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Barefoot Captives

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Freedom is their sole desire.

In both fiction and Real Life, prisoners, slaves, and other captives are often made to go without shoes. This can be done for practical or psychological reasons, or some combination of the two.

Note that the characters' captivity must somehow cause their shoeless state in order for this trope to apply. It does not apply to characters who normally went barefoot for one reason or another before being abducted, imprisoned or enslaved, and then simply continue to go barefoot afterwards.

On the other hand, being forced to go barefoot in captivity may change a character into someone who Does Not Like Shoes, even after escaping or being freed.

May overlap with Go-Go Enslavement or Barefoot Poverty. A sister trope to Shirtless Captives.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Monstress, Arcanic slaves of the Federation of Man are kept barefoot.
  • Superboy (1994): The human slaves on the anthropomorphic animal's island have their shoes taken from them.
  • Wonder Woman
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The slaves of the Empire of Saturn are not allowed shoes, and those that arrive with shoes have them taken from them in short order.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Sangtee Empire slaves have their clothing, including footwear, taken from them and replaced with plain work clothes and no shoes to help discourage attempts to run away.
  • In the Earthworm Jim graphic novel Fight The Fish!, Luana (AKA Princess What's-Her-Name) is kidnapped while barefoot. She stays this way throughout the entire story, even after changing out of her dress and into a jumpsuit. (Of course, the antagonist of the story is a fish with cat minions who don't wear shoes either, so it's unlikely they'd have any shoes to provide her with.) During her imprisonment, Luana meets another prisoner clad in the same kind of jumpsuit and nothing on her feet; this turns out to be Luana's long-lost mother.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Tangled, Rapunzel is kept barefoot as part of her imprisonment in Mother Gothel's tower. However, even after escaping the tower she continues to go barefoot for the rest of the movie and in the Sequel Series Tangled: The Series (where it is expressly stated that she Does Not Like Shoes). It seems spending her whole life without ever wearing shoes simply caused her to prefer not wearing them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Big Fish: The town of Spectre steals the shoes of new visitors, forcing everyone to be barefoot so that they stay to the soft grasses of town and not leave through the painful woods around it.
  • Captain Marvel (2019): Carol is captured by the Skrulls and wakes up in restraints with her boots removed. She quickly breaks free and during her escape from the Skrull ship, she finds her boots and puts them back on.
  • No Retreat, No Surrender 2: Sulin loses her shoes after getting abducted halfway through the film and remains in this state until the end credits.
  • Saw: Jigsaw's victims often wake up barefoot, although it's possible that at least some of them were that way when they were abducted (he usually takes people from their homes), but it's probably to make the "games" just that tiny bit more uncomfortable for them.
  • The Disappearanceof Alice Creed: As soon as the protagonist is kidnapped, they take off her shoes and remain barefoot throughout the film

  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Part of Margaery and then Cersei's Riches to Rags treatment when imprisoned in A Feast for Crows
  • Chalion: When Ista surrenders herself to the Jokonans in Paladin of Souls, they remove her sandals to humiliate her: "You will walk barefoot and bareheaded into the presence of the August Mother, as befitting a lesser woman and a Quintarian heretic." As an aversion, they leave Ilvin his boots, driving home his inability to protect Ista.
  • Dragon Jousters: Serfs such as Vetch aren't even allowed the cheap straw sandals given to slaves. The dragon-boys go barefoot on duty as well, but that's practicality rather than this trope — sandals would just get lost in the sand wallows.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: When the tributes of the 10th Games arrive, the outfits they are given by the Capitol seem to have been inspired by Roman slave garb, including the lack of footwear.
  • The Halfblood Chronicles: In Elvenbane, the elven lords keep their human harem women barefoot. When one of the women asks why, she is told that it's done to make it harder for the women to run away.
  • Typical for slaves in the Gor novels. "It is a high girl, and a rare girl, who is permitted sandals."
  • The Pit and the Pendulum illustrations and adaptations sometimes depict the protagonist as barefoot while imprisoned.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In Borders of Infinity, the prisoners in Dagoola #3 are issued trousers and a tunic, but no shoes. The gang that attacks Miles on his arrival are thus all barefoot, but their lack of combat boots doesn't help Miles very much.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blindspot: In "Mans Telepathic Loyal Lookouts", a psycho kidnaps Patterson and she wakes up in his cabin barefoot. When she tries to escape, it is snowing outside and they are in rocky terrain, so her feet really suffer and they are bleeding by the time she is rescued.
  • Many female characters on Criminal Minds have their shoes removed when being held hostage.
  • In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, all the slave characters are barefoot almost all the time, except for the gladiators when fighting in the arena.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: People imprisoned by the Fire Nation are dressed in nothing more than rags and bare feet. The most prominent example of this are the Southern waterbenders.
  • In Kim Possible, Kim first meets Dr. Drakken and Shego when she and Ron are sucked up into his base from underwater. Kim's flippers are removed off-camera and she goes barefoot the rest of the scene.
  • Steven Universe: The captives in Homeworld's People Zoo don't have shoes, illustrating how naïve and absurdly sheltered they are in their Gilded Cage.

    Real Life 
  • Historically, prisoners and slaves have often been kept barefoot, as described in the Other Wiki


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