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Captured on Purpose

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Katara: I came to rescue you.
Haru: So you got yourself arrested?
Katara: It was the only way to find you.
Avatar: The Last Airbender, "Imprisoned"

When one, some, or all the members of a heroic or villainous side are captured, sometimes it was part of the plan all along. Other times it isn't, but the captives will make use of their improvisational skills and whip the captors in due time.

The usual set-up for this trope is for someone to willingly surrender in order to be taken into the enemy base. When a hero does this, it's usually so they can get inside the Big Bad's secret lair, stop them, and maybe rescue a few prisoners on the way. When a villain does this, it's usually so they can escape while wreaking maximum havoc; expect at least one of the heroes to be a little bit suspicious and say something like "It's too easy". Alternatively, the one who is captured does put up a fight, fooling both the other side and the audience; his defeat and imprisonment is All According to Plan.

See also The Infiltration. Supertrope to Get into Jail Free; this trope doesn't require a jail setting. Compare Assimilation Backfire, Playing Possum, Wounded Gazelle Gambit. May or may not invoke Pity the Kidnapper, or involve becoming a Poisonous Captive. Often overlaps with Prison Episode, as many such episodes are the result of this. Trojan Prisoner is a variant of this when a captive(s) is brought in by their friends posing as the enemy guards to fool the other guards.

See also Self-Restraint when they willingly let themselves be put into prison and stay there for various reasons, and Play-Along Prisoner, where they could escape at any time but choose not to.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Ayakashi Triangle: After a corrupted Donpa sucks Mei, Suzu, and Matsuri into his gourd, Reo tries to join them—either because she had a plan to get them out from the inside or because she would enjoy getting stuck in enclosed space with her friends while their clothes melt. To Reo's disappointment, Donpa only wants Suzu, Mei, and Kanade in his gourd (and sucked in Matsuri by mistake) because they're who he wanted to make into wine.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: Dazai deliberately gets captured by Kyouka so he can look for the archives of Port Mafia and find out who offered the money for Atsushi's kidnapping.
  • Light Yagami from Death Note does this to prove he is not Kira. He gets imprisoned, and according to a rule on the Death Note, if somebody who uses it does not kill anyone for 40 days, that person will die. After the deadline passes, with Light still very much alive and other deaths occurring, he's released from custody and invited to join the investigation. He secretly arranged all of this; the 40-day rule was a fake one he'd written down as a decoy. He then renounced his Death Note (sacrificing his memories) and instructed Rem to give it to somebody else (with a specific personality type so they would use it in a certain way). When that Kira was captured, he re-obtained the Death Note and his memories. Also, he made this part of a bigger plan to get rid of Misa's protector so he could use her like he pleased without fear of Rem taking revenge on him.
  • An episode of Digimon Adventure 02 had the kids and their mons let themselves be locked up in one of the Emperor's prisons to they could organize a jailbreak.
  • In Durarara!!, in episode eight of Ten, it opens with Izaya tied to a chair with a bag over his head. A woman, calling herself Earthworm, reveals she has kidnapped him and is now torturing him for information while leaking details about his personal life. However, after Shijima's gang arrives to negotiate with hers, both leaders get a phone call from 'Izaya Orihara', causing the two to freak out and question who they captured. Shijima, to cover up a lie, tries to kill the captive who has somehow freed himself and uses the knife to cut the bag off, revealing Izaya was indeed captured. Izaya's own gang appears to free him, and it is shown that Izumi was the one on the phone. Izaya then proceeds to mock Earthworm's torture technique, which did little besides getting him wet, and then watches as both gangs are reduced to bloody pulps. In reality, he had been hired by the Awakusu to get info on Amphisbaena and Heaven's Slave and had masterminded the entire thing to get rid of both groups, find out all their secrets and keep Nakura (who had been the founder of both groups) under his thumb.
  • In the second episode of Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Ed lets himself get taken prisoner by Father Cornello as part of his plan to trick him into exposing himself as a fraud.
  • Near the end of Full Metal Panic!, Gauron gives himself up to Mithril operators during an operation to take out an American military installation in the Pacific. What the crew of the Tuatha de Danaan doesn't know (until later) is that Gauron needed to be locked up in the submarine's brig so that he can seize control of it with the help of double agents in order to seize control of the bridge.
  • Heavy Object: Skuld allowed herself to be captured by the 37th in hopes of being sent to a Legitimacy Kingdom safe country for study. Once there she would escape and being pursuing her hobby: Serial killing.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: During his fight with Miyamoto, Yuya Fungami allowed himself to be transformed into paper for a chance to rescue Josuke and Koichi from Miyamoto's grasp before they were shredded.
    • Stone Ocean: After learning that Pucci has sent a bone that's crucial for his Evil Plan to the maximum security ward, Jolyne deliberately lets herself be sent there to find and discover its purpose.
  • At the beginning of K, Mikoto Suoh, the Red King, lets the Blue King take him prisoner. He stays in the Blue Clan's prison for most of the season, leaving many of the other characters to wonder why he's doing this when he could break out so easily, particularly since he's usually not the type to let anyone boss him around, certainly not the Blues. The truth is, he is on the verge of losing control of his powers, and he wants to not have to worry about that... at least until he finds the murderer who killed his clansman so that he can let it all out in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • One Piece:
    • Silver Rayleigh gambled away all his money and then allowed himself to be captured and sold into slavery. Relying on the fact nobody would pay too much attention to an old man, his plan was to rob whoever bought him blind before ditching his collar and going back to gambling. After thinking it through, however, he realized that no one would want to buy an old man as a slave in the first place, so he went ahead and broke himself free (along with the rest of the slaves, while he was at it).
    • It was stated in Kaido's introduction that he had been captured by the Marines and imprisoned in gigantic ships designed specifically to contain him several times, only for him to break free every single time. Much later, it was revealed that he allowed himself to be captured so that he could eat free food in the prison ships and break free once his hunger was sated.
  • Outlaw Star: Jean is blackmailed into doing this by Gwen Khan, who uses Melfina as leverage, in order to meet with a prisoner who knows the coordinates to the Galactic Leyline.
  • Promare has Lio, Gueira, and Meis intentionally let themselves be defeated and captured in the beginning to be taken to the prison containing other Burnish. While they succeed in breaking out with the prisoners, Vulcan predicted this tactic and had a tracker on one of the escapees, which leads to the Freeze Force tracking down the Burnish hideout and capturing them all later on.
  • In Sonic X's adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic initially resists G.U.N.'s attempts to re-capture him until he learns that a) they've mistaken him for Shadow, and b) they plan to take him to Prison Island, the place Shadow broke out of in the first place. He therefore allows himself to be arrested and imprisoned in the hope of learning more about Shadow while he's there. When Amy attempts to rescue him, he rebuffs her efforts for this reason, but once Amy reveals that Shadow's on the island at that very moment, Sonic crashes straight through the cell bars and escapes to pursue him.
  • In UQ Holder!, Cutlass lets herself get captured by UQ Holder so she can destroy Kirie's save point, preventing them from stopping nuclear attacks on the tower.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Legendary Heroes arc Mokuba switches clothes with Princess Adena to be captured in her stead so he can be taken to Seto and help him escape.

    Comic Books 
  • In Asterix and the Laurel Wreath, Asterix and Obelix are trying to get into Caesar's palace, or close enough to Caesar himself to steal his laurel wreath. They first try selling themselves as slaves but get bought by the wrong person. Then they head to the palace anyway and are arrested and imprisoned, accused of trying to assassinate Caesar. Their lawyer tells them that they're sure to be thrown to the lions, which they assume Caesar will witness. When the trial seems like it might get them freed, Asterix argues in favor of his own conviction, all in a ploy to get close to Caesar. It turns out to be All for Nothing since Caesar wasn't in Rome on the day they're to be executed.
  • DC Pride: Tim Drake Special: Tim gets himself caught by the chaos cult to find where they've been taking their abducted victims.
  • A mistaken case happens in Noob. Sparadrap lets himself get captured by players from the opposing in-game faction due to thinking it's part of a game. The reason the enemy players captured him is that they are convinced that he is much higher in his faction's pecking order than he actually is after an Invincible Incompetent-type confrontation with him. One of them realizes that Sparadrap could be wanting to get into their headquarters on purpose just a few seconds before Sparadrap suddenly gets bored and asks to get untied, getting him mistaken for realizing he's been discovered. The captors also realize there would be downsides to letting him go as well, which causes them to silently face the dilemma until Sparadrap starts running after a cute animal and gets mistaken for escaping. The plotline involving Sparadrap's guildmates happens to to bring the latter to that very same location right when this happens, which does not help Sparadrap's case in the eyes of the captors.
  • Played by Mikey in Birthright to infiltrate Mastema's home, which he describes as the most heavily fortified.
  • Red Sonja: In The Art of Blood and Fire, Sonja takes a shot at Kalayah the Beastmaster, misses, and gets imprisoned within his complex for the trouble. Interestingly she starts with the villainous plan to escape and cause mayhem on the way out, then is recruited by Rat into heroically rescuing the animal prisoners and Rat herself instead.
  • Superman:
    • In Adventure Comics #424, Supergirl lets several thugs-for-hire capture her civilian identity so they bring her before the boss of the local crime syndicate she intends to take down.
    • The Leper from Krypton: Subverted. Clark Kent let himself be captured by Ventor's gang to investigate their criminal activities, but he did not count on their boss testing a brainwashing machine on him.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • During the Golden Age of Comics Wondy regularly allowed herself to be captured in order to find hostages, locate villains' hidden bases or identify villains whose faces or names were unknown. Given that she can tear through any restraints they put on her with ease, and even break chains welded to her bracelets which drains her powers, this tactic works to her advantage.
    • Sensation Comics: When Dr. Poison captured Steve Trevor from an army hospital the "nurse" attending him, "Diana Prince", went out of her way to ensure she was kidnapped as well.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Eviless' capture by Wonder Woman turns out to just be a step in her plan to destroy the Amazon. By having herself and her followers imprisoned on Reformation Island she'll be able to strike at Paradise Island directly and she's already thought up a way around the Amazons' Heel–Face Brainwashing Venus Girdles.
    • Wonder Woman: Black and Gold: Diana allows herself to be captured and interrogated in order to find and capture an enemy general the US had no pictures of and thus couldn't identify and capture by other means.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Magneto escapes from prison, but he's captured again... but no. They actually "captured" Mystique, a shape-shifter posing as Magneto. She sacrificed herself so that Magneto could be free.

    Fan Works 
  • Checkmate (Anla'Shok): Chaff and Seeder spend the weeks before the 3rd Quarter Quell openly stirring up rebel activity, leading raids and sabotage. They let themselves get caught before the reaping (and let a rebel peacekeeper "capture" them to get an ally promoted) so they can help with the arena plot without letting Snow know they don't fear going back into the arena.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Barbie and the Secret Door, Alexa, Romy, and Nori surrender to Malucia's guards in order to be brought before her.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po and the Furious Five let themselves be captured so they can be taken to Lord Shen and his secret weapon, at which time they free themselves to destroy it.
  • Inside Out has Sadness do this to reach Riley's subconscious. She sneaks behind the guards at the entrance with Joy in tow, rattles the door to draw their attention, and immediately surrenders. The guards, mistaking them for escapees, promptly throw them inside.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Breakheart Pass, it turns out that Deakin has his own reasons for allowing himself to be captured by Marshal Pearce and placed on the train to Fort Humboldt.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
  • In The Great Escape, Bartlett asks Hilts to scout the area around the camp for them. Though he refuses, he initially seems intrigued and like he might be persuaded to change his mind, until he realizes what the plan would entail. Following Ives' death, he decides to do it anyway. It works exactly like they'd planned.
    Hilts: Wait a minute. You aren't seriously suggesting that if I get through the wire, and case everything out there, and don't get picked up, to turn myself in and get thrown back in the cooler for a couple of months so you can get the information you need?
    Ashley-Pitt: (on Hilts being returned to camp) I didn't think he'd get caught so soon.
    Bartlett: (knowingly) He wasn't "caught".
  • James Bond:
    • Diamonds Are Forever. Near the end, James Bond arrives at Blofeld's oil rig base and allows himself to be captured. He plans to switch a standard cassette tape for the tape Blofeld uses to control the laser Kill Sat. Due to Tiffany Case's interference, his plan fails so he has to destroy the computer center by hitting it with a minisub.
    • Raoul Silva in Skyfall is taken captive by Bond and incarcerated in a glass cell. But as MI6 soon discover, this is just so that he can hack into their computers, automatically open his cell, waltz through the London underground, and into the middle of a courtroom to shoot M.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor: The Dark World, Algrim the dark elf poses as a random criminal that got captured by Asgardian guards and then gets put in their prison. When the other dark elves attack the capital, he transforms himself into a nigh-invulnerable Kursed warrior, breaks out of prison, and disables Asgard's city shield, allowing the dark elves to assault the palace.
    • The Avengers (2012):
      • At the start of the film, Black Widow is implied to have allowed herself to be captured so she can hear the bad guy's plans.
      • Loki's capture and imprisonment on the helicarrier was part of his plan all along, to cripple SHIELD and eliminate the only threat to his plans.
  • In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, we are introduced to Ethan Hunt in prison. It was all a part of a previous mission he was taken out of.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon Holmes deliberately gets himself captured so Moriarty won't get Professor Hoffner, goading Moriarty into using an agonizingly slow death trap with a way for Watson and Lestrade to find him, and setting a trap for Moriarty beforehand.
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, John Harrison surrenders to Kirk and his team because of the seventy-two torpedoes aimed at him. Then it turns out to be more complicated when he reveals that he's actually Khan Noonien Singh and the torpedoes are actually cryo-tubes containing his minions.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine arranges his own kidnapping so that he can lure Anakin to the Dark Side and get rid of Count Dooku.
    • Return of the Jedi: Luke surrenders himself to some Imperials to try and bring out the goodness in his father; they handcuff him and present him to Darth Vader.
    • Near the climax of The Last Jedi, Rey delivers herself to the First Order via escape pod out of the belief she can turn Kylo Ren back to the light (mirroring Luke's actions in Return of the Jedi).

  • A key part of the final plan to capture the pool ship at the end of Animorphs is Cassie getting captured by the Yeerks so that the other Animorphs can sneak onto the ship in flea morph.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Artemis allows Big Bad wannabe Minerva Paradizo to capture an Elf only so that she can escape and erase all of Minerva's research and stroll out of the place.
  • The City Without Memory has Brook allow himself to be captured by Left Mole's soldiers to find out more about the mysterious guests of the planet, as he sees that Alice, Pashka, and Iria look like the group of be-pe that the rememberers picked up in the forest.
  • Cradle Series: When the Sandvipers take Lindon and Yerin to be mining slaves in some extremely dangerous ruins, Eithan appears before the Sandvipers and begs to be enslaved "for his sins." They can tell there's some trick involved, but put a power-dampening collar on him and send him in with the others. Within five minutes, he's freed Lindon and Yerin, taken them to an even more dangerous section of the ruins, and locked Lindon in a room with monsters so he can train.
  • Earlier in Grunts!, Ashnak of the Agaku allows himself to be captured to give his band a lead, by distracting their enemies.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's novella Gulf. When FBS agent Joseph Briggs is captured by Mrs. Keithley's men, "Kettle Belly" Baldwin (the leader of a secret society of geniuses) tricks them into thinking he's also an FBS agent so they'll capture him too. His plan is that Mrs. Keithley's operatives will put him and Briggs together so he can trick Briggs into telling him where the "Nova Effect" document has been sent. Later he and Briggs break out together.
  • In the Horus Heresy novel Deathfire, the Word Bearer Xenut Sul lets himself be captured by the Ultramarines and taken to their Fortress of Hera so that he can assassinate another prisoner, the renegade Word Bearer Barthusa Narek, and steal the fulgurite, a weapon capable of killing primarchs. He successfully breaks out and goes on a murderous rampage through the Fortress dungeons, but is killed before he can achieve either objective.
  • The Liaden Universe novel Agent of Change begins with the sentence, "The man who was not Terrence O'Grady had come quietly." It shortly turns out that being exposed as an imposter and captured is all part of the plan, as it gets him inside a security perimeter so he can achieve his actual goal, after which he swiftly makes good his escape.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents You Believe Her, Robot Penny lets herself be captured by Mech because he has a brain-switching device and she correctly intuits that if he captures her, he'll place her in his trophy room along with the device. What he doesn't realize is that she has a secret fail-safe that causes her to activate again eight hours after being deactivated.
  • In The Queen's Thief Eugenides does this as part of an elaborate plan. Before getting himself caught, he brags about being the best thief ever to ensure that the people who capture him will eventually take him exactly to the place where he wants to be. They want him to steal something for them he wanted to steal anyway, but for someone else.
  • One of the Rainbow Magic books had Rachel and Kirsty get themselves captured so they could trick Jack Frost.
  • In Ready Player One, during the campaign for the final gate, protagonist Wade's plan requires him to let himself get taken into indentured servitude by IOI (under an assumed name) so that he can use secret access codes to hack the company intranet from inside and plant various traps to take down the defences they have established around the gate.
  • One of the later parts of The Silmarillion details the conflict between Sauron and the good guys during the Second Age. Sauron had come close to defeating the Elves when the armies of Numenor arrived and wiped out Sauron's forces. He never forgot this, and when he re-emerged hundreds of years later, he allowed himself to be taken prisoner and brought to Numenor, where he quickly talked his way into the King's inner circle and corrupted the leaders, leading to Numenor's utter destruction when the Numenoreans were convinced by Sauron to attack the Valar themselves.
  • Carole Nelson Douglas' Spider Dance has Sherlock Holmes impersonate a Pinkerton agent and arrange to get himself captured by the bad guys, with British agent Quenton Stanhope, barrister Godfrey Norton and Nell Huxleigh following him to the culprits' lair. At the lair, they also find Irene Adler Norton and a young Consuelo Vanderbilt, who was kidnapped as part of a campaign to get her father to give them a hidden cache of gold.
  • In The Sunne in Splendour Edward IV knows he can't fight or outrun his cousin and brother, who are rebelling against him. So, he lets them capture him while reminding them that he is king and letting them watch their servants and men pay him homage.
  • In the Theirs Not to Reason Why series, Ia evades a kidnapping attempt that successfully nabs the other officers and noncoms in her unit. She arranges to be kidnapped by a space pirate who owes her a favor and sold to the criminal group that took the others. The purpose of this is to get her Psychic Powers into range of their electronic systems so she could disable their defenses and prevent them from killing the hostages when her troops rolled in with guns blazing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Series One flashbacks of Arrow, Yao Fei manages to capture the Big Bad Edward Fyers and tries to extort him into getting Oliver and himself off the island. Fyers plays along at first but then asks Yao Fei whether or not he finds this is almost too easy. Cue Oh, Crap! from the duo as several mooks and Deathstroke emerge. Yao Fei tells Oliver to run, barely buying him time to escape before he gets knocked out and dragged away.
  • Batman (1966). In "The Greatest Mother of Them All", Ma Parker deliberately allows the Dynamic Duo to capture her and her gang so they can get into Gotham Prison. She plans to use the prison as a base to run her criminal operations and believes that Batman would never suspect them of being able to commit crimes while in prison.
  • The first episode of The Blacklist features Raymond Reddington — one of the most wanted men in the world — surrendering to the FBI as part of a larger scheme to steer them against one of his enemies.
  • Blake's 7: Avon allowed himself to get captured in order to capture a Federation interrogator using the Liberator's teleport system, in the episode "Rumours of Death". He even holds out for five days of torture, knowing that this particular Torture Technician will be called in to deal with particularly stubborn subjects.
  • Le Bureau des Légendes:
    • Marina voluntarily returns to Russia, knowing she will be arrested at the border for espionage, in order to bolster Malotru's cover story.
    • Malotru deliberately exposes himself to the FSB after arriving in Moscow.
  • Daredevil (2015): John Healy, after killing off a target on Wilson Fisk's orders, surrenders without a fight to the responding police officers in order to draw suspicion away from Fisk.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor is rather prone to this ploy. According to him, it's the simplest and most direct way of getting at the villain.
    • In "The End of Time", after allowing Joshua Naismith to bring him to his manor house as a prisoner in order to fix the Immortality Gate, the Master effortlessly tears off his bonds before leaping into the Gate and using it to turn everyone on Earth into an extension of himself. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In The CW's The Flash (2014), Hartly Rathaway/Pied Piper organizes his attack so that the Flash will catch him and take him to STAR Labs, so he can steal some important data.
  • Justified: Boyd Crowder assaults a U.S. Marshal in a federal courthouse in front of dozens of witnesses. He is sent to a federal prison where he provokes a fight and is sent to solitary confinement. He is trying to get close to Dickie Bennett who is in the same prison and currently in solitary confinement. He needed to make it a federal crime to end up in the federal prison.
  • In an episode of Kung Fu (1972), Caine needs to get into a prison to rescue an old friend from the temple, so he "robs" a bank by walking in and politely requesting that they give him money. "I wish to rob your bank. Not all your money, only what is customary in such cases."
  • In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a woman affiliated with a white supremacist group slaps Munch when he confronts her about her group's actions, for which she's promptly arrested. Given that she's later revealed as an undercover FBI agent, it's fairly clear in retrospect that she planned it that way; the reason isn't explicitly given, but it likely had something to do with nudging the detectives in the right direction.
  • In the NCIS episode "Truth or Consequences", Tony and McGee get captured by terrorists as part of The Plan to rescue Ziva and destroy the terror cell.
  • Nirvana in Fire: Mei Changsu walks right into the Xuanjing Bureau and Xia Jiang's hands in super slow motion and looking totally badass.
  • Prison Break is based on the fact that Micheal got himself arrested and sent to prison so he could then break out his brother from death row.
  • Moriarty's "Crime of the Century" in the Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall". He breaks into the Tower of London, the Bank of England, and Pentonville prison, three of the most secure locations in England, in one day, then is apprehended wearing the crown jewels. He's then acquitted, despite being caught red-handed, offering literally no evidence in his favour, not even bothering to have a lawyer and actually admitting he was guilty! This actually has very little to do with his endgame in the episode; it's almost entirely about showing off and making Sherlock look foolish.
  • Stargate SG-1
    • In one episode the team allowed themselves to be captured so they could get a message to a Tok'ra deep cover agent posing as a minor Goa'uld. Though no one told the fanboyish scientist who tried to "rescue" them, much to Jack's annoyance. Then the agent gets exposed and killed, and SG-1 actually does need the rescue.
    • In season 10 Daniel is converted by the arc's Big Bad, the Ori, and apparently brainwashed. However, he is also planning to get captured by SG-1 so he can take over one of Earth's star ships and kill the Ori. He even criticizes SG-1 for taking too long to capture him and leaving him too little time to execute his plan.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Duet, a Cardassian file clerk disguises himself as his superior officer, a sadistic murderer who commanded a concentration camp, and takes a transport to Deep Space Nine with the intention of being caught and arrested. An unusual example in that his goal is not to harm his captors; rather, he intends to be tried and executed as his superior, in order to force Cardassia to acknowledge their wrongdoings.
  • Star Trek: Voyager episode "Unimatrix Zero". Janeway's epic plan to take down the Borg collective involves getting herself and two crewmates assimilated.
  • In the "Fulsom Prison Blues" episode of Supernatural, Dean executes a plan where he and Sam commit a crime so that they will be arrested and sent to the county jail in order to hunt a ghost that is inside the facility. They do this at the request of one of the guards who has planned for their escape once they get rid of the ghost. The authorities arresting them, however, are not aware of the plan. It doesn't go as smoothly as they hoped it would.
  • The Wire: After Omar gets arrested on a trumped up murder charge, his friend Butchie has two guys get themselves arrested to go help him survive until release. One of the two is actually played by Connie Andrews, the person Omar's character is based on.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions adventure The Great Super Villain Contest. Villains in the Contest may use the "Oh My I'm Caught" scenario. They allow themselves to be captured by the authorities so they can engineer a massive breakout from jail, freeing other prisoners and scoring a large number of points.
  • The quote for the Spy archetype in Feng Shui is: "They never tell you this in training, but the best thing to do in this situation is get yourself captured so you can find out what the enemy is up to."

  • In Pokémon Live!, upon hearing Team Rocket has Pikachu, when Jessie and James arrive to capture him Ash lets them. They're put off by this.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Alpha Protocol Mike surrenders so he will be taken to the "Graybox" facility (which he doesn't know the location of due to being drugged before going in and out) where the Big Bad is while Mike's allies tail him to rescue him at the end.
  • Assassin's Creed: Chronicles: China opens in the middle of this scenario. The protagonist Shao Jun has just returned to China immediately following her trip to Italy to train under Ezio Auditore, to find that the Templars have devastated her Order and infiltrated her headquarters. Her first move is to be deliberately captured so that she can break out and assassinate the local Templar leader before embarking on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game had the Leviathan let itself get caught and eaten by fishermen from Darkwater as part of its plan to have influence over them.
  • In Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, Nagito intentionally got himself captured by the Warriors of Hope and became the Servant for the sake of furthering his goals.
  • A number of characters in Divinity: Original Sin II allowed themselves to be captured and sent to Fort Joy for a variety of reasons. Examples include Windego, who wants to kill Godwoken; Sebille, who wants to get at the lizard who etched the slave scar into her cheek; Ifan Ben Mezd, who is there to kill Bishop Alexandar; and at least one other assassin, who is trying to kill The Red Prince.
  • In Les Fleursword, Marlowe intended to be apprehended after cursing a knight so that the truth about what happened to the kingdom's wizards could come to light.
  • At the end of the first Ecco the Dolphin game, Ecco travels back in time to when his pod was taken by aliens so he can get caught too, traveling through the Vortex meat grinders to take out the Queen. The difficulty of said levels shows problems that can occur with this strategy.
  • The Player Party of Final Fantasy XII does this twice early in the game. First, Vaan decides the likeliest way to gain an audience with Marquis Ondore is to draw as much negative attention to themselves as possible, so he parades around the city of Bhujerba announcing to all and sundry that he's the infamous Captain Basch, whose supposed execution Ondore had announced two years before (despite being almost twenty years younger and at least a head shorter). Then, the real Captain Basch, also a party member, apologetically draws his sword on the Marquis as a pretext for their arrest so they can infiltrate a prison ship to Save the Princess.
  • In Metal Gear, you are advised that the best way to infiltrate the enemy fortress is to get captured on purpose, and a particular truck in Building 1 is where Snake gets captured... only to find himself in the cell next to Grey Fox.
  • Sly Cooper:
  • Invoked, but then subverted at the end of Spec Ops: The Line. Walker and Adams get surrounded by 33rd. Walker abruptly drops his weapon, explaining that "surrendering" is the only hope they have of gaining entrance to the Burj Khalifa which ostensibly serves as their headquarters. Adams refuses and opens fire on the 33rd, creating a diversion during which Walker runs to the Burj Khalifa.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, Jedi master Vrook allowed himself to be captured by mercenaries who plotted to take over Dantooine, in order to find out who was commanding them. He was not amused when he was rescued by the player character.
  • During the Imperial Agent storyline of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Cipher Nine must let themselves be captured by the villains on Corellia, then "break" under torture and "reveal" to them all the Imperial secrets—however, said secrets are actually fake so that the villains are forced to react rashly and reveal themselves.
  • XenoGears: Elly allows herself to be taken by Krelian for a chance to allow Fei and the others to escape.
  • During Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen, Reah allows herself to be captured and thrown into Rado's Annex to that when Adol rescues her, she can give him the magic glasses that can allow him to read the Books of Ys, and tell him that Dark Fact cannot be injured by the strongest equipment in the game, only the Silver Equipment, which is second-strongest.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius has the Ax-Crazy and sentient Castle Heterodyne, which has scattered personality due to a previous attack. Forced labor is used to attempt to fix it. Agatha, the rightful heir, is sent there disguised as a prisoner so that she'll gain control of the castle once recognized by it, and finish the repairs.
  • In The Order of the Stick, General Tarquin lampshades this trope by saying villains letting themselves get captured to manipulate the heroes is popular these days.

    Western Animation 
  • Sonic has done this twice in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In "Sonic Breakout", Sketch Lampoon is imprisoned by Dr. Robotnik for making an unflattering caricature of him in his latest issue of Crack Ups. Sonic purposely allows Scratch and Grounder to capture him so that he can escape from his cell and rescue Sketch. Unfortunately, this plan backfires when Robotnik reveals that he built a special Sonic-proof cell.
    • In "Zoobotnik", Katella the Intergalactic huntress captures everyone on Mobius, including Tails. When she and Robotnik team up to capture Sonic, Sonic willingly falls for the trap in order to find and rescue Tails and the rest of the Mobians.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Imprisoned": Katara gets captured by the Fire Nation to rescue Haru, when he got captured because the Fire Nation gets knowledge that he can earthbend and Katara feels guilty for encouraging him to do so. Later the plan slightly changes when she wants to rescue the other imprisoned earthbenders as well.
  • The Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Nor Iron Bares a Cage..." has a now mutated Kevin deliberately gets arrested and sentenced to the Null Void prison Incarsecon to get revenge on a prison warder who killed his Mentor.
  • In the Challenge of the Super Friends episode "The Giants of Doom", the Legion of Doom required the Hall of Justice’s computer system in order to complete the creation of an enlarging ray that Bizarro is developing. To gain access to it, members of the group allowed themselves to get captured by the Justice League as they gather the other items needed for the enlargement ray, then make their escape from their holding cell via Sinestro’s confiscated yellow ring going off on the Green Lantern.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Cree gets arrested after an attack on Sector V at the end of Operation K.I.S.S. However, this was part of her plan to be taken in custody to the Moonbase so as to send it to the sun.
  • The Deputy Dawg Show: A cartoon had DD putting the hen house in protective custody in the jail so Muskie can't get to them. When all else fails, Muskie assaults the Sheriff to get himself arrested. Deputy Dawg is putting the hen house back outside, much to Muskie's chagrin as he's now in jail.
  • Gargoyles: In "The Reckoning", Demona early in the episode is captured and held as a prisoner in the Labyrinth. Unbeknownst to the heroes, this was part of her and Thailog's plan in order to acquire genetic samples from the Manhattan clan.
  • In Gravity Falls episode "Blendin's Game", Mabel and Dipper decide to surrender to the Time Guardians and take part in the challenges on the arena. This is because they realize that, if they win, they can give the reward - the Time Wish - to Soos, which would allow him to change history in a way where he finally meets his father.
  • In the Hercules: The Animated Series episode "Hercules and the Disappearing Heroes," Hercules allows Hecate to capture him and drain his strength so he can be taken to the Underworld with the other prisoners, and Phil and Icarus can follow and free them.
  • In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, The Dark Hand need to open a demon portal that's located in a maximum security prison, so Valmont (with Shendu in toll), Ratso and Finn go rob a bank and once Section 13 arrives, surrender themselves with no resistance in order to be thrown in prison.
  • When a mysterious aircraft lands near a military base in the Jonny Quest episode "The Robot Spy", Dr. Quest and Race Bannon take the black orb inside it onto the base and store it in a guarded hangar for later study. There, the orb opens its eye, sprouts spider-like legs (revealing itself as a Spider Tank), and goes snooping for Doctor Quest's secret para-power ray gun.
  • In Max Steel (2013), Air Elementor deliberately gets captured so he could free his fellow Elementors and dormant Ultralinks.
  • The Owl House
    • The season 1 finale has Luz and King deliberately break a rule (stepping on grass where they're not supposed to) so they can get sent to the Conformatorium and rescue Eda before she's petrified.
    • "Clouds on the Horizon" has Luz pulling the same stunt on Kikimora, after learning not only that Kiki wants to drag Hunter back to Belos (knowing full well that Belos will kill him instantly), but that Belos knows about Eda and Raine's plan to corrupt the Draining Spell. Luz convinces Gus to cast an illusion that swaps her and Hunter's appearances while everyone is distracted, and lets herself get captured by Kikimora, saving Hunter in the process.
  • Rick and Morty: By way of Batman Gambit. Rick turning himself in to The Federation turns out to have been a ploy to infiltrate the Galactic Federation and destroy it from the inside.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Shadow Weaver lets this happen in order to warn Adora about Hordak's plan to activate a portal and bring in the rest of The Horde's enormous army.
  • In SpacePOP, Luna and Juno get themselves captured so they can locate Geela's headquarters and escape offscreen.
  • Steven Universe: In "I Am My Mom", Steven lets himself be caught so he'll be put into Topaz's body, where he can free the others without hurting them. Aquamarine isn't really convinced, but goes along because it's a convenient way to finish a mission she doesn't really care about. Steven manages to free them from Topaz, but the full escape is halted by Aquamarine's wand.


Video Example(s):


I captured the vigilante

Dante speaks to Robyn about a supposed threat against DA Avery Grafton. Uniformed NYPD officers move in while Dante was trying to get her to tell him the details. But he tells her to make an arrest to make it look like Dante caught the vigilante.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CapturedOnPurpose

Media sources: