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Locked up all by yourself, you have to pass time somehow.

A trope popularized by the prison movie The Great Escape: a character locked up in a prison cell (or some other place they are unable/not allowed to leave, like being grounded), often in solitary confinement, faced with boredom and little else to do, passes time by sitting down against one of the walls of the room, throwing a ball (usually a baseball, but variations are possible) at the wall opposite of them and catching it when it bounces back, over and over. Most of the time with a bored expression on their face and clearly not putting much effort in the throwing/catching.

Along with Captivity Harmonica, it perfectly demonstrates the boredom and isolation an imprisoned character suffers through.


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  • Variation with a bit more effort put into it in A Disease Of The Brain: Lucas Baker throws a ball against the walls of his cell after being captured by Blue Umbrella, but instead of just sitting against the wall he's running around the cell, with Ibuki in the cell next to him trying to keep up.

    Films — Animation 
  • Chicken Run: The movie is in many ways a parody of The Great Escape. One of the main characters is a chicken named Ginger, who is notorious for her escape attempts, but gets caught and put in solitary confinement every time. While there, she passes time throwing a brussel sprout at the wall.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: B.O.B. can be seen bouncing a ball on his cell. It dislodges his one eyeball, which he then bounces off the wall as well.
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension: After being captured, 2nd dimension-Candace is seen bouncing a baseball against the wall of her cell like Captain Hilts, just before she is freed.

    Films — Live Action 

  • The Executioner's Song: Nicole's ex-husband Barrett was once confined to "the nuthouse" for a week. He balled up his socks and bounced them against the wall of the cell and caught them.

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: In the episode "Key Decision", Gob gets himself locked up in the same prison where his father is interred for a magic trick. After he fails the trick (seemingly), his father decides to play the game of catch they never did on the outside. Unfortunately, their bonding moment is interrupted when Gob is shanked by another prisoner, White Power Bill.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • In "Rogue Air", Mark Mardon is shown in his containment cell in the Pipeline bouncing a ball off the wall since the small, bare cell has no other forms of entertainment to offer. Then the cell gets gassed to sedate him.
    • During the third act of the Crisis on Earth-X four-parter, while imprisoned in the pipeline, Harry can be seen playing with a ball in his cell, driving his neighbor Cisco nuts and causing them to bicker as usual, much to Dinah's irritation.
  • Forever Knight. One of the many brooding scenes involving the Vampire Detective protagonist has him doing this, probably to symbolise his loneliness and how he's trapped in his own home until the sun sets.
  • A variation is used in Jessica Jones (2015). In the fourth episode of season 2, Jessica is in her court-ordered anger management group, angrily bouncing a ball against the wall rather than sitting in the circle with the rest of the group, recounting all the abuse she suffered at the hands of Kilgrave and everything that she'd gone through since. She ends up throwing the ball hard enough to crack a hole in the wall, at which point the person running the group hastily agrees to just sign her attendance sheet and let her go.
  • Penn & Teller: Fool Us: The intro video for Aiden Sinclair, who was a conman and did time before deciding to straighten up and use his deceptive powers for good, has a shot of him re-enacting the scene from The Great Escape.
  • Sister Boniface Mysteries: While stuck in Mrs Clam's boarding house in "My Brother's Keeper", Sister Reggie's brother Alfie does this in his room.
  • Stargate SG-1, episode "Urgo", has Jack bouncing a ball while the team is undergoing isolated observation (not captivity, but just as boredom-inducing). Jack is the only one doing this, being the Book Dumb one of the group; Sam is working, Daniel is reading, and Teal'c is meditating.
  • A version done in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q Who". Q is with Picard in a shuttle craft in the middle of nowhere wanting to talk tot the captain. Picard refuses to and Q simply waits him out eventually bouncing a ball out of boredom. In this case, Q would be the jailer.
  • Treadstone. The pilot episode opens with an American agent imprisoned by the KGB and subject to brainwashing, bound to a chair and repeatedly bouncing a ball off the floor with one hand while maintaining a Thousand-Yard Stare.
  • In Syndrome E, Sharko has a hallucination of his deceased daughter who keeps following him around. At one point he tells her to 'wait' in the corridor while he's in a meeting and she responds by doing this trope, with Sharko shown to be annoyed by the imaginary sound of the ball bouncing off the wall.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: In "Hero of the Hourglass", when Jake is grounded by his dad, he is seen in his room, lying on his bed, and using his tail to bounce a baseball off the ceiling.
  • Generator Rex: In the episode "The Day Everything Changed", Rex in his room/cell is bouncing a ball off the wall.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Read It and Weep", Rainbow Dash gets grounded (as in being unable to fly) when she hurts her wing and gets stuck in a hospital bed. She starts killing time by bouncing a ball against the wall... until she flubs a throw and the ball rolls to a stop a couple meters from her bed.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In the episode "Escape from Phineas Tower", during the song Breakin' Out, there is a brief scene with Phineas and Ferb inside a prison cell parodying the cooler from The Great Escape, where Phineas can be seen bouncing a ball against the wall of the cell.
    • "Robot-Rodeo": Has Perry throwing a ball against the wall in the containment trap Doofenshmirtz put him in.
    • "Picture This": A mime is seen bouncing a ball against the wall of an invisible box.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "The Night the Clown Cried", Scooby is sent to a farm and can be seen throwing a ball against his cell wall, catching it with his mouth.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "A Streetcar Named Marge" has a B-plot about Maggie staying at "Ayn Rand School for Tots" daycare center, which spoofs "The Great Escape". Maggie even bounces a ball against the wall of the playpen she is put in by Ms. Sinclair, similar to Captain Hilts in the movie.