Forced to Watch: Damien kidnaps Lloyd and forces him to watch him kill a female hostage. Lloyd is unharmed, but it sends him into a Heroic BSOD and he quits the team.
  • The Gambling Addict: Lloyd. It's landed him in hot water more than once.
  • Gentleman Thief: Andre in "One for the Money", although he can be more vicious than a typical example.
  • Great Escape: Every episode opens with one — turns out there are dozens of novel ways to break out of prison.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Oliver in "Steaks". Sent to prison for a joyride that accidentally resulted in a death, he is torturing and murdering people following his escape.
  • Handicapped Badass: T-Bag in "The Bag Man". He stabs a guard to death with his prosthetic hand and then proceeds to go an a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Heroic BSOD: Lloyd, after being kidnapped by Damien and forced to watch him kill a young woman.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: The inmates in particular are shown via several moments to care for one another's well being, even though they'll never openly admit it. Erica, for instance, picks a highly valuable watch off of a Jerkass detective to help Lloyd pay off his debt to another prison inmate. Shea intimidates that prison inmate into taking the watch and shaving off the rest of Lloyd's debt.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The hacking scene in "Like Father, Like Son" could have come straight out of an 80's movie.
  • Hollywood Law: There was a lot of this. First of all, the US Marshals' Service does not have the authority to reduce a prisoner's sentence by one month, or at all. This may seem shocking, but prison sentences are actually legal rulings imposed by courts of law, and cannot be altered by an agency of the executive branch.note  Secondly, the Marshals' service is part of the federal government, meaning that it has no responsibility or authority over state prisoners, but at least one of the convicts on the team, Shea, was in a state prison, Ossining State Prison, or Sing-Sing. Also, many of the runners the team chases are shown escaping from state prisons.
    • Also, in the episode "SEAL'd Fate" in season 2, the plot turns on a private military contractor firm that was hired to carry out covert ops by the US government, one of which turned out to involve the commission of war crimes. At the end of the episode, the runner, who was an employee of the company who broke out to expose the company's culpability, was taken out of the Marshals' custody by the CIA. The CIA is barred by statute from arresting anyone on American soil, or conducting any kind of operations on US soil. Also in that episode, the marshals were locked in the company's offices when the runner broke into the building; after this, the marshals just walk away. Again, shockingly, it's actually a crime to imprison law enforcement officials (or anyone actually, outside certain obvious exceptions) against their will. For some reason, the marshals act like there is nothing they can do about this. That whole episode was obnoxiously idiotic.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Philly
  • I Have Your Daughter: In "Queen of Hearts", Lilah Tompkins escapes from prison by claiming to have had an accomplice kidnap a guard's son, and threatening to kill him unless the guard cooperates. She shows the guard a photo of his son on a mobile phone in order to convince him. She was bluffing, but the guard had no way of knowing that.
  • In That Order: Lloyd, in regards to T-Bag; "But of course, he was incarcerated for raping and killing a bunch of teenagers... not necessarily in that order."
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Oliver from "Steaks" was sent to prison for a joyride that went wrong. He was repeatedly raped, and became a torturer and murderer on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Happens "There Are Rules", when the white-collar criminal who masterminded the prison break of the week pulls a gun on his relatively violence-oriented accomplice, and the latter tries to Hannibal Lecture him:
    "...you got a problem, Ronald. You got nobody to pull that trigger for you. This is a job you can't delegate. You gotta actually dirty your hands for once, and we both know that—" BLAM
  • Killed Off for Real: Charlie.
  • Large Ham: Lloyd.
  • Living Lie Detector: Lloyd. He's a highly-intelligent behaviorist, so it's to be expected.
  • Look Both Ways: In one episode, one of the five convicts who broke out of prison tries to escape Ray and the others by sprinting across the street, at which point he's nailed by a passing bus.
  • The Mentor: Ray, to Jules.
  • Mission Control: Jules, often with Lloyd.
  • The Mole: Colburn in "Where in the World is Carmen Vega?"
  • Momma's Boy: Lloyd, though some of the things he says may point to Mommy Issues as well.
  • Monster of the Week: Escaped Con of the Week in this case. Lampshaded by Ray in "SEAL'd Fate," when he introduces the "Scumbag of the Week" to the gang.
  • My Beloved Smother: See above; he's not afraid to say that he hates her.
  • Noodle Incident: It's not outright stated as why Lloyd's in prison, but he was serving a 25-year sentence before he got on the task force, and he's lost his medical license.
    • Until it is. Lloyd wrote illegal prescriptions to pay off his debts, and one girl committed suicide swallowing a handful of Percocet from one of them. He still beats himself up over it.
  • Not So Different: Ray is an ex-Deputy U.S. Marshal who, contrary to what he told the cons, stole money to buy his daughter a car, and lost his job after he was convicted for it. He has been appointed as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal, allowing him to carry a weapon, but is currently on parole - a fact that he keeps hidden from the cons until Shea finds out. After Charlie's death, he is reinstated to his former position.
  • N-Word Privileges: Shea stops doing business with Carmen Vega partly because she tried to get him to sleep with her and partly because she called him a "word he doesn't allow people who aren't black to call [him]".
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Or rather, Obfuscating Failure. Ronald Barnes in "There Are Rules" deliberately plans for all of his co-conspirators to get captured, so the Marshals will think his plan is coming apart.
    Lloyd: We have his lemons!
  • Orphaned Punchline: Lloyd's "tasty joke" from "There Are Rules":
    The kid's crying, the mom is naked, and then the party clown says, "Now that is what I call a 'balloon knot'!"
  • Outlaw Couple: Mars and Starla in "Fun with Chemistry".
  • Painted-On Pants: Erica's civilian attire.
  • The Perfect Crime: More like the perfect murder, actually several of them. Erica is in prison on weapons charges, but she actually killed five of the six men responsible for her father's death, but did it flawlessly and was never caught for it.
    • Ronnie Marcum, the runner in "Self-Help." He started a fight with another inmate, sent a fake anthrax letter to the warden, and used the panic to escape long enough to kill some old friends blackmailing him. He then managed to sneak back into prison, having been gone for just a few hours, claiming to have been hiding from the other inmates in the confusion of the anthrax scare. The team doesn't get their month off because they couldn't prove he ever escaped. Marcum doesn't win, though — they get him on a murder he committed as a teenager.
  • Potty Failure: Invoked by Emmy in "I Smell Emmy" so she could escape from her prison van drivers.
  • Prison Rape: The younger runner in "Steaks" was a victim of this, and escapes prison to kill the rapist.
  • Put Your Gun Down And Step Away: In the pilot episode, the US Marshals corner the escaped convict only to find out that he is wired a little girl to a bomb and is holding the detonator. The senior agent orders his partner to lower his gun and when he does the senior partner shoots the criminal in the arm which causes him to drop the detonator.
  • Rabid Cop: Ray has moments like this, including threatening to burn a suspect's genitals with a cigarette lighter in "Like Father, Like Son".
  • The Reveal: The cons eventually find out that Ray is no longer a US Marshal, and Shea ends up calling him out on it. Ray reacts in anger, calling out the cons on their various crimes and revealing exactly why Lloyd is in prison.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: On the law side of the team, we have Charlie, a former marine who has been restricted to desk work for six years due to a heart defect. Ray's aggressive style of policing cost him his badge and earned him a criminal conviction. Then we have Julianne, who suffers from panic attacks and other problems that forced her to give up a promising future. The cons consist of a former gang kingpin, a brilliant profiler with a gambling problem, and a woman who can and will hunt you down and kill you if you cross her.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: The main premise of the show revolves around this.
  • Redneck: Beaumont and the Patriot Front in "Like Father, Like Son."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Charlie is the Blue Oni who is "intellectual, proud, traditional, introverted, and cultured" and his mystery is his heart condition. The passionate, determined, defiant, and more brawny than brainy Ray is the Red Oni.
  • Right Wing Militia Fanatic: Christian Beaumont and the Patriot Front in "Like Father, Like Son".
  • Running Gag: EVERYONE in "Where in the World is Carmen Vega" thinks Flo-Flo's name is stupid.
  • Shout-Out: In one episode, Shea and Erica pose as the law to get some information. The cover names that Shea comes up with on the spot? Rakim and Erica B.
  • Shrinking Violet: Julianne is a mix of this and Broken Bird. The Shrinking Violet part comes from her severe social anxiety.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Lloyd, when speaking to a villain they've just caught who made a lifetime out of victimizing people after he gives his Motive Rant.
    • Lloyd: "Some people just come broken."
  • Smug Snake: Beaumont in "Like Father, Like Son." Andre in "One for the Money."
  • Snowball Lie: A convicted child molester is revealed to be a victim of this. Only one victim was actually assaulted, and the guilty party was her own father. She was forced into blaming her teacher. The other "victims" were kids caught up in the hysteria.
  • Spiritual Successor: to Prison Break. It's set in the same verse, and features crossover characters.
  • Sticky Fingers
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: While making a point about approaching a situation from an alternate angle, Shea denies ever stealing money from a rival gang by breaking into their hideout from next door.
  • Title Drop: The name "Breakout Kings" is suggested for the team in the pilot by Shea, who even designs a graffiti tag logo. The cons like and use it. Ray and Charlie keep protesting that it doesn't fit because "we're not breaking out of anything".
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Several previews have trumpeted the idea that one of the crew members will get killed off during a hunt. So far they've all lied.
    • The commercials for Season 2 seem to have a bit more weight on this trope...
      • Confirmed. Charlie's dead.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lloyd might be an extremely smart guy but he lacks the street smarts to survive in prison. He keeps insulting people and unable to control his gambling habit, and thus he owes money to the wrong people. He needs to stay on the team since in a minimum security prison he at least has some chance of surviving.
  • Tsundere: Erica, Type A, toward Lloyd. Subverted, somewhat, in that she's mean to everyone, including him. She just happens to show him kindness once in a while.
  • Underside Ride: The escapee in the pilot episode escapes this way.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension : Lloyd and Jules.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Jules
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Philly, from the Pilot episode, was originally on the task force. She, however, neglects to inform the authorities that she has over a million dollars in her bank account that she didn't get legally, and is thus sent back to her original correctional facility. Erica is her replacement.
    • Gunderson, the bounty hunter from the pilot and another original Breakout King. He doesn't even make it into the field, though he makes a cameo appearance in "Off the Beaten Path."
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Season 2 premiere
    • The series finale.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lloyd takes Ray to task at the end of "Cruz Control" for using him to kill Cruz instead of letting him talk the guy down.
  • Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: The team are surprised when an escaped convict does not hurt people when given the opportunity. Based on his past crimes he should be acting violent and unstable. He was wrongfully convicted.
  • Wrongfully Accused: Joe in "Out of the Mouths of Babes."
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: When Lloyd calls his mother to tell her about the deal, all she says is "You could have been so much more." Then she hangs up.
  • You Need to Get Laid: All of the team in Episode 9; Erica in particular is quite "manmished".
  • Zorro Mark: In "Steaks", Oliver brands his initials on to two of his victims.


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alternative title(s): Breakout Kings
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