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Hostage Situation

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"Welcome to my retirement party. The rules are: No attacking the hosts. No leaving early. No calling the police. I see one cop, I kill three of you. I see two cops, six people die. You can do the math. Now, mess up my party by breaking one of my rules... you can expect me to overreact."

The situation for the bad guys has gone so far sideways that they're trapped by law enforcement, and the only way out is to trade hostages for a means of transportation and free passage. The true gauge of their desperation, that no degree of Genre Blindness can excuse the bad guys from knowing, is that their demands for a helicopter or jet plane are never met by the police. They sometimes used a Hostage Video to make their demands known to the public to get coverage/publicity.

In spite of this, most city police forces on TV employ a negotiator specializing in these situations who has the job of convincing the bad guys that this time it could all turn out differently, if they are only judicious and fair in the way they release hostages. The negotiator's primary assistance in perpetrating this lie will be a wild-eyed SWAT team leader who is panting for a chance to go in with More Dakka and kill all the bad guys. A really unhinged SWAT leader might muse about nuking the building from orbit.

A few additional characters are required for this scenario. A hero-wannabe hostage, for instance, whose primary job is to try something stupid and get killed. This might be a case of death by Genre Blindness. A particularly noble hostage who tells the hero not to worry about them and kill the bad guy anyway. A hostage who decides to raise the stakes by calling the bad guy's bluff. There may also be a hostage who just completely panics and starts screaming and flailing about in a way that frightens a bad guy into shooting them.

Things get a bit more complex if the hero has been unwittingly taken as one of the hostages, and both complex and ironic if the hostages were taken to lure in the hero who has been unwittingly taken hostage. Often this overlaps with its more spontaneous, desperate cousin, Human Shields.

In some instances, the hostage crisis could be used as a smokescreen or distraction for other plans by The Syndicate. Or (one of) the hostages is secretly working with the bad guys.

Also see "Die Hard" on an X and Caught Up in a Robbery. Frequently involves Put Down Your Gun and Step Away. An ... unorthodox solution to this is to Shoot the Hostage, while only someone with Improbable Aiming Skills could try to Shoot the Hostage Taker. Contrast Baby as Payment, which is when a baby is taken permanently to pay for something else, and Political Hostage which is the "polite" version of this used by polities throughout history as a form of alliance, subjugation and suzerainty. If the hostage-taker specifically wants to trade their hostage(s) for something, see Hostage for MacGuffin.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Air Gear: Sora brainwashes his girlfriend, Rika Noyamano, into fighting Kilik and the Sleeping Forest team, which Rika used to be a member of. The kicker, and what makes this specially mean? Rika is pregnant, and HE is the baby's father. The subversion comes when Kilik manages to deploy a Batman Gambit to get Rika restrained without actually landing a hit on her, then unleashing his and the Sleeping Forest's Air Regalia. And then it's further suverted when Sora actually counterattacks with his own gambit and shoots back at them.
  • Happens with alarming frequency in Case Closed, since this is a manga about mysteries and crimes. It gets to the point that more than one whole Non-Serial Movie has this as its plot.
  • Happens a few times in City Hunter. As one example among several, a thug takes a young woman hostage in a restaurant. Knowing how powerful Ryo's gun is, the thug positions himself in front of a window leading to a crowded street, so that any shot will go right through the thug and injure or kill an innocent civilian. This leaves Ryo with a Sadistic Choice: Either don't shoot and let the thug run off with his hostage, or risk shooting and injuring or killing a bystander. Ryo decides to Take a Third Option; he slows the bullet down by shooting through his own hand, so as to merely hit the thug and not injure anyone else.
  • Code Geass has an infamous example of this trope in play during the eighth episode of the first season, with a Japanese terrorist group staging one against many Britannians - including Lelouch's school friends.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • In "Ballad of Fallen Angels", Faye is taken hostage by some of the Big Bad's goons. One puts a gun to her head and begins the standard "Put down your gun" speech, but promptly gets one between the eyes from Spike. Cue the Blast Out. Something similar happens at the beginning of Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door when a convenience store robbery goes sour and some random thug, previously unseen, takes an old lady hostage. Spike shoots the hostage taker, after somewhat cynically remarking that he's not a cop.
    • Also subverted when Faye is taken hostage and sends a message to the guys assuming they will naturally ride to her rescue. Spike tells her to talk her own way out of it and shuts off the communicator.
  • Cromartie High School: a couple of hijackers give up on jacking a plane due to the students of Cromartie being all menacing-looking. Yutaka Takenouchi, who gets motion sickness, accidentally persuades the hijackers to get everyone else off the plane and then carry out the hijacking, resulting in him being stranded in America and one of the hijackers impersonating him back at Cromartie.
  • In Deadman Wonderland, all of Scar Chain is taken hostage so that Genkaku can force Nagi to join Undertaker. Of course, the hostage plan fails miserably when Crow decides to come by.
  • In Fairy Tail, Evergreen retorts: "If you don't surrender and undo your armor, then everyone who got petrified will be destroyed!!" Erza's answer? "If you think that winning or losing is more important than your life, so be it. I'll take your life to avenge those crumbled maidens". With her most menacing armor on, full intent to kill and Death Glare. No wonder Evergreen goes shit. The bonus? "And that's how you do a real bluff"
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • A train full of people are taken hostage, including an important government official and his family. When the hostage-takers attempt to negotiate with Mustang, he makes no serious attempt to negotiate... because he knows that the Elric brothers are aboard and is fully expecting them to take care of the situation.
    • Also, in later manga chapters/towards the end of the Brotherhood series, to keep Ed and Mustang in line Bradley subtly threatens the safety of Winry and Riza Hawkeye, making them both unable to (visibly) go against him.
    • Attempted by Envy after being reduced to slug form. Unfortunately, the victim Envy used was Yoki, and most of the cast convinces Envy that they don't care.
    • And then there's a big subversion in chapter 100 / right before the end of Brotherhoodwhen Roy refuses to perform human transmutation and open the Gate, one of the gold tooth alchemist's mooks immediately slits Riza's throat without warning in an attempt to force him. The dying Riza tells Roy not to do it, then May Chang arrives and saves her... but Roy ends up forced into opening the Gate anyway.
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Winry and a very depressed Edward who's still reeling from the horrible incident with Tucker and Nina are kidnapped by the still human Barry the Chopper, who takes Ed's automail away and gets him bound while also having Winry chained in Unwilling Suspension. Edward has to fight for both his and Winry's lives to get the two away from Barry more or less safely.
  • In an episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Kaname Chidori is taken hostage. In order to rescue her, Sousuke Sagara the military nut tortures the messenger, identifies the ringleader of the group that has taken her (along with most of her lackeys), then takes the leader's little brother hostage, and somehow manages to tie him up in the rafters of the warehouse where Chidori was being held without anyone noticing, using remote-controlled explosives on the ropes so he could send the tyke plummeting to his death if big sis didn't cooperate. As if that wasn't insane enough, he also made elaborate and somewhat disturbing threats against the loved ones and prize possessions of several lackeys, including a little sister, a motorcycle, and a lovebird, thus sending the entire gang fleeing in terror. The only thing that made Sousuke look slightly less like a dangerous psychopath was that the kid knew the plan all along, and went along with it in exchange for a radio-controlled car and, presumably, just the fun of being a hostage (hey, many kids are like that). Note that Sousuke is the same guy who drew a REAL gun on a shooting video game earlier in the same episode, so "normal" isn't really part of the program.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Aramaki is taken in a hostage during a botched burglary. He soon realizes the burglars have been tricked by their employer and that the police outside are actually trying to kill them. He then takes charge to get them all out of a government cover-up alive.
  • GTO: The Early Years: The Yokohama Cavalry knock Kamata out with a stun gun, then inject him with alcohol to keep him incapacitated. They try to use him as a hostage against Natsu, but Natsu pretends he doesn't care. Later on, they threaten to slit his throat if the Oni-Baku don't step down, but by then Kamata has recovered enough to stab one of them with a ballpoint pen.
  • The vampire Alucard subverts this in the first part of the manga/anime Hellsing by not only just shooting the hostage-taker but by shooting the hostage to do it. Through the chest, leaving a big gaping hole. The hostage (Seras Victoria) is however offered the choice of just dying, or dying but getting to be a vampire too.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • Gon and Killua are taken as hostages by the Phantom Troupe twice:
      • First was the time they tailed Nobunaga and Machi, unaware that they were also being tailed by the other members to draw out their stalkers. They were able to escape by themselves the first time when Gon remembers Zepile's advice.
      • Second time was they let themselves get caught due to Kurapika's recklessness, but Kurapika was able to kidnap Chrollo while they were trying to escape again. Kurapika makes a deal with the Troupe for an exchange of hostages, but he puts a chain in Pakunoda and Chrollo's hearts so they cannot interact with the rest of the Troupe anymore. Paku transfers her memories to the rest of the troupe so they'd know what happened, killing her in the process, while Chrollo is Put on a Bus thanks to this.
    • Gon, who's not mentally well during the palace invasion, takes Komugi hostage to force Pitou to come with him to Peijing to heal Kite, threatening to kill her if she doesn't comply to his demands, much to his teammate's shock and confusion. This forces Pitou to wait until Pouf pretends that Komugi's safe, but it's too late as Gon fell into despair after hearing the truth and gave up his power to pretty much pound Pitou into paste.
  • Played for Laughs in episode 10 of Is the Order a Rabbit?, when Aoyama holds up Tippy with the water gun Megu gives her during the water gun fight.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: The Disaster Curses and their human allies take Shibuya hostage and trap hundreds of people within a barrier, setting things up so that only Satoru Gojo may enter. When he does, Jogo, Hanami and Choso try to fight him by surrounding him with muggles, hoping that this way Gojo will restrain himself. Eventually, Gojo decides that he doesn't care and ignores Jogo when he threatens to kill a bunch of humans if he doesn't stop trying to kill Hanami. Jogo realizes that Gojo is not messing around anymore and focuses on buying more time by running from Gojo. Then Mahito brings a train full of transfigured humans, which then start killing more humans, and then even more humans are dropped in from the upper levels of the subway station. Driven to the edge, Gojo expands his Domain for 0.2 seconds and paralyzes the Disaster Curses, the transfigured humans and the civilians, after which he spends the next ten minutes slaughtering the transfigured humans. Unfortunately, all of the above went exactly according to Geto's plan, who uses the Prison Realm to seal Gojo while he's too stunned from seeing his old friend in the middle of the whole debacle to prevent its activation.
  • Scaled up in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing episode 10, where Lady Une threatens to attack the space colonies with self-defense missile satellites unless the Gundam Pilots surrender. Heero takes a third option and self-destructs his Gundam, which is what really kicks off the main plot by sparking the ideological divide within OZ between the noble soldiers and the ruthless and corrupt.
  • Happens several times in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, most obviously when Chigusa uses Konoka as a hostage and when Fate threatens to wipe out a crowd of people if Negi doesn't listen to him. The former backfires horribly, as hurting Konoka is something Setsuna's takes very seriously, and in the latter, Negi ultimately decides to attack Fate anyway, relying on his partners to prevent collateral damage.
  • Osomatsu-san had a segment in Episode 4, where Karamatsu Matsuno is strung up for ransom by an unknown assailant and his family is contacted to extort money form them in exchange for his life. Not only do they not care that he's been captured, they actively ignore the threats and continue having a good time without him. Even by the end of the episode they haven't come back for him.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first issue of Animal Man (2011), a group of kids with cancer are taken hostage at a hospital by a grieving dad who refuses to accept that his little girl is dead and thinks the hospital is hiding her somewhere. Animal Man intervenes.
  • In Astro City "Confession", a villain breaks into a nightclub frequented by heroes out of costume, and takes a busboy hostage. Keeping a wary eye on the heroes gives him no time to look at his hostage, who single-handedly takes him out.
  • One of Quantum and Woody's first cases as a superhero team was against a crazed gunman holding a woman hostage. After a brief shouting match, Cowboy Cop Woody shoots the hostage in the chest while Quantum tackles the gunman. Woody then helps the hostage to her feet, demonstrates his usage of paint pellets by shooting a few more at Quantum, and asks her what she's doing Friday night.
  • Robin (1993):
    • Tim is able to call the rest of the Batfamily and get a hostage taker who almost escaped as one of his own hostages captured when he's grounded and notices what's about to happen by watching the news and recognizing the perpetrator.
    • Tim becomes scarily violent when he arrives to deal with a hostage situation at the Gotham Plaza Hotel only to find a young girl had to watch the hostage takers murder her father before Tim arrived. That really angers him, besides he'd already been thinking about his own parents' murders that evening so it didn't take much to get him worked up.
  • A frequent occurrence in Runaways:
    • In the "New Pride" arc, the New Pride kidnaps Molly ostensibly to get the Runaways to leave them alone, not realizing that their leader Geoffrey Wilder intends to sacrifice her to the Gibborim.
    • During the Secret Invasion crossover with the Young Avengers, Xavin's former mentor Chrell takes the entire team hostage to get Xavin to hand over Teddy Altman. Unfortunately for Chrell, he makes Klara cry.
    • The "Rock Zombies" arc opens with the hopelessly moronic Retching Pigs taking a hapless employee at their former label hostage because he sent them an e-mail informing them that they'd been dumped. The Runaways beat them so quickly that Victor doesn't even have time to park the Leapfrog.
  • An issue of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) had Princess Sally Acorn kidnapped and held for ransom; at one point, she manages to trick her captors into lowering their guard and knocks them all unconscious.
  • Superman:
    • In a Supergirl (2005) Annual, a bank full of people are taken hostage, and Supergirl has to slip into the building and take the bank robbers down without letting anybody spot her.
    • Kryptonite Nevermore gives two examples:
      • As Lois Lane is getting a story in South America, a group of bandits capture her and her pilot to force a group of Government troops chasing them to back off.
      • A band of pirates take over a Government sea facility. The leader demands money in exchange for hostages.
        Quig: I want ten million dollars in gold delivered here — fifty hostages to insure you'll try no tricks — plus a hydrogen bomb! Should you refuse — my men will blast the drill hole! And you know what that would mean!
    • The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor: When Supergirl reveals she has discovered his ploy, Mind-Bomber holds her friend Lena hostage and slinks back into an abandoned subway station, where he expects to take advantage of the darkness to take Supergirl out using his psychic powers.
    • "The Unknown Legionnaire": After managing to get Cosmic Boy capture, villain Norm Eldor holds him hostage to prevent the Legion of Super-Heroes from ruining his plans.
  • The Tomb of Dracula: In #33, Quincy manages to incapacitate Dracula and has him at his mercy. Just as he's about to finish him off, he suddenly gets a phone call from two of Dracula's brides who're holding his daughter, Rachel, hostage. The brides warn Quincy to free Dracula or Rachel dies.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: "Interiors" features Fortress Maximus pulling one of these demanding that the ship be returned to Cybertron so that he can confront Prowl. He is ultimately stopped when shown footage of his own torture and comforted by his one of his captives. Then an incompetent sniper shoots said captive in the head.

    Fan Works 
  • In Cabinet Man [COMPLETE Evil!Spottedleaf MAP], Spottedleaf gets Mapleshade to do as she says by threatening to hurt her children.
  • Calvin and Hobbes end up in such a situation in Calvin and Hobbes III: Double Trouble.
  • In Clash's Revolt, Clash pays Zipper to kidnap Raya in a car and keep her trapped in an apartment. In the mean time, Clash pretends to be Raya to find out Jem's secret identity.
  • Code Geass: Because it is an important part of Code Geass that introduces The Order of the Black Knights to the general public, the Lake Kawaguchi incident happens in nearly every Fix Fic with different results depending on any changes to canon.
    • In Codes And Geass: Embracing Your Inner Megalomania, Kusukabe isn't just Geassed into killing himself, but rather torn limb from limb and then beheaded.
    • In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, it flows exactly the same, except Milly is the one who offers herself as the second hostage to be taken away. The incident also causes her and Nina, who had been secretly intimate with each other, to break up.
    • In The Black Emperor, Nina and Euphemia end up joining the Black Knight's inner circle made up of Lelouch, Milly (whom have been romantically involved with each other since their younger teens), Kallen (who recently join the former two becoming a triad), C.C. and Rakshata. While Shirley does learn that Lelouch is Zero, she doesn't join.
  • In this AU fanfic based on the Code Lyoko episode mentioned below, XANA's targets for kidnapping are Odd and Ulrich instead of the canon Odd and Yumi; due to this switch up and Ulrich's quick thinking (kicking the principal's shin to make him drop Odd), XANA has only one hostage. Things go both better and worse than canon; since Ulrich's a hostage, talking Sissi into helping is much easier and since Yumi is around to help keep Jeremie and Aelita from total panic, the latter two are able to suggest Odd call out for Ulrich to pinpoint his location, which works, (plus her presence keeps them from panicking when the EMP bomb knocks out the cell phones) but since XANA has only the one hostage, he's interested in getting more so he actively tortures Ulrich.
  • In Frostbite, Dalsh Ruul tries to use Tess Phohl and the rest of USS Bajor's away team as hostages against Captain Kanril Eleya. Eleya refuses to play ball, demanding his immediate surrender, and when that is not forthcoming, promptly storming the camp to rescue her crew.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Mastermind: Strategist for Hire: After nearly being caught by Heroes in a sting operation, Izuku/Mastermind takes the top 50 Pro Heroes in Japan hostage by threatening to release plans to kill them if he is captured or killed.
    • Another My Hero Academia fic, Makes Us Stronger, is a bank robbery that is also one of these. One villain has a force field quirk that makes it hard for heroes and police to get in and the leader has a quirk that forces others to activate their quirks. Aizawa is shot and forced to keep using Erasure far too much for his body to take. Midoriya and his mom are also there and Shinsou. There is a bomb under the bank too. Eventually the villains run and take Aizawa with them. The bomb goes off and people die, but Midoriya and Shinso already left to chase the villains (with permission from Midnight and orders not to engage) and Inko is shielded by All Might. The villains end up crashing their car but are caught and Aizawa survives.
    • Another MHA fic Gentle and Explosive has Bakugo and Eri walk into a trap set for Aizawa. Everyone in the store they go into is taken hostage and Bakugo pulls a Big Brother Instinct Take Me Instead as he’s adopted by Aizawa and Present Mic and Eri is his little sister and he isn’t letting her be hurt. He gets beaten, stabbed through the hands and strapped to a bomb but survives.
  • My Hero Academia: Unchained Predator (crossover between Doom (2016), My Hero Academia and Darksiders): The entire Steel Sabers Arc is this for the heroes. The Steel Sabers take control of I-Island, holding everyone there hostage, including several UA students, 13 heroes, including All Might, and all the island's scientists. The heroes don't know how to approach it without getting the hostages killed, and by this point, aren't sure if they can do it without getting all the hostages killed. The Doom Slayer and VEGA decide to solve the situation themselves in the way they know how. By the time the mainland heroes arrive to I-Island, the Slayer has successfully killed off the entire Steel Sabers organization, wiped out Wolfram's group, forced Curator and the Volcano Thieves to retreat, rescued all the hostages with minimal physical harm (mental trauma given by the truckload) and I-Island is reduced to a blood-infested wasteland or a blazing inferno.
    • In a desperate bid to not be brutally dismembered like all the other gunmen in the ballroom, the last one points his gun at All Might and tries to force the Slayer to surrender lest All Might dies. The Slayer kicks a chair into his face midway through his demand, grab the perp and end the gunman with extreme brutality.
  • In The Night Unfurls, a number of nuns are taken hostage by the Black Dogs, who lay down their terms of condition: either Alicia surrenders Feoh and Ur to the Black Dogs, with Prime Minister Beasley in control, or be Forced to Watch the nuns getting raped in front of her. Alicia decides to surrender in hopes of them keeping their word... which proves to be disastrous. Not only this results in an easy takeover of the fortresses, the nuns end up getting locked up in Feoh's dungeons, ravaged by red demons. Moreover, Beasley and the Mortadella brothers have captured her and Prim, who can only wait for Kyril and his company to bail them out.
  • NUMB3RS story Father Figure has Don and Alan being held hostage while returning from a vacation by a man who wanted to draw his father, a local sheriff out to get him to admit what happened to his older brother to the public.
    • Off Limits: Charlie is held hostage by rogue FBI agent Mark Douglas, who had become increasingly angered by perceived special treatment of Charlie by Don, as Mark thinks agents can simply do the job with professors like Charlie.
  • The Beast Wars fic "Dying Young" features a variation of this; Cheetor is dying of a rare disease, and Megatron claims that he has the only available sample of the cure, which he will only provide if the Maximals surrender (at this point Rhinox and Dinobot are off searching for the cure and Cheetor is unconscious undergoing treatment). Optimus, Rattrap and Airazor each acknowledge that, as much as they hate the idea of surrendering to Megatron, the idea of Cheetor dying is even worse for them, but Tigatron reminds them all that Cheetor would rather die than accept such terms.
  • Of Monsters and Men is based on the hostage situation from episode 8 of Code Geass with one twist: Nunnally was one of the hostages.
  • In Patterns of the Past, Old Missie, Olesya's boss back when she was an Investigation agent, is kidnapped by the Patternista for ransom. If Precinct 13579 is unable to give the Patternista enough money for the ransom, then Old Missie might die by the Patternista's hands and by the Patternista's choice (read: a gun and, presumably, a bullet to the head). The ten agents who form a rescue team to get their boss back all collectively agree to not pay the ransom and decide to retrieve her regardless, and do so successfully.
  • The elemental in The Sanctuary Telepath uses Janine, John, Helen (not that she knows about it) and sometimes even James as hostages to each other to keep them in check. Luckily they figure out what's its weakest point so it plays out at least in a bearable way (and ends better or worse, depending on the timeline). Sometimes other people try it too but they realize soon that it's not the best idea.
  • Spottedleaf's plot: By threatening her kits, Spottedleaf blackmails Mapleshade into killing her niece Sandstorm for her.
  • In Superman fanfic Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation, Muto, an enemy of the Superman family, takes over Atlantis and holds the whole Atlantean population hostage.
  • In the Worm fanfic, Intrepid, the Merchants take 100 people hostage in order to get the PRT to release Squealer.
  • With This Ring has a few examples of villains attempting to blackmail Paul, but they tend not to get very far.
    • Holly Robinson has stolen a valuable painting when Paul catches her, and in her panic, threatens to destroy it if he doesn't let her go. He doesn't particularly care if it's wrecked, though.
      Paul: Look, h-how do you see this going? If you somehow actually manage to stab the painting, all that happens is that you've committed a more serious crime than you have already.
      Holly: You can't let me. If it's worth that much money, it's too important for you to risk letting me cut it up.
      Paul: I'm not.. really an art person.
      Holly: What?
      Paul: Is this one of those superhero rules I don't know? The picture's ugly and it's insured. Frankly I'm.. not that bothered about it.
    • A Reach Negotiator holds an entire planet's children hostage if the Orange Lantern Corps doesn't walk away and leave the planet to them. Paul is impressed by their "high grade… I almost want to say evil, and I don't believe in evil." He's still able to bypass their deadman switch and keep the eggs intact, though.
  • In X-Men 1970, set in the early 1970's, an activist anti-Vietnam War group takes over a building, holds hostages and threatens to set a bomb off unless their demands -which include a transport plane- are met.
    "Scott," said Donny Tallent. He didn't sound hyper. He sounded, Scott noted, damned tense. "The boss phoned, wants you down to the campus. Now."
    Scott sat up and Jean, able to hear enough of the conversation to follow along, eased to the side of the bed and looked worried. "What's up?" asked Scott.
    "The SAVI group's taken a building over. They've got a few hostages. They say they've got bombs."
  • Parodied in X-Men: The Early Years. In "Twinkies, Holdups and Other Things that Aren't Good For You", an incredibly dense crook attempts to rob a pet store, believing it to be a bank. Cyclops, Angel and Iceman have to figure out a way to take the idiot down without revealing their powers.
    Bank Robber: This is a hold up! I want the vault open right now! No one move and don't even think of going for the alarms.
    Scott: You're new at this aren't you?
    Bank Robber: (blinking) What gives you that idea? I've robbed lots of banks. Why? You better do what I say. Have the tellers empty the vault. I swear I'll start shooting.
    Scott: The bank's next door.
    Bank Robber: (panicking) I knew that. I meant to hold up the... the —
    Scott: Pet store.
    Bank Robber: I knew that. Yeah, I meant to hold up the pet store.
  • Young Justice: Darkness Falls features a subverted one. The hostage taker is Jason Todd, but he hadn't actually taken Dick hostage. He just wanted to make sure they both were sorry for whatever happened between them and Batman.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • When an impromptu hostage situation breaks out in the movie Airheads, the protagonists make a series of increasingly bizarre demands, including nude photos of Bea Arthur, which the negotiators successfully supply them with.
  • Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: After being fired from Shape, Pat Farell returns to the studio with a shotgun and takes everyone hostage.
  • In prison flick The Big House, after the Great Escape goes completely wrong, Butch takes the captured guards and starts executing them one at a time while demanding transport out of the prison.
  • Blue Iguana (2018): When the protagonists steal the titular diamond, Eddie is shot in the leg and left behind. Arkady offers to release him in exchange for the diamond.
  • Similarly subverted for comic effect in Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles: When the entire town of Rock Ridge draws its guns on Bart, he draws his own gun, holds it to his head, and plays both the hostage and the hostage-taker using two different voices. As the townspeople immediately fall for this trick, he drags himself off to the town jail, where, in an inspired bit of mime, he yanks himself inside by the neck just as he's making another plea for help.
    "Oh baby, you're so talented. And they're so dumb!"
  • The Bloody Man: In the next part of The Bloody Man story in Sam's comic book, Charles is shown the day after accidentally killing his wife to be in the second floor of a barn, holding a woman by the neck.
  • Cadaver (2020): In one scene, Hans holds a guest hostage by grabbing them and holding a knife to their throat.
  • Parodied in Christmas with the Kranks, where the neighbors stand outside the house demanding that they put up Mr. Frosty, while Mrs. Krank frantically calls her husband for help and is instructed to sneak Mr. Frosty out.
  • In The Dark Knight, the Joker creates several of these. Normal procedures would be completely ineffective because the Joker is so unhinged he is entirely willing to kill hostages just for fun. Given a twist where the mooks were dressed as the hostages and the hostages are dressed as the mooks. Had Batman not interfered, the police would have shot the hostages with snipers.
  • Subverted in Die Hard, where the entire hostage situation is choreographed to provide cover for the real crime, a massive robbery. The FBI's response, to shut down the power, is exactly what they wanted.
  • And subverted again in Live Free or Die Hard, when the Big Bad makes the mistake of taking Lucy McClane hostage. Neither of them plays along, since John knows that that the Big Bad can't kill her without sacrificing his bargaining chip.
  • Dog Day Afternoon is about two would-be bank robbers who bungle their robbery and wind up barricading themselves in the bank using the employees as hostages. Based on a true story.
  • In Draw!, a Retired Outlaw holes up in the hotel with a hostage before a showdown with his boozing ex-lawman enemy.
  • In The Fifth Element the alien mooks' leader takes Father Cornelius hostage and demands that negotiations start. Korben Dallas agrees, walks into the room, puts one right through the leader's forehead, and politely asks if anyone else wants to negotiate. This is because these aliens will not fight without a leader. With him dead, they pretty much surrender.
  • Graduation: After the plan comes unstuck, and Carl gets shot by Chauncey, Jackson fakes a hostage situation to buy time and allow him to smuggle Carl and Suzie out of the bank under the guise of pretending to release hostages.
  • Naturally, this is the central plot of the movie Hostage. Bruce Willis plays a former hostage negotiator who quit after a hostage crisis gone wrong, but then the house of a family man with connections to a shadowy syndicate is invaded by three armed robbers who have to take hostages after a shoot-out with a patrolman. His own wife and daughter are kidnapped by the syndicate to ensure that he gets a specific package they need out of the house.
  • How to Rob a Bank starts with Jason seemingly holding Jessica hostage inside the bank vault. However, as things progress, it quickly becomes apparent that Jessica, and not Jason, who is the one robbing the bank. Meanwhile, outside the vault, Simon and Roger are holding the staff and customers hostage as armed police surround the building.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, after finding a blast crater full of roses, Katniss fears that Snow will kill Peeta if she does any more propaganda pieces.
  • Subverted to hell and back in Inside Man, when the masked bank robbers stage confrontations with "hostages" (really the other robbers out of their disguise) such that when the robbers release the hostages, the robbers join them and no one is able to tell who is who.
  • In Iron Man, when the hero begins unstoppably cleaning house and freeing a village from terrorists, they finally respond by taking a group of civilians hostage. At this, he relents, shuts down his suit's weapons... and then targets the hostage-takers, activates a group of smaller shoulder-mounted guns and takes them all out at once with surgical precision in a fraction of a second.
  • Killing Zoe is about a group of bank robbers who are forced to fend off the police using the bank employees and customers as hostages while they attempt to crack the safe.
  • Kruel: When Jo's dad bursts into the room Willie is holding Jo in, Willie holds a knife to her neck to get him to stop.
  • In Last Train from Gun Hill, Morgan holds a shotgun under Rick's chin and uses him as a hostage when he finally takes him from the hotel to the train station.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, after the shoot out/brawl in Dorian's house, the last remaining Mook tries to take Mina Harker hostage. Bad idea.
  • Parodied in several ways in Loaded Weapon 1:
    Jigsaw: [Holding Colt hostage] Drop your gun, Mr. Luger!
    Luger: I don't have one.
    Jigsaw: You're not carrying a weapon?
    Luger: I don't believe in them.
    [Jigsaw kicks a spare pistol over to Luger]
    Jigsaw: Pick up the gun.
    [Luger looks confused, picks the gun up]
    Jigsaw: Drop the gun, Mr. Luger!
  • The Negotiation: The entire plot is based around the interactions of a crisis negotiator and the international hostage taker she's trying to crack.
  • Subverted in the film The Negotiator, where the man who's holding the hostages is the movie's protagonist and is a police negotiator, so he knows all of the tactics the police would try to use against him. They have to get someone from outside his team to negotiate with him, also because he suspects one of his colleagues might be The Mole trying to kill him.
  • In Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Lassard is taken hostage. Because he thinks this is a planned drill for the police convention he's attending, he actually helps his kidnappers escape the building with him. Then, once it's finally explained to him that these are real criminals and this isn't a drill, he takes them down single-handedly.
  • Posse (1975): After being captured, Jack Strawhorn escapes, kidnapping U.S. Marshal Nightingale in the process, and demands a ransom of $40,000 from the posse for Nightingale's safe return.
  • Blake taking a hostage and Styles saving her is what kicks off the main conflict in Ricochet.
  • Robocop manages to get around this, with all the supercomputer targeting skills that one might expect in an awesome cyborg police officer. In RoboCop (1987) the first movie, a man was holding a woman as a meat shield, but Robocop targeted him through the woman's dress, which happens to hit the testicles. In the second, a hostage-taker holding a baby gets it in the head when Robocop points his gun away from the guy, but calculates a ricochet shot off a metal wall.
  • In a rare case of the victim taking a hostage to coerce the villain, the senator's daughter in The Silence of the Lambs gets ahold of Buffalo Bill's poodle and threatens to break its neck if he doesn't let her phone for help.
  • Snow's gang hold the professors and the musicians hostage so they won't interfere with Snow marrying Honey in A Song Is Born.
  • Subverted in Speed when Keanu Reeves says he would shoot the hostage during some banter with a fellow cop. When that same cop is taken hostage, Keanu actually does shoot him.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier starts with Sybok and his followers taking Paradise City hostage. Kirk and the newly-commissioned Enterprise-A are sent to deal with it, even though the Enterprise is suffering from Critical Staffing Shortage and numerous system malfunctions.
  • In Terror at Black Falls, Juan's son is lynched by a group of farmers for stealing a calf. To get revenge, Juan takes a saloon hostage and shoots a person every ten minutes until Sheriff Cal shows up to confront him.
  • In Winning London, a made-for-TV Olsen twins vehicle, terrorists invade a Model UN conference and kidnap a handful of delegates, including one of the twins. It's actually a surprise event for the competition, as the remaining delegates must now debate whether or not to comply with the terrorists' demands for nuclear disarmament. In the meantime, the "hostages" get to kick back in a hotel suite with pizza and TV. The situation is resolved when the other sister decides to Take a Third Option and leads a rescue party to sneak the hostages out of the suite while the "terrorists" are distracted.
  • The Fake Action Prologue of Film/vice2015 is a high-octane Bank Robbery that turns intro a hostage situation and then a Blast Out as the robbers shoot their way out through the cops.

  • Acid Row: When a mob of youths attack the Kelowski house, Franek takes Dr Sophie Morrison - who was visiting him as her patient - hostage to guarantee the police will rescue them. Sophie spends much of the book trying to reason with Franek and his son, and attempting to protect herself from Franek, who is just as much a danger to her as the mob outside.
  • The Asterisk War: In volume 5, Dirk Eberwein takes Julis's maid and childhood friend Flora Klemm hostage against Ayato having his Empathic Weapon Ser Veresta sealed (meaning he can never use it again). The group instead fakes having it sealed in order to buy time to rescue Flora.
  • Beast Tamer: This is the modus operandi of Edgar Fromware, son of the local lord. If someone interferes with what he wants, he'll threaten bystanders or loved ones to force cooperation while his father uses his power to cover up any problems that arise. In order to get Rein to hand over Sora and Runa, he holds his entire town hostage and threatens to kill them and Rein if the girls aren't handed over. Rein uses his magic to stand down by setting Edgar's guards non-fatally aflame. He also captured Nina by threatening the people of her town.
  • During the beginning of the Time of Troubles arc of the Deverry novels, Prince Mael of Eldidd spent twenty years as a hostage. He was captured in his campaign in the war, and then his captors decided that the military advantage of having a secure border thanks to a royal hostage during a three-way war was more valuable than the coin they'd get by returning him.
  • Subverted in Terry Pratchett's Discworld City Watch novels, where Angua is taken hostage on at least two occasions, neither of which are taken seriously by the rest of the Watch (one constable actually laughed during the first one). And with good reason: taking a werewolf hostage is a classic example of a Very Bad Idea™.
  • Averted in the sixth Honor Harrington novel where the titular protagonist hands herself over to be the hostage. However, much to the hostage-takers eventual surprise, she has not one but three plants in the works and kills all but one of the hostage-takers in the process.
  • In Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series, the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team is featured from time to time.
    • Their first print appearance is in Patriot Games, for the rescue of Ryan and the Prince and Princess of Wales.
    • In The Cardinal of the Kremlin, they're called in to rescue a US scientist kidnapped by the KGB.
    • The elite counter-terrorist unit Rainbow in Rainbow Six often handles this kind of event.
  • The Color of Distance: In Through Alien Eyes a desperate father grabs Juna and threatens to slit her throat if Unkatonen doesn't heal his gravely ill daughter. It's a very sudden hostage situation, and the father knows this will put him in jail until after his daughter is grown.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, nobles who bend the knee after being defeated sometimes send their children to the victorious family. Ostensibly, the child is a ward of the other family. Everyone involved knows that the child is a glorified hostage meant to keep their family in line. Theon Greyjoy spent most of his life as Ned Stark's ward after his father Balon's rebellion was crushed. And despite knowing that Ned in theory would have killed him if Balon ever got out of hand, Theon still eventually came to see Ned as more of a father than Balon ever was.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Star By Star, the Yuuzhan Vong take a flotilla of ships carrying millions of war refugees hostage, demanding that the New Republic reveal the location of the Jedi Order's secret base. Two thirds of the way through the book, the Republic mounts a successful rescue.
  • Richard does this in the Sword of Truth to himself when he's in the care of the Sisters of the Light, by going into a forest that's enchanted to kill people and refusing to come out until they meet his demands. (Nobody has ever survived being in there after sunset.) On his first day living in the Palace of the Prophets. He likes to make impressions, and doesn't do things by halves.
  • In Star Trek Novel Verse work Best Defense, Ambassador Sarek gets taken hostage when the peace talks he is leading with some particularly belligerent Klingons goes off the rails. Though he is rescued by the Enterprise team, the Vulcan diplomat is somewhat annoyed as he claims to have been on the point of talking his way out (being Sarek, this is quite possible), and the Fleet intervention undermined his authority.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Hostage rescues are one of Miles Vorkosigan's specialties.
    • Especially noteworthy in The Vor Game where Miles rescues Emperor Gregor by taking him hostage.
    • At the climax of Komarr, Ekaterin and Helen are held hostage by terrorists, who place them in a space station airlock and threaten to flush them out into space if provoked. Miles overrules a plan to sneak around the outside of the station and get them out that way because he suspects (correctly, as it turns out) that the outer door of the airlock will have been booby-trapped.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Flense captures Gaunt's medic, Dorden, and a wounded trooper to get Gaunt to where he could kill him. (Getting him there worked. Killing him didn't. Indeed, at one point, when Flense threatens to shoot Dorden if Gaunt mocks him, Dorden urges Gaunt to mock him, so Flense will shoot him and he won't have to listen.)
    • In His Last Command, when a commissiar is trying to execute him and his men out of hand, Gaunt takes him hostage; he attempts to reason, pointing out that he didn't just kill him, but then he uses him to force his junior to contact higher-ups. When he and his team are transported in a cargo pod, they escape, and Gaunt takes a general hostage to get him to give his word for their safety.
    • In Lee Lightner's Space Wolf novel Sons of Fenris, Commander Cadmus takes Gabriella hostage, in order to compel the Space Wolves to fight the Dark Angels. What do they do? Join forces.
  • In the third Survivors book, Darkness Falls, the Fierce Dogs invade the Wild Pack's territory to get their pups back. In her rage, Blade clamps her jaws around Daisy's neck and threatens to kill her if she isn't given "her" pups back ASAP.
  • In The Witchlands, Warrior Monk Lizl decides at one point that the best way to claim the outstanding bounty on the Raider King's head is to kidnap his kid, who just so happens to be one of the protagonists.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam-12 had too many of these to count. Several involved Reed, Malloy, or both.
  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Human Bomb", Bet-A-Million Butler handcuffs himself to Lois and threatens to blow them both up if his demands aren't met.
  • In Andromeda, it's explained that a common Nietzschean tactic during the Rebellion was to take a High Guard officer hostage and use him as a Human Shield against Commonwealth forces.
  • On Banshee two robbers flee from police and run into the local high school. It is after hours and the only people there are students having detention and the teacher supervising them. The robbers are trapped there and take the students and the teacher hostage. The town's police department consists of only a sheriff and three deputies, and the sheriff is out of town. The senior deputy tries to negotiate with the hostage takers to buy time so the SWAT team from the nearest city can be brought in. Ultimately most of the other associated tropes are averted since the situation is resolved when the sheriff returns, walks into the school and singlehandly kills the hostage takers.
  • Barney Miller: Three different episodes involved desperate criminals grabbing a gun and holding all the detectives hostage.
    • The first one, "Ramon", was the first ever episode and served as an Establishing Character Moment for Barney. He shows he's a Reasonable Authority Figure and the Only Sane Man as he calmly, rationally talks the jittery drug addict with the gun into surrendering.
    • The second, "Hostage", set up The Stateroom Sketch when the two gun-toting criminals force everybody else in the squad room to cram into the tiny holding cell.
    • In "The Architect", two gun-wielding thugs barge in to free their buddy, only to find out that he's already been processed and taken out to the central jail, so instead they take the men of the 12th Precinct hostage. (One of the thugs is played by the same actor who played the gun-wielding hostage taker in "Ramon".)
  • Better Call Saul: After Mike uses remote tactics to shut down Hector Salamanca's smuggling operation on Gus Fring's behalf, Hector takes Nacho and Arturo to Los Pollos Hermanos, shoo the customers out, and hold the employees hostage until Gus gets back. Gus dismisses the employees, compensating them for their missed time and offering to provide them therapy and counseling to get over the trauma of the event, before going into his back office. Gus shows disapproval at Hector for resorting to such tactics to get his attention.
  • Hilarously subverted in an otherwise serious situation in Boomtown (2002). After being outed, a corrupt cop takes an internal affairs investigator hostage. One of the detectives quips that "If Thumper (the IA investigator) gets shot during the firefight, the saddest thing to be heard will be 'Oops!'"
  • Burn Notice:
    • An episode from season 2 had Michael and Agent Bly, who were blackmailing each other, trapped in a private bank during a robbery. Bly initially tried to steal a gun from one of the robbers but got shot, afterwards the two cooperated on Michael's usual combination of Batman Gambit and Indy Ploy to save the hostages.
    • In season 3, Tyler Brennan takes Michael's brother Nate hostage (in the form of having Nate meet with a "client" who is actually a Professional Killer on Brennan's payroll) to force Michael to help him steal tech from a defense contractor. Michael's Internal Monologue points out the flaw in taking a hostage as a strategy: if you actually carry out the threat to kill your hostage, you now have no leverage over the people you're trying to control. Brennan resolves this issue by nonfatally shooting Nate, then telling Michael to do his job now or else Nate will bleed out. Michael is still able to turn the tables.
    • In season 4, Sam and Michael get turned into the hostage takers, when a slightly deranged client takes a charity-robbing scumbag hostage while they're in the building. Naturally, the good guys aren't arrested, and the Scumbag of the Week gets framed for the deed.
    • In season 5, there's a hostage situation on a small airport, with Michael posing as a hired specialist of the hostage takers as he tries to take them down while his mother is among the hostages. The narration notes that the first hostage's life is the most important, as the penalty for killing one hostage is pretty much the same as that for killing all of them. Michael succeeds by employing his mother, to keep the other hostages quiet while he creates a fictional ex-special forces soldier turned mechanic he attributes his own acts of sabotage to.
    • In season 6, Michael explains why they so rarely go with the direct attempt to rescue a hostage on the show. The reason: only 1 in 5 hostages survive a direct rescue attempt, and Michael doesn't risk more lives than absolutely necessary.
  • In a season four episode of Castle, Castle and Martha are taken hostage during a bank robbery by a crew of robbers disguised as TV doctors. Beckett was on the outside negotiating. Of course it turned out to be a distraction from something much bigger.
    • A later episode in season 7 features Esposito and several others caught in a hostage situation on a subway when a suspect in a murder reveals he has an explosive vest on.
  • There are plenty of hostage situations and kidnappings on Criminal Minds and most of the main characters have been held hostage at one point or another (mostly Reid).
  • CSI: NY has several victims of the week endure this. As far as the main characters go...
    • The third season finale, "Snow Day," includes a Disguised Hostage Gambit. Adam stops Flack and his team before it's too late.
    • Happens again in the season four cliffhanger where Mac is taken prisoner while investigating a homicide inside a bank.
    • Sheldon's friend, Camille, is taken hostage in season seven's "Smooth Criminal." After she's rescued, the two begin dating.
    • Happens toward the end of season nine as well, during the two-part crossover with CSI when DB helps Mac track down Christine's kidnappers.
  • Day Break (2006): Of all the places to have one, Hopper starts one in his own police station in downtown L.A. during one of the time loops. He needs a case file which happens to be checked out by an Internal Affairs agent who hates Hopper, so the agent chooses to be obstructive out of spite and can't be persuaded otherwise (let alone bribed, since he's I.A.). The first time Hopper tried force to get his way it immediately got him arrested, the second time he actually had to take the agent hostage in his own office, resulting in an hours-long armed stand-off with his colleagues.
  • Deputy:
    • "10-8 Do No Harm" centers on one which occurs at a jail infirmary when a male prisoner and his female accomplice disguised as a deputy take hostages to have him transferred so he can get the surgery needed for saving his life, which the authorities hadn't approved.
    • In "10-8 Paperwork" two inmates break out of a police station holding cell with a deputy being held hostage.
  • Diff'rent Strokes: The Season 3 premiere "The Bank Job" sees Arnold and Willis held hostage during a bank robbery. Things get very complicated when the robbers learn who the boys' father is — turns out, the suspect holds an extreme grudge against Trans Allied, Mr. Drummond's company — and decides they'd be perfect bargaining tools and means to get revenge. (Of course, Drummond gets the upper hand.)
  • Doc Martin:
    • Martin, Louisa, and Pauline are taken hostage by a criminal who is suffering from untreated bipolar disorder. It ends after about half a dozen others get roped into it, a medical emergency occurs, and Martin completely loses patience with the situation.
    • Again in the final episode of Series 5. Mrs Tishell has a psychotic break and essentially holds James Henry — Martin and Louisa's son — hostage. Martin talks her down.
    • Another episode has a delusional woman take Martin, Penhale, Ruth and her son hostage, believing the latter was poisoning her with weedkiller. Turns out she was being poisoned, but by the old wallpaper in her bedroom coated in arsenic, which her son had begun to strip but never bothered to finish.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Made-for-TV Movie, in a way that showed the main character's role as an All-Loving Hero. Stopped by a cop, the Doctor manages to get his gun away and point it at... himself, and says, "Now, would you stand aside before I shoot myself?"
    • "Dalek": After the Dalek refuses to kill Rose the first time, it then threatens to kill her so the Doctor will raise the blast door trapping it in lower levels of Henry van Statten's bunker.
  • In the Emergency! episode "Understanding," two bank robbers call for help when their hostage seems to be about to have a heart attack. When Johnny and Roy go in to treat him, the robbers take them hostage too. Johnny manages to befriend the robbers and talk them into giving themselves up. Roy is impressed, but Johnny insists he didn't do anything special.
  • Endeavour: In "Coda", Morse is in Joan's bank following a line of inquiry when the bank is robbed. The robbery goes pear-shaped when the getaway driver panics, shoots a copper and takes off. Soon Morse and Joan are caught up in a hostage situation.
  • ER: In the third season episode "The Long Way Around", Carol, currently under suspension at County Hospital, is at a convenience store when two men try to rob it, one of them is wounded by the owner, and the other takes the people in the store hostage. Carol tries to calm things down and treat the wounded.
  • Family Matters: In at least three episodes:
    • Season 2's "Dog Day Halloween", where Urkel (dressed up as Superman for Halloween) fantasizes about saving Laura, who is also held captive as both are among the hostages during a bank robbery.
    • Season 2's "I Should Have Done Something", where the hostage situation is referred to, having taken place a year earlier, but is described in detail: A mentally deranged, drugged-out individual had robbed a convenience store and taken an elderly customer hostage; the police arrive and seemingly talk the criminal into surrendering, but just a split second before he is actually arrested, the suspect shoots and kills his hostage. The focus, then, is on main protagonist Carl mourning the hostage's death and dwelling on the fact that he just had to have done things differently and if so, the hostage would likely be alive today.
    • Season 7's "My Uncle the Hero" had a brief hostage situation, where — as Carl is giving a (predictably) boring tour of the police station to nephew Richie's class — a rookie officer momentarily takes his eyes off an arrestee; the arrestee then grabs one of the kids and makes his demands. Carl is quickly able to defuse the situation and nobody is hurt.
  • Subverted in Firefly: When Agent Dobson takes River hostage in the pilot episode, Mal simply shoots him in the head as he boards the ship, without even breaking stride.
  • Happens too often in Flashpoint, where at least every episode has one of these.
  • Game of Thrones: Sansa is the most important political token of the Lannisters during the War of the Five Kings after the death of Ned and the disappearance of Arya. Even if she wasn't Robb's heir as King in the North, Sansa is the heir to Winterfell after Theon "kills" Bran and Rickon. The Red Wedding caused the Lannisters to lose interest in her, as she wasn't as valuable a hostage anymore. The Tyrells try to bring her into the fold, to which the Lannisters married her to Tyrion. The cementing of the Tyrell-Lannister alliance and the chaos caused by the assassination of Joffrey allowed Littlefinger to take Sansa with him to the Vale of Arryn, disguising her as his bastard.
  • An interesting twist is in an early Highlander episode, where MacLeod is taken hostage. When the baddies get ready to kill a hostage, he goads the head baddie into selecting him as the first hostage to be killed. Which, of course, turns out to be a bad decision for the bad guys...
  • In a season five episode of House, a man holds House, Thirteen, and several other clinic patients hostage in Cuddy's office; he's been suffering from an illness no one's been able to diagnose, and it's causing him so much physical and mental distress that he's resorted to violence just to find out what's wrong with him. The safety of everyone in the room now depends on House's team making the correct diagnosis, and the man forces House give Thirteen all the experimental medications first causing her kidneys to shut down, putting her already compromised health in danger, owing to her Huntington's disease.
  • Happens fairly often on JAG. Before 9/11 it was usually part of a "Die Hard" on an X.
  • Kamen Rider Build: After having Touto's Prime Minister Himuro kidnapped in episode 32, Evolt calls early into the next episode demanding the Evol Driver, which the heroes never knew about until now, within 24 hours or else he will kill his captive.
  • The Kill Point: The bank robbers are holed up with their hostages inside the bank for several days, as they're accustomed to siege situations. They do eventually release them one by one.
  • Knots Landing:
    • The women of Seaview Circle are taken hostage by three armed robbers during Ginger's baby shower in "Moments of Truth".
    • Laura and Jason Avery are held hostage by Richard, having suffered a nervous breakdown, in their house in "Night".
    • Karen, Mack, Meg and Jason Lochner are taken hostage in their house by Brian Johnston in "House of Cards".
  • Leverage had an episode where Nate and Sophie are trapped in a bank when a robbery turns into a Hostage Situation. The rest of the team are trying to get them out while stalling the cops and figuring out why two otherwise upstanding citizens are robbing a bank. However, the Mark, a corrupt local judge, is in the bank with them and figures out that he is being conned. He disarms the robbers and takes everyone hostage himself in order to get his money back. In the end it turns out that everyone in the town, including the cops, hate the judge so much that they easily go along when the team frames him for the whole robbery and hostage taking.
  • Lie to Me did this in season two. Cal, Gillian, Loker, and Torres are taken hostage by someone who claims he was framed for his wife's murder and wants Cal to prove his innocence.
  • Shockingly subverted in Lost when Keamy takes Ben's "daughter" Alex hostage and threatens to shoot her if Ben does not come out of the house in 10 seconds and come with him. Ben refuses, bluffing that she means nothing to him and Keamy immediately shoots her in the head while only down to 7.
  • In the Batman Cold Open of the Mann & Machine episode "The Dating Game," Eve disarms a woman who's holding two men hostage by pretending to be a pizza delivery girl.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • In the season 1 episode "Condemned", Officer Sullivan, a rookie police officer on foot patrol in Hell's Kitchen, hears screams coming from an abandoned building. Entering, he finds a masked Matt Murdock trying to get information on Wilson Fisk out of a wounded Vladimir Ranskahov. Matt overpowers Sullivan, and after determining that he's not working for Fisk, tells him to call in a false alarm. Sullivan instead screams for help when Matt gives him the radio, forcing Matt to knock him out and tie him up. Matt has to hurry to get information out of Vladimir because the cops that respond to the call do work for Fisk, and are going to kill Vladimir when they raid the building. Detectives Christian Blake and Carl Hoffman assume command of the scene, the former of whom has become a liability for Fisk after Matt beat him up earlier in the evening and stole his phone. Thus, when the Emergency Service Unit team arrives, one of them goes up to a rooftop, takes out a sniper rifle, and on orders from James Wesley, opens fire on the crowd, critically wounding Blake and killing two uniformed copsnote . The rest of the ESU team storms the building and kills Officer Sullivan by cutting his throat, and then kills Vladimir as he engages them to buy time for Matt to escape.
      • In the season 2 finale, "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen", Karen Page, Turk Barrett, and several other people Matt has rescued as Daredevil are taken hostage by The Hand as part of a trap. Karen manages to activate Turk's parole bracelet to summon assistance. The Hand's lookouts gun down the first two responding officers, but not before one of them is able to call for help. Matt and Elektra race to the scene and rescue Karen and the hostages before facing off against Nobu and his men in a showdown on the roof. Elektra is killed when Nobu impales her. Matt is left outnumbered until Frank Castle shoots down several of the ninjas from a nearby rooftop with a sniper rifle, allowing Matt to throw Nobu off the roof, where he is decapitated by Stick.
    • Jessica Jones (2015): Kilgrave often takes large groups of people hostage and threatens to make them kill themselves en masse to get Jessica's cooperation.
    • Luke Cage (2016): In the season 1 episode "Now You're Mine", an attempt by Diamondback to shoot at Misty Knight and Luke inside Harlem's Paradise ends up leaving several people trapped inside Harlem's Paradise with Diamondback's men holding them captive until they find and kill Luke.
  • Midnight Caller:
    • In "Bank Job," Jack and several bystanders are taken hostage by bank robbers.
    • In "Life Without Possibility," prisoners riot and take a number of guards hostage, demanding better conditions. Jack persuades them to let the guards go and take him as a hostage instead.
  • The Murders: "In My Feelings" sees Kate's mom taken hostage with her staff. As she's a candidate for mayor (she and they are held at her campaign's headquarters), along with being a former prosecutor there are many possible motives that the hostage taker could have, but he refuses to simply say what his beef is, instead making her (literally) play a game of 20 Questions, initially with no demand made. She prosecuted him, it turns out, with the man feeling she demonized him to the jury in his case. It turns out that he wants her to admit that he'd been wrongly convicted of his wife's murder on false evidence that she'd presented to the court, with her husband at the time (Kate's father) gathering this.
  • Ari's first appearance is when he's taking Ducky, Gerald, and Kate hostage in the autopsy room in season one of NCIS.
  • Happens a number of times on NUMB3RS, including at least twice with agents.
  • Once and Again: In the second season episode "The Other End of the Telescope", after Jake sends one of his employees from his restaurant home (because of a dispute with the chef), the employee comes back and takes the entire restaurant hostage, including Jake and Grace, who happens to be there helping out.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Final Exam", an engineering grad student named Seth Todtman, who has invented a cold fusion device with a yield of 50 megatons, takes a group of students and Dean Irwin hostage in a lecture theatre. He threatens to detonate the bomb and destroy the city, killing five million people, if the five people on his list are not killed in front of him within three hours.
    • In "Small Friends", Marlon has his brother Walter hold Professor Gene Morton's daughter Becky and grandson Phillip hostage in their house in order to force Gene to use his Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) to break Marlon out of his prison.
    • In "Criminal Nature", the Genetic Rejection Syndrome sufferer Dylan Venable holds his mother Marie and younger brother Jesse hostage at their old house in order to lure his father Ray into a confrontation.
    • In "Final Appeal, Part Two", Ezekiel holds the five US Supreme Court justices, the appellant Dr. Theresa Givens, her attorney Nicole Whitley and the Solicitor General Wallace Gannon hostage in the Supreme Court Building using a cold fusion device powerful enough to destroy not only Washington, D.C. but half the Eastern Seaboard.
  • The Professionals. In "Old Dog with New Tricks", a London Gangster tries to free his brother from prison by using the 'new way' of taking hostages like a terrorist and then demanding an exchange. Unfortunately he captures Cowley instead. While Doyle holds a Sawn-Off Shotgun at his brother's head out on the street, Cowley informs the gangster that if there's one shot from inside the building, they're going to blow off his brother's head, storm the building and kill all the criminals, then blame the deaths on them.
  • In a season three episode of Psych, Gus is taken hostage during a bank robbery. Shawn tricks the hostage taker into letting him in. As it turns out, the guy was being forced to rob the bank to get back his wife, who had been kidnapped.
  • Several real-life ones are recounted in Rescue 911.
  • In the season one finale of Rizzoli & Isles, Jane, Maura, and Frankie are taken hostage in the police station by a crew of guys who are looking for a piece of key evidence and an eye witness.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Inverted in Stargate SG-1, "Bad Guys"; a misunderstanding leaves the heroes trapped in a museum with a room full of hostages. They have to deal with both the hero-wannabe and the screamer, while stalling the negotiator until help can arrive.
    • Stargate Atlantis:
      • A unique version appears: alien consciousnesses take over Weir and Sheppard, hell-bent on killing each other. Weir/Phoebus a real bloodthirsty one and demanded that Sheppard/Thaelin be turned over to her or she'll flood the city's living quarters with halon, killing everyone (she wasn't bluffing). When they tried to talk her out of it, she retorted that she can always kill Weir via suicide. When Teyla managed to incapacitate Sheppard/Thaelin, Weir/Phoebus ordered her to kill him but at the absolute last moment, Rodney managed to hack into the system and remotely sealed the halon valves. Weir/Phoebus attempted to finish the task herself but got stunned by Sheppard who meanwhile regained control and was feigning unconsciousness. When asked why did she give him a stunner without knowing if he really was himself again, Teyla answered "you would have shot her anyway".
      • Another, much earlier instance was when the Genii briefly took over Atlantis, taking Weir and Rodney as hostages. When Sheppard proved uncooperative, Kolya tricked him into believing that his defiance got Weir executed. It backfired however, as Sheppard went Roaring Rampage of Revenge. When the two finally confronted in the control room with Kolya using Weir as a human shield and attempting to escape, he asked Sheppard why is he risking hitting Weir. Sheppard calmly answered "I'm not aiming at her" and shot Kolya in the shoulder, making him release her and fall backwards through the wormhole.
      • Teyla also became a hostage for a while. As Michael was escaping with her, they were confronted by Beckett's clone. Unfortunately, the clone was programmed to be psychologically incapable of harming Michael so as much as he wanted to shoot and stop the hybrid, he couldn't (Michael knew this all too well since he created him).
      • Or when Kolya took Sheppard hostage and demanded Ladon in exchange. When the expedition tried to stall, he expedited by having a captive Wraith periodically feed on him. What he didn't expect is that Sheppard and the Wraith teamed up and escaped, "Todd" draining Genii soldiers and restoring Sheppard's life as a reward. It also proved to be an important plot point as when the Wraith factional crisis began, "Todd" was backed by the Tau'ri as an ally of convenience (no one except him and his closest allies knew about it).
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Resurrection", the mirror universe counterpart of Kira's deceased lover shows up on the station and takes Kira hostage with a nonfunctional disruptor pistol. She goes all the way from ops to the landing pad with him before pointing it out and kicking his ass.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise has these every few episodes, usually with Captain Archer as one of the hostages. This is lampshaded in "Precious Cargo" when Trip gets captured with a stuck-up alien princess who doesn't want to listen to his advice, and he tells her that he's been in enough such situations to know that things won't turn out the way she expects them to.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Dog Day Hospital", Barbara Lonnicker, who is heavily pregnant with her ninth child, holds Craig, Ehrlich, Vijay and the rest of the surgical team at gunpoint in the middle of an operation. She demands to see Dr. Tim Finnan, who performed a vasectomy on her husband Bob the previous year, so that she can kill him. Fortunately for Dr. Finnan (but unfortunately for the rest of the St. Eligius staff), he is on vacation in Mexico. It turns out that Bob never had the vasectomy as he could not go through with it. Barbara does not take it well and tries to kill him.
  • Taken: In "God's Equation", Ray Morrison takes Charlie, Lisa, Dr. Harriet Penzler and the other members of the Alien Abduction therapy group (Dale Watson, Wilson Adams, Cynthia, Dorothy, Nora and Ben) hostage in the Department of Psychology building of Seattle Pacific University. He demands that whoever runs the FBI's secret extraterrestrial project call CNN and go public with everything that they know about aliens so that people won't think that he's crazy anymore. If they don't do so, he threatens to begin killing the hostages. Complications arise for the UFO project when Allie arrives, putting her life in danger and threatening their plans.
  • Similar to Blazing Saddles, it was used in a unique way in Titus. After walking in on his girlfriends' niece, Amy, trying to kill herself, Titus tries to talk her out of it. Amy feigns listening to him long enough to lock him out of her room. Running to the outside window he keeps screaming at her not to commit suicide, asking to let him tell his own story of suicide. She gives him a few minutes but was primed with the noose around her neck, with him saying disbelievingly, "You're holding yourself hostage?"
  • The X-Files: Mulder exchanges himself for hostages while pretending to be an EMT to get close to Duane Barry, who Mulder thinks is an alien abductee. This episode (aptly named "Duane Barry") kicks off the Scully Abduction arc.

  • School Shock has one to kick off the main plot, resulting in the main characters' first encounter. The female protagonist saves the male one from being shot and dropped from a high building.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse has this vibe when the heroes battle The Dreamer. The twist is that the Dreamer is both the hostage and captor, as her psychic powers went into overdrive during a nightmare of hers. Gameplay wise, if the Dreamer hits 0 HP, the heroes kill her and lose. In order to win, the heroes must destroy enough projections to get her to flip from her "The Dreamer Dreams" side to her "Roused From Slumber" side, then destroy more projections to calm her down and wake her up. Since attacks that hit all villain targets will also hit the Dreamer, who only has 6 HP, the team must decide if shooting the hostage is worth it. In her Challenge Mode, you cannot afford to hurt her, as her Challenge Mode rules ensure any damage dealt to her is fatal.
    • On a smaller scale, "Hostage Situation" is also a card in the Megalopolis environment deck, preventing the Heroes from playing cards from their hand while active. Getting rid of it requires the entire hero team to skip their Power phase for a turn, thematically having to stop fighting the actual villain for a moment to defuse the situation.
  • The Van Ryder Games game Hostage Negotiator has you as the titular negotiator, trying to save as many hostages as possible and either talk their abductor into surrendering or eliminate them. The base game has three Abductors (Arkayne, a terrorist leader who wants his men released; Donna, a college professor who took her class hostage after being denied tenure; and Edward, a desperate man who took a hospital hostage to get medical care for his son). Expansions introduce new mechanics, like a pair of Abductors (who can potentially be turned against each other) or hostages suffering Stockholm Syndrome.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: Practically everyone, save for Alfred, who is close to Batman gets to be a hostage by different villains. Not to mention the 17 firemen hostages scattered throughtout Gotham. And this all happened in a single night.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare At the finale of the Brutal Bonus Level "Mile High Club," the terrorist leader takes a hostage and you must kill him with a pistol headshot (in slow motion) to save him.
    • The real subversion comes in the beginning: You are the hostage, the deposed President of Qurac, and the game forces you to watch in first person as you are dragged across town and finally executed for an audience.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops. At the end of the first level, you burst into Castro's bedroom to assassinate him. He takes his mistress hostage, which barely slows you down as you simply shoot him in the head. Then the mistress grabs his gun and opens fire herself. Then it turns out you killed a decoy.
  • Hostages/Rescue: The Embassy Mission. The entire point of the game is to rescue a bunch of hostage kidnapped by generic terrorists at a generic embassy in Paris.
  • The classic Choplifter! has the player rescue 64 United Nations representatives who've been taken prisoner by the evil Bungeling Empire.
  • Danger Girl have the third and fourth mission, "Rigged to Blow" and "Caution: Curves Ahead" in which an oil rig in the Baltic Sea has been captured by the Hammer Empire, and they're threatening to execute the workers and staff if their demands are not met. The players are assigned to infiltrate the rig and diffuse the situation, and should four or more hostages die they'll have to restart.
  • Detroit: Become Human starts with one, as Connor is sent in to negotiate with a deviant android who's killed his owner and taken his owner's daughter hostage. There are multiple ways to get Connor killed, and it's possible for the hostage to die, but no matter what, the deviant can't be saved.
  • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening lets you “invite” some nobles to the Vigil’s Keep in order to keep their relatives from plotting against your character.
  • You have to resolve one in Deus Ex. As the game is an RPG, there is almost no penalty if you mess up (well, only some cash bonus and good feeling). The only advice you get is "Do what you can, but show them that human shields won't protect them." Yeah. If you manage to skip it entirely, you will get scolded for it, but nothing more.
    • A hostage situation also shows up in the prequel, however you can screw this up - either by having the hostage leader shoot a hostage, failing to disarm a bomb or just wasting time.
  • The first scenario of Gods Will Be Watching, where the Xenolifers, a group of revolutionaries, hijack a ship containing data about the Medusea virus. In this case, you are the hostage taker. The scenario is played in turns - you need to make sure the data is downloaded, the hostages neither get so uppity nor so desperate that they attempt to escape or attack, any shot hostages don't bleed out and the security forces don't storm the room.
  • The 1988 computer game Hostages deals with a hostage situation in an embassy in Paris. The player controls a 6-man GIGN (akin to SWAT) team and has to complete three parts to beat the game: Get the men in position while evading seachlights and snipers set up by the terrorists, controlling a sniper and shooting bad guys hiding in the building, and clearing the building room by room. The 1992 sequel Alcatraz had a similar plot but adds hidden explosives on the former prison island.
  • Mass Effect:
    • At the end of the Bring Down the Sky DLC for Mass Effect, the leader of the batarian terrorist group tells you he'll kill the hostages he's captured unless you let him go unharmed. Since this is Mass Effect, you have the option of sacrificing the hostages and capturing/killing him anyways. But if you do, you can't get him or the batarians as war assets in Mass Effect 3.
    • Another two sidequests have Shepard sent to defuse hostage crises, one involving biotics seeking reparations for injuries and illnesses suffered as a result of their training, another involving a cult.
    • In the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC for Mass Effect 2, a character you're chasing takes a hostage and tells you to back off. In a Call-Back moment, both Renegade or Paragon players can throw their rep in her face to intimidate her. Meanwhile Thane's loyalty mission ends with one with a twist, as Shepard and Thane care more about the hostage taker's well being than the actual hostage.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 lets you invoke this. Taking civilians hostage has its benefits; police will wait longer between assaults, giving you more time to work, and if one of your crewmates is taken into custody, you can trade a hostage for their return.
    • In PAYDAY 2, the "Holdout" gamemode is a straighter version this. Your crew takes a VIP hostage, and defends them from increasingly-strong waves of police trying to free them. After each wave, the ransom offer increases, and you can choose to accept the offer or play another wave. The game continues until the hostage is freed, the crew accepts a ransom offer, or the crew completes nine waves (after which the ransom is automatically accepted).
  • The fourth stage of Sunset Riders is this since, right after defeating the third boss Dark Horse, a girl is violently thrown out of the saloon right behind. The hero or heroes tend to her and she says that the Smith Brothers and their goons have taken over, keeping three other dancers as hostages. Then she begs the hero or heroes to save the other girls, the hero/heroes go inside, and the stage proper begins.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, Eggman holds a gun towards Amy and tells Sonic that he'll shoot her if Sonic doesn't hand over his Chaos Emerald.

  • Ansem Retort: Xemnas kidnaps Sora and travels back in time, soon followed by Axel, Zexion, Riku, and Marluxia. He asks Axel how he plans on stopping him and saving Sora. He didn't think of this though: figuring that Xemnas needed Sora alive for his plans, Axel just kills Sora himself.
  • In episode 31 of Comic Shorts: Spriteoverse LE-37 tries to hold Label Buddy hostage, but his plan hits a snag: nobody even likes Label Buddy.
  • The Dragon Doctors: A shapeshifting thief impersonating one of the main characters takes said character's girlfriend hostage at gunpoint. She even says she's holding a special gun modified to go off if she's disabled in any way. Sarin blasts the both of them with an "Equipment Failure" spell that disintegrates the gun (and all their clothing).
  • Girl Genius: Gil tries to protect Agatha by putting himself in Heterodyne Castle, so his father will not attack. She rejects this as holding him hostage.
    • Most students on Castle Wulfenbach were there to keep their families in line. Agatha ended up in a similar situation, when the Baron mistakenly believed her to be Moloch von Zinzer's lover.
  • Metompsychosis Union: The plot kicks off when Tilo opens the door to a mysterious man whose face is obscured on all the security cameras, and is immediately held at gunpoint.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Crossed Lines: In episode 8, Kindred Spirits, Killian Hardgraves decides to hijack Levi while Mr. Traverse and Mr. Reginald are on his coach. He then announces over the Waterdown Railway's intercom that he'll return them safely if they turn Ember over to him. Ember decides to turn herself over to him, though Mr. Hardgraves announces that he never intended to take her alive, wherein he rams her with Levi, sending them both down the line.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! parodies this in "A Jones For A Smith" with everyone but the negotiator being realistic:
    [Stan has hostages, a negotiator turns up and immediately phones him]
    Hathaway: I just want to talk.
    Stan: I have nothing to say!
    [Hathaway hangs up and sighs]
    Hathaway: Get him $50,000 in unmarked bills.
    Cop: Uh, sir, he didn't ask for money.
    Hathaway: Then make it $500,000!
    • Later, after Stan has clearly left the area completely:
    Hathaway: [The hostages] are clear! Take your shot!
    Cop: Wait, what?
    Hathaway: Take the shot!
    [The cop panics and shoots the already free hostages]
  • Batman: The Animated Series: The episode "Pretty Poison" provides a rather unorthodox example. Batman, weakened/delirious from Poison Ivy's kiss earlier, dangles from the ledge of her cacti pit trap as Ivy stands over him, wrist mounted crossbow aimed at his head, forcing him to reveal he has her cherished Wild Thorny Roses in tow, threatening to drop them unless she surrenders the antidote for her lipstick.
  • In Beast Wars "Code of Hero", Megatron takes one of the protohumans hostage to make Dinobot stand down. That this tactic works shows just how much Dinobot has changed. Megatron mocks him for his newfound compassion.
  • In the aptly named Code Lyoko episode "Ultimatum", XANA possesses the school principal and abducts Odd and Yumi. He then threatens to "liquidate" them if Aelita doesn't turn herself over to him.
  • The Dick Tracy Show: Stooge Viller and Mumbles are holding Hemlock Holmes' charges the Retouchables (also the episode's title) hostage for $50,000. Hemlock rushes to the rescue with gusto.
  • The Dragon Prince: Invoked in 'Bloodthirsty' by Prince Callum when he and his brother's attempt to rescue Rayla from imprisonment ends with them surrounded by troops led by his Aunt Amaya and he informs her that the scary Moonshadow Elf assassin will kill the princes and drink their blood if the soldiers do not back off. Problem was, of course, that the purported hostage taker was totally blindsided by this gambit and not only did it place un-needed strain on their tentative working relationship, but Rayla was well out of position and obliged to fend off a flight of arrows before she could place her blades at the appropriate throats.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021), Kronis and Evelyn capture He-Man's allies in Castle Grayskull. Keldor orders He-Man to unlock the power of Grayskull and give it to him or else he would use the power of Havoc to turn them into monsters. He-Man is able to stall long enough for Teela to pick the lock on her cuffs and free the others.
  • Parodied in the Hey Arnold! episode "Curly Snaps", where Curly holes himself in the principal's office with the gym's dodgeballs The whole situation is treated like a hostage situation, with Arnold acting as negotiator.
  • In Book (season) 3 of The Legend of Korra, the Red Lotus take the new Air Nation hostage to use as leverage against Korra, threatening to wipe them out if Korra doesn't hand herself over to the Red Lotus.
  • Parodied in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Bird in the Hoof": Rarity is not making threats, she'd just afraid of damaging her dress.
    Rarity: "Stay right where you are! All I want is a clear path to the exit. Nobody move, and my dress won't get hurt!"
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "Fun With Veal". Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Butters steal 23 baby calves and hide them in Stan's room. An FBI negotiator treats it exactly like a hostage situation. However since the job of negotiating goes to Manipulative Bastard Cartman, the FBI guy does appallingly badly. Cartman bargains like a pro and the boys end up negotiating some heavy-duty weaponry, a ballistics missile and for eventual transportation, Michael Dorn playing Mr. Worf has to drive their truck. Despite this they eventually talk the boys into coming out without anyone getting hurt.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Destroy Malevolence": Count Dooku and his master attempt to create one to prevent the destruction of the Malevolence, the Separatists' prize warship, by luring Senator Padmé Amidala to the battlefield under false pretenses. It doesn't work, in large part because Action Girl Padmé sets her ship to blow up after she's tractor beamed into the Malevolence's hangar and sneaks off to contact the pursuing Republic fleet.
    • "Hostage Crisis" naturally features one: Bounty Hunter Cad Bane breaks into the Senate building and takes several senators hostage, as well as having his cracker lock down the entire building, in order to have crime lord Ziro the Hutt released from prison. He succeeds.


Video Example(s):


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Drug lord Poppy Adams holds the world hostage by revealing that nearly half the population has taken her drugs and will experience painful and lethal symptoms unless her demands are met.

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Main / VirusVictimSymptoms

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