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Hostage Video

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"Those aren’t the words of a certified clinical psychologist filing a report... those are the words of a woman with a bag over her head, sitting between a camera and a flag, moments before her third finger’s hacked off."
Colm Mullan, Chrysalis Visits The Hague

A more modern version of the classic ransom note, gaining popularity in recent years with the increasing use of the internet and real life use by groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Basically, our particular hostage is tied to a chair with a flag backdrop, while one or more bad guys in balaclavas look menacing with firearms. Then the hostage is forced to a) denounce his country b) read out his captors' demands c) beg his nation's leaders to help or d) a combination thereof.

Other variations include placing the hostage in mortal peril with a ticking clock.

If the bad guys don't get what they want, things might turn into a Snuff Film.


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    Fan Works 
  • The second Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous had a hostage video of Cheryl and Stan, which was the whole reason the rest of the movie happened.
  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark is filmed with demands being made by the terrorists in Urdu. Audience members who don't happen to speak that language won't find out until later that it's not a ransom demand. The terrorists were hired by Obadiah Stane to kill Stark, and they're demanding more money to finish the job now they realise who their famous captive is.
  • In The Kingdom (2007), Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman) is used to make one after being kidnapped by Saudi terrorists. It gets interrupted when his colleagues arrive and kill or wound his captors.
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux. The Iraqis force Colonel Walters to make a video saying how well treated he is (the obscene hand signals he's giving make it clear what we're supposed to think of this).
  • In Blooded, the Animal Wrongs Group forces each of the hunters they have just pursued across the island to read a prepared statement denouncing hunting and renouncing their previous beliefs, which they video and intend to up load to the web. Liv, Ben, Charlie and Eve all comply, but Lucas regards his position as the public face of the hunting lobby as being too important and remains Defiant to the End.

  • In The Red Vixen Adventures Rolas must make one for his family to see after he's captured by the titular Space Pirate.
  • Used in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident. Artemis then gets Foaly to trace the video.
    • Used again in The Last Guardian, by Opal bartering her freedom for her younger self's life. She doesn't uphold her end of the deal.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Bill had this happen to Abigail Nixon, who was tied up in a shipping container and left to suffocate.
  • 24 likes this trope a lot, such as with Secretary Heller in Season 4.
  • Airwolf did this once, with a group of totally uncooperative hostages.
  • CSI had one with where the rest of the time could watch their teammate Nick Stokes trapped in a box and Buried Alive.
  • Castle did this with some guy that had his son kidnapped. The son manages to sneak in a hidden message.
  • In the first episode of Black Mirror a member of the royal family gets kidnapped with the single demand of the Prime Minster to have sex with a pig on live TV. The real kicker is that it's sent over youtube so everybody knows about it.
  • In an episode of Jonathan Creek, a confusing hostage tape kicks off the mystery. The plot twist is that the tape in question was not the hostage tape, the contents were being livestreamed to the TV.
  • NUMB3RS did this in "Prime Suspect" where Ethan Burdick's daughter is ransomed for his solution to an equation, with his daughter, Emily, being forced to tell him the demands.
  • The baddies on Day Break (2006) leave one these behind showing Hopper's brother-in-law bruised up and tied to a chair.
  • In the short-lived 1990's spy series Under Cover, a senior official in the Government Agency of Fiction is kidnapped and forced to give one of these to relay their demands, concluded by him screaming as the terrorists start torturing him.

    Video Games 
  • One piece of background material from Homefront's tie-in website was a video released by radical American militia-types showing a captured Korean soldier forced to denounce his home country and praise America. The site's "curator", ostensibly using the site to chronicle everything following America's collapse to the present day, expressed discomfort over including the video, since it showed just how far America had really fallen, but felt compelled to anyway for the sake of completion.
  • In Not for Broadcast, Katie Brightman, an economist known for speaking in support of the Advance government, is abducted by Disrupt and forced to read out a speech admitting that her praise for Advance was misplaced. On Day 912, you have the option of playing a recording of the speech in place of one of the ad breaks, bolstering support for Disrupt's ongoing uprising.
  • Yandere-chan uses this in Yandere Simulator, kidnapping Musume Ronshaku in order to get her father Mr. Ronshaku, a notorious Loan Shark, to release Kokona's father and all his other clients from their debt to him.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In Strong Bad in Jail Cartoon, Strong Bad tries to make one after kidnapping the Poopsmith for ransom. It lasts five seconds before he's discovered by Homestar, who followed a "mysterious trail" left by the Poopsmith, much to Strong Bad's disgust.

    Web Original 
  • Joueur du Grenier: For the Mission Impossible review, Fred abducts a games journalist who originally gave the game a glowing review, forcing to read the original column out loud.
  • The Game Heroes do this with The Nostalgia Critic when they kidnap him. What do they want? More people to buy their t-shirts.
  • This Is It used this trope to promote their Kickstarter for Don't Hug Me I'm Scared . The first one is a more descriptive video showing the red thing reading out the captor's demands (money) while a synthesized voice describes what the show is about and what the kickstarter is for. The next two are much shorter and really, really threatening.
  • Rapunzel's kidnapper has her make one in University Ever After, in which she reads a riddle giving her friends a twelve hours to figure out what the kidnapper wants and where they're keeping her.

    Real Life 
  • Al-Qaeda was very fond of this trope and frequently released them online, which was later used by other Islamist terrorist groups. Unfortunately, they don't have happy endings and we will NOT link to any of them.


Video Example(s):



A video made by Green Rebellion has a ransom demand being made for the "safe" return of the hostages. The kidnappers altered their voices and used software to hide their faces.

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Main / HostageVideo

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