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Escaped from the Lab

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A character who has the escape from a laboratory as an important part of their story or backstory. He or she might have been conceived there, raised there, or spent a significant part of their life there. The character might have served in the lab as an interesting specimen, an object of study, a subject of experimentation, or the ultimate goal of the lab.

Depending on how the lab functions and its purpose, a character with this kind of background is likely to be a Fish out of Water in normal society, and have trouble connecting or relating to other people, or seriously warped morals, especially if they were raised in the lab since childhood. When they don't, it's often explained because there was a single nurturing caregiver in the lab.

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Despite all of the above, environments that aren't labs can count as long as they do what labs do to these people: conditioning them mentally and physically into someone substantially different from society.

A common backstory for a Phlebotinum Rebel. If a group of characters escape together, they may form a Secret Project Refugee Family. See also Playing with Syringes and Mad Scientist Laboratory. Compare Escape from the Crazy Place.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • #26 and Tetsuo from AKIRA, due to their psychic abilities which the government was trying to understand/amplify.
  • Koki Maeno from Mnemosyne... sort of. Actually, he is Maeno's clone, and the original already died in that lab.
  • Lucy, and later Nana, from Elfen Lied both escape from the lab. Lucy escapes on purpose, Nana has escape forced upon her.
  • Cowboy Bebop, episode 20 "Pierrot le Fou". The ISSP Section 13 lab creates a man via genetic engineering and trains him to become an assassin with super powers. After he's judged to be a failure and sentenced to indefinite imprisonment, he kills all of the guards, escapes from the lab and starts hunting down the men behind the project.
  • In Cyborg 009, the titular cyborg and his friends all escaped from the Black Ghost's laboratory.
  • The title character Bagi from Tezuka Productions' Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature is a Half-Human Hybrid that was one of fifteen genetic prototypes that escaped from a research lab during an earthquake. Bagi was the only prototype not hunted down and killed. She becomes a young boy's pet kitten, and grows to become a formidable huntress that returns to the lab to learn her origins.
  • Mewtwo is shown to be a clone of Mew in Pokémon: The First Movie. He killed all of the scientists working on him before leveling the entire complex with his Psychic Powers.
  • Maria (formerly K-8) from Shook Up! is a Super Prototype who fled from the lab that created her along with her "father", the only one there who saw her as a person rather than a weapon/thing/animal.
  • Most of the main characters from Brynhildr in the Darkness are survivors from such an escape.

    Asian Animation 
  • This is what kicks off the plot of Lamput. The eponymous Lamput is an orange shapeshifting blob who escaped from a laboratory, and a pair of evil doctors named Slim Doc and Fat Doc spend every episode trying to catch him so that they can return him to the lab.

    Audio Plays 
  • This is the main premise of The Elysium Project. The plot kicks off when a group of five teenage test subject escape from a facility where they're being experimented on as part of the eponymous Elysium Project. The project's purpose is to develop a Super Serum, so the test subjects all have varying degrees of reality warping powers.
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    Comic Books 
  • The animals in WE 3. To quote their page:
    The story follows a trio of animals - a dog ("Bandit" or "1"), a cat ("Tinker" or "2"), and a bunny ("Pirate" or "3") - that were cybernetically enhanced by The Government to work on covert military operations. When the project is scrapped, the animals - who have escaped from their military handlers - have to fend for themselves and escape the soldiers sent to destroy them.
  • Luther Arkwright: In the backstory in The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, we are told how Luther was abducted from the maternity ward right after being born, and then raised and nursed by machines. He ends up quite amoral.
    From infancy to adolescence, no family, no comforts, no natural emotive response patterns. Feelings subliminated. Reinforced by therapy and drugs. His name Alph. Rigorous martial training, reparation for the role planed for him.
  • Every incarnation of Kon-El, a.k.a. Superboy, has this origin story. From the 90s onwards, every interpretation of Superboy has been that of a clone developed by a shady organization.
  • In Young Justice, Secret was an escapee from a DEO lab.
  • X23 escaped the Weapon X lab after destroying the remaining clones and killing Dr. Rice, the one responsible for turning her into a Tyke Bomb. Rice, however, gets the last laugh by exposing her to the scent that sends her into a berserker rage and forces her to kill her mother.
  • Spider Girl has May's clone April who had spent her entire life (more or less the entire time the teenaged May has been alive) in a test tube in a lab being subject to experiments like the venom symbiotie being permanently grafted to her. Because of this and the ambiguity if April wasn't the clone at all and it was May who should have been subject to the horrors she was has made her rather resentful to say the least.
  • X-Men villain Proteus was raised in the Muir Island labratory with his mother, Moira MacTaggart as the Motherly Scientist, but he escaped and did a whole lot of damage because not only was he a Reality Warper, but he also had to possess bodies to stay alive, and would burn them out to husks before moving on.
  • Bane. Technically, it was a prison, but the experiments conducted upon him there are an important part of his background.
  • Cassandra Cain escaped from a psychological lab rather than a chemical or biological one. She was an experiment by her father in raising a child as a perfect killer by raising them without any exposure to spoken language, leaving her able to read human body language almost perfectly but completely unable to speak. The experiment failed, however, since after witnessing death for the first time she ran and never looked back.

     Fan Works 
  • In Persona 3 Momento Umbrae, Hamuko Takahashi spent her early childhood being experimented on by the Kirijo Group and her uncle Yoshimitsu Arisato in a secret research facility in Inoto, but thanks to the Moonlight Bridge Incident where the Dark Hour was created, she managed to escape the lab amidst the confusion of the researchers with the help of a Shadow she befriended. Though this is eventually subverted; while Hamuko was able to live freely outside of the lab, the family that adopted her was eventually revealed to be working for the Kirijo Group, and they continued to closely monitor her activities if she revealed any Persona potential.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Common in monster B-Movies where engineered killer animals go on a rampage after escaping their confinement. For instance King Cobra, where scientists mixed a cobra with a rattlesnake for... reasons.
  • Species. Sil escapes from a government laboratory after the scientists who created her try to kill her.
  • In Lifeforce, prior to an Alien Autopsy the female alien awakens and drains the "life force" out of a guard. She then escapes the research facility and proceeds to drain various other humans of their life force.
  • Leeloo in The Fifth Element escaped from the lab that genetically reconstructed her after the Mondoshawan ship she traveling aboard was attacked by Mangalore fighters and destroyed.
  • Paul from Paul, a captured extraterrestial.
  • Agatha, one of the "precogs" from Minority Report, escapes with the help of the main character from the psuedo-lab/home base where the precogs are kept.
  • V for Vendetta contains a particularly nasty example: The main character was is a government-creates superhuman who was nearly killed in a fire; his disfigurement is part of the reason he wears a mask, in addition to his hate for the government.
  • Wolverine in X-Men flees the medical center in the mansion before meeting Professor X and the rest of the team. He later has a nightmare about fleeing the lab in which he got the adamantium added to his body.
  • D.A.R.Y.L. is a robot child prototype who escapes from a laboratory.
  • The Questor Tapes. An android is assembled in a government laboratory. He escapes with the intent of finding his original creator.
  • The Ripley clone in Alien: Resurrection is bred in the lab, but escapes to resume the fight against the Aliens. On the way she discovers she is not the only one: an isolation lab contains horrifically distorted failed versions, as well as attempts to splice her genes with those of the Aliens.
  • Koba and some of the other ape characters in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes escaped from the medical lab during Rise of the Planet of the Apes, when Caesar and the apes from the sanctuary invaded and freed them all.
  • In the opening of Short Circuit, Johnny Five escapes from a robotics lab.
  • In Resident Evil Alice wakes up in a lab at the end of the first film and escapes without too much difficulty due to a Zombie Apocalypse having taken place while she was comatose. Later in the film series, she breaks into an Umbrella Corp lab so she can suit up an army of Alice clones.
  • The lead couple from The Island. They are clones, meant as organ donors, but escape from hospital and start roaming the city.
  • The skeleton-sucking Silicates in Island of Terror bust free from the laboratory they're created in (albeit mostly offscreen).
  • Rocky briefly escapes from the lab after Riff Raff menaces him with a lit candelabra in The Rocky Horror Picture Show but comes back soon enough to sleep with Janet.
  • King Cobra (1999): Seth was developed in a laboratory by scientists who were curious if they could splice together DNA from different snake species.

    Literature 
  • The six main characters from Maximum Ride spend the novels running from the government project that created them.
  • Frankenstein. Frankenstein's Monster escapes from Dr. Frankenstein's lab.
  • In the Star Wars Legends short story "Therefore I Am", the robot IG-88 develops Artificial Intelligence and concludes that he is superior to all life in the galaxy. He then murders the scientists and everyone else who tries to stop him from leaving the lab where he was created.
  • The novel Dusk by Susan Gates is about a girl named Dusk who escaped from a lab; she was created by fusing hawk and human DNA.
  • The dogs in The Plague Dogs. The focus of the story is their escape from a lab where they were being experimented on and the subsequent pursuit.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • In Labyrinth Taura is a bio-engineered super-soldier that sold from the initial lab to Jacksonian (Robber) Baron Ryoval's brothel then dumped to his cellar; where she was joined up with Miles, escaped, and wrecked Ryoval's lab.
    • In Ethan of Athos, Ethan meets the mysterious and telepathic Terrence Cee, who before the story started had managed to escape from the Cetagendan laboratory where he had been engineered and born.
    • In Falling Free, the engineer Leo Graf is hired to train a class in engineering and testing at a remote space station. The entire class is composed of children, gengineered for a life in free-fall, and apart from the older kids in the class there are over a thousand children on the space station. Then recent technological breakthroughs make the entire experiment (ie the kids) less profitable, and the company financing it decide to cut their losses by dismantling the space station. The children and Leo Graf disagree, and set out to escapenote .
  • In Ender's Shadow, Bean escaped from an illegal genetics lab as a toddler while the scientists where disposing of his siblings to avoid discovery. He then spent the next few years surviving on the streets of Rotterdam before Battle School discovered him.
  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: Jame is a rare fantasy example. After she ran away from her (mad) father as a child, she was picked up by the Big Bad (also her uncle) and brought to his castle in Perimal Darkling, spending several years there, and taught the soul-ripping dance of her mother, so she could take her mother's place later on.
  • In This Alien Shore by CS Friedman, the main character jamisia escapes from the lab where she was raised from age six with the help of her tutor, when the lab is invaded by a rival corporation. She spends the rest of the novel on the run from the invaders. The goal of the lab was to make Jamisia the first one able to pilot FTL crafts not from the Outspace Guild.
  • In Venus Prime, Sparta's confinement to a mental asylum came as a result of her attempting to escape from one of the Free Spirit's compounds.
  • While it's not exactly a lab in the traditional sense of the word, in Children of Dune, Leto II's rebellion begins with him escaping from a cave where Gurney and Namri are trying to force-feed him spice in the hopes that he'll undergo the same process that turned his father into the Kwisatz Haderach note .
  • In Lee Nez: Pale Death, Lee and Diane discover that the vampire they're hunting was living peacefully as a human, but was captured by a Government Conspiracy and experimented on. He broke out of the lab and went berserk, killing several people.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dark Angel. Max Guevara (Jessica Alba) escaped from a covert government biotech/military facility as a child.
  • The Lone Gunmen: The group rescues a chimp which can talk through a computer from a lab after it contacts them via email. They don't know it was a chimp at first.
  • Firefly: River Tam is rescued by her brother from The Academy, a government facility in which she underwent experimentation resulting in significant combat and telepathic abilities, but also driving her insane.
  • In Fringe episode named Wallflower, a mutant child who has been made invisible has escaped from the lab. He is mistakenly presumed dead. He lives by himself and kills people to extract pigment from their bodies so he can become visible again.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "Mr. R.I.N.G.". The title robot is the product of a government experiment. He escapes in an attempt to become more human, but kills several people while doing so.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 4th season Big Bad Adam, which is an Frankenstien-like amalgamation of sevaral different demons, escapes from the lab he was created in after killing his "mother."
  • In an episode of Quantum Leap Sam leaps into the body of a chimp in the space program; he later gets reassigned to the crash helmet lab (where they put a helmet on a chimp and hit it with a giant hammer, viewing the results). He escapes along with his chimp-girlfriend.
  • The BBC's The Saturday Show had a weekly segment involving a puppet hamster (ironically) named "Tiny". His backstory was that he was experimented on by scientists who used a growth formula on him, where he ended up outgrowing the cage and escaped from the scientists.
  • In Stranger Things the character Eleven is raised in a lab after being abducted by the government at birth before escaping at the start of the series. And in Season 2, we see another example in Kali who founded a gang of vigilantes seeking vengeance on her abusers.

    Music 
  • The song "Lab Rat Bravely Escapes On A Hovercraft Only To Crash Directly Outside The Gates" by El-P.

    Podcasts 
  • In the Cool Kids Table game Bloody Mooney, the crate Mooney was found in seems to have originated from a government lab. A document inside has snippets of government files implying the creature was found deep in the Guatemalan jungle, and that something happens to it when it sees the crescent moon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mongoose Publishing's Strontium Dogs RPG. On the planet Cytrix IV, human scientists created three clones of one of the native alien Durdees. They educated the clones at an accelerated rate, which caused them to develop violent psychotic tendencies. The clones slaughtered over two dozen lab workers and fled, going on a killing spree that covered eight planets.
  • Blood of Heroes. Three of the sample characters have this background: Fury, Katana and Samus.
  • Buck Rogers XXVC. The pirate Black Barney was a Terrine (genetically engineered) fighter designed and created in a Dracolysk Corporation laboratory in the Jovian Trojans. He and his fellow Barnies killed their creators and escaped the lab.
  • Champions. This is a very common way for supervillains to gain their powers.
    • Supplement Enemies
      • Stacy Turner was a mutant with the potential for strong Psychic Powers. She was taken by the supercriminal group PSI (Parapsychological Studies Institute) and put through torturous training to give her full control over her powers. She eventually escaped from PSI headquarters and took up a life of crime under the name Mind Slayer.
      • Tom Jerome agreed to be the subject of a medical experiment in exchange for money and glory. When he woke up he had been given superpowers, but his right hand had been removed. He went into a rage and destroyed the laboratory before escaping and becoming the supervillain Sledge.
    • Supplement Enemies II
      • James Matthew was a U.S. Army soldier who volunteered to be a part of Project Sunburst, which involved exposure to a nuclear explosion. The anti-radiation drugs he received combined with the radiation in his body to give him energy-related superpowers, and he used those poweers to escape from the laboratory where he was being studied and become the super criminal Radium.
      • Sydney Potter was a prisoner who volunteered to take part in a research project. Due to his bad luck he was accidentally given a dose of the wrong serum, exposed to radiation, hit by lightning and and fell into a polluted river. As a result he gained the powers of super strength and resistance to damage, used them to escape the research center where he was being held and became the villain Grond.
      • Igor Starankov was taken prisoner by the KGB and was subjected to prolonged sensory deprivation. As a result he gained immense strength and damage resistance, which he used to break out of confinement and escape the KGB facility. Once free he became a supervillain and took the name Durak.
      • The supervillain Pantera was born Rosa Sanchietti, daughter of the Mad Scientist geneticist Dr. Aldo Sanchietti. During her childhood he performed many twisted experiments on her, giving her superhuman powers and a vicious personality. At age 16 she killed him and escaped from his fortress laboratory.
      • George Wood was an UNTIL agent who volunteered for an experiment to determine how ordinary people could gain superpowers. The experiments worked, but being in constant excruciating pain for more than a year drove him insane. When he overheard UNTIL officials talking about having him committed to a mental institution he broke out of the hospital where he was being held and decided to become the super criminal Orb.d
      • The supervillain Pile Driver was originally a man named Richard Donaldson. After having a traffic accident he was taken to a laboratory that was actually a secret research center for the super criminal group VIPER. Donaldson was subjected to experimental surgery to reconstruct his body that replaced his left forearm with a pneumatic piston. When he awoke he became furious and used his pile driver to pound his way out of the laboratory to freedom.
      • Jack Smith was a mercenary who was wounded by a grenade explosion. His fellow mercs took him to the home of Dr. Samuel Levy. Although Levy's doctorate was actually in robotics rather than medicine, he surgically grafted robot parts onto Smith's body and turned him into a cyborg. The mental conditioning Levy tried to use on Smith failed, and Smith escaped Levy's laboratory to become the super criminal Halfjack.
    • Supplement Champions III
      • The Buffalo (his real name has been classified) was a volunteer for a U.S. Army project to develop a process to heal wounds and even regenerate lost organs. The process had the unfortunate side effect of impairing higher brain functions. The first experimental subject was a quadruple amputee: he regained all of his limbs but went berserk and broke out of the military hospital to rampage through Chicago. The press called him "The Buffalo" because of the horns that had grown out of the side of his head.
      • The Griffin was originally a pimp named Carlos Dagger in prison for murder. He volunteered as the subject of a scientific experiment in exchange for early parole. Radiation and drugs caused his DNA to revert to prehistoric genetic patterns and he became a birdman (humanoid body, wings, claws and a bird-like head). Unfortunately they also made him fierce, vicious and violent, and he broke out of confinement in order to gain his freedom.
      • When Maia de Sena was 13 years old she started having unusual experiences and was diagnosed as being a mutant. She was taken by the government to be tested and trained in her powers, but she missed her parents and her home and wanted to leave. She eventually escaped the mutant training facility with the assistance of an agent of the supervillain organization The Corruptors of All, which she then joined as the villainess Gaussian.
  • A standard background element in Deviant: The Renegades. Renegades are characters who got remade by scientific/occult means and escaped from the lab (or the military base, or the cult compound).

    Video Games 
  • Crisis Core. Zack escapes, with Cloud, from Hojo's lab, after being subjected to his cruel experiments for four years, and spends the following year on the run from Shinra. Being that it's the prequel to the events of Final Fantasy VII, it does not end well for Zack....
  • Similarly to Zack, Vincent is also the result of cruel experiments by Hojo (which gives him virtual inmortality) as shown in Dirge of Cerberus.
  • Bloody Roar 3. One of several rumors, concerning the series' secret boss character, Uranus, is that she's a clone of Uriko Nonomura, who escaped from Tylon's laboratories.
  • Red XIII from Final Fantasy VII, examined and experimented on by a mad scientist due to him being the last of his species.
  • Ogmo from Jumper series is a lab creation that spends the first game escaping from the laboratory abandoned since World War I.
  • Alex Mercer in [PROTOTYPE] escapes from a lab at the start of the game.
  • Kanden from Metroid Prime: Hunters was an attempt by scientists to create an invincible soldier. What they created was an insane killing machine that's virtually indestructible, who slaughtered all the scientists who built him and escaped from the lab before it exploded.
  • Mewtwo in the Pokémon franchise. It was made by altering the fetus of a pregnant Mew in the Cinnabar island lab. It escaped, destroying the lab in the process.
  • The video game of The Amazing Spider-Man has the main antagonists for the early part of the game (The cross-breeds) break out of Oscorp, having been triggered to madness by Spidey's presence.
  • Grey from Mega Man ZX Advent. If you pick him as your character, the game starts off with him waking up in a lab and escaping it. Later in the game, you actually revisit the lab, albeit a different part of it.
  • In Borderlands 2, Krieg the Psycho escaped from Hyperion's labs and became a vault hunter. What's left of his sane inner voice has a crush on Maya, using her as a Morality Pet to keep him from becoming a complete psycho like everyone else on Pandora. He has a $1,000,000,000 bounty on his head for being Hyperion property.

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive. Damien killed everyone in the lab he was created in before he escaped. Grace, Vlad, Hedge, and Guineas also escaped from the lab they were created in when Damien killed all of the experimenters there as well. They ended up becoming a (severely dysfunctional) Secret Project Refugee Family.
  • In Spinnerette, when they were still civilians, Dr. Universe and Greta Gravity were imprisoned in a government weapons lab and forced to work on a device to boost superpowers. Their captors were expecting them to try to escape using the finished device (that was the best way to make them build it), but they succeeded anyway and turned to supervillainy in order to fight back against the corrupt military.
  • In Narbonic, when Artie recieves the Knipl Grant he discovers that his fellow recipients include a battle android and a shapeshifter, both of which are on the run from the facilities that created them.
    Artie: Biochemically-engineered, morphically-unstable, superintelligent gerbil ... and I suppose the only thing that makes me notable is that I'm on decent terms with my creator.
  • All the "furrans" seen in Ethan Qix's NSFW online comic Generation17 escaped from containment compartments that they refer to as a prison. However, they all have cybernetic implants and physiologic enhancements meant to make them Elite Mooks. This means the escapees have powers and abilities that they poorly understand and sometimes can't control.
  • Exterminatus Now: Lothar was engineered as a combat prototype in a lab from which he escaped. However, it turns out that wasn't the reason his limbs were replaced by bionics...
  • The pleomorphic artificial organism Penelope from the late Ben Nunez's Just Another Web Comic escapes from the secret underground lab of Eryl Keydon during a fire in the shopping mall above the lab. Penelope staggers to an exit, and falls supine in a wooded area nearby, where she's found by Eryl's associate, Jon Hart.
  • The surviving hybrids from My Life With Fel are genetically engineered Super Soldiers who escaped when the project that created them was forcibly shut down.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Pinky and the Brain, the laboratory mice trying to take over the world, frequently escape from their lab in order to enact whatever their latest scheme is. Of course, they always return to the lab as it's their base of operation.
  • In Young Justice, Superboy joined up with the team after he was busted from a Cadmus research center by Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad after being persuaded to do so.
  • One of the characters in Capitol Critters is a former lab rat named Muggles, who now lives among normal rats inside the White House walls.
  • Jonny Quest has one researcher attempt to coalesce a large quantity of energy in a small capsule; he fails miserably, wrecking his laboratory. This also unleashes a living energy monster which is invisible, thus the episode's title: "The Invisible Monster." The creature consumes the scientist who created it, then goes trudging around the countryside seeking more energy sources to feast upon.
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • There is a pit bull named Earl who attacks Rocko and Spunky in the Pilot episode.
      Rocko: Spunky! I think Earl escaped from the science lab again!
    • In a later episode, he is adopted by Bev (much to Ed's chagrin), who is horrified to learn that he was used for experiments, and vows to make sure that Earl never ends up back there.
  • The Mutates from Gargoyles were humans mutated into pseudo-gargoyles, and were actually (unbeknownst to them) allowed to escape for brief periods of time (as no attempt to recover them would have been too suspicious) to get the Gargoyles' attention as part of a Xanatos Gambit, which paid off when Brooklyn discovered Maggie.


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