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A Hero Arrested For Heroism is incarcerated in the same prison as criminals they previously locked up

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Snowy66 on Sep 20th 2018 at 3:58:08 AM
Last Edited By:
Snowy66 on Oct 17th 2018 at 2:02:08 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

"I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me!"
— Rorschach, Watchmen

Things are looking bad for The Hero. They've racked up a bad reputation and are wanted by the cops, which eventually accumulates in their arrest. So our hero is going to spend a while behind bars, until they either escape or clear their name.

But it doesn't end there. What's the one thing worse than being locked up in prison? Being locked in prison with your Rogues Gallery. For whatever reason, the authorities feel like it's a good idea to put the hero in the same prison that is housing criminals the hero previously locked up. Sometimes it's justified in that the prison is required to have very high levels of security to contain the rogues and similar levels are deemed necessary to hold the hero. So now the hero is held in a compound with their worst enemies, all eager to tear them apart. As the hero is walked down the hallway, they pass by rows of cells with their rogues reaching out their arms and yelling scornfully at the do-gooder who put them in here.

This usually results in the inevitable breakout where the criminals escape confinement and the hero is forced to face off against all of their jailed rogues at once.

A Kangaroo Court can ensue if the hero's rogues actually take over the prison while he's there and decide to exact revenge on him in a way that mocks the judicial system that incarcerated them there in the first place.

Compare Conveniently Cellmates where the hero is put in the same cell as one of their enemies, which may or may not overlap with this. See also You All Meet in a Cell and Pariah Prisoner.


Comic Books
  • Batman has been locked up in Arkham Asylum a few times as an inmate, with his rogues gallery for company.
    • In the first arc of the Batman series Shadow of the Bat, "The Last Arkham", Batman is locked in Arkham Asylum, and while isolated at first, Jeremiah Arkham invokes the trope by having Batman fight Amygdala first and then the other villains, in an attempt to break Batman's spirit. It doesn't work as Batman defeats them all.
  • Averted by Captain America who was incarcerated on Ryker's Island, used to house supervillains, but it was of his own will. He was put there intentionally so he could break out and test the prison's security.
  • In New Avengers: it's revealed that Sentry is locked on The Raft by his own choice with the rest of the supervillains. The reason being that he was unable to control his own powers and killed his wife. However during the jail break orchestrated by Electro, he comes to the aid of the heroes struggling against Carnage, where he snatches and grabs hold of the psychotic Symbiote and flies him into outerspace where he proceeds to tear him apart.
  • The Punisher: While Frank rarely arrests criminals, many storylines have him end up in prison in the company of survivors or relatives of his victims, who come at him for revenge (with predictable results). More often than not, he's in prison because he wants to be, usually in order to kill a crimelord who Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All (or in one case, to protect Matt Murdoch).
    • The Trial of the Punisher: Frank allows himself to be arrested and put on trial... so he can kill a criminal who pulled a Karma Houdini by entering the Witness Protection Program years ago, eventually becoming a federal judge.
    • The End: It's mentioned that during his imprisonment in Sing-Sing, Frank kept killing his fellow prisoners until a judge finally realized it would keep happening ("feeding meat to a tiger" was the simile used), so he's been in solitary for several years.
    • The Cell: Frank gets himself arrested and sent to Ryker's, orchestrating a prison riot so he can get at the lifers who were responsible for the deaths of his family so long ago. The corrupt guards try to intimidate him by walking him past the toughest inmate, a Scary Black Man named Squeaky Pete ("he don't use lube"). Frank immediately breaks free and kills him, telling the guards to send the next-toughest.
  • In some versions of Watchmen, Rorschach gets locked up in a prison full of criminals that he put behind bars. It does not go well... for the criminals.

Films

  • Discussed in Constantine. Constantine's soul has been destined for Hell ever since an attempted suicide in his childhood, and he's trying to earn his way into Heaven by banishing demons that don't belong in the human world. However, he's very aware that if his plan doesn't work he'll be even more screwed than he would have been otherwise, since, as he tells a police officer he befriends: "You're a cop, how would you feel about being sent to a jail where you put away most of the inmates?"
  • In The Fate of the Furious, Hobbs was helping out on a heist, but when Dom goes rogue, Hobbs is forced to steal the device in his place. This leads him to get caught and arrested, where he ends up incarcerated in the same high-security prison as Deckard Shaw, the Big Bad from the previous film who Hobbs had helped put there. In fact the two of them are placed in neighboring cells and exchange a lot of crude banter with one another. During a power outage, Shaw takes the opportunity to escape, to which Hobbs pursues in an attempt to stop him while also fighting off the prison guards who are trying to hinder him.
  • In Hancock, the titular character accepts how irresponsible he's been, doing heroics under the influence of alcohol and is put in prison as part of his rehabilitation. While there he meets up with all of the criminals he put behind bars and they all crowd around him. But turns out it's a very bad idea to piss off an immoral Superman. Hancock warns one thug that this will end with his head going up another guy's ass. The guy doesn't listen and Hancock keeps his promise.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach gets set up and walks straight into a crime scene with cops tipped off ready to arrest him. He gets put in prison full of criminals who know and resent him. But they soon learn that if any of them try to screw with him, they'll be lucky to walk away with severe scarring. As Rorschach makes it clear: "I'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me!"

Live Action TV

  • In Arrow
    • While Oliver Queen had been arrested several times on suspicion of being the Hood/Arrow/Green Arrow, he always managed to evade custody before reaching prison. That is until Season 6 where he has finally run out of cards to play and is left with no choice but to publicly out himself as the Green Arrow and accept arrest at the hands of the FBI. Oliver gets incarcerated into the same prison housing many of the rogues he had locked away including Bronze Tiger, Brick, and Derek Sampson.
    • When Roy Harper impersonates the Arrow to bail Oliver out of trouble, he gets incarcerated in Iron Heights full of criminals that hated the vigilante. One of the inmates ended up stabbing Roy. Though it's later revealed this was a ruse to fake Roy's death as the inmate was actually one of Diggle's buddies.
    • Invoked and subverted when Diggle gets framed for being a war criminal and incarcerated in the same cell as his old nemesis Deadshot (who was believed to have been dead), though it turns out Diggle was hallucinating his old enemy.
  • In one episode of Diagnosis: Murder, Dr Mark Sloan is the victim of a Frameup and is sentenced to death row, where he meets a man who he helped to convict of murder in an earlier episode. The convict takes the chance to gloat that he's likely to be released soon, as Mark's conviction has thrown the charges against him into doubt.
  • In Daredevil, Season 2 had Frank Castle being apprehended and put into the same prison as Wilson Fisk, who had managed to take over the compound and was running it as his own personal kingdom. There Frank is tricked into a trap where Fisk unleashes a whole block of angry inmates on Frank. However Frank manages to kill every single one of them with nothing but his bare hands and a few weapons he managed to snatch off the criminals.
  • In The Flash, a short arc of several episodes has Barry ending up imprisoned in Iron Heights after being framed for the murder of DeVoe, the same prison where all of the metahumans he catches are incarcerated. Eventually Warden Wolfe discovers he is the Flash and has him locked in the metahuman wing with power dampeners where he's celled up with the bus meta rogues he had been been rounding up in that season. After Barry learns that Wolfe is Evil All Along and plans to sell all the metas to Amunet, he uses his scientific skill to break him and all the other metas out before Amunet arrives. The metas eventually confront Wolfe and since they had reached an area outside of the Power Dampener's range, they're all ready to take revenge. So to save his own skin Wolfe, reveals to the metas that Barry Allen is the Flash and he was the one who locked them all up to begin with, causing the metas to all turn on him. Barry is only saved by the Becky Sharpe who had a Heel Realization and turns against the other bus metas using her luck manipulation. Unfortunately, the success is shortlived where DeVoe himself shows up and kills all of the bus metas by draining their powers, while taking Becky's body for himself.
  • In Luke Cage, Luke's past as a convict on the run catches up to him, and at the end of Season 1 he is incarcerated back on The Raft, the MCU's resident super prison. Though he doesn't actually get locked up with his personal rogues from Harlem, and he gets freed from prison by Foggy Nelson before any incidents occur just in time for The Defenders.

Video Games

  • As in their comic book counterparts, Batman Arkham games invoke this plot in which Batman is locked up or infiltrated into a prison to save other prisoners and defeat their enemies, mostly Arkham Asylum and Arkham City (a city-scale version of Asylum).
  • Watchmen: The End Is Nigh is a video game Spin-Off of The Movie, with one of the stages (and the one used for the demo) being about Rorschach and Nite-Owl II going to a prison to stop a riot, infiltrating it in the middle and fighting against various prisoners that haven't escaped yet.

Western Animation

  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "Dreams in Darkness", Batman gets deemed insane and is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, the very place where his Rogues Gallery is held. It turns out Scarecrow orchestrated the whole thing by exposing Batman to his Fear Gas and having him appear delusional.
    • "Trial" plays with this idea, by having the rogues intentionally orchestrate this and have Batman captured, before the rogues hold a trial for him to determine whether or not he is guilty of making the rogues who they are, with D.A. Janet Van Dorn (who loathes Batman) being forced to act as his defense attorney. However Janet does brilliantly, having studied all of the rogues and manages to give convincing statements that it wasn't Batman who created the rogues, but the rogues who created Batman.
  • Danny Phantom: While looking for a package he dropped in the ghost zone, Danny is captured by Walker and is brought to a ghost prison where all of the most dangerous ghosts he faced before, and The Box Ghost, are also being held.
  • In the Family Guy episode "One if by Clam, Two if by Sea", Peter, Joe, Quagmire, and Cleveland are wrongfully sent to prison for arson. Inside, most of the inmates recognize Joe as the cop who put them away. One inmate in particular threatens that he's going to kill them at a very specific time. Fortunately, Lois is able to set them free just before the time. The inmate is surprised to find that the cell is empty, and just out of bored curiosity, shanks himself just to know what it feels like.
    Inmate: OW! Is that what I've been doing all this time? ... I belong here.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?", Daffy Duck, Plucky, and Hamton are all imprisoned in a French prison, the former for a crime he did not commit, and the latter two for trying to break the former out. At the end of the episode, Buster and Babs rescue Bugs and arrest Sappy Stanley, the true culprit, but Daffy, Plucky, and Hamton are unfortunately not pardoned of their criminal charges and are stuck in prision, making license plates with Stanley.

Feedback: 23 replies

Sep 20th 2018 at 6:45:00 AM

A Kangaroo Court can ensue if the hero's rogues actually take over the prison while he's there and decide to exact revenge on him in a way that mocks the judicial system that incarcerated them there in the first place.

Sep 20th 2018 at 7:19:42 AM

  • The Punisher: While Frank rarely arrests criminals, many storylines have him end up in prison in the company of survivors or relatives of his victims, who come at him for revenge (with predictable results). More often than not, he's in prison because he wants to be, usually in order to kill a crimelord who Might As Well Not Be In Prison At All (or in one case, to protect Matt Murdoch).
    • The Trial of the Punisher: Frank allows himself to be arrested and put on trial... so he can kill a criminal who pulled a Karma Houdini by entering the Witness Protection Program years ago, eventually becoming a federal judge.
    • The End: It's mentioned that during his imprisonment in Sing-Sing, Frank kept killing his fellow prisoners until a judge finally realized it would keep happening ("feeding meat to a tiger" was the simile used), so he's been in solitary for several years.
    • The Cell: Frank gets himself arrested and sent to Ryker's, orchestrating a prison riot so he can get at the lifers who were responsible for the deaths of his family so long ago. The corrupt guards try to intimidate him by walking him past the toughest inmate, a Scary Black Man named Squeaky Pete ("he don't use lube"). Frank immediately breaks free and kills him, telling the guards to send the next-toughest.

Sep 20th 2018 at 7:51:29 AM

Comic book:

  • In the first arc of the Batman series Shadow of the Bat, "The Last Arkham", Batman is locked in Arkham Asylum, and while isolated at first, Jeremiah Arkham invokes the trope by having Batman fight Amygdala first and then the other villains, in an attempt to break Batman's spirit. It doesn't work as Batman defeats them all.

Sep 20th 2018 at 9:00:09 AM

Western Animation

  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?", Daffy Duck, Plucky, and Hamton are all imprisoned in a French prison, the former for a crime he did not commit, and the latter two for trying to break the former out. At the end of the episode, Buster and Babs rescue Bugs and arrest Sappy Stanley, the true culprit, but Daffy, Plucky, and Hamton are unfortunately not pardoned of their criminal charges and are stuck in prision, making license plates with Stanley.

Sep 20th 2018 at 9:34:18 AM

I think this is covered by Conveniently Cellmates, although that doesn't have the clearest name.

Sep 20th 2018 at 10:00:14 AM

^That feels way too specific. Plus it's only restricted to one person in the same cell, not what this trope is at all. In fact I haven't listed a single example here of a villain in the same cell as the hero. Though I guess there could potentially be overlaps.

Sep 20th 2018 at 1:34:07 PM

^ Better mention that in the description then.

Sep 25th 2018 at 10:18:01 AM

I feel like "in the same cell" and "in the same prison" are similar enough to be lumpable. Tropes Are Flexible.

Sep 25th 2018 at 4:38:49 PM

^That trope is "any two characters who are in a jail cell together" doesn't have to a hero and a villain.

This one is specifically a hero is locked up with his enemies.

Sep 25th 2018 at 9:24:54 PM

  • Danny Phantom: While looking for a package he dropped in the ghost zone, Danny is captured by Walker and is brought to a ghost prison where all of the most dangerous ghosts he faced before, and The Box Ghost, are also being held.

BTW Does this trope require the hero to be arrested, or can it be them breaking into a prison where some old adversaries happen to be. If the latter, this example could work (albeit still downplayed).

  • One Piece: Upon finding out that Ace has been captured and locked away in Impel Down, Luffy gets Hancock to help him break in to the prison to save him. On the way to the lowest level, Luffy runs into Buggy, Mr. 3, and Bon Clay (all three of which were enemies he had faced before, although Bon Clay became his friend before being arrested). Upon reaching the bottom to find Ace had already been taken away, Luffy comes face to face with Crocodile once again.

Sep 25th 2018 at 9:38:13 PM

^It's exclusively for a hero getting arrested, due to irony that they were locked in the same place as their baddies.

Breaking into prison would be intentional on the hero's part so doesn't count.

Oct 13th 2018 at 1:10:55 AM

Edit: example deleted as per OP statement.

Oct 12th 2018 at 1:52:04 AM

^Not sure Hell and a mortal prison are quite the same thing. Hell is one location with no other alternatives, this trope is that there are many other choices of imprisonment but the hero ends up in the same one as his rogues anyway.

Oct 16th 2018 at 6:46:08 AM

Video Games:

Oct 15th 2018 at 3:48:26 PM

  • Discussed in Constantine. Constantine's soul has been destined for Hell ever since an attempted suicide in his childhood, and he's trying to earn his way into Heaven by banishing demons that don't belong in the human world. However, he's very aware that if his plan doesn't work he'll be even more screwed than he would have been otherwise, since, as he tells a police officer he befriends, "You're a cop, how would you feel about being sent to a jail where you put away most of the inmates?"

Oct 15th 2018 at 3:45:03 PM

  • In the Family Guy episode "One if by Clam, Two if by Sea"'', Peter, Joe, Quagmire, and Cleveland are wrongfully sent to prison for arson. Inside, most of the inmates recognize Joe as the cop who put them away. One inmate in particular threatens that he's going to kill them at a very specific time. Fortunately, Lois is able to set them free just before the time. The inmate is surprised to find that the cell is empty, and just out of bored curiosity, shanks himself just to know what it feels like.
    Inmate: OW! Is that what I've been doing all this time? ... I belong here.

Oct 16th 2018 at 6:42:29 AM

This one is Conveniently Cellmates. I don't see which is the difference.

Oct 16th 2018 at 8:25:14 AM

Sorry Snowy, I corrected the links in my post, so now can be added as it deserved

Video Games:

  • Watchmen: The End Is Nigh is a video game Spin Off of The Movie, which one of the stages (and the one used for the demo) is about Rorschach and Nite-Owl II going to a prison to stop a riot, infiltrating in the middle of it and fighting against various of the prisoners that aren't escaped yet.

Oct 16th 2018 at 2:11:24 PM

  • In one episode of Diagnosis Murder, Dr Mark Sloan is the victim of a Frameup and is sentenced to death row, where he meets a man who he helped to convict of murder in an earlier episode. The convict takes the chance to gloat that he's likely to be released soon, as Mark's conviction has thrown the charges against him into doubt.

Oct 17th 2018 at 2:20:31 AM

@Grigor II. I already explained above. Conveniently Cell Mates is for any two random characters who happen to be in a cell together. This one is a hero with the criminals they locked up. The main difference is the number of people, and they don't actually have to be in the same cell for this one to work.

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